Thursday, August 9, 2018

Joining in on the vintage cover fun

Last year, when Tanith and Nicole launched their #myvintagecover challenge, I had so many ideas which for one reason and other never came to anything. This year, I was determined to get at least one entry done. 
Browsing through Australian Women's Weekly covers on my phone for something I could do with available resources, I saw this one from May 1936:

Cover image, May 23 1936
Australian Women's Weekly
I knew I could do those elements, so I tacked white collars on a dress, tried pin-curling my hair, added some makeup, and went for it.  While the original has solid collars, I have these vintage lace ones which I've been wanting to use on something for a while. The curls looked good, and while I do have make-up on, it hasn't really come through in the photos, so I may have used too light a hand.

Hair: on point. Makeup: apparently way too subtle. Cap: angled wrong way
I took so many photos and could NOT work out why they all looked subtly wrong - I eventually convinced myself it was just because of the selfie angle and that they needed to be flipped. I finally noticed that my cap was angled up, not down. By the time I had worked that out, my hair had done its usual trick of exploding into frizz.

I added the backgrounds to look like the original cover, and added some bad poetry to counteract the mawkishly bad and patronising poetry on the original too!

I have plans for a second cover reproduction, but that one will involve a little more work, so fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

#anAWWyear - June 1948: Fashion

It won't take even a lot of attention to notice that I skipped April and May. I could write out a long list of excuses, but I will simply say sorry and launch straight into June with a short post on fashion. June wasn't a very inspiring month, sadly.  Lots of very high-fashion dressed which made little favourable impression on me.

As June in Australia is winter, there are quite a few coats featured, but I included so many coats in my March post that it was getting a bit repetitive. I am including this image from an advertisement, though, as I adore the colour combination and the collar.
Detail from a Cadbury's Bourn-vita advertisement,
Australian Women's Weekly, June 12 1948, p 16
The green of the coat with the pink of the hat and gloves is perfectly suiting my mood at the moment. Also I swear someone in my life has a collar similar to that, but I cannot recall who!
I'm also appreciating this image for the surrounding chorus of people with colds. Going outside at the moment is exactly like that, although I don't have her glowing aura of health to surround me. I just side-eye all the coughing people.

Looking at clothes - whether at vintage images in the AWW or modern pieces in the shops - can be a strange experience (for me at least, and I assume others have the same feelings) because my imagined body and life have some disconnect with reality.

I'm still set on making something with a plaid/check - but do you have any idea how hard I'm finding it getting one with no red or black in it? Spoilers: quite hard  - and so I was caught by this image in the Fashion Patterns service.
Detail from Fashion Patterns service advertisement
Australian Women's Weekly, June 19 1948, p 39

Lots of features I like - the contrast collar and cuffs, an open neck, etc, not to mention the cute little boy in overalls next to her.  I was in a hazy dream world where I found a lovely green/brown check and made such an outfit and the four-year-old wasn't complaining that his dapper dungarees were 'incomfortable'.  But the reality is that even if I made that outfit, it wouldn't look like that.  
With modern clothes there are an increasing number of retailers using plus size models in their images, and there is a wonderful world of plus sized fashion bloggers, sewing communities and others that means that there are images out there of women my body type in clothes I might consider wearing.  For vintage clothes it is trickier, particularly in media rather than personal photos. So the occasional pictures of styles for larger women, as in this advertisement ('larger fittings', 'mature styles', 'matrons', 'older women' - all of these can be code) are a nice if dream-bubble-bursting find. 

Detail of Grace Bros advertisement
Australian Women's Weekly, June 19 1948, p 30.

I actually like the blue - the sort-of cross over on the bodice, the way the waist line isn't a straight line, and the shoulder shirring helping with bust shaping. I don't know that I would want to make it though - shirring isn't my favourite thing to sew! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

#anAWWyear - March 1948: Food

March has several themed food features, each with bright and attractive photographs, but the real winners this month were once again the reader recipes. 

It isn't simple or easy to transport picnic food, but it does look impressive.
Australian Women's Weekly, 27 March 1948, p 33
I was initially attracted to this picnic feature, as my four year old is extremely fond of picnics, but none of the recipes were going to work for me this month. I was intrigued by the 'salad croquettes' (more misuse of the word salad!) combining cold meat, veggies and mashed potato, but these are deep fried, and I don't have the set up for that. 

Australian Women's Weekly,  6 March 1948, p 33
Another feature is this one with a variety of chicken meals, none of which I tried as they were either salad/dainty style meals which my husband wouldn't eat, or were styles for which I already have favourite recipes.  But I do like the ramekin holder illustrated here holding individual serves of chicken a la king.

There was a reader recipe for carrot marmalade which sounded good
Four large carrots, 4 lemons, 4 pints water, 41b. sugar. Wash and scrub carrots, do not peel. Grate on coarse grater, place in large bowl. Wash and slice lemons thinly, remove seeds. Add to grated carrot. Cover with the water, stand overnight. Turn into preserving pan, cook quickly 1½ hours, or until lemons are quite tender. Add warmed sugar, cook quickly until it "jells" when tested on cold saucer - about 1 hour. Pour into hot, dry jars, seal and label when cold.
Sadly even if this turned out well, I knew I'd be the only one eating it!

In the end both recipes I made were from the same issue's reader recipes, one winning the first prize of £1 one a consolation price of 2/6.

I made the oatmeal gingerbread the first time when my son had a friend over, and they'd reached the not wanting to share toys stage and needed a distraction. As a result, a few  ingredients were skipped or substituted, a few things went awry, and while the end result wasn't amazing I felt it had the potential to be better if I made it again properly.
Two cups flour, 1 cup oatmeal, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, 1 teaspoon baking powder, pinch salt, 2oz. margarine or butter, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon golden syrup, 1 tablespoon treacle, 1 egg, good ½ cup milk.
Sift flour, ginger, spice, baking powder, and salt. Rub in margarine or butter, add oatmeal and lemon rind. Beat egg, add treacle, syrup, and milk, stir into dry ingredients, mixing well. Pour into greased slab tin. Bake in moderate oven (350 deg. F.) 40 to 50 minutes. Turn on to cake cooler, when cold top with vanilla-flavored warm icing. 
By a 'good' ½ cup milk, it means that plus another teaspoon or two to make it mix properly - I mixed the ½ cup in with the other wet ingredients, then added a tiny bit more at the end. It won't 'pour' into the tin - I ended up with a dough that I had to flatten out in the tin. I also found that I didn't need to bake it for as long as it suggested -mine only took 30 minutes to be cooked through.
I really like the texture given by the oatmeal, and I found that the children liked it. It isn't as heavy or spiced as proper gingerbread, and so is more of a "mild gingerbready slice". I used the lemon I'd grated the rind from to make a lemon icing which I thought went very well.
The second trial of the oatmeal gingerbread. 

The prize-winning recipe this month was Prune-stuffed steak, which I made for my husband and I. (The boy won't eat steak at all.)

Two pounds topside steak, cut in one thick piece with a pocket cut deeply into one side, 1¼ cups breadcrumbs, ¼ teaspoon mixed herbs, 1 egg, little margarine or butter, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, good pinch grated lemon rind, pinch nutmeg, 1 lb. prunes, three rashers bacon.
Trim steak and wipe with damp cloth. Place a layer of stoned prunes on bottom of pocket. Mix all seasoning ingredients with melted margarine or butter and beaten egg. Press a layer of stuffing on top of prunes, and then arrange another layer of prunes on top. Fasten together with skewers or sew with strong cotton. Place in baking dish with hot fat, cook in moderate oven (350deg. F.) 1 hour, turning meat several times. Place rashers of bacon on top, cook another half hour or until meat is tender. Serve piping hot with vegetables and brown gravy. 
I was not going to cook one giant two pound steak, so I made this with two smaller steaks instead.
I made up the same amount of stuffing, and just didn't use it all. I did not use anywhere near a whole pound of prunes, and I obviously adjusted the cooking times to allow for the smaller size of the steaks.

The prunes and stuffing in the pockets. Looks strangely like I've put oreos in the steak.

The final cooked steak. 
It was really nice and we enjoyed it, although we both decided that it needed some extra flavour in the stuffing.  We made it again the next week, adding some mustard to the stuffing mix, and trying this time with chicken breasts. I liked this version too, but somehow the prunes and chicken seem a more expected pairing? The prunes and the steak together are still the winner for me.

Friday, March 23, 2018

#anAWWyear - March 1948: Craft

At the end of my last post, I said that the fashion would be continuing this month, and that is because  March 13 1948 was a Special Knitting Issue. 

To start, let us look at the outfit on the cover of this issue, because I'm going to confess that 1940s would not have been my first guess for the decade of this outfit. This could easily pass for several later decades, and I love having the reminder of what really casual outfits could look like. This sweater is the 'Swagger Sport Shirt' by Pierre Balmain, who we are told is "famous in Paris for his casual sports clothes". 
Outfit on the cover
 Australian Women's Weekly, March 13 1948 
It is also a good example of how colour and styling can change one's opinion - the same sweater, styled differently, and in a black and white photograph, has far less impact and I would have passed straight by it. 
Believe it or not, the same sweater as above
Australian Women's Weekly, March 13 1948, p 37
There are instructions for about ten cardigans and sweaters in this issue, several of which are quite standard. I like this checkerboard design, although wouldn't wear it myself.  Of note, the 'New Yorker' twin set, shown here in the yellow top and rust coloured cardigan over it in the (the middle and lowest photos on the right hand side) is designed for the "not-so-slim" and has a bust measurement of 42", which while still terribly inadequate for me, is unusually large for the free patterns that tend to be in vintage magazines. 

Just some of the knit patterns in this issue
Australian Women's Weekly, March 13 1948, p 9

There was no craft I actually tried this month - partially because I've been having a renewed attack on unfinished projects in my stash, and partially because nothing really appealed. There was one crochet project, this unusual purse with a cord decoration, but said decoration was a little too snake like for me (I have a phobia) so I'd never include it in my collection.

Australian Women's Weekly, March 6 1948, p 37

There was also instructions for this embroidered cushion, but I suspect if I made another cushion my husband might complain. We have... quite a few already.

Australian Women's Weekly, March 20 1948, p 36
I've actually been surprised by how many issues don't have any craft projects. If I get the time, I might see if there is a seasonal pattern to when they have them. Or maybe the editors were well aware that their 1948 readers had a limited amount of time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#anAWWYear - March 1948: Fashion

As I'm typing this post, outside it is overcast and drizzly, reminding me that March is the start of autumn.  The Australian Women's Weekly has our back, with Mary Hordern offering up a beautifully illustrated two page feature of coats and other outerwear. Winter coats are an area I've struggled with, because so many long coats make me look very square. I'm rather partial to the hip-length coat - it is called a 'loose jacket' - and its interesting collar. 

Australian Women's Weekly, Mar 27 1948, p 8

This cap and muff in leopard print detail (from the same feature) is a smart set, and I know several people who would adore this!
Australian Women's Weekly, Mar 27 1948, p 9
 Being a plus-size woman, I'm always curious to see what is being offered in the more 'matronly' styles, which while ostensibly aimed at older women also tended to be illustrated as a more solid silhouette. I quite like the shaped yoke detail on the floral frock. Although I'm sad to see that even in 1948 they were putting pockets in the bodice of larger sizes. Please don't.

I'm paying attention to SHOES at the moment as I need more.  While these are rather nice, and I'd love a pair to wear with jeans, I do love the advertisement headline's attempt to appeal to everyone. 

 "Bedggood Mocassina"  advertisement.Australian Women's Weekly, Mar 13 1948, p 13.

This selection contains several I'd wear, particularly the blue ones! Not enough blue patent leather shoes around. I suspect they'd actually make me trip, though, as I'm out of practice wearing any kind of heel.
Australian Women's Weekly, Mar 6 1948, p 14.
One issue of the Women's Weekly from March 1948 is a knitting special, and so my craft post this month will also have fashion in the form of knitted sweaters, so keep an eye out for that next week.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

#anAWWyear - February 1948: Food

For a recipe to catch my eye in this process, I either think it sounds tasty or I'm thinking "WTF, 1940s?" I make mostly the former, and share information about the latter, as making recipes which I don't think will be nice strikes me as a waste of food.

This month, however, I present you with one of three "Ways with Carrots" which I did make, despite some serious doubts.  This is basically diced cooked carrots in the most bland "satay sauce" ever - peanut butter added to a white sauce.
"Creamed With Peanut Butter: Cut cooked carrots into dice. Add 1 tablespoon peanut butter to ½ pint white sauce, and pour over carrots. Top with crumbs, brown lightly in hot oven. Serve as an entree or supper dish."

It looked more appealing in person. Honest.
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 7 1948, p 34.
 I didn't hate this, and the four-year old even ate a few pieces once told it was in peanut butter. My husband was not a fan. While this will never be repeated, it has inspired us make our satay stir fry this week, after a long hiatus, and gives us hope the boy will like it.

I'm trying to make at least one savoury and one sweet recipe, and the illustrated dessert from the 'Stay for Supper' feature in the same issue tempted me to try it - prunes and peach halves on a coconut meringue base.
The dessert I considered, top right.
The whole menu is " frankfurts with tomato-mustard sauce, potato cakes, shredded cabbage,
tomato wedges" and the dessert named "black-eyed susans".
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 7 1948, p 33
But I decided to make something from what I already had in the cupboard, as an activity on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and made the Fruited Scone-Ring  - which isn't even a full recipe, just a partial one with illustrations top and bottom of the reader recipe page of February 28th.
As in the magazine...
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 28 1948, p 34. 
And as made by me and a helpful preschooler., Feb 2018. 
"FRUITED SCONE-RING is simple to make. First step: Roll 8oz. scone dough thinly, spread over 1½ cups mixed dried fruit simmered 2 or 3 minutes with squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon marmalade, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and cooled. Moisten edges, roll to long, thin roll, press ends together to form a ring. Place on greased tray. Using floured scissors, snip nearly through at 1 in. intervals. Turn sections sideways, as illustrated. Bake in hot oven (475deg. F.) 12 to 15 minutes. When cold, top with lemon-flavored icing."
Now I suspect my scone dough (the basic simple scone recipe I've got written in my recipe book and I turn to on many an occasion) wasn't 8oz as there is no way, even had I been able to roll it to my desired thickness and not just to 'preschooler hasn't gotten bored yet' thickness, that my ring would have been as large as the illustrated one. But the basic premise is good. I've usually seen these rolled and then cut completely through, and the rolled sections baked flat, but I liked this better - it came out more scone-like still. The boy helped measure out sultanas and sugar, helped roll the scone dough, helped spread the fruit, and very much enjoyed moistening the dough with the pastry brush, so this gets the child-helper friendly recipe tick of approval. 

This page of reader recipes had a few interesting options actually - I may yet try the Boston Veal with Pineapple - so I think February is a definite win for reader recipes over the magazine's own features, which were largely uninspiring.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#anAWWyear - February 1948: Fashion

Firstly, an apology for the break in posting. I had a struggle getting ready for Christmas, so there went December. After Christmas I had a large work contract to squeeze in before mid-January, the computer was having major issues (and we have since bought a new one, a decision we should have made months ago), and I having a down patch with my health related to my chronic illness. So there went January.  

Jumping back into my #anAWWyear with February, I'm starting as usual with a look over the fashion shown this month.

I was having a conversation just this week with my sister about tartans and plaids and how much we liked them yet didn't have them in our wardrobes, so these two looks - one from an advertisement, one from a feature on film stars - naturally caught my eye. The pairing of the solid top with large-scale plaid skirt works very well, and I also like the slightly more muted brown/greens of these outfits than the stronger blues/blacks/reds of many such prints I see in reproduction vintage skirts.

An Australian Wool Board advertisement.
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 14 1948, p 14. 

The lovely Rita Hayworth.
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 21 1948, p 25.

I don't know who was doing the Vicars Wool fashion sketches in this era - they are signed with what appears to be the initials 'R H' -  but this is yet another one of their drawings which is making me sigh wistfully for the sort of life where I wear such chic outfits. 

That colour!
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 14 1948, p 6.

I don't usually include an entire page from the magazine, but this feature on the 'Versatile Skirt' was worth it. While I've read plenty of advice about combining pieces to make different outfits in vintage papers, they are rarely illustrated in this way. I particularly like that it isn't an obvious 'basic' skirt either, made up on this slightly green yellow colour - I feel that is more effective a display than a navy or black skirt would have been. 

One skirt in many different outfits.
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 21 1948, p 11. 

 The final two selections I've chosen this month are embellishments.  A dress from the Fashion Pattern service has lace trimming its off-the-shoulder neckline, and while neither are ideas I usually like something about this is appealing to me right now. Possibly the squared off ends pinned in front?

This ballerina dress takes 7 yds of fabric for the full-length option.
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 28 1948, p 39.

This feature on beaded embroidery as decoration on clothes has some very nice examples - the embellished over-sized cuffs on the green blouse in the background are striking.
Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 7 1948, p 11. 

A good leap back in, and I'm definitely adding a plaid or tartan skirt to my winter wardrobe wish list!