Hi, I like denim, especially dark denim. I’ve never worn an all denim outfit though – for example a denim jacket and jeans. That look just makes me think farmer, not fashion. But I added a “Casual Style for Women” board to my C Sews Pinterest account earlier this year and I’ve pinned quite a few denim fashion looks. I mostly wear separates but I usually avoid separates that match – as in same color top and bottom – unless it’s black. I have plenty of black tops and pants. But I don’t have other colors in a solid that I wear together.
I like these pins. They either reminded me of denim or were made from denim. They make me want to wear an all-denim ensemble. Do you typically wear denim as separates? Would you ever wear an all-denim outfit?
I’ve been pinning denim fashion ideas because I have several yards of denim in my stash and I need to start sewing it. Some has been there for at least five years, maybe longer. And last year on a trip to New York, I bought some lightweight denim at Mood to make trouser jeans. Then last month, I found two yards of denim in my stash that I forgot about. It’s been sitting in a chest in a small room that has a lot of my husband’s vinyl records and books. I don’t go in there very often.
Here’s the Butterick sewing pattern (B5682) I got last year. I want to make version E, the trouser version.
I also had a knit fabric in my stash that looks like denim.
I had intended to use it to make a dress. But I never got around to making the dress. After seeing all the fun denim outfits, I decided to make a pair of knit pants and a top to go with them. But you’ll see that outfit soon – more on that outfit tomorrow. It’ll be my first all-denim look.
Hi, I wanted to make a quick skirt so I decided to use the pattern I created for a skirt lining. I made the lining pattern in 2011 for my A-line block skirt from the Japanese sewing book Basic Black (affiliate link here). The skirt has three main pieces – the front, back and the narrow waistband is made from a strip of bias tape that’s 1 5/8″ wide (about 4 cm). There’s an invisible zipper on the side. I’m wearing a knit cloche hat I got at a Barney’s outlet several years ago.
Because the skirt is quite plain, I added an outside pocket as a design detail. I used this fun Echino fabric I got last year when I attended Craftcation. Years ago I saw a pockets attached to the waistband on a paid of pants worn by a woman walking down the street. Of course, I stopped her and asked to look at the pockets. She told me she got the pants in Thailand. I never forgot those pants.
Pockets at the side seams wouldn’t really work in an A-line skirt like this because as soon as you put something in the pocket, it would drag down the skirt or ruin the line of the skirt, especially in a drapey fabric like linen.
The side seam has moved forward a little bit in this photo but you can see that a pocket there likely wouldn’t look very good. I’m wearing the lace hat I made (blogged here), Vogue pattern V8891, a Patricia Underwood design.
I just used the measurements in the book Basic Black, to make the waistband. I used the same fabric of the skirt to make the waistband. I made the mistake of using this stretch interfacing for the waistband. Fabric cut on the bias stretches so the waistband may get a little stretched out.
Before I attached the waistband, I basted the pocket in place. (I’ll write a separate post about making the pocket.) Then I sewed the waistband in place, folded it in half and stitched in the ditch. Here’s a close-up of the waistband…
… and the invisible zipper at the side seam. I wasn’t so great at keeping the waistband the same width all the way around. But I didn’t want to rip it out. No one’s really going to see the waistband anyway. (Excuse the dark photos.)
I finished the hem with premade bias tape using a straight stitch. I ran out of blue so I just attached red to finish it.
And here are a few more views of the skirt.
I think I like the lace hat with this skirt better than the cloche. What do you think?
The top is RTW from Ann Taylor several years ago. My necklace was a birthday gift from one of my sisters.
Materials for A-line Skirt
2 yards of linen from my stash (can’t recall what I paid for it)
10″ x 11 ” piece of Echino fabric for the pocket (about $20/yard, I bought 1/2 yard)
Hi, last weekend the Bay Area Sewists meetup group had a Sew Together meetup at the Google Garage – the volunteer-run maker space at the tech giant’s Mountain View location in Silicon Valley. I’m the organizer for the meetup group and Ali, one of our members who works at Google, graciously reserved the space, making it possible for us to meet there. Thank you, Ali!
Here are some of the photos I took from that visit, along with one photo taken by Marilyn, another Bay Area Sewists member, which I’ll identify.
This is some of the fun stuff on the wall just outside the Google Garage – car parts that have been painted in Google colors. You can sort of see that Google is spelled out. The first “G” is made from tires and the two O’s from hub caps.
The Google Garage has high ceilings and has plenty of tables to work. Not surprisingly, there are many computer monitors and a few 3-D printers. We made use of all the tables.
In addition to the tables with the wood tops, there were taller white tables – in the foreground of the photo below. These tables had stools for sitting.
In the back of the space is this area with a few sewing machines and sergers. There were also many other sewing machines in a locked cabinet. The Google artwork on this wall is actually a photo of tools spelling out Google.
Here’s a spray-painted sign inside the maker space. As you might be able to tell, it’s the hood of a car.
I brought a couple of things to work on at the Google Garage – fitting the back of my Flint pants (they were a little baggy in the back) and cutting an A-line skirt from a pattern I drafted when I made the lining for this skirt. I shared this table with Shontai, who was cutting out a PDF pattern.
We were also fortunate to have several giveaways from Fabrix in San Francisco, courtesy of Bay Area Sewists member Annetta who works at Fabrix. She brought many two-yard cuts for us, which you can see in the photo below. Here she is telling us about the store, which carries discounted designer fabrics. She says you’ll find a lot of stuff priced at $2.89 or $3.99 a yard – and there’s even a $0.99 table.
I have not been to this store yet, mostly because it’s a long trip via public transportation. Now I really want to check it out. At those prices, you could get quite a lot of fabric for $20.
Towards the end of our Google Garage meetup, we had a raffle and four winners got to have first pick of the fabrics, with the first winner choosing four fabrics, the next three, and then two and then one. Annetta also had various coupons for yardage and notions at Fabrics.
Ali won first pick. Here she is choosing her fabrics. After the winners made their picks, all the other fabrics were up for grabs. See the fabric with the circle design? I got that quilt-weight fabric. I think it could be a fun summer skirt.
Here’s a close up of some of the fabrics.
These are all trims and collars from Annetta’s collection, which she got at Fabrix. She brought them to show the range of trims there.
Here’s the photo Marilyn took of me introducing Annetta. I’m in the center of the photo in front of the wood wall. To the right of the wood wall is the entrance to the sewing area with machines and sergers.
And here’s the group photo. We had a great time at the Google Garage!
If you live in the Bay Area and would like to join the group, visit the meetup page here to see past and upcoming monthly meetups. We have fabric and pattern swaps as well as fitting meetups. It’s free to join for the first 90 days. We typically meet in Berkeley, San Francisco, and occasionally in the South Bay.
Do you participate in any sewing meetups? What do you usually do at your meetups?
Hi, I finally finished my Mimosa Culottes! According to my May blog post on PDF patterns, I bought this Named Clothing pattern about a year ago. Then I made my first muslin last fall. I got fitting help from Jennifer Serr at the Bay Area Sewistsfitting meetup, which I blogged about here. This wide-leg design has two unique diagonal pleats in the front and two darts in the back, pockets, and a front zipper (more detailed photos are below).
I made size 44 (US 12, UK 18), which has a waist of 33 inches (84 cm) and a hip of 42 1/2 (108 cm). If I had made these two years ago, I would have made a size smaller but waistlines change. My hips are about 43 inches (109 cm) but I thought it was a good bet that the fit would be fine because of the wide legs so I didn’t add any additional ease to the hips – that’s the beauty of culottes!
I really like black but it’s hard to photograph. I got lucky with a couple of photos and the sun just happened to highlight my fabric. It’s a lightweight jacquard made out of some synthetic fiber. I found it among the discount designer fabrics on the second floor at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. There are flowers in the design, which you can see in this photo (taken after the photos shoot in bright sunlight to get the details).
I forgot that high-waisted designs limit what you can wear with them. You either need to wear something cropped or a close-fitting top that you can tuck inside. I got this cropped knit top from Urban Outfitters several years ago. I haven’t worn it much because it hits me at the hips and doesn’t really work with my other garments unless I layer it with a longer tee underneath. I was happy to wear this top with my new culottes. A former co-worker of mine called it my seeing-eye chart top. 😉
The Mimosa Culottes have nice deep pockets. I can put my whole hand in them! I have long fingers so this is a big deal. My husband is about 7 inches (nearly 18 cm) taller than I am but our hands are the same length. Really.
I take all my blog photos so it’s a big challenge to see the details of the culottes. I can only focus on the wall. I use the timer on my Sony Cyber-shot digital camera and my iPhone 6. I don’t have a camera remote control. This means that’s it’s tough to get photos in focus and the correct exposure but I take a lot of photos and hope for the best.
Mimosa Culottes – Details
Here are some photos with some of the details that you can’t see in the photos above. The pleats are at a diagonal slant, which is an interesting detail. I lightened the photos a little so you can see the floral design on the fabric.
There are two darts in the back.
Here’s what the inside front looks like with the pockets and the fly shield, the fabric behind the zipper. The Mimosa Culottes have a button and hook/eye closure. I used a flat red button that was in my stash.
My fabric was lightweight so I didn’t use a lining fabric, which meant I really didn’t need an inner and outer pocket bag. The inner pocket bag is the pattern piece you cut using your fashion fabric so you won’t see the lining. I wasn’t thinking when I cut my pattern pieces. The inner pocket bag pieces have interfacing fused to them. If you want to use the same fabric for the entire pocket, just put the two pocket bag pieces together to make one pocket bag and cut four.
Check out the pocket. It’s looks rather professional, doesn’t it? I haven’t made pockets like this before because I usually sew skirts with pockets in the side seam. But I’m in desperate need of pants (trousers) these days. So I will be sewing more over the coming months.
Here are a few more construction details: After you’ve attached the waistband, you’re supposed to place the folded edge so that it slightly overlaps the waist seam on the wrong side; then stitch in the ditch from the right side. Instead, I hand stitched the waistband in place on the inside. When I stitch in the ditch on the right side, I don’t always catch the folded edge on the other side so I opted to hand stitch.
I finished my hem with seam tape and hand stitched it in place.
Mimosa Culottes Pattern Adjustments
I only made two adjustments to the back with the help of Jennifer Serrr, owner of The Sewing Room and pattern designer for Bonjour Teaspoon. She suggested 1.) taking in about 1/4″ (6 mm) to get rid of drag lines and 2.) dropping the back crotch curve by 3/8 inch (1 cm) for a little more ease. I added that amount to the hem so the hem length would remain the same. This photo is of my first mock-up. I made a second mockup to make sure those adjustments worked. The second one was fine so I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric.
Named Clothing designs for a height of 5′ 8″ (172 cm), which is my height. I decided I liked the long length on the model so I didn’t change it. (See my post on sewing pattern height.) I didn’t notice that my camera was slighted tilted downward so it’s making my culottes seem longer than they really are in this photo.
A note on accessories: I made the hat ribbon, which I first blogged about for Britex Fabrics here and reposted to my blog here. The necklace is from Macy’s, the shoes are by Arche, purchased from a discount designer store that’s no longer in business. I’m also wearing a striped vintage bracelet from one of my sisters. You can’t see it in this photo but you can see it in one of the earlier photos.
Mimosa Culottes Materials
2 1/2 yards (210 cm) of fabric ($3.50/yard for a total of $8.75)
fusible interfacing for inner pocket bag
hook and eye
If you want to use lining fabric for your pocket bag, add 1/2 yard of lining fabric. All the other materials were in my stash so I only bought the fabric to make the culottes.
I really like this pattern. Now I need more tops to wear with them! I bought the Named Clothing Lexi A-line Top, which goes well so maybe I’ll make that, too. Have you made any culottes?
Hey, Berkeley now has a new sewing studio with sewing machines, sergers and a long-arm quilter! Hello Stitch offers a place to sew for members as well as sewing and quilting classes (read about membership benefits here). Kristen, Stacey and Terri, the founders of Hello Stitch Studio, “wanted to create a space where people can be inspired to sew and create things by hand.”
I got this lovely pin at the grand opening in April. The colorful quilt in the background is by the talented Tara Faughnan.
Hello Stitch has a spacious studio with high ceilings and gets great natural sunlight.
Here’s a look at some of the sewing machines and sergers there.
One wall has these cards with the classes being offered – garment sewing, quilting, accessories and more.
Garment sewing at Hello Stitch
If you’re interesting in garment sewing Beth Galvin, who blogs about sewing at SunnyGal Studio and blogs for Craftsy, will be teaching at Hello Stitch. Beth has tons of sewing experience and makes nearly all of her clothes and coats. She also sews custom-fit garments for clients. Beth did a great sewing demo for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group in April, showing how to convert bust darts to shoulder gathers.
Hello Stitch offers several quilting classes, including Innova Longarm Certification, which you must take to rent the longarm. I’m not a quilter but I might want to quilt some fabric to make a coat. Wouldn’t it be fun to make your own quilting design and quilt some fabric?
Bay Area Sewists at Hello Stitch
I’m the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group and we will be having a “show and tell” meetup at Hello Stitch on Saturday, July 8. If you’d like to attend, join the meetup group and RSVP for the meetup here ($5 fee).
It’s great to have a new venue for sewing classes, especially after Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics stopped offering classes last year. (See my interview with Suzan Stonemountain’s owner Suzan Steinberg.) Stonemountain has a good list of the many places you can take sewing classes in the Bay Area here. I’m looking forward to holding a meetup there.
Hi, I only blogged once in April so I’m making up for lost time and posting twice this week. The posts I’ve been working on have required more time to put together because I needed to gather information or images. (For example, see yesterday’s post on sewing pattern height.) Today’s post is about Alzheimer’s clothing, garments that work for people with Alzheimer’s – something people don’t think about unless they know someone with Alzheimer’s. My mom has dementia so I’ve been looking at sewing patterns that work for an Alzheimer’s wardrobe.
My mom can no longer deal with multiple buttons on a garment. Her dementia has affected her ability to handle the process of buttoning a cardigan. This means that any clothing she wears needs to be button-free. Zippers are still OK and she can manage dressing herself with some assistance as long as my dad lays out the garments for her in the order she needs to put them on (underwear, top, pants). If you gave her a pile of clothing, she would get confused and not know what to put on first.
Whenever Mother’s Day or her birthday rolls around, I usually don’t have time to make anything and then I find myself wandering the petites department at Macy’s searching for appropriate Alzheimer’s clothing. My mom’s birthday is in December so this year, I’m planning way ahead and putting together a list of potential patterns. I also decided to look beyond patterns just for my mom and just look for patterns that could be useful for other people who may know someone with Alzheimer’s.
Besides the lack of buttons, it’s important to have simple designs without any extra openings. For example, a top with an opening in the back in addition to the neckhole, such as M7570 would not work – nor would a cold shoulder design like V9260. Too many openings. Look for tops with the three basic openings – one neckhole and two armholes.
Here are some Alzheimer’s clothing possibilities for women.
The Limoncello Cardigan by SBCC Patterns doesn’t have any buttons. SBCC’s website says that the front drape “does not overwhelm a petite torso, and can conceal a fuller chest.” My mom is 5 feet (152 cm) tall. SBCC Patterns are designed for petite women, using a base height of 5′ 1″. (Check out my sewing pattern height chart in this blog post.) This is a good pattern for my mom. You can get a hard copy or a PDF of this pattern here.
This See & Sew unlined jacket (B6443) doesn’t have any buttons. It’s a nice basic jacket. The pattern also includes a draped vest. My mom doesn’t really wear vests so I wouldn’t make that for her. You don’t want to introduce unfamiliar clothing to people with Alzheimer’s. It’s best to stick to styles and colors that they are used to wearing. (The pants are not part of this pattern.)
The sleeveless Gimlet Top, also by SBCC Patterns, is designed for knit fabric and looks like a quick sew. Maybe I can make it for Mother’s Day. You can get a hard copy or PDF of this pattern here.
The Tonic Tee by SBCC Patterns is a nice basic top. You can buy the hard copy of the pattern here or sign up for SBCC’s newsletter and get a free PDF version of the Tonic Tee. If you’d like to add a cute Peter Pan collar to this tee, check out Christine Haynes’s Tonic Tee Upgrade, a guest blog post from 2014.
Vogue pattern (V9225) has a good basic design and is flattering for different figures. the different sleeve lengths make this a pattern you can sew for hot or cool weather.
Here’s a more fitted Vogue top (V9205), which has some interesting decorative darts. Beth, who blogs at SunnyGal Studios, has sewn it and blogged about it here.
This Vogue (V9224) handkerchief-hem tunic would be nice for taller figures.
These Butterick pants (B5893) have an elastic waist. There are also shorts. I recently bought this pattern for myself.
The Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress is a comfy and flattering dress with three sleeve options (cap, 3/4 and long). The big neck opening is good for people with Alzheimer’s. It makes it easy to get dressed (available as a PDF).
McCall’s M6474 is a simple comfortable design – neck and armholes, which are easy for my mom to manage. The pajama bottoms have an elastic waist. Elastic waists are great because they are easy to pull on and take off. It’s probably best to avoid the maxi length nightgown or you risk a fall, plus a shorter length makes it easier to manage in the bathroom. At this point, my mother can no longer communicate when she needs to go to the restroom so my dad just takes her to the toilet at regular intervals.
This cute McCall’s pajama set (M7060) doesn’t have any buttons and comes with an elastic waist – perfect for someone with Alzheimer’s.
As of this writing, all of these patterns are in print. Should they go out of print, please search eBay and Etsy for a copy. I hope you find this Alzheimer’s clothing information helpful. It makes you realize the little things you take for granted, such as getting dressed in the morning. You do it without thinking about it. My dad helps my mom get dressed everyday.
They live on the East Coast and I’m in California so I don’t see them as often as I’d like. My mom still recognizes people, which is great. But it can be challenging to make conversation because you can’t really ask questions.
My mom taught me and my sisters how to use her sewing machine. She made all our clothes when we were young. Now she can no longer sew. She doesn’t have the cognitive ability to remember how to use a sewing machine. I guess things have come full circle and it’s my turn to make her clothes.
Everyone’s body is different. We come in all shapes and sizes, which can make it challenging to find a sewing pattern that fits your body. Luckily, some indie sewing patterns design for a particular body type. For example, Sewaholic Patterns are designed for pear-shaped women, Cashmerette Patterns for curvy figures (cup sizes C–H) and Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Patterns (SBCC) for petite ladies. Each size is designed for a particular bust, waist and hip measurement, but not every company provides the sewing pattern height.
I’m nearly 5′ 8″ (172 cm) and I really haven’t given much thought to the height that patterns are designed for. I’ll be sewing more pants (trousers for you UK and Aussie sewists) so I’m looking more closely at height; then I can make any pattern adjustments before I cut my fabric. I recently finished the Mimosa Culottes by Named Clothing, a Finnish pattern company that designs for my height. I liked the length on the model in the photo so I didn’t make any changes to the length.
My next pair will be Megan Nielsen’s Flint Pants. I discovered that she designs for a height 5′ 9″ (175 cm) so I trimmed one inch from the length on my pattern piece before I cut my muslin. This experience made me want to find out what height pattern companies use for their designs. And of course, I thought, why not make a chart of all the companies whose patterns I’ve sewn or are in my stash? So that’s how I selected the list of companies. – with the exception of Cashmerette, whose patterns I don’t yet own, partly because I’d have to do a significant small bust adjustment. (I’m an A cup.) So this is by no means a comprehensive list. But I will be updating it. If you are a pattern company and would like to be added to this list, please contact me and send me a link to your size chart, height and cup size you design for.
As far as I can tell, the Big Four (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and Vogue) all use the same height for misses (5′ 5″ to 5′ 6″) and petite (5′ 2 to 5′ 3″/157 cm to 160 cm). Simplicity’s website doesn’t have a standalone size chart on its website but this sewing pattern website lists all Simplicity measurements here.
The chart includes links to each company’s body measurements/size chart (if they have one), the height they design for and the cup size. I don’t know what cup size the Big Four uses so I left that blank. I’ll fill it in when I find out.
Not all of the indie designers include this info on their websites so in some cases, I contacted the companies to find out. They graciously answered my queries within a few days. I hope you find the information useful.
Sewing pattern height is an interesting measurement but it’s not the most important one. Patterns can easily be adjusted for length. The critical measurements are bust, waist and hips. The finished measurements are also very helpful when it comes to pants and skirts. When I make skirts or pants, all I first look at the hip measurement to pick my size. What measurements are the most important for you when you choose a size to sew?
I also got two great sewing patterns for my birthday last month – a Style Arc shirt and a Papercut Patterns top, which I blogged about here.
For me, making one garment a month would be great. So it’s fantastic for me to have a skirt and a top completed by March! I made the Chardon skirt to wear at the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event in February. I made a reversible version of the Toaster Sweater for a guest blog post I did for Britex Fabrics in February. It was a fun challenge. Then I expanded the post on my blog with more construction details here.
I’d like to sew everything I mentioned in December but for the next few months I will focus solely on tops and pants. I really want to sew the Style Arc Juliet Woven Shirt and a couple versions of the Papercut Patterns Skipper Tunic, which has multiple variations. Plus I still have an urgent need for pants. I’ll likely start with the Mimosa Culottes by Named, which aren’t really pants but I’ve made one muslin and I still need to sew up the second one. I first mentioned the culottes last May, when I blogged about four PDF sewing patterns I bought.
Named sells paper patterns but the cost of shipping all the way from Finland is quite high so I opted to get the PDF version. I recently discovered that Harts Fabric, an indie fabric store in Santa Cruz, Calif., now carries now carries Named and Papercut Patterns! How exciting! The store carries many other indie pattern lines as well – and shipping is only $6.50 for U.S. orders. You can see the inide patterns Harts carries here.
Here’s a gif of the current sewing plans: Style Arc Juliet Woven Shirt (interesting tie in front), four versions of the Skipper Tunic (neckline, sleeve and length variations), and the Mimosa Culottes. I need to shop my stash to see if I have any fabric for the Juliet shirt. I’m sure I have some fabric I could use for the Skipper Tunic. And I have a black fabric with a nice drape for the culottes.
Have your sewing plans changed? What’s on your sewing table?
Hi, it was my birthday earlier this month so in January I told my sisters about some international patterns I liked. And my sisters are like my fairy godmothers – they granted my wishes! I got the StyleArc Juliet Woven Shirt, which I have been eying, along with the Imogen Knit Skirt, a free pattern for January. Plus I got the Papercut Patterns Skipper Tunic, which has three sleeve variations, necklines and lengths.
StyleArc is an Aussie pattern company – as you can see from the mailing envelope in the photo below. I think I first heard about this company from Sew Busy Lizzie, a sewing blogger based in Australia. It may have been her post about the StyleArc Ziggy jacket. Actually, that post made me a bit wary about trying any StyleArc patterns because sizes are not nested and the instructions are minimal. When she made the Ziggy jacket, she bought a PDF and had to tape together more than 40 pages. Each size was a separate PDF.
StyleArc prides itself on creating “real industry based sewing patterns” that are “easy to work with.” I haven’t sewn any StyleArc patterns before but I wanted to try this shirt because I love the tie waist and 3/4 sleeves. The paper pattern comes with a swatch of fabric that is recommended for the pattern – nice detail!
If you buy a StyleArc paper pattern, you need to pick your size. I decided to pick the size that went with my hips, my widest area. Here’s the StyleArc size chart. My current weight puts me at a size 14 waist (33.5 inches, 85 cm) and in between a size 14 (42.5 inches, 108 cm) and 16 (44.5 inches, 113cm) hip. Two years ago I was a size 12 waist and size 14 hip. (sigh) But I’ve gained a bit of weight since then. I chose size 16 for the skirt as well. It may be too big but I’ll find out eventually.
When I got my Juliet shirt pattern, I also discovered that you can also buy StyleArc patterns on Amazon – but not all the styles are there. The Juliet shirt isn’t on the U.S. site. But it’s great to know that I can buy their patterns and get free shipping as an Amazon Prime member!
Papercut Patterns is a New Zealand pattern company that says it has a “strong focus on design and sustainability.” They use “100% recycled or recyclable products where possible.”
Papercut packaging is really lovely. You could hand the pattern in your closet. This photo is a still image of the video story I posted on Instagram when I got the pattern. So the image quality isn’t great.
Here’s the paper the instructions and pattern paper are printed on. The instructions are printed so that you cut them out and put them together into a mini booklet. This image was also part of my IG story.
I’m looking forward to making both of these patterns! Have you sewn any StyleArc or Papercut Patterns designs?
I decided to write another post about the Fashion in Flight exhibit on the history of flight attendant uniforms that was on display at the San Francisco International Airport – note the past tense – was. The exhibit closed last Sunday. I feel bad that I didn’t get around to blogging about it until the week before the exhibit closed (read my earlier post here). So here are a few more photos, plus a look at spacesuits because so many flight attendant uniforms of the 1960s were inspired by the astronauts of that era.
This ensemble is part of a collection of designs designed by Emilio Pucci for Braniff International Airways. He called it “Gemini IV,” after NASA’s Gemini program, which was the precursor to the Apollo program that sent astronauts to the moon. Clearly this plastic helmet was a takeoff on astronaut headgear. It was worn for publicity photos and when greeting passengers before they got on a flight. Braniff liked to call its flight attendants “air hostesses.” (You can see more photos of this uniform in my previous post about Fashion in Flight. Note: The nice photos are courtesy of the SFO Museum or the airlines that loaned them the images or uniforms. The photos with glare are the ones I took at the exhibit. All the uniforms were behind glass and it was difficult to take a good photos.)
This flight attendant uniform made me curious about astronaut outfits so I decided to look for photos of NASA spacesuits on its website and Flickr page. (NASA is a U.S. government agency so their images don’t have copyright restrictions. Check out NASA’s Flickr album Astronauts.)
Here’s the very first group of U.S. astronauts, known as the Mercury 7. They were part of Project Mercury, NASA’s first program to get a man into space.
This publicity photo was taken in 1959 but they didn’t make it into space until 1961. It took all that time for NASA to figure out how to get a manned capsule into space and then several more months to determines how to orbit the Earth and land safely. One thing that this group of astronauts had in common with the flight attendants of the era is that they had to be of a certain weight and height because of the size of the capsule. (Check out this article “Women in the Skies,” on flight attendants, excerpted in Ms. magazine.)
Speaking of space flight, I’ve been reading Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures (affiliate link here), which is the inspiration for the film of the same title. If you read the book or see the film, you will be inspired by the stories of the incredible African-American women mathematicians behind the complex theoretical math calculations that helped make the space voyage possible. If you haven’t seen the film Hidden Figures, go see it!
Now check out this flight attendant uniform from the 1960s – note the silver fabric. Unfortunately, I didn’t note which airline had this uniform when I took this photo last month. The fabric has that astronaut sheen to it. 😉
I found a fun video on the NASA website about spacesuits. After you watch the video, which is introduced by an avatar (you can skip the animated intro), you’ll see six versions of NASA spacesuits, from the shiny silver of the Mercury missions to the orange “pumpkin suit” and the most recent one designed for future space exploration.
Here’s the 1968 spacesuit design for the Apollo astronauts. Note the various valves on the torso of the suits.
These ladies have a space-age look to them, too. I see spacesuit touches in their necklines and the round pocket opening seems inspired by the valves on the spacesuits, eh? This photo was also in the SFO Museum’s Fashion in Flight photo album for the exhibit.
The front round pocket is more of a design element than any practical use. I don’t know if you can fit your entire hand in it unless you have small hands. Here’s a look at the actual uniform in the exhibit (sorry for the glare).
Here’s a closer shot I took of the pocket. (Note the interesting topstitching at the waist. It’s quite a distance from the seam, isn’t it?)
Here’s the last of the 1960s photos I took. This 1968 polyester flight attendant uniform designed by Oleg Cassini for Air West and has a bit of “Starfleet Command” in it, according to the exhibit. I can definitely see that. (The original Star Trek series was on the air from 1966 to 1969.)
I hope you enjoyed this foray into 1960s fashion and astronauts!
You can see more photos of the flight attendant uniforms in Fashion in Flight on the SFO Museum website here.
A few weeks ago, Stefanie of Sea of Teal tagged me to participate in #SeamstressTag – a way for other sewists to get to know one another. I’ve been following Stef on Instagram (@seaofteal) for a while now. I enjoy seeing what she makes as well as the beautiful photos of nature and sunsets. And I discovered from her SteamstressTag post, that her photos are taken by her talented husband. He takes great photos of her and she always looks great!
She has a lovely photo of herself in her blog post that I decided to see if I could find a blog photo that didn’t have a lighting issue. I’ve made a lot of garments using black fabric (so hard to get the exposure right!) and I’m slowly getting better with using the timer on my camera. I went all the way back to 2015 to find this photo I took of my Deer & Doe Chardon skirt (blogged here) and wearing a velvet vintage hat.
Stef has given me a set of questions to answer as part of #SeamstressTag. Here are the questions and my answers:
1) Who are you?
This is an interesting question. My first response is a list of nouns (woman, wife, sister, daughter and so on) but that doesn’t really say much, does it? So here are a few random facts. I grew up in upstate New York with three sisters – one older and two younger, no brothers. My parents liked musical theater. When we traveled to New York City (a 4.5 hour road trip), we’d sometimes sees a Broadway musical. The ones that stand out the most are Annie and The King and I, starring Yul Brynner, during his final Broadway run in 1985 before he died of cancer later that year.
I live in Berkeley, California, which is in the northern part of the state. It gets cold in the winter in Berkeley – but not usually cooler than 40-something degrees Fahrenheit (about 4 degrees Celsius). Los Angeles is roughly 376 miles (604 km) south of Berkeley. It’s L.A. that has the warm weather, palm trees and beaches usually associated with California.
When I’m not sewing, I’m writing, editing or managing copy for a variety of clients.
2) When & why did you start sewing?
My mother taught me and my sisters to how to use her sewing machine. I can’t remember how old we were when she gave us the basics on threading the machine and using the straight stitch. She made all of our clothes, such as the ensembles we’re wearing below, when we were growing up. I’m wearing the white top with red shorts, petting the goat.
English wasn’t my mother’s first language so she just looked at the step-by-step illustrations to figure out how to construct the garments. I remember many trips to Jo-Ann Fabric over the years to buy fabric – that was back when Jo-Ann’s was primarily a fabric store.
In junior high school, I took a mandatory home economics class and we all sewed stuffed animals from kits. I made a whale. I really enjoyed that class and learned how to sew fake fur. I sewed off and on throughout college – making some of my first hats on my mom’s Singer Golden Touch when I was home on break. I didn’t use a pattern. I just experimented, trying to copy hats I saw that I liked. After college I didn’t sew for years and years.
In 2009 I got a machine as a Christmas gift and began sewing again, making dresses from vintage patterns and sewing other garments. I forgot how much I enjoyed sewing and began sewing knit fabrics, which was new for me back then. Two years later, I started this blog.
I continue to sew because I get so much pleasure from it. I love having a finished garment to wear. I also enjoy seeing what other sewists make on Instagram.
3) What is your favorite or proudest make?
I don’t think I really have a favorite make. But one of the dresses I wear most often is my first Anna dress, a By Hand London pattern, which I made with a border print in 2014 for Sewing Indie Month. It was a finalist for the Dressed to the Nines sewing contest. I wore it to a wedding last summer. The fabric is from Britex Fabrics. I’ve also worn the dress to a Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex. (Thanks to writing this post, I found the better photos from the original photo shoot and just updated some of the photos in the blog post.)
4) What is your most disastrous make?
I don’t know think I’d call it disastrous but probably the most challenging make was when I had to figure out a lot of pattern adjustments to make the Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan for my husband. The pattern is drafted for slim figures and I had to make many adjustments that I had never done before to get it to fit right. I made the largest size and it was too tight everywhere. i nearly gave up. It took me three tries to get it right. You can see some of my adjustments in this post.
5) Where is your favorite place to go fabric shopping?
I’m really lucky to live in the Bay Area where we still have family-owned and -operated fabric stores. I live within walking distance of Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which carries a wide array of fabrics and indie sewing patterns. San Francisco’s Britex Fabrics has four floors of fabric and is easily accessible via public transportation – just a 23-minute train ride from where I live. And just a few stops from Britex is Fabric Outlet in the Mission District in San Francisco.
6) What is your most used pattern?
I have made four different Deer & Doe Chardon skirts so it’s definitely one of my favorite patterns. (Here are some links if you’d like to read about the other three, besides the floral one pictured above: my black-and-white Chardon, my maxi Chardon in an African wax print, and my linen Chardon (pictured below). I’m planning on making one or two more this year. I just love the inverted pleats which are great for wide hips.
7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…
Making pattern adjustments for my husband. He’s a big guy and all the adjustments are different from anything I do for myself. So I really dread making them pattern adjustments but I’m getting better and I get help from other sewists via Instagram (@sewbrooke is particularly helpful because she works as a costumer). Now I tissue-fit first and make as many flat pattern adjustments as I can so I can reduce the number of muslins. I’m hoping I only have to make one muslin of the Kwik Sew cardigan I’m making for him now (fingers crossed!).
8) And your favorite sewing task?
Choosing fabric and hemming – because it means I’m nearly done!
9) What is your favorite ‘sewing entertainment’?
Lately, I haven’t really been listening to anything when I’m sewing on my machine unless my husband is around, then I’ll listen to whatever he’s playing, usually jazz or R&B. If I’m doing hand sewing, I’ll do that in front of the TV.
10) Printed or PDF?
I prefer printed but I also sew PDF patterns.
11) What sewing machine do you use?
I use a Kenmore sewing machine from Sears, which I got in 2009. It’s a good basic machine. Unfortunately, Sears no longer carries sewing machines, which you can read about on here on the Sewing Machine Lady’s website. The Kenmore machines were made by Janome. In 2014, I got a used Bernina 1008, which is a mechanical machine, no fancy electronics. It stitches very nicely but you can’t adjust the pressure of the presser foot which is a problem when sewing knit fabrics. So then I switch to the Kenmore or use my serger (a Janome 204D), which was gifted to me by a generous Bay Area Sewists member at then end of 2015.
12) Do you have any other hobbies?
I’m a hat collector. I haven’t done a recent count but I likely have more than 60 hats now. I’ve been buying and making hats for more than 20 years. I’ve taken a few millinery classes, learning about embellishing hats, covering buckram frames with fabric and even making a sculptural lace hat. In all of my blog photos, you’ll see me wearing one of my hats.
Before a photo shoot, I’ll usually stare at the hats on the bedroom wall or on the small hat rack on the dresser – and then pick one or two to wear with my ensemble. I have many vintage hats and some new hats, too. I made the red hat in the top row using upholstery fabric. You can sort of see the lace hat I made – it’s just below the grey wool beret with the tan button in the middle. The lace hat is sitting on top of a linen and velvet vintage hat.
I don’t have enough room for all of my hats so some are stacked on top of each other. And yes, they do collect some dust. I have a special brush that’s just for my hats. So I’ll just give them a once-over with the brush before I wear them. I have hats in a few hat boxes, too. They are the hats with sequins and feathers. I have a lot of “flat” hats, such as berets that are in the closet.
This is one of my favorite wool berets, which my sister got for me in London more than 20 years ago. This photo was taken by professional photographer Sarah Deragon of Portraits to the People. It was one of the rejects for the editor’s page of a publication I used to edit.
If you want to see a few more of my hats, check out my January newsletter, which has a column showing five of my hats, also taken during this photo shoot. I brought a hat box full of hats that day.
Thanks so much for tagging me, Stef! Now it’s my turn to pick a few sewists I’d like to know better. I’m tagging:
I really enjoy seeing what they make on Instagram and need to visit their blogs more often. They are all very talented and creative sewists whose work I admire. I look forward to their answers!
1) Who are you?
2) When & why did you start sewing?
3) What is your favorite or proudest make?
4) What is your most disastrous make?
5) Where is your favorite place to go fabric shopping?
6) What is your most used pattern?
7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…
8) And your favorite sewing task?
9) What is your favorite ‘sewing entertainment’?
10) Printed or PDF?
11) What sewing machine do you use?
12) Do you have any other hobbies?
I don’t usually plan what I’m going to make for the year but I have bought many patterns over the past year, not to mention the scores of patterns that are already in my collection. So I decided to make a list of my #2017MakeNine, which was started by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille last year (check out her 2017 Make Nine here).
I’ve been going over some of the patterns in my sewing queue and trying to decide what my priorities are. It’s a balance between what I need now (more pants!) and what I’d like to make.
I’ve got fabric for five of the patterns in my 2017 Make Nine list. You’d think that having fabric makes you more likely to make something but that’s not always the case. Here’s what the patterns look like.
And here’s a bit more about my 2017 Make Nine patterns.
Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater – I bought this pattern at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics soon after its release and got some lovely violet wool double-knit fabric on sale there, too. I plan on making version 1, which has the mock turtleneck. I traced my pattern pieces several weeks ago. Now I’m making a mock-up using some red fleece. I don’t want to cut my wool until I’m absolutely sure about the fit.
I got this cute Vogue pattern (V8840, out of print) at a Bay Area Sewists pattern swap. I like both tops and the pants, which have a slight flare. The fabric on the model in the top photo is wacky. The drawing on the pattern is much nicer and gives you a better idea of what it looks like. I just discovered that the previous owner cut size 12. Oops – too small for me. (Note to self: Look inside the pattern envelope before you take it.) Of course, I went online buy a copy on eBay for $11. Do you do that? Hunt down out-of-print patterns online when you can’t find one in your size or it’s sold out?
I’ve been looking for a pattern to make a long cardigan because I’ve had some 70-inch wide knit fabric just sitting in my stash waiting to be made into something. I got the fabric for $1/yard a few years ago from the FIDM Scholarship Store in Los Angeles. The proceeds go to scholarships for students. Someone (I forget who) on Instagram suggested the Megan Longline Cardigan Pattern by Tessuti so I bought the PDF.
Ever since I saw Libby’s beautiful Deer & Doe Fumeterre skirt, I wanted to make one. I love long skirts. We follow each other on Instagram and met in person earlier this year when she was in the Bay Area. She was wearing her Fumeterre. (She’s @liblib and I’m @csews on IG.)
I bought two different denim fabrics at Mood Fabrics on my most recent trip to NYC to make some jeans. You can see the fabric in this post. At least one pair will be trouser jeans, using this Butterick 5682. I need to replace the RTW trouser jeans I’ve worn to death. Maybe I can copy my old pair one of these days.
I got this Jalie 3248 cardigan pattern back when Pattern Review held its sewing event in San Francisco in 2013. It’s been buried in my pattern stash. When I bought it, I had only sewn about two knit tops on my sewing machine so I was wary about making it. I was intimidated by the recommended fabric note to use a knit with “40% stretch across the grain and 20% in the length.” I didn’t have a serger back then and I didn’t know much about the stretch of a fabric. That doesn’t bother me now so I’m more than ready to make this pattern. I like the pockets and it has 27 sizes (!) from girls to plus sizes. I could make versions for my nieces.
I have a pair of RTW pants that are similar to these sailor pants but they are getting a little too frayed to wear in public. I wore them all the time. It seems that all my favorite pants need to be replaced. Thus my dire need for more pants. When I saw this Sandra Betzina Vogue pattern (V1464), I had to get it. It was released this fall. I bought some designer bottom-weight black fabric on sale at Stonemountain this summer. One of these pieces will be a pair of pants.
I got this Butterick pattern (B5893) when there was a $1.99 sale last month. I wanted a super easy pants pattern. You can’t get any easier than an elastic-waist pair of pants.
I’ve had the Sewaholic Robson trench coat pattern (#9) for at least two years, maybe more. In 2014 I bought some Michael Kors fabric for this coat in Seattle at District Fabric. I confess that I’ve set it aside because I remember reading a post by someone who said it took forever to trace the pattern pieces because there were so many pieces. Maybe I’ll just buy a second copy and save myself the hours of tracing. Erin of Seamstress Erin, underlined her Robson,which is a great idea. I would really like a trench coat which is perfect for Bay Area weather.
I also like vintage and out-of-print patterns. So I made another 2017 Make Nine for those patterns, which include dresses, hats, pants, and skirts. I got the vintage Vogue hat pattern from Nettie of Sown Brooklyn. She very kindly gifted it to me after she posted it on Instagram and I commented that I loved it. Ah, the generosity of sewcialists is boundless! Thank you, Wanette!
Of these patterns, the only one in print is the Butterick reissue from 1961 (B6318), part of the company’s “Retro” line. I got the cloche sun hat pattern released by the Vintage Pattern Lending Library from Lacis in Berkeley. I looked on the VPLL site to see if it was still available but I didn’t find it there. You may be able to find a copy at Lacis. Call the retail store (510/843-7290) or search their online catalog here (on the left side of the page, under the heading “Tools & Materials,” click on the link “Costume” and then you’ll see “Patterns” and a list of pattern companies.)
I love the tie-waist of the Butterick dress. Maybe I’ll make it for the Bay Area Sewists’ Frocktails event in February.
I just realized that I left off the Named Mimosa Culottes. I’m making a second muslin and hope to get that underway as well. I’ve already got fabric for it.
I don’t think I’ll make everything because new patterns are always being released and I get easily distracted. The pattern queue is always changing.