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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Textiles’

Lady Violette’s Vintage Glove Collection

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I have been writing about vintage gloves lately so I thought it was time to share some pretty examples from my own personal collection.

Here is my basketful of cloth gloves in pretty spring colors. I have another collection of leather ones which I will share soon.

Lady Viollette's Personal Collection of Vintage Cloth Gloves

How to Wash Your Vintage Leather Gloves ~ From A 1940’s Woman’s Home Companion

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Interestingly here are the exact directions as I wrote them yesterday that my grandmother passed onto my mother which were then passed on to me for washing my vintage leather gloves! I guess it was common knowledge back in the day! On the blog Livin’ Vintage: as Found in Washing Your Vintage Leather Gloves  is a wonderful article, with old black and white photos to illustrate the washing process from a 1940’s Woman’s Home Companion. Enjoy! And happy spring cleaning!

It is true that washing a pair that has previously been dry cleaned is disastrous! I did it and they shriveled up as tiny horrid looking mummy hands! Photo coming soon! Yuck!

Leather Gloves Will Wash ~ From a 1940's Woman's Home Companion

Collecting, Cleaning & Caring for Vintage Gloves ~ With Some Advice & Photos From Circa in Australia

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

A Clothesline Full of Freshly Laundered Colored Vintage Gloves From Circa Vintage Clothing ~ photo Nicole Jenkins

While looking for more information on fitting, finding, and caring for vintage gloves I came across these wonderful photograph and a source of more information from Nicole Jenkins of Circa Vintage Clothing in Australia. Nicole writes extensively about The Joy of Gloves, explaining some past fashion history, telling how gloves were fitted, as I explained previously, to your shoe size, what length to wear with which dress style, how to clean them, etc. She also carries some new vintage style cloth gloves in her store in larger sizes so that ladies whose feet are larger than a size 8 can – luckily – find gloves that will fit! I am going to contact her right away to find out what she currently has in stock! I am always searching for real vintage gloves and nice modern ones with vintage style. * I did check out the store and she currently has 21 pairs of beautiful vintage gloves in stock! Just gorgeous and beautifully photographed too! go to Circa Vintage Clothing on the link above and search for gloves to view them.

Crescendoe Fashion glove Advertisement ~ Circa 1951

My grandmother and my mother often wore cream or white leather gloves for special occasions and I distinctively remember them telling me how to put them on and how to care for them. You were to ease the glove on carefully like a second skin. At first it seemed a bit tight, but as it warmed to your body temperature it would stretch and mold to your hand to “fit like a kid glove.”

If the glove became just the slightest bit soiled you were to change to another pair. You were advised to wash the soiled ones as soon as possible, while wearing them on your hands, as if you were washing your hands, in very gentle soap, in a basin of lukewarm water. Rinse thoroughly, remove from your hands with care and roll up in a clean dry white towel to absorb excess water. You could blow into them, as if blowing up a balloon, to puff them up a bit from the inside. Then you were to lay them out, flat, away from heat and sunlight, to dry. When almost dry, preferably not quite completely dry, you were to put them back on and ease them over your hand, smoothing out the fingers and lengthening them, to cover you hand comfortably. The gloves looked a bit wrinkly after hand washing, but looked fine and elegant again after a few minutes on the warm human hand had eased out the wrinkles. With proper hand washing and care a high quality pair would last a long time. I still have several pairs that have lasted 40 ~ 50 years and are in excellent condition. Of course colored gloves should always be washed and dried separately from white ones lest the dye run and inadvertently tint the white and cream ones! Washing directions from a 1940’s Woman’s Home companion will be posted on my blog tomorrow complete with photo illustrations.

In the Joy of Gloves Nicole Jenkins tells of collections of gloves she has come across when buying entire wardrobes for her shop. That must be fun! Reading this made me remember reading a biography of film actress Vivian Leigh. Miss Leigh loved white gloves and generally went through about three pairs a day, as she changed them regularly to keep them pristine. The most amazing thing was, that when she died, 500 pairs were found, neatly lined up in drawers in her dressing room!

I would absolutely love to have 500 pairs of vintage gloves arranged and ready to wear like that!

On that note I will end this post with Nicole Jenkin’s photo of her freshly laundered white gloves hung out to dry!

Freshly Laundered White Gloves ~ photo Nicole Jenkins

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!

Learning to Knit Gloves ~ Living Up to My 2012 New Year’s Resolution ~ Getting Started ~ Part #1

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Knitting Gloves? Well Yes, that is one of the things I resolved to do in 2012. I love gloves. I have small hands with long fingers and new gloves never fit me as they usually come in one size fits all or med. & large only. And vintage gloves are hard to find. I figure if I learn to knit my own I can make the hands and wrists small enough, the fingers long enough, and choose the styles and colors I really want.

Red Fuzzy Mittens All Knit Up on Two Needles - Flat Technique - Ready to be Sewn Up & Finished

I really am learning to d it. It is a challenge! Fortunately I already know the basics of knitting. I began with a pair of red mittens – so I could learn to understand the basic structure and how to shape thumb gussets before attempting to do 5 fingers. I knit a pair of two needle mittens, on size 6 needles, in the red yarn, now all knit up and ready to be sewn together using mattress stitch so that they can be worn. Hopefully I get that done within the next couple of days. Blocking them and sewing them up all around is all that is left to do. I may also add a decoration of some sort to make them not so basic.

Next, I am knitting a pair of basic 5 finger gloves in violet Shetland wool. My purpose being to learn how to do the thumb and fingers perfectly on a plain pair of basic gloves before I take on making lace or decorative stitch fancy gloves.

Violet Shetland Wool Hank Knitted Gloves In Progress

Here they are, so far! I have done the ribbing for the cuffs, making them four inches long on size #4US needles, then transferred to size #6US needles for the section of the glove up to where the thumb gusset will begin. Next comes the thumb gusset, then the thumb, after that, the little finger, then a bit more knitting around on the hand to bring it up to the base of the other fingers, then each individual finger – each one has to be knitted using four double pointed needles in the round in a tiny circle to form a cylinder. The silver needles are my working set, the red needles are just being used as holders for the live stitches on the other resting glove. I am doing each section on one glove, trying it on to be sure of the fit, then moving over to the second glove so I do the same thing on it, then switching back to the first glove again to continue with the next step. It is very fiddly! Especially since it is being done on a set of 5 double pointed needles in the round instead of two needles, flat, as I did the red mittens above.

Gloves are definitely harder to make than two needle mittens. I highly recommend learning on a mitten first, then graduating to a harder glove with double pointed needles and five individually knitted fingers. I am using Jamieson Shetland DK weight wool here at a gauge of 6 sts per inch. This is a rather large gauge for gloves, but I wanted to be able to make them relatively quickly as my practice set, before moving into a more challenging tiny gauge fine yarn – which is my ultimate intention. I want to “graduate” to knitting fine gloves in refined styles in beautiful colors ~ using many of the interesting fingering weight sock yarns which are very well suited to gloves as well!

I love the yarns! I can hardly wait! Discipline, discipline! I have 2 skeins of lovely yarn picked out, on hold, for my next 2 pairs of gloves, but I won’t buy them until I get these finished. They will be my reward for getting through these first two projects!

I am off to do more work on these today, so will keep you posted with my progress. I am determined to finish them this week! I have to stay on schedule here to accomplish my goals! My first goal is to finish knitting the red mittens and the purple gloves shown above during this January. Then to move forward throughout the remainder of the year by knitting a pair of gloves every month. Each pair must be increasingly more difficult to knit so that I make technical progress. I feel that I will be quite a good glove knitter by next New Years 2013 if I manage to accomplish this. Plus, I will have a good collection of hand made gloves made up from practicing!

After I finish these two pairs I will be looking for glove patterns or a book of gloves to make! I want to make authentic vintage styles, of course! This is only the beginning!

A Knitted Kaliedescope of Colored Lace is a Work of Art Hat in Japenese Artist Eisaku Noro’s Fine Art Yarn

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I am fascinated with the Yarn Art of Japanese painter Eisaku Noro. He hand dyes his yarns which are all organic and made of fibers from silk, through cashmere, wool, cotton, bamboo, etc. He dyes and spins the yarn in small batches all produced by hand – and they are absolutely amazing. I see his yarns, fall in love with one and must make something from them! They can be used any way a fiber artist/designer wants to use them – the sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless. I have made several garments from his yarns and have several batches of it stashed for future work. It comes out in extremely limited amounts so you must get it when you see it.

Kaliedescope of Colors in a Spiral Lace Knit Hat in the Making by Lady Violette de Courcy

Currently I am working on another knitted hat – my first experiment using Noro Yarn in a millinery project. I got the yarn, last Monday, came home and stayed up most of the night casting on and knitting until I had to get a little sleep. I woke up and started to knit immediately until I ran out of yarn! I had put more on hold, but I could not get to the yarn store to buy it as I was snowed in completely, now going on a week! But I cannot wait! I have to show you this as a WIP (work in progress) as I am so excited by the way it is turning out!

I am making this in Noro’s Silk Garden Yarn – a very soft blend of silk and wool. That is not a dark hole on the left side in the brown stripe! Just an indent in the lace prior to finishing and blocking the hat. The crown, which isn’t done yet, will be a round burst of all the current colors on the top in a spiraling snowflake~like shape. I underestimated the amount of yarn needed. In a project like this you never know until you make it. It is hard to tell now, but this again will have a 1920’s ~ 30’s vintage vibe to it when I am finished. And I’ll be adding a special surprise at the very end.

I hope I can get out of the house, off my steep Telegraph Hill like hill and back to the yarn store this weekend. Or early next week. The snow is not coming down now but we are experiencing really high winds. Branches are banging against the house and the trees are weaving and swaying. I can hear branches crunching and breaking off from time to time. This could be worse than the snow has been. Winds are whistling through the house too! When this happens here trees often fall across the roads and they are shut off. There is inevitable loss of electricity in the area as well. This is already up to 4,000 homes now which translates to a lot more people. My power is currently on – but It has failed 4x already. I will not be surprised if we are without power again! In nearby areas it has been out for three or four days and they cannot predict when it will get back on. The wind is so loud and violent it was impossible for me to sleep ~ so I got up and wanted to knit, but I am out of yarn on two current projects!

So I decided to write this blog post instead amidst the whistling wind. I imagine Wuthering Heights was like this. It feels very bleak! And it is dark and drafty and cold! I am feeling really housebound. I’m bundled up in knitted tights, mufflers and cloaks to stay warm and I haven’t been to the grocery store for over a week! The food choices are dwindling! Just like the yarn! This storm is difficult for someone who usually goes to the yarn store as often as she goes to the grocery store! At first the snow was nice, but now everything has turned to black ice and it is very dangerous. School has been cancelled for four days.

I am going to cook some old fashioned oat meal now. I am burning off calories trying to stay warm and I am really feeling hungry!

For more information on this hat in the works visit me at ladyviolette on Ravelry and check back to see this piece when I get it finished. The yarn is by Noro and the lace  pattern I have adapted is designed by Linda Medina. Details, including yarn sources and the lace pattern are available on Ravelry, the social website for knitters and  fiber artists.

 

Lady Violette ~ Erte Inspired 1920’s Style Hand Knitted Cloche With Pearly Vintage Accent

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Lady Violette's Rambler Spiral 1920's Cloche Hand Knitted in Cashmere and Silk

Another of My Recent Creations in the 1920’s Mode is a Hand Knitted Rambler Spiral Patterned Forget~Me~Not Luxury Fiber Flapper Style Cloche Hat With Pearly Vintage Accent. I am currently exploring making and wearing elegant knitted hats as feminine fashion pieces as they did in the 1920’s ~ 40’s. Versus the knitted granola hat destined for the ski slope, skate board park or shapeless grunge fashion accent  There are so many beautiful yarns out now that I cannot resist making something gorgeous out of them to put on my head!

I had to attend a 1920’s themed party so I made this little Erte inspired hat to wear with my blue 1920’s vintage dress of the same color rayon brocade combined with a darker blue velvet. I also wore many pearls so I trimmed the hat with a vintage pearly and blue trim piece that I had. I love the way this turned out! And I am already in process making it in two more colors – a dusky berry and a woodsy brown. I have two other stitch variation in mind to try out as well.This is such a cute shape I want to make several of them in many colors ~ perhaps a full bouquet! I am fantasizing about opening a drawer full of them overlapping each other in a rainbow of pretty yarns in many colors!

I used Sublime Cashmerino Silk Aran 10 ply yarn from England and found the basic cloche pattern in  Sublime’s Aran Hand Knits Books. You can use the basic hat pattern with any stitch variation you like. Like all vintage British patterns this one is written to be knitted flat on straight needles and seamed together down the back in finishing. It fits perfectly and looks adorable on. It required 2~50 gram balls of Aran weight yarn but I’m sure I have enough left over to make a knitted flower corsage to pin on one side of the hat. I think that will make a nice accent ~ instead of the pearl piece – when I want a different look. This is definitely a pretty hat design one can wear in the summer!

It’s still snowing here! And very dark outside! When I have the corsage finished and the snow has melted I will get a friend to photograph me wearing the hat and post pictures of it again. I wore it to the 1920’s themed party and it was a hit.

The pearl accent piece is not a vintage brooch. It is 3 vintage buttons wired together in the back and meant to be sewn onto something as an accent. It is a great idea to wire any number of buttons together to make such a “garnish” which is what I have decided to all it. You could also do the same thing with clip earrings. You can untwist the wires anytime to use the buttons as originally intended too! Such a garnish could be used on a coat, jacket, hat, dress, stole, even in your hair! The idea is probably something women came up with during the mend and make do era when they needed to whip up an embellishment in lieu of a jewel to trim an outfit before going out. It is very clever and a great use for pretty vintage buttons.

You can visit my site on Ravelry to find out more about my knitting and see more of my projects. I am ladyviolette on Ravelry. I post photos of the item, yarn and pattern information there so that you can find it if you want to create the same or similar article. If you are a knitter or interested in knitting I urge you to visit Raverly. It is a terrific resource for people with interests in knitting and crochet.

Lady Violette Design ~ Portrait Cloche in Honor of Edward Hopper

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

I know, you have been wondering where I am and what I have been up to. I haven’t been idle! Here is some of the stuff I have been doing!

I have been working really hard on knitting and designing hats, mittens and gloves over the last three weeks. This is a new discipline for me. I have never made gloves or hats before January 1, 2012! And I made a New Year’s Resolution to do so this year! As I mentioned yesterday I am taking classes in these subjects. And, as it is my best personal mode of learning, I am just jumping in and doing some designs of my own at the same time. I feel ready to share a few of them now. So, starting tonight, I’ll unveil one to show you!

Lady Violette's Design ~ A Portrait Cloche in Honor of Edward Hopper

Voila! I created this hat which I am calling my ” Portrait Cloche in Honor of Edward Hopper.” It is hand knitted of hand dyed 100% alpaca which is incredibly soft and warm. Pure Luxury!

I designed and made it to attend an art museum opening of Edward Hopper’s paintings. I wanted to make a hat in the style of the ones the women in his paintings wore. I also wanted it to look like a proper 1920’s ~ 30’s formed felt hat, rather than a knitted hat so I made it very thick and sculptural with a turned back rim and graduated shaping. I made a very thick sculptural bow to cover the left side of the hat. It comes down over the left ear and has the added benefit of being like a very warm ear muff! You could place the bow over the right ear instead if you preferred to do so.

The Overhead View of the Crown of Lady Violette's Portrait Cloche In Honor of Edward Hopper

This hat is very thick and warm, but I may have to try making one with my trademark earmuff bow on both sides now! I’m thinking of ways to keep even warmer on my 4th day of being completely snowed in! And it is still snowing out! We are in the middle of a huge snowstorm in Seattle and I am taking advantage of using this time to post my designs and knitting projects and related stuff on the knitting website Ravelry! (Honestly, I would rather be knitting!)

I’m really happy with the way this hat turned out. I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was doing as I made it but it is perfect and exactly what I had in mind. I am considering writing the pattern so I can offer it to other knitters who would like to make one, but, to do that, I must make another one and carefully write down the steps as I go. I think I should do it in a lighter color so the details really show up. As usual I kept copious design and construction notes on this one, but nobody but me can understand them! I always work the initial design out that way, then redo it for a final run through and perfection test to be sure somebody else can understand and follow them. I probably should point out that this hat requires good technical sewing skills as well as knitting skills.

I wear this one with a vintage navy blue 1930’s coat in wool gaberdine and a purple wool dress. The outfit is totally inspired by the women in Hopper’s paintings who are always dressed in strong clear distinctive colors. I get a lot of inspiration for my clothing from painters. I like to recreate the moods, styles, and colors of the paintings in the way I dress.

Lady Violette's Portrait Cloche In Honor of Edward Hopper ~ Viewed From the Front ~ Features Deep Sculptural Horizontal Ribbing, a Turned Back Brim for Double Thick Forehead Warmth, & Her Trademark Thick Earmuff Bow

My “Portrait Cloche in Honor of Edward Hopper” also reminds me of Dorothy Parker, the brilliant writer, who also dressed really well. She was known for her feminine suits and adorable accent hats like this one. I just know she would have wanted to wear one of these! Do you English majors out there who are interested in fashion agree with me?

I can also wear this hat with a deep purple wool crossover wrap and tie coat with a big ruffled collar. This is more of a 1970’s look, but also very successful. It looks great with this hat. In fact, once I finished the hat I found quite a number of interesting things in my closet that I could use it with. So many I want to go out! I am feeling so horribly house bound! I haven’t been able to get out to go anywhere since last Saturday night. I’d love to get bundled and dressed up in my purple and blue winter ensemble and go to some elegant cafe wearing my “Portrait Cloche.” As soon as I can get out of here I will and I’ll get someone to take a proper photograph of me in the Portrait Cloche In Honor of Edward Hopper in the right atmosphere worn with the right era vintage clothes. This may still be a few days off as it is still snowing like mad! The airports are closed and the streets are blocked off! My classes have all been cancelled.

We only get snow like this in Seattle once every 2 or 3 years. It is inconvenient, but I also love it! I like the opportunity to stay home because I must and get some other things done. And I love the cold and the whiteness and the excitement in the air that the snow brings with it. A lot of people get very upset about their busy schedules getting interrupted, but I don’t. I see it as an opportunity to slow down and get a few things done that I normally do not have time for. Like making a couple of new hats! And setting up my Ravelry knitting site – which is a hugely time consuming project.

And, of course, get back to posting on my blog. So, back to the blog, as I promised and back to the “Portrait Cloche” : Let’s look at some pictures of it from all angles so you can really see what it looks like.

A Profile Shot From the Right Side of Lady Violette's Portrait Cloche In Honor of Edward Hopper. Here I have turned the hat and placed the bow on the right side and toward the back to show a different way to wear it!

I used Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dye from Plymoith Yarn to make this hat because I happened to already have two balls of it in the perfect colorway of Blue/ Purple. I had hoped to get the hat and big bow out of one skein, but no such luck! It took about 1 and 3/4 altogether. Thus the yarn for this hat cost $40 plus sales tax! Expensive for a hat! But worth it to me. It is very stylish, warm and soft. Alpaca yarn is very luxurious and not at all scratchy. Even people with wool allergies can often wear it successfully. It is important to select non-scratchy or itchy yarn for a hat. I have made the mistake of using 100% wool that caused my forehead to itch and gave me a rash after a half hour. That quickly ruins the hat I spent hours making for me!

I plan to use the small amounts of left over alpaca yarn to decorate the violet tweed gloves I am currently making with little bows to co-ordinate with this hat. That should be really feminine and appropriate to the era that inspired me. And the gloves will be beautiful with the two ensembles I have described above. Here is a picture of them now as works in progress. I am finding it really interesting to construct them on the tiny tiny needles

Violet Tweed Five Finger Gloves With Bracelet Length Cuffs. This is the first pair of Five Finger Gloves I have ever made!

I am going to try to find another suitable yarn to make a spring/summer version of this hat – hopefully using one ball of a nice looking yarn and costing under $25 to make. I want to offer beautiful patterns that can be made up in affordable yarn. Anybody have any good suggestions? This one needs to be really bulky!

I keep trying to make hats out of one ball of yarn but I keep running out and needing to get a second one. This has happened on the Noro Spiral Beanie hat I am currently making as well. (See my work in progress in Noro Silk Garden in pastel colors and gray. I’ll post a picture of that here tomorrow.)

I am about to begin writing up several of my personal knitting pattern designs so other knitters can make them. I know cost of yarn and supplies is an issue for many people so I am planning to suggest several types of yarns in different price ranges so people have a choice. I am always making new things out of old ones and creating new things out of found fabrics and supplies – so this issue is always on my mind. I’d love to hear suggestions from readers of alternate materials you think would work as well. I’ll seriously consider them.

Lady Violette's Portrait Cloche In Honor of Edward Hopper Folds Flat For Convenient Packing

I will be writing out the design and instructions for making Lady Violette’s Portrait Cloche In Honor of Edward Hopper Soon. When it is done & available I will post it here and on Ravelry. Check back if you want the pattern. We could even do a supervised knit along to make it here on my blog if a few people are interested.

If you are  interested in making this hat let me know.  It is not hard to make. In addition to the ability to read a knitting pattern, you only need  these basic knitting skills:

1) Cast On

2) Knitting,

3) Purling

4) Decreasing

5) Binding Off

6} Sewing a straight knitted seam together in mattress stitch

7) Picking up & Knitting stitches

8) Steam Blocking

About Ravelry. It is a knitting and crocheting social networking website, like Facebook for knitters and crocheters. In order to access it it is necessary to join it, even if you are not a knitter or crocheter or other needle worker. However, it doesn’t cost you anything to join. It is am amazing resource and I feel it is well worth joining even if you  currently simply enjoy looking at what other crafters and fiber artists are doing.

It is also the last word on finding information and sharing your work.  I am ladyviolette on Ravelry.

If you visit me on Ravelry you can view all my current projects in these areas and see pictures and read about my past work in those disciplines.

I’d love it if you come by and see me sometime. So will you, I guarantee it!

 

Classic Museum Quality Child’s Vintage Scandinavian Sweater ~ A Successful Restoration Story

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Classic Vintage Child's Norwegian Sweater~ Successfully Rescued & Restored From a Rag Pile

I am an avid knitter and am always on the lookout for amazing hand knit vintage sweaters that I can rescue from oblivion. I love hand knits and cannot bear to see them abandoned and unappreciated! I especially cherish children’s sweaters which were made with love by a grandmother, auntie or mother long ago. I know what is involved in making them since I knit myself and finding one and returning it to it’s original splendor is very exciting! Seeing it worn by children in my family and appreciated again is the icing on the cake!

The Inside of This Sweater is as Beautifully Done, Technically, as the Outside ~ a Really Good Example for Modern Knitters of the Stranding on the Backside of Two Color Fairisle Knitting

I recently found this little boy’s Norwegian sweater in a filthy thrift shop. It was dirty, and terribly damaged. And only $2. But it was a total disaster. I should have taken before pictures, but I was in a hurry to clean and repair it to send to a little boy as a present!I needed to get it to him quickly so he could use it before he outgrew it. As we know little children grow like weeds so no time was to be wasted!

First off, I gathered up the live unraveling stitches on safety pins, then I washed it very carefully in cold water by hand, as I was afraid of moth or other infestation. I washed it over and over to get the disgusting amount of dirt out of the wool. It is made of beautiful quality old style yarn – of the nice stiff type that is now very hard to find. It still contains its natural oils.

The Intricate Snowflake and Geometric Pattern Covers the Entire Sweater ~ Back and Front ~ Beautifully

The navy is a very dark inky shade, almost black, also impossible to find! I know as I searched every local yarn shop with the tattered, but now clean, little sweater looking for matching yarn to use for the extensive repairs needed. I could not find a match. I also want to find this type of yarn for my own knitting. Thus, if anyone reading this has a source I would be grateful if you would inform me of it.

The Sleeves Were Full of Holes When I Acquired the Sweater, But Now They Look as Good as New!

The ribbing on the wrists was unraveling and torn, the ribbing at the neckline was coming out and the sweater had holes in the elbows, the button placket and the back. It looked like it had been worn as the main winter coat by some child and his three older brothers before him as a hand-me-down and never mended or washed! But old wool wears like iron, fortunately!

Unable to match the yarn in it I finally had to unknit sections of the sweater in order to get enough of the navy main color yarn to make the necessary repairs. I undid all the ribbing at the bottom and both cuffs and then picked up the live stitches and reknit them using the resulting salvaged yarn and making the new ribbing sections shorter than the originals had been. The ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and the cuffs of both sleeves is now about an  inch shorter than originally. And it looks as good as new!You cannot tell that I have reworked it. I know this was often done during the mend and make do era. People also used to save a bit of the yarn and extend the ribbing to make the sweater larger as the child grew bigger.

Interestingly the B.K.S. Handmade in Norway label was still hanging by one thread so I resewed it on to retain the authenticity of the sweater.I think B.K. S. must be the initials of the woman or man who knitted this sweater. This nice touch makes me think I should get such a label made to sew inside the items I knit myself. I try to do as good a job as this and I want them to become heirlooms for my own family in the future.

Label of Knitter and Pewter Reindeer Button

The vintage pewter reindeer buttons are real beauties. And I was charmed by the fact that an extra was attached to the chest of the sweater with a red and navy striped grosgrain ribbon like a little military medal. The maker provided this extra button in case the child who got the sweater lost one! Fortunately none of the buttons were lost.

This Amazingly Detailed Sweater is Made to Fit a Boy of About 4-5 Years Old. Note the extra Button Sewn Onto a Striped Ribbon Like a Military Medal in Case the Child Lost a Button!

I took pictures of the sweater from all angles and both inside and outside to keep a nice record of how the fairisle work was done. It was both beautifully and expertly done. This is a textbook example of Norwegian knitting. It is worthy of a place in the Scandinavian Heritage Museum. I think it was made in the late 1940s or early 1950’s. It is a real treasure! Now restored to it’s rightful original splendor! I only wish the original knitter were able to know how much I appreciate her (or his) work! I would love to be able to tell her (or him) that myself! She (or he) so deserves it! I hope posting it on my blog garners the admiration and attention it deserves.

Expert Color Work! It Looks as Pretty on the Inside as it Does on the Outside ~ At least to an Avid Knitter!

I will include photographs of the stranding closeup so you can compare the way it looks on both sides. Here goes!

Fairisle Work ~ Another Detailed Shot of The Stranding

I shipped it off the restored sweater to the lucky little boy I repaired it for just in time for Xmas. He will wear it, his little brother will wear it and it will be a treasured heirloom in our family now for a few more generations! I made them new sweaters too. I love making small ones because they work up so fast! It is good practice in these difficult techniques prior to taking on an adult size sweater. I often tackle a little one for a family member before taking on the challenge of doing an adult one. After this repair job I feel quite ready to undertake a full size Norwegian sweater. I just have to find the perfect pattern. I want to do an adult one for myself and a man’s size with reindeer and snowflakes on it.

The Finished Restoration of This Museum Quality Child's Size 5 Year Old Sweater

I think this pattern is perfect for a child’s sweater. Does anybody out there have great classic vintage Norwegian sweater patterns for adults? Or know of a good source? I am looking now. Any suggestions will be most appreciated. I would like to find hat and mitten and glove patterns as well. And yes, I really will make them!

The red and white baby blanket under the Norwegian sweater in the photographs is my present for a new baby who is coming into the world in February! It is never too soon to start making hand knits and crochet heirlooms for the next generation! I am determined that they grow up with handmade knits so they enjoy them and learn to appreciate them! I did and that is what got me started as a knitter.

I was taught to knit by my grandma when I was only 4 years old. I was fascinated by it and couldn’t put the needles down! She later told me that she taught us to knit so she could busy us  and get her own work done! She said it kept us occupied for hours enabling her to work on her own sewing and knitting! Brilliant!

Under her supervision I very proudly made my very first scarf for my grandpa for Christmas when I was five! It was copen blue wool and consisted of knit and purl stitches only. She made me rip it out and reknit it until it was absolutely perfect! He wore it for years and told everyone that I made it! He even wore reading in  bed on cold nights and tied it around his bedpost so he could have it ready if a chill came on! They were very encouraging and supportive of the craft of knitting. They were sheep ranchers so their interest ran deep! They raised their own wool on their ranch in Southern Idaho. They sent it to the Pendelton Woolen Mills to be processed.

When I was a little older I went to the Pendelton Mill myself on Saturdays where they had knitting classes for children and teenagers. We were allowed to choose yarn for our projects from the overruns of the mil. It was a goldmine of fine wool in beautiful colors. I remember making my first sweater out of a beautiful emerald green merino held double with green mohair all the way from Italy. The yarn was free if you were a student there so cost was no object. The mill was interested in developing future knitters and demand for their products. I know of no such program these days! I attended those classes when I was in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. Then we moved away from the area. The teachers were excellent and I still remember what I learned there! It was an excellent  basic foundation. Amazingly I was only 6 to 10 years old when I took those classes. My mother went to the advanced adult knitting groups and they created amazing items some of which I still have and will photograph and post on my blog in the near future.

I decided yesterday that I should photograph these beautiful vintage sweaters and share them with others. Once again, the exquisite vintage needlework produced by these women deserves to be seen!

And One More Fairwell Picture of the Norwegian Sweater Because I Cannot Resist!

Traveling in Violet is Possible ~ A Beautiful Purple Airport Fashion

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Dita Glamorously Making Her Way Through an Airport

It’s always hard to know what to wear to the airport and on the plane these days. But traveling, even getting there, can be an event worth planning a fabulous outfit for. Just for fun or, who knows who you might run into in an airport? Or meet on the plane? There is always the possibility of the photographers and fans following you. Thus, as Dita demonstrates, it is a great thing to always be well beautifully dressed, fully made up and perfectly prepared.

Dita Von Teese loves to dress up! Today I found this photo of her in a gorgeous purple trench coat with a huge fur collar in an airport! Marvelous traveling clothes! And I love her huge sunglasses which appear to have purple tinted lenses in the photograph.

Dita lives glamor 247. She obviously loves it and has a great time doing it. I love seeing what outfit she is going to come up with next! I don’t know who designed her coat or whether it is new or vintage. I do know that it is lovely! I would love to have one like it!

It seems to me that surrounding yourself in cloud of hazy violet light like this while en route could take the grunge out of traveling and make it much more pleasant.

I think I am going to dress up in a really fancy vintage coat with a fur collar the next time I fly someplace. Thanks for the inspiration Dita!

” I advocate glamour every day, every minute. Glamor above all else.” Dita Von Teese

Revlon’s Ultra Violet Cosmetic Ad ~ Trick & Treat in Advertising & a Good Idea for a Halloween Costume!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Dorian Leigh in the 2nd Revlon Ultra Violet ad of 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF ILLUSIONS IN ADVERTISING

There were two versions of the Ultra Violet ad I have been discussing lately made by Revlon in 1946 featuring Dorian Leigh. This is the second one. I love the way she looks and the colors in the ad, but I think some of the flowers are lilacs, not violets! Both types of flowers are purple so they are alluding to violets through color. Lilacs are tougher than violets and probably held up better under the hot photographic lights used on the sets in those days. They do appear to have used real flowers because you can see them drooping in places. They don’t seem to be holding up during the shoot as as well as Dorian did! The poor little things look like the heat from the lights was wilting them. Meanwhile, Dorian looks fresh as a daisy!

Also, I can tell that Dorian is wrapped in a violet colored sheet, not a beautiful designer gown. This disappoints me! I want to see her in an exotic creation ~ a dress or evening gown by Charles James or Christian Dior or Cecil Beaton for example. Cecil Beaton is the photographer here. I wonder why he wasn’t asked to make a special violet gown for this occasion? (Budget constrictions, perhaps?) She is wearing real jewels which were loaned out for the occasion by Harry Winston. She is every bit as beautiful as they are!

It is interesting to note, here, that Cecil Beaton was a costume and fashion designer par excellence and also created magnificent hats. He later did the costumes for the film My Fair Lady which included spectacular dresses and hats for the Ascot Races. He could have designed something magnificent for Dorian to wear in this campaign had Revlon been up for that! I’m sure it would have been worth the extra money!

Given that they had only a cotton sheet and a straw sun hat (again not a designer creation!) to work with for costuming, she and Beaton did a pretty good job of creating the illusion of glamor in these two photographs that made Revlon over $3 million dollars in 1946! Wow! On this one color alone! Ultra Violet was quite popular. Dorian was so elegant and charming that she could sell anything even wrapped in a sheet! They draped and tied it around her like a giant scarf, so this is an example of creative scarf tying and styling! Cecil Beaton was a master of illusion as a photographer, stage and costume designer. Between them, Dorian and Cecil were able to trick the female public into seeing this ridiculous set up as glamorous and treating themselves to the Ultra Violet cosmetics so that they could look just like Dorian.

Considering the amount of money Revlon spent on the ad campaign and the amount of profit they made back from doing it they should and could have sprung for a decent dress for their top model! Charles Revson was infatuated with Dorian and wanted to marry her. She turned him down repeatedly. I wonder why? Don’t you? I haven’t found out the reasons yet, but will post that juicy tidbit of information when I do. I suspect she may have found him cheap! Suzy Parker, Dorian’s sister, complained that Revlon paid them “peanuts” for modeling for these ads. The girls knew that Revlon was nothing without them, but Revlon hadn’t realized the value of its models yet. They didn’t until Lauren Hutten came along in the 1970’s and demanded an exclusive contract. That was the beginning of the big money for women who modeled in cosmetic ads.

This getup has gotten me thinking that I could make an Ultra Violet Girl costume to wear for Halloween! I always try to come up with a violet theme being Lady Violette. All I would have to do is apply my makeup like Dorian’s vintage makeup design in the picture; then, dye a white sheet violet in Ritt dye in my washing machine, artfully wrap and drape it as they have done in the photograph, pile on some costume jewelry, plop my big violet colored straw hat on my head and cover myself with artificial violets and lilacs which can be bought in garlands or individual stems at craft stores. I could even make myself a round box like the powder box she is holding, label it Ultra Violet, and hold it out for my treats! A little small for candy? I don’t want candy! I want big girl treats ~ some of those Harry Winston treats like Dorian’s will be just fine and should fit perfectly and discreetly in my little treat box!

 

Dressing for a Wedding and Your Body Type ~ Lady Violette’s Design Advice to Nancy Shevell & Stella McCartney

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Nancy Shevell in her Wedding Dress Designed by Stepdaughter Stella McCartney and Her Too Big Vegan Shoes

 

This post was inspired by an indignant email message from my  friend and colleague, Lavande Lamour (the long-lost sister of writer, Louis Lamour),
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“Nice wedding dress for Nancy Shevell, especially with the Wallace Simpson influence, but I think it would have been much more becoming just below (or just to) the knees. I think Stella McCartney was going with a “young” look and paying tribute to Ms. Shevell’s slender figure, but knees just don’t belong anywhere near a wedding dress, in my opinion. Her knobby knees just kill the whole effect for me
.Also, I wish Ms. Shevell weren’t standing with her feet two feet apart. I swear, women have forgotten the art of how to present their legs in a dress these days. We see either the rugby stance (Ms. Shevell) or the pigeon-toed, slouchy stance (Scarlet Johannsen and many others). The basic ladylike principle of keeping one’s knees in nodding acquaintance with each other seems to have disappeared. Ah well….   Lavande
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And further Inspired, (yes really! ) by the comments below and at the end of my post.

Inspired……you mean copied, Stella McCartney is not a great designer, riding on the crest of her father’s fame……

– Steve Constantine, Noordwijk Holland, 13/10/2011 16:44

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2048237/Nancy-Shevell-wedding-dress-Stella-McCartney-inspired-Wallis-Simpson.html#ixzz1ajpRLWpA

Nancy Shevell looked like a beaming, beautiful bride, regardless of Stella’s ghastly creation. Fortunately, Nancy could make a bin sack look terrific. The happiness on the faces of Nancy and Paul made them seem like 2 delighted teenagers. I wish them a lifetime of bliss and contentment. They seem so well-suited to each other. But I would beware Stella, Nancy. I agree with the person who said the dress looked like it came from a 1960’s McCall pattern – spot on. Of all the bridal gowns to emulate, Stella picks Wallis Simpson’s? Is that the best she could come up with? It wasn’t a nice dress then, it isn’t a nice dress now. I have always maintained that the fawning over Stella’s designs is a classic case of the emperor’s new clothes. The McCartney name is the only reason she’s a famous “designer”. The shoes were ghastly and the dress too short. Is Stella trying to give Nancy a hard time, too? Sometimes I think Stella is more interested in her inheritance than her father’s happiness.

– underwhelmed, london,

13/10/2011 16:13

I thought that the wedding dress looked like one of the horribly ugly polyester dresses from the 1970s & it didn’t look good on the Duchess either….and my mother had one JUST exactly like it back then. So there is nothing about it that is unique or original at all. It’s a bad length for Nancy with her SCRAWNY pale legs, & she would have looked so much better in a longer length or a pantsuit. And what charity shop did they have to go to in order to find those awful shoes? They are so big & loose on her feet…they are either worn-out vintage shoes or she’s too skinny to fill those shoes up. PLEASE don’t tell me those shoes are coming back in fashion!!! – Ashleigh, Austin, Texas,

Nancy Shevell & Paul McCartney

Wallis Simpson & Her King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND NOW, some  CONSTRUCTIVE COMMENTARY by LADY VIOLETTE de COURCY  on Dressing for a Wedding and Your Body Type

First, I want to say, Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney look to be a very happy couple and very much in love and that is the most important thing. I am happy to see them married and I liked the low key simple ceremony and small number of quests invited. Nancy Shevell looks like a lovely person and she has been low key throughout the courtship and wedding process which is fine, but she has married into British Rock ‘n Roll Royalty which is just about as big a deal to a lot of people as marrying into actual British Royalty. As such she has a responsibility, in my opinion, to live up to the fantasies and expectations of the Beatle’s fans of all generations. Sir Paul has made her his princess and she ought to do all she can to live up to the image. In short, she should look like a princess.

It is very important that anyone reading this realize that, I am not being negative about Nancy Shevell’s character, or her as a person, I am simply making observations about style and design and offering my constructive ideas on how she and Stella McCartney, who is one of the top designers in the world, might have dressed her and how she might improve her choices in dressing and personal presentation in the future. She appears to be quite a lovely person, actually, and I wouldn’t mind meeting her myself if I had the opportunity.

It appears to me that Nancy is quite conservative and understated in her dress, that she wants to be appropriate but not blatantly stand out at all. This is another reason why I should think she would want to subtly conceal her negative features and subtly enhance her positive ones. If she managed to do this she would simply come across as charming and understated.

So, let us analyze Nancy Shevell. She has a lovely face and pretty long hair. I found photos of her with a terrible shag haircut and blond hair, so she has learned, somewhere along the way that she should stick closer to her natural brunette color! She has a beautiful smile. Her smile appears to be much improved by having had her teeth straightened and veneered since her high school year book photos were taken!  These two facts lead me to conclude that she is not adverse to self improvement. She also appears to have had the size of her nose reduced.  She has definitely dramatically reshaped her eyebrows which used to be thick and bushy. I suspect she has regular Botox injections to keep her face young looking. She has the glow of happiness and being in love but also the advantages of her financial status for dressing attractively, self improvement and maintenance. I am all for this if one can afford it. In many ways she looks great and is doing a good job of taking care of herself.

She is tall and slender and this is obviously her natural body type. In her case this has it’s good and bad points. She needs to utilize every positive aspect of her face and figure and play down the unattractive ones. ( Everyone needs to do this, of course!) Any clothing designer who works with her should advise her accordingly and the fact that Stella McCartney didn’t do so is inexcusably unprofessional. We can safely assume that both Stella McCartney and Nancy Shevell have all the money they could possibly need or desire to enable them to create any impression, dress or ensemble for such an important event as a wedding no matter how casual they desire it to be. That said, I will express my opinion of the Stella McCartney wedding dress for Nancy Shevell to Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

I dislike the dress. It is totally inappropriate for the woman wearing it and for a wedding dress. I would never recommend that she wear such a dress. So, here is where Stella McCartney failed. If she recommended such a dress it was a mistake. If she was asked to design and make such a dress it was a mistake not to refuse to do so. and suggest something much better using all her talents and training to the fullest extent. This short dress makes both the client, Nancy, and the designer, Stella, look bad. Stella is well educated in the world of fashion design and celebrity publicity. She should know that these issues will arise, that her new step-mother will now be photographed and watched by press and public alike and should be dressed to succeed in her inevitably public position as Sir Paul’s wife.

Many people in the public will be looking to Stella for inspiration in both personality and style and looking at her to critique her. Stella is in the unique position both professionally and personally now, to offer priceless advice and design services. Stella, not only as a world class couture designer, but as the daughter of a Beatle has been in the public eye her entire life and should have known that this wedding and this dress would be covered by the world press. She had a tremendous opportunity to make the bride look her exquisite best and to show the world her own design capabilities. Unfortunately, for both women, she didn’t!

Readers suggest that Stella doesn’t like Nancy and is trying to make her look bad on purpose. If this is the case it is very stupid of Stella because people will be judging her abilities as a designer as much as the appearance of her father’s new wife. I honestly don’t think this is the case. I believe that Stella just isn’t that good or experienced when it comes to analyzing and meeting the needs of an important client. Nancy is now an important client because she is now married to one of the most popular men in the world who also happens to be Stella’s father. This is a fantastic arrangement for Stella. which guarantees her constant free exposure and continual publicity. What an enviable position for a designer to be in! These two ladies should be buttering each other up. For the most part Nancy is pretty good lucking and will make Stella’s designs look nice if she wears designs that both look good on her and look good on someone her age. It can easily become a win win situation. Thus is is a shame it has gotten off to this bad start in the press at the beginning of the marriage,

To me this dress looks cheap and inconsequential. The first thing I see is Nancy’s legs. Miles and miles of bony scrawny, ugly, un~athletic looking, ultra thin and exceedingly unattractive legs! There is so much of her stick like legs showing that they actually over power her face and her smile which is really unfortunate because those are the most attractive and nicest of her features. Her entire upper body is covered up with the gathered bodice and long cuffed sleeves which look like a white blouse that might be worn under a conservative business suit consisting of a skirt or pants and a jacket. Under that is a plain straight way too short and utterly boring skirt! Did they run out of material? Or could they only afford three and a half yards of this white stuff bought on sale at some suburban fabric store like Joanne’s Fabrics?  It takes about 2 and 1/2 yards of fabric to make a blouse and about one yard to make a simple straight skirt like the one in this dress! Surely Nancy, Paul and Stella could have sprung for more fabric! And much more interesting fabric. Stella has access to the best and most beautiful fabrics in the entire world. And money is no object. Nancy’s height and thin figure make her an ideal fashion model for narrow or full length styles. Styles that would cover up her stick thin ugly legs and focus all the attention to her pretty face. Styles that would also make the designer Stella look really good because she made a beautiful dress for an attractive woman. Had Stella designed a long dress for Nancy none of the criticisms that have followed the wedding regarding Nancy’s dress or her super skinny legs would have come up! If I had such ugly legs I would be covering them up in any situation in which I could! Why should she do this? In order to look her best, put her best foot forward as they say, in order to protect her reputation and in order to focus attention on what a beautiful event this is and what a beautiful bride she is ~ rather than on what ugly legs she has! A long dress would have been elegant and would have covered her legs.

Then there is the color, It is stark white. Stark white is very difficult to wear. It emphasizes all the flaws in a person’s complexion – making imperfections glaringly obvious. In this particular case it draws our eyes to Nancy’s way too skinny bird-like legs and her dreadfully bony red knobby knees! She appears to be wearing bare legs and sandals! Her shoes are really terrible. She should at the very least have worn panty hose in an even skin tone slightly darker or lighter than her own skin to de-emphasize her legs and give her a more polished look. Then there are her bizarre shoes. They are flattish sandals with ankle straps. I think she should have worn a classic closed toe pump with at least a slight heel! And, in this case, no ankle straps unless she was wearing a long dress so we could not see them! These shoes look like they were purchased in the old lady’s department at K-Mart. She could have opted for some glamorous vintage pumps! Or Jimmy Choo’s, or anything from Paris or NYC! Her shoes could have been amazing! It is almost heart breaking, as a shoe lover, to see a woman of such privilege not take advantage of the opportunity to wear a fabulous pair of shoes to her wedding! How very very sad! I am sure hundreds of thousands of women are thinking the same thing. Here, again, Stella should have stepped in to advise. she also designs and makes shoes. She could have provided something better! Probably even at the last minute from her very own showroom! I read, after writing this paragraph that the sandals Nancy wore were vegan! They are vegetarians. That is no excuse for ugly shoes. Many beautiful wedding shoes are made of cloth like silk and satin and linen and decorated with beads or lace or silk flowers. Something elegant could have been found or custom made.

Nancy is supposed to be an heiress. She was apparently not sent to ballet lessons or finishing school. I deduce this from observing her stance. Her feet are wide apart, she does not hold her knees together and she holds her fingers in her opposite hand in front of her body in a most awkward self-conscious manner. In every photograph I have ever seen of her, she has stood awkwardly and looked uncomfortable.  Now that she will be followed by the press and constantly observed and photographed in her new position as Paul’s wife, I would advise her to get some training to learn to stand gracefully, to pose properly for photographs and to project an aura of comfortable self-confidence.  I do not want her to change her personality or become a different person. I just want her to acquire poise and self-knowledge so that she shines in her new position of privilege. She is wearing a $650,000 art deco Cartier black diamond ring! She should be doing so with pride and pleasure, not covering it up in a shy and embarrassed way by God, we cannot even see the thing on her hand! I would be getting a tasteful manicure and putting my hands out where they could be seen in a subtle manner. Nancy was wealthy and had the privilege of money before marrying Paul, but she is now privileged to be in his family and social circle and to share in the love his fans have for him and the Beatles. That is what I mean by privileged. He is also privileged to be marrying her. It works both ways. Its just that she wasn’t in the spotlight before. Now she has gotten the privilege to enter his spotlight. That is a big responsibility. His fans expect a lot from her. They expect the exact opposite of what his previous wife Heather Mills provided if you get my drift!! They want Nancy to make Paul Happy and be dramatically drama free! So far she seems to be doing a good job of that!

Hairstyles: Nancy has pretty hair. There are many salons in England that are really good. And the wealthy can afford to hire a good hairdresser for a special event. There are also hundreds of pretty ways to style long hair ~ from classic elegant up dos, through partially braided sections in the long hair, half ponytails, and softly curled but styled long locks Unfortunately, Nancy’s hairdo is just long and limp. It looks like she was going for a youthful look – which she and Stella interpreted to mean washed, dried, brushed out and embellished with one flower stuck in over the left ear. It is so casual that it covers her ears, neck, shoulders and a great deal of the front of her dress!  It ended up just looking limp as if she has spent a day swimming at the beach and is letting her hair air dry. She may have picked a lone flower off a bush on her walk home and stuck it in her hair for fun! This, Nancy, is a wedding, a special occasion! As the audience out here, in the land of the public, we would like to see you go to a little more effort to be really beautiful. You do have the potential! 100% We want you to live up to it!

As for the resemblance to the Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress!  I see only many small buttons and a gathered bodice and long sleeves. I don’t like Wallis’s dress either. And as far as the famous comment she made, “You cannot be too rich or too thin!” She was very wrong, you can be too thin. She is one example of that. Nancy Shevell is another. Neither of them have great bodies. Both look very un~athletic, way too thin,  and awkward. These qualities cannot be covered up by wearing expensive clothes. They can only be corrected and changed through physical training and self-discipline and diet. They both need to eat a lot more.  I am very thin by the way. I do not say this out of envy of how thin they are! I have been very thin all my life, but I have also danced and trained all my life so my thin body type is very different type. I am filled out and well shaped by strong muscles and consequently have strong powerful curves.

Wallis always looked severe and stern. When I have studied old photos of her I have deduced that she was an ugly woman who was beautifully dressed in very expensive jewels and clothes. I think she was actually hideous! Look at the great beauties of her time! They were extraordinarily lovely! I am referring to Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Marlena Dietrich (who had beautiful legs!) Nadia Paley, Moira Shearer, and many many more. Wallis couldn’t hold a candle to them in my opinion. I always wonder what her attraction was? It was not her intellect ( I have read some of her writing.) It was not beauty, so what was it? I am dying to know and hope Madonna’s upcoming movie will shed light on this topic and satisfy my curiosity!

In his Little Dictionary of Fashion, Christian Dior said, “There is no Key to Good Dressing. If there were it would be easy, rich women could buy the key and all their fashion worries would be over!  But, simplicity, grooming, and good taste – the three fundamentals of fashion – cannot be bought. But they can be learnt, by rich and poor alike.”

Both Nancy Shevell and Stella McCartney have led extraordinarily privileged lives. In Stella’s case she has even attended the best schools of fashion design and worked for the best fashion houses in existence. I have seen scant evidence of her talent. I just don’t feel that I am seeing it in the conservative and rather dumpy dresses she designs for her new stepmother, Nancy Shevell.

Look carefully a the wedding dress. If it were a solid dark color it would look like a business woman’s work dress. In a small dark print or jewel tone it would look like a 1980s – 90s librarian or school teacher’s work dress. One man wrote that he thought it looked like an old nurses uniform! From the 1940’s! It actually kind of does! Just put a winged cap on her and she would look like a nurse in a WWII hospital movie! She could throw a Navy Blue Red Cross issue wool cape over it and be ready for work in the field. Personally, I think the top looks like a conservative white blouse and the straight skirt looks like a straight white slip! The kind you might wear under a woolen skirt so it isn’t scratchy., or doesn’t tick to your bum and ride up! These are not images you want to have for a wedding dress.

Some alternative suggestions for Nancy: Suggestions I would have made to her for a small daytime wedding had I been her designer. I imagine Nancy did not want to wear a long classic white wedding dress because she is an older second bride. She probably did that already in her first wedding and didn’t want to go through that ordeal again. I imagine that she wanted something under stated and tasteful, and not overly dressy. I think Nancy could have worn an elegant suit with a longer skirt, or a long dress.

1) A Suit: It was common to get married in beautiful wedding suits in the 1940s and 50s. Look at the glamorous weddings in old Hollywood movies. The bride and groom often got married in daytime civil service ceremonies or small  daytime church weddings and the bride wore a suit. Consider an elegant 40’s style tailored suit in cream colored gaberdine with a fitted jacket with a wasp waist worn over a mid-calf length skirt with a sexy walking slit in the back. I would make this of fine cream wool gaberdine lined in lightweight silk and it would be worn with a beautiful ultra feminine cream lace blouse which would be beautiful worn on its own later, either with this skirt or another, without the jacket.  I would make the jacket double breasted and nipped in at the waist, then flared out gently over the hips, and close it with vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. I would suggest graceful T-strap shoes with 3 and a 1/2 inch heels of buff colored kidskin. If she didn’t want to wear leather in order to honor her new husband’s vegetarianism I would suggest a similar style shoe made in cloth of some kind of leather alternative. I would suggest cream colored silk stockings like they wore in the 1920-40s because they would look beautiful with this type of suit and fabric and greatly improve the appearance of Nancy’s legs. These stockings are extremely elegant and also make the ankles look a little thicker which would be a good thing in her particular case.

2) Hair and Hat: I would style her hair in an artful Chignon low on the back of the neck and if she liked the idea, top this off with a beautiful feminine hat custom made of fine cream colored Italian straw with a medium width brim trimmed with  ribbon and handmade silk flowers. This would be an elegant creation – a subtle, classic hat. It would call attention to the bride’s beautiful face, and flatter her. It would in no way resemble any of the hats worn to this years Royal British wedding! Her lush long hair would look beautiful in the back with braids entwined in the chignon at the nape of her long elegant neck. Because her hair would be pulled back her neck and face and shoulders would be shown to best advantage and the shoulders, sleeves, collar and neckline of the suit would be shown off to great advantage. I would keep her hair soft, but elegantly off her face and shoulders.This hairstyle would be lovely with the cream colored suit worn by itself or with a hat like I described.She would have the option of wearing or not wearing the hat and could even change her mind about that up to the minute she walked down the aisle.

3) Hands: She should not wear gloves because everyone will want to see her Art Deco black diamond Cartier engagement ring and the wedding band.

4) Flowers: I would suggest she wear a corsage on the lapel or at the hip of the suit. She carried a bouquet which she might have chosen to do so that she would know what to do with her hands. She obviously feels awkward about them and isn’t sure what to do with them. We would discuss that and practice several alternatives so that she could choose which she preferred. Some brides carry an evening purse, some a bible, or other book, some flowers, etc. I would suggest a spray of white orchids designed with tulle and ribbons pinned to one of the lapels  with an elegant vintage brooch. Nancy wore a tiny white flower in her hair. I felt so sorry for that little guy! It deserved to have a few more companions alongside at the very least! Wouldn’t she have done better to sweep a section of hair loosely behind one ear and place a comb with several flowers and a trailing ribbon attached to it in her hair? I am not suggesting anything lavish. I am just suggesting something more interesting and complete. It could still look subtle and not over power her. Nancy appears to be very careful in her fashion choices. So careful that she misses out on the beauty and pleasure to be had! She is probably just lacking in self confidence in this department.

5) Something old: This could be the brooch pin, the cream colored vintage silk stockings, the antique lace used in the blouse, or? That would be fun to figure out. I have heard no mention of any choice being made for something old in the ensemble she actually wore.

6) Biaanca Jagger wore a white suit by YSL when she married Mick. It was gorgeous and considered an unusual choice at the time, but, at that time, anything went (the past tense of anything goes!) It would have been interesting for Nancy Shevell to take her inspiration from Bianca Jagger instead of Wallis Simpson! It may have been a pantsuit, even, I will have to check that out.

7) A Bohemian dress, a long dress, please. There are many kinds of dresses in this genre that would have worked. A casual flowing bohemian flower child look could have worked. Then she could have worn her hair down and flowing, but hopefully a bit more artfully styled with more flowers intertwined in it.

8) A Grecian style long dress could have worked, with artistic draping and a skirt just a few inches above the ankles. This could have been worn with more elegant sandals if she really wanted to wear sandals. Its length would have concealed her legs from being the main focus. In this style dress her hair could be worn, again, in the type of loose chignon I describe above with a few strand escaping.I would have suggested this in colors other than white. Some ideas, pale blue, dove gray, buff, pale gold, pale silver, peach, pale lilac in muslin or light silk.

9) A simple bias cut Jean Harlow style 1930s gown could have worked. It would have fallen beautifully on her because she is so thin and has absolutely no hips. This cut dress adds a little meat to the frames of women like her. It would have helped her conceal her skinny legs and look curvier and more feminine. I would have suggested cream, the lightest dove grey, peach, or palest blue if she really wanted a reference to Wallace Simpson’s gown,. I would have suggested this style dress be done in a jacquard silk crepe in a sophisticated pale solid  color – so that it didn’t look like a wedding dress, but suggested an elegant cocktail dress from the 1930s Hollywood movies.

These are only a few suggestions to give an idea of how many there are! There are lots! I could go on and on, especially with the Bohemian dresses and the Empire influenced ones. Had I been Nancy’s designer I would have created a very memorable gown, with her input, that she would have been extremely comfortable and happy in. I would even have been happy to make her three or four of them so that she could actually try them out and decide which one to wear to her wedding.! The other designs, I am sure, she would find very useful and great to have on hand to wear for other occasions. All my ideas for designs for her would be wearable for events other than her wedding because none of them are “wedding dress” design ideas. They are dresses you could wear for a small casual, daytime wedding such as Paul and Nancy’s but could also be worn most suitably for many other times. Observing Nancy, from my position out here in the public, it seems to me that she didn’t want a weddingy dress.

I have read that she changed into a long plum chiffon number when she reached the house, also designed by Stella, which Barbara Walter’s really liked. Then,  after a while, she and Paul went upstairs and changed into blue jeans which I bet really felt good by that time! Don’t you?

The marriage of Paul and Nancy gave both Nancy and Stella a chance to showcase their fashion design and styling skills and their stylistic sense. I didn’t like what they came up with. I am not saying that casually either! I have really analyzed why carefully. I hope they will find and read my post! And learn from it.  I even welcome them both, singly or together, to contact me for consultation should they so desire.

Nancy, You have the rest of your life to show off your knobby knees. I am sorry that you did it during your internationally important wedding! I hope you don’t choose to do it in the future, but, should you, you will know and understand how one fan, of both you and Sir Paul, felt about it and advised you to do otherwise!

Finally, poor taste in dress withstanding, I wish Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney my absolute best. I hope they will be happy together for the rest of their lives!

I just cannot resist adding other people’s posts that seem to agree with me! Here are a few more, just for fun!

The lining was shorter than the hem of the dress. I agree the dress was much too short for a 50 year old woman. And those tacky shoe!!! they must have been borrowed from Rose in Keeping Up Appearances:”>

– honey, Boston Ma USA, 13/10/2011 3:18

Lady McCartney’s wedding dress may have been “inspired” by Wallis Simpson”, however, other than it’s length, the dress was almost an exact copy of HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress from last April. Stella doesn’t seem to have been particularly inspired this time around.

– The Truth, Reality, 13/10/2011 2:05

Madonna has a film out about Wallis Simpson. Stella McCartney is a friend of hers.. dress gets people talking about Mrs Simpson?

– old fashioned girl, Lancashire, 13/10/2011 1:55

The Duchess of Winsor was SUCH an unattractive women.She always looked SO old.

– E S, ex pat, 13/10/2011 6:00

Unfortunately Stella doesn’t have an original thought in her head and wouldn’t have succeeded without the family name. The wedding dress looks like something run up from a 1960s McCalls pattern book.

– Philippa, Louth, 13/10/2011 0:34

It was a woeful dress, looked home made and draped terribly. Stella’s dress was as inspiring as her smile (or lack thereof). All the best though to Nancy and Paul. – Sheryl Osborne, Melbourne, Australia, 12/10/2011 18:15 Thank you, my thoughts exactly and a darn good laugh. Also, she could have used a small veil so that she would actually look like a bride. I think Stella runs a bit on the controlling side and probably trying to keep Nancy down a bit.

– Clarice, Hanover, MA, USA, 12/10/2011 19:09

I agree with Karen from Bournemouth on the comment about the dress should have been to the knee. The dress is okay over-all, nothing special. She has rather unattractive legs, and those sandals look like something my grandmother would have worn, coupled with the big feet, not a good look. And before anyone starts, I have huge feet. It’s just a fact, if you’re wearing a dress at a special occasion, you need a heel so you don’t look like Magilla Gorilla in the foot department!

I wore a dress very similar to Nancy’s for my wedding in the 71 but with an open collar. It looked better than this. I designed my own clothes taught by my mom who was a dressmaker back then. I am no fan of Stella McCartney and think this dress does not do the bride justice. Same with V Beckham with her metal zippers on the outside. Plain old poor workmanship and I wouldn’t be caught dead in one. This looked much better on Wallis. I wonder why she would want to imitate a woman so hated in the country she is adopting?

– Mary, LA, CA, 12/10/2011 17:46

I noticed the design influence but wasn’t the original dress pale blue? Also I suspect Stella McCartney planned for it to be worn longer and it was shortened rather badly at the last minute. I thought the change in colour made it look like a nightie – rather Brides of Frankenstein. I can understand the bride wanting a shorter length for a Registry Office Wedding but there is a recognised way of hemming that sort of fine fabric which has not been followed. Looks to me as if the Bride and the Stepdaughter didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye and some unskilled person was let loose on it.

– J Huxter, Surbiton, Surrey, 12/10/2011 15:12

Wallis was better dressed for her wedding than Nancy by far. You would never have caught Wallis with her skirt above her knees, no tights and sandals no woman past 30 should wear, let alone to her own wedding. She was no beauty but she was elegance personified – a quality very few women possess today – including the new Mrs McCartney. She looks passably nice but that’s all.

– Reubenen

The only resemblance I can see is the nose. The dresses are not the same at all.

Does any one remember the film King Pin with Woody Harleson? The older woman in the film who is romantically involved with him has legs like that. Yuck.

– James , UK., 12/10/2011 11:36

Thank you for your comment, Daddy Longlegs…..I’ve never understand why grown women stand all sprattled-legged or pigeon-toed when they know they are being photographed. Were they reared by wolves? Did their mothers never take the time to teach them how to stand & walk gracefully before their first big “dress-up” event like childhood banquets or proms? Thank you to all the mothers out there who showed their daughters how to stand with their knees together!!!!!!

– Caroline, Dallas, Texas, 12/10/2011 11:31

What’s with the shoes? Her feet are literally swimming around in them like they are 2 sizes too big & too WIDE!!!!!!!!!

– Caroline, Dallas, Texas, 12/10/2011 11:21

She has very boney legs and ankles :

– charley, Surrey, 12/10/2011 11:03

Wallis looks like an ironing board with an ugly head stuck to it. No amount of money could help her – she was always a very well dressed and very ugly woman.

– Sa6, Somewhere, Here, 12/10/2011 9:56

Looks like Stella was taking the p*ss. She obviously doesn’t like this one either but can’t say anything.

– Fiona, West Lothian., 12/10/2011 9:17

She looks dressed for a church pageant not a wedding. Drab and unpolished.

– Kitty, Dallas, USA, 12/10/2011 8:09

t’s nothing like Mrs Simpson’s dress! Who writes this rubbish? Too short for her knobbly knees and those cheap looking sandals. Yuk. I Like the top part though.- Kate, York, UK, 12/10/2011 8:06

OMG, the bride has ugly, skinny chicken legs.

– Mary, NYC, 12/10/2011 7:40

And the groom’s hair was inspired by Ken Dodd! Nancy should have worn a dress more like the original that covered up her sparrow legs. This heiress clearly didn’t go to finishing school – they would have taught her to stand like a lady, with her knees together!

– Daddy Longlegs, Planet Earth, 12/10/2011 7:05

Stella’s designs are awful, she needs a refresher course in dress designing as Ive only ever seen one or two outfits that have looked reasonable to wear.

– Kathy, Birmingham UK, 12/10/2011 7:01

Would have been so much more ‘classy’ if it had come just below her knees. Instead the hemline looks a little understated. Nobbly knees and no tights/stockings – all a little bit unflattering.

– MatildaUK, UK, 12/10/2011 6:2

Yet to see a decent creation from Stella, and the original was far better.

– jack., ashford.england, 12/10/2011 6:28

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2048237/Nancy-Shevell-wedding-dress-Stella-McCartney-inspired-Wallis-Simpson.html#ixzz1ajvcuqFR

Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm ~ by Lady Violette de Courcy

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Having broken my Right arm, and wrist, for real, last Saturday night, and had surgery for a compound fracture with metal plates and screws inserted on Tuesday, I have learned a lot about slings over the last few days. This is my Left handed typing too, which is getting pretty good, pretty quickly! This is a serious injury and actually quite painful. And, of course, I have to keep my arm elevated. It also feels like it weighs a ton!

I am small and the two slings I was issued from the hospital, one from the ER and one after my surgery, were both way too big and slipped all over the place and were, consequently, inadequate! They were both terribly uncomfortable and would not stay in place at all! I  found this very annoying!

I immediately remembered Grace Kelly using her Hermes scarf as an elegant sling in a similar situation and got right down to trying it. There is nothing unusual about using a square piece of cloth or a scarf for a sling! It has been standard emergency medical practice forever. I found quite a few how to directions online. One instructed actors as well as injured people on how to make a proper sling until you could get professional medical attention.Being an actress I wondered if Grace had studied this in acting classes? It was easy to follow so it is the one I decided to use and link to. How to Make a Sling Out of a Scarf Instructions. This is from eHow Trusted advice for the curiuos life.

They didn’t give specific Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm or Hermes or Other Scarf Sling Size Instructions so I will. They assume many scarf shapes or sizes will work.  And they probably will with experimentation. I was interested in what Grace Kelly used and how she did it. So here is that specific information.

Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm

And Hermes or Other Scarf Sling Size Instructions

by Lady Violette de Courcy

1). Grace Kelly used a 35 inch square Hermes silk scarf laid out on a flat surface and brought the opposite corners together folding the scarf in half in a triangle. She then tied the diagonal corners into a secure knot.

2) Grace then placed  the knot over her head so that the scarf draped down over her chest in a loop and the knot rested on her shoulder just to the side of her neck. (Not directly on the spine as that can injure the neck and or spine.)

3) She then gathered the Hermes scarf loop together and pulled it up in front of her injured arm. She positioned her scarf with the wide striped outside border to the outside (her shoulder side) as you can see in the top photograph.

4) Then Grace slowly slid her injured hand and injured arm into the scarf loop. She continued to gently slide the injured arm into the loop until the entire forearm was tucked inside.

5) Grace then tucked her elbow and hand into the loop ensuring that her entire arm was protected within the sling. The Hermes scarf was large and she had excess fabric on the end of the elbow. She folded this excess fabric over the front of the arm and pinned it to the sling with a large 24K gold safety pin, concealed discreetly inside the folds of the Hermes scarf for extra support. This last step kept her elegant Hermes scarf sling from slipping and held her injured arm secure and close to her torso.

I followed these instructions to the letter with a friend’s help tying and pinning my 35 inch square Hermes scarf the first time because it was impossible for me to do it alone with a broken arm! I am quite sure Grace Kelly had to have help as well when her arm was broken! However, once we got it sized and adjusted and perfectly tied to fit it stayed that way and I could slip it on and off and slip my injured right arm in and out of it quite easily and safely all by myself! I, incidentally, used a sterling silver pin, instead of a 24K gold one! And it worked just perfectly!

I made note of the fact that Grace Kelly had also broken her right arm!

It is perfectly fine to use a Hermes scarf or any other strong scarf, vintage or new, designer or not, to make an elegant, secure custom fitted sling! The point is to make it out of a scarf you like and to have a tidy fit that will be secure and stay put while your injured arm heels safely.

Thank you Grace Kelly for this wonderful stylish idea that makes me feel better both physically and psychologically while recovering from an unpleasant injury! It helps!

 

 

Exotic Red Silk Embroidered Chinese Slippers From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Shoes in the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I now have all kinds of red shoes ~ from boudoir slippers to ballet slippers, from dance shoe to clogs, from tennis shoes to party shoes! Even a pair of red patent leather boots! The first pair of red shoes I remember having were a tiny pair of exotic red silk Mary Janes with dragons embroidered on the toes and flowers all around the sides. I was born in San Francisco and lived there when I was a little girl. My mother got me the dragon slippers in China Town when I was about three years old. She had a black pair for herself. They were to wear in the house like slippers because the soles were very lightweight. I liked mine so much that I insisted on sleeping with them! I would not go to bed without my favorite shoes! My father had to move my bed up against the wall and tuck me in, then line my favorite shoes up on the side of the bed next to the wall! Even then I liked pretty colorful shoes! I had black patent party shoes, pale blue ones, white ones with little bows on the toes and my red dragon ones! And I would not let them out of my sight! I insisted on keeping them right next to me while I slept.

When I outgrew the red dragon shoes the got me another pair, and I recall they were decorated with hearts and flowers. Eventually I had a royal blue pair, And a black pair! And another red pair. By now, I have had several red pairs! These are always available pretty much everywhere Chinese imports are sold in sizes that will fit babies through large adults. They are usually sold folded up in a clear plastic wrapper and are stocked in bins or baskets on the floor. They generally retail for under $10! They look very exotic, but are sold for under $10 ~ I am always amazed at the low price and how the Chinese can they make something  so pretty and manage to sell it to us for a profit! I love to give them to people as Christmas presents along with a few other pretty colorful gifts. They make great affordable stocking stuffers! They are available in sizes that will work for all ages and can be worn by men as well as women. The black ones with dragons on them are particularly suitable for men.

The Pair! So Pretty and available in all sizes for all ages!

Vintage Needlepoint Bangle Bracelets & Evening Purses ~ Circa 1950 ~ From The Lady Violette Jewelry Collection

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Needlepoint Bracelets ~ Circa 1950s

I never know what interesting and unusual treasure I will find when strolling through thrift and antique shops! Last summer I saw a woman working in a shop who was wearing a needlepoint bangle bracelet. I thought it was really lovely so I asked her about it. She had gotten it in France at a flea market. It was not for sale. But I wanted one now! So, I kept my eyes open, and, after a year of looking, I now have this little collection of my own!

Round Needlepoint Evening Purse ~ Circa 1950s

From what I can tell they are made in France or Belgium – like the vintage evening purses that feature similar needlepoint depictions of flowers and birds. They make an attractive vintage accent on the close-fitting sleeve of a wool dress or sweater, and can be worn over a glove 50’s style for a pretty look. I like wearing one that way while carrying one of my small needlepoint purses to create a refined and ladylike vintage 50s look. It is an easy way to do something charming and unique to your look that you don’t see everyone else wearing! I found these in places like church and hospital charity thrift chops and a senior citizens rummage sale. They were priced very reasonably for what thy are! Which just goes to show you how charming you can look on a low budget if you are clever and willing to look for things in the correct places. Supporting these shops also does good for the community. I bought the round purse for $5! And the narrow bracelet was $4. The wider ones which are hinged and open in the middle were a splurge at $12 a piece! Real treasures in my opinion! And so distinctive!

My Amazing Quest for Beautiful Liberty of London Vintage Ties

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Beautiful Banners ~ Liberty of London Vintage Ties - Circa 1960's

A while back I wrote a post about my Liberty of London Scarf collection. That is one of my favorite blog posts I have done yet!

After doing it I received a nice response from the Liberty of London Social Media Team complimenting me on my scarf collection, writing and photographs.  They seamed really pleased that I had the collection of their vintage scarves and had put up the photos to share them. I have been thinking about  that ever since as I have several other Liberty items. I love the fabrics. I realize I have scarves, skirts, blouses, and now men’s ties! I even have some makeup in packages designed by Liberty of London in collaboration with Mac Cosmetics.

This is What to Look for On the Flip Side Liberty of London Men's Ties - the Fabrics and the Labels

Because the scarves go so beautifully and comfortably around women’s necks I felt it was logical to explore what went around men’s necks next! I have seen artistic and fashionable men wear one of the Liberty of London Scarves occasionally and personally I think it looks great ~ but, let’s face it, not many men are wearing ascots these days! That was popular in Victorian times and in the 1940’s and 50’s. Men are getting really casual about their dress in the last couple of decades. They hardly even wear ties anymore! But they were in fashion for everyman in the middle of the last century! Doesn’t that phrase sound long ago? I feel like I just said something straight out of Oscar Wilde! The Importance of Being Ernest, perhaps, because I am earnest about this!

A Sampling of Liberty of London Vintage Ties - circa mid 1950's - mid 1960's ~ From Top to Bottom and Narrow to Wide

In the 1950’s, 60’s and very early 70’s Liberty of London made elegant ties for men out of their signature prints and fabrics. The earlier ones were traditional rather narrow width styles in the 1950’s and 60’s, elegantly done, in paisleys and small traditional silk prints and often utilized many of the subdued English Arts and Crafts type botanical prints in silks and wools. These suited the traditional English Tailored Gentleman Style of dressing very well.

In Chronological Order ~ Fanning Left to Right the Two on the Left are From the 1950's English Tailored Gentlemen's Style ~ the Two on the Right are From the Flower Child Style Eruption in the mid 1960's

Then, with the Flower Child Style eruption in the 1960’s bold full blown colorful flower patterns became popular. Liberty of London’s ties were often wider and more dramatic in both shape and coloring.  They were made from some of the more flamboyant archival floral prints from the Liberty of London Fabric Collection. I have seen them done in cotton, silk, and wool challis. The Liberty designers also issued new prints to meet the 1960’s fashion world’s demand for color and big flowers. Liberty’s style was particularly suited for this opportunity! As the demand for these more flamboyant men’s ties emerged some women’s scarves were also issued in brighter palettes for the more fashion forward. Somebody in the marketing department of Liberty was very wisely looking ahead ~ making sure to attract a younger clientele for the present and future success of the company. Liberty of London has always been very aware of its market combined with what is happening in the society at any given time. That is one of their very strong points as a company.

Note the Labels on These Flamboyant Mid 1960's Liberty of London Ties! By Now They Were Notating Which Prints They Used Were New and Which Were Taken From Their Archival Designs. Note the Customization of Their Tie Linings As Well!

The mainstream fashion world’s high point for popularity for mens’ Liberty of London ties was the 1960’s. They were coveted by hip dressers in the fashion forward cities in the United States, Canada and Western Europe. That fad died down in 1970’s,  but Liberty, of course, continued to make traditional ties as they always had for their English Tailored Gentlemen Style customers. Elegant, subdued and distinctive these ties could be spotted a mile away by those in the know. I saw them now and then on distinguished gentlemen.

This is a good point to mention that the Liberty of London Company is very British and steadfast in the sense that they always can be relied upon to consistently produce certain types of old reliable items that their permanent admirers want – fashion fads notwithstanding.

I became really interested in exploring the Liberty of London print ties right after writing my blog post on the Liberty scarves. I had long been aware of them, but I had never owned any before that. Two things happened to whet my appetite for finding some. My general resurgence of interest in all things Liberty of London because of my scarf tying and writing post and secondly, the fact that a friend of mine asked me to help him shop for and co~ordinate a business wardrobe. We went shopping for men’s clothes for 2 days – in a big hurry because he had to leave for Tokyo for a week of meetings, and being in IT in Seattle, had been dressing casually for work for the last 10 years. He had no dress clothes! We had to do everything at once. That is hard and I do not recommend it. You ideally need to allow more time to co~ordinate things and get alterations done!

We flew into action. I must admit I am very good at this and I really enjoy personal wardrobe consulting. I knew what stores to go to for what brands and what was on sale. This man is very tall and thin and has a hard time finding ready made shirts and jackets with long enough sleeves and slim bodies ~ as well as pants with small waists and long enough inseams. This is one reason he hates going shopping and puts it off as long as possible. We bought everything! And after getting the main pieces down we got to the fun part ~ selecting ties. Until we looked at the prices! The new silk designer ties are really expensive! As much as, or more than, women’s designer scarves! My friend had sticker shock! We had to buy three because we had no time to search for bargains. He had to get alterations done and leave town packed by the next day. I had an alterations connection who was willing to do a rush job. We got him packed, and off to Tokyo looking fantastic with enough clothes for a week of business meetings in the very critical Tokyo design and advertising world where the men are very fashion conscious. They even flash their labels to show you who designed what they are wearing. They are absolute competitive fashion sharks! The modern day version of the dandies of the French court.

His clothes worked out. Everything was a hit. While he did business in Tokyo I got busy learning about vintage ties. I went online and searched for vintage tie dealers and looked at their offerings and prices. They were considerably less expensive than the boutique and department store ties we had just looked at and had to buy in the shops due to the rush we were in. I memorized the desirable designer names and absorbed their looks. I made myself a mental tie dictionary. Ties are complicated! And very sophisticated. New ones, as I mentioned above, are very costly. I decided to hit the local thrift shops, consignment and vintage shops to see what I could find. Ties are something I like to see, feel and inspect in person. ties are very sensual.

I live in Seattle, WA. Men have not been dressing up much for work in the IT industry here for decades. For me this was very fortunate. No one was buying ties and there were lots to be had. Especially lots of awful ones! These little resale shops were loaded with possibilities! This was how I began my Liberty Tie Collection. I searched for vintage ties, knowing what kind I was hoping to find and after looking at about 1,000 truly, finally, found one Liberty of London vintage tie!

I was spurred on! About 500 ties later, I found another one! About 2,000 ties after that, yet another! And so on. Last week, I had four and decided it was time to photograph them to write this post. So I did. Then, driving home from town last night, I stopped at the Goodwill and jackpot! I found yet another one! I now have five! Altogether 5 Liberty of London vintage ties. 5! I am so excited! And, just so you know, I have to get excited to write about these things!

And I must admit I have also picked up many other ties that are really nice from different designers as well.  I now have a basic collection of about 40, altogether, great men’s vintage ties. Why? You may wonder, being a woman? Well, because I like the fabrics and the way they are made, and I decided it would be fun to have them around to loan to my male friends who are always needing help with their clothes! I am also figuring out ways to use them myself and think I will incorporate them into my own wardrobe in some very feminine menswear inspired looks this fall and winter. Something to look forward to! Hopefully I will blog about that! I will certainly try!

I decided the time was ripe, I must write about my Liberty of London Vintage Tie Quest this this very weekend.

Study the Front Side as Well as The Flip Side ~ Inspect the Ties Carefully ~ if Buying Vintage You Want to be Sure the Tie You Pick is in Pristine Condition

As I drove home I thought about this: Vintage shopping takes time. You cannot go to a store because you know you need something and find it right then and there. You have to have a lot of patience and search and search. Over time. I cannot emphasize how long it takes to put together a decent collection of wearable art in this way. It is a constant work in progress. And it requires tremendous self discipline. I am always editing up. I have a rule, I have a limited amount of physical space and I must take as much out of my collections and get rid of it as I bring into them. Thus I am sorting and recycling constantly. I have kept many items for decades and some for only a few months. The hunt is part of the fun. You never know what will be around the next corner, what you may find, what new desire this might kindle within you. And, when you get one of these desires going you have to keep it smoldering in the back of your mind constantly, in order to keep the quest for finding it it fueled. Somehow, sending the message that you want something old and odd or unusual helps it to appear on your horizon. This really works! But you must have patience. Sometimes it takes two years or longer for something special to appear.

The Subtler Colorations of Traditional Silks From the 1950's Liberty of London Styles.

This is how it was, as you have read, with the Liberty Vintage Ties!

Then, all of a sudden, as I was driving home I remembered this:

About two years ago, when I was rushing around doing household errands in Target of all places, in Seattle, Washington, I remembered I had seen some men’s Liberty of London print ties for sale! They were part of the Liberty of London for Target collaboration that produced a variety of popular lifestyle accessories, from lamp shades, through throw pillows, clothing and my favorite ~ screen printed bicycles for women and children! I was busy. I was not paying attention. I did not look very hard. I did not buy anything from Liberty of London issued in collaboration with Target that day. In fact, at the time the Target/Liberty campaign was going on I didn’t get into it at all! I missed out on the entire thing! I wish I hadn’t! But I must say, I live in an area where Target is not very active. Very little of that companies special campaigns merchandise make it into the stores in my area. I have since become aware of this because some people I know are collaborating with Target merchandising and PR on developing on their I-phone Application.  In fact, one of those very people is the man whom I was helping with his trip to Tokyo business wardrobe.

This guy is a computer person. He is an IT professional. He is also a gamer. He has long teased me for my penchant for vintage shopping and collecting. He recently observed that thrifting is like gaming – it is all about the hunt, the unknown, the quest, what you will find around the next corner when you go out looking, and what that will lead you onto next. The reward, we vintage shoppers get, in our game, is the treasure we find to add to our collection at a price we are willing to pay. He has observed that people who are “addicted” to thrifting are similar to gamers in this way. He uses this as justification for spending much time gaming, of course! Time I think he should be spending some of shopping so that his wardrobe is ready when he needs it!

Collection of Liberty of London Vintage Scarves ~ Circa 1960's

I do know some thrift shoppers who love to shop because they find it “so relaxing.” these people buy something of everything. I am different. I actually find thrift shopping quite stressfull. I think this is because I am honing in on a particularly small areas of highly specialized and hard to find items. Rare stuff that one hardly ever comes across. And I am way over the thrill of looking through tons of garbage to possibly find it. I actually do not like to have too much stuff around. And all of it must be orderly and neat and in very good condition. I turn down 90% of what I find because it is not pristine enough to fit my standards.

I clean and repair everything as soon as I acquire it if that is necessary. I don’t want to have anything dirty or needing renovation lying around. This, in my opinion, is the advanced stage of successful collecting! These are the ways I have managed to assemble my own collections. I would say that operating within limitations is generally a good guideline. In this case I was looking specifically for the men’s version of the Liberty of London neck pieces ~the ties ~ made in the same time period as my women’s vintage Liberty of London scarves. I was also looking for about the same number of them ~ four or five. I often actually set out with a number like this in mind as I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by having to find or take care of too many. I find that I use and enjoy things if I have numbers of them that are under control.

Photographs of the ties are by Fredric Lehrman

Photographs of the scarves are by Violette de Courcy

 

 

Palter De Liso Designs ~ Early 1950’s ~ Black Silk Taffeta & Purple Rose “Delight” Stiletto Pumps

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The Fabulous Rose Delight Pump by Paler De Liso

In my constant quest for shoes as works of art I recently came across this gorgeous vintage 1950s shoe called the “Delight”  designed and made by Palter De Liso.  The style of this elegant silk pump is named the Delight and this version is made of black silk taffeta decorated with purple hand painted roses! Beautiful!

This pair is a large size, made for a tall woman. I estimate it to be a size 11, but there is no size label on the shoe. I’ve tried everything to make the shoe fit, but it is just plain too big for me! It is the just the opposite of the story of Cinderella’s slipper! This shoe is actually too large for me! Her glass slipper was actually too small for her stepsisters so they had to search the land for the smaller Cinderella whom it fit. This pair of shoes is too large for me so I must search the land for a smaller pair that actually fits me. I am hoping that the web will serve as a dragnet sweeping the earth to search for a pair of these in my size!

Thinking about this while writing I am reminded of the fact that both Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn were small women, and were both famous for having gigantic feet! They both wore size 11 shoes as I recall! I do not want bigger feet! I just want a considerably smaller pair of these amazingly wonderful shoes in my size. I just wish these were smaller and fit me! I believe in putting the word out that I want them will eventually guide them in my direction. Doing that has worked for me on other really hard to find things in the past! Aren’t they gorgeous? I try not to acquire shoes that don’t fit me, but this pair was such an amazing work of art I decided I had to have it!

I often display favorite shoes around my house so I can enjoy looking at them. I sometimes place one pair on each step of the staircase leading from the first to second floor of my house. That way I can contemplate them and study them every time I go up and down the stairs.

I can also justify owning fine art shoes as beautiful as these for the Lady Violette Shoe Collection which has become so interesting and extensive that I have decided to post it on my blog, shoe by shoe, so that I can share the rare and unusual shoes I have collected with anyone else who is interested in them. I know many other people also love shoes! I have been intrigued by shoe design and history for a long time. Thus, it is my hope that other shoe enthusiasts will enjoy sharing and experiencing my collection in this way. Questions and commentary on the shoes is also welcome. You might well know more about them than I do as I often find them with no accompanying historical information.

The Purple Rose Delight Features a Stiletto Heel

If anyone comes across a pair of these in my size – a 7.5 or 8 M – I would love to have a pair that I could actually wear! Being vintage they probably run small and I could probably wear them in an 8 or even an 8.5. I love the style and the purple roses! These would actually go with many of the clothes I wear. I love both black and purple. I know these would become both a personal style statement and a wardrobe staple for me if I could find them in my size. So, this is a serious call for a pair that will fit! Please please please notify me if you have or find such a pair! And, ah, I should add, I am interested in any Palter De Liso Delight shoes from that era. They were made in many additional colors, fabric, and decorations.

As Lady Violette I have two personal flowers, the purple rose (like these!) and the violet. The roses next to the shoes are from my garden. This particular variety of rose is actually named the Madame Violet! This rose figures prominently in the history of Lady Violette de Courcy! (More about that later!) So it is no wonder I want a pair of these shoes in my size is it? I know that they were made in other sizes because I’ve seen a photo of another pair!

Meanwhile enjoy the shoes! And the Madam Violet roses while they are in bloom!

The Delight - Outer Side & Vamp Views

Placement of Roses

Beaded and Metallic Gold Embroidered Black Velvet Evening Handbag, Belt, Buttons, Scarf/Shawl ~ A Vintage Ensemble Inspired by Matching Accessories from India Circa 1930’s in Razia Zardozi Style

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Vintage Ensemble Featuring Accessories From India Decorated in Metallic Embroidery & Glass Beads & Stones ~ Silk Satin Evening Dress, Black Silk & Velvet Belt with Gold Embroidery, Sheer Black Silk Chiffon Scarf/Shawl Trimmed with Gold Edgings & Red Glass Stones, and Embroidered East Indian Evening Bag ~ all circa 1930. On the Table a Pair of Black Suede Evening Pumps Trimmed with a Satin Bow by Palter De Lisa circa 1950 with Large Black Velvet, Pearl and Metallic Gold Embroidered Buttons Used as Shoe Clips. Jewelry by Liz Palacios San Francisco.

I am posting more photos of the Vintage Black Velvet Indian Embroidered & Metallic Beaded Evening Purses and adding pictures of the matching accessory items ~ belt, evening scarf/stole/shawl, and buttons ~ of the same textile technique/ ethnic art form so you can view them as I described them in my post yesterday. I am often inspired to put together an entire look by a key piece, such as one of these evening bags, or by a technique used to create a textile or embellishment. I love this look! It reminds me of English  Elizabethan gowns, the glamorous movie stars of the 1930’s and graceful East Indian women in saris all at the same time. I have borrowed a little something from each of them to achieve my own unique look with items from my eclectic collection.

The Three Embroidered Evening Clutches that Constitute My Mini Collection of 1930's Indian Embroidered & Beaded Evening BagsI am often asked where I find the items in my collections and I am going to try to explain that as often as possible. It is not an easy answer ~ I don't just go to one place and buy them! They are hard to find, It often takes years of searching and a good trained eye to spot them. I patiently sift through immense amounts of junk to eventually locate just one treasure - I go to antique stores - where you find things at the highest prices, because they often know what they have. I also shop flea markets, fun because you never know what you might find there. Thrift stores, charity shops, church bazaars, rummage sales, hospital donation shops, the Goodwill, (but I don't find much there as they are now selling anything they recognize as special on their eBay stores.) The Salvation Army is doing eBay as well. I buy and sell on eBay sometimes, but I feel it is very difficult. I prefer to see, inspect, hold and decide on an item in person. Garage and yard sales, estate sales, sometimes auctions, antique malls with many dealers in small booths, consignment shops, estate sales, asking friends if I know they are moving, or not interested in those goodies they inherited in a trunk when Grandma dies, elderly friends who are downsizing and moving into retirement homes, the retirement homes themselves often hold senior sales where the residents can sell things they are no longer using and do not have space for. These are a great source for well cared for vintage hats, purses, costume jewelry, treasured sets of fancy antique dishes, vases, even old wedding dresses. I even got a sewing machine and button hole attachment at one of these. The people are nice and love to see their things go to young women who appreciate them.

Embroidered Evening Handbag #1 ~ Circa 1930

 

 

 

Embroidered Evening Handbag #2 ~ India Circa 1930

 

 

 

 

I am one of those younger women whose taste can be summed up like this: If your grandmother liked it I probably will too. So these ladies love me! I have bought something they had on display and started to talk to them and they make appointments with me to come back to see other things they think I might like that they hadn’t brought along to this sale. They love to have me over to tea and show me things and tell me all about the stories of their youth, when they wore the items and what life used to be like back in the old days. I also enjoy this! I have ended up making some wonderful friends and great connections by spending the time listening to these women tell me the stories. One lady, of 96 years had just recently remarried! She was like a young bride of 28! Full of joy, but also full of the wisdom of her age. She had moved out of a large home to live with her new husband and had had to downsize considerably. She was selling many of her belongings on Craig’s list. I answered her add for a Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine. During the discussion she told me she had sewed all her own clothes for many years and still had all the patterns. I expressed interest! She was really pleased! When she returned from her honeymoon I visited her in her new home and she gave me her life in sewing patterns. And the stories of each outfit she had made and the fabrics she had used. I have Dorothy’s life in her sewing patterns! And it is an amazing story. I am planning to post this story on my blog at some point.

Embroidered India Evening Handbag #3 ~ Circa 1930

These Indian Handbags came respectively from a #1) thrift store in Seattle, WA, in 2002, #2) an elderly lady who was moving in Portland, OR, in 2000, and #3) a church charity store in Houston, Texas in 1998.

Collecting vintage items is both fun and frustrating. One of my friends who is in IT and is an online gamer compares it to World of Warcraft for guys! He says it is all about the joy of the hunt. You never know what you may find! what unique and fantastic treasure may be lurking around the corner!  Once he came up with this explanation I seemed to be able to be more tolerant of his interest in gaming and he understood why I like going to estate sales and antique malls and charity and  thrift stores! But he won’t go with me! He has not got the patience for it. Thus he doesn’t get the rewards – except for the current favor I have done him by showing him that you can find fantastic designer and vintage silk men’s ties in the same types of places I find my treasures! And these are good for the times you have to dress up in business suits and look good and don’t want to spend $130 t0 $180 on a new tie! The vintage ties are often more beautiful and in great condition. And I find them for $2 to $12 versus the $80 To $200 range in better men’s stores.

Besides, recycling is so good for the environment! these lovely items from the past are in good shape and beautifully made and deserve to be used and appreciated again! And your style is so much more fascinating and original if you mix new and old together to create something totally original and unique!

The Three Exotic East Indian Evening Handbags Juxtaposed ~ Circa 1930's ~ Black Velvet Decorated with Metallic Embroidery, Cabochon Stones and Glass Beads

So, here are the Three Vintage Indian Circa 1930’s Handbags, again, and I will also list the matching accessory items I have found over the years: A slim velvet evening belt trimmed in the same metallic embroidery, two large buttons which can be used to fasten a black jacket or cape or to decorate a pair of evening pumps, and a sheer black silk chiffon scarf/stole/shawl trimmed with matching embroidery and stones at each end to wrap around your neck or drape seductively around your shoulders! I saw a gorgeous black velvet evening jacket completely covered in this metallic embroidery and cabochon stones and beads attributed to the 1930’s in a thrift shop in Philladelphia. It was totally encrusted and weighed a ton. It was also an extra large size and extremely expensive. Due to the huge size and weight of the piece I couldn’t even consider it! I am small and it would have drowned me, but the decorative work was utterly amazing! I mention this so that you know these pieces exist and you might be lucky enough to find one! I think the jacket was priced at about $500. It looked as if it had never been worn. I think these kinds of items survived because they were very dressy and people only wore them for special occasions then kept them carefully wrapped and boxed up in a drawer or closet. This is good for us as they have survived in good shape for us to rediscover and use again!

Shoes Trimmed with Buttons as Shoe Clips

The pretty evening bags surface from time to time. I think they were popular gift items too and also were given as Christmas, birthday, anniversary and Valentine’s Day presents. I have a theory that beautiful bags, gloves, scarves, men’s silk ties, lingerie and costume jewelry often fell into that category and being valued as special occasion treasures were worn very little. I have often found them in their original boxes or paper wrappings with the gift card enclosed ! ~ from 80 years ago!

Details ~ Handbag, Belt & Shawl

This is utterly amazing! I posted a blog about my three Indian Evening Bags yesterday, and began to write and photograph this piece. Then I had to go to an appointment and found another one that very afternoon in a horribly junky little thrift store in Kirkland, WA. It was just dumped into the filthy purse bins in the back of the store. Fortunately it hadn’t been crushed! But it was very dirty. I brought it home and cleaned it up and now it looks quite good! It is different that these three! It has more green stones. I have to mend it a bit, but then I will post photos so you can see it. I’ll post a photo of all four of them so you can see how the designs differ. I love the fact that they are handmade and no two seem to be alike!

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!