The Blue Gardenia

My closet: Pink Martini, Aspen and a 1950s Vogue pattern. July 15, 2013 06:41 1 Comment

Pink Martini in Aspen Saturday a week ago (that's Storm Large, the girl singer, above), and I wore Vogue Special Design 4515. I confess: I did not make this. I had Leslie, my sewing teacher, whip it up, though she would most assuredly quibble with my descriptive verb "whip."

Pink_martini_vogueI have the pattern, but in Bust 36, so I started looking elsewhere for one in Bust 34. Found it on Ebay in condition descibed as good. Alas, foxing was so severe it was impossible for Leslie to locate notches as they had been lost to history. (This is why I refuse to use words describing condition on The Blue Gardenia. One person's "good" is another person's "horrid.")

Anyway, Leslie thought the pattern was very poorly drafted, and she should know: she reviews patterns for Threads magazine. She'll be reviewing this for the blog very soon under Gardenia Garments. 

I'll share some pics with you, taken after the show, so the dress is wrinkled. Sorry. Better pics to come with the review.


The dress is made of silk shantung. I like it. Leslie wants to perfect the fit a bit more. She made MAJOR changes to the design to make it work. Bravo, Les. Here's the back: Pink_martini_back

If you've made this pattern, what was your experience? 

And sew to dress: Elle of It's a Sewing Life September 22, 2012 02:00 3 Comments


Congratulations are in order for Elle of the wonderful blog It's a Sewing Life. She's got a brand-spankin' new job in a bridal salon. She started Elle-bg the 16th, and I can't wait to read her post about her experiences. She can only wear black in her new position, and I'd like to recommend this gorgeous Hannah Troy dress pattern from 1960. I think it would be smashing on Elle. I see her in the pencil skirt style, peering down just a wee bit imperiously as she steers her clients to just the right gown. 

And yes, most appreciated readers, this outstanding 1960s design, McCall's 5592, is available at The Blue Gardenia,  where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And we happily ship abroad  — Global Priority or Global Express, your choice  — for a fee, generally even less than the USPS charges us. Are we wonderful, fabulous, divine?  Well, yes. Yes, we are. And we'll say so ourselves. We most certainly will.)

Of course, I hope Elle snaps this up first. She is, after all, wearing Vogue Paris Original 2692 designed by Molyneux in the photo, and she purchased it at The Blue Gardenia. Doesn't she look as if she stepped right off a glossy page in it? She does. Indeed. Elle, may I twist your arm so that you'll star in another Gardenia Garments? Or perhaps pretty please with fresh organic Brown Turkey figs on top would work better?

Gardenia Garments: This Spadea designer coat is runway ready. July 3, 2012 13:57 1 Comment

I've always wondered how Spadea patterns make up. And now I know: Well. Very well indeed. Shirley generously shared her experience about Spadea N-1162, a Monte Sano and Pruzan design from 1962.

Description: This was originally a single-breasted coat with a buttoned belt draping across the back of the garment and three-quarter length Spadea_N_1162_monteSano sleeves. I fell in love with the beautiful collar.

Sizing: Generous. My pattern was a Medium (36 1/2 bust, 37 1/2 hip) but would fit up to at least a size larger.

Does the finished garment look like the pattern illustration?

No, because of the generous proportions, I made it double breasted and tied the belt across the front instead of buttoned at the back, but the belt could still be taken across the back by overlapping it more and using two buttons.

Did you find the instructions easy to follow?

Comparatively, they are very detailed instructions.

Was there anything you especially loved or hated about the pattern?

Loved the collar.

What fabric did you use?

I used a gabardine-weight fabric from my stash, because this was initially a trial run.

Did you make any alterations or changes?

Yes: Lengthened the sleeves with a false cuff to bracelet length. Shortened above the waist by 1 1/8," and likewise raised the belt by the same because I wanted it nearer the actual waist line.

Lengthened the belt by 2 ½" each side to enable me to tie it across the front of the coat.

Would you make another one or recommend this pattern?

Yes to both, next time in a winter weight wool fabric when I wouldn't feel the need to make it double-breasted, because it would hang differently in a heavier fabric.

Have you worn it yet? If so, is it comfortable? Dazzling? Any compliments?

It is a comfortable coat to wear, and I have worn it on three occasions so far and received three unsolicited compliments: "gorgeous," "love that coat", "where can I buy one?"

Any final words?

Depending on the fabric, I would probably reinforce the underarm seams when making it again.

I love this coat. I do. And if you'd like your very own, I am delighted to say you can buy this pattern at The Blue Gardenia.

The details: Spadea N-1162 Coat Designed by Monte Sano and Pruzan Bust 33-34 Still in factory folds Copyright 1962 $45


Gardenia Garments: Isn't Ellen fetching in '50s Butterick 8628? June 27, 2012 09:44 4 Comments

Ellen of It's a Sewing Life — one of the first sewing blogs I read and one that I continue to follow — is the absolute first in my brand-spankin' new series, Gardenia Garments. (Yep, I agree. Totally. Completely. Alliteration is cheap. Alliteration is easy. And I'm above it, but, still, there it is.)

Description:  Flaring dress with softly draped cowl neck and center pleat in front of skirt. (A) Short-sleeved version. (B) Sleeveless version with shoulder bows.

Sizing: Bust 36, Size 16.

Butterick8628-835Does the finished garment look like the pattern illustration?


Did you find the instructions easy to follow?

Yes. I did have a bit of trouble understanding the construction of the shoulder with the pleats, and ended up just gathering the shoulder seam in the front and constructing it my own way.  Favorite instruction line: “Zipper. Follow instructions given with zipper.”

Was there anything you especially loved or hated about the pattern?

I loved how easy it is. Other favorite elements are the double darts and the center front pleat.

What fabric did you use?

An Anna Maria Horner cotton voile purchased at It appears to no longer be available there.

Did you make any alterations or changes?

After making my usual alteration of adding width at the waistline (no 1950s wasp waist here), I made a muslin of the bodice, and discovered that while it fit well, unlike some modern cowl necklines that are very low cut and drapey, this one needed a bit more drape. I made up my own method of widening, by using a sort of slash and spread method on the neckline. This, of course, messed with the armholes and the pleats on the shoulders that I was already having trouble with, so I eliminated the pleats and just gathered the shoulders. I also eliminated the shoulder bows. I didn’t make any changes to the waistline of the skirt since it was already so full and gathered, and I felt like that fullness would easily compensate for my wider waistline needs.

I also used an invisible zipper because I had one handy, but I think the next time (if there is a next time) I would use a regular zipper with a lapped insertion technique.

The only other alteration was shortening the length of the skirt. The original seamstress had already shortened it, and I cut off another couple of inches.

Would you make another one or recommend this pattern?

I might make this again, though there are lots more things ahead of it in the queue. I would definitely recommend it, as it is as “quick ‘n easy” as advertised on the envelope.

Any final words?

This is going to be a favorite summer dress. The cotton voile sews up like a dream and has a lovely silky feel and drapiness, with the added bonus of being cool. I did wear a cotton slip because it’s slightly sheer. If you want to go for authentic  '50s pouf, a crinoline would be lovely. I’m just not a pouffy kind of girl. The bodice front is cut on the bias, and the double darts make the front surprisingly flattering. The other extremely flattering element is the center front pleat, especially if you don’t like extra poof and gathering over the belly.

I also wanted to mention that I did make a belt to go with this dress, but I did not use the pattern piece or the instructions, but rather a belt making kit from A Fashionable Stitch.

So, dearest readers, on your feet. Ellen deserves a standing ovation for being the first. Ellen, I thank you. And I love the dress. Pretty fabric, too. Perfect for those hot Atlanta summers. And the color is perfect. We love blue!

And, please, if you've made a garment from a pattern you purchased at The Blue Gardenia, email me. This instant. I want to feature you in Gardenia Garments. (Yes, I scowled as I typed the series name. Perhaps I will think of a better one! It could happen. It could.)