Art Deco weekend 2015 in Pictures

Its a week late, but here is a brief summary of Art Deco Weekend this year. If you follow me on instagram (@kirsten52fancies, if you’re interested) you’ll have seen some of these pictures, sorry!


Every morning started with a cup of tea in my Carolyn jammies, sitting in the sun looking at the beautiful view from our deck. Quite a lot of the weekend was spent sitting in the sun on the deck, now that I think about it. Its a good spot to watch the vintage airplanes (Tigermoths, according to those who know these things…) which do regular flyovers and airshows during the weekend.


On Friday morning we had a wee adventure out to the port and Ahuriri, where the National Tobacco Building is. Its so beautiful, its a shame that its now a furniture storage warehouse! Better than making cigarettes though, I suppose.


Here are some detail shots from inside the foyer (this is a picture heavy post, sorry about that)



I love Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture, its a shame that we don’t put that much effort into making everything aesthetically pleasing these days!

Friday was pretty laid back, I just wore a chiffon maxi dress I got off Etsy a few years ago. Its not vintage, but it has the right look! I made a belt to go with it, using a navy blue vintage bakelite buckle and some navy and white striped ribbon.


Saturday was my first outing in my Beach Pyjamas, they were a lot of fun to wear! Very comfortable, and I didn’t need to worry about my skirt blowing up in the breeze or getting caught in anything. I was pretty paranoid about sitting in something, or spilling anything, but I didn’t have any disasters!


Monsieur wore woollen socks, woollen plus fours and a woollen waistcoat, and nearly died of heat stroke, but he looked good! We wandered around and looked at the impressive collection of vintage cars which make their way to Napier every year, and I particularly liked this one. Monsieur tells me its a Cord from the mid 1930’s (I just nod and smile).


Then I met up with Leimomi from The Dreamstress, and we had a (Beach) Pyjama Party!


That afternoon we played a fairly epic game of mini putt, which I came last in. I have many talents, but golf is not one of them! At least I made the others look really good. Eventually, we got changed and headed down to the Sound Shell for the Air Force Big Band concert. I wish I had photos, but I somehow didn’t get any. Monsieur wore a tuxedo and everything! I wore another vintage dress, and my velvet Tokyo jacket. I’m glad I’ve had some wear out of it at last!


Sunday was another laid back day. We took a walk through the Gatsby picnic, with a special stop made at the Hendricks Gin tent…


…then we headed out to the Mission Estate Vineyard for a fancy lunch before heading home. I was planning to wear a skirt with my Sencha blouse (a pre-blog make), but my Holly Trousers were so comfortable I decided to just wear them again!


So that was the glitz and glamour of another Art Deco Weekend! Well done if you made it through all those pictures…

Biggish smalls

One of the hardest things I find about dressing up in vintage (or vintage inspired) clothing is finding the right undergarments. Have you tried to find a nude coloured slip lately? One that isn’t a suck-it-in job, or made of terrible polyester, or one thats longer than upper thigh length? Maybe its just Wellington, but I never seem to be able to find what I need! Happily, I can make my own vintage inspired underthings, and play around with some different techniques while I’m at it!


I had planned to just make up a pattern for a slip, its not exactly a difficult shape! Then the January version of Seamwork magazine came out, and I decided to just lengthen the Savannah Camisole. I cut the pattern at the lengthen/shorten line, and inserted the extra length I wanted to bring it to just below my knees. I found some nude cotton/lycra in the Fabric Warehouse sale, so that was handy! The whole thing only took an hour to cut out and stitch, so the quickfire patterns promised in Seamwork do seem to be fast!


I didn’t add lace, because I didn’t want it to show through my chiffon dress. Instead, I bound the arm holes and neckline with self bias tape, which extended into the straps. To make things a little bit less utilitarian, I tried my hand at some hemstitching, guided by the tutorial in the same issue of Seamwork. A single winged needle has been sitting in my sewing caddy since I first borrowed my machine from Nana, and I never knew what it was for until now!


My antique Bernina doesn’t have a huge number of fancy stitches, so I sewed two rows next to each other. It was quite a chore to try to get every third and fourth stitch through the same holes as the row above, but I managed! I should have used a machine embroidery thread instead of just standard cotton, but I still think it looks pretty. Delicate and understated, and not going to show through my dress!


The other undergarment I’ve finished this week are a pair of white silk/lycra tap pants, possibly the oldest unfinished object in my sewing room! I started these in a sewing class nearly two years ago, but ran out of time to finish them. They’ve languished in a drawer ever since, very slack of me! When I tried on my cream linen Holly Trousers, I realised I would need more than just nude underwear underneath, so I dug these out to see what needed to be finished on them.


All they needed were the snaps and hook and eye to be sewn onto the placket! I was so happy! The sewing definitely leaves a lot to be desired, but its nice to see how much I’ve improved since I made these. I think they were probably my first attempt at french seams, so they’re better finished than a lot of my early efforts!


I feel like I should excuse the rubbish photography in this post, it was a very gloomy weekend in Wellington! The pale fabrics I used were super difficult to photograph against our white walls, and I couldn’t get my camera to focus for a full length shot of the slip. Annoying, but at least its only a boring slip not a gorgeous dress I spent weeks on!

1930s (ish) Beach Pyjamas

After my last (whiney) post about not being motivated to finish anything (thanks for your advice and kind words!), I put my head down and got to work on my main outfit for Art Deco weekend. I’ve been wanting a set of beach pyjamas for ages, they just look like such comfortable clothes! Then i saw the amazing set that Anna made last year, and I was sold. I had a look around for some vintage patterns, but they were all unbelievably expensive! So I looked up some inspiration pictures, and fell in love with this photo…


How awesome are those hats? The set I particularly like are the white trousers and the chevron halter top. I wanted a two piece set, even though a lot of them seem to be one pieces, mostly for practical reasons, but also because a set of wide legged cream trousers will be a good addition to my dancing wardrobe! In the end, I decided to go with the By Hand London Holly trousers and the Sewholic Lonsdale dress bodice. Happily, both patterns were already in my stash!


After all of my procrastination, I’m really pleased with the result! Especially the top, I think its super cute. I haven’t made the Lonsdale up as a dress (mostly because I don’t like wearing things I need special underwear for…I need to get over that) but I might have a go at it next summer, because I really like it as a top! I cut the striped fabric on the bias, because I wanted the chevron effect up the front, but the lining is cut on grain to make it all a bit more stable. I pieced the lining with some of the striped fabric for the straps, so that they were striped on both sides.



I swapped the zip for buttons up the back, mostly because I think it looks cute, but also because I couldn’t find a separating invisible zip. It does make it more difficult to get into it on my own, but I managed! I shortened the bodice by almost an inch, because I have a really short torso, but it could probably do with being a bit shorter. This was also pointed out by monsieur, so it must be quite noticible! (Honestly, he watches one episode of the Great British Sewing Bee with me and now he’s an expert…)


The Holly Trousers were really simple to put together after the top, I knew they would fit after making my Flolly Playsuit last year. The cream linen/cotton blend I used was beautiful to sew with, and presses really well, but doesn’t stay wrinkle free for long! I’ll try to press some nice sharp creases down the fronts of each leg, but I’m not sure how long they’ll last. I used my invisible zipper foot for the first time to put the side zip in, it looks so neat and was so easy! It looks like the foot will be a good investment.


They’re super long trousers (even taking my lack of height into account), I’ve already taken a 4″ hem up on them! I’m trying to decide if I should hem them to the right length, or turn them up and cuff them like oxford bags. What do you think?



So there we go! I’m glad they’re finished in time, they’ll be nice and cool to wear on a hot day in Napier! I think I’ll make a navy and cream headscarf to wear with them, rather than a hat, since I’ll have my parasol with me. Such a shame that they’ve gone out of fashion!

An untimely sewing slump

Why is it that you always run out of steam or lose inspiration when theres a deadline approaching? I’ve been sewing like a maniac all year (and all of last year too!), but now that there is only three weeks until we make our annual pilgrimage to the beautiful Hawkes Bay for Art Deco Weekend, I just can’t be bothered sewing up any of the things I had planned to wear. (More information on Art Deco Weekend in this post, but the short version is that every year the swing dancers of NZ head to Napier during their Art Deco festival which commemorates the earthquake which flattened the city in 1934. Its pretty much just a weekend of dressing up, meandering around and eating gelato in scorching sunshine, and dancing to various jazz bands throughout the city. Its good fun!)


I’ve done the planning stage, and I’ve bought and prewashed all of my fabric, I just…can’t be bothered sewing any of it up. Its terrible! I don’t even have that much to do, just a top (an Afternoon Blouse), a slip, and the Beach Pyjamas. I already have the skirt to go with the blouse, and the dress which needs the slip. I’ve made a start on the halter top for the pyjamas, and its looking ok. I’m struggling to see if it fits, its hard to hold it closed and see what it looks like! I’ll need to get Monsieur to pin me into it so that I can have a play. Its going to have buttons up the back, and I don’t want to sew all those button holes if it doesn’t fit quite right!


I think its the Afternoon Blouse which has put me in this sewing slump though. I really like the pattern, I think its cute. I bought it last summer, at the same time as the Bronte, and immediately cut it out of some pretty cotton lawn. Then it got cold, and I never sewed it together. I whipped it up last weekend, and immediately noticed a few things…mainly that I had taken absolutely no notice of pattern placement or matching when I cut it out! The second thing was that it really didn’t fit…


I have a really short torso, so a lot of RTW clothes are too long in the upper chest and shoulders if they’re sitting correctly at my waist. I’ve never had this sort of problem with something relatively unfitted though! I had enough room in the upper chest area to fit a fist in each side of the neckline, it was definitely too big. So I lifted it up at the shoulders, so the neckline sat flat against my chest, and pinned it along the shoulders…


I sewed it along the new, flat shoulder seam (I tapered it from about 3cm at the neckline to nothing at the sleeve) and trimmed the back neckline down so it was the same shape as it had been originally, then trimmed and resewed the facing. I tried it on, and some of the excess fabric had all disappeared from around the shoulders, but now the neckline gapes open like nothing I’ve ever seen! I have no idea what happened or how to fix it, I think I may have killed it…I don’t have any photos, because I was so pissed off that I just stuffed it into a bag and tossed it into the corner. I’ll go back to the drawing board, and make another one using the navy seersucker in the photo above. Any ideas how I can fix it? I was thinking that I could take a wedge out of the pattern where the neckline gapes (either side of the “V”) and then redraw the curve of the neckline…or I could just try going down a size in the shoulders/bust, and grade it out to the right size in the waist and hips. What do you think?

Frills and (potential) fails

I have a big weekend this weekend! Its the Wellington annual swing dancing extravaganza, and its going to be awesome! Four days of classes and workshops, four nights of themed balls and all night after parties. The Saturday night ball has a 1950’s theme (the theme of the whole weekend is Back to the Future, because its October 2014, of course) and I realised last week that I hadn’t put any thought into what I was planning to wear to any of the events. So…

Complete with Stepford smile!

…before you get too excited, I didn’t make the dress. I borrowed it off one of my lovely friends. I did, however, make…


…the petticoat! I know, its a bit of a soft option, but last week I was stuck at work late every day, and my last assignment was due of Suday, so I didn’t have much time for sewing. And I was really hopeful that I might have my Malu coat finished, but I’ve hit a bit of a block with that, so no joy (more on that later).

I’ve never sewn with tulle before, and I don’t think I’ll be in a big rush to do so again! What a pain in the arse! At one point, it looked like I had exploded the Royal Ballet in my sewing room. Monsieur wandered in to see what I was up to, looked around in horror and then slowly backed out of the room again. Anyway, I used a pretty basic petticoat ‘pattern’. I measured the length of the skirt (25″), decided I would make life easy by having a 5″ wide panel of chiffon around the waist, and cut 10″ wide strips of tulle for the floofy part of the skirt. I found the blush coloured chiffon in the scrap bin at The Fabric Warehouse for $5, it had some pretty major flaws in it but there was plenty of fabric to get the waistband out of it. I doubled it over, to strengthen it up a bit, and ran some elastic around the top. Each layer is twice as long as the one above it, so the chiffon layer is 1m long (sorry for the mixed units!) and the next tulle layer is 2m, and the bottom layers are 4m. Easy peasy!

It was really difficult to photograph, its so…ephemeral

I decided that I needed two layers of tulle in the bottom layer, as the cotton of the dress is quite heavy, and I wasn’t getting the fullness I wanted at the bottom of the skirt. More gathering! I wanted to cry a little (I was very tired). Happily, I realised just before I started that Nana had bought a gathering foot for her machine, so that made everything so much easier. It has a hole through the length of the footplate which you thread a length of cord through, then sew with a zig zag stitch and it keeps the cord perfectly centred! It was brilliant, I don’t think I could have brought myself to do another layer if I was just sewing lines of basting stitches…

No petticoat….petticoat!

I’m looking forward to dancing the night away in my floofy dress! Though I must remember to wear a slip under it, that tulle is bloody scratchy…

Also, if anyone is interested in the type of dancing I do, this is it! Balboa, being danced by two of the incredible teachers we have coming to teach this weekend. Can’t wait for their classes!

So, sewing oracles of the internet, I need some advice. This is my unfinished Malu coat so far



I’ve done all the construction work, except for the sleeve cuffs, hem and topstitching, and I just feel like it isn’t fitting in a very flattering way! I’ve already shortened it to mid thing, as I looked like I was drowning in the knee length version. I would take the curved shaping at the hips, but then I’m afraid I won’t be able to sit down in it! Looking at these photos, I wonder if I just need to take in the the centre back seam and put some shaping in it? I don’t wan’t it to be too fitted, or it will be restricting to movement, but I also don’t want it to look like a ski jacket. Help, please and thank you!

A vintage-ish sweater


Apparently I can’t stay away from the overlocker for any decent length of time! I’ve had a busy few days, what with the end of the trimester and assignments due and what not. Its also my last week at my current workplace, and I think they’re trying to squeeze as much productivity out of me as they can! Happily, this wee top was super fast to whip up, I think it would have been less than two hours from cutting out to trying on. I’ve noticed recently that I have a serious lack of warm tops to wear with my vintage dancing outfits (for when I’m not dancing, obviously, this would be far to warm to wear for swinging out!) and this length is perfect to wear with high waisted 40’s trousers and pencil skirts.


Its just the bodice pattern from the Colette Moneta dress, plus one of their free collars and some hem bands. I think it looks pretty cute! It was also really good for using up left over fabric from some other projects. The grey merino is the same as my Moneta dress, and the blue is from my second Renfrew.


The sweater has some of the same problems as my Moneta dress (of course, most of the problems were fabric related!), but without the skirt pulling it down its much more stable. The blue merino is much less stretchy than the grey, so it keeps the waistband and cuffs nice and firm. I thought it would keep the neckline from stretching out too much too, but I think reinforcing the seam with some clear elastic probably would have been a good idea. Once I had finished the top I had a look at the tutorial on The Coletterie, and thats what they advice. Always read the instructions before assembly! But never mind…


My only real problem is that the collar keeps flipping up, and exposing the overlocking (the above photo is an extreme example), so I might put a few hand tacks along its length to keep it sitting properly. Then hopefully my compulsive fiddling with the bow will stop…

A vintage(ish) hat

I feel a bit silly making a sun hat this week, we’ve just caught the tail end of a tropical storm, and it’s been torrential rain for the past three days! Hopefully we’ll get some sun in time for the weekend. A little bit of context might be need before I get into this weeks post, so here goes. In 1931 there was a massive earthquake (and subsequent fire) which destroyed the city of Napier in the Hawkes Bay. It remains the worst natural disaster in New Zealand’s history, with the greatest loss of life. When they rebuilt the city, they did so in the art deco style, which had only just made its way over the Atlantic. Apparently, Napier is now one of the best examples of art deco architecture in the world. Every February, the city holds a week long art deco festival commemorating the earthquake, and celebrating the city and the people who rebuilt it. And every year, for the Friday-Sunday of the festival, swing dancers from around the country descend on the Criterion Hotel on the main street for a weekend of dressing up, parading around, and dancing al fresco to the many jazz bands who play throughout the city. Its pretty much the best weekend of the year! I try to have at least one new outfit every year, either handmade or actual vintage (though dancing in Napier, in the middle of summer, in the sun, in a vintage dress is not the best!). This year I’ve bought a dress, and I’m halfway through a Colette Jasmine blouse, which will be another post. I’ve also refashioned a straw hat into a 1920’s cloche, because I catch fire in direct sunlight, and because I love hats, and there really aren’t enough chances to wear them in Wellington!


This is the hat I started with, just a cheap paper straw one. I cant quite figure out what I should call it. Is it a straw bowler hat? Its the wrong shape for a fedora. Anyway…I followed some of this tutorial by the Dreamstress, though I didnt need to reshape the crown, as it was already round. First I ripped off the band, then I used the iron with plenty of steam to flatten off the brim, and to angle it down to give the hat more of the bell shape I was after.


Then I tried the hat on, pulling it down over my forehead and folding the brim up at the back to make it more close fitting, and to ensure I could still move my head the whole way back without my hat popping off (so annoying!)


Once I had the shape I was after, I pinned the back if the brim up and hand sewed it in place. This was the part of the procedure that caused the most pain and swearing, i stabbed myself with pins so many times! I doubled the thread over and sewed in backstitch to make sure it was strong enough.


I still didn’t have the deep curve that I wanted in the back where the hat sits around my neck, so i got the iron back out and steamed it into the right shape


Finally, i sewed a pale yellow velvet ribbon on in place of the band I removed at the beginning. Because I want to wear this hat with two different outfits, i chose a colour that shows up in both my dress and blouse, and I’ll add a different embellishment each day to mix it up a bit.



I’ve just attached a pair of hair clips which suit each outfit (the hat is sitting on the dress and blouse, respectively), I’m not sure if i’ll just use them or if I’ll make some more decorative bits. I think that it looks pretty good though, I’m looking forward to wearing it! There will be a few more art deco related posts between now and mid February, I’ve got a parasol to decorate, a slip to make for under the blue and yellow dress, and some other little bits and pieces to fix up or make.