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.

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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.

 

 

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

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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

HiHo Sewing in the US of A I go.

Well hello from southern New Mexico where ostensibly I’m on holiday visiting my mum. But not to sew for two whole weeks??
I m p o s s i b l e.
Weeks before my arrival I’d been lurking on USA ebay and won some lovely vintage patterns and had them sent to my US address. It was nice to be able to buy a few Hollywood patterns particularly which I don’t come across on UK ebay that often. Believe me when I say I wasn’t planning at all to sew on my visit, honest I wasn’t!

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I lasted a mere 6 days. The vintage patterns were whispering to me. I shouldn’t have been left alone in the house! More

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. More

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 (site now under reconstruction) 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.

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.

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Lounge Lady

“Yes you can come to the pyjama party too!”

‘Lounge Lady’ pyjamas sounds so much nicer than ‘Lounge Jockey’ pyjamas

(what my family has dubbed them because of the print on the fabric 🙁 )

What ever you’d like to call them, they are finished!! More

Are you going to the pyjama party?

at Did You make That?
It’s a sew-along with tutorial on sewing some pj bottoms from a modern Simplcity pattern or a link to drafting your own.
What a good idea…. and just the push I need to make myself some lovely new pjs that I won’t be embarrassed to open my front door in as it seems that when ever I have a pj-day my house is suddenly transformed into Grand Central Station.
I’m opting for using my own patterns as I just happen to have a similar little top I drafted for myself a number of years ago and a number of loose trouser patterns that will do for the bottoms. More

1940’s style brassiere pattern give-away…finally!

This morning I faced the fact that I had to just stop making samples, doing fittings, planning, thinking, what-if-ing (aka procrastinating) and just get this give-away (first blogged about here) going.

[slideshow]

So here’s the deal: More

Vintage style shoe heaven….

I have found my absolute shoe heaven!

Sadly for me it’s in L.A….. but they ship internationally 🙂

I’m having palpitations…

and those San Miguel sandals are on sale…

Wearing and shopping vintage, with a bit of camping thrown in… does it get better than that?


Not much better in my book!

That’s what it was like at the Twinwood-Glenn Miller Festival two weekends ago.

Fab outfits, brilliant music, tons of dancing, great people-watching and a fair amount of rain.

Day 1- I wore the raincoat I made from McCall 5760 over Vogue 5757 wool gabardine slacks I very recently made. The ground wasn’t too muddy yet so I could still wear my nice brogues.

My hair was really acting up in the damp windy weather …so I just ignored it.

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What I Did On My Summer Holiday…

…wait a minute, I worked all summer. The joys of being freelance. When work’s on offer I feel obliged to take it as there may not be more around the corner.

Well, that’s how I used to think but I’m older and wiser now and less keen on hammering myself into the ground.

Still, the summer months were back to back jobs and just whizzed by without much time for anything else (like keeping my blog updated!)

Here’s some of the work I did from early July through mid August:

3 showgirls for a tv advert I love doing retro style showgirl costumes like these (and couldn’t resist trying out a Photoshop film strip action on the photos)

Next I made …

5 Gold “Icons” for Top Hat the musical (clockwise: Queen Elizabeth, Aphrodite, Brunhilde, Cleopatra… and missing is Joan of Arc as the gold paint on her armour wasn’t dry when these were taken.) These took me and a fab prop maker I work with 3 weeks … with a few very late nights by the end.

Somehow in among those jobs I finished a private wedding dress I’d started in the spring….a rather gothic-y number in black lace, silk & cotton tulle and Italian gold lamé. Definitely has a 1930’s feel to it as well. In motion the 8 soft tulle godets are very frothy and floaty. At the last minute the bride asked to have the scalloped edging from the lace fabric appliquéd all the way around the hem which does weigh it down a bit but still moves beautifully. There are 16 black glass buttons down the back and tiny seed beads stitched on the neckline of the dress and bolero and at the under bodice seam. Hardly noticeable but little details like that make it that much more special. It was worn both to the civil ceremony two weeks ago and a couple of nights after to the party. I’m looking forward to the pictures of it in action! The girl who wore it has pale blond hair and intended to pin it up with blood-red roses. The lamé was so fab that I bought a few metres for myself to make a glam 30’s style bias dress in. Personal Project 2,536 …

There were a few smaller jobs squeezed in those weeks as well… nothing special though.

After all that I had a small collapse, stayed at home for 3 weeks, caught up with family and life…and of course did some sewing for myself.

I’m saving that for my next post.

Oh, and finally I received some simply gorgeous pictures of the 1930’s style wedding dress I posted about making here .

 

Fashion: Is it vintage or vintage-inspired?

Fashion: Is it vintage or vintage-inspired? – latimes.com.

Just a quicky post: a link to an article concerning one of my favourite soap-box rants concerning how these days the word ‘vintage’ is used so often as either a fashion branding device or to describe clothing that is really nothing more than grubby second-hand tat.

Is a new word needed to differentiate true vintage from ‘new’ vintage?
Do most people not actually involved with original vintage clothing really care?

What do you think?

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