Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fashionista Alert!

Christine Johnson here wondering if there are any fashion-lovers on board. Whenever I go into a store, I'm drawn to the dresses, even though I have few places to wear one. As a result, my closet is bursting with pretty frocks that see daylight once or twice a year.

When I was a teenager, none of the clothes on the racks excited me. After all, it was the 70s, an era not known for its glamorous dresses. Since I didn't see what I liked, I sketched the sort of gowns I considered beautiful and embarked on a self-taught journey to learn to sew.

sewing machine

The effort ended badly after one skirt, one jumper and a couple blouses. I still dream of the perfect dress, though now it's for the heroines in my books. In my upcoming series, The Dressmaker's Daughters, the heroines take over the family dressmaking business. It's a dream come true!

Fashion is one reason why I love writing historical fiction. Some eras have stunning gowns. Renaissance, Georgian, Victorian...I love them all. When I watch period movies, I drool over the outfits. Eliza Doolittle's suit in the scene when she leaves Professor Higgin's townhouse in My Fair Lady is still a favorite.

Do any of you sew? What's your favorite dress from the movies? Do you wish you could hop back in time just long enough to try on a gown of any particular era?


Christine Johnson

Christine Johnson
Groom by Design - Coming July 2014, Book 1 of The Dressmaker's Daughters series
http://christineelizabethjohnson.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChristineJohnsonAuthor

29 comments:

Debby Giusti said...

Christine, the vintage dress your wore to ACFW last year was gorgeous...and you were stunning modeling it. Have you planned your "character outfit" for this year's conference? Can't wait to see what you're wearing! :)

I do not sew.
I love to shop.
Enough said. LOL!

Sherri Shackelford said...

I'd love to see one of your outfits! I have to say, while I didn't necessarily enjoy the plot, I really enjoyed the costumes in Titanic. And Kate Winslet looked like a 'real' person, she wasn't so painfully thin :)

Vickie McDonough said...

Christine, I know my confession will make you gasp, but I only own two dresses, and one of those was the one I wore to my son's wedding, twelve years ago. I've always been a tomboy and never liked dresses. I think it partly stems from having to wear them to school every day until the rules were changed so girls could wear pants. Writing clothing is one of the hardest things for me in my historicals. I'm always afraid of having the wrong style, so I tend to brush over clothing references.

Carolyn Greene said...

I don't sew, but I love watching Project Runway to see what beautiful designs the contestants come up with.

For the same reason, it's fun to read novels in which the clothing is described so I get to experience a literary runway show. LOL!

Pamela Tracy said...

I love stories about dressmakers.
I made a pair of pants in home'ec when I was in junior high. I wore them to the local skating rink, where they started to fall down (I really wasn't a seamstress) and I caught them and instead of them falling down, I fell down. The twisted ankle only hurt for six weeks. LOL
I've not sewed in decades.
I crochet. Does that count?

Merrillee said...

Christine, the gowns of yesteryear might be pretty, but I wonder whether they were really comfortable. I like comfort these days. I used to sew all the time. I sewed several dresses for myself when I was in high school. I sewed numerous dresses when I was in college and helped my dorm mom to learn to sew. When my kids were little I sewed dresses for them. I sewed their Christmas stockings. When I quit making clothes for my kids and myself, I turned to making window treatments. My last big project was a bedskirt and pillow shams. I even sewed a shirt for my husband when we were first married. Making a man's shirt is probably the most laborious sewing project I ever tackled.

Keli Gwyn said...

Your new series sounds great, Christine. I love pretty dresses. Stories about sisters who make them would be fun reads.

I, too, am a 70s gal. Our fashions were interesting, I agree, but we did have one great dressmaker: Gunne Sax, which had become Jessica McClintock by the I was in high school. Those dresses were awesome! The ones I had boasted a Victorian style, which is probably why I loved them so much. I was already smitten with the Victorian Era 'way back when.

Winnie Griggs said...

Hi Christine. When we were grewing up my mom made most of our clothing. I didn't learn to sew, however, until the summer after my Freshman year of college. For some reason I got a bee in my bonnet and was determined to learn. Mom was an excellent teacher and by the end of that summer I could make clothing that I wasn't embarrassed to be seen in. I continued making many of my dresses and tops up until the birth of my first child. Since my method including spreading the fabric out on the floor for all the pinning and cutting I couldn't continue with a little one underfoot. Sadly I never resumed the habit once they outgrew the toddler stage.

Leigh Bale said...

Hi, Christine! Yes, I sew. You didn't grow up in my mother's home and not learn that skill...and it's been so great all my life. I never have to go to a tailor to hem pants or mend my family's clothes. But I prefer writing anymore. And it's cheaper to buy clothes now than to make it yourself. Fabric and patterns are SO expensive! I love the costumes fro Downton Abbey. Beautiful, loose-fitting clothes. :)

Dana Mentink said...

My children and husband know when I say "I'll mend that for you" it will probably end badly. VERY badly!

Missy Tippens said...

I've made a few things, including some kids Halloween costumes. It's fun, but I haven't done it in years.

I doubt my machine would even work now!

Janet Lee Barton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet Lee Barton said...

I have sewn a great deal through the years--not so much now--but I still love the idea of being able to wear something original. And I love reading and writing stories about dressmakers. I look forward to reading your series, Christine!

Debby Giusti said...

Keli,
I lived at Fort Irwin some years ago. That's 36 miles from Barstow, in the Mojave Desert. With two young girls, I often drove to Ontario, CA, near the airport. There was a fantastic Gunne Sax/Jessica McClintock outlet there. The dresses--for children as well as adults, bridal gowns too--were gorgeous and so, so cheap. I mean dirt cheap.

We always came home with lots of good buys! :)

Christine Johnson said...

Sorry I'm late, ladies. I had some appointments this morning, and then when I got on the computer, my current work in progress called out its siren song, and we all know that we'd better not ignore that!

Debby, I haven't thought one tiny bit about this year's ACFW character outfit, but I still have a few months to come up with something. That was a really fun dinner. Loved seeing what everyone came up with.

Christine Johnson said...

Sherri, I agree that Kate Winslet's dresses were gorgeous in Titanic. She had some good ones in Sense and Sensibility too. The plot of Titanic? I was terrified! My hubby is a ship captain. 'Nuff said.

Christine Johnson said...

Vickie, LOL about having only two dresses. I might as well have only two since that's about how many I wear a year (at conference).

Christine Johnson said...

Carolyn, I got hooked on Project Runway a few years ago. That show makes dress design look super difficult (which it probably is). Every once in a while a contestant does come up with something gorgeous.

Christine Johnson said...

Pamela, ROFLOL! Yes, crocheting counts. I still have a crocheted sweater that a family member made for me decades ago.

Christine Johnson said...

Merrillee, I'm with you on the comfort. Sometimes, though, a dress is the most comfortable thing to wear. One of my friends attended an event with me down in hot Florida. I wore a sundress. She had on a sweater and capris. Guess who was most comfortable. Historically, though, I can't imagine wearing all those layers of clothing for say, Civil War era, in a hot climate. Yikes!

Christine Johnson said...

Keli, I forgot about Gunne Sax! Wow, there's a memory moment. I'm pretty sure I had a dress from them and I do remember liking their styles.

Christine Johnson said...

Winnie, I'm impressed. You persevered and learned how to sew. I'm still stuck on flat items and straight lines (like quilt blocks).

Leigh, what a great skill to have. Yes, Downton Abbey has great clothing that looks comfortable too.

LOL, Dana and Missy. Sometimes it's best to stick with what we do best.

Christine Johnson said...

Thanks, Janet! Maybe the inspiration to sew will strike again. Or you can have a character make something fabulous.

Rachel Dylan said...

I have no sewing skills. Almost as bad as my lack of cooking skills:)

And I also like Project Runway. Love seeing creative people at work.

Leann Harris said...

Early in our marriage, I sewed everything I wore. My mother-in law gave me a 1963 Singer sewing machine, which has all steel parts. I still have it, but once I started writing, I quit sewing, embroidering, kniting, and crocheting. Writing used up that creative energy.

Christine Johnson said...

LeAnn, I know what you mean. I haven't quilted since I started writing. Not enough time. But I still like to enjoy the creative work of others.

CatMom said...

Fun post, Christine!
I'm sorry to say I don't sew---which is sad, because my precious Mama (now in Heaven) could sew ANYTHING! She even made my beautiful wedding gown (my sisters and I all wore it).

As I read this post, I thought about the 70s (I was also a teen then) and remembered the Gunne Sax dresses! (waving at Keli Gwyn)~ I loved them, and confess I held on to one of mine for years and years....finally gave it away about 10 years ago, LOL. But those were so feminine and pretty--I really liked that style.
Thanks for sharing this today!
Blessings from WINDY Georgia, Patti Jo

Pamela Tracy said...

Okay, you guys, leave Titanic alone. I watch it once a week because my nine year old loves Titanic. It has flaws, yes it does, but oh the ship and clothes and details...

Christine Johnson said...

Patti Jo, what a wonderful gift to wear a wedding dress that your mama made. And then to share that with your sisters. I choked up reading about it.

Pamela, even though the ship sinking scares me, I'd watch again for the clothing and the d├ęcor. Gorgeous!