Vintage Button Show

IMG_3676I had no idea there was this was going on; button collecting!  The Colorado State Button Society puts on a button show every year.  There are juried competitions and of course dealers and collectors go to buy. There are classes, lectures and workshops too. And, oh all the buttons. Beautiful buttons, everywhere.  Old ones,very old ones, Bake-lite, glass, buttons from Germany, China, Egypt.  The most expensive I saw was almost 2000.00.  The cheapest was a quarter.  That’s the bin I was in. Continue reading

What’s your favorite era for inspiration?

Judge Magazine 1926

Judge Magazine 1926

Probably my favorite era for fashion is 1920’s.  Check out this colorized video of 1920’s fashion and the music is really the bee’s knees.  There is an orange coat that is stunning and could quite easily be copied. The coats have amazing linings.  Love the hats, the music the fashion.  How about you?  Do you have a favorite era for inspiration?

What A Way to Go indeed! Edith Head’s costume designs

I’ve been reading one of Edith Head’s biographies and have come to her work on What A Way To Go with Shirley MacClaine and Robert Mitchum as well as Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman and Dick Van Dyke. This 5 minute clip will give you a quick look at a few of  the fabulous costumes from this movie.  Apparently Mitchum and MacClaine were having an affair at the time so their constant I-love-you’s might not have been all that hard to utter.  And, yes this is a movie for which her work was nominated for an Oscar for Costume Design.  If you love costumes, Edith Head or just a silly movie this fits the bill.   Check it out!

The Secret Life of Sewing Machines and Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a little dose of history.  It’s over 9 minutes long but it’s quite interesting.  At around 5:30 watch the human sewing machine!

Continue reading

How sewing can change your life

With ads like this I’m surprised there wasn’t a mad rush to the local sewing machine shop.    I just read up on the madness/genius of Stan Freberg from the wonderful blog The Automat.    If you are interested in zany advertising campaigns check a few out  here.    Sure to elicit a giggle or two.  The announcer in the Singer ads is Walter O’ Keefe, and his fast talking and irreverent humor  reminded me of Freberg.   Is the 21st century ready for ads like this?  

And here is one more.

The Pin – a short history

Photo by Mary Harding

  As seamstresses, quilters, crafters we use pins without any thought.  Always at the ready, sitting in our little magnetic dishes. Only cursing them when we find a point stuck into a calloused toe like a small cocktail sword.   They are used everyday we sew and are vital to making great garments, crafts and quilts.  Here are a few things about the pin that you may not know. Continue reading

Working with difficult fabrics

photo by elizabeth holcombe

Vintage fabric and supplies

Here is a list of fabrics placed in order of easiest to handle to most difficult.   What do you think?  Some seamstresses find silk and other slippery fabrics easy to work with.  I would love to hear your ideas on how to handle difficult fabrics. 

Any disagreements here?

1. Polyester
2. Cotton
3. Muslin
4. Linen
5. Knits 
6. Wool
7. Felt
8. Stretch
9. Taffeta
10. Chiffon
11. Bridal Satin
12. Silk
13. Lingerie satin
14. Pre-treated fabrics (water or fire-proof)
15. Velvet
16. Tulle
17. Organza
18. Velour

Born on this day Elsa Schiaparelli September 10, 1896

The one the only – Elsa Schiaparelli

In her autobiography Elsa wrote about sowing flower seeds in her ears and mouth in the hopes that she would flower into a beauty.

While she may have lacked in classical, model good looks her wild, creative imagination is a true beauty.  She collaborated with artists like  Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp and André Breton.  She designed costumes for Mae West, and Zsa Zsa Gabor and is well know as a hat designer and perfumer.  

Rival to Madame Chanel, the two are on completely different planets.  Schiaparelli took the fashion world to another level introducing looks and ideas that were way ahead of their time. (So to did Chanel but Schiaparelli was really WAY ahead in her thinking and designs)     

She is credited with introducing the zipper into fashion. Has a patent for folding eyeglasses and  introduced color hosiery.

So, the next time you see a lobster on a dress or a woman wearing a shoe on her head you can thank the marvelous Elsa Schiaparelli. Here is the full Impossible Conversations with Stalin and Elsa Schiaparelli.  It’s darn funny. 

Video pick of the week YSL on What’s My Line

Check out this adorable clip of Yves Saint Laurent on the old television show What’s My Line?  He doesn’t say much, but he seems so sweet and just a little bemused (and amused) by the American’s and their questions.  

Jazz Age Lawn Party


Has anyone heard or gone to this?  New York of course.  Oh, how lovely.  Here are a few photos from the event.  Sounds and looks dreamy.  What a wonderful way to celebrate history.  Check out the schedule of events, awesome.

Do you sew on the weekdays?

Jean Harlow in Dinner at 8

Where is the maid with my sewing machine!

I have had a little time on my hands recently and yesterday I spent  most of the day sewing.  A Wednesday mind you.  By myself.  No interruptions except for the cat who wanted in or out and then back in and out etc.  I felt more than a little guilty, even checking the window any time I heard a car drive by.  And, I actually watched old 70’s cop shows on the telly.  Truly decadent.  Next I’ll be eating bon-bons as I watch the maid do all the housework and have the children sent off to finishing school.

But, my little dip in the pool of extravagance got me wondering.  Do you get time to sew on a weekday, or do you have to cram it all in on weekends. How much time would you really like to spend on creating?

Born on this day Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

What can be said?  Her legacy is so great, her style and influence permanently ingrained in the fashion world that little is left to be said.  Her name still embodies independence, style and a forward thinking attitude. Chanel herself was a shrewd business woman and unrelenting in maintaining her vision.   Today her vintage pieces are highly sought after including her line of jewelry.  Fashion fades and style remains and what better way is this exemplified than with the “Little Black Dress”.  Women all over the world reach for it  in whatever incarnation to feel stylish and relevant. Today the line is one of the best known luxury brands and still holds true with the Chanel ideal.  So in honor of Chanel’s birthday why don’t we all go out and buy ourselves a little Chanel something!  Or, how about joining me in making a personal, super fitting Little Black Dress?  

Dress for Success – Old School

Timeless tips for dressing for success.  I thought this was quite cute and actually has tips that are relevant today.  I have an interview Monday, maybe I should nix the big veil bow I was going to wear. 

50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death – August 5th

Seems like only 25 years ago doesn’t it?  If you notice more Marilyn Monroe related posts, photos and retrospective’s popping up, well the big 5-0 is the reason.   There are new “never before seen” photos of Monroe being brought to daylight everywhere.   Salvatore Ferragamo is having an exhibit in Florence, Italy of the clothes and shoes she wore. This exhibit is one where it presents Marilyn as fine art which in itself is a refreshing take.  There are countless Marilyn Monroe film festivals going on all over the world and look-alike contests with both men and women. Always interesting.  Publishing houses know this is a golden opportunity to sell actual REAL books.  (Can’t image a book on Marilyn on a Kindle.)  My favorite pictorial peek at the divine Miss M is this beauty –  Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe.

I think this is such a brilliant way to showcase Marilyn.  From the beautiful cover photo to the last page it shows Marilyn as a style trendsetter rather than  tragic movie star.  It celebrates her style, the designers who clothed her and the wonderful era of the 40’s and 50’s.  50’s fashion is well-known for the Dior “New Look”, full skirts, nipped in waists and so on.  Marilyn’s look was far more sexy and bold and you see it  in what she wore on camera as well as off.

It’s easy to overlook Marilyn as a style icon but wholly as a sex symbol, larger than life ‘Movie Star’.   Written by well-known fashion historian and expert Christopher Nickens along with George Zeno they lovingly showcase her lasting influence on fashion.  They give us a look into the early years through the end when her style had established itself as more sophisticated and sexy look.  All the big numbers are here; the dress from 7 Year Itch, the gowns from How to Marry a Millionaire to the Zowie! dress she wore for President Kennedy and so much more.  My favorite if I had to pick are the costumes from Niagara.  I love watching this movie just to see her wear those clothes.   What I like is the use of color and the noir camera work (Joseph MacDonald) especially in the bell tower scene.  The Lucite box handbag, the Chartreuse hanky, the white blouse.  It’s all perfect.  And, so was Marilyn in all her imperfect, glorious, Technicolor mess.  

Have you experienced any Marilyn Monroe retrospective’s or viewed any of her films?  What do you think of her as a fashion icon?  A term that is bandied about with much liberality in my opinion.  Please let me know your thoughts.

Sewing, Fashion and more for July 2012

News and Events for July

Hey, I had the opportunity to do a guest blog post for Sew News Blog.  Thanks so much to Beth Bradley of Sew News for giving me the opportunity.  Please read, it’s very short, won’t take a minute.  And be sure to make a comment on their blog!  We all love getting those comments. 

Denver Sewing Collective has a new website, you can look at it here.  It works best on updated Chrome browsers or IE 8 or 9, then you can see all the great pics.  I still have to get the mobile site up, I having problems with switching the DNS blabity blah thing.   I’ve been testing this new site on a variety of different computers, if you find a problem please let me know.  

 July 12  Stephanie O is having a trunk show at Goldyns.  You can rsvp here.

Starting in July the Denver Design Incubator is offering. sewing workshops conducted by a professional in the industry.  Dates start July 18th and 25, August 1, 8.  Much will be discussed and taught.  Check out DDI’s page for more information.

Denver Art Museum has wonderful workshops and demos in their Design Studio area. These are free IF you are a member of DAM.  Otherwise it is a cost of admission into the museum.  These continue through early September.   Don’t miss out.

And, yes the Rocky Mountain Sewing Expo is roaring through town July  12-14 .  Here’s hoping there is more garment sewing representation.

Tactile Arts is doing wonderful things as usual.  July 14th there is a meet and chat with Elfriede of Elfriede’s of Boulder.  This is from 1-3pm.  Tactile Arts will also be holding a retrospective of her work and custom designs.  Please see Tactile Arts website for more information and cost.  I am also going to be listing this as a meetup as well.  

I am in the planning stages of a Fabric Shop tour and a Meet the Designer too.  Just need to get a little time to get them together.  Stay tuned here and on Facebook and our page.

100 Unforgettable Dresses

Must have

Not sure how this gem escaped my radar but I saw it at the local library recently and quickly took it home.  And, it is a wonderful read.  Hal Rubenstein the fashion director of InStyle and created the classic Egg magazine (of which I have two copies hanging around, still).

Rubenstein writes with charm and lightness and of course with a deep sense of fashion history to back up his choices for the title of Unforgettable. Although I do have one misgiving of that Julia Roberts red dress from Pretty Woman but that probably has more to do with my not caring for Miss J as an actress than the dress itself.  Well, no I don’t care for the dress either. I also enjoyed that some of the dresses in the book I have on my tumblr blog.

Edith Head illustration

One in particular is the dress designed by Edith Head for Bette Davis in All About Eve (Awesome movie, rent it.) That beautiful chocolate-brown, so daring to make brown sexy and bold. And, then of course Bette herself in it. Wow. Hal offers a little backstage gossip/history on the dresses which is icing on the cake. Just looking at the dresses would be good enough. I think I would be hard pressed to pick one of the hundred as my all time favorite.

Chinoiserie Gown Galliano for Dior

I love the dress Nicole Kidman wore to the Oscars in 1997.  Designed by Galliano for Dior it really does have a place in history as the dress that turned the Oscar’s red carpet into a haute couture runway.  The color, the embroidery, Nicole, just beautiful.  But, then I love vintage and have a hard time picking modern over just about anything designed by Edith Head.

The book is a lovely read and a visual feast for anyone who loves fashion, sewing, art and design.  All the greats are here, Dior, Chanel, Ford, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.  Plus, there are lesser known designers like Norman Norell, Sorelle Fontana, Roland Mouret and Omar of Omaha (Phyllis Diller’s designer no less) all represented. One that I was sweetly surprised to see in this book was Claire McCardell.  McCardell is probably best know for creating wearable dresses for the American woman, the homemaker and the working woman.    As Rubenstein notes in his section to her, McCardell’s  influence in fashion was in creating clothes that were tasteful, wearable and comfortable for the women of the time.  McCardell actually created a wrap dress as early as the 1940’s, well before the great DVF.  She liked using men’s fabrics for the durability and easy care fabrics because being a mother or housewife is messy.  She loved the use of  belts in her dresses and promoted the growing popularity of pants for women.  Below is a photo of the lovely Dovima wearing a McCardell dress.

I hope that Mr. Rubenstein gives us the pleasure of an additional 100 unforgettable dresses soon.

Ad for McCardell dress