inspiration part I: an idea

Ohhhh my, I’ve got a lot of sewing to do… and while I should at this moment be working on my current couture projects – I have several on the go at the moment, with the short skirt as my main focus – I can’t help but take a bit of time out to write a few words about my forthcoming project: a short shift dress.

In these last few years I have noticed a love for vintage 50’s patterns that many sewists are adapting beautifully to our era, and although I appreciate 50’s styles, I don’t see myself in that era of clothing. I have always been drawn to the fashions of the 1960’s (all those mini skirts and short dresses! yesss!), and in recalling this era, it is difficult to avoid one particular major influencer of this very exciting time in fashion, and that is Jacqueline Kennedy.

I was born in the early sixties, so I didn’t get to experience first hand the evolutions in fashion during that time period. Instead, I absorbed the vibe through some of my beautiful female relatives, and through film and television in the seventies. While recently doing research on the ’60’s shift dress, thanks to pinterest, I came across a fabulous selection of photos of Jacqueline Kennedy circa the 1960 era. She was (and is still!) such a fashion icon, and she certainly wore both the sheath and the shift dress with style and grace. In my own wardrobe/style choices I’m drawn to both of these dress types, but my particular focus in the next while will be on a short version of the shift.

While enjoying studying the book Sixties Fashion by Jonathon Walford, I began to research and collect several vintage 60’s patterns with the idea of creating and modernizing a few wardrobe pieces from this era. In reviewing my new pattern collection last week, I was excited to see that one of the dress patterns (Simplicity 3833 1960’s Retro) I had acquired could almost pass for the dress Jacqueline Kennedy is wearing in the black & white photos above! I also happen to have some black lightweight suiting fabric that will be perfect for this dress pattern. I could also see this dress in a ponte fabric, a great material to use for day-wear, so a production in a ponte will be occurring at some point as well.

As of late, my wardrobe has been evolving into a new phase of life with me, and these last few years I have developed a love of wearing dresses. I also enjoy the research work I’m doing in planning my dress and skirt wardrobe, and I’m so enjoying learning about and using the couture techniques I have acquired as I work in making these garments. It’s fun finding super cool patterns to adapt to my style, especially when they come from the sixties. I must also mention that I’m appreciating the fabric compositions and choices of our own era! Sixties clothing were made of a great deal of man-made materials (I still remember the odour and feel of that plasticky fabric my mother used to make my hot pants outfit – ick!), and today you can choose from a sumptuous array of natural fibre fabrics – even the man-made fabric feels better nowadays. In any case, there is magic in discovering fabrics for the garments I’m working on now, and plan to make. Fabric is another way to express one’s self, to use as an extension of dress style, and I’m glad that in our times we have so much variety to choose from!

I think part of my love of sixties fashion comes from all the dresses women wore at the time, they were elegant and sexy and certainly a way for a woman to express herself without falling into the “girly” stereotype. There are many female fashion icons that I look to for inspiration in that era, but for today, my number one go-to is Jacqueline Kennedy.

Fun fun fun… well, enough day dreaming for now… back to my sewing!


    1. It seems that we are entering into a new era of dress wearing… Isn’t this great! As sewists, we can have so much fun customizing our looks, and even more fun when we are able draw/borrow from other eras!


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