Last month I shared with you a blog post and YouTube Video where I professed my love of All Things Strawberry. Then I made a Strawberry Fascinator to start my project for #gunnesnacks. This collaboration was the brainchild of Cait of Willoughby and Rose where costumers create Gunne Sax-inspired garments with fabric in the theme of our favorite snacks. This blog post and video are Part 2.
But before I get into sewing I want to tell you a bit about Jessica McClintock. Jessica was born in the United States State of Maine in 1930 to a single mother. She was largely raised by a grandmother who taught her to sew. Her first husband was killed in an automobile accident. With $5,000 from insurance from her first husband's death, she invested in a California dress company called Gunne Sax. Jessica turned the company into a multi-million dollar empire.
The Gunne Sax style was a mix of prairie style with many design details from other eras and fanciful trimmings on coordinating fabrics. Gunne Sax were worn for everyday with or without shoes in the "hippie" fashion of the time. They were worn for life's special events including proms and weddings. The iconic combination of fabrics and ruffles, as in these dresses at FIDM, is still loved and worn today. As Jessica said "I believe Romance is beauty that touches the emotional part of our being."
You might recognize this contemporary of mine. Hillary is three years older than I am but we were both there for the beginning of the Gunne Sax fever. It was in 1971, the same year I began my engineering career, when she met a young man named Bill at Yale Law School. He proposed, she said no. He proposed again, she said no again. Third time she said yes. The story is that Hillary didn't have her gown ready the night before the ceremony. The distraught mother immediately took her daughter to the local mall where the dress was purchased for $53. Yes, it was a Gunne Sax!
Gunne Sax's heydey was the 1980s although not everyone could wear the iconic ultrapretty ruffled fashions for everyday or even special occasions. I fell into that category but Jessica McClintock knew that people like me were also a market for her line of more tailored fashion. Simplicity Pattern Company had teamed with Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax and I located the perfect pattern online for a 1980s me. Simplicity 8947.
This had been available as a single-sized pattern and because I was researching and sourcing for this project well ahead of the due date, I was fortunate to find the pattern in my size.
Thirty-four years has set the folds in place but some pressing and hanging makes the pattern very usable.
With no fabric in my stash for this project I set out to find something both fun and inexpensive. Etsy to the rescue with just enough of a quilting cotton by Loralie Harris called Tossed Treats. Jessica McClintock would approve as this definitely elicits an emotional response from me. It reminds me of strawberry ice cream and it's perfect!
I still have some scraps of fabric from my Victorian Barbie skirt and jacket and the Strawberry Fascinator I have just finished, and I test how that fabric will behave for the 10 buttons I need for this project. I love them!
The pattern has two versions of the skirt - short and long. While the long would have been my choice in 1988 I didn't have enough fabric so short it is. The skirt front is cut on the fold, a two-piece back, and a waistband.
As with other Simplicity patterns I've used, the instructions are detailed and clear. A vent is sewn at the lower center back and a zipper at the upper center back.
The front is sewn to the back at the side seams. Two rows of gathering stitches are sewn to the upper edge of the skirt as directed. The waistband is prepared.
The waistband is attached adjusting the gathers evenly and a bar and slide sewn on. Lace hem tape is sewn on the skirt edge and the skirt hemmed. (Hmmm, no photos. Sorry about that!) And we have a finished skirt!
Foundations were simple in that time of cardio workouts at the East Bank Club in Chicago with just a lace bra/camisole combo and a nylon slip with a lace opening at the center back. Only lace would show at the jacket upper edge or the skirt vent if the wind was blowing in the Windy City. 34 years later the slip is a bit more snug. Haha!
The jacket has four main pattern pieces for back, side back, side front, and front. The amount of fabric I had didn't allow for any pattern matching or mirroring.
The side fronts and fronts are sewn together. I won't mention this again but if you've read my blog you know I'm a fan of pressing seams during the sewing process. I probably spend three times as much time at the ironing board as I do at the sewing machine. Each seam is pressed three times and clipped as necessary before moving to the next step.
Sleeves, which I lengthened, and back and front facings. Loops, which I also lengthened because my buttons were larger than the pattern suggested, and the front underlap which is a piece to cover any gap when the jacket is closed.
The loops are sewn, turned, and cut to length.
Then the loops are sewn to the jacket center edge.
The underlap is sewn and attached to the other center edge.
The side backs are sewn to the backs. The center back also has loops and buttons which are non-functional. The loops are sewn and then the center back seam sewn leaving the seam below the loops open.
The side and shoulder seams are sewn.
The front and neck facing is prepared and hemmed and then sewn to the jacket and understitched.
My sewing table is very small so I decide to hem the jacket before I place the sleeves as the hemming is done by machine. A line is sewn at the seam allowance and the fabric edge pressed to that line, turned and pressed at the line, and then top stitched on the entire hem.
Next, sleeves. Two lines of gathering stitches are made. The sleeve is sewn closed and then hemmed using the same machine method as the lower edge of the jacket.
And it just wouldn't be a 1980s garment without those amazing shoulders created by amazing shoulder pads.
Paying close attention to matching the markings on the body and sleeves, the sleeves are gathered, pinned, and sewn.
The final step will be to sew on the buttons. No, not quite final. That is giving myself a reward for completing the skirt and jacket. A Limited Summertime Edition Hershey's Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Kiss!
The Perfect Touches
The costume isn't complete without the accessories, those perfect touches. I had several projects coming up including this one where a 1960s through 1980s impression was needed and I had a search saved in eBay which alerted me every day of items that met my criteria. A pair of Dyeables in my size appeared one day in a fun color for this project and the right price.
The shoes arrive and I love the dimples that look like the outside of a strawberry. So I find a strawberry applique and sew it to the throat edge.
A pair of stockings in a color popular in the 1980s, Tea Rose, will also be fun for this project.
Although I hadn't thought about a purse, I was inspired by the packaging of the Breyers Natural Strawberry ice cream. I transferred the ice cream to another container and with two eyelets and some pink ribbon I had a Strawberry Shoulder Bag.
I have some Lady Detalle berry-inspired jewelry in a perfect color and add a green silk ribbon to mimic a berry stem.
The Finished Strawberry Gunne Sax, Strawberry Fascinator, and Accessories
After imagining, researching, gathering supplies, and creating a costume, it's important to take some photos and video to retain and share the fun. It's also important, to me, to make the photoshoot an occasion.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to be in a garden of beautiful flowers enjoying a chilled bowl of strawberry ice cream?
Companion YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/tn9eIlsuf0E