Tag Archives: Pantone

A December Tradition

Is there any month more steeped in tradition than December?  I think not.  It is important to remember that traditions, according to Webster, are “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice,” and therefore, they help to define our lives.  Suspending tradition goes contrary to our desires and our goals and our self-expression.  

I suspect most of you are having to suspend some of your December/Holiday/Christmas traditions this year, as am I.  So I was pleased to see that Pantone has once again continued their tradition of introducing the Color of the Year for the year to come, 2021.  In a vote of confidence – and perhaps because we need to be thinking expansively in the year to come – their color of the year is actually two colors, Ultimate Gray (PANTONE 17-5104) and Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647), a vibrant yellow.  This gray is “emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.”  “Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power.”  

Here is a very “illuminating” yellow silk taffeta jacket I made back in 2016.
And an “ultimate” soft gray cashmere coat, also made in 2016.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, talks about this color combination:  “ The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.  Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives resilience and hope.  We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”  

As one who loves both yellow and gray, and as one who has sewn with both colors over the years, as detailed above, this choice sent me to my pattern collection, where I quickly found examples of gray and yellow pattern art from years past.  Here are two:

I also went to Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion to read, once again, his take on gray and yellow.  

Some of the language and expressions in this little book seem a bit old-fashioned, but it contains a wealth of information and advice.

About Gray:  “The most convenient, useful and elegant neutral color.  ….There is nothing more elegant than a wonderful, gray satin evening dress.  For day frocks, suits and coats it is ideal.  I would always advise it.”  Page 50.  That is quite an endorsement for gray.

About Yellow:  “The color of youth and of the sun, and of good weather.  A beautiful color for frocks and also for accessories and right for any time of the year.  …There is a shade of yellow for everyone – but you have to take the trouble to find it.”  Page 124.  

Cheerfulness, elegance, optimism, fortitude – these are worthy goals to set for living in the months to come – and for sewing – whether or not we blend the colors of gray and yellow into them.  Right now, however, with the enduring promise which defines December, I am focused on the colors of the season, red and green, and of keeping what we can of beloved traditions – knowing that, like finding that perfect yellow, we have to take the trouble to make this holiday season glow and sparkle in its own way. 

I wish all of you, my readers, a warm, happy and even MERRY, Christmas and holiday!

From my house to your house, Merry Christmas! (Cavallini & Co. vintage-inspired tag)


Filed under Christian Dior, Coats, Pantone Color of the Year, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s

“. . . A Vivifying and Effervescent Color. . .”

Every December when Pantone announces its Color of the Year for the upcoming annum, I think of it as a holiday gift for the mind and senses.  The commercial implications of the selection are obvious, as the manufacturers in the lifestyle and fashion industries are guided to a degree by the chosen color.  Or perhaps the Color of the Year is more of an affirmation of the direction these manufacturers were headed anyway.  Nevertheless, the color serves as a guideline and often an inspiration.  The color for 2019 is Living Coral, Pantone 16-1546.

Described as “a peachy shade of orange with a golden undertone,” the color shown here is not nearly as vibrant as the real thing!

Its description reads as follows: “ Vibrant, yet mellow, Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.  Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity.  Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.”

Pantone has been selecting a Color of the Year for 20 years, although the company had its beginning in 1962.  It certainly appears that they went back to their early roots in when choosing Living Coral for 2019.  Take a look back 58 years at this cover of a 1963 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine:

This cardigan coat is paired with a white wool dress underneath.

One of the prominent colors featured inside this issue from February/March 1963 is referred to as “absolute orange” and “sun-tinged melon.”

This 7/8 length tunic coat is in “the softest of the melon shades.”

And this is a “pink-infused shade of melon.”

Even the back cover of the magazine shows a golden-tinged orange color.

Well, I do not need any convincing to be excited about the chosen color for 2019, as I already have made several garments n this hue.  Not only do I love this coral color, I admire its versatility and wearability with other contrasting colors. Following is a quick run-through of my examples of Living Coral.

Although this dress gave me fits when I was making it (because of the pattern and the fact that it called for knit fabric and I used a stretch charmeuse silk instead), I do get compliments whenever I wear it, so I guess I did something right. Even the print in the fabric looks a bit sea-life and like living coral.

This dressy coat has to be one of my favorite makes:

To me this is a perfect example of Living Coral color.  One of the reasons I love this coat so much is because it pairs so well with blue.

Another example of coral and blue – this time navy blue – is this dress I made a few months ago.

And then last year about this time of year, I made this blouse to pair with a bronze-and-white-lace skirt, tied together with a coral sash.

My most recent make for me (I’ve been sewing for my little granddaughters, too, soon to be revealed!), is this coral wool skirt.  I have worn it with gray , and it will also look good with navy blue and light blue , and of course, winter white.

Although I haven’t tried it yet, I think Living Coral will look spectacular with this year’s color of Ultra Violet, and 2017’s Greenery.

I made this coat last Spring in a color very close to Ultra Violet.

With three weeks left in December, I am presently concentrating on the more traditional colors of red and green and blue and gold.  But Living Coral gives us an optimistic view of the year to come, and that’s a vivifying message for all of us.


Filed under Fashion history, Mid-Century style, Pantone Color of the Year, Uncategorized

A Coat For Many Reasons

When I started planning this coat, I could not then have known the many reasons why I am now so happy to have made it.

The journey – and yes, it has been a journey – started with the fabric, offered for sale to me by a reader several years ago.  Simply the provenance of the fabric  – a piece of stamped Ernest Einiger wool, from one of the great mid-century American wool manufacturers, now sadly long gone – was reason enough to give it some extra thought.  I knew I had to wait for the right time to put pattern and scissors to it. When the Pantone Color of 2018 – “Ultraviolet” – an orchid shade of purple – was announced, I knew the time had arrived!

In the meantime, I had given it much thought and the more I looked at it, the more I thought I would be wise to get some construction advice on it.  Happily I was able to go to Baltimore in mid-April for one of Susan Khalje’s week-long Couture Sewing Schools, during which everyone works on their own project.  Usually one is expected to arrive with a pattern selected, and a marked muslin (toile) of her project ready for fitting.  This time was no different, which meant that all my thinking about the best pattern to use for this coat was ready to come to fruition.

Because the fabric is a very heavy coat-weight boucle, I originally looked for a pattern which either did not include buttons and buttonholes (traditionally more difficult to do well on a fabric of this weight), or had slot-seam buttonholes. I thought I had the perfect pattern in this Vogue from 1962. However, when I actually opened out the pattern pieces, I realized it was not going to work.  The kimono sleeves would surely produce drag lines in this heavy fabric, and a double layer of the wool in the shawl collar could be quite bulky.

Then I pulled out two more patterns which I thought were possibilities:

The single slot-seam buttonhole in the Mattli pattern was ideal, but all the intersecting seams could be a problem to do well, so I eliminated that one.  The simple lines of the Christian Dior design were lovely, but then there were more buttons, in addition to my evolving thought that this fabric would work well with a pattern which did not have such a narrow silhouette. It was then that I went to a pattern which I had already used:

View A with the longer sleeve for this coat, although I originally made it with the shorter sleeve here.

I love the simple lines of this coat and its well-turned collar, and I especially love my addition of a half belt to the silk coat I made.  I still wasn’t sure what I would/could do about buttons and buttonholes.  Advice from Susan would be very valuable!  As it turned out, she helped me determine that I could do bound buttonholes even on this very substantial wool.  Another fortuitous finding was that this pattern lent itself to showing off the interesting windowpane weave of the boucle, which became much more apparent the further away from it we got.

Other of Susan’s recommendations included:

1) Making the coat dress length rather than coat length.  The intensity of the color, used with this pattern, looks better in a shorter length.

2) Cutting the belt on the bias.  This was brilliant and gives a nice subtle focus to the back of the coat.  She also recommended that I line the belt with the silk charmeuse lining fabric rather than using the boucle .  It reduces bulk and makes the belt lay much more nicely.  I sewed one side of the belt by machine and then hand-stitched the other side, making for a nice crisp turn of the charmeuse to the underside.

My addition of a belt to this pattern is an excellent example of what is known as a “dressmaker detail.”

Here the bias cut of the belt is quite apparent.

The entire coat is underlined in silk organza, including the belt, shown here with one side sewn by machine.

And here is the silk charmeuse belt lining almost ready to be applied by hand.

3) Underlining the collar with charmeuse (again to reduce bulk) and then under-stitching the underside, to make it turn beautifully.

The collar on this pattern is beautifully designed to sit perfectly on the neck.

4) Clipping the long back center seam, even though it is on the straight of grain.  Clipping it reduces strain on that seam and allows a much more fluid movement of the back of the coat.  (I’m sorry I forgot to take a picture of this, but it is certainly not rocket science, just common sense.)

5) Tips for matching the woven windowpane design in the wool, the weave of which was difficult to see close-up.  Forked pins and a walking foot  helped to keep the layers – even basted ones – from shifting.

Other procedures I used to help “tame” this fabric were:  lots of judicious trimming of seams and corners; clipping, clipping and more clipping; lots of steam and pressing; lots of basting of seams.

I even trimmed the edges of the bound buttonholes to reduce bulk down the front of the coat. I am not completely happy with the buttonholes (which were difficult to do on this fabric), but once I finished them, they looked better than I thought they would.

I found these buttons in an Etsy store. From the 1960s, they are a nice fit with the fabric and the pattern. And I like their wobbly edges!

By the time I returned home from my class, I had the coat about half finished, but I felt completely confident in my ability to finish it competently.   Here are a few more details:

The sleeves feature a turned- back vent which is secured by a button through all layers.

I used the pockets for this version of the coat (which I had eliminated for my silk version.)

The belt is attached to the side seams just about an inch below the armhole. This placement allows it to fall right at the center back waist.

It is always rewarding to get to the point in the construction of a coat when you are ready to put the lining in.  And to make it just a little more fun, I added flat silk piping on the inside front facings – which will match one of the dresses (still to be made) I intend to wear with this coat:

I ended the piping at the shoulder seam on either side. (I see a basting thread which is peeking out from the piping!)

So my “coat for many reasons” allowed me 1) to use treasured fabric which had been in my collection for a few years; 2) to take advantage of the focus of this beautiful purple color during the year of  “Ultraviolet;” 3) to use a coat pattern which I really wanted to use again after making it once; and 4) to have experience in working – successfully – with such a heavyweight wool.

But the most important reason?  I need another coat. I always need another coat.


Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Coats, Dressmaker details, Mid-Century style, piping, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, woolens

Focus on Fabric for 2017

Every new sewing year seems to have its own personality. Some of that depends on significant events that may be happening during the year, for which certain outfits must be sewn. Other influences might be travel, or the need to add some “basics” to your wardrobe, or, better yet, sewing classes, requiring planning/ muslin-making/special purchases. For me, this new year of 2017 – it is still new, isn’t it? – is going to have a focus on fabrics. I wish I could say I am resolved not to purchase new fabrics until I use some of what I already have, but I have already made that an impossibility, and the year is a scant three-weeks-old. (Thank you, Mendel Goldberg Fabrics, for tempting me beyond any recognition of reasonable doubt!) However, back to my premise – sometimes I have patterns which are just keeping me awake at night until I use them. Not so much of that this year; it is rather some of the gorgeous fabrics in my collection which are doing their best to disrupt my sleep.

Here are some of them, starting with Winter sewing.

I purchased this fabric from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. It is a wool/silk blend, and it is my current project.

I purchased this fabric from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. It is a wool/silk blend, and it is my current project.

My current bathrobe is in desperate need of replacement. This is the fabric I want to use for this new addition to my cozy, home attire.

My current bathrobe is in desperate need of replacement. This is the fabric I want to use for this new addition to my cozy home attire.

This boucle bridges the gap between Winter and Spring. Given to me for Christmas of 2015, it is a blend of wool, cotton and silk, tightly woven and lightweight. I will be trying to devote most of March to making this into a Classic French Jacket. I will be able to wear it well into Spring and then, of course, it will be perfect for next Fall and Winter, too.

2 full yards of this glorious boucle! I purchased a variety of trims to coordinate with this fabric this past summer in NYC and in San Francisco. Now I just have to decide which one(s) to use.

2 full yards of this glorious boucle! This past summer, I purchased a variety of trims to coordinate with this fabric. Now I just have to decide which one(s) to use.

Spring and Summer sewing always poses the most difficult decisions for me. That is because I have so many gorgeous pieces of vintage linen, and trying to determine which ones to use is a frustrating exercise for me. I would love to make a simple sheath out of this baby blue Moygashel linen, as it would look so lovely with that jacket mentioned above.

Lovely, crisp, pale blue.

Crisp, pale blue linen from the 1950s.

Then there is this amazing abstract design in red and white – also Moygashel – which somehow just has to wiggle its way into the sewing queue:

Red/white abstract linen

This fabric is from the mid to late 1960s, and it arrived with the label intact.

This fabric is from the mid to late 1960s, and it arrived with the label intact.

On the other extreme is this demure flower print, an early 1950s’ Moygashel linen. I have been wanting to make a dress from this for several years. Perhaps this will be the year I get it done.

A very early 1950s' linen, petite black flower silhouettes on a pale ecru background.

Petite black flower silhouettes on a pale ecru background.

Another piece of vintage linen is this duo with lengths of plain and embroidered panels. Originally intended for an A-line shift, I envision it as a dress-length tunic, accented with the grass-green linen shown here. That would be one way I could honor the Pantone Color of the Year, Greenery, as well as make a unique and versatile dress.

Focus on Fabric

How I will ever find the time to make a blouse out of this white dotted cotton, I don’t know, but hope springs eternal for this, too:

I backed this fabric with a piece of orange paper so that the polka dot design shows. The dots are woven into this fine cotton from Britex Fabrics.

I backed this fabric with a piece of orange paper so that the polka dot design shows. The dots are woven into this fine cotton from Britex Fabrics.

With weeks of travel planned for parts of the final five months of the year, it will be folly to plan too much, but I do hope to make one more linen dress which will have wearing power into the Fall.

Navy, rust and brown - perfect for early Fall.

Navy, rust and brown – perfect for early Fall.

And can I possibly get one more Classic French Jacket completed before Thanksgiving? If so, it will be made from this boucle:


Sprinkled among all these projects will be sewing for my two little granddaughters, too. As usual, I have much more planned than I ever can hope to accomplish, but it is fun to think of the infinite possibilities that dwell in my fabric closet – and in my head.

PS – One fashion observation for 2017:  DRESS GLOVES ARE BACK!


Filed under Boucle for French style jackets, Linen, Moygashel linen, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric

One Year at a Time

Let’s start with 2016. Although, truthfully, right now in January 2016, I could probably plan at least three years’ worth of sewing. That is how many patterns and fabrics I have tucked away, waiting for their turn. But it is time to concentrate on the year at hand and get on with it!

Some of the year is shaped by events that I know will be happening – such as weddings and fancy parties. Some of it will be devoted to little granddaughters who are already growing too fast for me to indulge all my sewing fantasies for them.   And some of it will be my own self-determined challenges – coats and dresses I want to make – that right now are looking like small Mt. Everests, waiting to be conquered!

I probably should be sewing right now for Spring and Summer, but I have wools that are too enticing to ignore during these current Winter months:

Wool challis on the left and vintage cashmere on the right.

Wool challis on the left and vintage cashmere on the right.

Navy and white houndstooth.

Navy and white houndstooth.

Some cute and classic cottons for little girls should be able to find themselves tucked in amongst my plans for Springtime.

The buzzy bee fabric is a vintage cotton. The blue gingham is new.

The buzzy bee fabric is a vintage cotton. The blue gingham is new.

Looking towards Spring weddings already on the calendar, I am excited for the opportunity to use this amazing printed silk for a dress and perhaps pairing it with the plain yellow silk taffeta left over from my fancy dress from last Summer.

One year at a time

I have so many vintage linens in my collection, that it is difficult to narrow down my focus, but here are four that just may see the sewing shears this year:

These are all vintage Moygashel linen.

These are all vintage Moygashel linen.

This vintage, authentic Diane von Furstenberg cotton blend knit has been calling my name for quite some time.

One year at a time = DvF

Hopefully this fabric and this pattern will finally find each other this year!

One year at a time - DvF pattern

The sewing year will no doubt end next Fall with a return to wool. The polka dotted wool is similar to the wool in a dress I made in Fall of 2015. It is from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC.

As one who loves polka dots, I could not pass up this wool/silk blend fabric.

As one who loves polka dots, I could not pass up this wool/silk blend fabric.

When I purchased it, several swatches of boucle were in the package – and I was in a swoon over this blue and pink sample:

How wonderful that Pantone's two "colors of the year" - pink and blue - are the color way for this boucle.

How wonderful that Pantone’s two “colors of the year” – pink and blue – are the colorway for this boucle.

Lucky me to open a box on Christmas morning to find 2 yards of it (thank you to my dear children!) – enough for another Classic French Jacket.

2 full yards of this glorious boucle! What a wonderful gift!

Two full yards of this glorious boucle! What a wonderful gift!

Some of the patterns I might be using this year are all vintage ones that deserve attention. I tidied up the boxes where I keep my pattern collection and these just happened to be some which would NOT go back in silence, so here they are with all their wily temptations!

One of my big projects for this year is this coat.

One of my big projects for 2016 is this coat.

I have been wanting to make the dress on the right for quite a while - this may be the year it happens!

I have been wanting to make the dress on the right for quite a while – this may be the year it happens!

I really like this shirtwaist dress (a little shorter, of course) and I envision it made out of a lovely summer linen.

I really like this shirtwaist dress (a little shorter, of course) and I envision it made out of a lovely summer linen.

I think I could make either view of this dress over and over and not get tired of it.

I think I could make either view of this dress over and over and not get tired of it.

One thing I learned a long time ago is the importance of flexibility in planning my sewing year. Sometimes things happen that impede my sewing plans. Sometimes I change my mind. And always, always, I plan too much. And when (not if) that happens, there is always 2017 right around the corner.


Filed under Boucle for French style jackets, Diane von Furstenberg Vogue patterns, Linen, Moygashel linen, Polka dots, Sewing for children, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens, Wrap dresses

Dress Forms and December Decisions

The quintessential trademark of a dressmaker is undoubtably the figure of a dress form (or dummy, as it is called in some parts of the world). I am not sure why it took me so long to purchase one, but in the past year and half since I have had mine, it has daily reminded me what an invaluable tool it is for fashion sewing. Among its obvious aspects of usefulness are, of course, 1) for fitting, 2) for pinning and sewing of certain seams (like a shoulder seam), 3) for marking hems and making sure they are even, 4) for design and draping (for those fortunate enough to be versed in this art), 5) for displaying of one’s current project, allowing scrutiny of any imperfections which need to be addressed, and 6) for steaming/pressing certain curved seams.

I also have found it to be the perfect medium upon which to “audition” fabrics and styles. I can strategically pin fabric onto the form and get an excellent idea if the fabric is going to look good in the style in which I am envisioning it. Sometimes I have to leave the fabric pinned in place for days or even weeks while I make up my mind. And sometimes seeing the fabric pinned on my form will make other possibilities suddenly become obvious. Such has been the case with my plaid Irish blanket, purchased by me to make into a skirt.

 I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store - as a skirt - to test my theory.  Here it is pinned on my dress form

I thought my mind was set on making a pencil skirt out of this “throw” size blanket. When I pinned the fabric on my dress form in the length of a skirt, however, I was struck by the fact that so much of this lovely plaid wool would not be used. So I repinned the blanket in its full length, minus the fringe on one end, to see if I could make a sheath dress instead.

The blanket pinned onto my dress form.

The blanket pinned onto my dress form.

I got out my favorite sheath dress pattern and placed it on the fabric to determine if I could indeed get a knee-length dress out of the yardage I have. It will be a squeeze, but I am fairly certain I can manage it. So I have just about decided to make a dress instead of a skirt. But I have one looming question: is this going to look too much like a 1920s’ flapper dress? I think not, made out of a plaid wool. I actually think a fringed dress will lend itself to be dressed up or dressed down. Hm-m-m-m, what do you think?

Another look...

Another look…

The color combination of this plaid is one I love. After Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015 was announced, I realized that certain blocks of this plaid pick up the Marsala color (reddish brown) which is supposed to be so popular in 2015.

Dress forms and December decisions



I must admit, I was disappointed with this color decision by Pantone. Like 2014’s Radiant Orchid, I do not think it is a color with wide appeal for the long haul. 2013’s Emerald Green still has “legs”, and I was hoping for a similar clear and flattering hue for 2015.

Getting back to my blanket/soon to be dress (or skirt): in shades of red and subtle green, this plaid should be equally versatile throughout the winter, but wouldn’t it be especially nice in this holiday month of December?  Well, that’s not going to happen! But that’s okay. If I can get to it in January, that means I’ll have at least one thing complete for December . . . of 2015!





Filed under Blankets and doll blankets, Uncategorized, woolens

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

New Life from an Old Dress

I’m sure I never would have entertained the thought of remaking/repurposing this dress  –

I made this maternity dress in the Fall of 1980 while pregnant with our first child.

I made this maternity dress in the Fall of 1980 while pregnant with our first child. The fabric is US-made Pendleton wool.

– had Emerald Green not emerged as THE color of 2013.  As it was, it seemed silly not to take advantage of this opportunity to make a skirt in a color I love, from a dress that would not be worn again, and which already carried sentimental memories.  So I told myself repeatedly, “Do this.”  And so I did it, but not without much mental anguish.

Before I did any ripping of seams or cutting of fabric, I needed to decide what kind of a skirt I could make, knowing that, even with a maternity tent-style dress, the usable expanse of fabric was limited.  It seemed fairly obvious that a pencil or A-line skirt was about the extent of the possibilities.  But I wanted some kind of a focal point on it, too.  I kept thinking about the fringed Pendleton wool skirt that I had remade, thinking that fringe on this green one would be quite nice as well.  I did a little testing on an inside seam of the dress and determined the wool was so tightly woven, that any “fringing” would have to be somewhat minimal.  It also seemed to be easier to unravel the threads working up and down rather than across.  I figured if I could wiggle out enough fabric to add one overlap (or pleat) at the side front, I could fringe that edge and get the focal point I wanted.

With this plan in mind, I now had to face cutting apart – and into – this dress, which I so clearly remembered making and wearing over 31 years ago.  Honestly, for a couple of days I really couldn’t face this.  My practical side finally triumphed when I decided I would first separate just the side seams on the dress.  If I chickened out at that point, I could always sew it back together, right?  Right!  And so I snipped and snipped and pretty soon I had two usable sections of wool.

The dress with the side seams separated.

The dress with the side seams separated.

Then –  somehow, miraculously, I was suddenly okay with the thought of cutting into this dress.  The back part of the skirt pattern fit perfectly on the back section of the dress – it was even already seamed for me.

My muslin pattern positioned on the back of the dress.

My muslin pattern positioned on the back of the dress.

The front part of the dress gave me enough room to make a new two-piece front, with a pleat on the left side.  I cut out the pieces and set about to fringing.  Re-runs of Downton Abbey helped tremendously with this – I pulled and picked and created fluffy little towers of green threads while totally absorbed in another time and place.

Then it was back to the sewing room to sew this baby (pardon the bad pun) together.  There was not enough fabric  to fashion a waistband on the straight of grain, so I opted to make an inside pieced-together facing instead.

The facing at the waistline.  I attached the 31-year-old Pendleton label in place after all these years!

The facing at the waistline. I attached the 31-year-old Pendleton label in place after all these years!

Then I made a button tab out of bias tape which I just happened to have on hand in emerald green.  What I could not find was a 7” zipper in emerald, nor lining fabric in emerald.  Guess the manufacturers of such items did not get the memo from Pantone about the color of the year!  So I ended up with a black zipper and dark gray Bemberg lining fabric.

The black zipper and gray lining are okay, I think...

The black zipper and gray lining are okay, I think…

I went round and round with a decision about buttons to hold the top part of the pleat in place.  I found several single buttons in my button box, which I really liked, but I really needed two or three.   A trip to Joann’s yielded some pale gray pearl buttons which would have been lovely, except that one broke after I got home when I was taking it off the card!  So I still have to resolve the button issue – as right now I  have exactly one button on the skirt, although I do like its diamond shape quite well…

The fringe detail on the pleat - and the single button.  Sure wish I had another one of these!

The fringe detail on the pleat – and the single button. Sure wish I had another one of these!

It's finished (except for the button issue, of course!).

It’s finished (except for the button issue, of course!).

green skirt

The back view.

The back view.

Thinking back on this project, I believe the signs were there, telling me to make this skirt.  Consider that I found these Stubbs and Wootton shoes – green and black Buffalo Check to go with my Pendleton wool:

How I love these comfy flats!

How I love these comfy flats!

And among my collection of silk scarves was this scarf, purchased in the 1980’s from the Museum of American Folk Art, featuring one of their quilts in predominant colors of pink and – yes, Emerald Green.

The green in this scarf could not be more perfect.

The green in this scarf could not be more perfect.

A detail of the scarf on top of the skirt.

A detail of the scarf on top of the skirt.

So – where do I envision wearing this skirt?  How about to a baby shower for my daughter, now expecting her own little one?  After all, she herself  was once sheltered by these warm woolen threads of green – and love.


Filed under 1980's dress patterns, Buttons - choosing the right ones, hand-sewn zippers, Scarves, Uncategorized, woolens

Clothes for Christmas

Another part of the world of vintage patterns, which is now available thanks to the Internet, are old copies of the Vogue Pattern Book magazine.   Published 6 times a year by The Conde Nast Publications, Inc., this magazine featured current and up and coming Vogue patterns, articles on construction and notions, a “question and answer” section,  news on just about anything having to do with personal sewing, and wonderful ads for fabric and sewing machines.  (By the way, it’s still published 6 times a year!)  I’ve been able to purchase a few issues from varying months and years, and sometimes I find a pattern featured which I have already bought on eBay or Etsy.   The December 1957/January1958 issue, which I recently obtained, devotes 8 pages to “The Ladies Love Clothes for Christmas.”

Here is the cover of the December 1957/January 1958 issue.

It features patterns for young girls and for teenagers; there is a section on lingerie and sleepwear; and finally some suggestions for the lady who presumably will be doing all this sewing!  Here is a sampling:

Suggested dresses to make for your little girl and one for your young teen.

There were patterns like this to make slips - for yourself or as a gift!

This billowy peignoir and matching nightgown would turn anyone into a vision on Christmas morning! The pattern cost 75 cents.

Here is the empire nightgown. I hope you can see that this lovely lady, now sans peignoir, is standing under the mistletoe!

This bolero cover-up, lined in polka dots (no wonder I love this!), would be perfect on New Year's Eve.

Or - if you are really in a festive mood, they suggest you make this cape in "ruby-red velvet lined in white silk."

Here is my favorite suggestion, and I quote: "You might give this pattern and enough camel's hair wool to make this coat, to someone who loves to sew." The pattern was priced at $1.00

Here is another suggestion, next to a picture of its pattern envelope.

This robe is very easy to make! (I wonder what is in the long wrapped present she is holding behind her back? A rolling pin?)

This pattern makes up beautifully into an elegant robe! It has additional pattern pieces and instructions for lining it, as well.








Yes, I purchased this pattern last Spring and have already made it up in the “lower calf” length.  Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of it before it went to its new owner, but here is a shot of a small bit of the silk charmeuse left over from this project.

This silk is really more orange-ish than it appears here. I washed and dried it before I cut it out, so that the finished garment would be washable - much more practical for a bathrobe!

The reason I am showing you this, is that last week, Pantone, the color guru of the fashion world, declared a color very close to this as its Color of the Year for 2012.    Specifically, that color is called Tangerine Tango and its number is 17-1463-TCX.

Personally, I have come to appreciate various shades of orange a lot more than I once did. I particularly like to see orange (or coral or tangerine or whatever name you want to give it) paired with hyacinth blue or leaf green or charcoal gray.  Although I am not one to feel like I need to be dressed in the current “fad” color, if I get the opportunity to use it in my sewing this coming year, I definitely will.

Well, I am digressing from my Christmas theme here, so back to the robe in bright green polka dots.

This statement says it all!

If I could ever find such a fabric in a lovely silk suitable for a bathrobe, I would buy it in a minute and make myself this robe in the long version!  For Christmas morning I’d pair it with a long and flowing red silk sash…

Here’s to a fashionable, fun Merry Christmas for each and all – and warm wishes for a colorful New Year!


Filed under Coats, Polka dots, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, Vogue patterns