Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2011 Colette Patterns Spring Palette Challenge

Sarai at Colette Patterns is hosting a Spring Palette Challenge where you sew a mini wardrobe with specific colors in mind.  It's a 10-week challenge and the first step is to create an inspiration board, which was a lot of fun!  I chose to go with fabrics already in my stash -- hey, that just means more room for future fabric purchases!

My "Playground of the Pacific" Spring Palette
(dress patterns at lower center courtesy Wade Laboissonniere,
Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s)

The palette I chose -- gold, blues, reds, and what I'm calling "sand" -- are vibrant colors (well, except for sand, but I like having a neutral in there to balance the others) that contrast my current dreary winter surroundings.  Virginia has beautiful colors for most of the year, but in the winter everything seems so dull and grey, and not exactly inspiring.  I need a punch of color, or 2 or 3 or 4!  Really, just throw 'em all at me, I can take it.

I had 2 objects that really got me going on choosing a palette: a colorful magnet I picked up during my trip to Hawaii last fall and my grandfather's World War II U.S. Navy uniform that was sent to me a few weeks ago.  He was a Seabee in the Navy, which means he was part of the construction force building barracades and ships, and one of the places he was stationed during the war was Oahu, Hawaii.  I have amazing photos from his time there that he sent to my grandmother, some with notes on the back for her. 

Seabees, Oahu, HI (1945)
Anyway, my uncle sent me what was left of the uniform:  a navy Navy (!) pullover top with pin, his p-coat, and his sailor cap.  I couldn't believe it!  And for being close to 70 years old, they are in great condition (though I have to thank my uncle for getting them cleaned, "thank you!").  The colors I took from the left sleeve of his pullover top can be seen in my inspiration board, gold, red, blue, and sand.  Sand because the original white has dirtied over the years...and from photos I have of my grandfather and his fellow Seabees playing around on a beach.  Of course it was wartime and not all fun and games, but it was nice to see these photos; many soldiers were just young boys out to see the world for the first time, weren't they?  Both the pullover and the p-coat have buttons with anchors on them (very cool!) and I'd like to work that in to my mini wardrobe by searching for similar ones.  I think it'd be fun to do a "Navy-esque" style outfit. 

The magnet has beautiful colors, and it reminds me of the stunning, almost unreal, colors of Hawaii.  Oh, that sure sounds like a nice place to be right now!  I even love the tagline "Playground of the Pacific" and am using that as the name of my palette.  I plan to aim high and create a top paired with pants, and 3 dresses.  I guess technically that would be only 4 garments because I'm working on the pants now as part of a sew-along, but you can't have a top without a bottom!  Not on this blog anyway, no siree.

Colors of Hawaii (photo by my talented sister!)
The old photo on the board is of my grandfather in Oahu in front of the South Seas, which was some kind of recreation/eating place.  My only clue to this is on the back of the photo where my grandfather wrote that it's really nice inside and it's where they got their "steak dinners."  Steak dinners!  Remember that scene in A League of Their Own when Doris says, "Steak dinner, on you!"  What a treat.  Well, these sentences were all just a lead up to the fact I want my outfits to be the type that you can wear to this South Seas place and have a grand old time, eating steak dinners and (in my mind) kicking back to some swing music and overall "swell" times.

I'd like to post photos of the Navy uniform pieces in a future post; I'm so thankful they managed to find their way to me after all these years, the first in my vintage collection and a very cherised one indeed.


  1. What am amazing inspiration to have! I really love your colors, and enjoyed reading all about where the names and inpsiration came from!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed! Thanks for your comment :)

  3. Hi! I just popped over from Casey's "Elegant Musings" blog, because I saw that you had recently posted about Colette Patterns (I'm hoping to order their Ceylon pattern soon).

    And I just had to say that my grandpa was also a Navy man stationed in Hawaii around that time. He was there during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I have lots of pictures of him and his buddies around Hawaii, goofing off (a lot like in the photo you posted :). And I have one of him with two friends in front of the South Seas! :) I just thought that was such a lovely coincidence. You can see the picture in my old post here: .


  4. Wow, Kristen, I'm so glad you shared that with me! Your photos are incredible and I loved seeing the photo of the South Seas from a wider perspective (thatch rooftop!). And they all posed in the same exact spot! Now I want to know more about this South Seas place :)

    I loved your post about your grandparents too, my grandpa died when I was 12 and so I didn't have a chance to ask him very much about these kinds of things. I know he was very proud of his time in the Navy, though he was not at Pearl Harbor during the attack (what an amazing story for your grandpa!). He helped build the USS Missouri that's now docked at Pearl Harbor. Have you ever been there? It's one of the most amazing places I've ever been. A truly humbling experience.

    Thanks again for sharing! Look how much I've rambled on!


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