For several months I was watching a piece of Moygashel linen for sale by Revival Fabrics. When I first saw this offering, I had the eerie feeling of déjà vu – I was sure I remembered seeing this patterned fabric in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s when I was a steady admirer and occasional purchaser of this brand of linen I love so much. The piece that was being offered was three yards long, 44″ wide and included a Moygashel label. The description accompanying it suggested making patio furniture pillows or tote bags with it, neither of which much appealed to me. And actually, this suggestion threw me off a bit ; I wondered if it was drapery-weight linen, not dress-weight. But the more I looked at it online (clicking close-ups of the images), the more convinced I became that it was dress-weight. I finally decided to buy it, not really knowing what I was going to make out of it (maybe a sheath dress…?)
When the package arrived and I finally saw this linen in person, I was – so excited! It was gorgeous – and my suspicions were correct – it was definitely dress-weight.
My first thought after my initial euphoria was: This would make up into fabulous ankle-length pants (worn with a black, yellow or khaki top – and of course my black and yellow Bakelite bracelet). And yes, I was sure I would have the nerve to wear them!
With my plan in place, I decided this would be my next project after I finished the one I was on. Then something really amazing happened. A fashion article in the May 3, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal caught my eye. Christina Binkley, one of the newspaper’s fashion reporters, headlined her weekly column “On Style” with The Pantsuit Takes a Walk on the Wild Side.
I’ve never been a fan of pantsuits, but some of the fabrics featured had that same ‘60s’ feel as my new vintage linen. The reporter rightly questioned how well these head to toe outfits would “play on the streets”, but then she added:
“…at least one mainstream retailer will highlight the idea that the pantsuit can be worn as separates… There will be more busy pants than busy jackets. ‘There may be women who wear it head-to-toe – very daring,’ says Sak’s Ms. Sherin. ‘But for us, it’s probably about the patterned pant’.”
Then, Ms. Binkley suggested: “The key to wearing this trend is not straying too far from your safety zone. Stick to colors and patterns you will still love in five years. And let the bold pattern do the talking – go with a conservative fit if you’d rather not be the center of attention.”
Further: “It’s probably not a coincidence that wild pantsuits are appearing just as ‘Mad Men,’ the style-influencing television show, is entering the psychedelic phase of the ‘60s.”
Well, my linen fabric is far from psychedelic, but it is bold – and reading this article certainly did validate my plans for making pants. I also already knew the pattern I wanted to use, one quite appropriately from the early to mid ‘60s!
Okay – I was ready to start this project. First I washed the linen in cool water, delicate cycle, and dried it on medium heat. This way I know my pants are totally machine washabIe. Next I made a muslin of the pants pattern to check for fit. I should have done a little more measuring first, as the crotch was too deep and had to be redrawn. Also, although I like slim-ankled pants, these were just a bit too slim, so that was another adjustment. I ended up making muslin #2, which was much closer to the final version from which I cut my pants. However, I had made so many adjustments, that I decided to copy the final pattern onto freezer paper. (Freezer paper is my secret sewing friend – the dull side provides a wonderful surface upon which to draw in pencil and the shiny side can be ironed to fabric to cut out appliqués or anything, really, and then easily removed. And the long continuous roll of paper is perfect for long pattern pieces like pants, coats, etc.) The good news is that now I have a pants pattern that fits really well with the slim, but not too slim, legs that I like.
During construction, I tried on these pants about a ga-zillion times. This fabric was just too dear to make any mistakes, and the more I tried them on, the more I liked them. Here they are, all finished.
How neat is it to sew something up in vintage fabric, using a vintage pattern – and be totally stylish in 2012? And - I still have enough of this fabric left over to make a skirt. Hopefully that will be very stylish, too, whenever I get around to making it!