A Bit Of Southwestern Style

 “Inspired by the blending of traditional Native American and Hispanic dress with a romanticised and somewhat mythical “Western Style,” New Mexico invented its own “new look,” which fit perfectly with the primary components – the long, full skirt and nipped-in waist – of the New Look. Its key elements included “broomstick” (twisted), pleated and tiered skirts, fitted blouses, plenty of Native American jewellery, fringed or woven jackets, cowboy boots and hats, bola ties, and blue jeans. Today the look is described as “Southwest Style,” ““New Mexico Style,” “Santa Fe Style,” or “Albuquerque Chic.”

That quote is from “Fabulous! The New Look of the Fifties in Albuquerque,” an exhibition from 2003. An informative read if you are interested in the Southwestern take on Dior’s New Look. I’ve personally always loved the look of broomstick skirts, cowboy boots and lots of silver and turquoise piled on. It’s not one which blends in easily with wellington boots, grey skies and the general drift of what many  most other people here in Southern England wear…. but I’m not one to let little things like that stop me. So needless to say I was thrilled to find this cream cotton broomstick skirt in one of Carlsbad New Mexico’s finest thrift shops for the bargain price of $10. The Emily Anne label meant nothing to me when I first saw it so I hit Google and the museum page is what came up. So that was all very nice to find out about.


“Emily Ann had a dress shop in Old Town, and her specialty was fiesta dresses. You could get a fiesta dress made in your choice of colors and sizes.” quoted from ‘Fashion in 1950s Albuquerque’.


Some images to set the Southwestern scene.


Then I needed to know how to wash a broomstick skirt. Sew West blog has good instructions should you also find yourself needing them. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to wash the skirt before heading home (it isn’t really in need of one… it’s just the principle). But now I’m back in Blighty without that hot NM sun and I just know it will probably go mouldy before it ever dries. Cue lots more time spent on Google and what came up somewhere was the suggestion to get the wet skirt into a couple of stockings, one from each end and of course in this instance without wrapping it around a dowel or broom handle first, then chuck it in a clothes drier until just slightly damp, next removing the stockings and finally hanging it ’til dry. I’m really not sure I can see myself wrestling 4 metres of wet cotton skirt into a couple of stockings. Who knows, it could be a genius method. Or I can just wait until the central heating is back on, follow Sew West’s method and prop it on top of a radiator until done. Still, I am very happy to have added this skirt into my collection.


Appliqué tutorial available on my VV Free page



On the hem in a couple of places ‘Monica’ is printed. If this mean anything to anybody I’d love to hear!

This sequinned circle skirt beauty also came from New Mexico, Double Take in Santa Fe to be precise. Sadly the label had been cut out but I suspect it is also late 50’s, it’s just something about the quality of the cotton corduroy fabric that leads me to that thought though I could be dead wrong. The design under the silver sequins is an engineered circle, printed in two halves. When worn in sunlight it is nothing short of blinding. I love it!

Which brings me around to the appliquéd shirt in my photo. It is, or was, a plain white bought shirt that I added the appliqués onto as well as adding a new top collar and new cuffs. It’s become one of my favourite shirts since I made it a couple of years ago as a project for a now defunct craft magazine. I’ve refreshed the tutorial and that, complete with the design template, can be accessed here or on my VV Free page. Some might say it’s a cheat using Bondaweb but sometimes life is just too short to fiddle around turning tiny seam allowances under…. in this instance I feel its the result that counts. So there. I used the same technique on my silk crepe skirt and blouse made from vintage kimono lining fabric too. As up-cycling goes this is an easy and satisfying way to style-up a plain shirt or whatever.

VVappliqueBlouse VVappliqueSkirt

On the costuming side of my work I’ve had a couple of making jobs in recent months that I was really happy with how they turned out: Adelaide’s suits for Houdini and Doyle were a bit stressful to cut and sew to say the least as the pin-stripes in the duplicate suit had to match the exact placement of the first suit but it was also rather fun in a challenging-teethgritting-lots of re-stitching  kind of way. I even made a period corset and petticoats for her to wear underneath.  The red dress and silver suit for a production of  “The Maids” that was recently on in London were another challenging job. While doing the costume fittings for that I recognised Uzo Aduba who I just loved in ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and Zawe Ashton from ‘Fresh Meat’  but just couldn’t quite place the blond actress. Then it hit me…. OMG IT’S LADY EDITH. She’ll never see where I wrote “I heart Lady Edith” inside her suit lining either. Just kidding. Maybe. Downton Abbey fans will understand.


Maids stage photographs by Marc Brenner. Houdini & Doyle images via Fox


My Pattern Poll: PDF or Paper  is done now. Thank you to the 223 who voted!

104- Printed paper

114- PDF (tiled and full size together print yourself)

5 –  “It depends”

So almost even…I expected the results be more heavily weighted in one or the other direction. Interesting.



1940’s Pleat-back Coat Pattern sale!

The Coat Pattern Sale Is Over

May 9,2016


The 1940s Pleated Coat Pattern goes Live!


You can have a gander at the coat instructions here to see if it is something you’d like to make…. and if so here is the coat page also linked to in the top menu bar above under  ‘VVPattern Shop’. (yep two patterns for sale so it’s officially a SHOP 🙂   )  The pattern price and many questions are answered on the coat page so do have a look but if you still have a question about just use the comment form on that page.



Meanwhile Back on Planet VeraVenus…


I recently read a Blogging Tips article and I now know it’s terrible that I don’t write regularly (five months of silence is pretty bad so thank you to those who had faith and stayed with me), apparently my SEO is terrible, while starting to write this I should already have a title ( I don’t) to help keep me focussed, this post will probably be too long … what else I can tick off the list of Top Blog Don’ts ? Oh and I over-use ‘…’  but hey, on the plus side I do try to keep a tight reign on my use of exclamation points!! Mostly.  Such is life.

I am looking forward to 2016.

Non-the-less I’m back and as usual there are quite a number of  project-asteroids spinning around in my little universe, I’ll start with the closest one : More

A Little Post About Making Box Pleated Skirts


A reader got in touch yesterday and asked me about how I worked out the pleats in my box pleated skirt so I thought I’d post the info for doing just that . More

Gingham & Stripes & More- Oh My!

NM2015SOooo it’s been awhile since my last post in April so bit of a catch-up.  Back in May when I went to visit my Mum in New Mexico among other lovely outings we spent a wonderful afternoon at an iris farm. Irises by the thousands, so gorgeous…who knew! On my “to-grow” list for next year. No smuggling of bulbs in my luggage was necessary as apparently I can buy similar beauties from Holland and also in the UK. However something I couldn’t seem to get in the UK (at a price I was willing to pay) was a half scale mannequin. Yes, I know irises to mannequins? – quite a jump. Anyway ‘back at the ranch’ after the iris outing I was doing some recreational web surfing and came across a place in Alabama that sells PGM half scale mannequins at a nice price. Clickty click done deal. It arrived at my Mums house a week later.  You maybe wondering what is the point of a mini-mannequin. More

U.F.O -abbreviation for Un-Finished Object. [noun] A sewing term.




Oh yes.

If you sew you have ’em.

They lurk in closets or huddle in bags. If left long enough they transform from UFO into a WTF was I thinking? or an OMG I remember this! and get cut into quilt pieces if they are lucky or simply binned if not. This past Friday I had a pre-summer closet shuffle, a.k.a. What-Fits-This-Year and I found two UFOs from last summer.

But isn’t it wonderful how if you take a break from a project, anywhere from overnight to ahem a year! and look at it with fresh eyes that whatever seemed wrong with it isn’t such a big deal after all?  That’s how it works for me most of the time anyway. A sleeve suddenly fits in perfectly…. the pattern correction needed is blindingly obvious…. the pocket placement is clear. More

All tied up

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MMblouse pic
Issue 58/March 2015 of Making magazine was released in the UK yesterday and in it is this simple front buttoning bow tied blouse pattern and tutorial by yours truly 🙂 Now the issue is on the shelves I can share this version with you- available on my Free Patterns PageKimono-Bow-blouse-flat


A little more on the kimono front

Simple vintage style blouse- free pattern @ veravenus.com

Magyar blouse with shoulder pads


Magyar blouse

No shoulder pads and with tie belt from the dress.


Left over from my recent adventures in vintage Japanese kimono deconstruction I had enough of  one to also make this simple magyar/kimono blouse.

The definition of magyar blouse says  that  ‘…the sleeves are cut in one with the body.’  I’d also call that a kimono style top. I’m not sure of or even if there’s much difference between a magyar and basic kimono cut …if anyone does know a distinction please enlighten me.

In any event the magyar style of dress bodice & blouse seems to have been around for a long time in western fashion history from before WWI through the 30’s, into the 50’s and pops up beyond though in more recent decades maybe that’s when it began to be called a ‘kimono’ cut.  Really I’m just making a supposition on that, don’t quote me. More

Kimono My House

Oh, kimo-No!

Ok, so what I didn’t know when I started writing was that my post title is also the title of a Sparks album from May, 1974 ( I guess I was listening to  other music at the time) I like the album cover anyway so there it is. Next I learned that the title is a take on the 1951 Rosemary Clooney song ‘Come on-a My House’. Next stop was at the rather wonderful Japanese YouTube version which I share with you:

Isn’t the stuff you  find on the internet amazing…

But I’m wandering.

Anyway to get to the point this is a post about my most recent up-cycling/ re-purposing/ extreme ‘make-do-and-mend’ venture involving, you guessed it- Kimono. More

Sew Relaxed

VV Weldons pattern pjs

PJ layout illustration showing how F. & B crutches are almost identical, placket and faced buttonhole method.

PJ layout illustration showing how F. & B crutches are almost identical, placket and faced buttonhole method.

Take a late 40′s or early 50s Weldons pj pattern add a fun flamingo cotton border print bought yesterday  (Ditto Fabrics, UK) and hey presto- pjs. It’s an unprinted pattern but the original seamstress very helpfully pencil labeled each pattern piece. More

The sewing book winner is…. and something for everyone


I want to say a huge thank you everyone who participated and to all VV followers, but especially the 18 who help me reach 1000 and the 5 beyond that even! I enjoyed all the lovely comments everyone left too 🙂

And for all, just added to VV Free today :


Available to download from the VV Free Patterns page

This is a pattern for a cardigan/kimono coat, commissioned by Making magazine UK, for their February 2014 issue. I always get my project samples back and now it is Autumn I thought those in cooler climes might like a super easy casual coat to make. I am wearing mine almost every day at the moment. More

Celebratory Give-Away (a 1944 Sewing Book)

edit Sept 26 2014:




Sew It and Sea

Remember my Lamour swimsuit from a few summers back? I finally got back to that pattern and over the last 4 months in between costume work and wedding dresses I’ve developed a whole little range of retro styled swimwear and thought I’d give a preview of some of the pattern styles.


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