Swing Jam at the Rendezvous – 1938

I recently looked through some of my photo files, and found a cool photo I hadn’t shown you!
This photo comes from the 1938 LOOK Magazine spread about the Rendezvous Ballroom (posted here), and it shows a dance jam. Roy Damron is the guy in the middle doing the splits, and a couple of his friends are in the crowd. And do you recognize the couple dancing in the upper right (white jacket, white dress)? That’s none other than Hal & Betty Takier! Oh, what I’d give for a little video footage of this jam. :)
Photo from LOOK Magazine – August 30, 1938

Dustbowl Jeans – HSF #5 (Peasants and Pioneers)

Last week I finished my entry for the Historical Sew Fortnightly #5 – I’m falling further and further behind! Whoops. I’m taking off for the next couple challenges, maybe I’ll catch up then. Or not. 😉 Either way, I’m still glad to be part of this group because it’s helping me focus on certain projects that have been in the works for way too long!

This entry is inspired by the 1930’s Dust Bowl, which seemed to be a popular theme for this task. I’ve been wanting some vintage-y jeans for a long time and did the pattern work for these last summer, and I plan on living in them until they’re in tatters (which will make them even more “authentic” ;). For this outfit,  I paired them with a feedstack print top for a good 30’s look.

The Challenge: #5 Peasants and Pioneers – As wonderful as making pretty, pretty princess dresses is, the vast majority of people have always been poor commoners, whether they were peasants working the land, servants in big houses, or (later), pioneers carving their own space in new lands. This fortnight let’s make something that celebrates the common man.

Fabric: Lightweight Denim

Pattern: Wearing History’s Smooth Sailing Trousers – modified to be flat-front, and added patch pockets front and back

Year: mid-1930’s

Notions: Thread (blue and contrast yellow), metal zipper

How Historically Accurate is it: More “inspired” than accurate – a few women wore trousers in the 30’s, but jeans like this were really still menswear. The fit is altered to have a higher crotch (not period correct, but much better for movement.) And I used a metal zip instead of my standard invisible, but a button placket would be even better.

Hours to Complete: Maybe 3 for patterning, 10 for sewing & fitting, and 4 for redoing the back pockets several times. So at least 17, and that’s a conservative estimate.

First Worn: Dancing at Atomic Ballroom last Friday

Total Cost: ~$20 for fabric, $5 for thread and zipper


Regency Reticule – HSF #4 (Embellish)

I’m racing to the finish with this challenge, slipping in this blog post at the 11th hour! I’ll try to do better with my next one. For the Embellish challenge, I decided to finish an embroidery Regency reticule (drawstring purse) that I started at Costume College 2011. (Soon you’ll start noticing a theme with my HSF projects – I’m trying to use as many UnFinished Objects as possible!)

I love this project – I had wanted to learn embroidery for a long time but never found a book I liked on it, so when Beginning Embroidery was offered as a class at CoCo, I jumped at it. The purse is cute and easy to make, I love the off-white and green, and I’m a sucker for initials.

I embroidered both side of the purse so that I could have more practice with the stitches, and I think that was good – it wasn’t until halfway through the second side that I could pick up the project and start right in with the handstitching, my hands remembering what to do on their own.

The Challenge: #4 Embellish – Decorations make the historical garment glorious. Whether you use embroidery, trim, pleating, lace, buttons, bows, applique, quilting, jewels, fringe, or any other form of embellishment, this challenge is all about decorative detail.

Fabric: Silk Dupioni

Pattern: Embroidered Regency Reticule: A Kit for Beginners by Catherine Scholar

Year: 1810-1815

Notions: Embroidery floss, Tassels, Cording

How Historically Accurate is it: Good enough for me! As far as I know, slubby silk dupioni was considered inferior quality at this time, but I think it existed. I think the trim has rayon and/or poly, and the bag itself is 100% machine sewn – EVEN the one visible seam. (*gasp*)

Hours to Complete: Many good hours spent in front of the tv, 2 or 3 to make the bag.

First Worn: Maybe I’ll use it at Costume College this year? No other Regency events on my horizon.

Total Cost: The class and kit was $20 or less (can’t remember) — a STEAL!


The Great LA Air Raid – 2013

Forgive me as I’m still catching up on events from last month! February was a short month, but a busy one. A couple weeks ago we attended my favorite event of the whole year – the Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942 at Ft. MacArthur. As you can see from the line up of sunglasses below, this year was especially gorgeous – I didn’t even wear my 1938 coat because it was so warm, darn it.
I wore an oldie but a goodie – I made my dress a few years ago for the Air Raid, and I think I’ve worn it at least 3 times to the event but never got any really good photos. It’s wool crepe with long sleeves, so it keeps me warm on the beach in February, but is too warm to wear to anything else.
I had a bit of a panic attack over my hair, which is too short and cut wrong for 40’s (First World Problems, I know). I got a beret, slapped some feathers and a brooch on it, and did some curl fluff around the ears – turned out rather okay! whew.
Rachel, Ashley, Lauren, me, Cait, Rusty
Overlooking the Bluff

With Cait

Michael and Cait – I had more fun editing this photo than any others. Aren’t they smashing?
the always adorable Rachel
This star was only about 2 feet off the ground, so getting the photo was pretty funny. :) The boys nearby thought I was crazy when I announced I “needed a picture with my head in the star”.
Another Los Angeles landmark, the Griffith Observatory.

Me and Netta

Katharina www.Facebook.com/GoForKatMakeup
Jealous…that’s all I got… 😉
Chris was running around, getting ready for a dance performance, 
but I grabbed him for a couple photos throughout the event
5pm Flyover
Morgan in his grandfather’s uniform

with Sharlene and Heather, a couple of my amazing dance girlfriends
Before and After
View from the Dance Floor

Rocky Mountain Balboa Blowout 2013

After years of not traveling further than San Francisco, all of a sudden last year Chris and I decided to leave our bubble and start traveling to dance events – I left one job with over 2 weeks of vacation time saved up and realized that not using it was the dumbest thing ever (yes, they paid me out, but it wasn’t worth it). We’ve been invited to teach at several out-of-state events in this last year, and we love teaching, meeting new people and seeing a few sights, so we’re trying to take advantage of as many opportunities as we can. And now that we’re meeting people who live all over the world, we need to keep traveling so that we can see (and dance!) with them.

Last weekend we went to snowy Denver for Rocky Mountain Balboa Blowout. Now, Chris and I were both born and raised in Southern California, and we are NOT built for snow. I went to college in Iowa, but that was 10 years ago now (yikes!) and it was a small town and small campus so I didn’t have to deal with a car. So of course the first time we venture out to Denver, the town is hit with the biggest snowstorm of the season!

We were prepared for cold weather, but I forgot how darn WET snow is. I SO did not bring the right shoes – I only had one pair of flats with me. 7-Eleven bags to the rescue!

But that said, we still had a great time! RMBB is a fab event – we always had it on our list of events to go to, sooner or later. The music is great, the venues are pretty, and good/NICE dancers always turn out. We taught two classes (advanced Balboa and LA Lindy Hop) and I was in 2 contests – just the right amount of obligations for a fun weekend away. (Teaching and competing *are* fun, but sometimes you don’t want to keep an eye on the clock.)

Here is video footage from the two contests I was in – enjoy!

Open Strictly Balboa – 
Chris & Beth, 1st Place
(For my family members who only want to watch our spotlight, that starts at 9:52 😉

Invitational Jack & Jill –
randomly paired with Andreas Olsen, from Sweden, whom I met only the previous night!
(Andreas and my spotlight starts at 5:08)

Big thanks to David Bradford for the video footage and for the great dance we had! :)


Cal Bal Classic 2013

The weekend before last was the California Balboa Classic, a new Balboa event in Los Angeles with classes and dances. Originally intended as a small event for locals, word about this one spread like wildfire and the workshops sold out within a week or two, even after an entire extra class track was added! And people even flew in from other states! I’m SO excited about this new event – I’ve felt for a long time that LA needs a dedicated Balboa event, and I’m so glad that the response was so good.

Like the hams we are, Chris and I entered the Open Balboa and Swing contest – “Balboa” and “Swing” here referring to their 1930s & 40s meanings where Balboa was only closed (chest-to-chest) position, and Swing is anything that separates from your partner.  I had a TON of fun with this contest – there were several rounds where we were told to demonstrate musicality, showmanship, etc. A lot of Balboa contests tend to emphasize one end of the spectrum or the other, but it was nice to have both in this one.  I just hope it didn’t go on too long for the audience!

Here are the videos I could find – they’re linked from Facebook instead of YouTube, so I hope they work for you.

Open Balboa & Swing Classic Finals – Warm-up

Open Balboa & Swing Classic Finals – Chris & Beth Spotlight

Open Balboa & Swing Classic Finals – Fast Battle

And finally, Chris and I got to take home these GORGEOUS glass trophies! First Place, and the couple featured in the photo are 2 of our dance heroes, Hal and Betty. We stole several of their moves for the Fast Battle, and I will proudly display this in honor of them and all of our old-timers.


A "1938" Coat – HSF #2 (UFO)

Here’s my first entry for the Historical Sew Fortnightly! It’s a couple days late and there’s no fancy photoshoot because I’ve got a cold right now. Looking at the challenges, I think I’m going participate in about half of them and turn it into an Historical Sew Monthly – that pace will work better for me and the projects I want to complete.

Nearly 2 years ago I bought a vintage coat with a ripped and shattering lining. I HATE repairs and alterations, so it’s a sign of how much I love this coat that I was willing to work on it – except that I stopped right before it was done! The project stalled out in Fall 2011, with basically only the buttons and hems to go.

Originally I estimated this coat to be from 1939/40 and I was going to fudge it into this challenge (supposed to be 1938 or earlier), but then I came across this page of overcoats from the Sears 1938 catalog – the navy one has the same details as mine (wide lapels, princess seams, sleeve cap darts), so I definitely think my coat could be from 1938!

The old lining was shredding, so I carefully removed it and traced it off to make a new pattern. I referenced Easy Guide to Sewing Linings for this bit, and even though the process is fairly self-explanatory, the book had some good tips that made the project easier. I also handmade new shoulder pads and had it cleaned and pressed before inserting the new lining.

Outside View – the part I didn’t make. :)
Inside View – the part I made!

The Challenge: #2 UFO (UnFinished Object)

Fabric: Burgundy Rayon Satin for the replacement lining

Pattern: Traced off the original coat lining

Year: 1938-ish 😉

Notions: Handmade shoulder pads, replacement buttons, hem tape, thread

How Historically Accurate: Nearly 100%! It helps that I could use a machine and had the original to copy. The only thing that would have been more accurate would be rayon hem tape instead of polyester.

Hours to Complete: Maybe 60 total, about 8 hours for this challenge. I’m super slow!

First Planned Wearing: Saturday February 26, 2013 to the Great LA Air Raid

Total Cost: About $30, not including the purchase of the coat


Sewing Room

Last weekend I deep cleaned my sewing room, and wanted to snap a few photos since it won’t stay like this for long! I try to only keep my current projects out, and I only have a little room for storage in this room. Most of my books and vintage patterns are in the living room, and my main fabric stash is in plastic bins in the garage. Grandma’s sewing machine is in the living room too, along with my folding cutting table. Sheesh, that sounds like a LOT when I list it out.
My sewing table is an Ikea Expedit bookcase and desk, and I LOVE it. My overlock fits perfectly in one of the lower cubbies. These windows get beautiful morning light, but unfortunately I don’t usually get to enjoy it. And have I introduced my dress form? Her name is Beatrice.
Charlie Cat says, “Don’t forget to show them your hem gauge and pressing supplies!”
The ironing board stays out all the time, so those tools get stashed underneath. 
Sleeve boards and tailors hams can be pricey, make sure to use a Jo-Ann’s coupon to buy them.
A few reference books are close at hand, but my vintage pattern and sewing books 
live in a bookcase with glass doors to keep the dust out.
This elfa storage unit was way overpriced, but it’s perfect for my needs. Interfacing in the top drawer, then cone thread, and 2 drawers of fabric that I plan to use soon.
Now it’s time to get to work and mess this place up!

Lindy Focus XI – Balboa Comps

We’re in our final day at Lindy Focus in Asheville, NC and getting ready for the New Year’s Eve party tonight. (I’m trying mobile blogging, so hopefully the formatting isn’t all wonky!) Chris and I are having a blast – we’ve done a couple contests, dancing a bit part in the show tonight, and I took my first burlesque class ever (from Sharon Davis/”Bonnie Fox” (if you look her up on YouTube, please note it’s NSFW!!)) I actually took the night off from dancing last night because I was so tired – I know I missed some great music and dancing, but I’m feeling WAY more human today. :)

My dad emailed me last night that he found some YouTube footage up from the weekend already – here’s a clip of Chris and me dancing in the Balboa Jack & Jill – in J&J contests you’re paired up with a random partner. I’m up first dancing with Marshall, who I’ve not seen in years, and Chris dances with Lana, a gal from Kiev whom we’ve never met before this weekend!

We also competed in the Underground Lindy Focus Championships – Balboa Edition (at 2:15 AM!!) and made it to the final four – everyone jumps onto the floor and the judges give out challenges, and they tap out couples until they get down to 6 couples. We had to do Pure Bal (chest-to-chest the whole time), No Basics, Slow Bal, and Lots of Spins – the challenges were actually really fun and a good way to loosen up for the finals! Here are the first 2 rounds of the finals – We’re in the second group out on the far side in both videos.

There are a TON more videos already up from the weekend, if you want to see more search for “Lindy Focus XI”.

Happy New Year!! Stay safe and don’t drink and drive, and I’ll see you in 2013!


Christmas Parties

Merry Christmas! I just finished up an insane month at work, and I’m on vacation until NEXT YEAR! :) We’re taking advantage of the time off from work and flying out to North Carolina for Lindy Focus, which is one of the (if not THE) biggest swing events in the US. It’s the first time Chris and I  have been to this event, and will be our first time on the East Coast together. I’m going to *try* to blog while I’m there, but if I don’t you’ll know it’s because I’m running around having fun!
Because we’re going out of town we didn’t decorate at home this year, but we’ve gone to a couple Christmas parties. I wore a new me-made Beignet skirt to a Gingerbread House party last Sunday, but I’m a bad blogger and didn’t take any photos of it. But here’s our sugary creation – every team gets the same basic house kit and creates a different scene. We got 3rd place with our “Broadmoor Abbey”, mostly because Chris invented a ridiculous story about the Stonehenge-esque light bouncing through the stone windows. It sure wasn’t the Gummi Bear statuary that won!

Wednesday night was my office Holiday party – there was an office decorating contest, and I wanted to share some cute creations we made. Not award-winning, but pretty fun for a couple hours with wrapping paper! If you want that giant measuring tape behind me, it’s available as a printable download here.

We did NOT make the Hot Dog cut-out – that came with the sliders food station, but I thought it was pretty exciting. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one at the party who used it.
And the obligatory photo-booth pics!
Happy Holidays – I’ll see you soon!