Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Morning

This is how I like my mornings to start.  

Sweet pink bed jackets with matching pink headscarves. 

 A cup of tea in a china teacup.

A bowl of quinoa with apple, sultanas, pecans and coconut milk.

A treasured breakfast placemat embroideredby either my grandma or great-grandma.  (We aren't sure which of those ladies created this one).


Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Closer Look - Blue & Yellow Summer Frock

I was moving through the stalls at the Love Vintage Show in Brisbane 2012 and my eyes fell on a rack with a sign above it "All items $80".   I pawed through the rack and saw this pretty floral frock.

Blue and Yellow Summer Frock (60s?)

Bought from: A stall (it became one big shopping blur) at the Love Vintage Show, Brisbane 2012.
Paid:  $80
Era:  1960s or late 1950s.
Fabrics:  Sky blue, sunny yellow and taupe flowers on a white ground in a textured synthetic fabric.

Interesting facts:   Initially I thought that this dress was from the 1950s however with a bit more experience I now think that given the style and fabric this is more likely a 60s number.

Worn in oufits:  here and here  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Simplicity 5885 - Sewing a 60s Blouse

I was very excited about finishing my sewing project (a 1940s raglan sleeve dress from a Simplicity pattern).   I wanted to keep riding the enthusiasm and impetus of my previous sewing project so I went out fabric shopping with Sassy D and bought a wool-cotton blend for a 1940s suit and a cream linen to make a smart 1960s blouse.

The pattern I've chosen for the blouse is one from a large box I inherited from my grandmother.  Isn't it lovely to work with items that have come down through your family?  The pattern is Simplicity 5885, dated 1965, and I'm making View 1, a shell top with a natty jabot style tie/collar.

The linen looks very plain and dull in the photo below (underneath the pattern) but in real life it has a lovely soft drape and will do very nicely as an all-rounder blouse.

I have already:
  • bought fabric - a lovely cream 100% linen. 
  • washed the linen for shrinkage.
  • copied and graded the pattern up one size.
  • sewn together a mockup which fit reasonably well.

I think the tie looks a little wider on the mockup than the pattern sketch.  I may try to reduce the width of these in the final garment.

Though I'm ready to put scissors to fashion fabric for the blouse I'm at a standstill on this project while I try to sew the 1940s suit in time for the deadline of the Sew for Victory Sew-a-long. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Two Cinnamon Tea Cakes

The last month has seen Brisbane awash with rain.  All of the damp and cooler weather has meant that baking is a much more pleasant undertaking.  So I've been donning the apron to make a few more recipes from the Brisbane City Tabernacle Girls Missionary Union tested recipes cookbook.

There were two different recipes for cinnamon tea cake on page 3 of the book.  I decided to test each one after the other for a fair comparison.

Cinnamon Tea Cake (Mrs. G. Hutton)
page 3
  • 1 tab butter
  • 1 'small' cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • a few drops vanilla essence
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp castor sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp desiccated coconut

Preheat the over to 180 degrees celcius* and prepare a cake pan by greasing it, lining the bottom with kitchen parchment paper and flouring the sides of the pan.
Beat together the butter and sugar. ** 
Add the egg, vanilla essence followed by the flour and milk. ***
Pour batter in the prepared pan and bake for 40 min. 
While still warm, dust the top with the cinnamon, sugar and coconut. 
*   As the recipe made no mention of baking temperature or duration I had to make a guess at these.
** I found that the ratio of butter to sugar in this recipe meant that it didn't 'cream' at all until I added the eggs.
*** Again, the recipe made no mention of how much milk was required so I looked to the second recipe (below) and used that as a guide.

I also realised too late that instead of desiccated coconut I had large coconut flakes.

     My Results and Notes
    This cake went to work for a morning tea and sadly lost some of it's charm in the overnight wait and then the travel.   It also looked a little sad to start with because I had used coconut flakes instead of dessicated coconut as part of the topping. 

    Though my office colleagues said the cake was delicious, it seemed a little too thick and heavy for a tea cake in my opinion.  The recipe was a hard one to make because the omissions of vital information like baking time and temperature and how much milk to add meant that a lot of guess-work was applied.  I was actually surprised it worked out well enough to eat!

    Cinnamon Tea Cake (Miss P. Fielding)
    page 3
    • 1 tab butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 egg lightly beaten
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 cup self raising flour
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 des castor sugar
    • small amount of butter  
    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and prepare a cake pan.
    Cream the butter and sugar.  
    Add the egg, vanilla, milk and sifted flour.  
    Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 - 40 min*. 
    While still warm, brush with the butter and sprinkle the cinnamon and castor sugar over the top. 

    My Results and Notes
    This recipe came together much more easily that the first one by Mrs Hutton.   All ingredients had measurements listed and though there wasn't a prescribed oven temperature there was at least a guideline to baking times.  

    Interestingly enough I had to bake this a little longer than the original recipe so perhaps I misjudged the temperature to use and should have used something higher like 200 degrees Celsius

    When I ate a piece of the finished cake I had to grab my phone and text my Mum to tell her it was the best cake I had made in a long time.   My husband and visiting friend had two slices each so I knew it was definitely a good thing! 

    I highly recommend this recipe- but I would suggest that you err on the side of caution with oven temperature and baking time. 

    Notes on Mrs G. Hutton and Miss P. Fielding
    Mrs G. Hutton is a name that appears often in the Social column of the Brisbane Courier Mail through the 1930s.  

    There is mention in the Brisbane Courier Mail in October 1936 of Mrs G. Hutton winning the monte carlos dance competition at an Armistice Ball to raise money for war veterans.

    There is also mention of a Mrs. G. B. Hutton dressing up as Mary Queen of Scots for a New Years Eve gala in 1937 in the 04 Jan 1938 Courier Mail.  I'd like to think this is the same Mrs G. Hutton but suspect it may be a different lady

    Miss P. Fielding was also a referenced in the Brisbane papers a great deal through the 1930s however I think that the wide range of locations mentioned (Laidley, Forest Hill and Killarney) mean these are likely different ladies. 

    Miss P. Fielding in Laidley was the ladies representative on an ANZAC Day Commemoration committee according to an article in 1929.  This same Miss P. Fielding won the prize at the Laidley show in 1928 for prize cumquarts          

    The other promising candidate for our Miss P. Fielding is one who made prize-winning shortbread at a Presbyterian Fete at Forest Hill in 1930.   If this is the lady who donated this recipe it is a surprise that her prize winning shortbread recipe doesn't appear in the book. 

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    A Good (Doris) Day for Pillow Talk!

    Ok! Ok!  I promise I'll stop making corny puns in my blog entry titles for movie reviews!

    Recently I watched the romantic comedy "Pillow Talk" with Doris Day and Rock Hudson which came highly recommended by my friend, Stellar Z. 

    The movie revolves around the relationship of Jan Morrow, a feisty interior designer, and Brad Allen, a composer and sworn bachelor/ladies man.  Jan and Brad share a party phone line (multiple houses using the same phone line because the phone company hasn't enough to spare one per household).  This causes both parties angst because Jan's use of the phoneline is hampered by Brad's constant use of the phone line for wooing his ladies.  In turn, Brad's wooing is hampered by Jan's irate interruptions.

    There's not much love lost between the two... that is, until Brad sees Jan in person in a coincidental meeting and decides he'd like to add her to his list of conquests.  I won't say any more on the plot so you can enjoy the way it unfolds if you get the chance to watch it for yourself.

    As for the style in the film... Doris Day's hair style doesn't appeal to me - I can't exactly pin my finger down on why - but the outfits she wears in this movie do grab my attention.   From the fun and cute bed jackets she wears at home to the chic office-wear she dons for her day job, I was taken by everything in 'Jan Morrow's' wardrobe.   Especially the giant pearl earrings.

    Overall I really enjoyed 'Pillow Talk' very much.  I was hooting with laughter throughout the film and really enjoyed watching how things played out between the two main characters.  I thought the chemistry between them was very good and believable.  I even enjoyed the musical interlude where Doris Day reminds us all that she can sing as well as act and look good.   Though my kitteh, Fuu, did not...

    The one 'bee in my bonnet' about this film was there were times when I was grinding my teeth at the sexist nature of some of the plot developments or spoken lines in the script.  The worst of these we definitely the policeman's jocular remark near the end of the film.  I think it's important to note that I'm not a hardcore feminist and I don't usually 'push' that particular agenda - but I did find some things in this movie made me think, "Oh! They couldn't get away with that in a movie today!"

    If you watch the film, let me know if you agree or if you think I'm just being too politically correct
    when watching a film from a time that wasn't known for it's egg-shell language and careful watch on equality issues...

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Inaugural Meeting of the Vintage High Tea Group

    This year I was very kindly invited to join a group in Brisbane called the 'Vintage High Tea Group', a collective of people who enjoy vintage style as well as partaking in high teas.  Rather obvious from the name, I know!

    The very first meeting of the group was organised by the amazing Kate Ferrett at the historical Customs House on Eagle Street Pier.  We had booked an outside table with a view of the Brisbane River but sadly for us it rained and poured and then some more, so we were seated inside.

     I decided that I would brave the inclement weather and wear my 50s party dress matched with my black 50s hat, black pumps and black gloves.  The little black cardigan was a late addition to the outfit as a concession to the cold weather.

     Sassy D wore a handmade late 30s dress with a vintage bonnet-style hat and faux fur stole.  Charming K wore her lovely handmade maroon 40s dress matched with a darling black hat, black crochet gloves and other accessories.

     Lovely C, who has recently gone from rockin' blue hair to smokin' purple hair, wore a gorgeous ensemble with a handmade frock made from a vintage pattern and coat and a beautiful subtle purple and black hat she picked up on her recent trip to the USA.  (Jealous!)

     PoisonedKitty made a new dress from a vintage pattern using some leftover Japanese floral fabric she had in her stash.  The colours were very becoming on her as the photo below doesn't do the outfit justice.

    I wish I had taken more photos, especially of Le-Anne who came in Steampunk style and Kate Ferrett who had the most darling 30s hat on, a stunning Victorian brooch (I'm a sucker for Victorian silver jewellry) and a smart 50s sheath dress on.

    I was very excited about high tea at the Customs House.  I had wished to visit plenty-a-time before but until now never had the chance.  I must be honest and say that I was a little let down.  Certainly not by the service which was irrefutably excellent.  I suppose it was my own expectations that led me to disappointment.  I expected a grand Victorian style room, matching the exterior of the building and instead the restaurant had very modern setting.  I expected tea cups and instead we had small coffee mugs.  The food was a little light on savouries - only two sandwiches per person on my shared plate however the scones were the best I have had in a very long while.  I know that our gluten-free person was a little disappointed with the offerings that were served her, given the high price.  That said though, it was extremely excellent service and it was the first high tea I've been to where orange juice and tea were continually topped-up without extra expense.

    It was lovely to meet some new folk though the long table style of seating means I ended up spending most of my time chatting with PoisonedKitty, Sassy D, Lovely C and Charming K.  I didn't get many photos at the event itself so most of the photos in this post have been stolen from Cherie Woodard - (thanks Cherie!).

    I am really looking forward to the next meeting of the group!

    Saturday, March 9, 2013

    A Closer Look - 30s Celluloid Brooch

    I like roses, a great deal actually.

    So when this little brooch came up for sale on the 'classifieds' email group at my work I snapped it up zealously!

    30s Painted Celluloid Roses Brooch

    Bought from:  a private seller from work.
    Paid:  $15
    Era:  1930s  
    Materials:  Painted celluloid with the original brass pin on the back.
    Size:  It is tiny - only 2.5cm x 1cm in size.  This means that it's good for wearing on collars, ties or scarves but when I wear it on the bust of a blouse it looks a little lost.

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    Simplicity 4699 - Completed!

    Ok!  So I admitted up front that I'm very slow when it comes to sewing.  A dress that might take Sassy D a day to make up takes me 4 months.  (Then again, Sassy D is an amazing seamstress!)

    I'm so slow at sewing that my long term readers probably forgot I was even doing a sewing project!  So to refresh your memory, here are the earlier posts about the Simplicity 4699 dress.

    The pattern and fabric.
    The mockup completed.

    As the cliche says, "slow and steady wins the race".  Well... at least it gets you to the finish line!

    Here is my 'finish line' for the 1940s day dress made from the Simplicity 4699 pattern.

    Unfortunately the busy fabric doesn't offer much of a view of the details of the dress, even in the close up shots below.   There are two pleats either side of the front skirt, single pleats each side on the back.  

    A small stand collar ties in a bow at the front over the keyhole neckline. 

    The raglan sleeves came together easily and the side zipper was a minor challenge but came together simply enough when I hand basted it in.

    On a whole the dress was a pain to sew but that was entirely attributed to my choice of fabric, a slippery sheer rayon with a slippery satin lining.  Slippery fabrics and I hate each other.  I promise myself I will never sew with them again, but I'm lying each time.  The pattern itself was a breeze and I hope to make another one or two in more forgiving cottons or linens.