Boston’s “Hollywood Glamour” Exhibit, and Step Away from the 20s Chanel, Ma’am.

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I wanted to share a few pictures from a beautifully-curated “jewel box” of an exhibit I attended recently at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. “Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen” features gowns by Chanel, Edith Head, Travis Banton, Schiaparelli and other famous designers and costumers from the 20s through 40s, along with some big flippin’ ROCKS of jewelry…okay, I may be getting a little overexcited, but trust me, if you saw them, you’d have a hot flash, too.

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Let’s start with what, to me, is the best, most beautifully preserved vintage dress I’ve ever seen in person, and that’s saying a lot, as I’ve attended a number of the big fashion exhibits over the past couple of decades.

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The dress was created in the mid-20s by Chanel, and it was worn by actress Ina Claire in a photo for Vogue by Edward Steichen.

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The dress appears to have a black silk bias underslip, and over it is a mesh dress with the most exquisite sequin and beaded flowers. It’s so Chanel and ahead of the curve. The preservation is just pristine.

Though photos without flash are allowed in the exhibit, as I leaned in to get a closeup of the beading, a loud BEEEEEEPPPPPP rang out through the hushed room, and I was suddenly worried the “authorities” from Casablanca would come bursting in. Readers, these are the risks I take for you.

The dress is from the collection of U.S. Vogue Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles. In previous posts, I’ve written about my extreme jealousy of his writing prowess and large couture collection. Hamish, invite me over to look through your closet anytime; your articles are always favorites of mine.

The exhibit has a number of dresses and outfits from 30s and 40s movies, with a clever film loop running in the back, showing them in the films:

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I loved this dress, created by the costume designer Gilbert Adrian, which Greta Garbo wore in the movie “Inspiration”:

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I’m already trying to figure out how I can hack that pattern.

And how about this dress, created for Mae West by Schiaparelli?

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The exhibit also features the special platform shoes Mae West had made up to wear in films, to give her a few inches of extra height:

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And there was this Vionnet-inspired gown, designed by Edith Head, for a young Betty Grable:

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The exhibit also includes costume design sketches, like this one by Travis Banton, created for Marlene Dietrich.

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Then I moved on to the bling, and sadly I was too dazzled to take many notes. Can you blame me?

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(Those are Mae West’s gigantic aquamarines…)

This excellent exhibit was put together by Michelle Tolini Finamore, Curator of Fashion Arts, and Emily Stoehrer, Curator of Jewelry at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; two jobs I’d like to have in another life. The exhibit runs through March 8th, so if you’re in the Boston area, check it out!

Here’s more about the exhibit from National Public Radio, journalists who are far less lazy than I.

I always enjoy wandering around the Boston MFA (particularly now that their new addition includes a huge atrium and restaurant), and even though the museum seems big on the outside, it always has a nice flow and intimacy.

For example, on my way to the exhibit, I stopped for awhile at the top of a grand staircase, to sit in one of the club chairs provided and ruminate on a small collection of hand-woven Persian rugs.

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A little later, walking down a hallway, there was a mini-exhibit of vintage advertising from WWI:

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Then I went around the corner to a modern installation and found:

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My fabric stash!! I knew I left it somewhere!

Actually, it’s a work by artist Shinique Smith, (but it really does look like my stash):

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Now that I’ve found my fabric…back to work!

How’s your sewing going?

Paging Madame Gres

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With the holidays over, I decided to get going on this 60s Vogue Pattern by French designer Madame Gres.

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I’ll write more about Alix Gres’ history in a future post, but since she was known for her genius at draping jersey, I thought the dress would look nice made from some dark blue merino jersey that I have in my stash. (Just FYI, I bought this beautiful New Zealand jersey from The Fabric Store in L.A., and the info is in this post.)

The design is actually a straight shift dress underneath, with French darts to give shaping from the bust to the waist, one of my favorite vintage cuts.

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Then a large half-circle of fabric is attached to the front and back of the dress on the diagonal and over one shoulder, and slashed to go under the arm, giving it an asymmetrical flow. As always with these old designs, I know that something that simple is probably going to be tricky.

You never know what you’re going to find when you look at these vintage patterns. In this case, there were still some old tailor’s tacks attached.

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I decided to use some cheap ponte from my stash to do a quick muslin. Even though this pattern is a couple of sizes too small for me, sometimes these 60s patterns are cut somewhat loose, and I also knew that with a knit there would be some extra ease in a pattern cut for a woven.

I’ve been reading this fitting book recommended by Susan Khalje, which is based on analyzing the body for fit, rather than analyzing what’s going on with the garment. It’s very helpful!

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(Sorry the pictures are so lousy this morning…things haven’t been the same since I fired my graphics team.)

I started by comparing the pattern to the fitting shell pattern I made last winter (hope it still fits!), and found that actually, the Gres pattern was pretty close.

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But since I’m making it in a knit, I held the pattern up to a knit dress I have to compare the fit.

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Again, it was pretty close, so I just added a little room on the side seams when I cut it out.

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I put the muslin together, and the fit was quite close. (I’ll have a pic of that next time.) It has a nice flow from the bateau neck, curving in with the darts, and then going straight down.

The pattern calls for underlining, so after consulting with some sewing peeps, I decided to try underlining it with power mesh. The designer Roland Mouret is know for parking that mesh under his form-fitting Galaxy dresses.

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So I ran out to Sew-fisticated! in Cambridge to pick some up.

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They were ready for Jungle January big time!

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I hope to get the sewing going in earnest on this dress next week.

How’s your sewing going?

Golden Globes Me-Mades, and Meryl, may I have a word with you?

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Me-made at the Golden Globes? Leave it to brilliant actress/comedienne Melissa McCarthy to be in-your-face with Hollywood, and show up in something she stitched together from “pieces in my closet” at the Golden Globes:

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She referred to it as a “chop shop” and said, “It’s a little weird, but I like it.”

Having grown up in the Midwest, it makes perfect sense to me that an Illinois farm girl like McCarthy would know how to sew, and apparently in a recent appearance on “Ellen,” she talked about how she’s sewn a lot of her own clothes.

I have an actress friend who, when she was up for an Emmy, ended up spending what you’d pay for a low-end new car on a stylist and dress (not everyone gets them free), so I don’t blame Melissa McCarthy at all for giving it a go with a hack from her closet. She pulled it off, too.

Here’s another rad look from a fellow Midwesterner of a certain age:

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(Where’d they dig Prince up?)

Like many of you, I saw the Golden Globes live from my bed, wearing RTW faded knit pajamas and fuzzy socks. As I was watching, I wasn’t thinking so much about which designer had come up with “best sheath with stuff on it” (Though I think Uzo Aduba in Randi Rahm was the winner):

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No, I was thinking more about “who’s acting their age?”

Here are a few of the winners in my book:

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Host Amy Poehler at age 43, in Stella McCartney, with sleeves and pockets, in just the right color. I want to hack that.

Jane Fonda-Versace

Jane Fonda, in her late 70s, wearing Vesace, edgy, but with sleeves! I read a quote from her recently, talking about how everyone fears getting older, but once you’re there, it’s not so bad. Thanks for everything, Jane. (Please note, if you don’t remember the 80s, women didn’t even think about working out until Jane came along with videos, leotards and legwarmers.)

Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren, 70-ish, ravishing in red Dolce and Gabbana. (Again with sleeves! We want more dresses with sleeves!)

And on the younger end of the spectrum, people who pulled off the right look for their ages:

Emma Stone Lanvin

Emma Stone in a Lanvin pants “ensemble” with a big floor-length sash, just right for someone in her mid-20s going to a mock-serious event like the Globes.

Quvenzhane Wallis Armani Junior

And Quvenzhane Wallis, looking like an adorable and well-mannered young girl at age 11, in Armani Junior. She was great in “Annie” too.

Kerry Washington Mary Katrantzou

Kerry Washington, mid-30s, in Mary Katrantzou. The look is unique and perfect.

Now, a couple of bones to pick:

Claire Danes-Valentino

Claire Danes, also mid-30s, what is this? I know it’s Valentino, and it has feathers, but ?? I hope the people at your table weren’t allergic.

Lena Dunham-Zac Posen

Lena Dunham, I like this Zac Posen dress on you, I do.

Here’s the thing…I know you’re supposed to be a 20-something anti-heroine from the “failure to launch” generation, but the truth is, you’ve become a successful actress, producer, author and businesswoman. Not to go all Helen Reddy on you, but could you pul-eeze stop doing that twee pigeon-toed thing?

Amanda Peet J Mendel

Here’s gorgeous, 40-something Amanda Peet in J Mendel. I just don’t get the blousy bodice. It’s too old for you. It’s too old for Granny Clampett. Take that dress to a tailor and get three dresses made from it.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, mid-40s. Again with the cleavage to the navel? And with all that fabric, it looks like you brought your own VIP cabana.

Keira Knightley-Chanel

Keira Knightley, late 20s…were you planning to go to some kind of Jane Austen cosplay afterparty? It is Chanel, but I suspect that Lagerfeld left the designing to his cat Choupette.

Here were some draping “hits”:

Amy Adams

Amy Adams in Versace, my favorite of all the dresses.

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt in a Michael Kors goddess gown.

Camila Alves-Monique Lhuillier

And Camila Alves in Monique Lhuillier. Love that 60s bodice drape.

George Clooney was accompanied by his classy and accomplished bride, Amal. She was wearing Dior Haute Couture, the lucky ducky.

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When someone asked if her gloves were handmade as well, Clooney quipped “she sewed them herself.”

Excuse me, George, but what’s so funny about that?

And then there’s that Meryl Streep.

If you were one of the 8 or 9 people reading my new blog last winter, you’ll recall that both Meryl and I attended an event where a number of Hollywood people go home with gold statuettes as well. You can read my report of that here.

I was in a me-made 60s boatneck top with 3/4 length sleeves and a long black skirt, which I had been blogging about making:

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But then that Meryl Streep showed up in practically the same silhouette:

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One thing led to another and I accused her of copying me and then, well, I called The First Lady of Film a bitch. (Not to her face. On my blog. Which bumped it up to at least 11 readers.)

I hindsight, I figured it was probably just a coincidence. But then I saw what she was wearing last night:

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Um, didn’t I just post a pattern for that very same asymmetrical wrap!?!

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Now I was sure there was a breach in security at JetSetSewing.com, and Karl and I had to get to the bottom of it.

Meryl’s dress is by the French brand Paula Ka, and you can find a short, pink version of it here for 690 Euros. (Meryl, you didn’t buy off the rack, did you? Why didn’t you just make yourself something like Melissa McCarthy?)

After a thorough investigation and grilling of all employees, Karl happened to remember hearing the fax machine being used in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago.

I looked in the machine, and aha, the pattern was still in it!

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That could only mean one of two things.

1) my husband faxed the pattern in his sleep, during a midnight bathroom break. He’s the only person left in North America who remembers how to use a fax.

or:

2) The CHIPMUNKS!!!

So now the JetSetSewing graphics team, AKA the chipmunks who live in my kitchen, have been fired, via the fire escape. They’re so lucky I didn’t put them in the microwave.

As for what I’m attempting for this year’s Big Kahuna…well, I just made a muslin of this Madame Gres pattern, so we’ll see if I can pull it off.

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How’s your New Year’s sewing going?

Here’s just a quick update to this post to add a couple of articles about the Globes from the New York Times. In “What Happened to Risk on The Red Carpet?” journalist Ruth La Ferla asks the same question as “Smittenness” did in the comments below.

And here’s an article, also by La Ferla, with drawings of some “Modern Red Carpet Looks in a Perfect World” as dreamed up by contemporary designers.

Claire McCardell-Inspired Free Downloadable Pattern, and a couple of hacks.

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I hope you all had happy holidays, and I wanted to mention that my new free downloadable pattern with tutorial is available on Bernina’s WeAllSew.com website. Aren’t you ready for some post-holiday #selfishsewing? I certainly am, and I didn’t even finish my husband’s tie! (It’s now officially his “birthday tie.”)

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When I created this pattern, I was inspired by a 1947 Claire McCardell design (lower right) for a knit shoulder wrap, though the concept was around long before that. This wrap is snug enough to stay on the shoulders, but can still be worn around the neck like an infinity scarf. It’s lined and reversible, and the tutorial takes you through step-by-step. It’s not difficult at all, so I hope you’ll give it a try!

Carmen of the CarmencitaB blog tipped me off that this type of wrap is known as a “liseuse” in France, (the loose translation is “girl reader”) and that it used to be worn while reading in drafty French country homes (similar to what was known as a “bed jacket” here in the U.S.). So then it was eeek! down the internet rabbit hole again, to learn more about this style.

First of all, who knew that there were so many works of art featuring women reading? Which makes perfect sense, because after a certain point, just about any woman is going to say, “I don’t care if you are Picasso, if I’m going to sit for you, gimme something to read!”

image (That’s Picasso’s “La Liseuse” from 1920. Doesn’t it look like she’s texting?)

The earliest example I found shows a high-born woman (who could read!) wearing a cape-like wrap, in a painting by Hans Memling from the 1470s:

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Then in 1888, Vincent Van Gogh captured this woman wearing a chic wrap, in “Une Liseuse de Romans” (which I think means “reader of novels.” No wonder she’s so engrossed.)

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In terms of fashion, in the early 20th century, this style of short jacket was interpreted for evening by Madame Vionnet:

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And that may very well have been where McCardell picked up the idea. She studied fashion in Paris in the 20s, and in her letters home she complained about the French being “thrifty” with the heating. While she was there, she spent a lot of time deconstructing Vionnet garments, which is how she got hip to the bias cut.

During her career, McCardell designed a number of evening dresses made of warm wool, with wraps, shrugs, and cropped jackets to wear to dinner parties in drafty U.S. country houses as well. Here’s one example, a strapless wool evening dress with a jacket, again from the  Metropolitan Museum’s online collection:

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More recently, this type of wrap was shown in the 2013 collection from Celine:

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When I was in France I saw several similar wraps:

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(I don’t know what the furry thing is on it, or why she’s wearing a hat over her head…)
And this one from French cult brand Agnes b., made from a light sweater knit:
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To make a wrap similar to the one from Agnes b., download the free pattern, which looks like a triangle with the top chopped off. Add several inches to both the top and bottom of the pattern.

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(That’s a highly skilled sketch from the JetSetSewing graphics team. They’re a couple of chipmunks who live in my kitchen.) Extending the pattern at the top and bottom will make it longer, like a poncho, with more of a funnel neck.

I’ve seen wraps like these in the U.S. as well. American designer Eileen Fisher offered this asymmetrical wrap in her fall collection, which immediately made me think “I could hack that.”

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To make a “muslin” version, I took my pattern and set it on the diagonal, putting the left on the fold, and adding triangles to the top and bottom. I sewed it up and it looked okay, so I moved on to the real thing.

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I decided to use this Missoni-ish wool blend I got in France. I prepped it by throwing it in my dryer’s steam cycle. (Do as I say, not as I do, always test a swatch first!)

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Since I wasn’t lining this version, I decided to use a French seam on the side to finish the raw edge. With wrong sides together, lining up the design on the fabric with double quilt pins, I overlocked some clear elastic into the seam, using the Bernina Bulky Overlock foot. (The same foot that made all of that piping on the McCardell dress…it’s very useful!)

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(You could also use a narrow zigzag to attach the elastic to the seam, if you’re using a vintage machine.)

Then I turned the wrap wrong-side out to put right sides together, and pinned it to encase the seam I just sewed.

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I sewed that seam with a narrow zigzag, which covered up the overlocking and elastic.
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Oo la la, I love zee French seams!

When I tried it on, the length plus the retro pattern on the fabric was looking way too “hippy poncho” to me:
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So I chopped about 5 inches off of the bottom.

At the top and bottom, I overlocked more clear elastic along the edge, turned under the raw edge about 1/2 inch, then turned it under again about 3/4”, and sewed the edge with a narrow zigzag, like topstitching. If you pick the right color thread, the stitching’s not that obvious, and there are no raw edges showing on the inside.

You can wear it with the point on the side, or in the back.

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(I think the chipmunks took that picture, too.)

Here’s how the final pattern looked (more or less). The grainline goes along the bottom:

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(I’m going to fire those chipmunks…)

Now that I’ve made myself a liseuse, I need to find time to read!!

Happy New Year’s sewing!

(For details about how Bernina USA is loaning a B560 machine to JetSetSewing.com to assist with vintage projects like this, please click the “Bernina Collaboration” tab above. At some point, Karl and I are going to set that disclosure to music, to make it more pleasant for all of us…)

 

A Quick Wrap and More Paris Eye-Candy

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Here’s a wrap I spotted in the New York Times Style section yesterday, which you could make in about an hour:

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(Photograph taken in my high-tech graphics studio, AKA the kitchen.)

Step 1: Get that piece of wool out of your stash (you know it’s in there). Figure out how long and wide you want the wrap to be and cut it.

Step 2: Give it a good steam twice over with your iron and let it dry out. I use a piece of silk organza as a press cloth to protect the fabric.

Step 3: Cut off the selvages.

Step 4: About a 1 1/2 inches (3 cm.) from all of the edges, sew it with the stitch that looks like a zigzag, but has three stitches going up the zig and three stitches going down the zag. (I would show you a picture of that stitch, but my B560, Karl, is currently on the floor while I reconfigure my growing stash, and boy, is he ticked off!)

Step 5: If you’re using a loose woven, such as a Chanel-type tweed, put a 1/2 inch (1 cm.) wide ribbon over the stitching you just made, and sew along each edge of the ribbon, to keep the wrap from unraveling. (I learned that the hard way when a Chanel tweed scarf I made for someone got returned for repairs…)

Step 6: Fray the edges by pulling out the loose threads. (Just FYI, keep your cat out of the room.) Give it a good press again with the press cloth.

Step 7: Go to a sewing or notions store and buy the kind of big safety pin we used to call “kilt pins” in the 60s. Or you can find vintage pins in this Etsy shop, which also stocks beautiful vintage trims: TextileArtLace on Etsy

Step 8: Put it on and pin it, or wrap it up and give it.

You just saved $86.50. Tell your pal you saw it in the New York Times and thought of her.

I wanted to share a few more pictures from Paris, as I continue to procrastinate about stash closet-cleaning and Christmas shopping:

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I did a little window shopping at the French hat store Marie Mercie at 23 rue Saint Surplice. These French-made hats are beautifully constructed and full of whimsy.

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Like Schiaparelli, right?

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Merrrowww! You can now find these hats online on Avenue32.com, but be prepared for sticker shock.

Everywhere you go, you see the French penchant for choosing aesthetics over commerce. Look at how beautifully things are displayed:

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Those are hair clips that look like jewelry. And here’s a beautiful embroidered bag:

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(Makes me want to take up machine embroidery…)

Towers of Macarons!

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I spotted this retro-looking coat with unique pockets, from Carven.

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As I was looking at this Hermes home dec fabric, I kept thinking, “could I make an Hermes scarf out of that?”

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How about this handmade leather retro bag?

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Here’s a tiny shop that sell slices of marble, with patterns that look like landscapes:

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I really laughed when I saw this tee, in a shop that stocks products made in France:

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Even when things are under renovation, they’re still tidy and chic (and a little phallic, too, don’t you think?).

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Here’s a favorite market street, the rue de Buci, near where we stay. It’s full of inviting food shops and cafes.

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I’m mad at myself that I didn’t have any in-season oysters while I was there. I can only describe the taste as a cold starry night on the North Atlantic.

Oh, how I hate to leave Paris!!!

Speaking of wraps, just a heads up that another of my free pattern downloads will be coming your way this month on the Bernina USA website WeAllSew.com, just in time for some New Year’s #selfishsewing. (For details about how Bernina USA is assisting me with my vintage projects by loaning me a B560, click the Bernina Collaboration tab.)

The wrap is based on a 1947 design by Claire McCardell, and I tweaked it to give it a midcentury modernist “Judy Jetson” vibe, (for lack of a better description). It’s also a stash-buster that uses one yard/meter each of two different knits, and it’s reversible.

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I’ll let you know when the free pattern and instructions are posted. Thanks again to Bernina USA for their assistance with my projects!

Yikes! Less than two weeks till Christmas! How’s your sewing going?

How to do a Selfie on the Chanel Staircase

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Of course, the Paris Meetup wasn’t the only fabric shopping I did in France…

We landed in Marseille in the south of France on a Sunday, and headed to my husband’s old stomping grounds in Aix-en-Provence. He spent his “junior year abroad” in Aix during college/university, leaving behind an all-men’s school on a Tennessee mountaintop and landing with an old French host family that had a large villa on the outskirts of town. It was culture shock in all the best ways.

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That’s a picture, probably taken by my husband, of his American student roommates and his French host family members playing “boules” on the villa’s lawn.

We visited their home once 25 years ago, and the matriarch threw a dinner party for us on a balmy May night at a table set up outdoors. She served the “spring plate” of lamb chops, flageolet beans cooked with bacon, and a “jolie” French red wine. In other words, paradise.

Check out the early-60s Kennedy-era fashion in these pictures from the yearbook, now online, of my husband’s 1964 class at the Institute of American Universities, an entity that still exists in Aix. It’s a lot of fun seeing these idealistic young American things, who came from places like Kalamazoo (third class on the Queen Mary), and landed in another world.

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Duffle coats, pencil skirts, those parkas with the single kangaroo pocket worn with capris…the 60s mod “youthquake” was just about to begin.

Just a short drive from the villa where my husband stayed that year, is this view of Sainte-Victoire, a mountain frequently painted by Cezanne. Still gorgeous.

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Aix-en-Provence is one of those old town that was occupied by the Romans way back when, and some of the structures still exist. My husband thinks that the main thoroughfare was designed much later by Pierre L’Enfant, the same guy that created Washington, D.C.’s circular layout, which looks stately but makes it absolutely impossible to make a left turn. However, I wasn’t able to back up that claim (in the five seconds I spent googling it).

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As we were walking along the main drag of the Cours Mirabeau, my husband reminisced about how he had been standing in line at the movies theater there when he overheard that President Kennedy had been shot.

Later, we had dinner in the Grillon brasserie, which looks exactly the same as when he was there 51 years ago.

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Mmmm, warm goat cheese salad with olive tapenade. Old France does still exist.

The first day we were there, I spotted this congenial fabric shop, Tissus La Victoire which had a number of printed cotton Provencal fabrics from region.

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But I was afraid if I bought some, I would have to sew (shudder) home dec, so I stuck with the garment fabrics on the other side of the shop. The very patient people working there tirelessly pulled bolts down onto a large table while I hemmed and hawed, and finally I settled on a good-quality wool blend Missoni knock-off and a bonded knit masquerading as a tweed. Unfortunately, I don’t have more pictures of the shop, because my husband ran off with my phone that day!

In the same market square, there was one of those magazine gazebos you see frequently in Europe.

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I looked around the shelves of craft magazines, but then had to ask the man, “Burda? Pour coudre?” And I don’t know what kind of reputation French Burda has, but he pulled it out of some hidden cupboard in the back and plunked it on the counter, like a girlie magazine.

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While we were there, we rented a car with a navigational system that gave us very polite, officious and, frankly bossy instructions in a clipped British accent, whom we quickly dubbed “Miss Moneypenny.” Using Miss Moneypenny, we were able to find this archeological site of the remains of a Gaul, then Greek, then Roman town in Glanum, near St-Remy (a male family member’s idea of course).

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But while walking around there, I thought about the women who lived in these houses, cooking, weaving, sewing, and possibly hanging out in the place I’d most likely be found:

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After that I got Miss Moneypenny cranked up again, while my gadget-mad husband put on the American voice from Google maps “as a backup.” Well, Miss Google Maps must be doing her year abroad from Little Rock, because she kept saying things like “turn on the “Rooo Suh-ZANE” for “rue Cezanne” while Miss Moneypenny barked at me to “PLEASE prepah to tuhn left!!” in that Sloane Ranger voice.

After some spirited back and forth between my husband, Miss Moneypenny, Miss Google Maps, and me, Miss Google was sent to back to Mayberry to study her French some more, and smug Miss Moneypenny soldiered on with the ugly Americans. Then all of a sudden Moneypenny croaked out, SZERGLSZZZZZ! and died a swift death. (Probably from some Bond villain’s leftover cold war laser). So we had to settle for Nellie Forbush again, telling us to turn on rooo dess eckol-ess militar-ess.

Suffice it to say, the 13-year-old in the back was the most mature of the bunch.

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All around us, the landscape looked like every Impressionist painting, with the rounded, leaning pines and tall, straight, skinny evergreens (probably evolved like that from the winds that can be, as the road signs said, “vent lateral” which basically means “sideways winds that can blow you the hell off the road.”). As we drove through Van Gogh country in St. Remy, the road was lined with a tunnel of solitary trees. Still so beautiful. Vive la France for having the discipline not to mess up this gorgeous area.

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Then it was just a short trip, less than four hours, on the high-speed TGV train to Gare de Lyon in Paris, where I ran off to the meetup.

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The next afternoon, after ditching my family, instead of heading to the left bank where I intended to roam, my feet made a sharp right down the rue du Faubourg St-Honore, past the rows of tony designer shops, in the direction of the fabric store that dares not speak its name. (But I wrote about it last year here.)

On the way, I spotted Chanel on the rue Cambon, and walked into the part of the shop where her famous staircase resides. I took a picture of it last year, but this time I was determined to get a selfie. As I walked up to the stairs, I was stopped by the guard, but after asking nicely in bad French, he let me have a seat, and was friendly enough to take some pictures.

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Score! (Sorry, Coco, but the Chanel-style puffer jacket I’m wear is from the Monoprix, AKA the Target of France.)

While I’m thinking about it, I wanted to mention that if you’re going to Paris, and would like to arrange an insiders’ tour of fabric and notions stores, Barbara of Stitching Up Paris can arrange it all for you. She came up with a garment district itinerary for the Paris meetup, with a lot of great shops on the list.

So then this happened:

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There’s a reason why Susan Khalje calls Janssens et Janssens the best fabric store in the world. Because it is. Just rob a liquor store before you go.

I wanted to get more of the Italian printed wool I’d used to make things like this:

imageMy Spring Wrap

because the feel is so light, warm and luxurious when I wear them. So I picked out an Italian wool/silk fabric, with a retro print that reminds me of the Fuller Fabrics “Modern Masters” fabrics from the 50s, and decided that was enough.

But then, looking at the silks (bad idea) I found a gorgeous 30s-looking twill and remembered that I still had black Italian Chanel tweed from last year’s budget-blowing visit to Janssens et Janssens. The tweed was slated to become a little black jacket I’d dubbed “The Kaiser” (Lagerfeld’s nickname, though probably not to his face), and though I’ve already bought silk to line it, I thought this would be better. Uh oh.

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Then I went downstairs to look at the sparkly stuff (not for me, fortunately) and found the trims. Nooooo!

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I am just going to have to start sewing faster.

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So that’s what I did when I skipped Thanksgiving! Hope your sewing’s going well!

Dance & Fashion exhibit at FIT, among other things

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So I hightailed it down to New York to see my sister swanning around in that Claire McCardell dress I whipped up (details here), and got a quick peek at the Dance & Fashion exhibition going on through January 3rd, 2015, at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Ballanchine costumes

Those are the “emerald,” “ruby” and “diamond” costumes from George Balanchine’s old war-horse…oops, I mean…much-loved ballet “Jewels.” They’re as gorgeous up close as they are on stage.

I don’t have many photos to share, since just as I discretely lifted my camera for a pic of those Ballets Russes costumes snuggling up with designs by Paul Poiret and Yves St. Laurent, a polite “no pictures” came out of the dark. Those museum guards are on top of it!

The exhibit compares actual dance costumes with related designer streetwear and gowns, and also features costumes that were created for dances by fashion designers. It covers everything from the romantic era of ballet into modern dance and beyond to post-modern collaborations. For example, there are several of the costumes created by the designer Halston in the 70s for the Martha Graham Dance Company, like this one:

Halston costume

(Some night I’m going to borrow that to wear around the house, just to see if anyone notices…)

Since I was there as a guest and not a journalist, I’m going to send you to this excellent article from the Wall Street Journal, written by Laura Jacobs, for a play-by-play of the exhibit. (Where The Body Can Dance With The Soul)

I will say, though, after looking at these Louboutine fetish shoes, and having been on my feet all day, I silently gave thanks that there’s no chance in hell I’ll ever have to get back in a pair of pointe shoes.

Louboutine shoes

After executing a few “pas de bourrees” around the room (not really, mercifully for the others there) I headed to the auditorium where my sister (Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Company), along with designer Doo-Ri Chung, were speaking about the collaboration of Dance and Fashion.

I was surprised to hear, even after the many years I had seen Janet perform with the Graham Company, and having studied modern dance for a summer with “Miss Graham” myself, that Martha Graham actually did much of the draping of her costumes herself, and was inspired as a choreographer by the properties of the fabric she was using.

The two Graham solo dances that were performed during the event highlighted this: Lamentation, which is performed enveloped in a tube of jersey, and Spectre-1914, about the onset of World War 1, performed in a giant skirt that spreads several yards in all directions beyond the dancer’s feet.

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During this performance, dancer Blakeley White-McGuire expertly manipulated the yards and yards of black fabric, lined in red, conjuring images like the flames of war, the wings of death, flowing blood, or the shroud of a coffin.

Here’s picture of the panel, consisting of moderator Melissa Marra from the Museum at FIT (left), Janet in her McCardell (middle), and Doo-Ri Chung (right). They’re looking at a picture of Janet dancing back in the day, in the Martha Graham ballet…er…help me out, Janet…”Seraphic Dialogue”, about Joan of Arc?

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During the discussion, Janet talked about how Martha Graham created costumes by pinching and draping the fabric, and in one instance, she came up with a costume made entirely from one uncut piece of  fabric. Janet remembered how, when she was dancing with the company in the 70s, Halston would collaborate with Graham, and make costumes from fabric that was far more expensive than the normal dance company budget. In one case, he used silk jersey for costumes that were like long palazzo pants, but with each performance, the drape of the fabric would “grow” and the pants would be pooling around the dancers feet! They had to trim off several inches at the hem during the course of the tour.

Doo-Ri Chung, who is known for her expertise in draping jersey, had some interesting points to make about the challenge of working with that kind of knit. She mentioned that in terms of ready-to-wear, jersey often lacks “hanger appeal” (meaning it doesn’t look that enticing to consumers on a hanger) and said that jersey also needs volume in the design, to keep it from being too form-fitting. I found that point particularly interesting, as the McCardell dress I made for Janet has loads of volume and gathers, but doesn’t feel heavy or bulky on when worn.

Here’s the report from Janet on what it feels like to wear an original McCardell design, made from new fabric: “The McCardell dress is a pleasure to wear. Getting dressed up has never been so comfortable! I’ve discovered that the wool jersey drapes itself just beautifully, no matter what I am doing. I just throw it on, wrap the bodice cords according to my comfort level of the day (hope they are long enough to accommodate Thanksgiving) and make an entrance!”

There was a spirited discussion of designer McCardell as well, who, along with designer and life-long friend Mildred Orrick, popularized the leotard-style bodysuit in the 40s, to be worn under a jumper. The idea was that the modern college girl could layer and stay warm in drafty WWII-era classes.

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I was excited to see that the exhibit itself included a pair of the ballet flats invented by McCardell, in collaboration with the ballet shoemaker Capezio, which gave women comfortable cloth shoes to wear during WWII rationing. She designed them to be worn at home, then was surprised to start seeing them in the subway!

As the panel’s Q & A was wrapping up, my awesome sister, who, as you’ve probably guessed, is no shrinking violet, jumped up and said, “no one’s asked who I’m wearing! Well, I’m related to JetSetSewing.com, who made this original Claire McCardell dress for me from a 50s pattern.” You go girl!

Janet at FIT

Needless to say it was pretty exciting as a home-sewing maven to get a shoutout at FIT! You looked great, Janet!

Then the following week, I saw on Twitter that Janet was back at FIT in the dress again.

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It made me glad that Twitter wasn’t around when I was younger, as I’m sure I would have been busted frequently for borrowing my big sisters’ clothes.

Don’t forget that the Martha Graham Dance Company’s New York Season is coming up in February! It’s a mix of classic Graham works and pieces by current choreographers.

After I got back, I was pleased to see that Marianne, of the blog Foxgloves and Thimbles in the Netherlands, had downloaded and stitched up a beautiful holiday version of my 5os “Hepburn” scarf pattern, using silk dupioni. Thanks Marianne; it looks gorgeous!

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(I snitched that picture off of InstaGram.)

The pattern is available as a free download on the Bernina U.S.A. website WeAllSew.com. It’s quick and easy for holiday sewing! For details about JetSetSewing’s collaboration with Bernina, please click the “Bernina Collaboration” tab.

And lastly, I was thrilled to see the official list of BurdaStyle’s 50 favorite bloggers, where Jet Set Sewing was nestled right below Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. Loads of great blogs on the list; check it out:

http://www.burdastyle.com/pdf/BurdaTopBloggerPDF_v3.pdf

 My thanks to BurdaStyle!

As for me and my Swiss intern, Karl the Bernina 560, it’s time for a little rest and stash closet cleaning (still waiting for you to get on top of that, Karl), as well as packing my bags for an epic sewing meetup…in Paris!

(No, Karl, I’m sorry, you’re far, far too heavy for my carry-on…please, no tears…)

Hollywood Costume Exhibit Report (Finally…)

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Well, The Hollywood Costume Exhibit, in L.A. through March 2nd, 2015, is a whole lot of fun.

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Housed in the soon-to-be renovated site of the new Academy Museum, there really is something for everyone. Dorothy’s ruby slippers! Superhero costumes! Indiana Jones’ jacket, hat, whip, and (an interesting detail to me) pants made of wool twill, rather than the cotton khakis I had envisioned.

Since I was there at an event as a guest, and we were asked not to take photos, I can only give you a few impressions of this comprehensive exhibit, and show photos I’ve found here and there. I encourage you to attend the exhibit yourself if you get a chance!

It is just packed with famous costumes, but it also goes beyond fashion to explain the types of collaborations inherent in costume design, in particular the interplay between a designer and director. After having labored through making this Edith Head bolero (which a woman at the exhibit told me she had just seen Chloe knock off):

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I was thrilled to see an archival interview with Edith Head, talking about what it was like to work with director Alfred Hitchcock. And I absolutely loved eyeballing this costume from Vertigo:

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As well as this suit from The Birds:

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Here it is in a still from the movie:

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It’s very much of that era, with cut-in kimono sleeves, an attached collar, and patch pockets. It made me think of another Edith Head/Hitchcock costume, from the movie “Rear Window,” and this vintage pattern that’s almost identical:

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It’s a great look. I think I’m putting that pattern a little higher up on my sewing bucket list.

There are some amazing costumes from early film history as well, such as Marlene Dietrich’s gender-bending white tie and tails from the 1930 film “Morocco.”

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Long before Yves St. Laurent made this look de rigueur for decadent disco queens, costume designer Travis Banton created his own diminutive version of “Le Smoking” for Dietrich, which worked on her thanks to a tiny cinched waistline.

Another Travis Banton creation was this costume from Cecil B. de Mille’s 1934 “Cleopatra,” starring Claudette Colbert:

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I don’t think it’s historically accurate, but it is a killer dress.

And there were a number of culturally iconic dresses in the exhibit, including this one:

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Apparently the designer, Gilbert Adrian, known as “Adrian”, had it made on an old-fashion treadle sewing machine, so it would look like Auntie Em had made it. Nevertheless, apparently he couldn’t resist jazzing it up with bias-cut bindings and straps.

And then there was probably the most famous dress in movies, housed in it’s own little climate-controlled case:

Seven Year Itch

Yep, that’s the one! It’s from the movie The Seven Year Itch, and it was designed by William Travilla. It was made of ivory rayon crepe, for a petite Marilyn Monroe who looked to have a tiny waist in that voluptuous figure.

Seven Year Itch on Marilyn

You would think that this dress is constructed with a waistband going up to the bust, and halter bust pieces attached to that band, with a separate pleated skirt. That kind of pattern is available in the book “Famous Frocks”:

Famous FrocksFamous Frocks Marilyn

But in truth, the dress appears to have pleats that radiate down from the neckline, which are cinched from the underbust to the waist with long one-inch wide straps, below which the pleats open out again over the hips. So the pattern that’s in the book “Sew Iconic” is a little closer to the original:

Sew iconicSew Iconic Marilyn

But you know, the structure of the design really reminds me of this:

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Hmmmm…

So after really enjoying the exhibit, it was time to hit the bar! My husband is part of the Academy team working on the exhibit, so we were included in a dinner for the people who had generously loaned items from their collections to display. I looked over at the next table, and there was George Takai! I have no idea why!

Dinner menu

Let’s eat!

I struck up a conversation with the people next to me, costume designer Mark Bridges, and his associate, Kristin (who’s last name unfortunately has escaped me, as I was on my second glass of wine at the time).

Mark was responsible for the beautiful 20s costumes for the period movie “The Artist,” as well as costumes for “The Fighter” and a number of other films. I really enjoyed hearing his take on the costume design process, and how he researches period design by doing things like looking at vintage 70s GQ magazines, for example. Then he talked about the importance of using the costumes to reveal information about the character, and support the movie’s story.

Well, in any conversation with someone of that stature, I almost feel sheepish bringing up my blog. But of course I do it anyway! And to my surprise, he was well-aware of the sewing blogosphere. His eyes lit up and he said, “I love this blog…”

And I’m thinking me, me, me! But he continued…

“Male Pattern Boldness! It’s about his projects, and how he’s sewing them, and what’s going on in his life…” And on and on!

Truthfully, I wasn’t really all that jealous, because I’m a fan of Male Pattern Boldness myself, and have stolen plenty from Peter’s friendly blogging style (I prefer to think of it as an homage). Actually it was great to know that the world of home sewing blogs is now stretching beyond people like us, and can be appreciated by professionals like Mark Bridges.

But for me, sneaking away to something like this is a bit like being Cinderella. Midnight hits, your glass slippers start to pinch, and the next thing you know you’re in that 5:00 a.m. cab to LAX.

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Then it’s back pumpin’ Auntie Em’s treadle machine in Kansas.

I’m updating this post to give a little shoutout to the blogger Not Dead Yet Style, about staying stylin’ when you’ve hit those middle years (and you know who you are). Her “Visible Monday” link-ups feature women of a certain age making style statements. I’m always inspired, when I’m in France, to see that the middle-aged women there don’t throw in the towel in terms of taking style risks, and those of us in the U.S. shouldn’t either. So I’m joining in the link-up this time around!

I’ll be back soon with a report from the Museum at FIT’s Dance and Fashion exhibit event.

Claire McCardell and Martha Graham

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After I got back from L.A., I meant to spend some time testing methods for constructing this Claire McCardell dress, from an early 50s pattern by Spadea:

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I intended to sew it up back in August for my sister, who is the Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, to wear to an event at the “Dance & Fashion” exhibit, (now running through January 3rd, 2015, at the Museum at FIT in New York). To have a flashback to that whole explanation, click this link. (Cue the Twilight Zone-y flashback music)
I thought Claire McCardell was a good choice for this event, because McCardell and Martha Graham are often mentioned together in books and articles as being similar in their pared-down artistic style. They did meet on at least one occasion, when they both received the Women’s Press Club award in 1950, a very big deal back then.

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Here they are with President Truman (looking dapper in a tuxedo), along with a foreign affairs expert, an educational reformer, and a Hollywood actress (Olivia de Havilland), all in old-school tulle-centered eveningwear. Martha Graham is on the far left looking very chic and modern in her spare little black dress. And Claire McCardell, on the far right? Well, she’s got on one of her wrapped-bodice evening dresses of sari silk, slouchy leather gloves, no bra, no girdle, the ballet flats she invented, and a big American grin on her face. That outfit was so far ahead of its time!

I was doing a lot of thinking about making the dress, as August became September, but now it was October, and little voice inside me (either the spirit of Claire McCardell, or more probably, my Bernina, Karl) whispered, “you better get crackin’ on that dress.”

So, I chose a mid-weight black New Zealand merino knit that I got this spring from The Fabric Store in L.A. (here’s that post), because McCardell was one of the first American designers to popularize wool knits, and Martha Graham often used jersey in her costumes. This fabric is very soft and drape-y, and the quality is wonderful. The Fabric Store now has an online gallery, and will do mail order if you call them. (Here’s The Fabric Store’s USA website)
I washed the wool in cold water, tumble-dried it low, and laid it out.
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As I was pinning, I was thinking a lot about Martha Graham, and how she often manipulated fabric in her dances to help tell the story.
This long piece of jersey reminded me of a moment in the dance “Cave of the Heart,” which is based on the Greek legend of Medea, and deals with revenge. It’s a favorite dance of mine, particularly now that I’m a “woman of a certain age.” Martha Graham herself designed the costumes, which makes her a “triple threat”: dancer, choreographer, and draper. The dance premiered in 1946.

In the dance, Medea learns that her husband is leaving her for a younger woman, a princess no less, who flits around the stage being innocent and adorable while she’s followed around by the besotted big lug.

Of course Medea, who’s been around the block a few times, is not happy that her husband is having a mid-life crisis, and she gets REALLY mad. Another dancer, representing the “chorus” from classical Greek theater, tries to stop Medea from exacting revenge, to no avail.

In this photo, you can see the Chorus’s robe and skirt, which remind me in particular of a 20s design by Madeleine Vionnet, shown here in the Betty Kirke book “Vionnet”:

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In a fit of vengeful rage, Medea gives the little homewrecker a poison crown, which of course the princess puts on right away, because she’s a princess, and it’s a crown! For a couple of minutes she’s skipping around really really happy, and then she grabs her head and eeeeeek!

After that, Medea does an intense solo about vengence, where she’s twisting, twirling and even eating a long “snake” of fabric she pulls out of her bodice, so it’s like she’s “eating her heart out.”

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A while later, Medea walks regally across the stage wearing a long train of fabric, and when her macho husband (see below) pulls back the train, the dead princess is inside!

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In the end, even though Medea has clearly gone mad, she still looks kind of, well, let’s say satisfied. And that’s what I love about Martha Graham’s dances; they really get to the emotional core of these classic stories. Seeing them is so cathartic!
(Okay, I know I’m in trouble with my sister for being flip about this great Martha Graham work, but Cave of the Heart is prime example of how Graham was inspired by fabric and costumes, and used them to advance the story of her dances.)

Just FYI–the Martha Graham Dance Company New York season will be running February 10-22, 2015, at the Joyce Theater. Tickets can be purchased here: (Link to Martha Graham Company tickets). The Graham photos above are by Christopher Jones, and the dancers are:  Medea: PeiJu Chien-Pott, Jason: Ben Schultz, Princess: Xiaochuan Xie and Chorus: Natasha Diamond-Walker.

When it came time to construct the dress, I looked inside an original McCardell that I have in my collection, to see how the seams were finished. I was surprised to see that the finishes were different in different parts of the dress, leading me to believe that several different people worked on the dress using their own methods.

The center back seam allowances were folded under and sewn:

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The pockets edges were finished with pinking shears (kind of sloppy, too):

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The armscye seams were double-sewn on the inside, but not top-stitched.

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Several seams were reinforced with bias tape, which is typical of McCardell dresses, as they are often are cut on the bias and need the tape to stabilize the seam.

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Meanwhile, the “let’s get crackin'” concept was still in my head, so my Bernina 560, AKA Karl, whispered, “how about forgetting the seam finishes and using the overlock stitch, sister?” This would have been heresy to me as a vintage purist, except I had recently read this post by The Vintage Traveler talking about how overlock stitches were used on sportswear as early as the 1910s. That was my “Get Out of Jail Free” card!

Using the 2A foot, and the #10 overlock stretch stitch, I got cranking. The foot shoves the edge under the needle, so you don’t need a serger for a finished edge.

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Looks great, no? The wool jersey sewed like a dream.

The great thing about these 50s and 60s patterns released by Spadea, is that they were not taken from designs developed for the home sewing market. These patterns were drafted in reverse: a retail garment was given to the patternmaker, who took apart the garment, drafted the pattern from the pieces, graded the pattern for different sizes, then wrote up the instructions for the home-sewer.

So by sewing from a Spadea pattern now, you truly can recreate designer clothing from that era that look just like the retail garments being sold at the time.

Generally instructions in the Spadea patterns are great, but this one was little backwards in some ways.
The beginning of the instructions tell you to construct the back and side seams of the entire dress, so as you’re doing the more difficult parts, such as attaching piping to a 7″ neckline slash, you have the entire four yards of dress sitting in your lap. I began to feel like I was doing my own version of Martha Graham’s iconic work “Lamentation,” surrounded as I was by what was basically a tube of jersey.

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I made the piping for the neckline using Bernina Bulky Overlock foot number 12C.

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That foot absolutely saved me during this project! After I made the piping, I hand-basted it to the neckline slash (which I reinforced with knit fusible), then used the foot again to sew it on.

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I used silk strips to face the armholes, to make it smoother by my sister’s arms, and to keep the armholes from stretching.

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I was so proud of how I had inserted and edgestitched the two famous McCardell pockets in the dress (because McCardell wanted to free women from relying on evening bags), then discovered that I had put one in upside down! The dress was so big at this point, it was hard to keep track of what was the top and what was the bottom.

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After a quick hack, Frankenpocket was born!

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Then I cut another strip of fabric for the neckline, which was to function as both neck binding and cloth ties.

I used this little thingy to turn the ties right-side out. You put a big tube in the casing and use a smaller tube to push it through.

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At this point, I tried on the dress, and in the silhouette, I saw this:

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That’s Claire McCardell herself, in a dress known as the “futuristic dress.” One of these dresses is in the Metropolitan Museum’s online collection. The dress I was making had a very similar cut, so I had an “aha” moment about how the futuristic dress was constructed.

Now I really had to crank to get the dress done in time for my sister’s event. I gathered the dress in the front and reinforced the gathering with Hug Snug rayon bias tape.

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Then I looked at these instructions. Eeeek!

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It would probably work, but I was running out of time. Instead, I used the bulky overlock foot again, and basically made the ties by running an overlock stitch over the piping and then trimming it, so I didn’t have to turn anything right side out.

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I used the same foot to attach the ties to the front of the dress, rather than hand sewing. It saved me so much time!

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I threw on a blind hem, pressed and defuzzed the whole thing, and then right before I put it in my suitcase to New York, I tried it on one last time.

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Why am I giving this to my sister!?!?! (Actually, I would adjust the fit for myself anyway, so let’s just say I’m giving Janet a “wearable muslin” for my dress. Shhhh!)

I put the dress in my bag and headed to New York, where I was attending a memorial service for legendary jazz singer and family friend, Jimmy Scott. While seated in the pews at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, I handed my sister a bag with the dress in it. Would she like it? I was sweating that one.

We parted ways after the service, and not long after, a picture popped up on my phone with the caption “It’s mine now!”

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Score another one for stunt sewing! Looks great on her, doesn’t it?

It was such a great experience to recreate this piece of fashion history. The only other version of this dress I’ve seen is here, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute collection. I was so glad I’d found that Spadea pattern, because I learned so much about the construction of this classic McCardell design.

In my next post, I’ll be writing about the event where she wore it, and give a report about the Dance and Fashion Exhibit at the Museum at FIT, as well as (finally) details of the Hollywood Costume exhibit.

Hope your sewing’s going well. I’m cooked!

 

 

Long Live Edith Head!

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Well, Edith Head and I made it to the Hollywood Costume Exhibit dinner with only minutes to spare.

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(I believe that’s Faye Dunaway doing a photo bomb in back of me.)

After I finished wrangling with the difficult neckline on this #$&?! pattern, I got a comment from reader Mary Ann Kiefer about how she’d made this pattern back in the day, and her mother had had to help her with the bolero because it was so tricky. So that made me feel a little better about my struggle with the extremely brief instructions. Mary Ann, I wish your mother had been around to help me!

Once I completed construction of the exterior, I tested the fit again, and saw that my muslin fitting had been correct. Phew!

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Godzilla! (Oh Gawd, you can see my bellybutton.)
At this point it dawned on me that what I was making was not a simple bolero, but was actually a backwards lined jacket. So I had to get moving!
There were several points that had to be turned on the jacket, so I used a technique I think I read about on the Sew Maris blog, which is full of handy tips. Once you’ve sewn the corner, you clip it, then put a needle and thread through the inside of the point, pull the thread through for a couple of inches, and put the needle back in again.

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IMG_3683.JPG Then you take both ends of the thread from the inside, pull them at the same time, and the point comes popping out!

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So much cleaner and easier than trying the shove the point out from the inside.
I was mystified as to why the bottom of the bolero was finished with a facing, rather than a turned up hem. But once I made the facing, I saw that it was because the facing needed to curve outward to accommodate the extension at the bust. Very clever!

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After I attached it, I understitched the facing to the seam allowance to keep the facing from popping out.

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When it came time to make the buttonholes, I used a feature on my darling Karl, the Bernina 560, which automatically sets the buttonhole length by measuring your button. I just hold up the button and twist the knob until it matches the size of the button.

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(For details about how Bernina USA is supporting my reconstruction projects, click the “Bernina Collaboration” tab above.)
I spaced the buttonholes using this vintage “Slimflex” expandable sewing gauge I got from Ebay. The box looks like it’s from the 50s or 60s. Recently I’ve seen modern versions of this gauge on websites such as RichardTheThread.com and Nancy’s Notions. Same thing and same brand after all of these years!

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Karl was good to go, so we (actually he) made corded buttonholes.

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Then it was time for my least favorite part of any jacket project, the lining! Since I was using slippy-slidey rayon challis, I used my Bernina walking foot to keep the layers from sliding around.

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Then it was time to pack Edith up, still full of pins, (ignoring the sniffling and blubbering coming from Karl’s direction, where I heard “don’t take Edith, take MEEEEEE!”).

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How do you like my classy Ziplock hand-sewing kit? I managed to get more of the lining sewn in on the plane.

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Then I finished the rest of the handsewing at the hotel, looking out over this film noir view of L.A.

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(The hotel iron was something out of “Psycho,” which was costumed by Edith Head, by the way.)

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After I put on the buttons, I realized that I needed one snap. My excuse to go to a fabric store! I high-tailed it to International Silks and Woolens on Beverly.

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It’s one of those completely overwhelming places with a lot of everything, and it takes patience.

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(Look on this table if you want “Liberty (like)” fabrics.)
There are also a lot of pictures of marginal stars on the walls. Is that Prince? No wonder they had so much metallic purple spandex.

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Don’t get me wrong, you can find good things here. They have a good notions department, where I got my snaps:

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And on the third floor, they have a very eclectic collection of vintage fabrics, some of which appear to be from as early as the 40s.

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During the spring, I used some vintage wool challis from this store to make a crushed boatneck shell. When we got to L.A., I wore it over to the Academy Museum when I was tagging along with my husband. I’m always amazed at how things made out of quality wools, lined with silk crepe de chine, literally jump out of my carry-on without a wrinkle.

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With the snap in place, the bolero was finished! For those of you who weighed in on the button choice, I went with the overwhelming favorite of the green buttons.

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I got ready to go, put on the bolero, and everything was copacetic. After we walked up the red carpet, the first thing we saw, upon entering the exhibit, were all of Edith Head’s Oscars lined up in a row.
As for the other thrilling pieces of Hollywood fashion history I gawked at in this comprehensive exhibit, that will have to wait for next time. No photos allowed, but I have plenty to tell you.