31 Mar 2010

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

I am in love with the film Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. There's every chance my friends are sick of me talking about it. My love of Michael led me to look up other things Lee Pace had done which introduced to me Pushing Daisies, another awesome thing filled with beautiful costumes.

I was going to post a review about the film, but Genevieve Valentine had already done one and done it so much better than I could've so I've plagarised and snipped terribly at her review and added my own bits, all posted below (original linked above):

There is not even a pretense of objectivity here, this movie is amazing. It’s like the director woke up one morning and said, “I’m going to recruit a bunch of character actors from Awesome (Sorta-)British Actor Camp and slap them in ’30s England and let them all have happy endings. Every single one of them.” This has not happened since Cold Comfort Farm. IT WAS ABOUT TIME.

There could not be any more spoilers below, so be warned!

Nutshell: Miss Pettigrew, an unemployed governess, accidentally becomes social secretary to American nightclub singer Delysia Lafosse. They hit the town with a bunch of adorable people, run around for a day putting on awesome dresses, and get happy endings. It is not Rashomon, is what I’m saying. It is awesome, is what I’m saying.

Miss Pettigrew is unemployed, alone, and starving (an ongoing motif of the movie is her trying to get a bite to eat, which is just sad). So she does what any awesome person would do; she steals a business card from her employment agency and offers herself as governess to Delysia Lafosse.

This is Delysia:

Delysia is kind of having a day.

Turns out she’s got a 19-year-old theatre producer in bed, her mean-spirited sugar daddy on his way up the stairs, and a piano player carrying a torch for her. She wants the lead in Pile On the Pepper, she wants her job singing in the club, and she wants Lee Pace to make out with her ASAP (but then, who doesn't?). So Miss Pettigrew shifts into best-friend duty, and over the course of the day the woman run from one awesome appointment to another, and reveal more and more about themselves as they wear more and more amazing vintage dresses.

To pretend there’s a plot, Delysia tries to play everyone against the middle except Miss Pettigrew, but this movie knows that each lady will end up with the guy who loves her, and does not even mess with you about it. The sad moments in this movie are when people talk about their lonely pasts; the present is nothing but tailoring and jazz music!

Look, I understand that some people might not be excited by movies where major plot points include “Going To The Lingerie Show,” but I totally am, because look at this shot:

The ladies in tunics on the stage are living statues who point dramatically at the lingerie, at wall sconces, at whatever the hell they feel like. You do NOT tell the Greek statue ladies where to point, okay?

Anyway, the cast is pitch-perfect; newcomer Tom Payne as the adorably clueless producer Phil manages to be a total jerk without actually making you hate him. Nice job, kid.

Then you have the always-fantastic Ciaran Hinds as Joe Blumfield, lingerie designer and love interest, which should need no further explanation, because he’s Ciaran Hinds.

Lee Pace is Michael, piano-playing romantic who wants to carry Delysia away from jerky overlord-boyfriend Nick (Mark Strong! He does not fool anyone trying to act like a dickhead, but it’s sweet to see him try!). Michael’s booked two tickets on the Queen Mary! Is Delysia in or out? I mean, you know, it’s Lee Pace. He’s tallest. Naturally it’s him.

I love Michael mostly because when we meet him properly, we get to see the real Delysia for the first time.

Plus, he burns up Miss Pettigrew’s underpants with all his romantic gesturing, which is hilarious for Frances McDormand.

Fun fact: This was my first introduction to Lee Pace and I had no idea he was American! I thought he was a Northerner trying to do a Proper British accent. Just goes to show! Since this film I have reluctantly added him to my list of TV-Boyfriends (others include Callum Keith Rennie, Ewan McGregor and David Tennant in case you were wondering).

Interestingly, in a reversal of the norm, the women are the main characters; each dude has three scenes max, often in large crowds where their moments are fleeting, to be as alluring or intimidating as needed. Just throwing that out there.

The movie is basically impeccable. Ciaran Hinds, however, is no American TV star. He is a trained theatre actor.

(My heart!)

My favorite romantic subplot is when Miss Pettigrew and Joe meet up over the course of the day, bond over their shared experiences in the war, and are just generally a couple of cool cats. It’s unspeakably refreshing to see a romantic subplot with a woman over 30, and Frances and Ciaran beautifully understate a romance that takes one day to bloom but feels like it will last. It sounds nuts, but you’ll believe it, I promise, they’re all very good!

By evening he’s enough in love that he asks her to dance, which she’s uncomfortable about because he escorted another woman to the club (Miss Pettigrew is sorta adorable), and also she’s all warm for his form and can’t admit it (double adorable).


Since Miss Pettigrew has an advanced degree in ass-kicking (with a minor in name-taking), she soon gets Delysia to admit what Delysia’s known all along, and then Lee Pace gets to punch Mark Strong for a while, and then Delysia commits to the man she loves, who loves her for who she is. Win-win-win!


Phew! Take a breath and calm down.

Let’s talk about the costumes for a moment, shall we?

Glad we had this talk.

In the end, aside from the happy-ending romantic storylines, this movie is a friendship between a woman who has never been loved and a young woman who wants to be loved for who she is; it’s a strangely bittersweet story about living on the edge of hard times, and getting strength from the people who change our lives no matter how little time they spend in it.


So, I tried to find a trailer that makes this movie look good, and they all did a really shitty job, so instead here’s the declaration-of-love scene in which Amy Adams sings “If I Didn’t Care” while delivering a stunning performance of a woman who lives on artifice slowly dropping her guard and freaking out about it. Meanwhile, Frances McDormand acts her ass off, Mark Strong makes Frownyface, Tom Payne makes a LOLtacular expression, and Lee Pace pretends to play some heartbroken piano.


Photos © Genevieve Valentine

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29 Mar 2010

Should've Been A Cinch

Yes, that's right. The WKD waist cincher didn't fit properly.

It should have, and would have, if I was the same size all over. But I'm not, so it didn't. What it did do was reduce my waist to 28.5 inches from 30, which was rather nice. Unfortunately, it also kept getting caught on the bottom of my bra and rucking up, not a pretty look. I think, possibly, because I wasn't wearing a vintage bra but my normal t-shirt bra and didn't have a wide seam under the bust for it to sit against (I'd considered posting pictures but I just can't bring myself to post pictures of me in my unmentionables for the entire interweb to view). Fortunately for my terrible curves, WKD do a waspie which is essentially a mini waist cincher, in their Sarah range which should do the trick.

{ Source: What Katie Did }
Photo shows Glamorous Waspie

This isn't my favourite range, it's a bit too pink for me, a dedicated tomboy until a year or so ago, and I'm concerned the pink will show through light coloured clothes. The waist cincher in the Glamorous range was a more nude shade of pink and I felt a bit more comfortable with that, but the waspie has lace and detachable suspenders and, y'know, won't make me look like I've got a ring around my bust which always helps.

Wearing it for any period of time is still an experiment to attempt. I didn't want to spend all day wearing something I was going to be returning, particularly with a kitten and a dog that do seem to like destroying all my nice clothes. I've requested the replacement waspie and will just have to wait til I receive that to determine just how comfortable (or not!) it will be.

(Please note the Sarah range is no longer available but the Glamorous range (pictured) has a waspie.)

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25 Mar 2010

Big Crazy, Little Crazy & Just Plain Crazy

Big Crazy (aka Bear the wolf-dog) has taken to jumping on me whenever Little Crazy (aka Puck the kitten) comes anywhere near me. Which is, unfortunately for my lap, rather more often than I feel my knees can take. Bear weighs almost as much as I do and is only an inch or so shorter than me when he stands on his back legs (there's a reason I called him Bear!), I can hear my knees creak every time he gets jealous.

Little Crazy is easily the most affectionate cat I've ever had, he wants nothing more than to curl up with a human. Unfortunately, as I'm spending quite a bit of time crafting, the easiest place he's found to curl up is on the back of my neck! As you can imagine this makes sewing a leetle difficult.

If he's not sat on the back of my head/ neck, then he's busy trying to play with my needle/ cotton/ fabric/ template/ pattern/ pins* or attempting to drink my tea or eat my snack.

All this, coupled with the running and the jumping and the chasing (often over and around my bed whilst I'm still in it), has made me just plain Crazy.

* Delete as applicable

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22 Mar 2010

When Pigs Fly

I started this before Christmas, a little something for a friend who has now been waiting almost a year for her birthday present. I plan on (hopefully) finishing the birthday present today and thought I would add the pig as I'm sure she thought she'd get the present only when pigs started flying (I'm easily amused!)

The pattern came from Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle by Tone Finnanger. There's an abundance of fabulously pretty things to make in her books (I have two and want at least one of almost everything). And, even better, you really only need to know how to do a running stitch in order to make most of her things.

All you need to do is photocopy the designs at the back of the book, trace them onto card, draw around the shapes on to your chosen fabric and then hand stitch along the line you've just drawn. Only then do you cut out the shape, adding your seam allowance. Turn in the right way round, stuff and stitch closed. Once all the pieces have been stuffed and closed you tack the pieces together and all of a sudden pigs are flying.

So far I've made two different teddies, some mittens and the pig. Next on the list is a pink and white dog teddy for my friend's little girl, Thea, as well as finishing the aforementioned tardy birthday present ... unfortunately not a Tone creation and significantly more complicated!

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20 Mar 2010

Shapewear - Which One To Use?

I have dozens of patterns, I am dying to start sewing but one thing's holding me back. My size.

I am a size 8-10 UK, short (5'3" ... barely) and slim. I have an incredibly high waist and approximately a 30" inside leg. So why am I complaining?

With a bust of 34", a waist measurement of 30" when relaxed and hips measuring 36" there's not much in the way of definition when it comes to my curves. I've taken to wearing very low cut jeans to balance out my high waist but that just adds to the lack of shape. When I started seriously considering vintage fashions it was because of the shapes. I want that shape! But without help (or surgery) that's just not going to happen.

But what help to get? I'm after foundation garments that'll give my curves a little push in the right direction. It was a shock to me to learn that women's shapes have been changing over the last 50-60 years or so, becoming more straight-up-and-down and less hourglass, and here I thought it was just me. With a size 10 bust and hips but a size 15 waist (!) modern day clothes are hard enough to fit, let alone the vintage built for a woman with curves I don't have. Imagine how amazed I was to learn that the women of the 50's still used foundation garments such as girdles and other shaping underwear to achieve that curvy look. Couture Allure says it much better and with more research than I ever could but basically, unless you already have a perfect hourglass figure, if you're going to wear vintage then give some thought to wearing the proper foundation garments too.

I don't want bullet bras, I'm not a fan of that particular fashion quirk and my own are pointy enough without any additional help thankyouverymuch. I'm not sure a girdle is what I'm after or if I should be looking at waist cinchers. I definitely don't want a corset, not only would the lacing be too visible under my clothing but I'm worried the boning would give too ridged an appearance to my abdomen and be a total giveaway. I want something natural looking ... well, as natural looking as possible when squeezed into what is essentially a cinching garment.

{ Source: What Katie Did }

My favourite I've found so far: It's from What Katie Did's Glamorous range and is not only functional but beautiful. WKD are definitely amongst the best in the field when it comes to reproduction vintage lingerie and whilst there are several of their collections that don't suit my tastes there are some rather lovely pieces available that will hopefully be discretely hidden by my clothes whilst still being feminine and pretty and hopefully making me feel the same. Shapewear doesn't have to be ugly so I don't understand why so much of it is. Better yet, WKD is a British company, and I'm all about supporting local industry (it could only be better if it was Welsh!)

I'm not 100% certain that this is the right garment for me, and with prices steeper than I can afford (as in anything that costs anything is out of my price range at the moment!), I want to make sure that what I get is going to work for me. I've emailed WKD in the hope that they can point me in the right direction. Let's hope they've got something that'll do it because until I know what size my waist will be in my foundation garments I can't start sewing!

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18 Mar 2010

Rockin' the Hair

Mum changed the departure time on me twice on Friday morning and with the extra time I decided to experiment with my fringe. I quite like the results, if I can get it a little more in-line I'll be happy! (Apologies for the poor quality cameraphone pic!)

I tried to get the look by using my small curling iron. I've had this thing years, but still don't know how to use it and it's been stuck in a drawer in my bedroom almost since the day I bought it. I'd watched a tutorial by Lisa Freemont Street on youtube and seen her transform a long fringe by using a curling iron. It looked pretty simple (famous last words!) so I thought I'd try it myself. I should've known it wouldn't be that easy! As it became more and more apparent that I was only making more of a mess of my hair I decided to give up and use my straighteners to fix it. And then I remembered how I used to curl my hair under when I had a chin length bob and thought I would try the same trick on my fringe. Voila! Pin-up bangs! Not brilliant pin-up bangs, but for a first attempt - and a fix of a failed attempt at that - I'm rather pleased.

I got all dressed up and then had nowhere to go as the lambing didn't happen. Well, it did, just not with my Mother and myself in attendance. The farmer was at some of his other fields checking the cows for TB and we figured that was slightly more important than acting as a tourist guide. So no lambing photos.

The vintage Aga is in, pictures to follow. I love it. The house is much warmer, the kitchen looks fab (and is almost finished!). I haven't cooked anything other than toast and hot cross buns on it so far (and tea!) but I've invited my neighbours over for a roast dinner on Sunday so that'll be the big one!

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16 Mar 2010

Guest Giveaway: Grosgrain

Oh so pretty! Flirty aprons are something every household needs and Grosgrain is giving them away! To enter, clicky click and follow the instructions. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

{ Source: Flirty Aprons }

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11 Mar 2010

Easily Pleased

I woke up this morning convinced it was Wednesday.

Fishy the Plumber came and completed work on my sink. I am so easily pleased that I giggled all the way through making my first cup of tea from the kettle filled with water from the new sink and not having to go to a different room to get the milk from the fridge. I forsee it may be some time before I stop being excited about this.

I decided to tackle some of the painting today. So this morning I started sanding down all the walls that are dotted with filler (read: all of them). Very very dusty. Because I like being prepared I'd covered my hair with a scarf 1940's style using Solanah's helpful post on how to tie it properly found here. As you can see, the results (for once) turned out correctly! Although I do need a bigger scarf (or a smaller head).

And then - rather thankfully! - Mum called to invite me over tomorrow to watch some lambs being born. She asked when the roofers were coming to re-line my chimney in preparation for the vintage Aga on Monday. Thursday I told her. Today's Thursday, she said. No, today's Wednesday, I said. Are you sure? She asked. I had to admit that now she was asking I wasn't so I double checked and then hurriedly hung up as the roofers were due in a couple of hours and I needed to shower and get to the bank to get their money!

As I was driving out the main road through the village a big black van with a very large ladder pulled in to my turning and I knew that was my roofers. I'd left my front door and back door unlocked in case of just such an occurrence and when they phoned to ask if it was okay to arrive an hour early they were shocked to learn the doors were open and the wolf wouldn't eat them.

So I am all clean and tidy, talking to various people about kittens (don't ask) with two guys making a huge amount of sooty mess in my brand new kitchen and clambering about on my roof. So exciting!

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7 Mar 2010

Vintage Experimentation

Well, I said I'd post a picture of my 50's cardi but got distracted by sunny weather and kitchen floor grouting. So without further ado, here it is!

I would post a pic of me wearing it but when I went to get dressed this morning I realised I had no blouse to go with it. Oh noes! I'll just have to make one, I think a nice Peter Pan collar would look fab.

In the continued spirit of vintage experimentation I attempted to try victory rolls in my hair today:

They were a terrible first attempt, I'm surprised they stayed up long enough to be photographed, and are definitely something I'll need to spend a lot of time practising but, boy, were they fun to do!

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1 Mar 2010

For The Love Of Vintage

Loved, loved, loved the vintage fashion fair on Sunday. It was like 40 charity shops all in the same place. There was some real crap and most of it seemed to date from the 60's and 70's (not my eras at all) but then you'd come across some absolutely stunning pieces and all would be right in the world.

My friend Joanne and I had pre-booked tickets. I'd hoped to get to City Hall in time for the midday draw but the first train into town from our village was at 11.41 so there was no way we were going to make it, particularly as Joanne is 8 months pregnant and in the year I've known her has never been on time for anything. We're lucky we made the train at all, and with a two hour wait til the next one I was hustling us as fast as she could go.

Bizarrely, the best stalls in the place were the three or four in the entrance foyer. Joanne's friend, Judith, made several purchases there including a red and orange cape very similar to mine except half the price (!). I found a beautiful blue 1950's style dress that I hid on the rack and planned to come back to if nothing else took my fancy. As I was on a strict budget I didn't want to spend it all on the first stall!

Felt stuff galore! I love felt stuff. There were posies and brooches:

And hats! Oh my, the hats!

I bought a bright red, 50's style cardi cut to sit at my (very high) waist and with three-quarter length sleeves (I'll post a pic tomorrow). I was very happy to find the blue 50's dress was still there when we headed home and grabbed it to try it on. Unfortunately, it was waaaay too small for me, my shape being nothing like an hourglass (all straight lines me) and although it looked great it just wouldn't do up. I resigned myself to not having it and tried to take it off. And tried. And tried. Finally, I asked two young girls in the bathroom with me to help me take it off and they had to lift it off me like I was a three year old getting ready for bed!

In deference to Joanne's inability to walk fast I wore my Hush Puppy T-Bar shoes in blue so that I couldn't walk too fast either. As gale's had been forecast I forgoe wearing my denim pencil skirt and wore my jeans slightly rolled up with a short-sleeved blouse in white and olive and a brown cardi cut to sit on my waist with three-quarter length sleeves. And my cape. Me and my vintage cape on a vintage day out.

Cape: Vintage
Jeans: River Island
Shoe: Hush Puppy
Bag: Don't remember!

Oh, and Happy St David's Day! Dydd Gwŷl Dewi Sant Hapus!

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