I’m a movie buff. Quoting movies is a favorite pastime (“Like I could tip a cow… by myself!”). Discovering new books as a result of a movie production (either before or after I see it) shapes my current viewpoint and defines moments in my life.
So it’s not too hard to further that thought that there are films that have really made an impact on me. That have helped develop my God-given talent of sewing and turn it into something I am passionate about and am obliged to share with the world.
Perhaps you can identify with some of these.
In the early 1980s, my house had one of the first VCRs and cable TV (yeah – I’m from the MTV generation). I grew up watching The Disney Channel (back when it was good!) and being exposed to all sorts of great films & shows (hello Spin & Marty!).
One of those films was an obscure Haley Mills’ movie called Summer Magic. I’d seen The Parent Trap but then realized Ms. Mills had done six productions with Disney as a child. But Summer Magic rocked my world.
Set in Boston and Maine during “Time: Rag” (circa 1910s here), it has become my ultimate influencer. The sewing scene, aka “Femininity,” delighted me despite being too young at the time to even know what femininity meant.
With it set in New England (a far off place I dreamt about), in an early 1900s house, with pretty dresses and elegant hair, I was in love. Julia had “the most wonderful book of patterns, straight from Paris; the latest gowns!” I was intrigued with that book of patterns. Could I get my hands on one?
I started sewing from an early age. By, oh… 10 or 12, I was making my own clothes. The Victorian period (what I thought was only full skirts and puffed sleeves) filled my thoughts and my frilly skirts reflected that.
In 1985 came a series that most sensible girls my age dreamed about. Puffed sleeves indeed! Anne Shirley’s dress Matthew presented to her at Green Gables (produced by Sullivan Entertainment) made us all swoon.
But Anne’s lovely early Edwardian gown (not that “Edwardian” meant anything to me at the time) in Anne of Green Gables part 2, the one with flowers around the neckline she wore to a charity ball, gave my heart palpitations.
As did the white gowns she wore at The White Sands recital (top) and Diana’s wedding (2nd below).
Oh, how I pined for that world….( just not the falling in mud while chasing a cow part )
Another delightful film that penetrated my dreams was (of course, another obscure film) The Slipper and the Rose. This film introduced me to the loveliness that is 18th Century costuming.
The scenes where Cinderella must remake – by hand – three gowns for the palace ball made me want to leap through the screen and help her out. Then her own pale pink, Fairy Godmother gown sent my senses soaring! What girl doesn’t want to be lavished upon in a party gown and swooped off to a castle where a prince was waiting?
Later I would discover the costume production was overseen and created by the great, late Jean Hunnisett. I had the immense opportunity to meet Ms. Hunnisett where she autographed her books for my library. A very thrilling moment.
And who can forget the amusing scene from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (my favorite Disney animated classic)? Even at an early age I knew that you DO NOT cut a hole in fabric for the feet to go through a skirt. Duh!
But I have to believe Aurora’s dress will always be blue.
And what about the dressmaking scene in Disney’s Cinderella? I SO wanted that pink dress with blue beads.
And I couldn’t end my list of influential movies without an honorable mention of the film everyone loves to hate (but they secretly enjoy or it wouldn’t be a classic): Gone With The Wind (Warner Bros). I collect books on this famed movie of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Despite its flaws, the influence it has on both aspiring costumers and film makers is enormous.
The white ruffled dress when she’s 18:
To the gorgeous white Natural Form bustle dress with blue velvet jacket (my favorite):
GWTW will always have a place in costumers’ hearts. Whether you drool over the ruffles and bonnets (the accurate ones on the supporting cast) or tear the bodices apart for not being dropped shoulders, this film resonates loudly with those of us interested in historical costuming.
So before I make this list even longer with all those movies that shaped my early sewing passion, what films inspired you to pick up a needle & thread?