Feb 3, 2012
Rhinestones. Bugle beads. Sequins. Fringe.
These are the elements of glitzy dressing, our topic for today!
You can't really talk about glitz without mentioning Hollywood, where the glitziest fantasies were made reality, or rather unreality.
Garish and guilt-free, glitz has its critics. My mother was/is the least glitzy person you can imagine. She used to criticize her friends (to me, me) whom she thought dressed too flashily. My next door neighbor, a boy named Maury, was also my best friend in elementary school, and his mother, Francine, a sexy divorcee, was the polar opposite of my mother. Francine had a clothes closet worthy of Ann-Margret.
I know this because after school, Maury and I used to go through it and try on anything trimmed with marabou or sequins, which was just about everything. (The die was cast early, folks.) She had enough costume jewelry to rival Jolie Gabor and I still remember her collection of chunky psychedelic Lucite rings that were so popular in the early Seventies.
Parenthetically, is anyone named Francine anymore?
Strange as it may seem, I am not a very glitzy person today and neither is my cousin Cathy, who's more Greer Garson than Mitzi Gaynor.
No conversation about glitzy dressing (or Mitzi Gaynor) would be complete without mentioning designer Bob Mackie. I've always loved Bob Mackie, who is probably best known for the wacky, flamboyant costumes he created for Carol Burnett and Cher on their respective television variety shows in the Seventies.
Mackie has continued to costume Cher, seen here on her way to the Piggly Wiggly.
I recently picked up a copy of Mackie's Dressing for Glamour on Amazon, signed by M. Mackie himself!
To be honest, this book doesn't quite live up to its title, being more of a What not to wear when you're short, fat, busty, or some combination thereof guide. Lots of photos but very few color plates. Mackie also talks about what it was like to work for various people in the business, but since this was at the height of his busy career, he's diplomatic to a fault, though he does get a dig in at perfectionist Barbra Streisand, who insisted on dyeing her own shoes when she appeared on The Judy Garland Show. Perhaps she feared Judy might be dyeing them...
And speaking of Judy -- no shrinking violet in the rhinestone department herself -- one of our foremost glitz icons is Liza Minnelli, most closely associated with the late designer Halston.
Was a Halston design the inspiration behind Simplicity 7295, a vintage pattern from 1975 I've just started making, and part of Simplicity's "Designer Fashion" line?
Patterns from this fabulous line can still be found cheap today and many look just like the more costly and collectible Vogue Paris Originals and other designer pattern lines of the period. Perhaps it's inspired by Diane Von Furstenberg (?). Anyway, I picked up this pattern recently for just a few dollars on Etsy, and I'm making it with the glitziest fabric in my stash.
I don't know how I ended up with this fabric, a sturdy knit (most likely Poly-Spandex) with little plastic "sequins" heat-transferred onto the surface. This is both good and bad. The sequins are strongly adhered to the fabric, but seams must be pressed with great care (not too hot an iron; a press cloth is a must), but they will not crease on the bias.
If you try to press a crease with an iron, you melt the glue and the sequins want to peel off.
What this means is that rather than attach a traditional facing to the front, I'm going to cut my facing (made of my fashion fabric for draping purposes) serge off the seam allowance while attaching both layers (right side of facing to wrong side of garment, with the facing under the garment), and then bind the seam edge with either bias strips of polished cotton (which I've tried) or some silk knit I have in my stash (which I haven't tried).
Either way, this will help to stabilize the edge and provide a smooth, professional look. I'll likely do this on the cuffs and hems as well. Again, the fabric won't crease sharply with those plastic do-dads attached. Can you think of a better way to do this?
Here's a sample (done with white thread) of my binding. I attach it, right sides together, fold it over the edge, and stitch in the ditch. To avoid too much thickness, I probably won't fold the inside bias edge under, but either serge the edge before I attach the binding, or just leave as-is. It won't fray.
Vertical seams are less of a problem, as you can see below.
And that's it. I am happy to be sewing again after my month-long hiatus. Despite the cold, the dogs are getting plenty of exercise on their treadmill.
In closing, friends, how do you feel about glitz and glitzy fashion?
I know some of you make costumes for figure skating, ballroom dance competitions, and theater, but outside of those venues, do you ever "glam it up" with sequins, Swarovski crystals, or bugle beads?
Any glitzy gown you remember from your youth, perhaps seen on TV, that made an indelible impression on you?
Who's ready to channel their inner Carol Channing?
Happy Friday, everybody!