Oscars Report: Karl’s Feud With Meryl (and Georgia O’Keeffe, sewing peep)

Remember a couple of summers ago when my blog post about UFOs (“Unfinished Objects” in sewing lingo) got picked up on that alien conspiracy theory Twitter feed? Which made Jet Set Sewing the first official intergalactic sewing blog?


Well, apparently I’ve been in outer space for quite some time because the Oscars were ages ago! Here’s the full report:

Usually about a month before the show, Karl and I are muslining, cutting, stitching, swearing and shrieking as we try to whip up something red carpet-worthy, while it’s snowing and everybody else in the household is crabby.

I’m always fell-stitching trim or sewing on hooks and eyes on the plane to L.A. at absolutely the last minute, like when I made the Madame Gres dress from hell, or the Claire McCardell meets Chanel jacket:


Well, this year, I was spending so much time in outer space, and still so grumpy from the election, that I completely cheated and wore a me-made skirt that took me about three hours to make!


But what about Meryl’s feud with Karl? Not Lagerfeld, who accused her of blowing off a Chanel haute couture dress for the Oscars that he’d stitched with his own widdle hands (probably), but my Bernina, Karl, who’s had issues with Meryl for several years.


Karl reads all the tabloids, and noticed that Meryl was showing up on the red carpet in outfits suspiciously similar to mine. For example, that time I wore this me-made 60s “crushed” boatneck top (with pleats at the shoulders, courtesy of House of Frankenpattern) with a long black skirt to the Oscars:



Meryl showed up in this boatneck and long black skirt:


Not long after I posted a tutorial for an asymmetrical wrap like this: Festive Wrap Tutorial


She showed up at the Golden Globes in a dress that clearly knocked-off my pattern:

Meryl Streep Golden Globes

I told Karl it was probably just a coincidence, or perhaps an alien mind-meld. But he got on Twitter and said some trashy things about her, and I swear they’re still going at it.

This year I was a little nervous, as I’d only spent three hours making my skirt, and Meryl had probably been scheming and stitching for months.

To my chagrin and shame, not only did Meryl pull off a look not even remotely like mine, but she showed up in a Elie Saab HOSTESS SET!!


Well played, First Lady of American Cinema.

You know what a hostess set is, right? It was a 50s cha-cha-cha outfit with capri pants under a big swishy skirt. It’s a look that needs to come back immediately! And Meryl scooped me!

Hostess Set pattern

Let’s go out on the patio to do the Bossanova and have martinis…Meryl.

Even though I didn’t get to see many of the other dresses up close (to finger the fabric, tug on the embroidery, and flip up the hem to check the underpinnings, as I normally do), I noticed that they fell in the following categories:

A sheath with stuff on it:

hbz-oscars-nicole-kidman Armani Prive

hbz-oscars-laura-dern rodarte

hbz-oscars-emma-stone Givenchy Couture

Miss Kitty’s Saloon Girl:

hbz-oscars-ginnifer-goodwin Murad

Miss Kitty’s Saloon Girl by Gunne Sax:

hbz-oscars-ruth-negga Valentino

Cosplay Miss Kitty’s Saloon Girl:

hbz-oscars-alicia-vikander louis vuitton

Cosplay Madame X goes to the Moulin Rouge:

gallery-1488157398-hbz-oscars-brie-larson Oscar de la Renta

Some 80s thing from Mom’s closet (with a French maid’s apron):

Dakota Johnson Gucci

and the ubiquitous Hollywood Goddess Default Gown:

hbz-oscars-charlize-theron dior couture

hbz-oscars-isabelle-huppert armani prive

gallery-1488151532-hbz-oscars-teresa-palmer Prada

But there were a few outliers:


hbz-oscars-halle-berry versace


gallery-1488152654-hbz-oscars-leslie-mann Zac Posen



And the winner for “Classiest,” both for the outfit and her grace at being passed over for Best Actress in Hidden Figures:

taraji in Alberta Ferretti

If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures, go see it for the retro costumes, uplifting story, great acting, script, music, art direction, and production. I was rooting for it.

I had one direct celebrity encounter when my fearless husband, who is apparently an aging fanboy of Janelle Monae, mortified me by running up to her and starting to blab. She was extremely cordial and shook both of our hands, which was very nice considering she was about to get onstage in front of a billion people. She has a very fashion-forward style and really made this heavily embroidered meets sheer dress work:

hbz-oscars-janelle-monae elie saab

But enough with the Oscars! What about the fabric shopping? Well, of course I didn’t need any more fabric — who does? But in the interested of research, I checked out this gorgeous lace/embroidery confection at Mood Fabrics in L.A.:


Then I succumbed to some delicious wool knits and Liberty silk at The Fabric Store:


How do I get it home?!


(I had to do a little KonMari to pull it off.)

Meanwhile, for about five minutes I was so blissfully alone and family free in my hotel room (a couple of blocks from Sunset Boulevard) that I did a Norma Desmond “aging broad losing touch with reality” selfie showing my latest Claire McCardell reconstruction of a 40s cape she designed:


I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Once I was in the groove, I’d gotten a little crazy making them. The short version is above, and the one below is more like the original, fastened with a humble safety pin just as she did:


In a bit of kismet over the holidays, the Museum of Modern Art had gotten in touch with me via my blog, because, as you know, I have a complete girlcrush on McCardell and have been researching her life and designs.

I was able to help find some McCardell shoes and photos for their upcoming exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern? and then they posted an article about my reconstructions on their blog!  Here it is: Claire McCardell Article.


Of course, it wasn’t until I made their Twitter feed that my 15-year-old actually was impressed. As he said of my obsessing: “after all, you’re going to need something to do in your golden years.” Oh. Thanks hon.

Speaking of McCardell, I was tipped off by my sister, New York City bureau chief for Jet Set Sewing, that there’s a McCardell dress, along with a photo of Georgia O’Keeffe wearing it, and lots of other cool vintage fashion in the current exhibition “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” at the Brooklyn Museum. The show is about O’Keeffe’s unique modernist sartorial style, and features her paintings along with items from her wardrobe – some of which she sewed herself. Here’s a photo of O’Keeffe wearing a McCardell, with a Hector Aguilar Mexican Silver belt, from the excellent accompanying book by Wanda M. Corn:


While I was distracted with all of that, Karl was busy coming up with creative ways to use our favorite presser foot, Bulky Overlock #12/12C, which makes fab piping BTW. You can see him doing the hokey pokey with the foot, among other things, in this tutorial: WeAllSew.com. It’s part of our collaboration with BERNINA of America, and all of the details are in the tab above.


As for my next sewing adventure… well, I will be needing an outfit to wear to the opening of that MoMA exhibition!

Hope your sewing’s going well!

22 thoughts on “Oscars Report: Karl’s Feud With Meryl (and Georgia O’Keeffe, sewing peep)

  1. This is a fabulous post! Thank you. I loved reading the Claire McCardell article. I too have a favorite from the past who past recently, Sonia Rykiel. Plus, I think I’ll be naming my Bernina Coco. 🙂

  2. No sewing happening in my neck of the woods because I go back to Masters study next week and we move two weeks after that – so it’s all guns a blazing here!

    There’s a Making Modernism exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery right now: https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/okeeffe,-preston-and-cossington-smith
    Featuring OKeefe,Preston and Cossington Smith – I have not been to see it yet but there’s still another six weeks left. I wonder if they’re similar exhibitions?

  3. I always look forward to your Oscar post whenever you get around to it. Hilarious as always. I can’t wait to see what Meryl steals from you next year.

  4. Finally! I can stop holding my breath over the last bit of Oscar-mania (we spent the broadcast searching for you in the distant seats, courtesy of big tv). The only Oscar dress I can ever remember is Lizzy Gardiner’s Amex card dress (which has its own wikipedia page now). Worth a look.

    • I remember that dress, and perhaps I should make something similar next year – maybe out of Costco cards. I’ll need plenty because I have a lot of ground to cover. Glue gun them to power mesh?

  5. Loved this post, so much fun. You wrote a wonderful article about McCardell too. I will keep on following your blog as long as you write it.

  6. I love the way you categorise the Oscar dresses! Thanks for a good laugh😊. Also nice to see that I’m not the only person who calls that shade puce🙄

  7. Loved your McCardell article–very informative! I had no idea she was the genius behind so many aspects of modern fashion that we take for granted. The more you know! 😉

    Am I all alone in LOVING the color of Leslie Mann’s dress? I think it’s fabulous (as is Meryl’s hostess set)!

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