Archive for the ‘ Read it ’ Category

Mollie Parnis met Ann Sunshine and Naomi Wise

I was trying to learn more about this spectacular party dress that just didn’t fit me. Its waist is too teeny tiny.

gone dress Mollie Parnis purple

Mollie Parnis, American gem. Designed for First Ladies. Tons of silk.

Expensive from the time she started. And she never told her age.

Lots of her work endured. Oh wow!

This peach day dress.

This polka-dotted silk day dress.

This beaded cocktail dress.

One more day dress.

And the ladies who originally sold it, Ann Sunshine & Naomi Wise, incorporated in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in 1954.

They sold all sorts of exclusive.

Navy lace cocktail dresses.

Green lace cocktail dress over purple.

Lousy bosom wrecks all my fun: the 28 Shop version

And now this, too. A number from Marshall Field’s The 28 Shop. It won’t quite fit over my bosom and ribs. Feels like silk, too. Typical.

dress 28 shop

I’ve just learned that the 28 Shop, named for its 28 dressing rooms AND the 28 E. Washington address of said elevator, was a big big deal, thanks to thanks this book published through the Chicago Architecture Foundation:

One of the most elaborate changes in the retailing space of the State Street Store occurred in 1941 with the opening of The 28 Shop, a new fashion salon dedicated to America designers, since World War II ended the availability of European (primarily French) designers.

To make the space both elegant and exciting, the store engaged designer Joseph Platt, scenographer for Gone With the Wind, to create a sleek rotunda (appointed with Louis Quinze gilt and garlands) surrounded with large mirrored fitting rooms, each with a different design, ranging from stylish bamboo to the richness of Oriental rugs.

The opening of The 28 Shop was the social event of the season, when Chicago’s smart set arrived in limousines at the door of 28 East Washington Street and rode private elevators to the rarified comforts of Chicago’s most exclusive dress shop.

And a photo, from

Here’s one of the 28 fitting rooms there, decorated in 14 two-of-a-kind styles — lace, bamboo, pink-and-beige, etc. — so if the dressing room with your favorite decor is occupied, there’s an identical one you can use. Also, 28 Shop special china. Ah, the luxury …

Looking around: Alice + Olivia

Inspiration abounds. Two staples and a frou-frou dress that’s not *too* fancy. I don’t have the approximatly $350 a piece though, so I wonder how I could approximate them myself?

This vintage Vogue might get at the shape of this cocoon top above. It’s short still but could lengthen.


The white underdress looks pretty simple: tank top attached to skirt. Like this maybe?

The overdress in gray silk (chiffon?) has more complicated sleeves which I’ve seen in a vintage Vogue pattern from my stash.

Then this infinity knit cardigan. Remains a mystery still.

I’ve bought Alice + Olivia patterns before and love them. Wore one of their skirt patterns in three or four versions one summer. Unrelated: Might have eye now on this dress.

As you read this, I am watching this

Naturally, I want Martha’s dress.

Thank you, in-laws. What a gorgeous Christmas gift!

Goodbye! And thanks for the ideas.

I got caught up in a giant story late last week, so I had no time to sew or write or photograph. Or eat lunch, really. I ended up finishing my little dress over the weekend, but the post will have to wait.

Meanwhile, more stuff’s moving out of my life. And I’m excited about it. It’s looking mighty shoddy anymore so I don’t feel cute in it. It’s been a while now that this stuff’s fallen from the A-list. So why couldn’t I let go?

I’m a latent hoarder. I didn’t want to forget about these finishing ideas.

This raglan t-shirt is so disgusting!


But it has really great silver topstitching that sets it apart.

t-shirt topstitching

And this lilac blouse (ratty, missing buttons) used tulle edging in a dramatic, yet basic way.

tulle trim on blouse

I think it could be really easily reproduced.

tulle trim buttons

I wanted a closer look.

tulle trim curve

Cut strips of tulle, gather edges, trim to uniform width, stitch in, no?

They ended up in the rag bin. But these boots go to Goodwill.

breakup boots

They were a breakup present to myself many years ago. I quickly attempted to polish them darker. It didn’t work. So off they go.

More thinking about A Wardrobe

My sewing time is precious and small, right? And lately, I’ve had some big misses with projects. And the things I’ve managed to finish, I haven’t been so excited to put on. And my everyday has some serious holes. Also I’m easily distracted.

I took the advice of a bunch of smart sewers, mostly ladies, and thought hard about what I like to look like, and what my life looks like.

And here’s what I decided. The list follows. My projects — save for gifts — must all fit these descriptions or I’m no longer going to waste my time.

So here’s my Sewing Manifesto (Mani-Fitz-O?):

  1. I wear knit tops, not woven ones. I like short sleeves, not sleeveless and cardigans. I pile on scarves when it gets cold. I layer simple undershirts under almost everything.
  2. I wear open necks, not high ones. When my bosom gets buried under a lot of fabric, I feel giant. And I like necklaces more than other jewelry.
  3. I love luxurious sweaters and have been thrifting away from acrylics and other cheap disposable knits.
  4. When I rarely shop off the rack, I buy wrap tops because they always fit with an extra tug or a little give. I like the ruching across my middle, too.
  5. I have a curvy body that needs a little harnessing. When the fit is right, wow. When it’s not, I want to tear up the photographic evidence.
  6. Purple is the greatest of all colors. Red’s pretty close behind, followed by their blend: dark magenta. Leopard’s a neutral that makes almost anything pop.
  7. I like a little whimsy but I’m too old for cutesy. I’m also too old for shoddy. It’s not cute anymore.
  8. I wear some skirts when they’re easy, solid, dark. I love textures like velveteen that pop but aren’t too fancy.
  9. I like easy dresses, too. I end up regretting most prints (save leopard). I’d rather let my jewelry do the talking. I love prints as sneaky inside peeks: pockets, trims, linings.
  10. I hate ironing and don’t do it (except while sewing).
  11. I like simple design with a quirky element. Black pants with five or six pintucks up the right leg. A denim skirt with a bias-cut flounce on the back. A cashmere cardigan with three-quarter sleeves. Knit shells in black and white with tiny ruffles up the front.
  12. I wear shoes I can run in. Same goes for boots.

A Sewn Wardrobe, you read my mind

Dear A Sewn Wardrobe:

Amen, girl.

Thanks for saying it for me, FITZ

p.s. You’re doing some hella amazing work.


I hear you, loud and clear. My own sewing time is so precious, I also pick projects carefully.

Only lately, nothing’s been turning out right. I’m so excited to sew things, but then I’m hardly excited to wear them.

Bad fits, unflattering shapes, prints I’d never actually wear… and the thrift store just has so many great RTWs like denim skirts and knit dresses.