Category Archives: It’s in the Details

A Bit Of Southwestern Style

 

Do you like a bit of Southwestern style?  Here is a  quote is from “Fabulous! The New Look of the Fifties in Albuquerque,” an exhibition from 2003.

 “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.”

The link is 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.

VeraVenusBroomstickSkirt
“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’.

Continue reading A Bit Of Southwestern Style

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. Continue reading Kimono My House

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. Continue reading Something For The Weekend: a vintage styled sundress pattern.

Oranges & Lemons, Almost A Miss and Summer Fabrics Waiting.

photo from http://spitalfieldslife.com

and round and round and round in my head went that song the entire time I sewed this dress. GaaaH!!!  I’m about as far from being a London cockney as a transplanted-to-Brighton ex-New Yorker could possibly be.  My children learned the lyrics in school and I learned from them as we marched around the South Downs singing this at the top of our lungs. Gave the livestock quite a fright.

The other week a local fabric shop gave me a couple of meters of this lovely citrus fabric in exchange for having pics of my results to show off on their FB page. (as I checked the link worked I saw some fab new dalia patterned cotton just in…. look away now!) But anyway, fabric in exchange for pics is a win-win situation in my book. I even have a glass necklace of oranges bought on a long ago trip to Venice to accessorise with. But now I cannot get that damn song out of my head. Continue reading Oranges & Lemons, Almost A Miss and Summer Fabrics Waiting.

Singing the Blahblah Bloggin’ Blues

Had a bad case of the blogging blues these last couple of months and had to just walk away and think for a while. Blogging was supposed to be an enjoyable thing but became a stress and an obsession instead. I have enough of those already. It got so I couldn’t make anything without thinking about whether or not I ought to be photographing my progress, jotting down the steps and writing a tutorial. And how often did I check my stats?? Sheesh, talk about a creativity killer. Can’t say I’ve come to an understanding with myself about what I’m doing here on WP or why or for whom… but hey I didn’t hit ‘delete this site’ so even if not exactly back in the saddle at least I’m walking alongside the horse. And I have been sewin’ up a storm while singin’ those blues and at the end of the day making clothes is my passion and I just have to keep sight of that.

So.

A while ago while idly perusing vintage dress sites looking at pix of dresses hoping for some inspiration I came across this red beauty on FabGabs.com and it was love at first sight!

photos by FabGabs.com

So I made a version for myself. It’s made from a heavy silk crepe I’ve been hoarding for years just waiting for the perfect moment to use it and has a velvet yoke, sleeves and pockets. The embroidery is cut out from an upholstery sample, first BondaWeb-ed to stabilise it and help stick it in place on the velvet and then blanket stitched with silk buttonhole thread all around the edges. The pattern itself is a cobbled together job- draped bias sleeves from a 1940’s style evening dress I made a private client a couple of years ago, skirt, also bias is a lengthened version from the 30’s pj top I put a pattern up for (DIY page) and the bodice was adapted from a fitted shirt block. The 4 rows of shirring at the top and bottom of the bodice to control the fullness is a technique I really like and don’t use enough. In a panic I discovered I was down to my last fabric buckle covering kit and they are so hard to find these days… Vogue Fabric site has them in USA and Amazon.com. But they won’t ship them to the UK for some reason so had to warn my Mum in New Mexico a packet of a dozen is headed her way which I’ll collect in January. Phew, panic over 🙂

I’ve used the cut-out embroidery technique before on this georgette and velvet kimono I did for Making Magazine (a UK craft mag I do sewing projects for quite a lot)

That’s a pic of one of the  18″ square upholstery fabric swatches a friend who works in a posh interior design shop gave me and the image below shows how I machine stitched it on. Going around all the edges with blanket stitch is somewhere on my to-do list….. someday. Anyway I think it’s a good cheat for adding embroidery onto clothes for those of us who don’t embroider.

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French Knicker Sew-Along: Day 2

So diving straight back in where yesterday left off todays post covers attaching the waistband, hemming your knickers with and without lace and (with reservations, you’ll see why) how to do a hand made button-hole as well showing a thread-loop. (By the way any picture will open full size in a separate window when clicked) Continue reading French Knicker Sew-Along: Day 2

French Knicker Sew-Along Day 1: ready, steady…

…sew!

Day 1- today covers cutting out, hand sewing on lace motifs, sewing french seams and how to attach a continuos side seam placket with either a hand or machine finish.

Day 2- tomorrows post covers adding a waistband with either a fabric or elastic (ha, didn’t expect that did you!), machine appliquéd lace hems and motifs, machine pin-hemming, hand-made button-holes and other closing options. Continue reading French Knicker Sew-Along Day 1: ready, steady…

Bows into Darts. A Mini How-to

In the post before this one Holly commented that she’d love to know how I put the bows into the darts on the skirt I made for myself a few weeks ago (and as I’m always ready to avoid what I am really meant to be doing)  here is a mini how-to do just that.

1940’s style silk crepe Bow Skirt

-Basically the ‘bows’ are sewn into pair of parallel darts creating a centre strap effect. If you only have one front dart divide it into two darts. They can be very shallow. (when I do a more in-depth tutorial on drafting the complete skirt, I’ll show how to divide one dart into two) The darts on my skirt are 2cm apart and finish parallel to the centre front skirt seam.

– Stay-stitch a fraction inside the dart ‘legs’ and iron on a 2.5cm strip of light weight interfacing from the top edge to  2/3rds of the way down in the ‘strap’ area between each pair of darts. It will cover the stay-stitching you just did and be caught in with the final dart stitching.

– Make 2 pairs of bow ’ears’. These are simply strips of fabric bagged-out into a tube. No interfacing was used as they would probably have been too thick. The finished  dimensions of my ‘ears’ are 4cm wide and 4.5cm extending out from the darts. I coaxed each into a centre box pleat with some hand stitching. Continue reading Bows into Darts. A Mini How-to

French inspiration from August 1939


Last weekend I bought the 1939 August of issue Marie Claire magazine in a antique market

from 73 years ago this month!

It has these lovely illustrations of men’s holiday fashions in ice-cream colours which really caught my eye.

Just one month later WW2 was declared.

In the same issue is this article of ideas on using lace as appliqué on ‘bibelots” (I’ve always loved that word)

Inspiration hit and I made…. wait for it…… more french knickers of course.

Serendipity in the form of some lovely soft turquoise-y blue silk broadcloth I bought only the week before.

To make lace appliqué bows you tie a length of lace into a bow and fiddle about with it on your ironing board sticking pins in here and there until it has the shape you like and then you press it very flat.

Carefully re-pin it in place on whatever you will be sewing it on. Flat fabric is easier than an already sewn garment because of having to turn it every which way while sewing.

You can either hand baste it in place first (the methodical way) or go straight to sewing it down (the impatient way) though the pins will really get in the way.

I used a small size 2 straight stitch and was very grateful my machine has a presser foot knee lift!

You could cut some sections of the backing fabric away after sewing which would look lovely and airy- in which case either a tiny machine zig-zag or close hand-whipping the lace edges down would be better.

Continue reading French inspiration from August 1939

House of Wenger, 3-sided Italian Stitch and a final word on knickers…

A few months back a friend very generously lent me these gorgeous pleated silk knickers to photograph for my reference files. Going by period illustrations and saucy photographs of the time  I would date them as from 1925-1930. (clicking on any pictures will open a large version)

Silk pleats!

Think of the ironing. Though I imagine the woman who originally bought these hand-made silk undies from the House of Wenger in Philadelphia in the 20’s had someone to do it for her…. Continue reading House of Wenger, 3-sided Italian Stitch and a final word on knickers…