Life at the bottom of the Fashion Caste

Arts n Crafts

1,000th Post GIVEAWAY

I’ve reached a huge Tumblr milestone: 1,000 posts!

To celebrate I’m sponsoring TTYLUSA’s first ever giveaway. The prize for first place is an incredible piece from Mawi London’s Gypsy Rani line from the brand’s AW06 collection, valued at over $500.

The second place winner will receive a treasure trove of four vintage accessories delivered in keepsake boxes of my own design, seen below.

How do I enter, you may be asking? It’s SO easy! Just follow these three simple steps:

1. Follow TTYLUSA on Tumblr
2. Follow TTYLUSA on Bloglovin’
3. Then leave a comment with your email address at the very bottom of this post!

Two winners will then be picked at random at midnight (CST) Monday, November 26th.

NOTE: This giveaway is now CLOSED. Congratulations to the winners, Lacey of My Boring Closet (1st prize) and Rachael H. (2nd prize)! If you weren’t so lucky this time, fear not! More giveaways await 🙂

In the meantime, entertain yourselves with some gems from my tumblr archives spanning the last three years of my life.

Some people dismiss tumblr as a mindless forum hosting a hodge podge of pretty pictures and miscellaneous links. For me, Tumblr has served as an ever-faithful journal of what piques my interest at any certain moment in time. It’s actually been surprisingly fun to sift through the photos, videos, links, and quotes I’ve posted over the years. And it’s been especially delightful to realize how much I’ve changed in that short amount of time.

Want more TTYLUSA history? Check out my archives!

There are so many blogs having giveaways right now, just in time for the holidays! Check out Fashion Ocean for one too, but don’t forget to enter the TTYLUSA GIVEAWAY!

ttyl,
Maria Nichole

Please note that this giveaway is not sponsored by any brand, company or other affiliate. The prize for first place was selected from my own personal collection; the prizes for second place were purchased at vintage shops and markets in London and across the United States. If you have any questions regarding this giveaway, please feel free to email me at ttylusablog@gmail.com.

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Currently Crushing: Smith/Grey

Currently, I’m just about drooling on my keyboard over Smith/Grey fine jewellery.

It’s true, I’ve fallen head over heels for yet another London-based high end jewellery brand. But this one is truly impossible to resist.

The Danish/Austrian duo behind Smith/Grey creates impeccably edited collections driven by highly narrative concepts. Every piece is created through a process of painstaking craftsmanship, and the folks behind the brand, Birgit Marie Schmidt and Sofus Graae, possess an enviable array of expertise that fills their designs with wit, edge, and sophistication.

The real jaw dropper for me was their “I can’t seem to get rid of the horses” collection. Horses bend and meld into one another in surreal beauty. An otherworldly element is bestowed on the Smith/Grey collections through their psychologically-based inspirations. Brigit’s concepts are often based largely in the human imagination, dreams, and storytelling.

As hauntingly beautiful as the collection, here’s what the Smith/Grey online lookbook has to offer in terms of shedding some light on Brigit’s inspiration for “Horses”:

“And when she turned around she saw that the horses kept walking back towards her. Tall horses and small horses, fair ones and dark ones. They still returned every morning and every night, quietly whispering poems in her ear in a language she didn’t understand. But my dear, these words were ravishing. And she kept thinking, “Do they hold on to me or do I hold on to them?”

Uncomplicated by flashy gems or precious stones, Smith/Grey rely on sculptural elements to keep the eye entertained, catching the light at unexpected junctures and providing balance through satisfying symmetry. Did I mention that Brigit has a master’s degree in goldsmithing from the Royal College of Art in London? Yeah, she knows her stuff.

The duo doesn’t only design jewelry for ladies, either. They have a breakout line of baubles just for gents entitled Ivy Noir. The concept for the line is a darker take on classic Ivy League essentials. From signet rings to collar stiffeners, Ivy Noir accessories are staples for a style savvy boy’s club regular who “doesn’t always dress by the book.”

Prices run high for a piece of Smith/Grey bespoke, and rightfully so, considering the intense creative process involved in bringing each collection to fruition. So, in lieu of actually owning one of these beauts, I’ve created a style board showing how I would style my hypothetical Smith/Grey “Horses” hoops and “Peculiar Things” ring on a crisp fall day.

Horse Girl

Currently Crushing: Edward Gorey

Around this time of year, my love for Edward Gorey’s macabre illustrations and stories renews itself and inspires a thirst for all things Halloween.

There’s a stark, depressing reality in his work, especially in The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Arguably Gorey’s most famous book, Gashlycrumb documents the tragic ends of 26 children, one for every letter of the alphabet, in a darkly comedic way.

Besides being an incredibly well known artist and author with an extremely distinct style, Gorey dabbled in television, film, and stage productions. The quintessentially creepy author’s incredibly prolific career is documented in a series of anthologies titled Amphigorey.

Gorey is also my current crush because I recently discovered a book of his personal letters to friends and family. Read this article about the book and check out his amazing envelope sketches.

When asked who his typical fans were, Mr. Gorey responded, “It ranges from dear little old ladies to rather distracted teenagers who sometimes turn up at the door. I go to the same place for breakfast and lunch every day. Most of the people there are regulars, but every once in a while somebody will come up to the table and say, ‘I have a book of yours in the car. Will you sign it, please?’ And I’m thinking, ‘What is a book of mine doing in your car?’ I’m nothing if not terribly amiable, though.”

Gorey passed away in 2000 but you can still visit his home in Massachusetts. P and I are dying to get out east to visit friends in New York (providing it still exists by Christmas) so I think the Gorey House will definitely earn a spot on our travel agenda.

Check out his online community here. I’ve just got to get my hands on one of those prints!

Yet another good reason to have a huge crush on Edward Gorey is summed up in the above photo. He adored his feline friends, I mean, really really loved them. Me too!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Kitties and Pretties: First Edition

Today I’m revealing to the world something that, up until now, I’ve only hinted at here and there. Think what you may, but aside from being a serious student, a lover of all things literary, fashion, film, and craft, I am also deeply pleased by the subject of this post: kitties and pretties!

It’s exactly what it sounds like, an absolutely indulgent, hilarious, wonderful subject that is simply a way to have some visual fun with this blog and throw a hefty dose of cuteness into the world amidst a whole lot of really bummer subjects. Enjoy!

Above, a box full of vintage earrings, all recently found and upcycled from clip-ons. Also seen are some vintage bracelets. A new favorite of mine has one of the ten commandments punched onto each charm; I can’t get enough of the kitschy Sunday school vibes.  It’s also proof that I never hesitate to add an element of humour to my outfits — I told you I’m a jewellery addict! And now for this week’s kitty…

Above is one of my favorite little kitties, Nola, a resident of P’s new house. She was adopted for free from an ad on Craigslist but everyone thinks she’s a Bengal. I love her to death because she’s so smart! She’ll play fetch for hours. See below for more pretties pictures.

Above, a vintage strawberry pin.

Well there you have it! Next up: the full scoop on my most excellent birthday weekend.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Quilting Quest

Hello all! No, we didn’t die tragically during the Great American Road Trip. We didn’t even get a minor traffic violation. So what’s the deal, you may be asking. Truthfully, it’s a combination of sheer summer laziness and also 80% of the photos from the trip were shot on film and have only just been developed. Keep an eye out for the full scoop coming soon.

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But what I’m really excited about lately is my quilting quest. I’ve always been kind of astounded at the intricacy and folk art of quilts, not to mention the women who make them. Shortly after getting back home from our trip, LoisLouis and I accompanied my favorite grandma Evelyn to the Chippewa Valley Quilt Show at the senior’s center in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it until Evelyn mentioned that she had a keepsake quilt top that my great grandmother had fashioned out of old flour sacks and dresses during Evelyn’s childhood in the 40’s. I couldn’t wait to see it!

After the quilt show (which was much more fascinating that I had originally anticipated), we stumbled upon a mini flea market that was on for Chippewa’s Clear Water Days. Here we found a true treasure trove of astonishingly inexpensive vintage tidbits: silk scarves, 20’s era trims and embellishments, crochet table cloths, and a beautiful but raggedy quilt top from the same era as my great grandmother’s. I snapped up an armload of stuff for a miniscule $8 and our trio headed back to the Nelson homestead.

I’m on a quest to make my great grandma’s quilt top into a fully-functional, wrap-yourself-in-it-during-a-bad-cold-and-sip-some-hot-tea-on a-rainy-day quilt. Once I restore the flea market quilt top (see above photo) using a technique I learned at the quilt show, it will be the backing for my great grandma’s. Keep scrolling for a brief tutorial.

Please note: I am NOT a quilter. My most-uttered phrase when sewing is “Oh, I’m sure that will do.” I was told this is literally the simplest, most fool-proof way to construct a quilt. If you’re like me, then this quilting style is for you.

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Step one: Cut a small square of fabric, any size. Mine was approximately 2.5×2.5″

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Step two: Pin your first square to another sqaure of fabric of the same size. I got so lazy that I didn’t bother cutting the second square and just continued to the next step (trust me, it works).

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Step three: Sew all the way around your two squares leaving a small seam allowance.

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Step four: Draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner onto your sewn squares. Then create a small slit with a pair of scissors. Once you can get the tip of the scissors through, carefully cut along the lines, right to your sewing at the corners of your squares. If that sounds confusing, it’s not. See above photo.

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Step five: Pull apart the newly created flaps and reveal the center of your quilting square! I ironed all of mine flat before continuing to the next step but, I’m sure it would be fine if you just left it as is.

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Step six: Continue to repeat steps two through five until desired effect is achieved. I usually did this two or three times, depending on the size of patch I needed.

Keep scrolling to see more color combos and size variations. You can really go crazy with this pattern, be as matchy-matchy and or devil-may-care as you wish.

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So now you know. Have you ever given this technique a try? Let me know! I’m also dying to see how others have restored heirloom quilts so don’t forget to comment, I’d love to hear all about it!

I got some more inspiration for this project from a recent trip to the Art Institute of Chicago’s American Textiles exhibit. Stay tuned these next few weeks for more on that.

xxx

Maria Nichole


The Great American Road Trip Day Four: Omaha, NE

We finally made it to Omaha! I thought Iowa would never end. But seriously.

All you need to know about Iowa in one picture. Beautiful? Yes. Exciting? Not one bit.

Last night we camped out at North Overlook Campground on Lake Red Rock in Iowa. We didn’t get all of our gear set up until 3am–P and I are obviously novice campers.

 

The next morning we made a delicious campfire breakfast of eggs and potatoes and jumped in the lake for a swim before heading off to Omaha.

Here we’re staying with P’s grandpa Richard. The first thing he said as we trampled through his door in desperate search of air conditioning was, “Oh good, I was hoping you’d make it in time fore mass!” So off we went, sweat, lake-water-hair and all to my first Catholic mass just three blocks from Richard’s house.

Besides the overwhelming religious undertones, I am thrilled that we got to visit with Richard. He has had such an incredible life: a child of the dust bowl, a world-traveling member of the air force and navy during and after WWII, successful doctor, father of seven, and loyal husband.

He graciously took us to dinner and I insisted on hearing his stories of London life shortly after the blitz. Turns out he lived in a hotel for a few weeks very near where I lived last semester in the Royal Borough of Kensington. It’s exciting to think that we’ve both walked down the same streets, connected in such a distant way.

P’s grandpa Richard (right) freshly out of med school with a friend.

Afterwards everyone was exhausted but I couldn’t hide my curiousity. P’s mother grew up in this house and it is saturated with memories of rich childhoods. Also, P’s grandmother Jean passed away over a decade ago but her clothes still hang in all the closets, making the space a quiet shrine to her memory. Portraits of her at glamourous dinner parties and family vacations throughout her life litter the walls and tabletops. She certainly was a fabulous woman. Every once in a while P’s mom will remember her as constantly emanating a JackieO vibe, American perfection in every way.

Jean and Richard

Turning down the bed in my (separate, naturally) bedroom, I couldn’t help but peel back the closet doors to see what remnants of this woman’s incredible wardrobe still remained. I was in the kid’s old room so not much to find, but this beautiful floral blazer and a very groovy chiffon dress. In a second closet was a gold mine of Richard’s tailored suits and amazing collection of Burberry oxford shirts. P’s grandma wasn’t the only one with a fine taste for clothing!

 

The best thing I found was this small book with a black and white picture of one of P’s aunts on the cover, arm and arm with a dashing young man. Inside was a picture of twenty or more debs, decked out in elbow-length gloves and white gowns for their Coming Out Ball. I couldn’t find a date or list of names of the girls, but the old glamour of this scenario still has me reeling. I love thinking that that night must have been such a milestone for those girls. I can’t wait to meet P’s aunt and ask her about the experience.

 

 

 

 

This fascination for generations past is the same motivation that pulls me toward the Victoria and Albert. I haven’t gotten anywhere near visiting all of the galleries and museums in London but whenever I find a spare hour or two, I constantly find myself gravitating toward the V&A. The collections never fail to tell a story, and I can’t resist the allure of the unknown. No matter how many times I wander its halls, I always find a room I’ve never seen before.

Next stop: Denver, CO

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Midsummer Muses

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image from karentorrisibeading.com.au

In preparation for my first semester at Central Saint Martins this fall, I’ve taken to indulging my crafty side. Check out the project I’m in the midst of right now:

(photo to come shortly)

Binge-ing on DIY sites and sifting through Youtube videos day after day, I have finally found something incredible. I had never heard of tambour beading until yesterday, and now I absolutely must try my hand at the amazing art form. It kind of seems like a dying technique, not many people know how to do it anymore. Even still, no machine has been able to match the intricacy and detail as a hand-embroidered tambour piece which is even cooler!

The art has been pioneered by French atelier Lesage and Co. They’re who you can credit the five plus digit prices to on anything involving beads, sequins, and haute couture. Case in point, this video:

And also this one:

Thanks to Professor Robert Haven from the University of Kentucky, I plan on taking a full tambour embroidery course from a friend of his in Kent once I return to England this fall. I CANNOT wait. In the meantime all I can do is drool over google images and dream up what kind of awesome creations I’ll be able to whip up. With lots of practice, of course.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole