Marnie’s Yellow Handbag

While there are already some informative posts about Alfred Hitchcock’s use of handbags in films, and Marnie’s Yellow Handbag from the opening sequence of the film Marnie, I am just looking at the sartorial beauty of the thing. For further reading, check out this one here.

Since seeing the film a number of years ago I have been searching in vain for anything remotely similar. When I say ‘remotely’, I actually have quite a few specifications. Like, the Actual Bag. Not too much to ask? Apparently.

Here’s a breakdown of the main features;

• Leather for durability, or a vegan (plant based) option that stands the test of time. Please throw me suggestions as I don’t have any experience with vegan leather yet.

• The easy nestling underarm size – big enough for all the essentials.

• The clasp closure with the ruching into the frame.

• The colour: bright yet muted yellow. Butter, maybe. Custard?

• No icky black sealing along the seams which is so often seen nowadays! Why?! It’s obviously cheaper than actually sewing it in, but use a matching colour, please! Anyone else irritated by this?

I used to have a purple mock croc handbag by Fiorelli in the right size and shape, with an amazing oversized clasp which a always got compliments, mainly from men! So when it flaked beyond it being respectable to go out in public I took it apart and kept the interior and frame clasp. This was in the optimistic hope being able to sew my own using some leather remnant I might find in The Yellow. However, with Lockdown #1-3 my chances of visiting Pittards factory outlet have so far been thwarted.

Ploughing through the internet for the easier option of buying, you’d think I would find something. Not likely! Nobody makes what I want to spend my money on.

Then, out of the blue a fashion ad popped up on my IG feed with Hitchcockian overtones, and I saw a glimpse of a Yellow Bag. Watch it here.

Finally, someone with the means to design and make the bag has been inspired by Marnie’s Yellow Handbag.

Salvatore Ferragamo SS21

Further searching following that excitement, I found another brand with the right style handbags for SS21. Neither is exactly right. If only Salvatore Ferragamo had the ruching, or the Pastaccino by Max Mara was available in yellow.

Pasticcino bag by Weekend Max Mara

Now, while they are out of my budget bracket, it fills me with renewed hope to keep watching the high street for cheaper options, if I don’t attempt making my own. Usually 2 or 3 years down the line. Patience is a virtue.

Any good YouTube tutorials out there?

Do you have an iconic bag you treasure or on your wishlist? Maybe a Kelly by Hermes? Or Grace Kelly’s little overnight case in Rear Window?

Starsky Cardigan

One for the boys (or not)

After a lot of interest in the Marilyn cardigan from the Santa Monica photo shoot by men and women, @butterflychildart, my partner in crime decided to work out the pattern for the famous cardigan worn by Paul Michael Glaser. He played Starsky in the 1970’s TV series Starsky and Hutch.

Starsky cardigan
Starsky and Hutch

Doing a research we discovered that there were two versions of the cardigan that starsky wears. There is only a slight difference in the bottom panel of pattern around the body. More than one was probably used in filming so they didn’t wear out is quickly! In some photos you can see snagged yarn where it got must have got caught rolling over car bonnets or fighting bad guys.

Monochrome version of Starsky’s cardigan
Starsky’s well worn cardigan

This cardigan is another example of a Cowichan style knit, Marilyn Monroe’s. The colours are typical of the 70s as well as the Cowichan style, mainly cream and different shades of brown. Perfect in the 70’s worn with denim!

As with the search for a pattern for Marilyn cardigan we found there were similar patterns out there, but none really matched the photos of the original. We purchased a pattern that was very close and then we had a guide to work from. This makes it so much easier to then make alterations as the sizes are already worked out. For instance, pockets were added. Also, the original belt looked like a single thickness of garter stitch, but we opted for double-sided knitting to strengthen the belt. It’s also nice a stretchy.

Even when it’s knitted, we could see more alterations were needed, mainly in the sizing so we needed to change the number of stitches to compensate for using the honeycomb brioche stitch instead of plain knit stocking stitch.

Starsky pattern
Starsky collar

I’d be interested to know if others looking at the photos of both Marilyn and Starsky in their cardigans, think the stitch looks chunkier and more textured than stocking stitch?

The finished Starsky version

As with the Marilyn cardigan, please feel free to get in touch using the contact page if you’re interested in having your own version – this one or the other, and in stocking stitch or honeycomb brioche.

I’ll leave you with another famous face sporting a Mexican knitted cardigan. Another pattern to draw up, maybe?

Steve McQueen looking cool in a cardi

Winter wedding dress

Fabric for wedding dress
Ivory wool fabric and pale green pin dot lyocel for winter wedding dress

Planning for a winter wedding, I wanted a dress I wouldn’t be cold in. I also had so many ideas I loved – From medieval and woodland fairy to a fifties style in red lace – and only one wedding!

I decided on a fabric, the most expensive I have ever bought (on a budget). I did get several samples sent so I could check the thickness and stretch, how it felt and folded.

I chose a natural white/cream coloured wool fabric and a pale green lyocel lining.

My inspiration for the dress shape was from the film Gigi, set in turn of the century Paris. I used a vintage Seventies maxi dress I have as the template for the skirt as I always get compliments and it fits so well.

Gigi Leslie Caron evening dress wedding feathers birds train wrapover edwardian parisienne

White or ivory silk or satin dress with bodice and train, decorated with black birds

The bodice needed to be planned and drawn out, so I learnt about folds and how to cut a pattern with folds on YouTube! There was lots of pinning and fitting to get the folds to sit right before using the pattern to cut the wool.

I chose to join the two halves instead of creating a corset or bodice separately. Making it into a dress meant I could have lots of buttons!

Amazingly, in my search for feathers for the shoulder decoration I chanced upon hair clips reduced in Claire’s Accessories. I dismantled the clips from the feathers so I could tack them on. I chose this method so I can easily remove and re-attach them if it needs cleaning.

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As the dress did not have sleeves and I didn’t want to spoil it with a cardigan or coat, I decided to make a matching jacket, using a Victorian/ steampunk pattern as a template. This idea came from a page I had kept from a Vogue magazine. I also wanted to add some wool frills.

My mum and I knitted yards of lace in Rowan Kidsilk to decorate the edge of the skirt and the front of the jacket.

I am so happy with the outcome of incorporating two of my dream outfits for my wedding dress, using styles that suited my shape.

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I hope I get to wear it again for a party sometime!

For more inspiration look at my post on vintage wedding dresses.

Wedding photo credit: www.jamesmarcelle.co.uk

Rome and Tuscany outfits review

Rome Italy sightseeing fontana Di Trevi

Sorry for the long delay to write this review. I had a wedding to plan, my wedding dress to make and moving house! (Which also means I’ll be writing a post on my dress.)

While the weather is still cold it’s rather nice to think about holidays abroad in the sun. Maybe you’re about to go on a winter break somewhere sunny or need packing inspiration for your summer holiday. Here I review my holiday outfits from my 2018 summer holiday in Rome and Tuscany.

The weather was hot and we even had a couple of stormy days, which while in Rome wasn’t the best experience because of the mosquitos coming out to play and not so glamorously getting drenched in a downpour while at the Trevi fountain. Long sleeves and long baggy trousers would be ideal to protect yourself against the blighters.

As usual, getting full length photos of good quality was non-existent, as the group of us was fairly big, and by the time we’re all in a photo, we look quite far away!

I wore the striped cotton blouse I made based on a photo of Marilyn Monroe ( in a striped shirt dress) with a reproduction of a favourite linen skirt I owned that fell apart. I co-ordinated a true vintage square scarf. This outfit was my Roman Holiday homage. It was light and cool except for the belt because of the extreme heat in the colleseum.

A vintage outfit with comfortable footwear is always a good idea if you are going to do a fair amount of walking. I added gel soles to my flat sandals which made them really comfortable.

Leaning tower of Pisa cream Palazzo pants thirties repro striped blouse
Taking inspiration from Phryne Fisher

On our trip to Pisa I wore cream high waisted Palazzo pants from La Reroute, which I altered to fit. These were cool and easy, with no apparent creasing, unlike the linen. The blouse, made from the same remnant of fabric as the other blouse, was made using an original Thirties pattern. It wraps t the back and ties at the front. The shaping works well with What Katie Did bras. In this case, it’s the CC09 1940’s bra. I wore comfortable wedge sandals to keep my cream trousers off the floor!

I packed a cotton shirt dress which I could button over swimwear or shorts and was a flattering shape without a belt, although I did wear one to smarten it up.

Apart from a couple of days sightseeing, I spent time by the pool in swimwear and high waisted shorts. I didn’t stay vintage all the time, but there’s a good selection of vintage style and retro swimwear around. It all repeats eventually! For example, forluna.co.uk do a good selection, some similar to styles worn by Marilyn Monroe.

There’s no reason why vintage can’t be comfortable if you keep your destination needs in mind, like weather, walking and activities you have planned.

Rome and Tuscany

I am busy planning for a summer holiday to Rome and Tuscany. While I lately go more towards the Fifties, I felt like going for a Thirties theme for my sightseeing and going out clothes. While most of it is from memory from hours of ‘research’ throughout my life (I think I should probably have a degree by now in my specialised field), I refreshed my memory on a few of the summer holiday episodes of Poirot.

Here are a few of the best.

While I still haven’t made any beach pyjamas, I do have some wide leg Palazzo pants. I can wear a number of different blouses, including a wrap blouse from an original Thirties pattern I have.

A couple of exceptions are a Roman Holiday ensemble and my Marilyn inspired Niagara dress, in case we go out in the evening.

Marilyn Monroe Niagara dress
Marilyn Monroe Niagara dress

I’ll post my holiday outfits and see how well they worked in practice.

Miss Phryne Fisher pyjamas

There are so many outfits that the honourable Miss Fisher wears in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries that I love, I want her whole wardrobe! I wish people dressed that elegantly nowadays. Even at home.

If you read about my love of lounge wear , you’ll know I liked a certain set of Phryne’s pyjamas. I have now made them!

I’m really pleased with the scalloped collar at the back and, although the tassle is heavier, I found pyjama tassles online for the back detail. The lace is appliquéd on by hand which took a long time, but I had fun looking for ready-made lace inserts, which meant the most intricate work was done for me. What can I appliqué next?!

These pyjamas are really comfy and look so glamourous I may only use them as lounge wear. The cord is soft and doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable to lean on. However, it is detachable.

I think I could change the collar to more of a V-neck, and embellish the front of the collar. Also, if I found some appliqué the right size, the hems of the trousers could be decorated too.

Are these pyjamas you would wear? Would you like to see them in my Etsy shop?

What other outfits would you like to see recreated?

Mending a feather hat

Vintage dressing often includes hats, and there are lots of examples in old films. Before I post Part 3 of How to Wear Vintage Hats, I thought I would share how I mended one of them. Often bargains are damaged, so learning how to mend vintage is a valuable skill.

This lovely Biba hat was missing a few feathers when I was entrusted with it. I managed to find a multi-pack of natural coloured feathers in a craft shop. Finding the right notions to fix things is the most difficult part!

After picking out the best colour and size, I trimmed the fluffy bits off the feathers.

I experimented with a black Sharpie pen to draw on spots to match the original. I glued the ends to slide under the feathers already fixed onto the hat.

I think I managed pretty well matching the feathers. Can you spot the replacement feathers?

Marilyn’s chunky knit cardigan

Marilyn Monroe cardigan
Photo by George Barris

In 1962, George Barris took a series of photos of Marilyn Monroe on Santa Monica beach. So, technically, this isn’t from the silver screen. This shoot takes chunky cardigans into a wardrobe staple, if not a pin up status. This is very similar to the one in Starsky & Hutch too.

If you love barbeques on the beach, even in the summer you need something warm to wrap up in as the sun sets.

I’ve wanted to have one of these for a while, but nobody seems to knit it to look like the photo. The stitches seem more textured than plain knit, perhaps because it’s chunky. I couldn’t get the right look, so I experimented with some different stitches to find the right look.

 

 

Compared to that, drawing out the Cowichan design was easy! Figuring out the colours we fun too. It was my brother who pointed out that there is a fourth colour. Look carefully at the diamonds in some of the photos, and you can pick out a dark grey.

 

 

I used a similar cardigan pattern from the Seventies, although I think I ended up altering most of it to get the right look.

Contact me if you’re interested in commissioning one!

 

How to Wear Vintage Hats – Part 2

 

In Part 2 I’ll show some of my inspiration for styling Thirties and Forties hats.

ITV’s Poirot is a delight to watch, not just for the story, but the attention to detail for the era. It’s difficult to find photos of the characters that only show up in one episode, which means you have to watch it to see their headgear! Miss Lemon is a resident character at Poirot’s flat, working as his secretary, so I found photos of her hats! I think she is a good example of a well-dressed lady, without being from the upperclasses, so a good role model everyday or office wear dressing in the Thirties.

One way to wear a hat for a Thirties style outfit is to wear the hat on top of your head, which sounds silly, because isn’t that where it’s meant to be anyway! Look at the photos to see what I mean. Hair is shorter or done up close to the head.

I don’t often wear hats with my Forties outfits as I tend to go for high updo’s, then it’s a shame to cover it up. Look at Death by Deco for a masterclass in hat wearing, especially the Forties styles – and brilliant turban tying lessons!

Forties hats

The series Agent Carter is one of my favourite Forties set TV shows. The red hat! Interestingly, the more masculine, power dressing style and tailoring for the Forties was partly born from wartime ‘make do and mend’ ingenuity. The women at home were encouraged to keep up appearances for the troops morale, and that meant one was allowed to raid the husband’s wardrobe for altering to womenswear! This was not just jackets, but hats too. That’s why some of the hats have a trilby look.

I’ve styled the same hat from the Thirties look for the Forties, by wearing at the back of my head, so the brim frames my hairstyle and face like a halo. If you don’t have a high updo at the front, you can wear perch (or tilt) hats like in the original photos above.

For historical accuracy, Forties films, (I like film noir), will give you some amazing creations to look out for. This turban/ knitted headband from Hitchcock’s Suspicion, worn by Joan Fontaine had me rewinding the final scene. I think this is going on my wish list of knits.

NB. Since writing this post, I can offer to knit a recreation of this knotted headband. Go to my Contact page to enquire or through FB (thegirllovesvintageshop), my Etsy shop (GirlLovesVintageShop) or DM on Instagram @thegirllovesvintage.

Joan Fontaine in Suspicion - knitted turban hat headband

In Part 3 we’ll look at the Fifties and Sixties.

Marilyn’s Niagara dress

 

This is an amazing summer dress from the film Niagara, that Marilyn’s character Rose wears on a supposedly romantic holiday with her husband. The story is great too, with a definite Hitchcockian feel to it. Marilyn gets to play a darker role and pulls it off with flying colours.

I needed help to draw up the pattern for this, and my Mum did an amazing job. I’m a hard taskmaster for accuracy! I’m not too keen on wearing hot pink, although the colour looks good on Marilyn with her bottle blonde hair. I chose a teal cotton, which I think looks better with dark hair and pale skin.

 

Unlike similar reproductions you Ind online I kept the skirt looser from the hips down by cutting it straight, and also putting the split at the back. As there are no pintucks at the front, the curve of the waist to hip was sewn in the side seam. The fastening is a front zip, with the gathers stitched in place.

Niagara Jpeg
Detail on Niagara dress

For a smooth look, I sew bullet bra pads into the top. Marilyn didn’t need to do this, but I think it gives a better shape and makes me feel like I am wearing something underneath! This is a good trick for tops or dresses with cutouts in awkward places. Multilayer bras aren’t always hidden, and stick ons don’t give an authentic vintage silouette. You can buy these from What Katie Did in black or white.

 

The sandals have been the closest similar to the original photos as I have found so far. See more about these sandals here. I have accessorised with gold hoops and heart charm bangles. I think Marilyn’s bracelet is a chain with a single charm.

In the film, she accessorises with a pale, possibly white, floaty scarf and a white clutch.

I’ve worn this dress to, among other things, a summer wedding abroad and a surfer/ Hawaiian themed party. Red or hot pink go well with teal.

I hope to recreate some of her other outfits from this film in the future. The wool jackets are beautiful.

Here is a true colour commission of this dress worn by model @xxruffdyamondxx

Fifties pinup old Hollywood glamour vintage reproduction dress