In the Company of Cows and Sheep

Vacationing in a foreign country always has its own special charms, but when that country is Ireland, the charms are manifold. My husband and I were lucky enough to be joined by our son, our daughter, our son-in-law, and our year-and-a-half old granddaughter on a trip to Cork and Kerry Counties in southwest Ireland (our treat to them!), from which we have just returned. All of us love to hike (granddaughter Aida went on her Daddy’s back in a child carrier made for trekking), but we also enjoy nice accommodations and good food after a day on the trail – so we arranged our trip through CW Adventures, who took care of all the details and enabled us to take some incredible hikes through stunningly beautiful Irish countryside.

Ireland We expected to see cows and sheep, but the sheer quantity of cows and sheep, some of whom we shared our trails with, was a delight! Gentle-natured and handsome animals they are, living in this verdant green land with breathtaking vistas. We all agreed that the Irish butter was the best we have ever tasted. And, of course, we all know what lovely product comes from sheep. Irish lambs wool must be some of the softest in the world.

Ireland I thought it would be nice to come home with some Irish wool – can you believe that? We were not in cities for very much of our vacation, nor did I have time while we were in the cities to search for fabric stores. But I did expect to find some woolen yard goods in the smaller towns and villages.   There was plenty of knitting wool for sale, but very few bolts of fabric. I found this small offering of tweeds in one store, all of which were lovely, but not quite what I wanted.

Tweeds - Ireland Actually I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted until I saw this small blanket in a store in Dingle:

The dimensions of this small blanket are approximately 36" long by 62" wide.  The fringe is 3 1/2" long.

The dimensions of this small blanket are approximately 36″ long by 62″ wide. The fringe is 3 1/2″ long.

The colors in it seemed to speak to me of Ireland: greens reminiscent of the pastures and hills, the yellows and reds of the abundant flowers sprinkling the countryside, the brown of the cliffs and stone walls – all set in a pleasing grid just like the hills and valleys delineated by centuries-old stone fences and hedgerows. And it had fringe! I love fringe. But – it was a blanket. Could I possibly use this blanket as woolen yardage for a fringed skirt? Would I dare to cut it up?

I guess we’ll find out, as home it came with me, with that intention.

Draped loosely on my dress form.

Draped loosely on my dress form.

 I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store - as a skirt - to test my theory.  Here it is pinned on my dress form

I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store – as a skirt – to test my theory. Here it is pinned on my dress form

I hope you can see the herringbone weave in these close-up photos.

I hope you can see the herringbone weave in these close-up photos.

Ireland blanket

The weight of this wool is perfect for a skirt.

There is an old Irish proverb (so I am told) that seems apropos to this particular blanket/piece of wool: “Time is a good storyteller.” It will indeed take some time for me to figure this one out, but hopefully the story will have a happy ending!

And now, for the rest of this week, I’ll be in the company of —- my sewing room, working on my blue cocktail dress, which must be ready for our next trip! Move over please, cows and sheep …

 

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Filed under Blankets and doll blankets, Uncategorized, woolens

The Search for the Perfect Blue

Do you ever have a specific color in mind when looking for fabric for a specific type of dress? I am usually open to changing my mind if something else wonderful appears, but this time I really, really wanted to find a blue fabric for a cocktail dress. I started out thinking I would like a pale or periwinkle blue silk to pair with white lace, having Susan Khalje’s new Cocktail Dress pattern in mind.

The version I was thinking I'd like to make is the third one, with lace for the top and bottom panels.

The version I was thinking I’d like to make is the third one, with lace for the top and bottom panels.

I sent off for swatches – and more swatches – and even more, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. This is what happens when one lives in an area which is devoid of fine fabric stores. ARGH! Then I found this lovely lightweight silk/linen/viscose blend at Emma One Sock. The color was just what I had in mind and I loved the feel of the fabric. The delicate woven design within this fabric catches glimmers of light.

The subtle design is in shades of pink, green and peach.

The subtle design is in shades of pink, green and peach.

I really loved it. BUT – I knew it wouldn’t look good paired with lace. So-o-o-o, I thought to myself, maybe I’ll save the lace idea for another time. Maybe I should look at my pattern collection and see what other cocktail dress patterns might be more suitable.  I picked out two more designs and gave myself some thinking time.

Perfect Blue - Mattli pattern

View D would be my choice.

View D would be my choice.

Since the yardage needed was about the same for all the patterns, I felt confident ordering the fabric and making my decision after it arrived. Can you guess which design I finally chose – and why?

The Vogue Couturier Design by Jo Mattli was the winner. I felt like the vertical “stems” and “leaves” woven into the fabric would be shown to best advantage by a dress that did not have a whole lot going on in it in the way of seams and tucks and gathers. I also like the fact the Mattli design very cleverly gives the feel of a two-piece dress, but in reality, it is one-piece. In fact, only the front of the dress looks two-piece. Here is the back view:

Perfect Blue - thumbnail sketch of backs

The lightweight nature of this fabric also means that there will not be an excess amount of bulk in that double layered front. The fabric is ideal for underlining in silk organza, with a lining in luscious china silk which Emma One Sock helped to select for me.

I spent several days working on a muslin (toile) for the dress, making some subtle changes which I’ll cover in a future post. The dress itself is now “under construction”! Of course, the longer I work with this beautiful fabric, the more I wonder if I should order more of it….?   A coat with a lining to match the dress would be quite something, wouldn’t it? (Any coat would not be finished in time to wear to the early September event for which I am making this dress, but would I let a small detail like that keep me from a vision?) What do you think? Coat or no coat? And if I did make a coat, what color should it?

 

 

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Filed under Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

Sometimes It’s All About the Shoes

Well, maybe it’s not entirely about the shoes, although they do promise to share a starring role with my just-completed yellow and blue linen dress.

All about the shoes

I first spied these lovelies on the Simply Soles website last winter, as part of the offerings for Spring/Summer shoes. Although I loved everything about them (the combination of colors, the fabric, the asymmetrical bow, the kitten heel, the brand – knowing from experience that Butter shoes are extremely comfortable), I decided not to purchase them. At that point in time, I had not yet bought the bittersweet yellow linen, so I had no reason to buy shoes with such a limited color palette. By the time I had a good reason to buy them, they were no longer available in my size.

All about the shoes However, the Simply Soles website allows one to request an email advice should the correctly sized shoe become available. Weeks went by, Summer arrived, and by then I had paired the recently purchased deep yellow linen with the pottery blue linen. Goodness, I could not stop thinking about those shoes and how perfect they would be with my envisioned dress. And then – they were suddenly available – in my size – and on sale!

All about the shoes

By this time I was already immersed in making my second linen dress of the Summer, so I planned for the blue and yellow linen to be number “3”. In the meantime, I happened upon more documentation of Moygashel linen, this one for the “yellow” piece. Those of you who follow this blog know how much I love to make these connections!

"... pure enchantment for sun places ... a forsythia linen dress ..."  and the source information in the back of this Vogue Pattern Book Magazine from February/March, 1968 credits Moygashel as the brand of linen.

“… pure enchantment for sun places … a forsythia linen dress …” and the source information in the back of this Vogue Pattern Book Magazine from February/March, 1968 credits Moygashel as the brand of linen.

Seeing an entire dress made out of the forsythia linen helped me to feel confident about having such a bright color as the bodice part of my planned dress.  As I stated in my last post, I decided to use the bodice from this early ‘60s’ Vogue pattern, pairing it with a slim skirt and a belt.

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

As this would be a dressier type of frock, and because I know how foolproof couture construction is (with silk organza underlining and crepe de chine lining), I proceeded using those techniques. The facings on the V-shape of the bodice front and back were cut as part of the pattern, instead of being separate pieces. I followed the instructions to reinforce the edges of the fold with ¼” twill tape.

I basted the twill tape just to the outside of the fold line on the "all-in-one" facing.

I basted the twill tape just to the outside of the fold line on the “all-in-one” facing.  This is the back bodice.

And this is the front bodice, showing the deep V and the center seam.

And this is the front bodice, showing the deep V and the center seam.

Normally, couture construction does not use facings, but in this application, they were indispensible. Then the rest of the dress proceeded without a hitch.

Here is the dress turned inside out.  I used a forsythia-yellow zipper as i thought it more important to match the bodice than the skirt of the dress.

Here is the dress turned inside out. I used a forsythia-yellow zipper as I thought it more important to match the bodice than the skirt of the dress.

Here is the shoulder with the crepe de chine fell-stitched and understitched in place around the shouilder.  Note the lingerie stay made with a folded piece of Hug Snug Rayon woven tape.

Here is an inside look at the crepe de chine fell-stitched and understitched in place around the shouilder. Note the lingerie stay made with a folded piece of Hug Snug rayon woven tape.

About halfway through the construction of the dress, I got the idea to have decorative buttons made – to compliment the front V of the neckline.

I sent scraps of my fabric off to Pat Mahoney in California to have these buttons made.  Sadly, Pat is retiring from her business at the end of August...

I sent scraps of my fabric off to Pat Mahoney in California to have these buttons made. Sadly, Pat is retiring from her business at the end of August…

I actually was not sure I was going to use them until I had finished the dress, but I think they add just the right amount of detail.

Here is the dress without the buttons . . .

Here is the dress without the buttons . . .

. . . and here is the dress with the buttons.  What do you think?  With or without?

. . . and here is the dress with the buttons. What do you think? With or without?

Another detail I was happy to add was the Moygashel linen label which had been attached to the forsythia yellow linen yardgoods.

I attached the label inside the back neckline.

I attached the label inside the back neckline.

The belt is also a Pat Mahoney product, made from a silk dupioni.

The belt is also a Pat Mahoney product, made from a silk dupioni.

All about the shoes

All about the shoes

I like the V-ed back!

I like the V-ed back!

Love those shoes!

Love those shoes!

To me, this dress is reminiscent of a 1950s’ “wiggle dress” – although I added a back slit so that I can walk easily, which I guess would have been “cheating” in the 1950s! I was delighted to make another 1950s’ connection when I saw this pair of Roger Vivier shoes for Christian Dior on Pinterest:

All about the shoes - Pinterest pin

The similarities with my shoes are remarkable! Now that I have one dress perfectly suited for my Christian Dior-inspired shoes, I will be looking for other “perfect pairings”. Who knows what fabric treasures will present themselves next Spring or Summer for just such an undertaking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, hand-sewn zippers, Linen, Moygashel linen, Shoes to make an outfit complete, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, underlinings, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

“Good Wearing-Relationships”

This is a pattern I have long admired:

Good wearing-relationships - Forquet pattern

It is one of those patterns which is always in my mind when I am looking at or for fabric. Twice I have opened it up to survey its pieces and construction, and twice I have decided against it. To be fair, both times of rejection have been because of “not enough fabric”, but other factors have weighed in as well: 1) the collar is too “’70s-looking” and would have to be recut; 2) the skirt is A-line, a look I am just not excited about right now; and 3) the top part of the dress is “bloused” instead of darted, which adds more bulk to the waist than I can handle at this stage of my life.  However, with that said, I still love the look.   I love the strong contrasts of color, divided and punctuated with the wide white belt. I love the styling with the shoes matching the red bodice, the tidy neck scarf, the big ball earrings, and the classy bracelet. It is a memorable look. And – it served as inspiration for me as I recently paired two vintage pieces of contrasting Moygashel linen.

GGood wearing-relationships

When I purchased these fabrics – at different times – I had no intention of using them together.   But then, one day I put them together and liked what I saw. I knew from Vogue 2708 (above), that a white belt would add the necessary foil to those two strong colors. Further encouragement came happily from a two-piece dress in the June/July 1962 issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine using similar Moygashel linens:

"They're naturals - and we're not just talking about the cotton and linen fibers in the clothes on these pages , but the good wearing-relationships we have with them.  We like them; they like us - our 1962 shapes, science-bred colors, the places we go, our washing machines..."  The two-piece dress featured here was made from Moygashel linen,

From the description:  “They’re naturals – and we’re not just talking about the cotton and [Moygashel] linen fibers in the clothes on these pages , but the good wearing-relationships we have with them. We like them; they like us – our 1962 shapes, science-bred colors, the places we go, our washing machines…”

Now all I had to do was decide upon a pattern which would work with the one yard I had of the “bittersweet” yellow linen for the bodice and the one-and-one-quarter yards I had of the “pottery” blue linen for the skirt. (Fortunately, these linens are 45”wide, meaning that they were manufactured after the early-1960s.)

Initially I thought I would just go with View D of this current Vogue pattern:

Good wearing-relationships - new vogue pattern

But after having recently read Linda Przybyszewski‘s The Lost Art of Dress and being influenced by the discussion therein of the importance of fashion emphasizing one’s face, I thought I wanted a more interesting neckline. Off to my collection of vintage patterns I went, emerging with this one:

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

And the back is equally as pretty!

And the back is equally as pretty!

Now I had a plan. I would use the narrow skirt from the current Vogue pattern and the bodice from the vintage Vogue pattern, except that I would make it sleeveless. I had to work to line up the darts on the bodice and the skirt, moving them hither and yon several times. And then I had to deal with the positioning of the bust darts, always an issue for me with vintage patterns. The apices of the darts are always too high for me. (I’m sure it has much to do with the foundation garments which women wore in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s.) Simply moving the apices lower does not always work, as then I seem to have too much fullness above the bust and across the shoulders.   Of course, this is where making a muslin (toile) comes to the rescue. In this case, my first muslin had so many changes to it, that I had to transfer all my final markings to a new muslin. I also decided to underline the linen with silk organza and use true couture techniques to complete this dress.

Here is one side of the front from my first muslin.  I still had to make changes on the second muslin, but better on muslin than on the fashion fabric!

Here is one side of the front from my first muslin. I still had to make changes on the second muslin, but better on muslin than on the fashion fabric!

As I work on this dress I am in concurrence with further commentary from the 1962 VPB: speaking of “Naturals for our Time” (linens and cottons), the editors say, “Most of all, we want the real-life way they look – effortless, inspired by structure rather than detail [my emphasis], and naturally appealing now.” Actually, there is one important detail which will add to the “good wearing-relationship” I will have with this dress – but I’ll save that for my next post…

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Filed under couture construction, Linen, Moygashel linen, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, underlinings, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns

Fashion Past, Fashion Present

Many reviews of Linda Przbyszewski’s book The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish have been written. Two of the most recent ones are by Stephani Miller of Threads Magazine, and by Joy Landeira in the quarterly newsletter (Summer 2014) of the American Sewing Guild, Notions (available to members only). Both of these, plus many others give an excellent overview of the subject of the book. For those of you abroad and others who may not have been exposed to this book, here in a nutshell is the narrative: From 1900 – 1960, American women’s interest in fashion was shaped to a great degree by many professionals in the fields of Home Economics, Retailing, and Art. Following certain concepts espoused by these “Dress Doctors”, as the author calls them, average American women embraced style, grace, appropriateness, and practicality in their dress, making them paragons of American fashion.

Lost Art of Dress - cover

I found the book completely fascinating to read, learning much about the cultural and social history of this country during those six decades. Although the book is scholarly in its research, documentation, and overview, Linda is an engaging writer, infusing humor frequently, adding pointed commentary throughout, and, finally, extrapolating meaning from the “lessons” taught by the Dress Doctors for present seekers of style. As a dressmaker and frequent user of vintage patterns, I read the book looking for specific references, which would apply to my sewing and fashion sense, and to help me answer the question “Just exactly why do I find the fashions from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s so captivating?” To say that I found much to savor is, indeed, an understatement.  However, certain “Aha” moments stood out for me, so that is what I will try to cover in my remarks here.

1) To be successful and enduring, fashion should emphasize one’s face. When I look at vintage patterns, so many of them have details at the neckline, or unusual and flattering collars, or necklines cut gracefully to frame the face. This seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Fashion should bring attention to one’s face – and therefore, one’s person – so that YOU are remembered rather than your attire (although the proper fashions can help you be remembered at your best). Jewelry is one way to help emphasize a face, but, of course, it should not overpower your countenance. Prior to 1965, wearing hats was commonplace, adding another point of emphasis to the face. Now we are not so lucky, save for some very special occasions.

2) Black is fine to wear for evening, but think again for day-time wear. While I am not naïve enough to think that black is going to leave the wardrobes of American women (after all, what is more classic than the Little Black Dress for after-five?), most of us would do well to consider adding more color to our fashion sewing and wearing. Color is a powerful enhancer to complexions (of all hues) and moods.

3) Older women were once considered at the apex of elegance and style. Women and girls younger than 30 were expected to dress in a more youthful manner that mimicked their elders, rather than the other way around! (Isn’t it interesting that 30 was considered the age at which women were expected to assume a more polished appearance?)   Vogue Pattern Book Magazine contained the occasional feature on young girls and college girls, and Vogue even had a pattern series called Young Fashionables. But the majority of their patterns were for the 30 – and – older crowd, showcasing models and fashions which were demure but elegant, feminine but refined.

Here is one "Young Fashionable" pattern, to illustrate the type of style designed for the younger than thirty age group.

Here is one “Young Fashionable” pattern, to illustrate the type of style designed for the younger-than-30 age group.

This page from the October/November 1955 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine shows many of the ingredients of a polished look, the norm among American women at that time.

This page from the October/November 1955 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine shows many of the ingredients of a polished look, the norm among American women at that time.

Even fashion illustration included all the elements of a polished look.  (From the same VPB magazine as above.)

Even fashion illustration included all the elements of a polished look. (From the same VPB magazine as above.)

4) The Dress Doctors were not only concerned with fashion, but also with how fashion could influence the rest of one’s life. First and foremost, one should buy, or sew one’s own attire, which is appropriate for the life one leads. Buying on impulse is rarely a good idea if the item you are buying has no use in your weekly or monthly calendar. Further, if you find a style or look which works for you, repeat it – easily accomplished by those of us who sew. And those of us who sew know that tweaking a pattern, adding or subtracting a detail, and choosing diverse fabrics can make any pattern look new. Hooray for us!

5) A final point – and it is about many women’s favorite fashion accessory — shoes. According to Linda Przbyszewski, shoes have taken on much more significance than they once did – and should. Shoes should never be the focal point of one’s outfit. They should be chosen to enhance the overall look and to be functional for the occasion for which you are dressing. Shoes used to be just one of the accessories adding to the complete outfit, along with gloves, hats, scarves, handbags, jewelry, and coats. As gloves and hats and coat “wardrobes” have receded from the recipe for a “fashionable look”, shoes have filled that gap for many of us.

The last chapter of the book is devoted to the “demise” of the Dress Doctors in the 1960s and ‘70s. The emphasis on “youth”, starting in the ‘60s, and the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s changed mainstream fashion dramatically. Not addressed in the book is the continuance of some of the standards, established by the Dress Doctors, by the pattern companies in these two decades. Although my experience is mostly with Vogue patterns, I continue to be inspired by many of the fashions, Designer and otherwise, featured in patterns during these two decades. Once again home dressmakers were at an advantage – and continue to be.

The author leaves the reader on a positive note, stressing lessons for all of us to be learned from the wisdom of the Dress Doctors, and crediting the home sewing movement NOW for the beginning of a return to standards and style in the art of dress. I look at this  as a responsibility.  How about you?

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Filed under Book reviews, Little Black Dress, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

Thinking Time

There is one more Summer Dress in my head, begging to be made. However, this one needed some thinking time before I could start it, to help me decipher the correct pattern (or patterns) to use. The fabric is pretty special, so I don’t want to make a mistake. What to do to fill up this time I was spending thinking? It seemed the perfect opportunity to do some really simple sewing, as in “Easy Tunic Top”.

Last summer, while in JoAnn’s for one of my frequent thread or zipper trips, I stumbled onto some pretty linen/cotton blends – and on a whim, purchased two lengths.   One I made up immediately into a tunic dress; the other one has just sat around, keeping company with other lengths of fabric folded neatly on my “linen” storage shelf. After finding (in an Etsy shop) this classic tunic top pattern, now out-of-print, I decided this might be a good time to use that second piece of “whim” fabric.

View A is the top I like best...

View A is the top I like best…

No matching necessary on this "whim" fabric.

No matching necessary on this “whim” fabric.

I really did not want to go to the trouble to make a muslin, when I could look at the pattern and make a good guess as to its fit on me. It is loose, as tunics are – so all I did in preparation was to transfer the lines and markings from the tissue pattern onto a sturdier pattern paper.  I decided to line the body (not the sleeves) of the tunic, as the fabric is lightweight, and in the sunlight it could be “revealing”. I used a very lightweight rayon voile, which I get at Dharma Trading. I finished the seams with Hug Snug binding tape, which is just so easy to use and makes such a nice finish. The more I use it, the more I wonder how any dressmaker can live without it!

This shows both the seams finished with Snug Hug and the white voile lining.

This shows both the seams finished with Hug Snug and the white voile lining.

Because I was making the front placket out of the same material as the rest of the top, I knew I would need to do something to differentiate it, so I used a nice, low-profile cotton lace around the edge.

Thinking time - lace

I decided to make the sleeves three-quarter length, which is my favorite sleeve length. At first I wasn’t going to put any lace on the edges of the sleeves, but then it just didn’t look quite right without anything, so I added it.

I attached the lace with the straight edge at the bottom of the sleeve, with a narrow margin of fabric showing,

I attached the lace with the straight edge at the bottom of the sleeve, with a narrow margin of fabric showing.

Thinking time

DSC_1324Thinking time

Now come the True Confessions . . . I’m not sure this top is quite “me”. I think I would like it better in a navy blue and white print. I would also take it in a little bit if I make this pattern again – as I think it looks a bit baggy. (However, since the only way into it is over the head, it can’t be too tight!) I have also decided that I am happiest sewing something that is more of a challenge. I’ll remind myself that I actually said this next time I am in a project that tests my sewing mettle!   That may be soon, as the “thinking time” for my final Summer Season dress is now turning into “doing time”. Here is a hint as to what I will be working on:

Thinking time - tagAny guesses, anyone?

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Filed under Blouses, Linen, Uncategorized

The Long and Mysterious Journey of Sandhurst 121

When the piece of linen I had purchased arrived in the mail, I was not sure what to expect. I had bought it with the hope that it was, indeed, a piece of Moygashel linen, but I had nothing to go on except an educated hunch. I knew it was an early piece of fabric, as its width was 35”, a common width for pre-1960’s dress-goods. I liked the design in the photo from which I made my decision, although it was not a colorway to which I normally gravitate. Upon opening the package, I found the only identifying mark on the fabric to be this tag:

Gottshalk's in Fresno, California obviously sold fine fabrics.

Gottschalk’s in Fresno, California obviously sold fine fabrics.

This short length of fabric had been on the remnant table, and, being too good of a bargain to pass by, some home dressmaker in California (USA) scooped it up with all good intentions of making something out of it someday. It must have lived in a dark drawer somewhere, carefully buffered from stains and yellowing. It didn’t even have much of a crease in it. And so, after many years in dormancy, it arrived at my home in Pennsylvania. I knew immediately that it was a Moygashel linen. I could tell by the hand of the fabric, the unique, slightly funky design, and by its amazing survival virtually wrinkle-free.

Sandhurst 121

As I mentioned in a former post, my only dilemma was the scant yardage, combined with the narrow width. So, I stuck it in my fabric closet, to think about another day. One thing nagged at me, however. I really, really wanted to know what year it was from.

Over the past three years or so, I have had some luck in finding copies of old and older (1950-1980) Vogue Pattern Book Magazines. They are fascinating, and treasure troves of mid-century fashion as it relates to home sewing. I have tried to get a good cross-section of magazines from those three decades. One issue, which I tried a couple of times to get – and did not (on eBay) – finally became available to me. I loved the suit on the cover, and those mid-fifties styles are just so chic, even though most Vogue patterns from that time period were unprinted, and therefore, very difficult to use. (By 1957, Vogue was starting to produce many of their patterns in printed and perforated format.)

This is the February/March 1955 issue.

This is the February/March 1955 issue.

Perhaps you can see where I am going with this? I was looking through this particular issue once again in May of this year, and low and behold, a full-page ad for Moygashel linen clearly pictured “my” linen as one of their “new crop”. The colorway was different, but Moygashel was known for producing their fabrics “all in many colors or color combinations.” Maybe a lot of people wouldn’t get so excited about such a discovery, but I was ecstatic! Now I knew, for certain, that the linen I had purchased made its debut in early 1955. (I would be turning 5 years old a little later that year!) I even had a name for it now – Sandhurst 121. I suddenly very much wanted to sew this linen, this Summer!

There is my linen in the upper left hand corner of the full-page advertisement.

There is my linen in the upper left hand corner of the full-page advertisement.

By now, many of you know that I determined to make a sheath dress out of this scant yardage of fabric, and in order to do so, I had to reconfigure my sheath dress pattern to include a back yoke. Here’s the fabric layout, which hopefully will show how sectioning the back enabled me to fit the pattern on the available fabric:

The fabric is shown 35" flat on my cutting table.  The muslin pattern piece for the front of the dress is on the right, and the two shortened back pieces are lined up smack against each other on the left.  The yoke pieces then fit above the dress front.  I did not need facings, as I lined the entire dress in a light weight linen/cotton blend, and finished the neck and armholes all by hand.

The fabric is shown 35″ flat on my cutting table. The muslin pattern piece for the front of the dress is on the right, and the two shortened back pieces are lined up smack against each other on the left. The yoke pieces then fit on the fabric  above the dress front. I did not need facings, as I lined the entire dress in a light weight linen/cotton blend, and finished the neck and armholes all by hand.  I had to face the hem as I did not have enough fabric to do a self hem!

Many of you also know that fortune shone her happy face again on this project when I found three orange vintage buttons, which I knew would help make a back yoke far more interesting. I relied on a Vogue pattern from 1957, which has a back yoke to help me with this reconfigure.

This card of buttons cost 2 cents originally!  They seem to mimic the small orange explosions on the dress fabric.

This card of buttons cost 2 cents originally! They seem to mimic the small orange explosions on the dress fabric.  They may actually be even earlier than the fabric.

The yoke on this dress uses 4 buttons.  I only had three, but their large size still makes the proportions work well.

The yoke on this dress uses 4 buttons. I only had three, but their large size still makes the proportions work well.

A close-up of the back of the dress.

A close-up of the back of the dress.  I made bound buttonholes – very 1950-ish!

And then, another classic 1950s’ design detail worked right into this dress: I would need to move the zipper to the side in order for the back yoke to look correct. Now I will be the first to tell you that a side zipper is not as convenient as a back zipper, but it is a small sacrifice when everything else is enhanced by this placement.   After these obeisances to ‘50s’ style, I slipped right into 2014 with a bright orange, newly made belt, a widened jewel neckline, slightly cut-in shoulders, and a back slit to enhance comfort. I like to choose the best from the ‘50s, but I really don’t want to look like the 1950s.

I sent new orange linen to Pat Mahoney of Pat's Custom Belts and Buttons  and this lovely belt came back to me in the mail.

I sent new orange linen to Pat Mahoney of Pat’s Custom Belts and Buttons and this lovely belt came back to me in the mail.

Cool and summery-looking, don't you think?

Cool and summery-looking, don’t you think?

Sandhurst 121

Sandhurst 121

Sandhurst 121

Sandhurst 121

Sandhurst 121

Not every dress can have a story, nor should it. But this fabric, which began its life in Ireland, no doubt entered this country through New York City, ordered by a store in Fresno, California, purchased and squirreled away for decades by persons unknown – has now found a starring role in my wardrobe almost 60 years later. Sewing is just so much fun!

 

 

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Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, hand-sewn zippers, Linen, Love of sewing, Moygashel linen, Polka dots, side-placed zippers, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, Unprinted patterns from the 1950s, vintage buttons, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s