Eyelet is one of those fabrics which can conjure up memories from one’s life. So often associated with pinafores, eyelet is lovely for little girls’ dresses – and petticoats. It is often used for lingerie or sleepwear for all ages, as well as dresses and blouses. It is a summer fabric, with its “built-in” air conditioning – ie. all those little holes surrounded by embroidery. Often eyelet trim – and sometimes eyelet yard goods – have one or two finished borders. Such was the case with the eyelet I found earlier this year for the ruffled collars for sundresses for my granddaughters.
It was working on those collars which convinced me I needed to make an eyelet bouse for myself. I went back to Farmhouse Fabrics, from which I had purchased the double-sided eyelet panel for those collars, to find a suitable eyelet for a blouse. Farmhouse Fabrics has quite an inventory of lovely eyelets, so it was difficult to decide. But decide I did, and purchased this all-cotton eyelet made in Spain.
For a pattern I used this vintage Vogue pattern from 1957.
I liked the convertible collar of this pattern, as shown in View B. A convertible collar is one which can be worn open or closed. The collar is sewn directly to the neckline. I did, however, shorten the sleeves to below elbow-length. I also chose to make plain, buttoned cuffs without the extra turn-back detail.
Although the blouse is described on the pattern envelope as “tuck-in,” I liked the gently curved and split hem which would also allow me to wear the blouse as an over-blouse. The thumbnail detail from the pattern envelope shows the curved hem.
I lined the main body of the blouse with white cotton batiste, leaving the sleeves unlined. To reduce bulk, I made the undercollar and the cuff facings from the white batiste.
Buttons are always a favorite component of a blouse for me. I had a card of vintage Lady Washington Pearls which seemed a lovely complement to the scale of the fabric embroidery.
I first wore this blouse on a very warm evening to attend an outdoor concert. I was amazed at how cool the blouse was. The little breeze there was, did indeed feel like air-conditioning as it wafted through all those embroidered holes!
Finding beautiful eyelet fabric is now on my sewing radar. I would like to make more with this timeless, feminine and versatile type of lace.
When the flowers are blooming on Liberty Lawn, they are fresh well into the summer, right? When I originally ordered this fabric last Fall, I intended for it to be a Springtime blouse.
Once it arrived, however, it wasn’t right for a blouse. Additionally, I thought the blue was going to be more of a navy blue (although it looks like navy here, it is really lighter than navy), so I was a bit disappointed and had to rearrange all my thinking on it. This is why it is always best to obtain a swatch of fabric before ordering, a precaution I often do not heed, at my own peril.
However, I had had it in the back of my mind to make a summer skirt this year so once I looked at this piece with fresh eyes, I saw the possibilities in it. I envisioned a skirt with some swing to it, but not too full, and below-the-knee length. Rather than search all over for such a pattern, I just used the skirt pattern I had altered for this dress:
The 5 gores in it give it a nice gentle sway, and the addition of the inverted pleat in the center front adds width without bulk. I lined the skirt with cotton batiste, but used no underlining.
I applied the lapped zipper by hand and finished the inside of the waistband with Hug Snug hem binding tape.
Originally I was going to make a self-belt or sash out of the same fabric, but I thought that would be boring. Then I thought about trying to find a straw belt to wear with it, but that notion did not go too far because I remembered a lime green silk sash I had made several years ago. Although not an exact match, the green coordinates with the green in the Liberty fabric and, I thought, adds some necessary contrast. Paired with a white tailored blouse, the outfit is still casual.
Getting back to Liberty Lawn … I can find myself lost for hours looking at online selections of Liberty fabric. The designs, the color selections, and the silky quality are all so tempting. The pure number of beautiful prints is so great – that more often than not I find myself unable to make a decision. There are some designs, however, that are so classic and eye-catching, and those eventually will find themselves in my check-out cart! Yes, Summer flowers are yet to come…
When inspiration strikes, one must seize it, even if it doesn’t really make sense. You may remember this fabric from a couple of months ago, purchased online from Britex Fabrics:
This is one of those fabrics which has just gotten better and better the more I have looked at it. I have had it sitting out in my sewing room since it arrived, just pondering its potential. Then one day I went “shopping” in my fabric closet. I have my stored fabrics divided according to fiber or usage, with a large “basket” container for each class. For example, all the silks are together, as are the linens, the cottons, the lining and underlining and interfacing fabrics, with the wools (which take up more space due to their generally bulkier nature) stacked on shelves next to the baskets. Well, this particular day – the day I went “shopping” – I pulled out the silk fabrics just to reacquaint myself with what exactly I had in that container. Buried down at the very bottom I found a deep pink, polka dotted silk charmeuse jacquard and INSPIRATION struck! I had found the perfect complement to my newly acquired floral printed silk twill.
At that point all I could imagine was a pink silk blouse and a flowing hostess skirt. My prudent, practical side told me I have no occasion for such an outfit. But my creative, dreamy side said “If you make it, you will wear it.” I am stealing the following quote from some unknown sage, but it is speaking to me now: “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
These two fabrics are meant for each other with their perky polka dots and shared sheen. And the somewhat amazing thing is I purchased the pink charmeuse probably 10 years ago from – you guessed it – Britex Fabrics!
Once I had the two fabrics side by side, I really began to “see” the floral twill, all its intricacies, the brilliance of design in having a spacious polka-dotted field for those whimsical flowers, and the color combination where the blues and pinks play off of each other in a color tug-of-war. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing.” [My italics]
My mental wheels were really turning by this time. I knew what blouse pattern would be perfect for this two-piece project. I had made this 1950’s pattern a few years ago in a silk dupioni – and it has continued to rank among my most favorite makes.
I will have to search for a skirt pattern, but suffice it to say, it should have uncluttered lines to show off the fabric, and it definitely needs to have a gentle fullness to it. Decisions still need to be made as to how I underline this fabric. I believe white cotton batiste will be best, as I will need to block the show-through of the pink blouse fabric. That, combined with a white crepe de chine lining, should do the trick. We will see, as they say.
Time is, God-willing, on my side. I envision the start of this project in late Winter or early Spring of 2022. And buried deep in my head – like that pink fabric buried deep in its lair – is the thought I may just have to HOST some tony party to provide the perfect setting for my elegant hostess skirt and swanky blouse. Who wants an invitation?
This sewing out of season is perplexing. On the one hand, I am happy to have been able to complete this dress. But on the other hand, the timing of its completion means it is too late in the season to even think about wearing it – or much too early. Not that it will matter six months from now.
After my successful use of a new sheath dress pattern earlier this winter, I was anxious to use it again. And I just happened to have a piece of cashmere herringbone wool tucked away for such an occasion. I had been on the hunt for a wool to coordinate with the Classic French Jacket shown, and I was quite excited when I found this selection at Farmhouse Fabrics. The bonus was the fact that it is cashmere, and oh, so soft.
Wool is quite possibly my favorite fabric on which to sew. Christian Dior certainly had kind words to say about wool in his Little Dictionary of Fashion. “Wool shares with silk the kingdom of textiles… And like silk it has wonderful natural qualities. Always before you cut woolen material it has to be shrunk to avoid disappointment afterward.” [I always steam wool fabric heavily before I cut into it for just this reason]. Dior continues, “Wool has the great advantage over all other materials in that it can be worked with a hot iron and molded.” (The Little Dictionary of Fashion, by Christian Dior, Abrams, New York, New York, c2007, Page 122.)
Additionally, I have always loved the herringbone weave. The chevron pattern in this particular fabric is achieved by the use of two contrasting colors, yellow and pumpkin, which produces the lovely and soft deep persimmon color.
Making this sheath dress was very straightforward, its details identical to the sheath dress which preceded it: lapped zipper, underlined with silk organza and lined with crepe de chine, under-stitched neckline and armscyes, and a real kick pleat.
This jacket and skirt will be perfect for Fall – and I am delighted to have a dress to wear with my jacket which I completed two years ago.
And now for those of you who like to see the sewing I do for my granddaughters, here are two more dresses which were definitely too early (although on time for Spring birthdays.) Unseasonably cold Spring weather kept these dresses on their hangers apparently, but I do have pictures of them before they went on their journey across many, many miles to their final destination.
I found the fabric at Emma One Socklast Fall. It looks and feels like Liberty Lawn but is not. The bordered eyelet which I used for the collars is from Farmhouse Fabrics, as is the pattern, which I have used before. (This is the last year for this pattern for my girls, as I used the [largest] size 12 for my very tall and slender eight-year-old!)
The buttons are vintage Lady Washington Pearls. The pale pink rickrack is also vintage – and 100% cotton – which makes it lay beautifully flat, molding itself with the cotton fabric.
So quickly these weeks turn into months and then into seasons! Whatever the season from whence you are reading this, I wish you dresses which are just right! One of these days, mine will be, too.
March was not home to much sewing at Fifty Dresses this year. The reasons were manifold, but suffice it to say, my loved ones and I weathered through the storm. Now sweet April is here, adorned in grace and gentleness and goodness, like a balm to our collective souls. April is filled with promise.
And I have given April much to make promises about! I may have not been able to sew throughout most of March, but that did not prevent me from looking at fabric, patterns, buttons, books, and fashionable inspirations. Despite my best intentions of not succumbing to new fabric purchases, my discipline failed me and I found two silk fabrics at Britex which I decided were too special to pass by. They are so different from each other, but each one appeals to certain design penchants I have finally admitted are my weakness. One is for geometric and linear prints:
The second penchant is for whimsical, scattered florals, in multi-color. This one is especially appealing to me as it also has polka dots in its motif. Polka dots are especially difficult for me to resist.
By this point I have an extensive collection of vintage patterns, so it is rare when I find one which fills a gap for me. But such was the case with this purchase of a Vogue Paris Original by Pierre Balmain. I had not come across this pattern before, and I believe it was rightly advertised as “rare.”
I wanted this pattern for the jacket. The neckline is lovely with its small, rolled collar, and the lines in the jacket appear to be very flattering. The corded front edges are an interesting design feature which will require the right weight fabric to be finished correctly, I think. And the four buttons certainly have a prominent position for a jacket not meant to be buttoned! I will relish finding buttons for this project.
As with most of my vintage patterns, where I am never quite satisfied until I am able to assign a copyright/production date to them, such was the case with this pattern. Being a Designer pattern made it easier to narrow my search through my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines. Also, at this point I have developed a “decade” sense for styles, so I instinctively started with the mid-1960s. Bingo – the second issue from the mid ‘60s through which I looked featured this pattern. It was included in an article “Just Arrived – 33 Great Imports” in the October/November 1965 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine.
What made it especially rewarding for me was that my pink Dior coat pattern is included in the same feature. It must have been a good year.
Pink was on my mind (well, truth be told, pink is always on my mind) during the waning days of March as I zeroed in on making “birthday” dresses for my granddaughters. (Time and looming dates have a wonderful way of getting me back on the sewing track.) And yes, they are pink. However, they are also under wraps – and wrapping paper – to be opened by the birthday girls next week.
Hopefully April will not hurry away, as these months are wont to do. There are promises to keep and there is more sewing to happen at Fifty Dresses.
And Winter it has been! BRRRR…. Seriously cold weather calls for some seriously warm fabric, and I had just the right piece waiting for such an occasion.
When I found and purchased this vintage piece of Viyella several years ago, I thought the plaid was of a larger format. I’m not quite sure what I thought I might make with it, but I tucked it away for another day. After making so many casual cotton blouses over the past few years, last Fall I had one of those “Aha” moments, and decided this Winter would be good time to make one for cold weather – and what better fabric to use than this small-scaled plaid Viyella?
I have had direct experience with the warmth that Viyella provides, having made two bathrobes out of this storied fabric. And unlike some wool (Viyella is a wool/cotton blend), this fabric does not itch against bare skin. I made the robes pictured below in 2017 and 2019, respectively. I expected the Viyella which is the subject of this post to be of the same scale as these two plaids. Yes, purchasing vintage fabric online can have its surprises!
The background of this current fabric “reads” blue, but it turns out gray thread and gray buttons seemed to be the best complement to it.
This is the time-tested and altered Simplicity pattern I have used repeatedly – with its yoked back – and shirttail hem.
Every time I make this pattern, I have to go to the instruction sheet for the yoke construction details, and EVERY time I get confused!
This may be the first time I have actually made this pattern without having to take out at least one seam in the process of joining the yoke to the back and fronts.
There is really not too much more to say about this blouse, except perhaps to wonder why it took me so long to decide to make it.
Hmmmm. One for Winter might become Two for Winter…
Works of fiction which feature some aspect of sewing or fashion are often some of my favorite reading experiences. While I do not necessarily seek them out, if I hear of such a novel, and it’s reviews are positive, then I will add it to my reading queue (similar to my sewing queue!) And sometimes, there is a surprise sewing element in a novel – those are the bonuses.
The last three novels I have read, in quick succession, were all very different, but each one used sewing and/or fashion as foundational premises either for the plot or for character development. So, here are short reviews of each one, in the order in which I read them.
The first novel, Beneficence, by Meredith Hall, came to my attention by a review in The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition back in the Fall. The subtle role sewing plays in this novel makes it one of those bonus books. Some of the words used to describe this novel, and rightly so, have been “haunting,” luminous,” and “exquisite.” It takes place in Maine (USA) and spans the years from the late 1940s to the early ‘60s. The story is about the Senter family, who owns a dairy farm, and the devastating tragedy which befalls the family of five. Early in the book, one gets the sense of impending doom. At this point, in no way did I have any inkling of the role sewing would have in the development of one of the main characters, Dodie, the daughter. The masterful writing – eerily beautiful, and very affecting – is of such quality that it was only after I had finished the book did I realize how her sewing helped to define Dodie. The sewing references even hint at the blessings ahead for her in the reader’s mind at book’s end. She is a mender, a creator, and a giver of things she has sewn. She is wise beyond her years. She is a character I will long remember. The book is a masterpiece.
One word of warning, however, is necessary for this book. Parts of it are very difficult emotionally to read. I cried a lot reading it, perhaps crying the most at the book’s end when grace and wisdom finally replace anguish for each of the Senters. If you are feeling in any way fragile right now, then plan to read this book at another, more secure time.
Feeling emotionally drained (but fulfilled) after reading Beneficence, I wanted something light-hearted and fun. And like a blessing, this book came to me as a Christmas gift from my daughter, Susanna.
The Women in Black, by Madeline St. John, is set in the early 1950s in Sydney, Australia. It follows four women (actually 3 women and one 16-year-old girl) who work at Goode’s Department Store in Fine Dresses and Model Dresses (Model Dresses being the most expensive.) The time of year is December, when cocktail and party dress buying is at a frenzy! Patty and Fay are in the fine dresses, Magda manages the Model Gowns, and Lisa is a temporary hire who helps out wherever she is needed. In many ways, however, it is Lisa’s story. Magda takes a loving interest in her, and when Lisa is exposed to the confectionary frocks in Model Gowns, she comes alive. She particularly has her eye on one dress, which is called “Lisette.” And when she finally has the opportunity to try the dress on, this is what transpires:
“Lisette was, of course, everything which could have been dreamed; like all the great works of the French couture, it was designed to look beautiful not simply as a thing in itself, but as the clothing of a female form. It took on then the property of vitality and movement, that is, of rhythm: it became finally incarnate. Lisa stood, overwhelmed, staring into the great cheval glass. . . . The frock changed her absolutely; the revelation which had come upon her when she had first been shown the Model gowns was now complete.”
What a fun book, written by someone (sadly now deceased) who understood the transformative power of dress and dresses. Treat yourself and read this book!
Just the title of the third book I am sharing is intriquing enough to catch your attention.
Based loosely on a true story, but definitely a work of fiction, The French Model, by Alexandra Joel, is the story of a stunningly beautiful young Australian woman who makes her way to Paris and becomes a model in Christian Dior’s House in post-war France. In leaving Australia, she is escaping not only from an unhappy marriage, but also from revelations about her past which make her question her identity and all those she has ever loved. This book has it all: mystery, espionage, love, fashion, friendship, sacrifice, sex, “very important person” sightings, political intrigue, history, and courage – all in a complex story line which will keep you on the edge of your seat. The writing is lovely and descriptive, the main characters endearing. Some of the story is a bit contrived – or unbelievable – but I was generally able to overlook those parts to enjoy the larger storyline. And I loved the emphasis on the workings of the House of Christian Dior. Anyone who loves vintage fashion – or historical fiction set at the end of World War II – should find escaping into this story a happy place to be.
One final observation about these three books. The dust jackets are works of art. Not unlike a perfectly fitted and flattering dress, each one is so perfectly evocative of what lies within, capturing the very essence of the books they adorn. As I look again and again at each one, it takes me back to those stories, those places and those indelible characters which gave me so much reading pleasure.
Sometimes the sewing stars align to ensure success (and sometimes they don’t.) But this story is a success story, although it played out differently than I originally planned.
Having only 1.25 yards of this vintage wool restricted my options to either a simple sheath dress or a skirt. I opted for the sheath, with all good intentions of using the princess-lined pattern I had recently used for a pink dress in vintage Linton wool. In fact, one of the reasons I made the pink dress was to see if I would be able to successfully match plaids when I started on the red/green wool. (The weave of the pink Linton has a plaid woven into it, which I knew would be helpful to me in determining the pattern’s useability for a multi-color plaid.) Only one problem – when I laid out the pattern pieces on the Forstmann wool, I didn’t have enough fabric. I should have realized that the 7-panel princess dress would take more fabric than I had – and this time there was no making it work.
SO – I had to find another pattern. I have, over the years, made several sheath dresses using a newer Butterick pattern, but I really wanted to use a vintage pattern for this wool. Now, I have a lot of vintage patterns in my collection – and I went through every single one looking for the right sheath dress. At first I didn’t realize this pattern had the look I wanted.
I had originally purchased this pattern for that gorgeous shawl collared coat. But – BINGO – when I took another look, there was the perfect sheath looking right at me.
Although the pattern was not dated, I knew it was from the early 1960s. But of course, I thought it would be wonderful to know the year it first appeared. A lengthy search through old Vogue Pattern Magazines proved to be successful – not only successful, but timely. This pattern was included in the December 1962/January 1963 issue, and was the featured pattern for a Special Capsule Catalog included in the issue. Not only that, the caption read: “110 IDEAS TO START THE NEW YEAR IN VOGUE.” Yes, I thought, that’s what I want to do!
Of course, starting with a pattern I had not before used meant I had to make a muslin (toile) and fit it. That little effort took two days. But then I got started in earnest, cutting out the silk organza underlining and positioning it right where it needed to be on the fabric.
There were two important considerations for placing my silk organza underlining “templates” on the plaid: 1) the orientation of the plaid vertically and 2) the correct placement of the hemline on the grid of theplaid and making this placement work with the position of the waistline and neckline.
I thought the wider, darker part of each woven “block” on the plaid should be oriented to the bottom of the dress, which I believe is apparent above.
I find, when working with plaid, it is very important to have the hemline determined before you cut out your fabric. Visually it is more appealing if the hem does not cut a block of the plaid directly in half or, especially with smaller plaids, end right at the edge of a block. I think it looks better if there is a bit of a “float” around the bottom of the dress to anchor the bottommost blocks. (Larger plaids have their own considerations. Look at the art on the pattern envelope above to observe this.)
One of the design features of this dress is the kick pleat, which has its origin in the back seam starting at the bottom of the zipper. I wasn’t sure how I was going to work the lining around this, but I also thought I could probably figure it out.
I loved that fact that this type of kick pleat made the perfect setting for a lapped zipper, shown below.
You will notice this dress has two shaping darts on either side of the front panel, in addition to the bust darts. The back has one shoulder dart and one shaping dart on either side.
All these darts make for such a lovely fit. In addition, I used a trick I have learned from Susan Khalje. Instead of sewing the bust dart into the side seam, I allowed it to float free, stitching the seam above and below the dart. I did this for both the fashion fabric and the lining. Using this method provides more ease to the bust.
I did lower the neckline by about ½ inch, and I cut the shoulders in by about an inch on either side. These changes just seemed to look better on me, as determined by my muslin (toile).
I lined the dress in black silk crepe de chine. (I find almost all my lining silk at Emma One Sock.) When it came to the kick pleat, I found that a slanted seam below the end of the zipper was necessary to divide the lining between the two sides of the kick pleat.
I have no idea how to explain what I did to finish the lining in this area. Just know that whatever I did – worked! I ended up with no lumps and no restriction on the functionality of the pleat.
This dress was such a fun project. I loved working with such a beautiful wool and such a beautiful pattern. There will be more such sheath dresses in my future.
So now, how about you? Have you started the new year in Vogue? I hope so!
Every January I take some time to think about my sewing plans for the year ahead. I make my “project” list, which usually includes at least one or more items which never made it to the cutting table in the previous 12 months and simply transfer from last year to this year. My list includes those things which are “traditions” such as Christmas dresses and birthday dresses for my two granddaughters. It includes any home decorator sewing I’d like to accomplish, and it usually includes at least one project that is “just for the fun of it,” meaning I have no occasion in sight for it or no need for it, but I just want to make it. The rest of the things on my list are pieces I know I will wear and which will be good additions to my wardrobe. So, I guess one could call this list my sewing vision for the year.
What has me tripped up this year is the fact that several of the dresses I made during 2020 sadly have yet to be worn. When there is no occasion to dress up, it is difficult to justify making more such dresses. I would like to think 2021 will become a year of parties, and dinner parties and cocktail parties, but this may be illusionary thinking. Because everything still seems to be in limbo, I have resorted to the tried and true for much on my list.
At least six blouses! I know I posted last summer about “too many blouses,” but the fact is that I love to wear blouses, and as long as I keep finding blouse fabric I love, I will keep making blouses, as boring as that may seem.
Dresses for my granddaughters. Although 2020’s Holiday/Christmas dresses were “scrubbed,” as they had no place to wear them, I already have fabric selected for these 2021 dresses. I did, however, sew Christmas gifts for my girls in 2020, making American Girl doll clothes for one and this dress for the younger one:
Linen pants??? I rarely make pants, but I think I will attempt a pair this summer.
A skirt out of Liberty Lawn, to wear with a white blouse.
Two wool sheath dresses, about as fancy as I dare to get this year, with the hope that I’ll find a reason to wear them.
Two … aprons! Why not? They are fun to make and certainly useful. And I can use some excess fabric left over from past projects for these.
Whatever else strikes my fancy, which leaves a lot of options.
As always, I am planning to restrain from purchasing too many new fabrics, hoping instead to use fabrics from my stored collection. (Wish me luck on that!) Indeed, my first make, a “Jaron Shirt” made in support of fellow dressmaker, Andrea Birkan, who tragically lost her son last year, is constructed with two fabrics several years in my fabric closet. Details on this shirt can be found on my Instagram page @fiftydresses.
I will end this post with a postscript to my last post on a piece of vintage Forstmann wool (which, as noted above, will be one of my two sheath dresses in 2021.) The story continues, as identical examples of the label accompanying my fabric have surfaced, all with a date from the late 1940s. When I look at my wool, I have a difficult time envisioning it as being as early as the late ‘40s. Although I have no reason to believe the label does not belong to the piece of wool I have, this discovery has initiated more questions than answers. That is not unlike my expectations for 2021 sewing – it is a mystery whose ending has yet to be written. Whoever knew sewing could be so full of intrigue?
Find me a beautiful vintage fabric, accompanied by its original label, and I will tell its story.
What started off as a simple eBay purchase evolved into something quite unexpected, with secrets and history to reveal. It is all about this piece of vintage Forstmann wool, purchased within the last two years.
I was drawn to its vibrant plaid combination of red and green and black and white. An extra bonus was its attached label and famous brand name. I was familiar with Forstmann woolens from the time I was a child in the 1950s, and I was aware of its renowned quality. But I was quite unprepared for the reality of my purchase.
Immediately upon opening the package, I was struck with two things: the saturation of the colors and the buttery softness and easy hand of the wool. I was thrilled with my purchase, and carefully placed it away in my fabric closet, intending to think about it until I had a plan in place. I would occasionally get it out to admire it, so I felt I was quite familiar with it. However, it was not until this past Spring when I suddenly realized it was an uneven plaid. Having just agonized over a dress made from an uneven Linton tweed plaid, and having by this time determined that I wanted to make a sheath dress from this wool, I had one of those dreaded “uh-oh” moments. My plan seemed to be self-destructing. An uneven plaid would not do for such a dress.
And then I did something I had yet to do – I opened out the full expanse of the yardage. That was when I realized the brilliance of the woolen manufacturer. The wool was loomed with a right and left side, with a center “panel,“ making it possible to have an even orientation of the plaid. Thus, I would be able to balance the plaid on the front and also on the back of the dress I hoped to make.
With this exciting discovery, I then wanted to know more about when this fabric was manufactured. I knew that Forstmann Woolen Company had advertised in Vogue Pattern Book Magazine in the 1950s and ‘60s, and I also knew Forstmann woolens were often the fabrics of choice for fashions displayed in the magazine. A little bit of perusing and detective work helped me narrow down an approximate span of years for the production of my wool.
This full-page advertisement from the October/November 1953 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine features the label current at that time. It is probably a precursor to the label I received with my wool.
I found no label pictured from 1955, but the cover from February/March features a suit made from Forstmann tweed:
The inside front cover from October/November 1959 is once again a full-page ad for Forstmann. The label shown is similar to mine, but not exact.
It seems that by the second half of 1960, Forstmann Woolens had entered into a partnership with Stevens’ Fabrics.
Proof of this partnership was quite apparent by the second half of 1962. The label featured in this ad actually has Stevens Fabrics woven into the logo.
My best guess, from the above references, is that my piece of fabric was manufactured in the second half of the decade of the 1950s. I have always considered that span of years as the golden age of American fashion. My fortunate purchase reinforces the knowledge for me of the excellence of design, quality and craftsmanship available to the home sewing industry at that time. Now – it is up to me to do justice to this piece of Forstmann wool. Amazingly, and with good fortune, the story of this fabric continues some 65 years after its manufacture.
And here’s to a new year – 2021 – with its own secrets and stories to reveal. May they all be happy ones, waiting to be discovered and shared . . .