August 3, 2014
It’s been a little while since my last blog entry and I’m not sure writing about a pillowcase is a good reintroduction, but that’s what this is!
I’ve been a flub sewer for too long and have been wanting to take a lesson or two to get acclimated on a machine. The last sewing machine I owned was the Cabbage Patch edition circa the mid 1980’s. I seem to remember making lots of bedspreads and dresses for my dolls, the simple kind of dress with two arm cutouts and another for the head. I found this Etsy image of one that has since sold:
Last week a friend gave me a Groupon for a local sewing class and it did wonders for helping me to be less intimidated by bobbins and foot pedals (Koffa Design Group is an excellent place for beginners if you’re in the Pasadena area).
I took my knowledge home and thought back to those dolly dresses – I knew I had to start simple. I asked my hubs pick up a few vintage pillowcases on the cheap at his estate sale hunts this weekend. He came back with a sorted selection and I set to work using my Grandma’s 1966 Kenmore machine.
After threading the needle and getting the bobbin case in properly (not easy for beginners, guys!), I picked out a floral pillowcase that had a few rips, but luckily they were along the seams.
I cut the enclosed top of the case off and that became my new neckline.
The top strip was easy to separate along its stitching and by cutting it in half they became the dress’s should straps.
I hemmed the straps on either side for straight(er) edges and I tried the case on for further measurements. It was a couple dress sizes too big, so I took one side of the case in several inches down until it hit at about the hip bone. Then I gathered the top portion to make a little pleat and added a vintage yellow button to make it look like it’s supposed to do that.
Then I sewed on the straps, fixed the ripped yellow panel and it became my swimsuit cover up dress for the day!
All in all the dress cost me less than 25 cents and only drew out a few swear words. It took me a couple of hours, but that included taking a screwdriver to the machine to get rid of a thread-jam behind the bobbin case. The dress fits pretty well, but when I asked my husband what he thought of it he said, “uh, it looks like you’re wearing a pillowcase for a dress.” Haha, okay, so maybe a different pattern and cut will help out in the future, but it’s not too bad for my first attempt at sewing something on a machine!
May 24, 2014
Over the years my guy has come across some pretty fun skateboards; he loves them and I wish I could ride them! Well, I can, it’s just that it goes one way and I go the other – not pretty. Unlike me, my man grew up riding them well and has a hard time passing it up when he sees one.
A few years ago he even picked a Mark Gonzales (“The Gonz”), a celebrated skateboarder and artist. We flipped the board for pretty decent money (kinda wished we’d kept it now, but collectors have to purge once in awhile otherwise it’s called hoarding.).
But, this, arguably, is the best (if not the most nostalgic) skateboard find: a piece of wood with a set of roller skate wheels. He bought it at an estate sale in Alhambra, CA from a guy who constructed it in the late 1950’s and was finally ready to part with it. I love it for everything it represents — kids who, wanting to imitate surfing a wave, resourcefully scavenged scraps for a fun time outdoors.
I wish we had a photo of its original owner skating the hills of Alhambra back in the day, but this will have to do as a placeholder.
Skateboarding gained and fell in popularity and repeated that cycle a few times over the decades, but there are those that never lost the love for it and I’m glad we have the documentation to enjoy its beauty.
It would be stellar to have a wall display someday and turn these little boards into works of art. Maybe we do need to collect a few more…
And if you haven’t yet seen Stacy Peralta’s Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, it’s well worth a watch!
March 23, 2014
I’ve been working on a project that hasn’t really gone my way, but I’m sticking with it to show you all soon! In the meantime, here are some cool little finds in the past weeks.
Take these strands of funky midcentury lights. I love the colors and their granulated sugar-like texture. I think they’ll be perfect at a Springtime party.
Then there’s this sleek, never-been-used ice bucket recently scored at an estate sale. It’s so simple and I love the bamboo wicker tongs. Fun little treat – it was wrapped in newspaper and one of the featured stories was about CBS’s new comedy series, “Gilligan’s Island”. That lucky bit of information dates this piece to no later than 1964.
These portable chairbacks will be perfect for camping or, even better, our annual trip to the Hollywood Bowl!
This pot-bellied stove from West Germany is a cool find. It needs a little sprucing up, but it’s pretty adorable and will make for a good resale item.
Then there’s these fun little biddies with a fun story to go with them. My hubs scored one of them at an estate sale and was bummed that it wasn’t a pair. Feeling like it should he decided to do a little internet sweep and lo and behold, its twin showed up in an ad for new items at a local antique mall, so we headed out and scooped up the match (naturally for a bit more than the other).
That’s it for now. Be back (hopefully) soon with another project!
February 3, 2014
I’m just gonna throw every word in the title since I didn’t know exactly what to call it when I first started out here. This is a bookend. I say “end” (singular) because my husband only came across one at an estate sale last weekend. But what the heck, it was only $5 and one bookend is better than no bookend at all.
I love it. I’ve seen these suckers displayed in many midcentury modern homes (some of yours included), and it’s one of those pieces that you can kind of just see why. Having scored one for my very own, I dug a little deeper to find out about its history and found some good information at a blogspot dedicated to the designer.
Though it’s often misattributed to George Nelson, the bookend jack was designed by Bill Curry and his wife Jacquelyn at Design Line in El Segundo. Even closer to (my) home, he was a graduate student of Art Center and “[i]n 1965 all Design Line products were selected for Excellence of Design by Pasadena Art Museum’s Design Nine Exhibition.” I adore this photo (and the killer room divider) of Bill and Jackie.
His jacks come in 9 and 3 pound brass designs and in 12 different colors. I’m partial to the brass, though a red one would be pretty sweet for kicks, too. The 1967-68 catalog below also shows a few other of his bookend designs.
After all my digging, I found out that Curry’s design is properly called a jack and not a jax. And I guess that’s about all for now on Bill Curry and his Jack bookend. Have a good week, everyone!
January 26, 2014
Is there a quintessential piece of furniture that you know once found it means you’ve “arrived”? For us it’s been a midcentury free-standing fireplace for quite awhile. Every time we come across one in an old magazine we patiently admire it. Whenever we come across one for sale, which is rare, it’s too damn expensive.
Until now, blog world! We got one! My hubs found one listed on Craigslist for under 2 bills and drove a good 80 miles (roundtrip) to bring her home.
Look at that Bronze Green! The best part about it is that the body is entirely ceramic. It’s an Aztec Free-Standing Fireplace made by Condon-King. Thanks to Mad for Midcentury, I found an ad introducing this “space-age” model in a 1967 Popular Science magazine:
Unfortunately our new score didn’t come with a screen and its former owner modified it to comply with a gas fixture, knocking a little hole on the bottom. We’re not big fans of tampering with vintage items like this, but hey, it’s still 100% awesome.
The flue had a little rust on it, so we sanded it down and painted it a black matte to match its original look. And then gave the inside a good cleaning to spiff it up a bit.
One day we’ll have a home where it will act as a functional piece, but for now it’s the perfect decor. Except I think we have way yonder too much green for our own good. It’s ridiculous.
So now we can move onto the next “we’ve finally arrived” must-have :)
January 11, 2014
At the start of 2013, my man picked up an old Huffy bike at a yard sale. It’s a 1950’s Customliner, rough around the edges and doesn’t have a kickstand. But, he loves it and frequently takes it out just to ride to the end of our culdesac and back.
I’ve been wanting a vintage bicycle for a very long time. Me, a vintage set of wheels and a basket = unstoppable. Before I married my husband, he surprised me with a beautiful 1960’s Schwinn. I love it, but it’s slightly too big for me and for several years now the tires have been out of commission.
Just before Christmas we headed out to some friends’ house and passed an awesome little junk shop with a 1959-ish Hollywood Schwinn parked outside. It was for sale. Incidentally, the shop happens to be owned by the same woman whom the Huffy was purchased from nearly a year ago! Well, needless to say it turned into my Christmas present – yay me!
I love the cobalt blue. And it has a basket! And there’s a name plate that I have every intention of keeping on. Three cheers for Lorynne!
It has some rust stains that need buffing out, but for now it rides like a charm and it’s perfect for these sunny “winter” days (sorry to all my mid-west neighbors who are experiencing radically cold temperatures right now).
Wishing everybody the best 2014 anyone can ask for. As for me, I am starting the year off unstoppable.
December 4, 2013
Over a year ago we pulled up to my sister’s in-law’s house and found a dilapidated cabinet they had left at the curb. To my left I heard, “Oh-what-do-we-have-here?!” and I knew it was going home with us even if it meant there was no room in the car for me (this thing is massive).
It had been in my brother-in-law’s family for decades, but no one remembered where it came from or what its original use was. It’s from City Built Refrigerator Company, but I couldn’t find a stitch of information on it. We both suspect it was used as some sort of pharmacy display case. We had something different in mind for it, but first to remove the layers!
My husband brushed coats of Klean Strip, a very effective paint stripper, and then scraped away the years of lead paint with putty knife. Now, my man is used to working with dangerous materials and equipment and always exercises the utmost precaution. Until the day he was about halfway through the project and got a little careless. While brushing on a layer of the toxic liquid, the brush bristles got caught in a wood groove and splashed him in his unprotected eye. I’ll spare you his stream of consciousness and cut to where he and his red, puffy eye were done for the day. Wear your protective gear, folks!
Mr. Detail, having recovered from his little setback, returned with scabbed eyelid to the refurbishing and gave the cabinet a good sanding and smoothed out some of termite damaged areas.
It has sliding glass doors and shelving, which needed replacing. He cut door tracks to fit, removed the rust from the hardware and then stained them a light green.
We opted for stain instead of paint because we liked the pattern in the plywood. Then we sanded the green stain to mute the intensity and replaced the sheet of glass shelving. As it turned out there was a lot more work to be done, but I won’t bore you with minutiae.
Fast forward to a year and a half later and we were finally ready to put her up! We found the studs in the wall and made sure this beast was secure with 3 sturdy L brackets and added a few screws behind the metal tracking and drilled those into the wall.
We dressed it with some of our midcentury glassware and crystal and filled the decanters with our favorite liquors: whiskey, tequila and vodka. Any recommendations for the fourth?
This poor project was a long time coming due to interruptions and setbacks, but I am so happy with the way it turned out and think it was well worth the wait! Cocktail anyone?
November 8, 2013
I did it folks! My second year participating in the* October Dress Project (ODP) was a success. I spent all of October in this number I scored for cheap off of eBay:
It was a little large in a few places so I had it hemmed and taken in at the underarms and straps. I preferred something brown for this year since 2012 was also a black dress, but nothing simple enough surfaced and this ended up being the better choice. Tailored, it was the perfect dress.
The jumper (with pockets!) gave me a lot more versatility than I had last year as I could wear tops under the dress as well as over, providing me with double the options. The dress was more recognizable as a jumper, but that was the way I preferred to wear it. I ended up with 31 different looks (no repeats!), but did miss photographing 5 days due to late work schedules (etc.), leaving me room for improvement in 2014!
I succeeded in in all of the ODP rules during the month: I didn’t buy anything wardrobe related, I incorporated the dress in my everyday attire and I (hopefully) did it creatively to prove how much I really do have in my closet.
A big thanks to those that encouraged me and made this project fun! And thanks to my hubby whom I made take a photo every day. As promised, here are the photos of all the different looks (including one with my friend, Hayley, who did ODP with me this year!):
I am looking forward to ODP 2014. Let me know if you want to join in!
* I am beyond excited to have been introduced to the woman who, with a friend , started the ODP back in 2008! Read about Tala’s experience here. I feel like I’ve met a celebrity! Thank you, Tala!!! :)
September 26, 2013
My husband went dumpster diving for a chair and came up with this Poul Volther original.
It was obvious why it had been discarded, but it really just needed a little TLC.
Due to the extent of the break, my man took it apart piece by piece and gave the broken chair leg a good glue and clamp.
The after result is pretty seamless!
The chair was considerably sun bleached and some of its finish was peeling off, so he sanded it and re-finished the teak with a gel stain.
The cord seat was in good, sturdy condition and just needed a good cleaning. After a few hours of time and a couple dollars of product, we found ourselves with a beautifully restored mid-century dining chair. A set of 4 would have been nice, but divers can’t be choosers.
September 7, 2013
Things have been busy around here and this summer is just flying by. We haven’t been able to keep up with our projects the way we’d like to, but curiously enough my husband still finds time to hit up his weekly estate sales. He’s scored more vintage Tootsie Toys, classic handyman books, and a couple of midcentury planters (I swear we need to have another yard sale). He also picked a few old seat cushions that were perfect for tossing on the floor or on an uncomfortable chair.
Except, the cushions weren’t cushioning anymore.
We sent hazmat in to rid these guys of their gnarly innards, gave the skins a good wash and went to work on restuffing them with firm foam.
This was a quick and easy project. And I’m happy for some awesome Hollywood Bowl cushions!
(Why, yes, that is a sharpie mark on the orange cushion :( ).
The hubs and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and I think it was just as hot and humid as the day we got married.
(dress is a Doris Fein Original, shirt is missing a label).
Hope you all are well!