Gather inspriration & let the creation come into focus

For me, this project was all about inspiration. I’ve said it many times; inspiration for me comes in the most unexpected ways. Recently I was thinking about shows that my Mother always watched in the early ’70s; she was a devoted Mary Tyler Moore show watcher. In the opening sequence,  Mary throwing her beret in the air. This got me thinking of berets, and I remembered a @lovetosewpodcast interviewing @ericabunker and her talking about her Mothers style in the ’70s and that she wore a sequin beret. I told you inspiration comes in all forms. I sort of collect all of these over time and let the creation come into focus.

 I purchased the green sweater knit fabric from the @ninaramelfabricbox a while ago. I am inspired all the time by @mydailythreads style aesthetic. We are kindred spirits, I’m convinced. Her fabric boxes are unique, and when I want to treat myself, to stalk her lives to see what is coming next.

I made a lined sweater wrap coat using @vogue pattern #1758. 

An added twist was I made a detachable lavender fur collar; I purchased the fur from @fabricmart.

I keep a pet grooming kit in my sewing room just for working with fur and faux furs. Trimming selvages with shears.
and brush out all the uncut pile out of seams.

My pants I wanted a proper 70s silhouette, and when I saw @ravenmaureens version of @mimigstyle @simplicity #8655, I was like, “there they are!”

I made them with a wool blend plaid from @melanted fabrics; this fabric is straight-up delicious. I threw myself a little sewing challenge by using the fabric on the bias.

My top is the Monroe turtleneck by @tessutipatterns that I made out of a deep plum Ponte knit also from @melanatedfabrics. Beginning sewers, this is a perfect pattern for you, especially if there is any intimidation with sewing knits.

The reversible sequin beret I made with leftover stash using a pattern from pspatterns and styles on Etsy.

My Katie Spade purse in thrift from@goodwillsoca and my vintage purple sunglasses and boots are thrift from @poshmark, and all put together with that theme song in the background

“Love is all around; no need to fake it.

You can have the town, why don’t you take it.

You’re gonna make it after all.” 

What inspires you?

Where do I find inspiration? I have a serious list.

I love vintage 1970’s fashion but, I also fashion from iconic people

like: Bianca Jagger, Stevie Nicks, Cher & Elton John, Farrah, Sarah Jessica Parker, and I did a whole blog post on Jill Winebanks creating a refashion of the “Mini skirt prosecuter” of the Watergate days.

I love fashion designers like; Missoni, Ralph Lauren, Alexander Mcqueen, and Gucci.

I refashion a leather jacket paying homage to the vintage appliqued leather jackets by East-West musical instrument Co.

I’ve also been inspired by photographer’s work like Satoshi Saikusa and films by Wes Anderson.

This past year I was inspired by @Mimigstyle duster pattern, and it was a first for me making a garment because I was inspired by what and who I saw on the pattern envelope.

The music, is inspired by memories of my father playing this song while driving down our street in Hawaii. Playing percussion on the stirring wheel with his college class ring, good times in 1972.

Mother’s, their dresses and refashioning memories.

On September 1, 1962, my Mother and father were married in Long Island, New York
My Mom is the oldest of five kids and the first daughter. In 1962 she was 18 years old, a good Catholic girl, obedient and honest.
My maternal grandmother, very fashionable and a proficient seamstress was very much in charge. Who’s getting married?
I don’t know that I have ever heard much about the planning or the dress shopping, other than my Mothers dress was made of Peau de soie.
Peau de soie, a fancy French name for a silk or rayon dress fabric with a smooth, satiny texture and a subtle ribbed or grained surface. In French, it literally means “skin of silk.” The only story I had ever heard was that my grandmothers dress for my Mother’s wedding, cost more than my Mother’s wedding dress. Hmmm, I’m thinking I’m giving a little side eye to this factoid, but I’ll continue.
My grandmothers “Mother of the bride” dress was a beautiful Ecru sheath dress, made entirely out of Alencon lace and lined in silk crepe de chine. After closer inspection, I think she made this dress. My grandmother always loved this dress, even swore she would be buried in it one day and I will say she looked stunning in it. Both my grandmothers always carried themselves with confidence and both exemplified the belief that as a woman you “keep” yourself up. You give a dam. Aging is inevitable, self-loathing is a choice.

Great Grand Father and grandmother Gilmore, Grand Father Eugene Gilmore, Grandmother Mildred Gilmore, and my Great Grand Father Higgins
My Grandmother and my Father, a young officer in the Air Force.

So when I got married in 1987, the 1st time, yes life ain’t perfect, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear. I was 20 years old and had been sewing since I was 8 years old. You would have thought I would want to make my own dress. The truth is, it had never crossed my mind. My Mothers wedding to my Father was so beautiful. I had studied their black and white wedding album for years, and I do mean study! I imagined my day to look just like my Mothers.

So I wore my Mother’s dress. My grandmother has had it hermetically sealed after my Mom’s wedding day. The first time I opened the beautiful gold box with the window underneath the front flap, it was the first time the dress had seen sunlight and been touched since 1962.

To give you perspective, I’m 5’6,” and on the day I weighed 128 lbs, 36″ x 27″ x 36″, I told you I’ve sewn a long time I knew every stat, even back then.

I pulled the dress out, stepped into it, my Mother buttoned up all 72 covered buttons up the back. Like a Cinderella glass slipper, it fits perfect, no alteration.

My brother Pat, me,my brother Tom and my brother Jack
My siblings and I. I’m the 2nd oldest. (left to right) Top #3 Pat, #1 Jack, and #4 Tom. Bottom #5 Tara, #2 Me and #6 Maureen

So now the refashioning, the day my Mom got married she left her wedding with an outfit change. A sheath dress suit, the jacket was cropped and 3/4 sleeved. From what I could tell it is shantung silk. I said to you I studied.

So I wanted to have a leaving outfit too. I decided to ask my grandmother for her dress. Reluctantly, she gave it to me. “I want that back, I’m being buried in that dress!”

So it being the 80’s and all, out of a champagne colored satin, I made some puffy sleeves that got narrower to the wrist and came to a point at the center of the top of my hand, just like my Mothers wedding dress sleeve. I hand sewed them into the arms eye to be able to remove them after the wedding so I could return it the way I received it, sleeveless. My grandmother said “Or else!”

My leaving dress. Nanny’s refashioned Mother of the brides dress.

Today, I still have both these dresses. Cleaned bagged and stored. I love them both so much. They make me think of my young Mother and my young fancy grandmother. My grandmothers dress is my personal gauge, when it fits, I’m in check. Come on guys you all know you have a pair of jeans like this.

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,

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 February 25,2020

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.

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 and used the Seamwork’s No.3093 Dani pinafore pattern

The Pussy bow blouse, pattern by

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

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.