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Jul 31, 2014

Revisiting the 70's Disco Shirt + Painting Update!

Look, everybody, my garbage-find artwork is now hanging on the wall -- I was even inspired to declutter the surface of my credenza!

Michael and I decided the painting looked better there than above the sofa.  I'll have to find another painting in the trash for that wall.

In other news, I realized today what the wool challis print I bought yesterday reminds me of...

Yes, that much-maligned, iconic Seventies garment: the nylon disco shirt!  Let's take a walk down memory lane -- or rather, boogie on down it -- shall we?

Having been a teen in the Seventies, I remember these shirts all too well.  They were always slinky, always stinky, and absolutely everywhere.  I never owned one, but I will confess to possessing a pale blue, short-sleeve Qiana number, purchased in 1976 to take on a glee club trip, that was just as synthetic (as in, 100%).

How am I going to prevent my wool challis shirt from turning me into Tony Manero?  Note to self: do not wear with white polyester suit.

Anyway, I hand-washed and pressed my fabric, so I'm ready to start cutting.

With the help of MPB reader Michael C., I was able to identify design motifs in the challis taken from 19th Century Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha.  Pretty cool, no?

That woman's face is just one of the bold designs in the print.  There are so many...too many?

And yet I still find this fabric very appealing; I don't regret my purchase -- yet.

Plus, I'm excited to be working with wool again.  But I'm hoping against hope I can create a garment that doesn't scream, Burn, baby, burn, disco inferno.

In closing, did you ever own a graphic nylon disco shirt in the 70's -- or perhaps date somebody who did?  Do you like the look of them?

It's all confidential here at MPB!

(Whatever happened to Donna Pescow?  Loved her on Angie!)


  1. Qiana (sung to the tune of "Maria" from West Side Story)

    Qiana, Qiana
    I just met a shirt named Qiana
    It's slippery, the shame
    My pits will never be the same
    Such a wild print, such a cunning name.

  2. 70's disco shirts make me think of 2 things.

    1) my dad was in high school in the late 70's. He had a particular disco type shirt he wore for his school pictures both freshman and sophmore year. When he came downstairs on picture day his junior year wearing the same shirt, his mom was standing there, waiting for him. She had caught on to what he was up to and made him go change. Unbeknownst to my dad, when he outgrew the shirt, his mom kept it. She gave it to him a few years ago just for laughs. I think he still has it.

    2) the height of my husbands sartorial aspirations is to have a 70's disco shirt that won't make him sweat. He's terribly intolerant of any amount of heat, so I can't just go buy him a vintage nylon one. Someday I will get a shirt pattern adjusted to fit him just right and then I will make him one out of some ridiculous cotton in my stash that I bought just for that purpose.

  3. I can't wait to see what you create with this beautiful fabric. I love your blog!

  4. Honestly, my son wears those alot. If you don't like it, I'll buy it from you.

  5. I am so thrilled I was mentioned in your blog. I immediately went disco when I saw that fabric. I remember also there being a renniasance of Mucha's (those Job rolling papers) work during the disco era, along with Burne-Jones & Rosseti and the wonderful Maxfield Parrish. I hope you find a bottle of Halston Z-14 to wear with it. I saw that Oona had that wonderful romper on her blog. If she made one in lame and you wear your shirt it would be disco fever. Next you can bring back flour sack shirts. Everything old is new again.

  6. That painting has tranformed your living room. It blends perfectly given the colour of your walls. Good call!

  7. I owned three of them in the late '70s. *hangs head in shame* I was in middle school -- what can I say? I remember one of them featured a reproduction of the Mona Lisa that covered my left (male) breast, repeating on the back. I don't know about you, but in my classrooms, a pimply, gangly kid with the Mona Lisa on his shirt in satin-finish nylon reeks of sex and manliness. Add to that the Earth Shoes and the Members Only jacket and there wasn't a dry seat in the house.

  8. My dad had one. Shiny baby blue with white seagulls. My mom finally had to disappear that shirt sometime in the late 80s because dad didn't recognize that he a.) had outgrown it and b.) it was laughably out of fashion. He would have worn it until it fell apart, and being pure poly it will survive the heat death of the sun. (For those who worry about such things, this wasn't a betrayal of spousal trust, mom has editorial control of dad's wardrobe. He knows that he can't dress himself in anything more complicated than jeans and teeshirts and even those skills are debatable.)

  9. At the time of the movie I was in Grade 7 in public school, everyone was taking disco lessons and my mom bought me a poly disco shirt and mint green ugly suit to wear to my graduation, I have to say that I am glad that I will never revisit that period ever again, except for John Weitz sewing patterns. After that i started to make clothes for myself.

    The fabric looks posh, I hope you don't make anything that is too 70's disco retro out of it, but use it give it a modern spin. Maybe a more 80's oversized shirt that shows the fabric off .. much like a painting and you pair it with slim trousers, having wine and cheese at an art exhibition.

    Best of luck with what ever you choose to make with it. and btw I got my 201 fully restored with a 1.5 amp motor, and it kicks butt.

  10. I had a piece of slinky fabric that I bought in the 70s sometime (I was a teen then as well) that featured a large print of a guy with a beard and long hair playing a recorder against a green background, with some trees in there too. It was always too wonderful to sew into anything. ;-) Unfortunately, I gave it away before I got back into sewing.

  11. I love that painting, so glad you put it up. It looks good above the credenza. The fabric is beautiful and will look good on you.

  12. Donna Pescow went on to at least two memorable turns as a tv mom: "Out of this World" and "Even Stevens." She's great; make a shirt worthy of her!!!

  13. I love that painting in your home! Placement is perfect. :)

    I choose to withhold comment on the fabric and disco shirts, on the grounds that....well, you know...

  14. I am seeing so many bold prints like this, both (ahem) falling off the designer trucks in Paris, and also from suppliers in the Orient, that I think you're leading the fashion-forward brigade with this project. As for Donna, she's still acting and directing, so all's good there. Love the painting and glad you've found a great home for it!

  15. The painting looks great! I recall those slippery disco shirts - and clogs too (for men)!

  16. Great placement of the painting. And I'm in love with your challis. Mucha is one of my fav's, how delightful to have his work on your fabric. Cool!

  17. I am sure I had a couple of those shirts.

    Now I have to confess that the shirt with the blue tree is one I would wear if I had it. So, maybe I have "vintage" style.
    (I also had a mint green leisure suit - YUCK! I would never wear that again)

  18. A. The painting is perfect for your credenza. I love it and would have dragged it out of the trash, also!
    B. As a teenage girl, in the 70s, I did not own a disco shirt, but remember lots of classmates who did. Along with the white satin disco pants. Can't wait to see your version.
    C. It took me a while to recognize her, but Donna Pescow played the mom on Even Stevens on the Disney channel. My kids loved it, and it was pretty funny.

  19. My boyfriend in high school had several of those slick, patterned shirts! At the time, he was considered a major well dressed hottie! I'm guessing he's not much of a hottie these days though. Ha!

  20. Love the painting - very Jackson Pollock - wouldn't look out of place in the London Tate Modern. Erm... I would be tempted to get the face section of your fabric shown stretched and framed for the other wall? Gemma (UK)

  21. Thanks for bringing up memories of that slippery poly shirt my ex used to wear with his light blue leisure suit. His had trains on it. Yeah, trains.

    Love the painting above your credenza!

  22. I used to sew "dancer" wrap skirts from Quiana. If you even got near a cigarette while wearing it in a disco, you and everyone else in the place was toast.
    The painting's fabulous. Very "Top Cat."

  23. That painting looks fabulous over the credenza!!

  24. Let's bring back the disco shirt!!! It seems Travolta and I have lead parallel lives, well we are at least the same age and we have gone through similar physical transformations. And of course I was a disco devotee during that era, and being the inspired designer that I was, I not only owned several disco shirts, but I designed and made my own perfectly fitting (tight!) shirts using some cool printed nylon short cuts I found at a local fabric store. And for the girlfriend, only the best Qiana nylon dresses!!! For those of you who did not live through that era, the best disco shirts were made by Nik Nik, and those featured sensational prints on nylon, not polyester, and cut very slim. And even now, I have in my pattern rack, a tag pattern labeled "disco shirt," complete with fitted silhouette and long, pointy collar, but fits XL, and not that slim, wiry, Tony Manero disco star we fell in love with 40 years ago. Instead of fine, somewhat breathable nylon, my current shirts are sewn with the faintly masculine poly charmeuse prints from Joann. Hot and sweaty when doing the Hustle on the dance floor, but those shirts still look cool!!!

  25. Why yes, I dated a guy who was a horn player in a disco band! They played the catholic high school dances on the bad side of town. I learned many useful skills. I think I sewed a couple Qiana shirts for him, but nothing as lovely as that wool challis.

  26. You've done the painting proud! I also noticed Michael wearing those fab linen pants -nice. And for a sec I thought I saw John Lennon in your fabric. Wouldn't that be a hoot.

  27. In answer to your questions
    After polyester-everything came cheesecloth smocks and embroidered jeans. Bogart pants. No I tell you... Noooooo

  28. You made a good choice for your painting. It looks great with the wood.
    As far as disco shirts and nylon ,back in the old days, I would steer clear of anyone wearing them. I feel the same way about the ITY knits of today. I like the fun designs but just do not like the feel.

  29. the art looks great over the credenza,
    the 70's nylon shirts were like works of art over slim, lithe bodies, great, sexy look

  30. I really love the painting where you have it hanging. Great trash find!


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