Tupperware Party!

Tupperware

“The Space Saver is slim, and fits comfortably and ergonomically in the hand. At a party, I sometimes make a saucy remark about that, depending on the mood of the crowd.” (from this post)

This quote is taken from my new favourite blog, which contains the finest writing about Tupperware anywhere on the internet, or possibly in the world. We had some of the Space Savers growing up. I specifically remember a tall round one with frosted sides and a burgundy lid, ancient broken spaghetti rattling around inside.

The Tupperware Man has given Tupperware parties with performance artists and drag queens, and will be at Vintage at Southbank this weekend with a lovely 60s kitchen set-up. Surely Tupperware parties will be the next big craze amongst the vintage-wearing, retro-haired, swing-dancing set?

(image from the Tupper Diva site, which you must visit immediately)

Tupperware is a beautiful thing. Do you ever get that urge to categorise everything in your house and put it into a specially labelled container? It tends to pass quickly, but I confess that I do enjoy doing a bit of window shopping on the Lakeland website, or decanting everything from the kitchen cupboards into individual IKEA storage jars. That must be a sign of aging, when you can’t bear to look at stuff in the factory packaging. Put it in this tasteful plastic container, immediately!

(Also, it’s very satisfying to keep saying ‘Tupperware’ over and over again until it sounds like a train going over tracks. Check if anyone is in earshot first though.)

You can check out the pun-tastic (the Happy Chopper! The Bake 2 Basics range!) Tupperware catalogue here.  There are also several amazing tupperware groups on Flickr.

Hercule Poirot’s house

Florin Court on Charterhouse Square

Yes, this is where Hercule Poirot lives – Whitehaven Mansions (otherwise known as Florin Court, on Charterhouse Square in Clerkenwell). Look at the amazing curved glass windows.

Florin Court windows

I’d love to own a flat here (or alternatively in the Barbican, peeking over in the back right of the top photo). I’d come and have little holidays in a fictional 1930s timeline.

I would sweep out of the building wearing this huge fur trimmed coat:

Plus this dress:

Possibly on my way to Selfridges to buy some new outfits

(this is a fascinating book about Mr Selfridge and his department store – did you know he invented the bargain basement? And January sales? And putting cosmetics departments on the ground floor?)

Of course the problem with living in the 30s is that it all started to get a little bit complicated towards the end of the decade – that’s why it would be a strictly fictional reality I could just pop into. Also, I’d wouldn’t like to get too involved with one of Hercule’s professional adventures, although it might be fun to be a cigarette smoking, silk dressing gown wearing lady murder suspect.

Britain Loves Vintage

Britain really does love vintage at the moment, don’t you think? You can’t move 5 yards  in East London without falling over a vintage clothes stall or pop-up vintage market in a pub basement. Wearing old clothes (which used to be called plain old second-hand) has really caught on.

The Southbank must agree as they’ve set up a ‘Britain Loves Vintage’ Tumblr blog to promote the ‘Vintage at Southbank’ Festival (which last year was Vintage at Goodwood). They’ve got a Flickr group where you can submit photos: the best 51 will be displayed in a slideshow at the Royal Festival Hall, and the best one will get a pair of tickets to the Festival.

Pattern, The Pannier Market, Plymouth [170611]
Photo by danielweiresq on Flickr

It’s a competition worth entering as full price tickets are £60 a day, a bit steep for a festival without camping (and you have to pay extra to see the evening music line-ups). Although according to the website it will ‘celebrate musical, fashion, film, art, design and cultural lineages, from the 1920s to the 1980s’, so that’s less than £10 a decade. It’s a bargain if you put it that way.

This is my favourite image from the Tumblr at the moment. Think it needs some more vintage dresses/outfits on there though.

Vintage Cadbury's Biscuit tin by H is for Home on Flickr
Vintage Cadbury’s biscuits tin, by H is for Home on Flickr

If you are going down to the Royal Festival Hall you really have to visit the Museum of 51 exhibition. It’s free and totally brilliant. I’ve paid for exhibitions that have much less amazing content.

The best thing is a a patchwork quilt of events from the 100 years between the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the Festival of Britain in 1951, each square stitched by a different woman. I’ll have to try and get a photo of it next time I’m down there as it’s truly incredible.

Kimono sleeves

Kimono sleeves! Do you like them? What do you call them? When I’m searching for patterns on Etsy I see them tagged as ‘grown-on’, ‘kimono’, ‘dolman’, and occasionally ‘bat-wing’ (although that’s more for this kind of 80s style monstrosity).

Kimono sleeve is the most common term you hear sewers use, although if you actually look at a kimono it’s not an accurate description, as they do have shoulder seams, just without any shaping. They are basically large rectangles joined on one side at the top (there’s a good diagram on wikipedia).

Check out this gorgeous petrol-green beauty from Phillip Lim. The huge belt loops! The boat-neck! I wish I could see how it’s been put together. (Do you ever wish that shops would show line drawings of clothes, the way sewing-patterns do? It would make online shopping a million times easier.)

Whatever they’re called, I love them. They combine slouchiness and elegance in that 50s house-dress way. They are the definitive ‘This old thing? I just threw it on’ dress.

I fell in love with these sleeves when I visited the Horrocks exhibition at the Museum of Fashion and Textiles last year. Nearly all the dresses in the exhibition had them, and their perfect for the signature bright Horrocks prints as there’s nothing to distract your eye at the shoulder-line.

Horrocks Dresses

Two of my favourites are below (although I wanted to take home every dress). The super-sweet wedding gown has a weirdly 70s vibe.  The other dress has both a kimono sleeve and a halter-neck style band coming from the side-seams.

Too much goodness. Why don’t they make clothes like this any more?

Kimono sleeves

Gingham with lapel pockets

Have a look at the flower print on this dress bodice – it looks almost pixellated.

Pixellated flower print

There are millions of these on Etsy. I love this one with the giant buttons.

And this one with a separate bodice front

And this post is already too long but OH you have to see this polka-dot sheath with huge pockets and white gloves:

That hat looks suspiciously like Ms Blue Dress has just plonked a fruit bowl on her head. But the sleeves make even that look good! Is there anything they can’t do?

Backpack or Rucksack?

In June I fulfilled one of my new year’s resolutions – I bought a bike and started cycling to work. It’s been great, and I speak as someone who loves nothing more than sitting on the bus and staring out of the window (especially from one of the coveted front seats at the top, the 1st-class of public transport).

But London buses at peak commuting times are not nice. They are crammed with people who cough/smell/play music on their mobiles, and you can never get a seat. Cycling, on the other hand, saves you money, makes you fitter, and involves free-wheeling down hills shouting ‘wheeee’ (if there is no-one around). Also, and this is not emphasised enough in my opinion, cycling is the one form of exercise which involves sitting down.

Handbags and cycling are a tricky mix though. I only like cross-body satchel type bags, but even they can be a bit cumbersome for cycling, if you have lots to fit in. Until I get the vintage box bag of my dreams to fit onto my bike rack, I’ve been shoving my stuff into a dark red Kanken, which you can get from www.ilovemykanken.com

They’re great because they are defiantly un-sporty and come in loads of colours. I think they are hugely overpriced for what they are though (and have gone up by 20 quid since I bought mine two years ago). There is a shortage of cheap, nice-looking backpacks out there.

I had a dig around and found quite a good selection on the men’s section at Asos. I like this one for 35 quid.


But this is surely the queen of backpacks from Lazy Oaf – the space backpack. Nice and roomy, and drivers would definitely notice you with this on your back.

I want one!

Cathartic Typography

About a month ago I went to the end of year show for the MA in Communication Design at Central St Martin’s. It’s a course that apparently “draws on a very wide range of extra-disciplinary resources including aesthetics, anthropology, behaviourism, cognition, linguistics, teleology and typology in search of mechanisms with which to probe, enlighten and deliver new applications.” Sounds terrifying. The show was really good though and luckily I didn’t spot any probing or enlightening mechanisms as I think I would have run away screaming.

My favourite thing at the whole show was Beth Salter’s work, specifically her ‘Cathartic Typography’. She’s hand-lettered different uncomfortable statements in amazing colours. I love how bright and in-your-face the lettering is, it perfectly suits the sentiments expressed.

How do you think that makes me feel? by Beth Salter

Art School is full of wankers - Beth Salter

Wouldn’t these make great prints? I think it would definitely have a cathartic effect to get one of these on your walls and contemplate it every morning. You can see more about Beth and her work on her website.

Favourite Etsy sellers

I found my new favourite Etsy seller –  Veramode.  She has the most amazing collection of vintage eyewear, and best of all she’s based in London (which makes her shipping charges nice and affordable). I also like her list of ‘favourite materials’ ‘formica, crimplene, wicker, lucite, bakelite, jelly’. That’s a poem right there. Roll that around your tongue. Get that read out at your wedding reception.

I want all of these. Unfortunately I’m not sure how Specsavers in Dalston would react to me bringing these in to be fitted for lenses. I can’t imagine it would go down well.

She does also sell some beautiful vintage sunglasses. I would buy these ones in a heartbeat if I wasn’t try to save up for a holiday in September (although! you do need new sunglasses for holidays, as everyone knows…. and I left my last pair in someone’s house in Oxford and have low hopes of seeing them again)

 

Surrender to Jonathan

I love this letter from Jo-Jo! Via rockcritics.com.

I also recently discovered this ace video of Jonathan and Tony Wilson on the telly in 1978

I love JR because he’s 100% sincere and straight about everything. Nobody else can pull off his attitude in the same way. When other bands cover his songs it always seems a bit twee and affected. He’s the only one. What other musician could you stand to watch crying at a William Blake poem?

 

How to be good at stuff

Jelly St Paul's

About two weeks ago I went to a lecture organised by It’s Nice That magazine. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an amazing magazine that is crammed full of interesting stuff.

Speaking that night were the illustrator Mr Bingo, Morag Myerscough (who surely has the best name ever), and Sam Bompas of Bompas and Parr (the amazingly successful jellymongers, who seem to have found the sweet spot between being creative and doing something large companies will pay you lots of money for)

It was really interesting, and nobody spoke for too long, which is always the key to giving a good talk. I can’t remember any speech I’ve heard where I’ve thought ‘Wow, that was great, shame they had to finish after three hours of non-stop talking when the cleaners came round and starting stacking up the chairs’. The best bit was getting to taste some gin and violet jelly that Sam Bompas handed round (as well as sniffing some ether which was passed round on a tea-towel – it smells like nail varnish remover, but apparently was the fashionable way to get high in Victorian times).

It’s always inspiring listening to people who have made a living from being creative. They have so much self-belief – it was interesting to hear Mr Bingo talking about his motivation being not ever having to do a normal, boring office job (also, you have to read his answer to whether he’ll work for free or not)

Mr Bingo's Hate Mail
Hate Mail from Mr Bingo, via riklomas on Flickr

I often wonder – do people who are naturally good at something get confidence from that, and their self-belief sky-rockets? Or does their self-belief enable them to become amazing and not give up? In other words, how do you work out that tricky bit between not being very good, and believing that you have the potential to be a lot better? (This quote from Ira Glass is pretty interesting on the subject)

I remember reading once that the best way to make a living in the arts is just not to give up, as your fellow graduates will eventually be worn down by the pressures of life and the temptation to make an easier living, so if you can stick it out you’ll do okay in the end. But you need a lot of self-belief to do that. I also heard a radio programme once about athletes just before a race. They all, with no exceptions, knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were going to win. They said that it’s impossible to be a top-class athlete if you don’t know it. Maybe you have to train your brain to be able to do that without secretly thinking ‘don’t be ridiculous, only one person can win, the odds are it won’t be you’. At which point you’ve lost already.

Hmmm. I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say. But have you noticed that lots of famous actors will say that they always knew they were going to be famous? They just had a feeling about it? What about all the non-famous people who believed exactly the same thing? How do you walk the tightrope between ridiculous, un-realistic self-belief, and making things happen through sheer force of personality?

It’s an interesting one. Maybe it’s better just to focus on doing what you like and improving it, and ignoring everyone else’s advice.

Genius

“Jake and I don’t believe in genius, or in talent,” said Dinos. “We believe in application and concentration. Every middle-class Victorian young lady could draw, play piano, write poems, these are all very learnable skills. Now there’s people like Tracey, who draws, I think, very badly, and everybody claps their flippers together and says how wonderful. If you believe in genius, you don’t have to try very hard. If you say David Beckham’s a genius, it means, I couldn’t possibly kick a football like that, until you realise he was out there in the cold rain and dark snow, honing his skill.”
His brother agreed. “I think genius and talent are incredibly unfruitful concepts. They’ll get you the first five yards but then you’re on your own. I might have a pre-disposition towards table tennis, but it won’t make me a good player. It’s all about hard work.” Do you realise, I said, how much you sound like a Victorian schoolma’am? “It is, I’m afraid,” conceded Jake, “a dangerously Protestant thing to say.”

Love this quote from the Chapman brothers, taken from this interview, via Heather Jenkinson on twitter

Even more vintage sewing patterns

Here are some more old patterns that I’ve picked up via ebay, etsy, and from overpriced vintage markets throughout London. I have a lot of these 60s style patterns that desperately call from the envelope ‘Easy!’ or ‘Jiffy!’ or ‘Only 3 pieces!!’ They don’t have as many interesting design details as the 40s or 50s patterns, and generally take less fabric, have less pieces, and are easier to sew. Empire line waists feature heavily, as do a-line skirts. I like them though, they are neat and simple and cute.

This is a nice raglan sleeved 3-pattern piece dress, but I haven’t made it yet – I’m worried it could look a little bit sack-like. I love the polka-dot bandana on the blue and red lady. Very kicky. The bell sleeves are fun.

 

Simplicity 6730

 

This is another super-cute pattern which I don’t think I’ll ever make due to similar potato sack issues. It’s described as a ‘three-armhole dress’ which seems anatomically confusing.

 

Simplicity 8080

 

The back of the envelope makes it a bit clearer – it’s one huge pattern piece plus facings. ‘SIMPLE-TO-SEW’! it says hopefully.

 

 

Okay, so this is definitely a 70s pattern, as shown by the post-decimalisation price of 35p, but isn’t it fabulous? I like the insouciant hands-on-hips pose of the lady in lilac. It’s hard to look that cheerful while wearing a vaguely ethnic embroidered wizard bathrobe.

 

This poor pattern has been battered around but it’s quite Mary Quant, no? There is much to admire about it, including the description of the redhead’s outfit as a ‘pant-dress’, the lady on the left who plays for the world’s most stylish women’s football team, and the yellow tunic + flares + waist scarf ensemble. This is allegedly a pattern for knits but I am tempted to try and make it up in stretch cotton.



Here’s another beauty, which looks more early 60s to me, although I could be wrong? I bought it from a vintage haberdashery stall at Spitalfields market which is always there on Thursdays. They have loads of trimmings, buttons, and old magazines, and I once bought a length of 1940s printed crepe for a tenner. Unfortunately I don’t work near the market any more so I haven’t been along to check out the stock for ages.

 

And finally I think this is my favourite cover illustration because of the amazing hair-dos, shoe (singular) and jewellery, and the lovely yellow brocade on the left. Where can I get some fabric like that? You can see I haven’t looked after poor Style 1930 very well despite my love, and have tried to tape up the poor lady on the left (not only is she decapitated, she also has no legs below the knee)

 

Style 1930

Now to do a bit more etsy searching…