Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th!


"Wow girls, would you look at the size of these wieners?! We're gonna have ourselves a ball tonight!

I hope everyone has an amazing July 4th weekend! Eat, drink, be merry and blow shit up!...just don't be a dumbass about it- be safe, kids! I just realised that I completely forgot all about yesterday's Aqua Blue Friday post, but it'll resume as normal next Friday! Sorry about that. I know that Fridays are the bane of your existence and everything.

In the meantime, please enjoy some WWII-era 40's patriotic fashions, courtesy of the gals down at the USO.




Thursday, July 2, 2009

She's Crafty

Recently I had the chance to do my first, all growns up interview here at The Girl Can't Help It headquarters. I was finally able to wear that fedora with the paper square in the band that says "press"! Last week I had a chance to talk with a fellow vintage clothing seller-turned-fashion-upcycler extraordinaire. Picture this:

It was hot that Thursday afternoon. Too hot. The kind of heat that not even the summer winds off the coast could chase away. So there I was, snakeskin platform heels kicked up on the oversized wood desk, staring at the round keys of the typewriter and wondering just what exactly was a "qwertyuiop". I was listless. Bored. The thrill was gone. The Metalcraft fan on top of the filing cabinets was spinning on low, and the wide wooden slats of the venetian blinds behind me cast long, black and white shadows on the wall, setting the stage for something cliche-ishly film noir-y about to happen. There was a knock on the door. I jumped up off my chair with such force that my unnaturally high-waisted pants gave me a wedgie that not even James Cagney himself could talk his way out of. In she walked. Why, it was none other than that crafty dame Hollis, of Past Perfect Vintage. She confessed to having the inside scoop about her new, one of a kind fashion line called eCouture by Jenkins & Evans, Recycled Clothing and was about to spill her story all over me like this morning's cup of joe. Of all the blogs, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine. And she was about to blow the case wide open...And where is that saxophone music coming from?!...I had questions, she had answers...

Where did you learn to sew and how long have you been sewing?

I learned basic seams from my mother. She was an excellent seamstress, and had a lot more she could have taught me. But you know how 13 year old girls are...impossible. So I learned how to construct garments in college on a work study assistantship in the Theatre Department. Then I learned pattern drafting and draping and more advanced stitching techniques in graduate school.

What different types of clothing do you make? Do you use modern or vintage patterns- or not follow a pattern at all? And what different materials/fabrics/notions do you use?

Generally, I want to make clothing women can wear every day. I am sure I will spread out into special occasion pieces, but my goal is recycled clothing that can be worn by the average women as a perfectly mainstream option. I do create my own patterns. I drape new parts as needed while recycling as much existing construction as possible.
I prefer natural fibers. It's me. It's how I am. I am reusing the acetate linings though. I debated relining garments in lightweight silk crepe, it's such a nice touch, but it just adds too much to the overall cost and labor. I also love old glass, wood and metal buttons. I do have to purchase interfacing and zippers occasionally, but that's the only 'new' thing going in the designs.

Are your pieces strictly modern in design or do you do vintage-inspired pieces? Or both?

Both. My design process consists of standing in a thrift store staring at a piece, wondering: why hasn't it sold? Why did it end up here? Can I solve the problem? Then I look for 2-3 pieces that work together on some level. After that it's just what comes to me. Since I am surrounded by period clothing in my studio and have been designing and building period costumes for a long time, styles of the past certainly influence the process. So there will be a touch of 50s here, a bit of 40s there. But I do want the end result to be indisputably modern.

Do you use vintage in any of your designs? If so, what eras of vintage clothing do you use in your designs?

I don't use vintage garments at all. I feel they have a value in their own right and should not be cut up or redesigned. I do use vintage buttons and hardware such as unused buckles that I have a stash of. Those range from Victorian to 1950s do dads.

Are your creations strictly one-of-a-kind or would you reproduce a design if someone asked?

Right now they are all one-of-a kind. I am working on some ideas that would rework similar garments for similar results. There are so many good wool women's suits out there that need a new purpose. And men's sport coats! The thrifts and resale shops are packed. So I am thinking about ideas for those that I could repeat. I could try to reproduce a design, but it would have to be a vaguely similar piece, not an identical one.

Do you do custom orders?

Not right now. So much of the process is serendipity it would be hard to promise anything very specific! And working over the Internet makes the kind of one on one collaboration with a client that is necessary difficult.

Would you do alterations (ie: size adjustments) to pieces you have up for sale? If so, do you charge extra for that?

You know, I considered the one size fits all approach and it doesn't appeal to me. Too much elastic. So I am alternating between specific size pieces and looser fits such as the Tangerine Floral Blouse that is bias cut and can be worn by a wide variety of sizes and still have a shape. I also build in room for alterations when I can. Since I am working with a finite amount of fabric in odd shapes, it isn't always possible. I can do alterations when there is fabric to work with and would charge a minimal fee. But I do think alterations are best done by someone who can see the garment on the client and adjust specifically to their figure.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Once, women worked hard to make one of a kind garments, then restyled and remade them to fit the times. Clothing was an investment. They valued the fabric and the labor. I take that attitude toward clothing, and hit the fashion history books, magazines, and the web. And of course, people watch. Then I throw the existing garments I have found on a mannequin, walk away and let the right side of the brain come up with a solution.

Do you have anything special in the works for the future (ie: a website, new designs, a type of clothing you never made before, etc.)

I am starting to mull over a winter line. I see wool in my future. And maybe a wedding dress. I am deeply considering a website after I get comfortable in the process.

Here are 2 of my current favorites from eCouture! I love that while they're very sleek and modern in line, you can see little elements of past eras in there as well. Rock and roll Hollis! Here's looking at you, kid.



"She's Crafty" but the Beastie Boys.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Way-Out Wednesday: Tea For Two


(Menfolk, you may be bored stiff (I said "stiff", uh huh huh) and go deaf with all the clucking you're about to hear here. Now's a good time to go watch Married With Children or scratch something for a while. You've been warned.)

To all you crafty and sewing types: you all have a mountainous pile started, whether it's vintage clothing or whatnot, of things that need fixing and you swear one day you'll suck it up and sit down and just fix it already, right? Me too. I wear vintage every day that usually has some sort of flaw about it, because no one really buys flawed vintage, so it's not worth listing most of the time and I don't have the heart to throw it out. Also, I have no qualms whatsoever about wearing fuckedup intage, like a 50's cotton dress that's faded from too many washings or a sweater with a few moth chomps. But there gets to be a point where it's just seen better days and the hobo look ain't really cutting it. Not even hobos pull that look off. So what do you do? Me? If it's something that has a really kickass print or a great color or has some redeeming quality, I'll upcycle it into something else, like a pillow or a little clutch handbag or a whisky bottle cozy.

Same goes for random vintage curtains and linens that need a new purpose in life. Problem is, I start out with really great intentions of making something, usually to give to someone else, and then halfway through I'm either A.) bored B.) frustrated or C.) too drunk to go. And now that pile of "needs fixing" turns into "Kim is an ass and here's another halfway-done piece of god knows what crappy craft project thing to add to the pile, oh sweet jebus, please stop already because your follow-through sucks it big time and oh look, Good Times is on, sweet." True story: I have a novelty print tea towel that belonged to my Mom in the early 60's that says "To HELL with housework!" that has seen better days, so I have plans of adding that square of fabric to a simple 50's black full skirt. Because I like my clothing to say swears. Where is it right now? Safety-pinned to the skirt aaaand that's as far as it got! (PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who does this and someone out there gets it and I'm not a big ol' wackjob after all?)

So today's Way-Out Wednesday is in honor oh my current project gone astray: the lonely ol' vintage tea towel. All of the killer vintage 50's tea towels below are available from the same seller on etsy, Call Me Jasper.


Message in a bottle! Fun! But now I could seriously tear into a bag of Goldfish crackers for some reason.


Crudites! Canapes! Hor d'oeurves! Finger food for fancy bitches!


Hmm, should I add one baby or two?


Where everybody knows my name. PS: I LOVE this one in ways that are almost unholy. So. Very. Unholy. The wanting. It hurts.


Bird in a top hat? Win! Champagne glass? Win! Bird in a top hat sitting on the champagne glass? Win! A million falling swizzle sticks? Infinity win!

"Tea for Two" by Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and about a million other people.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Atomic Tuesday


Welcome to this week's Atomic Tuesday! We schmucks in the northeast have been under a grey skies and rain attack for the past 3 weeks. I kid you not: 3 straight weeks. The Winona-in-Beetlejuice, goth kid inside of me secretly loves it (not so secret now, is it, voices in my head?!), and my grumpy German DNA refuses to let me tan, but go from glow-in-the-dark white to peeled-skin red in about 3 minutes. I'm like a walking nuclear explosion waiting to happen as soon as I see the light of day. I'm a freaking Gremlin. So this 3 week hiatus of sun is a win-win. Only northeasterners aren't exactly the friendliest of people and in fact, I think this section ranks as the grumpiest in all of the USA. (Sorry, PA, NJ, NY, CT, VT, RI, MA, NH, and ME. But at least we win at something. Screw you, charming and lovely citizens of Wisconsin!) And since we're not the nicest lot to begin with, add some crap weather and lack of sunshine and we've lost all will to get motivated and you can only imagine all the sweet going on around here. (Except me. I'm always sweet, dammit. I'll shiv anyone who says otherwise.)

So I found it only fitting to bring coffee into today's atomic-themed mix, because lord knows nothing else is working at this point. Except maybe a Zoloft/Jack Daniels cocktail or 3. Please enjoy these atomic starburst-printed vintage 50's Pyrex coffee carafes, or I swear I will pull this car over, reach back there and give you damn kids what-for. (Looks like it's time for another upper cocktail!)


Shorty atomic carafe from Retro Monkey.


The all growns up version of the one above, from By the Wayside.


Brass! With a little tea candle warmer stand! from Jupiter & Mars.


Amoebas and starbursts from Haus Proud.


Wagon wheel-y, movin' on up with a schmacy electric warmer, from Betty's Kitchen.


Pinecones! from Geo Pillow.




OH MY GOD THEY'RE SO LITTLE AND CUTE I CAN'T EVEN STAND IT!, wee little individual carafes from Coming Around Again.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sister Christian


Thanks to a downward-spiralling economy and a lack of interest in their Broadway musical "Jesus Freaks", the Osmonds, headed by brother Donny as their "manager", started hooking down by the train tracks to bring in extra cash, but in true Osmond style, they did with a smile. Make sure to say hi to Old Man Jenkins as one of the girls takes you behind the Whistle Stop cafe. If you're feeling especially freaky, ask for the "Bible-Thump Hump", but beware: there's a whole lot of teeth involved.

"Sister Christian" by Night Ranger.