Fresh style insights, tips and commentary by Michelle Tea, Michael Braithwaite, Leo Plass, Page McBee and Carrie Leilam Love.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pattern Peace

In last week's post, I tried to prepare myself for Gay Divorce by researching The Gay Divorceé, a 1934 film starring Ginger and Fred.  One thing that movie definitely did NOT cover was Moving In With Your Mom.

Two nights ago I moved back into my old room. Which is no longer my room but an office.  My mother lovingly set up the sofabed with my old linens from highschool. Yep, she still has those. They smell like a closet and Shalimar by Guerlain, which is what my mom smells like. 

Also, she has already asked me like, 80 times what time I am coming home tomorrow night.  That part is not so different from being married.

Earlier this evening I had some mending to do and I haven't brought my machine from my former residence yet so I had the pleasure of doing it on this:

Behold: 1978 Viking 6000.  The Swiss are geniuses for anything with small moving parts - this machine works as well now as it did new.  I made these pants on this machine:

If you can't tell by the scrunchie, this is circa 1994.  I wish I had a pic of the capri pants I made around the same time from upholstery fabric.

Going to the fabric store with my mother when I was little was the best ever.  After a quick marvel at the rainbow of calico bolts and maybe surreptitiously rubbing my face in silk velvet - (super. gay. always.) - I'd head to the pattern section.

The pattern section in a fabric store is like a fashion magazine without adverts and with directions on how to make whatever you like yourself.  I spent many a zen hour flipping through ordered envelopes. It was calming. And let me tell you, when you finally get one of those envelopes home and open it - when you hear the snap of the tissue paper as you shake it flat -- that's when you really find your pattern peace.  Because the focus it takes to follow the steps combined with the satisfaction you get from knowing you're making something feels like meditating.

So here are some patterns.  Most are vintage.  That's because since no one sews anymore most patterns these days are for kids and old people.  You know, pumpkin outfits and portrait collars.  But back in the days when every housewife was a lightweight couturier, there was fashion in patterns.


Everytime I see forties fashion I am reminded how mid-eighties fashion is the sluttier version of it.




One of the BEST things about patterns is a lot of times you get directions for multiple outfits based on the same basic design -- like the shirred waist on these two looks.

Ankle-length stovepipe pants with a double-breasted vest and a tie?!? And they have her wearing white shoes, which I can only imagine are meant to be patent, because this fit is the moddest of the moddiest.

Remember when even swimsuits were tailored? Me neither. But I want that to happen again.


WOW. Whoa. Wow.

So many looks! I think the skirt is reversible...

I love how this one takes you from office (collar closed) to happy hour (collar open) to date night (collar open, add necklace).


New Wave!! I am seeing versions of these pants everywhere this season.

I'm trying to find the words to describe this pattern without being disrespectful... And in case you don't know the song by Davied Guetta featuring Akon, what I mean is this pattern makes me so hotttt I'm afraid I might offend somebody if I talk about it. And it's not even about the sheer knee highs and bare thighs in the back (though that don't hurt).  Remember what I said before about the 80s being the 40s but sluttier? I present Exhibit A.  Classy + Sassy = YESSSSS!!!

Lastly, I came across this INCREDIBLE digitized artifact:


This makes me so happy!!!  Seriously, what divorce? HAMMER PANTS!!!  And just to bring it back to my mom, she just so happens to have been Stanley Burrell's (that's MC Hammer's gov't name, duh) 7th grade Social Studies teacher.  But she wouldn't make me these. Yes I asked. Thanks mom. No, really. Thank. You.


Oh Yeah Post Script: Despite nobody sewing anymore (I don't care how many DIY hipsters you know clacking away on their prized 100 year-old Viking, they do not actually represent the tide of the nation) you can still get designer patterns from big names like Alice & Olivia, Badgley Mischka, Issey Miyake, Tracy Reese, Anna Sui and more, at Vogue Patterns!  They tend to be sucky compared to the actual RTW stuff but the "bones" are great and you can do a lot with them.

Vogue also sells re-issues of their classic patterns from as early as the 30s or so. If you want to shop vintage patterns, try MOMSPatterns, where many of the pics for this post came from, and there are always plenty on ebay.

Oh Yeah Post Post Script: JSYK, dear readers, I actually happen to take divorce in general and mine in particular quite seriously.  I am in a sea of despair, building a raft of flip remarks.  Because why drown? You know?


  1. CARRIE! This is so NEAT! I wish I could sew. And I never thought I'd ever say that, as even the mechanics of ironing escape me. Nicely done.

  2. "even the mechanics of ironing escape me" HA HA HA especially given the name of our band of fashion brothers here!!

  3. I have never learned to sew and it always bums me out. I could be spending way less on clothes while looking like I spent more. My mom always sewed my clothes growing up (for better or worse) and I remember trotting to the fabric store with her to pick out patterns. Sadly, I often ended up with weird jumper onesies.

  4. You are sewing a pattern of a resiliant life. It's a pattern we'll all need to trace... Thank you! sendin em up for you... one.

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