December Surprises

While a life in sewing can never be humdrum, a few good surprises are always welcome. What better month for surprises than December? While my focus right now is almost entirely on getting ready for our family Christmas celebration, four unexpected occurrences have recently added fun and focus to my life in sewing. I will tell you about two of them . . .

Of course – when it comes to sewing, finding a special fabric is always a welcome surprise. Those of you who follow Fifty Dresses regularly will know that I am always on the lookout for exceptional vintage fabric. After feeling so fortunate to find one gorgeous piece of French Lesur wool earlier in the year, I thought my chances of running across another piece of Lesur were next to nothing. So – imagine my surprise when a length of midnight black Lesur came to my attention. Although this piece did not have a selvedge marking, its tags were still attached. In addition I was able to match its weave to another example which I have found in my research on this storied French manufacturer. The weave is a minute basket weave, with almost a stretchy component to it, although the weave is quite tight and the fabric is fluid.

I am always excited when I can date a fabric. From what I can tell, the real heyday of availability for Lesur wool in the USA was the early to mid 1960s. The tag on this wool clearly supports that timeframe.

The date of this fabric is in pencil on the right margin of the tag, 1/14/64.

The tags also indicate the purity of the wool, and they show the process it went through during importation from France to this country.

The lovely person who sold me this piece told me it came “from the collection of an amazing professional dressmaker who definitely splurged on her fabrics.” I have had it in the back of my mind to put a “little black dress” in my sewing queue, so this purchase now makes that inevitable.

Surprise number two is also fabric-oriented. Like many of you, I always look forward to hearing what the Pantone Color of the Year will be. I am often surprised and sometimes delighted with the choice. For the year 2018, I was both. Color 18-3838 Ultra Violet is “a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level.” According to Pantone’s description, “Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now.”

Although I do not wear a lot of purple, I love the color. I think it can be distinctive, flattering, and creative, if handled correctly. It was for that reason that when I had the chance, a few years ago, to purchase a length of vintage, purple, wool boucle, I felt very fortunate.

This is a coat weight boucle, with a distinctive windowpane weave.

What made this purchase even more exciting for me is that this is a piece of Einiger wool, from a distinguished American manufacturer of fine woolens (now no longer in business). It is not often an opportunity to own such a piece of wool comes along, especially one whose origin is clearly marked.

“Luxury Inspired by Einiger” sounds good to me!

From the early 1960s, this wool embodies not only the “intrigue of what lies ahead,” but also the intrigue of what was in the past.

So, what does lie ahead for my treasured Color of the Year fabric? Since its purchase, I have collected a flowered silk charmeuse to coordinate with it, I have picked a coat and dress pattern from the early 1960s, and I have thought much about this project. Obviously, 2018  will be – should be –  the year to make this coat.

Now, if only the “mysteries of the cosmos” could promise more sewing time in the year to come!


Filed under Little Black Dress, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, woolens

23 responses to “December Surprises

  1. theprettyandthekitsch

    Such beautiful fabric! 🙂 I’m super allergic to wool myself, but absolutely love the look of clothing made from it and definitely envy lucky ladies such as yourself who can wear it and sew with it! 🙂 I think that purple will look GORGEOUS on you by the way!!

    Enjoy the beautiful fabric and I wish you plenty of free time for sewing and very happy holidays! 🙂

  2. Wonderful finds! Quality fabrics are always so much nicer to work with. I’m looking forward to seeing your version of the LBD and the violet has so many possibilities.

  3. Cissie

    Can’t wait to see what you create with these beauties. I think that the lilac will be gorgeous on you.

  4. Beautiful – I would be so afraid to cut into the wool. The quality would be fabulous and the colour is so rich!

  5. What glorious ways to be surprised! I especially love that purple fabric, and think I have something similar to it in deep stash. I purchased it about 25 years ago from a store closing down, that also had the most wonderful collection of Dormeuil wools. My boucle doesn’t have a label, but it looks to be exactly like yours.

    I have always adored purple, and look forward to seeing what gorgeous garment you make with this.

  6. Two lovely fabrics for sure! I have a gorgeous mass of periwinkle wool that I have been thinking would be perfect for the color of the year, but no ideas yet of what to do with it. Enjoy your family time over Christmas!

  7. Debbie Hixenbaugh

    The purple is beautiful!

  8. What a lucky lady you are to find such rare fabrics! You will look so lovely in both the black and especially the purple. Thanks for always sharing the details of your research on these wonderful textiles. I always learn so much!

  9. Mery

    What lovely symbols of time! The date on the black one is within a month of The Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan Show, and the violet is promoted as change symbolic. What memories, dreams and plans you inspire! May 2018 afford you uninterrupted inspiration and time to both sew and blog.

  10. peggyleah

    I TOO have a purple wool purchased approximately 25+years ago from
    a beautiful fabric store in Alexandria, Virginia. It was closing, and what
    a lose! I’m actually afraid to use it. What if I chose the wrong pattern,
    etc. The usual fears when it comes to something so splendid and
    beautiful. I don’t want to ruin it so consequently…

    • Well, there comes a time when you just have to get over your fears and go for it! Your fabric sounds glorious. I hope this is the year you honor it by making something beautiful from it.

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