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Dec 31, 2011

Behold the Refinished Featherweight Table!

Friends, I simply couldn't wait till 2012 to show you my refinished Singer Featherweight table, which I fished out of the trash only one week ago.  Ready?

Dec 30, 2011

Peter's Best and Worst of 2011!

Friends, I'm not a big fan of year-end wrap-ups.  I mean, are our memories so short that we need to be reminded of what just happened?  I had something else to say about this, but I forgot it...

Let's talk about sewing!

Dec 29, 2011

Peter Strips!

Readers, I hope you're not disappointed but I will not be disrobing today.  I will, however, be finishing my featherweight table, otherwise known as Miracle on 24th St.

Dec 28, 2011

Featherweight Table Makeover -- and so much more!

Isn't this an amazing transformation, readers?  Wow!

Unfortunately, this Featherweight table is not the one Santa left for me in the street last weekend, but rather belongs to MPB reader Wayne of Florida, who restored it himself.  This pic shows the table before he applied polyurethane, but it looks fantastic to me as is (the blue tape is simply to keep the black enamel paint applied to the sides off the top).

Dec 27, 2011

A Sewing Machine as a Gift -- Yea or Nay?

Readers, I was both excited and troubled by a feature I saw in the most recent (January 2012) issue of Consumer Reports magazine.  Their annual "25 Great Gifts" list included -- are you sitting down? -- a sewing machine!

Dec 25, 2011

Miracle on 24th Street!

Friends, do you believe in Christmas miracles?  You don't?  Well, read on -- you soon may!

Dec 23, 2011

Is Fashion In a Rut?

Readers, do you think fashion is in a rut?  I ask, having just read a very thought-provoking article by Kurt Anderson in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, entitled "You Say You Want a Devolution."

It's a longish article, but the basic thrust of Anderson's argument is that the evolution of (Western) style -- fashion, architecture, interior design, even music -- has been slowing, so much so that very little change has taken place in the last twenty years.  Examples: jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers reigned in the early 90's (and arguably before) and they're still king; Madonna then, Lady Gaga channeling Madonna now.

Dec 22, 2011

Joy to the World, the Pants are Done!

Friends, I certainly hope viewing this pic isn't putting anyone's job in jeopardy.  But I just finished my cherry leopard stretch denim pants and I am ready to rap, or whatever one does, shirtless, in leopard pants.  Actually, I'm listening to my lovely Concert, Theater & Parlor Songs of John Philip Sousa CD.  Weird, right?

Dec 21, 2011

Leopard Pants Progress!

Readers, the pants are coming along.  For you jumpsuit fans -- what can I say?  Maybe next time.  I really don't wear jumpsuits, to be honest.  I don't jump much.

Dec 20, 2011

MPB Second Annual "Leopard for the Holidays!"

Friends, do you remember the leopard print pants I made at precisely this time last year?  Oh, if I had a dollar for every time some stranger emailed me asking if I would make them a pair of these pants, I'd have enough to buy a large coffee from Starbucks with muffin!

Dec 18, 2011

Whither the Chorus Girl? + ASSIGNMENT

Friends, to say that the chorus girl was a popular stock character in old Hollywood movies (by which I mean the pre-Sixties studio days) is to state the obvious.  But have you ever wondered whatever happened to her?  Look around: she's nowhere to be found.

Dec 17, 2011

Broken Sewing Promises or "Don't Remind Me"

Friends, particularly at this time of year, when nobody wants to be judged naughty instead of nice, one wants to keep one's promises.  But sometimes, no matter how well-intentioned, one's plans hit a snag.

Dec 15, 2011

Giveaway Winner + Last BIG purchase of 2011, promise!

Good morning, Ann Margret fans and others!   Huh?  Keep reading.

Dec 13, 2011

Mae West Style + GIVEAWAY!

She wasn't thin, she wasn't young (not at the height of her fame anyway), and she wasn't particularly beautiful, yet there's no denying that Mae West was a true sex symbol in her day.

What do you make of Brooklyn-born Mae West -- actress, playwright, singer, comedian, sexual trailblazer?

Dec 12, 2011

Who You Callin' Ugly?

Friends, it is but a tired cliché that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet isn't it the truth?  I open with this photo of Barbra Streisand because when she burst onto the scene in the early Sixties many people considered her to be ugly, and yet today her style is considered iconic.

Dec 11, 2011

Suit Pants Day 6 - Done! + Laura Mae Obsession

Friends, first the good news: the pants are done.  I hemmed them yesterday, pressed them a bit, got 80% of the dog hair off, and actually wore them out of the house. 

Dec 9, 2011

Suit Pants Day 5 - I blame Claudine!

Readers, I am this close to having my suit pants completed -- in fact, I totally expected to finish them yesterday.  I had my new charcoal gray commercial waistbanding from Steinlauf & Stoller (a steal at just $1.80 per yard) and a new can-do attitude.

Dec 8, 2011

Peter's Thursday WIG-A-PALOOZA!

Readers, I believe when we've reached the point that we're sewing men's pants flies closed, it's time to take a break.  Of course, this means that I'm imposing my break on you.  So no pants today.

Instead, I want to talk about something altogether different -- wigs!  I've written about wigs before (most extensively here), and it's no secret that I'm a big fan.  To me, there's very little difference between a wig and, say, fur.  It's a luxurious, hairy accessory.

Dec 7, 2011

Suit Pants Day 4 - Whoops!

Friends, I've done it, you've done it.  OK, at least I've done it.

I refer, of course, to the old sewing the pants fly shut when you topstitch along the front.  To be honest, I've never done this before, so why I did it this time is anybody's guess.  I had the legs all sewn up and the back center seam basted (on these dress pants, the back center seam will be the last one sewn, along with the right and left sides of the waistband) and I was ready to try them on.  I reached to unzip my zipper and -- gadzooks: I'd sewn the fly shut!

Dec 6, 2011

Suit Pants Day 3 - Pockets and Flies

Still plodding along on the pants, friends.  A lot should come together today, including, hopefully, the backs and fronts.  Yesterday I managed to complete my back welt pocket and insert my front fly zipper.

Dec 5, 2011

Suit Pants Day 2 or "The Botched Crotch"

Cabrera/Meyers, Classic Tailoring Techniques, p. 178

So I've hit already my first snag, readers, and I've hardly even started.

Dec 4, 2011

Making the Suit Pants - Day 1

And we're off! (our rockers, mainly)

It appears I am indeed making a suit; ETA December 30.  Thanks for all your encouragement yesterday.

Dec 3, 2011

Am I ready? or Revisiting the Men's Suit Project

Readers, as 2011 draws to a close, I find myself wanting to choose one last big project to finish off the year with a bang.  I have four weeks.

Dec 1, 2011

Pajamas to the Office -- Yea or Nay?

Readers, while I was sitting on my ceramic Pintastic yesterday, I stumbled upon a colorful fashion spread in this week's New York magazine, entitled "Street Pajamas."  Apparently, female versions of classic men's pajamas are the new look du jour for gals.  They're not just for sleeping anymore!

Nov 30, 2011

Michael's new (vintage) Butterick shirt!

Readers, has this ever happened to you?

I wasn't feeling much like sewing yesterday so I decided I'd do some ironing instead.   I started with the vintage cotton floral fabric, freshly laundered, that I intended to use (eventually) to make Michael a shirt, most likely from Butterick 3995, one of the patterns I featured yesterday.

Nov 29, 2011

Highlights from the MPB Vintage Pattern Collection!

Friends, before we get started today, I simply must share with you a most extraordinary experience I had yesterday.

Nov 28, 2011

Post-Holiday Mish Mash

With Thanksgiving behind us, we can finally catch our breath here at MPB before the true holiday madness begins.  In the interim, why don't we take a few moments to catch up on where we've been and perhaps think about where we're going.

Nov 25, 2011

Cathy Models the 1944 Topper!

Friends, with the 1944 Outfit Project completed, Cathy and I took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to undertake our photo shoot, complete with Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade floats!

Nov 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Big-Shouldered Gals (and Guys)!

Friends, this morning we're busy peroxiding Cathy's hair, rouging her cheeks, and adjusting her attitude.  On photo shoot day, everything must be perfection!

Nov 23, 2011

Big Shoulders, Big Heart

Readers, is there any question that big shoulders ruled in the early Nineteen-Forties?  It wasn't just a Joan Crawford thing, but she was definitely ahead of the trend.  Apparently her shoulders were already so broad that MGM costume designer Adrian decided he would exaggerate them further rather than try to disguise them.   After wire hangers, aren't big shoulders what Joan is best remembered for? 

Nov 22, 2011

Snoods - Yea or Nay?

Friends, let's cut to the chase.  What do you think of the snood?

Nov 21, 2011

Name That Notion!

Friends, this weekend at the Chelsea flea market I was delighted to stumble upon a big bag full of vintage notions and a trunk stuffed with vintage cotton fabric.  As you can guess, I couldn't resist.

First, the fabric:

Nov 20, 2011

1944 Butterick Topper UPDATE!

Readers, it's time to return to the 1944 topper project, Butterick 2969.  And I have good news to report.  Though this coat hasn't been without its challenges, I'm very happy with it so far.

Nov 18, 2011

VIDEO highlights from our show!

Friends, I'm delighted to share with you video highlights from Noah's Very Unusual Insight, the cabaret show Michael wrote and which we performed last month at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre in NYC.

Nov 17, 2011

Peter's New Book For Better Sewing or "The Dert on Gert"

Readers, I own many sewing books.  Probably too many.  I try not to think about it.

But there is one sewing book I've wanted for a long time now, a rare old sewing book, around which something of a cult has formed.  Can you guess which book this is?

Nov 16, 2011

Unisex - The Musical!

Readers, a pre-dawn epiphany:

The loathsome message implicit in every unisex sewing pattern is "we are so into each other, we don't give a damn how we look to the rest of the world."  Am I right? 

Nov 15, 2011

Peter's 1944 Topper Project + COAT QUIZ!

Readers, having recently put the finishing touches on my 1944 misses' jumper -- which evidently stirs up unpleasant young Jane Eyre at Lowood charity school-type memories for a number of you -- I am now ready to get started on the most challenging and exciting of my three 1944 garments, the vintage Butterick topper.

Nov 13, 2011

SNEAK PREVIEW - The 1944 jumper!

Friends, at long last, I have finished the jumper...I think.  This garment was a major pain, primarily because the fabric is unstable, and let's face it, I'm not terribly stable myself.  It's also a plaid.

Nov 12, 2011

The Glamour Never Stops + New Patterns!

As if this week didn't have enough excitement, I was thrilled to attend the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook book launch event on Thursday night and, trust me, that sombrero was their idea and don't even mention the scissors.

Nov 11, 2011

"Vogue Patterns" Winner + SHOULD I HAVE BOUGHT THIS?

Readers, I am delighted to announce the winner of the Dec 2011/Jan 2012 issue of Vogue Patterns with my vintage sewing machine article in it. 

Nov 10, 2011

"Why are there so few men's patterns?"

Readers, thank you for your tremendous response to yesterday's post about my tour of The McCall Pattern Company.  I just know we're going to see this office turned into a live-action, Pirates of the Caribbean-style indoor cruise attraction.  But please, don't throw nuts at the seamstresses; it makes them sick.

Nov 9, 2011

Peter visits The McCall Pattern Co. + Vogue Patterns Dec/Jan issue GIVEAWAY!

Friends, I grew up in the kind of family where you never shared good news with anyone until it was a 100% sure thing.  Otherwise you were inviting the evil eye or something. Very "old country."

But, having now seen it in print, I can formally announce my article in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Vogue Patterns.  I'm so excited -- and honored!

Nov 8, 2011


Friends, I hate to share fabric-related unpleasantness so early in the week, but not everything in life can be silk and cashmere.  Or 100% wool.  I can't remember what the sales clerk at Nahir, at 242 West 39th St., told me about this fabric.  I think I knew it wasn't 100% wool.  I'm just not sure I knew it was 0% wool.

Nov 6, 2011

Whatever Happened to...The Gap?

Readers of a certain age, do you remember the Gap?  I don't mean Gap, Inc., the once popular, now stuggling clothing chain, though there is a connection (keep reading).  I'm talking about The Generation Gap, and its impact on style.

Nov 5, 2011

$5.49 for THIS? + blouse update

Friends, have you ever made your own shoulder pads?  I have, and while it's not difficult, who wants to bother?  Well, after picking up a pair of Dritz pads for $5.49 at Fashion Design Books on 27th Street, I think I'm going to go back to making my own.

Nov 4, 2011

Poly, You Haven't Licked Me Yet!

Readers, I wasn't going to write about my 1944 blouse project again today, but I felt it my duty to share a few important truths about this synthetic fabric, perhaps to spare you some unnecessary headaches down the line.

Here goes:

Nov 3, 2011

All The News About Poly Charmeuse

Readers, one of the best things about giving yourself permission to change your mind is that you're also allowed to change your mind back again, with the end result being like you'd never changed your mind in the first place.  Do you know what I mean?

Nov 2, 2011

Cathy's New Hairdo -- Yea or Nay?

Friends, I believe, when choosing between two paths, always to choose the one that really excites you in the moment.  Hence, yesterday, I put aside my two yards of polka dot poly charmeuse (more about that later) and made a beeline for Wigs & Plus at 152 West 32nd St.  Kind of has a nice ring to it, don't you think, Wigs & Plus

Nov 1, 2011

Halloween recap + NEW FABRIC!

Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen?  Princess Margaret and nephew Prince Edward?

To say Michael and I weren't exactly the most-easily recognized couple out on Halloween night is an understatement.  But at least neither of us was Zombie Steve Jobs.  Or a sexy secretary.

Oct 31, 2011

"Would you believe Jane Wyman?" and other Halloween hash

It can't be ignored so why try?  Today is Halloween whether we like it or not.
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