Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Balenciaga in San Francisco: the de Young exhibition

BalenciagaWe were in San Francisco this weekend for the "Balenciaga and Spain" opening lecture and symposium at the de Young museum. This exhibition is nothing short of fabulous! All of his cast of characters are present, some are like these familiar photos: old friends. Other pieces are new to public viewing. What makes the collection so special is the presentation of his work, from the mid-years focus on embellishment into his later explorations on form and drape.

The lectures helped to pull the theme together, noting the inspiration he took from Spanish apparel and regional costume. With a career that spanned most of the mid-years of the 20th century, it is interesting to view his transition in silhouette and texture, while retaining a singular viewpoint: that of a Spaniard in the world of couture.

This is an exhibition not to be missed by anyone who values the history of fashion, couture and pattern design.

The de Young press release with a summary of the exhibition: HERE

Exhibition catalog

VIEW the Symposium lecture (there is a short Preview available)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wearing Retro Fashions: Betty Page Clothing Line

Betty Page clothing
Betty page clothingWhen true vintage just won't due, sometimes it's necessary to shop the retro racks for a perfect dress. I recently went shopping with a curvy fit model to the Betty Page Clothing boutique on the old Walk of Fame in a vintage Hollywood district. Their shop is truly a 'blast from the past', located in a very 50's style building. Big and open, it felt like we'd stepped back in time, the entire space filled with colorful dresses and separates in tons of retro styles. We had alot of fun shopping the racks, then it was time to try them on!

We both agreed that we liked the summer dresses shown here the best. The dresses are sewn in fabrics that are stretchy cottons. The weight isn't too stiff or plastic. We found the fit great--due in part to that stretch. The black and white striped "Lucky Dog" sun dress is stunning. It comes with a red belt, which is cute. One of the first things I noticed as the 'dresser' are hefty metal back zips. Wow, these zippers are great!

The red or khaki cotton "Carla" shirt dress is another keeper. The bodice fit is good and it has a flattering full skirt. We liked the looser short sleeves which are perfect for summer. There are several nice details in the dress: tucking on the shoulders, side pockets and buttoned front.

For authentic vintage details, both the turquoise "Petra" and printed "Cheers" frocks capture a true 50's feel and look. The print on "Cheers" is adorable and it's a nice casual summer frock. "Petra" is a bit more dressy, with gathering at the neckline and an open back. This dress would be great worn casual with flat sandals at a morning farmer's market, or dressed up with heels and belt at dinner.

As a fit model, my curvy fit girl is tall, and we noticed that the body cut for this line is a bit short (so she'll wear her belts a bit lower to compensate for that). The company size chart on the website (HERE) seems to reflect what we found with their sizes. If you are considering ordering online, I think you will be happy with any of these dresses for spring and summer.

Betty Page Clothing, online shop

Dresses from the Betty Page line: New Arrivals
Yellow Sundress: Cheers, $102
Turquoise Sundress: Petra, $108
Red and Khaki Shirtdress: Carla, $112

from the Elvgren line:
Black and White Sundress: Lucky Dog, $116

Sizing Chart

Betty Page Clothing Boutique
The Walk Of Fame
6650 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: 323-461-4014

Saturday, March 12, 2011

1930's Women's Pants: Polka Dots and Sailor Styles

1930's <br />Deco Beach Pants
1930's Nautical Jumpsuit
1930's Sailor style pants
1930's Woman's suit
1930's Sailor styleWide leg pants are showing up in fashion again, affected by the 1970's influences currently affecting trends. The sailor styles we saw during the 1970's had their origins in the 1930's when women began to wear 'beach pajamas' and men's tailored trousers.

The women's beach pajamas illustrated here date from the early 1930's (some are dated 1931), and show how women were able to choose from a wide variety of style details and looks. Most interesting to me is the white double breasted suit. Who says YSL was the first to put women in pant suits? Here's a great example from nearly 40 years earlier!

So be inspired, this silhouette has alot to offer and is a great change of pace from the skinny jeans we have seen for the past few years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sewing Aprons: Vintage Restyle or Repurpose

sewing apronsIf you are in a creative mood, try this vintage sewing project. Restyling or repurpose: making over vintage is getting alot of coverage lately. I have had a little sewing binge of my own, making aprons from dresses. In this case the dresses were summer frocks, with various reasons making them unwearable. And what I got in the bargain was a fun new version of each dress that I will wear much more often than I ever did the original dress.

The bonus of making dresses into aprons is size: find a cute dress that's too small? Make it an apron. The open back design means it has a wide range of sizes, making it a perfect purpose for cute styles that are too little to wear.

vintage repurpose
In this slide I show the two aprons. The green dress has an empire waist, and the brown country calico dress was a shift. Originally, both had bias shoulder straps and a back zipper. The dresses were a sort of "A" line shape.

The side views show how I cut away the sides: low under the arm hole then straight across to center back.

Here's a brief tutorial. Since few dresses are the same, you can adapt these suggestions to suit your own project:

1) Selection: Dresses with straps or halter necks are the easiest to convert. I have seen dresses with sleeves re-styled into aprons as well. I wouldn't use acetate or nylon because those fabric are too flammable!

2) Center back: Cut out the center back. Starting at the top of the dress body, cut about 3" on either side of the zipper all the way down to the hem. After you do this, remove the zipper and lower back seam. Press the two long strips flat.

3) Shoulder Straps: Cut the existing shoulder straps where they are sewn down to the dress body in back. These will become the neck ties. You can finish the ends by sewing them over or tie knots at the ends instead.

4) Side cut-out: If you can try this on or pin it to your shirt, use chalk to mark how low you want the sides to be cut. Also mark where you want the hem. Cut this with a 1" seam allowance.

5) Back ties: Use the 3" wide long strips that were cut from each side of the zipper. Fold over each long edge about 1/4" and press. Next, fold these sides together, matching the pressed folded edges (like double fold bias tape). Sew along the pressed edges, creating a long strap. It's possible to use other fabrics, bias tape, or woven tote bag straps for the back ties as well.

6) Pockets: There should be some fabric left where you cut the upper body of the dress away under the arms. This curved shape can be used as a pocket bottom, or make a big patch pocket. More fun: edge this in bias tape, rick-rack or lace. Create patch pockets by using a double folded edge for the pocket top and sew that in place. Then press the remaining three sides over 1/4". Set aside to sew onto the apron front.

7) Upper edges: Double fold the apron's upper curved edge. Do this by pressing a 1/2" over each time. Machine sew this in place. If this edge puckers and won't make a smooth curve, try folding a more narrow edge. Other options are bias tape edges. Ribbons and lace won't curve as well as the bias trims will.

8) Hem: The center back edge and lower hem can be turned and stitched like the upper edges or bias trimmed. Mine are plain, but there's room for improvement!

9) Sash application: At the upper edge of the apron in back, sew on the back sash ties. To do this, fold one of the sash ends over about 1/2" and press. Lay this end at the upper corner of center back where you want the ties to be located. Sew in place by stitching a small rectangle over that folded end. To finish the other end of the sash tie, you can fold it over and stitch. Another option is to tie a knot at the end, which means you don't have to sew it at all!

10) Pocket application: With the apron on, decide where you want the pockets. The green one I made has one wide pocket with several stitched sections. The calico has two patch pockets with curved bottom edges as cut from the underarm section of the original dress.

That should do it!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1950's Vintage Fashion: Little Cover Ups

bolero jacket, Butterick 7243
Simplicity 2501
McCall's 9330
Little cover ups for spring and summer dresses during the 1950's came in many styles that included bolero and small capelets. The looks shown here are from sewing patterns that give both the dress and cover up views. There is an amazing variety of styles that were worn over dresses during this decade. From simple shapes to trims with buttons, collars and turned back cuffs. Today we tend to wear cardigans over dresses, but why not plan to sew a cover up when you make your next vintage styled dress? It's such a cute look!

Top view: Butterick 7243
Middle view: Simplicity 2501
Lower view: McCall's 9330

The little bolero shown here features turned back cuffs on the short sleeves and a winged collar. Mock buttons on the front are a cute accent. For most outfits, this shape really is figure flattering, creating a nice hour glass silhouette.

Black bolero with matching skirt