The Blue Gardenia

That Touch of Fashion: Annoyed, yes. Stupid, no. Glam, you bet. August 14, 2010 08:48 4 Comments

Doris_Day_Suit_PatternShe's feisty. She's ethical. She's independent. She's a career woman, most definitely 
not a career girl. And she is dressed for success. Totally. The movie: 1961's Lover Come Back. The character: Carol Templeton. 

Duplicate the look with Advance American Designer 6952, designed by Stanley Wyllens. And, yup, it is available at The Blue Gardenia. But you knew that. You did.

And you may get a kick out of this quote from Ms. Day — I know I did: "Any girl can look glamorous . . . just stand there and look stupid."

Damp tissue dramas: I'll stop sobbing to share a kittycat moment. August 1, 2010 07:25 2 Comments


Thursday, I had a total meltdown. I was a puddle of goo on the kitchen floor. Yes. I was. What caused this damp tissue drama? Well, as I was biting into a ripe and oh-so-juicy peach, I bit my lip — hard — and an incisor shifted. I ran to the mirror, carefully felt my tooth, and it moved. And it was totally out of alignment. A trip to the dentist revealed an unpleasant truth: the tooth, which has been brittle for years, had fractured. Horizontally, right under the gum. Oh, joy. The dentist also revealed another unpleasant truth: The two fixes — one temporary and one permanent — are expensive.  Pass those Puffs, please. Thank goodness I have a few boxes left from a recent trip to Costco!

But. Enough whining. Let me share a photo of Sulis, the Tim Gunn of felines. Yes, Gunn, as in male, which Sulis happens to be. Yes, I know that the original Sulis was a goddess worshipped at the thermal spring of Bath (info courtesy of Wikipedia). She was nourishing. She was life-giving. Now. I can't say whether Sulis, one of sewing goddess Marticia's kitties, has ever given life, but he does freely give fashion advice. Thank you, Sulis. And I hope he likes my new Mad Men pencil skirt, which I plan to finish this week. Really. I do. (All those darts. Well, I am armed with my tracing paper and tracing wheel, and I will show them who's the boss. I will. Yes indeedy.)

Channeling Catherine: Will the phone never stop ringing? July 1, 2010 18:33



Enemy telephone: Relentless.

Advance 6551, circa 1950s, View 1: Handy.

Simply beautiful eyelet, white, of course, Gorgeous Fabrics : Necessary.

Paranoia: Undesirable.


The bag is packed. The canine pals are kenneled. The jet leaves . . . June 30, 2010 17:06

1930s_romper_patternAhhh . . . you have waited all year for this moment, for this vacation. Hours and hours and hours of slogging through stacks and stacks and stacks of paperwork. Weeks and weeks and weeks of dealing with your temperamental boss. Thank goodness she went on maternity leave for three months. If only she had decided to stay home with little wee bit . . . but oh well oh well oh well . . . at least you have a job. And at least you have a glorious week of vacation. A week of sitting by Moraine Lake in your peachy play clothes made by your very own meticulously manicured hands. And the first thing, the very first thing, you'll don after you land is Simplicity 1747, circa 1930s. Just the ensemble for your two favorite R's: reading and reclining. And there's the skirt, so handy if it gets a little chilly. Oh, what a pleasure it will be to loaf. To loaf! The biggest decision you'll face is which book to read first. Life is grand.

And if you want this luscious playsemble for your getaway, scurry on over to The Blue Gardenia. We take Mastercard, Visa, Discover and Amex, as well as Paypal to make it easier for you. And, of course, checks, money orders and cold hard cash. Actually, we take warm soft cash, too. We are so agreeable.


How casual is too casual? June 29, 2010 11:07 6 Comments

SundressImagine this dress with spaghetti straps. Push your imagination a little farther. Imagine the spaghetti straps tied in little bows right at the top of the shoulders. Imagine the length a little longer, the hem falling right underneath the knees. Relax. Go deeper into the fantasy. Imagine this dress on a woman in her late 50s. Imagine her wearing this get-up at church. She is attractive. Yes. She is. She sashays when she walks. Her hips swing back and forth. Absolutely.

But. You knew one was coming. Didn't you?

Am I being harsh when I say that this dress is totally inappropriate for church? Am I? Now, it would look adorable on a child. And I could even see it on a 5-year-old at Sunday school. I wouldn't think twice. I would not frown. But on a woman? No. Absolutely not. It's too casual for a grown-up girl to wear to a house of worship. Way, too. Way.

Now. At this same church service - last Sunday, to be precise - someone else was wearing jeans. Ratty jeans. Not pressed and spiffy trouser jeans. No. These were ranch jeans. Suitable for riding horses or roping cows or whatever it is they do on ranches. And these were not just any folks, these two. No. These were ushers. Ushers! Walking down the aisles and collecting money for the deity.

I'm not taking on the ranch hand garb. I'm not. Maybe the cowhand found out at the last minute he didn't have to muck out the stalls and was therefore free to saddle up the pick-up truck and head into town for church. But I will take on the woman. She's at church every Sunday. I know her. She always has her makeup on just so. She always wears heels that reach to heaven. And she often wears clothes more suitable for a picnic or a hootenanny than church. And they are often more suitable for  a teenager.

Mccall's_7675_church_frockI would dress her in McCall's 7675, copyright 1965. She has a lovely figure, this woman, and this would show it off.  Yet, it is respectful of a place of spiritual worship. Churchwoman likes red, so I see this in red linen. View A. That gives her a bow, but a sophisticated, age-appropriate one. Truly. This dress is chic. This dress is feminine. This dress is sexy. And this dress is elegant enough for church.

And, yes, dear readers, I know the Bible says "judge not, lest ye be judged." I know it. And I admit to feeling a tad guilty for criticizing my fellow churchgoers. But. On the other hand,  to quote a pal of mine who has a different perspective: "You'd better, by God, judge other people. They're examples for you. Watching them shows you how to act. Or how not to act."

So. I am curious what you think about casual wear. Do you think our definition of casual has gotten too lax, too broad? Are we simply too lazy these days? Are we unwilling to take the extra time to look presentable? Are we all just one two-sizes-too-small tee-shirt away from becoming people of Walmart?

(Yes. I am wearing yoga pants, a 3 Dots tee, and Merrell shoes as I write this. But, if I do insist myself, they are all attractive, and proper for my home office. And even Costco! Really.)

Learning to sew: Lead me out of the cold, dark night, she pleaded. June 28, 2010 16:50 4 Comments


I'm confused. Remember the selvage issue I mentioned with the black cotton linen fabric? To be specific, the selvage unraveled. Puffs Girl suggested going to my sewing books. Like the good girl that I am, I followed her advice. Absolutely.



I didn't get much help. I didn't. In fact, I didn't find anything that applied to my problem: How to get the fabric on the straight of grain when the selvage turned to loose threads in the washing machine. Loose threads. That is my selvage. I did read over and over and over again the importance of getting the fabric on the straight of grain. All right. I get it. I do. Really. But how do I accomplish that task?

Sewing_BasicsI could beat myself up for choosing a fabric I loved for this skirt. A fabric I've been saving for years for exactly the right garment. I could do that. I could. It would be so easy. But I'm not going to do that. I won't give in to insecurity. I won't give in to negativity. I won't go hide in the closet under the hems of my dresses. No. Absolutely not.  I am going to plunge forward into the darkness. I'm going to do my very best to find a path that leads to the straight of grain.

Is it wrong to wash the fabric first? Should I simply put it in a tub filled with hot water to preshrink it?  The sewing books ­­– and there were many - I went to for a way out of the darkness advised this is the way to go. What do you do, dear readers? Do you wash the fabric first? I want to know. I do. I want to get it right next time. Advice, please. Please, she asked, with urgency.

Channeling Catherine: Liberate your sanguine inner vixen. June 28, 2010 11:28 2 Comments


Plunging neckline: De rigueur.

Lippmann Collection My Old Flame nail polish: Perfect.

Cigarette: Optional.

Vogue Special Design S-4846, copyright 1957: Beneficial.

Aging gracefully: Desirable.



Learning to sew: I've switched patterns. I'm fickle. What about it? June 26, 2010 20:19 5 Comments

Excuse my tone. Please. I'm a little upset. No. No. Scratch that. I'm a lot upset. I am. You can probably hear me screaming.  Listen closely, listen, you'll hear my anguished cries amid the coyote yips. You will. Why, you ask? Why would a fabulous, together, with-it woman like myself have a minute's frustration? A moment's even?

Well. Because. Because Safari let me down. Hard. Right after I'd written the most wonderful post. Clever. Funny. Add your own favorite superlative here. Safari crashed. Cratered. Croaked. (Am I annoying you with alliteration? Forgive me. Please. I beg you. I deserve a little leeway after such a trauma. I do.)

So. Anyway. (Thank God for Madeleine Peyroux. Thank you, Marticia, for introducing us.) Today, I:

Switched patterns. It's a woman's prerogative. Isn't it? Isn't it? It's also a man's, but that is neither here. Nor there.

Mccall_5082_mad_men_skirtTurns out McCall's 5082 was factory fold. Factory fold! Normally, normally, this would make me all aglow. Positively radiant. But. I could not bear to unfold it. I couldn't. So. Back to the pattern cabinet went I. And I pulled out Simplicity 1345. (Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long. Oh, Leonard, the lyrics you write.) Same look. But a difference in construction. Not, I think, a big one. But. I could be wrong. It would be the first time, of course. Absolutely. But these things happen. They do. Or so I have been told. The Simplicity does not have side seams. None. Nary a one. Not on the left. Not on the right. There are darts in place of side seams. So. Dear, dear readers, I ask you: Will this be harder? Simplicity claims, right there on the front of the envelope "SIMPLE TO MAKE". And would such a venerable company fib? Tell me they wouldn't. Tell me. Please. Because I really like this pattern. I do.

Prepared the pattern and the fabric. Yep. I did. I ironed the pattern. I pressed the fabric. Then I hung both up. I did. Absolutely. I think my anal tendency toward perfectionism will be a benefit in the sewing room. Don't you? Speaking of perfectionism, I was quite unhappy to discover that the original dressmaker had pinked this pattern. Pinked it! Bad dressmaker. Bad. Bad! I tell you, I think I should hunt her down and rap her knuckles with a metal-edged ruler. I do. Yes indeedy. I have a mean streak when it comes to the care of patterns, dogs and cats. You should treat them with kindness and respect. They should be coddled. They should. Absolutely.

(Oh, my God. I love Shostakovich's Jazz Suite No. 1: Waltz. So much. Yes. I am moving around here, musicwise.)

Pondered sewing questions. When I washed the fabric, the selvage frayed. Frayed. Obviously, it is no respecter of this fledgling seamstress. It isn't. So. How will I ensure that the skirt pieces are cut on the straight of grain? How, lovely and wise sewistas, how?

Also, is it OK, I wonder, to cut a virgin pattern and the fabric in one fell swoop? Or is this time-saving technique frowned upon?

And now, dear fans, you are out there, aren't you? Prove it to me. After all, it's enough that Safari has let me down. It is. Truly. I'm feeling needy. Ever so. Answer my questions. Please. Reassure me. I beg you. After all, only you have that magic technique. (Yup, I'm listening to a CD I made, and now, Rosemary Clooney and Perez Prado are performing Sway. Love it.)


Channeling Catherine: Only your cold bite can satiate his hunger. June 20, 2010 17:11 4 Comments


The-hunger Bowie: Fantasy.

The Hunger: Preparation.

Hairspray: Necessary. 

Vogue Paris Original 1376 designed by Claude Montana, circa 1980s: Evocative.


The Asian skirt: Let me share my experience, strength and hope June 19, 2010 17:44 6 Comments

 At last, the Asian skirt is done. Finished. Completed. While it is far from perfect — and much more likely to be a textbook Don't than a textbook Do  — I am pleased. Truly. First, it is wearable. Second, there are a few things that I did right. A few. The waistband looks professional. Really. It does. (Well, there is that little flaw at the end, where it doesn't overlap quite as much as I'd like. But I refuse to dwell on that mistake.) The hem is even, thanks to the expert pinning done by His Bertness. And although it took me hours to hem the skirt by hand, not one thread shows on the outside. Yippee skippee. Now. The inside of the skirt is another matter. Entirely. I could say pass the Puffs, please. But I won't. No tears. No sniffles. Because at least I finished this skirt. I did. I'm putting a gold tinfoil Dennison star right smack dab in the middle of my forehead. I am. There. I think it looks rather cute.

I managed to match two seams. (Again, I will  not dwell on the uneven stitching on the hem tape. I've discussed that before. Enough. I'll work on perfecting the hem tape application on my next skirt. Yes indeedy.)

However. Moving on. Here's an error too big to miss. What did I do wrong here? The seam doesn't match. And there's an unsightly pleat. Did I not ease the hem enough? Should I have pinned the seam to ensure that it lined up perfectly? I definitely do not want to repeat this mistake on my next skirt. Help!

Save the chaise for Henry Jones. (Yes. I adore Johnny Mercer.) June 12, 2010 15:18 5 Comments

Indulge me, dear readers, for a moment. Or two. Or three. Please. Our oldest dog, Henry Jones, usually watches over me as I do The Blue Gardenia shipping. Today was no exception.

He seemed especially adorable today. So. Naturally, I had to get the camera. Naturally, I had to share. Because you want to know. Right? Of course you do. Say you do. You don't want to make me cry. Do you?

You can tell he is having deep puppy thoughts here. Doubtless, he is pondering what I should make next. After all, I am almost finished with the Asian skirt. Almost. So close. The hem, and I am there.

Oh my. A potential threat. 
 On the street below our window. It could be an innocent jogger. Or it could be a terrorist disguising himself as a senior citizen in a baseball cap. I cannot tell the difference. I can't. But Henry can.

Oh. Thank Henry! Disaster averted. Shipping's ready. A quick trip to the post office, and I can return to sewing. Absolutely. I have needle and thread close at hand.