Sunday 25 March 2012

More on lace - guestposting

Today, I have a guest post up at Steph's place, 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. It is a result of my previous rather ranty post on the subject of crochet vs. bobbin lace, and my correcting Steph on the same mistake. She asked me to write a guest post on the subject, and I tried to be more precise in my explanation.

It is a bit of a strange feeling, to have (relatively) expert knowledge on a bloggable subject, especially compared to someone like Steph, who is a perfect example of a knowledgeable sewing blogger who does not shy away from sharing that knowledge. I'm definitely not an expert on sewing, or any of the other things I usually write about. And I'm not such an expert on this either, compared to other people, but it's something I know more about than your average sewist. And that's the strange feeling.

So, to get away from that - here are some more vintage/antique laces I got from my grandma. :-) The first two are crochet, the one inserted into fabric is bobbin lace, the last one is, again, crochet. Notice how the maker of that one forgot one of the picots. :-)

Friday 23 March 2012

Cherry soup, cherry on my apron

Real Life caught up with me and I did not post several things I wanted to post for the Bramblewood Fashion blog event (which I keep forgetting to link back to). Like a cap knitted after the 1950s magazine I bought a while ago. And my absolutely favourite 1940s film, which is probably one of my favourite films of all times, but its awesomeness happens to be extremely hard to convey only in pictures and words to people who don't speak Czech... And such like.

So in this post, I unite the culinary Thursday with the Fashionable Friday to make up for that easily.

Today, I made this:

It's a recipe from "Cooking the Austrian Way" by Ann Knox, a 1960 revised edition of a 1958 book, published by Spring Books in London. It's part of a series - I also got "Cooking the German Way", and there are others, including "Cooking the Czech Way", which, sadly, I did not get (it would be interesting to see Czech recipes translated to English readers). But these I did get I got in a secondhand bookshop for the ridiculous price of 10 CZK for both the books, which is about 50 US cents. So no, I'm definitely not complaining.

Although I also had to utilise a 1924 book to get the amounts right.

That's an old English-Czech dictionary. It has these useful conversion tables for all sorts of measures in the beginning. (There's just one catch: they got the decimal point in inches wrong.)

So, cherry soup. I used frozen sour cherries from our cherry tree instead of fresh black cherries. (I wonder what the Germans/Austrians originally used, because Wikipedia tells me black cherries come from America.) And because they were sour already, I added less of the lemon juice. And we happened to have no lemon, just bottled lemon juice, so I used orange rind instead.

I was rather proud of my orange rind.

Also, I used cornstarch. Not flour. The way the recipe treats it suggests it's starch.

But I did use a real cinnamon stick (which was rather hard to fish out of the soup when it was finished).

Orange + cinnamon take it near mulled wine territory, and orange + other fruit + cold somehow also takes it near sangría territory (why do I have to remind myself of sangría?!); while the sour fruit + starch takes it into the realm of kissel. I'm not particularly fond of mulled wine, but all the others I love, so it sounded good. And it was another way to use our cherries outside of sweet dumplings, cakes and compots.

We did not wait till it was completely cold and took it from the fridge in a rather lukewarm-to-cold stage. Not that it made such a difference. When my sister was laddling another bowl, I remarked to her that, apparently, the recipe met with success. She replied "Not just success, it met with devouring."
I hope that conveys to you just what this soup is like. I'm glad I made the 6 servings amount.

My bowl is a handmade-in-Poland bowl my (other) sister brought me from Wroclaw as a birthday/Christmas (choose one) gift. Making this a thoroughly Central European dish.

Stoning the cherries was a rather lengthy and messy affair. (BTW, why is it called "stoning" when it is, obviously, rather a "de-stoning"?) They bleed a lot, they even spurt into all sorts of unexpected directions. The juice colours everything it comes into contact with hot pink. Especially your clothes.

Which is precisely the reason why I made this apron in the first place.

And now you can finally see what this piece of utility clothing sort-of-inspired-by-50s-but-not-quite-worked-out actually looks like finished.

Not quite worked out because I did not have enough fabric and made the skirt up as I went; and altered the fit as I went which only resulted in other fit problems (like the bust darts not really hitting my bust point).

And the skirt does not exactly line up in the back.

But it's a piece of utility clothing that actually serves its purpose - proven - and my sister asked me today to make her one following the same basic structure one day. So when I find another apron-worthy fabric, I'm also making another one for myself, this time from an improved pattern. Moreover, it has fun colours, colours that match the purpose it was made for. Which was one of the reasons why I used the Very Pink Poplin of Doom on it.

(The Very Pink Poplin of Doom has earned its own tag. It currently beats other tagged subjects in the number of posts it's appearing in, so why not? It's a special fabric. Very pink.)

Friday 16 March 2012

Creating an outfit for a vintage blouse, and analyzing it

This isn't, technically, a daily outfit post, because I only wore this for the photos (although I left the scarf and shoes on afterwards).

(Kaksi assisted. So I included her in the photos.)

But it's an Outfit post; it's a post that proves what outfit photos are good for.
I can see the outfits and what they do to me much more clearly than in a mirror. Mirror distorts. That's a fact.

I was rather scared when I saw myself in these photos. They proved that the outfit is not a sum of its parts. Let's see... Silk scarf: yummy. Vintage blouse: does not fit me quite the best, but I still nearly squeeled in delight when I first saw it, and still squeel in delight inwardly. Necklace: made by me exactly as I wanted it. Skirt: I'm very fond of. White stockings: ditto. Thrifted brown shoes: had to have, lucky that they fit.

And what I see in the photos? An old lady scarf, an old fashioned blouse, a squabby bottom. (The skirt is actually a most delightful flowy chiffon, if artificial.)

It's slightly better when I pose differently, but the skirt still hits me at the most unfortunate part of my legs: the widest part of my calves, making them look fat, no matter how I stand. (They're not. They're just muscular. No, I'm not deceiving myself.)

I call this photo "Channeling my inner old lady", which about sums up all the problems of this outfit...
Another scary thing: in spite of the skirt's interesting cut, this outfit loses my waist definition. And THAT is quite a big deal to achieve.

It is, I think, in part because the blouse is definitely Edwardian-inspired, and requires a high-waisted bottom. None of my bottoms are high-waisted. Even those that might hit the natural waist for someone else usually sit lower on me.

It is marginally better from this angle.


Add a sweater and everything changes.

The proportions are suddenly less off; I have a waist definition again, the brown sweater ties together the shoes and the scarf (and my hair) and draws the attention away from the skirt and its unfortunate length.

It was a most illuminative experience.

Scarf and shoes: thrifted

Necklace and bracelet: made by me (I made the bracelet later, from the remaining large red beads)

Belt: found at home

Skirt: second-hand from a friend

Stockings: some Czech brand or other, bought in a shop in Brno

Sweater: C&A, second-hand from a friend

Blouse: Alice Stuart, second-hand from my friend's mother - its age is uknown, but according to oral family tradition, it could be from the late 1930s or from 1940s. Maybe. More about the blouse to come on some later date.

Wartime honey biscuits

I found this recipe in "Deutsche Moden-Zeitung" fom November 1943. It was most probably meant for Christmas, and it features some wartime specifics... Notice there's no egg and no butter!

125 g wheat flour
125 g rye flour
1-2 tablespoons of artificial honey/syrup
80-100 g sugar
exactly 1/8 l (i.e. 125 ml) milk
a pinch of salt
spices to your preference
12 g of ammonia

Form a dough (add ammonia into the milk first), roll out and cut. Bake on a greased baking tin. You can also replace the wheat flour with oatmeal.

- Well, that's what the original recipe said. Artificial honey is a German invention from wartime, when real honey was scarce (I hear it was awful). Nowadays, artificial honey is the scarce commodity, so I used the real stuff. :-)
I used the so called "gingerbread baking powder" instead of ammonia (and did, therefore, not bother adding it to the milk first). It's a mix of baking powder and gingerbread spices - so I left out the spices step as well. Also, I wanted to use up an old opened package, so I used more - I think next time I'll stick to the original estimate.
And because I was temporarily out of milk (that's what you get for loving milk in your tea), I replaced part of it with cream and water...

The original recipe does not say how hot the oven should be and how long you should bake it. So I experimented. We have hot air oven, mind you, so these data only apply to that, but:
I did it in two batches, the first on 200 degree Celsius for ten minutes - those came out hard, crunchy the first day and hard, the type you douse in your tea, the second. The second batch I baked on 160 degrees, also for ten minutes - those came out relatively soft the first day. I have no idea what they were like the second day, because when I woke up today, they were already gone!

Also, because of that, I have no pictures. I wanted to take pictures in the morning light today, but now I can't. :-) I'm definitely making them again. And trying out the oatmeal variant.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Illustrierte Wäsche- und Handarbeitszeitung, 1941

There are much more 1940s magazines in the stack I borrowed from my aunt, but most of them are larger than our scanner. This one mostly fit; even then, some of the pictures are put together from two scans.

This one is also cute. (Most of the 1940s German magazines from Germany have rather boring, war-time clothes.) And it's also one of the few with an intact pattern sheet.

So yes, I may be able to sew some of these.

I'm not going to make this, though. The magazine has several such projects, which pretend to be practical, and seem to me to be actually not. How many spools of thread can you put on that thing? It might have worked in the 1940s. It would not work for me now; I have 3+ boxes of thread.

But the wooden spools are lovely. I got several such old spools from my grandma. Currently, they're still storing the original threads; when that is gone, I look forward to using them similarly to Anna.

I don't know how old these are, but they could easily be from the 1940s! (Although they're probably not.)

Monday 12 March 2012

The Grizzly King, a 1947 Czech edition

This is one of my favourite stories of all time. I first encountered it around the age of seven as the film The Bear. I loved it, even though I cried watching it... Much later, I found the book in a second-hand bookshop (and bought the film on DVD).

This is an absolutely delightful 1947 edition, with beautiful lino- or woodcut illustrations (at least I think that's what they are) by Štefan Cpin - whom I've never heard about, what a shame!

I have more books published in the 1940s, but this one is definitely one of my favourites.

Friday 9 March 2012

Dívka v modrém ("The Girl in Blue", 1939)

It would seem every single Czech 1930s comedy was a comedy of errors, mistaken and assumed identities... which is something I bear badly. (And the first Shakespeare I ever read was Comedy of Errors: go figure...)
But there are still some where I don't mind it, where there's a lot of hillarious situations and lines, and good actors and pretty clothes (of course); in short, some I love.
This is one of them.

It also features two of the three most prominent actresses of the time: Nataša Gollová as a young lady eager to re-marry so that she could change her name, Smutná ("Sad").

(Who usually looks much prettier and/or cuter than here. This hairstyle is so not her.)

And Lída Baarová, as a 17th century painting come alive.

And Oldřich Nový as a well-off lawyer/public notary in charge of an inheritance procedure, charged with keeping the painting, then forced to keep the lady and pretend she's his niece from the fictitious country of Hellianda; and plagued by eager-to-marry local ladies.

So yes, it also involves a 1939 version of 17th century costume.


And a lot of hillarious absurd situations springing from the incongruency of different eras.

Asking for "good old Czech breakfast, just a bit of soup, eggs, fruit and a cut of ham," or something along the lines of it.

Trying on a 1939 hat.

Being dressed by a 1930s housekeeper (who approves of good old Czech breakfasts).

While the town ladies are gossipping with a seamstress in her salon, preparing for a ball thrown by the new owner of the chateau.

Going to the ball, the girl in blue refuses to sit in a car and insists on a carriage drawn by real horse(s).

"Your toothpick's on fire!"

Here, that's the more usual Nataša Gollová. In a silly hat.

The girl in blue leaves a lasting impression on the ball... resulting in a string of suitors. Some more daring than others.

"So you come from Hellianda?"


"And what about those shoes?"

"Excuse me?"


"I could not lay hold of those..."

She was amused. And so was I.

A 1935-ish hairstyle for long hair

I had always thought that I could not do 1930s with my long hair. Until I saw the 1935 Czech(oslovak) comedy Ať žije nebožtík ("Long Live the Dead Man") and squeeled in delight over Adina Mandlová's hairstyle there.

Hairstyling has never been my strong suit; I only came up with this on Tuesday and it still needs to be perfected; it's also not quite the same as the hairstyle in the film. I have no idea how to achieve those waves without some fancy equipment, for one thing.
And I'm very much indebted to all those hairstyling tutorials I've looked through and watched over the time, particularly to Gertie's Heidi braids tutorial - this is just a variation on that, so I suggest you watch her tutorial to get a better idea of what's going on here. As I said, hairstyling has never been my strong suit. :-)

You only need a comb, hair elastics (some thinner ones) and bobby pins for this. (At least, that's the basic set up - you may want to use other things, like some hair gel for keeping your hair tidy, if you know how to work with them. I don't.)

You start by dividing your hair into four portions. Comb and clip back the front two. Divide the two back portions into three sections again and braid, always starting with the inner section (left for the right braid, right for the left braid) and braiding towards the front. This may seem trivial, but it later helps the crown lie smooth against your head.

Tie off with hair elastics. Now watch Gertie's tutorial if you haven't already and create a braided crown on top of your head following her instructions.

Or just pin it as seems natural to you.

Now it's time to work the originally front, now back, portions.

Again, divide each portion into three sections and braid. (You may want to comb them smooth again before doing that.) This time, start with the outermost section and braid under - so in this photo, imagine starting with the right section and swapping it with the middle one, with the right section going over the middle one as you look from the back. Does that make sense?

(I tried to photograph it, but it did not show. Photographing a hairstyling tutorial with self-timer is one of the craziest things I've done to date. Particularly because every time I was taking a photo, I had to squat down in front of the camera, because it was lower than my head. I don't know what I would have done without a tripod. Given up on the tutorial, most probably.)

Do not braid up, though - that was just to show the three sections for a visual backup. Braid down, at least the beginning of the braids (I do find it easier on my arms to braid the lower portion of a braid up). All this, again, will help the braids lie smoother against your head.

And now the fun part: the bun at the nape of the neck is simply a knot.

Tie a knot, tuck the loose ends underneath and pin in place (four, one from each "corner", suffice for me).

It looks rather messy on the photo... as I said, it needs perfecting. I suspect Adina Mandlová's bun was made differently. Any better ideas?

But in spite of the shortcomings, I already love this updo. It's better than the plain Heidi braids for me - the crown is not so thick, it lies smoother against the head and is easier to pin in place. And it can be varied into a Regency-style updo! Which I will show you one day, too.

It has only one shortcoming that cannot be perfected with time: because of the crown, I cannot wear my hats with this updo.

But it's still fun.