Populaire – Movie Fashion

I watched a delightful French movie last night (yep, that means subtitles to read) on Netflix. “Populaire” came out in 2012 and is about a young woman in 1959, who aspires to leave her life as a shop girl in her father’s provincial grocers and become a secretary. Big dreams in those days. Instead, she ends up in a national typing competition. It’s a cute, confectionary of a little story with a predictable ending but it gets the time period spot-on! The costumes, hair, make-up, music and sets are so authentic to the period, it’s like time traveling to the recent past.

Belgium actress Déborah François as the sweet and perky typist Rose Pamphyle.

Belgium actress Déborah François as the sweet and perky typist Rose Pamphyle.


At Rose’s first competition, she wears this dress with the scalloped yoke. It looks like an appliqué laid on top of the bodice fabric.populaire scallop neck

A look at the back of the same dress. How on earth did women button up the backs of their dresses? Especially if there was no one around to help?

Scallop neck back

What an iconic shot here with the Eiffel Tower, the gorgeous car and the two main characters in period correct costumes. I love Rose’s little blue hat that looks like it’s made of the same fabric as the dress. Her boss here, Louis, in his suit looks like something a business man would wear today. Mens business attire hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years.

Populaire blue dress

That enormous foam green colored typewriter cracks me up! Déborah François is a very slender woman who pulls off wearing those voluminous gathered skirts without looking stumpy dumpy.

populaire still

You’ll have to forgive the following photos. They are just screen captures from my computer of the movie. Here is “Marie Taylor”, the modern, model housewife in the movie in her cute top with the asymmetrical tie and the coordinating capris.

housewife3This is a very pretty dress with its combined halter strap and off the shoulder style. It looks like the halter strap ends at the side seams under the arms.

blue competition dress


Enter the French national reigning champion typist in her smokin’ hot purple satin dress with huge satin covered buttons down the side of the skirt. I dig her beehive hair-do.purple dressRose and Louis do a kind of Cha Cha in the living room at Louis’s family Christmas party.

dancing xmas 1

Then the whole family joins in the dancing.

dancing xmas 2This very pretty red dress is the finale dress.

Red dress 2A look at the back of the red finale dress. Those deep “V” necklines in the back are so subtly sexy and elegant.

Red dress backSo if you have an evening where you don’t mind “reading” a movie, go catch this little gem.




Rockabilly Fashion

I hurt my neck and shoulder last night swing dancing a little too enthusiastically and sitting at the computer hurts, so this post is going to be a bit picture heavy. Walson Rockabilly has some great Rockabilly fashion for sale on their website. These are some of my favorites: Blue polkadot swing Red & Wht halter   Audrey Hepburn Swing Rock n Roll pinup   Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 5.39.59 PM   Bow Swing Party Dress   Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 5.45.48 PM Gold Ophelia Dress Candy pink polka dots Pencil wiggle dressA Youtube link to Sunday’s East Coast Swing lesson. My teaching partner and I taught a short sequence in single-step-swing that can be done to really fast tempo music. It was during the open dance after the lesson that a beginner yanked really hard on my arm.


Sew For Victory – the next step

I settled on Marian Martin 9247 for my project. I love all of the patterns I put up in my last post, but with limited spare time for sewing, I can only fit in one project plus the slip (Hollywood Pattern 789). I really love the Hollywood 1127, but I don’t have enough yardage in my vintage fabric stash. And I narrowed it down further between the Marian Martin pattern vs. the very similar Hollywood 1069 because I like the gathered detail at the yoke line on the Marian Martin. So now the next step is to trace out the pattern and do a muslin mockup. Normally I wouldn’t bother with a muslin on a simple princess seam design, but I want to be very careful since I’m going to use one of my vintage fabrics.

Marian Martin 9247

Here’s how I’m testing my fabrics. I traced a line drawing from the pattern and scanned it with a transparent background into Photoshop Elements. Then I layered it on top of scanned images of my fabric. The fabric is not to scale by a long shot! The first three print designs are quarter (USA coinage) sized and the flower design on the navy print (on the far right) is about 2 inches (3cm) square. Not perfect, but I now have a rough idea of how the fabrics would look. Much better than just trying to visualize it in my imagination.

Marian Martin Fabric testing

Sew For Victory 2.0 Sew-Along

The lovely Rochelle of Lucky Lucille has announced another Sew For Victory Sew-Along. I missed the one from last year, so I’m very glad to be able to jump on board this one. What to sew? Hmmm. Probably a dress, and if so, probably a pattern with princess seams. I have a few in my pattern collection plus the slip pattern I was looking at in an earlier post:


I’m thinking princess seams because I am still on Weight Watchers and I’ve lost 12lbs (5.5kg) so far and have another 12lbs more to go to reach my goal weight. Princess seams are easier to take in as there are more seams to spread the difference over.

I’m always “window shopping” fabric on the internet. Sharon’s Antiques has some pretty cottons from the 1930-1940s over on her site:

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 8.56.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 8.56.31 PMBut I’ll be good and go look in my own stash for fabric. I do have some mighty nice vintage rayons and contemporary rayon prints that have the vintage vibe. Yay! It’s so much fun to plan a new project.

Here’s something silly I participated in recently. The local library has a yearly fundraiser called “Dancing with Our Stars”, a riff on “Dancing with The Stars” tv show, where local ballroom dance teachers are paired with a notable person from the community and performs a number in the show. I am one of the “chorus girls” (in red) in this dance rendition of “Honey Bun” from “South Pacific”, a musical set in WWII. Our notable person is the local chief of police as the “hula girl”. It’s a laugh.

Luck o’ the Irish

“Beannachta na File Pdraig oraibh”, which translates to, “St. Patrick’s Day Blessing upon you.”


I have my supplies gathered for Gertie’s Slip Sew Along which begins on April 1st. My slip fabric is a red micro modal stretch fabric, that has a slight slubbing, and red stretch laces from Sew Sassy Lingerie. I do not sew very often with stretchy fabrics and a sew along is just what I need to push me out of my comfort zone. Also, I have wanted a red slip for some time, so this is perfect. Sew Sassy recommends that stretch fabrics NOT be pre-washed before sewing. I assume that means that they don’t want you to wash out whatever it is the manufacturer uses to “size” the fabric to make the processing more manageable.

Red Stretch Lace

MicromodalThe pattern is Butterick 6031 from Gertie’s collection, a very pretty and practical design and comes with pattern pieces to give the sewist a choice in cup sizes, A through D. Yay! No FBA to do. I am looking forward to this.

Butterick 6031

To Sew a Vintage Slip

This vintage ad promises you’ll look like a glamorous hollywood star in a slip, especially if you are missing your lower ribs and have a 14 inch waist.

slip ad

The average woman at the time probably looked more this vintage photo of a woman in her slip. Ah, the fantasy in advertising.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 7.32.40 PM

I am still researching vintage slips and just came across this catalog page from 1930s. How colorful the lingerie is! They were made from woven fabrics, mostly silk, and were not constrained by the extremely limited colors in tricot available to the home sewist today. I’m not really wild about tricot either. I love our modern day micro “modal” stretch fabrics that hug the body.


I found this online vintage dealer, Silver Screen Loungerie, who has very beautiful and glamorous vintage lingerie for sale on their site.

Silver Screen Loungerie

I keep gravitating to the peach-colored slips on their site. These first two are from the 1930s and are made of real silk charmeuse:

Barbizon Silk Charmeuse

1930 silk charmeuse

By the 1940s the “poor man’s silk”, Rayon, was introduced and used instead of real silk, like this rayon crepe-de-chine slip by Charles Desseau:

Pride of Easton 1940

and this pretty rayon number by Barbizon:

1940s rayonAnd although these slips look so pretty and romantic, for me the reality of wearing one of these under a dress is actually uncomfortable. Vintage slips are made from woven fabrics and although they tried to overcome this by cutting the fabric on the bias, there is still extra fabric that bunches up under clothes. I own a vintage bias-cut silk slip that I never wear as a slip for this reason, and instead wear it as a nightie that is only on my body for 15 minutes – the time it takes to get my husband “inspired” :-D .

I got out my vintage slip patterns to see how they dealt with woven fabric. This pattern, Simplicity 3434, has you install a side zipper or snaps. That’s all I need, more bulk at my waist.

Simplicity 3434Vogue 5088 pulls on overhead, but to do this they added overabundance of ease to the bust.

Vogue 5088Hollywood Patterns 789 also adds extra ease so that it can be slipped on over your head, so I don’t think the actual garment will look as form fitting as the line art on the envelope. The Fabric Suggestions for this pattern are: Silk crepe, lingerie satin, novelty cotton, nainsock (huh?), batiste, lawn, and rayons.

Hollywood 789Now that I’m looking at this pattern, I think it would make a really cute summer dress. I’m going to add wider straps so I can wear a bra and a zipper to make it fit without excess ease. Glad I dug it out of the box!

The Vintage Lingerie Slip – looking to Hollywood for inspiration

I plan to participate in Gertie’s lingerie sew along, so I’ve been surfing around the web looking for vintage slip ideas. I have found that there’s plenty of yummy lingerie images from the “pre-code” hollywood days, and it looks like actresses, like Joan Blondell, were seen quite often in their lingerie before the “Hays Code” started enforcing the decency standards in the 1930s.

Joan Blondell Joan Blondell 2Even silent film star Clara Bow appears on screen in her undergarments:

Clara Bow 2Clara Bow 1

Miriam Hopkins must have made that Lieutenant smile in, “The Smiling Lieutenant”, prancing around in her undies.

Miriam Hopkins 3

Joan Crawford workin’ it in her pre-mommie dearest days, although the look on her face here is one I would call “issuing a challenge”:

Joan Crawford

Carole Lombard and Josephine Dunn having a chat in the 1930s film, “Safety in Numbers”.

Carole Lombard Josephine Dunn %22safety in Numbers%22Another still from “Safety in Numbers”. This time Kathryn Crawford joins in with Carole Lombard and Josephine Dunn.

Pre code 1I didn’t know that Ginger Rogers posed for racy lingerie shots?!?

Ginger lingerieThen it seems to go dark with the on-screen sexy underwear until 1953′s “Niagra” with the sizzling hot Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe NiagraAnd she appears again in her slip in this on-the-set shot for 1955′s “The Seven Year Itch”.

Marilyn monroe 7 yr itchLiz Taylor created a lot of buzz in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958, with Paul Newman). The top photo shows the actual movie set with the beige and white decor of the couple’s bedroom. I think the bottom photo is a stage setup for publicity stills since the wall color is more neutral gray.

CatonaHotTinRoof 1

She looks caged in by the bed in these publicity stills:

CatonaHotTinRoof 2And Liz’s iconic Woman-in-her-slip image from 1960′s “Butterfield 8″ movie:

1960 "Butterfield 8"

1960 “Butterfield 8″

So now that my head is full of vintage images, I need to go shopping for supplies. Anybody know of good sources for ornate lingerie lace?

Ticci Rockabilly Clothes in Budapest

While I was cruising around Etsy for inspiration, I came across this seller, Rockabilly Clothing by Ticci. Stefánia Ágoston, a Hungarian fashion designer, is furthering the cause of Rockabilly in Budapest and is a committed upholder of Rock & Roll. She designs her clothes to be reminiscent of American 1950′s culture. It is her ambition is to introduce this subculture to the Hungarian youth.

She has what you usually expect to see in Rockabilly fashion, like this cherry print dress:

Rockabilly Cherry Bomb dressAnd then she veers off quickly with this Black Los Muertos halter dress. I love all things Dia De Los Muertos and this dress has me salivating:

Black Los Muertos dress

And in the Muertos theme, there is this tongue-in-cheek Cherry Skull wiggle dress:

Cherry skull wiggle dress

This fabulous bowling skirt comes in a kitschy bowling novelty print:

Bowling skirt

I love the yellow ruffle at the neckline of this “Spider Attack” dress:

Spider AttackI really like this Sailor dress with its slightly dropped waist. The rosy-peach color is something I wouldn’t expect for a Sailor dress, but I love the color combination!

Rose Sailor

She also offers these lovely Leopard print coats, very Noir:

Leopard coats

It is so awesome that she also has a line of maternity dresses so pregnant mom doesn’t have to miss out on the fun.

Pregnant rockabilly

Stefánia has lots of fun fashion in her Etsy store. Go check it out!

Knit For Victory Sweater All Done

Please be kind, I am a beginning knitter. This is only the second sweater I have ever knit in my life. I used a vintage knitting pattern, “Phyllis Bed Jacket”, which I got from Subversive Femme (Bex’s) store on Etsy.

1940s Phyllis bed jacketThe yarn was from my stash, a very soft Merino/Acrylic blend call “Country” by Naturally Caron. I don’t think they make it anymore, although some people still have it for sale on Etsy and ebay. I was trying to pose exactly like the model on the magazine, but when I try to pout, I just look like I’m having acid reflux.

Christina Troxel & Phyllis Sweater Knit4Victory 1

It knit up very fast after a few false starts trying to get the lacy parts to work right.  I have found that most vintage patterns are only written in one size. In this case, a 34″ bust, and I needed a 36″ bust. But it was super easy to add a couple of inches to the pattern’s bust measurement. I chose to forego the bows. This rich, deep teal color didn’t call for frippery. The worst part was sewing up the seams and I put it off until the last minute for the Knit For Victory deadline.

Christina Troxel & Phyllis Sweater Knit4Victory 3

I had some pretty vintage buttons that were the exact color of the yarn, but they were too small and popped right out of the buttonholes. So I used larger, plain Mother-of-Pearl buttons instead. I liked having this challenge to keep me working along with this project. This is one that didn’t end up in the unfinished projects pile. I’m very happy with it.

Christina Troxel Phyllis Sweater Knit4Victory 2

I’m wearing vintage thermoset earrings. They are the old screw back kind, and boy do they pinch. How did my mother wear them with a calm look on her face all day long? I will probably horrify vintage purists by admitting that I’m going to convert them to pierced earrings.


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