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Archive for February, 2011

Hello dear readers! I have been woefully negligent with providing updates on the projects and pursuits of the Elle Street Inn. I recently was traveling a bit, and then got a touch of the plague, or flu if you prefer. Have no fear, I’ve not forgotten — and will soon let you enjoy the “After” pictures of the Inn, or my baking list (bread, pasta, &c.).

In the meantime, here is a recent glorious find…

As I was again sniffing round my bookshelf for a tempting read I came upon two fascinating books:

1. Three Short Novels of Dostoevsky, The Double, Notes from the Underground, & The Eternal Husband
2. The Mode in Dress & Home, by Dulcie G. Donovan

The first book will provide some good evening reading, but the second book is a little treasure of a book copyrighted 1935 — and part of my maternal grandfather’s collection. This is a little textbook for high-school girls, on the proper mode of all things dress and home related. After glancing over the table of contents, I immediately realized there was much for me to learn from this little text. The activities have little checks and notes on them, so I imagine this may have belonged to one of my dear great-mama’s who taught school.

I started reading the first few chapters and was delighted to find very practical, yet timeless wisdom. So. I decided to share with you the true art of a clothing budget. In chapter 3, it instructs each girl to assess the total income of the family, divide by the number of the household, and create a budget based on her portion. Here is a sample of that page, note how one must account for clothing owned, needed &c. As well as the percentages allowed for each portion of clothing.

The book recommends that a family household ought to spend no more than 15% on clothing. This little fact provides some hard data to allow us to examine our own budgets. When I was single I spent roughly 6-7% of my net income on clothing (outer clothing, underclothing, footwear, and accessories). Thankfully many of those purchases were wise, and now my clothing expenditures are roughly less than 1% each month. Mind you! The standard of fabulous has not gone down, just the percentage of $$ going out 🙂 As the book recommends, and I do agree, it is vitally important to evaluate the amount of money one chooses to spend on clothing, as well as the types of clothing one is willing to buy.
“A well-planned clothing budget, if carried out successfully, will help you to have more and better clothes for the same amount of money.”

A few tips that aren’t in the book, but I’ve found to work well for me over the years:
1. Have the core staples in your closet, and be willing to spend a decent amount for these items. By staples, I mean something that will stay in style, fit and wear well for at least 2-3 years. For me, this refers to coats, light jackets, skirts, & dress shirts.
2. Spend a very little bit on those delightful trendy items that will be oh-so-fun, and that will steal the compliments at a party or event. For example, a cute shirt that is the seasons color, a scarf or accessory on sale. These are items, that can be easily given away after a season of enjoyment. These are also items that show little or no wear — like a scarf of a sassy pair of shades.

Next chapter is on shopping wisely! Periodically I’ll post a little tid-bit from each chapter.

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Thanks to this flikr friend for a fab pic of the original poster

I know that I regularly allude to my love of the silver screen & vintage films. More often than not I have an old movie or musical on in the background while I sew and create fashion. Over the years I’ve collected a decent amount of old VHS films. In fact my collection of VHS classics (alas, not fabulous enough to ever be DVD’d), prompted my sweetheart to get me a new VCR, just so I could enjoy my favs despite the digital age. However, in addition to the retro classics, I am a huge fan of a really good western. Lucky for me, when I was young my dad introduced me to some of the best westerns of the pack. From Rio Bravo to Stagecoach to the Gunfight at the OK Corral, I loved westerns. When I was in some parts of the now-not-so-wild west, I got to enjoy first hand a bit of the scenes and sounds of the backdrop for some of those dusty tales. One of my all time picks is the 1957 version of Gunfight at the OK Corral, starring two excellent actors, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. It is an excellent story. Clear good law against shifty bad cowboys. Some sweet (and not-so-sweet) women, excellent score by Dimitri Tiomkin, and a riveting opening theme sung by the sunny Frankie Laine. In all honesty, I’ve yet to watch Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, but from what I’ve heard this is still one of the best.

From Wikipedia, thanks friends!

I’ve wondered why this particular event, this gunfight in tombstone, was so memorable. I suppose it was symbolic of the political issues occurring in many small towns in the west (this one just happened to be near an extremely rich silver mine and included an already famous Wyatt Earp). Main issue. Would the west be unruly forever, or would the law have the final say? After watching the film, and reading more of the actual history (sorry friends, the real gun-fight was only 30 seconds, not 8 minutes), it seems that people are divided about the good vs. bad (many sources state, the “murder” of the McLaury’s and wee Billy Clanton). These seem to be punctuated by the sad mention of “little” Billy Clanton’s age…only 19. For real? But the way I see it, that was QUITE old enough to a man in the old west, and no pity is coming from this modern gal, especially if he was toting a gun. There are also reports of guns being lifted off one of the men, making it look like he was shot unarmed. With all the conjecture of modern propriety, seems like history was happy with both the Earps and Halliday. I’ll throw in my lot with the revered history 🙂

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The past few days have been a whirlwind of travel, snow, sisters, skirts, showers, and finally for me, sun!

I am so excited to finally be enjoying some beautiful real live sunshine, as it has been a bit dismal January for the Elle Street Inn. But now! A delightful full-fledged dose of vitamin D.

During the whirlwind, my sisters continued to be my little minions of creativity and cleanliness. We polished the Inn top to bottom in preparation for the shower today! They must have felt like little Cinderella’s. Oh dear. But we did make it a sunny spic & span slice of home, and hopefully a spot full of bunting, festoons and navy blue cheer. After the cleaning frenzy, we made the sweetest little favors. The favorite tea of the sweet couple is “Lady Grey”, and conveniently for us, the Twining’s version is a crisp beautiful blue. These are the raw materials.

For each favor we’d attach a flag & label to each tea-bag with a shiny red staple. Almost forty staples later… Ta-da!

I have to say these are some of the most enjoyable little favs I’ve ever done. I am certainly looking forward to the next time I can use this snaky idea. Imagine what you could do for Valentine’s Day party! Perhaps a Chai or English Breakfast (Red) with a English Afternoon (Pink), tied into little parcels with cream chiffon and a little rosette?

Speaking of Valentines Day. I’ve promised you all some vintage vals. So. Here you are. If I were you…I’d print this out 6 to a page, clip with edged sheers, and hand stitch with pink thread to brown paper. Write a sweet message on the back and throw into a pink envelope.

The Graphics Fairy

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Well, my designer instincts have taken hold once more. I was in the process of making another little lawn skirt, like my other little creation…you may recall. But, I awoke one morning with the dashing idea to add a little buttoned-up-the-back sleeveless top, and make it into a dress. The fabric is so cheery and sweet, it just needed some little buttons or something more vintage than a skirt could afford (even if I did shower it with chiffon hem flowers). This is the fabric that spoke so sweetly early yesterday morning. The accent will literally be a snip and hair of a trim around the collar and cuffs.

Now, here are the updates to a similar dress I found on ModCloth. AND, while I’m at it, let me tell you: If you need anything lively and unique in the clothing dept (to spice up a winter wasteland wardrobe), I would check out MC before I hit up any other store. They have the most superb collection of beautiful clothing & precious decor. (& the store was founded by highschool sweethearts, awww!) Learn more? ModCloth.

So. With the structured inspiration, here are my adaptations. The skirt is already cut and stitched, so I just have snip and whip up a bodice.

…and then of course stitch the two together. Wish me luck.
Oh, and dear friends. It’s only 14 days till Valentines Day! If you’d like to print and snip vintage valentines check back soon 🙂 OR, if you’d like some fabulous new Valentine’s Metro/Tube/Subway Art, check out Aunty’s mod take on it.

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