Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Millinery: Nordstroms update, Sally Victor and cap, take 2.

For everyone who is following the Nordstrom hat saga:
My Houston Hat Net buddy Marie (AKA: Landygrande) did make a run to Nordstroms yesterday and filed the following report:

My research at Nordstroms last evening revealed the following:
The hats are lovely, but they do not include the feathers. They are decorated with "fake" ribbon feathers - not as shown on the cover of the catalog. Nice though! It tried on several, and they fit - which was very surprising. Most ready-made hats are too small for me. The shoes were awesome! Wish I could wear them - I am short enough to need the height, but can't walk in them. The flats made me wish I had saved my Vegas money (almost, but not quite)! The shoes are worth a trip, but the hats are not, Jill.

Thank you Marie! I'm curious about the fake ribbon feathers now. And shame on Nordstroms for not featuring the hats as they are in reality. At least they are carrying hats, and if they fit Marie, who wears the same size hat as I do, then I must suppose Nordstrom is making an effort to accomodate a slight range of sizes.

Kate also left an astute comment, that hand bag designers are now doing hats, probably because the hand bag market is saturated. Good for them, and good luck with that...the architecture of hats is quite a bit more challenging than the architecture of a hand bag. This could prove to be very interesting.

I'll probably make a trip to Norstroms and the Galleria sometime this fall, just to see what is out there here in the Bayou City.

Changing topics abit...I've written about the hat designer Sally Victor before, about how she created loads of hats during the 1940-1960's.
The other day I spotted a Vogue pattern designed by Ms. Victor on ebay.
I bid; I won!

Gosh, I just LOVE that blue and white polka dot hat with the pearls and the ruby red lips!

I paid only about 12 times more than the cover price of the pattern, but that is probably a steal when you consider how prices have gone up on patterns since 1960, the year that this particular pattern was issued. (See proof in picture below...)

(Note the list of suggested fabrics)
I may also have mentioned that I have a college degree in Home Economics. I took fabric design course work, and had a pretty thick book which I had to memorize, which listed the names of all the possible fibers and fiber combinations available in fabric (back in 1975-76 at least.)

Each fabric had a chart listing the temperature at which the fibers would melt, the time it would take to fade at a specific UV level, how quickly abrasion could occur, breath ability,wicking, dye-acceptance...on and on it went. I spent hours with flash cards memorizing fabric names, and wondering why we were memorizing this, when it would be just as easy to look up the information at the time when we actually needed the information.

The book wasn't so heavy that it would have been impossible to haul along on a fabric purchasing spree.

That kind of thinking should have been my first clue that I was destined to be a reference librarian rather than a top fabric designer.

I'm sharing all that background information with you so you will understand my dismay when I looked at the list of fabric suggestions and realized I had never heard or seen the fabric names SURAH and BARATHEA before.

Maybe my Canadian sewers use that stuff all the time.
Maybe I did know about those fabrics at one time, but have long since purged the information from my grey matter.

Maybe I should ask Oregon State University for a partial refund on my tuition.

Yes, I have since looked up those two word.

Barathea: A soft fabric of silk and cotton, silk and wool, or all wool.

(Doesn't that just clear it up for you? So decisive! Really, what the heck is it????)

More research provided the information that Barathea was a trade name from 1862, and the fabric has a broken rib weave and a pebbly texture, and is made of silk, worsted wool or a synthetic fiber.

Now does that clear it up for you?

Not really...

Surah: From 1873, a soft twilled fabric of silk or rayon.
From India.

Sounds pretty...I'll have to ask for it the next time I shop at an Indian fabric store.

If you sew much you may have noticed that Vogue has always been a demanding pattern to work with. They are very thorough and specific in their instructions.

I think they went into overkill with this part of the instructions:

Put on a GIRDLE and heels to fit a hat?
I don't even own a girdle!
I'm just going to go ahead and make the hat anyway.
If it doesn't come out right, I guess I'll only have myself to blame for not following Vogue's explicit directions.

Wear a girdle to fit a hat.
Not on this liberated woman!
Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't think to dictate wearing a bra.
Now that would make sense, wouldn't it?

I'll let you know when I finish the hat.
It'll be awhile.
If you want to borrow a copy of the pattern, and have a girdle and a bra, and know where to get some barathea or surah, I'd be happy to pass it right along!
If you are itching to make a pattern that doesn't require girdles, heels or much time, I'm still pushing this one.
It is the second try at it, the first one went to Virginia. It came together even better this time, and I am excited about making more of this pattern to donate.
I decided to make a square scarf to match mine.
What do you think?

I always like cut and sew hats that have scarves to match.
With a plain shirt and black slacks, put 'em on and out the door, easy peasy!


Kate said...

Sooooo great that Marie did that run to Nordstrom's to research the hats for you. Just goes to show that hats are used more to tease the viewer into the catalog rather than to actually sell them. Maybe they've just given up? Girdles again? Yuck! Been there. Done that. HATED it! Yet, I do note that they are baaaaaaaaack. Aren't control top panty hose the first step on that slippery slope?

Love your cap tho' it wouldn't work on me. I need more breadth on my narrow face.

Bet you can find Surah at High Fashion tho' the clerks probably won't know what it is. Look at the silks and check the tags. Have fun!

K Q:-)

Lovella said...

Wow what a friend Marie is to run and seek out the elusive Nordstroms hat. I so want a trip to Nordstroms now that I've heard about it 2 days in a row. Our dollar is nearly par and I feel myself getting a bit antsy for a run across the line.
I agree with Kate that your cap looks perfect for you but I also think I might need more width on my face.
I was also immediately drawn to the red hat and pearls. I can't wait to see the finished hat. You'll have to figure out a way to make the pattern on a grid so that it can be copied and enlarged. Hmm, I do have a fax machine. I'm going to try on my hats, I'm suddenly in the mood.

Ladygrande said...

I just love "research" --- remember, Kate, when we would go to the Galleria to check out the hats on our lunch breacks? Can't do that any longer, it takes so long to get those four or five blocks and to park that all I could do would be to run and and glance and run back out and get in the car and drive back to the office - traffic is terrible in this area.

Love the pattern, Jill! and the little cap that you made with the scarf to match - fashionista!

Flannel?? For at hat??! Never would have thought of that one. Maybe a HEAVY flannel for winter. Will have to try that.

Okay - I'm ready for a trip to High Fashion Fabrics again.


Kate said...

Two words - Dupioni silk! And you know that High Fashion has the best selection. K Q:-)

Glorious Hats said...

Such a fun read. Great pattern find. The cap hat is gorgeous. Don't you love how the shaped cap fits so nicely. Love the lively colors and especially you in it. Jane

Sara said...

After I climbed back onto my chair, having fallen off it laughing so hard about the girdle and occurred to me that I am surprised rayon was around in 1873! But what do I know...I guess I imagined synthetic fibers came about later...oops, I should ask, IS rayon a synthetic fiber?

I think you would make a great stand-up once said you'd like to do that...

Thanks for the laughter and fun.