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.

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“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’.

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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.

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Appliqué tutorial available on my VV Free page

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Monica

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.

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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.

 

 

Meanwhile Back on Planet VeraVenus…

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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

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.

 


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UFOs.

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

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

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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Handbags and Gladrags

Where did that summer go? Cold, wet and nasty here in the UK now… where I am at any rate. But tomorrow morning at some hideously early hour I start the 18 hour long trip that lands me in still warm and sunny southern New Mexico to visit my mum for two weeks. A very welcome break from work and crummy weather 🙂 So this post is a quicky Hi y’all with a free 50’s style dress pattern AND a cute bag to make. I did these two projects for the Christmas issue of Making Magazine that hit the newsstands yesterday. The patterns can be downloaded from my free stuff page. The dress pdf is 33  pages! I’ve put the full size A0 & A1 pattern pdfs up too for those of you with access to large format printers.  I expect to be making quite a number of the bags myself soon in tweed, fake leopard fur, sequin- fab to give as  Christmas presents I thought.IMG_3123

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Something For The Weekend: a vintage styled sundress pattern.

It is the hottest summer here for 7 years –  sundresses needed fast!

This cotton swimsuit (still my fave) I made from a vintage Butterick pattern a couple of summers ago provided the inspiration. I re-drafted a similar style bodice (bust 35-37ins/89-94cms) and the pattern is now up on the VV Free page for you to download and use with just about any skirt pattern you like or even sew it onto shorts or bloomers for a cute swim/play suit similar to the Butterick one. More

Bits & Bobs and A Loose End or Two

Monday. 3pm. And I might as well face the fact that the work I should be doing (1910 outfit for up coming TV show) is just not going to get a look in today. It’s snowing!! Like the railroads here, a bit of weather and my day goes to hell. That’s my Monday excuse and I’m sticking to it. So a good day instead to catch up on blog bits and pieces and post a few little items that had been shunted aside and that I do feel a little guilty about not getting back to. So in no particular order-

VeraVenus30'sPJs1: I have redrawn my 30’s PJ pattern in Illustrator and now it looks all lovely and ‘professional’ and is clearer to use than the original hand-drawn and scanned one 🙂 The cover illustration and included Sewing Instructions got a bit of a makeover too. If you had down-loaded this pattern previously please do replace it with the newer one.

1950's style

Pencil Skirt with Bucket-Pockets

2: Remember the 3 skirts from September -my, how time flies! Well a very nice reader (as I’m sure you all are) contacted me a few weeks back to ask when was I actually getting back to the skirt drafting tutorials I had started as she really wanted to make herself this 50’s style one with the ‘bucket’ pockets. I re-checked the tutorial and all the info you need to draft a pencil skirt is there. And now today I’ve posted the pdf pattern for the bucket-pocket pieces. A bit of a cop-out but I just couldn’t get my head around explaining completely how to draft them. So you can download the pieces and hopefully you’ll see how the pocket works and can adapt the pieces to fit your own pencil skirt patterns, self-drafted or otherwise. As always just drop me a line if you need help with my pocket explanation.

3: A GIVE-AWAY 🙂 The second half of my Second Year Blogaversary celebration (the LBD being the other).

ONE copy of my Bloggin’ Blues dress pattern. It will be the complete pattern, hand copied onto pattern makers spot & cross pattern paper, posted to wherever the winner lives. Size is a UK12 (89-73-96cms/35-29-38ins) but will easily work on a figure either a bit smaller or a bit larger.

"Bloggin' Blues" dress

“Bloggin’ Blues” dress

I gotta be honest now, this is not a “beginner” project… the bias draped sleeves take a certain amount of finessing (read hair pulling) to get them to hang nicely, the multi-rows of shirring take ages to do and the rouleaux loops down the front are, well, rouleaux loops and the hassle they always are. But it is a fab dress, dare I say so myself. I’m about to make another in a rayon floral print which will look very different. I’m still debating whether the sleeves, yoke and pockets should be in a plain fabric to contrast or to do the whole dress in the print… watch this space.

Annnnnyyway, if you haven’t been put off now by my saying what a fiddly dress it is to make and you would relish the chance to have a go yourself leave a comment saying so and next Sunday the 17th before I shut down for the night I will post an Entries Closed comment and randomly draw a winner to be announced a couple of days later. Until the Entries Closed comment is there the draw remains open.

So, short of explaining how to move darts around and split them as needed for that bow skirt I think I’m fairly caught up. With blog things at least. Everything else is another story…

A Post of Many P’s

You -“What exactly is a post of many Ps?”
Me – “Promised Patterns, Pretty Pants, Phabulous Presents, Palace Party, Pampered Pooch & a Professional Project in a Pear tree of course!”

First up the promised pattern drafting tutorial for the 8 gore 6 godet 1930’s style skirt I posted about in September…and the pdf isn’t a squillion pages long this time . 🙂 While writing and diagramming it I realised it made perfect sense to show how to make a basic Pencil Skirt and an A-line skirt pattern along the way. The big plus is not only can the A-line pattern can be cut on the straight grain as for a simple 1940’s tailored skirt but can be cut on the bias too! So all in all a good start to pattern designing your own skirt collection. In my next tutorial effort I’ll show how to split darts and move them around to add the bow detail for the 40’s skirt and drafting the ‘bucket’ pocket to add to the 50’s pencil skirt.

I do want to point out that my tutorial doesn’t at all intend to replace in-depth pattern drafting books. I’ve tried to keep it simple enough for anyone to follow to get the feel of creating patterns for themselves without getting hung up on too much technical stuff. I loathed taking flat-pattern classes way back when- the instructor was a dragon and nothing I did ever came out right …unless I was making patterns styled for Quasi Modo (he’s my knitting muse now instead) Draping on a stand was my idea of heaven however and that was how I created patterns for years. Slowly though I conquered my fear of set squares, fractions and precision points and started to absorb information from the flat pattern cutters I worked along side. Some books, the Natalie Bray series and the 1942 Harriet Pepin in particular were very useful. Now I work back and forth between draping and flat pattern designing equally at home in both. If I can’t figure out how to do something by one method I turn to the other.

Anyhow enough rambling. I hope you get something useful from the skirt tutorial and please come back & show me what you make. Download the skirt drafting pdf here.

Pretty Pants up next: Using VV patterns Abigail of FarmhouseGarden made a very cute pair of ‘Grannie Pannies’ and Ruth shows off her rather cheeky pair of French Knickers at LessonsInScarlet. Have a look and my thanks to them both for showing off their scanties  🙂

On to Phabulous Presents: because that time of year is fast approaching. I’ve made myself two promises regarding presents: first- NO internet shopping. Though it is convenient and I do my fair share I also think it’s important to support small local retailers and sitting in front of a computer is not so much fun as going out and about looking at things (and getting tired feet and banged shins and a short temper… ok well just a little internet shopping maybe). Second- get it done in a timely fashion. Oh-hoho no, that won’t be me running around on Christmas Eve this year 15 minutes before the shops shut. Famous last words.

And of course who doesn’t like to make things to give as gifts? These are two projects I did for the most recent issue of Making Magazine .

Pearly Elf Christmas Stocking

Holiday Hottie Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The editor has kindly said I may post the instructions and patterns on my Patterns&Tutorials page for SewVeraVenus readers.

 

And  almost last but hardly least the Palace Party.
OK, not strictly speaking a party but something I am SO EXCITED about… Caravan Palace are playing Brighton next week and I have tickets! Their Electro Swing music never fails to make me want to dance and it definitely feels like time to party when ever  I hear it.
I won’t be dancing at the gig, my foot still isn’t mended enough for that but I’ll be  jigging about a bit ( in a sedate ladylike manner of course) that’s for sure.

 

Have a look and listen to Caravan Palace -[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/50917257 w=300&h=200]

So that’s what I call a post of many Ps. I dePart leaving you with a picture of my Pampered Pooch.

Too Pooped to Post More

Ah,  just still one more P after all-

I nearly forgot the Katie outfit I recently designed that was made for her most recent promo.
Couldn’t let you go without a peep at that now could I.

Price in Boots

 

Keeping calm and carrying on…. fur stole pattern posted

(Fake fur of course)

The Mad Men style furore seems to have died … or maybe it’s just off the radar until the next season starts? If a bit of 50’s/60’s glam is on your things-to-make-list the pattern for this stole is now up on my Free Stuff page… finally got around to digitizing it.  Until my broken foot is healed computer work is about all I can do for a while. Which means I’ll get to those 3 skirt drafting tutorials sooner rather than later too.

Which tutorial shall I do first: 30’s, 40’s or 50’s??

30’s

40’s

50’s

last of the summer sweet peas

And aren’t these sweet peas the most amazing colours! That’s half of my autumn/winter palette right there.

Celebrating 100 SewVeraVenus followers with a free big-knicker pattern….

Woohoo!

100 SewVeraVenus blog followers as of today, a nice round number 🙂

Thank you all so very much for your interest in SewVeravenus!

So to celebrate I thought I’d put up the super-easy version of my ‘Grannie Pannies‘  the big-knickers that I was making patterns for a couple of months back.

A printable-cut-it-out-and-stick-it-together-with-tape pattern.

(UK size 10/12 , that’s hips 36′ to 39″, but easily grade-able to bigger/smaller sizes by following the Threads Magazine grading advice.

The pattern can be downloaded from the VVPatterns & Tutorials page.

Fabrics:  one or two way stretch jerseys, stretch silk, stretch lace, cotton lycra…

Have at it- cut ’em out, stretch-stitch together…. zig-zag stitch some elastic at the waist and legs and presto your very own big-yet-ever-so-sexy-knickers.

Bridget Jones eat your heart out.

“Granny-pannies” or when french knickers just won’t do.

1950's style viscose and nylon lace

Spent yesterday trying to drown my head-cold in Beechams Cold & Flu blackcurrant (tastes like medicinal Kool-Aid yummmm) and ignoring how vile I felt by trying out 3 new knicker drafts Ive been developing based on the bottom half of the Dorothy Lamour inspired swimsuit pattern I made this last summer … success! and 4 new pairs of “granny-pannies”; three pairs in a lovely soft pink viscose jersey and daisy lace from Ditto fabrics (they don’t sponsor me – it’s just a great fabric shop close to home) and one in a stretch silk satin from my stash.

I think high-waisted 1950’s style pants are great for occasions where French knickers are too airy …

Stretch silk satin

And yes, I totally agree that it would have been nice if I’d changed the bobbin to pink…

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