Tag Archives: antique textiles

What inspires me… Giveaway at Dividing Vintage Moments

Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments hosts a lovely giveaway with really beautiful things to win.
All she asks for is writing a post about my 10 personal vintage inspirations. Where do I draw my inspiration for vintage clothing or living from.

So, dear Joanna, this is my list (and in case you wonder: I have none of the accounts asked to comment on your posts, so I can’t write into the comment form, but be sure, I love reading your blog!)

1. magazines

I love flipping through magazines of the time. Not especially fashion magazines, what I love is to capture the feeling of a certain period, so I love to read good old gossip or an article on education or budgeting as well.

(clockwise from top left: Formes et Couleurs 1944, Almanach du Foyer 1924, Der Silberstreifen 1948, Die Frau 1956, Life international 1961, Paris Match 1963, Marie Claire 1941, Ciné-Miroir 1938+1939)

2 films

First of all, I love, I adore Bette Davis, don’t ask why. It’s like falling in love with someone, I can’t give you a reason. So she is a constant inspiration for me. But I love films from the 1920ies to 1960ies in general and watch them whenever I happen to catch one on television. Besides this and a growing DVD collection, Youtube is my best friend, happily so many films are free to watch today.

3 books on fashion history

Though they often use materials I can’t afford and are made with a level of perfection I will never manage to achieve, I love looking at preserved designer’s dresses from earlier decades. It doesn’t make me want to recreate the actual dresses, but they give me inspiration, on what to draw attention to, on what to concentrate, how to treat a special cut or fabric. And of course, it is a glamorous world I have never been part of, it’s simply lovely to see.

(clockwise from top left: Fashion. Eine Modegeschichte vom 18. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert, Kyoto Costume Institute (pub.), Köln 2006; O. Saillard and A. Zazzo: Paris Haute Couture: Paris 2012; C. Fiell and E. Dirix: La mode des Années 1930 en images, Paris 2012; Kleider machen Leute, Bürgerliche Moden des 19. Jahrhunderts, Rheinisches Industriemuseum (pub., exhibition catalogue); H. Worsley: Très tendance. La mode de 1900 à nos jours, Potsdam 2011; J. Stockar: Zürich. Mode durch die Jahrhunderte, Zürich 1974; T. Tolkien: Schick & Schrill. Klassiker der Designermode, Hamburg 2002; Anziehungspunkt. 125 Jahre Deutsches Textilmuseum (exhibition Catalogue), Krefeld 2005; E. Thiel: Geschichte des Kostüms. Die europäische Mode von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin 2004; Hommage aux donateurs. Modes françaises du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours; Ville de Paris Musée de la mode et du costume (pub., exhibition catalogue), Paris 1980; L. Johnston: Nineteenth-century fashion in detail, London 2009)

4 actual originals

Here again, as with the magazines: These don’t need to be actual garments. A beautiful embroidery on a handkerchief bought at a flea market, a pair of gloves with a lovely detail, a brooch, an embroidered box, everything that somehow catches the spirit of a certain epoche or makes this very object something special and unique (though of course it often isn’t, but please, let me stay in this world of make-believe).

(My vanity table: 1950ies vanity set with rococo-scenes printed on silk in its original box, handkerchiefs from 50ies to 70ies, 30ies lace collar, 30ies silk-covered box with embroidery, 40ies tin can, 50ies glove box, art deco-brooch, 30ies (?maybe earlier) spectacle case, 70ies make-up neccessaire)

5 books

Knowing the cut and shapes that were fashionable in a certain decade, I love reading books that were written some decades ago. Mostly, the description of garments is not very detailed, but, knowing when a book was first published, I love to “dress” the charakters in my imagination, make them fit into their time, have them wear something scandalous or rather old fashioned. So I draw the inspiration from a book, but imagine the actual design myself.

6 advertisements

This seems to be kind of a trend at the moment. Last week I even found a Mid-Century-Ad-Calendar for 2014. But knowing how shiny and glamorous, sometimes really ridiculous advertising is today, one can easily imagine that this didn’t change much the last 100 years. And still I love being seduced by those full-bodied promises and imagine what I would have chosen to buy.

(same as in 1)

7 postcards

I would like to include three types of postcards in here: First, antique ones. A lovely source not only for images. I love reading words of love or of friendship that have been written decades ago.
The second type are reproduction postcards. They are cheap, easy to find and show lovely images of whatever period you want.
And last, museum postcards, showing certain dresses, details or fabrics of the museum’s collection. As with the reprinted cards, they are comparably cheap, easy to store and give you the possibility to have a closer look at rare originals without buying loads of books or ruining yourself buying antique dresses in great numbers (ha, as if I could afford that, really, who could?).

(some antique postcards I own)

8 music

Most of the decades of the first half of the 20th century are connected to a special kind of music or dancing. Thinking of the 20ies, many people tend to think of dancing flappers, same applies to the 50ies, where images of whirling petticoats on the dancefloor begin to come to one’s mind. At the same time, music can make us feel as if we were in another place, can make us forget our environment. I have a modern record player in the living room but, more beloved than this, a 1950ies gramophone right next to my sewing machine. I love listening to my 78RPM-records while sewing something historical on my 1948 Singer machine and the images that come to my mind at those times may form the basement of a future project of mine.

(from fore- to background: Early 20th century pin-cushion table, 1950ies Thorens gramophone , 1948 Singer Featherweight on a mid-century Gritzner with table, my current sewing-project, mid-century sewing-table, 1960ies desk lamp)

9 photos

Same as with postcards, photos are easy to find on flea markets and the like and are comparably cheap, especially when they are in a bad condition. But stains or a tear don’t ruin the photo, as long as I can see what is pictured, it is fine to me. And additionally, I love to see that those things had a live much more than finding them in mint condition.

(clockwise from top left: 1930ies photo album, mid-century photos, early 20th century photos, 1960ies photos of my relatives)

10 my job

Being an art historian with special qualification in the history of textiles, I come in contact with antique costume and fabrics quite often. There is little more inspiring than touching a hand-sewn 18th-century robe, standing speechless in front of a 16th century embroidery, looking at a silk-brocade through a magnifying glass, catching a glimpse at the inside of a mid-century tailor-made jacket. Discovering technical finesses a tailor used 200 years ago is so special. Examining how a garment or a decoration was actually constructed gives me so many ideas on how to make my own historical or vintage garments.
I admit this is quite difficult to do when working in another kind of business.  20th century clothing can be found in some charity and antique shops. For earlier pieces try to find an antique shop who is specialized in clothing or see if a local auction house will have a textiles auction soon, sometimes they offer to see the objects some days previous to the auction. Visit museums, if you really want to research something ask if you will be allowed to see a certain object in detail, some museums (for example the V&A, but I am sure the MET and many more do have, too) have study collections for those purposes.

(detail of an early 20th century women’s blouse, Gemeindemuseum Krauchthal)

So, I would divide two main areas of inspiration for myself. First, the actual object: it gives you hints on techniques, on the impression of special materials and embellishments, actual visual starting points to create a dress, an outfit, a style. And second: catching the spirit, be it through music, through a film, long gone news or a trip to the mountains 80 years ago, captured in photos. A note on a postcard or the rusty coffee advertisement on the inside of a tin. I love to be surrounded by those things, love to dive into this feeling, imagine what I would do actually living in this certain period.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?



What I wore…on Halloween or: How to fold a nurse’s cap

Normally official holidays aren’t something you are really aware of. When living in my hometown there were always those holidays who were only marked in the calender and the federal ones who meant a day off school. In this part of Germany, the 1st of November is a federal holiday, so of course Halloween was celebrated every single year since the 5th grade.

Meanwhile I have moved to another country and to a protestant part of it. That means the 1st of november is a working day as every other day (except for the fact that all the people from catholic regions of Switzerland go shopping in Berne, so it is very crowded).
For that reason a dear friend of mine had to plan her Halloween Party on Saturday, so please forgive that slightly belated costume post.

As you can imagine, the last weeks weren’t the perfect time to prepare a perfect costume out of nothing, so I went for something already proved and tested.

My grandmother, born in 1933, became a nurse after she had finished school. I don’t know exactly when she started her apprenticeship, but it must have been somewhen around 1950. What I can say fore sure is that she quit her job in 1965 when my father was born and she has been a stay-at-home-mum ever since, being at the age of 80 today.
This is my grandma in 1953:

A few years ago she told me, that she still had her nurse’s uniforms in the basement. I was very exited and asked her to show it to me. In an old wardrobe she kept multiple of her dresses, aprons and other stuff. I was so very happy (also because my family isn’t very rich or aware of tradition and has only very few family heirlooms and souvenirs) and she asked if I wanted to have one of them. She gave me a dress, an apron, a cap, a surgical gown and even a matching brooch (well yes, the enamel is broken, I think she kept the intact one).

The cap was a bit of a challenge, because she didn’t remember how it had to be folded. Looking at some photos at the internet and with a lot of trial-and-error experience I figured out something that could be at least a possibility of how it was worn, though I am still not sure if this is the right way.

So, if you ever come across something that looks like a gigantic single layer slip, it is a nurse’s cap. It is starched very heavily, I didn’t dare to wash it until today because I am sure I will never be able to starch it as the hospital’s laundry did.

The first thing you’ll need is something called nurse’s pins. I didn’t even know that they existed (having had always assumed that those caps had been pinned with standard pins) until a client of the haberdashery shop I used to work in asked for them (of course, we didn’t have them). But when I found a little box of white-headed pins in a sewing basket I bought on a flea market, I knew immediately what I had found. They are a little longer and stronger as standard pins and, as already meantioned, come only in white.

First thing to do is fold the double-layered part of the cap back.

Pin the ends together to form a circle.

Pin the flap over the ends as shown. You can change the size by reducing or enlarging the overlap of the two ends and of the flap.

And voilà, your cap!

And here is the complete costume:

Somebody at the party asked me if it was on purpose that I wore my apron inside out. But I didn’t. It has one pocket for the right hand on each side, so if it get’s dirty you can turn it around. For someone standing left from me it looks as if my pocket was on the wrong side of the apron.

Me trying to make an ugly halloween-y face. And on the inside you can see a 50 year old (blood?) stain the laundry didn’t manage to eliminate.

I was accompanied by my boyfriend, wearing some giant plastic screws on his head as a costume (he hates costumes, that was all I managed to convince him of) and lots of homemade cookies (these are only the few we kept for ourselves):

I hope you had a nice weekend and a happy Halloween,

see you soon, love,


What I wore…navy and white

Life is what happens while making other plans…

I don’t know why time is running so fast these days. Between writing job applications, working in the book shop and preparations for our new appartment there seems hardly any time left. I haven’t sewn for days, I didn’t even read much.
The last weekend I went home for a short visit, because my grandmother celebrated her 80th birthday. I left Bern on Saturday morning, arrived in my hometown at half past two, the birthday started at 4pm. On sunday I had a long breakfast with my father before heading to my mother, where I spent the afternoon with my siblings and my niece (I gave her the pinafore skirt I showed you, unfortunately it doesn’t fit as I imagined it to, but I hope that this will change in a few months, because it was still a little large for her). Monday morning I went to the town hall, firstly to vote, secondly to renew my ID. In between I had to take a passport photograph, because I had forgotten to bring one, and brought some parcels to the post office. I had lunch at my grandparents’ before I headed to Düsseldorf to meet a dear friend I know from my time at the local university. In the afternoon I went to the airport and arrived in Basel at 10pm where my boyfriend picked me up, it wasn’t until 11.30pm that we arrived at home. How exhausting this weekend had been I only realized the next day, when I felt terribly tired around 1pm and decided to take a short nap. I didn’t wake up before 5pm and went to bed in the evening like always, sleeping my usual 8 hours until next morning. It seems as if I really needed some additional rest.
Tuesday passed in a blink, unpacking luggage, doing the laundry, checking all the stuff on the internet I had missed over the weekend. Today I had to work and me and my boyfriend were really looking forward to tomorrow, when we will both have our day off. Unfortunately our landlord told us directly after we both got home today, that there would be a prospect visiting our appartment tomorrow afternoon, so our day off will be spent cleaning annd tidying up, as we neglected this a little the past few days.
On Friday we will be handed over the keys to our new appartment, which means that I could spend every spare minute packing boxes and driving them to the new adress, besides this I will work a few hours in the local museum, examining some antique traditional costumes  in their collection.
As you see, plenty of things to do and no end in sight, I don’t really know when I will be able to sew again and how I am to realize the Fall for Cotton dress I announced so flamboyantly.

To show you at least some photos I will leave you with some outfit-pics, again.
This is what I wore on Saturday to my grandmother’s birthday.
The hat was a present from me to myself after having finished my MA-thesis, it is a late 50ies Schiaparelli hat I bought at ebay America. The dress is the only “designer dress” I own, I found it for a reasonable price in a local outlet centre last year, while searching for an outfit to wear at a wedding (I don’t want to start a discussion about the designer’s statements and the reactions to them. I I do vehemently dissociate myself from any ideas or idealogy of this kind. I bought this dress because I had spent the whole day searching for something affordable and appropriate to wear and had to decide wether to buy this dress or leave with nothing). The shoes are the same white court shoes I showed you with my last wedding-guest outfit, but I embellished them with shoe buckles I found at a flea market some months ago.

Please excuse the bad quality of the photos and me, it was half past seven in the morning.

Here is another photo of the hat I took right after it had arrived:

(hat: Schiaparelli Paris via ebay.com; dress: Galliano; shoes: Siemes Schuh Center; shoe buckles: Flea Market)

I really hope I will be able to show you something more interesting and handmade soon!


What I wore…to celebrate

Monday was the day…I had my very last oral exam, one hour, four topics. I was a really great exam, my Professor simply let me talk and asked some questions at the end of each topic to see if I really knew enough about the subject and was able to react to react her objecting an argument of mine.

I can’t really believe that it is all done now. Nearly as long as I can remember I went to school or to university, when I will be given my report in October I will officially be a Master of Arts. Now I will start searching a job or maybe think about directly going back to university, enlisting as a Ph.D. student.

A friend of mine had her exam after me and as soon as we were both finished we went to have lunch all together, with our professor, her assistant and my boyfriend.
Now, several other friends had their exams the next day and so I joined them on tuesday evening to celebrate a little.

What I wore: I found this dress a few months ago in a vintage shop in Bern. I saw it and knew it was older than the 70ies and 80ies stuff they sell in large numbers (they always have some 50ies and 60ies stuff as well, but I am not always lucky to find something I really like and fit into). So I bought it without even thinking how to wear it. I believe it being late 40ies/early 50ies.

After having watched it a few weeks as it was hanging on my wardrobe door I began combining it with different accesoires and shoes. I have shoes to match the colour of the outfit, I have grey ankle boots, white court shoes, light pink sandals. But it looked all horrible. The cut, the fabric, the colours, all added up to create a lovely granny effect. Lovely if you are indeed a granny and are about to celebrate you 76th birthday, but I still have 50 years to go to do that. So I was sure that I couldn’t style it authentical or even classical. What I did was to break the style combining the dress with a heavy leather belt and black boots.

Because it was pretty cool outside I also added a white cardigan.

Outside I paired it with a creme-coloured trenchcoat and a lovely early 60ies umbrella I bought at a flea market last year.

Outside it has a standard patterned fabric, but on the inside it is lined, so all the wires and bars of the umbrella are covered. Imagine women with their helmet-like 60ies hairstyle, getting tangled in an umbrella would have completely ruined the hairdo. So it was certainly a really clever idea to cover all the frame of the umbrella.

(dress: vintage, bought at Fizzen; cardigan: Carhartt; belt: from my uncle; boots: charity shop; umbrella: flea market)

Yay, Duckface, don’t ask, I was tired and came home late.

See you soon, love


Getrödelt, gefunden, gefreut

On the very first of Juli we signed a contract to hire a new appartment, that means we will move in October. I already fear moving with all the stuff I have, so I tried to avoid charity shops and flea markets during the last weeks. But of cause, I couldn’t be completely abstinent, here are some of the things I found.

First the ones, that don’t need much explanation: Two linen damask napkins, some beautiful fabric handkerchiefs (from elegant to psychodelic^^), a veil with a cute bow on a hair comb (unfortunately the veil had many holes and I had to shorten it a little to cut them away), a ceramic mould and some wave clips.

I had already bought the wave clips on the flea market, when I found this: A little box filled with antique metal hair clips of different sorts:

They are quite dirty, some have some kind of glue on them, others are crooked. But I was fascinated by the variety of forms and for 3CHF I wasn’t able to leave them behind.

In the boy I found 25 different kinds of clips. 25!!! I couldn’t even imagine that you can realize the standard metal clip in so many different variants.

But there was another reason why I couldn’t leave them. The box was closed, when I found them, so it was the packaging that awoke my interest. Why?

A Worth-Perfume-Box! “Je reviens” was first sold in 1932 and produced until today (source). The box isn’t as old as 1932, maybe it dates from the 1950ies? So, a very little piece of Haute-Couture-History for me.

The second item I would like to present to you was found on the same flea market. It wasn’t a bargain, but not overly expensive, either. The seller asked 15CHF for it and after I had seen the rest of the market and came back to her she gave it to me for 13CHF.

Can you already guess what it could be?

Now at least all the readers who can read french, know.

It is a little sewing kit, offerered as a promotional gift by the “Grands Magasins du Louvre”, a company founded in 1855 and located in the ground floor of the Grand Hôtel du Louvre, it existed until 1974 (source).
This little goodie might date from the, what do you think, 1900s?

I hope you liked my little treasures, now I am curious to see what you found!

see you soon and enjoy the weather, love