A Tried and True (TnT) pattern is invaluable, and always hackable. The #Lenahornedress pattern by @TabithaSewer

A Tried and True (TnT) pattern is invaluable, and always hackable. The #Lenahornedress pattern by @TabithaSewer

I enjoy sewing with patterns. I’ve used the Mccall’s, Vogue, Simplicity, and Butterick patterns for years and years. In the 80’s I used to subscribe to Burda magazine, back before the internet, there were pullout pages with multiple lines for multiple patterns on every page. Have you ever seen a Rand McNally city road map? These brought out about the same amount of anxiety for me. I made a few things, but man there was a ton of work before I even got to cut into my fabric! Oh, and they were in German, I took one year of that in high school so…Nichts.

Burda magazine https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155303887189693019/

Now, since we do have the internet, I’ve come to love independent pattern companies and purchasing PDF’s here at home. Having done pattern drafting, my hat goes off to all these independant designers. This is a lot of work, so I want to support them anytime I get the chance. I have a bunch of new favorite indie pattern designers now, if your interested, I’ll tell you about a few. Ask away in my comments section.

The Lena Horne dress pattern by Tabitha Sewer

One newer pattern to come on the sewing community scene, is the Lena Horne dress pattern by Tabitha Sewer. I love everything about this pattern. I did not buy it in PDF form, though so you know, it’s offered digitally as well. I purchased it through her website and got it in the mail because it comes in a iridescent mylar envelope which is basically like having a little rainbow at all times in my sewing room, and who doesn’t want that?

Being a sewist who does alot of refashioning, I often hack patterns because with refashioning you have to work with the fabric you have and there is no getting anymore. So with this pattern, Ive made two dresses. The first one a refashioning and the second is out of thrifted fabric yardage. With both dresses I did some hacking, I’ll explain.

Lena Horne dress out of a Refashioned thrifted vintage pieced
quilt from the 70’s
Trifted vintage pieced quilt from

I found this queen sized pieced vintage quilt made from early 70’s prints and Hawaiian bark cloth. In the early 70”s my family lived Hawaii and all these fabrics reminded me of that time and place. The amount of time that pieced quilts take To make, it killed me to see it there for under $5 dollars. So I refashioned it into the #lenahorndress. I did hack the skirt by using vintage pattern by McCall’s 3396 because of all the pieced seams, gathers would have been too many layers.

I did add the pockets from the Lena Horne dress pattern back into the vintage Mccalls pattern so I guess I hacked the hack.

One thing I did do with this make that I had never done before, is I followed along with the tutorial video that Tabitha has created. It was great! My first tutorial. What have I been doing all this time? Her printed instructions are easy and clear but sewing along with a video is awesome. What can I say, I was born in the 60’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vYgL4zymgE

Tabitha’s method for gathering by zig zagging over yarn was the way to go because again this was a pieced quilt there was alot of random seams and selvages, so with some gathers there were places that were 4ply thick.

I lined my “angle wings” which is what I was taught these kinds of pinafore ruffles are called. I lined them because the back side of a quilts wouldn’t be a good look.

See? Backside of quilt, meh..
Even my dog Zoey is unimpressed.

Lastly, I made the pom poms for my purse using Clover brand pom pom makers. https://www.clover-usa.com/en/ and the purse is from Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GCHZ27X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_Zp8kDbTN576J1

For my second dress, I worked out of My stash again. I got this roll of 8 yards of silk shantung from @colleaguesroom (another great thrift store here in Los Angeles, a designer resale store)

Another #Lenahornedress hacking the pattern, just a little. I wanted to pleat some of the fabric. A couple years ago on @pinterest I found a video on how to make your own pleater board. I made mine and It works great! Mine makes 1″ pleats.

@pinterest link for making pleater board:


Pleating Angle wing ruffles on my DIY pleater board

I cut out the above the knee skirt length view of the pattern and added 12″ of width to the skirt. I wanted denser gathers at the waist seam. Then I made the second skirt tier one and a half times wider than the first skirt tier and 9″long (finished this tier ends up 8″long) The last tier is pleated so I cut out 5″ long (finished this tier with hem is 4″ long) and 2 times the width of the bottom second tier circumference.

3rd skirt tier pleated

Refashioning “The Mini skirt prosecutor.”

In January of this year, as I set out to start this blog. I knew that I wanted to talk about Fashion, fashion history, and iconic people and do it visually by refashioning iconic “looks” of these people.

In the summer of 1974, my family was living in Northern Virginia. My father a major in the Air Force was working in the Pentagon. I remember vividly the national news each night on my families television. Watergate.

In July of 2017, I began noticing an MSNBC legal contributor. She was the new resident authority on Watergate and how it resembles our current President and our government. Two things I noticed about her, besides obvious class and intelligence, first, each night she had on these amazing brooch pins. A different one each night. Second, she commented on being known back in the early 70’s as “The mini skirt prosecutor.” Well, now I needed to know more…

Jill Wine-Banks was a Watergate prosecutor. ” She was the one who interrogated Rosemary Woods, the White House secretary responsible for the notorious missing 18½ minutes of the Watergate tapes.” (Author Rita Dragonette, http://www.ritadragonette.cohttp://www.ritadragonette.comm)

In mini skirts no less.

Jill has continued to succeed and have many firsts for women.

“List of achievements: first woman General Counsel of the Army, Illinois’ first Solicitor General and first female Deputy Attorney General of the state, first woman EVP/COO of The American Bar Association, Executive at Motorola and Maytag. After an equally impressive list of not for profit/social advocate positions she has championed causes in education and social services, most recently serving on the US Department of Defense Subcommittee investigating sexual assault in the military.

Jill never stopped fighting, particularly as an outspoken critic of sexism. An early iteration of her book was as a memoir contrasting what it was like to be at the pinnacle of success and attention, yet still facing sexist attitudes and practices in both professional and personal circumstances.”(Author Rita Dragonette, http://www.ritadragonette.com

Now those pins. So each time Jill appears on television she wears a different pin. The brilliant part is each pin has a meaning. She has on her website, Instagram and twitter #jillsPins with the photo and the meaning of each one. Yes, the like button is getting hit often. Definitely check these out.

Jill’s memoir about her years of Watergate is being revised and will be out in 2020 http://www.jillwinebanks.com#

Now my refashioning. This past Monday was Earth day and in the world of fashion, Fashion Revolution week (April 22nd-28th) is underway. I’m a big believer in sustainability and all of us doing our part. I make my clothes and try upcycle old garments instead of buying new. http://www.fashionrevolution.org

This project I did entirely out of thrifted clothing. Basically salvaging all yardage from the discarded.

First, Jill’s trench coat. I took three pairs of men’s thrift khaki’s from GoodWill. Let me just say there are way too many pairs of men’s khaki’s out there, I’m convinced our landfills must be full of them! I decided to do a color block version (like the inspiration photo below) and use the vintage Vouge pattern 1498 to make in 1970’s period appropriate. I hacked the pattern slightly by not lining it, because it’s hot here in southern Califorina. I did do Hong Kong finished steams though, refashioning old power ties, from my dead stock wardrobe from my regular job as a wardrobe stylist and costume designer. I often style celebrity men.

The “mini skirt” pinafore, I used three pairs of used old black stretch jeans of mine. Re-dyed them black with http://www.ritdye.com and used the Seamwork’s No.3093 Dani pinafore patternhttp://www.seamwork.com

The Pussy bow blouse, pattern by http://www.sewoverit.co.uk

was made out of a linen table clothed, from my wedding that the stains didn’t come out, but talk about good yardage! Slight hack, I slashed and spread the tie pattern piece to give it more of the 70’s style.

The boots I found thrift as well as the brief case.

Lastly, my pin. I wanted to find something to do with justice and with my fine tuned thrifting skills, I found it. A little cheeky, but I love it. Yes, I secretly want to send it to Jill.

A special thank you to Rita Dragonette and Jill Wine-Banks for allowing me to use the photos and to quote Rita’s blog post “The mini skirt prosecutor”

Vintage leopard faux fur coat,1964

Vintage leopard faux fur coat,1964

So I picked up this great vintage leopard faux fur coat. Technically the print is that of a cheetah, but most spotted furs are generically all referred too as a leopard.

I loved the silhouette, and the pile of this faux fur was dense, sweet and short. It’s just so much more beautiful and ”real” looking than most faux furs we see out there today. When I saw the label on the inside, it was familiar to me. Always curious about the history of fashion brands, I decided to do a little research. The label said, ”Safari styled by Fairmoor.” I could tell by the typography that the company was for sure from the late fifties, probably the sixties. Sure enough, this coat came out in 1964. Pile fabric coats have been around for quite a while. Let’s face it; humans wearing fur goes way back. In the late ’50s, the new synthetic ”fake fur” as they were called were becoming hugely popular because the synthetic textiles were produced for about $12.00 a yard. Did you know that faux fur fabric is a knit fabric? If you look at the wrong side of the textile, you’ll see it looks just like most knits we use.

” The story goes that the late George Borg, owner of a knitting mill was producing deep pile fabrics for paint rollers. One of the colors coming off looked attractive enough for coats and, and he took the fabric to Seventh Avenue. This was in the late 40s. It caught on, and the knitters began producing the fabrics also.” ( June 17, 1964 page 59 The New York Times archives)

So my coat, like I said the faux fur was in excellent condition, but the acetate lining was thrashed! The pocket lining was four layers deep (yes

four) from previous owners adding a new lining over the last one once it developed a hole. The buttons were alright, but the gold now lacked their luster. I don’t know about you, but I find when refashioning a vintage piece I found myself asking myself ” I wonder where this coat has been, what kind of life experiences has it witnessed?”

So I knew I would replace the lining and the buttons and initially thought I’d use a similar new lining textile and color. I was at brunch with girlfriends for our friend Jen’s birthday. My friend Laura gave her a little make-up bag. A small leopard faux fur with a hot, shocking hot, pink lining. I saw it, and inspiration said, “that’s it, that’s your lining!” I love this coat; I love that it’s older than me and I even put the label back in like a passport booklet for all the adventures I’m going to take it on.