Thursday, 9 January 2014

The world of denim

Do you sometimes feel like a sewing project is bewitched? My vintage raincoat started out so well but has gone rapidly downhill over the last few days. This morning, I attempted to attach the sleeves SIX TIMES before finally admitting defeat. Luckily, I took a deep breath, stepped away from the offending raincoat and ordered more fabric to redraft the sleeves. The alternative was to slash the entire thing with scissors, which would have made me feel better - but maybe not for long.

So, instead of working myself into a frenzy about a pair of crappy sleeves, I've decided to immerse myself in my next project, which will be sewing my denim shirt dress. Hoorah, even just typing that sentence has brightened up my day. I know for a fact that this dress will be a well worn staple in my wardrobe - and that's before I've even made it. How do I know this? Well, everything I've ever made from denim (my Ginger skirt, Kelly skirt and stretch capri trousers) has been worn and worn to death. Perhaps it's because denim is quite forgiving in fit (especially stretch denim) and tends to mostly flatter the wearer. It's hard wearing, long lasting and doesn't show the dirt, so you can wear your denim items until they're virtually standing up on their own with grime.  I love sewing with denim and am in the process of putting together a 'Tips for sewing with denim' post, which I'm hoping will be useful to some of you. In the meantime, let's feast our eyes on a few highs and lows of this wonder fabric.

Historically, denim's durability and strength made it a popular fabric with manual workers such as cowboys and miners. It was also perfect for workwear in the form of overalls or dungarees as it protected the clothes worn underneath.


It started to become more popular in the 1950's and was even advertised as a dressmaking fabric. I had to look up the word "sanforized' from the ad below, but apparently it means, "to preshrink a fabric using a patented process."

Adorable denim playsuit

A super-chic denim ensemble from 1950

Most of us are perfectly content to wear one item of denim clothing at a time and this look, in my opinion, is effortlessly stylish.

Marilyn Monroe

Joe Orton: king of the turn-up

Jane Birkin looking fab

For some however,  this isn't sufficient. and they feel the need to wear it on both their top and bottom halves. Otherwise known as 'double denim', this is a dangerous fashion territory in which to wander, and there are only a fabled few who can artfully pull off this difficult look. 

The double denim winners…

The king (naturally)
Steve McQueen 

and the losers….


Gotta love Shakin' Stevens

?????

The highs by far outweigh the lows though, as there's very little denim can do wrong in my book. This little round-up has definitely put me in a positive frame of mind for starting work on my denim shirt dress. What's your take on denim? Love it? Hate it? Or are you a proud double denim aficionado? I leave you with a clip for Denim aftershave, the favoured scent of rugged He-Men throughout the 1970's. Interesting fact…. my husband's one and only party trick is to do an exact rendition of the voice over in this ad. Oh yes, he's one talented man! x









34 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear about the raincoat! Sometime a breather makes it all better.

    Nice to read this as I'm about to embark on my first denim project - proper jeans! I'm nervous but excited. Those vintage patterns are beautiful and look at Birkin, what a babe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh good luck with the jeans. You'll notice that making my own jeans wasn't mentioned in my post, mostly because I'm a scaredy cat, but mainly because I found a pair of cheap as chips RTW ones that fit me like a glove. I'm tempted to buy 10 pairs in case they discontinue them! x

      Delete
    2. Same actually, I love the fit of my trusty GAP jeans to death so I'm actually using those as a basis, but with a more interesting denim!

      Delete
  2. Ooh, Elvis! And have you had a blog makeover? I love the new title bar header thingy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, yes I had a makeover before xmas. I love the title bar header thingy too! x

      Delete
  3. I love denim, but not double denim! I'm with you on Elvis and Steve McQueen being successful at pulling off that look, though :)

    I've made denim capris, denim skirts, and have 2 pairs of Freddies Jeans, and one Heyday Trousers in denim and I love and wear them all! Denim is so versatile. I especially love a dark wash which looks smart enough to wear to work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about a dark wash denim looking smart, it's also more flattering! x

      Delete
  4. Ooh, double denim is a look I fear, but Elvis is pulling it off so beautifully (not so sure about Briterlake... hmm...). I'm seeing double denim popping up on Pinterest with great frequence, so maybe it's becoming a thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, PInterest seems to be full to the brim with double denim! I had to really restrain myself with the amount of pictures I put in this post, I could easily have added about 50! x

      Delete
  5. Stinky sleeves, sorry they were giving you troubles. Hopefully you'll be able to fix your issues soon. I'm looking forward to your denim dress. I'd love a post on sewing with denim, personally!

    I think over here I've heard the term "denim sandwich" when it's on the top and bottom. Now that really makes me giggle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOVE the term 'denim sandwich' Tasha! I've never heard it before but I'll be using it on a daily basis from now on! x

      Delete
  6. Silly rain coat! You'll tame it though. Bring on the denim dress,say I! hey how about chopping up one of the RTW pairs of jeans or just draft apattern from them? I finally got the nerve up to unpick an RTW maxi for the pattern and now I am off, reproducing it like a pair of bunnies in springtime! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I WILL tame that pesky raincoat MrsC, just you wait and see! I've often thought about chopping up my perfect RTW years to make my own pair but laziness usually wins through! x

      Delete
  7. While totally impractical and not my normal style, I LOVE the denim play suit! It really is adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'll second your 'love denim' motion. I've just finished a denim jacket from free pattern with Sew magazine and it looks great- even though I say it myself! I also have a purple denim skirt (fabric from Maculloch and Wallis) yum

    ReplyDelete
  9. Blue jeans plus stripey t-shirt = favourite outfit!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oooh, you've got me all excited for denim now and I look forward to your post with tips! I just finished a chambray (denim look) Hawthorn and I'm pretty smitten, so I totally see the attraction ;o) Also, your hubby is very talented indeed...sexy voice! What will impress me equally is if you can grow nails like the woman's in that advert too! Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh a chambray hawthorn sounds gorgeous Marie! Haha, yes my husband's 'Denim' impression is the business, it is his one and only skill mind! I actually have v long, straight nails and could probably pull off the 'Denim woman' look if I could ever be arsed to put nail polish on! x

      Delete
  11. Jane your post was so interesting and told me a lot about denim which I didn't know, sorry about the coat but a little break from it will help sort things out. Have a fab weekend, lots of love
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sorry to hear about your coat trials... I have only ever sewn one denim thing, but in quite a crisp denim. I love the dress but would wear it more if it was a softer denim . Also a big fan of the darker denims!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great blog on denim. I shall never forget my very first pair of Levi's, purchased in Walthamstow I believe. Then sitting in that bath to soften and shrink them. Happy days.

    ReplyDelete
  14. SOrry to hear about the sleeve problems, but a denim shirt dress sounds like a great wardrobe staple.. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I always tend to think of denim as vaguely uncomfortable and boring since most people here just wear jeans jeans and more jeans... it all blends in together and doesn't really make one feel that enamored towards it as a fashionable option, but you've really compiled some very convincing evidence that denim can indeed be lovely and attractive, particularly the playsuit, vintage dress, and always ALWAYS Marilyn - but then she'd look good in pretty much anything ^__^ I like the idea of taking denim away from the boring and making it chic again - looking forward to seeing your dress! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have big aspirations for denim chic! There's a famous picture of Marilyn Monroe wearing a couple of flour sacks, proving that she did look good in pretty much anything! x

      Delete
  16. I'm really hoping you're going to make a denim 'noise' like the guy with the Donovan cap in the top pic!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sorry, that should have said 'onesie' not noise! Bloody know-all predictive text!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOVE the idea of a denim onesie! x

      Delete
  18. A denim shirt dress will be the biz. Can totally see you in it already. And I really love your blog makeover btw! Lovely x

    ReplyDelete
  19. My father (b. 1931) remembers having to wear denim to school and being highly embarrassed — only the poorest farm children had no other clothing but denim. They were pretty poor. I was born in 1958. I remember the great battles to be allowed to wear denim at school -- and the even bigger battle for girls to wear anything but dresses. It was still true in the early 1970s that only the poorest farm children wore denim to school, because that's all they had.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hehe, I've just left my first comment on your blog on your next post and here, miraculously, my question is answered! If handmadejane says yes to a denim shirtdress, who am I to argue?? What pattern are you thinking, if I may ask? Loving your posts by the way :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a twit... of course you've mentioned it previously! Love the pattern... just got it on the sewdirect sale courtesy of my lovely mum heehee x

      Delete
  21. Hi Jane! Do you know where you found the advertisement for the Charles Williams Stores denim/workwear? I am interested in using it in an exhibition and need to track down a high-resolution version of it if possible and copyright information.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...