Tag Archives: Pendleton wool

Saddle Up!

Western style (as in American cowgirl and cowboy) is not something that regularly occupies my mind – until I see something that is quintessentially Western fashion, and then it grabs my attention. I have often wondered if the styling on the pattern envelope for my color-blocked coat, featuring the model in a Western-style cowboy-inspired hat, may have been added to my great predilection for this coat!

Coats of certain length - 7

Because I knew I was going to be spending a good bit of my 2015 Summer in Wyoming (in the American West), I thought it might be fun to see if I could find Vogue patterns (or anything else) featured in any of my vintage Vogue Pattern Book Magazines, that were clearly Western style.  Well, there is no doubt about the Western theme of this decorator fabric pictured in an ad in the February/March issue of VPB Magazine:

What little cowboy - or cowgirl - in 1958 would not love curtains made of this fabric?

What little cowboy – or cowgirl – in 1958 would not love curtains made of this fabric?

And what could be more Western than cowboy and cowgirl shirts? The July/August 1974 issue of VPB Magazine clearly met my challenge:

Western style - shirts, no 1

Western style - shirts, no 2

Somehow, however, I just can’t see myself making a cowgirl shirt. Out here in Wyoming, it would look like it belongs. Wearing something like this at home in Pennsylvania might get heads turning for the wrong reason. So my search continued for something else that evoked the West without screaming it. Who would have ever thought I was going to find it in the same Vogue Pattern Book Magazine that featured Diane von Furstenberg on its cover?

Sure enough, this September/October 1976 issue featured a coat constructed out of an American-made blanket. (Anyone who reads my blog will perhaps remember the jumper I made from an Irish blanket last year. When one can’t find yardgoods, buy a blanket and see what happens!)

Western style - coat-1

Accompanying the picture in the magazine were these instructions for making a “blanket coat” using Vogue pattern 9329:

Western style - coat instructions

Forty years later the same thing is being done with Pendleton blankets. I never miss the opportunity to look at the handsome Western and Native American-inspired Pendleton blankets in the Pendleton Store in Jackson, Wyoming. Hanging on one of the clothing racks in the store was this custom-made coat:

This particular coat was made for a very large lady, which just goes to show that a twin size blanket is sufficient for all sizes of coats.

This particular coat was made for a very large lady, which just goes to show that a twin size blanket is sufficient for all sizes of coats.

The back of the coat.

The back of the coat.

Made, as stated above, from a twin-size blanket, the coat can be made in long, medium or short lengths, with hood or without hood, with pockets or without them – and it is reversible, too. Customers in the store pick out the blanket they like, measurements are taken: both are sent off to a coat-maker, with whom the store has a relationship, and returned about 6 weeks later. The construction is very much the same as what is detailed in the instructions above; however, the coat-maker removes the narrow wool binding from the blanket before cutting into it. Then she uses that binding for all the edges of the coat.

The lovely staff in the Pendleton store pulled out this blanket to tempt me:

The grey, white and periwinkle blue color way would definitely compliment me, I think.

The grey, white and periwinkle blue colorway would definitely compliment me, I think.

So far, however, I have resisted the urge to make a blanket coat, although it might be a fun project with just the right blanket – sometime. But for now I am saddling up to head East, home to beloved Pennsylvania, back to animals and pets I love, back to my by-now-overgrown gardens, and back to my snug little sewing machine who must be wondering where I have been!


Filed under Coats, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens

Thoughts on Fabric

One theme I often see in New Year’s sewing resolutions is an emphasis on sewing from one’s “stash” rather than purchasing more new fabric.  I don’t know too many serious sewers who don’t harbor at least a little guilt about all the fabric they have squirreled away (the word “stash” actually does imply something put away, usually in a secretive place!).  I used to feel a lot more guilt about all my fabric than I do now, and here’s why.  First, I don’t consider my fabric a “stash” of anything.  I look at it as a collection, to be used, admired, and taken care of like any valuable thing.  And second, I believe having a selection/collection of beautiful and inspirational fabric adds to the creative process of sewing.

As with the selection and collection of any worthwhile genre, it’s usually best to buy the best you can afford.   There used to be much more stated emphasis on “quality” in fabric than there is now.   It is so interesting to me that fabric manufacturers used to advertise their products by name, obviously with great pride in their newest line of designs.  Some of the manufacturers were almost household names, with tag lines such as  “A fabric you can lean on – that’s Klopman”.  Woolens were known by their manufacturer’s name, such as Forstman and Anglo, to mention just two.  The same was true for cottons, linens, silks, and synthetics. So many of the full-page advertisements in Vogue Pattern Book Magazine in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s were from fabric manufacturers (whereas now there are virtually none).  Here is a quick look at some from each of those decades:

Moygashel Linen advertised heavily in VPB Magazine during that 30-year span of time.  Here is an ad from the inside front cover of the December/January 1953/54 issue:

Thoughts on Fabric - 54

“The first name in linen… The last word in quality”

Moygashel was also one of those fabric companies which supplied labels with purchases of their linens.  Here is a string of labels, which came with a recent purchase I made of vintage Moygashel:

Thoughts on Fabric - Moygashel w: tag

Many new synthetic fabrics were being developed in the post-war era, as evidenced by the many ads from manufacturers of these yard goods.  Here is an ad for acetate, made by the Celanese Corporation of America.  It appeared in the February/March 1957 issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine.

Thoughts on Fabric - 57

In the same issue was this full page ad for Wamsutta cotton prints.  Now known primarily for sheets, Wamsutta once had the tagline “it has to be WAMSUTTA!” which many a home sewer knew as a sign of quality.

Thoughts on Fabric - 57-2

European fabrics also found their place in VPB.  Here is an ad from February/March 1964 for Boussac screen-printed cottons.  “A collection of rich designer fabrics used by the haute couture of the world.”

Thoughts on Fabric - 64

I want to show you something else in that same issue.  Although there was not a dedicated ad for American Silk, Vogue pattern #6105 was sewn in American Silk, as stated in its accompanying caption.

How I would love to find a piece of this silk tucked away in some drawer!

How I would love to find a piece of this silk tucked away in some drawer!

Twelve years later, in 1976, I attended a fashion show featuring the various dress silks made by this company for the home sewing market, another example of the effort put into marketing by specific fabric manufacturers.

By 1972, the look of VPB Magazine was becoming more sophisticated, but those full-page fabric ads were still abundant.  Here is an ad in the October/November issue devoted to Qiana, a nylon made by DuPont:

Thoughts on Fabric - 72

And – Crompton is velvet appeared a few pages further in the same issue:

Thoughts on Fabric - 72-2

In September/October 1976, Diane von Furstenberg was featured on the cover, and Ernest Einiger had a full-page color ad for “The Great American Wools”.

Thoughts on Fabric - 76-3

In the same issue, Britex Fabrics in San Francisco offered a buy-by-mail offer for Ultrasuede, the “it” fabric of the decade!

Thoughts on Fabric - 76-2

I can really only think of a few current fabric lines that still retain the distinction of being “known” by their names: Liberty, Pendleton, and Linton Tweeds come to mind.  (Linton Direct advertises in the current VPB magazine, but it is a small column ad, not a full-page “look at me” type of statement.) Then, of course, there are designer fabrics, but the manufacturers of these “name” goods are generally not listed.  For the most part, unless you ask, when you are buying yard goods, the names of the manufacturers are virtually unknown.  It is really kind of a shame, as there are so many exquisite fabrics of the highest quality still being woven in certain parts of the world.  These fabrics (and others, some vintage) make it difficult to say “no” to the opportunity to add to one’s fabric collection.  Here are two such fabrics I could not resist:

This is a linen and cotton blend I purchased from Mood Fabrics a while ago.  It is patiently waiting to be cut and sewn . . .

This is a loosely woven linen and cotton blend I purchased from Mood Fabrics a while ago. It is patiently waiting to be cut and sewn . . .

This is a vintage linen, newly acquired by me.  Although there is nothing printedon the selvedge, I believe it is a Moygashel linen from the 1950s.

This is a vintage linen, newly acquired by me. Although there is nothing printed on the selvedge, I believe it is a Moygashel linen from the 1950s.  I plan to make a sheath dress from this fabric sometime during the Summer of 2014.

William Blake notably said “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”  I must confess I never knew what that meant until I applied it, somewhat sheepishly,  to collecting fabrics.  It seems the more various and beautiful fabrics I can look at and choose from, the more I am able to determine the perfect pattern with which to pair them.  If I own the fabric already, so much the better!  Sometimes the fabric dictates the sort of garment I should make and sometimes I have a pattern which leads me to my (excessive?) fabric collection, where I can admire anew and oftentimes choose a long-before purchased length of the perfect silk, linen, cotton, or wool.  It is a back and forth process, one filled with visual and tactile components, demanding – and developing – sewing wisdom.  It is one of the reasons I love to sew.


Filed under Liberty cotton, Linen, Love of sewing, Moygashel linen, Polka dots, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, woolens

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

Green, green, and more green

When Pantone announced the color of the year for 2013 last week, I was immediately smitten.  Actually, I’ve been smitten with Emerald Green (Pantone 17-5641 TCX) for as long as I can remember – and finally, finally, it’s going to be center stage again after at least 30 years in hiding (as deliciously detailed by Christina Binkley on the Personal Journal front page of The Wall Street Journal on December 6.)

My initial euphoria turned to smug (yes, I admit it!) satisfaction.  Why is this?  Just this Fall I had seen emerald green silk matka on the website of Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.    Well, I sent for a swatch and upon its arrival I speedily ordered three+ yards. I knew I would have to make a Spring suit out of this fabric.

This is the swatch I ordered from Waechter's Fine Fabrics

This is the swatch I ordered from Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.

Of course, this was before Pantone made its announcement. And although I still would have purchased it even if this shade of green were the “uncolor” of the coming year, I’m looking forward to being stylish, to boot!

But wait, that’s not all!

Much earlier in the year, I had purchased this yardage of Moygashel linen from an Etsy shop.  What attracted me to it was that emerald green is featured so dominantly in it.  I’ve shown this fabric before on this blog, but I could not resist showing another peek at it.  I still keep thinking it would make a gorgeous Spring coat… or pants.

The emerald green in this design really makes it pop!

The emerald green in this design really makes it pop!

Finally, this color – this Emerald Green – has given me the perfect opportunity to tell (and complete) a story about a dress I made for myself in 1980 – and share some wonderful, wonderful family news, too.  Here’s the pattern:

Yes - it is for a maternity dress...  from 31 years ago.

Yes – it is for a maternity dress… from 32 years ago.

And yes, I made it in Emerald Green:

With a few hang lines after 32 years!

With a few hang lines after 32 years!


A detail of the yoke. I chose two pearl buttons from my button box of 32 years ago to add a little interest.

This was a piece of Pendleton wool I picked up on sale in the Fall of 1980 when I was scrambling to make some dresses for my first pregnancy (our daughter was born in April 1981).  I loved the color and thought it would be quite beautiful over the holidays. In fact, two years later, when I was pregnant again (with our son), I wore it for our Christmas photo:


Our growing family, in 1982.

Whatever possessed me to save this dress, I’ll never know.  I actually saved all the maternity clothes I made for myself.  I dug them out of the cedar closet this Fall to show to our daughter (the little girl in the photo)– who (taa daa!), with her husband, is excitingly expecting their first child (our first grandchild!).  Whatever thoughts I had about the suitability of these dresses for “today’s” pregnant style made both of us laugh!  My daughter will not be wearing vintage maternity dresses, even if one of them is an au courant color.  But oh dear, the wheels started to turn in my head.     Hm-m-m-m, why not take this green “tent” and make a skirt for MYSELF out of it??  Wouldn’t that be a story to tell?

So now, I’m realigning my winter projects.  Come January I’ll be seeing and sewing GREEN.

By the way, Pendleton fabric yardage used to come with labels to sew into finished garments.  I never sewed the label into this dress, but here it is:

A pristine label, still attached to its card.

A pristine label, still attached to its card…

... with care instructions on the back.

… with care instructions on the back.

This time around I plan to use it!


Filed under 1980's dress patterns, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens

Fancying Fringe

A number of years ago I purchased a fringed skirt from a Pendleton Wool Women’s Apparel catalogue.  I loved it when it arrived at my door – the fabric was soft and beautiful and the styling was a simple A-line skirt.  Even though I ordered a Petite in my regular size, I should have sent it back for a smaller one; it was just too baggy and too long, even when paired with boots.

The skirt before it’s make-over – very baggy.

Over the years I kept moving it back and forth from my cedar closet with the change of seasons, but I had found myself not wearing it, and wishing I could.  So this year, when once again it emerged out of the cedar depths for the trek into my bedroom closet, I made the decision to do something about it.  I would remake it.  I’m not sure what took me so long to come to this decision, but I was certainly inspired by the fringed Pendleton wool dress featured in one of my recent posts:

The winner of this category of the Make It With Wool contest built her outfit around a piece of black fringed Pendleton wool. (Threads, January 2013, page 52)

First I took out the zipper.  Then I picked out the seam connecting the waist facing to the body of the skirt.  I set the lining/skirt facing sections aside and tackled the skirt.

I had to determine the exact length I wanted the skirt to be, and work up from there.  Since it was not just length that needed to be adjusted, but also the all around fit, I knew I needed to use a reliable skirt pattern to re-cut the front and back sections.  I was so happy with the fit of the slim skirt I had just made, that it was an easy decision to go with that again.  I determined the straight grain of the front and back sections and put the muslin sections on top.

The muslin pattern placed on the front and back skirt sections.

Making sure I have the finished hemline placed correctly.

Since this skirt would not be underlined, I had to transfer the new seam and dart lines with chalk directly onto the wool fabric.  I measured again and again to make sure I had the right length (since I certainly could not make adjustments to the fringed end!) Then I cut, sewed darts and side seams.  I put a new zipper in by hand.

The new hand-picked zipper.

Then I was ready to remake the lining.  This was simpler, as I could use the existing waist facing (just taking it in a bit), which was still basically attached to the lining, and work from the top down. I split open the side seams, took them in commensurate to the re-cut skirt front and back, and re-sewed them.  Once the facing was reattached, all I had to do was cut off and re-sew the lining hem, and then  slipstitch the lining around the zipper.

The re-made lining back inside the skirt, label intact.

My new, old skirt.

A back view.

I am so happy with this re-make.  It’s the perfect skirt to pair with a sweater and tights – and that fringe around the hem makes it fun to wear and just a step above the commonplace.

Now it’s back to sewing from “scratch.”

POST SCRIPT:  I’m delighted to say that Cissie is the winner of my first give-away – the very small Little Black Dress.  Cissie – please send your delivery information to  fiftydresses@gmail.com and I’ll get your very small package in the mail right away!


Filed under hand-sewn zippers, Uncategorized, woolens