1940’s Skirt Sewing

Over three evenings I cut and constructed this wonderful basic skirt. I like the A line shape a lot. There is some length as it is below the knees, some give in the hips for movement. It seems like a nice basic every day comfort kind of skirt. I’m not one to pull on a wiggle skirt on a daily basis. I found the fabric at an antique show. It was enough by 1/16th of an inch, no kidding, I lucked out! I adore the blush pink shade with an interesting pop of dark blue. The vintage buttons I had were still on cards. I always make sure to hoard these when I see them at a good price. That way you always know you will have a complete set of buttons and they are easy to file away in my apothecary cabinet. Since I mostly just have nights to work on crafting as I work, take care of the house and have a 4 year old son, it took me 3 nights but I’m sure the average stay at home girl could knock this out in a day! Pattern is Simplicity 4981 from the 1940’s. I think I may pair it up with a white blouse and once warmer weather arrives, some sandals or wedges. I look forward to more vintage sewing. I feel like after the couple projects I’ve done in the last year it breaks the ice and helps subside the fears of dealing with unknown territory. (unmarked patterns, instructions that assume you have a longer history of sewing) I’ve sewn PLENTY of doll clothes but I finally am trying to focus on myself! It’s nice to have 1/2 inch seams instead of 1/8th. 

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Halloween Birthday!

I have a Halloween birthday which I think is the best! Obviously I love dressing up so Halloween gives me an extra excuse to do so. On a rainy Portland day inside while my husband cooked me the traditional yam sauce veggie lasagna, I played dress up. 

I started the day with a 1920’s feedsack type print dress in black and orange. What I love is the extra deco styling, asymmetrical details on the shoulders and wave like zig zag trim on the hem. Fabric is thick and sturdy so I choose this to wear in the morning taking my 3 year old son to preschool.  I bought a black and orange bakelite necklace on etsy to go with the dress. It’s one of those unique color combos used in the 1920’s not just on Halloween so I know I can use it again day to day. Shoes by Chie Mihara, duh! I wanted to pose with one of my boudoir dolls as the flappers of the day used to. This one I bought years back around Halloween and sure paid the price for it! She is in perfect condition and I couldn’t live with out her. She has sultry eyes and a playful halloween pierrette costume. My dolls to me are like little time capsules capturing the fashion and look of the day. Where as we might wear our human clothes to rags, most likely these dolls and their costumes will outlive them all. You can learn so much about textiles just from dolls. I wouldn’t be a seamstress if it weren’t for them!  

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Another dress I was dying to wear for months and months was a dress I actually had listed on etsy for the longest time. After not selling the second time around I came to my senses. This dress is meant for ME! Vampy black velvet and gold metallic lace, luxurious as can be. Shoes were found from another vintage picker who found these at the Goodwill “bins”, to think! My rhinestone headpiece was actually found locally on a 1920’s boudoir doll. Sorry dolly, I’ve stolen your crown. 

Rhiannon Halloween 2012

Last but not least, I opened my birthday present from my husband. I got a coat from Ralph Lauren. It’s brown silk velvet with a big brown fur collar. It makes me feel very elegant and 1930’s. I paired it with some gaberdine pants from Allure Originals and new fall season Chie Mihara’s.  

Rhiannon Halloween 2012

Believe it or not, I changed a fourth time for trick or treating in the misty Portland night. I didn’t want my velvet to get wet! I wore a new wool Odd Molly coat with an almost pale lilac fur collar. I stuck on a gold cloche and voila! instant flapper again. 

Odd Molly Coat

I didn’t capture me in this coat yet though since it was all chaos after a brood of children came over to trick or treat with my son Damien. It was a busy night and I got to do my favorite things, dress up and have fun with my family. 

Halloween and 1920’s Crepe Paper Costumes

Halloween is my favorite holiday! Maybe it is because it is my birthday too? I began my tradition of dressing in 1920’s clothing when I was 15 on my birthday. Every year it gave me an excuse to buy and wear something vintage. It’s been so much fun to collect a dress a year, something special that I will keep for years to come. 1920’s Halloween ephemera is so much fun. The decorations are still on the spooky and scary side where as in later eras faces on decorations became friendlier. The 1920’s just celebrated costume and fantasy. One amazing thing craft medium of the era was crepe paper. It was thicker than most crepe paper available to us these days. A good source for this paper that is thick like the vintage is Castle In The Air. You too can make your own fanciful crepe paper costume like these! I already have two dresses in line to wear for Halloween but I need to break out the scissors and glue and make one of these for myself too one day. For the full set of images from this booklet, visit here. 

Crepe Paper Costumes

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In the 1920’s even boudoir dolls which women collected could be dressed in crepe paper. You’d buy a Dennison kit at the 5 and dime complete with little undecorated hat to dress your doll in! I have a doll like this in my collection. Isn’t she charming? 

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http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8171/8072397682_78c533e908_z.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8171/8072397682_78c533e908_z.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8171/8072397682_78c533e908_z.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8318/8072403983_fb64819e56_z.jpgWhere as I may have not gotten to making a whole crepe paper costume for myself, I did decorated a set of plastic carnival dolls with crepe paper myself many years back. 

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Art Deco Society Gatsby Picnic at Dunsmuir Mansion

I was happy to travel this weekend to the California Bay Area for the Art Deco Society hosted Gatsby picnic. Being a Berkeley/Oakland native, I had been to Gatsby once before years ago. Since I have few opportunities to dress up 1920’s I was excited to plan a trip back to the bay area, though somewhat hesitant.

For those who don’t know my history, I lived in Oakland for 7 years until the crime in my neighborhood got incredibly bad. I sensed what was coming to us and one sad day in July, someone broke into our house to rob it while I was home with my baby. I ran out the front door while the man came in the back door. I called my husband first and he rushed home. My husband Soren had a horrible confrontation with the guy in which my husband broke his foot in 100 pieces as was pinned down at gun point. Once the police came a half hour later, they refused to enter our house till the dog unit arrived, another half hour. In the meantime the doors were open and our kitties wandered away. (luckily to come back later in the day) Days after, a more horrendous crime happened a few houses down. It sealed the deal for us running far away. After that Soren and I basically picked a random place on earth to move away from and that was Portland. Needless to say I have many bitter feelings about coming back to Oakland for the first time since this happened. 

Claremont Hotel Berkeley

We made the most of it though and wanted to make this a mini vacation away from home. We booked our stay at the Claremont Hotel, the bigger than life white tudor mansion that sits atop the Berkeley hills, visible from miles and miles away. I love that the lobby is pasted with historic photos of the hotel and it’s guests. It still retains a very antique look to it on the inside. My family had I had the fun of ordering room service one morning where they wheel in a whole table with pretty formal looking table settings. It was a fun treat! 

Claremont Hotel Lobby

My son Damien loves the book Eloise. I felt like we were pretending to be Eloise at the Park Plaza. I like to give “D” special memories for childhood. I know a treat like this would stick in his memory for life as it’s surely not an every day experience. Damien eagerly talks to all “the help” just like Eloise. He is such a cutie! 

Damien and Room Service

So for Gatsby I had saved this very comfortable ebay found 1920’s cotton dress with a green tulip print for the occasion. Though I love silk, I had to admit that vintage silk has so many shattering problems. Even when you have a healthy looking antique dress, the armpits are so prone to ripping. I hate to admit to how many 1920’s dresses I have ruined myself. Cotton wears much better so I was relieved to know I won’t be damaging an old dress. This is something I care much more about now being a vintage clothing seller. I have so much more respect for the clothes these days. Though unseen, I wore a mint green rayon jersey teddy under that I found for a $1 and mended. My pearls were my 30th birthday gift from my husband. Aren’t I a lucky girl?

Rhiannon's Gatsby Outfit

My hat has a slightly funny story. I once had a preview to a sale. I saw this amoung hundreds of other treasures. I wasn’t allowed to buy early though so being able to grab this the day of the sale proved to be doubtful. In the chaos of the sale, I never saw it till check out. I asked another dealer friend who bought it and found out. I stalked his antique mall space for months. At last, the hat was there! I tried it on and it fit! I felt happy to pay full price and support another fellow antique dealer. It is tagged “Sally Anne Model, Paris New York”. The back underside of the brim has has white velvet millinery flowers tucked in. The back has a bow. I believe it is horsehair with an embroidered stitching on it. 

Shoes, needless to say are Chie Mihara’s that will last me a life time. Never have I experienced such a well made and comfortable shoe brand in my life. I am a devotee for life! 

Rhiannon and Damien

Here is me and my little 3 year old son Damien. He was looking forward to Gatsby very much. Since I am often going to vintage parties here in Portland which I don’t bring him, he was so into finally getting to go to a party. What is not to love about a party for a 3 year old? I made sure to buy him some cake too as a shameless bribe to get him to go. He wore a linen one piece outfit I found at an antique mall. 

The Macbeth Family

It’s seriously exciting to get my husband all dressed up. He is my Gatsby, the man who makes it all possible. 

Soren Macbeth

Rhiannon drinking wineOld Timey Cars

Maybe when we retire someday, we can buy an old car too. 

What  impresses me most about Gatsby is the effort everyone puts into their picnic set up. They bring in tents, chairs, table cloths, full formal table settings and all that jazz. Maybe next time we go we will drive and bring stuff. Flying in though, we had nothing more than a borrowed blanket and some vintage napkins. Seeing the effort put into this event makes my heart sing. My feeling about Portland is that we are so Mid-Century focused. I sometimes worry that deco will be overlooked, destroyed and forgotten as the years pass on. It’s nice to see the passion still there and alive. 

Vintage Picnicware

Gatsby Summer Picnic

Damien with a Stick

I briefly met the beautiful Katherine Brooks, one fo the Deco Belles. (dances in the society) I love her beige, red and black outfit. I don’t think I was ever out going enough to join the Deco Belles when I lived here. 

Katherine Brooks

Gatsby is held at the Dunsmuir Mansion. I was able to take a little house tour which was a fun surprise. The house was so roomy and very formal. Dare I say, I wouldn’t trade my little Portland home for this? I’m happy for the preservation of this house though. It really feels like you step into the past here. 

Dunsmuir

I look forward to attending another Gatsby in the future. Maybe if us Portlanders ban together we can attempt to host our own small Gatsby event on day. How about it!? 

1938 Picnic Hosted by Solanah of Vixen Vintage

Today I had a little picnic with the local vintage crowd again. This time hosted by Solanah of Vixen Vintage, the theme was 1938. This is a great year in fashion. I brought my 1937-1938 Sears Roebuck catalog to share. Clothing often looks very 1940’s but some house dresses still have very depression looking fabric but less and less deco inspirations. Hemlines were starting to come up from longer hemlines most known in the 1930’s. Most waist and bust being more tailored and fitted was coming in fashion. There is a bit of a peter pan fantasy going on with some of the clothes with funny pointed feather caps, yet still some very 30’s looking side tilts still are sold in the catalog. Hair was getting longer too but for the most part not past the shoulders yet. This is probably the last glamour hey day before war time. Here is a snipet from the catalog mentioned. For more, please visit here. 

1938 Sears Catalog Page

I wore a dress I acquired locally. I’m really in love with this dress. I am a crochet and knitter as well as a seamstress. The sad fact is that I don’t currently have the patience to finish a whole dress. I’ve been wanting a crocheted dress for a while and wasn’t finding just what I wanted online. This came along and fits too! A squishy butter yellow rayon yarn with a hint of sheen. Adorable puff sleeves and scallops on edges. Oh scallops! Just look at my living room to see how I love scallops. (my fire place, fireplace screen, in my rug) It has a great princess waist line. The hem line is still pretty long so I want to say this at late 30’s. It’s cheerful and cute. So yes, I love this dress! I added a bakelite bow pin, knee high granny stockings and some Chie Mihara shoes to complete the look. I did my hair in pin curls the night before and decided to go for a Vivian Leigh center parted hair. My hair is still a bit too short for 1938 but I had to make do. I’ll be back to my Louise Brooks hair next week for Gatsby Picnic at Dunsmuir, for those who have missed my bob. 

1938

Here is some of the loveliness of the day. 

Solanah

This is Solanah the hostess. She made her own dress! I think every girl should still know how to do this. It’s such a satisfying feeling to do it yourself. 

Last but not least, some photos of my latest craft project. I’ve been working on this purse for about two weeks or so at night. I was born on Halloween so the spooky girl is born into me. This 1938 crochet spider web purse had to be made! I found new gimp thread in the UK and got to work. Thankfully realizing the copyright date was 1938 last night, I was motivated to push on through to midnight to get it finished. I hand dyed the zipper black since a lot of them came to me in blue. I found what looks like the exact spider pin used in the pattern for the purse. I love it and am so proud of myself when I finish something. Yeah me! 

1938 Crochet Gimp Spider Web Purse

Gingham Summer Party

Yesterday I hosted a vintage gingham themed summer party. At last the sun is 90% reliable here in Portland. Who else better to enjoy the lovely day with than some vintage clothes wearing gals?

After proposing the party idea two or three months ago, I put in an ebay search for gingham. I was lucky to find a 1930’s gingham dress that was to die for! Finding a hat to compliment was a harder task but weeks before the party I found one on etsy from AlexSandra who is local to me in Portland. The hat is tagged a New York Creation. I paired it up with some white Chie Mihara sling back heels from many many seasons ago that I found on ebay too. 

Rhiannon in 1930's Dress

Rhiannon in 1930's Dress

You know, I have a funny feeling no one has any idea what I look here in Portland with out bangs. I’ve only had them for three years, as with my Louise Brooks bob but it has become my signature hair quickly. So, maybe this look is a bit different. I grew my bangs out just enough to brush them aside in a fingerwave/ pincurl do that my hairdresser Deanna Everson of Ginger Salon whipped up. To me, a good hair dresser is better than a psychiatrist and a plastic surgeon wrapped up in one. They listen to your problems in life AND make you look fabulous for 1/20th the cost. Tip them and tip them well folks!   

I love chatting with vintage clothing enthusiasts. We can relate about things such as vintage repair, condition issues, how we are perceived by others wearing vintage around town and really just learn so much history from each other as we all focus on different eras than one another. We all need reasons to get more use out of our vintage wardrobe  so I say, keep the parties coming! 

The Martha Stewart in me also loves party planning, though mine was a tad lazy since I do get the party catered. I did end up making some lovely triple citrus cupcakes with lime icing, all wrapped up in green gingham. Martha’s looked better than mine but at least they tasted delicious. 

Triple Citrus Cupcakes

My husband mixed up a absinthe punch of Pernod, St. Germain, lime juice, tonic and cucumber slices. I admit, though trying to drink slowly I got tipsy a bit too early and took no photos of my guests! So, I’m going to steer you on over to my friend Janey’s blog Atomic Redhead for another look. I deeply adore every single guest that came and feel so privileged to be here in Portland and know them all. 

Portland Expo

Yesterday was the start of the Portland Expo. It’s one of the largest antique shows nation wide. I always find success when you put that many antiques in one place. There was treasures to be found everywhere. It was just a matter of how long your feet and wallet could hold out. 

I woke up at 5:30am in hopes my previous days fingerwave was still in. It was! I put on an amazing 1930’s light pink romper I got from Coral Vintage. It looks like a skirt till you move and you see it’s actually long shorts. I paired it with a 30’s linen coat I found at the antique mall over here. Chie Mihara shoes, of course, gauntlet gloves and my fur scarf to start the brisk morning off with.  I’m experimenting with side part hair and not having bangs anymore. I’m still debating on what I like best. 

Rhiannon at Expo

I went with my friend Janey of Atomic Redhead. I adore this girl, her style, her humor and great beauty. We had great fun digging through bins vendors haven’t even put out yet, finding all the best deals. It’s great to pair up with someone who has different era preferences than you. I didn’t mind at all handing over 50’s to her and leaving the 20’s-40’s for me! I came prepared with a granny cart. I felt for sure I’d be the only one but tons of ladies had them. I filled it up with treasures for me and my shop. 

One highlight that I found for myself is this 1920’s dark green coat right away. The soutache trim is to die for, not to mention the fur trims and very deco button. There is a few nips at the wool but I can forgive a lot of things for a coat like this! 

1920's Forest Green Coat

Also found, a 1920’s Anita face boudoir doll, some Nancy Ann storybook dolls. Two dresses I will keep for myself are a 1930’s rust colored dress with fur sleeves and a feedsack 30’s “Mode O Day” dress too. Lots of cotton 40’s house dresses coming to the shop after a wash that I am super excited about. 

Now this week is gear up for the Portland Flea week for me. Come visit Garb-Oh Vintage there next weekend! 

Sharon Needles Groupie

Despite it being Father’s Day yesterday, my ever kind, generous and loving husband let me and a friend venture off to the gay pride block party hosted by Sharon Needles, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4. Being the former teenage goth I was, who could miss seeing this unexpected celebrity!? There is no excuse not to dress up around drag queens. I had to pull out something classy and vampy. I accomplished a very 1930’s look with wide leg white linen pants (darn those things for wrinkling too easily) I paired it up with a Beyond Vintage silk blouse in gradating tones of grey. I wore my white sling back Chie Mihara shoes. A vintage felt tilt hat was the finishing touch. (though again, should have ironed and blocked this thing before I ventured out)

Rhiannon

I wanted my makeup to look like the black and white photos of Marlene Dietrich, one of my favorite style icons. From reading books about her, I read she always used white eyeliner on the inner bottom rim of her eyes to make them look bigger. I used smokey dark grey shadow and lots of mascara. Though many people mistake my pointed lips for a tip off to Siouxsie and the Banshees, 1920’s and 30’s ladies did actually seem to invent the pointy lipstick look. 

Marlene Dietrich

While waiting for tickets we got a quick out-of-drag Sharon sighting! He was so cute with messy bleachy blond hair, reminding me of one teenage boyfriend. We were both too shy to go accost him and ask for photos though. The day did proved to be full of crazy people watching. We saw near naked men in tight underwear, a very silly burning man type circus crowd, lots of throw back to the 80’s hipsters, girls looking just like Drew Barrymore in the 90’s, some goths that apparently still exist in the 90’s void Portland is in, and more. A stage show of a gothic whore looking drag queen swallowing a whole long balloon did prove to be more than amazing, though, couldn’t he die doing that? The wait for Sharon to get on stage was excruciating with lesser quality singers up before her. Being that at least 10 gay men and a few lessies came up to me telling me I’m the most fabulous, gorgeous girl with a great look, it was a bit hard to want to leave. I just don’t get treated that way around straight girls! Being that I left my lil family at 1pm and it was nearly 6, had no lunch and just a ton of cheap drinks, my friend and I decided to call it a day and head home despite not seeing Sharon. Boo hoo! We tried, but my feet were aching. 

Fast forward through eating fast, putting my baby to bed and giving my husband some attention, I was encouraged to go back about an hour later by my dear husband to see if I could still get a Sharon sighting. I’m also a crazy determined person when I put my mind to it. I couldn’t give up now. I raced there with comfortable shoes, parked in a 15 min hotel parking spot, only to find the show was over. BUT everyone was waiting in line for a meet and greet. I waited in line with various transient characters for a couple hours. Oh so exciting, Sharon was taking photos with every person who came in! I got up there, took a photo, gave him a hug, told him thanks to him I can embrace wearing makeup again. He said, “yeah I do wear a lot of that” He signed my maxi pad and that was that! Success! So yes, in a few days the Aura club in Portland should be posting photos online of this all to prove my brief meet with Sharon.

Honestly though, Sharon and RuPaul, you have brightened many drab Portland rainy days for me that I didn’t think I could get through. You’ve made me again embrace makeup and costume again which I haven’t cared to wear in years. Why? Because we are all drag queens deep inside, people making a show of themselves, changlings who have the power to be what ever we want to be, when we want to be, then change again! We don’t have to look like everyone else or conform. Sharon, if you are out there, send me a message if you ever need some fabulous vintage clothes! I’ll make you a deal. :)

Sharon Needles Signature on Maxi Pad

Lace Blouse

Friday happy hour cocktails at the Teardrop Lounge gave me an excuse to wear this 1930’s blouse I’ve been anxious to wear. I got it at an estate sale a month or so ago. I don’t find a lot for myself, I’ve maybe kept a small handful of things for myself over the time I’ve had Garb-Oh Vintage. It was nice to see this blouse in perfect condition and in my size! I wore it with a more high waisted skirt and a vintage pink silk slip under. Every time I wear silk stockings or lingerie I feel like a rose petal, soft and lovely. The shoes I also found in a large lot I bought for my store, but when the shoe fits, it’s a keeper! 

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My Garden Party

Yesterday I hosted a lovely vintage floral themed garden party. Everyone wore vintage floral themed dresses. I wore a silk 1920’s dress with little red flowers and the most wonderful micro pleated collar. I just adore seeing all the myriad of dresses from different eras. It’s a feast for the eyes. I served tea sandwiches, quiche and chicken salad on endive as well as French macaroons and homemade molasses cookies. Lots of sangria topped it off. The weather was the typical Portland moody sky, sprinkling, then bits of blue sky to tease us, then darn storm clouds on the other side of the sky. We were in and outside but I was happy to get some photos of the ladies in the garden. My chicken Billie proved to be a special delight and Cassandra John was so apt to catch her, alas we did! 

Rhiannon

Janey’s dress looks like what a Madame Alexander Cissy doll would wear. Turquoise is just beautiful on a red head. 

Janey Ellis

Anne of Lulu’s Vintage was wearing a stunning red with black rose dress. I love her studded bow belt and black crinoline showing under. 

Anne of Lulu's Vintage

I think the piece de resistance on Solanah’s outfit is a very daring hat of cascading daisies. Who else could pull this off so well?

Solanah

My dear costume designer friend Kristen wore a stunning 1960’s inspired dress that fitted like a dream. The aquatic colors brought out her beautiful blue eyes. 

Kristen

Here you see Hannah and Solanah. I wanted to show Hannah’s dress especially because I love the bright colors in late 1930’s to 1940’s dresses. I’m a sucker for ruffles and bows, she had both, ruffles on the dress and bows on her toes! 

Half the party was inside. Here you can see Jennifer in another dreamy 1950’s dress with blue flowers and black trim. I adore how the black balances out this dress and let her add in black accessories such as a wonderful lucite purse. Angelica was wearing an amazing warm beige wiggle dress that just compliments her skin tone so well. 

Cassandra spent half the time outside chasing the chickens despite being in pointy little high heels and a wiggle dress! At last I caught Billie the chicken for her and she was quite excited to hold her. 

Here are the beautiful cookies. I wish I could take such Martha Stewart photos like this all the time! 

French macaroons

I obviously put in extra work to the garden for the event, collecting as many vintage planters as I could to decorate my plant stand. The garden is looking full and lush now but nothing in comparison to what it will be in another month when the sun comes out and makes it all grow! There is foxglove, peonies, iris, delphiniums and daisies in bloom though as well as many roses just starting to open. It’s one thing to have a beautiful garden but it means so much more to me when I can share it with friends who can enjoy it too. 

Please visit Janey’s Atomic Redhead blog for more wonderful photos of the other ladies. I admit that the sangria probably set in too soon and I should have taken more photos the second everyone came in the door.