Thursday, May 31, 2012

Then & Now ~ Blue Swirls


 Afternoon Dress  1900s  Whitaker Auctions


jennifer lawrence 2012 peoples choice awards

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gail Carriger's New Hats and Follies

Some new hats have come into my life recently, Fashionable Reader. They are very silly.

No, not quite that silly.

This one is hard to see when it's not on but it's one of those follies (or fancies) that is on a band, has net, a silly bow, and black feathers. I look forward to wearing it soon with one of my black and white outfits. It looks a little bit like this when it is on:

I'm strangely excited about it. It may come to ComicCon with me.

Here's one that started out black and white but I changed the dots to red, I thought it would be more useful that way. It's very spiky and outrageous. Both of these were gifts from my Mum, I believe she found them at Ross.

For this one, the tiny hat portion was a gift and the decorating and feather poof were my own additions. It has an almost Renaissance noblewoman feel to it. I think it's going to become one of my steampunk hats, it will travel better than the tiny top hats and so be more useful for distance conventions.

Speaking of tiny, this one is about two inches wide. It's on a little hair clip and was made for me as a gift from my grade school art teacher. (She is one of the teachers I thank in my forward to the first Finishing School book.) I love it because, apart for the emotional connection, it really will pack well. These days, everything is about packing. Here is one about the same size:

And here are a few other silly hats, just because . . .



Happy four day work-week to all the US readers. I hope you had lovely weekends.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Steampunk Fashion From World Steam Expo 2012 with Gail Carriger

What my room looks like moments after arriving. Costume explosion!

Gail delighted to meet her own character alive and in person.

A close up of the lovely Alexia cosplay.

With fans on Friday night. For opening night I chose my fancy iridescent outfit, the one with the tea died blouse.

I also me a very Ivy hat. It reminded me very much of the work of Lilly Daché.

Lilly Daché; and Lilly Daché, 1950s  The Dorothea June Grossbart Historic Costume Collection

Steampunk parasol!

Speaking of parasols, I received this lovely parasol pin gift.
There was also octopus nail art!

The beautiful Miss World Steam 2012.

And just for fun: girls in mustaches!

Many more blogs to come, I'm running with a back log right now.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Then & Now ~ Green Dress


1940s Timeless Vixen Vintage


Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to Make a Steampunk Pocket Belt from Old Cargo Shorts, DIY with Gail Carriger


Steampunk DIY Pocket Belt

My latest DIY project is making a steampunk pocket belt from an old pair of cargo pants.

A while ago I made this steampunk belt from an old pair of shorts.

I wanted something nice to wear over my longer more formal dresses that I could hang gadgets off and put passes and money inside. Portable pockets, if you will. I also wanted it to be relatively easy to make. Here is an example of what it looks like on an outfit.

Well a dear friend of mine noticed the belt and when a favorite pair of cargo pants lost a battle with a leaky pen, she brought them to me to make over into a similar belt. This time, I remembered to chronicle the project.

The original pants, front and back. (See the pen leak on the back left pocket?) The material on these trousers was a little thin. I suggest something relatively thick, if you can find it ~ khaki or canvas or corduroy. Thrift shop for ones that are well made with reinforced pockets and a sturdy waistband. Ones that already have metal buttons are a bonus. You definitely want some of the pockets to snap or button properly, for security.

Using pinking sheers (just to be on the safe side) I cut the pants off above the knee, merely to eliminate excess material. I didn't want the belt to hang too low, aesthetically I think it works better to keep to upper level pockets only.

Still using the pinks, I then cut around the pockets I wanted to keep, leaving exiting seams (if possible) and at least a half inch allowance (if possible). I find that cutting out the zipper and at points near the waistband I lost seam allowance. That's OK you can cover rough bits with trim or other decoration later. Take care to keep the waistband completely in tact when removing the zipper.

I feel asymmetrical looks better (and less like the belt started life as cargo shorts). Thus I suggest an uneven number of pockets one side versus the other. In this case, because of the pen leak, we had one pocket on one side and three on the other. (If you have leftover pockets keep them for future projects. They make great additions to the inside of jackets for extra holding power.)

Fold over the edge and pin down. Again don't worry if there isn't enough in places. That can be fixed later.

Sew down the seam. (You can do the whole thing by hand if you prefer.) Then go over it and do a binder or whip stitch at those points (like corners) where the sewing machine was no good.

Then comes the fun part ~ decorate! (I handed the brown ones off to my friend and she hasn't had the time to finish the project yet, so we are back to the original belt as an example.)

I stitched a complementary color trim all around the edge by hand. I recommend keeping it in the same color family, so the belt goes with as many different outfits as possible. (I have one belt for browns and one for blacks.) So far as the buttons are concerned, I suggest going from larger to smaller in an angle up the seams (careful not to sew down any pockets). It's all personal preference, I just like the way this looks. Plus you want the most weight at the hem, so the belt hangs nicely. I use both vintage and new buttons, and beading spacers from a craft store as I get smaller. This belts also includes some octopus buttons and necklace pieces, an old broach, a key, and a pin. (Odd earrings can also find a new home.) Hanging off the waistband (in the space left by removal of the rear section of the shorts) I added some metal rings, these are from old curtain hangers. I use strong 100% nylon thread for my decoration, and a lot of it, especially on the rings from which I hang heavy pouches or gadgets using beaners.

Here's another example of the button decorative technique. Note I've also uses spoons and old-fashioned copper paperclips on the outfit.

That's the great thing about steampunk you can find beauty in the oddest household items.

Anyway, there it is. I hope some of you will try your own belt and have a fun time with it.

~ Gail Carriger

More steampunk fashion here.

Belt purse, 1870 via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Traveling reticule fashion plate in Godey’s Magazine, 1859.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Visit to the Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair with Gail Carriger

Last Friday was the annual Vintage Fashion Fair in Alameda. Being as we had heard good things, and me with my little list of necessities, we planned an excursion. "We" being my dear friend (and Beta reader), Rach, myself, and eventually the Phrannish (my other Beta reader).

Now, Rach has been into vintage long before me. The girl knows things about hats. As we trundled through she found one of the most interesting hats I have seen in a long while, the Fantopper. Here she is modeling it.

It's made of paper, isn't it cool? 1940s in origin and it could have been mine of $20, but . . . what would I do with it? I suppose I could have worn it to ComicCon. However I was more excited by this remarkable creature...

Doesn't it look like it's caught some strange disease? It reminded me of a dress I saw on one of my Gothic Lolita blogs recently.

Of course I actually did want to but this hat. It's that blush color which seams to be my obsession right now. I was a good girl and didn't: too hard to pack, very few of my events are outside,  and I already have four wide straw hats in more practical colors (white, red, collapsible cream, and grey). But so cute.

It did seem that hats were the order of the day. So many of them were so Ivy worthy that of course I wanted to try them all. Yes, Ivy gets that from me. I love hats. Fortunately I have the kind of head that can wear them. I have one friend who, poor thing, can only really get away with a cowboy hat. Words fail me.

 Rach bought that cute navy straw one.

In fact, a hat was one of the few things on my list. Ever since i purchased this I.Magnin dress down in Santa Cruz I have been looking for something for evening for my hair in emerald green to match. I also want pumps and gloves, but I had no luck there.

But I did find a feathered band in the right colors.

It's hard to see in the photo but it matches perfectly. Then I hunted for the little dress clip in gold and green for the rough end of the hairband. I'm very happy with the result. (For one thing, that band curls up into a little packable ball. Since my Europe trip pack-ability has become a major concern. You may see my at a ComicCon evening party in this outfit. I didn't snap a shot of me wearing it but this is what it looks like:

I actually used to own one just like it, I might still, only it's in storage. Mine looked like this:

I ended up giving it up because it didn't sit right and was so close to the color of my hair that it jsut made it look like my hair was all messed up. Great on a blonde though.

From Mad Men

I rather like feather evening hats, they have a quintessentially vintage feel to them because you don't see ones like them around much anymore.Of course you don't see many day ones either.

Back to the Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair. It wasn't just hats, that happened to be the center of out loot. There were dresses, and shoes, and sparkles as well. I ordered two new pairs of glasses with vintage frames. They haven't arrived yet, so you will have to tell me what you think when we meet in person. I fell in love with this ultra-long purse, too expensive and hard to pack, but you could practically fit a parasol inside it!

In fact, do you  what kind of parasol you could fit inside? A folding tilt parasol! And do you know what I manage to find and but at the fair . . . a folding tilt parasol!!!!

Ok, so technically I wasn't looking for one. And I do have nine parasols already. And the condition wasn't great. (I don't think the seller realized quite how old it was. My guess is 1820s.) But this little puppy fits into a carry on.  Just look at it!

I don't have anything for scale but that is less than the length of my forearm.

Here it is extended.

And here it is deployed.

And here it is lying flat on the ground in tilt position.

It took half a bottle of clear nail polish (to stop the silk from running) and some stitch witch to make repairs, but I think she will serve my event needs. I intend to decorate her a bit more. Accordingly, I'm looking to buy or make eight lace or crochet patches/doilies/flowers or silk ribbon pansies/rosettes to cover over the repairs. I also have a bee in my bonnet about making a holster for it to hang off of my cargo belt at steampunk conventions but I have a draft to finish first. No projects allowed right now. Of course, regardless, she's coming with me to Steampunk Expo this weekend. How could I not bring her?

All in all the Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair was a great success. You don't have to take my word on it. Stylenik has a bunch of photos of the event as well.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.