Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fabric term of the week: Iridescent

You know what iridescence looks like (and, if you are like me, you have to concentrate to get the spelling right!) but maybe you don’t know how it is achieved with fabric.

This is from the VFG Fabric Resource.

Iridescence is a display of radiant colors which seems to change when seen from various angles. 
Also called chameleon, changeant, pearlescent, luminescent, glacé, changeable or shot (in the case of taffeta), iridescent fabric is created by the weaving of two different colored yarns in the warp and weft. This may also be achieved in the dyeing of a fabric with two different fibers taking dye differently. Any fiber may be used, but the more lustrous the fiber, the more dramatic will be the iridescence.

Iridescent dupioni silk
The same iridescent silk, showing the two colors
Iridescent organza
Printed iridescent cotton—note the subtler effect

©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain,  photos by Hoyt Carter
Bronze iridescent taffeta dress and jacket, in my web store

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Pendleton 49er revisited

A few years ago I wrote about the Pendleton 49er jacket, and this is an update. People are always surprised at the variety of the plaids used for the jackets made by Pendleton, and the similar jackets by other makers. I get plenty of requests for specific favorite plaids, but almost every one I find is different from every other one I've found.

I have two 49er-style (not Pendleton label) jackets for sale right now, along with a 1955 McCall’s pattern, so you can sew your own! {click on images to view}

Here’s an update of the 2008 post I wrote about this iconic jacket, with additional photos, representing more 49er and 49er-style jackets I've found since. 

The last word in plaid: Pendleton 49er jackets

Recently I took stock of the vintage plaids I’ve come across for a photo set on Flickr, and realized that many of them were fine woolens from Pendleton.

I live so very near the home of Pendleton (Portland) that I am determined to have a field trip to check out Pendleton history first hand.

For now, here’s a parade of Pendleton 49er jackets, the great sporty basic that Pendleton started making in 1949...the company's very first article of clothing for women. It has been made ever since, with some variations.

The classic has flanged shoulders, a back yoke with gathers falling from the sides, roomy patch pockets with the plaid cut on the bias, big dark shell buttons, and long sleeves with buttoned cuffs. They are almost always plaid or tartan. A woman recently wrote me to say that her mother had sewn pockets in Pendleton 49ers until 1957. She was surprised to see a vintage jacket in purple and lime green plaid, asked her mother if that could possibly have been an original 49er color scheme, and her mother said yes! The variety was wonderful.

Pendleton still makes the jacket, now quite faithful to the original model. Here’s the Fall 2012 jacket:

Other companies made very similar jackets (I’ve seen Western Star, Spokane’s The Crescent department store, Penneys, White Stag, Game & Lake Original, “The Prospector” by Algene and the “Frisco Jac” by Minnesota Woolen Co. labels).

Jody of the Couture Allure Vintage Fashion blog posted a 1955 ad for the 49er and coordinating pieces at

and it really was a revelation to me that the jacket is shown belted in the ad. I love a belt with this jacket!

Here is an assortment of Pendleton 49ers (and some 49er-style jackets by other makers) I've sold in the past.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall has arrived at the Vintage Fashion Guild!

...and once again, we are presenting Vintage Inspiration, our collection of vintage clothing and accessories chosen with current trends in mind.

If you’ve taken even a quick glance at any September fashion magazine or looked at runway roundups, you will see these trends. Modern designers have been influenced by vintage styles again, but you can have the originals! As of today, everything in Vintage Inspiration is for sale.

This feature is my design, and I want to acknowledge the great work of the VFG Site Committee, especially my co-chair Mary (The Vintage Merchant).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fabric of the week: Alaskine

If you are fond of 1960s fashion, you will know the fabric I'm highlighting this week from the VFG Fabric Resource. That is, you will probably know the look, but you may not know the name...

Lustrous and relatively crisp fabric of 35% silk and 65% wool, with the silk in the warp and the wool in the weft. The name Alaskine was trademarked in 1960, although used commercially starting in 1956. The trademark was cancelled in 2001. The elegant fabric was especially popular in the 1960s. 
Uses: Suits, formal wear, dresses

©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain,  photo by Hoyt Carter

This 1960s ice pink alaskine dress by Nat Kaplan is in my web store

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My most recent convergence

I love finding a vintage advertisement that illustrates an item I have for sale. On the same line, I recently found a meticulously home-sewn suit that had a Vogue Paris Original label (which a home seamstress would sew into her item made from a Vogue pattern) and the design was so obviously 1960s modern, and so finely detailed—by the style I speculated that it was Givenchy. 

Shortly after I posted the suit, an alert Facebook reader thought she had the pattern, and indeed she did: The designer was Cardin. I'm delighted to see this! Look at how the home seamstress sought to emulate even the fabric shown on the pattern envelope. 

This suit sold almost immediately, before I knew the designer was Cardin. I had a good feeling about this design. 

Search vintage convergence on my blog to see all my previous finds. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fabric term of the week: Polyester

MUTTS by Patrick McDonnell
Polyester has a bad rap, and some of it may be deserved. Particularly in clothing made of 100% polyester from the 1960s and early 70s, the fiber can be less than perfectly pleasing to the touch. However, it can be washed and worn and makes a good day-to-day wearable. Polyester-strengthened blends appeared starting in 1953, and you may not even always sense its presence. By around the mid 1970s, 100% polyester fabrics started to improve in quality.

This comes from the new VFG Fabric Resource. You can click on the links for the definitions of these terms in the resource.


The inventor of nylon, Wallace Carothers, first created a polyester fiber in the 1930s. However it was the Englishman Dr. J.R. Whinfield who first supplied a commercially viable product in 1941. Still, polyester was not commercially introduced until 1953 in the U.S., and 1955 in Britain. The first British trade name (held by Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.) was Terylene. DuPont was the first U.S. manufacturer, under the trade name Dacron. Many other manufacturers and trade names have existed and continue to exist today.

Polyester fiber is manufactured from a synthetic polymer in which the polymer units are linked by ester groups. The spun fiber makes a strong and washable, relatively inexpensive fabric— one that is abrasion-, fade-, wrinkle-, insect- and mold-resistant. Its most significant drawbacks as a finished fabric are its lack of absorption, its tendency to hold onto oil-based stains, and the difficulty to remove its pilling. Although it acquired a bad name through overuse in the 1960s and 70s, polyester fabrics can now be found with a wide range of aesthetic qualities. Frequently a component in blends, polyester is by far the most common fiber used for fabric today.
©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain

From my Etsy shop: Late 70s polyester jersey wrap dress by Mr. Suli - Toronto

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vintage party dress sale!

Some fabulous frocks are on sale now, in plenty of time for your holiday parties! Read the details and see the dresses on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fabric of the week: Melton

If you have ever felt a vintage wool coat and sighed with bliss, there is a pretty good chance it was made of melton. This fabric has a surface that has been finished to give it a felt-like, weather-resistant nap, and in the finest wool it makes a velvety soft coat.

This definition is from the new VFG Fabric Resource, which is filled with many fabrics that will make you sigh with bliss, or so I hope. All the linked words will take you to definitions in the resource, in case you aren’t familiar with the terms.

Melton looks much like thick felt with its twill weave or plain weave obscured by fulling and shearing of its nap (although the back of the fabric may show its weave). The dense, thick construction makes it wind and rain resistant and extremely warm. It is almost always dyed a solid color.

The best melton is all wool and almost velvety. Less costly variations can have a cotton warp and woolen weft, and sometimes manufactured fibers are also used. Melton takes its name from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK, where it was first woven and used to make jackets for fox hunting.

Uses: Winter coats, uniforms, riding habits

See also:
 ©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain,  photo by Hoyt Carter
This 1940s black coat from my web store is made of a blissfully fine wool melton. As with the best of this fabric, it has a velvety feel.