Monday, 28 May 2012

Mad Men Shocker and some Fabric Pr0n

Spoiler alert!  If you haven't watched episode 11 yet, please close this window now.

OK, so we've all watched it?


And as soon as I saw this scene with Peggy meeting Tom, I thought, "Why is she wearing such a Joan outfit?!?".  Oh wait, yeah.  I see the parallels they are drawing. 

But I have to say, I love this.  If we have another Mad Men challenge over at TSW, I'm doing this one. 

And didn't you all love it when Joan wore her Wave Dress from the previous season?

Anyway, now that I got that off my chest, I wanted to follow-up from yesterday's pattern treasure post with this fabric treasure post.  Gaze upon the haul I'm trying to stuff in my medium-sized suitcase:

De Gama cottons and wax prints. 

 Double sided shwe shwe

 Some scratchy mystery fabric, made with what appears to be linen warp and tinsel weft.  As soon as I saw it, I had to have it.  It reminds me of something from long ago that I can't quite put my finger on.  I know it looks tacky, but I just had an immediate gut reaction to it.

 Mandela border print shwe shwe.  (Funny story:  when the lady was cutting it, she accidentally cut through Mandela's left ear, and then she stopped and cried, "Sorry sir!  Sorry sir!", while rubbing the cut portion!)

 Linen in basic colours for trousers / dresses.

 Shwe shwe panels for making skirts.  You cut along the white dashed lines, align the panels and add whatever binding / closure you want to the waist.  The ladies at the shop measure your waist in centimetres and calculate how many panels you need.

Twill for making trousers. 

 Venda prints.  The one of the right is to make my friend a Venda skirt like my orange one I wear a lot.'s a surprise.

Cotton voiles.

All this (plus some fabric I got for a friend) added up to about 40 metres and I believe I spent about $100.  The prices in Rand are about equal to what I would pay in Canadian dollars, so with the exchange rate being 8:1, I had a hard time saying no to anything.  For example, at one shop linen was 15R /m(~$1.90) and I would pay between $12-20/metre in Canada.  It's very, very tempting to go overboard.

Thanks to Jill over at The Sew Alongs for leading me to Focus Fabrics, the shop that caused me to hyperventilate slightly.  (Turns out that by some strange six-degrees-of-separation thing, her husband works with someone I work with at UCT, but I'll save that story for another time.)  Right next door was a shop I hadn't visited before either, called something like "Exciting Ladies Fabric Shop" (I would have put an apostrophe in there somewhere, but whatever).  The fabric cutter kept dropping the price whenever I tried to verify the cost per metre.  I really wasn't bargaining, but just trying to calculate the damage!

So I think I've eaten up my travel allowance.  I know you're supposed to use your per diem to pay for food and transport, but C'MON!  Who amongst you wouldn't skim a little off the top for shwe shwe and Venda prints?!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thrift (charity) shopping in Cape Town

I learned my lesson last Saturday about the opening hours of small storefronts in Cape Town.  They open from about 9am-1pm, then they're closed until Monday.  If you sleep in until 11am because of jet lag, you're out of luck.  So despite having spent Friday night with friends at a vinyard / orchard / spa / restaurant and drinking my way through not one, but two bottles of Pinotage, I was up early to hit the thrift shops of Mowbray.

Mowbray (on the backside of Table Mountain) is a alternately gritty and student neighbourhood, full of junk shops and cheap department stores.  I had seen lots of promising places from the windows of my morning combi rides, so I had them all scouted out.  I even thought that I'd be able to write an interesting post about all the shops. 

In reality, it was pretty slim pickings.  When you think about the incredible level of unemployment and tight budget most families are living on in these neighbourhoods, it shouldn't be surprising that things are pretty well picked over.  The Value Village in affluent West Island Montreal this ain't.

A bit disappointed after dragging my corpse out of bed early, I passed by Help a Rural Child book shop sale and thought I may as well check it out.


Up in the attic, behind the non-fiction section, I found four boxes briming with sewing patterns.  I plunked myself down in the corner and got to digging.  I ended up only buying the best ones because my luggage is already stuffed with fabric (post to follow!).

Cheryl Teigs modelling a bridal gown by Belinda Belleville, a disco era Herbert Kasper, and a few basics from Donna Karan.  While I have no plans on getting married anytime soon, if you look closely, this is a pretty good '60s shift.  And come often do you get a Vogue Couturier Design pattern for R2 (25 cents)?

Some '50s and '60s gems:

This beauty is exactly my size

and I love this overblouse pattern, but I have no idea why Green Lady is giving me the finger.

'60s wrap dresses.

Some '70s patterns I've never seen before.  We don't get a lot of Style patterns turning up in Canada, so I wonder if they were ever sold there.  

Lastly, I got some '80s patterns.  Yes, '80s.  I don't know what came over me, but in my defence, they aren't too "out there".  Well, maybe the split-back jumpsuit is a bit OTT......but that draped sleeve Butterick 3790 reminds me of the dress Adey made for the Mad Men challenge

So the charity shop venture was not a complete waste of time.  The internet in my hotel is so incredibly slow that it's taken me a couple of hours to upload these photos, so you'll forgive me if I go to bed and recover from my overindulgence.  If you're ever in Mowbray, please stop by the Help a Rural Child charity shop, climb up to the attic and look in the back corner.  There are still 100s of patterns there.....

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Me Made May, days 15-21

Here's a quick recap of MMM days 15-21; I don't feel like I have a lot to say about most of these garments, but I'll try to think of something witty:

Day 15:  Going to the airport this afternoon, so a lot on my mind and a lot to get done.  Burda top pattern from the '80s with absolutely no shaping, but I've gotten compliments on it, so maybe I'm being a harsh judge.

Day 16:  skipped, because I was in transit and wearing my protective flying gear as mentioned in my last post. 

Day 17:  Thrifted size 20 dress that I "tailored" by serging up each size and taking off about 4 inches of width.  Tada!  Very poor lighting in my hotel room and I was too tired to try taking a photo again.  (I had foolishly arrived in Cape Town at 11pm Wednesday and then got up the next morning and decided to go straight to work.  By 4pm I was falling asleep standing up.)

Day 18:  Feeling human again, and wearing a new green shwe shwe wrap dress to fulfill the Green Theme of the day.  Same Vogue pattern as my Cape Town Switcheroo dress.  This is in back of Medical Microbiology at University of Cape Town, looking at the east side of Table Mountain (the opposite side to that which is usually shown in tourist photographs).

Oh yeah, and then I wore it to a performance by Henry Rollins at the Baxter Theatre, RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE I'M STAYING!  And I found out about the show totally by chance the day I arrived, by glancing at the cover of "The Tattler" while I was waiting for some Nando's takeaway.  Score. 
Best line of the night?:   
" she's about 118 years old, and she's got a coppermouth in each hand, and I'm screaming, 'Don't die drummer granny!  Don't die!'"

Day 19:  Saturday I slept in until 11AM!  I didn't even know that was possible!  It's amazing what a little jet lag and lack of child care responsibilities will do to your sleep cycles.  Spent the day eating, walking around and trying to fabric shop, but warning:  all the fabric shops close in Cape Town at noon Saturday and don't open again until Monday morning.  Boo.  Wore a repeat of day 6 = batik tunic and jeggings, and caught up on some internets.

Day 20:  Spent Sunday with friends, and wore what shall henceforth be known as my travel defence outfit, which is technically not Me-made, but thrifted.  I did make some of the food in the photo below, so I'm claiming day 20.  So there. 

Day 21:  Tech transfer has officially begun, so it was a long day in the lab and I didn't make time to get a photo outside.  Can't quite see, but this is the shwe shwe Skirt of Indecision and Disagreement from last fall. 

So there ya go.  Week 3 complete, and I have to say that it's not difficult to do, except for the odd casual weekend day that makes me realize I need to make more knits, especially leggings.  I have a more interesting post coming up soon that will involve actual fabric!  Actual sewing patterns!  Actual photos outside of damp, chilly, unheated UCT! 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Me Made May days 8-14

Wow, day 8 seems like a long time ago already.  Here we are on day 17, and  I'm still going strong, although I did have to skip day 16 because I was flying from Montreal to Cape Town and wore my travel uniform for both 15th-16th:  knit top and leggings with boots.  Knits for comfort and boots because they are good defence against the floors of airplane loos after 22 hrs of use by 300 people.  Ever had your trousers or skirt touch the floor in that situation?  I bet you'll never go without leggings tucked into boots again after that. 

Well, now on to more pleasant things.

Day 8:  turtle print kitenge top

Day 9:  Leopard print cotton skirt

Day 9 detail:  necklace by Urbandon (birthday present to myself)

Day 10:  me-made necklace and kid; altered H&M dress (birthday present from my man)

Day 11:  Me-made Venda skirt and kid-made chaos

Day 12:  Pillowcase pendrell blouse and me-made cheese biscuits

Day 13:  Pillowcase top  (photographed in my falling-down barn)

Day 14:  Thrifted and altered chiffon skirt.  (Note the awesome Darth Vadar drawing in the background by kid #1.  He did a whole series including Luke Skywalker, At-ats and At-sts.)

I'm in Cape Town for the next two weeks, so hopefully I'll remember to keep on taking photos.  And in more exotic locations than my front steps and my lab!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Me Made May 2012: days 1-7

In case you're not part of the Flickr group, here's a round-up of Me Made May, week 1.  I'm using my Thing-linker, so click on it in each photo to go to the blog post in question.

Day 1:  Strike Action dress

 Day 2:  Totally '80s dress

Day 3:Refashioned '60s muumuu

Day 4:  Linen tunic + beaded collar

Day 5:  Sorbetto tunic

 Day 5, evening: Cape Town switcheroo wrap dress

 Day 6:  Good Morning Starshine minidress + jeggings

 Day 7:  Rayon sarong maxi skirt

Friday, 4 May 2012

Mad Men '67?

After last week's episode featuring Megan's parents (Julia Ormond and Ronald Guttman), arguing their way though it in french (but certainly not Quebecois, since neither of them is Canadian),  I got to thinking.... 


it's currently 1966 in Mad Men land.  
Megan is from Montreal.  
Don hasn't been to Montreal.  
They're going to Expo '67!!!!  
How awesome would that be?


(Thing is, I know people in the TV/film industry here, and there hasn't been any talk about the MM crew doing any location work here.  Darn its.  If they're going to do it, I guess they used studio shots.)

(The First Days of Expo 67:  Totally worth the watch because it has all the iconic images:  Habitat, Fuller's Geodesic dome, '60s fashion, and pot heads staring blankly into space.  Far out.)

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