A New Obsession


That's all I need to say. Barkcloth. I've been poring over barkcloth samples for the last couple of weeks with a shameless enthusiasm and I can't see my excitement in seeing these beautiful fabrics diminishing in any way. 

Recently, a friend of ours made an amazing skirt out of barkcloth with a scene of deer in a forest. It was gorgeous and she looked swell in this dazzling fabric.  So, it got us thinking...

We have a couple of 1950s TV chairs we would like to have reupholstered and so this started my barkcloth journey/pilgrimage/crusade as we wanted something which melded the 1950s design of the chairs with something a bit older, perhaps a 40s style fabric. Barkcloth was used through the 30s to the 50s for a range of uses but particularly upholstery and curtains.

What particularly appealed to us was the exuberant designs, lavish swirls and feathers, make believe flowers, vivid colours in unexpected combinations.  We also loved the gorgeous modern take on toile, bright scenes of waterfalls, ruins, mansions, forests and yachts. How could anyone resist?

So, here is my first purchase - not even for the chairs! No, this will be for cushions, but look at it!

Apologies for the photo, I whipped it out of its envelope and snapped it as soon as possible!

This fabric is the sort used for curtains along the art deco style hotels of South Beach, Miami in the 1930s, so it doesn't come more highly recommended!

Creative Types

Home Sewing

I was recently commissioned to make a batch of sample soaps for an Adelaide based fabric and sewing supply store called The Drapery.  The soap I made was The Emperor's Chai, and I packaged these in small brown envelopes and added labels designed by my friend Karena at Magic Jelly - more on Karena later.  The soaps will be given away to The Drapery customers so if you are after a natural, sustainable fabric or some indie designer patterns or books, then I recommend giving The Drapery a look.  

Talking to the lovely ladies from The Drapery about the amount of people out there taking up, re-visiting or continuing home sewing is inspiring.  I was reminded of the recent trip my partner and I made to Melbourne where we caught up with our friends and where we got to talking about blogs.  It transpires that our friend has a blog called Needle & Spindle in which she talks eloquently about her love of knitting, crocheting and spinning.  I marvel at our friend's talent and passion!  I have since been eyeing up balls of wall thinking, yes, maybe I can start learning that mysterious (to me!) art of knitting and this was largely driven by my sighting of this brilliant winter hat on Needle & Spindle:

And if that hat isn't enough, guess what it is called?  A Pineapple Stack hat!  I love it!  Our friend designed the distinctive pineapple stitch and offers the pattern for sale via Ravelry.  This hat has even won awards!  I'd like mine beany-style, with a fold-up and pompom.  Yes. 

And back to Karena, she has taken up sewing again with her usual vigour.  She applies the same meticulous attention to detail to her sewing as she does to her art and design.  But Karena has taken this all one step further (of course!) by designing her own fabrics!   What?! you say?  I know, who designs their own fabrics?  Well, take a look at these beauties:

I absolutely love the moths of course, but look, the lillies are brilliant too.  You can purchase these fabrics for yourself through Magic Jelly's shop at Spoonflower.   I have seen the fabrics printed and they look fantastic!  Available in a range of beautiful fabrics including a whole lot of natural fibres - combed cotton, cotton poplin, cotton voile, linen cotton canvas, organic cotton knit, organic cotton sateen, heavy cotton twill or silk crepe de Chine.

Making things is great fun, and I'm lucky to know so many talented creative types.

The Good 80s

Hurrah for Hoarding!

This may come as a shock to you, but the internet hasn't always been around.  I know, imagine!   Magazines used to be my number one path to inspiration, though they often fell short of my expectation, or alternatively, exceeded my ability to be 'cool'.   I kept most of my magazines, not being one to throw away ANYTHING, so I am pleased to be able to present a few images of the covers of an early 1980s magazine called Stiletto.  It was large format, had coloured covers but newsprint within, and it covered off on a wide variety of fashion, music and popular culture, with an inevitable focus on the Melbourne and Sydney scenes.

I remember reading through them (and this was one of the magazines I thought I couldn't quite live up to) and marveling at these strange types who dressed however they wanted and lived their entire lives in glittering nightclubs and bars.  I'm sure the reality was quite different, but they had an impact on me nonetheless.

Now I look at these magazines with nostalgia, but also, I can look at the covers afresh and note how imaginative they are.  I love the collage, the photocopied graininess, the hand-coloured detailing, strident patterns and limited colour palette.  There's no shoulder-padded corporate power-walking here, just good fresh design working within the restraints of budget and technology.   

Leaving all that aside, I MUST do a spread on the fashions within - everyone needs to know how to wear a sack well!

1930s Women in Resort Wear.  In London!

Yes, pity the young women in this clip of a 1930s fashion show on some barge floating on the chilly Thames.  It doesn't reek glamour, but the models look swell.  Who wants to dress appropriately anyway, much better to always look like you've just stepped off a yacht in the Bahamas.

Fabric design from the 1940s - in colour!

These distinctly sophisticated and playful designs are a treat to see in full colour.

 A "Top left, Celanese satin, screen printed in a design by Margaret Moore. Top right, 'Shiraz' - a cotton and rayon fadeless tapestry designed by John Tandy.  Bottom, 'Bird' design by E. Winning Reed on an art silk and cotton material" from "30s 40s Decorative Art" - a source book edited by Charlotte & Peter Fiell, (Tashchen). 

B "Furnishing fabrics designed by Jacqueline Groag, M.S.I.A., the top two for Hill Brown Ltd and the lower for F.W.Grafton & Co. Ltd." ibid.

C "Bonbonniere of faience, designed by Stig Lindberg and made by Gustavsberg's Studio, on a background of hand-printed glass-cloth named 'Maytime' by the same artist, printed by Textil Kammaren, Nordiska Kompaniet, Stokholm." ibid.

D "Textiles designed by Margaret Simeon.  Left: Screen-printed linen and Right: Screen-printed furnishing satin, both produced by John Lewis & Co Ltd. Centre: Block-printed muslin printed by the designer. Vase designed by Nils Thorsson with 'Clair de Lune' glaze created by the late H. Madslund for The Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Co. Ltd." ibid.

E "Top and centre: 'Burntwood/Moorfield' rayon designed by Jane Edgar and 'Hurstwood/Alvis' cotton fabric designed by D.M. Batty, both made by Helios Ltd.  Lower: Cotton damask by Old Bleach Linen Co. Ltd." ibid.

F "Corner of a lounge in a London flat by Ian Henderson.  The fire-surround is in Australian walnut, the opening itself being framed in Japanese chestnut.  Curtains printed in two shades of red with a line of [black] on a cream ground, and upholstery in a rough textured weave.  Occasional table in Australian walnut with a cane shelf which doubles its utility without adding to its weight."  from Decorative Art 1943-48 The Studio Year Book.  (The Studio Year Books were the source for the illustrations in the Tashchen publication referred to above.)

G "Two curtain fabrics designed by Margaret Simeon; the floral pattern is a cotton textile with block-printed motif, made for John Lewis & Co Ltd.  The pink and white design is a screen-printed linen, made by Allan Walton Textiles Ltd." ibid. 

H An extract from an advertisement for the 'Old Glamis' range of fabrics by Donald Bros Ltd.  The fabric design is named "Goodwood" and is a 50 inch screen-printed linen in 5 colours. ibid.

Further resources: 
"Furniture & Interiors of the 1940s" - Anne Bony (Flammarion)
"Ponti" - Graziella Roccella (Taschen)