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Why Don’t You . . . ? Create an Evening Envelope

In the mid-1930s, Diana Vreeland’s weekly words of advice in her Harper’s Bazaar “Why Don’t You . . .?” magazine column ranged from mildly extravagant to completely out of this world.

If there’s anything we need right now, it’s a little whimsy, in portions great and small. The current cocktail of colder weather, rollercoaster world events, and lives lived mainly on screens, needs a bit of sugar. My aim is to give you a spoonful—or 12—and inspire you to create your own bits of happiness.

Inspired by Diana Vreeland

For the next few months, I’ll be taking some of Vreeland’s wildest gems and reimagining them from a sewist’s perspective—and yes, I’m specifically using the word “sewist” as a descriptor. Like Vreeland, I believe in the artistry of fashion, life, and words. I’m all about what looks pleasing to the eye, in all aspects of life. To me, sewist is where artist and sewer meet.

Because the holidays are coming up in minutes, and they’re looking a lot different for everyone this year, I’m sharing some inspiration from Vreeland’s holiday gift suggestion from December 1936: “Why don’t you . . . give a length of exquisite brocade—enough for an evening envelope, to bind a favorite book, or make a little jacket?

Marcy Harriell wearing a large-scale, colorful print evening envelope

Gift-making mad dash

In December 2016, a friend of mine threw out this holiday gift challenge in a text chain: “BIG gift-giving this year. I have to make up for the last two years.

I replied: “Oh, it’s on. Like Donkey Kong.

And that’s how, on December 14, 2016, I found myself tearing my stash apart, looking for enough glitz to clothe not one, but four girlfriends in holiday cheer—because I am an overachiever with a fierce competitive streak.…

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  1. User avater
    pamhoward | | #1

    Hi Marcy!! Welcome to Threads as a Digital Ambassador!! I love your beautiful garments and great sense of humor.😁
    Take care,
    Pam Howard (one of your fellow Digital Ambassadors)

  2. user-7797311 | | #2

    OMG. Look at the quality of the fabric and sewing culture that I see. totally awestruck and it was such a fantastic read.

  3. User avater
    marcyharriell | | #3

    Thank you so much Pam! I’ve talked to you in my mind during your awesome shirt making class 😁 it was an excellent conversation!

  4. User avater
    GennyG | | #4

    Ah! thank you so much! I was about to de-stash that pattern, but you've reminded me what I originally saw in this. Hopefully I will actually get around to making it. Welcome to threads and thank you for the inspiration

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #10

      Oh I’m so glad you didn’t de-stash this gem! I hope I’ve twisted your arm enough 😁

  5. user-7427230 | | #5

    I love the ideas in the article, and would like to make this! What fabric did you use?

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #8

      Thank you! I used a thick poly taffeta from the “Nina Ramel Fabric Box,” she has wonderful monthly offerings, but sadly once it’s gone, it’s gone. I’ve also done this pattern in brocade, a kantha quilt, and jacquard 😊

  6. Cynthia2 | | #6

    What a gorgeous jacket! I'd love to know what fabric you used and where you bought it. Thanks!

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #9

      Thank you Cynthia! Sadly this fabric is gone-zo but I found it at “MyDailyThreadz,” the Nina Ramel Fabric Box. It’s a monthly offering, she has amazing, but limited, quantities.

  7. 7thPAReserves | | #7

    I LOVE Mrs. Vreeland. I have had her audio-biography "DV" for over 20 years. I love the "Why Don't You" column she used to have....

    Best wishes to you and I'll be reading your articles.
    ~Audrey Trussell

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #11

      Thank you Audrey! I have a coffee table book of her memos, you can practically hear her leaping off the page with her great big scrawled script.

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