Tag Archives: Lagenlook

musing on fashion & identity

cotton & silk awaiting a decision on which pattern to use

! ! ! FLASH ! ! !

Over the weekend the Washington Post had an interesting article about a couple of new on-line companies catering to everyone in the real world who isn’t size 000S to 12.

Which, as Tim Gunn pointed out in an editorial in the same newspaper is the majority of consumers. He further commented, “Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up… Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer…”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

When one isn’t sewing, one tends to think about sewing. At least this one does.

And thinking about sewing reminded me of several things I’ve been reading lately, all of which may influence what gets sewn next. The first is a book:  Fashion on the Ration by Julie Summers.

Before deciding whether to purchase or wait eternally for a library copy from out-of-state, I went on-line and read some reviews. Which is how I discovered, “Looking good was a metaphor for Not Giving In, Not Giving Up…”   The Telegraph.

“Keep up the morale of the Home Front by preserving a neat appearance.   The Board of Trade, 1940”

“… a determined effort to bring as much cheer and charm into our life as possible. This, we are convinced, is the best contribution we can make to national defence. This was the attitude, widely celebrated after the end of the war, that came to be known as the Blitz spirit…”   from Fashion on the Ration: Style in the Second World War, by Julie Summers, (pp. 1 and 18). Profile Books. Kindle Edition.

A-ha! So fashion was considered important enough for governments to get involved during World War 2.  Hmm. I downloaded a copy, which I hate doing as I’m a tactile book lover. However, its fascinating and I highly recommend it.

At some point I did my monthly look at Marcy Tilton’s blog and saw this about a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit she’d seen:

     “Clothes carry an energy of the maker and wearer… O’Keefe was always aware of current fashion, adapting it, simplifying and minimizing and paring it down to fit her own sensibilities and style. Her aesthetic remained constant and cultivated throughout her life with a dedication to simplicity, naturalness and sparseness in her art, her clothes and her home.”
“In later years O’Keefe had clothes made by dressmakers and purchased ready to wear. She was clearly aware of American fashion trends, was always of her time but in her own style. When she liked an outfit or garment she would have it replicated by a dressmaker, and in some cases would take it apart to make a pattern.”

This month Lizzie (The Vintage Traveler) did a double-post review of the same exhibit, now in North Carolina. Then I came across some interesting tidbits on ageism over at Style Crone.

This Autumn I’ve got a whole stew of ideas simmering slowly on the back burner. . .  However, one thing’s certain: Those cooler weather clothes I got out lately won’t be needed over the next couple weeks … high 80’s are forecast.   😮  Aw, rats!

long sleeves & long skirts will hang around until (if?) Autumn temps finally arrive

fluid sewing thoughts

“Fluid. n. A body whose particles move freely among themselves, and yield to the least  force impressed…

”January isn’t the time for me to be making resolutions, ’cause all I want to do is rest up from a hectic December. But…

There are some patterns sitting on my cutting table, so I’m sharing them with you. They’re things I’ve seen and admired on Ruth’s (Core Couture) and/or Felicia’s (Older Babe Sews Clothes) blogs.

My plans would include lighter weight fabrics, and V- or scooped necklines. And elasticated waists. And pockets, inseam or elsewhere.

So, with all that in mind, let’s look at some piccies, and please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts afterwards!

Vogue 9193 (click to go to pattern)

Vogue 9193       Love the hem on this top & would do whichever version I’ve linen enough for, but sleeveless. Felicia reports problems with those dolman sleeves, and solutions. As I’ve had similar thoughts about similar styles, will have a long think before tackling. Fabric: Linen (summer), knits? (winter)

Butterick 5655 – “Fast & Easy” (click to go to pattern)

Butterick 5655 – “Fast & Easy”    Hm. Am thinking a short version from some viscose in stash. Although it might be fun to play with the sleeves
& that front insert… Hold thought for another season. Fabric: Rayon or maybe linen

Vogue 8813      Still pondering what to use with this one… cannot locate a decent knit is the main problem. Or excuse. 😉

Vogue 8813 (click to go to pattern)
Vogue 8813 (click to go to pattern)

Vogue 1508      Like the shape of the top’s hem very much. Trousers are too slim for my taste, plus the back is contrasting fabric from the front. Not my style. Fabric: Linen

photo of my downloaded pattern page
Vogue 1508 (click to go to pattern)
Vogue 1508 (click to go to pattern)

VeraVenus Cardigan Coat (free)    (Click link to go to pattern.) After seeing this several times on people & reading how comfy they found it, I decided to switch my plans for a mustard wool to this pattern. Have a rayon piece cut out now, to check fit, etc., before cutting into the wool. Fabric: wool (winter), rayon (summer)

Butterick 6377  Will change neckline as I don’t do anything that tight round my neck. Fabric: Any stash stretch fabric to pair with V9193 trouser (above).

Butterick 6377 (click to go to pattern)
Butterick 6377 (click to go to pattern)


Vogue 8975    Liked the jacket on this, but the dress is also a possibility. Fabric: Linen, rayon.

Vogue 8975 (click to go to pattern)
Vogue 8975 (click to go to pattern)

Farrow Dress, Grainline    Have not purchased yet; keep trying to talk myself into it. Needs neckline re-do, but that back fascinates me, along with the longer length. Fabric: Almost anything from stash.

McCall’s 6083 Lounging ONLY, in the green version. Fabric: Rayon from stash

Grainline's new Farrow dress (click to go to pattern)
Grainline’s new Farrow dress (click to go to pattern)
McCall's 6083 (click to go to pattern)
McCall’s 6083 (click to go to pattern)

mirror, mirror on the wall…

another fav: silk:rayon trouser & cotton top

… how I cheated and fooled you all.

No, this isn’t Snow White and I’m not the Wicked Queen.
It was dumb luck that this photo had some points in it’s favor.

I’ve been reflecting on what styles would be most flattering and comfortable for Autumn/Winter cooler weather and my current working-from-home life style, so I  decided to do an analysis. The before is the colour photo on the left.

The analyzed after (right) includes a bit of dodgy playing with trouser width.

analysis & "corrected" trouser width
analysis & wider trouser, with heads marked off on the sides
  • Pinned naturally poofy hair up, and put curls on top of poof
  • Wore darker shade on bottom without a stark contrast
  • Had a 2/3 ratio between light top and darker bottom
  • Longer, fuller trouser has vertical (natural) fold lines to visually lengthen legs
  • Wore high heels with slight platform
  • Pooled pants legs over instep
  • Twisted upper body to show thinner side view
  • Twist adds pleasing vertical folds that help balance the bolder contrasts of the top’s colours
  • Arranged arms outward to add width to upper torso, and bring into better balance with lower torso
  • Further emphasized face area by having camera & both hands at face level

Can you tell how much better I would have looked with a solid, fuller pair of trousers? Lots more of those vertical slimming lines, and they would have been longer.

If it had been a skin-tight pair of leggings I’d have looked like a popsicle. Definitely not the look I’m going for.

Now if I can just stop being tempted by all the wrong silhouettes . . .


Other posts about fitting:

Submitted for the WordPress Photo Challenge.

partnering with curves

my slightly used copy of NY Times Best Seller (also in paperback)

Long ago in another universe far removed from today, there were home economics departments, and home ec teachers in colleges, high schools, and junior high schools across American.

One of the many things they regularly taught their students was how to look good (i.e., pretty), in their home-made clothes whilst saving money.

They did it by teaching centuries old art principles of beauty:

  1. harmony,
  2. proportion,
  3. balance,
  4. rhythm, and
  5. emphasis.

And showing classes how to apply these principles to their wardrobe.

History professor Linda Przybyszewski has meticulously researched and footnoted her discoveries of some of these women in her book, The Lost Art of Dress ~ The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.

For me, it’s been revolutionary. A loud call to rethink what I’m making, and how and why I’m making it.

It started after I’d read blogger Lizzie Bramlett’s excellent review. Immediately I got the book from my library.

Ever since, I’ve thought more and more deeply about the essence of my wardrobe ~ my personal, visible reflection of who I am ~ and tried to stop dwelling on current fashion, or what I used to like or wear.

After all, this isn’t some far-removed universe I’m living in. It’s here & now.

So I’m trying to stop ignoring my curves, and instead learning how to deal with them. All while remaining true to my own style and set of current activities that are my life now.

It’s taken me two years to decide how to begin writing about this book, but there’s no way to describe how much the facts she presents have raised my awareness of a very surprising array of subjects.

Here’s another kind of curve ~

One of the things she suggests in the final chapter, “Epilogue:Legacies,” is a direct link between sewing and STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects.

And what does the world need desperately right now but more women in these fields.

Once I started realizing how my sewing was related to engineering, I’ve had to re-think a lotta things. And that’s taken time, and probably isn’t finished.

Want to join me in re-thinking?

Thanks to Dr. P’s meticulous footnotes, I’ve got a little list of online texts for you to choose from. They all have chapters on the 5 elements listed above.

Because they’re old they’re out of copyright (and available for free). But don’t confuse old for no longer true. The principles still apply, only the names of styles have changed.

And also remember that different countries have different copyright laws; please obey yours!

If you’d like to read or listen to more of what Dr. Przybyszewski has said about the subject, go to this page of her web site for book and radio links.

  • Art In Every Day Life, Harriet Goldstein & Vetta Goldstein. The Macmillan Company.  1929    (The Kindle download has terrible mistakes everywhere which I assume is due to poor character recognition software (and possibly a poor original as well).
  • Principles of clothing selection, Helen Goodrich Buttrick, New York: Macmillan, 1923
  • Harmony In Dress, Mary Brooks Picken; Copyright, 1924, 1925, by International Education Publishing Company; Copyright in Great Britain
  • Dress and Look Slender, by Jane Warren Wells (also listed under Mary Brooks Picken), 1924; Personal Arts Company.
  • The Secrets of Distinctive Dress —  Harmonious, Becoming, and Beautiful Dress — its value and how to achieve it; 1918; p. 159. On-line from Harvard University here.
time to enjoy some melon!

Now here’s a less revolutionary curve, with hopes that you have a lovely weekend, full of wonderful partnering with things that make you smile!


WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges here & here.

principles of clothing selection

67-Diff Shoulders-contd
click to enlarge

Well, I’ve done it again, and finally posted. . .

Got stuck into another old book about fitting, and came up with a long post you might not want to read. But just in case you do . . .

The book is from Cornell’s HEARTH project:  Principles of clothing selection, Helen Goodrich Buttrick, New York: Macmillan, 1923

Much as I hate typing, I typed out the sections I needed. My apologies, but you Lovely Readers must go on-line to find your own sections.

You’ll want Chapter Five: The Human Figure and Clothing Design, pp. 64-71.

You might also want to review the bit about how to measure a standard figure, from my post over here.

And now, here are my details, quoting from the book  . . . Remember, it’s nearly 100 years old, so terminology is not what we’re used to. Unless you’re into reading vintage patterns and books, like me.

Thanks in advance for your patience, and here’s a taste of what high school women were learning in the 1920’s ~

Designs for the short, stout figure. The short, heavy woman has the hardest task of all in planning her wardrobe. There are two general suggestions which should be of value to her. She should always emphasize vertical lines and she should concentrate attention on the head and face, so as to keep the body inconspicuous.

  • Vertical lines can be emphasized best by the construction lines of the clothes.
  • Properly fitted gowns, having long, vertical, structural parts, panels or drapery, give the best proportion …
  • Trimming outlining vertical panels and stressing their direction is of further help.
  • The skirts … should be long and not flared at the bottom. Skirts for indoor use may be made with trains if she leads a sufficiently formal life to make this type of garment appropriate. [I’d love occasions to wear a train!]
  • Waists [bodice] for the short, heavy, figure must be very carefully cut and fitted, and be loose enough not to bind the individual wearer.
  • Because of the great difference in the distribution of her weight standing and sitting, the waists [bodices] of her gowns must be fitted while she sits as well as while she stands.
  • The sleeves in … a bodice should be set fairly high in the armhole so as to prevent giving an appearance of undue width across the shoulders, and so that the shoulder seam may not be too long or hang off the shoulder tip.
  • Long, straight, simply cut sleeves that make the arms as inconspicuous as possible do not call attention to the boundaries of the silhouette. They make the arm seen longer than fancy sleeves.
  • Vests and collars designed to produce a flat narrow line will add to the apparent length of the waist.
  • The neck opening should be as long and narrow as it can be without calling attention to the bust.
  • A vertical line of trimming carried down the front of the waist [bodice] from the neck opening will make the waist [bodice] seem longer.
  • Trimming should be flat and smooth, no fluffy ruffles, no puffs nor ruches.

In order to concentrate attention upon her head and face, the heavy woman may resort to a number of devices.

  • Her head and face should be made as charming as possible by a becoming and well-groomed coiffure.
  • Hats should be designed with great care, and should add height by their construction and trimming.
  • Trimming should have an upward movement.
  • In general, all decorative features of the costume should be concentrated around the neck and down the front of the garments, to keep the face and head the center of interest for the whole body.

Designs for short- …waisted figures. One of the commonest minor variations with which we have to deal is the type called “short-waisted.” For this type of figure two methods of treatment may be used:

  • the waistline may be ignored, or
  • disguised by the use of the loose garment hiding the natural waistline, or,
  • if the high waistline is fashionable, it may be emphasized.
  • Any type of waist with tails, peplum, or panels that bring the waist down on the skirt will serve to make the waist seem longer.

Designs for sloping … shoulders.  . . . . .

  • Collars, capes, and yokes of opposite cut correct the appearance of sloping shoulders.
  • Since this type of shoulder is usually seen with the long, thin neck, one of the easiest solutions to the problem is to wear fluffy boas and shoulder capes out of doors, and frilled fichus and collars indoors.
  • When sanctioned by fashion, puffed sleeves are excellent for this type of person if set sufficiently high on the shoulder to break the sloping line.

Designs for the full bust …

  • For the woman with the large bust, great care should be taken in the fitting and construction of the waist [bodice].
  • It may be broken vertically by a panel, or vest which gives an especially good effect if made of more interesting material than the rest of the garment.
  • The neck line of the dress must be cut and fitted with great care lest it bulge, or tend to spread at the shoulder.
  • Waists [bodices] having the fronts cut in several pieces often solve the problem for this woman. . . . .

Phew! Still with me? Thank you!

Thought you might get a chuckle from the Preface, which sounds as if it were written today instead of 1923.

2 new lagenlook patterns from marcy tilton

Ms. Marcy T’s latest Vogue patterns are now available:

blouse V9153

Vogue 9153
click to go to pattern
photo from Vogue

and a skirt V9161

Vogue 9161
click to go to pattern
photo from Vogue

Ms. Marcy’s current blog post is all about the blouse, featuring …

  • a mock pocket
  • asymmetrical font/back bottom finishes
  • exposed darts
  • set-in sleeves because they give “a subtly better fit”
  • two collar styles
Vogue 9153
click to go to pattern
photo from Vogue

Also in the post are tips for sewing and finishing collar points.

Do you hate buttonholes as much as I do? We’re not alone!

Ms. Marcy wrote, “Even though I’ve been sewing well over 50 years, I still have qualms and fits over making buttonholes!”

Here’s her latest YouTube video on buttonholes. (No idea why this couldn’t be inserted the usual way…)

old & new dress forms


Prunella Scales as Miss Mapp, with Diva's dress form behind her
Prunella Scales as Miss Mapp, with Diva’s dress form behind her.

I came across this scene of Miss Mapp sitting in front of Diva’s sewing room, dress form behind her.

It reminded me that there have been 2 distinctly different dress forms, the older one, below, is probably based on a Gold dress form, and looks more like real people’s bodies.

from my library Mary Brooks Picken's Singer Sewing Book
from my library
Mary Brooks Picken’s Singer Sewing Book

The current forms, one of which is the Wolf brand, is based on a figure about 10 heads high, and not proportioned for many of us.

I’ve been searching the web for a Gold dress form, but so far, no luck.

Getting back to Mapp and Lucia briefly, I learned Friday that BBC started a new version in 2014.

Checked amazon, and they’re not out yet in the DVD format we use here in North America.  Am grateful I was able to plug into YouTube and watch all 3 episodes during the door-painting.

Great way to sit through paint drying!

As you see on the upper left, my door was painted a lovely shade of blue.

dress & look slender: disguising figure irregularities

Ever thought about clothing as a way to overcome figure irregularities? I sure have!

I’m learning there are basic art principles I can use when choosing patterns, fabrics, colours, and accessories to disguise the bits I wish weren’t there.

Here’s an entire book about applying these principles to dress:

Dress and Look Slender, by Jane Warren Wells (also listed under Mary Brooks Picken), 1924; Personal Arts Company; available on Cornell University’s HEARTH collection.

You might look at the Table of Contents first, to see which chapter(s) you’d like to see. (The examples below are from “Lines that Slenderize and Lines That Don’t,” in the first chapter.)

Hint!  I always re-read the Help section because I forget how to navigate their system. 😉

I wish there were a more up-to-date book to recommend, but they’d be under copyright, and the principles would be the same. Hope you don’t mind the vintage-ness.

click any picture to go directly to the source

page 18

Dress & Look Slender p 18

page 19

Dress & Look Slender p19

page 22

Dress & Look Slender p22

page 23

Dress & Look Slender p23

V8813 – old lady dress?

V8813Am faffing about this weekend, wishing the malodorous fumes from the outside painting would stop entering this tiny box as I don’t appreciate  the corresponding headache. (Sorry for the whine.)

Don’t let the new photo on the right confuse you!

In my cyberspace sleuthing to see who’s done what with this pattern, saw some who wondered if it was an old lady dress.

Is that why they changed the photo?

I know I can faff about some of the strangest things… but given that reprinting a pattern jacket (cover? folder??) costs time and money, am wondering why they did.

What do you think???

Looking at the new photo brought more questions to mind ~

  • Belt all that fabric around my waist? Are they serious?
  • A belt that wide would cover half my you-know-whats!
  • How many heads high is that model (the same model as the original pattern)??

Guess I’m more of an old lady than I thought . . .  or something.  😀 Meanwhile, goal for today: read pattern directions & note changes I want to make… do those center front gathers/pleats first  . . . . . .      (maybe play with my pin tuck foot?)


V8813 – other versions & fabrics

Other bloggers’ versions of V8813

  • Thornberry: here & here (really like her gathered pockets)
  • Sew Forward  (note to self: check length before cutting & lengthen below pockets if needed)
  • Particularly like Jilly Be Joyful’s version as it looks like jacket-over-sheath, which I know is slimming.
  • Note to self: do centre front gathers pleats before assembling (see Marcy Tilton’s video at bottom)

What do you think of my 2 stashed fabrics below, the darker rayon challis for outside, the mustard handkerchief linen for that central front panel?

  • Do you think these will look and work well together?
  • Think I could use the mustard for the back’s top panel? Or make the back all black challis?

examples from bloggers of other patterns with similar potential

Designer Marcy Tilton did a video of how to sew & press the centre detail. It supposed to be teensy pleats, not gathers.

Just to clarify, here’s a video on gather from an American sewing magazine Threads’ editor.


Blackberries on sale last weekend . . .

Fan tucks (darts). Use as a decorative feature on the outside or inside of the garment. Mark where tucks are to be and run them by hand or machine.”  The Simplicity Sewing Book for Beginners and Experts, 1945; page 33.   (from my personal library)

Witness to Fashion blog ~ This post (see last 4 pics) really inspired me to give neckline darts (al.k.a. fan tucks, above) a try soon, maybe with embroidery thread. . .

She also has a great post about reality vs. fashion illustrations’ illusions. See how models disguised wide hips, and learn design details to draw the eye away from problem areas. Suggestions I can certainly use.  😍

Time for a catch-up . . . click any piccie to go into slide show & comment areas