Happy Monday, all! My gift to you is some pattern inspiration to help you figure out how to make that Maisel costume into the outfit of your dreams. I still haven’t decided what I’M doing yet, although I do know that I’m going to make SOMETHING in a wool, potentially a raspberry or a grey, classic Midge power colors. Know what I mean?
Now, of course there is the option for this one to go vintage pattern, and I may well be taking it, honestly, but thank goodness we live in a world that also gives us the opportunity to buy vintage reproductions, in a multi-size pattern, that we don’t have to worry about scaling or changing or damaging throughout the sewing process, am I right?
So here are some of my thoughts, although I welcome your ideas too!
Obviously, the outerwear is amazing. I don’t know if I can justify this to myself because…when would I wear it, but gosh, I’m tempted, aren’t you? All those gorgeous coats, so impractical with no closures, so amazing!
Luckily, there are some options for you if this is your deal.
The obvious contender, and it’s already in raspberry! IT’S A SIGN.
Also an option.
Sometimes these dress patterns sneak in a coat pattern. LUCKY FOR US!
The Colette Patterns Lady Grey would also work as a tribute piece!
I feel like if you made that up in a wool it would totally echo that tan coat Midge is sporting above, no?
This is technically not a coat but, I just, I die:
The men of Maisel rock a separate, and Susie is all about a jeans and knit top combo, with her leather jacket, natch, but more often than not, Midge and Imogene are in dresses. Rose is all about a suit, very appropriate for her age in that period, and Rose is all ABOUT appropriate, as we know. This would totally be the time to make a suit, if anyone is itching to do that, but for now, I’m going to focus on the more unconventional separates the show gives us.
I love Midge in pants, so beatnik chic! There are some great options for that flat-front 1950’s look that was so popular, apparently people felt that the zipper front on women was vulgar.
I have been searching for a cute 1950’s blouse pattern for YEARS, any leads? But for the turtleneck, look no further than Seamwork!
Shorten Neelah into a shirt and there you go!
This outfit is a popular one on the internets, maybe because it’s so contemporary looking? I like the color combo, though, so bold! For this one, you might like the combo of Colette patterns Selene with a knit tee in a merino wool. Oooohhh, that would be cute…
And of course, who doesn’t love Midge’s work out gear?
For the shorts, I think the Weston shorts are a solid option:
You could also lengthen these to make Susie’s high waisted pants!
And the Astoria sweater would be too cute for Midge OR Susie! Material is everything.
And for the leotard, I mean, look no further than the Closet Case Nettie…
Okay, okay, fine, let’s get to the dresses!
I love literally everything each of these women is currently wearing.
This simplicity number feels right on the money! Add a bow, it’s there!
The top is a little off, but I think you could alter this one to make it work, and I love that back detail! It also reminds me of this number:
And then we have this one:
This one is a little intense, but also excellent. And look at that, a near-perfect pattern match!
Oh, love it all. LOVE IT ALL! Nothing exact here, but some options for an approximation:
Colette Patterns Claudette Dress, a classic!
Love those design lines.
And then of course, the party wear:
Now, Gertie said she might be developing something similar in an instagram post, so, ya know, maybe? But this is also not terrible:
And of course, the dress that requires pearls:
Oh, hello, lover. I mean, look, I have no idea if anything will ever be this good in terms of FIT, but in terms of LOOK, I humbly offer a few options:
Siiiigh. I had nothing for the men, honestly, although I’m happy to source that if anything is going there….
What do you guys think? Any other ideas of great patterns to use? Any real vintage favorites?
I know, I know, what even IS a sewalong without a hashtag? What is ANYTHING without a hashtag? Good lord, what lives we lead. Of course there are many options, here. #sewingsusie, #midgemakes, #rosesturn #joelsjumpers, I’m not making one for Abe because we all know he would find it RIDICULOUS, and so on. But I think we should go with #makingmaisel, and I’m running this thing, so what I say goes!#MAKINGMAISEL it is! Use away!
So this is a little bit of an inspiration post, with some of the vintage garments I found images of that I think would be right at home with the Maisel wardrobe. I’m planning on making at least two things for this sewalong, something that recreates a Maisel costume, and something that is inspired by the world of Maisel, and you should feel free to re-create, or be inspired by, both are great!
Oh, all that outwear Midge has, it’s to die for!
But of course, Midge’s casual wear is great.
This reminds me of Midge’s work attire.
Can’t you see Rose in this?
Another Midge work ensemble idea.
Oh love it. Look at those details, the buttons, this is a wrap dress, can you believe it?
This reminds me of a print Midge wears in a summer flashback.
Midge loves a grey, and so do I!
Oh, god, all this outerwear forever.
That bodice reminds me of her dinner party dress.
For those trying to copy Susie, 1950’s Beatnik culture is a good place to go a lookin’ for information.
I’ll be out with another post soon with contemporary patterns with vintage twists that might be useful when trying to replicate or be inspired by the show. Until then, I would love to hear your ideas!
I have to admit something, a dark and shameful secret. I am terrible at muslins. I just am. I never really make them, is the thing, because I always want them to be wearable because, well, I don’t know, I guess sometimes it feels like a waste of time although of course it IS NOT and I have botched a lot of things and ruined good fabric more times than I can count through NOT really muslining, by just cutting out a dress or shirt or whatever and realizing it doesn’t fit correctly and I hate it. Ugh, sigh, foolish Leah. I don’t know, I just have a hard time sewing when it doesn’t create a wearable product, which isn’t great, I should be more process oriented, more fit oriented, but I find myself just…not being that way.
Should I just bite the bullet and actually commit to muslins? Yes, yes I should. WILL I? I honestly can’t say.
So this dress was my SECOND muslin/tester/just a dress I made because I’m a muslin fail, as you know. I have to make a dress for my friend Ekta’s upcoming wedding (hi, Ekta!). Well, I mean, I don’t HAVE to but I want to! And it has to be formal, a gown, really. I have been encouraged to make something Indian, but I just, can’t even with that. First of all, I like traditional Indian clothing on other people but I’m not all that wild about it on myself, unless it’s like a sari or a lenhga. The whole mashed-up Indian outfit options are beautiful, but just not really me. I think it might be the lack of waist definition, which is so big in concepts of Western beauty, but not as important here in Indian clothing.
See, all very nice, but not very me. So Ekta will have to be down with my gown!
I knew I wanted to take a dress pattern and lengthen it to make it a gown, so I decided to try my hand at New Look 6526, because I really liked the bodice details. But alas, it was not to be. There were so many issues, from the bust to the armscye, and I just didn’t know where to start or if it was even worth it. So I took a step back and thought about what I liked about this pattern, really liked about it, and decided it was the princess seams and the v-neck. So I took out another pattern I had, McCalls 7503, with some similar elements, and tried that one out for size. This pattern also had multiple cup size options, which is always a good sign, because New Look 6526 is going to need a full bust adjustment and a HALF to get that to fit.
I was worried about the bust size, though, so I cut an 18 for my tester, which means this dress, which is a dress, honestly, not a muslin, I mean, I frenched every seam, I’m insane, is a bit big, but that’s fine, for a “day frock”, as my friend Lucy, who shot the photos below, put it. I will go down a size all over and maybe two at the waist for my dress for Ekta’s wedding (technically it’s for her Sangeet, the wedding gets a sari!).
But honestly, this dress could be four sizes too big and I would still love it because the fabric is just the best. It comes to me courtesy of my friend Meredith, who handed it over to me when she left India, because she never got a chance to take it to a tailor. Meredith’s loss is my gain!
Good advice for us all. I am not tall, but I did wear these wedges, so that helped, but hey, where is my crown?
As I am fond of remarking, one of the positive things about India is the constant abundance of fresh tropical fruit. Does it make up for the constant abundance of feces dotting the streets? Jury is still out. Still, I love me some watermelon, so I enjoy that daily, and we have recently started adding pineapple to our green juice (yes I drink home-made green juice daily, don’t care that it’s #basic, it’s healthy!), which I buy from a streetseller across from my gym. And now I can match him!
So I made a few changes to the original design, adding these flutter sleeves (the sangeet version will have cap sleeves, fyi) and moving the zipper to the side. I didn’t have enough fabric to line it, which is okay, this is a solid cotton, so I finished off the sleeves and neckline with bias tape.
This fabric is so busy that you can’t really see the princess seams, etc, but they are there, along with a bust dart. It’s a nicely drafted pattern, I think!
I finished the hem with horsehair, as instructed, which gives it a little body and bounce. I struggled to figure out how to describe this in my notions shop, but it turns out the word in Hindi for horsehair is…horsehair.
This was an easy make, even with all the french seams I did, which I think is a good thing, because I’m about to attempt this in a different fabric, with a full length skirt, which will be flared if I have enough fabric, and something else if I don’t…and lined, and fancy, and probably a bit more challenging. So at least the base pattern is easy!
Lucy took these photos at golden hour, so this was me trying to do my most romantic golden hour pose. Nailed it.
We took these photos in this gloriously empty lot near a movie theater after watching The Post (it’s pretty good! Meryl is amazing, Hanks is good, the costumes are fun, the press stays free) and there was also this giant jar there. WHAT IS THIS THING?
Never mind, I will just keep on being a pineapple.
Thanks for the positive responses on the sew-along, people! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won TWO golden globes last night, so now you HAVE to see it, am I right? I will be posting in upcoming weeks with pattern ideas, and some giveaways, but for now, just comment on the original post if you are interested!
The thing about being interested in sewing and textile, once your friends know about it, is sometimes you become, like, that person, you know what I mean? You are someone’s sewing friend. This is often fantastic, because people give you fabric (thank you, friends!) and sewing supplies, and send you cool articles about textile and stuff. Sometimes this is not as fantastic, like when people think you are their new free tailor and bring you broken zippers to mend. And sometimes it can sort of, well, be a little ambivalent when you are moving out of New York and the Met has a huge textile show and everyone suggests it as a fun friend activity and you end up seeing China through the Looking Glass THREE fricking times even though, from a curatorial standpoint, it was worth one.
But, hey, I mean, I got to know this bowler hat really well, soooooooo, win some, lose some.
Whatever my issues with this exhibit, which, while interesting, did not achieve any of the depth or breadth of knowledge OR commentary that, say, Interwoven Globe or Global Fashion Capitals did (am I a museum exhibit snob? OBVIOUSLY. What, this your first time here?) I can’t say it didn’t stick to my consciousness, especially living here in India, the land of fabric, where the idea of clothing and textile exchange has been reflected and refracted and remade and reused and absorbed and rediscovered and rejected. The sari is a political garment, don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t, and the clothing that people, women, really, wear here in India has a moral and social consequence. One could, of course, argue that this is the case everywhere, but I have yet to visit a place where it is so visible, so much a part of daily life, and yet so rarely discussed. Indian women know what to wear in which location, what keeps them safe, of course, nothing really keeps anyone safe, in the end, but perhaps what gives the illusion of safety, of appropriateness, of invisibility, which is of course the only safety any of us can try and bank on, that if we are not seen we will not be hurt. Adding the layer of physical security on top of layers of history only makes textile and clothing here all the heavier, despite the lighter weaves.
There are a thousand and one opinions about appropriation in art, but I would argue that when it comes to clothing, the history of the world can be written in a garment, and often is. Global garments stretch far back into history, and perhaps there are those who see me, in my ikat fit and flair dresses, stitching up block printed fabrics into 1950’s patterns, as an appropriator of the worst kind, but I would say it’s homage, not theft. Of course, Picasso tells us, “Bad artists copy, good artists steal”, but maybe that’s the problem, there, maybe if we acknowledge that we are borrowers, and lenders, the accusation of theft and desecration wont hang so heavy over art and art making. Polonius gave a lot of bad advice as well as good, perhaps we should throw that one away, and make things that proudly say, I borrow from here, I’m using this, but I promise I’m not the only one, you can have it back when I’m done, or better yet, there is more than enough to share. Is culture a finite resource? I hope not. I might be using up too much.
When I saw Colette Pattern’s new pattern release, Prudence, I couldn’t help but think both of China Through the Looking Glass (I mean, see a think THREE TIMES it’s going to live in you, you know what I mean?) as well as much smaller but lovingly curated show at MOCA, Shanghai Glamour. I have always loved the way a qipao, or cheongsam, looks, but have never worn one, partially through a fear that I would be a little appropriative or costumey, and partially because I hadn’t found one that worked with my, er, frame. This show, Shanghai Glamour, in fact demonstrates part of my very point, which is, that the qipao as it exists today is an amalgamation of East and West, it is history in a garment, it represents a traditional shape that has been altered through Western-influenced tailoring to create a unique garment that evolved and changed over time. Take a look at Suzy Wong:
Chinese silk, traditional idea, with a bullet bra and darts for days. Nothing we do is new, is it?
Back to Colette. The dress reminded me both of the qipao, hey, we call it a MANDARIN collar for a reason, remember, and also 1940’s Western styles echoing Chinese influence in Western shapes:
And I knew I had to have it. And I love it, I do, because somehow the confluence of vintage glamour and Asian influence just, sort of, I don’t know, speaks to my life, I guess?
I mean, I also just think it looks great, let’s be real.
I cut a size 12 in Colette, tapering down to a 10 at the waist. The result is slightly loose at the waist, but still a nice amount of definition, for that sweet spot of, I look nice and I can eat. Both vitally important things!
The bust is generous in this pattern because of the shape, so I didn’t have make adjustments, which is always nice.
I made a few changes, most notably moving the zipper to the back, which has resulted in a slightly tighter neck, which puts a bit of a strain on that cute little button there, I must say. This is 100% my bad, I didn’t add any extra seam allowance so…that’s on me. It’s still really lovely and comfortable, but for next time, I’m thinking of going with a shorter flared skirt, I will totally add a little breathing room. I made a thread loop for the fastener, that’s always fun!
All in all, this puppy got a lot of hand sewing, part of my vow to try and take a bit more time with stuff. I stitched down all the facings by hand, as recommended, as well as hand picking the zipper and hand stitching the hem. Otherwise, it’s all french seamed, natch. It’s kind of nice to take the time to hand sew, I guess? I don’t know, I suppose it’s a little soothing. You can see I used a non-matching zipper in this photo, it usually is hidden, ah well.
The fabric, you might note, is also vaguely Chinese influenced, look at that butterfly!, but it’s a rayon I bought at Mangaldas Market. It has a nice drape, and didn’t break the bank, which is good because this dress eats up a nice amount of fabric.
It’s all the skirt, though, and why does the skirt need so many panels, I ask you? It has, like, 6, I did so many french seams, what’s that about? I feel like a straight piece of fabric could have gotten that done, just saying.
Well, I supposed that’s all I’ve got to say about this process. I am a big fan of this dress, and I will make another soon with a shorter skirt.
“Disorientation is loss of the East. Ask any navigator: the east is what you sail by. Lose the east and you lose your bearings, your certainties, your knowledge of what is and what may be, perhaps even your life. Where was that star you followed to the manger? That’s right. The east orients.
That’s the official version. The language says so, and you should never argue with the language.
But let’s just suppose. What if the whole deal – orientation, knowing where you are, and so on – what if it’s all a scam? What if all of it – home, kinship, the whole enchilada – is just the biggest, most truly global, and centuries-oldest piece of brainwashing? Suppose that it’s only when you dare to let go that your real life begins? When you’re whirling free of the mother ship, when you cut your ropes, slip your chain, step off the map, go absent without leave, scram, vamoose, whatever: suppose that it’s then, and only then, that you’re actually free to act! To lead the life nobody tells you how to live, or when, or why. In which nobody orders you to go forth or die for them, or for god, or comes to get you because you broke one of the rules, or because you’re one of those people who are, for reasons which unfortunately you can’t be given, simply not allowed. Suppose you’ve got to go through the feeling of being lost, into the chaos and beyond; you’ve got to accept the loneliness, the wild panic of losing your moorings, the vertiginous terror of the horizon spinning round and round like the edge of a coin tossed in the air.
You won’t do it. Most of you won’t do it. The world’s head laundry is pretty good at washing brains: Don’t jump off that cliff don’t walk through that door don’t step into that waterfall don’t take that chance don’t step across that line don’t ruffle my sensitivities I’m warning you now don’t make me mad you’re doing it you are making me mad. You won’t have a chance you haven’t got a prayer you’re finished you’re history you’re less than nothing, you’re dead to me, dead to your whole family your nation your race, everything you ought to love more than life and listen to like your master’s voice and follow blindly and bow down before and worship and obey; you’re dead, you hear me, forget about it, you stupid bastard, I don’t even know your name.
But just imagine you did it. You stepped off the edge of the earth, or through the fatal waterfall, and there it was: the magic valley at the end of the universe, the blessed kingdom of the air. Great music everywhere. You breathe the music, in and out, it’s your element now. It feels better than “belonging” in your lungs.”
So, I have an very important question to ask you guys, and that is, um, well, oh boy, this is so hard to ask, but, would you do me the honor of….participating in my sew-a-long?
Oh, let’s back up.
First of all, Happy New Year, y’all! I hope that you had the most wonderful Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanza/Festivus/Saturnalia/Satanic ritual/whatever you’re into, and the most lovely New Years Eve! What’s-his-face and I had a latke party and then we rang in the New Year by eating pizza and watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (for the hundredth time, obviously) and then we watched some of this which is absolutely bonkers.
Seriously, check it out:
Thinking back on my many sewing projects of the year, many of which, alas, went undocumented, as always, I will say that I think I tried a few new things, style wise, which is always fun, and I’m looking forward to trying some more in the year to come. I also want to challenge myself more to try a few new things, including more (any) outerwear (which is hard, because I spend so much of my time in India right now and Mumbai is not an outerwear kind of a place, but I can still try!), and taking more time with projects that have challenging details, like some formal wear for weddings and events, and more vintage items that require me to spend more time with them during construction.
Do you guys have any sewing goals? I rarely make other kinds of resolutions, and I’m already starting every day with homemade green juice (recipe courtesy of my friend Rakhee, follow her on Instagram at @rakheejainarora! And follow mine, I figured out how to put a link on the side and everything! @lfstruggle!), and I have a big year ahead what with my first novel release and What’s-his-name’s projects, stay tuned for more on all counts, so I feel like I have a lot covered on the personal front. So sewing can have a lot of my intentions, right now!
And speaking of sewing goals, in the spirit of wanting to sew more vintage, and in celebration of what I think was one of the best pieces of television, nay, MEDIA in 2017, I am thinking about hosting a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Sewalong! Who is with me?
First of all, we’ve all seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, right? RIGHT? NO? Okay, um, wow, well, don’t even worry about it, I can just hang out here for a day while you binge it. But, like, seriously, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR TIME? And if you say watching Black Mirror I will BREAK YOUR FACE OFF YOUR FACE. Watch that on your own time! We have a female centric passes all kinds of Bechdel tests smart, funny, stupidly well acted period piece from what may well be the most flattering period of fashion for women in the last century and you…had better flipping things to do with your time? LIKE WHAT, PRAY TELL?
Ahem. This show is an Amazon Prime production created by Amy Sherman Palladino and Daniel Palladino, the team behind Gilmore Girls, which, if you haven’t seen that, then, I don’t know, maybe just stop reading my blog, or whatever? I mean, you make your choices, you know? AND I MAKE MINE. It features the magnificent Rachel Brosnahan, and the wonderful Alex Borstein, and it is just a sheer delight, complete and utter modern feminism wrapped up in a perfectly coordinated 1950’s package. The show is splendid, really lovely, and worth talking about for days, but the costumes, my friends, oh, the costumes. Now that’s something else entirely.
Lovingly designed by Donna Zakowska, with the kind of precision, character building, and thought process we haven’t really seen since, well, Mad Men, basically, and before that? Maybe never? these costumes really are a character in the show. They have inspired envy from the least vintage oriented of my friends, and I myself have drooled over them, longing for a cacophony of coats in impractical wool weights with no closures and all class! Hey, now, maybe THAT is where my interest in outerwear has come from….
And that’s just Midge. That’s just one character. Good. Lord. I mean, yes, it’s the MAIN character, but, like, still! I didn’t even show you her wedding dress. Listen, just watch the damn series, okay? Amazon Prime. Oh, and while you are at it, check out The Collection for a costume porn double header and then you come right back here and let me know, is anyone down for a sew-a-long?
Because I think this could be a ton of fun! So I will follow this up with a series of posts with inspirational pattern ideas, a giveaway or two, and we can reveal our Maisel outfits in a few months, let’s say, the 15th of April? That gives everyone a little time to join and try stuff out! And I promise to do a few myself, and I know that everyone’s favorite Blog for Better Sewing has a Charm patterns release coming up which she said should make fans of that red number up there very happy, soooooo…….
Who is in? Comment below if you are down, otherwise I will…totally just make a bunch of stuff on my own and wear it all and wish Miriam Maisel was my friend. And check out this pinterest board, it’s full of ideas already!