Oscar de la Renta – His Legendary World of Style Exhibit

It was sad to hear of the passing of Oscar de la Renta last October. His designs were so feminine and flattering and his image was that of a kind hearted and true gentleman. No wonder we saw so many stars walk the red carpet in his gowns.

The exhibit, curated by Andre Leon Talley, will be on display at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) Art Museum until May 3. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. I was vacationing at Hilton Head with my sister and we spent a lovely day in Savannah.

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Don’t you love the ticket, it’s the navy dress Oprah wore to the Met Gala in 2010. The guide has the pink dress Taylor Swift wore to the Met Gala in 2014.

Many of the dresses were worn by famous women, or duplicates of the dresses worn and were on loan for the exhibit. Remember this red silk velvet from the Vogue cover with Hillary Clinton in December 1998?

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Another First Lady, Laura Bush, was also a fan of Oscar de la Renta and wore this embroidered coat to the inauguration in 2005. Such beautiful subtle detail.

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Many of the pieces were worn by Mrs. Annette de la Renta, such as this embroidered gown. Oh how I wished to see the inside of some of these works of art.

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Although I wasn’t a fan of this dress, I was fascinated with the applique bows. It was beautifully done and another Met Gala dress from 2012.

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My favorite dress was the pink silk gown from the exhibit guide. I didn’t notice who had worn it until I started writing this post. I must have missed seeing pictures of Taylor Swift wearing it to the Met Gala in 2014.

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The detail was just beautiful. The individual leaves are stitched on, then embroidered and beaded. Gorgeous.

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Even this cashmere and satin dress, worn by C.Z. Guest, was stunning with simplicity. The dress was gifted to the SCAD Museum by her daughter, Cornelia Guest.

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Here’s a fun pair. The hat was done by a SCAD alum.

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Remember this dress from the 2014 Met Gala, worn by Sarah Jessica Parker. I read it was her idea to add the signature on the back.

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The green silk brocade gown was worn by Ivanka Trump and the gold lame by Anna Wintour.

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Texan Lynn Hyatt wore this silk Faille gown with the roses. There looks to be some great structure to the dress, if only we could see the inside. The “gloves” were really knee highs, gotta make do at a college museum.

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I love the collar on this tweed day dress.

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Hopefully I have correctly matched the dresses to the owners, I believe this sequined and embroidered dress was worn by Gail King. The manipulation of the fabric was amazing.

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The navy silk dress on the event ticket belongs to Gail’s best friend Oprah. Another Met Gala dress, from 2010. What a gorgeous skirt.

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You had to look close to see the beaded embroidery. My flash went off when I snapped this photo, a no-no in any museum and I was reprimanded. Opps, sorry.

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Another Vogue cover dress (seated) in silk, from March 2013 was worn by Beyonce. I really wanted to touch those ruffles, but manage to control myself after the flash incident.

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This 2014 Met Gala dress had an interesting way to use a border print

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I initially thought Anna Wintour only loaned the silk flaminco skirt, then read the card about the cotton T-shirt. It was barely-there-thin and the same shade of white as the mannequin. Can you picture Anna dancing in this?

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Sometimes it’s all about the back.

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Anna Wintour loaned the coat off her back. Can you see the welt pocket?

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Then there was this silk coat and dress, fabulous.

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Absolutely amazing appliques.

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There were two of this embroidered sequin gown, one worn by Nicole Kidman to the SAG Awards in 2010.

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Two more dresses on loan from Mrs. de la Renta. The black silk gown she wore to the Met Gala in 2008. The jersey coat and dress she wore to a wedding in 1998. So timeless it could be worn today.

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I love the cut of this wedding dress.

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Imagine Oscar de la Renta designing your dress AND attending your wedding.

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It was an inspiring exhibit, with about 50 pieces. Next year a larger retrospective of his designs is planned for San Francisco’s de Young Museum. Hmmm, can I plan another trip? 100 pieces of Oscar de la Renta with a side trip to Britex.

After the our visit to the museum, we wandered the very walkable city, checking a few shops and lunching at this charming place.

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Had the best piece of chocolate, mmmmm, German Chocolate Cake truffle. What a day.

The Elusive Coat Pattern Found in a Jacket

Ever have a an idea for a make, then struggle to execute your vision? The fabric came first, so the yardage was a limitation. This heavy black, flocked knit was a piece, not quite 3 yards, found on the sale rack at Haberman Fabrics. It just said coat please, then it sat for a few months.

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Not really heavy enough for a winter coat, it took travel plans to milder climates to bring it back out and start the pattern search. I looked through my pattern stash, all my books, magazines, web sites, etc. The marriage of fabric and pattern was not happening. I thought I would move on to another project, when I noticed the jacket in Vogue 8146 had the shape that I wanted, it just needed to be longer.

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I read reviews on Pattern Review, which suggested some issues with the neckline causing it to pull down in the back. I did the muslin with the jacket length and didn’t seem to have an issue. That was likely because my muslin was, well, muslin.

I added about 14 1/2 inches to the length by just measuring down from the cut line and using a french curve to follow the hem line.

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The fabric was a little drapier (okay not a real word, but you know what I mean) than would work for the coat. I used fusible knit interfacing to completely interface each piece of the coat and a heavier fusible interfacing for the collar, front facing and back pleat lines. I’ve seen many blog discussions on the virtues of using quality interfacing, but I really didn’t want to spend more on interfacing than on the fabric. This was clearance fabric, I used the ordinary stuff you can buy at JoAnn’s, with a 50% off coupon of course. It actually worked pretty well. The knit interfacing and knit fabric seemed very compatible and the fabric  firmer and more coat like.

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The pattern does not show a lining for the jacket, but I made one using the same pattern, allowing for less front facing and a less depth to the back pleat.

The lining was something from my stash, some sort of shiny woven. Both the black knit and the lining fabric washed well and don’t seem to wrinkle. I hand stitched the lining to the coat, just because I like hand sewing.

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My favorite part of the coat is the frogs. I found them at the Trims on Wheels booth at the American Sewing Expo last September. They were too pretty to pass up and I knew I would eventually find a way to use them

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The jacket pattern shows a bow in the back and it does need some sort of detail. Luckily a small LaMode frog from JoAnn’s echoed the circles of the larger frogs and added the needed detail.

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I wore the coat in January to San Francisco, Northern Florida and South Carolina. It was the perfect weight for the cool, but not cold weather and comfortable for traveling.

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I will likely go back and add pockets, can you believe I forgot to add pockets? It does pull down in the back, yes, Pattern Reviewers you warned me. Maybe weights in the front hem would help, but removable as to not set off any alarms going through TSA screening when traveling. Now if it would just warm up in Michigan.

Vogue Pattern Mash Up

I’m a little behind in posting,  my first make of the year was actually done in January. The North American Auto Show Charity Preview, also known as the Detroit Prom, was January 16. While still somewhat vision challenged after surgery to repair a detached retina, sewing still seemed a better option than dress shopping.

Pinterest is a source of inspiration and the embellished looks from Chanel had me spinning with ideas.  It was January 2nd before I could safely drive to Haberman Fabrics, considering it had been at least 2 months without a fabric purchase, I may have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It was so much fun to be back in a fabric store, so many pretty colors and textures. I had been thinking of silver or bronze metallics, until I saw a beautiful Italian wool and silk blend brocade.

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The gradations of color show more in the photos, it is much more subtle in person. The brocade would become the bodice and a coordination silk shantung would be the skirt.

So two weeks before the event I have the fabric. The time crunch had me thinking, do what is familiar, now is not the time for something new. Back to my old standard for a bodice with Vogue 8849 and 8766 combined, for the fifth time.

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Deciding on the skirt took some thinking and going through the pattern stash. Vogue 8998, view D has a wonderful swishy skirt, with horsehair braid to give some extra body, I just needed to make it floor length. Another trip back to Habermans, for more silk shantung, was required to accommodate all that fabric greedy swishyness.

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Sewing with my nose inches from the needle was needed because my glasses and contact lenses didn’t really work with my slightly distorted vision. The seams may be a little crooked, but no one would see it. Making clothes with the inside as beautiful as the outside is a lovely secret, but wonky insides is a secret too.

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Now what to do for the embellishment? Fabric trims? Nothing matched up well. Craft store jewelry making supplies? The post-holiday inventory was sadly depleted. What about finding some costume jewelry to take apart? Bingo! Hello Charming Charlie. So nice of them to have all their jewelry displayed by color, they made it so easy. I bought necklaces, bracelets and earrings, ordering extra of the same from their web site.

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I just had to make sure each item had holes that a needle could pass through to stitch it onto the dress. It just took a little playing to get a design. Oh, and a second trip to Charming Charlie, for a few more earrings, after deciding to add some embellishment at the waist.

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Hand stitching the jewelry pieces on with the dress on the dress form was the easiest way to work. A slow, but enjoyable process.  The bodice is underlined with silk organza and  I attached the black silk habotia lining by hand after the embellishment was finished. The skirt is lined with some silk dupioni I had in my stash. Since I did not want bulk at the waist, I created a yoke with the rest of the skirt lining based on the skirt pattern.

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While making this dress I found a great blog posting from Sew Mama Sew  showing how to do pockets with french seams and I love having pockets in a dress. Take that you silk shantung, no unsightly fraying seams for you. Good thing I practice it on muslin, I did it backwards the first time.

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I cheated a little in covering the horsehair braid at the hem, using plain old bias tape to cover it. All that silk and then some cheapo bias tape, but the double fold wide stuff ironed open is the perfect width to cover the horsehair. And again another secret, no one saw the inside, well, except you.

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The finished dress was embellished a little less than I originally planned, but I stopped when it looked right.

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The waist and sleeve had to have a touch of embellishment too.

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It was a bit of a rush that night, getting ready and off to the event.

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The only photos were a few cell phone shots. This is a business event for my husband, I just tag along because it raises money for local children’s charities and I love to dress up.

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They always say “the cars are the stars,” at this event but it’s also lot of fun seeing so many people so dressed up, the place was packed and the people watching was just amazing. No one knew my secrets, but we can share. I love to hear yours.

 

 

 

 

MIA from the Sewing World, Revived with Retail Therapy

There have been a few times a blogger I’ve followed stops posting, unexpectedly. I always hope they are alright and will return, but life happens. This time it was me. Things were humming along and I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth.

Multiple circle trips from Michigan to Florida and South Carolina were needed to help move my mother to assisted living and handle some of her affairs. This had me out of town frequently throughout the fall. At the same time, the many changes at work it made it difficult to keep up and I gave my employer notice. I was looking forward to more time for family and sewing, but everything came to a screeching halt in December. I thought the floaters and flashes in my left eye were due to stress, then a grey cloudiness moved into my vision. My lovely optometrist referred me to a great retinal surgeon and within days I had surgery for a retinal detachment. The surgery was a breeze, but the recovery has been long. I’ve been sewing some, but but my vision still has some distortion and I need to limit my computer time.

Since a January trip to San Francisco was planned and booked months ago, I carefully followed all the doctor’s instructions to make sure I recovered enough to be allowed to fly. There was no way I was going to miss a visit to Britex Fabrics.

My husband was attending a convention and we stayed in Union Square, conveniently located about 3 blocks from the 4 floors of Britex at 146 Geary St. The store keeps some high style company, Jimmy Choo and Chanel on one side and YSL and Valentino on the other.

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Four floors of fabric and notion nirvana. As soon as I walked in there was a familiar face. Sandra Bedzina was in the store teaching a class. What lucky students, shopping and Sandra all in one place.

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For someone not familiar with the store, is it possible to plan for a visit to a place like this and just how would one do that? Make a list, research the web site, review the existing stash? I did none of that and not having any expectations, I was a little overwhelmed. Maybe it was my deer-in-headlights look while wandering the vast sea of lovely wools and silks on the first floor, more likely it’s the frequency of dazed visitors, that had one of the very experienced sales staff suggest starting on the 4th floor and working downwards.

4th Floor – Remnants, faux fur, felt & fleece, nets & tulles, vinyl & leather

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3rd Floor- Notions & accessories, buttons & bridal, ribbons & trims, buckles & tassels, patterns & books.

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2nd Floor – Home decor, cottons & linens, rayons & polyesters, velvets & lycras, metallics & sequins

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1st Floor – Woolens, silks, brocades, couture laces, linings

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Another familiar found on the first floor. Emily Payne from Project Runway season 13, with her fabulous blue hair enhanced by the blue woolens behind her. She was to teach a draping class there a few days after my visit, wouldn’t that be fun?

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Purchases include a a floral knit for a wrap dress, rust wool for a dress with the coordinating vintage frog for a neckline detail, a plum knit lace to over lay the blue knit for, yes, another dress and purple on navy nubby sweater knit for a cardigan.  It took about 4 hours to explore the store and make fabric choices. As the kind gentleman who suggested starting on the top floor said, “Sometimes you have to visualize a garment to choose a fabric.”

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Britx provides a visual feast of color, pattern and inspiration, well worth a return visit.

Some other San Francisco fabric stores recommended by fellow Ready-to-Wear-Fasters:

Satin Moon Fabrics, 32 Clement St, is a small, cute place in a sweet neighborhood. It was fun to listen to the sister/owners as they helped customers and talked about what was going on in the sewing world.  The store includes quality fashion fabric and home dec, with some patterns and trims squeezed in. They had some beautiful laces and silks, but I was thinking cotton prints for spring. Purchases – all cottons, with plans for a dress, and 2 skirts.

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Fabrix  is now at 432 Clement St. It was originally  at 101 and across the street from Satin Moon, but recently relocated down a few blocks (according to the Satin Moon sisters, it was due to updates needed to retrofit the building for required earthquake regulations). The bare bones store seems to have a rather random inventory of bolt ends and overruns, but I picked up some white silk organza and 2 silk prints for linings. The large floral is a knit that will be fun to play with the pattern placement on a dress. A great place for bargain hunters not looking for something specific.

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Since the two stores are so close together, it was worth a visit to hit them both.

Discount Fabrics, 2315 Irving St, this location has lost the lease and in May will be consolidating with their store at 201 11th St. (I didn’t bother with a photo since it won’t be there long). The rolls of fabric were crammed in barrels so tight it was difficult to move them to see the selection and many of the notions looked like they had been around for a long time. The hotel concierge suggested the neighborhood around the 11th St location could be risky.   Purchases – drapey sweater knit, paisly lining and a piece of black leather. If I have a chance to return to San Francisco, I’ll skip this store.

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San Francisco offers inspiration everywhere, and leaving the cold an snow behind for a few days was wonderful.

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Just a side note: The best museum I visited was the Walt Disney Family Museum located in the Presidio, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The wonderful exhibits, photos, film clips, memorbilia and art work spans Walt’s professional and private life in a very personal way. Anyone who grew up watching the Wonderful World of Disney will love it.

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My suitcase was a few pounds overweight, but maybe since my husbands suitcase was light, I didn’t get charged extra.

 

 

American Sewing Expo Part 1 – Shopping the Expo

The best thing about September in Michigan just may be the American Sewing Expo. This annual, multi day event in Novi, a suburb northwest of Detroit,  attracts sewing enthusiasts from all over Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Canada.

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If you haven’t been to a sewing expo, imagine a giant show floor full of venders selling sewing machines, fabric, patterns, notions, threads, trims, and just about everything else you could want. Yes, it’s a little bit a sewing heaven. Add in all the displays, classes, workshops and fashion shows and you have a oh-my-goodness-what-do-I-do-first dilemma. This was my 6th year attending and I think I finally found my balance of time shopping vs. attending classes.

There is so much to share about the Expo, it will take two postings. First up will be shopping and some of the displays, then next week’s post will be about classes.

I was selective with my shopping this year, with a major purchase made minutes after arriving at the Expo. After decades of sewing, I finally bought a serger. I was planning on the Baby Lock Imagine, but went with the Enlighten instead. Most of the sewing machine companies are at the expo, so it can be a great place to comparison shop.

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One of the busiest booths was The McCall Pattern Company

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I met  Meg, who’s posts we have been reading on the McCall Pattern Company blog. She already has a blog post from the show and photos from their fashion show on Pinterest.  It was fun to chat with her,  I enjoy reading her posts about the behind the scenes individuals who work at the smaller than most people think company. She has been working on her Ralph Rucci coat for the Sewalong and may have convinced me to give it a try.  I bought the latest issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine. I let my subscription lapse when they changed it, but now it’s back, even better and time to get a new subscription.

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Can you tell the Expo had a Costume/Cospay theme?

McCall also brought along some of their designers, including David Tutera, Khaliah Ali, Joi Mahon, Katherine Tilton and of course, Gertie aka Gretchen Herst. Gertie was in the Social Media Lounge signing her latest book.  The skirt she was wearing is from the book and absolutely gorgeous. My photo doesn’t do it justice.

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She is one of the nicest people and told us she is already working on her next book, which will be dresses and include a variety of bodices and skirts. Since dresses are what makes up most of my wardrobe, I’m looking forward to it. There is a great cardigan in this book I want to try.

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I also bought a book by Emma Seabrooke on trims. I want to try some of her methods to see if they will work for trimming a Chanel style jacket. Of course I had to stock up on SewKeyesE Stay Tape, love that stuff.

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There were a few booths with trims, but Trims on Wheels seemed to attract the biggest crowd. They were cheery and helpful. I bought some frogs for a coat I’m planning, along with a roll of velvet ribbon and an rose applique. The prices were great, the frogs were only $5 a piece.

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Since I had splurged on the serger,  I was less tempted by fabric this year.  At the crazy busy Vogue Fabrics booth I picked up 2 pieces of soft, medium weight Sophia knit in solid black and ivory. These should be great to try out on the new serger.  What looks like black and white tweed is a raw silk.

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How often can you find nice pieces of leather? I bought a small piece of burgundy leather from Habermans, to trim a dress. They had some beautiful wool, but my stash guilt set in and I passed it by.

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The Wool House from Toronto had some gorgeous pieces, you can’t walk past their booth without touching the wool cashmere blends, but again, stash guilt.

I’m strictly a fashion sewer, but the quilters seemed to have a lot to look at and buy too.  I checked out some of the booths carrying notions and sewing gadgets, along with the Kai Scissors booth, but happy with my purchases, my shopping was done.

My timing was off and I didn’t make it to any of the fashion shows, but checked out some of the many displays. Joi Mahon had a trunk show, aren’t the black and white dresses great?

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The  1/2 scale challenge, sponsored by ASE, Designer Joi and Baby Lock,  had the theme: Fashion Icons thru the Ages.  Look at the sewing machine in the photo below, left, to get the scale of these wonderful little garments. This challenge will run again next year, with a new theme to be announced soon.

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Last year’s ASE Passion for Fashion winner, Vera Lukiy, manipulated fabric to create these dresses.

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Costume Fantasy, created by area costume designers.

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Passion for Fashion is one of the biggest events of the weekend. The finalist chosen to participate are given the theme and and funds to shop the expo on Friday morning. They complete their work on the show floor, in front of everyone, in 2 days.  How stressful is that? The runway show and judging is Saturday evening.

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The theme related to the costume/cosplay theme for the Expo. This year’s winner was the black dress below, left.

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The expo has much more to see and do, more to come next week.

Time Travel in a Pattern File

In the past week I did some wandering through part of the pattern stash accumulated by my mother. She sewed most of her life and  worked for a number of years in a small independent fabric store in Inverness, FL, now long closed.

Of course she has many, many uncut patterns, and most are from the 1990’s, not my favorite fashion years. There were some patterns I found interesting and maybe even usable.

Take these pajamas.

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The copyright in the left corner shows 1995.

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There’s only so much you can do with classic pajamas, the shirts are shorter now and a styles are trimmer overall, but doesn’t one of the guys in the illustration look like Ryan Reynolds? Was he around in 1995?

Nightgowns for women were a craft?

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Is that because in 1994 crafting was popular and sewing wasn’t?

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Or because of the hair accessory included in the pattern? I heard scrunches were making a comeback. Views A and B are a little pajama party meets square dancing, but views C and D could be made today and look current.

A basic t-shirt in 1992 had shoulder pads. The power t-shirt, for when the occasion calls for a more casual look than the power suit.

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And now that the high waisted pants are back, will shoulder pads follow?

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Oh look, a romper.

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The New Look patterns do not have copyright dates, but this screams 90’s. You could hide a small child in those sleeves. Rompers will forever remind me of junior high gym suits, but the fuller cut of the bottom could be more flattering than more recent versions.

Another New Look pattern, and this one could be selling right now.

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How cute is that red dress?

My favorite find from my stroll down pattern memory lane was a little older than the rest. My mother still had a pattern I used in 1975.

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I made it in red and wore it to a Valentines Day dance in college. I loved how  the skirt moved. It  may be a little mother of the bride looking, but in such a classic style, who would think it’s nearly 40 years old.

I was hoping to find more Vogue designer gems in my mother’s stash, I know she had the original Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern, because I remember making it in a red and white Maybe it didn’t survive the move from Michigan to Florida. Now it’s time to downsize again, as she will be moving to assisted living in a few weeks and an estate sale is in the future. Hopefully central Florida has some sewing fans who love 90’s fashion,