Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Seaside Fashions (1914)

I just bought a huge bunch of fabric and am so excited to get working on some new pieces for the shop. Unfortunately my blood pressure is still an issue, which means until my specialist appoint in a couple weeks I'm taking it easy and focusing more on the design side of things. I've been very inspired by the fashions from the late Edwardian and early 1920's recently. The fashions of the late 1920's are very sleek and glamorous, but I love the femininity of the earlier designs. There is something almost naive about them, and they have this a great mix of the earlier Victorian style with the very beginnings of the flapper era. I'm also a sucker for unique draping and a large amount of fabric, so a lot of the early designs really appeal to me.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

That's All.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Ok, my birthday is technically tomorrow, but the celebrations have already started! Britt took me to Port Perry yesterday, where we spend the day going into cute shops, having coffee, and buying yarn. I love Port Perry. It's a great little town, with tons of small shops in historic buildings, and there is a lovely park/boardwalk along the waterfront. 

Britt was kind enough to snap a few shots of my outfit in front of the old mill (which has just been painted, and they have added old photos along the side). I wore my "new" vintage nightgown set. These sort of pieces can often be found for much less than the cost of a vintage dress, but can be styled to look dress-like. I am loving the soft mint green shade of the material. Mint has to be my favorite colour at the moment! I paired the "dress" with a homemade belt, vintage hat, and Victorian-style boots. 

On the health front, I am finally starting to feel better. I am hopeful that I finally figured out the cause of my health issues of late. I had a bunch of tests done, which all came back normal, so the doctor basically said it was all in my head and gave me some antidepressants. Oh boy, was I angry after that! Antidepressants are fine for someone who is actually suffering from depression, but I don't have any of the symptoms of depressions other than fatigue (which really is a symptom for just about everything). So I read through the entire Canadian Medical Association Home Encyclopedia and discovered my symptoms match very closely to those caused by low blood pressure. I've always had quite low blood pressure but it's never been a problem before (I did have it checked out by a doctor a few years ago and I was told it was perfectly normal). However, I've eliminated most processed food from my diet and thus likely lowered my sodium levels as well, which I suspect caused my blood pressure to drop even lower. I've measured it a few times over the past few weeks and it was often in the 82/50 range. Yikes! So I've been increasing my salt and fluid intake which seems to be helping. I'm finally feeling like myself again after 2 months of awfulness *does a happy dance*. I'm going to keep monitoring it for a week or so, perform a statistically analysis on the data, and then return to the doctor with my findings. (I'm finally putting my statistics major to good use!) 

Anyways, if things continue how the are, I should be able to get back to work on Phonograph Fashions. I've just started watching House of Eliott (thanks again Elizbeth for sending it to me!!!) and it's given me so many design ideas I want to try out. Now that I'm feeling better, I should have a lot more time and energy to dedicate to sewing. August will be my shop's 2 year anniversary, so I'm planning some sort of giveaway to celebrate! 

I hope everyone is having a great week!

That's All.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fainting Sofa Project (part 2)

Well, I've been continuing work on the Victorian fainting sofa. I originally had thought this stage of the process would involve some meditative pulling of staples. Something like this:

In reality, it was more like this:

Yeah....Stripping off the old material proved to be much more challenging than I initially thought. Whoever did it last used a really, really good staple gun. Those suckers are really stuck in there! They are actually below the surface of the wood, which makes the staple removing tool I bought pretty much useless. I ended up just ripping the fabric up to help loosen the staples, which could then be removed by a pair of pliers (I found needle nose pliers to be more effective than flat-nosed). 

After removing the back and bottom fabric, I realized there was no way to get the front fabric unattached without physically removing the back of the chaise. That was a lot more work than I expected! I didn't want to risk stripping the screw heads, so I ended up dismantling with a regular screwdriver (rather than an electric one). Once again, whoever put those screws in did a very, very good job. My hands still hurt!

Now that the fabric is off, the wood appears to be pine and has had some repairs done over the years. You can see at one point the back snapped and had to be braced:

I found some small specks leftover from a previous paint job. It appears the chaise was at one time an antique green colour. I'm starting to suspect it may have always been painted, and the last owners painted it brown to make it more "wood-like" in appearance. Based on this new information, I've decided to just repaint it, rather than trying to strip and stain it.

There are also holes along the back that make me suspect that the back was originally tufted. I may in the future re-tuft it, but since the current foam is still in good condition, I'm going to leave it as-is for now.

I am enjoying this project immensely! I didn't think it would be so much fun. The fact it is a lower quality piece makes it a more relaxed process, and because it has already been altered means I don't need to worry about protecting the original finishes. I've already bought the fabric to re-do it, although I may not have quite enough. I under-estimated the fabric a bit to try and save on costs. The sections are small enough that if I run out, I can just buy bit more to do the remaining sections without having a lot of fabric wasted.

Now that I am ready to take it outside to sand it (before painting), the rain has been pouring down. Between the weather and my sores hands, the refinishing is taking longer than expected to complete. It's my birthday in a week, so I'm hoping to get it done before then but it will depend a lot on the weather.

That's All.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Ideal Bathroom (circa 1910)

Isn't the fold-away bathtub the neatest thing ever?! Seems like an idea that would be great in a tiny house. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another Project.....

Just what I needed...another project! Despite still feeling rather poorly, I decided to buy a Victorian fainting sofa to restore. Isn't she a beauty?

My previous seating arrangement in my sewing studio was a small, cheap sofa from Ikea. It actually lasted around 10 years, despite it's rough treatment and lower quality build. Now that I'm no longer a teenager, I thought it was time for a piece that will last. I decided on an antique piece for several reasons:
1) I love old stuff.
2) Victorian's had wicked style
and 3) An antique piece will hold most of it's value if well treated. Unlike buying something from a big box store, if I get tired of it or it no longer works for my lifestyle, I can just resell it.

I looked at a couple Victorian sofas, but they were all just slightly too big for the space. The fainting couch is actually slightly smaller than what is there now, which has the added benefit of giving me a bit more room to move around in my rather tightly compacted studio space.

I haven't quite decided what to do to her. The current fabric is clean, but very faded (the piece was apparently kept under a bay window by it's previous owners). I've pretty much made up my mind to reupholster her in some sort of blue/teal/turquoise fabric. The part I'm stuck on is what to do with the wood. I realize it probably just looks like stained wood in the photos, but it is in fact painted brown. Who paints wood brown?! It's already brown! It really boggles the mind, and ruins the look of the lovely carving on the back. I'm torn between attempting to strip and then refinish the wood, or just painting over the current paint (maybe light grey to highlight the detailing). I'm a little worried the brown paint could be covering up some sort of damage or patch job. Any suggestions? I have to make up my mind before doing the reupholstery but I'm quite torn.

I'm fixing her myself, so I will try to post process pictures as I go along. I'm fairly competent with anything fabric related, so I'm pretty confident in my abilities to not screw this up. If I do managed to mess up, I will take it to a professional, but I'm pretty sure it will be ok...  

I'm hoping that I can end up with a one-of-a-kind Victorian piece for less than the price of buying a new sofa at Ikea. To replace my current Ikea sofa with a new one would be about $340 with tax, so I'm using that as my budget for the piece. The sofa itself was $170 (including tax), which leaves me another $170 for the restoration. Wish me luck!

That's All.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Phonograph Fashion's Illustrations, Etc.

You may notice along my left-side of my blog there is a new Etsy mini below the one for Phonograph Fashions. That is because I've opened a second shop! At the moment is it stocked with printable card designs, but I have plans to add a broader range of items. You can find my new shop here

The note cards all have some sort of vintage-theme, and often feature animals dressed in vintage outfits. For the introductory price of only $2.50 CAD you get two printable card designs, which can be printed on regular letter-sized card stock. The prices will be going up in a bit, so take advantage now! 

Here are a couple of the designs: 

That's All.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Faux Fur Collar

On windy day a couple weeks ago, I had the overwhelming urge to sew myself something. I haven't made anything for my own wardrobe in quite a while, and it was lovely to sew something without worrying as much about the final product. I decided to make myself a detachable fur collar from some scrap faux fur my friend gave to me.

I based the collar off this image from the 1930s, as well as this one.  The faux fur I used is a different colour, but I kept the design very close to the original. It's a little silly and very dramatic. 


Apologizes if there is a bit of radio silence from my end over the next few weeks (and past week as well). I've been having a few health problems, which my doctor assures me is just stress (which is kind of ironic as my major stress lately has been how poorly I've been feeling). It's bad enough that I honestly thought I had a kidney infection or something quite serious until all my test results came back negative. So I am making a big effort to chill out. I do loving blogging so I plan on continuing, however it may be a little sporadic for a bit. Hopefully I can get back to normal soon. I think more yoga is in order!

I would love to know how other people destress. I used to knit as my major stress reliever, but with my wrists that's no longer an option. Any suggestions?

That's All. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

~The Vintage Vegetarian~ Invalid Custard

As promised, here is the second edition of the vintage vegetarian recipe experiment. (I actually made this at the same time as the last one, but split it into two posts to give proper attention to each recipe.) This recipe is for a cup custard and is taken from the "invalid" section of a Victorian cookbook. There is a fairly large section dedicated to "invalid cooking", which makes me suspect that a vegetarian diet may have been recommended for those with a delicate constitution. Either way, I love simple recipes and decided to give this one a shot. 

 Invalid Custard

The original recipe

My initial thoughts
This is from the "invalid" section of the cookbook, so I expect it to be rather plain. I have been sick lately, so this seemed liked a good fit at the moment. I like that the amount or type of sweetener is not specified. That likely means it is not required for the custard to set properly, and leaves me free to substitute some of my home-grown stevia powder. Overall, the instructions look fairly simple. 

The Ingredients
(for one larger serving, or two smaller ones)

  • One egg
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • Sweetener (I'm using a pinch of stevia powder)
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla extract (I'm using homemade extract, so you might need a bit more if using store-bought extract)

Cooking Instructions
  1. Pour ingredients into cups. It doesn't say to mix them together, but I assume you are meant to beat the milk and eggs a bit. I stirred them with a fork until they seemed well mixed. 
  2. Pour into cups. I'm using two ramekins for the "one" serving of custard. They seem large enough for a dessert sized portion of custard.
  3. Place cups/ramekins into a "half-pan" (I used a rectangular cake pan), and fill pan half-way with water.
  4. Bake for an unknown amount of time, at whichever oven temperature you feel like. I went with 40 minutes at 375 degrees, using a toaster oven. (You might want to reduce the heat to 350 degrees if cooking in a regular oven.)
  5. Bake until solid, and a knife can be drawn out clean. When they say "solid", I think it just means until set, rather than super solid. No one wants to have to chew custard. 

The Result

Actually, really good. There was a slight skin on the top, but I like "pudding-skin" so this wasn't a problem for me. The custard was very creamy and soft/silky.  I did put a bit of cinnamon on top, as it is quite plain on it's own. It would be marvelous served with a bit of fruit sauce (such as pear sauce). I had the other one later with a bit of honey and blueberries, and it was quite delicious! 

I will definitely be making this recipe again. Prep time took about 2 minutes and it can be left to cook while you eat dinner. It makes a perfect weeknight dessert, when you don't have much prep time and want something simple. If you wanted to make a larger amount, the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. 

That's All.