The Dispatch from Moline, Illinois on October 31, 1980 · 9
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The Dispatch from Moline, Illinois · 9

Moline, Illinois
Issue Date:
Friday, October 31, 1980
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EmphasiS onLife&Leisure' THE DAILY DISPATCH, Moline, Illinois Fit, Oct. 31, 1980 Save money f look sharp Sewing with Bottie: A labor of love By JAN HEINTZ Dispatch Emphasis Editor Today's woman is in a dilemma: Her busy lifestyle demands a well-rounded wardrobe, but her money is gobbled up by necessities - food, mortgage and transporation costs. . Dottie Mowen, Moline, feels she has the perfect solution to keep a woman on-budget and well-dressed -sew! Mowen's passion for fabrics began a long time ago, and was renewed this year when she tried to find real Madras fabric for a blazer she hoped to make for herself. "IT WAS going to be my summer outfit," she explains. "So I wanted it to be exactly the way I had envisioned it. "I have always loved to sew," she says. "When I was very young I used to visit my grandmother in Dowds, . Iowa, where she was a seamstress. "I remember, I almost used to drive her crazy with questions about the seams. Some of the scraps I used for doll clothes were too small to make them correctly, with the seams together." MOWEN SAVS her grandmother had "big books of fabric samples, and she used to pull out the samples for me to work with. I just loved making things." And she still does. Dottie, the wife of James Mowen, an attorney, and mother of four children, Dome, 12, Jim, 9, Carrie, almost 6, and Jennifer, 1, sews a lot. Besides making clothes for herself and her family, she does handwork crewel and needlepoint. LAST SPRING, as she searched for the perfect fabric for her project, Mowen says she was first exposed to Letter's. "I found exactly the material I had hoped for and realized that there were probably lots of other I I " ,i V f 1 Vr-.w - j 1 i I ' - 1 j retell r V- yy ? ts'? "r' 1 y.l, Dispatch photos by Fred Marzolph Deciding on fabric for her next project isn't became a fabrics representative. Mowen shows work for Dottie Mowen, Moline. She likes what exclusive designer materials in her home for a she's doing, and that's one of the reasons she few days each month. women looking for similar 'specialties.'" To carry her sewing interest even further, Mowen decided to become a Leiter representative. And she shows the fabrics, by appointment, in her home. LEITER IS not carried in retail stores, explains Mowen, but is sold exclusively through home showings. "We aren't in competition with the fabric shops," she says, "because the fabrics we carry, for the most part, are not available in stores." Mowen is speaking about the 100 percent cashmere, the all-silk tweed, and the double-faced woolens, just to name a few of the luxury fabrics. But she emphasizes that the fabrics are available in prices ranging from $60 to $2.95 per yard. ONCE A month, for four or five days, Mowen invites friends, relatives and neighbors to come to her home to view the latest in designer fabrics. If you want to bring a friend, that's fine, too, she says, but please make an appointment for the showing. While the fabrics are shown on large sample cards, Mowen shows actual clothing made up in the materials. She stresses that should someone buy fabric and discover they don't like it when it arrives, Letter's policy is to take back the purchase, without question. This, of course, is also the policy of most large fabric retail stores. AN ACCOMPLISHED seamstress, Mowen is capable of helping customers choose patterns, notions and findings to complete the sewing projects. ' It's comforting for customers to know that Mowen sews almost all her own clothes and makes many things for children, as well. "I used to make things for Jim (her husband), too, but he doesn't wear sports clothes to work, so I gave up on that." Her most recent project was an Ultrasuede suit (a manmade suede fabric made a status symbol by the famous designer, Halston). The fabric is $45 a yard, and Mowen said she was rather nervous when she cut into the yardage. "IT REALLY isn't hard to sew," she says, "but it's time-consuming and requires lots of patience." Most amateur seamstresses should read about or take lessons in the special technicques of sewing with high-priced synthetic fabrics, say the sewing experts. A graduate of the . i L.4 7r'4 i fy. 1 " 1 . if n oiim Him f-i Tit ' -rrr i " ,.., - , ..... ,i Dottie Mowen of Moline is a super seamstress. And here she shows off one of her projects from the past spring. The Madras plaid used in her blazer, shown, was the beginning of a sales career for Mowen. For fall and winter she is making a suit of Ultrasuede, a manmade suede fabric. University of Iowa with a degree in education and history, Mowen is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Morrison of Rock Island. When the Mowens were married in 1965, Dottie was teaching third grade and working at an insurance company during the summer. Her husband was studying for his law degree at Loyola University in Chicago. SHE SAYS she sewed then because it saved money and besides, she likes clothes. As their children were born she found it was still satisfying to make clothes for herself and family, especially since she spent so much time at home with the kids. "I always thought my daughters would be interested in sewing when they got old enough. But maybe I do too much for them - like sewing on their buttons. "Well, it turns out that they're not the least bit interested in sewing." IN ADDITION to sewing, Mowen spends her time doing volunteer work as a member of Moline Junior Service League and Elizabeth Jane Brashear Circle of King's Daughters. She also belongs two bridge clubs and a crafts group. "I even play golf," she smiles, "but not well. And I like to swim, play tennis and garden, and this year I canned tomatoes I grew in my backyard." Mowen's concern is for the woman who wants to sew, but isn't sure she knows enough about it. SHE SUGGESTS sewing classes, like those scheduled Monday and Tuesday at the Dock, Davenport. Pati Palmer, pattern designer, author and nationally-known sewing authority, will instruct two classes Monday and one Tuesday, showing how to sew a suit jacket or blazer in eight hours. Price of the three-hour' class is $18, and includes Palmer's book, "Easy, r PATI PALMER Easier, ing." Easiest Tailor- For reservations, call Karen Weerts, Davenport 355-0833. For an appointment to see Dottie Mowen's display of fall, winter and holiday fabric fineries, make an appointment by calling her at 797-9054. Let's make an 'antique' outfit Chicago Tribune Service In this day of easy sewing, of dresses whipped up in a hurry from a simple pattern and often made simpler with fusible tape or Velcro fastenings, who is going to make a dress calling for 28 pieces of material cut from 11 yards of fabric and finished off with six yards of lace inserts and other trims including four yards of ribbon, two yards of bias tape, plus numerous buttons, hooks and eyes? That was sewing in the early 1900s. A dress pattern could call for a train, chemisette, complicated Renaissance sleeves, a choker collar, boning, a Bertha, buttons, flounces, tucks, faggoting, godets, staybands, or other intricacies that took the time and expertise most of us don't have today. BUT SOMEBODY'S making them today. A new firm called Past Patterns in Grand Rapids, Mich., offering patterns for authentic reproductions of clothing, circa 1900-1905, is doing a brisk business with historical societies, nostalgia buffs, people into yesteryear events, brides who want old-fashioned wedding gowns, and antique automobile associations holding meets at which the participants attend in clothing of that era . PAST PATTERNS was originated by Saundra Altman, a young woman with a yen for the past and an eye to the future. She appreciates old houses and old things, and it was while she was a volunteer at Voigt House, an historic old home that now is a museum in Grand Rapids, that she conceived the idea for supplying a need, patterns for clothing of the past. BUT FIRST she set out to make replicas of the historic day and evening gowns owned by the museum. She believed that exact copies of them would save wear and tear on the originals, which were modeled at semi-monthly fashion shows there. She had no patterns from which to work, but Altman, who attended the Parsons School of Design and who says she is more pattern-maker than seamstress, made the patterns herself. SHE TRACED the original gowns, using a French curve guide for corrections and adjusted the gowns to today's woman by using European Burda patterns in modern sizes. Before she started, she did months and months of research, "mostly in 1902 to 1905 copies of The Ladies Home Journal," to learn the sewing tricks of that era, how to make choke-collar bands, to inset a godet (a triangular piece of material used to make a graceful train), to shape corset covers, create Renaissance sleeves, and other sew-hows peculiar to that age's fashions. "THE FIRST dress I made called for 124 pleats at the bottom," she says. "That took me 21 weeks." The dress, with all those pleats, many tucks, plus lace trim, was a "simple" daytime summer dress. She works on a 1910 electric sewing machine, and on one ball gown she spent six hours putting ribbon trim on by machine. "I noticed that on the original gown, however, all that ribbon was sewed on by hand. Usually the dresses were made on the machine, but the trim was put on with hand stitching." TODAY THE patterns for these and other gowns she has reproduced are shown in a catalog, which she is advertising in nostalgia and historical periodicals. She is becoming known and in addition to orders, often is asked questions, such as where to find old lace. (Her advice on that is to study lace books, then watch the house sales, junk stores and garage sales. "People don't realize yet that old lace is worth having. They don't know what to do with it.") "I KNEW there was a market for ' this type of pattern, since I know of no other source for them," she says. She has tried to keep her pattern notes as simple and instructive as possible. This first catalog is loose-leaf pages, which she hopes people will keep in a notebook, collecting others as she enlarges the series. Her next batch will take a period from 1905, when the styles began to change. "I'd like to create patterns all the way up to the 30s," she says. SHE ALSO has another new venture underway that she calls the Past Patterns Bridal Service. This is a custom-made bridal and antique clothing business, with her partner Kim FreneU doing the sewing from Altman's patterns. If you would like a catalog which includes six gowns, plus lingerie and undergarments of the era, plus one gentleman's suit with an un-constructed sack coat, simple vest, and pleated trousers, send $2 with your name, address and zip code to Past Patterns, 255 Union S. E., Grand Rapids, Mich. 49503. The patterns come in sizes 10 to 16 and cost from $8.50 to $15 each. Sewing myths are unraveled There are more than 45 million women in the United States who sew. Yet there are more misconceptions about home sewing than about almost any other segment of the fashion industry. Patricia Pearsall, who is in charge of the home sewing department of Hoechst Fibers Industries, fiber producers in New York, says there are many popular myths about home sewing, and discussed the myths versus the facts. Here is what she said : Myth: The only reason people sew is to save money. Fact: The primary reason people sew is because It helps them to more effectively utilize their leisure time. Of course, in inflationary times, home sewing can save you one-third of the cost of ready-to-wear clothing. Another reason people sew is to secure the desired fashion with proper fit. Myth: Home sewers are not interested in haute couture and high fashion looks. Fact: Fashion is utmost in the minds of home sewers. Fashions in the pattern books, many designed by world famous fashion creators, illustrate this point. Myth: There are more home sewers in the middle and lower income brackets than in the upper Income. Fact: The more money people make, the more likely they are to sew. Most home sewers are in family Income brackets which start at about $18,000. Myth: Home sewing is one of America's "cottage industries." Fact: Home sewing is big business. The 45 million American women who sew spend nearly $2 billion a year on 1 billion yards of fabric. (And women do 99 percent of the purchasing of retail fashion fabrics.) And nearly 8 million students are learning to sew each year. o

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