Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sensible Sewing: Skirt and Half Slip

Earlier in the year I realised that what I really needed to be sewing was sensible things: plain, mostly black things that would go with all the crazy patterned stuff in my wardrobe. Well, finally I've managed to finish off two garments. The first is this sensible skirt. I made it out of black polished cotton which unfortunately had a bit of stretch in it so it was pretty annoying to sew with. Also, I decided that big pleats would look good, but every time I have to iron this skirt I curse myself! Nevertheless, it's been an absolute staple in my wardrobe over autumn. I just modified my usual (made-up) dirndl skirt pattern.

My second sensible sewing piece is this silk half slip. I always wear a half-slip under my skirts, especially under gathered or circle skirts - you never know when the wind is going to blow suddenly and reveal your unmentionables to passers by! I used Gertie's tutorial for a Vintage Inspired Half Slip

 For the fabric I cut up an old silk sundress that I never wore, and trimmed it with some red lace that I had lying around. It was super simple to make, and now I'm thinking of making some more half slips for winter out of old slips that I have that are too long or too tight around the waist, but have pretty lace edging.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Some Goodies

Wheeee! New makeup! When Ms Edgeley went to New York recently I begged her to bring me back some makeup, as it's so much cheaper in the US than it is here. So I was very happy to get my hands on this Smashbox Full Exposure palette, and a YSL Rouge Pur Couture Mat lipstick in Rouge Rock. For my eyes, I really wanted some neutral colours to play around with and I like that there are both the warmer browns and beiges in this palette as well as the cooler colours. I'm not particularly into shimmery stuff but all the reviews I have read say that the glittery colours (the top row) are not very strong so maybe they will just add a touch of glam for the evening.

The lipstick is lovely, it doesn't have as much staying power as a MAC matt one (I usually wear Russian Red) but I've been applying it over the top and then just re-applying the YSL during the day and it is much more moisturising on my lips. I think the packaging looks pretty elegant as well, which is one of the drawbacks of MAC which really resemble a bullet.

Another thing that arrived from overseas was this pattern. It's Simplicity 4530, a shirt pattern from 1953 with the sleeves and collar cut in one with the shirt body.

There's the option of short cuffed sleeves or three-quarter sleeves gathered into a cuff. Two darts and the front and back waist. The collar  is quite unusual as at the back it sort of overlaps itself - you can see it on The Makings of an Urban Rustic. Hopefully I can find some time soon to have a go at sewing if for myself.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Aztec Pin Ups

Last weekend I went to see the new Aztecs exhibition at the Melbourne Museum with my father. It's well worth the (rather steep I thought) admission price as there are some real treasures on display, including some arresting statues and beautifully made pottery. They've done a good job showing visitors' what daily life was like, with some very detailed (modern) models of people in a market, and a miniature floating market garden with tiny little vegetables and tiny people looking after them.

Along one wall is a reproduction of a Diego Rivera Mural of the Aztec market Tlatelolco (the original is in the Palacio National in Mexico City). The picture above is a detail of this, showing a courtesan who I thought was rather striking.

Dancer with Toucan, 1942

Then I remembered these lovely paintings of Aztec pin ups from the book Mexican Calendar Girls. They are by a German artist called Armando Drechsler who arrived in Mexico City in the mid-1920s.

Goddess of Fire, 1952

There's not much information (at least in English) about him, but apparently he worked in oils and specialised in painting for calendars. Mostly women in traditional dress, as well as some beautiful and fanciful paintings of Aztec princesses.

Princess with a Puma, 1942

These highly romanticized paintings of Aztec beauties appealed to a sense of Mexican nationalism that embraced pre-Conquest mythology and ethnic traditions.

Xiuhcoatl, 1942

This painting shows the mythical serpent Xiuhcoatl, here shown as a beautiful woman.

The model for this painting is mostly likely the actress Anna May Wong, here shown as La Malinche, the interpreter, advisor and lover of Hernán Cortés. She is a controversial figure in Mexican history as she is seen as both the embodiment of treachery, and also as one of the founding figures of Mexican history. 

Anna May Wong

Finally I just want to add this painting, which is actually a Mayan princess, but it's so beautiful I thought I should include it. I love the combination of the quintessentially 1930s Hollywood glamour with the exquisitely detailed Mayan sculpture and jewellery. You can tell that Drechsler really studied these artifacts.

Mayan Princess, 1942