Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

the butler’s guide

my library's copy but might need to have me own
my library’s copy
but might need to have me own
(click to go to amazon.com listing)


The weather’s turning cooler, so I’ve been busy getting out and sorting through last autumn’s clothes.  And considering what’s still needed, what’s in stash… You know how it goes.  Time-consuming, but in a nice way.  🙂

There’s some lovely washable rayon and wool jerseys in there, but there’s also at least 1 piece of woven wool.  And I don’t know if it should be washed…

I was trying to remember what former butler, now author Stanley Agar, wrote about caring for wools in the book he co-wrote (above), but had to get it out of the library to review.  Am glad I did, as there’s plenty of detail I’d forgotten.

He stresses airing out clothes before putting them away, and brushing down coats, suits, and jackets.  He details what kind of brushes to use on each type of fabric, and how to brush so fibres aren’t damaged.

Agar also stresses getting rid of dust.  Which leaves me feeling guilty for leaving fabrics out on the sewing table far too long, but doesn’t stop my habit.  Other things he recommends for fabrics include ~

Clothing Care and Packing

  • “Dust is abrasive” and in time will wear on cloth (and stash has plenty of time, doesn’t it!)
  • There used to be special brushing rooms
  • Velvet – rub gently with nap; steam in a hot shower to “liven up”
  • Tweed (wool) – can take “especially strong treatment”; brush up and down with a regular clothes brush
  • Suits – dust doesn’t adhere closely to synthetics; wool or tweed suits should be brushed every time they’re worn

Although I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, I thought there was useful information.  Clearly Downton Abbey leaves this level of detail alone!

1920s costuming stars in aussie mystery series

photo courtesy Australianj Broadcasting Co
photo courtesy Australian Broadcasting Co

Saw the first episode in series 1 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  I was very impressed with the costuming, and you know I’m not a huge 1920s flapper fan.

I have all 3 years of House of Eliott, but was never too impressed by the costuming. Now I think I know why.  The British interpretations of fashion might be a little too tame for my taste, but Phryne (fry-nee) Fisher designers might have that solved.

Check out my Facebook page for more references, including a Vogue Australia article. Feel free to add a comment or Like!

While the land of Oz will be seeing season 2 this month, we in the U.S. must be content with season 1, and that appears to be in a limited number of cities.  But to get to the main event ~ the costumes ~ words from the designer.

Costume designer Marion Boyce gives advice on how to cut flapper styles if you’re curvy:  cut it the bias.  She also talks about having to use some of her own vintage stash for costuming, and how difficult it is for her to let go of some of her treasured fabric.  Don’t we all know how she feels?!

Now I’m wondering… will Phryne costuming upstage Downton ?

What do you think?

More about Miss Fisher ~

  • Wikipedia … “120 costumes for the series… ” and “Boyce explained that Phryne is “completely fluid””
  • Australian Broadcasting Company blog:  “…one of the stars of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is the fabulous collection of period costumes…”
  • YouTube

starting the new year with vintage

adore this gal, which contains 2 potholders & hangs in Mrs. K's kitchen
adore this gal, which contains 2 potholders & hangs in K’s kitchen

After an unexpectedly busy December, including family things, it’s time to re-group and get back to normal… which means one thing here: vintage!

Am at my favorite, veddy-veddy exclusive B&B for  lovers of vintage things – the private home of dear friends K & G.  My ‘suite’  includes the wolf room, bath, and library, as well as full use of the craft room right across the library.

Their house is better than a museum or antique shoppe, because there are so many collections of things I love ~ vintage patterns, fabrics, laces, buttons &  jewelry.  And I can touch everything – tee-heee!

G has his man cave, where he works his magic on antique metal trucks, so K & I are able to do our things guilt-free.  Here are a few highlights… click any photo to start the slideshow.

Happy 2013 to all!

bits n bobs

Lady Cora's mum from ITV.com Photo Gallery
Lady Cora’s mum from ITV.com Photo Gallery

Have been in alternatively quite different states of mind lately, ogling through the Simplicity Sewing Books received in the mail (more about them later), trying to think 20s instead of 30s a la Downton, and discovering in the light of day that the 2 buttons for the transitional green skirt (currently in the wash before final elastic-waist fitting) don’t match after all.
So will give it all a go, and get it out of me system…

Transitional skirt + button = NOT!
Transitional skirt + button = NOT!

Transitional green skirt.  Well, that photo says it all.  Off the carefully sewn 2 buttons will come, and we’re down to a plain dark green skirt.  Could be worse.  At this point, after all the pains from cutting to seam binding to matching thread for top stitching, guess I’m just grateful to have it wearable.  We need work horses as well as confetti pieces.   😉

Downton Abbey-inspired.  Although we won’t have Downton until 2013, we’ll be hearing and seeing a lot before then.  Meanwhile, inspired by that sweeping arm of Lady Cora’s mum as she arrives at Downton and  descends from her limo, I might have discovered what to do with a bit of stash from me golden years in California.

stash velour stretches...
stash velour stretches…

Only sticky wicket is the fabric is velour, with a lot of lengthwise stretch.  Will need to back it with something to stop gravity, and curtail the too slippery wrong side.  Perhaps wool + interfacing.  This will require some thought, but might be sorted by the time Downton rolls across the pond come January.  Am currently thinking the tunic from Folkwear #264 Monte Carlo Dress

Simplicity Sewing Books.  Decided to use Amazon to purchase copies of the 1930, 1940, and 1950 editions of these, and compare them.  Have 20s & 30s thus far.  It’s been so great to read them, with 30s including a great section on godets, which the 40s doesn’t mention.

It’s also been tremendous because I’m reminded of how I learned to sew a home in the early 60s.  We didn’t have many zippers around, so most of the skirts that got made by any of us had plackets and poppers for closure.

Belt-making kits were unheard of in our house!  We used a length of interfaced fabric, or the stiffer belt interfacing if there was any about, and maybe an old buckle.  As I recall, sometimes the buckle was the problem — no way to fasten it, so it became more of a sash.  he-he!

Toodles, possums!

downton abbey series 3 started in UK

From ITV.com Photo Gallery

Contains no plot details

Downton Abbey Season 3 has started in the U.K.   Anyone interested in the upcoming season is in luck.

One review I just read said: It’s marcel waves, crushed velvets, and jet beading a-plenty.

The only photos I found, after a less than exhaustive search, show gowns covered from the weather by modern coats.  However, we know it’s 1920’s this season.  Not my favorite for fashion, but perhaps there’s something I can utilize, besides crushed velvet.   And beading. (drool-drool)

Meanwhile, click & enjoy.  And for those lucky U.K. readers, don’t give away the plot too soon!


ITV Photos

YouTube Preview

YouTube trailer here

(sorry, couldn’t get these to embed)

Here’s a short collection of different articles, for those starved for things Downton ~ I’ve marked those with plot disclosure.

Guardian article about one designer’s inspiration from the series.  Dated 31 July, it hasn’t any plot details.

The Telegraph has a series of articles and some photos, costumes covered almost always, but articles contain plot details.

Daily Mail: A bit about that chauffeur… contains nothing plot-related.

Vogue on makeup used on set (from Jan 2012, so no plot details)

Guardian – Lady Cora in real life… sings in a rock band! (no plot details)

Specific detailed review of episode 1 available from The Guardian.

downton countdown: 130 days to go

Can’t wait for the new season to begin. Don’t know about others, but I watch costuming so closely I forget to listen to dialogue…   although it’s really a trifle earlier than my 1930’s-40’s preferences, they use lace so I watch & learn more things to do with it.   sigh….. 2013 can’t arrive soon enough for all us fans on this side of the pond!

Check out the hat in this scene… and the dialogue.

escaping summer

Black button bracelet
Absolutely nothing to do with this post but I forgot to mention it in earlier post about button bracelets

Just love-love-love fashions from the ’30’s, and once I discovered Nabby’s blog, This Old Life, via We Sew Retro, I was in 7th Heaven.   At the beginning of the summer I started taking time to read older posts on both, and eventually got to one from Nabby about Miss Lemon’s sweater. That started everything.  Continue reading escaping summer