Latest Posts

Five for Friday: Pet Peeves

A few months ago I shared five things I love (that many people find weird), which started quite an interesting discussion.  And yay, I discovered lots of other people who like sardines!  (mmmm…sardines…and cardboard crackers….)

This week I thought I’d share five of my pet peeves with you: completely random things that I find inordinately annoying/cringe worthy/disgusting:

1) Orange juice.

OK, not orange juice as a whole.  Orange juice is fine if A) it’s being served with breakfast, or B) you’re under 10 years old.   Even then, it’s not the best juice.  Orange juice, however, is NOT fine if you’re at a black tie event and everyone else is walking around with champagne and you ask for something non-alcoholic and they say “Oh, we have orange juice.”

Seriously?  Orange juice?

Is it before noon?  Am I five years old?

No?

Then why are you offering me orange juice?

Orange juice is brightly coloured (thus making it super obvious you are not drinking, which has tons of drawbacks), has pulp, and is incredibly acidic, making it hard to drink more than one glass.  It is NOT a good drink alternative.

There are SO many better non-alcoholic options for drinks.  They make sparkling grape juice exactly for that purpose.  Mineral water is nice.  A really good cordial?  Or better yet, a good cordial in sparkling water (rhubarb and ginger cordial in sparkling water is just about the epitome of drink perfection).  Non alcoholic punch is awesome.  Gingerbeer is perfectly acceptable.  So is lemonade – real or NZ style (as in, Sprite).  Heck, I even drank a Coke at a US Embassy reception because I was so excited that it wasn’t orange juice.  And most of these options are even cheaper than orange juice!

Because orange juice is, for some demented reason (which was definitely not thought up by someone who has ever tried to subsist on orange juice for a 5 hour event where they didn’t even offer plain water!) the non-alcoholic drink of choice at NZ events.  I have been to SO MANY museum receptions, balls, university events, and corporate parties that offer four kinds of wine…and orange juice.

And water, if you are really lucky.

And in the afternoon or evening, when you are all dressed up and probably haven’t been able to have dinner yet, orange juice sucks.  I’ve got about as much respect for a caterer who would serve orange juice as their teetotaller option as I have for a seamstress who doesn’t iron.

2) Centipedes.  

One of my ‘loves’ was spiders.  And it’s true.  I’m pretty much OK with all animals in a general sense – there are individual dogs and goats and horses I don’t like, but on a whole, I’m an animal lover.  Mice are cute and even feral rats, whole gross, don’t make me squeal.  Most creepy crawlies I find cute.

Except centipedes.  Those suckers need to die.

Or at least be banished to an uninhabited island that no human will ever visit*.

I’ve got a personal reason for hating centipedes.  They have them in Hawaii, and I was bit a number of times growing up, all while sleeping.

Do you know what a centipede bite feels like?  Like you’ve been stabbed and hammered and it burns.  For days.  Deep in your flesh.  And you swell, and swell.  And the flesh gets so hot that someone who isn’t expecting it who puts their hand on the area near the bite will pull their hand back as if they had touched a hot iron.  It’s bad.

I’ve got three small, round, white, hard scars on my arms from centipede bites, and muscle and nerve damage above one eye where one bit me on my face.  Most of the time it’s OK, but when I’m really cold or tired or stressed the muscles can’t keep up.  I was pretty philosophical about the first few bites, but after the face incident centipedes and I were over.

* And while I don’t hate them, it would be nice if the centipedes would take all the mosquitos with them to the uninhabited island when they go.

3) Perfume (and stores & airports that force you to smell it)

I don’t like perfume.  Most of it stinks to me, and most of it gives me migraines (and the chance of migraines is enough to discourage me from attempting to find the perfumes I don’t hate, and that don’t cause me migraines).

I know I’m far from the only one, because ‘Ugh, there was this person in the lift/airplane/meeting/bus who smelled like a chemical bomb’ is a pretty common story.  Teaching classes you hear a lot of small talk, and that one comes up a LOT.  As does “I cross the road so I don’t have to walk right in front of Lush” as the invariable follow-up story by another student (get any six random females in Wellington and ask them if they do this and I guarantee at least one of out of six will, every time!).

So it totally confuses me that not only is it socially acceptable to make your smell a public thing (Smells are personal.  They should be private.  Like underwear), but stores seem to think its a good thing.  Department stores put their perfume section right by the front door, so you have to walk through it to do any shopping.  And Wellington airport had this cunning idea to make you walk through the Duty Free perfume section every time you get off an international flight here.  I have to walk through with a scarf wrapped around my face and my inhaler clutched in my hand – just in case.

Gross.

I’d rather walk through the laundry while all the airport staff washed their underwear.

4) First person bios

All conference/magazine bios should be written in third person.  I just cringe when I’m at a conference or reading a magazine and the bios are in first person.  It just seems so amateur & unprofessional.  First person is for interview answers, memoirs, and blogs (which are basically just incredibly recent memoirs).  Otherwise first person bios are dorky and amateur.

5) Ummm…well…I’m out!  

There are quite a few more things that I dislike, but none obvious enough to make the list.  You can fill one in for me 😉

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com08

Hallelujah textiles: A 1930s Hawaiian playsuit

Do you collect vintage or historical textiles?

If you do, you know there are the things on your wish list that you search for, and save up for, and eventually manage to get.  And then there are the things that are so rare, and amazing, and desirable that whenever they do show up for sale they are so ridiculously beyond your price range that it’s not possible.  Or the things that just never show up, because they were SO rare in the first place.

I tend to collect more by chance than design.  I don’t love shopping on the internet, which limits my options a lot, and I like the thrill of finding something unexpected at an op-shop or antique store.  And I like the unexpected stories that develop out of a less-planned collection.

Still, there are some things that I desperately hope that one day I’ll get to love and care for and study.  My holy grails.  My ultimate wish list.  Hallelujah textiles.  I was lucky enough to be gifted an amazing quilted petticoat by the amazing Lynne: that was one.  And one day I will cave and brave the internet and buy myself a 19th century kashmiri shawl.  But I never, ever, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d become the owner of a 1930s Hawaiian playsuit.

Especially not one as AMAZING as this.

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com03

(hyperventilating with amazingness)

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com05

(1930s or possibly ’40s using an earlier pattern)

1930s playsuits are incredibly rare to start with.  Unlike fancy ‘occasion’ clothes they tended to be worn over and over again.  They were worn for doing things: walks, sports, outdoor chores, gardening.  They were mostly the provenance of young people, and we tend to take less care of our clothes.  And they were made from light cotton fabrics to start with.  So they wore out.  So there aren’t that many ’30s playsuits around compared to say, evening dresses.

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com10And Hawaiian/Pacific/Exotic stuff is incredibly desirable at the moment, since everyone has decided they have to have their own collection of Shaheen’s and Aloha shirts, whether they have any collection to the islands or not (grrrr).

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com04 And ’30s Hawaiian & Pacific stuff is rarest of all, because Hawaiian tourism was just taking off, and the Pacific print & clothing industry was in its infancy, just beginning to move away from ready-made Japanese or American textiles, and into their own print development.

This particular playsuit isn’t actually Hawaiian, because it belonged to a Kiwi woman, the aunt of the woman I visited in Tauranga.  The owner did have a connection to the islands though – she was born in Rarotonga, as her father was working there.

The playsuit was made in NZ, and the fabric could have been Hawaiian, or NZ, or Tahitian, or from somewhere else.

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com11

 

The print is quite amazing.  It’s a bit Frank Macintosh, a bit Eric Gill, a bit Gauguin, a bit Eugene Francis Savage.  It’s also so amazing and unlike anything I’ve seen before that I’d almost think it was much later, except that the provenance is so good, and the cut and construction of the playsuit is so spot-on 1930s/early ’40s (and so unlike the construction of the ’50s & ’60s garments I saw by the same seamstress).

Check out those buttons:

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com07The top one actually buttons, and the others cover hooks and loop fastenings.

Hand-worked buttonhole:

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com1

 

And the back view:

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com02

 

Swoon!

It is in pretty poor condition (you can see all the age staining) and has been well worn and loved. At some point the back darts were much bigger and took in the waistband as well, and they have been let out, revealing the (more) original colours of the fabric.

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com09

 

I have to decide how much, if any, work I want to do to improve the aesthetic condition of the playsuit.  I want it as a study piece (well, let’s be realistic: to look at and love and pet and coo over), so keeping it as safe and robust as possible is much more important than doing anything to improve the aesthetic which might weaken it in the long term.

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com08

 

Oh happiness!

1930s Hawaiian playsuit thedreamstress.com06

Rate the Dress: a 16th century lady in pink

Last week I showed you a 1920s dress in aqua and gold lace with velvet poppies trim, and you DID NOT LIKE IT. Ok, a rare few of you loved it, but most of you didn’t: you had trouble envisioning it as it would have been worn in the ’20s (yes, it would have had a slip, almost certainly in a slightly paler shade of aqua), you found the poppies too heavy and clashing, and didn’t like the transition from lace to satin.  For general dislike, the dress came in at an extremely disappointing 4.7 out of 10.

This week to make it easy to visualise the whole picture, here is a whole picture:

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century

We don’t know who the artist of this portrait is, or who the subject is, but the portrait does give us all the details of her ivory and pink dress.

The dress features heavy ivory overskirts, lined in carnation pink, with border of brocaded patterned trim that extend up on to the bodice in stripes.  The same fabric forms slashed shoulder wings

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century (detail)

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century (detail)

The separate sleeves are probably made from the same heavy silk satin as the skirt, but with delicate pinked slashing, narrow gold braid, and fine blonde lace trim around the wrists.

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century (detail)

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century (detail)

Around her waist she wears a gold belt.  Further gold chains hang around her neck, and gold buttons fasten her under-bodice.

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century (detail)

Portrait of a Lady, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, 16th century (detail)

She wears a string of baroque pearls around her neck, and her hair is drawn back simply from her face, with a fillet of pearls sitting high on the crown of her head.

Whoever the sitter was, she was clearly wealthy: her dress and jewellery would have been extremely expensive, and the portrait is quite the status piece.

What do you think of the unknown lady and her ensemble?  Has she pulled of the perfect blondes in pink look?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10