The Blue Gardenia

Now's the time to sew that sleek, chic Valentine's Day number. January 5, 2013 07:09

Prominent_designer_dress
Valentine's Day seems so far away. But. She's got a very busy January and February. Business trips to New York, San Francisco and Brazil. So. If she is going to make a special dress for her special date with her very special someone, now is the time to start. It can't be just any dress. Her requirements: irresistibly sexy, extremely original, sinfully '60s. And Prominent Designer M406, designed by Wilson Folmar, meets each and every one of her musts. She'll find a strawberry ice cream pink silk satin. Red for V-Day is such a cliche.

And is there any better time to shop than this moment, during the sale at The Blue Gardenia? Of course not. She's going to let her elegant Lotus Rouge-tipped fingers glide there right now.

Sale details: 

Spend $50 - $99, get 15% off. 
Spend $100 - $249, get 35% off. 
Spend $250 - $399, get 40% off. 
Spend $400 or more, get 45% off.

Is that a deal or what? The limits are all before the discount, which means if you spend, for instance, $250, then your tally will only be be $150. 

Sale ends at midnight PST January 7, 2013. So hurry, scurry! All payments must be received by January 11, 2013.



And sew to dress: Debi of My Happy Sewing Place January 2, 2013 07:38

Happy_sewing_place
Oh, how I love this feature. Pretending I am stylist to the sewing blogger stars. Today, I shall focus on Debi of My Happy Sewing Place. She is a Debi_fry major fan of vintage McCall patterns (as am I). And I think she would look swell in McCall 4583. It's from 1943. It's so versatile: smart jacket, Hepburn slacks, sassy shorts, classic shirt, comfy vest — perfect for walks around Edinburgh. (Well, it's a little chilly for the shorts, but she could wear them on a visit to warmer climes.) Don't you love it? I do. Indeed.

By the way, she's having a sale at her Etsy shop, Weaving Destination. Just use this code: Happy 2013. That entitles you to 10% off. Yippee! And you'll not only be saving, you'll be doing good. How's that for a way to get the new year off to a great start?

Speaking of sales, don't forget The Blue Gardenia's end-of-year sale. For details, click here.


Channelling Catherine: How to highlight those hips in plaid. December 6, 2012 15:29

Deneuve_pants_ruffleshirt
Marc_jacobs_plaidPants that fit perfectly:

Desirable.

Spider mums: Spikey.

Marc Jacobs plaid at Mood: Yummy.

Vogue's Basic Design 2172 at The Blue Gardenia: Classic.

VBD 2172


Serenity now: It's "me" time. You deserve it. December 2, 2012 09:08

VAD_1027_caftan
Well. She has done her duty today. Church. The minister delivered a lovely, uplifting message. Lunch with a dear elderly friend from church. Mopped the floors. Unloaded the dishwasher. 

And, now, to use that trendy phrase, it's her "me" time. She's put on her gorgeous caftan — she made it last weekend from a pattern she purchased at The Blue GardeniaVogue American Designer 1027, designed by Oscar de la Renta. She's made a cup of hot chocolate — and, no, she did not spare the marshmallows. And now she's headed to her favorite wingback chair and she's going to get cozy and read Die a Little by Megan Abbott. She's read it twice before, but it is a fave. Obviously.

Ahhhh. Bliss. Indeed.

And yes, my lovelies, this gorgeous pattern can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And, yes, we happily ship abroad for a fee — just what the post office charges, in fact.) So rush on over. Do. Snap this one up. Don't delay.


We've added a plethora of vintage patterns. Wanna see? November 30, 2012 06:33

8482_red_suit
We know you're exhausted, buying all those snazzy presents for friends. So. We have added glamorous new patterns at The Blue Gardenia. Because. You deserve a treat just for you. A few favorites:

1930s_mccall_8130
1935 McCall 8130 — She loves the neckline. So unusual. She loves the shirring. So flattering. In fact, she loves this frock. Period. End of story. She must have it. After all, it is truly multipurpose: She can wear the short sleeve version for church on Sunday. How fetching it will be with the big-brimmed, rose-trimmed Lilly Dache she bought last year and still hasn't worn, except to prance in front of the mirror. And the long-sleeve version will make a lovely New year's frock. Perhaps with a silk organdy collar in peach and the body in navy silk charmeuse. Goosebumps. She feels them at just the thought.

1940s_simplicity_1306
1945 Simplicity 1306 — Angeline has been looking for the perfect ensemble for Christmas shopping. She always shops late. She always shops small businesses, either in Tacoma or online. Online, of course, a snuggly chenille robe will do. But among the excited shoppers at the shops, she likes to look smart. But she must also be comfortable. And Simplicity 1306 is exactly what she's searching for — wide-shouldered weskit, pleated pants. It will look great over that 1980s Anne Klein cashmere sweater she snatched elatedly at the vintage store last week. She knows what she'll be doing this weekend, and it has to do with fabric, scissors and a sewing machine. Yes indeed.

1950s_vogue_84861955 Vogue 8486 — She needs a new suit for that all-important, long-awaited job interview in January. And she has found a pattern that says it all: Serious. Fashionable. Smart. Independent. And it is so memorable, with the boxy jacket and radiating tucks. Perhaps she'll make it in alpaca. Yes, alpaca. She'll find some. Somewhere.

Cavanagh_1687
1960s Vogue Couturier Design 1687 — Elouise has been fretting. Nervous. This is her first New Year's Eve with Joshua, the man of her dreams. And she does mean dreams. Not nightmares. He's kind. Well-mannered. Dignified. Respectful. And he is the sharpest Crayon in the box. And she's talking about the box of 400! She's found the perfect dress to wear to the bash at his parents' swankienda: VCD 1687, designed by John Cavanagh.

And, yep, these fabulous patterns — as well as many other new vintage additions —  are available at The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling and domestic shipping is free. (We happily ship abroad, for less than the cost USPS charges us.) And do recall: We put new patterns at the start of each category. Enjoy!


We're doin' it. We are. A Cyber Monday sale! November 26, 2012 04:42

New_years_eve
Normally we like to sashay to the beat of our own drummer. But we decided this year to offer a Cyber Monday deal. Spend $50 bucks — or more — and get 20% off your total order. But shop fast — the deal ends at midnight PST. This is good for gift certificates, too. Joyful shopping, readers!

And may we suggest Butterick 6819? Perfect for dancing and canoodling with that special someone on New Year's Eve.

And, of course, this elegant pattern can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. But you knew all that, didn't you? Of course you did. (And, yes, we do ship abroad. Absolutely. With enthusiasm. Shipping fees do apply.) 


Hard, fast and fashionable: Bare midriff, PJs, petals in her hair. November 17, 2012 08:47 2 Comments

Ida_lupino_pjs
This is one of my favorite Ida Lupino images. I came across it years ago at an estate sale in Houston, Texas. Naturally, I was looking for patterns or sparkly rhinestone beauties, but what I found were several images torn from magazines and pleated crepe scarfs in every color imaginable.

I left the scarfs and bought the pictures and a 1970s harvest gold ottoman, which I had reupholstered in a lovely green and black Maharam print. A fabric worthy of gardenias and glam jams. Very Odalisque in clothes, you might say.

Simplicity_1230_1944The house was beautiful — one of those lovely and large and vaguely Craftsman style homes in Montrose, not far from our home. The woman who owned these things had obviously had quite an eye for fashion and all things beautiful. There were, alas, no pictures of her, nor any sign of a man or companion. She had one sewing pattern — a Butterick from the 1950s. I was so curious about her story. Did she lead a glamorous and love-filled life? Did she party at the legendary Shamrock Hilton and dance the nights away in carefree abandon? I hope so.

If you'd like to emulate this Lupino look, I suggest Simplicity 1230, View 2, in rayon crepe. I've had this pattern made up twice, once in a lime Gray_crepe_lupino linen, once in teal linen. Very sexy, very comfy. And this crepe from Gorgeous Fabrics has 1940s flair

If you'd like to recline in these pajamas with a flower in your hair, you can find this pattern at The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (We happily ship abroad, of course, although there is a fee, less than the postal service charges us. You may choose Global Priority or Global Express. We love them both. We do.) And we take American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Paypal and Visa. Isn't that fabulous? Ever so.


So many swell dresses. So many places to wear them. Yes indeed. November 4, 2012 23:34

Vogue_5704_mad_men
Dearest Gardenias, it's that time again. Time to enjoy The Blue Gardenia's latest additions. This update, you'll find everything from a hip-stiffened skirt perfect for Dior's New Look to a gorgeous housecoat that will look perfect beside the tree on Christmas morn. Do let me share a few of my favorites among the many additions:

Have a holiday gala coming up? Then why not whip up Vogue 5704? It's strapless, it's chic, and there's a fabulous back-buttoned jacket you can don if the wind blows chill. You can even do a sexy lace version.

1940s_vogue_8969
If you're looking for a drapey day dress that can go straight from the office to an elegant dinner, I suggest 1940s Vogue 8969. It has draping. It has shirring. Can you ask for anything more? Well, that winning lottery ticket. Of course.

1951_vogue_7509
If you are a fan of the New Look — and who isn't? —  look no further than Vogue 7509, copyright 1951. While this skirt doesn't have padding, it does use hair canvas to make the most of the silhouette. Love it. Hope you do, too.

1940s_Butterick_5375
And Butterick 5375, while labeled a housecoat — and what a beautiful housecoat it will make — can go well beyond such intimate duties. It will also make a smashing dress. It will indeed. And did I mention it is Quick and Easy? So says Butterick, and you know they would never pull your leg.

And, you guessed it, dahlings, each and every one of these delightful styles can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And, yes, we happily ship abroad for a fee — just what the post office charges, in fact.) Come see all the additions. You'll find them at the beginning of each category. Don't tarry, though. You don't want them to get away.



Just sewing along: Ogle the details on a '50s Gertie-style coat! October 24, 2012 08:40

Lesliecoat1
I know. The details don't show up well in this picture. Black! The bane of neophyte snappers. This is my ace sewing teach Leslie, wearing a coat that was a gift from her mom-in-law. (Now, that's a mother-in-law who deserves a very nice and pricey lunch, doncha think?) Very similar to Gertie's sew-along coat. (Although I do prefer Gertie's cuffless sleeves.)

Leslie_coat
This close-up shot may show some of the neat detailing along the hem. Piping! So classy, so elegant, so unusual. Really sets this design apart.

Leslie, by the way, will be teaching a holiday cocktail party dress class Gertie_dress_pat at Nob Hill Fabrics, so if you live in the ABQ-Santa Fe area, do sign up. Details here. You may choose Gertie's sexy design, Butterick 5814. Love this dress. I, of course, am using a real vintage pattern. Surprised? I know you are! I'll share that pattern with you later, natch. One day, though, I'll tackle this Gertie design. It is the cat's. Totally.

 


You're going leaf-peeping. What will you wear? October 20, 2012 05:25

Betsey_johnson_pattern
Ahhh . . . a perfect day. The weather is fine. Cool not cold. Sunny. And you, my lass, are going leaf-peeping. A lot of sitting in the car. A lot of oooohing and aaaahing over the magnificent fall colors: sienna, umber, gold. Then dinner in Santa Fe. What, you ask, as you paw through your closet, what to wear that is comfortable, yet smart enough for a very nice restaurant? You pause at your beautiful, sassy Betsey Johnson suit, made last year, but still a favorite: Butterick 3292 from the 1970s. The jacket with its flattering princess lines; the pants with their wide-legged magnificence. This is it! And it's made of a wool knit in the color of the New Mexico sky, so you won't have to fret over wrinkles. 

The skinny: Butterick 3292 Skirt, Jacket and Slacks Designed by Betsey Johnson Bust 36 Complete Circa 1970s $50.

And, of course, this versatile pattern can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. But you knew all that, didn't you? Of course you did. (And, yes, we do ship abroad. Absolutely. With enthusiasm. Shipping fees do apply.) 


You choose: Channel Carole, Katherine or Catherine. And more. October 8, 2012 16:04

Vogue_5658_1940s
And here we go again — another mahvelous update. Just for you. So many patterns. So many fantastic styles. A few you may especially like (I know I do):

I'm a total pushover for blouses. Especially those with unusual lines and attitude from the 1940s. And Vogue 5658 is just that sort of blouse. Great shoulders. Elegant gathers. This top will definitely make your ensemble. Kate_hepburn_desk_set
A fan of Katherine Hepburn? Then you'll want Spadea N-1149. Charles LecMaire designed it just for her to wear in Desk Set.

1930s_butterick_pajamas
Feeling more Russian princess? More Carole Lombard in To Have and Have Not? Then don't even try to resist Butterick 5410 from the 1930s. You can wear it out. Or you can wear it at home for his or her eyes only.

Simplicity_2326_1930s
And for a perfectly bee-yoo-tee-ful day dress, I suggest Simplicity 2326. Two views, both ladylike and sexy. That's one gorgeous bodice!

Vpo_1690_ysl
And one of my favorite YSL's — so Deneuve — whip up Vogue Paris Original 1690 from the 1960s. I love it. Don't you? Say yes. That is the correct answer.

These beauties are just a fraction of the newest additions at The Blue Gardenia. You'll want to check out each and every one. And the newest patterns are always at the beginning of each category. Because we want to make it easier for you to find them, natch.

And, of course, any — or all — of these lovelies can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. But you knew all that, didn't you? Of course you did. (And, yes, we do ship abroad. Absolutely. With enthusiasm. Shipping fees do apply.) 




Button up this overcoat when the wind blows free . . . October 1, 2012 08:59

Vogue_7142_1950sYou went out Saturday. It was brisk. You wore your old jacket. It's pretty. Of course. After all, you chose it. And you have good taste. But you were — you are — a little bored with it. And you've been so good. So frugal. So hard-working. You deserve a treat. You do. Absolutely.

So. You are going to  treat yourself to a new jacket for those inbetweeny evenings. When it's too warm for a coat. Too chilly for a sweater. You've chosen Vogue 7142, copyright 1950. Two different looks, and you may just make them both. Why not?

Retro_velvetPerhaps the blue and green retro velvet at Mood? It's $18 per yard, and it will be so versatile with your wardrobe - chock full of seafoams and celadons and whatnot shades of blue and green and taupe. That will be your first version. You'll need to do a bit more shopping  (oh, woe!) before selecting fabrics for the two-tone style.

And yes, sweeties, this wonderful pattern can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And, yes, we happily ship abroad for a fee — just what the post office charges, in fact.) So rush on over. Do. Snap this one up. Don't tarry.


Star-spangled style: Ms. Lake owns the sexy shirtdress. Totally. September 23, 2012 08:58 1 Comment

Veronica_lake_shirtdress
It's simple. It's sexy. And it's oh-so-comfortable. The shirtdress. It can go to the office. The grocery store. The elegant bistro with starched white tablecloths and ivories that tinkle. What could be better? And who wears this style with more panache than Veronica Lake?

Mccall_5453_lake_1940s
Lipstick_crepeThis is an easy look to emulate — the fashion — of course. You might, however, have to don a wig to get the golden waves that cascade with perfection.

You might choose McCall 5453 to make your frock. (Details, if you please: McCall 5453 Dress Bust 34 Complete except for easily duplicated belt Copyright 1943 $26) This pattern has a few extra style riffs that put this right over the moon. Totally. Completely.

And for your fabric, may I suggest the lipstick wool crepe at Mood Fabrics? A mere $14 per yard, 57" wide and made in Italy. (I love that Mood sources the country of origin.)

Lake_shoeAnd for the well shod foot, my choice is this spike-embellished Lola Cruz platform pump. Worthy of swooning. It is. You can find it at Amazon, on sale half-price. Isn't that a kick?

So. I've done the tough homework for you. The sweating. The crying. The click-click-clicking. My fingertips are bleeding. But. You're so worth it. You are. All you have to do, my pretty, stylish ones,  is follow the links and you'll be one fashionable 1940s babe, referencing none other than noir vixen Veronica Lake. Oh, yeah, and you'll have to do a little sewing. But. Think of the pride you'll have in your finished product. You'll be all aglow with pride. Absolutely.

And, yes indeedy. This pattern can be yours at The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (We ship abroad as well, happily. And we charge less for shipping than the postal service charges us. Isn't that delightful? We think so.)



And sew to dress: Elle of It's a Sewing Life September 22, 2012 01:00 3 Comments

Hannah_troy_elle

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?


Learning to sew: I built this. With help, of course. September 21, 2012 00:35 3 Comments

Weltpocket

I've been taking a sewing class for four weeks at a fabric store (independently owned, natch) a few blocks from our ever so humble abode. It's a small class (two students, so there's plenty of time for personal attention) at Nob Hill Fabrics, taught by Leslie, sewing teacher extraordinaire. I love the class. 


We are using Butterick 5687, but adding welt pockets and bound buttonholes. That's my very own welt pocket shown above! I am so excited. Leslie showed us how to do it, and then painstakingly held my hand while I did my own. (There was some ripping involved. Yes indeed.) I am so eager to finish the jacket. Perhaps in two weeks? Maybe even next week? Mmmmm...

Butterickjacket.
I'm so pleased. What do you think? All lavish compliments accepted. And, sigh, criticism as well.


Hard, fast and fashionable: Bare the shoulders. Puff the sleeves. September 18, 2012 23:46

50s_vogue_8356,jpg
Another fashion winner from Ida Lupino. I love bare shoulders. I love puffy sleeves (except on Jerry Seinfeld).

Ida_lupino_shoulderShe looks a bit peeved, doesn't she? I love a passionate woman. Is she in a snit? Is a tantrum just around the corner? 

If you want to emulate this look, Vogue 8356 is a mirror image. Love it. Want it in my size. I do.

The details: Vogue 8356 Dress Bust 32 Complete Copyright 1954 $65

If you can't say no — and I hope you can't — this lovely style can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free.  (And, yes, we do ship abroad. Absolutely. With enthusiasm. Shipping fees do apply.) 


Sew how? Rachel reveals her secrets on recreating runway looks. September 18, 2012 07:11 3 Comments

Pic 7Rachel combines two of my favorite topics in her blog, Shoes and Sewing. For are there any other lighthearted topics closer to our girly-girl hearts than the clothes we make and the shoes we wear with them? I say no. Emphatically.

Rachel kicks her sewing up a notch. Or two. Or three. She is inspired by a look, then she recreates it. I am impressed. Much. Read on to see how she learned to accomplish this enviable feat.

How long have you been sewing?

I have been sewing since October 1999.  I actually learned in high school in Home Ec during the late '80s.  I remember sewing a couple of dresses and a pillow, but I did not do any more sewing after that.  I started back in October 1999 when I began taking a sewing class.

What inspired you to learn?

In 1999, my neighbor was taking a smocking class.  She showed me some of the beautiful children’s clothing that she had made, and I was fascinated.  I began taking the class and learned to smock and sew children’s clothing.  This class was much more than that, though, because my teacher was willing to teach me to sew whatever I wanted.  We met on Thursday nights for about one-and-a-half years, and I learned a lot of basic techniques, but also a lot of heirloom sewing techniques. 

Another inspiration was a dress that an aunt of mine hired someone to make for her.  I remember as a child being so fascinated by that dress and thinking that one day I would love to learn to sew something that pretty.

Did your mother or grandmother sew?

My mother sewed on an old-timey pedal sewing machine.  I am not sure about my grandmother.  I remember one time there was a dress in JCPenney that I wanted, but it was too expensive.  My mother sewed a knockoff of it for me, and it looked just like the catalog picture.  She was very talented.  My mother told me about an aunt of hers who sewed suits for her husband.  He was a preacher, and they were very poor.  They could not afford to buy the suits he needed to preach in, so she would go in a department store and look at the suits.  Then from memory, she would go home, draw out a pattern and make it.  My mother said it looked like it came from the department store.

Tell us a bit more about your learning experience.

I took a class for one-and-a-half years from 1999-2001.  Even though I had taken Home Ec, I could not even remember how to thread the sewing machine the first night I sat down in class.  Once the class ended, I kept up my sewing.  I have taught myself a lot by just reading patterns and following sewing blogs.  I started out with easy patterns and have just gradually over the years tried harder and harder patterns. 

What was the first garment that you made?

The first garment I made was a dress in high school Home Ec. I don’t have a picture of it

Did you wear it?

I did proudly wear it.

Set-1
How long did it take for you to get the basics down?

Well, it depends on what you mean by basics. I could not even sew a straight line when I started taking the sewing class in 1999.  I also did not have any respect for seam allowances.  I just took them as suggestions. When the sewing class ended, and I didn’t have a teacher to look over my shoulder, it forced me to develop confidence.  I just forged ahead and became more and more confident.  I am still learning. 

How long did it take you to feel confident of your dressmaking skills?

I would say I really began to feel confident when I successfully knocked off a garment I had seen in a store.  I don’t have a picture of it, but I will share a few pics of my knockoffs.  Sewing knockoffs is really what motivates and inspires me. I particularly love sewing knockoffs of Anthropologie clothing and other designer clothing.  The hunt for the fabric and pattern is so much fun.

Do you still make things that you simply won't wear?

Yes.  I recently made a pair of pants, and I won’t wear them.  I am horrible at making pants.  Part of the reason, I think, is that I really don’t like making them.  I just love making pretty dresses and skirts much more.

How many hours a week do you sew?

I probably sew about 4-6 hours on the weekends and maybe one hour during the week.  I work full time so I don’t have as much time as I would like.  But, then again, if I didn’t work full time, I couldn’t afford to sew. 

What are your five favorite sewing books?

Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing

Pattern Magic Books

Decorative Dressmaking by Sue Thompson

The Zapp Method of Couture Sewing by Anna Zapp

The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff

Are there any sewing DVDs that you like? If so, which ones?

I really don’t have any sewing DVDs.  However, I would love to get one of those DVDs that have the Threads magazines on them.

If you're a fan of free online tutorials, name five for the beginning sewer, please.

Invisible Zipper Tutorial at Adventures in Dressmaking

How to Make Perfect Scallops

Faux Welt Pockets

Anything by Gertie

Sewaholic (Her sew-alongs are great — I participated in the Lonsdale Dress Sew-Along (First pic, above.)

I love that fabric!! What garment would you suggest that a newbie make first?

I would make a simple wrap skirt.  They don’t have zippers.

Second?

I would tackle another skirt, but this time with a zipper.  You may as well go ahead and get over the zipper fear.

Set-4_blue-coat
What is the favorite of all the garments you have made?

A Tiffany blue coat I made that is knockoff of a coat Anthropologie sold.  Mine was much cheaper that the Anthropologie version.  It required me to draft a flounce and rework a couple of the pattern pieces to insert the flounce.  Drafting is something I prefer not to do.  I would rather put different patterns together to get what I want.  The fact that I was successful at the drafting is part of the reason for it being my favorite.  Also, I think the inspiration for my knockoff is one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing I have ever seen.

Set-5_skirt
What was the first item you sewed that made you beam with pride?

The first item I ever drafted and sewed is what I am proudest of.  Drafting is not my favorite thing, but I decided I just had to have a replica of Anthropologie’s Fluttering Pencil Skirt.  I could not find a pattern like it, so a  wonderful blogger who is excellent at drafting wrote me up a tutorial when I requested help on a sewing message board.  Here are pics below and a link to the tutorial: http://communingwithfabric.blogspot.com/2009/09/self-drafted-anthropologie-skirt.html

Name your five top tips for beginners, please. 

1.   Start with a simple pattern without a zipper.

2.   Don’t be upset with yourself about mistakes.  Right before I sat down to type this, I sewed something together backwards and had to rip out.  You will never quit making mistakes.

3.   Ask for help – the online sewing community is great.

4.   Always, always make a muslin.

5.   Purchase a good basic sewing book. 

Do you have any fitting advice to offer?

Always make a muslin.  I have been sewing long enough and am familiar enough with the Big 4 pattern companies that I have figured out that I really only need to muslin the bodice for myself.  However, when I working with an unfamiliar company, I muslin the whole thing.  It is worth the few extra dollars for some cheap fabric to check for fit, than to cut into your good fabric and your garment not fit.  Been there and done that.

Do you use a dressform?

I have one, but I only use it to model my sewn items for pictures.  I do better by just trying my garments on as I sew them.

What's the last garment that you made? Are you pleased with it?

The last garment I made is a skirt that I have yet to blog about so I don’t have a picture of it.  However, I am very pleased with it.  It is a knockoff of a skirt from Anthropologie. 

Have you sewn with unprinted vintage patterns? If so, please share pointers for newbies who might want to try them.

I am not sure what an unprinted vintage pattern is.  Is it any different than just a vintage pattern?

It has no printing, simply perforations instead of printed markings.

How long does it take to get to the Vogue "Plus Difficile" rated pattern?  (I can dream, can't I?)

It is hard to say, because it all depends on how much you practice your sewing and how consistently you sew.  I would say after you know the basics very well and have a few successes under your belt, just go for it.  I have never been scared enough, so if there is a pattern I want to make, I just plunge right in. 

Share your funniest sewing adventure, please.

The first pair of pants I ever sewed, I sewed the legs together in the middle.  That was quite funny.

And your most exasperating or difficult.

Several years ago, before I started sewing muslins, I was sewing one of my first Anthropologie knockoffs.  I made the dress, tried it on, and it was too large in the chest.  I was so furious that I packed up my sewing machine and promised never to sew again.  In a couple of hours, I decided to make a muslin, tweaked the fit, and then I made the dress.  That was a hard lesson.

Pic 12What's your favorite pattern ever to sew, if you remember?

Vogue 1174. I found the perfect fabric for it and everything came together well.

When I look at the dress, I smile.

I noticed you added straps. Was that a difficult task?

I changed it to have straps because I feel like strapless dresses are about to fall down on me.  I just cut out two strips of fabric, sewed them together, turned them inside out and sewed them on.  It wasn't hard.

V1174-my favorite garment

Do you sew vintage patterns?

I have only made one vintage pattern, V2517, a vintage Diane von Furstenberg pattern.  It Pic 13 is a colorblock dress that I made two years ago before colorblocking was even popular like it is today.  I am currently working on my second vintage pattern.

Do you find instructions easier to follow on vintage patterns?

Not really.  I think they are harder to read. 

How many hours of sewing do you think it takes for the average person to become proficient?

It depends on the person.  I read a lot of sewing blogs, and there are bloggers I follow who are newer seamstresses and are more proficient than I was at their same number of years sewing.  I think if you really want to do something, you can do it.  It just takes practice.

Completely awed? I am. And here's my favorite ensemble Rachel copied:

Set-2

She looks even more amazing in her Chanel jacket than the bold-faced type. I know you agree. So scurry over and read her blog. That is, if you haven't already. And what are the chances of  that?


Do you read the notes dressmakers write on patterns? September 17, 2012 06:46 1 Comment

1930s_evening_gown
One of the many things I have always loved about vintage patterns are notes written by the original dressmaker. Over the years, I've seen many. "My wedding dress," "Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim!" and "Not a good pattern."

And then there is this one. J. Stuckey wrote "Excellent pattern." You can certainly tell she loved this one. And I certainly agree that it is one of the most beautiful 1930s evening gowns I've seen. It's breathtaking. Truly. From the halter neckline to the skirt that flares just so. This even includes the perfect slip pattern to wear with this dress.

What are some of your favorite pattern notes?

Oh, and lest I forget, the details on this one, which is, of course, available at The Blue Gardenia: Butterick 7724 Evening or Dinner Gowns and Slip Bust 34 Complete; skirt trimmed and extensions present $225.

If you can't say no to this tried-and-true glamorous pattern, drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (We happily ship abroad, of course, although there is a fee, less than the postal service charges us. You may choose Global Priority or Global Express. We love them both. We do.) And we take American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Paypal and Visa. Isn't that fabulous? I think so. I do.


Planning your fall wardrobe? May I offer a suggestion or two? September 10, 2012 00:12 1 Comment

1930s_brassiere
Tell me you're in the mood to shop. Do. Because that will make me so very happy. And it make you the best dresssed dame in town. We've just added vintage sewing patterns at The Blue Gardenia — nearly 100! Isn't that exciting? 

A few favorites:

Some nights, you want to sleep in jammies. So comfortable. So warm. So loose. Other nights — well — other nights, you don't. You want something sexy. Spicy. And oh so titillating. Is there anything better than a 1930s brassiere and panties? You want have to worry about an electric blanket to keep you warm. You won't. Because he will do it. Yes. He most certainly will. You won't be able to keep him away. You won't. So. Let Simplicity 7117 bring out the manly man lurking inside him.

Mccall_9878_skatingskirt
For those frigid days skating on the icy pond, you're going to make McCall 9878, copyright 1938. It will swirl most delightfully while you're practicing your triple axle, exposing those cute shorts underneath. So irresistible. 

Simplicity_1716_coat
For days in town, when you want to look your smartest, don Simplicity 1716, copyright 1946. The balloon sleeve version offers plenty of room for cozy sweaters — without discomfort. Don't you hate it when your coat sleeves are too snug? I do. Ugh.

50s_vogue_ballgown
And this year, you want something really special for the Christmas Ball. Really. Truly. Something with that Charles James flair. Something regal. Elegant. Sophisticated. Something that references Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet. And Vogue Couturier Design 824 fits that description. Perfectly. Silk shantung for the dress. Velvet for the bolero. Most definitely. Oh. What an entrance you will make.

One_shoulder_gown
It's going to be such a gala fall. So many parties. You know you'll need another gown. You will. Absolutely. You've been in the mood for something that exposes one shoulder completely. Something that flows. Something that drapes. Gloria Vanderbilt designed just the right gown with Prominent Designer A957. Revealing, but not too. 

You'll find all these patterns — each and every one plus an abundance of fabulous new additions— at The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And we happily ship abroad as well, for less than the USPS charges us. Is that neat or what?)


And sew to dress: Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch August 24, 2012 04:33

Vogue_1746_simonetta

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. That is what I have been doing. Wondering which of my many favorite bloggers I most want to see in this sensational Simonetta dress, Vogue Paris Original 1746. It is so stunning. Absolutely. One of my favorite 1960s designs. And that would be ever. I do not exaggerate.

So. After months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds, I have reached a conclusion: Sunni, she of the scrumptious blog A Fashionable Stitch. Sunni_stitch Pile that luscious, abundant red hair on top of her head, don this sophisticated frock, and she would be as cool, as fetching as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Don't you agree?

And yes, dear ma'ams and sirs, this outstanding 1960s design 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.)


Star-spangled style: Veronica Lake simmers in a slithery gown. August 14, 2012 12:53

Veronica-_Lake_gown
Debate whether Veronica Lake could act. Debate whether she was beautiful. But don't debate her style. It was extraordinary. Always. She could sass up a shirt dress; slink up an evening frock. I particularly love this one.

Simplicity_s602_30sIf you want to smolder like this, may I suggest that you start with Simplicity S602? Leave off the lace, choose a beautiful wool crepe, and you'll be one classy vixen. You'll have to supply your own camera.

Here's the skinny: Simplicity S602 Bias-Skirt Gown Bust 36 Complete Circa 1930s $150

If you'd like to add to your knowledge of this screen lovely, do check out Martin Grams Blog. Most entertaining.

And, of course, this beauty can be yours. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. But you knew all that, didn't you? Of course you did. (And, yes, we do ship abroad. Absolutely. With enthusiasm. Shipping fees do apply.) 




Sew how? She's a sewing fanatic, and I am one dedicated fan. August 13, 2012 00:45 4 Comments

Fanatic_jacketI am so excited about this Sew how? Why, you ask? Because Carolyn's Diary of a Sewing Fanatic is one of the first sewing blogs I discovered, and I am still a loyal reader. Very. I bet you are, too.

So. Pour yourself some lemonade and enjoy the story of how she learned to sew. You are in for a treat.

How long have you been sewing?

Since I was 11. 

What inspired you to learn?

I think my grandmother pushed me more than I was inspired.

Did your mother or grandmother sew?

My grandmother taught me by taking me to Woolworth's (does anyone remember Woolworth’s) to buy a pattern to make clothes for my Barbie dolls. She gave me one of her cast-off dresses for fabric, taught me a few hand stitches, and I was off.

How did you continue learning?

Started with my grandmother and then I took every class I could. When I was younger, there were so many more of them around, besides the ones in school, there was an afterschool club as well as the classes at the Singer stores.

What was the first garment that you made?

A maxi-jumper with suspenders . . . I can still see the green plaid that I used to make it.

Did you wear it?

Of course I did, proudly!

How long did it take for you to get the basics down?

You know, I’ve been sewing almost nonstop for 42 years. I just don’t remember that anymore . . . but I do remember being fearless and sewing anything.

How long did it take you to feel confident of your dressmaking skills?

Right away. I knew I was supposed to sew, that it was my talent almost from the beginning. It’s probably why I never stopped sewing completely.  I had a sewing machine in college in my dorm room and in every home I’ve lived in since.

Do you still make things that you simply won't wear?

I don’t think there is a sewist around who hasn’t made a wadder or two. So of course, I’ve made pieces that I won’t wear.

How many hours a week do you sew?

12-16 hours . . . basically most of my weekend 

What are your five favorite sewing books?

1.  The Vogue/Butterick Step by Step Guide to Sewing Techniques

2.  Any book by Adele Margolis

3.  The Singer Sewing Library (every single book!)

4.  The Taunton Sewing Library (some issues can now be bought on ebook)

5.  Any book by Sandra Betzina

Are there any sewing DVDs that you like? If so, which ones?

I have a few by Nancy Zieman and Sandra Betzina that I would grab in case of fire.

If you're a fan of free online tutorials, name five for the beginning sewer, please.

Can I suggest blogs instead? Gigi Sews; The Sewing Divas; Ann of Gorgeous Things, who now has the video Sewing University and finally YouTube. If you don’t know how to do something, search YouTube. It’s amazing how many videos are there!

What garment would you suggest that a newbie make first?

I highly recommend and use to teach a skirt first. My thought was how could you possibly convince someone that they could make garments by teaching them to make a pillow or a tote bag. And a skirt gives you lessons in applying a zipper, some fitting, interfacing for a waistband, etc. The goal should be to teach techniques that can be carried into the next garment. I truly believe that’s how you hook a newbie.

Second?

Nowadays,  a quick knit t-shirt. There are so many great patterns out there now!

Fanatic_chanel
What is the favorite of all the garments you have made?

My pink Chanel knock-off dress — because I realized that I could cut up a pattern and get a wonderful wearable designer-inspired garment.

What was the first item you sewed that made you beam with pride?

I made a two-tone (black with black/white houndstooth) shirtdress that fit so well, and everyone asked if I’d bought it. I wore the heck out of that dress and sadly have no pictures of it. 

Name your five top tips for beginners, please.

1. Watch the grain when cutting out.

2.  Just do it.

3.  Be fearless.

4.  Learn what silhouettes work for your body type.

5.  Press your seams flat and then open. Pressing is the difference between a good-looking garment or a happy hands made at home one.

Fanatic_lace
What's the last garment that you made and are you pleased with it?

My trendy lace dress, because not only did I make another version of my TNT dress, but I also dyed my own fabric.

Have you sewn with unprinted vintage patterns?

No, I haven’t.

How long does it take to get to the Vogue "Plus Difficile" rated pattern? (I can dream, can't I?)

Honestly, even with the years of sewing experience that I have behind me, I still take a deep breath before using a difficult pattern. And there are some techniques that I avoid like the plague because I haven’t been successful with them. 

Share with me your funniest sewing adventure, please.

I can’t even remember one now . . . see what happens when you’ve been sewing so long? 

And your most exasperating or difficult.

I don’t sew chiffon anymore, because the slippery slitheriness of it drives me to distraction.

Fanatic_TNT
What's your favorite pattern ever to sew?

My TNT dress pattern. It can be whatever I want and it always fits! 

Do you sew vintage patterns?

I’ve sewn a couple. 

Do you find instructions easier to follow on vintage patterns?

I find the instructions to be more complete and hold so much more information in 2 pages than the 4 to 6 pages included in current patterns.

How many hours of sewing do you think it takes for the average person to become proficient?

I think it totally depends on the person and that there is no set formula to it. I do believe that if you keep sewing, there will come a moment when you’re sewing along and you just know what to do. You’ll realize that you’ve arrived at a point you were attempting to reach, and the feeling of euphoria that accompanies that moment propels you forward, giving you courage to attempt things you hadn’t thought of trying before.

If you're a newbie, are you totally inspired to stick with sewing now? I am. And a round of grateful applause for Carolyn. Thank you for sharing!

 

 


Celluloid style: A look Rita Hayworth and Kathleen Turner share. August 11, 2012 07:24 1 Comment

Kathleen_turner
The red pencil skirt. The white blouse. It's a sexy winner in the sartorial sweepstakes for both screen vixens. Rita shimmied in Miss Sadie SadieThompson. As a woman with a shady past, the feminine bit of lace at the collar hinted she was primed for redemption.

Kathleen, on the other hand, as Mattie Walker, smolders in Body Heat. Her skirt is so tight it wrinkles — the better to entice Ned Racine, played by William Hurt, to shatter the glass door to get to her. And lace? No way. This woman is focused on the money. Her tailored shirt is ready for Wall Street.

Mccall_7768_1949I love this look. So much that it is on my sewing plan for fall. I have, after all, proven I can make a skirt and a dress. So. Surely a shirt is not out of my reach. No lace, no frills for me, though. I'll share my pattern choices with you soon. (Must find McCall 7768 in my size. This blouse is perfect.)

An excellent way to wear this look: McCall 7768 from 1949. I adore this blouse. I do. (I need Bust 34 for my own self. You recall my rule: I may only keep patterns that are my size!)

The details: McCall 7768 Blouses Bust 40 Complete Copyright 1949 $37

And, of course, you can choose any pencil skirt you like. I suggest a multipurpose pattern like Simplicity 4046. That way, you get the skirt Body_heat_skirt and a fabulous top and maximize your dollars.

Info: Simplicity 4046 Blouses and Skirt Bust 34 Complete $18

Both of these smart vintage patterns can be yours. Truly. There are even more choices to get this look, and you'll find them all at The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And, yes, we happily ship abroad for a fee — just what the post office charges, in fact.) So drop by. Do. You'll be delighted you did. I know it


That touch of fashion: Doris Day and proper biking attire. August 7, 2012 04:35 1 Comment

Doris_day_diamond_capris
Before Mary Tyler Moore, there was Doris Day. And she filled out a pair of capris like air fills a balloon. With curves. (Not that MTM wasn't as cute as a bug's ear, but, let's face it, how many of us are that tiny?)

If 50s_capris_doris_day you want to emulate this look, may I suggest Simplicity 2075?

The details: Simplicity 2075 Top, Bra Top, Tunic, Shorts and Capris Bust 36 Complete  $33

The tops are very Doris as well. Don't you love 'em? I do. Absolutely.

And yes, this versatile and sexy vintage pattern can be yours. It can. Indeed. Just drop by The Blue Gardenia, where the patterns are counted, the jewelry is sparkling, and domestic shipping is free. (And, yes, we merrily ship abroad for a fee — just what the post office charges, in fact. Usually less.) So drop by. Do. You'll be delighted you did. I promise.

And here are words of wisdom from Ms. Day: You don`t really know a person until you live with him, not just sleep with him. Sex is not enough to sustain marriage. I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-shoes, America`s Virgin, and all that, so I`m afraid it`s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together. The young people have it right. What a tragedy it is for a couple to get married, have a child, and in the process discover they are not suited for one another! If I had lived with Al Jorden for a few weeks, God knows I would never have married him. Nor would I have married George Weidler. But I was too young and too inexperienced to understand any of this. Now my heart was busted and I had lost my way.