Category Archives: fashion

Secret Collaboration

So secret that my collaborator doesn’t know about it yet. Hi, Erin! ::waves::

My friend Erin is, among other things—many other things—a painter. Her paintings have been commissioned by businesses (Oklahoma Employees Credit Union, for instance) as well as individuals, and you should probably get yourself an original before her work really takes off. If that’s not in your wall space allotment right now, she also sells her work in the form of prints, calendars, and iPhone/iPod cases. Erin recently posted a photo of a painting created for Pencil Shavings Studio, now that it’s hung in place:

Custom abstract art by Erin Cooper for Pencil Shavings Studio

Custom abstract art by Erin Cooper for Pencil Shavings Studio

Lovely, right? And also, wouldn’t that make a fabulous border print for a sheath dress? Which I mentioned to Erin. So now I’m just waiting for her to decide to make a Spoonflower order and ship me the fabric, so I can sew her up a dress of her own art. Something kinda sorta like this:

The Cooper Sheath, as imagined by me.

The Cooper Sheath, as imagined by me.

But with better shoes, because it’s Erin. She’s an excellent stylist.

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Of petticoats and crinolines

Detail from a Sears catalog, Summer 1959

Detail from a Sears catalog, Summer 1959

I’m not a professional stylist, nor am I a professional historian. I do not work for any fashion publication, large or small. I have no formal education in costuming.

What I am, however, is a dedicated historical fashion hobbyist. And, at least according to the curious number of people who have mentioned it in the last few days, I’m well-dressed. It’s flattering, and quite a feather in my cap. It’s also the background upon which I make this plea:

Please, PLEASE stop jamming full crinolines underneath quarter- and half-circle skirts. In your quest to look “period appropriate,” you wind up looking sloppy and/or uncomfortable.

1956 vs. 2013 trying to look period

1956 vs. 2013’s interpretation of 1956

On the left of this image we have a photo, taken by LIFE photographer Yale Joel in 1956, of actress Betty Furness wearing a black dress she wore while doing Westinghouse commercials on CBS that year. It is meant to appear both fashionable and accessible, and succeeds. If you look very closely at her hem (click on the image to enlarge it), you can just barely make out the lace edge of a petticoat beneath. The petticoat provides some shape and support, but notice that the skirt still falls in gentle folds. You can almost picture the waves of fabric swaying as Ms. Furness would walk across her Westinghouse set.

On the right we have an anonymous participant in a “1950s-styled” wedding, circa 2013. I’ve blocked out her face to protect her identity, but I assure you that she is every bit as beautiful as Betty Furness. The skirt of her dress is cut with a similar fullness to that of the dress worn by Ms. Furness. But here is where we diverge: someone involved with this fashion fiasco decided that all of the bridesmaids should wear a full, multi-layered crinoline under each of their dresses. On the positive side, they were ordered in a length that is correct for the length of the skirt (yes, petticoats come in different lengths. We’ll get to that in a minute). Unfortunately, the dresses are so stuffed so tightly that the skirts are riding up, and showing the bottom inches of the crinolines. Why not complete the look and pull your bra strap out while you’re at it? These overstuffed skirts do not move with flowing grace, but rather like dinner bells with legs for clappers.

I call this look on the right "The Drop-Off."

I call this look on the right “The Drop-Off.”

Subset A: Petticoats come in different lengths! It’s true! When shopping for gen-yoo-wine vintage, you often take whatever you can get. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can always wear whatever you got with whatever you have. In the example shown here, we have the L.L. Bean Signature poplin dress styled two different ways: on the left is L.L. Bean’s version, and on the right is a photo from an eBay listing advertising the dress as a “vintage 1950s style.” I don’t mean to infer that the seller is being dishonest; he or she does state in the listing description that the dress is near-new L.L. Bean. The seller has merely styled the dress in a way that L.L. Bean didn’t consider, or didn’t consider appealing to their target audience. And the possibilities are certainly there to give this dress a retro feel. The problem with this look specifically is that the crinoline used for the photograph is both too full and too short for this skirt, resulting in a steep cliff at the hem. It is not a very full skirt, and you’d do better leaving it alone or wearing a less voluminous petticoat or a slip with a pretty, ruffled edge. In those instances, the length is less of an issue because they’re providing minimal volume and not supporting the weight of the skirt.

Petticoats and crinolines are easy to find online, and while actual vintage can be far more difficult to locate in your desired size/color/length/fullness there are still options for brand-new petticoats/crinolines/prairie skirts made either en masse or even to your own specifications. A basic, brand-new, 35-yard petticoat should run you under $50 online, while custom orders can cost considerably more and take longer for delivery.

I’ve been lucky enough to acquire all (5) of my petticoats locally and don’t have personal experience with many of these retailers, but here is a list on online sources (all U.S. based, sorry) where you can buy your very own:

Hey Viv (ready-to-wear)

Malco Modes (RTW, many options; U.S.A.-made)

ReSashsay (RTW and custom; consignment)

Theda Bara’s Vintage Boudoir (vintage; availability varies)

Have fun, and look good doing it!

 

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VLV16: The Wardrobe

Long-time readers are wondering why I haven’t yet posted anything about my wardrobe plans for the upcoming Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender. Year in and year out, every near-Spring I’m found with a pile of sewing projects and just a few pounds to lose in order to fit into that year’s fantastic dress…

But not this year. This year, I’m refusing to encumber myself. There’s too much kerfuffle in my life, and I don’t want to add to it further. No diets. No sewing.* No shopping.

Which is easy for me to say. I mean come on. I’m a vintage clothing vendor. It’s not “shopping” if I’m picking from my own inventory. Especially if I replace each item that I pull from Tiddleywink inventory with a vintage item from my personal collection. Right? ::bats eyelashes::

And one morning, I feel myself beginning to panic at my utter disregard for pre-pre-preplanning, and I start going through my racks. I pull out perhaps 15 dresses. Fit and “wow” factor narrow the options down to the requisite 4 day ensembles, 4 evening ensembles. I have to say, I’m excited by the options. This will be my best-dressed Viva yet, and that’s saying something.

The Boyfriend, who continually threatens to pack nothing more than jeans and an assortment of racing-related T-shirts, is caught up in my excitement and has started to consider items from his own vintage wardrobe (my heart is aflutter with hope that he’ll actually pack and wear some of it). He looks ever so swell when he gets decked out.

My shoe selection is currently at 10 pairs; I will narrow that down to 8—at the most—before Packing Day dependent on handbag options and Boyfriend’s opinion (he does have good taste, when pressed). My handbag collection’s newest addition, the Rialto that I wrote about recently, will not even make the trip due to fragile packing concerns. My polka-dot Toro paneled handbag will stay home because it simply doesn’t match anything I’m planning to wear. Maybe Next Yearâ„¢.

And so without further ado, a sneak peek at my VLV16 evening wear:

Rhapsody in Blue

Rhapsody in Blue

Silk. Rayon. Sequins. Taffeta. Chiffon. Eat your hearts out, kiddies. I mean, um, see you there!

_____________________________

*Full Disclosure: Today, I mended a pulled hem on a VLV wardrobe item. I will likely shorten the straps of one dress. The skirt I plan to wear to the car show I repaired a month ago, with no notion at that time of wearing it to Viva. The top I’ll wear with it was sewn by me, from a vintage pattern, but last year.

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The Shoppette: Now Open

WlcomeToGolden

Ta-da! Announcing the Grand Opening of Tiddleywink Vintage: The Shoppette! Actually, the “opening” was humble rather than grand. The Fella and I loaded everything in on Sunday, looked around the rest of the store, and then left to grab a bite to eat and run other errands. There was no fanfare, not even a lone kazoo.

I know you’re anxious to know just where this is that I’m talking about, so here you go: the “Shoppette” is booth 0029, located inside Rockin’ Horse Antiques & Collectibles in beautiful Golden, Colorado. Rockin’ Horse (and its sister, Fleur De Lis Flowers) can be found at 1106 Washington Ave., near the west footing of the famous Welcome arch. There’s also a back entrance on Miners Alley, if you prefer a parking lot to street parking.

Image Credit: Google Street View

Image Credit: Google Street View

If you’re heading to Denver for a visit, be sure to include Golden in your itinerary. Local points of interest include Coors Brewery (perhaps you’re heard of them), Golden City Brewery (“the second-largest brewery in Golden”), Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, Colorado Railroad Museum, Dinosaur Ridge, NREL, the landmark Golden Bowl (since 1952), and more. If you love classic cars, don’t miss the Golden Super Cruise, held the first Saturday of each month, May through October!

The new front page at tiddleywink.com

The new front page at tiddleywink.com

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Cookbook Envy

A couple of decades ago, my mom wrote up—and illustrated—a cookbook of her own favorite recipes. This cookbook contains all of the special treats that only my mom made/makes, and whenever I ask for one of these particular recipes, I’m denied with the reply, “It’s in The Cookbook.” I know that she has left this cookbook to me in her will, because she has told me in no uncertain terms that I cannot have it before she dies. And not a moment before. Cheery.

She lost the cookbook a few years back. No idea where it disappeared to, but confident that it was around somewhere.

The Boyfriend and I have been working on excavating the basement, which used to be living space before it became overrun with Stuff. We’ve set aside a large pile for VVA (and conveniently arranged pick-up through pickupplease.org), most of which consists of FIVE BOXES of books that my mother has left here for 9 years. Of course, my mother has gone through all of these boxes in her hunt for The Cookbook, but I invite here over for another peek to make sure there isn’t anything else in there that she wants.

She picks out a few keepers, and lo and behold finds The Cookbook! It turns out that it has been in my own possession all this time! AND I MISSED OUT. She won’t let me see so much as the cover. She does, however, donate the following to me:

Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design at the Met, Nov. 1974

Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design at the Met, Nov. 1974

Inventive Clothes 1909–1939 at the Met, Nov. 1974. Were an age-similar show to be curated today, it would be The 50s, The 60s, The 70s.

Inventive Clothes 1909–1939 at the Met, Nov. 1974. Were an age-similar show to be curated today, it would be The 50s/The 60s/The 70s.

And for that, I’m grateful. In the meantime, if I really want a dish of her frozen creamy raspberry swirl stuff, I’ll just have to beg my mother to make it for me.

 

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Tiddleywink Vintage: The Location

not yet the Tiddleywink Vintage Shoppette

Ooooh, ooooh, newsy and exciting! The lease isn’t signed yet so I don’t want to divulge specific details, but it’s pretty safe to say that by the end of this month the wee space shown here will have been vacated and replaced with a Tiddleywink Vintage shoppette. The online stores will both remain open, this is merely an expansion to cater to local customers who want to see things in person, as well as give me a place to sell items which are too fragile or heavy to ship for a reasonable price. ::coughRACCOONCOATcough:: As a bonus to me, it will get a selection of inventory out of my house!

The space is a mere 8′ wide by 2′ deep, but it has better foot traffic than a larger space I looked at today. I won’t have room for more than a clothing rack (approx. 52″ wide) and something like a bookshelf next to it to fill with Pyrex and other non-hanging items. There are so many pegboard accessories on the market right now, I could definitely utilize the space in an assortment of ways. I’m open to suggestion! What do you think?

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SEW-ALONG CHALLENGE: RECONSTRUCTING DOT

Setting free the seams.

Setting free the seams.

I know, I know, I indicated in the last post that you’d have a new, vintage-style wrap blouse in your hands by the end of the next week.

And then I got the flu. On a positive note, I lost 4 lbs. simply because eating would have taken more energy than I had available. I drank a lot of (caffeine-free) tea and vegetable broth. I am more enamored than ever before with the heat-retention power of a glass-lined Thermos, which enabled me to shuffle into the kitchen once to make a quart or so of liquids (I was filling two Thermoses, or, as I prefer, Thermi), and then have access to hot beverages for the rest of the day without having to leave my nest on the sofa.

Since regaining my health, I’ve finished deconstructing our Dot Blouse! I took the blouse apart at the seams, undid all of the hand-sewn rolled hems, and taken out the darts. I’ve ironed everything flat. I’ve spent hours tracing the pieces, cleaning up the curves, checking measurements to make sure the new seams will once again line up. Laying pattern pieces out in various ways in order to use the smallest cut of fabric possible. And just when I was about to share a PDF of the new pattern with you…I question why a bust dart on the original was placed going into the sleeve instead of under the armsyce. So I’m going to redraft that piece. And run to the fabric shop for some muslin, which I really should have thought of earlier. And I will make sure this new, improved pattern actually works. Then, and only then, will I dare to share the Dot Blouse pattern with you. Stay tuned, kids!

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