It Was all Yellow

Last summer I was having a serious love affair with almost the entire spectrum of yellow. Gold. Ochre. Lemon. Canary. Sunflower. Mustard. There were a couple of spring 2011 runways that were to blame for this. Marc Jacobs clever use of marigold and diaphanous yellow with plum and coral. And Salvatore Ferragamo’s sun-kissed yellows falling into skin tones. It wasn’t just the color; I was very taken with the 70s influences of both collections and wrote about my plans to hijack one of these peasant looks back in May 2011.

Knocking off the Ferragamo outfit was near the top of my list last year and a must-finish this summer.

Normally, I’m not into big skirts but something about the easy Italian glamour thing appealed to me, romanesque sandals and all. How to translate without feeling too costumey is always a good challenge when being inspired by runway looks. And since I’m past the age for cropped tops, I wanted a similar cotton-y blouse without the belly-show.

You got to see a sneak peak of the blouse earlier this week and I really love it to pieces! I’ve worn it a few times already. A few of you commented on my buttonholes, and I wish I could say I could do that by hand, but the hand-stitched parts were only the buttons themselves. I’ve been blessed for the last year or so to have a machine that makes buttonholes which don’t make me scream. I once spent a week of nights practicing tailored buttonholes with gimp and button thread and needless to say I think it would take me another year practicing until I actually put them on a garment.

Blouse: Simplicity 7892, dated 1977. I dug this gem up on Etsy. It’s been awhile since I’ve sewn from a vintage pattern and boy, this one is a beaut. I don’t know if it’s the 70s cut, but it has a narrow-to-wide shaping from bust to waist that’s perfect for a pear-ish figure like mine. Here’s how it looks untucked:

There are a lot of little details I really liked about this pattern, like a curved sleeve hem–a drafting detail that seemed to disappear from patterns after the 70s–and lots of little helpful dots and notches to get all that gathering lined up. I didn’t make any fit changes but trimmed the seam allowances on the tissue to 3/8″, and raised the sleeves to 3/4 length (which I liked in the Ferragamo blouse).

Skirt: I think both of my inspiration skirts are basically dirndls (two rectangles). So that’s what I cut. I measured my waist and multiplied by 3 to get the total skirt width and then measured down to mid-calf to get the length. I added a button stand to the front panel and a wide waistband with belt loops (which you can’t see because I couldn’t find a small enough belt!). That width is a good idea in theory, and true to the runway style, but the gathering was a beast and after an hour working it all out and trying it on, the cotton was so poofy it gave me an extra set of hips.

So I ended up unpicking and drawing in a hip curve at the side seams, taking in the waist by a good twenty inches. When you do this to a straight rectangle, the side seams will drop a bit. So I also drew up a little curve along the the hem to compensate.

Fabric: I really had in my mind a goldenrod colored cotton poplin to match the runway outfit. And I was absolutely delighted to find a Radiance silk/cotton poplin in–ooh, yes–butterscotch! Do you know about Radiance? It’s a lovely fabric, with a cotton-ish drape but one side has the silky sheen of a satin. It feels like heaven. I’ve used it before as a purse lining but never in a garment. Usually this fabric prettier and richer with the satin side facing out but I really didn’t want something that dressy, so I used the “homespun” side, and for a touch made the sash with the satin side.

Despite it being a waylaid project for so long, I’m glad I still feel inspired by it and think it adds some fun pieces to my wardrobe. Isn’t it fun to be surprised when a style risk clicks? And this golden Klimt yellow is surprising, bringing out the amber in my eyes.

And p.s. the photos were taken on a very grey day, in an uninhabited but historic art deco home that we’ve adored for years. At one point we trespassed (tsk tsk) just to get a look at the truly surreal deco fish tanks in the living room. We tried to get inside again but…

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