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…


  1. Katherine says:

    Gorgeous colour, gorgeous outfit, super-gorgeous photos! It is so satisfying to successfully create an outfit in the vibe of your inspiration garments. You have the elegance to pull off such a blousy style. I have never been a fan of dirndl skirts, so I think your decision to add a hip curve to the skirt was spot on.

    • Amy says:

      Thank you so much! I really like blousey blouses, but the skirt is definitely a risk. I’m short and sturdy so it can definitely feel like too much.

  2. Sherry says:

    This colour is fantastic on you Amy, and the outfit/s look very sophisticated! I really like how you’ve made separates too, giving you lots of options. Great job, well done!

  3. Marty says:

    What a wonderful color! I’ve always loved mustard but feared using it near my face. I’m now gray but used to have brown hair, but I’m not sure I could pull it off as beautifully as you. Did you underline or line the skirt? I love the drape and am thinking of making a gathered wrap skirt similar to this one.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Marty – I too wonder how this color will look on me a little later in life–I wore mustard a lot when I was young and really into autumnal colors. And funny that I associate something this bright with blonde coloring. Either way, it never hurts to try–in this case I didn’t get a good idea until I actually saw the photos of it on. Pictures always help me be objective!

      A gathered wrap skirt would be so pretty! I didn’t line the skirt–it’s a very opaque fabric and the satin face is on the inside and almost feels like a silk lining. This fabric has a really nice hang–it has the drape of cotton but the silk content adds a bit of softness.

  4. Maddie says:

    you’re so right in your description of the outfit – very italian!

    I’ve never worked with a vintage pattern (I always draft my patterns) but it seems like pattern making was a lot better back then.

    The outfit is killer and you look stunning in yellow!

  5. Amanda says:

    Love this interpretation of the runway look – so much more wearable and suits you well! I really like the way you played up the textures of the Radiance; I’ve eyeballed that stuff online but didn’t realize it had such a nice drape! it’s so pretty, and the colour is wonderful on you 🙂

  6. Heather Lou says:

    Amy, this outfit is, as they say, “the shit”. That colour is SPECTACULAR and I’m really grooving on you recreating some runway magic. Take THAT overpriced designer! Separates is so smart cuz you can splits em up. And you look beautiful. Brunettes in goldenrod should be a rule.

  7. Sarah says:

    What a fantastic vintage adaptation! (And that deco house sounds wild!) I also find the ’70s silhouette flattering, and your separates show how contemporary it feel today.

  8. Lavender says:

    Noooo! Coldpay! Your outfit, details, photos and trespassing skills make getting that song stuck in my head totally worthwhile 🙂 This is a style risk that definitely clicks. (And as a side note, I’d never call you pear-shaped. Not that a pear is a bad fruit – I’m all pear. Because of that, full skirts are new to me, too.) The color is so gorgeous, and I love that you’ve used the matte side of Radiance. It’s on my list of fabric to try, once I run out of my normal lining and sew down some more stash. Huzzah for ticking off that list!

    Reading your last post about the final finishing was like reading a description of my own process, and I never would have guessed. Everything you make looks so polished, so… finished. I like the secret little two inches here, three inches there that only you know about 🙂 Your machine’s buttonholes are lovely. Mine makes horizontal tacks at each end, but I like how these look. Bernina? Don’t say Bernina….

    • Amy says:

      I know, I should be hanged for this title because it just sticks to no end in your head!

      Haha, don’t get me wrong, I like polishing off a lot (I’m definitely not a slapdash creative, which is how Derek rounds me out with his spontaneity)–I guess it’s those last little bits that no one sees where I lose steam on myself!

      My machine is a Juki. I love it and I’m so glad I researched beforehand–and good buttonholes were at the top of my needs. They make some great machines. Before that I had a very basic Singer which only had a 4-step. I borrowed an old Bernina for awhile and I didn’t like its 4-step at all (I could see the fabric through the zig-zag, like it wasn’t tight enough). I had such a fond memory of my mom’s Singer buttonholer and tried to make one work on the Bernina and it wouldn’t fit under the presser bar…

  9. I love this combo completely! It really suits you well, and I actually like it better than the Ferragamo version. I love working with vintage patterns also. The instructions are so much more complete and I generally learn new-to-me techniques. Plus, I hate tiling:)

  10. Wanett says:

    Amy!! This is such a great outfit!! You look smashing in yellow and you’ve hit your inspiration looks DEAD on!! I really admire your willingness to take your time with projects. I think that attention to detail is missing from my sewing and I’d like to remedy that sooner than later.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Really loving 70s stuff, too. There is just something relaxed with a feeling of travel or adventure about many of those designs. This turned out great, it’s very inspiring to see you take it from start to finish.

  12. helena maoz says:

    wow! i have that pattern (found it in an op-shop years ago) but have never made it up. Now Ive seen how great it can look, its going in the queue! 🙂

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