Viscy V1247

Sew2Pro’s 1st birthday came and went and I didn’t even blog – what a committment-phobe?!  Remember the Giveaway?  Without further ado, let me apologetically and belatedly announce that the winners of the Hollywood Costume Exhibition prizes are: Magical Effects of Thinking (of Colorado, USA), Jane (of near me in South London) and Sophie (in France).  Nice to think that the exhibition is thus getting a bit more travel, but the real thing, costumes and all, are currently making their way to Melbourne for an April opening at the ACMI. Leave me a comment if you’re able to go and see it: I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

The Mystery Costume (i.e. the dude with the big calculator) belongs to Darth Vader, of course.  Regretfully, his Lordship couldn’t visit this blog post personally but if you’d like to familiarize yourself with him more, watch this delightful Lego animation video of a typical lunch hour on the Death Star (as imagined by Eddie Izzard).  But put the kids to bed first as Darth likes his language spicy, like his pasta!



A Non-Hollywood Remake

On another note, here’s a second attempt at the V1247 top, this time in a soft, drapey viscose.

This time, I followed the advice to use fabric with a drape and bought a softly-falling viscose from A-One Fabrics, 50 Goldhawk Road.  At £6.50 a metre, it wasn’t exactly a bargain but I love viscose and had a hard time finding it in acceptable colours, hence the boring black.  Soon as I sewed the pleats, (which, incidentally, remind me of Darth’s gills though I’m not sure that’s how he breathes…) I had a feeling that my perseverance with this pattern was paying off but I’ve taken many pictures of my wearing this top and can’t say one of them make me think “wow, this looks great!”  Maybe more sunshine needed!


Pattern alterations

I narrowed the neckline and raised the front by an inch, grading to the original at centre back.  I could have done with another inch frankly, as I’m constantly fiddling to check if the bra straps are contained!

Overall verdict

No doubt I’ll wear this a lot on the school run, yet I remain wary of the V1247 top.  The French seam construction that creates a tidy inside of garment is a nightmare when it comes to perfectly lining up the 6 separate segments that make up the centre front.  Furthermore, it’s impossible to hem this top neatly with the tiny seam allowance given, as the French seams create bulk and even if your machine is obedient enough to pass over the bumps, the result is a nubbly edge.  I like my garments perfect on the outside before all; next time, I’ll leave out the French seams.

Here are version One and Two on the lovely Anne.  See how the drape creates a more elegant, flattering effect.

Hollywood Costume at the V&A Giveaway

If you’re in London this week, it’s your final chance to catch the Hollywood Costume at the V&A exhibition.  The bad news is that it’s a sold-out show but if you’re one of V&A’s 33,000 members, you can get in any time without booking and take one guest (which is how I went, thanks Carol!).  Thinking of becoming a member and got some Christmas gift money to spend?!  This might be your ticket!

Anyone who loves film will find one of their favourite characters.  OK, so the stars may be missing but there’s none of that deadness of a wax museum here. There’s music, movie clips and, in some cases, screens of actors’ faces poised just above their outfits.  Best of all are the write-ups explaining how the costumes were made and by whom, and giving other info such as what the criteria for designing them were.  For a seamstress like myself, this more than adequately fleshed out the material content, e.g did you know that the crown of Indiana Jones’ Fedora had to be altered as the original shape didn’t flatter Harrison Ford’s head (now, what does that remind me of?  This!) whereas the brim had to be shortened so that the camera could peer under and catch the face. 

Photography in the exhibition is not permitted but I have some of the films at home and so took stills to give you an idea of what’s there:

Dorothy’s blouse and dress, rather modest and faded-looking, and quite unlike the garish fancy-dress versions we’ve become accustomed to.  The shoes are just as red and sparkly as you’d imagine though.

Designed by Edith Head, this lovely two-piece eau-de-nil suit worn by Tippi Hedren in The Birds.  Hitch apparently didn’t like costume to compete with the content of film.

Cleopatra‘s black chiffon gown, embellished with hundreds of coral and pearl sequins.

This white linen dress, worn so very briefly, but made exquisitely and fit for a goddess.  The third Cleopatra item in the exhibition is the green silk dress at the top of this post which happens to be one of my favourite exhibits: worn by Claudette Colbert in the 1934 film.  It owes less to Egypt and more to the Art Deco style lines of of the time.  Also here is Guinevere’s dress from Camelot, a film which I never thought I’d want to see again till now I’ve seen a close-up of the most interesting wedding dress ever, made by hundreds of skilled cutters, embroiderers and seamstresses and sewn in with thousands of tiny, translucent shells and pumpkin seeds

I noticed as I walked around Hollywood Costume that the visitors to this exhibitions were pretty much divided 50:50 along the male/female lines (this isn’t something I would have said of Ballgowns or Quilts!)  Ladies, this is a testosterone-tolerant show alright so if you have a dad, son or a date, bring along!  You can marvel together at the slimness of Travis Bickle‘s waist.  Or laugh at Borat‘s 1980s-inspired suit (“It had no style whatsoever!” boasts the designer).  Or maybe pay homage to the dressing gown of The Dude, the overly-comfortable garment worn for the writing of the $0.67 cheque scene.  Question: why did the designers have to procure 4 dressing gowns for The Dude?! A. ‘Cause he had to keep getting his bonce shoved down the bog!!

The Gift Shop Goodies Birthday Giveaway 

This blog’s 1st birthday is soon coming up and on the 8th Feb I’ll be celebrating by giving away 3 V&A/Hollywood Costume prizes: 

1. V&A magazine, the winter edition, including an interview with the costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, who is also the curator of this exhibition.


 2. A Hollywood Shopper

An A4-sized shopper of the kind you sewistas could knock off in about 5 mins, but it’s very starry and it’s nice to win sometimes, right?!

3. Postcards from the exhibition (plus sparkly pencil)

Kim Novak’s Vertigo outfit designed by Edith Head (and not unlike something out of a Boden winter catalogue), Scarlett O’Hara’s velvet curtain dress designed by Walter Plunkett and Dorothy’s red shoes, which apparently had to make themselves absent from the exhibition for a week during Thanksgiving last year when they were returned to the U.S.  (they must be magic!)

To win one of the above, enter the draw by commenting below.  Tell me what your all-time favourite Hollywood costume is and/or answer this question, however wrongly …

Q Who am I?

a) My costume is at the V&A

b) I wear leather jeans à la Jim Morrison (PHWOAR!!)

c) … and a Nazi helmet ( … 😯 )

d) … and World War I trench armour (…. 😕 )

e) … and a big plastic calculator (…. 😀 )

And don’t even think about typing the above into Google as you’ll probably break the Internet…