Atomic Tabbys Dress – almost finished

My dress for Miss Crayola Creepy’s Crazy Cat Lady sewing challenge is almost finished. The side seams are basted, so I just need to do a final fitting and then hem it. I’ll have it finished tonight but then it will be too dark to model it. So my dress form is wearing it so I could get a photo of it up in the Flickr group before the deadline.

Atomic Cats dress 1Here’s a close up of the kitschy kitty detail on the bodice where the loop goes around the center gathers.

Atomic Cats dress 2

I used New Look 6935 although I wanted to use my vintage pattern.

New Look 6935

New Look 6935

Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to the fabric requirements even though I did get what was listed on the envelope. Turns out it was for fabric without nap or a one-way directional print. Mail Order 4543I had my fabric laid out on the cutting table and when I looked at the cutting layout diagram I uttered a very bad word. The dress pieces are flip-flopped around to utilize every inch of the fabric.Mail Order 4543 fabric layoutAnd my “Atomic Tabby’s” print from Michael Miller has a definite one-way direction.Atomic TabbysChalk up another sewing lesson - pay attention to ALL the information AND take a quick look the cutting layout BEFORE buying the fabric. Isn’t that along the lines of “measure twice, cut once”? Lesson learned.

Colette’s “Dahlia” Sewalong

As I am finishing up my sewing project for the “Crazy Cat Lady” sewing challenge, I’ll be starting on Colette Patterns Dahlia sew along.Dahlia 1031

The short sleeve style looks like something I wore to grade school in the 1960s, especially in plaid. I think mine was a red and navy blue plaid.Dahlia plaidSince I haven’t worked with plaids in ages, I picked up this cheapie plaid from Walmart to practice with. It would be nice if it turned out to be a wearable muslin. We’ll see.

walmart plaidJoin in for the fun!

Alice Faye’s WWII Era Hairstyles

Alice Faye was an American actress and singer who starred in films during the late 1930s and the war years in the 1940s. She sang in a husky, honey contralto voice that many song writers of the time loved, like Irving Berlin, who was once quoted as saying that he would choose Faye over any other singer to introduce his songs, and George Gershwin and Cole Porter called her the “best female singer in Hollywood in 1937″.  In her acting she displayed solid comic timing and had a flair for carrying off the era’s popular and lucrative cookie-cutter starry-eyed romantic musicals. Alice Faye 1943 After her break out role in the film “1935 Scandals”, the Fox studio decided to give her look a make over. She was transformed from a version of Jean Harlow to a softer look with a more natural tone to her blonde hair and more mature makeup, including losing the notorious “pencil” eyebrows.Alice & JeanThe following are photos of her beautifully sculpted WWII era hairstyles. With her beautiful thick hair, she must have been the studio’s hairstylists dream.Alice Faye 1a Alice Faye 2 Alice Faye 1940s Alice Faye 1 Alice Faye 4 Alice Faye 5I so wish I could replicate these styles!

The Lost Art of Fotoescultura

While I was cruising around eBay, I ran across this item from the 1940s. It’s a photo that has been applied to wood and carved to give it dimension.Fotoescultur 16a

My curiosity inspired me to do some quick research. It’s called “fotoescultura”, a photo sculpture. In Mexico, in the 1930s and 1940s, skilled artisans would take a photograph then carve and paint a wooden bust based on it. After adhering the photograph to it, the artisan would hand-tint the photo and add embellishments such as jewelry and costuming to create a startling likeness. Fotoescultur 13

In the early half of the last century, most Mexican families did not have a camera, so just to have an image taken of a family member would be a very big event.Fotoescultur 15

The fotoescultura would take pride of place on the mantel, transforming beloved photographic portraits into handmade sculptural keepsakes.Fotoescultur 14

Many surviving examples are of men in uniform.Fotoescultur 02Unfortunately this is a dying art, with very few artisans still living.Fotoescultur 03

The ornately carved frames are an artwork unto themselves. Too bad this is a skill that will soon disappear.

Fotoescultur 04

Fotoescultur 12Fotoescultur 05Fotoescultur 11

Cat Print Fabrics for Crazy Cat Lady Sewing Challenge


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I am still playing around with ideas for the Crazy Cat Lady sewing challenge. And although labor intensive in Photoshop Elements, I’ve been having a blast coming up with these idea boards. Michael Miller’s silly Atomic Tabbys print would make a super cute apron. I found these coordinating prints at

Dubarry 5747 Atomic Kitty Apron

Pairing this kitty print with the purple gingham is tempting.Dubarry 5747 PawsnPlay board

This print from a Spoonflower contributor works better on an apron than the dress I overlaid on it in a previous post.Dubarry 5747 Cats Baking Cakes Board

I love the princess seam lines of this vintage dress pattern and I am partial to sweetheart necklines. I’m most drawn to the turquoise Atomic cats fabric, although the Bowtie Cats print on the end is appealing too.

Mailorder 4543

Mailorder 4543

Hand Knitted Vintage Underwear

In the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, there is a scene where Sir Galahad The Pure, is making his way through a deep forest in the middle of a thunderstorm and sees a grail-shaped beacon atop Castle Anthrax. Banging on the door with his armored glove, he is welcomed into the castle by a woman named Zoot. She tells him the castle is only populated by women. Zoot: (leading Sir Galahad upstairs) “Oh… I’m afraid our life must seem very dull and quiet compared to yours. We are but 8 score young blondes and brunettes… all between 16 and 19-and-a-half… cut off in this castle with no one to protect us! Oh… it is a lonely life. Bathing… dressing… undressing… knitting exciting underwear….”

Today’s knitted underwear is more novelty rather than functional. Practical, hand knitted under-things were more common in the first half of the 20th century.  I suppose a woman needed knitted undies in the winter months for extra warmth. Especially during WWII when everyone needed to conserve heating fuel for the war effort.

KB3-28uw 1948

This set is from the late 1930s and has some pretty accents. I can’t tell if they are some sort of beads or eyelet holes.Lavenda 934 late 1930s

I’m not sure this crocheted brasserie could offer any support.Bestway 889

The all-in-one seems to have been a popular item, judging by the many patterns available in that era. How did a woman get into it? Did she step in from the top? And how did she go to the loo? I haven’t read this pattern, but maybe it has a vintage version of a snap crotch?Bestway 694This is an interesting knitted brassiere with a kind of spiral design on the bra cups. The  coordinating panties certainly brings the term “granny panties” to new heights. There’s a matching camisole too.bra pantiesThe knickers for this set are so decidedly UN-sexy that the woman here wouldn’t even have to say, “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.”
Bestway 288

Here’s a pattern from the late 1920s very much reflecting the straight up and down twenties silhouette ideal.

Scotchwool 4 1920sThis gal looks like she’s about to playfully spank someone with back of her hand mirror.Birswear Mella

Well, if you have got to wear a onesie, this is one of the cuter ones.Copley 1174I would willingly knit a camisole if it were designed to be outerwear, but vintage knitted undies will probably never make it into my queue on Ravelry.

Cat Lady Sewing Challenge – the planning stage

Erin Fosmire of Miss Crayola Creepy blog fame is hosting a fun Cat Lady Sewing Challenge for all us crazy cat ladies (and gents I’m sure). The only parameter is to use a cat themed fabric and the deadline is the end of October, so there’s plenty of time.crazy cat lady

I’m thinking that a kitty themed print would work well with a vintage or retro styled dress. I went surfing around the web and found some fun kitty prints on Spoonflower and I think the cat print will look best on a sundress and manage to not look too silly. Since I am of mature years, I can’t carry off over-the-top cutsey anymore without looking like a total nutter!

Cat Lady Sewing ChallengeI superimposed Advance 4826 (from the late 1940s) over some kitty print samples. I really like the atomic cat print, number four in the line up, or the hot pink Noir Meow one next to it.

This “Paw Prints Luv My Kitty” print in lavender would look very sweet.Cat swatch dOr this black and white print with black contrasting bands could look a little more sophisticated.Cat swatch cI always love shades of aqua and sea foam green, as they are one of my colors, according to “Color Me Beautiful”, although this print starts to verge on the juvenile. It would probably make a super cute little girl’s dress. Or a really fun apron.Cat swatch 1Then there’s this print in earthy shades of yellows and browns.Cat swatch 2I was wanting another vintage style challenge, but Lucky Lucille is putting off Fall For Cotton until next March. So although this sewing challenge isn’t vintage oriented per se, I’m going to give it a retro twist.





Breathless on Masterpiece Mystery

Oh boy! A stylish new period-piece series on Masterpiece Mystery! The year is 1961 and the brilliant Dr. Otto Powell (harboring a dark secret) trapped in a loveless marriage to Elizabeth, develops an attraction to lovely Nurse Angela.  I just streamed the first two episodes on As usual, Masterpiece nails the setting, clothes and feel of the early 1960s, especially the women’s dresses and the men’s haircuts. 

Cast of Breathless

Cast of Breathless

The unhappy couple, Otto and Elizabeth.

Dr. and Mrs. Otto someti

Dr. and Mrs. Otto Powell

Love those retro style dresses!

Breathless 10

Nurse Angela’s sister, Jean, pictured seated below in the red dress, is the scheming tart who tricks Dr. Truscott into marrying her to escape her unhappy home and father. And so because she’s the bad girl, the actress Zoe Boyle, gets to wear some of the prettiest, sexy dresses on the show.

Breathless 2

Love triangle number one: Dr. Otto, wife Elizabeth and Nurse Angela. Breathless 8

 The love triangle number two between Jean, her new husband Dr. Richard Truscott, and his old flame Margaret. I just love the red satin cheongsam Jean wears in the first episode!

Breathless 6

Breathless 11

In episode 2, Air Hostesses of 1961.

Breathless 7

A show worth watching for all lovers of vintage and retro style!

Mexican Stripes Gym Bag

This fun little project is Butterick 5054. It offers 2 different styles of backpacks and Mp3 Player cover. I made view C/D because I just dig the teardrop shape.

Mex stripe gym bag a

Views C and D have different styles of outside pockets but since I wanted LOTS of pockets, I used them both on one backpack. This fabric is a very heavy, Mexican style cotton stripe I got from Fabrics That Go, a really cool interior fabrics store in Tucson, AZ. I was just visiting there in the beginning of August and my mom, who also sews, took me around to all her favorite fabric stores.

Mex stripe gym bag b

This is now my new, favorite gym bag. It is just the right size to take a small towel, weight lifting gloves, water bottle and other small necessities, and with enough pockets on the outside to hold my keys, sunglasses, and cell phone. I used 4 zippers on this bag, so you’ve got to be comfortable inserting zippers. I made a few changes by elongating the outside pocket on the gusset by an inch so it would hold my sunglasses. It was supposed to be used for an MP3 player, but I wanted my sunglasses to be more protected rather than just hanging by the loop like shown in the photo on the pattern envelope.

Mex stripe gym bag e

The lining is just a mishmash of leftover fabrics from other projects. I added an extra elasticized pocket in the interior, and I used the instructions from the book, A Bag For All Reasons by Lisa Lam, to add an additional zippered interior pocket.

Mex stripe gym bag d

I wish I would have read the instructions for the exterior pockets more carefully. They aren’t the clearest I’ve ever read. I botched it slightly, but they still came out fine. I did not have any hardware buckles on hand, so the strap is just sewn directly into the gusset and isn’t adjustable, which is okay by me. I varied from the pattern just a little by making the zippered gusset for the main compartment with two strips of fabric instead of a single piece. This way I was able to get some extra length from the zipper; I needed it to open wider for easier digging around in the main compartment.

Mex stripe gym bag c

This is one of those projects where a crafter could get really creative and have a lot of fun with fabrics. I’ll be making another one soon.




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