Golden Girls Go Zen and “Claire McCardell’s Gay New Hostess Sash”

You know how it goes…I got a little busy with outside things, and maybe I neglected my stash closet just a little too long. Before I knew it, my fabric, patterns, UFOs and other items had started acting out like naughty teenagers.

For example, When I looked up on the top shelf, I caught Yves St. Laurent and Halstonette in flagrante delicto under my dressform, AKA “Debbie Reynolds.” And they don’t get along at all!


You two! Well, something had to be done.

I knew the cause of it all was the evil UFO (unfinished object) from before the holidays, the 50s “Opera Coat” renamed “Bea Arthur’s Spa Robe.” I had to finish it, because all hell was breaking loose in my stash closet.


My fatal mistake had been rushing through and not taking time to fit it. By the time I’d lined it and understitched, it was too late.

So I dug it out of the closet and finished the two remaining shoulder seams, while looking longingly at the fab fake fur that I really wanted to be cutting out:


After that, I tried fiddling around with it to make it presentable, and even considered giving it some Issey Miyake pleats and folds to update it. But then, instead of looking like “Grandma Goes Trekking in Thailand” it had that air of “Grandma Goes Off Her Meds,” so I went to plan B.

I ended up crossing it over in front and sewing on a big covered “fur” hook and eye. I was going to do a row of them, but quickly lost interest.


Ohm MG! Right up there with the “Schiaparelli Mom Jeans Vest” from last fall.

By then I was about to call the Ghostbusters to straighten things out in my stash closet, but decided to make a last-ditch effort to improve my sewing karma.

I had been wanting to hack “Claire McCardell’s Gay New Hostess Sash” from this 50s ad for the longest time.

Claire McCardell Modess

You would send in $2 and a boxtop from Modess Sanitary Napkins to get an apron with pockets and double-wrapped sash. It was designed for the woman who did her own cooking but had to look good to entertain, based on McCardell’s “Kitchen Dinner Dress” concept from the 40s.

I found some fun retro quilting fabric, cut a long bias sash, and gathered the apron part using dental floss. You can find my tutorial about that trick here: Gathering with dental floss tutorial. #mintyfresh !


Rock n’ roll, Karl!

I stitched in some pockets, and used the “burrito method” (where you wrap something up like a burrito, then sew it) to attach the sash and avoid most of the dreaded handsewing:


Eek! My apron gave birth on the cutting table! My stash really was possessed.

That “Alien” maneuver seemed to have calmed things down, though, and this “make” turned out A-OK.

FullSizeRender 5

Well then I “needed” more unpossessed stash, so I met up with a bunch of local sewing peeps at the Pattern Review Boston Area Meet-up – this time at Gather Here Stitch Lounge. I hardly ever cross the Charles River to mingle with the hoi polloi and Harvard swells in Cambridge, but I did have fun getting together with these groovy girls:


(That’s Jenny from Cashmerette Patterns and Deepika from Pattern Review. Deepika organizes these lovely shindigs, so keep an eye on Pattern Review for details if you’re in the area.)

I was about to be good and leave empty-handed, until Deepika helpfully pointed out the remnant rack. Come to Mama!


(For some reason that picture’s sideways, so just turn your head a little to the right to get the idea.) I feel another apron coming on!

I also whipped up a 70s retro beach wrap in the false hope that it might actually make summer arrive:


(Since “Debbie Reynolds” is modeling it in front of the fireplace, you can probably guess that it was still 35 degrees and hailing when I finished it.)

I defrosted my hands and typed up a quick tutorial for the beach wrap, which is super easy to make and modify for all sizes. You can find it here on Retro Beach Wrap Tutorial.

It’s a free tutorial that’s part of’s partnership with BERNINA of America, and you can find out all the details by clicking the “Bernina Collaboration” tab.

I have to thank them again for loaning me my fab B560, Karl, who is the only thing in my entire sewing area that hasn’t been acting up in recent weeks.

So now that things have calmed down in my stash closet, it’s time for me to try out a few tips I picked up when I had a recent audience with the King:


I knew my luck had changed for the better when I got to meet the Elvis of haute couture, Kenneth D. King! More details about that will be coming up soon.

Hope your sewing’s going well!

18 thoughts on “Golden Girls Go Zen and “Claire McCardell’s Gay New Hostess Sash”

  1. Well, you certainly made a silk purse from the kimono jacket. And what’s wrong with Bea Arthur? Spa days for everyone!
    I believe I made a screaming noise on the last photo. I look forward to the deets. Quick, before they all come home from school! And if not, have a swell summer!

  2. that’s exactly what i was looking for. i’m so glad i found this site, looking for cosplay info. what are the dimensions of that sash, width and length??

    • I think I cut it 12″ wide and folded it over. The length depends on your waist – you can use a string wrapped around a couple of times to figure that out. Good luck!

  3. My daughters and I called them “the GGs” and would gather often to watch and giggle. But, please, those wardrobes! And speaking of giggles, your posts are always informative, entertaining and good for a big laugh! Thank you for that. 😀

  4. Pingback: Outfit for a Party at Museum of Modern Art (Versions 1 through 5) and scenes from their “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” Exhibit | Jet Set Sewing

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