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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How To Avoid Looking Like a DIY Disaster

Last week Mr. Decor inquired about the state of the cuffs on my long sleeved blouse. While I am a regular wearer of aprons they don’t protect my arms and their accompanying fabric from paint, glue and the other DIY gloriousness I get myself into. I have ruined more than one shirt from such shenanigans.

One of the art history classes I am taking this semester is entitled “The Portrait”. When we began studying the artist self portrait a light bulb went on.


Modernist artist Dorothy Browdy (left) and her sister Ethel in the center, 1935.

So many of the artists depicted themselves wearing a smock.

Carl Ludwig Jessen, “Self-portrait”, 1857

Vincent Van Gogh sported one in 1889.

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin even had a lovely scarf and head wrap to accessorize his smock in 1771.

Chardin pastel selfportrait - Self-portrait - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

So I started looking for smocks like the type Parisan artist Fano Messan wore in 1921.

Fano Messan, 1921, Paris. Photo by Emmanuel Sougez.:

Then I wondered “Were all smocks plain?” Which led me to American artist Florine Stettheimer c.1917-1920.

Then I went further down the rabbit hole in discovering this detail of a smock from the early 1800’s.

It’s a smocked smock. Hee hee.

Detail of Antique Early 1800s Shepherds/Farm Workers Smock.  Check out the smocked details on the yoke area and sleeves.  On eBay, UK, at baraud.:

Why do we no longer wear smocks? I mean even Lady Diana was caught sporting one.

I found an old pattern on Ebay and dug out some old linen curtains.


Wanting to jazz up the fabric I dug through my stash of lace and found this early Edwardian collar.


It took three painstaking hours to seperate it from its original fabric, repair the damaged portions and hand sew it onto the new linen collar. (I first applied iron on interfacing to the linen so that it could support the weight.)

Some of you might wonder why I would spend the time creating something so pretty. But why not? It is not doing any good just sitting in a drawer.


While I was stitching I also got to thinking…

I really should protect my clothes while I am gardening.

If Bunny Mellon wore a smock so could I.

The Eloquence of Silence - In her final interview, the intensely private heiress Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon opened the doors to her legendary Virginia estate and the unparalleled treasures of her lifetime.:

I think floral is appropriate, don’t you?

Sister-wife tunic thingy by super eggplant, via Flickr:

So this old shower curtain and another bit of antique lace is waiting to be transformed too.


Who else wants to bring back the smock?



GSGreatEscaper said...

Me, me me! I have certain 'painting' clothes I save for that job but this winter, in the cold, they don't do the job! I end up wearing an oversized sweatshirt all the time. A warm smock for winter would be just the thing - if only I could sew. Looking forward to seeing your garden smock.

marty (Thrifty & Chic-on a budget) said...

How fun and what a great idea. I think a smock is perfect. Can't wait to see yours all done.

Linda said...

Smocks are so cute and practical. I love them for gardening. Love the look of that blue floral one the most! I'd wear that for all sorts of things - super cute.

Stacey said...

Laura, I can't wait to see your smock. I know it will be darling.

Silvana Joanne said...

These smocks look like so much fun to make! Yours are going to be so beautiful with the added lace...I would wear it out! Can't wait to see them.

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

It's a good idea. My daughter enjoys an apron. It covers, but not as much. Last week Hobby Lobby had all simplicity patterns for 99 cents. I bought my daughter some vintage Barbie patterns. I had no idea they had that. xoxo Su

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

How fun...ever so much better than my paint covered t-shirts! Looking forward to seeing them!

Leslie Anne said...

When I taught kindergarten, I asked the parents to send in old men's dress shirts. I'd put them on the children with the buttons in the back and roll up the sleeves. There was no way paint was getting on their clothes that way!

I love smocks and can't wait to see your finished creations. Just don't make them too cute, or you'll need a smock for your smock!

Lisa said...

Well Laura I think you need to whip up a few and put them in your etsy shop. You can single handedly bring this functionally chic frock (smock) back! No pressure.

Lorrie said...

I think smocks are wonderful! I don't have any, though. Looking forward to seeing yours. The smocked smock is gorgeous!

foxandfinchantiques said...

Laura, as always you have reached me close to my heart. I will share my smock with you, too, on Thursday.
I am now on the outlook for vintage smock patterns to use with my Edwardian lace collars.
These can also be worn in the shop for those of us who have a brick and mortar business. Rather than having a sweater for cold days, the smock would be comfortable. And, I bet that is what the artist with the turban and scarf around his neck was doing, trying to stay warm.

bloggymom said...

My grandmother made me wear a smock as a child-- I was very messy. It was made out of my grandfathers old shirt. I am still messy as an adult (being careful just isn't fun). I might have to get on the smock bandwagon-- it would save my clothes. I might just repurpose one of my husband's shirts.

Karena Albert said...

Amazing as always Laura, I know that your smock will be lovely!

The Arts by Karena

Karena Albert said...

Amazing as always Laura, I know that your smock will be lovely!

The Arts by Karena

Vel Criste said...

I think this needs to come back again Laura! Can't wait to see what you do!

Simply LKJ said...

I have ruined more than one good shirt/blouse either cooking, painting or gardening. My girls always wore smocks when creating and eating, not sure why we've gotten away from it.

Jeanie said...

Totally, totally, totally fabulous. What a wonderful idea! I have some great aprons (my favorite is oilcloth which is wonderful for the big messes!) but you're right -- no sleeves! And I have more than a few pieces of clothing that ended up painted because I'd made an inadvertent head start!

I love the pattern. I wish I sewed! But these are just terrific and you make a good reminder for finding the appropriate mess-me-up garb, be it in the garden, painting, DIY or dare I say, cooking?!

Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

Unless you are flat-chested, smocks are NOT a fashion statement. You would never see Marilyn Monroe or Bridget Bardot wearing one in public. However, they ARE very practical and super cute for children. I made a few with real smocking for my son during his Little Lord Fautleroy period.

I think the "fancy" smocks shown in the above patterns are from the days when women stayed home all day, were domestic goddesses and pregnant half the time. One needed to maintain some semblance of fashion during the day in case another domestic goddess stopped over for coffee and gossip. Today most of us work outside the home, are pregnant only 1.6 times and gossip is conducted via texts. Cute idea but due to being well-endowed, I must stick to hubby's old shirts for DIY (:

Gypsy Heart said...

I remember ladies wearing smocks in the "old" days. I always, always get paint on myself and certainly have accidents in the kitchen. A smock would be great! Can't wait to see yours.


Christine said...

Well, when you put it that way... I'm on board. Now I can't wait to sew something cute to wear in the garden! Looking for my straw hat!

Cristina Garay said...

I so enjoyed this post! A little bit of history and lots of fun. Your creations are going to be adorable. Can't wait to see them!

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

This is obviously another brilliant idea from all of the comments! They are so cute but too cute for me to work in because I wouldn't want to mess them up!