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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Sewing’

A Fashion Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket Part II ~ Philosophy & Ensemble

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket Inside Worn Outside is a Customized Vintage Fur Coat Made For Janis Joplin

The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket ~ a Customized Vintage Fur Coat, Eight Strand Ode to Janis Joplin Love Bead Necklace, and The Styled for Janis Joplin Vintage 1930's Persian Lamb and Fur Felt Hat.

 

I recently posted photos of this Fantastic Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket in my first post about her contribution to fashion  The Fantastic Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket ~ One Way to Use Vintage Ties and Furs.

The Back of The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket Inside Worn Outside

Today I am showing the rest of the opulent characteristic of Janis Joplin Ensemble and The Janis Joplin Accessories that go with it.

The Front of the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket with the Fur Side Out

Janis loved beads and piled on many strands at once. She was even photographed for Rolling Stone wearing only her necklaces and joked that you couldn’t tell she was nude because she was covered with beads.

The Magnificent Ode to Janis Joplin Necklace

Here is the beautiful eight strand Ode to Janis Joplin Bead Necklace of silver, marcasite, garnets, Swarovsky crystals, rubies, and antique and contemporary glass artist lamp work beads. The ornate clasp is antique silver studded with marcasites.

The Antique Silver & Marcasite Clasp on the Ode to Janis Joplin Necklace

The Ode to Janis Joplin Necklace Over a Wine Silk Burnout Velvet Blouse & Midnight Blue Velvet Tiered Gypsy Style Skirt

The necklace is worn over a wine burnout silk velvet blouse with a dark blue velvet bohemian style three tiered gypsy skirt.

The Crazy Quilted Inside of The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket is Made of Many Kinds of Beautiful Antique Fabrics and Pieces of Needlework Which Make It a Unique Piece of Bohemian Style Handmade Textile Art.

Janis loved opulent fabrics in deep rich colors.

Legendary Ode to Janis Joplin Antique Black Leather Boots

Janis also loved collected and wore antique boots.

Ode to Janis Joplin Real Victorian Brown Leather Boots

Here is a brown pair of real Victorian Boot Janis Joplin loved and a black pair.

Janis was notoriously quoted in ” FASHION NEWS: I went out & bought myself a $35 pair of boots. Oh they are so groovey!! They’re old-fashioned in their style-tight w/buttons up the front. Black. FANTASTIC! When I get back, I’m going to rent a sewing machine & make myself some sort of beautiful/outlandish dress to go w/them. ”
– Janis Joplin, September 1966

The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket & The One of a Kind Eight Strand Ode to Janis Joplin Bead Necklace Worn with A Characteristic Janis Joplin Style Ensemble of a Wine Burnout Velvet Blouse and a Midnight Blue Velvet Skirt is Opulent and Amazing!

Here ~ in the gorgeous exotic fabrics Janis Joplin loved ~ is the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket with the full ensemble of vintage midnight blue velvet three tiered gypsy skirt, vintage wine burnout velvet blouse, custom made one of a kind eight strand Ode to Janice Joplin Necklace of love beads, real Victorian boots and two men’s silk ties worn overlapping each other as a neck scarf. Her fans loved her homemade dresses, skirts and bell bottom pants, and piles of jewelry. And, of course, her customized vintage real fur jackets and hats.

Ode to Janis Joplin Vintage 1930's New Orleans Hat Trimmed in Persian Lamb and Custom Decorated for Janis with Burgundy Ostrich Feathers and A Jeweled Antique Brooch

To top off her outfits Janis often wore vintage fur or felt hats. This Ode to Janis Joplin Hat is originally from New Orleans and is trimmed in curly black Persian lamb fur and decorated with a fantastic jeweled antique brooch, and ostrich feathers! It was picked up at a thrift shop on a jazz festival tour of New Orleans and further embellished with her trademark curling ostrich feathers dyed a rich pink red and a gigantic jeweled brooch. Like everything she owned it is personalized and one of a kind. Janis loved to add colorful ostrich feathers in this form or in elaborate feather boas pinned into her hair.

Janis Joplin sewed! And she shopped in thrift stores. She sought out fabrics, notions and vintage clothes that inspired her. She put things together in her own way. Because she was on stage she inspired the people who saw her live in the 1960s to do the same thing for themselves in their own way. Everything was individually  done in this way of dressing and one of a kind, This look was very personal. You had to create much of it yourself from found objects so how you combined things became highly personal. You could not go out to a mall and successfully create such a look.  Janis Joplin made and designed many of her own costumes. She also worked with a designer friend to help execute her ideas as she became more successful. She always dressed as a performer ~ simply because she liked to ~ both on and off stage. For her life was really a continual performance. And she dressed accordingly. To her clothing was another form of her artistic expression and she derived great joy in expressing herself this way.

Her fans loved her style. Her influence on the way people dressed in the 60s effected the entire world. She became one of the 100 most influential people in fashion of all time. Because of the way she herself dressed and how much people liked that. Other people wanted to express themselves and their own individuality in a similar way. How she dressed epitomized  freedom of choice and self expression and inspired the rest of the world to do the same. No one copied her exactly. That was not the point of her influence. The main point she got across to other people was it is a good thing to be yourself and dress in your own way.

She collected fabrics. She loved exotic materials such as silks, velvets, brocades and metallic jerseys. She wore luxurious leathers, furs, and many beads and jewels.~ particularly armloads of bracelets and many rings on every fingers all at the same time.  She wore fluffy colorfully dyed ostrich feather boas in her free flowing long naturally wavy hair. The custom made Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket is hand sewn and skillfully embroidery stitched with many of these types of collected fabrics, including ribbons, hand crocheted lace doilies, embroidered birds and flowers and thrifted Italian silks taken from vintage men’s neckties. People loved Janis Joplin for her music and for her fashion sense. And most of all for her sense of freedom of self.

Janis Joplin’s self made image and often home made style and fashion choices perfectly symbolized what was going on in the world and society at the time. She became the bohemian fashion queen of the hippie movement. She had been ridiculed as unattractive and ugly during her high school years and it must have been tremendously empowering for her ~ in a good way ~ to be admired and respected for her artistic taste and fashion sense! She would probably be amazed to know what long lasting effect she has had on fashion today. Janis Joplin was also innocent and pure in her fashion choices because they came from her heart and soul in the same way her music did. It was improvised spontaneously in the same way she interpreted her songs. Janis always put her own unique twist on things!  Her fashions were in no way commercial or mass produced. Her lovely clothes were lovingly chosen and made either by herself or by other artists. She spearheaded a movement to dress the way you wanted to that swept across the world. In her way she was the ultimate dress reformist. And she accomplished this as a side line to her music and unintentionally. She became tremendously influential in fashion just by doing her own thing.

Slashed Fur Sleeves Patched With Silk From Vintage Italian Designer Neckties.

“Do Your Own Thing” incidentally became a catch phrase of the times! And the basic theme and message of many songs and stage musicals like Hair, and Do Your Own Thing, and OH! Calcutta. I think Janis would have loved that! Janis Joplin’s style was not commercially created by stylists and promotion experts.  She did not have a huge clothing budget or makeup artists and hair stylists following her around at all times. She did not get done up with hours and hours of preparation for interviews and personal appearances. She refused to wear makeup because she hated the way it looked and felt and she allowed her hair to naturally do its own thing – which meant grow and be wavy and simply put some scarves or feather boas in it to add color and volume.

I think she got dressed like some 3 – 5 year old girls do! They have a closet full of clothes and a costume box and left to their own devices put on and mix up colors and styles wearing whatever appeals to them with no care for what others think every time they get dressed. They often look great in a mix of colors and accessories worn in unconventional ways. It is all done quite spontaneously and I hear grown ups say, “Wow! That looks great! I wish we could wear those things and those colors and fabrics together!” And the mother of the child says, “I don’t choose her clothes or accessories. she does it all herself!”  I, personally believe that Janis Joplin got dressed in this same way. And, as she made more money and could afford to buy what she wanted she became all the more colorful and free and self expressive in her clothing choices.

These were simple natural choices for her that were fun and lighthearted and easy for her to accomplish. She had a tremendous natural ease and vulnerability and that was very appealing. It came through in her singing and dancing of course, but it was also how she looked. It amazes me to consider this in contrast to the singers of today – such as Lady Gaga, Boyonce, Gwen Stefani, Rhianna, Madonna and many others who have such commercialized, highly manufactured, expensive to produce and high maintenance personal and stage styles. Janis had none of this “Professional Help.” It is important to realize that she was completely responsible for creating her look herself. I find it hard to see the person under the modern stars styling whereas Janis Joplin was personally completely exposed at all times.

In The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket- Slashed Furs Reveal Black Cloth Sections of Inner Darkness Beneath the Outer Layers. Rich Deep Colors of Soft Silk Like the Depths of Janis Joplin's Voice and Amazingly Warm and Beautiful Yet Damaged and Vulnerable Furs Enable the Artist to Wear Her Soul On Her Sleeves.

Janice Joplin sang as if she cut herself open and showed us the very insides of her own self and soul in her music in every performance she did. This was the essence of her style and way of dressing as well. Thus, in the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket the slashed skin sleeves and torn furs revealing sky colored satin embellished with birds embroidered in psychedelic colors of thread perched next to dark rich silks and patches of exotic brocade that symbolize the person and artist Janis Joplin was to those who saw her in the clothing. There are some important patches of personal darkness too in exposed inner sections of black fabric that are open to view under the the torn away outer sections of the amazingly warm and beautiful, yet vulnerable and damaged fur. The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket is really just like she was ~ original, unusual, delicate, beautiful but rough and exquisite and raw and different all at the same time.

It is important to note that Janis had no aversion to wearing real furs or leather and openly did both. She also loved animals and most notoriously owned a beautiful and affectionate sheep dog. Janis loved her dog. And other furry animals. As far as I know she only wore vintage furs made from pelts of animals killed long before that she rescued from thrift shops. I think she felt, as I do, that rescuing an old fur and giving it new life by wearing it or making it into a beautiful new article of clothing was a way of honoring the already long dead animal from whom it came.

Two Beautiful Men;s Vintage Silk Ties Are Overlapped and Used as a Woman's Scarf Encircling the Lapels of the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket. The Navy Paisley Tie ifs Vintage Liberty of London and The Wine Colored Floral is Vintage From the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.

In Janis Joplin’s  characteristically creative personal way of repurposing materials she loved beautiful thrifted silk men’s ties – a vintage navy blue paisley patterned one from Liberty of London and a vintage burgundy floral one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection are overlapped and used as a woman’s scarf to frame the neckline lapels on the fur side of the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket. This “scarf of ties”  treatment works in nicely with the crazy quilting of velvets, brocades, lace, ribbons, embroidery and antique silks used in the jacket. some of the silk patches in the jacket came from old neckties as well.

Janice influenced other people to do their own thing and express themselves through their clothes as much as she did. Many people, especially in the 1960s and 70s did so really well. Because, like she did, they “got down! ” They got down and dressed themselves with things they found and made and put together in their own way.They created their own version of an artistic and eclectic look. And this really worked. People were very often beautifully and very individually dressed  in that time. It was a very experimental period. People wore things they really loved with boldness and confidence. It was wonderful to see the things they came up with.

Ever since she came on the scene she has been copied commercially. The mass market has tried to benefit from her style and vision by mass producing cheap imitation versions of her look. They usually look like chap imitations too! It is not exactly a mass produced look! To achieve it and pull off something with a similar success you have to get to the soul of the matter of self dressing. You can do it inexpensively or using expensive fabrics and jewels. You can do anything as long as it is honest and original, preferably self made, found or artist made. It is best done by artists that are your friends or do work that is meaningful to you personally.

You will not be able to go to a mall and assemble pieces to give you such a look. If you do that, or follow the conservative commercial version of “Getting The Janis Joplin Look” as advised in a teen or adult woman’s fashion magazines and certain advice online your attempt to achieve the real Janis Joplin Look will fail completely! I have seen some ridiculous articles and advice columns in magazines and online with utterly tepid versions of the look. You cannot be conservative about this. You have to be absolutely fearless as Janis was. She actually often used very fine luxurious fabrics, furs, beads and jewelry and had a passion for beautiful old high quality boots. She found many of her beautiful fabrics and clothes antique and second hand and this can still be done. As an artist Janis gave old things a new life in her assemblages. Her clothes and outfits were actually artistic collages of wearable items and they became art with her interpretation. Again and again and again her fashion interpretations were like her musical interpretations ~ original and unique with a very personal twist. That is the secret to achieving her look. If you can do that for yourself you will be able to achieve a truly Janis Joplin inspired personal look.

All the Ode to Janis Joplin Clothing and Accessories pictured are from Lady Violette de Courcy’s personal collection, The Lady Violette de Courcy Vintage Clothing Collection.  She is a writer, art and vintage clothing collector and fashion historian.

Photos for this article are by Violette de Courcy

Fashion News From Janis Joplin September 1966 ~ One of Lady Violette’s Favorite Quotes

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

“FASHION NEWS: I went out & bought myself a $35 pair of boots. Oh they are so groovey!! They’re old-fashioned in their style-tight w/buttons up the front. Black. FANTASTIC! When I get back, I’m going to rent a sewing machine & make myself some sort of beautiful/outlandish dress to go w/them. ”
– Janis Joplin, September 1966

 

Adorable Soft Silk Evening Purses Made From Vintage Men’s Neckties And Where You Can Buy One!

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

A Darling Black & White Tuxedo Style Silk Evening Purse with a Removable Rosette Made Out Of Three Soft Elegant Vintage Designer Neckties by Marlee M Fowler of MM Fun Purses

My last two posts have been about wearing and making ladies silk purses and other feminine accessories out of vintage silk men’s neckties. There are several tutorials online explaining different ways of doing this if you want to make one yourself. Alternately, you can buy one already made up and ready to take out on the town. All of these purses are one of a kind because it is virtually impossible to find duplicate vintage ties! I like these evening bags because they are petite, light weight, and totally unique. You will never see another one quite like yours and it will give your outfit an individual creative twist.

If you want to buy one, you can visit Marlee Fowler at  her company MM Fun Purses. Marlee will be setting up shop and selling her wears at  Street Fairs and Arts and Craft Fairs around the Edmonds, Everett, Marysville and Lake Chelan area for the remainder of this 2012 summer.  She has a nice selection of colors in various styles already made up to choose from. Here is her schedule for the remainder of this summer:

July 29              Everett Market

August 10 -12   Marysville Home

August 18         Edmonds Market

August 19         Everett Market

September 8    Edmonds Market

September 9    Everett Market

September 15   Chelan Wine Tasting Event

If you need further information about finding her you can reach her at MM Fun Purses Designed for You. Marlee M.  Fowler, Retiredfowlers@alo.com. Her telephone number is (425) 345-5513.

An Attractive Unusual Clutch Style Rectangular Shaped Evening Purse Made Out of Five Vintage Silk Ties.

Marlee Fowler makes cell phone pouches, evening bags such as the black and white one above in the first picture, and soft clutch bags such as the one in the picture above. Please view my last two posts to see other examples of her evening purses and other styles of handbags.

How Do You Select Ties To Make a Purse From Men’s Silk Neckties?

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

A Rack of Fantastic Vintage Silk Ties That I Have Collected in Thrift Stores, Estate Sales and Yard Sales. Incidentally, the Blue Ties That I Select for the Following Example are Hanging in this Picture!

People want to know! They ask, so here is how I did it! First collect a goodly batch of silk neckties in an outrageous variety of prints and colors. Whatever you like. I got most of mine at thrift shops and estate sales. Store them hanging up so they stay straight on the bias. I store them on hangers and take them out of the closet and transfer them onto a hanging rack in a well lit area so that I can see them clearly. I choose each tie individually when I am shopping, so that it stands alone, to be worn as an elegant man’s necktie as it was originally intended. I began collecting ties so my boyfriend would have a nice collection to wear.  Now he has so many it can be hard for him to decide which one to wear in the morning!. This can be visually confusing. Even overwhelming! Especially when you are trying to get dressed for work in a hurry at 6AM in the morning! I usually make us an espresso so we can wake up enough to see what we are doing! I do not mind helping him choose a tie and coordinating clothes. In fact I enjoy doing it. He is dependent on me for help and advice in the styling department. He likes having my opinion. He has certain favorites that he likes to wear repeatedly. Some are exceptionally nice worn as conventional neckties. Those will never be made into other items like belts, purses or handbags. Others are fair game for use in fanciful creations.

I Make an Initial Selection of Ties That Appeal to Me for Making Into Accessories Such as Belts, Hair Bows. Purses, Corsages, Hat Bands, Rosettes, Bows, etc.

I begin by selecting some that I think I would like to see made into evening purses and flowers. I pull all of these out and set them on my ironing board so that I can contemplate them more carefully. It takes three ties in a coordination color to make an evening bags like the brown or wine red ones I posted yesterday. I looked over my initial selection here and saw that I had a lot of blue ones and blue grey ones so it made sense to cull those out for further examination as a blue grouping, a blue and grey grouping. and a grey grouping. I decided to trey that.

A Selection of 5 Blue & Blue/Grey Combination Silk Neckties. I Like This and am Considering Trying it Out for a Possible Clutch Handbag . Not Only do the Colors Need to Work Well Together. The Silk Fabrics Must Combine Well in Terms Of Weight and Character. The More Ties You Add the More difficult It Gets to Achieve a Strong Overall Balance.

Here is what I got. I then experimented with grouping them in different ways to study the way the colors looked combined together. I have actually found that it is quite difficult to find five or three of these busy patterns that work well together.

6 Ties Combined in 2 Different Groupings of 3 Fabric Patterns Each is a Possibility

I have so many blue and blue and grey colorway ties that I am contemplating whether or not I can make a bigger clutch bag utilizing 5 or even 6 ties. Or perhaps two small evening bags that are each use different blue silk ties . Here are some of the combinations I put together.

This is Beautiful Combination of Three Blue Silk Ties For an Evening Purse. I am very Pleased with The Variety of Prints and the Different Shades of Blues and Greys Combined Here. I Know I Would Like This Combination in a Finished Product. All Three of These Silk Ties Have Similar Heft So they Would Sew Together Well and Also Hold Up Well Together

Three Ties in Coordinating Blues Silk Patterns is Very Attractive in my opinion. I spread them out on a white cloth background so that I can study the way they look together without the distraction of another color. By now I am tired of looking at all these busy patterns  together. They have begun to op and it is giving me a headaches! I realize I need to take a break from it and go do something else for awhile, than come back to look at the combinations  again, when I feel fresh, to make a final choice of which ones work will work together.

Here is Another Combination of Blue Ties. See How different it Looks From the One Above? There is Only One Different Tie and This Combination Totally Changes the Visual Balance and Final Effect.

The silks used in making ties have very strong distinctive patterns and are designed to be worn alone one at a time with a shirt and jacket. Each pattern and colorway is originally meant to be an accent to an ensemble of men’s clothing. They were never designed to be combined and used three to five together at one time in the making of a purse and that will then be worn with an ensemble of other clothing as well! They were definitely not initially conceived to be used in this way! And t is actually very difficult to select several that go together for this purpose. You must actually try doing it to really understand what I am saying! Tie silks come in a large variety of weights and textures too. The soft. lighter weight ones sew and press better and make better looking final purses and effects. They also seem to twist into nicer looking rosettes and flowers more readily. The thicker, crunchier ties in fabrics like brocades are more difficult to handle when sewing a purse. For this reason you will need a large selection of ties if you want to start making your own purses and accessories. I do not think you can gather them  together in one short trip to a thrift store! You will have to start a vintage tie collection and slowly gather it together over time.

I select ties carefully when I am shopping. I only buy beautiful ties that are in very good condition and are really clean. I choose each tie as if it is going to be worn alone. I began collecting ties for my boyfriend to wear so my criterion is , ” Will this tie be wearable? Is it a nice addition to our wearable tie collection?” I bring them home and I offer them to my boyfriend to see if likes them and wants to wear them. He gets first pick. He likes the majority of them! When I decided I wanted to make some into other items he asked me if I would pull out what I wanted to use, then ask him if it was okay to take these out of the wearable as single ties collection. I agreed to this arrangement because I am really happy that he is enjoying wearing them and dressing nicely! His fashion sense has greatly improved and he dresses nicely much more often since I have accumulated this large collection of ties for him to choose from at home! He hates to go shopping and would never buy them for himself. He hasn’t the patience to sift though racks of ties in places like The Goodwill and The Woman’s Assistance League and Children’s Orthopedic Thrift Shop. I, on the opposite end of the spectrum, enjoy the thrill of the hunt! When my blue tie purse is finally sewn together I will, of course, post a picture of it! And who knows …. by then I may have decided to combine my blue ties in yet another way! It will be interesting to see!

The Combinations Are Endless! Which Ones Will I End Up Using? I Need to Take a Break Before Making a Final Decision!

 

I visited Marlee Fowler’s booth MM Fun Purses after making the above selection of ties for myself from my own collection. I showed her my tie choices and we discussed all the topics I mentioned above. She confirmed that she has had the same experiences in difficulties of finding ties that work well together, and handling characteristics of the different types of silks used in making the ties. I wanted to find out if her experiences were the same as mine! She maintains an inventory of over 300 ties at all times to work from. I have not counted my own collection but I assume it is about the same number! We both recommend that number as a good base collection from which to work if you want to be choosing different color combinations on a regular basis. In choosing my blue ties, above, to make a blue purse or two, I decided that it is feasible to decide on a color scheme first, then go shopping for ties that fit into that scheme! You could, for example, buy only blue ties, until you felt you had the correct array to choose an appealing purse combination from. This would probably be a good way to go if you only wanted to make one or two purses for yourself and a gift. You would have to exercise strict self discipline to avoid being seduced by the appealing colors and patterns outside your chosen color scheme!

I Also Notice That The Color Combinations and Patterns Can Look Quite Different Under Different Light Conditions and In Person Versus in Photographs! All These Factors Have to Enter Into the Way You Choose to Combine Ties in the Final Design of New Handbag or Other Article Made Out of Vintage Ties Because the Patterns are Very Complex and the More of Them You Combine in One Article the More Complex They Become. It is Quite a Challenge!

If you do not want to go to the effort of collecting ties and sewing them into a purse yourself you can buy one! I am not making purses out of neckties for people to buy, because I have too many other projects taking up my time, but Marlee Fowler does so and sells them at her booth MM Fun Purses. You can reach her for information about her Street Fair appearances and sales here: Marlee Fowler at Retiredfowlers@aol.com. She makes and sells several other types of purses and handbags as well. I will be posting photos of her booth and her upcoming schedule of appearances within the next few days. Please check back for this.

 

Lady Violette de Courcy on Using Mens Vintage Silk Ties to Make Rosette Corsages, Petite Evening Bags & Elegant Purse Embellishments

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Handbags & Rosettes Made From Vintage Silk Ties

I have been collecting men’s vintage neckties. I am really enthused about the use of men’s ties in my own wardrobe and as women’s accessories. I intend to find more ways to use them and make more things out of them! This idea is still in the experimental stages but I have decided to share some of the results here. I will be showing more nice examples from my tie collection in the near future. I am interested in exploring the use of the beautiful tie fabrics for accessories for the upcoming fall and winter seasons since they look so great with wools, tweeds, velvets, furs, knitted fabrics  and silks!

I began collecting ties about  year and a half ago when a friend of mine asked me to help him update his wardrobe and we went shopping for new clothes for him. He was on his way to Tokyo on business and had to update his look to meet with men in the Japanese design and advertising industry who are very style and fashion conscious. He had not bought new clothes or dressed up for business in years so this was starting from the ground up! We only had a weekend to do it because he had not told me he needed this sooner! This was a difficult assignment because we didn’t have much time to find things and we had no time at all to get anything altered! Men’s pants usually need hemming and jackets need fitting, etc.

Petite Silk Evening Bag Made From Three Brown Colorway Vintage Silk Neckties and Embellished with a Removable Clip on Rosette Also Made From One of the Neckties. The Rosette Can be Clipped to Other Items as a Corsage or Worn in the Hair! The Bag measures 6 x 6 Inches and Has a Handle Drop of 5 Inches. Bag made by MM Fowler.

Surprisingly we began on Saturday and actually succeeded in shopping for, buying and accessorizing a very nice hip and modern business wardrobe for him. I got his entire wardrobe for a week put together and altered ( because I was able to do this myself) and got him coordinated, styled and packed and on the plane on Monday morning! It was a big success. Everything looked great and his look was a hit. This is an important part of doing business in that environment. This endeavor was a big job because it included every bit of his clothing, a haircut, shoes, every tiny detail. Because we were in a big hurry I did not have any time to hunt down vintage clothing and accessories. We had to shop in department stores and new retail men’s shops. When it came to selecting and buying ties he went into sticker shock! He could not believe how much a new designer tie cost! He was stuck and he had to buy three of them for over $125 a piece and they were not particularly fantastic designs.

This was my chance to explain to him that vintage shopping was far superior to shopping for new things both in terms of prices and interesting selection. He wasn’t sure! He doubted me! So I set out to prove myself! ( Of course I knew this could be done! I am an expert at it!) Every few days when I went out shopping for myself or my vintage clothing clients I found him something great, a vintage treat, to add to his wardrobe. The kind of things I found were beautiful designer ties, men’s silk pocket handkerchiefs, men’s foulard silk scarves, shirts, shoes, cuff links, coats, umbrellas, hats, leather belts, gloves, winter scarves, cashmere sweaters. etc.  The list goes on and on! He was shocked in a good way !

Sweet Little Cross Body Evening Bag Made of Three Wine Red Colorway Vintage Silk Ties and Embellished with a Removable Silk Rosette Corsage. Handbag Measures 6 x 6 Inches & Has Shoulder Length Straps Made From Two of the Ties that Can Be Attractively Knotted to the Wearer's Desired Length. Bag made by MM Fowler.

In a fairly short time I amassed a lovely selection of designer ties, historic ties, art ties, you name it! Utterly fantastic ties. The fabrics are beautiful! As a result my friend really got into ties. He wears a different one every day and he is, after a year and a half, somewhat famous for his sharp ties. His work takes him all over the US and sometimes to foreign countries. He travels a lot. A few carefully chosen ties can greatly extend his wardrobe on the road. He is having a lot of fum with ties. And yes, some men still do wear ties! He is an exception in that he likes to wear them more regularly than most. He has even taken to tying a full Windsor knot these days. Personally I like this look on men a lot! I like a man to dress in elegant clothing and I wish we would see a lot more of it!

Detail of a Straw Handbag with Wooden Handles Tied with a Silk Scarf and Further Embellished with a Silk Rosette Attached to a Clip Made From a Vintage Silk Necktie! Rosette made by MM Fowler . Tie made by Lady Violette.

Meanwhile, with all these beautiful ties in the house, I developed a great appreciation for the beautiful tie fabrics and the way these ties are made. I soon understood why ties are so expensive! I also could not resist finding ways to use them and wear them myself. I sometimes wear one as a necktie for a menswear look, I sometimes wear one as a belt or sash, and I sometimes use them to embellish a handbag.  Now I am experimenting with wearing them as embellishments on hats, handbags and purses.

This experimentation in using men’s ties as women’s accessories for myself lead me by chance to find a lady in Edmonds WA at the Saturday’s Farmer’s Market who makes several kinds of purses and other items and makes various things out of repurposed neckties. Her name is Marlee and she also collects ties for the beautiful fabric! I bought the two evening purses and the flowers used in these photos from her.  She made ties into rosettes that I can use as little corsages and made these two little evening purses  entirely out of vintage silk ties. Her name is Marlee M Fowler and her company is MM Fun Purses. Marlee Fowler can be reached at Retiredfowlers@aol.com. You can find her at her booth at the Edmond’s WA Saturday market on July 28th! She sells other types of purses, table runners, pillows and other home decor items as well as silk tie roses and purses.

Each of the rosettes takes one tie to make and each small purse takes three ties to make. The tie has to be carefully taken apart so as not to damage the fabric and the item you make out of it has to carefully cut and sewn together. This takes considerable skill as handling silk fabric is tricky. It is slippery and unravels easily. I spoke to Marlee Fowler about her experience making and selling her necktie items. She said it has been tough because most people are not willing to pay enough for them to make it make economic sense for her to produce them. Ties are expensive to acquire and there is a lot of time involved in making each item. Each piece has to be custom designed because she is using different ties made of different fabrics each time she makes a new one. I asked her if she had made skirts or larger bags and she said, each time, “”I can’t do it because it requires too much tie fabric – thus too many ties, which cost too much and it takes too much time and people are not willing to pay for it.”  She has been showing her items and selling them at street fairs for a long time.

I met another man, last year, who had tried making and selling items from ties also and reported the same problem. This is why you do not see accessories made of men’s ties for sale everywhere! Or anywhere for that matter! You see them hardly anywhere. For this reason you may have to make them for yourself. I have looked online and have found many tutorials on making skirts and dresses out of ties. These are big projects that require a lot of ties and have to be custom fitted to the individual for whom they are made. Another point Marlee made was that it takes a lot of ties to come up with a few ties that look good together and coordinate in color and fabric type to combine in making one purse. She has a collection of about 300 ties to work with at any given time. I asked her where she gets her ties. She said at thrift stores and rummage sales, at estate sales and yard sales and consignment shops. These are the same places I find the ties I collect. I have been buying mine in and around Seattle. She has been buying them in the same area and in Arizona where she spends her winters since she is retired.

I usually pay between $2.99 and $10 per tie myself. Sometimes as much as $14 or $16. Marlee finds them at the same price range here, but in the Southwest, where she winters, she can get them at a sale that goes on in one place for $1 a piece on one day a year. That is a lucky break, but it is not consistent! The other important thing is that you have to pick through a lot of second hand ties to find any that are nice enough to use. Then you have to check them carefully to find any flaws such as stains of tears or pulled threads that render them unusable. I would never buy a silk tie that was in need of cleaning because it costs $10 to have a tie dry cleaned and it is uncertain whether any stains or marks will actually come out. Silk ties cannot be washed! Nor can any other ones. Ever! Do not try it. It would be a disaster and ruin the tie.

I understand what is involved in hand making lovely things like these and I do not have any problem paying a skilled artisan or crafts person to make me something special. I greatly appreciate the materials and the skills involved and the fact that such a person is willing to make something like a purse from silk ties. Apparently I am in the minority because I constantly find that people just do not want to pay a fair price for something well designed and hand made. They will willingly pay a great deal for a commercially produced designer original from a luxury brand name. And they will willingly over pay for mass manufactured  overpriced low end commercially produced items, but they don’t want to and won’t pay for a unique well made handmade artist designed  item. Over and over again I find artisans who tell me they cannot continue to make something special and beautiful to sell it because people refuse to pay enough to make it worth their time. The people who say this either do not know how difficult it is to make something, or how much time it takes, or are not thinking about the hours it takes to make an item and the skills involved. They also do not seem to understand the cost of the raw materials the artist needs to acquire in order to make such items. In this case 3 to 5 designer silk ties. This is why you do not regularly find certain beautiful things on the market. Many things are too beautiful and too special to be sold in any big store! I urge you to buy from people who make custom items such as Marlee Fowler on a regular basis in order to support their work. This is the only way they will be able to continue to produce it to make it available for us to buy.

I have asked Marlee if she would make up some special order items I would like done to my specifications using some of the ties from my own collection. She said that she would. So I am going to be placing an order for several items I want to use myself and some to give as gifts. This should work out well for both of us since I will supply her the ties I want her to use at my expense and she will be able to charge me whatever she thinks is fair for making the items I request. Maybe special order work is the way for someone like her to go? We shall see! I am, at least happy to have found someone who is willing to make up some of the silk tie design ideas I have spinning around in my head! Because I am not finding time to do it myself ! I am looking forward to what we come up with together!

Currently I am really enthused about the use of men’s ties in my own wardrobe and as women’s accessories. I intend to make more things out of them myself – like actual clothes. This idea is still in the experimental stages but I have decided to share some of the results here. I am hoping this idea catches on! I will be showing nice examples from my own extensive tie collection in the near future. I am interested in exploring the use of  beautiful tie fabrics in women’s wear and for more accessories for the upcoming fall and winter seasons since they look so great with wools, tweeds, velvets, furs, knitted fabrics  and silks!

Please check back soon because I will be posting Marlee Fowler’s summer 2012 Street Fair schedule and pictures of her booth within the next few days. If you are interested in acquiring one of her Silk Tie Purses this summer you should visit her booth. She has a good selection in many colorways and styles of silk tie evening bags and cell phone purses, rosettes as you see below, and other items already made up to choose from. Marlee M Fowler and her company is MM Fun Purses. Marlee Fowler can be reached at Retiredfowlers@aol.com.

Rosettes Made From Vintage Silk Ties with Clips Sewn to the Back That Can be Used to Attach Them to Many Things. The Rosettes are made by MM Fowler.

Identifying Types of Lace – Alencon Lace on an Exquisite Silk Satin Dress

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Vintage 1980's Flutter Sleeved Silk Satin Dress Trimmed in Alencon Lace

I have recently become interested in figuring out what kind of lace is in items in my collection. Here is a lovely silk satin crepe dress – vintage 1980’s – that features an Alencon lace border around the bottom of the skirt and additional appliques of matching lace at locations of hips, shoulders and the back closure.

Closeup Photo of the Alencon Lace Border

Here is a closeup of the lace border on the hem. It is 50 inches in circumference and 5.5 inches wide which is a considerable amount of this very valuable and exquisite lace.

Note the Glass Seed Beads and Glass Rice Shaped Pearl Beads Added to further Enhance the Lace.

The beading was added to enhance the lavish lace decoration after the lace was applied to the dress. The hips are further enhanced with matching Alencon lace appliques which additionally are embroidered with the beads and little hanging beads shaped like Baroque pearl teardrops.

The Appliques of Alencon Lace on the Hips Also Feature Hanging Pearl Drops

These little suspended pearl beads actually swing and add movement to the dress as the wearer moves. The detailing is extraordinary! It is common to use small amounts of this lovely lace in this way to embellish bridal veils and gowns, make lace cuff bracelets and decorate sashes, thereby enjoying the beauty of small amounts of this lace which is very expensive in large pieces or quantities. I have found it listed at about $150 a yard and higher lately. That was before the addition of beads and pearls!

The Side View of the Dress Showing Lace Embellishments on the Hips, as Well as the Hemline Border and at the Shoulder.

Here is a side view of the decorations at the hips.

Alencon Lace Applique Decorating the Shoulder.

Here is a closeup photo of the flutter style double layer sleeves.

The Shoulder Applique Showing the Addition of the Beads

And a closeup of the shoulder area Alencon lace applique.

Beautiful Tiny Scalloped Hem Detailing Compliments the Alencon Lace on the Satin Crepe Flutter Sleeves

Note the lovely tiny scalloped hemming on the edges of the flower-like sleeves making them tie in with the flowers in the lace motif!

The Back View of the Dress.

And finally, the back view of this lovely well made dress with a tiny bit of bead embellished Alencon lace used to decorate the back single button closure as a final accent in subtle beauty.

Signed LDavis Ltd

I know nothing yet about the designer/maker of this dress but here is the designer’s label ~ the artist’s signature to this artistic dress creation. Please let me know if you know anything about this designer. I have looked all over the internet and have not been able to locate them. I would like to know more. His or her work is incredible! And deserves appreciation!

This classic dress is a size 10 in contemporary Misses sizing. It is listed for sale in my Etsy Store ladyviolettedecourcy.

You can access the listing by visiting http://www.etsy.com/listing/98344007/exquistie-ecru-silk-satin-antique-beaded

More coming on Alencon Lace soon ……..

An Esquisite Irish Crochet Dress From The Turn of the Century Featuring Roses and Shamrocks in the Hand Crocheted Lace Medalians

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

A Linen Dress Featuring Irish Crochet From the Turn of the Century - in its Original Condition as I Found It.

I have just picked up a real treasure. I love finding such lost beauties. With a lot of restoration work it appears to be salvageable. The style is from the the early 1900’s. The embroidery on the linen is known as eyelet embroidery and was very popular at this time. The lace edging on the sleeves and the narrow inserts are crochet lace. This has been confirmed by lace collector and expert Shirley Whitcomb whom I asked to help me identify the laces and techniques used in this dress. She also suggests the lace book suggested below should you want to learn more about lace. I assked her to recommend some sources to me so I could better educate myself as I have suddenly become lace fascinated!

Close Up of an Irish Crochet Lace Medallion

The larger medallion inserts are Irish Crochet that was inspired by the 17th century Gros Point needle lace-like my wedding gown. (I will post pictures of this soon.) Only all of this lace is handmade crochet lace. You can identify Irish Crochet lace by the shamrocks and the multi petaled roses.

Note the Shamrocks and the Roses

An excellent guide to lace identification is “Guide to Lace and Linens” by Elizabeth Kurella. She has written a number of very good books on the subject.To purchase it go on www.lacemerchant.com.  It is so amazing to hold some of the older laces and feel the love and patience that went into each stitch. It is a very under appreciated art form- probably because it was made by women.

The Back is Fastened With Metal Hooks and Eyes and is Pleated to Accommdate a Bustle

This dress has pleating in the back to accommodate a  bustle. There has already been a lot of repair work done at one time in its history. This project appears to have been abandoned before it was completed because the dress is currently in rough shape: unable to be fastened up the back, no hem or fabric left on it for a hem, just a torn and frayed edge where the hem border and fabric about three inches deep was removed

Note the Carefully Repaired Areas Under The Arms! A Sewing Lesson in Themselves!

The areas under the arms have been patched quite expertly and the original hem has been taken out – probably to get matching material for repairing other sections. I will have a lot of patching and extending to do to bring the dress back to life…

Much of the dress is originally constructed by hand and will have to carefully stitched back together by hand. Areas of broken crochet thread will have to be invisibly redone. And the hem will have to be repaired by attaching a new piece of fabric where the original one was cut off and used to restore the underarm areas.

The Bodice Heavily Decorated with Crochet Lace.

Here is a close up of the bodice. These photos are my before photos showing the original condition of the dress when I discovered it.

We will eventually be able to compare them to my restored version when I get it put back together.

To be continued!

 

 

 

Dainty Victorian Lace Vintage Cotton Gloves ~ An Inspiring Recent Lady Violette Flea Market Find

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

A pair of fine cotton knit lace long dainty Victorian gloves perfect for a garden party!                                                                                                                        

I recently found this amazing pair of delicate cotton lace gloves. They must be from the turn of the twentieth century. They are a machine made fine cotton knit with several different lace patterns going up the arms – almost like a sampler of different lace designs. I have had several photos taken to show the design and construction. The gloves are very old – near to falling apart – so can only be used as study pieces in the service of making similar pieces.

Note how the gloves fastened at the wrist with two snaps ....

They fasten on the inside of the wrist with two snaps – now nearly disintegrated – but this was where a lady would undo the glove and roll it back ( or have her escort assist her in doing so) to expose just her hand for eating or drinking at the garden party – without removing the gloves, a custom I described in a recent previous post.

Note the three lines of decorative ecru stitches on the back of the hand ...

I like the three lines of decorative ecru colored stitches on the back of the hand – I assume they assisted in shaping the glove as well as adorning it.

The gloves are about a modern size 6 – very small – and have hardly any give. They are in good condition considering their age, but not tough enough to last for more than one wearing. There are a few holes which have been expertly mended by hand ~ a touch I happen to like myself as it adds to their authenticity as a treasure of the original owner. Therefore I have decided to save them as study pieces. I intend to create a hand knitted summer glove pattern that is inspired by this lovely pair of vintage gloves. I am currently searching for the right yarn to use for this endeavor. Does anybody out there have any ideas on an appropriate yarn? I will be happy to take suggestions. When I finish making my pattern I will post it on my blog for other people to use.

Utterly beautiful feminine long vintage Victorian gloves

These gloves were knit as a flat piece, then sewn together. There is a seam up the outside of the arm, then along the inside edge of each finger. The seams  are very hard to see when the glove is worn which is as it should be. The thumb is also knit as part of the original piece but seamed together at the side gussets during the finishing process. The seams are finally cut very close to the edges upon finishing them so that they fit close up against the hand and become nearly invisible. All in all it is a very elegant and you are unaware of the seaming and construction of these gloves when you are wearing them.

The final effect is one of elegance and refinement.

I intend to knit my modern version on five needles in the round to avoid seaming. I also intend to use very small needles – probably size 0 to 00 – and the finest yarn I can find. This original pair has become a bit stiff with age – like a pair of cotton sock does. I am hoping to avoid that by using a blended yarn with some nylon in it for durability. I also intend to use small glass pearl buttons instead of snaps. I have ordered the tiny buttons already. The original snaps were made of the kind of metal that oxidized over time and now looks really bad! Pearl buttons and button holes should be a big improvement!

I think these gloves would also be lovely made up in bright colored yarns for winter use ~ such as royal blue or magenta. That will be period accurate as well because such colors were proper during the time these gloves were originally made. They were made in bright colors to show off the new dyes at the beginning of the industrial revolution. I hope to made a bright blue pair to wear with my long black velvet hooded opera cape lined in blue silk plaid to wear to next winter’s holiday parties. I will honestly have to start making them in the summer if I am to get them done in time for the holiday season.

A Beautiful Handmade Quilt of Vintage Gloves by Artist Susan Lenz

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Handed Down ~ a quilt made of vintage gloves by artist Susan Lenz

Today I found a fascinating work of art~ a quilt made by artist Susan Lenz using vintage textiles including a paisley shawl, and many pairs of vintage gloves.

Visit her blog artbysusanlenz for the story. This would be a great use for gloves you may have inherited or collected that are too small to wear! I love it!

Violet Gloves ~ Knitting Work in Progress ~ Continuation Part #2

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Violet Shetland Woll Gloves - A Handknitting Work in Progress Using Five Double Pointed needles Per Glove.

What an undertaking making gloves is! I’m finally through the palm and have begun the fingers. I worked the little finger first. Next, a bit more on the palm to get up to the beginning of the fingers, then each finger one by one. Each finger is knit as a little cylinder of about 12 stitches that are divided up onto four needles with 3 stitches on each that you knit with the fifth needle. When the finger is the desired length, you insert a darning needle threaded with the end of yarn into the remaining stitches, gathering them up at the tip to close off the finger.Then you weave the end of thread/yarn invisibly and securely inside the end of the finger where it will not show.

It is quite a feat to maneuver all these needles at once without creating an immense tangle of yarn and needle danger! But it is fun and challenging in a weirdly interesting way. I am glad to be accomplishing it. I will forever more appreciate and understand the way knitted gloves are made!

I’m not delighted with this wool. It is rough and scratchy like a loofah treatment! I wanted a strong yarn to make a tough pair of gloves for my first pair. I was afraid I might destroy a more fragile delicate yarn if I was ripping out my knitting and redoing it to get the proper effect. Sure enough I have had to reknit some sections several times to get the construction method right.

One Advantage to Making Your Own Gloves is Being Able to Try Them On As You Knit to Adjust The Fit to be the Way You Like It. And It Is Admittedly Fun Trying to Keep All the Wicked Looking Knitting Needles In Place

This takes way more time than it is worth! Of course! It is no wonder people seldom knit their own gloves anymore! Unless you want something really special. I am only interested in doing it again if I can design and make unique and beautiful gloves. This time around is only for learning purposes – to become familiar with the construction methods.

We have learned how to make the gusset for the thumb and divide the stitches for the individual fingers, etc. All worthwhile knowledge that is only understandable once you have gone through it preferably with a teacher and other students also struggling. I initially tried to understand and make a couple of patterns for these things on my own, but both of them were missing crucial steps in the explanation! No wonder they didn’t work!

After knitting the thumb gusset I removed the needles from the thumb section to use them on main the hand section. I held the live thumb stitches ~ so they would not unravel ~ tied off on the contrasting colors of yarn ~ in this case pink and red ~ while I continued to work on the hand.

As I struggle with this challenge I am reminding myself of all the beautiful vintage glove designs I am hoping to make once I accomplish this skill! There are a lot of beautiful vintage glove patterns still in existence. That is my goal. I know it looks far off as I struggle here with my initial attempt!

Note: I am using 6″ double pointed needles here. they are too long. I must get some shorter ones for my next serious attempt of glove and sock knitting. These are too unwieldy for knitting tiny circles of stitches like fingers and toes. I am searching for a set of short 3 ~ 4 inch long DPNs in a selection of sizes. They are hard to find. four shops in my city are out of them and several online stores are currently back 0rdwred. Any tips on finding good quality double pointed knitting needles will be appreciated.

PS: This is serious business for which one needs the best tools!

Recycling Inspiration – a Beautiful Wedding Dress

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The Parachute Wedding Dress

This is both beautiful and inspiring! A wedding-dress made from a life-saving WWII parachute – this was not the only one – many parachutes were brought home to girlfriends who fashioned everything from lingerie to their wedding gowns out of them. But this one is especially lovely and clever! I like the way she devised to make the skirt short in the front and long in the back! So clever. these parachutes contained up to 40 yards of silk so you could do quite a lot  with that!

Interior Construction of the Moygashel Linen Cut Work Lace Dress

Monday, May 30th, 2011

The Cutwork Linen Dress

I have taken additional photos showing the backside or wrong side – the inside – of the dress, the extraordinarily large seams and deep hem. This would be of interest to anyone wanting to make such a dress. or alter it as it is styled for a form hugging fit. It is highly unusual. the dress is smooth and tightly fitted from the outside and series of thick knotty seams on the inside. My two previous blog posts show more details. I am providing some photos of the inside seams and portions of the dress taken on the right side laid out flat for comparison:

Flat Front View of the Dress

Flat Back View of the Dress

Skirt Back Shown on the Right Side

Skirt Front from the Right Side

Skirt Front Shown on the Right Side

Bodice Back Shown From the Right Side

Bodice Front From the Right Side

An Inside View of One of the Side Seam. all Side Seams in this Dress are at Least 1" Deep.

The Deep Hem and Wide Center Back Seam Demonstrated on the Wrong of that the Bottom Back of the Skirt

The 5 " Deep Hem and Wide Center Back Seam Shown on the Wrong Side of the Kick Pleat at the Center Back Skirt Hem

A Long View of the Wide Center Back Seam and The Metal Zipper Which Helps Date the Dress as Pre 1970

The Wide Center Back Seam - Demonstrated in Relation to the Normal Standard Size Width of the Zipper

More on the Mysterious Moygashel Linen Wiggle Dress

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

The Sheath Style Dress in all its Glory

This Natural Cream Colored Heavy Irish Linen Cutwork Lace Wiggle Dress is an Absolutely Amazing Example of This Rare Type of Hand Done Lace Which is Rarely Seen in Clothing!

Close Up Of Cut Work Lace Flowers

I think it may have been made to wear as a wedding dress in the 1960s. It is a small size but has very wide seams (more than 1 Inch deep) throughout which would allow it to be altered considerably for a custom fit.

The hem is also 5 inches Deep! Therefore, upon close examination the dress I found that it could be let out 2 inches on each side and 2 Inches in the back! And made up to 4 Inches longer!  Thus I wonder what its story is?

Deep Center Back of Hem "Walking Slit"

It is beautifully shaped and well made, but I have to wonder – given the wide seams and hem treatment – was it originally a somewhat larger dress that was expertly remade by a professional seamstress to fit some very small woman as a wedding dress? And wisely left in tact so that it could be altered back again for someone who was not so small Look at the 5″ deep hem in the photos below. And it is folded over an inch at the top before folding for the hem which makes a toal of 6 extra inches at the bottom of the skirt!

 

Walking Slit at Center Back hem Flipped Back to Reveal the 5" Deep Hem!

The fabric is really strong and tough as true untreated sturdy pure Irish linen is famous for. The fabric was made for a dress not for a table cloth or any such thing. You can tell this if you know sewing and fabrics because of the way it is cut and woven around the neckline, the armholes and the hemline. It is designed to out line the neckline and arm holes with strategically placed lace points that echo the flower petals. It is a fascinating example of its kind and absolutely exquisite! here are photos showing the neckline and armhole treatments from both the back and the front:

Note the Neckline and Armholes

Note the Neckline

Center Front of Neckline

I am going to show the dress to a textile restorer who works at the Henry Art Museum to see what she thinks the histories of this dress and the cloth it is made from are and get her feelings on remaking and resizing it now are. I think it can be done and that may be a better option at this time! I will decide whether or not to keep the dress or sell it at that time.

Taking the dress apart to remake it would require hand picking out every seam including removing the metal zipper stitch by stitch so as not to break a single thread or fiber. There are darts in the front and back of the dress to mold it to the body around the bust and waist. These I would leave in because the cutwork is made around them and includes them. they cannot be taken out without ruining the lace. Darts also slant downward  from tops of the armholes to shape them against the shoulders. The dress is essentially sculpted fabric – sculpted linen lace formed to cover a body. The more closely I inspect it the more amazed I am by the way in which it is made!

It would be a huge amount of work to take it apart and remake it – a real labor of love – but I think worth it in order to be able to wear it! I am now intrigued!

The Moygashel Linen Label is applied sideways at the top and back of the neckline near the metal zipper.

It currently  measures 17 – 12- 17 flat. that is 34 inch bust, 24 inch waist, 34 inch hips at the seams allowing no ease for movement. Two inches should be allowed for movement which would mean the measurements of the wearer of the dress were 32 – 22 – 32 which is a very thin size. I advise 2 inches for movement because there should be no stress or strain put on the lace. The immensely deep seams, let out and carefully re-sewn could possibly increase the dress to a size 2 – 4 in modern day sizing. Now that I have determined that I can let my breath out! There is hope! I might be able to restore and remake this dress to the size it was originally designed to be and that might actually fit me! ( I am a modern size 4.) I hate my clothes to be tight. Tight is very uncomfortable!

Spot at Waistline Area on Left Side

Note the location of the one spot on the dress at the waistline area on left side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All around the design of the lace and cutwork pattern fits into the shaping of the garment. There are no holes or defects throughout the piece. Currently there is one spot located at the waistline on the left side. I have not tried to clean it yet. I will take it to a professional to see what they advise. It is a brown spot. I have no idea what it is. It is about 3/8 of an inch and smudge like and it looks like it will come out. If it didn’t it could be covered by a belt. There is no belt, but a matching leather or self fabric covered one would look good.

There is always more to these vintage textiles and dresses than initially meets the eye! In this case the deep seams and hemline and the potential for restoring the dress to its originally intended size – the size the actual textile was made to fit exactly! And a more realistic one for today’s figures and wearability. I am intrigued and inspired! I have wanted to make some dresses from lace doilies and table clothes which I intended to use as decorative motifs – but this is way beyond what I was envisioning! It is really inspiring and special. I’ll post more when I know more!

 

 

Intriguing Irish Moygashel Linen Cutwork Lace Dress.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Moygashal Linen Cutwork Lace Dress

I came across this lovely little dress made of Irish Linen in a vintage store yesterday. amazing work! Beautiful design. A 1960’s wedding dress perhaps? So pretty. It is made by Moygashel – the company famous for fine table linens.

I am researching it so I’ll post more information about it when I get it. Just couldn’t wait to share it!

Congratulations to me! Princess Wow! Loves the Performance Dresses I Designed and Made for Her!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

I am really happy because I just received a call from Princess WOW! saying she received the two dresses I custom designed and made for her to wear in her concert and they fit perfectly! And she loves them! This is wonderful news because I made them from a distance working only from measurements! Everything turned out perfectly! This is the first time I have done this solely from measurements without try on fittings with the actual client! It was a bit of a risk! We measured very carefully, everywhere.  And discussed every detail over the phone and via emails. I was confident it would work, but now I know it did! Now I can relax!

Custom Design Dress for Princess Wow! The First in a Series of Performance Gowns by Lady Violette de Courcy

Especially for Princess Wow! The Second Custom Design Dress by Lady Violette de Courcy

 

Fine Art Portrait’s Circle Skirt – a Fabulous Textile From Alberto Makali – That I will Remember Forever! SOS to Locate Another One in an XS or S Size!

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Full Circle Artist's Portrait Skirt

I wish to share my photos of an amazing textile made into a circular skirt! I recently sold this fabulous skirt on eBay because it was too big for me! Now I kind of miss it as the work of art that is is. I won’t say was, as it still is, but it is in someone else’s possession. I rather nostalgically wish I had kept it just for the print. I love the fabric. I felt someone who could wear it should have it. Someone does and she wrote that she too loves it. It is so cool that more people than us, in it’s chain of owners, should get to see and enjoy it, so here it is!

I see beautiful clothing, especially when it is handmade or has a lot of handwork in it as this piece does, as works of art.

I was using this skirt as a wall hanging and in other ways in my home decor before I passed it on. I was in one of my phases in which I felt I had collected too much and should part with some of it! My criterion that week was: If it doesn’t fit me I should part with it! I often regret doing this! Honestly, I am feeling that way about this beautiful skirt! I miss it!

I don’t acquire something if I don’t really love it and want it in the first place! What a dilemma! Thus I almost always miss clothes when I get rid of them! I think of them and remember them nostalgically as if they are old friends who have passed on! The only way to deal with this problem realistically would be to have a big storage warehouse! Alas! I have limited space so I do move things out of my life so that I can move new ones in on a regular basis. My rule is: For every new item that comes into my home, one old one that takes up about the same amount of space has to go out.

This skirt is one I am certain I will always remember. It didn’t fit when I bought it, but I thought I could get it altered to fit. As it turned out it wouldn’t have worked without disturbing the way the fabric was cut and the screened portrait design. Making the garment small enough to fit me would have been too disturbing to the design, so, I left it alone. but I took good photos so I could go back and appreciate them once in a while – like today! Somehow, I just felt like looking at them this afternoon.

If anyone has this skirt or knows of one in an XS or S size would you let me know? This is an SOS! (Why Not?) I would like to get another one if someone wants to sell one, or give it away, that would fit me. The one in my photos was an XL. It is pinned in the back to fit my mannequin for the pictures.

It features three famous portraits of beautiful women!

Leonardo's Genevra de Benci

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring

Boticelli's Venus

These are silk screened onto cotton fabric. it is them embroidered with little sequins here and there to add sparkle. The skirt is made in India.

Close Up of Silk Screened Fabric

A close up of the silk screened cotton looks very much like a painting. Sequins are sewn on for some additional sparkle.

I call this A Fine Art Circle Skirt.

It is a full circular skirt with a screen printed border that portrays three famous portraits of beautiful women by famous artists. These women and artists are featured:Botticelli’s Venus, Leonardo DeVinci’s Genevra de Benci, and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Above the border of portraits is a graffiti style print. The graphics in the skirt are printed to fit into the shape of the pattern pieces exactly. This is why the skirt cannot be taken in without destroying the design on the panels! Doing that would be similar to destroying a painting – which is why I didn’t alter it. Upon close examination it became apparent that the fabric for each size of these skirts, if they made multiples, had to be printed and cut out individually.

This skirt is 100% cotton. It is designed by Alberto Makali, Italy. His label is sewn into the waistband seam, but it was not positioned so that I could photograph it.

The skirt is hand washable. In addition to the beautiful and dramatically printed fabric the surface of the skirt is decorated with hundreds of hand sewn on sequins in dark pink, orangish gold and green. These sparkle with you as you move! The skirt has a zipper up the left side and is gathered into a black one inch wide waistband.

I truly hope I find another one some day or it finds me because I think t is just beautiful! A true work of art!

It's What Little Girls Call a Twirly Skirt!

Last Look at the Beautiful Alberto Makali Designer Full Circular Skirt and All Three of the Famous Beauties and the Pretty Sequins that are Added Here and There for Sparkle! I Miss You Gorgeous Portrait Skirt!

The Flower Child Gown for Princess WOW! Summer 2011 NYC Concert ~ Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Empire Waist/Long Lean Lines

I have finished the two dresses for Princess WOWS! upcoming summer 2011 Concert…

Slit/Double Layer Skirt

These are the final photos of the sleeveless dress, officially known as the Princess WOW! Flower Child Gown that I have taken as my record of this dress and the details of the design.

Skirt Moves Freely

I keep a record of every angle for myself.

That’s why I have so many pictures here

I thought I’d share them as I am sending the dress to the palace on Monday!

 

Enjoy my weird graphics here! I’ll never be able to achieve this effect again. It just happened – a late night phenomena – which I will never be able to repeat!

Bodice Details of Handmade Ribbon Flowers, Hand Sewn Beads, & Sequins

 

Overlapping Bodice Back

Ribbons at Sides Adjust Waist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Necklace by Lady Violette Compliments Dress

 

Sewing Studio ~ The Final Fitting

 

Blowing in the Breeze

 

 

 

 

 

Parting Shots

 

On the Way to NY

 

 

 

Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool, huh? It’s 3:45AM but I’m liking this unusual juxtaposition so it stays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Violettes Sewing & Photography “Studio” in the Corner of the Kitchen! The Dress Form Trying On the Necklace!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

KItchen Studio

Lady Violette's Sewing & Photography "Studio" in the Corner of the Kitchen ~ Trying on the Necklace!

Every now and then I am producing something in my little work space and I look at the ‘moment of making’ that I’m in the middle of and think, “This scene might make a good photograph!”So, I have been stopping, now and then, to take a picture and preserve the experience in my creative process in this environment that caught my attention. They are usually messy, interesting work in progress moments, and that’s what makes them appeal to me.

I posted one last week, when I was working on Princess Wow’s concert dress. Here is another, from the same day. I was photographing the two long dresses I had just finished making before I sent them off for her to wear in her upcoming NYC concert.

In this one I was dressing the mannequin in the second one, a bright colored sleeveless gown, and trying out a multi-strand amethyst, garnet, silver, and art glass necklace to see how it would look with the dress. I had just arranged the necklace on the mannequin and turned around to reach for a pair of scissors. When I turned back to work on the next detail of preparation, this interesting scene of the half clothed dress form trying on the necklace caught my eye!

Lady Violette’s Sewing Studio ~ in the Corner of the Kitchen! Where I Cook Up Gowns for Real Princesses!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Kitchen Corner Sewing Studio ~ Where Gowns are Made for Real Princesses!

This morning I was taking final photographs of the dresses I have designed for Princess Wow! before I send them to her in New York. Between taking pictures of the right side of this dress and shooting details of the wrong side, or inside, I snapped this photo of my tiny sewing area in the corner of our kitchen! It is a very tiny area and I rather like it! This picture reminds me of something from Victoria Magazine when it first came out years ago and was full of lovely photography of interiors, artist’s work spaces and romantic settings!

In this tiny space I have taken all the photos on my blog, done all the sewing and knitting I have shown, styled and photographed all of my recent scarf and shawl tying and styling demonstrations, styled and shot all the vintage clothing I have shown on my blog and sold on eBay and Bonanza, made adults and children’s clothes, made dresses for princesses of all sizes, made and photographed jewelry, written things and cooked every day! I have often been doing several of these things at the same time!

We also use this same space for reading, talking, visiting with friends, having tea and watching movies! Everyone who comes by the house heads for this corner first! And usually plops down on the couch, hangs out here for a while, has a cup of tea, talks, plans what is going to transpire next and eats something. It is very conveniently located right next to the tea cupboard, the teakettle, the stove and the refrigerator! I like it when friends feel so comfortable that they walk right in, ask me what I’m cooking, grab an apple or banana from a bowl on the counter, and make themselves at home. It doesn’t disturb me or my work at all! In fact I find it forces me to relax and take a break and afterwards I am able to return to whatever project I’ve been working on and be more productive.

Even I am quite amazed at what can be done with a small space if one is resourceful. It was all I had to work with and presented an interesting challenge. The more I experiment with using it the more I find I can do within the limitations it presents. Sometimes limitations and restrictions help you make good art because you have to begin by working within their confines. This photo is another humble little example of that fact!

How to Make (or buy) the Gigantic Scarf I Used for My “Belted Half Dress Drape” Long Oblong Scarf Style.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I know how hard it is to find a giant scarf, or a great scarf! Especially one that is affordable or in the fabric, the color or the shape that I want. Therefore I have started making my own so that I can have whatever I need!

Gigantic Scarf 96" x 45"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the scarf I used to create the “Belted Half Dress Drape” scarf style demonstrated in my post yesterday. It is simply a 96″ long piece of 45″ wide fabric narrowly hemmed on each end. In this case with a rolled hem stitched by machine using a narrow hemmer foot. You can do it on a machine or by hand. The hand method is called a narrow rolled hem.

When selecting fabric something very light works best. This scarf is made of silk chiffon. It is border printed on each end because it was originally intended to be made into a scarf, but any all over print or a solid color will work just as well. Silk or polyester chiffon, china silk, lightweight silk crepe, rayon, or very lightweight cotton batiste would also be appropriate.

You will need to buy between 8 and 9 feet of fabric total. You want it to be sure the fabric is cut straight across the end before you hem it. Fabric stores do not always cut off the pieces they sell in exact straight lines with the grain of the fabric. Check for this before you sew the hem and, if necessary even it out.

Shops that sell Indian saris carry the kind of fabric I used. I have seen border prints, printed on each end like this one, or on just one end. My scarf is 96 inches long, That is 8 feet. I am 5″ 7″ tall and I found the length to be adequate. However, if I could I would get a little longer piece, such as 9″ that would give me a bit longer drape hanging down the back when I have finished the tie. If you are very tall I advise a 9 ‘ long scarf. That is all there is to it! It is quite easy and you can make your own “designer ” scarf in just the size, shape and fabric you need quite reasonably! Appropriate fabrics will cost from $3 per yard to about $40 per yard in fabric shops.

I have found chiffon on discount tables for $3 – $5 per yard. The sari silk scarf cut I used in the picture was a true bargain for $5 found in a thrift shop. They are also available in Indian shops and are not terribly expensive. I have also seen silk in fabric shops for $20 – $40 per yard. If you do not sew yourself, just purchase the fabric you like and take it to a tailor or dressmaker and ask them to hem it for you. Or ask the staff if anyone there would be willing to do it. I know that many women who work in fabric also sew for people.