Vintage Lady of the Week: GINGER ROGERS

I adore Ginger Rogers. I especially love her movies with Fred Astaire. For all of the stories I read and heard about, on how they fought all of the time, they danced marvelously together.

I always loved Ginger Rogers for her grace and poise, and her elegance. These are qualities that I frequently think are starting to disappear in modern society. Goblins know I am lacking them!! Her costumes, and her clothes, were always stunning (except for the naughty little lingerie pictures I found!!), which made my selection a little more difficult.

First up is the soft, fluffy dress she wore in “The Gay Divorcee” (1934). The fabric was so lightweight that it almost billowed around her like clouds, and the detailing in the skirt was stunning. This one is definitely on my “To make” list!


Second is every costume she wore in “The Barclays of Broadway” (1949), but most especially this gorgeous gold dress she wears in the opening number.  On the dress form, it is reminiscent of the white dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in “The Seven Year Itch”. However, the skirt is an interesting sort of deflated-balloon design, which look fascinating every time she spun in the dance number.


Third is… this… thing… for “Top Hat” (1935). Okay, I’m going to be really honest- all of the fluff up around her neck makes her look like some sort of deranged ostrich. Its the skirt that I’m crazy about. I love the play in textures this dress has, from the silky satin body to the fluffy, floating feathers.


Lastly (not because I ran out of dresses. I could have gone on and on until the skies fell down!!), is this dress from “Lady in the Dark” (1944). It’s so flashy, and so decadent at the same time, with the touches of fur. I mean, WOW! Show stopping!


What about you? What movies of Ginger Rogers do you like? What do you think were her best costumes?


Spring Cleaning and Other Good Things

After pretty much freezing my business, and everything associated with it, in a last ditch effort to survive the semester, I have decided to just bite the bullet and get started up again.

For firstly, this store represents the culmination of my life’s dream (the dream to be a fashion designer, not the other dreams!!), and it’s been absolutely heart breaking and neurosis inducing to not be able to sew, or to sketch. So I’m cleaning of the poor neglected sewing machine and getting her fired up!

For secondly, First Friday season is here, and my brain has been overflowing with new ideas for that. So I’ve recruited two assistants to help me with the folding and the glazing.

Today, unfortunately, doesn’t look like it’s going to have much sewing in it. My house is absolutely trashed, and the weather is so nice that I thought I might do a Spring cleaning. If there’s any time left over to the day after that, then I can get started on a cute little sun dress I’ve been sizing hour. It’s going to be made from absolutely the most fun fabric ever!

Although, I must say, I have learned an important lesson from sizing it out- don’t cut your nice pretty fabric first before testing the pattern….

What Do We Do?? We Swim, Swim, SWIM!!!!

This has been a rocky month for me. Three weeks ago, after missing almost an entire week of classes due to a really scary encounter with depression, I dragged myself out of bed, and went directly to the school counselling center.

“I need help,” I told the “triage therapist”. “I’m depressed, and I’m burning out, and I can’t figure out how to juggle everything. Please. Help me.”

The therapist decided that even with my difficulty leaving the house, even with my only sleeping three hours a night, even with my plummeting grades and slipping business, and even with the fact that I wasn’t hungry EVER (I’m a huge foodie, so that was a pretty telling sign to me…) I just wasn’t depressed enough to see a therapist that week.

And even with me breaking down crying because I couldn’t get my tea water to just BOIL, and even with me running out of class to throw up when I had a sub teach one of my classes, and even with panic attacks on the bus, I just wasn’t depressed enough to see a therapist the next week.

Or the week after that.

Or the week after that.

In fact, the man decided that I was perfectly fine, but if I really wanted to see someone, he could schedule me for an appointment at the end of February (I took the appointment). In the mean time, had I tried just NOT stressing myself out? Had I tried going to bed before 4am? Had I considered eating breakfast in the morning?

I came home feeling even worse. I called my mother, and vented my spleen about the encounter, and then I called my boyfriend and vented my spleen all over again.

After all that venting, I sat down and really thought. If the sons of britches at the counselling center wouldn’t help me, then I would help myself just to spite them all!!!

For the past two weeks, I have listened to nothing but ambient meditation music. I have done yoga everyday, twice a day, and about every twenty minutes I do some deep breathing. I drink one cup of decaf coffee in the morning, and then it’s all herbal tea after that. 

And now that I have a new cellphone (mine was stolen three weeks ago. Draw your own conclusions on what set me off… I did), I can keep in touch with people.

I feel phenomenal.

I’m still going to keep my appointment. I still think my time management and stress management skills could be bettered. But I got through this without their help.

The moral of this story is NOT that if you are depressed you shouldn’t get some help. I hope no one EVER has to be told that they aren’t depressed enough to need help, because that’s really fucking scary.

The moral is that even at your darkest hour, even when you have nothing left, you have to hold on and keep going. It can feel like the most difficult thing in the world, but you need to remember that the sun will keep coming up every morning, and there will be better days ahead. You just have to get through the bad times.

Sweet Betty Blue Kimono – Part 2

Good morning!! Well, okay, maybe it’s not morning. But that’s not the point.

The Betty Blue Kimono

I actually did it! I made progress on the kimono! I’m so proud of myself. As I suspected, the body of the kimono went together very quickly. However, as you can see from what I’m trying to make vs. a kimono I happen to have on hand, there are some differences in the construction. The main one is that the red kimono has open sleeves, that do not close up under the arm.



The kimono… okay, from now on I’m going to call it a negligee, since that’s what it’s referred to in the book, and since I really strayed away from a traditional kimono pattern to get it the way I wanted it… the negligee doesn’t have open sleeves.

Drafting out new sleeve shape

Drafting out new sleeve shape

So I directed myself to my trusty pattern drafting book, and looked up how to make “western kimono sleeves”, and continued on from there.

So nice and warm.

So nice and warm.


Oh. Am I in your way? I thought I was just holding the fabric for you!

Oh. Am I in your way? I thought I was just holding the fabric for you!


Let me move out of your way and be as cute a possible!

Let me move out of your way and be as cute a possible!

Pickles helped me with the drafting process, making sure my fabric didn’t move

Look what I made for you!

Look what I made for you!

And then she inspected it once I had cut. She thinks she did all the work- I was just in the way!!


Before the front was cut open. It's finally taking shape!

Before the front was cut open. It’s finally taking shape!

The front opening of the negligee follows the same style as the kimono, where the fabric is slashed open, and then the raw edges are either turned under in the lining (I haven’t gotten there yet, but I have some nice light blue satin that I think will do just fine), or in the collar band (which I also haven’t done, since I’m having trouble deciding if I want to keep the red from the image, or make the robe all light blue.

What do you think? Keep the red, or ditch it?

In the Works: Some CREASEables

Since it’s getting close to when I start going to events around Philly, I’ve been putting in some dedicated time and research into my new origamis. I really love the kanzashi worn by geisha and maiko, but with all of the time I spend sewing other things, it’s nice to have a break from fabric and needles.

My past CREASE designs have really been a hit, but I sort of felt like I was starting to do the same four designs again, and again, and again, and again. So I went online and did some quick, superficial research on different kanzashi styles and origami foldings.

Apparently there are different colors, styles and plants associated with the different months.

January- COLORS: white, red and green
Bamboo, plum blossoms, and pine sprigs

January Kanzashi

deep pink and red
plum blossoms
feb kanzashi

yellow, white and peach
peach blossoms, narcissus, camellia, peony, and rape blossoms (it’s a plant. I swear to goblins!)
March kanzashi

pink and gold
cherry blossoms, lanterns and butterflies
April kanzashi

purple and silver
wisteria, iris, and butterfliesmay kanzashi

green, pink and blue
willow, hydrangea

june kanzashi

all it said was “fireworks”. I guess they like sparkly things that go BANG too! 🙂

morning gloryaugust kanzashi

bellflower, clover, chrysanthemum, patrinia and kudzu (no idea what the last two are)

red and white
chrysanthemumsoctober kanzashi

orange, yellow and red
maple leaves and ginko leavesnovember kanzashi

As you can see from some of the images I found (from various online sources, none of which I made, nor of which I am going to make, so pretty please if one of these is your image, don’t sue me- they’re just SO PRETTY!!!!!), and from the wealth of colors and flowers that are represented, I’ve got options.

What do you think of these sketches? Would you wear them? And, more importantly, where would you wear them?

Vintage Lady of the Week: Audrey Hepburn

It’s hard for me not to be in love with Audrey Hepburn. Maybe it’s her elfin features, or the mischievous characters she frequently played. Or her fantastic fashion sense, both on and off the screen…

Audrey Hepburn

Or her hats. Damn, did that woman wear hats!!!

Audrey Hepburn

Or the fact that she was an honest-to-goblins humanitarian. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those. Looks, talent, fashion sense, and a gigantic heart made of pure gold.

It’s tempting to completely skip going over my most favorite of her costumes, and just write an essay on her humanitarian work. But I’m going to rein myself in a little.

First up on my favorite of her costumes is EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HER COSTUMES FROM “SABRINA”. All of those Givenchy gowns!!! It’s almost like fashion-sensory over load every time I see that movie! I want that wardrobe!

Sabrina 1954

Second are her outrageous period costumes from “My Fair Lady”. I especially love this dress. The simplicity of the lines contrast beautifully with the opulence of the detailing and the jewelry… Okay, maybe that necklace is a little too much. What do you think?

Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" (1964)

Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” (1964)

Third, of course, is the black dress from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. No, not the long, body hugging black one. This one. The shorter one. With the feathers. I have a pattern book that has a reproduction pattern for this exact dress. I desperately want to make it, if only to wear it around the house on a rainy day, to play dress ups! That’s in true Holly Golightly style.

Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)

Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Fourth are the hats she wore in “Charade”. They are all absolutely odd. This movie was my introduction to Audrey Hepburn, and as soon as I saw her hats, I was SOLD. I mean, look at this bizarre elapsed print hat! It’s so strange, and yet, to me at least, oddly attractive. I’m also a huge fan of the yellow coat. It looks fairly simple to reproduce… But try finding canary yellow wool at Joann Fabrics…

Audrey Hepburn in "Charade" (1961)

Audrey Hepburn in “Charade” (1961)

"Charade" (1961)

“Charade” (1961)


This concludes my top picks for her costumes. If I had to choose my favorite films of hers, I’d definitely be torn between “Charade” and “Wait Until Dark”.

What about you? What costumes of hers do you like?  What’s your favorite Audry Hepburn movie?

CIBA Sunday: Apologies From a Slacker, and the First Article

Ahhh, my master plan to create the CIBA archive for students! It was so well intentioned, and yet, fell apart so completely by my inability to figure out how to make a multi-page PDF file.

It’s such a lame excuse.

I have figured out how to make a PDF, now, and I have been slowly, but surely, scanning all 175 of my CIBA Reviews. It’s a process.

I apologize

Now, on with the first article!!!

Spanish leather hanging

Spanish leather hanging

I think I may have said, many, many, many months ago that I am starting off with the first volume in my collection. That is to say, I’m starting off with Volume 3, because I don’t have volumes 1 or 2.  Volume 3 is all about wall coverings. Tapestries, wall hangings, wall paper, curtains. If it can cover a wall, it’s covered in the articles.

 17th cen spanish hanging

17th century Spanish hanging

The first article is a fairly informative one, by Grete de Francesco, in November of 1937. In fact, at least for this volume, she appears to have written the majority of the articles. The first article, which you can download at the bottom of this post, in a PDF, is entitled “The History of Mural Hangings”. It sounds a little dry, but the pictures in the article are stunning, dating back at least as far as the 16th century.  The article briefly explains the practical functions of mural hanging, as well as the aesthetics; it then goes on to trace the evolution of wall paper from the “humble” origins as hangings.

 17th cen wallpaper

17th century wallpaper

There is a detailed explanation of the method of creating Cordova leathers, which were popular as wall hangings from the 11th to the 16th century. These were gold or silver leafed leathers, which were then painted with various colored lacquers. De Francesco compared the resulting works to silk and gold (or silver) weaving, which at the time, with silk being a costly import from Asia, would have been even more expensive than the Cordova leather panels!

 Embossed leather and flock paper

Embossed leather and flock paper

The Rococo and Baroque eras departed from the costly tapestries, silks and leather hangings, and instead favored painted panels on the walls. De Francesco accredited the popularity of this style to Marie Antoinette. In addition, this painted wall panelling trickled down to the middle classes in the form of wallpapers, which were more affordable, if not as intricate and detailed, as the paintings in the homes and halls of the nobles.

The History of Mural Hangings (Full Article PDF. Zoom to read!)