Wisteria and Witches

It’s October again and in Melbourne we are now in the middle of spring. As I mentioned last October when I started this blog, we have the strange combination of the Spring Racing Carnival and Halloween celebrations. There is nothing more typical of Melbourne than scenes of costumed witches, wizards or zombies mingling with the more traditionally dressed amongst the stunning roses at Flemington racecourse on Melbourne Cup day.

Over the last two weeks I have been busy doing some badly needed gardening. At this time of year the air is sweet with the smell of blossom. Our garden is full of the fragrance of wisteria blooms, which cascade from the branches like waterfalls of white flowers. They are fragile and could be easily destroyed by a spring storm so I have taken photos to remember their beauty.

With all of nature’s exuberance it seems strange to embrace the autumnal mood that surrounds the festival of Halloween. One of the disadvantages of living in the Southern Hemisphere is the topsy-turvy nature of traditional festivals. But at least daylight saving gives us longer hours of light in which to party during these celebrations.

Fun costumes make both race days and Halloween parties more enjoyable. I am a big fan of DIY costumes for both the creativity and uniqueness. As I have mentioned before, you don’t need to sew or spend a lot of money to wear a great costume. A good eye for a bargain and for reworking existing items is invaluable. In the past I have created my own Halloween costumes from clothing found at op shops (thrift or charity stores), weekend markets and by using fabric offcuts, cardboard and paper scraps to make accessories.

Version 2

Illustration by George Cruikshank for The Witches Frolic by Thomas Ingoldsby

Items that can be reused with different accessories are worth collecting so that you will never be stuck for a costume idea. Witches or wizards costumes are a favorite for Halloween and easy to create with black clothes. Using the same long black dress and a charcoal grey cape found at a weekend market, I can transform into the medieval witch Morgan Le Fey or Samantha Stevens from Bewitched wearing her flying costume. All this requires is a change of headgear.

DSCN3733

For the Morgan Le Fey costume I made a type of hat known as a Hennin (seen in gothic paintings) from cardboard covered with black silk fabric and gold paper. It was decorated with gold braid, glass jewels and gold glitter glue from a craft store. I pinned an old black silk scarf as a veil from the top of the hat. To turn the outfit into Samantha, a blonde wig (try to find a better one than mine as it itches) and a witches hat from a party shop are all that is needed to change the look. Black boots complete both costumes.

A simple way to make a witch’s broomstick is with a length of thick dowel and a pile of flexible twigs or thin bamboo (whatever is easiest to find). Just divide the twigs into four equal bundles and tie each securely with some twine. Place the bundles around the dowel and wrap them all tightly together to form the broom. You can wrap ribbon, fabric or raffia over the twine to hide it. Then you’re ready to fly.

Version 2

Whether it is spring or autumn, these are great seasons for festivals and celebrations before the weather gets too hot or cold.  And if you live in the Southern Hemisphere or a tropical location, enjoy the contrast of the light with the “Darkness” of Halloween. You will have the best of both worlds.

Kat

Ukulele virtuoso, Taimane Gardner from Hawaii, taps into the Halloween mood with her haunting instrumental, Rings of Saturn, although she lives in the tropics.

Advertisements

Bags of Creativity

DSCN4035

In this world of mass production I love handmade things.  They tell the story of their creation and continue the skills and traditions valued by the people who made them.  I have a collection of handmade bags and purses from the past and the present.  They are examples of textile crafts that require time and effort to produce and reveal the various ways different cultures embellish utilitarian objects.

Some of my little bags came from ancestors and old family friends.  They were produced in the early part of the 20th century when ordinary women had more time to make their own clothes and accessories and they learnt various crafts that are now usually practiced by artisans and keen hobbyists.  Other more recent bags and purses in my collection are examples of the textile crafts of other countries that are still being created in villages and towns today.

The black beaded evening bag and two rectangular purses were made in the 1920s and 30s by an old family friend.  She must have spent hours sewing or weaving the tiny beads into art deco style designs that were fixed to the fabric backing.  Women’s eveningwear would have been an added expense in those days, especially around the time of the Great Depression and many women made their own party clothes and accessories.  They probably got ideas from overseas fashion magazines.  When I look at these I can hear the sound of jazz bands and the clinking of martini glasses and see couples dancing in their finery.  Such objects remind us that the owners were once young and enjoyed going out to parties and other celebrations.

DSCN4061

Japanese Crochet Beaded Purse, 1960s

I also have a small vintage 60s beaded crotchet purse from Japan.  This type of Japanese beadwork was popular in the 50s and 60s for bags and purses.  You can find lots of examples for sale on the web. It seems to have been a common Japanese style of beading and purse shape. These tiny purses were widely produced and are still being made today. I like its miniature size and design. It must take a lot of patience to do such fine, fiddly work and to fit on the small beads while working with a crotchet hook.

Beaded bags are still admired in the 21st century and new ones are readily available.   I have a grey beaded evening bag made in china and a small red beaded purse from India, where handicrafts are still common and are created for a wider market.  There are also many obsessed independent crafts people who create their own beaded purses for sale online.  It is good that this time-consuming craft has not disappeared.  There is something magical about the way light catches on the surface of the beads.  It is like miniature mosaic.

Another popular craft of the past and present is needlepoint.  I have had a go at this with cushion and picture kits and it is a slow and relaxing pastime.  Before these kits became commonplace women would use unmarked canvas to create their own designs or could purchase graph style patterns to copy.  Of the two bags that I possess one is a combination of petit point and standard needlepoint and the other consists entirely of petit point.  An ancestor created the former in the 1930s and the latter is an example of Austrian petit point, possibly from the 1950s.  One can only imagine the eyestrain caused in stitching such fine needlework, especially before the availability of magnifiers with lights.  Austrian bags like this are still made today but are extremely expensive because they are so detailed and slow to produce.  Anyone who does this painstaking work deserves to be paid well. Luckily there are still plenty of vintage bags available for a reasonable price for those of us with limited means.  I sometimes wonder where the owners took these bags; from the theatre in the 30s to concerts in Vienna in the 50s, it seems a world away from our modern life today.

DSCN4045

Hand Embroidered Silk Evening Bag, 1950s

Other types of embroidery were applied by hand to mid-century bags.  The stylish 1950s black silk clutch in my collection has very fine couching embroidery on the top flap. Nowadays a soulless machine would be employed do this type of detailed embroidery.  This purse reminds me of Audrey Hepburn’s elegant style in a Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

DSCN4051

Embroidered and Crocheted Guatemalan Bags

Buying craft items made in another culture helps to keep the local textile traditions alive.  I have three bags from Guatemala that demonstrate examples of different textile crafts. From woven fabric and rich embroidery to crotchet, these decorative bags represent the work of individual Guatemalan women.  An ordinary bag is turned into a joyous expression of their creativity.  I love their use of color and texture and when I carry these bags, they make me feel happy.

DSCN4060

Iroqui Uzbek Cross Stitch, Uzbekistan

A small handmade cosmetic purse that I use all the time comes from Uzbekistan in central Asia.  It is an example of Iroqui cross stitch, a traditional craft of the Uzbek tribe which uses silk thread.  Equally colorful yet so different from the Guatemalan textiles, this purse belongs to the stylized aesthetic you associate with the central Asian communities along the legendary Silk Road.

At a time when computer technology is giving humans less to do manually in the workplace, it is good that there are still some things where a machine does not produce the best result.  Automated textiles just don’t have the same character as those created by hand.  It is the imperfections that make them unique and visually pleasing.  No wonder so many people are rediscovering old crafts for their own pleasure or to sell on-line.

My small collection of handmade bags and purses display craft traditions from several continents that span nearly a century.  It is wonderful to see the varied methods that have been employed in their creation and decoration. I really admire the patience and ability of the makers of these objects. They have transformed what is just a receptacle for carrying around ones possessions into expressions of their creativity and concepts of beauty.

Kat

Costume Parties: One Person’s Heaven, Another Person’s Hell

dscn3744-1

It’s nearly New Year’s Eve Party time.  Some people spend weeks making costumes for such an event,  while others won’t even wear a silly hat.  It seems that while many party guests love to dress up and pretend to be someone or something else, there are those who refuse to make any effort at all.

I have noticed that those who do not attend in costume often end up feeling left out and don’t have as much fun as the party goers who have embraced the theme.  Maybe some people have a costume phobia because of some tortuous experience in childhood or early adulthood.  If you are going to a party this weekend, for the reluctant participant I have made the following list of recommendations that should help anyone survive an event that requires a costume.  Some of these things are from personal experience and I still like to dress up.

  1. Never wear anything that you cannot sit down in. Eg. A Christmas Bon Bon outfit made of cardboard and crepe paper is a bad idea.
  2. Following on from point 1, never wear anything made in one piece that requires removal to go to the bathroom.
  3. It is best to avoid costumes made from crepe paper altogether because, firstly, they are a fire hazard and secondly, if it is humid or wet this will become droopy and colors may run down your face.  Eg. when your mother made you a crepe paper flower costume and it wilted like a real flower in a heat wave.
  4. Never wear anything that you do not want to be caught in if your car breaks down or if you are locked out of your house. Any realistic characters with a fake gun are probably not a good idea.
  5. Never wear anything that blocks your vision, prevents you from eating and drinking, or is so hot that you can only have your underwear underneath and cannot take it off when you go into a melt down. Even if they look cute, full furry animal costumes are a big mistake and should be left well alone.
  6. Never substitute indelible felt pen for make-up or use red or black grease paint. These will require industrial strength cold cream to remove.
  7. Never wear anything that is a hazardous to others.  Eg. Pipi Longstockings style plaits with a wire core can be dangerous for anyone sitting next to you.  Unless it’s someone in a Captain Hook costume.  They’re already wearing an eye patch. But the damage you could do on the dance floor does not bear thinking about.
  8. If you travel to a summertime party and it is still daylight, never drive through the city centre wearing an 18th century style wig and dress. You will cause a spectacle when stopped at traffic lights and it is impossible to hide.  Maximum embarrassment will result.
  9. Clown costumes were never a good idea, even before the creepy clown epidemic.
  10. If you disregard the above points, you are probably a masochist or an extreme exhibitionist.  So no sympathy when it all goes pear-shaped.

Now that you are aware of the pitfalls, it is possible to come up with some reliable costume ideas.  What follows are some costume suggestions for both those who love to dress up and for those who are more hesitant.

If you cannot sew like me, collect clothes that can be turned into a character just by using a bit of imagination (Op shops and weekend markets are good sources).  You can then reuse or reinterpret favourite costumes and keep them stored away in a wardrobe or vac-packed, so that it is never difficult to find something at short notice.  For example, my several long velvet dresses have been used to create Queens, Medieval ladies and witches, depending on the occasion.  One of my favorite characters from both film and TV versions, is the evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  She is just so nasty, has all the best lines and is a perfect character for a party costume.  Much more fun than dressing up as Miss goody two shoes Snow White.   I have a blue velvet kaftan dress that looks quite medieval and very “Evil Queen”.  All I have to do is put a glittery black knit top underneath, add some gold chains and a fake jewel, a black veil and a (cardboard) jewel encrusted crown and I have a great costume for colder weather. “An Apple, my pretty?”

The Crown was created by cutting out the shape from a cardboard base.  This was covered with fabric and was then covered with gold paper that had cutouts left to reveal the underlying material.   Stick on Velcro was used to fasten the ends of the crown together, and it was decorated with glass gems. Took a bit of work but I think that it looks very regal and can be used more than once.

You could make a King costume using the same principles.  A turtle neck top worn with slim black pants (tights if you dare) under some kind of robe or cape, with a similar crown, some chains around the neck and a prop sword and you could be King Arthur, Aragorn or if you like the dark side, the horrible King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, who has some great lines and an over the top death scene as inspiration.

For a warm weather costume the versatile standby is a fairy outfit, which has endless permutations.  All you need is a light party top, a skirt made from transparent or flowing material and some wings, which can easily be found at a $2 shop.  I have some glittery white ones.  I put these over a red, white and black chiffon style top that has long flowing sleeves.  For a skirt I use a couple of white half-slips, the top one being made of transparent net.  In my hair I put some cerise artificial flowers that I sewed to a large hair clip.  Attached to the flowers is a copper-colored butterfly for a bit of whimsy (for the purpose of the photos I have used a particularly itchy wig mistakenly bought from a party shop. This type of thing should have been on my warning list, along with feathered masks that make you sneeze).

With such a costume, you can be the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, the Good Fairy from Sleeping Beauty or if you like, the Bad Fairy.  Just do everything in black.  And as for you men out there, I have seen many a brave male in a fairy costume.  But if this is not your thing, there are always wizards or elves, the main requirements being a pointed hat and staff for the former and pointy ear attachments for the latter (and a loud voice and predilection for poetry).

If you can, it is also fun to create your own costume character.  Ellie and I are sci-fi fans and for a local art group’s New Year’s Party we designed and made Space Alien costumes.  Ellie, who can sew, used metallic gold fabric to make tabards (medieval term for open sided tunic) with art deco inspired padded shoulder extensions, requiring a lot of polyester stuffing material.  We made black satin belts that fasten with Velcro and attached a gold painted cassette tape to each to simulate some kind of power pack.  The tabard was worn over black cotton camisoles and black leggings (I had to use a long skirt in the photos as the dummy does not have legs).  We carried plastic ray guns that made a whirring noise.  On our heads we wore sparkly gold wigs from a $2 shop.  These don’t itch.  We both won a prize for our costumes and had a lot of fun being silly and quoting clichéd lines from sci-fi movies, Star Trek and Dr Who.

These types of sci-fi costumes work well for both men and women. They can also be adapted for colder weather with a long-sleeved top underneath and warmer pants and boots.  Also good outfits for a group.  You can pretend it is an Alien invasion.

There are plenty of costume ideas that are imaginative and comfortable to wear, so you should be able to find or make something that will ensure that you have lots of fun, without any major costume malfunctions.

If you are going to a New Year’s Eve party I hope that you have a wonderful time.  I think that we all want to say goodbye to 2016.

Happy 2017

Kat

Making and Remaking Necklaces

In the summer I find I am more creative.  It is so much easier to get out of bed in the morning when you are greeted by sunshine and beautiful blue skies.  It is the time when I like to work on new projects or just sit back and soak in the loveliness of nature while I think about new creative ideas.  If it is hot I do not want to do anything too energetic, so sitting around making a small item is a great thing to do.  Some of my summer projects have included creating necklaces out of found objects or remaking broken ones.  Then I can wear them when going out to summer gatherings.

The first one that I made was from some old beads and mother of pearl buttons that I had collected.  The necklace is quite chunky and looks equally great on a plain T Shirt or on knitwear in winter.  I just threaded the beads and buttons onto some fishing line to make an interesting pattern.  Not hard at all.

Another necklace was made from shells and coral that I had found on trips to beaches both near and far.  The organisms were all long dead.  These were easy to knot onto black cord because there were holes in the coral and shells.  I like to wear these with a light black or white top and they are particularly appropriate for the seaside.

It is also good to repair old vintage necklaces that are made from interesting or rare beads. I inherited an old carved bone necklace from a relative.  I think that it was originally a single long strand of beads, but it had been converted to a double strand necklace that did not look very attractive.  The flower shaped beads were dirty and I did not want them to deteriorate further, so I cleaned them gently using a weak solution of methylated spirits and water, applied with a soft toothbrush. Once they had dried I threaded them onto strong linen thread.   The necklace looks much cleaner and better as a single strand.  A redesign can make all the difference.

 

I also restrung a broken vintage plastic necklace, possibly from the 1950s, that had been given to me by a family friend.  It simulated orange amber beads and some were missing but this did not matter.  A few looked like Chinese carved bone beads and I was able to reassemble the necklace to make the most of these in the design.  It did not have a clasp and fitted over my head.  It is one of my favorite pieces.

dscn3572

Vintage buckles and dress clips can be turned into interesting necklaces.  I have a few diamanté ones.  The easiest way to wear these is to attach them to a velvet ribbon to make a choker for some old world elegance.  I cut some black velvet ribbon to fit around my neck and sewed a press-stud in the appropriate place at each end.  I can slip on the buckles or put on a dress clip and wear a different one to suit my mood or outfit.  Thinner, longer velvet ribbon can be used to hang pendants, like lockets, instead of on a chain.  Simple.

It is good to have some black leather cord for making necklaces.  I have a round amber disc with a centre hole that needs to be looped around a cord to wear as a pendant.  This is easy if your want to wear it long because it will fit over your head.  But I like to wear it as a short pendant at the throat.  The solution was to tie some old necklace clasps that I had to the ends of a shorter length of the leather, which was looped through the centre of the amber disc to hold it in place.  I can do this up without any trouble and it is now the length that I prefer.

dscn3592

None of these necklaces required any special equipment to make, only some basic materials.  Just a matter of using attractive or old items to create a new wearable object.

Kat

Creative Summer Garden Decor

Now that it is summer I want to spend as much time as I can in the outdoors.   It is always lovely to sit outside and read or chat with friends.  It is good to have comfortable and sheltered places in the garden where you can do this and enjoy the fine sunny weather, so you need some suitable garden furniture.  You can buy items that look exactly like furniture found indoors, but these are not very bohemian, which is the style that I prefer.   I think that it is more fun and creative to do something with old furniture and use props to dress up your garden when called for.

It would be nice to have a covered area where we could leave out cushions and less weather proof items and if you have such a structure make the most of it.  We have a very basic wooden garden table, an old railway bench that came from our grandparents and some old rusty metal kitchen chairs on our terrace.  I like the rustic look, but as a change I dress them up with interesting fabrics and other items for a more exotic feel.  Last summer I did this before entertaining some friends.

I covered the table with a painter’s canvas drop cloth.  You can buy these quite reasonably from hardware stores in various sizes.  Drop clothes are really useful as throws and tablecloths, especially outside, because they are heavy and will not blow around easily.  On top of this I put a gold Chinese style table runner and some colourful cloth tablemats, all found at an op shop.  Because it was breezy I anchored the ends of the runner with matching paperclips attached to the base cloth and placed straw mats along its edges.  These could be used as coasters.  On the tablemats I put some (op shop) candleholders and at the far end, an incense burner with lemongrass stick incense to repel flies and mosquitoes, but these weren’t a big problem because of the wind.

An old striped tablecloth was used to cover the railway bench, with some Indian cushions for comfort.  We have some black seat cushions that the fit seats of the metal chairs and a couple of striped Indian shawls were thrown over their backs, with cushions to rest against.  A large market umbrella shaded the table.  From it’s right side near the fernery I pegged up a colourful sarong to cut the glare of the sun.  This moved in the wind and was quite soothing.  From the wooden internal supports of the umbrella I hung a copper wind chime, found at an op shop and the musical notes also created a relaxing mood.   Everyone felt like they had been transported to a more tropical location rather than being in an urban setting and this was a great conversation starter.  Some good cocktails did not hurt either.   It is worth collecting interesting textiles and table accessories from places like op-shops and Oxfam, so that you can use them in imaginative ways outdoors.

I also like to sit and read or write songs in another sheltered and quiet part of the garden, where it is warmer when there is a cool breeze.  A couple of the metal kitchen chairs and an old white cast aluminum table sit in front of a pittosporum hedge and are flanked by a potted wisteria and a pot of thyme.  I can put a beach umbrella in the table for shade.  With a cool drink, some cushions and a good book, you can be perfectly comfortable in this spot.  What more do you need?  Well a nice view would help.  So opposite the table and chairs, against an old rusty gate, is a collection of bottles, ceramic pots, a statue of The Three Graces,  a mask of Pan and some found objects, together with pot plants, to form an interesting scene (referred to in 22 Oct post).   Behind this is the cool greenery of the fernery and hanging from the walnut tree above are some wind chimes.  This gives me something to look at and listen to when I need a break from reading or writing and I feel that I am in my own little oasis.

Don’t think that you need the latest décor to have an attractive garden for summer  entertaining and in which to enjoy the fine weather.  It is much more fun to do your own thing and your garden will not be the same as anyone else’s.

Kat

Be Creative with Your Old Festive Decorations.

dscn1198

Each December I give a Dalek figure a Santa hat and a stocking and decorate a Tardis money box with a magnetic tree, because Time Lords and their evil nemeses deserve a bit of festive joy, as do we all.  Decorations for the festive season put you in the mood for fun holidays and family get-togethers.  Every year it is nice to add a few new pieces to your collection, but the advertising catalogues we receive in the letterbox seem to be full of ever more expensive or unoriginal items.  If you like doing craft you can make your own, but if, like me you do not have the time to do this in a big way, you can remake and repurpose your existing decorations.  In our household we reuse items from our decorations box every year, but try to give them a new spin, with the latest catalogues providing inspiration.  It is so much more imaginative and satisfying than just going out and buying new baubles.

In Australia it is also summer and I like to limit the amount of northern winter decorations, because the days are long and there are hot days to enjoy.   A reference to the snow is ok because it can make you feel cooler, but it is good to celebrate the summer time.

Sometimes broken decorations can be given a new purpose.  A few years ago I reused the round metal frame of an old wreathe that had lost its foliage and hung this by a chain from the ceiling above our stair banister.  From curtain hooks I hung metal silver butterflies and white, gold and silver papier-mâché stars to form a mobile.  In the centre was a hanging red bird candle holder.  To match this I attached a long silver chain on the left side of the stairs decorated with silver and red hearts and a white peace dove.  To the right of the mobile I hung a white glittery horse, a larger silver heart and to reflect the summer,  a red mobile with natural shells.  It was a look that suited our modern living room and did not clash with the African artifacts and the black bamboo pole on the stairs.

Over the years we have done the real and the artificial tree thing, but a couple of years ago I decided to do my own original take on this iconic item.  We have an old silver music stand, and the base forms a pyramidal shape like a pine tree when the top half is removed.  Once placed on the TV console, I wound the silver metal chain around the outside held with a couple of curtain hooks and voila, I could hang decorations from the links.  The same star decorations from the mobile, some silver trees and musical instruments, together with a metal angel, were attached to the chain with small wire hooks.  I fitted a metal skewer into the hole in the top of the central pole and blue tacked one of the stars to it.  A silver metal reindeer, a couple of silver summer insects and a tea light sat under the tree to give it interest.  At the other end of the console our grandmother’s 60s wooden leaf-shaped dish held some silver fruit decorations.

Last year I went for more of a Scandinavian effect.  The horse and the peace dove were now on the tree.  I added a reindeer themed card on a stand and next to the tree the silver reindeer sat beside a couple of small logs, offcuts from some tree pruning.  On top of the flat log was a little rabbit blowing a trumpet that we have had for years.  Just a little bit of change is often all that is needed to update your theme.

We had some old Ikea straw decorations in storage and one of the mobiles was a bit tatty, so I cut off the straw angels and stars and tied these to the stair banisters so they sat against the wall.  Some were also hung from the ceiling above the stairs, together with another Ikea straw mobile and the red bird.  In the wooden leaf dish now sat three Ikea woven straw pinecones.  I assembled an abstract snowman figure from an alabaster ball that came from a broken lamp, topped with a porcelain ball from a broken salad dressing shaker and sat it next to a gold star.  On the bookshelves opposite I put some more traditional wooden ornaments; small white angels, musicians and Santas next to a glittery tree card.  The whole scheme was very modern with references to northern traditions, yet did not look out of place in our warm climate.

I have not decided what I will do this year because I usually decorate spontaneously.  Maybe I will dig out some of the less used items in the storage box for a change.  I have noticed that traditional wooden toy decorations are making a comeback so I might play around with some that we have tucked away.

You may prefer a more traditional festive scheme, but whatever your style, have fun and use your imagination to rework what you already possess.  It is possible to come up with interesting ways to decorate you home without spending a great deal, if at all.

Kat

Party Costumes: When at First You Don’t Succeed

As you have already heard from this blog, Kat and I have been invited to a “Gangster and Moll” birthday party.  My character will be Blanche Barrow, the sister-in-law of Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde fame, and her style dress shall be different from that of Bonnie Parker, Kat’s character.

Now like my sister I do not want to go in the expected costume of a 1920s “flapper”, dressed in masses of fringing or sequins.  It is just not my style.  Instead of going out to hire or buy a party costume, I have created a unique costume by combining key pieces from my wardrobe in a way that reinterprets the silhouette of the period.

The Costume

For this occasion I have combined a blue, floral patterned velvet cardigan over a plain maroon ankle length skirt.  To accentuate the skirt and hips I have wrapped an Indian velvet scarf, around the top of the skirt and pinned it together with an oval brooch at the front to form an overskirt with two overlapping floral panels.   For my jacket I have been inspired to select one from my collection of Japanese haori.  It is a soft pink/violet with a small, stylised floral pattern of white and grey flowers.  The kimono shape was fashionable during the 1920s and early 1930s.  To bring it all together I have accessorised with a violet, embroidered floral shoulder bag to match the skirt.  I have also made a headpiece using ribbon, diamantes and feathers to truly get the look of the period.

The Headpiece, Plan A & B

It seemed like such a simple task. Make a small headpiece to look like a 1930s lady dressed for a night in a speakeasy.  This was my chance to be creative.  I could make the headpiece from materials that I already had and would not need to spend a lot of money.  Just in case I did not have the correct fixings at home I went to a large chain store specialising in sewing and haberdashery items to buy some basic construction materials.  I was playing with the idea of making a small rosette or panel on which I could fit some sequins or beading and feathers.

I purchased a headband with a woven straw disc, a fancy diamante trim to make the headpiece “sparkle”, 2 packets of white feathers, some circular fabric discs to fix the feathers to my selected base and some metal hair clips to fix it to my hair.  At home I found some pieces of scrap material, blue taffeta silk and a patterned floral silk in blue, pink, green and white.  These would match my costume.  I also had some interfacing and Tacky Glue.

I soon realised that the headband and the round straw disc were the wrong shape for the diamante trim and too big for my hair.  I decided to move to Plan B.  Six layers of interfacing were ironed together and cut in an oval shape slightly wider than the diamante trim.  The floral silk was cut larger than the oval base, centred and glued to the back of the interfacing.  I then sewed a line of stitches around the outer edge of the loose fabric and gathered it in the centre to form a ruche on the front of the disc.  Decorative ruching was popular during this period.  Next I stitched a metal hair clip to the back of the oval panel.  I glued the white feathers together using between two of the white fabric discs as I planned to glue them to the front of the fabric then attach the diamante trim on top.  Before doing these final steps I experimented with how it would look in my hair.  It did not work.  It looked terrible.  My hair is too curly and wild and it would not stay in place.  I decided I needed another solution and not waste any more time on this idea.

The Headpiece, Plan C

Back to the notions box in the studio and with much rummaging I found two violet satin ribbons in a paper bag.  They were good quality and already were tied in bows.  I think I must have saved them from packaging, where sheets or linens were tied up in pretty bows.  After trying one ribbon on my head to see if it would fit, it did, I found the size of the bow was perfect to fit the feathers and the diamante trim.  I first sewed the fabric disc holding the feathers to the front of the bow, with the diamante trim sewed over both the feathers and the bow.  Voila!  Finally I had the perfect headpiece for my costume.

Making this headpiece reminded me that there is more than one way to be creative.  You can carefully plan your project from the start, so that you have everything worked out so that you save time, money and effort.  You can also work more freely as I did and make it up as you go along.  The important point with both methods is to recognize when an idea is not working and that you sometimes need to go through the design and construction process and fail before you can find the right solution.

My costume is now complete.

Ellie