Inspired by this post at Dress A Day, I began doing a little research on Claire McCardell.
I must confess, I’d never heard of her. What a shame. You’ll think so too when you read this….
Scroll down and don’t miss the article at TIME magazine. Incredible that even in the world of fashion, women don’t get proper credit. We should all know this woman’s name, because like as not, many of us are wearing clothes that she inspired. I never got a real idea of what American Sportswear was all about UNTIL I read about its history and the major role Claire McCardell played.
I haven’t worn a real dress since I was pregnant with my younger son who is now four years old. It’s a real shame, since I’ve owned so very many dresses and probably 100 or so dress patterns. Some of those were never used, since we lost contact with Miss Francis, our beloved friends and dressmaker. Since my sewing skills were nonexistent and I didn’t own a machine, anyway, many were finally grudgingly donated to Goodwill years ago. While I don’t regret this much, I’m now on a quest to replenish my stock. Reasons are many. First, I just wanna. Secondly, my sister the sewist has relocated to Fort Worth with sewing machine in tow. Thirdly, I am back in communication with Miss Francis. Finally, I’ve got my own sewing machine and intend to develop the skills to turn out perfection. Or something like it. Of course, this will take time, which is fine with me, because I’d also like to take some weight off before I really dive into this. In the meantime, I do love to take a look at my growing vintage dress pattern collection and can do so now without rummaging through the patterns themselves but can just pull up my albums on Thumbplus and peruse. Now that I’ve finally learned a LITTLE bit about my scanner, that is.
….except perhaps these 65 extra pounds I’m carrying around. Thanks, Baby #2. Can I still say that even though he’s now 4 years old? Ha!
When I was in 8th grade, I dreamed day and night about owning a pair of Calvin Klein jeans. Two girls in my class actually had some, and I stared unabashedly at their rear ends every time they passed by. There was something about that label that set my heart racing. The $40 price tag made my mother scowl, of course. She would never consider even letting me try them on but would pay up to $33 for Lee jeans. I’ve often thought a mere 7 dollars would have bought so much satisfaction. I do think Calvins were not generous in the derriere, though, which I definitely would have needed. Then AND now!
I did not have a designer clothes allowance. What I DID have was a smart mom. One our way home from school one day she obeyed an instinct and stopped at a neighbor’s house and simply asked her if she sewed and if she would sew for pay. Mom had noticed how well-dressed this lady’s children were. We always saw them morning and afternoon stepping onto the schoolbus. This angel of mercy was named Miss Frances (yes, she was married but we kids always called everyone “Miss”, because Mississippi kids are not to be bothered with the extra syllable in “Mrs.”) and she did, indeed, make her kids’ clothes and sewed for others as well.
Thus began a friendship that literally changed my life. Miss Frances was, and is, a genius who could make men’s suits, line lady’s suits perfectly, could turn out those crazy 80s designer jackets and all their complicated construction with the skill of a couturier.
And, oh baby, she made jeans.
Little Meg could have a pair of Calvins that fit her derriere. Yes, Vogue made a Calvins jeans pattern, and yes, we bought it!
I still think of those jeans (and the body that fit into them) lovingly. I do not know what happened to them. We chose a dark gold thread to contrast with the dark blue denim, which made the design on my buttocks just SCREAM style and happiness with each step I took. A darling twinset Miss Fran made for me + those jeans made my favorite Calvin combo.
I lost contact with Miss Frances years ago. She moved away, and I grew up and got married and had babies of my own and just, well, got involved in all those things you get involved with when you complicate your life with adulthood.
This past Christmas, I followed an instinct, myself, and thought of everyone I’d lost contact with and did my best to find their addresses. Christmas cards went out with catch-up notes. And guess who I got a phone call from during Christmas? Yes, the most talented and brilliant Miss Frances. What a wonderful Christmas present! She’s since written me and I intend to visit her and take pictures when I go back to Mississippi. I don’t know that she ever realized what an important part of my life she was. I’ve told so many people about her and her beautiful work and what it meant to me.
Today marks the first day of my final diet. I’m taking measurements, weighing, making menus, exercise plans and waving Good-Bye to 65 pounds.
Once this diet train reaches the station, how do you think I’ll celebrate?
- "garage sale"
- Calvin Klein jeans
- Crochet Pattern
- Designer clothes
- designer jeans
- Finished Crochet Projects
- Finished Products
- Finished Projects
- Food and Drinks
- new projects
- Sale at Hancocks
- The Twenties