Slim Aarons–what I’ve been watching

More sewing inspiration this week came by way of this hour-long documentary on photographer Slim Aarons.  What caught my eye first, were the colorful ‘everyday’ dresses and the lighting.

Slim Aaron orange people a

The trailer for Slim Aarons; The High Life:

Slim’s former assistants were interviewed in the documentary.  They were lovely and poised, and told good stories.  “We’re waiting for clouds.”  I’ll remember that one.  In listening to his assistants tell about the photos, I fell in love with the fact that minimal makeup and staging was involved.   The subjects were mostly rich, privileged, and often famous, but the settings relaxed and the smiles were natural.

The documentary only lasts an hour, but that was just the start for me.  After the documentary, I spent an absurd amount of time perusing the Getty photos website, where Slim’s archive is available for viewing and prints for purchase.

A few of the many images that grabbed me, for their nostalgia or for sewing inspiration, or both:

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Don’t recognize anyone in the slide show above?  Then try these:

Slim had a repeat theme of hammocks, and furry boots.  I love both.

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These next few really triggered my creative impulses:

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Slim Aarons skier
The outfit!

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Slim Aarons Dublin Horse Show 1968 a
Plaid coat!

Slim’s use of light was distinctive.  Several of his snowy scenes reminded me of the movie, Grand Budapest Hotel.  (Love that movie!)  This picture is an example:

Slim Aarons Swiss hotel

The documentary is in the Amazon Prime Video collection.  Link to the documentary: https://smile.amazon.com/Slim-Aarons/dp/B07CJSTXD4

But no Prime, no problem.  The full documentary is available on YouTube:

Slim would have celebrated his 100th birthday in October 2016.  That month, Getty released this 1-minute video of 100 of his images.

As mentioned above, Getty purchased Slim’s entire archive, and displays the collection beautifully here:  https://www.photos.com/slim-aarons

There is a collection of coffee table books of Slim’s photos. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0810946033

Slim Aarons coffee table book

Slim’s Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slim_Aarons

Another lover of photographs:

Dior and I–what I’ve been watching

This 2014 documentary chronicled the first 8-weeks that menswear designer Raf Simons served as the new Creative Director for Christian Dior.  In those 8 weeks back in 2012, he was tasked with designing, producing and showing his first women’s Dior collection.  Staff introductions at Dior were quick, and then everyone went to work.  The 8 weeks can be summed up as:  Artist drapes fabric on a model; amazing skilled craftsmen (both men and women) read his mind and make an entire collection happen.  There was scolding by Raf, followed by flowers.  The collection came together due to the amazing skill and dedication of the inhouse craftsmen.  Long hours were involved…for the craftsmen.

The unveiling of the collection before an audience of fashion critics and influencers, was the climax of the documentary.  In the minutes before the show, Raf sat at a table on a balcony and cried with fear and self doubt to a friend, as the staff was scurrying around to make the show happen.  Before the show, he had informed his organizers that he was too shy to take to the runway at the end of the show and be acknowledged by the audience.  He flat refused to appear before the audience.

The venue for the show was an old vacant mansion.  Here is a model approaching the audience-filled showroom, while in the background, the next model is ascending the stairs.

Model approaching

Raf’s vision was to cover all of the walls of the showrooms in fresh flowers.  The aroma must have been overpowering.

The scene moved to the showroom, where the guests were all seated and the fashion show was underway.  There sitting in the middle of my TV screen was Harvey Weinstein, flanked by young beautiful blonde women.  His presence was sickening.  His leer was gag inducing.

Weinstein

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Before the show was over, and while the procession of models was still underway, the Raf who was ‘too shy to appear on the runway and be acknowledged’, darted onto the runway between models, and did a runway stroll, soaking in the crowd’s adoration.  What an ending.

Taking my thoughts back to Dior HQ for a moment.  What the craftsmen and craftswomen did to create garments and an entire collection, from the vague, rough drawings and drapings by the ‘creative director’, was simply unbelievable.  I’d love to meet them and visit them at work.  It was truly fascinating.  For this, I recommend the documentary.

The documentary was filmed in 2012, when Raf was initially hired by the Dior company. Less than three years later, Raf had moved on, to the label bearing Calvin Klein’s name but now owned by another corporation.

Movie website: http://www.diorandimovie.com/

IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3539664/ 

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dior_and_I

DIY Front Door Awning

An awning was not what I planned to sew this week, but the fabric on the existing one gave out.

The backstory:  Two years ago, my brother helped me enclose my front porch, which I love, but it left no cover for someone standing at my front door.  It also made the front of my house very plain looking.  I went shopping for an awning online.  It looked like I’d be spending $500-$1000 for an awning just for my entry door, and I wasn’t sure the dimensions would be right.  Enter thoughts of a DIY project.

Some quick online research showed that my idea of making an awning frame out of PVC pipe had merit.  I found some great examples and advice, such as this one on the Instructables website.  My brother had mentioned that awnings with a 45° angle seemed to be the sturdiest, so that’s what I started designing.

The frame needed to be secure on the exterior while giving the entry door room to swing open and closed.  It took one do-over to get the frame dimensions right.  When I was installing the frame to the house, a neighbor guy saw me on the ladder wrestling with the frame, and came over to help.  Many thanks to him, for making the job a lot easier with a team of two.

Here is the frame complete and installed over the doorway, attached to the exterior with galvanized pipe strapping and deck screws.

Awning frame1 w

Awning frame2 w

Next step was to design and sew the fabric awning.  I chose a pvc-lined canvas fabric from Walmart.  It was $5/yard.  I don’t have a product link to share, because it doesn’t appear to be offered on their website.  The woven fabric was super easy to cut and sew.  The fabric is more brittle than I wanted, but it is waterproof, and I was willing to give it a try for the first one.  I fastened the fabric awning to the frame with velcro strips.

Amazingly, the first awning withstood every bit of wind, rain, snow, ice and hail we had here in south-central Kansas for the past year and a half.  But this month, the fabric failed.  The awning frame is as secure as the day I installed it.  But the fabric now literally tears like paper, and started falling apart.

While I shop for a more durable fabric, I’ve made a quick replacement from more of the Walmart fabric.   It should last another year at least, while I try to perfect the next choice of fabric and tweak the construction.

The process:

This awning takes three pieces of fabric:

  • A 48 x 48 inch square, for the top piece
  • Two triangular pieces, each 30 x 40 x 43 x 4 inches, for the awning sides.  (These two pieces need to be mirror images.)

After cutting out my fabric pieces, I turned under the fabric edges 1/2″ and hemmed it for a finished look.  

Awning fabric PVC side w

Velcro tabs are sewn onto the awning to anchor it to the frame.  

Underneath view w

The top piece is tacked to the side triangles in four places on each side, rather than sewing the entire sides together.  That is intended to make it less susceptible to wind, by leaving vents for wind to get through.

This picture shows how the top overlaps the side about two inches, hiding the ‘vents’.  

Awning side w

To tack those top edges down so they don’t stick out on the sides so much, I used a Buttoneer.  Remember those TV commercials from the 70s?

The Buttoneer is still sold, and mine has been an amazingly useful gadget.  The Amazon reviews give it 2/5 stars, and some reviewers say it’s not the quality of the original ones.  If so, that’s disappointing indeed.  I’ve had mine for years, and wouldn’t want to be without it.

Buttoneer

Initially, the front awning hem was not hanging quite straight.  Annoying, but a quick fix, again using the Buttoneer.

Awning front before straighten w

Here is the awning after using the Buttoneer to tack down the sides and straighten the front.  

Awning tacked w

Materials used:

  • PVC pipe
  • PVC primer and cement
  • Pipe strapping
  • Deck/siding screws
  • Outdoor waterproof fabric (2.5 yds of 60 inch wide fabric) to make the top and two side triangles.
  • Velcro

The total cost of the awning materials was about $25.  Compare that to the purchased awning prices I was seeing, in the $500-$1000 range.

Final thoughts on this awning.

  • The first awning I made was light colored, so the PVC frame was not conspicuous.  From the angle of someone on the street, it still doesn’t show under the new dark green fabric.  But if you are up close enough to see under the awning, it really stands out against the dark fabric.  I’m thinking of painting the PVC a dark color.
  • I’d like to add a more attractive bottom edge to the awning.  I’m plotting and scheming for what that should look like.

In the meantime, anyone who comes to my door (me included) has a bit of shelter.

 

This is what the inside of an electric blanket looks like

The middle of the blanket wasn’t getting warm, but the sides were really warm.  The possibility of a short in the wiring concerned me, so I decided to investigate.

With my seam ripper, I opened the end of the blanket opposite the plug.  Turns out the heating element wires are sewn to a piece of non-woven interfacing, that is then sewn into the side seams of the blanket.  The problem was that the interfacing had ripped in half down the middle.  The two halves moved apart and started bunching at the sides.

Here is what it looked like when I turned it inside out and started rearranging the wires in the middle.  What a mess.  While arranging them, I looked them over for damage or deterioration.  Everything looked fine.

Ripped webbing w

Once I had the wires spread out, I used some black #3 crochet cotton from my stash, to make anchor stitches to hold the wires in place.  I stitched through one side of the blanket, since it was futile to try stitching the interfacing back together.

anchor stitches w

The stitching went quickly, thanks to my super useful long doll needle.

Doll needle w

When I had enough stitches to keep the wires distributed across the blanket, I tied a knot, and turned the blanket right side out again.  Amazingly, the little black stitches barely show on the blue-gray pile:

Closeup of stitches w arrows w

I used a big running stitch to close the blanket back up temporarily, in case I need to open it up and make more adjustments.

hem stitches w

Here’s a shot of the whole blanket.  It’s a super soft minky-type fabric.

Finished blanket w

So far, the fix is working out nicely.  I’m having to share the blanket with the foster pup, but that’s mostly working out, too.

Myrtle blanket w

I’m one of those people who is cold all the time, so electric blankets are pretty nice to keep around.



Welcome to my new blog layout.  It was time for a change.  For now, it’s a slight shock every time I see the bigger text and photos.  I’ll be tweaking a few more things until it’s the way I want it.  Ultimately, I hope it gives a better reading and viewing experience.



 

A dress to match the cuffs.

“Don’t buy a suit to match your tie,” is a proverb that has served me very well… except when it should be ignored, such as with this project.  It started with a picture of knit+crochet cuffs I saw online, which led me to grab knitting needles and some cotton yarn from my stash, and experiment with the design.  Soon I had a set of cuffs I loved, with nothing to put them on.

Cuffs RSR

So, with cuffs in hand and no plan except that I might like them on a dress, I went fabric shopping, and came home with this lightweight rayon plaid:

Fabric RSR

For a pattern, I decided on the “Coco dress” from Tilly and the Buttons.  The dress has simple, basic lines; is fast to construct; and worked well for me on a prior dress.

Coco-cover_grande

I sewed the dress and attached the cuffs before deciding what to do with the neckline.  At that point, the answer was obvious–make a collar to match the cuffs.

Collar RSR

The finished dress:  Tada!

Dress on form2 RSR

I’ve now worn the dress once, and am quite happy with it.  Here are a few thoughts on the dress and fabric:

  • The A-line skirt makes the dress bicycle-friendly.
  • The cotton cuffs and collar, and lightweight rayon make a very comfortable dress.
  • The lightweight fabric makes the dress fit easily under a blazer when called for at work, or under a jacket for chilly Fall mornings and evenings.
  • The weight of the dress feels quirky on the hanger because the fabric is lightweight and flowy, while the cuffs and collar are weightier cotton.  The weight disparity isn’t evident when the dress is being worn.
  • The rayon fabric is not very durable.  It will be susceptible to snags.  The edges of the fabric fray profusely, so I had to finish all of the edges first thing.
  • About that plaid.  I should have had my head examined for buying flimsy fabric with a plaid that had to be matched.  Eventually, I figured out a method that mostly worked, but not before several frustrated do-overs.  Marking a straight hem was a bear, too, because of the shifty fabric and the plaid.

A few more views:

The back neck closure was finished with two self-fabric covered buttons and crochet button hole loops.

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The horizontal plaid matching.

Match stripes 2

Hall mirror selfie.

IMG_20181021_175030488a RSR

Project Details:

 

The Dressmaker–what I’ve been watching

From the opening images of a sewing treadle in motion, and then street scenes in Liverpool 1944, I was hooked.  The Dressmaker is an independent drama film, 90 minutes long, released in 1988.

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Liverpool 1944

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Then a fleet of US Army trucks came through.  Scores of Yanks in uniform came pouring out into the streets, and the story was on.

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There’s no official trailer that I can find, so here are some screenshots from the movie.

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The colors in the movie are vibrant, which pleasantly offsets the reminders of life in wartime Liverpool, such as grocery store lines, crowded homes and blackout curtains.  I love all of the colorful calico dresses and the household textiles, along with all of the 1940s fixtures, settings and scenes.

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The story line of an orphan teenage girl living with her two very different aunts, and dating a Yank soldier, was intriguing.  But even if the story wasn’t my kind of thing, I still would have watched with no sound, just to see the scenes and clothing.

The movie is based on the book ‘The Dressmaker“, by Dame Beryl Bainbridge, a writer who was born and raised in and around Liverpool.

As the credits rolled, a surprise appeared.  The delightful Freda Kelly, former longtime secretary to The Beatles, had a role in the movie, as part of ‘Couple in Doorway’.  So of course, I had to rewind to find a couple in a doorway.  No luck.  I’ll have to watch the movie again more closely, if I’m going to spot her.

Credits pointing to Freda Kelly

The Dressmaker is currently available for free on these channels:

More on The Dressmaker (1988) movie:

There is a 2015 movie by the same name starring Kate Winslet.  It is not the same story.

Desert Trip; has it been two years already?

Two years ago this week, I went to the best music festival ever–Desert Trip.  I tried writing about it when I got home, but it was all too fresh and overwhelming.  Two years later, it still seems surreal.  But it’s now easier to condense it down to the high points.

This was my first time to see Bob Dylan in person.  I was on cloud nine, hearing Bob sing Like A Rolling Stone and Tangled Up in Blue.  Earlier in the week, he’d been awarded a Nobel Prize.  On this night the Nobel Prize poet treated us to new/alternate lyrics to Tangled Up in Blue.

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The next night, Mother Nature provided a stunning real time harvest moon as a backdrop to Neil Young’s performance of Harvest Moon.

Harvest Moon2

This was my first time to see Neil perform live, and I couldn’t have been happier with his set list and performance.  He’s a rebel!

My fave song of Neil’s set was Long May You Run.

Sir Paul had my other fave song of the festival, when he called surprise guest Rihanna out onto the stage to do Four Five Seconds.

Each night had amazing fireworks at the end.

McCartney fireworks

On the third night, guitar windmills whirled,

and pigs flew.

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I had a general admission ticket, and decided not to fight for a spot at the front of GA, which was a dense crowd pushed up against a fence still far from the stage.  So I took a spot near the back, where everybody was relaxed and had room to breathe.  I could set my beach chair in place, and then go get a drink or food and easily get back to my spot.

My watch spot Desert Trip RSR

When I say I was far back from the stage, I mean, the performers were like ants on the stage.  I didn’t care.  The sound was great, and so was the vibe around me, and there were excellent video screens.  It felt relaxed, like a concert in someone’s back yard.

Stones arrow

(The band on stage is actually those teeny tiny people in the lower center.)

Accommodations

I opted for tent camping, of course.  This was my little outdoor paradise.  I had cool neighbors all around.  Some brought their own guitars for campsite jam sessions.  It was pure contentment when at the end of a long, amazing day, I would lay down and drift off to sleep hearing people congregated at nearby tents, singing and playing guitar.

Campsite-a

The tent village was well organized.  On my arrival, I was assigned an ‘address’, and driven to it with my stuff by a nice guy in a golf cart.

I took my Esbit alcohol stove, and prepared a few simple meals at my campsite.  One was Curry Cashew Chicken Rice & Veggies in broth.  I adapted this recipe from the amazing backpackingchef.com.  For the veggies, I used carrots, broccoli and cauliflower; all dehydrated at home in advance of the trip.

Curry rice chicken soup from Backpacking Chef

I also took my Bemco backpacker oven, and made myself a couple of scrumptious campsite pizzas.  I’ll save the campsite pizza details for a later post.

For coffee, I took my travel french press mug–a nice gift from my brother.  By loading it with ground coffee and water each night, I had a nice cold brew ready each morning.

French Press

More sights from my little home and the totally awesome tent village:

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For the campers, there was a pop-up downtown with general store, cool vintage boutiques, food vendors, hair salon, game room, entertainment, outdoor games and more.  I could have spent a lot of time here.  The downside was the typical US festival price gouging, but only at the general store.  $12 for a dozen eggs?  Nah, I’ll walk a few more steps and get a scrumptious pancakes and sausage breakfast for $5 instead.

Campers Center food vendors

There was a cool upcycle boutique.  I borrowed this shirt idea for my brother’s birthday gift when I got home, using a t-shirt from his favorite local band.

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One vintage boutique had a type-in ‘Guest book’IMG_20161016_1301236_rewind_kindlephoto-27061867a-w

There were dozens more pop up restaurants, pubs, shops and activities in the main festival area.  One was a vintage vinyl record shop, where the line just to get in the door was never short.

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One vendor served ice cream floats in these awesome metal cups.  The cup is now a permanent part of my camping kit.

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The taxi bikers were creatively shielded from the dust.  There’s an awesome review I’ve linked to at the end, that tells all you need to know about the dust boogers.

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Along with dust boogers, there was the near-permanent dust tan.

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Another totally awesome high point of the festival for me, was meeting up with a cross-country friend.

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Sure, it was hot, but I managed to keep my clothes on, unlike some people.  What the _?_

Desert Trip pants on fence-a

During the 3-day festival, people were speculating on who would perform at the next Desert Trip.  A Led Zeppelin reunion was universally mentioned.  Some thought Springsteen and a few others from that next generation of big stars.  Others I thought of were Eric and Ginger as Cream, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Paul Simon, and Ringo Starr.  Anyway, the answer to date, is that Desert Trip was a one-off.  I’m good with that.  While I’d love to go again, I can’t think of another lineup that I’d be as excited about as the original.

The best music festival ever deserves the best review ever, and here it is!  Seriously, I read it while on my trip home from the festival, and had to hold my hand over my mouth to stifle my laughter so as not to annoy the people sitting around me.    http://www.apparentlythismatters.com/2016/10/desert-trip-review.html 

To that I can only add that I went; I experienced; I got the t-shirt(s).

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Desert Trip wallpaper RSR mark

Sky beam RSR

And that’s enough reminiscing for now.  Next week…a sewing project.

Pirate Radio–what I’ve been watching (and listening to, and knitting to)

This past weekend I caught a nasty bug, which means I spent lots of time on the couch, under warm blankets.  When I would get tired of napping, I’d sit up and drink warm tea, watch feel-good movies, and work on this knit+crochet project.  It is going to be the collar for a dress which is finished…except for this piece.  Stay tuned for a finished garment post.

Knit crochet collar2

One of my most fave feel-good movies got another watch– ‘Pirate Radio–The Boat That Rocked‘.  It’s a fave for a lot of reasons, some of which are:

  • The unbelievable story of how the British government tried to ban rock and roll radio in the 1960s
  • The cool mid-1960s clothes
  • The great 1960s rock and roll music
  • The cast of cool movie stars, who all portray great characters
  • The great ending.

It’s a really entertaining movie.  Here’s the trailer:

For me, the best movies are the ones that give me something new to look up, or read or listen to, to continue the experience after leaving the theatre.  Sometimes it’s a biopic that sends me in search of the biography to read.  (Examples:  Walk the Line, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind.)  ‘Pirate Radio‘ compelled me to order the soundtrack, and look up some of the gazillion album covers shown in the movie and credits.  Let’s say there were some surprises…

Most importantly, the movie led me to Radio Caroline, the pirate radio station the movie was substantially based on.  The station now streams online.  On finding the station, I became an instant regular listener, and still am.  The station is staffed by real live DJs from the pirate radio days.  Each DJ plays the music he/she wants; new and old.  If it weren’t for them, there are current artists and new music I would never have been exposed to here in the US Midwest stranglehold of corporate radio.  Back in the early days of Radio Caroline, it is shocking ‘who’ we music listeners might never have heard of if it weren’t for pirate radio.

“Without Caroline, we would not have sold a single record.  …  Sometimes the law is more than an ass.  Pirates?  They were angels.” Pete Townshend

“Radio Caroline was more adventurous than most stations around in its day.  It championed bands like the Kinks, who owe much of their early success to Radio Caroline and Tom Lodge.”   Ray Davies  (link)

The Caroline studio today is located in Kent, UK, but several times a year the DJs broadcast from their old ship, the ‘Ross Revenge’, which is now permanently moored in the River Blackwater.  The DJs broadcast, eat, sleep and hang out on the boat, and mix music with their stories and memories from the early days.  During one of these special broadcasts a few years ago, they offered a t-shirt for donation, that I couldn’t pass up.  It was a replica of a Radio Caroline t-shirt worn by Keith Moon.  It’s a fun thing to wear for just the right occasion.

 

(These photos are from the site wornfree.com, that once sold the shirts.)

I could go on and on about what a cool organization it is that keeps Caroline going strong.  But instead I urge you to explore their website, if interested.  They have an extensive online web shop, and they have a fun ‘daily quiz’, of trivia questions.

(Sample Quiz)Radio Caroline Daily Quiz example

In 2017, Radio Caroline commemorated the 50th anniversary of the UK’s enacting of the Marine Offences Act, the law that was intended to shut them down.  Coinciding with that 50th anniversary, the station was finally awarded its own official over-the-air broadcast frequency by the British Government.  Ironically, it was an old BBC frequency.  It was an emotional thing, seeing Radio Caroline finally recognized for its valuable contribution to our culture.

Wikipedia on pirate radio in the UK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_radio_in_the_United_Kingdom 

More Pirate Radio.

Coincidentally, Radio Caroline is doing one of its special broadcasts from the ship this coming weekend (October 20-21, 2018).  For your own real-time Pirate Radio listening experience this Saturday and Sunday, go to the Radio Caroline website, and click the ‘Radio Caroline North’ play button in the header.  I’ll be listening as much as my schedule allows.

Velvet Colección–what I’ve been watching

The setting of the Netflix series, Velvet Colección, is a fashion design house in 1960s Barcelona.  The series is in Spanish.  I had several years of la clase de Español in school, but am not fluent.  I understand sporadic phrases supplemented by body language.  Regardless of the language barrier, I’m watching every minute of every episode because of the super cool 1960s dresses, the interior decor of the offices and homes, and the catchy music.

Velvet promo picture

Velvet Colección is a spin off of ‘Velvet‘, a series about a 1950s fashion design enterprise based in Madrid.

Velvet dress

The Velvet Colección story is one I’m sure I would enjoy, so I’m trying to follow as much of it as I can, despite the language barrier.  But, it’s the 1960s dresses, the decor and the music that keep me coming back to watch more episodes, to be inspired to make my own dresses reminiscent of that time.

Velvet setVelvet dresses

There are supposed to be three seasons of Velvet Colección.  According to Wikipedia they’re stopping at three.  Netflix is only offering Season 1 at the moment.  When I finish with Velvet Colección, I’m looking forward to watching Velvet, for lots of lovely 1950s fashion.

Velvet Colección links:

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Colecci%C3%B3n

IMDB https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6762348/