Monday, January 26, 2015

Sewing through the Cinema~The Long Hot Summer

by Amy~ViennasGrace

        Get your tissues ready, no not that kind of tissue silly, this isn't a tear jerker.  I'm searching sewing patterns modern and vintage to find the looks featured in classic films. Although it might not be possible to duplicate the exact look, I'll show you how to easily mimic the feeling of the style. Soon you'll see that a silver screen wardrobe is only a pattern away.

The Long, Hot Summer~a 1958 film adaptation of William Faulkner's literary work. Set in 1950s Mississippi, filled with over the top colorful southern characters.  The Varner family is an interesting crew, led by domineering father Will Varner (Orson Wells) with 24 yr old "spinster" daughter Clara (Joanne Woodward) a spineless needy son Jody (Tony Franciosa) and his flirty bombshell wife Eula (Lee Remmick).  Their lives collide with the bad reputation, misunderstood traveling guy, Ben Quick (Paul Newman... dreamy blue eyed Paul Newman).  

Here's the movie trailer

 I'd love to spend an evening with this dramatic group of characters, having after dinner mint juleps on the veranda... during a long, hot summer.  Oh but what would I wear?? Eula and Clara both with such great individual style!  I love elements of both...hmmm what to do, what to do...
mint julep:   noun  minty summer cocktail
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
boil together until sugar dissolves then strain out the mint leaves
(this is your mint simple syrup)
after this cools add 
32 Oz of Kentucky Bourbon
poor over ice and top with a few mint leaves
serves 8 maybe, but more like 3
There are a few dresses that really stand out in this film, and I could whip up a great vintage dress to match their southern glamour.  That classic yet va-va-voom look, perfect for my imaginary evening with the Varner family.

Flirty Eula, shuffling across the room in this screen shot,  wearing a true wiggle dress.  See, no slit at the hem line...tiny steps, tiny steps, tiny steps

Finding all that bombshell action in one dress might be a little challenging,  so I'll focus on the basic silhouette of this dress to achieve all of Eula's Southern Charm.
These key features are a must
1. Wiggle, pencil, fitted, slim skirt dress
2. Wide collar bone neckline
3.  Collarless
4.  Fitted midriff
midriff: noun  The middle outer portion of the front of the human body, extending roughly from just below the breast to the waistline.

Found  some great options.  An inset waist or even a cummerbund, both give that oh so fitted midriff.

What about creating that look with SEPARATES?!? 

McCalls 4680 GreyDogVintage         McCalls 8299 Fancywork

In one evening scene Clara wears a black dress that trumps all other LBDresses out there. TO DIE FOR! Crazy for this dress.

 These key features are a must
1. One cut sleeve to bodice-kimono sleeve
2. Fitted midriff
3. Draped high neckline-think of it as a controlled cowl neck or an exaggerated bateau.

bateau:  noun (not the boat, the neckline)  The  A wide high neckline that follows the curve of the collarbone and ends in points at the shoulder seams.

 This one is pretty close! The view in red, add a belt for a more defined natural waistline.   It even has the empire waistline seaming with a blouson style bust, The perfect balance of cowl-meets-beateau neckline, plus the fitted midriff.
Simplicity 1510 CherryCorners

I think all of these work too!

Why not try separates?
Great draped necklines!

 then...add a high waisted skirt for a sleek more fitted midriff.

Simplicity 3495 Fripperie         Vogue 8697 ThePatternSource               Vogue 7697 DejaVuPatterns

Movie trivia time

What a couple!  The Long Hot Summer was their screen debut as an official couple.  They were married by the time the movie was released.  The two met 5 years earlier during a Broadway production of Picnic.  Joanne was just an understudy.  This non-Hollywood style couple were married for 50 years until Paul's death in 2008.

    The Long, Hot Summer wardrobe credit goes to two of Hollywood's heavy hitters-
Adele Palmer (costume design)
and Charles LeMaire (executive wardrobe designer)
Both of these designers were career studio designers, each with an enormous filmography.  They also designed a few sewing patterns,  Adele Palmer for Advance and Charles LeMaire for Spadea.  Best to keep an eye out for those rare gems.

  Stumbled on 
this German movie poster, ΓΌber cool!


And this vintage vinyl is available on Etsy check it out at
The Vinyl Frontier

Now, back to the dresses, here are just a few worn by Eula and Clara Varner in The Long, Hot Summer.  Great attention to the details, lovely collars, lace accents, pleats, darts, and the fitted midriff. 

I think it would be a great balance to add a bit of each gals style. 
Oh the southern charm in these lovely vintage sewing patterns, all patterns featured are all from members of the Pattern Patter Team for sale on Etsy.  
(L-R) Simplicity 1031 ShellMakeYouFlip     McCalls 3481 ComeSeeComeSew
Simplicity 3563 AdeleBeeAnnPatterns     Advance 9556 sewbettyanddot     McCalls 3781 Redcurlzs

(L-R)  McCalls 4957 FarfallaDesignStudio    McCalls 9819 FriskyScissors
Simplicity 8288 PinkPolkaDotButton     McCalls 5690 EleanorMeriwether
Simplicity 2105 RosesPatternTreasury

How can you get all this style into your closet? 
I told you, pull out your tissues! Pattern tissue that is, 
go sew it girl! 
Below is a Pattern Patter Team Treasury inspired by the lovely fashions in The Long, Hot Summer.
                                 CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON ETSY

Here's another treasury inspired by The Long Hot Summer, featuring some Pattern Patter Team Vintage Sewing Patterns, along with other fun Etsy finds.
                                         CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON ETSY


  1. Thanks for the pattern feature - and what fun picks! Time to get going on sewing the summer frocks!

    1. Exactly, summer will be here before we know it. :)

  2. Great styles that really show the era!!

  3. Amy - I always look forward to your Cinema posts! So much glamour in old movies. The everyday dresses were so beautiful!

  4. Beautiful and classic! Thanks so much!

  5. I love combining some of my favorite things...vintage fashion, patterns, old Hollywood and movies. :)

  6. Amy--your cinema blogs are the greatest.
    I hope you have the time to do some more with this much depth of story and product.
    They are a joy to read and your research is impeccable.

  7. Great patterns and wonderful movie trivia!

  8. I'm looking forward to a long hot summer!
    Loved this blog post Amy!

  9. I love when you do these posts, Amy! Classic movies with classic fashion - just doesn't get any better:-) Thanks for including one of our patterns in the Treasury!

  10. Thanks for adding my pattern!

  11. These classic movie posts are so much fun and interesting too!! Thanks so much for featuring my pattern Amy :)

  12. Thanks all! so fun to look through all your gorgeous patterns!

  13. What a wonderful historic view of fashion through film.

  14. I love these cinema fashion posts. Neat to see photos from the movie and a corresponding pattern.

  15. Great post! I love these dresses - and the patterns. Hooray for Summer Sewing Season!

  16. Amy, great fashions from fascinating movies. Thanks for the post and for showcasing so many lovely vintage sewing patterns for the styles of the era. Love these styles!

  17. as a southern belle from a long line of belles I must admit that I have worn some of these dresses in the past and gotten the male adulation I desired, I was not a slim girl but curvy -38-28-36,not beautiful but naturally attractive with thick glasses.Clothes do make the girl but be sure you can handle it !

    1. You are awesome! Quite a nice figure you had! Beauty - everyone is beautiful to someone.

  18. Love this combination of movies & fashion !
    Perfect timing for all of us down under....its hot & humid ..bring on the Mint Juleps !
    Great job Amy....More Please !

  19. Love the neckline on that black dress Joanne Woodward wears. I saw this movie a long time ago. What a cast! Orson Welles and Angela Lansbury too.

  20. This is so funny. My husband and I just watched this movie again, again...this last weekend. Such a good one. I'm definitely a Clara not a Eula in style myself. I wish I could be a little more free like Eula. Alas!

  21. Wonderful blog post and matching of patterns to the costumes. Those fab. I just watched Paul and Joanne in "Paris Blues" today. Fashion not quite so cool in that one, but Paul--so dreamy!

  22. Amy, I love your Sewing through the Cinema posts! Such great styles. I look forward to the next one. :-)

  23. I am seriously crazy for that black dress. I wonder what happened to it, if it went up for an auction somewhere ended up in some one's closet or what? It's hard to tell all the details since it is black, oh how I would love to see that dress in person. :)

    Thanks for all the great words...I'm already spying on the next movie. :)

  24. I've read the book, but I so need to see the movie! I LOVE the dresses. My figure was made for 50s dresses, I think, and not so much for today's. Maybe I should take a bold new fashion leap this year and start wearing them! Thanks for including me in the treasury too, Amy!

  25. Great blog post, and I love all the patterns you featured. Thanks for including mine!

  26. Very interesting to read! The patterns you chose were all amazing! Thanks for including my pattern!!

  27. Thanks all! I have the next movie in fashion view. :)