Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Dressmaker’s House

Every December when we bring the boxes of Christmas decorations down from the attic, I look forward to seeing little friends from years past.  These would be the tree ornaments and other small whimsies – fancy and plain, big and small, tattered and pristine.  Collected over forty years, they tell many stories.  The most meaningful ones are those that have been given to us – or specifically to me – by friends, by relatives, or even by casual acquaintances.  As the years have passed, some of those people have died, some have grown up, others have weathered life’s rocky path with grace, while some have grown old and older – or sick and sicker.

But no matter who they are – or were – it is through their small gifts to us that I am reminded to think of them in their own unique way each and every December.  Here is a very small sampling:

My sister crocheted fancy snowflake ornaments for us very early in my husband’s and my marriage.  Those snowflakes are now yellowed and bent, but every year they go on our tree, where a certain little cat always finds them and somehow picks them off to chase around the house.  No wonder they are a little tattered!  Our tree would not be the same without them.

Of course, I think of my sister every day, not just in December.  Somehow these little cotton snowflakes remind me of how far we have both come . . .  Merry Christmas, Barbara!

Of course, I think of my sister every day, not just in December. Somehow these little cotton snowflakes remind me of how far we have both come . . . Merry Christmas, Barbara!

A little wooden Scandinavian Santa was given to us one Christmas long, long ago by a thoughtful and fun friend named Judee.  This happy little fellow does not know that Judee died of cancer at a much-too-young age.  But in his smiling face, I see and remember the beautiful glow of our old friend.

This little Santa finds a spot in my kitchen each December.

This little Santa finds a spot in my kitchen each December.

The Dressmaker’s House ornament hung on a display tree in a museum shop, out of context on one hot summer day years ago.  I spied it, but was paying more attention to my children as they looked at all the goodies before them. Their grandmother was “treating” so they wanted to find something special to take home.  I don’t remember  what they chose, but I do remember that my mother-in-law wanted me to have this ornament – and quietly purchased it for me.  I so love this little depiction of the dwelling of a kindred dressmaker from another era.

The Dressmaker's House

So – I’ll be taking a deliberate couple of weeks off from my blog, but will return in early January.  For those of you who celebrate Christmas, may yours be filled with memories, both old and newly hatched.   For everyone, I wish you Happy Everything during this season of hope and renewal.


Filed under Uncategorized

Color Wheel

Pantone’s annual announcement of “the color” of the coming year is always notable.  Last week’s revelation of Radiant Orchid as the newest “it” color caught me a little by surprise.  After emerald green’s reign over 2013, I just was not expecting such a dramatic turn on the color wheel.  But, being a “pink” person, I think I can be persuaded to embrace this violet-y pink, although right now I have no fabric or project planned to do so.  I am actually thinking that this color might suit me better in accessories rather than a full outfit in it.  Handbags and shoes?  Yes, I could get excited about that.

This choice of color made me start to think about predecessors to it, so back I went to my Vogue Pattern Magazines, two from the 1950s and one from the 1960s, to see what I could find.  In December/January of 1953-54, an entire feature focused on The Pleasures of Pink. 

"From bon bon to shocking - from the beach to the ballroom ... pink casts its rosy glow"

“From bon bon to shocking – from the beach to the ballroom … pink casts its rosy glow”

Two ads from the February/March 1957 VPM featured a pink, which is very close to 2014’s radiant orchid.  Who could argue with the statement “You are more beautiful in Silk”?

Here is" Radiant Orchid", mid-century style!

Here is” Radiant Orchid”, mid-century style!

Lowenstein’s ad features “Signature” cottons designed by famous artists.  If you read the caption fully, you will see that the price per yard is listed at “about $1.39”.

And don't you love the hat??

And don’t you love the hat??

December/January of 1960-61 shows two of the suit and blouse patterns in what could definitely be called Radiant Orchid.

Look at that Chanel-type jacket in Pattern #4136.

Look at that Chanel-type jacket in Pattern #4136. 

While 2014 is set to be the year of “Radiant Orchid”, dear old 2013 is just not quite over yet.  Busy December of every year finds me focusing on the colors of  Christmas and the holiday season more than on the current fashionable colors.

Somehow, Christmas just would not be Christmas if I were not scrambling to finish some handmade gifts.   This year is no different, as I conjured up some crazy idea to design and make Christmas-themed potholders as a small addition to the presents I give to some very wonderful ladies who help me in my house (and vacuum many a thread off the floor of my sewing room!)    I dug through my stash of “quilting” cottons and came up with some holiday themed fabric, which I used as my starting point.  Then I paired each fabric with some complementary small prints, and concocted what I hope looks like fancy Christmas balls – except that they are large enough to use on a hot pan!

Color wheel potholders I indulged my love of rickrack, and the most fun part was deciding which color binding and which color rickrack to use to enhance the finished product.

color wheel potholder

I added a small gray “cap” at the top to simulate a Christmas ball hook-holder, and a rick-rack loop for hanging.

color wheel potholder

This is my favorite one…

Coming full circle (pardon the pun) on the color wheel brings me back to radiant orchid – and whether  our holiday celebrations will possibly see any pink hues peeking out between the Christmas reds and greens?  Oh, yes!  Once I get around to cookie-making, I’ll be certain to make  fashionably forward stockings and mittens decorated with sparkly pink sugar!

color wheel


Filed under Chanel-type jackets, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s