Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Part Two: Chicago Vintage Shops and What I Bought

After visiting the Edgewater Antique Mall in Chicago, my mom and I went to BAM (or the Broadway Antique Mall) which is on Broadway in Chicago. This is a two-story store, and again, it features booths from various sellers. My first impression of this store, compared to the Edgewater Antique Mall, was that it was not as chock-full of small stuff, but rather had a more restrained collection of larger items. This may or may not be actually true, but it felt less crowded and more formal. After a few minutes of browsing, we also noticed that the prices seemed to be quite a bit higher. I was hard pressed to find any furniture for under $900. This store definitely had some cool stuff in it, but it wasn't as much fun to explore. Here are some of the most interesting things we saw:
Gorgeous mirrored vanity table with lucite-type handles. Matching chair had potential to be awesome but the upholstery was ugly.

Funky upper arm bracelet formed to look like a snake. Unleash your inner Cleopatra!

I had a love/hate relationship with this combo wardrobe/dressing table. On the one hand, the fabrication and material used seemed really cheap ....
But on the other hand, the design was so cool! There was a space for hanging clothing, and a space for make-up, etc. with a fold out stool and a mirror. In my dreams, I would have it recreated in a quality natural wood, instead of the thin and ugly fake wood they used.
More rams for my Aries self. Mid-century pottery dish. Apparently signs of the zodiac were popular motifs back then?

Mid-century Modern Nail Art Wall Hanging

Tramp Art-style Spice Drawers

Large hooked rug wall hanging. Very Cool!!!
I am so in love with all of these things. First off, there is this sunshine-y yellow picnic set. There are no identifying marks on it, other than to say it was made in Mexico. It comes with cutlery, plates, and two sizes of bowls. The carrying case comes apart into two serving dishes. I wonder if the two holes on the top used to hold salt and pepper shakers, or if they are simply finger holes to help pull the case apart. In any case, I adore it and hope to use it soon for a picnic. This was $30.

My next purchase (for only $12.99!!!!!) is in a totally different style, but I think it's so cool! It's a black lacquer Japanese wooden music box and jewelry holder. It was so cheap, I think, because the music box part doesn't work, and it is missing one of the tiny brass nails that hold the hinges on (does anyone know where I can get a replacement tiny brass nail?). But regardless, it is still so charming. The insides of the drawers are lined in hot pink velvety fabric. The little doll is surrounded by mirrors. Her expression and demeanor are pure pathos. It's so sweet! The black wooden exterior is handpainted, and also decorated with iridescent chips of abalone shell. Knowing what I know about the way items from Japan are marked, I would guess it was from the late 1950s or 1960s.

Love the painted scenes, the gold thread tassel, and the sad little doll.
How cute are these?!!! A couple of people have suggested they are Christmas glasses, because of the bells. But I will use them all year long because the colors of baby pink, black and gold don't seem very Christmas-y to me. Set of 6 tall, slim milk glass drinking glasses: $36.
And my last purchase is the one I have been using non-stop since I bought it. I washed it in hot water a few times but it still smells slightly like some old lady's perfume. But I am getting used to it. I love it so much and use it as a tv-watching blanket while crashed on my sofa at night. It is the kind of over-the-top girly girl item I just adore! 
I think it's a cotton/poly blend, and it's definitely machine quilted. My guess is 1960s or early 1970s? This was only $25 and it's in perfect condition, except for a few loose strings.

And last, but not least .... I did not get this item at the vintage stores, but I think it's super fun and wanted to share it:
Found at Lowe's. Wish it came in more colors.
This giant twist tie can be added to the list of things I didn't know I desperately needed, but now can't imagine life without! The package came with TWO of these fabulous items. So far, I have not used it for anything particularly useful but have been playing with it non-stop. It's one of those things that are great to fidget with when bored. But according to the package, the GearTie can be used to secure your folded blankets, wrap up your patio umbrellas, or hang your lantern from your clothesline!! Yay! No more lanterns on the floor, ever again! Life it good!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My First Time: Making a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) on a Camisole Pattern

I've been sewing my own clothes since I was in high school (a long time ago now), but sometimes I feel like my skills have not progressed very much, and I'm in a point of stasis, stuck at mediocre. However, I recently happened across a sewing blog that talked about the "Full Bust Adjustment" and although I now vaguely remember doing something similar way back in fashion design school, apparently it had been erased from my conscious memory. So this is why none of the tops I sew seem to fit me satisfactorily! I thought they were just poorly designed patterns or that my body shape was too unusual to fit any commercial patterns. That's the fatalist, nothing's-ever-perfect side of my personality peeking through.

For those sewists that haven't heard of it, the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) is a pattern adjusting technique for any woman who is larger than a B cup. Commercial pattern makers assume that the average woman is a B cup, and patterns are created with this assumption in mind. But if, for instance, your bust measurement is 45" and you choose a pattern sized for that bust measurement, it may be too big for you in the armholes, neckline, shoulder width, etc., if you are a C cup or greater. So the trick for a better fitting top is to measure your high bust (the tape measure is pulled tight around your chest just under your armpits), and use the pattern size that corresponds to that measurement. I was about to make a summer sundress in a neat navy and white tropical print, but have had trouble in the past with this type of top fitting well. It's usually too short to fit over my bust, but then too loose at the side seams and gaping.

I won't detail the process because there are so many other websites that do a great job with that. For instance, check out these two:
Sewing Lingerie Myself

Sew Sew Sew Your Boat

But suffice to say, that I am pleased with the final outcome on this sundress. I could have added even a little more length in the bust area, as it's still a little short (and on an unrelated note, the straps are too long on my shoulders). But overall, it's a good fit. Here is the finished garment, and below that, a picture of the second full bust adjustment I did, with even better results.

Full disclosure: I am not this slim. I had to pin the dress on my size 12 mannequin to make it fit.
For this dress, I used a gorgeous galaxy print woven cotton. I was going to make a hem that dipped in the back, but chickened out and went more conservative. I haven't worn this yet, but the fit is amazing. Very fitted in the chest area, which makes it very flattering, just right in the waist, comfortable in the hips. Also like that this is not too low cut, so it could be worn for work or family get-togethers. Shout out and thank you to all the sewing bloggers who have put up their FBA techniques to share with everyone and help me advance to a slightly higher level of sewing competence.
Galaxy print cotton dress.
This is the pattern I used.

Chicago Thrift Store Gems

While I was looking after my mom, post-shoulder surgery (hers, not mine), we decided to go to some thrift stores. The day was pretty fun (except for a fight we had, mid-day) and I scored some finds that I am totally in love with.

We went to two stores on the north side of Chicago, that I found off of a list published about the best Chicago thrift stores:
Best Chicago Vintage Stores

I had never been to either one so it was an adventure. They are close to each other in the Edgewater neighborhood. The first one we visited was the Edgewater Antique Mall.

I love this one and can't wait to go back. It is one of those indoor antique "malls" that is not really a mall, but a collection of stalls from various dealers. On the day we went, they were having an automatic 10% off everything over $30 sale. On other days, you can try bargaining for a lower price. My mom and I were not looking for anything in particular, but she has just recently bought a new house and wants to furnish it "country style." I was hoping not to buy anything, but to be honest, I was open to falling in love with something. Additionally, I was on the look-out for cool Mid-Century Modern stuff that my brother might like. That is his current obsession, and he is particularly looking for garden sculptures in that style, (which we did not find). I don't even know if they exist, at least in the price range a typical homeowner can afford. But anyway, here are some of the pictures of cool MCM stuff I found:
Look at this amazing console we found!

Both ends open outward!
This piece was pretty amazing. It seems very unusual to me, with the panels of relief carving and the ends opening out for more storage. I'm not exactly sure what this chest was used for - maybe dining room storage? The seller did not even have a price on it. Apparently, he is doing research on it to find out it's value. I fell in love!
Fun metal Don Quixote sculpture!
I just finished reading an amazing translation of Don Quixote so I am currently in love with all things Quixotic. This knick knack was reasonably priced, and I am thinking of going back for it. I might start a little statue collection: maybe three to five pieces. That would make an awesome display. Of course, according to my "one-thing-in-two-things-out" rule, that would mean getting rid of more stuff. What should go next?
Adorable china!

 Check out this sweet set of china. I so wish I could justify this purchase as it is just too cute for words! Love the colors, the patterns and the interesting shapes of all the pieces. It was pretty pricey, though.
Two blue candlesticks
 These would fit in the shabby chic, or kitchy cottage mode of decor. They are the sweetest shade of sky blue ceramic, with a romantic raised pattern. I think I need these!
Someone painted this bright red.
 Another sweet little bit of shabby cottage cuteness. If I bought it, I might even stencil on some woodland flowers and toadstools. It reminds me of something you might see in Red Riding Hood's grandmother's cottage.
50s style retro dinette set.
 I am jonesing over this one, for sure. It is so well designed! Yellow Formica-type top, chrome legs, and vinyl upholstered stools that hang fitted into slots under the table. Plus casters on the legs! I wish I had room to add this to my kitchen! My little white kitchen table from Ikea is looking sadder and sadder, compared to this!
Super duper gaudiness!
 Fun chandelier that my mom was thinking of buying. The price was really good, but she couldn't pull the trigger. I wish she had snapped it up, because her house so far is looking pretty vanilla, and it definitely could do with some gold-tone filigree and plastic iridescent crystal goodness!

Scandinavian Ram
 I'm an Aries, so I should have this. But the price - nope. Can't do it. (Sad face).

Funky, new-made, vinyl wallet and dotted shades. 

 Mmm, yes, please! I didn't bite on this one, but I might go back for them if they go on sale.

A ginormous collection of vintage ViewMaster reels. I loved these as a kid, and still do. I couldn't believe the selection. I spotted these just before my mom and I got in a fight at the store, so I didn't have the energy to go fishing through them, but I want to go back. I wonder if these old ones fit the modern ViewMaster I have in my basement?

Those are all my photos from the Edgewater Antique Mall. Check out the next blog post for Part 2 at the Broadway Antique Mall, when I will reveal my fabulous purchases!