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When I was little I always wanted to wear a matching mother, daughter outfit.

It only took two decades, and me making it, but now I finally got to live out that childhood dream.

Mum and I in matching blouses

That’s Mum and I, both in our ‘Aloha ka Manini’ blouses.  Her’s is two years older than mine: it’s good to see the fabric holds up so well!

The ‘Deco Mermaid’ beach pyjamas

Remember the ‘Deco Echo’ blouse I made back in February? You may even remember the pants I was wearing with it as a 1930s beach pyjama set.  I didn’t tell you about them, because, well, they weren’t actually finished.  And by not actually finished I mean ‘something that I’m terribly ashamed to admit was held on with safety pins’.

Yeah. I confess. I was so rushed in the run-up to Art Deco weekend that I didn’t manage to get the everything remotely properly finished, and the pants were one of the items that were terribly put together, terribly badly finished, and just not OK. (see example below)

But with a 20s/30s challenge coming up on the Sew Weekly and a trip home to Hawai’i I had the perfect opportunity to actually make my beach pyjama pants properly.

My inspiration for the garment and the look was the beach pyjamas that were so popular at beach resorts in the 1920s & 30s. They are such an elegant, practical garment, but not what we usually expect from 20s & 30s fashion.

Beach pyjamas on the Cote D’Azure, colourized postcard, 1930s

Beach pyjamas at Nice, colourized postcard, 1930s

My first set of beach pyjama bottoms went wrong because of an under-abundance of time and an over-abundance of engineering. I tried to include a high-waisted un-darted yolk with piping trim, side pockets, a fancy side placket fastening, period-accurate hook fastenings, a symmetrical, direction print,and french seams all into one garment. I also used the wrong interfacing because I didn’t have the right stuff to hand. Not surprisingly (like the camel with too many straws) the pants rebelled.

The yoke didn’t sit right on my bottom and gaped around my waist, the piping had to be re-done a half dozen times to be symmetrical, the yoke-facing ended up only facing half the yoke, the pockets gaped and getting them to meet the french seams was a nightmare, and the placket was a ridiculous mess. It needed fixing.

For my re-make I took the pants apart apart, ditched the pockets and the fancy side placket, set sun-burst darts into my yoke to make it sit properly on my way-curvier than the ’30s ideal bottom, re-did the yoke facing and a lot of the piping, and re-set the whole thing with a nice, simple, still-period-accurate side fastening.

Whew! Much better! I’m now proud to wear these, and they are a joy to wear. So light and comfortable in the Hawaiian summer, while still looking elegant and dressed up.

Isn’t the fabric fabulous? It turned up at a fabric sale in NZ, and I immediately snapped it up with Art Deco visions dancing in front of my eyes. I wish I’d got more! The print reminds me of scales from a distance – hence the ‘Deco Mermaid’ title.  And it’s a delicious 100% cotton light, draping sateen.  So unusual, but utterly luscious to wear.

Unfortunately my pants still have two problems – I got turned around sewing the hooks and loops into the placket, and I sewed them on to the wrong sides (hooks to back, loops to front instead of the other way around). Gah! I’m going to have to re-do that.

On the bright side, I need to show you where I sat to sew the unfortunately facing hooks and eyes:

It almost makes it all better, doesn’t it?  😉 Those are the woods around my parents house: not landscaped or anything.  The dress I’m wearing in that picture is one I made when I was about 14.  It still fits!

The other problem is that the pants simply don’t fit. I took these photos after two weeks in Hawaii, eating my parents incredibly healthy diet, and running around doing farm chores every day. I’ve dropped a full size. I’m not sure if I want to fix that 😉

The photos were taken by my Mum at ‘the Cove’, a little beach just a 10 minute walk from the family farm.  It’s where we always go to swim, because while it isn’t as big or pretty as other nearby beaches, it has the nicest swimming – it’s deep and sandy.

I wanted to capture both my island as it is now, and the sense of old Hawaiian postcards in my images. The latter was inadvertently helped by my Mum – she forgot her glasses so couldn’t see if the photos she was taking were in focus!

Sigh.  Just looking at these makes me homesick again.  It was the most amazing trip, and it’s good to be home, but I still miss Hawai’i dreadfully.  I can’t have both!


Mark your Calendars! Steampunk and Tea coming up

Mark your calendars and plan your trips to Wellington dear readers, because in addition to all the fabulous classes I’m teaching, there are some exciting events coming up for me in the next few months.

First, on the weekend of October 13, Wellington is having its very first steampunk convention ever: AetherCon.

In addition to workshops and fashion shows and contests and exhibitors and lots of other fun stuff, I’m going to be giving a talk on the intersections of Steampunk and history.  I’ll be talking about the fashion tropes, where they come from, some real people behind the personas and lots of other fun stuff.

And away she floated, clinging on to the hanging rope of her dirigible

And then, of course, there is a Steampunk ball!  Swoon!

Moving to the end of October, from the 25-28th of Oct, Full Swing is hosting Wellington’s annual Swing ball (and workshops and competitions and vintage shopping tours and other fun stuff): Windy Lindy.

Dancing the night away at Windy Lindy 2010

This year’s theme is Blitz Ball, so it’s the perfect opportunity to dig out your best ’40s gear!

Don’t have the perfect ’40s dress?  Well, you’re in luck, because starting Oct 11 I’ll be teaching a ’40s sewing class!  And, of course, I own all sorts of delicious ’40s patterns.

Finally, on November the 25th I’ll be doing my Afternoon Tea talk again, this time in cooperation with Altrusa Wellington as a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.  It won’t be at the Prime Ministers residence (boo), but it will be on a Saturday in the CBD at Capital E, making it much easier for lots of you to attend!

Before afternoon tea

Hope to see some of you Wellingtonian’s at one or more of these, and for those of you who live further afield, I’ll make it to your neck of the woods one-day!