Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Reviews, Movie Review, and I've Been A Bad Bad Girl

I'm hoping if I hide the massive fabric infusion at the end of the post it will mitigate the damage.

Jackie: The Clothes of CamelotSeveral months ago I checked out Jackie: The Clothes of Camelot by Jay Mulvaney from the library based on Cindy of Colour by Numbers' recommendation. It is a great book! It is a bit of a hagiography, more Franklin Mint than trenchant political history, but that is exactly what I'm looking for in a book about the fashion of a public figure. I just want to read about what they wore, not their larger historical significance (for instance, the book skimmed right over the issues of infidelity and unhappiness in Jackie and Jack's marriage).

It is full of lovely pictures, mostly black and white but color when they are available. It's organized chronologically and by type of clothing (evening, daywear, casual sportswear). There is just the right balance of text and photos--adequate description and information on the designers and Jackie's personal taste without getting too much about the author or the story and not enough about the clothes. Although it is neither high literature nor high art, I think this is a superb piece of fashion history.

From Jackie: The Clothes of Camelot From Jackie: The Clothes of Camelot

Love the day dress on the left; it's similar in style to the Butterick 5209 retro reissue I made last year. And check out the muscle definition in her legs--I thought they didn't believe in exercise back then and just stayed skinny by smoking and not eating? The Grecian evening gown is just gorgeous.

Alabama Stitch Book The girls on Wardrobe Refashion are in love with Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin. Amazingly, the DCPL had a copy so I checked it out.

I'm glad I borrowed it from the library rather than purchasing, because the Hipster Cowboy aesthetic is sooooo not my own. I deliberately put the words in order with Hipster first and Cowboy second; although Chanin has returned home to Alabama the look is pure Brooklyn (where she lived while developing her style).

The idea is to use old t-shirts as the raw material for all the projects in the book, which is kind of cool (but, again, not my thing). The first section contains useful and well-written information on sewing basics; all the sewing is done by hand so there's nothing on using a machine. After the preliminaries come the projects. There are a good number of projects and the book includes patterns for a skirt (loose fitting, A line) and corset-style t-shirt refashion. I found it a little frustrating on behalf of beginners that she doesn't make clear the corset thingy is corset style, not an actual corset; it has no structure and being made of a t-shirt won't do anything corset-y or foundation-y. But that's a small quibble.

The book also includes extensive information on applique, reverse applique, beading, and stenciling. I admire the look of the reverse applique projects, but cannot picture incorporating it into my garments. Even though my style is Retro Fantasy, and you'd think the "fantasy" element would include room for lots of embellishment, I am very wary of embellishment. It doesn't come naturally to me and can so easily cross the line into Crafty Crazy, Dated, Dowdy, and just plain Hideous so I usually just leave it alone.

I like the tactile nature of the book, if that's the proper way to describe it. It includes a cardboard stencil (in addition to some additional stencil line art printed on the pages that you are to enlarge on a copy machine and create your own stencil from); two paper patterns at the end; and a postcard to bead.

From The Alabama Stitch Book From The Alabama Stitch Book

Although the clothes didn't do much for me, I did love the chrysanthemum fabric flower project. As with the rest of the book, I don't think I'd make these flowers; I have pretty much zero interest in non-functional decorative objects. But I will keep the idea in the back of my mind should I ever need to create decorations for a shower or party for someone else. As mentioned, I found the beading and reverse applique projects inspiring. The skirt on the right definitely does not look Dated, Dowdy, or Hideous and if it's Crafty Crazy it's in a sweet way, but I just don't know that I could ever get there. Asymmetry is ridiculously hard for me, and looking as though I've casually scattered an assortment of beads on a skirt would in truth be an arduous, laborious mental process (leaving aside the physical work of it!).

I only snapped a few photos from each book so as not to go beyond "fair use" and violate the authors' copyrights, but all images from both books are here


The Young Victoria A friend wanted to see The Young Victoria for her birthday and I was all over that! The costumes did not disappoint; they were sumptuous and breathtaking. It was annoying that there was so much black, but I can't blame the filmmakers for the mourning rituals of the time period. The menswear was just as lovely as the women's clothing. Tall, skinny plaid pants are sexy! I didn't know anything about Queen Victoria other than having a vague idea of her as a prude (based on the colloquial use of the adjective "Victorian"). It was well done and extremely interesting. I highly recommend giving this movie a view; I might even say to see it in the theatre so the costumes have maximum effect.

====================, January 2010

And now we come to the confessional portion of this post. Based on a seriously enabling post on the PR message board, I ordered a lot of the Vera Wang closeout fabric on It was $1.95 yard, and with free shipping and discount codes it was really too good to pass up! Well, that is what I tell myself. In truth, There Will Always Be More Fabric.

Clockwise from left in the photo above, we'll start with the silk/rayon satin. I couldn't get a photo that looks anything like the actual colors but they are beautiful. The fabric is a heavy satin with a beautiful soft finish. Unfortunately, I have already ruined the purple. :( People had posted that the finish of the fabric "crackled" in the wash. I started with the emerald and put it as flat as I could into a bathtub with a few inches of warm water and some mild shampoo and mushed it around, not crinkling it up to the best of my ability. Then I hung it to dry. In the morning it was softer but the smell of the sizing washing out in the tub had been heinous. It seemed very toxic. So I threw it in the wash. It survived with only a few stretch marks. Then I got cocky with the purple. I filled the washer and let the fabric soak for 20 minutes, thinking it would dissolve the sizing and the surface would be ok. I was wrong. It looks like it is covered with dirty chalk marks. I will try over-dying and see what happens. Otherwise I have a lot of pajamas in my future. Actually, I bought these fabrics thinking to use them for linings and it will still be great for lining coats--I love the heavier weight and the satin slide is perfect to pull over clothes. I've not touched the olive yet. It's my favorite color and I don't want to ruin the surface of it.

I ordered the rayon satin the next photo for linings as well, and it is really nice! I didn't happen to have any light colored lining so I tossed it in the cart and am glad I did. Next to that is fuschia silk chiffon. Yes, I know I swore off silk chiffon but the color! It is gorgeous! The fabric! It is soft! I recently made the high-necked version of McCall 5708 in silk/cotton and love it. I think this fabric would be sensational in that pattern, with an underlined body and sheer sleeves.

Pattern ideasContinuing around the clock we have a polyester/spandex print. I expected this to be a jersey, probably because I didn't read closely enough, but it's more like a cross between a stretch and a woven. I have two ideas for patterns, the current version of the classic DVF wrap dress, which I've made before, Vogue 8379 or Vogue 8593 with the interesting pleated neckline. I ordered four yards of this fabric and by laying out both patterns at once and with some judicious cutting I might be able to get both dresses out of it, the wrap dress with 3/4 sleeves, collar, and cuffs and the pleat neck dress sleeveless. Also, can I give a big annoyed raspberry in the direction of Butterick/McCall/Vogue for their website redesign that has broken three years worth of links in my blog archives and creates web addresses that are no longer intuitive like Simplicity did? What was wrong with a web address like
for McCall 6723? Why do we have to add a bunch more crap to it?, January 2010

Now we come to the wools. I got fuschia flannel, off-white boucle, lightweight wool/silk/cotton suiting, stretch black suiting, and brick-colored melton.

I was hoping for more of a hot pink in the fuschia flannel and was initially disappointed in this purple fabric, but it is definitely growing on me. I will start with a skirt and see where we go from there.

The boucle is very lightweight and has a square texture almost like a thermal waffle weave. I have been craving a winter-white coat for several years now but not done it because it will get so dirty so fast. Although the price of fabric for a coat pales in comparison to the amount of work, maybe I will just bite the bullet and do it. I will likely felt the fabric first, though. Right now it is drapey enough for a dress and won't hold structure. Will test that out.

The wool/silk/cotton was a surprise; I bought it for interlining (the cotton content isn't ideal for interlining, but wool and silk are both so warm I figured it would be ok). But the sheen and hand on this fabric are gorgeous. The problem is, I cannot wear this color. It is the same color as me. I would look naked in it, and not in a good way. It would make a beautiful dress, though; I'm thinking particularly of the cowl-drape version of Vogue 8413. Maybe I will experiment with dyeing. I will likely lose the sheen and the herringbone pattern, but I really can't wear that color. Really.

Next is the stretch wool "suiting." This is super lightweight. I would never consider it for pants, for instance, and I really don't see how it would work as a jacket. I ordered three yards of it thinking that you always need a black skirt in the current shape and so I'd just stock up and be done with it for the next 6 years or so (assuming a skirt lasts two seasons). But I don't know that this fabric will work as a structured pencil skirt, for instance, which is what I'm looking for now. It is nice fabric and has a great stretch, but it's not what I hoped for.

Not a MatchLast is the brick-colored melton. I ordered it hoping that it would coordinate with my favorite Carol Collection plaid. I love the idea of making the plaid into the Burda 01-2009-114 jacket with the bias strips around the edges and then a skirt in the rust color. Although really, who am I kidding? Although I make the occasional coat, I neither make nor wear jackets. Ever. Alas, the brick does not match the rust in the plaid; seeing them together I realize I would need something more on the burgundy spectrum than the rust spectrum to match the plaid.

However, the brick fabric is really nice and after your comments on orange I was thinking I should have ordered enough for a coat! I got 2 yards, which wouldn't get me much of anywhere. Also, the color edges toward 70s orange (the color is closer to in the wool composite picture above than the photo with the plaid); it's not a pure, bright orange. I will think of what to do with it. I could still make a skirt, but then it occurred to me that I would really have nothing to wear with it. I wear cools, jewel tones, and blacks, and pretty much never wear browns or warms. I'd hate to have a one-trick pony skirt with only one top made especially to match it, creating an outfit that in truth I would likely never wear. Although I do need to justify the purchase of some brown boots. But the fabric is so nice that I'm not ready to let go of it.

So, um, 46 yards. It took me three days to carry all 24 pounds of fabric home from work (my commute is about a mile and a half on foot, and uphill of course). That's almost half of what I sew in a year. Bad.

To atone for this in some manner, I did some stash cleaning last night and culled out an approximately equal weight of fabric (didn't measure the yardage). So Laura, is DC Threads still looking for fabric donations?


badmomgoodmom said...

You are in good company. After trips to Elfriede's Fine Fabrics in Oct and Stone Mtn and Daughter in Nov, I brought home about the same amount, too.

I did sew up 20 yds in Jan already. But I must make more space in my sewing room.

I like the Alabama stitch book, but the patterns won't work for my figure. I adapted her techniques for the sewing machine, using a pattern that fit my pear shape. I am rather fond of it.

Brooke said...

If DC threads isn't looking for donations, you can always donate to my extremely selfish personal collection. :-D

redhotpepper said...

Oooo, I'm going to the library today so I may need to check out that Jackie O book.

The fuchsia lambswool is really nice to work with as is the stretch wool. With the stretch wool, I made BWOF 8-2009-128 with a vintage jacket to match. Also Butterick 4859 and it was perfect for that.

Happy sewing!


Pammie said...

Great tip on the Alabama Stitch Book - I'm checking that out. My brother went to Univ of Alabama (we're both from Florida and I live in LA) - and we just went to the BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl two weeks ago. And yes, some people can rock that Urban Cowboy look - it did inspire me to buy some Frye Belted Harness Boots. I'm a rock surfer type of aethestic with some 70s thrown in . . . Love your blog!!!

Little Hunting Creek said...

You have been a very bad girl - how do you fit it all in your apartment? I love that silk chiffon stuff too. That orange would look good as a little 60's style jacket over a sheath dress kind of look - very Doris Day.

Pammie said...

BTW, I love your Butterick Vintage Dress you made last year - fantastic! I'm inspired and am going to get that pattern. Yes, I can see the hipster part might rock with your look . . .

AuntieAllyn said...

Thank you for your brutually honest fabric purchase confession . . . now I don't feel so bad about the few yards of the VW fabrics that I bought!

Christina said...

I have the Alabama Stitch book out from the library now too! I've flipped through it but I'm just not in the mood for it now I think. Oh well, it'll be there later if/when I am.

Leora Louise said...

I'm surprised to find out you don't wear browns/warms at all. I think if you make a sheath with the wool/silk/cotton (don't dye it, dear goodness!) and put something (blouse, scarf) around the neck area you'll look great. Brown boots! Brown boots!

Claudine said...

Wow, what a lot of information! I have about a billion Jackie books, but not that one. I may put it on my list. I really liked the Alabama Stitch Book. I recommended it to my nephew, who was interested in sewing. I liked that some of the projects were boy-ish. I wonder if he ever got it? Here's my reverse applique project. I think it's not too crafty.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. This seriously takes the cake. I'm a big fan of gluttony and you are a CHAMP! Happy happy sewing!

Sickofitcindy said...

Don't feel bad,look at it not as increasing your stash but as good exercise when you're carrying those 46 yards uphill!

Sewfast said...

Nice work on the fabric buys! I love and am waiting for my stashbuster drop to arrive! You can find some real gems in the $1.95 clearance...I partook of some of the lavender collection too!

kbenco said...

Buying bargain fabric is a pretty mild sort of badness! There are some real lovelies in your haul.

Trudy Callan said...

I've got to check out the Jackie O book.

Love your new fabric.

gwensews said...

I don't know how I missed your last post, but you are a cute lass in that plaid skirt! Very nice.

As for the fabrics that have spots due to water--get yourself some stencils or stamps and fabric paint--and have a good time desgining your own fabric. It's especially fun if you are using it for a lining.

You're pretty close to knowing what we did in the 60s to stay slender. Yes, we did smoke, but mostly pot! And we were very happy people!

BJ said...

Love your blog, first of all. Yes, we did smoke in the 60s to stay slim...and it worked quite well, if I do say so. My mom was even told by her doctor to start smoking to "relax" - can you believe that? I too had muscle definition (complimented on my legs a LOT back then) and I never exercised for a single one did!

laura said...

About 20 years ago I bought a beautiful vintage pink dress (metal zipper in the back and self fabric belt) with a matching bolero type jacket (bound button hole and covered button) at The Salvation Army. I called it my 'Jackie O' dress and I still have it. It was obviously custom made for someone and the work is exquisite. As much as I liked Jackie's style I'm still a mod 60's lover of fashion.

laura said...

About 20 years ago I bought a beautiful vintage pink dress (metal zipper in the back and self fabric belt) with a matching bolero type jacket (bound button hole and covered button) at The Salvation Army. I called it my 'Jackie O' dress and I still have it. It was obviously custom made for someone and the work is exquisite. As much as I liked Jackie's style I'm still a mod 60's lover of fashion.

Vicki said...

Nice haul. With the silk/cotton/wool that is the same colour as should look great on you. Just need to define the edges for contrast - how about brown binding and belt? Maybe too boring for your tastes, but something along those lines. Just a thought..

Eugenia said...

I love it when other people buy lots of fabric - it makes me feel so much better about my own 'habit'. You have got some really beautiful stuff there. I really must check out the Jackie O book, it will go well with a wonderful Michelle O book that I already have - those two first ladies certainly give us some amazing fashion inspiration!

Capitol Sew and Sew said...

Love the reviews! Love even more that you needed THREE DAYS to schlep your new fabric home!!!! Yah!! You are new fabric hero!!!

As for the DC Threads donations we are always looking for 1 yard or more cuts of fabric that is easy for beginners to sew!! So drop us a line at and we can arrange a pick up!!

Pamela said...

Jackie may not have exercised, but she was big on riding horses; all that posting had to be good for the legs! She also smoked like a fiend, but managed to mostly avoid having her picture taken with a cigarette.

Love your fabric choices; I went totally nuts myself, but all I had to do was haul my ** pounds of textiles throught the front door. You're lucky you got the ivory crepe back satin. My order had the taupe silk/rayon satin in its' place. No more ivory left when I called :-( I do not think the crepe back satin is all poly as listed. I notice Fabric Mart has the same fabric and labels it acetate/poly. It did not feel like poly to me when I bought it earlier in the season; it has too good of a drape and heft. Therefore, I would dry clean the crepe back satin fabric. That silk/rayon is definitely dry clean only as well. Love the idea to stamp the washed fabric.

I think you could easily get a short pea jacket out of the melton. Or any of these new short jackets with 3/4 sleeves.

Karen said...

Thanks for the reviews. It's always refreshing when somebody *doesn't* gush over a new craft book. Also, I'm seriously amused by the image of you being unable to carry your new fabric home from work.