Saturday, October 11, 2014

Announcing a SEW ALONG!!!

I'm taking a break from my holiday posts to announce a sew-along that I hope you will all want to participate in!  I'm pretty excited about this, and I hope you are too.  We are going to sew a Swirl Dress!

Now, for those that don't know, Swirl dresses are quite possibly the most wonderfully designed and comfortable dresses on the planet.  I own several, and I live in them on the weekends.

This add basically says it all.  You walk into it, do up the button, tie it around your waist and look fabulous and feel comfortable all day!

And what I really love about them is that they are all so different!  They come in novelty prints:

This is a photo of Solanah from Vixen Vintage
And I'm pretty sure this dress she is wearing is now in my wardrobe!
(we have a vintage dealer friend in common - FabGabs)

All have pockets:

If they are in a plain fabric they are embellished:

They used different fabrics for the skirt and the bodice:

Basically, they are just all round fabulous!

This same dress is also in my wardrobe I'm pretty sure
(via another friend in common with a shop - Simply Vintage)

So how is this sew-along going to work?  I recently purchased this pattern on Etsy:

And I have just spent the last day and a bit turning that pattern into four different sized pdf patterns that I can send out to each of you that wish to participate.  The sizes are as follows:

SMALL : Bust 32"-34", Waist 24"-26", Hips free
MEDIUM : Bust 36"-38", Waist 28"-30", Hips free
LARGE : Bust 40"-42", Waist 32"-34", Hips free
XLARGE : Bust 44"-46", Wasit 36"-38", Hips free

Please note that these measurements are your measurements, not the measurements of the garment, and the fit is quite adjustable given that it is a wrap dress.  If you are between sizes its going to depend on how you like your fit - fitted? size down, blousey? size up.

By now I'm hoping that you are super excited and want to find out how to get yourself a copy of the pattern and join in the fun!!!

I am going to give everyone a couple of weeks to get organised, so the sew-along will start on the 29th of October.  There is going to be a small charge of US$6 to get a copy of the pattern in an attempt to recover my time and materials in making the pattern.  I hope everyone is ok with that...

To join in, comment below with your email address and I will send you an invoice for the US$6, or, send an email to sewretrorose(at) with your email address.  When you've paid I will email you the pattern.  EASY!

I really REALLY hope that everyone joins in the fun.  When all the instructions are posted (I think I'll do three posts a week) I'll give everyone a couple of weeks to finish and I'll do a blog post with photos of everyone's finished dresses.  OH! And I'm going to make a facebook group for everyone that joins so that we can all talk and ask questions and post photos and make friends!

Please join in!!


Friday, October 10, 2014

My New York Holiday : Chapter Five

At the end of the last Chapter, Joy, Tracy and I had struck out on our own, had a fabulous dinner, and visited a scary tiki bar.

Day two was Marianna's birthday and we went out SHOPPING!

Happy 30th Birthday Marianna!!!

First stop for shopping was the Brooklyn Flea Market.  Luckily we got there early, because before too long it got bloody hot!  We wandered the stalls that sold all kinds of things - jewellery, clothing, buttons, fake bakelite (that was sold as real - not happy!), shoes, handbags, etc.  Even big stuff like homewares and furniture!  We wandered around and found some great bargains, and kicked off the shopping part of our tour with a bang.

 Super sad face that I couldn't take these signs home...

I found the cutest french bulldog that smiled on command!  So I had to take a selfie with him!!

He has his own Instagram page - @oatmealthepup

Next we visited some stores - flying visits though,  I think the most time we spent in any one place was 20 minutes.  I visited Dusty Buttons for the last time *sob*

Here is the adorable Hannah - love her!

And we got back to the hotel with enough time to head out for Marianna's birthday dinner at 21 Club - which was fabulous, but nowhere near as fabulous as the group of us that went to The Plaza for cocktails afterwards!!!

We were the loud, raucous Aussies in the corner - drinking and laughing and having a fabulous time until 'the ugly lights' came on.  Then we attempted to leave, but kept getting waylaid by things to have photos taken with... like (another) vintage telephone!

The funny thing about this telephone is that you could hold it up for about 30 seconds without dialing anything, then someone would pick up and ask if they could help... at which point we would giggle and hang up.  All of us had a go at this, and I was convinced that when the security guards were approaching us, they were coming to kick us out... No!  They were coming to have their photo taken with us!!

Once we managed to get out the door, we wandered back to our hotel to go to bed - ready for the next day's adventures!

Day Three of the shopping tour was technically a free day, but most people had signed up for the behind the scenes tour of the Radio City Music Hall.

It is an amazing building!  And so beautiful!!  Unfortunately they were filming The X Factor there at the time and because of that we weren't able to see the whole building, and weren't able to take photos in a lot of places (like the auditorium!), but what we did see was gorgeous.

*cough* wasn't supposed to take this one *cough*

This was in the ladies bathroom!

After the tour ended, I hightailed it to the Museum of Modern Art where I was meeting my cousin for lunch and a wander around the gallery.

That's Mandy and I in front of some 'art'.  And yes I am putting that in inverted commas deliberately.  I just don't see how three white canvases with black borders is art.  I also don't see how any of the following is art.

A shovel hanging from the ceiling...

A rubber mat...

A stack of bricks...

And my personal favourite

Some wrinkly green canvas pinned to the wall.

Who are they trying to kid here?????  However, I did see the following, which made it worthwhile.

Mandy and I had a really good time - we laughed and laughed and laughed.  I'm sure a lot of the stuff that we were laughing at wasn't supposed to be funny... but we found it amusing!!!

After my visit with Mandy I had just enough time to get ready to go out for the Birth of the Cocktail tour!!!  I was really looking forward to this night, and let me tell you it was action packed and didn't disappoint!

Our guide was taking is to some of the historically important cocktail bars in the city, and giving us some history about cocktails.  She also asked us if we wanted to have a drink on each stop.  We said yes.  Then she said that we would have to drink them fast.  We pointed out that we were Australian, and that should tell her that there would be no problem with the speed of our drinking.

We started off at the Algonquin Hotel where famous literary types formed a club called the Round Table.  We ordered our cocktails and sat down for a history on the location.

Just after we arrived I received a flash flood warning on my phone, and when we'd finished our drinks and tried to leave, it was teeming with rain!  Really really heavy rain!  Joy went to get us 45 Minute Umbrellas (so called because thats how long they last for) and some of the ladies decided to go back to the hotel.  I took my shoes off (they were satin) and decided to forge on.  Not long after we got out the door the rain stopped - but there were so many puddles!!!

No, I'm not levitating - I'M JUMPING IN PUDDLES!!!

But I didn't really think that through, because then I realised I would have to walk all the way to the next stop in bare feet...  in New York.  Next stop was The King Cole Bar.

Where we all scoffed another cocktail.  I also borrowed someone's hand sanitiser and sanitised my feet before putting my shoes on.  Because of the rain delay we had to cancel going to a couple of our stops, but we were having a marvelous time!  Next one required a ride on the subway!

My first ride on a New York subway!  And something was obviously hilarious... but I can't remember what.... (no surprises there!)

Our final stop was a coffee shop...


Hang on - there was A SECRET DOOR!

Before I knew it we were ushered through a secret door into a fully themed prohibition era bar called Bathtub Gin that was so dark I couldn't get a good photo of the interior!  But it was incredible.  They had reserved us the best seats in the house too... right in front of a massive copper bathtub.

This required very little coaxing.  What can I say, I was having a great time!!!

But the bathtub wasn't for patrons.  No, it was for an incredible burlesque show that we had front row seats for!  This bar seriously had everything - entertainment, great food, great drinks, amazing surroundings, attractive waitstaff...  It had it all.  I would go back there in a heartbeat!!!

Before we knew it it was time to head off back to the hotel.  Someone, who shall remain nameless (*cough* Kimberley! *cough*) INSISTED that we have another drink in the bar, so not needing an awful lot of arm twisting, a small group of us did.  And thats where I will leave this story for now.

So, have you ever been in a giant copper bathtub in a swanky bar?  Ever wondered at what the hell constitutes art these days?  Ever jumped in puddles as an adult? Ever taken a selfie with a dog - and a random dog at that?


Friday, October 3, 2014

My New York Holiday : Chapter Four

At the end of the last chapter, the Vintage Shopping Tour girls had arrived (very late), so this chapter begins with me hanging out with some (very) jetlagged girls... and the effervescent Joy!

The first day of the shopping tour started with an art deco tour of midtown New York City.  First stop was Grand Central Station.  Oh. My. Lord.

Is it any wonder we were all looking up...


Here is something interesting I learned.  Back in the 80s, this building was almost torn down.  It was grimy and ugly and had completely lost its former glory.  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was instrumental in getting the funds to have it restored to its former glory.  See that dashed line across the blue ceiling?  Follow that the the left and you will see a black rectangle.  THAT is what the entire building looked like before the restoration.  The cigarette smoke and dust and other yuck had accumulated that much that every surface was black.  It is no wonder that this building was not appreciated for what it was.  And I just love the way they left this one part un-restored so we can see it and appreciate the restoration process.

We went to quite a few buildings... but sadly I don't remember the names of them...

This is in the News Building - I remember that!


My day job is with a town planning consultancy, so I was interested to discover that the pyramid type stepping is actually a set-back restriction in the building code.  And they are in place to provide light and breeze to street level.

We did go to The Waldorf.... which was beautiful.  And for some reason we all needed to go to the bathroom.

I didn't even need to go - I just wanted to look!

The tour ended at The Rockefeller Centre, and we had a group photo with our tour guide, as you do.  His name was Tony and he was an exceptionally knowledgeable man, and has literally written the book on Art Deco architecture in New York!  Check out his website!

Thats him hiding back there with the hat on...

Joy and I made the day of the security guard at the Rockefeller Centre.

Kim had booked us all in the same elevator to the 'Top Of The Rock' (the viewing platform at the top of the building), and as we arrived at the head of the queue the ushers realised that we had one space and asked for volunteers to ride with us all.  One very brave man put his hand up - his name was Fabian and he was french!  Man did we give him a hard time - and then we had a photo with him at the top.  I'm sure that photo went straight to Facebook!!!

The view from the top was spectacular!  But it was also very hot in the sun, so it wasn't too long before we went back down to street level and made our way back to the hotel.  Most of the tour girls were flagging badly due to lack of sleep.  Some managed to go out for a few hours that night.  Most didn't.  Tracy made it out with Joy and I.  We went to Blue Water Grill at Union Square.  The food was amazing and the staff were incredible.  On our way out I noticed a bank of three antique telephones, so we convinced one of the floor staff to take our photo.

From there we went to a tiki bar called Otto's Shrunken Head.  It was hilarious!  It was their punk night (I think) and it was full of punks!  But still, we found people to talk to and we had some tiki drinks and had a general good time!

The lights over the bar were puffer fish!!!

Once again I've only managed to cover 1 day with my post!  Too many photos I tell you!!  The next post will be two days guaranteed.  I tend to take less photos when I'm shopping!!!

So, do you have a love for Art Deco architecture, or is another era your favourite? Ever visited a bathroom when you didn't need to go, just so you could see what it was like?  Have you been intimidated by a bunch of punks?  Ever seen a more random light fitting than a puffer fish?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My New York Holiday : Chapter Three

I cant believe I'm up to Chapter Three and I haven't even got to the end of day four!  Lets see, when I last left you I'd had another fabulous day at The Met and had found The Naked Cowboy on my way to meet Joy...

Joy is the owner and designer of a great Aussie fashion label Hot Couture.  She had been staying with her daughter in LA and flew in to New York the day before the tour arrived so we could have some fun.  This is the outfit I chose to wear that night.

I know this looks like a dress, but its actually a jumpsuit!  AND its vintage from the 1950s!!

Joy wanted to check out my hotel, so we started the night there.

With shots!

Its ok, we only had one

From there, we went to the most amazing mexican restaurant I have EVER been to!  It is called Toloache, and I would describe it by saying that it was fine dining mexican.  It was DELICIOUS!

This is the view of the restaurant from the balcony

Joy and I ate way too much quacamole and then shared two mains and were thoroughly stuffed by the time we left!

I dropped Joy back to her hotel and finally saw Times Square at night - I can't quite decide if I prefer it at night or during the day.  It is equally hypnotic either way...

After a good nights sleep, Joy and I were ready for another adventure!  We caught a taxi to Soho and let Joy's rule guide us to breakfast.  Joy is a firm believer in things happening for a reason, and with this in mind, every time we got to an intersection, we would follow the green light (the walking man).  And in this way we found ourselves at a french bakery for breakfast!

I had a divine cup of tea, a soft boiled egg and some salmon.  Joy got some freshly baked bread with her breakfast, but due to my coeliacs disease, I got some cardboard flavoured biscuits that I took one bite of and didn't bother with.

On our wanderings we had seen a couple of shops we wanted to return to.  One was Kate Spade, and the other was Miz Mooz.  Lets start with Kate Spade.

Joy and I both knew that stepping across the threshold would mean we would be parting with cash.  Kate Spade makes the most wonderful high quality novelty handbags, and lovely jewellery and accessories too.  And clothes - though they are a bit modern for my tastes.  Here are two things Joy and I desperately wanted but couldn't quite bring ourselves to buy.

A noodle box and a bird cage!!!

We did buy a bag each though - we bought these ones!

We like to call this photo the Red Head Fan Club
If you want to see a clearer image of the bag, follow this link.

From Kate Spade we headed to Miz Mooz.  What girl doesn't like shoes!

Lots of shoes!!

We both tried on lots of pairs of shoes.  I bought *cough* three pairs *cough*, which isn't that bad really when you consider I tried on ten pairs...  Everyone in the shop was so lovely, and the girl at the counter told us our next stop - Onieals Grant Street Bar.

So off we wandered!

 Apparently, they used to film bits of Sex In The City here...

Not that I would know - I never really got into that show.

Regardless it was the perfect next stop.  The whole front of the restaurant that faced the street opened up with french windows, and a gorgeous cool breeze was wafting in.  We ordered our cocktails and set about relaxing and enjoying ourselves.

After a silly photo, of course!

After a good time off our feet, we wandered on, heading in the direction of Hannah's shop Dusty Buttons once more.  You see I had left a dress there and I was pretty sure I wanted it, and I knew Joy would give me good advice.

So we wandered again... through Chinatown

No, I didn't buy any vegetables.  I didn't buy any of the seafood either - It was sitting on the pavement in the heat!  Ugh!!  On we wandered to Dusty Buttons...

Where I showed Joy the dress I hasn't been able to stop thinking about - and she told me that if I didn't buy it, she wouldn't talk to me again.  Here it is.

Sadly, I don't have a clear photo of me wearing it on the trip because I wore it at night... this photo on my dress form will have to do.  It is a heavy novelty print covered in sequins, still with its original belt.  I also purchased the shoes and the necklace.

From there, we caught a taxi back to our hotels, got our things, and caught a taxi back to our new hotel - The Roosevelt.  I don't have wonderful things to say about The Roosevelt.  The trouble really started when I arrived and there was not a soul there to help with my two suitcases and 10 shopping bags.  Luckily the taxi driver helped me get my cases out of the boot and into the gutter, but then he drove off.  Luckily there was a gold trolley not too far away so I grabbed it and I loaded it with my shopping bags, and a lovely passer by lifted my suitcases on, and I pushed it inside, up the lift and into the lobby.

The bellhops were horrified!  I wish I could have taken a photo of his face when I pushed my trolley out of the lift!  Hahaha!!

Anyway - I checked into the room I would be sharing with Kim (the lovely lady who runs the tour I was on) and went to find Joy to work out our next move.  Kim and the other girls were landing at around 9pm, so we decided to go to dinner and be back at The Roosevelt by about 10.30pm.

We maaaaaay have gone back to Toloache and ordered the exact same thing as the previous night....  But to change it up a bit we then went to Lillie's Victorian Bar for a drink.

Oh god, this place was perfect for me - a victorian themed bar furnished with actual victorian bits and pieces shipped from Ireland.  And its called Lillie's because its in homage to Lillie Langtry, who was a renowned beauty, a notorious socialite, and a woman far ahead of her time by all accounts.  Anyway, the most impressive bit of the fit-out was the air-conditioning system.  Only I would notice something like this - I'm a details person, what can I say!  The pipes which hang below the ceiling had been wrapped in pressed metal so that they weren't jarring against the beautiful ceiling.

After a drink we realised what the time was and hightailed it back to The Roosevelt.  Where we waited, and waited, and waited.  And just before midnight, we gave up and went to bed.

But before I got to sleep, Kim arrived and filled me in.  The airline took an hour to get their bags onto the carousels, then the bus that was booked was at the wrong terminal, so it took him a while to get to where they were.  Then they got stuck in roadworks.  And finally when they arrived at the hotel, the hotel had sold their rooms.  Rooms that had been booked for 6 months.

To say Kim was angry was an understatement.  But she was also exhausted.  She got everyone a room and then crashed asleep.

And thats where I will leave it for now.  Chapter Four will be the start of the tour!

So, do you love mexican food?  Do you have a weakness for Kate Spade?  Have you bought fish on the side of the road?  Do you notice small details?  Have you ever turned up to a hotel only to find you have no room?