Gloves and Pearls

One of the noticeable things about Audrey in the films and as a mannequin in the exhibition is that accessories to match the little black dress are long on pearls and gloves, for a touch of class.  So much so that at the end of the exhibition there was an opportunity, very popular with the children – of both sexes – when I was there, to dress up in a big hat and pearls and have a photo taken in a booth with the 1 Euro fee going to Save The Children, which Audrey Hepburn was heavily involved with.

So, rummaging through my patterns I hit upon this:

Blog March 17 Gloves and PearlBlog March 17 Gloves and Pearls 2

The packet says “Designer Fashion” but there’s no clue on the packet or the instructions as to who the “designer” is.  So there’s nothing to say it isn’t Hubert de Givenchy, although I doubt it, since he would surely warrant a name-check.  Nevertheless, it is a simple, elegant design which could be worn by a real woman who isn’t a stick insect and look elegant, with the bias cowl neckline not too low, and the top sitting outside the waist, and belt optional depending on how much a lady who lunches is planning to eat.

Plus, the outfit in the photo has a well-polished finish with those gloves and pearls.  Rather sadly the white gloves would be a bit costume-looking today, but the pearls are standing the test of time.  The lady in the drawn illustration has some pretty big emeralds: that’s the advantage of drawing – emeralds as big as the Ritz are no problem.  The emerald-wearing lady also reminds me of a maxim I have heard attributed to the Queen (a lady who clearly could fish out at least that many large emeralds from her jewellery safe, no problem) that you should put on 3 pieces of jewellery, look at it, and take one off – so bracelet and brooch or bracelet and earrings, but not all three at once.  I’ve always thought there is a lot in that.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The exhibition of Givenchy’s dresses in The Hague is titled “To Audrey with Love” and the selling point is that Givenchy’s dresses for Audrey Hepburn’s film roles are on show together with clips from the films.  So, here we are having Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Blog March 17 Breakfast at Tiffany 1Blog March 17 Breakfast at Tiffany 2

And I rather liked this one, because it was so obvious we were gawping at Audrey and here she was gawping straight back at us:Blog March 17 Breakfast at Tiffany 3

But did I feel I learnt anything seamstress-wise from seeing the frocks in the flesh with the film?  Not really, but that’s entertainment.

An actual Mondrian

The slight gap since the last blog post is because I have been to The Hague, for the entirely sensible reason that that is where the exhibition of Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn is taking place:

 So there will be more on that, but one of the big adverts for travel is that you go to see one thing and find another.  The Gemeentemuseum has the world’s largest collection of Mondrian paintings ( ) .  Plus, naturally, an Yves St Laurent dress, so I got to see the two together:

BlogMarch2017 Mondrian Picture & dress

Possibly going a bit far, another art gallery shop had this for a twelve inch fashion doll:BlogMarch17MondrianSindyDress

I didn’t buy it and that’s probably a good place to leave this style of Mondrian.

But I was interested to see some of Mr Mondrian’s earlier pictures, when he was sliding into abstraction with a series of sand dune paintings.  The colours, reflecting the flat Northern light, were lovely, and possibly even more worthy of turning into dress fabric:



A fifties onesie – jerkin and blouse

I’ve picked this one because Giselle commented on my last pattern pick that she had thought the blouse and jerkin were sewn as one.  They weren’t with that one but it set me off to my pattern stash to fish out this:blog-feb-17-1950s-blouse-pattern.jpg

Yes, the blouse and jerkin are sewn as one this time.  Plus – I know it’s only an illustration but what great 50s sunglasses.  The ‘blouse’ bit on this one is sewn into the neckline and finished with bias binding.  Here we go (this comes under the heading of “interesting for those who are interested in this sort of thing”):





Jackie Patterns 2

It takes a while to sift through many 1960s patterns to find the most ‘Jackie’ one, perhaps because she is such an icon of the period that any classy suit is going to make you think ‘Jackie K’.  I’ve picked this:blog-feb-17-1960s-pattern

My reason for choosing it is the blouse rather than the suit.  The blouse was the reason I bought the pattern because I like the wide face-framing collar – the way it fits under the suit is a bonus.  Like Natalie Portman’s red suit, it is a pull-over design, and the collar section fits into the main part of the blouse like a bib.  Here are the pattern pieces set out on the instructions:


This shows that the two centre front pieces overlap where they join the main part of the blouse at the front.  Here’s a detail from the instruction explaining that:blog-feb-17-blouse-pattern-instructions-1

I think it looks cool, and it would be a very good make for any home sewer who dislikes fiddling with zips and buttons.  That does mean it has to pull over the head, though.

I haven’t made one up but I think it might look cool with the collar/yoke in white and the rest of the blouse in a striped shirting for work – then again, it is difficult to fault a decision to make up the whole thing in white (or off-white, cream..).


Jackie Patterns

The poster of Natalie Portman playing Jackie Kennedy has been unmissable in London the last few weeks.  Here she is at Oxford Circus on the underground:blog-feb-17-jackie-poster-2

That is a classy 60s outfit, and for a seamstress the interesting thing to note is – without going to see the film to see if it has a back zip – that the wide face-framing collar is a pull-over-the-head version, with the big buttons on the left side opening up a flap which may make it easier to get on.  Here it is again on the cover of The Sunday Times ‘Culture’ section for 15th January without the writing over her boobs:blog-feb-17-jackie-poster

I thought it was interesting because it reminded me of a section in “Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe” written by HM The Queen’s dresser, talking about the relative merits of buttons and zips: “Zips are a fabulous invention that come into their own especially when The Queen has to attend a large number of engagements in a given day.  This means several changes of outfit, and if you want to make clothing easy to put on, then go for zips every time.  It is much more convenient for The Queen to be able to step in and out of a dress that we can zip or unzip.  Trying to lift a garment over the head can weak havok with hair, as all ladies know.  Neither do you want to get make-up on your outfit..”

Those are rules for real life engagements, obviously, not a film set when the hair doubtless gets retouched several times a day anyway.  And I think this is a rather natty red suit.


A Liberty Mondrian

The 2016 Great British Sewing Bee, BBC TV programme, had the contestants making their own versions of a Mondrian Dress.  Vogue Patterns did issue an Yves St Laurent pattern in 1965, but to coincide with the television programme they issued a limited edition of one of their current patterns with instructions on how to ‘hack’ (sewing slang for modify) the pattern to create your own bespoke version.


(still available at the time of writing ).

Not to miss out on the craze Liberty fabric department had – no prizes for guessing – the following display model


For me, it doesn’t really work as it is too pastel and too busy.  Still it was a fun idea and made me take a photograph.