Monthly Archives: December 2016

Gifts for Thee, Gifts for Me

Part of the irony of shopping for gifts for friends and family is that I often find just as many things that I would like to see stuffed in my own stocking. Does this happen to everyone, or just me, I wonder. But I digress. Here are a few select items just right for a sewing and/or fashionable friend or relative, or maybe for a treat for yourself, as well.

Colette Patterns has come out with a Sewing Planner which is divided into two sections: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. There is lots of room for listing goals, priorities, and inspirations, as well as two-page layouts for individual projects. This planner makes sense to me, and I think it will finally encourage me to keep a record of fabric swatches for each of my projects – something I have been wanting to do for a long time, but never got around to doing!

gifts-for-thee-planner

The December 2016/January 2017 issue of Vogue Patterns featured, in its Must Haves section, Handy Tape II. Although I haven’t ordered this yet, I am going to (if I don’t get it in my stocking), as I think it could come in quite, well as they say, handy! It is self-adhesive repositionable tape marked in 12” repeats.

gifts-for-thee-tapeMany of you have probably already purchased a copy of The Tunic Bible, by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr. Who doesn’t like a tunic? They really are timeless, which appeals to my penchant for clothes that transcend current trends. Once you see some of the examples in this book, you will definitely want to make one – or more. I guarantee you will love the photographs and diagrams in this book. After perusing The Tunic Bible, I discovered the perfect solution for what to make out of a piece of vintage embroidered linen which I own. Bought on a whim, its future was a mystery to me until I realized it will make a beautiful tunic dress. More on that in a future post!

gifts-for-thee-tunic-bible

For those of you who, like me, love the fashions from the 1950s, and have a preference for Vogue patterns, you really should go on eBay and find yourself one of these handkerchiefs.

Vogue handkerchief

Vogue handkerchief

The one I own still has its original tags on it.

The designer was Tammis Keefe, known for her whimsical and creative compositions for textiles. She also designed under the name of Pat Prichard, which you see on this piece. The colors are charming, the fabric is a beautiful handkerchief weight linen, and the design is a dressmaker’s dream. Most of us don’t use linen handkerchiefs any more, but this one, framed, would be perfect for the walls in your sewing room.

Vogue handkerchief

Vogue handkerchief

How delightful that this handkerchief features Vogue patterns!

No list of gifts is complete without something for pleasure reading (although I must admit that reading sewing books is pleasure for me, too!) If you, or a friend, is a lover of historical fiction, then “run, do not walk”, to get a copy of The Time in Between, by Maria Duenas. The heroine is a dressmaker and her profession both saves her from ruin and puts her life in jeopardy. Set during the Spanish Civil War, in the lead up to World War II, this book is also a love story, a story of redemption, and a story of resilience and bravery in the face of incredible odds. It is a wonderful, captivating read, and the descriptions of fabrics, patterns, sewing deadlines, and fashions will thrill anyone with a knowledge of fashion sewing. I read the English translation from the original Spanish. I love this story!

gifts-for-thee-time-inbetween

Perhaps you have a young girl for which to buy a special gift. I have written on this book before, but I want to again recommend Brave Irene by  William Steig. As the title implies, it is also a book about bravery, pint-sized, but every bit as meaningful, especially for a young future dressmaker. The story is charming, the illustrations unique, and the lessons implied are ones of old-fashioned values: family, love, duty, and perseverance. I love this story, too!

This book is still in print and available on Amazon, of course!

This book is still in print and available on Amazon, of course!

The title page.

The title page.

I will end my list of gifts with something that would be right only for those of you who don’t mind splurging on an occasional ready-to-wear piece. But, really, who among us who loves haute couture could possibly pass on these pajamas?

gifts-for-thee-pajamas

Featured in the Gumps (of San Francisco) Catalogue, they are called “Fashion Week in Paris” pajamas. If we can’t be in Paris for Fashion Week, then surely we can dream about doing so, right?

Right about now I am dreaming of a white Christmas, as the song goes. Whatever you may be dreaming of in this busy, happy season, I hope you find it, settled comfortably under your tree or, especially, comfortably in your heart.

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A Good Start

Happy December! It seems like a long time since I have been here with a new post for Fifty Dresses. The first thing I want to say, since my forced hiatus from sewing (due to my badly injured left hand), is “Thank You!” to so many of you who gave me encouragement, sent sympathy and healing thoughts, and made me feel like such a valued part of our worldwide fashion sewing community. Your kindnesses meant the world to me at a personally difficult and discouraging time.

Although my heart never left sewing (attested to by the new vintage patterns and a couple of lengths of new fabrics which have somehow found their way to my sewing room over the past weeks!), my hands have finally come back to it as well. While I still have weeks and weeks of “hand therapy” to attend in an effort to restore full use of my left hand, I now can sew at the machine, cut and mark fabric, and even hand sew. Having said that, I wish I had something truly spectacular to show you to prove that point, but alas, I do not. What I can show you is a promise of things to come, things which are now destined to make their appearance in 2017 instead of in November or December of 2016.

I had my heart set on getting this fabric made into a dress to wear during this month of December, even though back in October I still had not settled on a pattern for it.

I purchased this fabric from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. It is a wool/silk blend, similar to fabric in a dress I made last Fall.

I purchased this fabric from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. It is a wool/silk blend, similar to fabric in a dress I made last Fall.

After searching online through many, many vintage patterns, I finally came across this one, an Advance pattern (a small departure from my normal preference for Vogue):

I still need to do a little research on the exact date for this pattern, but it appears to be from the mid-1960s.

I still need to do a little research on the exact date for this pattern, but it appears to be from the mid-1960s.

I could easily see this dress made up in polka dots, with the three-quarter sleeves. I think the back detail with the buttons is so pretty. My muslin is in the process of being completed, and then I will determine if this style looks good on me. I certainly hope so…

Another project I wanted to complete this Fall was a new bathrobe. A while ago I found this vintage Viyella fabric (cotton/wool blend, warm but light-weight, 5¼ yards, 35” wide), and it just spoke “bathrobe” to me.

The paper label is still attached to this length of fabric.

The paper label is still attached to this length of fabric.  Isn’t it lovely that this fabric is washable?

This Vogue pattern seems just about perfect for it, as long as I can match the plaid and still have enough yardage to eke it out. My muslin will tell the story.

I definitely want to make the long version of this robe.

I definitely want to make the long version of this robe. This pattern is from the late 1950s.

But before I can get any further on either of these projects, I have some sewing to do for Christmas gifts. The countdown is on, but I think I have a good start. It is wonderful to be back in my sewing room, which now looks like a cross between a couture atelier and Santa’s workshop, with fabric and wrapping paper and ribbons vying for equal space.  Happy December, indeed!

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Filed under Day dresses, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s