crafts · Sewing

Channeling Emily Hartley

Amongst vintage devotees, there is a fair amount of discussion as to what era defines you.  Do you love the flapper styles of the 20s?  The mod 60s?  The nipped in waist of the New Look 1950s?  Every time I go to answer this question I find myself totally unable to answer it.  The answer for me would be “All of them, and none of them.”  There are certain styles from each era that I love, and others that I could do without.  It all depends on the look I want, and what I’m in the mood for.

I love the elegance of the 30s, the tailored looks of the 40s, the extreme silhouette of the 50s, the cute mod dresses of the 60s, and even the peasant styles of the 70s and even the more elegant 80s styles.  My wardrobe is a mishmash of all those, although I probably am more likely to dress in a 1940s fashion than anything else.  I like being able to mix items from (and inspired by) different decades to create different looks.

Lately I’ve found myself strangely attracted to the 70s, rewatching my dvds of Mary Tyler Moore and The Bob Newhart show (I love Bob and Emily’s marriage… they remind me of my husband and I.  One of my favorite TV couples ever!)  Anyway, in one episode Emily is wearing this fabulous plaid maxi skirt (I think they called them “Hostess skirts,) with this crazy ruffled blouse.  It was very similar to this pattern:

That’s a whole lot of look (says Tim Gunn.)  I like it, but I’m not really sure I want to wear a ruff.   Right now I want a skirt inspired by Emily’s skirt on the show – bias cut in a plaid that has red but isn’t Christmassy.  I’m using the pattern I showed the other day:

I am only making the skirt.  It’s long (that model must be tall) but not quite to maxi length.  I’m going to be using a red/black/gray suiting fabric that I got from Denver Fabrics.

It’s a poly/rayon blend.  It feels quite nice – not too synthetic.  I think it’s mostly rayon. I like that it doesn’t wrinkle easily, as past experience tells me that I will not iron skirts very often.  The skirt itself is easy to make – 2 main pieces and a waistband.  It is bias cut, so that will be a new thing for me.  I love long bias skirts because the drape is so nice.  I’m not a fan of bias cuts in general, as I find shorter or silky bias cut skirts to be really unflattering on me, but it a long skirt it’s great!  I have been reading up on working with bias cut fabric, as that’s my way – before I do anything I read as much as possible about the new skill online and in books.  When I put in that invisible zipper earlier in the week I spent a solid hour watching people do them on Youtube before I felt confident enough to try it myself (I have a hard time learning from diagrams or still photos.)

I’m not making a muslin of this (shocking I know!) because literally the only thing to fit is the waistband.  I want it to fit at the natural waist (and I plan to wear it with a belt) but I have a fear of tight things for some reason… I have to constantly fight against my urge to make things too big.  I’ll probably make the size 10 – if it doesn’t fit then a waistband is easy to take in.  The skirt itself is just full, and there is very little difference between sizes.  I love that the skirt is long enough that you have to tape the pieces together since it wouldn’t fit on one piece of tissue.

And what does one wear with a skirt like this?  A black turtleneck like the modern pattern, or a ruffled blouse like the 70s pattern?  I’m not allowed to cut it unless I can figure out what I will wear with it.  I have a problem of buying separates without considering that they match nothing else in my wardrobe, so I must have a plan for such a distinctive skirt.  I mentioned that I plan to use a belt – that’s a big step for me, since I’ve actively avoided belts since the mid 1990s.  One of my favorite style blogs, Almost Pretty, has a great primer on belts for the belt-phobic today.  I’ve discovered that I really like wide belts, and I love the stretchy ones too – they always fit, and I never have to make extra holes.  I may be making a trip to the thriftstore soon, with looking at belts specifically on the agenda!