Tag Archives: Emerald green fabric

The Return of the Ladylike Suit

It seems I just can’t get way from that word – ladylike.  Just as I was finishing the jacket to my emerald green silk suit, the weekend Wall Street Journal arrived with this article in the Off Duty – Style & Fashion section:  “Gran Larceny – Fashion’s latest rebellion is co-opting looks from grandma’s closet.”

This photo, copyright The Wall Street Journal, is the lead photo for the article.

This photo, copyright The Wall Street Journal, is the lead photo for the article.

To quote from this article by Alexa Brazilian:

“Is conservative the new radical?    The fashion world certainly seems to think  so  . . .    Designers are reimaging soignée staples for spring and summer – skirt suits, twin sets, below-the-knee dresses, kitten heels and frame bags – that appear anything but moth-eaten.

“ ‘A young girl now doesn’t want to dress like her mother; she finds her grandmother much cooler,’ said Nina Ricci creative director Peter Copping, who designed skirt suits inspired by his own nana.  ‘She wore little smart tweedy suits.  I always had a romantic notion of that.’ “

And then later in the article is this statement by Christopher Kane (which I might frame and put on the wall in my sewing room!):  “Ladylike is the ultimate sexiness,” said the designer.  “It’s clean, elegant and in control.  The famous saying, ‘It’s the quiet ones you need to watch,’ definitely applies to this style.”

Well, I won’t necessarily feel radical or even sexy when I wear my new green skirt suit, but I do believe it is an example of that ladylike style of the early 1960s — which actually makes sense since the pattern is indigenous to that decade.

This is the pattern from the 1960s I used for my suit.

This is the pattern from the 1960s I used for my suit.

Finally finished!

And here is the suit finally finished.

I make a few changes to the design once I made the muslin for it.  First, I added two tapering darts to the back.  It was supposed to have a boxy feel to it, but I felt a little narrower silhouette would be more flattering to me.  I also lengthened the jacket by about 1 and ½ inches.

The jacket is still "boxy" but less so with the added darts.

The jacket is still “boxy” but less so with the added darts.

I decided to make the sleeves below elbow length, so I added another inch and ½ to them.  Then I had to narrow them a bit as well to make them look proportional.

Now to the fun part:  the two dressmaker details I added.  In an earlier post, I already showed the turquoise silk lining fabric I chose.  Once I had such a dramatic contrast in the works, I thought I’d push the envelope a bit farther.  I found silk bias ribbon in a lovely periwinkle color and used it to add an edge detail to the lining in the body of the jacket.

Here is the bias silk ribbon attached to the edge of the lining.

Here is the bias silk ribbon attached to the edge of the lining…  Click on the photos to see them up close.

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… and one more picture of it.

This was so much fun to do and made attaching the lining to the jacket very easy, as all I had to do was “hand-stitch in the ditch” where the silk ribbon and the lining fabric were sewn together.

Here is what the finished edge looks like.

Here is what the finished edge looks like.

When I found the gold buttons for the jacket, I immediately knew that adding buttons to the sleeves would make it all look more complete.

The gold buttons added to the sleeves and another view of the lining (and the back of the bound buttonholes).

The gold buttons added to the sleeves and another view of the lining (and the back of the bound buttonholes).

And here is a close-up of the larger buttons for the front of the jacket, with their bound buttonholes.

And here is a close-up of the larger buttons for the front of the jacket, with their bound buttonholes.

The last thing I did was attach the label to the inside front of the jacket.

Emerald green suit

The silk shell I am wearing is a RTW one!  I purchased it last Spring and now have something with which to wear it!

The silk shell I am wearing is a RTW one. I purchased it last Spring and now have something with which to wear it!

Another view, without jacket.

Another view, with jacket over my shoulder.

When I found this emerald green silk matka online last Fall at Waechter’s Fine Fabrics, I envisioned a skirt suit – or dressmaker suit, as this type of dressy suit is also called – but I had not progressed beyond that in my planning.  Well, now this new grandmother is feeling pretty fortunate that, not only did I grow up with the styles from the 1960s, but they are making me feel quite fashionable now that I am in my 60s!

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Dressmaker details, Dressmaker suits, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

What Comes First – the Jacket or the Skirt?

Sewing has lots of decisions with it, some more important than others.  One of the decisions I face when making a two-piece suit (my current project) is: which part do I make first – the jacket or the skirt?  Instruction sheets are divided on this, as some start with the skirt, others with the jacket.  It would make sense, I guess, to start with the more difficult or more complicated half, which would most likely be the jacket.  So why do I usually make the skirt first?  Here’s what I think:

1) If the skirt and jacket are of the same fabric, making the skirt gives me “practice” with the feel of the fabric.  This comes in handy when I’m turning facings or collars on the jacket.

2) I’ve made enough jackets to know that I’m always kind of exhausted when they’re finally finished.  I’m not sure I’d want to be facing making the matching skirt, too, at that point in the process!

3) It’s easier and just plain better to make the final fitting of the jacket if it can be viewed with its accompanying skirt.

4) And finally, well . . .   I can always wear the skirt if the jacket doesn’t get completed right away, right??

So – what about progress on my emerald green silk suit?

This is the pattern I am using (View B), as written about in a former post.

This is the pattern I am using (View B), as written about in a former post.

Yes, the skirt is finished, which allows me to give you a sneak preview.

An interior view of the waistband and lining.

An interior view of the waistband and lining.

What do you think of that turquoise china silk lining?  Failing to find a green lining fabric, which would coordinate or match, turned out to be an advantage.  I had to choose something else – and, I must say, I love this combination.

Here is a view of the hand-picked zipper.

Here is a view of the hand-picked zipper.

The jacket is still in pieces, but very controlled pieces they are!  Here they are all ready to go:

The silk organza underlining is all basted, interfacings cut, ready to go!

The silk organza underlining is all basted, interfacings cut, ready for sewing.

I am hoping that this suit will serve me similarly to the description of this green suit in the October/November 1962 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine:

"Colors to go wild about" -n 1962 and in 2013.

“Colors to go wild about” – in 1962 and in 2013.

To quote:  “… a pure green with perfect pitch for day or evening, town or country.”  This particular design is by Michael of England, but, like the Vogue pattern I am using, it has a fitted jacket with a narrow notched collar, and three-quarter sleeves.

In the same issue of VPB Magazine, a letter to the editor caught my attention.  Mrs. B. M. of the Bronx, New York, wrote:  “… When I make a suit, I always buy extra fabric and also run up a slim dress.  This lets the suit jacket do ‘double duty’ and I have both a suit and a jacket-dress, while having to make only one jacket.  This saves me time and expense, and I enjoy having a variety of costumes that I can wear almost anywhere, in a fabric I love.”

Now I wonder what she made first – the jacket – or the skirt – or the dress?  I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

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Filed under Dressmaker suits, hand-sewn zippers, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

Suited for Spring

Last Fall when I found emerald green matka silk on Waechter’s website, I quickly purchased 3½ yards.  At 45” wide, I knew that amount would be enough for a Spring suit although I really did not know which pattern I would be using.  It seems I often  purchase fabric and then end up not actually using it for a year – or more.  But with emerald green so front and center in fashion this year, I definitely decided to make this project a top priority.

This is the silk I ordered from Waechter's Fine Fabrics

This is the silk I ordered from Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.

I envisioned what is known as a “dressmaker suit.”  Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion (3rd edition, Fairchild Publications, Inc, New York, New York, 2003) gives this definition:  “Woman’s suit made with soft lines and fine details, as contrasted with man-tailored styles that have the sharply defined lines of a man’s suit made by a tailor.  Fashionable in 1950s and revived in the mid-1980s.”  Specifically, I envisioned a straight skirt (aka pencil skirt in today’s fashion parlance), a short-ish, dressy jacket with some neat detail on it, and adorned with buttons to compliment the sheen and slubby texture of the silk.

First step was to go to my pattern box, brimming over with vintage patterns (and a few new ones).  I quickly had my selection narrowed down to two possibilities, but one was actually a sheath dress with coordinating jacket, not a jacket and skirt. (Yes, there is a definition for this category as well, according to Fairchild’s:  “Suit dress:  Used in 1960s to refer to a jacket and dress ensemble that resembled a tailored suit.”)

Is it the hat that makes this ensemble so appealing - or just good styling?

Is it the hat that makes this ensemble so appealing – or just good styling?

I hashed over the two reservations I had about using this pattern:  1) I was a little short on yardage – about a quarter of a yard – and just not completely confident that I would be able to cut this pattern out with the generous seams that I have come to like so much, and 2) I have a RTW (gasp!) silk shell top which will look stunning, I think, paired with an emerald green silk skirt and matching jacket.  So in the end, I decided to go with a dressmaker suit to be made from this pattern:

I'll be making View B, which just happens to be shown in emerald green!

I’ll be making View B, which just happens to be shown in emerald green!

And then, the bonus!  Actually three of them . . .  I had forgotten that tucked inside the pattern envelope were two clippings obviously placed there by the original owner of the pattern.  She was doing some “comparison shopping” for styling.

The first clipping is for another pattern – a Spadea, available through mail order from the newspaper.  Fortunately, the date of 1964 shows up on one corner.

Dressmaker suit - 3

The second clipping is from Vogue magazine, showing a fashion from 1968.

The jacket of this suit, just like the Spadea pattern, is very similar to the Vogue pattern.

The jacket of this suit, just like the Spadea pattern, is very similar to the Vogue pattern.

Perhaps the original owner was trying to decide between a striped fabric and a plain one?  Maybe she was really undecided about making this style suit?  I’d love for her to sit down with me over a cup of coffee so we could discuss this pattern!  As it turns out, she never made the jacket, as its pieces were still in factory folds when I obtained it.  The skirt pattern shows signs of having been used, however.  I’ll never know why,  after all her thought about this suit, she never made it.  However, her decision afforded me the third bonus – the original pattern label – pristine after so many years.

I am looking forward to sewing this label into my green silk suit.

I am looking forward to sewing this label into my green silk suit.

I’ve made my initial adjustments to the pattern and am now making the muslin.  Like my “pattern predecessor” I am dreaming of a certain look.  Now it’s up to me to finish what she started.

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Filed under Dressmaker suits, kimono sleeves, Messages from past owners of vintage patterns, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

Green, green, and more green

When Pantone announced the color of the year for 2013 last week, I was immediately smitten.  Actually, I’ve been smitten with Emerald Green (Pantone 17-5641 TCX) for as long as I can remember – and finally, finally, it’s going to be center stage again after at least 30 years in hiding (as deliciously detailed by Christina Binkley on the Personal Journal front page of The Wall Street Journal on December 6.)

My initial euphoria turned to smug (yes, I admit it!) satisfaction.  Why is this?  Just this Fall I had seen emerald green silk matka on the website of Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.    Well, I sent for a swatch and upon its arrival I speedily ordered three+ yards. I knew I would have to make a Spring suit out of this fabric.

This is the swatch I ordered from Waechter's Fine Fabrics

This is the swatch I ordered from Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.

Of course, this was before Pantone made its announcement. And although I still would have purchased it even if this shade of green were the “uncolor” of the coming year, I’m looking forward to being stylish, to boot!

But wait, that’s not all!

Much earlier in the year, I had purchased this yardage of Moygashel linen from an Etsy shop.  What attracted me to it was that emerald green is featured so dominantly in it.  I’ve shown this fabric before on this blog, but I could not resist showing another peek at it.  I still keep thinking it would make a gorgeous Spring coat… or pants.

The emerald green in this design really makes it pop!

The emerald green in this design really makes it pop!

Finally, this color – this Emerald Green – has given me the perfect opportunity to tell (and complete) a story about a dress I made for myself in 1980 – and share some wonderful, wonderful family news, too.  Here’s the pattern:

Yes - it is for a maternity dress...  from 31 years ago.

Yes – it is for a maternity dress… from 32 years ago.

And yes, I made it in Emerald Green:

With a few hang lines after 32 years!

With a few hang lines after 32 years!

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A detail of the yoke. I chose two pearl buttons from my button box of 32 years ago to add a little interest.

This was a piece of Pendleton wool I picked up on sale in the Fall of 1980 when I was scrambling to make some dresses for my first pregnancy (our daughter was born in April 1981).  I loved the color and thought it would be quite beautiful over the holidays. In fact, two years later, when I was pregnant again (with our son), I wore it for our Christmas photo:

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Our growing family, in 1982.

Whatever possessed me to save this dress, I’ll never know.  I actually saved all the maternity clothes I made for myself.  I dug them out of the cedar closet this Fall to show to our daughter (the little girl in the photo)– who (taa daa!), with her husband, is excitingly expecting their first child (our first grandchild!).  Whatever thoughts I had about the suitability of these dresses for “today’s” pregnant style made both of us laugh!  My daughter will not be wearing vintage maternity dresses, even if one of them is an au courant color.  But oh dear, the wheels started to turn in my head.     Hm-m-m-m, why not take this green “tent” and make a skirt for MYSELF out of it??  Wouldn’t that be a story to tell?

So now, I’m realigning my winter projects.  Come January I’ll be seeing and sewing GREEN.

By the way, Pendleton fabric yardage used to come with labels to sew into finished garments.  I never sewed the label into this dress, but here it is:

A pristine label, still attached to its card.

A pristine label, still attached to its card…

... with care instructions on the back.

… with care instructions on the back.

This time around I plan to use it!

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Filed under 1980's dress patterns, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens