All posts filed under: Reviews: resources, books, museums

Friday Reads: A Star Danced

This book was another of my ‘cheap, old, in-an-op-shop and with an interesting title’ discoveries.  I’ve learned a little bit since My Theodosia and I take the time to read a few pages before buying a book now. The intro to A Star Danced sold me immediately: CB Cochran!  1911 theatre productions!  Over-blown language!  I’m so there! I also realised when reading the introduction that I actually know who Gertrude Lawrence is – one of the generation of pre-WWII British actresses who, because they never made it to Hollywood, have faded into sadly underserved obscurity in recent years. In her own day Gertrude Lawrence was the ‘brightest star’ (as the phrase goes) of the London theatre scene, close friends with Noel Coward, and a smashing success on Broadway.  A Star Danced is her autobiography, tracing her life from less-than-conventional childhood to international stardom. Celebrity autobiographies are always a bit hit and miss, but either Gertrude had a lot of help or she could sing, dance, act AND write, because the book is unfailingly interesting and …

Friday Review: Fitzroy Gardens & Cooks Cottage

While I was in Melbourne I stayed just a few blocks from the famous Fitzroy Gardens, and everyone told me that I simply must go visit Cooks’ Cottage “where Captain Cook was born.” Exciting!  An 18th century house in Australia, and one so closely linked to one of the most famous and influential explorers ever. Wait, what? Captain Cook wasn’t born in Australia! And there weren’t European settlements in Australia until the 1780s!  How could there be a proper stone cottage from 1750? The answer is sad and prosaic. The cottage was built in 1750, but not in its current location.  It was built by Cook’s parents in England, sold in the 1930s, bought by a wealthy Australian, transported stone by stone to Melbourne, and re-assembled. So really, it’s only kinda an 18th century cottage. Darn. And the news gets worse. Despite what everyone in Melbourne (with the exception of the cottage staff) will tell you, Captain Cook wasn’t born in the cottage.  It was built by his parents, but it was built when he …

Review: Folkwear #210 Armistice Blouse

In designing costumes for the Home Show, I consulted hundreds of photographs of New Zealanders during WWI, and noticed that many women were wearing blouses similar to the classic 1910s blouse pattern: Folkwear #210, the Armistice Blouse.  I’ve had this pattern for years, but never used it.  Perfect opportunity to make it up for Maggie! (apologies in advance for the dreadful photographs of the pattern.  I spent all day hunting for it, and finally found it once the light was gone.  I’ll take better ones tomorrow and replace them) What it is: A pattern based on blouses from 1915-1919.  It’s not clear if the pattern is based on an extent blouse, extent patterns, or just a sampling of the most common blouse characteristics from this period, though I really suspect from making it up that it isn’t 100% historically accurate. It comes with options for a drawn-thread-work front, or a pintucked front, and for lace trim. My version: My version is made of a hard-wearing, washable black silk with a slight slub (I made Mr …