Friday, August 22, 2008

From Doily to Babydoll

New from Old - from Table to Wardrobe
I LOVE old linen, tablecloths, doilies (or d'Oyley, as one traditional spelling has it), dresser cloths and teatowels. I have a great fondness for the kitsch, over-blown rose print tablecloths from the 50s and 60s. I adore hand-tatted edgings, cross-stitch motifs - especially on gingham - and cutwork. It goes without saying that vintage Irish linen cloth, adorned or unadorned, is a vintage treasure I'm always on the look-out for.
When I come across these beauties while hunting through the op shops, I always snap them up to take home to add to my ever-growing stash, not with the intent of dressing my table with them; no, I think they'd be much more beautiful worn on the body.

I've made a number of clothes from vintage table linen. My first experiment was this sweet A-line tablecloth over-skirt with batiste petticoat:

I'm quite a stickler for detail and accuracy, so I like to ensure accuracy of cutting and piecing in order to make the most of the features of the found linen. And as most tablecloths are very symmetrical in their embroidery design, my arrangement of the embroidery is always accurately symmetrical as well.

Another favourite garment, or rather the garment made from my favourite, snow-white Irish linen tablecloth which featured cut-work and a 5" deep hand-tatted edging, is this flapper inspired tea-gown:

It's very drop-waisted, with the skirt coming off the top of the thighs, and very deeply-scooped in the back. Because the tablecloth was square, the shape of the skirt emerged as a delightful hanky-hem shape (I could not bare to part with one inch of the gorgeous linen!):

I peppered the front of the dress with handmade cotton doilies, cutting out the fabric behind them so only the sheer layer of fine batiste covered the skin beneath.

Here's a cute pin-up style dress I made from a 1960s circular breakfast cloth:

Very old, hand-embroidered doilies from the art deco era inspired this babydoll top, which I made from vintage, unused headcloth:

I made two other babydoll dresses by converting pretty skirts into dresses and adorning them with vintage crochet doilies and whatnot:

This wrap dress is made from a 1960s-70s seersucker tablecloth:

I hadn't realized just how many garments I'd made from vintage table linen! I'll save the rest for another post, and finish off here with one more: a lovely dress I made from both a sheet AND a tablecloth, lol:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tuxedo Dress, V2

I'd just finished a tuxedo dress that was to be worn by a maid of honour at a wedding, and while I'm usually all tuxedoed out after making a deadline, due to the amount of delicate and tiny hand-sewing involved, this time I was feeling as if I were on a roll and ready to get straight back to the machine and make another! Normally I offer the Tuxedo Dress as a custom service, but there's nothing like making a pretty dress just because you feel like it! So I did. I cut it out on Sunday while the family was away and worked on it for two days straight. It was very satisfying and I'm happy with the result:

I originally dubbed this one 'Sabrina', for Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Sabrina, but then it occurred to me it really was very Grace Kelly in style, too: cool, prim, pretty, with a sort of 'slow burn' effect imparted by the pretty, but pretty sexy, sheerness of the bodice. I started browsing Grace Kelly photos as I had a hankering to see once again the wonderful black and white swimsuit with matching wrap skirt and huge black straw hat she wore walking through the hotel foyer in To Catch a Thief. If you've seen the film you'll know the ensemble I mean, it's spectacular. I couldn't find a photo of that costume, but I DID find this pic:

Now don't tell me you can't see an uncanny resemblance between Grace Kelly here, and Nicole Kidman?? I suppose the similarity has been mentioned before, but it had never occurred to me. They both have that cool, restrained type of beauty, and finely drawn, elegant features. Not to mention perfect physiques for high fashion (I almost wish Nicole Kidman had chosen modeling as a profession)! Perhaps Ms Kidman seems less severe and aloof than Grace Kelly often seemed (or was cast) in her roles, but both share an elusive quality on-screen, and great femininity of style.

Both women are renowned for inspiring high-fashion designers with their femininity and grace.
Please pop in to my etsy store:
to see more photos of this dress!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Wonderful Bird

I got up this morning at 6.30 and was trundling about the kitchen making my daughter's lunch, when she suddenly exclaimed 'Mum, look at that bird!". We ran to the large glass sliding door and looked out: a medium sized bird was flitting about the greenery around the chicken coop. It had THE most amazing colouring I've ever seen: deep glossy black body and tail, and neon egg-yolk yellow head and wings. It was an amazing sight when it opened its wings to fly, as while many birds have colour underneath the wings which may only be glimpsed in flashes, this bird's wings were solid, bright yellow, both front and back. We were very excited to see another bird with the same colouring join the first - we immediately thought it must be two males, rather than a mated pair (in the brightly coloured species, usually the females have the drab colouring). Juveniles, perhaps? Could there be a nesting family nearby? Then my dog barked - and they flitted off into the trees, and, despite their spectacular colouring, were lost to sight. Here's a pic of the chicken coop where he was flitting about, and you can see the forest reserve in the background, which is teeming with life:

We raced to the computer to google 'black and yellow Australian birds', as we had NO idea what they might be. We tossed some possibilities around, like rifle bird, honey-eater of some kind, and John suggested bower bird: he was right. It turned out they were two male Regent Bowerbirds. We're so excited! We do have a lot of bird-life here, being on 2.5 acres with a lush pasture with a lot of water in the soil (as all the run-off from the house gets fed onto the site), so we often have a yard full of wading birds, like grey or white herons, ducks, egrets, ibis, and so on; along with the usual Australian suspects such as galahs and cockatoos (which congregate in huge numbers here), the shyer rosellas, plus various blow-ins like swifts and honey-eaters, along with a large extended family of kookaburras - but in the 14 months we've been here, we've never seen a Bower bird! What a treat!