Category Archives: Bakelite buttons and/or jewelry

My very stylish pants.

For several months I was watching a piece of Moygashel linen for sale by Revival Fabrics.  When I first saw this offering, I had the eerie feeling of déjà vu – I was sure I remembered seeing this patterned fabric in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s when I was a steady admirer and occasional purchaser of this brand of linen I love so much.  The piece that was being offered was three yards long, 44″ wide and included a Moygashel label.  The description accompanying it suggested making patio furniture pillows or tote bags with it, neither of which much appealed to me.  And actually, this suggestion threw me off a bit ; I wondered if it was drapery-weight linen, not dress-weight.  But the more I looked at it online (clicking close-ups of the images), the more convinced I became that it was dress-weight.  I finally decided to buy it, not really knowing what I was going to make out of it (maybe a sheath dress…?)

When the package arrived and I finally saw this linen in person, I was – so excited! It was gorgeous – and my suspicions were correct – it was definitely dress-weight.

Here is a lengthwise view of the linen.

Here is closer view of this amazing pattern.

My first thought after my initial euphoria was:  This would make up into fabulous ankle-length pants (worn with a black, yellow or khaki top – and of course my black and yellow Bakelite bracelet).  And yes, I was sure I would have the nerve to wear them!

I laid out the fabric with a black cotton knit top and my Bakelite bracelet just to see how it would look.

And here is the label which came with the fabric.

With my plan in place, I decided this would be my next project after I finished the one I was on.  Then something really amazing happened.  A fashion article in the May 3, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal caught my eye.   Christina Binkley, one of the newspaper’s fashion reporters, headlined her weekly column “On Style”  with The Pantsuit Takes a Walk on the Wild Side.

I don’t like any of these fabric designs as much as I like my Moygashel linen!

I’ve never been a fan of pantsuits, but some of the fabrics featured had that same ‘60s’ feel as my new vintage linen.  The reporter rightly questioned how well these head to toe outfits would “play on the streets”, but then she added:

“…at least one mainstream retailer will highlight the idea that the pantsuit can be worn as separates…  There will be more busy pants than busy jackets.  ‘There may be women who wear it head-to-toe – very daring,’ says Sak’s Ms. Sherin.  ‘But for us, it’s probably about the patterned pant’.”

Then, Ms. Binkley suggested:  “The key to wearing this trend is not straying too far from your safety zone.  Stick to colors and patterns you will still love in five years.  And let the bold pattern do the talking – go with a conservative fit if you’d rather not be the center of attention.”

Further:  “It’s probably not a coincidence that wild pantsuits are appearing just as ‘Mad Men,’ the style-influencing television show, is entering the psychedelic phase of the ‘60s.”

Well, my linen fabric is far from psychedelic, but it is bold – and reading this article certainly did validate my plans for making pants.   I also already knew the pattern I wanted to use, one quite appropriately from the early to mid ‘60s!

I really like all the styles featured on this pattern – the coat, the two blouse variations, the cummerbund –and the “conservative” pants.Classic looks – all of them!

Okay – I was ready to start this project.  First I washed the linen in cool water, delicate cycle, and dried it on medium heat.  This way I know my pants are totally machine washabIe.  Next I made a muslin of the pants pattern to check for fit.  I should have done a little more measuring first, as the crotch was too deep and had to be redrawn.  Also, although I like slim-ankled pants, these were just a bit too slim, so that was another adjustment.  I ended up making muslin #2, which was much closer to the final version from which I cut my pants.  However, I had made so many adjustments, that I decided to copy the final pattern onto freezer paper. (Freezer paper is my secret sewing friend – the dull side provides a wonderful surface upon which to draw in pencil and the shiny side can be ironed to fabric to cut out appliqués or anything, really, and then easily removed.  And the long continuous roll of paper is perfect for long pattern pieces like pants, coats, etc.)  The good news is that now I have a pants pattern that fits really well with the slim, but not too slim, legs that I like.

During construction, I tried on these pants about a ga-zillion times.  This fabric was just too dear to make any mistakes, and the more I tried them on, the more I liked them.  Here they are, all finished.

I’d say these are definitely bold!

Here is my outfit, complete with Bakelite bracelet.  (I think the camera angle makes the legs look different lengths??)

A close-up of same, with the earrings I’ll also wear with this outfit. (Click on the image).

Here is a view of the waistband and zipper.

And here is the final touch – the label attached to the inside back of the waistband!

How neat is it to sew something up in vintage fabric, using a vintage pattern – and be totally stylish in 2012? And – I still have enough of this fabric left over to make a skirt.  Hopefully that will be very stylish, too, whenever I get around to making it!


Filed under Bakelite buttons and/or jewelry, Coats, Linen, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

Buttons, blouses and bijoux*

One of the often minimalized components of making a garment is the selection of fasteners (ie., buttons).  It’s easy to put so much attention to pattern and fabric, that when it comes to deciding on buttons, it’s “Oh, well, these will do.”  However, the wrong buttons can, quite simply, ruin a blouse, dress, suit, jacket, or coat.  And, the right buttons can add just the perfect accent.  So – how do you know what kind of buttons to choose?  Here are my guidelines:

First, the obvious.  Just as you match pattern to fabric to suit its weight, weave, seasonality, and ambience (how dressy or non-dressy it is), so should you choose buttons accordingly.  This includes texture of the button (rough, smooth, ribbed, etc.), style (fancy, sporty, novelty, etc.), size (usually the more buttons a garment needs, the smaller they should be), and weight (light weight fabric needs more delicate buttons, for example).

Second, I believe color is hugely important.  To select the correct color, I try to visualize the finished garment with different color buttons.  If you do this, your brain will automatically sort out what will work and what won’t work.

Finally, I think about what jewelry* (bijoux is an Archaic French word meaning an elegant jewel!) and/or accessories I will be wearing with a garment, and I take that into consideration when choosing buttons.  This is one reason why those of us who make clothing for ourselves are so fortunate – we can coordinate the look we want from start to finish.

So – I’ll give you a peek at my just completed project, which incorporates these button guidelines.  But first, some background info.  Last July, I traveled to Massachusetts to spend a few fun-filled days with daughter Susanna, who lives in the Pioneer Valley.  We had an agenda (what women do not??), which included two trips to the Brimfield area.  Our first trip was to the Sturbridge Antique Textile and Vintage Clothing Extravaganza.  Susanna wrote about some of our purchases from this excursion on her blog, but here is a picture of a set of 12 black Bakelite buttons which I found at one of the vendors.

My set of 12 Bakelite buttons

Here is a close-up of some of the buttons. Can you see the rounded corners on some of the cubes? This detail makes them more interesting!

I bought them without knowing how or when I would use them, but they definitely had my name on them – and they came home to Pennsylvania with me!  What I would have loved to have also brought home with me was a black and yellow Bakelite bracelet, which caught my eye at another booth later in the day.  I resisted buying it as we had already done our part to support the economy…! What I did not know was that my sneaky daughter quickly purchased this bracelet while I went to the ladies’ room – and she, her husband Jon, and our son Nate surprised me with it for Christmas!  Here it is:

My Christmas surprise!

Here is the bracelet shown next to the buttons: obviously these were meant for each other!

Now fast forward to the completion of this silk blouse:

The finished blouse made from a vintage Vogue pattern, complete with vintage Bakelite buttons

Here is a closer view of the blouse

Yes, I decided those Bakelite buttons would be perfect for it, and here is why:

–  The fabric, both in design and color, makes a statement, so it needs buttons which are not wimpy.  The square-ish shape of the buttons helps them stand up to those demonstrative polka dots without distracting from them.

And an even closer view...

–  Black is the only color I could picture using with this fabric (gold, yellow, white pearl or gray pearl did not visualize well for me…).

–  I thought the French cuffs (which I love) on this pattern would show to more advantage with buttons which have some heft to them.

Here is a close-up of the French cuff

These buttons are just heavy enough for the weight of this fabric, and finally…

–  I knew I would be wearing my Bakelite bracelet with this blouse!

Well – I can’t end this post without showing you the shoulder shapes which I made fromVogue 7503, view F.

Here are the shoulder shapes before I positioned them in the blouse. The crosswise stitching makes them fit over the shoulder beautifully.

They turned out perfectly and are just the right thickness/softness/size for this blouse!


Filed under Bakelite buttons and/or jewelry, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Polka dots, Shoulder shapes (shoulder pads), Vogue pattern 7503 for shoulder shapes, Vogue patterns