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Gatsby Lawn Party Day 2

Gatsby Lawn Party Day 2

The lovely grounds of Spadina House Museum

Day 2 was another beautiful day of hot sunny weather and cool breezes. I wore what turned out to be my favorite  dress of the summer so far. It was another Pinterest image turned into a pattern from a 1 Hour Dress Book published in the 1920s. I didn’t take any construction pictures as time was getting short. I used a yarn dyed cotton in a rust plaid and a solid rust coloured cotton for the ties.

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I almost made a critical error when translating the measurements from imperial to metric. (On a side note, the US has been officially metric for more than 2 decades. Start using it please)

This is a very comfortable dress and Sara wants to make one for herself before the summer ends.

 

Her dress started out as one pattern and was modified a great deal. We also made it out of a knit since we didn’t have time to be picky about the fabric.

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It turned out great and just in time. I think she wants to  make it again in a silk and make a few more adjustments.

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1928 Reproduction Turban , Le Petit Chapeau

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Maybe next year we will have the right shoes to fit our needs of standing all day and new specs that are more in keeping with the 20’s.

Cheers

Meaghan & Sara

A Gatsby Weekend Day 1

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Spadina House Museum

Recently Sara and I were sponsors of Spadina House Museum Gatsby Lawn Party. We donated several prizes for the costume party and set up a mini shop loaded with flapper era hats for Ladies and Gents.

It was a beautiful and rather hot weekend but the grounds are so lovely and the lawn party goers were dedicated to their costumes that it made the heat bearable.

We decided we need to have 1920s dresses and hats (of course) which wasn’t required but encouraged and I’m glad we did. All the volunteers and the musicians were costumed in wool! (Brave souls) This ment we needed to hunt Pinterest for ideas or patterns of which we found and needed to draw from the photos as well as alter to fit our measurements. Originally I wanted to use a pattern I had for about 20 years. It was an early 20s design that was designed with a 1990s fit. That will work, I thought. No. What a mess. The fitting that I did before inserting the zipper showed that there was no saving it and the fit and the printed measurements were essentially a lie. Oh well.

I also had a 1980s dropped waist dress pattern that I cut out of a lovely pumpkin coloured cotton gauze. I cut it to a smaller fit than the 80s look which was a 10 inch ease! I also moved the gathers of the waist to the side front and side back to be more in keeping with the 1920s. I then added a fabric rose and ribbons both up and down the side of the dress at the hip. this was copied from a photo of a 1920s day dress I found.

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I was also wearing a reproduction cotton slip underneath which had panniers on the hips made of gathers to puff the hip out farther. It is in keeping with he style but not seen as often. It was an unusual silhouette which I’m still not accustomed to. The hat is a new design made for the show which we are going to start making for customers soon.

Sara’s dress was much more work and made from a polyester chiffon in a green and white print with a touch of black. I wasn’t sure about it but she knew it would be wonderful.

Her drawing of the photo was very neat and made from a hebrew language page from a 1920s ladies magazine. The pattern was large pieces so the floor was the only place to lay it out. She cut it into a front and back to fit the fabric and then very carefully cut out the fabric. Chiffon is very shifty so it was hard to keep it on grain. The hems were all rolled and hand sewed which took her many hours. The end result was beautiful. I think I want to make one!

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The hat was another one of the new Garden Party Hats and we found shoes were a problem. It was hot and we were on grass so slender heels were impractical so we wore what was best for working instead of the shoes which looked most appropriate.

The first day was great and we really enjoyed the gardens and music.

Day 2 clothing coming soon.

Cheers

Meaghan and Sara

 

Heart of Barrie

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The Heart of Barrie is a small paper about the downtown of Barrie Ontario (where my shop is) Recently an wonderful article written by Erin Corcoran was featured about Le Petit Chapeau.  Below is the entire article  because it is just full of such kind words and I really appreciate the support. Erin Corcoran is a real estate agent with Remax in Barrie and also writes, et al, for Simcoe County Shop Local. Check her out  at http://www.ericocrcoran.ca

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Le Petit Chapeau
Walking into Le Petit Chapeau, I instantly feel the urge to travel to Paris and stroll its streets: taking in the sights and sounds of the city, inhaling the delicious smell of fresh baguettes and stopping at a small outdoor café to enjoy an espresso,  all the while watching  fashionable Parisians go by,wearing ‘fascinators.’ Fascinators? You may ask. If you don’t know what they are, you will after visiting Le Petit Chapeau! 
I discovered Le Petit Chapeau because I needed a fascinator for an event. A quick Google search for hat shops in Barrie brought me to their door. I stopped in and quickly realized  this store is much more than just hats! It’s a trip down memory lane, where you can buy vintage tea cups, lace gloves, men’s  cufflinks, or handmade soaps that are all natural and smell absolutely heavenly!
Many items in Le Petit Chapeau are created in store by owner Meaghan Armstrong and her apprentice Sara Czech, including hats, gloves, stationary and bath and beauty products. The shop also houses a collection of vintage items such as  jewellery, accessories,  negligees and robes.

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Meaghan believes in the importance  of community  and supporting local business, so the shop also features products by local artisans.  You will find paper Eiffel towers by eco-artist Lisa Brunetta and jewellery lines  by Loved  and Jill Price. On one visit, I bought a beautiful  pair of decorative hair pins for my mother, crafted by Jill from glass and bits of paintings and fabric from her mixed media art. Le Petit Chapeau  is located across from Heritage Park on Simcoe  Street in the Lakeshore Mews. The store faces the lake and , on warm spring days when the wind blows through the open shop windows and the wind chimes sing outside, it makes me feel like I really am in a little shop in Paris.
Meaghan is one of the most knowledgeable shop owners I’ve ever met. She’s an incredible woman whose passion makes your shopping experience so much more enjoyable.  For example, she sells Le Petit Perfume – oil based, preservative -free perfumes, handmade in small batches. I knew nothing of how scents are composed – just what I  liked and what I  didn’t like- but Meaghan taught me about low notes, medium notes and high notes, and helped me find a scent that suited my tastes and my chemistry.  The perfumes come in small roll on applicators; it’s fun to mix and match the different  scents,  which include rose, lily of the valley, jasmine, cherry blossom and even maple bacon! 
Le Petit Chapeau is online at http://www.littlehatshop..com where you can follow their blog, sign up for hat-making classes, order a custom creation or shop their collection.  Meaghan’s hats have traveled the world, being ordered from locations such as New York, Luxembourg  and New Zealand.
You can also keep up to date on their latest creations by following them   Instagram http://www.instagram.com/littlehatshop, Pinterest http://pinterest.com/tinychapeau  and Facebook http://facebook.com/le-petit-chapeau-handmade-millinery . For serious shoppers  they even have their own app! And, if you’ve visited the shop and are a fan like me, I recommend leaving a review for them on TripAdvisor to help new customers find the store when visiting Barrie.
Like Meaghan, I’m a big fan of supporting our community, and one of the ways I contribute is by creating Simcoe County Shop Local videos, which feature local businesses. After meeting with Meaghan I was inspired to feature Le Petit Chapeau in an episode, to help you understand why I LOVE her store so much. You can find the video on my YouTube channel by searching “Simcoe County Shop Local” or my name “Erin Corcoran”
Le Petit Chapeau is much more than just a store: it’s a complete experience that draws you in and keeps you wanting more.

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(I apologize for the quality of this photo. It is a shot of the page of the magazine. -Meaghan)

Thanks again for the kind words!

Heart of Barrie, Seventh Edition

Carving Hat Blocks-part 1

Hat blocks. A vital part of millinery.  However,  in Canada  there are no makers of blocks so overseas is the only option.
They are also very expensive.  Most often in wood and made with either specialized equipment or hand carved,  it makes for an expensive and heavy investment into a single shape and size.

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This is the Cadillac of hat blocks I think. Guy Morse Brown Hat Blocks.  Hand carved and priced accordingly.  Gorgeous and worth it.

Several years ago I found a heavy plastic block company out of the USA that was designed for felters to make hats. Since I had been in theatre props for several years moons ago I knew I could potentially alter the plastic blocks to work for me. I ordered them and went to work.

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This is Sara drilling into the headsize line to create pinning holes.

The company was rather alarmed at the drilling and cutting and couldn’t approve of what we did but many hats later they have held up!

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This lovely wool fedora was made on the modified plastic block.

As many of you know Sara has been with the studio for several years now and her skills have increased so much that she is always looking for a new challenge. She had already been thinking about carving a block out of of styrofoam when a customer came in for a 1920s reproduction.  I knew I could make it without a brim block but when I started I realized it was going to be much more difficult and frustrating than I thought. 
Sara dove in to make a block for the brim.

The final result was exactly like the picture the customer wanted and Sara went about solving problems that arose with using spray foam.

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This custom hat made from our first carved block was a success!

I scoured my brain for sculpture information from my ancient art degree and remembered that you can use high density insulation styrofoam glued together in layers to carve into a shape.

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Sara gluing.

She is continuing to make this block and learn carving and creating solutions to problems that pop up. We will let you know what happens next as the block is nearly finished which means we can make a hat!

More to come!
Cheers
Meaghan and Sara

1930s Knit Dress

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Finished dress with a 1940s hat made in my studio and plastic necklace circa 1960s.

I have recently been coveting 1930s knit dresses but the sizes and the prices were not the right fit for me. Sara had a bat wing jersey knit shirt which looked very 30s so I  decided to make a copy and turn it into a dress.

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First I used pattern trace material and pinned it very carefully to the t shirt marking the grain and the centre front on the fold. As you can see I added a seam allowance  of 1.5 cm and made a front and back as well as sleeve cuff. The shirt had a lower hem cuff which I eliminated.  I found some sweater knit with this amazing green wavy line in a shine.

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I then decided to add a waist seam instead of making long seams since I assumed the sweater knit might just stretch and stretch to the floor. I used the skirt part of a pattern I’ve made lots since I knew the fit. I eliminated the hip faux pockets and added length to be 30s.

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I sewed up the dress, tried it on and only needed to raise the waist line so it would fit in a more historically correct fashion.  It was very quick to make up and I’m very happy with it. I have already decided on the next fabric for it that will need a full slip to match. I need to make a matching hat for warmer weather since the wool one I am wearing will be far too warm soon.

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I am wearing thrifted shoes and belt and I’m in my studio  with better light and a fab mirror.
Until next time.
Cheers
Meaghan

Vintage Purse Restoration

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Recently I had the great privilege to repair this lovely 1920’s glass handled purse. The owner of this lovely object knew it was from China, most likely Shanghai from the 1920’s. I was honored that she entrusted me to bring it back to a useable state. I am not and don’t claim to be a textile restoration expert but I do know a little and some further research gave me the knowledge I needed to restore this purse.

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These photos show the metal trim holding the glass handles has come loose and had been tied together.

silk purse restoration 8The lining was silk and as you can see, it is in tatters.

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The tassel had these small decorated corks with the silk threads of which it had become undone. The second side which is much like the first side shown, has lovely golden metallic threads and satin stitch low profile stump work. I was afraid the metal threads were fragile and prone to breaking so I was very careful of bending the purse more than I needed to.

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I carefully took apart the lining which moistly disintegrated in my hand, and kept the metal trim attached to the handles. Next I needed to repair the loose threads in the design with as close of a match as I could using silk thread. I didn’t want to use a better match using polyester thread as maintaining the original essence of the purse was important.

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There was three lines of couching with whipping in orange as a frame around the design which had at some point come undone and I wanted to restore this. The left hand picture is the inside of the purse and the vibrancy of the colours was astonishing. It was faded on the outside. this must have been spectacular when it was first made.

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I needed to repair broken seams in the bottom of the purse as well. Shown here, it was all originally hand stitched.

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 I set Sara on the task of detangling the tassel. She has a knack for detangling things. When she managed this we reattached it to the cork and then reattached the cork to the bag. We needed to use a new metal ball bead which we got from a friend since the original was lost. The only problem was the complex frog. There was one still on the other tassel and it was beyond my ability to create so we made a lovely alternative which complimented the master frog makers skill.

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After many enjoyable hours of sleuthing and hand sewing the bag, with it’s new deep blue silk lining and fully restored metal trim attachments to the handles was restored to it’s happy and grateful owner. This purse was a treasure to work with and a joy to study. I am happy to be part of it’s journey and I hope the owners love of this will be carried through to future generations. I only hope that repairs done in the future will not be hindered by my contribution!

Meaghan

My Journey to Becoming a Clothes Horse

Once upon a time I was a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, or tank top and board shorts as illustrated in my very poor quality picture.
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My sense of style didn’t get better than this in my teenaged years, but thankfully as an adult I got some excellent guidance from a great friend and awesome boss. It also helped that Goodwill used to have a 50% off sale every Friday.
It all started with a “no pants at work rule”. This was a dilemma as all I owned were pants, so Meaghan made me a denim pencil skirt and the original tie belt.original work outfit
Since this one outfit, I’ve come a long way.
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This is only the winter half of my clothing and almost everything I own was bought second hand. The exceptions to this would be things I made for myself, Awkward Stage pieces and the few, rare mall finds.

Now I after five years of work I have a pretty great sense of personal style that always seems to be evolving in someway. But to find out about that you’ll have to click here or here.

Cheers,
Sara.

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