Monday, May 30, 2011

Tired and grumpy

I don't do so well without my 10 1/2 hours sleep! So we're going to cheer things up with some pre war glamour. French perfume, silk slips, fur coats and yards of fabric! American high society store Lord and Taylor of Fifth Avenue - Christmas catalogue 1941. I'm very sorry lovely person who scanned these images but - bad librarian - I don't recall where I got them.


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Friday, May 27, 2011

Some inspiration for my mum

Referencing, of course, Ms Hepburn.

My mum wears a lot of trousers and is looking for some classic forties style.

I have the blouse from this pattern, and I admit it's my favorite, even nicer than the ones I make. It has nice darts at the waist so you can wear it untucked. Can't wait to have a go at the trousers.

Here's a version of the shirt in a soft knit. Bit plain on the fabric front I think. Not sure about taking the fullness out of the sleeves either. But you can see the shape.

The trousers made up.

Another shirt you can wear untucked.

Look at the detailing! Actually, I'd like to make a shirt like this. How hard can it be?

If this had darts at the waist this would be the most perfect shirt ever. That colour! Those flowing sleeves! Note the 40s limit on buttons.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flame and Citron

This film about two members of the Danish Holger Danske Resistance Group is heartbreaking. Flame and Citron carry out assassinations of Danes who collaborate with the Nazis or inform against other Resistance fighters. Of course, there's a traitor in the midst but this is handled with more originality and honesty than you may have seen before. This is a film about ethics. What action is appropriate in war time? How are you to deal with committing violent actions you would ordinarily have shunned? Should you resist if it leads to reprisals against innocent people? How are foreign powers to deal with Resistance activities that may put military operations at risk? What I thought honest was the depiction of various Resistance groups, each with their separate political agendas (also done well in The Secret Army). Very sad, very handsome to look at and highly recommended. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I can't go out tonight

Bert Hardy 1948

Because I have to wash my hair! For a girl from the 40s this is a completely valid excuse. Washing and setting is an ordeal, so you're probably going to only do this once a week. First brush your hair (100 strokes of course!) If your hair is dry, heat up some oil on the stove and rub it through your hair, massage into your scalp and wrap it up in a hot damp towel. You rinse this out with borax (now known as a skin irritant. You wouldn't have had a shower, so your stuck with a basin. You may not have had shampoo, just regular soap bar or flakes - and not much of it at that (you'll need your ration book!) No conditioner then, so you may have used a homemade treatment of vinegar (for brunettes) or lemon juice (blondes), egg if you're lucky, maybe a commercial spirit tonic or some bay rum. My Good Housekeeping says you then need to rinse it four or five times, until it squeaks. You probably don't have a hairdryer at home so you have to wait for it to dry by itself. This bit takes a while. Beauty magazines recommend sitting in the sun. Then there's the set - this takes even longer! I cheat a bit here and start with hot rollers. After an hour or so, I then set it in pin curls. I use mousse because I haven't got around to going to Circa in Fitzroy to pick up setting lotion. In the 40s you may have made your own with beer or linseed oil. You might go to the hairdressers every three to four weeks for a perm, so you're probably just perking it up. Sadly, my hair has lost all of its natural curl, so I set my hair in pin curls every night - as lots of women did. A bit of a drag but I do it while watching tv. Then tie it all up with a silk scarf to combat the frizz (thanks to the ladies at the Fedora Lounge for that tip). I start this process on a Saturday morning, Saturday being my movie watching day. I then pop a knitted turban on and leave it like that for the weekend. Phew! Pre war ladies would go to the salon about once a week I think.

Modern Beauty Shop 1942

Penny's Beauty Salon, getting a perm. Cold perming came in in the early forties but this scary contraption was still in use.

What a name! 1945

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Greater love hath no man...

...than to lay down his life for a friend. A line from war memorials across Australia. And the theme of the 1985 television series The ANZACS.

The notions of mateship and the ANZAC legend have been abused by Australian politicians since the 80s. So I was a bit suspicious that this was going to be cringeworthy. I'd also heard that it stuck the boot into the British high command - but while it seemed a tad like caricature at times, it was for the most part accurate (well, from what I do know of WW1 which isn't exactly my specialty) particularly the attitude of the British to the Australians at the battle for Pozieres. Actually, from an historical perspective, this was pretty accurate, as you'd expect with well known historian Patsy Adam Smith on board. Even the sillier episodes, such as the American troops stealing Australian uniforms to fight on July 4 - true!

I was expecting the larrikinism and lack of respect for authority to be overplayed. But it was a bit like hanging out with my grandad - that's the grandad who punched out his commanding officer in Signals Intelligence, not the grandad who used to go fishing with hand grenades while stationed in Darwin. So I found this series very entertaining and, by the time you get to Binyon's Ode at the end, moving.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hello Mr Mailman!

Today I got some cheering packages in the mail!

See that gorgeous hooded shirt? It's not part of the pattern. Damn you Simplicity! I reckon I could fudge it, but still.

Vintage buttons! Buttons make me happy!

More Scottie dogs! Just can't get enough of them. I wore this today and was warm and toasty.

Patriotic wartime brooch. And the best parcel of all... from my mum!

The finished vest! From a 1940s pattern in the book Stitches in Time. Vintage 40s buttons from the Button Bower. My mum's the best.

So today was a happier day. Though I'd be a lot happier if I didn't have two crazy cats chasing each other through the apartment. I don't know about the neighbor killing the cats but if Lyle doesn't stop pacing I might have a go.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cat drama

Someone threatened to kill our cats last night. We tried to talk to them about it but got a whole heap of scary abuse. This person lives in a nearby halfway house for troubled youth; there's drug and alcohol stuff as well as anger and aggression issues as well. So when they threaten our cats we take it seriously. We ended up calling in the police and while they were supportive, it doesn't really protect our cats or our home. I'm going to try to keeping the cats inside but I don't know how well that will go down and I can't do that forever. I'm scared and upset and don't like feeling unsafe in my neighborhood.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bucket loads of goodness!

See these outfits? They're from a Japanese pattern book. A Japanese pattern book that I WON!! Thanks to the fabulous Adey of the Sew Convert blog - a fantastic dressmaker from Singapore. And that's not all I won, some Japanese fabric that's as cute as can be.

But hang on! This isn't forties! I know. I entered the competition to see if I could win it for my friend Donna. She's been talking about taking up sewing and I know her MIL Margaret is an absolute whizz. So I thought this might be a nice treat to get her inspired. Except I'm looking at that second fabric and thinking how sweet it would look for patch pockets. Sorry Donna, I might be snaffling that for myself!

The online sewing community is amazingly supportive. You can find all sorts of inspiration and advice. If I ever get stuck with a vintage technique, there's someone I can turn to for help. Yay for the internet! using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 16, 2011

Loving dogs more than I ever thought I would

Mine all mine!

I'm loving these little guys. They're wooden brooches from the 1940s - plastics being in short supply. L O V E them!

Crepe de chine for which I paid an absurdly small sum. Plaid with frisking Scotties. I was going to make a shirt from it but I'm liking the idea of using it to line a jacket - my secret little flash of puppy dogs inside something sombre. Lining was a no no during the war but let's not worry about that.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011


I've just watched a profoundly bleak Polish war film, Kanal. This is an impressive film on many levels and I'm completely astounded by it. A few months ago the library splashed out on the entire Criterion Collection, which means that I have access to war films from the occupied countries. Andrzej Wajda's Kanal is a brilliant example. This film was made in 1957 and is an extraordinarily bleak and honest film. It's interesting to compare is to the mock heroics of American war films of the same era. And this film IS bleak. After a marvellous opening tracking shot we are introduced to a platoon of the Polish Resistance, in the dying end of the Warsaw Uprising. We are watching their final days. And the sense of doom is palpable. These men and women face certain defeat, and they know it. There are no blind heroics here. Just blind panic and fear. Surrounded by Germans, out gunned and without hope, the group flee to the sewers. There is a painful scene as Resistance members enter the sewers while panicked civilians are held back. And we already know their fate. The Germans are clearing the city building by building, shooting those they find. The cinematography is fantastic. Long tracking shots of a ruined city, as if the destruction is so complete, so vast that the camera can't take it all in. The scenes in the sewers are suitably claustrophobic. The group disintegrates. They get lost, delusional from fumes and lack of oxygen, with Germans gassing the tunnels, throwing down hand grenades and shooting those that emerge. There's a bit of what seems like gratuitous baring of skin - there are women messengers and in this it is accurate - but this only serves to highlight their desperation, and the depths to which they have sunk as Daisy's loveliness is besmirched by the shit she wades through. The group's goal becomes simply to breathe clear air and see sunlight. And the Germans deny them even that. The screenplay was written by a Resistance member - whose character appears as the leader of the Resistance group- and there is a confronting honesty to it. In all, a masterpiece. It's part of a war trilogy and I can't wait to see the others.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scottie dogs!

Scottie dogs used to be super popular during the 20s, 30s and 40s. Myth has it that this was due to Roosevelt's puppy Fala - who certainly did a lot to boost the breed's popularity - but the truth is that Scotties were popular from after WW1. During these decades Scotties turn up on everything. Famous Scottie dog owners included Shirley Temple, Humphry Bogart, Bette Davis and Dorothy Lamour. And Eva Braun, but I don't think we'll use her as a guide. And of course, there's FDR and Fala. This dog was so famous a fight it had with another dog was reported in Time Magazine. Roosevelt made the famous Fala speech, where he countered rumors that he'd sent a destroyer to pick up the dog - at the cost of several millions of dollars.

Then there are the pin up puppies...


Tea towels

I don't know if you can see but apart from the buttons there are Scottie dogs on the skirt too.

Appliqué! I'm going to try this. If I can. The quilting and the pin tucks look a bit tricksy.
Home wares...

I'm besotted! Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brown paper packages

I love mail. This darling package was from The British Homefront on etsy and contained a hair tidy. Like this -

So now when I set my hair in pin curls I can still look respectable! Perfect for sneaking out for a cup of tea on the weekend.

This is a Leeloo find. Yes, I did make something similar last year, but it's still languishing on my dressing table, sans brooch backing. And I have to admit, this one is far cuter.
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