THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 21, 2009


Filed under: Fashion,Phyllis,Ritual Cloth,Uncategorized — phyllisc @ 7:43 pm

Cidell asked me what I thought of Aretha’s hat.  Well this is why it was such a stunning choice.  Now just imagine that you are in the audience at this momentous occasion.  Imagine what those huge (12mm) Swarovski stones look like in the bright winter sun.  Imagine being so far away that you can’t actually see her, but you can hear that voice and the rhinestones are flashing in your eyes while she’s singing.   You cry because they are so bright and it hurts but also because of the emotion in the moment.   Aretha was the Statute of Liberty, her brilliant hat was her crown and the microphone was her torch.


January 20, 2009

Green Gloves

Filed under: Fashion,Ritual Cloth,Uncategorized — phyllisc @ 7:55 pm



Worn with a delicate light green guipure wool lace coat and matching dress by Isabel Toleldo. Some news sources have reported that Michelle’s outfit was yellow, but I think its really a yellow green; and besides who would wear green gloves with a yellow lace coat? Isabel Toledo is one of my favorite designers, and this ensemble is different for her, she generally has that sharp Spanish style of tailoring, this coat and dress being softer than her usual work; this looks almost Chanelish. Given the bitter cold on the east coast right now, the First Lady stayed warm with a coordinating cashmere scarf and a cardigan with a lovely diamante collar. Sublime.



December 25, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

My mother sent me these vintage needle booklets for Christmas – aren’t they wonderful?  She said in her note that she found them at a “second hand sale” and as soon as I opened them I felt an immediate and powerful connection to the sewist who used them.

My favorite tools are always the ones I make myself.  I made the needle book below a few years ago when I was going through a bit of OCD while trying to embroider a proper bullion rose.  

The “cover” is filled with two pieces of plastic canvas zigzagged round the edges, then trimmed.  I added flannel pages and stitched a center “binding” between the pieces of plastic canvas.   I have a collection of vintage needles I that like to use for embroidery and hand sewing, so I store them in this booklet.


I have this fantasy that the woman who made the vintage needle books was just as pleased as I was when she finished hers.  The fronts and back are two colors of wool felt, and the pages are white flannel.  The butterfly is missing one antenna, but the simple silk floss embellishment is still bright.  The flower basket is embellished with posies stitched from french knots and lazy daisy stitches for leaves.  The handle of the basket folds down to show the needles.  Based on the shapes and colors I’d say both date from the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s.  I love the imagery from this era because it reminds me of my grandmother and my great aunts.

I doubt I’ll take the needles out – I’d rather leave them just as they are, as they were, the last time the unkown maker touched them.   A sewing moment frozen in time; a tangible link to the past and a respite from modern life.

June 18, 2006

Carnivale of the Couture #21 – Ritual Cloth: The Power of Fashion & Memory (Part 3)

Filed under: Fashion,Musings,Ritual Cloth — Gorgeous Things @ 6:48 am

by Diva Ann, GorgeousThings 

Danielle Meder at Final Fashion contributed a wonderfully heartwarming (literally) piece to this week’s Carnivale:

“It’s the first quilt my Mom ever made, for me, her first child. It has all sorts of scraps in it from friends, from my Nana’s stash, and I had it on my bed for basically my whole life, and brought it with me here. I still use it sometimes. It’s worn out from use and I have to patch it every now and then. My mom’s made a lot of quilts since then. One year she set up the quilting frame in my bedroom and I slept on a bed under the quilt for a summer. It’s such a simple little piece but it’s obviously a part of me and not at all disposable, even if it disintegrates into bare seams I’ll take it with me wherever I go.”

Quilts like this one have such depth of meaning, and it’s wonderful to hear about pieces like this that will be with us throughout our lives. Thanks for this, Danielle!

June 17, 2006

Carnivale of the Couture #21 – Ritual Cloth: The Power of Fashion & Memory (Part 2)

Filed under: Fashion,Musings,Ritual Cloth — Gigi @ 7:55 am

by Diva Gigi 

Margy Houtz sent us her own touching Ritual Cloth story for the Carnivale of the Couture. I’d like to share it with you today.


There are two suits I made, one 35 years ago, and
another, about 32 years ago, that were truly Ritual
Cloths for me.

The first suit, a natural linen, was what I was sewing
when I informed my first husband I wanted a divorce.
The seams were filled with an inner dialog: should I?
what happens then? what about our 2-year-old daughter?
What will returning to work full-time as a single
mother be like? (The suit was planned for wearing on
the first day of my new job). When I finally found the
courage to say what had to be said, I was hemming the
skirt, and forevermore (or for the life of the skirt)
I would associate that suit with sadness, loss,
relief, courage and the excitement of a new direction
in my life.

The second suit was a beautiful white boucle
Chanel-type suit that I made for the third date with
the man who would become my second (and final!)
husband. Those seams and linings were imbued with the
hopes and dreams that I had thought were never going
to come true for me. Six months later he proposed, and
I wore my lovely white suit happily for many years.

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