Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dreaming Of Chanel

Chanel suit, 1960's
There is an exhibition on in Brisbane at the moment at QUT Garden's Point, to coincide with Mercedes Fashion week called Dreaming of Chanel.  It is a only a snippet of  The Darnell Collection, a 195 year history of women's fashion.
An American woman, Doris Darnell collected costumes of yesteryear and wore them flamboyantly in her day to day life and got quite a reputation for it, as a result people gave her fabulous clothing from their attics and their stories.  Her entire collection was given to her.  Doris, all those years ago had the foresight to document the stories of these garments and the women who wore them.
While Doris was well into her senior years she bequeathed her collection onto her god daughter here in Australia.  She sent several boxes, 1200 kilograms and over 3000 frocks and accessories.  She had tried to donate the collection to a museum somewhere in America, but they only wanted the Gucci's, Prada's, Dior's, all the clothes of designers whose stories are already told.  Doris wanted the collection to stay together, as they tell a story about unknown seamstresses and dressmakers.  It was a full bodied account of what women wore.  The collection tells the stories of women who have lived, laughed, loved and lost.  It is AMAZING.
Her God daughter is Charlotte Smith (what a lucky woman), who is keeping her collection alive.  Since she has been the beneficiary of the collection it has grown in size to over 6000 items and countless more stories.  Charlotte Smith has written a 2 books about the collection. The latest is "Dreaming of Chanel".  It is a collection of the stories of the women who once wore these frocks.  Rather than photos of frocks the book is fabulously illustrated by Grant Cowan.   I think my love of patterns stems from the illustrations on the packets.
I love that Charlotte Smith and the Darnell Collection has given these Garments another life.  I have mega wardrobe envy.  I love to get a frock with a story.  I love being the custodian of Rita's Dresses I will always think of Rita and the stories she has told me when I wear her dresses.  With the Darnell Collection, dressmakers like Ivy Spooner from Towoomba, Queensland  and Kate Ludwig from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, who perhaps would only be remembered by their families, will now be known by people for generations to come.
I was lucky enough to coincide my visit to this exhibition with a visit by Charlotte Smith, who was talking about the collection.  I seriously want to be best friends with this woman.
If anyone is in Bris Vegas, you have to see this exhibition.  It is on until October 16th.  Otherwise look for this book, "dreaming of Chanel" is amazing!! 

Barbra Coty, 1951.
In Australia in the late 40's,  Barbra Coty joined a weekly sewing circle at the church hall and proved to be so gifted that she won a scholarship to East Sydney Tech College.  This is her Graduation dress. This dress literally being inspired by Dior's La Corolle silhouette, inspired by the petals of a flower as each skirt panel is the shape of a petal.  Fabulous.  Barbra couldn't find spotted silk, so she screen printed her own.
Fabulous Illustration

1960's Pucci.

1960's Dior suit.

1940's Ceil Chapman dress, made of lace silk and horsehair.

1950's "falling in love" dress

1956 swimsuit

Opera coat dating 1903, stunning.

Love the shape is this late 40's taffeta no.

Ivy Spooner and 1920's silk organdie dress

1920's silk, chiffon and glass beads

Mary Quaint and a paper polyester dress, 1960's

My favourite. 1970's Jean Muir.
1937, custom made Coco Chanel Wedding gown

Lace was made especially for this dress

Fabulous buckle detail

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The pants are High

These pants make me feel a little like a Spanish bull fighter and I like it.

The pattern used is Advance 7899, undated, but the graphics look 50's or early 60's to me.  The description is Misses Sports Separates.  This is the most glamorous sports attire I have every seen.

*Sigh*  If only the world of gym bunnies and the sporty look wannabes looked like this, rather than the sea of Lorna Jane active wear and ill fitting, inappropriate leggings.
These pants are made from a length of fabric my Uncle once used as a photographic back drop, polyester content here and a little shiny.  I will definitely being making these again in a well thought out fabric choice.
I didn't make any adjustments to this pattern and to my surprise they are pretty awesome.  The pattern called for 2, 12 inch zippers on both sides, I was only able to buy a longer zipper and only needed to use one.  I love the way the waist is defined, much like a Collete Beignet skirt, only higher.

It was worth the wait, I purchased this pattern off ebay in may and only received it at the end of July.  As you can see I also made the top.  The spotty version has been altered to accommodate my smaller bust, because as you can see from the bluebird version, it was just too big.  I need to play more with the sizing as it ended up a tad too small for wearing with anything but mega high waisted pants.
I am loving these pants.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top Heavy

I have been on this blouse crusade lately.  I got a new pair of jeans (which fit like a glove) and which I needed tops to wear with. Winter just doesn't inspire me, but spring is just around the corner here in Bris Vegas and I will be ready!!!!  This is just the start my friends, of a bunch of fab tops.
I usually have a lot of trouble finding jeans to fit my booty and my waist consecutively, but not anymore.  Levi's has a Curve ID range and if like me you struggle to find jeans, then may I recommend you 'av a look. 
I have made this 1970's top, whose pattern details I just don't have with me (I lent this pattern to my sister).  It was very quick and is super comfy.   The bottom seam keeps on rolling up.  Anyone have any tips on how to fix this without an over locker??

70's style tshirt

I've made a couple of Sorbetto tops by Collette, and will definitely knock out a few more.  This first one, I omitted the plea,t as I just managed to squeeze my size onto the scrape of fabric. It is made from a vintage cotton, maybe from the late 50's.  I love the muted tones and muted flower pattern, I wish I had 4 metres of this.  And the second top is old fabric again, very synthetic, maybe 60's or 70's.  It is light and drapey and perfect for this top.

Here is the first 70's top again, this time spotty, and a  beignet skirt by Collette in red wool and a very hip denim skirt with welt piped pockets, made from Butterick 3751 from the 70's; all for a friend's birthday.  Lucky gal.

Beignet skirt
Butterick 3751

A little while back I won a fabulous print made by Esz from Kittys Drawings.  I finally had her framed and now she sits beautifully with my Trechikof and J.H.Lynch prints.  LOVE.
Print by Esz
three fab gal prints
And just because I am a proud Mummy.  Here is Alby, who started school this year; with a fabulous drawing that he has done of a dragon.  Last year Alby never drew, just wasn't confident.  Now he is using the whole page and it is amazing.  *Sigh* .
Alby's dragon
Oh and here is Ginger looking alot like Rosie the Riveter, while helping her mama do some painting recently. CUTE!!!
Ginger the Riveter