Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My New York Holiday : Chapter One

Well!  Didn't I have a magnificent holiday!!!

It wasn't smooth sailing to make it to New York however.  My flight from Sydney was delayed for some reason so was late getting into LA, then I wasn't allowed to have an express pass to get through Immigration (and the queue was looooong!) so I made it on to my connecting flight with 10 minutes to spare!

But that wasn't the end of it!  My luggage took a while to come out of the carousel at JFK Airport, and then the car I had booked I was late...

So even though my plane had landed at the airport at 10pm, it was after midnight before I got dropped off at my hotel.

And I was dropped off at the wrong one....

This may have been my fault...  I'm not sure.  But imagine being dropped off at a hotel in the middle of a city you don't know, and you've paid your driver and he's gone, and they tell you you are at the wrong hotel.  I'd been travelling for about 30 hours at this point and I may have briefly considered bursting into tears... but I didn't!  Instead I got the hotel to give me a security guard, and they walked me and my luggage the two blocks to the hotel I should have been at - The Night Hotel.

And this was my room:

I think I need congratulations for having the presence of mind to take a photo of my bed before I laid down and slept on it!

And by crikey that bed was comfortable!!!

And I slept well, and it was a good thing I did because I got right into it the next day!  My first morning in New York was to be spent with my online friend Daffny from A Vintage Nerd, and her family!

We had a picnic in Central Park in front of Belvedere Castle!

With gluten free cupcakes!!!

It was so lovely!  The weather was amazing (especially for someone coming from winter), Daffny's kids loved the presents I gave them, and it was wonderful to talk to Daffny and her husband Andreas IN PERSON!!!

Once we had had our fill, we packed up the picnic and moved into The MET!

Wow, is that place incredible!  Even with three small children in tow which meant I was distracted, I was blown away by the things that they had there!!!  The exhibit I was most impressed by was the Egyptian Exhibit. They had moved a temple block by block and reassembled it in this giant modern glassed room... INCREDIBLE!!!

What I loved most, I think, was the graffiti... see the 1820 carved into the rock there.  People have been graffiti-ing for longer than I ever imagined!

There was even a sphinx that Daffny and I took a selfie with!

A proper sphinx!!!

It had been a big morning for Daffny and her family, so they headed on home... and I headed to a Broadway show!

Yes, I took myself to my favourite play on Broadway - Les Miserables.  I'm not ashamed to say that I sobbed when the music swelled at the start, and I cried like a baby when Jean Valjean died at the end.  What an amazing experience!  I'm so glad I did it!

And that wasn't all for the day.  I also met another online friend, Hannah, after dinner.  We talked and talked and talked until we both realised it was after midnight and she needed to go home and I needed to go to sleep!  We were so distracted that I forgot to take a photo.  Its ok, Hannah will feature again a little later.  I needed a good nights sleep because I had big plans for the next day....

Yes, thats my leg getting tattooed!  I had made an appointment in the months prior to my arrival to get a tattoo from the gorgeous Erica Flannes, who works at Red Rocket Tattoo.  If you like tattoos you should do yourself a favour and check out her Instagram (she posts under @ericaflannes), and if you are in New York, get a tattoo from her.  Her work is amazing.

Now that my tattoo is healed I can show you a really good photo of it.

Yes, I got a magnificent sewing themed tattoo.  That is my scissors and my tape measure, and Erica added the spool of thread and the strawberry pincushion into the mix, and came up with the design.  Isn't it beautiful???  The most common question people have asked me since is 'Did it hurt?' and the answer to that is Yes.  It was 4 hours of agony.  But I didn't die, I was fine the next day, and I have a wonderful permanent reminder of my holiday!

So that is my first two days in New York - I sure crammed a lot in!

Have you been to The MET?  Did you know that people have been grafitti-ing things since forever?  Is Les Miserables your flavourite musical too?  What do you think of my tattoo?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sew Retro Rose on HOLIDAYS!

Hi everyone!!!

So from right now I'm on a much anticipated holiday to the US.  I have been planning and saving and getting excited about this trip for months now!  First stop is New York...

I'm spending my first 5 days in New York on my own, meeting up with a couple of people that I have met online (one of them being Daffny from A Vintage Nerd!) and doing things like seeing my favourite musical on Broadway!

Then the girls who are on the Vintage Shopping Tour with me arrive, and I will spend 10 days touring and shopping in New York and Massachusetts with them.  Thank fully I'm taking an empty suitcase with me..... cause I think I'll need one!

On my final day in New York I am meeting up with Peter from Male Pattern Boldness.  Peter would have to be my favourite sewing blogger, and I am SO EXCITED to get to meet him and go shopping in the garment district with him!!!!  FABRIC SHOPPING!!!!!

Then I fly to Portland, Oregon...

Now, if I was excited about the rest of the trip, I am ECSTATIC about this part!

I will be spending 5 days with Julie from FabGabs Vintage (hands down my favourite online vintage store - I swear, half my wardrobe is from Julie!), and meeting up with Sara from Lilies and Remains (oh my god I love this girl's style!) and Jesse from Brighter Bakelite (bakelite...need I say more?).  I have heard so much about Portland, and I'm really excited to explore it with locals in the vintage scene.

I may need this to bring my luggage home...

You think I'm joking, don't you...

If anyone sees me and recognises me PLEASE come and say hi!  I would love to meet any and all of you!!

I will be back home on the 11th of September, and I will be doing a few posts to catch you up on my adventures in the following couple of weeks.  I'm pretty sure you are all going to want to see what I got up to!  But if you can't wait that long, I will be posting on my Sew Retro Rose Facebook page, and on my personal Instagram page (my username is @beccieleathley) while I'm on holidays, so please come and follow me!

See you all soon!!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Black Suit Makes A Gothic Entrance

When I last posted about the black suit, I had finished the jacket but not the skirt.  I hadn't even decided what type of skirt to make!  After reading your comments and having a think about it, I decided to make the fullest skirt I could make, for a New Look silhouette.

The skirt only took a day to put together, so I whipped it up after I made the drawstring bags.  Then when I saw the suit finished, I knew it needed a special location for a photo shoot!

With the suit being black, and the over-the-top hat, all I could think of was how gothic and victorian it looked... which led me here...

To the oldest cemetery in my local area.  Its located in the pretty little village of Wollombi, and has memorials dating from the mid 1840s.

One of them (the one I'm standing with in the above photo, actually) is a memorial to one of my ancestors believe it or not!  It was erected by the towns people to remember J.W Du Moulin who was the local doctor and was obviously much loved.  The inscription reads:

"Erected over the remains of J.W Du Moulin, Surgeon.  By the people of Wollombi who are anxious to perpetuate the memory of a man whose many sterling qualities have ever linked his name with their kindest and most enduring recollections.  Died June 5th 1854.  Aged 45 years."

Isn't that beautiful!

But anyway, back to the suit.

And my new fur arrived just in time to participate - meet Snidely!

Mum and I had a lovely time wandering around and reading headstones.  Its something that we've done together since I was little, but haven't done for a while.  There is just something about cemeteries that I really love... so much history.

And thanks must go to Mum (Sandie) for the photography.  She did a great job!  Even if she was terrified the whole time of taking terrible photos!

This suit is comfortable and stylish and WARM!  I can't wait to wear it again (mind you, probably not with the hat - the hat is a bit much for every day wear!)

So, do you love it???


Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Special Side Project

So I can't remember if I've told you all about my upcoming holiday!  I know that I've mentioned it when I made all those skirts and blouses, but I'm not sure if I've gone into detail...

On the 23rd of this month I've off to New York!  I'll be spending the first 5 days on my own, then the Vintage Shopping Tour arrives.  This tour is run by the same lady that I went to LA with last year, and a lot of those girls are on this trip too!  So its 8 days of girlie fun and shopping, and then I fly to Portland for five days to meet some internet friends for the first time and do some more shopping and adventuring.

Its going to be the most amazing holiday!

On my first few days in New York I'm meeting up with a couple of other internet friends, one of whom is Daffny from A Vintage Nerd!  We've been talking online for about three years now, so it will be lovely to meet her in person.

Here she is with her three kids on Mother's Day!
That's Rosa on the left, and Micha and Bastian on the right
and her husband Andreas is behind the lens.

Honestly, aren't they adorable!  On my first day in New York, Daffny is bringing her entire family to meet me for a breakfast picnic in Central Park, and a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art!  Doesn't that sound divine!!!

I have decided to bring gifts for the kids all the way from Australia.  I know Daffny has been talking a lot about my visit, so the littlies know how far I'm coming to meet them, and who wouldn't love a gift from the other side of the world! 

To carry the gifts I decided to make awesome draw string bags that the kids can use for whatever they want!  I googled a tutorial and found this one that sounded simple.

I went and purchased some fabulous fabric with Australian animals on it (in a blue colour way and a yellow colour way), some grosgrain ribbon, and some iron on letters that spelt their names.  I cut the fabric to 20" squares and went at it.

First job was to make name plates and attach them to one piece of each bag.  I measured how long each string of letters was and did some calculations about how big the rectangles would need to be.  I planned to iron a hem, and use my webbing glue to attach the rectangle to the bag piece, and sew around the edge.

I ironed the hems on all the rectangles...

...and then I ironed them on to the bag piece 2 1/2 inches from each side.

Then I carefully stitched close to the edge of the rectangle with matching thread.

Then I started the construction of the bags using french seams.  I wanted to give the bags as much longevity as possible.

Then I constructed the case at the top for the drawstring.

Then I did the bit I'd been waiting for the whole time!  Ironing on the letters!!!

With Miss Stella's help (and the help of a big safety pin) I threaded the grosgrain ribbon through the casings.

Goodness she needs a hair cut!!!

And then I was able to fill the bags with the wonderful presents I had purchased for them.  And now I'm even more excited to give them their gifts!!!

I think this might be my first sewing project that isn't a piece of clothing!  And I really enjoyed sewing them, and can't wait to give them to the children!!

Has anyone else made anything similar.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back in Black...

Which is another way of saying that with the skirts and blouses finished, I'm back to the black suit!  As a refresh, this is where I left it... the body was together but work still needed to be done hand stitching hair canvas to facing pieces.

Well somehow in amongst all that other sewing, I got that hand sewing done and was able to continue on with the suit this weekend just gone.  First up I steamed the front facings, and while they were cooling I got on with the sleeves.

I like to make sleeves in finished units before I sew them in, and to do that with these sleeves I also needed to make cuffs.  I wanted to have silk on the cuffs and the collar to break the wool up a bit, so my cuffs were two layers of wool and one layer of silk... and after I made them I realised that they were just too thick.

So I had to make them again... this time with one layer of wool and one layer of silk.  Doing it this way really helped me to get much pointier points!

That's the new ones on the right

I then attached them to the sleeves along with the facing, and I had two finished sleeves!

Note with these sleeves how straight they are.  They are very VERY fitted.

I then put them into the suit and felt a sense of satisfaction that this suit was finally getting somewhere!!!

On to the next job - the lining!  This suit pattern doesn't have any mention of a lining, but for me it had to have one.  It just meant that after cutting out the lining the same as the suit pieces, they then needed to be trimmed down to take into account the large facings.  With that done, I sewed up the darts and put it all together.

You can see that I chose to use a grey polka dot acetate for the lining.  I really do prefer rayon linings to acetate.... acetate is a bit icky.

Then I remembered shoulder pads... so I found my favourite life-changing shoulder pad tutorial (check it out here - I promise it will change your life too) and made some shoulder pads.

After I sewed the shoulder pads to the suit I started to experiment.  I sewed all the facing pieces together, and they formed a full 'border' around the raw edges of the lining (ignoring the sleeves), so I thought instead of hand sewing in the lining (ugh!) how about I sew the lining to the facings...

And then the facings to the suit!!!

Anyone else see the problem here???  Be prepared to laugh - I didn't leave myself any way to turn the jacket through.

Trust me, I laughed a lot at this point.  And kept laughing.  I figured the easiest seam to open was the one in the back facing pieces (at the bottom of the above photo).  So I got out my seam ripper and ripped it open and started pulling the jacket the right way through.

It was like birthing a baby without the pain.  I was trying to pull so much fabric through such a small opening, and I just couldn't stop laughing!

But I got there, it worked!!

Now lets talk about the buttons.

I bought these buttons from my Button Lady (who I discovered has a facebook page) and I just love them.  There was only three of them, and as soon as I saw them I knew I needed them for this suit!  Yes they are a bit 'out-there' but so am I!

I have since done all the hand sewing on the jacket (apart from pinning back the cuffs. I haven't made my mind up about that yet...), so next I will be making the skirt.

I have a fair bit of the wool left over, so I am going to make a full skirt (as full as I can get it) rather than a pencil skirt as per the pattern.  I know what I normally wear, and I will get a lot more wear out of a wool circle skirt than a wool pencil skirt.

So what do you think of my buttons?  And what do you think of wearing this jacket with a full skirt rather than a pencil skirt?