sewing

Call the Pelisse

I’m reading some classic books right now, because there are so many I’ve never read. I started Pride and Prejudice, loaned it to my mom (who didn’t like it and returned it without finishing it), started Jane Eyre (which she gave to me – no word on how she liked it), so now I have both going. I find it hard to restart a book once I put it down, so I’m going to finish Jane Eyre before going back to Pride and Prejudice.

I know the story of Pride & Prejudice, having seen the Kiera Knightley version of the movie. I love it, though I know, everyone says to watch the Colin Firth version. I’ll get there eventually, but I’m not much of a TV/movie person, except when hubby and I watch our British TV at night. I can’t get him on board with period dramas, so it’ll be a while. But I digress.

I know nothing of Jane Eyre, except that it’s about an orphan. I’m learning so much though. I’m still in the early part of the book. Jane just left for school, and the book mentions that she went to the gatehouse wearing her pelisse. What the heck is that? I had no idea, but now I have a name for the wonderful garment I’ve always seen and loved (including in Pride & Prejudice). Here it is.

Pelisse, circa 1809. Photo: V & A Museum, London.

Basically, it’s a dress that’s like a coat. It was of the Regency era, and was often worn for walking. See some worn here, in the Colin First Pride & Prejudice version.

I have always been in love with these, but never knew what they were called. Now I really want one, but being a fluffy middle aged woman, I doubt it would be very flattering. But I still want one. And though as a fair redhead, I’m not much for blue, I really want one in a powder blue, like the one on the left.

The thing that makes this funny is that I haven’t worn a coat in over three years. I’m SO warm blooded — probably why I hate summer so much — that it’s very unusual to see me wearing anything more than a light jacket, even when it’s freezing outside. I carry a coat in my car in case I get stuck in the winter, but I never, ever wear it. I’m the one you’ll see driving in gloves with no coat, because my hands get cold, but the rest of me doesn’t. But seriously, I want a pelisse, please.

Celebrity, designers, Hollywood

The Red Carpet Conundrum

Anya Taylor-Joy at the Emmys, wearing Dior Couture. Photo Credit: Francis Specker/CBS, Rich Fury/Getty Images

This has been a big week in the US. My husband loves (American) football, and all I’ve been hearing is commentators falling over themselves, happy that the stadiums are full of (COVID and) fans again. Like having stadiums full of thousands of (unmasked) people is a good thing right now. But I digress.

For those of us with finer tastes, we got not only the Met Gala, but also the Emmys red carpet this week, and it was fun to watch. Though the trend of naked dresses has me yawning (ok, you have a nice body, cover it up cause it’s boring), and the trend of yellow (which, as a very fair redhead, is not in my wheelhouse, or a lot of other people’s either), there is a bigger thing that has me thinking. It’s the current fashion conundrum.

Fashion has been taking a big hit in the past few years, for how un-environmentally friendly it is. They are putting out more and more collections to fewer and fewer buyers, and the environment is paying the price with the manufacturing impact, as well as the overall waste. Designers are talking about using renewable sources, and manufacturing with less impact, but these red carpets had me wondering, do they really get it?

Billie Eilish at the Met Gala, in Oscar de la Renta. Photo Credit: ABACA USA/INSTARimages.com, Janet Mayer/Startraksphoto.com, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Take these dresses in point. They are beautiful, of course. Gorgeous, in fact. Though Anya Taylor-Joy’s dress is very minimal, that coat was made with that huge train, just to be dragged along for photos? And Billie Eilish’s dress is gorgeous, but you can see it from space. Add to that that she changed to another beautiful, less over-the-top dress for dinner. Anya literally wore her knickers to the Emmys afterparty. So is all of this really necessary? It’s gorgeous, but this is the kind of thing that makes the criticism rain down on the fashion industry.

I don’t know the answer. I love, love, love to look at all kinds of fashion, but I think if we are going to talk about caring for our planet, we need to walk the walk, not just give it lip service. ::end rant::

Oh, and this week, I found out that my cancer is, indeed, in remission. YAY!

1920s fashion, designers, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Look what I found!

I don’t know if you remember, but I mentioned McCall 4882 in a former post about 1920s designer patterns from McCall. Well, waddya know, I found the Model by Jenny of Paris in my stash! Truthfully, I had the pattern for some time, but thought the envelope was long gone. Look what happens when one actually tidies:

McCall 4882, 1928.

I am so excited, because this is something of a rare find, much less in factory folds AND in a bust size 34 which, for some, is a wearable size. How cool is that?

Jenny of Paris is quoted in 1929 (the year after this pattern was printed) as saying, “I not only believe but actually preach the creed that it is vitally necessary for the modern woman to be as lovely and charming as is possible for her to be, and accordingly I design.” She goes on to say that the suffrage movement took as long as it did because of the way the women dressed, including stiff collars and flat shoes, and then says that chivalry in men also had dropped because of the way women chose to clothe themselves. Miss Jenny took her fashion SERIOUSLY. She says that women in fiction were only admired if they were not dowdy (she obviously didn’t read Pride and Prejudice), and that men will never woo a woman unless she is fashionable.

Jenny said to choose your clothing carefully, regardless of your budget. She favored carefully selected black dresses, and liked velvet trim as an accessory. She strongly disliked the robe de style, first saying women didn’t take the time to choose a frock that favored them, and second, saying basically that she didn’t understand why women would dress in a style from the past when the entire future of fashion was in front of them. She was also not a fan of fads, though she would toss in a trendy item or two like a bustle, in each collection, just to keep people interested.

She mentions that she prefers natural waistlines, though she would drop them occasionally. This jacket is a case in point. Though it doesn’t officially have a dropped waist, it gives the illusion of one with the lower placement of buttons and belt. The jacket itself really has no waistline, as the silhouette is straight. Miss Jenny knew how to design something that was on trend, without compromising her ideals.

Side note, I just finished Season One of Making the Cut on Amazon Prime. I have mixed feelings about it. I find Heidi Klum to be insufferably narcissistic, and actually have to fast forward the little Heidi and Tim segments — I love Tim Gunn, but Heidi is such an attention hound I just cannot. Plus, I would much rather see the design process or even the business side of things instead of seeing Heidi dance half naked at the Moulin Rouge, or fence with Tim. The insights the designers give to how the fashion business works is really interesting, and of course the fashion is wonderful. Miss Jenny’s idea of designing on trend without losing herself and loving black reminded me of Esther on MtC. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Esther, without a doubt, was a FAR superior designer to Jonny, but I think that the judges probably chose the right winner, since she was unlikely to veer from her black color palette. Jonny, however, should’ve been booted at least a couple of episodes prior, since he couldn’t finish without help from other designers, but the judges didn’t see that. I must say too that the judges should have listened to Naomi, as she gave the best insights, and was obviously frustrated by Heidi running over her all the time. I would’ve been surprised if she had come back for season 2, but I miss her. She was a good judge. And for those who think that the judges were rough on the designers: these were not rookie designers. All of these people had their own lines coming in. They know the business is tough. I think the judges were just being truthful and direct, though I could do without the “have you changed your mind” schtick from Heidi. UGH. I really don’t like her. And I hate myself for starting Season 2, but that’s life. I just love fashion.

Now available in the Etsy shop.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Surprising

Simplicity 1170, 1944.

I added this beautiful pattern to the website this morning. I find it interesting, because it came out in 1944, in the height of World War 2. The war changed fashion quite a bit, because the war effort even affected fabric. Though the US didn’t strictly ration fabric as Europe did, the recommendations in the US were to try to limit textile useage for fashion by 15%. This meant that hemlines went up, and fripperies were very limited: you saw very extras like ruffles, lace, pockets, and the like.

It is amazing to look at war era fashion and see what inventiveness comes out when you are limited in what you use. Perhaps the war years were a pre-Project-Runway reality challenge, to figure out how to create style out of limited means, or by upcycling old clothes. Remember, these were people who had lived through the Depression years, having to scrape by, so they knew how to pinch a penny. But this pretty pattern just surprises me in its timing. Having lived through so much conservation mindset is part of what set people off when Dior came up with his “New Look” in the late 40s, because it required voluminous amounts of fabric, compared to what had been seen in the war years. The culture shock shocked people, and they picketed in protest about what was seen as a perceived waste of fabric.

This look coming from 1944 surprised me. Had it been 1948 or 1949, it wouldn’t surprise me, as I think women really came out of the war wanting to look feminine. But 1944? Surprising. There are not only pockets that aren’t really necessary, but there are ruffles everywhere. It’s gorgeous, but surprising in its timing during a period of minimalism. Perhaps it was seen as a protest against the guidelines. Perhaps women just wanted to feel pretty with everything they were going through. The result is gorgeous, but again, sometimes it’s just the timing that makes me wonder what is going on.

sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

A Tidbit

Whenever I go to visit my mom, I come home with things. LOTS of things. Lots of random things. I generally toss them into my back seat and then clean out the car when it piles up too high. I’ve been sent home with grapes, potatoes, chicken nuggets, random magazines, bills, family pictures, funeral arrangements, books, love letters — you name it.

Last week when I was visiting, she sent me home with a Reader’s Digest. I grew up reading it. I think it probably helped me learn to read. I liked reading “Drama in Real Life” and “This is Joe’s (insert body part).” The jokes were fun, and I liked challenging myself with the monthly vocabulary test. All of those elements are still there, with the exception of Joe, whose (insert body part) probably gave up long ago.

I was reading through it and came across the vocabulary test. This month, the theme was names, so the words were ones like “Jimmy” and “Sally.” I did not, however, expect this.

My husband grew up attending Pilgrim Congregational Church in Cleveland, a beautiful church with a domed stained glass ceiling created by Tiffany himself. Of course, I went with A. I mean, we have a Tiffany lamp. I also have my grandparents’ Tiffany coffee set, but that wasn’t a choice. A it was.

I was wrong. Look:

What the heck? I’ve never heard of a Tiffany fabric. It’s in Merriam Webster’s dictionary, so it must be true, but I have never seen the term before. There are lots of fabrics and stores named Tiffany, but it’s just a name of the store or the actual product, not a descriptor of the actual fabric itself. I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes open. Let me know if you come across it. I’m off to clean out my car.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion, Vintage Kids

McCall Bazar and a Sack Apron

McCall Bazar 8198, circa 1904.

I came across this amazing early 1900s pattern in my stash and, as usual, I had questions. This was, I believe, the first time I remember seeing the McCall Bazar name. I did a little research and found that they advertised that McCall Bazar patterns were available since 1870, but I don’t think that the Bazar was actually in the name until about October 1902. That is at least when the name started showing up in ads. That being said, there is a blurb in a 1900 ad for the McCall Bazar Dressmaker magazine, which was essentially McCall’s monthly catalog, so I guess it’s probable that the Bazar name was included at least by that time.

The ad in 1902, however, said that the McCall Bazar line was new, and started with number 6414m so it’s a bit of a mystery. I’m going to have to start paying more attention to my early McCall patterns. Don’t kid yourself, it’s very unusual for me to come across one this old in the stash. Research shows that the Bazar named disappeared from ads in 1914, so that gives a rough idea of what time period these patterns were designated as such.

Meantime, how’s about this wonderful sack apron pattern? Sack aprons were designed to be worn over one’s dress, so that a lady could do the washing up, then take her apron off and still have a fresh dress in which to entertain. They also made sack aprons for little girls, so that they didn’t muss their dresses whilst playing. The girls’ aprons were a French trend brought to the US, but I think that the women’s sack aprons were around earlier. It was a great way to avoid wear on clothing that was expensive to make, both in time and money, and to cut down on laundry.

What do you think? I wouldn’t be able to stand wearing it, as I have zero tolerance for heat, but I think it was a great idea. You can take a look at the pattern in my Etsy shop.

sewing

The Big Guy vs. The Little Guy

I came across a 1919 newspaper article, talking about a case brought against some of the pattern companies, and found it interesting. The Federal Trade Commission apparently took issue with Butterick, Pictorial Review, and Standard Fashion Company, for the way that they marketed to stores who carried their patterns.

Apparently, Butterick insisted that the 20,000 stores that they contracted with would not alter the sale price set by Butterick, and that they would only carry Butterick patterns, which excluded the smaller companies completely. Likewise, Pictorial Review was sued because they said that they would only buy back out of date patterns if the suggested retail price was followed, and that the shops didn’t carry other patterns. No mention is made of why Standard Fashion Company was included in the complaint, but one would surmise that it likely was something similar.

The problem with not allowing shopkeepers to set their own prices and sell other pattern lines was that it kept so many other companies from selling to a large amount of the dry goods stores out there, and greatly affected competition. The companies refused to do business with owners who would not enter into these contracts.

Ultimately, the Federal Publishing Company, New Idea Pattern Company, and Designer Publishing Company were added to the complaint. Butterick owned a controlling amount of stock in Standard Fashion Company, New Idea and the Federal Publishing Company. In the end, the FTC dismissed the complaint without prejudice, reserving judgement to revisit it later on.

It’s an interesting insight into how the competition in pattern companies was. One has to wonder if this is why New Idea and Standard Fashion Company disappeared, as Butterick had the majority of the stock in those companies. Who knew that the sewing business could be so vicious?

Hollywood, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Pump Up the Drama

Simplicity 1866

I, like Cristobol Balenciaga, have a real thing about sleeves. Cool sleeves can really make an outfit. I love bell sleeves, batwing sleeves, Juliet sleeves, you name it. So when I saw this super cute 40s suit, I may have squealed a little bit. Look at those cuffs! They are just amazing. I’m imagining them in velvet, for an even more dramatic contrast.

But see the difference those cuffs make? I mean, it is a really, really nice suit. The details of princess seams and double breasted top are something you just wouldn’t see today, but those cuffs push the drama up considerably. It’s not necessarily something you’d see in a film noir, because you wouldn’t see the cuffs on camera (more on that another day), but they are definitely a look that is memorable.

What do you think? Do you love them, or would you prefer to stay away from all the buttons? Let me know. The pattern is available in the Etsy shop.

Celebrity, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

I Don’t Know What It Is, But I Love It

OK, so these aren’t as vintage as usual, but hey, it’s my blog and these are so amazing. I have NO idea what you’d call this style of pants, and I couldn’t even wear them (I see you, hips), but it reminds me so much of something Wendy or Lisa would wear when they were performing with Prince that they really caught my eye.

I mean seriously, what are they? It’s like jodphurs had a baby with the 80s and there you are. It’s all in the details here, and I really don’t know if anyone could actually wear them — perhaps they are just for models, but I can’t stop looking at them, and I wish I could sew well enough to make them, because I’d like to see them in person.

Lots of run on sentences today, but I’ve had too much caffeine so that’s probably where the problem is. What do you think? They’re for sale in the Etsy shop.

designers, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

So confused…….

Vogue 2104, 1969.

It’s been business as usual around here lately, which means crazy all the time. I’m down to watching the grandbabies only one day a week so I’ve been working more diligently at home. I seem to be permanently stuck here, which isn’t a bad thing for a homebody, but it’d be nice to get out a little bit for a movie once in a while. Problem is that although I got the COVID vaccine, I didn’t develop any antibodies because my cancer treatment has zapped my immune system, so that vaccines won’t work. Since I live in “I-Refuse-To-Wear-a-Mask-ville” Indiana, I am stuck until we get to herd immunity, which I figure will be roughly 2031. So here I am.

We’ve been watching Midsomer Murders, and when we are done, I have no idea what we will go to. If you have any suggestions from Britbox or Acorn, let me know, as we pretty much only watch British or Scottish television around here. We seem to be stuck on crime shows, though we’ve interspersed with Monarch of the Glen some time back and a random sitcom here and there.

So while I was listing new things in the shop, I came across this perplexing model by Valentino. I actually love the dress, though I rarely go sleeveless (meds make this fair redhead even more susceptible to the sun, and I will burn). So why is it that the sleeveless model is paired with a hat that is perfect for a winter in Siberia, and why is the long sleeved version paired with what looks like a cowboy hat? Are we being punked? Was someone having fun? Am I the only one to notice? Surely they didn’t expect that we wouldn’t see the accessories, even though the dress is amazing, right? Please, someone, help me to understand this.

Click here to purchase.