Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

Wow, this is pretty much a tap master class right here.  I have to thank my dad for bringing this clip to my attention.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Handkerchief Case

Continuing in this series of random patterns I photographed on my most recent trip home, may I present this charming Edwardian handkerchief case.  I'm not entirely sure how it's meant to work, but isn't it absolutely adorable?  If any of you make one please send me pictures so I can see it in action.

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Roundabout

Hello there!  Here's a lovely little 30's hat for you to crochet.  

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

It's been awhile since the last instalment of Tap Dance Tuesday and since it looks as though things are going to stay busy for me until the new year, I thought I'd share this selection of five (yes five!) tap acts from the 1930's - just in case I don't get around to posting anything new in this department for awhile.  I hope this satisfies all your vintage tap dancing needs for the time being.   

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Two 60's Pullovers

I don't really "do 60's" too much anymore, but I definitely used to and so my archive of knitting patterns is absolutely full of books and magazines from that era.  If memory serves, these are from an "Around the World in Knitwear" supplement to Woman's Day magazine or something along those lines (sorry, I really should've taken a few source notes when I photographed them).  At any rate - enjoy!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Collar and Cuffs Militaire

Oh my, things have been busy around here of late.  I got back to Belfast last week and immediately started a new job which has really been taking it out of me.  But please don't think I'm anything other than absolutely thrilled to be gainfully employed again.  It just means that most nights blogging is the absolute last thing on my mind.

Anyway, whilst I was in LA I took the opportunity to go through my pattern collection with a view to sharing some of them here.  I didn't have access to a scanner, so these were taken with my phone - I hope you're able to read all the relevant information.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Hello there readers!  Apologies for the lack of posts, but for the past three weeks I've been visiting friends and family here in the fair city of Los Angeles.  I'll be back in my old digs at the end of this week, and I have at least a few fun things to share with you from my LA collections.  But before too much more time passes, I thought I'd show off my Halloween ensemble.  Yet again, my clothing hoarding tendencies have come through for me in the form of a last minute costume.

Dressing up as a flapper did seem a bit of a cheat as a) this is how I might dress on any given night out and b) I think everyone has probably dressed as a flapper at some point in the past two years what with all that Gatsby business in 2013.

Nevertheless, I used to get a fair amount of teasing growing up for my rather scrawny frame and gangly limbs.  So I've finally just decided to embrace my shape and take up the Charleston (which looks so good when you're all elbows and knees anyway).

Much like this well known picture by John Held Jr:

(my mom took this shot and wanted me to pose with lipstick - a little cheesy, but it does show off the whole outfit)

Thursday, 1 October 2015

What I've been up to . . . pt 2

Here is something I never ever thought I'd be doing: darning socks.  Mr B's socks no less - I think that puts me in the running for housewife of the year.

 The thing is, yes, darning is a massive pain in the arse.  I think the majority of people would rather just buy a new pair of socks than spend the time repairing something so cheap.  That said, I find there is something very satisfying about taking a hole and essentially reweaving it into a new fabric.  There is also something lovely about how truly unique the construction on each pair of socks is - something I would never have noticed had I not started doing this.  I know, how different can a pair of socks be (aside from the obvious colour and pattern differences)?  But take this Calvin Klein sock above, it's stitches are a lot tighter than say the grey Reiss pair pictured at the bottom - it makes it much harder for me to run the stitches through easily.  The fibre content is clearly different too - something not so noticeable when you put them on, but somehow very evident when you're working on smaller scale.

I'll be honest though, a very large part of the appeal of this new pursuit lays in the fact that I get to use this lovely vintage darning mushroom I bought on eBay.  Isn't it a thing of beauty?

Now, I'm not really going to suggest you all start resuscitating every single pair of your socks, but for those interested in taking up the noble art of darning, I used instructions from this book which is also excerpted over at the Colette Patterns blog.  

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

If memory serves, my first ever Tap Dance Tuesday post was of the Nicholas Brothers (it appears said video has been taken down, so there's no point in my linking to it).  Anyway, I was looking into other tappers from the era to share with you, but I kept feeling that I wanted to be watching these guys.  Of the several clips I could've chosen, I went with this one as I'm huge fan of the vocal stylings of Dorothy Dandridge.  This number has all the acrobatic flair you would expect of the Nicholas Bros including those mental leaps that end in the splits (as someone who has never been able to do the splits even as thirteen year old dance team-er, these fill me with both awe and horror).

Friday, 25 September 2015

What I've been up to

I truly wish I could tell you that I've been busy sewing away on beautiful vintage inspired patterns, but it just isn't true.  Maybe it's because I've discovered several new (to me) sewing blogs of late and have been voraciously devouring them (any one else out there guilty of going through six years of archived posts in one sitting or is it just me?) that I feel I too should be making up muslins and tweaking flat patterns.  But here's the thing: I have a small handful of my pattern collection here and an even smaller selection of my stash fabrics and somehow the two just haven't been clicking (I'm only two weeks away from a trip home though, so I fully plan on bringing back a suitcase stuffed with fabrics I haven't seen in awhile - that should remedy the situation).  

Anyway, I haven't been completely idle.  As it happens, I have been indulging in two rather old school pursuits, the first of which I will share with you today: patchworking (hopefully to be quilted in the not too distant future), and not just any patchwork. Like a true depression era housewife, I've been breathing new life into my husband's old jeans.  

This is proving to be a rather slow going project  - aside from being my first real attempt at quilting, sewing together squares of fabric really doesn't have the same excitement factor for me as sewing garments does.  Still, I'm very happy with the results to date, so perhaps in another year or so I'll have new quilt!

Stay tuned and I'll tell you about my other new crafting enthusiasm, which is truly archaic . . .

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Jumper Suit

Have you heard about the new "Jumper Suit" that's all the rage in Paris this season? . . . no? . . . Well then let the good ladies of The Needlewoman tell you all about it. 

Isn't the sweater at bottom right amazing? Sadly there is no pattern available for it, but I bet some of the more advanced knitters out there could figure it out (and if you do, please send me a copy of your pattern - I would love to make this!).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

New Acquisitions

I don't really buy old needlework magazines so much anymore.  They're just too expensive and hard to find these days and going to down the eBay rabbit hole is not something my budget is prepared to take on.  However I do get lucky every now and then as was the case with these copies of The Needlewoman.  I uncovered them at a very reasonable price at a bookstore on a recent trip to Wales and ran to the cashier as though some other vintage knitting collector was going to pry them out of my hands at any moment.  

I'll do my best to get some scans up for you in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

Tap classes start again next week and I have to say I have not been as productive a dancer as I had hoped to be this Summer.  I had rather ambitious intentions of practicing for an hour every day, but an injured foot at the beginning of the break made a very good excuse for not doing so.

Anyway, here is the "Queen of Tap" herself showing us all how it's done.  I'm not sure where this footage is from or what makes it so rare, so if you do know, please pass this info along to me.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

"Colour and Your Clothes"

The following passage from Beauty for Every Woman touches on two things I am a bit obsessed with.  First is the idea of having a small, but perfectly coordinated wardrobe that you can conjure all sorts sartorial magic with, second is colour combining (I actually used to keep a small notebook with all my ideas for good colour pairings).  

    "The most economical and successful scheme is to adopt one or two colours as your own.  From a beauty point of view this plan will help to emphasise your personality, your colouring, and your type, whilst from the point of view of economy it is the greatest possible saving.  Everything you have will match or, at any rate, be interchangeable, and with only two outfits you will be able to ring the changes nearly every day.
    Here, for example, is what can be done with just a few well-chosen garments which all go together.  Supposing brown to be the main colour you have chosen, then you could have a brown overcoat, a brown matching skirt, a light wool skirt in a tweed or check pattern combining the same shade or brown with beige; two blouses or knitted jumpers, one in plain material to match the plain skirt and one to go with the patterned skirt. 
    One day you could wear the plain skirt and patterned blouse.  On another the plain blouse with patterned skirt.  Then the plain skirt and blouse and the patterned pair can also be worn together with a 2" wide belt of the material at the join of blouse and skirt, making them look like one-piece frocks.  So that with two blouses and two skirts you can have a complete wardrobe with a long coat which will go with all these changes, completing your outfit.
    Girls with fair hair and fair skin can wear white, all the pastel tints of blue, pink, yellow, and green, and black in the evening.  For day wear they can choose deeper blues and greens, brown and black.
    Brunettes should choose more vivid colours for both day and evening.  Clear reds, blues, and greens, black relieved with white, beige or pink.
    Red or auburn hair looks at its best against black, white, pale green, pale yellow, and brown, but pink, orange, and mauve should be avoided.  
    Having decided on the colours you are going to wear, you will find the following list of colour schemes helpful in the choice of accessories and trimmings: black with white, oyster, beige, all pinks, pale blue, pale green, bright green, clear reds.  Brown with white, beige, pink, bright green, coral pink, and turquoise blue.  Dark green with white, primrose, beige, and lighter greens in the same tone.  Bright green with white, beige, and brown.  Dark blue with any of the colours which go with black.  Mid-blue with white, primrose, and brown."

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Delightful Drawings of Miss Margaret Agutter

I recently came into possession of a 1948 edition of Mary Thomas's Knitting Book.  I must admit that I've been aware of this book for quite awhile and have not been all that interested in it.  Dover reissued the book in 1972 and as far as I can tell it has been in print ever since.  My sole objection to it was that it didn't have any actual garment patterns that I could day dream over.  

The cover of the reissue boasts that it features 248 illustrations and this is true - there are 248 illustrations diagraming how to do things like turn a heel or sew a seam.  What it doesn't mention is all the other absolutely charming illustrations by Margaret Agutter.  When I came across this book at one of my local used bookshops, I think it was those little drawings that convinced me to buy it (that and a price tag of £1.50).

I'm afraid I may have gotten a little carried away photographing them for you . . .

Friday, 28 August 2015

Beauty Tips from the 30's

Last night I pulled out my copy of Beauty for Every Woman for the first time in a while and was newly impressed by how many lovely photos and illustrations there are in it.  I shared a few earlier this year, but there is so much more to be had from this book.  Today, I have some eye, cheek and nail tips for you.      

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

As we are reaching the end of the Summer, I thought I'd do a little Back-to-School themed edition of Tap Dance Tuesday.  This is the complete Vitaphone short "The High School Hoofer" staring Hal Le Roy.  Le Roy starred in many musical shorts, but never really made it into feature films (beyond a few cameos).  I have to say that after watching the quality of acting on display here, you'll see why.  But that doesn't really matter - his dancing is amazing.  I'm also really digging the harmony group that performs right before him.  Anybody know they are?    

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Late Summer Viewing on the Small Screen

I'm not sure about the rest of you (tales of Summer heat reach me through the phenomenon that is social media), but this year has been pretty miserable weather wise for those of us in NI (and indeed all of Ireland it would seem).  Don't feel bad for me though - I'm off to Los Angeles for the month of October, so as far as I'm concerned my Summer has just been delayed for a few months.

In the meantime, instead of filling our evenings with BBQs and garden parties, Mr B and I have been watching some of the rich pickings BBC has had on offer this past month.  These are both positively lovely at least in terms of costumes and set designs (as far as I'm concerned, amazing costumes and sets make up for a lack of almost anything else) and are pulling me in opposite directions style wise.

If you're in the UK then you're probably already familiar with these and if you're in the US then no doubt they will soon be screening on PBS or BBC America (and if you're elsewhere in the world, you'll have to forgive me as I have no idea which channels you have).

Life in Squares

I'm not really sure if I think they did a good job telling the story of the Bloomsbury group or not (I suspect not), but I don't actually care because everything looked so good.  Twenties bohemia is definitely a look I can get behind.


Partners in Crime

I must admit, having read Agatha Christie's The Secret Adversary, I was a bit disappointed when I heard they were going to be setting this version of Tommy & Tuppence in the 50's.  But I got over that pretty quickly when I saw how absolutely adorable is Jessica Raine in this series!!!  She makes me want to get a pixie cut again.  And her wardrobe . . . !! I'd be hard pressed to tell you my favourite of her outfits, but this one comes to mind.


So now I have to make the decision as to whether I spend the Autumn in pedal pushers, twinsets and a gamine hairdo or in colourful headscarfs and smocks with paint under my fingernails.  

Which do you think?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

"Making a Dainty Summer Frock"

 This one is from the June 1929 Woman's Institute Fashion Service magazine.  Is my scanning technique improving? What do you think?

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

Putting on the Ritz has become something of an anthem here in the B household these past few months.  My absolute favourite version is Fred Astaire's and I had initially wanted to share that, however it appears that there was never any actual footage filmed of him dancing to the 1930's version (and I'm afraid I just don't care for his later recording of the song all that much).  At any rate, I found this version which has some great tapping in it. Enjoy!

Monday, 3 August 2015

"a peasant blouse for your favorite skirt . . ."

Well, Mr B and I have finally bought one of those scanner/printer devices.  Theoretically this should open up a whole new world of sharing some of my various patterns with you, but alas, on checking I found I only have about four of my knitting magazines here in this country.  Still, as I have been enjoying other bloggers vintage knitting generosity for far too long, it seemed only right to pay it forward and share some of my treasures.  

This was my first attempt, so sorry about not cropping out the partial instructions for the "Manhattan" - one new skill at a time for me I'm afraid.  No date on this pattern, but I'm gonna guess late 40's.  

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hey there knitters . . .

At this point, I'm sure all you vintage knitters out there will be familiar with the treasure trove of scanned magazine archives that is . . . well . . . er. . . Trove.  Between that and the other internet sources that so generously share their scanned patterns, my Ravelry favourites have slowly crept up to over 900 patterns!

Last night, my mania for unnecessary organising (coupled with a desire to find a good 20's sweater for my next project) impelled me stay up half the night sorting the darn things by decade.  I could probably have found a better way to spend an evening, but now that the deed is done I thought I may as well share the fruits of my labour with you in the hopes that it may be of some use to somebody else out there.

A few quick words of warning first:

I did not check each and every link of my 900+ faves to see that they were still active, so apologies if some of them have disappeared since I first saved them.  99% of them are free patterns, but I did notice that a few now seem to be charging a small fee.  Lastly, not all the pictures are of the greatest quality, but I'm not too fussy about that when there are free patterns involved - the majority of them are good enough to get a general impression of what you are knitting.

so with out further ado . . .

(ps. blogging has been a bit sparse around here lately because Mr. B has started working from home and thus his computer time takes precedence over mine.  I will continue to try and snatch the odd moment here and there to stay in touch)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

Much as I love Mildred Pierce, I will always prefer Joan Crawford the flapper.  Not least because the girl can dance.  This clip is a bit of a slow starter, but it's worth it once it gets going. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

Tap Dance Tuesday is back with this, frankly a bit mental, musical extravaganza from 1929!  This clip has everything - the fashion parade, the singing ingenue, the tap dancing men in top hat and tails, the chorus girls, the acrobats, and more often than not all of these at the same time.  It's a bit much, but a lot of fun too, so without further ado here is the finale scene from the lost film "Gold Diggers of Broadway"

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Two Dress Drafts

Things have been a bit busy around here lately and I haven't had much time for blogging, so I thought I'd share these two dress drafts with you as they don't really need much in the way of introduction other than to say they are both taken from The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Needlecraft.  If anyone makes one these up, I'd love to see pictures.


Thursday, 25 June 2015

I thought I'd share this with you, though if you're a regular TCM watcher this is probably old news by now.  This Summer TCM and Ball State University are offering a free online course on Film Noir.  The course started a few weeks ago, but there's still time to sign up.  Since I'm a bit late on this myself, you'll have to excuse me if I go dark for a week or two - I've got some reading and film viewing to catch up with.  In a similar (though decidedly light hearted vein) I found this "Who would you be in a film noir?" quiz.  I got Femme Fatale  - "you don't LIKE killing people, but you are willing to do what must be done in what will ultimately be a fruitless attempt to avoid your inevitable demise".

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

I haven't been up to much tap dance wise this past week due to a foot injury (possibly a micro-fracture - yikes! but as I've told Mr B, having to get foot x-rays makes me feel like a proper dancer) and that includes watching other tap dancers do their thing.  I did get out to a solo jazz workshop at the weekend run by the loveliest group of local lindy hoppers and had a great time, injured foot and all.  

Anyway, I rustled this clip up for you just now, so let me tell you a bit about it.  Miriam LaVelle is not actually considered a tap dancer, (watching this clip I'm pretty sure the tapping sounds and the actual footwork don't match up).  She was known as a "speciality/acrobatic" dancer and is having a bit of a resurgence of interest in her career at the moment.  If you're interested in learning more about her, I would suggest this site.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

Growing up, the name Ruby Keeler was synonymous with tap dancing.  If anything tap related came up, my older relatives would invariably say "Oh, just like Ruby Keeler!".  Up until a few years ago I pretty much thought Ms Keeler was the only female tap dancer of note, period.  Given that this was my uninformed view for so many years, I found myself thinking it was a little strange that I hadn't yet sought out any Ruby Keeler clips to share (or even to watch for my own amusement).

Type in the words Ruby, Keeler, Tap and Dance into youtube and the first several entries you're going to get are the "42nd Street" number.  Now, don't get me wrong, 42nd Street is a great number and if you aren't familiar with it you should definitely check it out, but I also feel like it's been shown in every single documentary on Hollywood musicals I've ever seen, so I wanted to search a bit deeper.

And how glad am I that I did! Look what I found . . . it's James Cagney!!!  I love me some James Cagney, but although I did know that he was a hoofer, like most people I was really more familiar with his gangster roles so this is an absolute treat.

From "Footlight Parade" 1933, please enjoy a bit of Cagney & Keeler!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Well, I promised I would share some bits from my new needlework books with you so here we go.  I have chosen to begin with a little refresher on bias binding, because it seems that I am sorely in need of it.  Now I have made my own bias binding on, maybe not hundreds of occasions, but certainly many times before with no problem, but for some reason the sewing gods have not been with me this week.  My first go at it I had to rip out twice before I even got to the ironing board and then when it came to actually fitting it round the neckline . . .  rats! too narrow to cover the stay stitching!  I decided to have another go by increasing my tape by 1/4" and this time I had to unpick it a staggering five times before I managed to get all the seams on the same side!!!  So, for those of you making your own bias tape, I give you the following with my best wishes for an easier time of it than I've had.

(In case you were curious, here's the finished top.  It's the Colette Laurel top and really should not have been as much of a struggle to make as it was.  I even managed to break the sewing machine whilst hemming it  - as I say, the sewing gods were not with me on this one.)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Tap Dance Tuesday

I thought I'd do something a little different for this instalment of Tap Dance Tuesday and share with you my latest acquisition: Tap Dancing in 12 Easy Lessons.  

Isn't this a marvellous dust jacket? I think it's perhaps a little too late for me to have tap dancing as a career, but I certainly look forward to adding it to my list of social accomplishments!

As an unexpected bonus, I found this little pamphlet tucked away inside the book!