<![CDATA[Moonlit Memory - Clothing & Jewelry Chat]]>Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:15:45 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Beautiful Brands: Boston Proper]]>Thu, 10 Jul 2014 06:56:16 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/beautiful-brands-boston-properDo you have a wild spirit? A sensuous glamour? A vibrant personality? A dreamy side? Boston Proper has something for you! Lots of animal prints, lots of sparkle, and lots of flirty fashions mixed in with graceful flowy clothing touched with the exotic.
There once was a scattershot catalog called Boston Proper that offered women’s clothes mixed-up with everything from toys to office supplies. By 1990, it had gone bankrupt and was about to disappear. But it intrigued Michael Tiernan. The Tiernan family of Florida had been in mail-order retail since 1978, establishing Mark Fore & Strike apparel and Charles Keath gifts. Tiernan bought the Boston Proper name and customer mailing list from the bank.

The company turned Boston Proper into a fashion-only catalog. They eventually got rid of their other retail divisions so they could invest completely in Boston Proper. Acting on the mantra “Let’s Make it Sexy,” the former President & CEO of Victoria’s Secret catalog was brought in as a main consultant.

Late-2011, Boston Proper was sold to Chico’s. (Chico’s FAS also owns White House Black Market and Soma Intimates.)

5 words defining the Boston Proper customer are on the walls of the room they compose the catalogs in: Daring.  Distinctive.  Sophisticated.  Sensuous.  Self-Assured.
Boston Proper ruffled peplum wrap sweater
Boston Proper sells women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories. They carry size Misses XS-L and in the last couple years added XXS and XL to many designs. Boston Proper uses the classic sizing chart (XXS 0, XS 2-4, S 6-8, M 10-12, L 14-16, XL 18.)  They help their customers find the right fit by categorizing each item as Fearlessly Fitted (bodycon,) Sensuously Shaped (slim cut,) Effortless (gentle shaping,) or Relaxed (oversized.)

Boston Proper catalog has recently branched out into 9 stores: 7 in Florida, 1 in North Carolina, and 1 in Texas. More are on the way! (If you are ever in Florida, there are rumors that Boston Proper takes the labels off their overstocks, damaged items, and seconds then pallets them off to local places.)

There is no one RN (manufacturing number) to look for on Boston Proper clothes. This is because Boston Proper does not design or manufacture any of their items. With no in-house designers, they create a catalog of distinctive items by finding offerings from suppliers in China, Peru, Mexico, and the USA that fit the Boston Proper image. The apparel they choose will get the Boston Proper label attached and be exclusives available only through them.
Boston Proper full maxi skirt white and blue
There have been changes in President, CEO, owners, and focus over the last few years at Boston Proper. 2013 struck some fans as a misstep. But 2014 Spring/Summer showed that there are still beautiful Bohemian treasures to be found in this brand! 

<![CDATA[Beautiful Brands: Garnet Hill]]>Fri, 04 Jul 2014 03:15:49 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/beautiful-brands-garnet-hillWhat to expect from Garnet Hill clothing? Versatile casual clothes that never let comfy look boring! Focusing on easy every day wear, Garnet Hill keeps you fashionable via fresh colors and fun prints.
Garnet Hill catalog started in 1976 selling bedding. A New Hampshire couple had discovered pure cotton flannel sheets on a trip to England. At the time, these were not widely available in the United States. They imported some to their tiny house in the woods and started a mail-order business named after the hill behind their home. Within 6 month, it was successful enough to move to a shop on Main Street.

Tragically, Grant Dowse and Pegge Kirschner were killed in a plane crash in 1985. The Hamblin family took over the company. In 1997, they sold Garnet Hill to Cornerstone Brands, owner of such catalogs as The Territory Ahead and Travelsmith. Cornerstone Brands was bought in 2005 by IAC, the force behind the Home Shopping Network.

The main office of Garnet Hill is still on Main Street in the same New Hampshire town. And those thick flannel sheets have been in every catalog for the last 38-years.
Garnet Hill catalog sells bedding, home décor, girls’ clothes, jewelry, intimates, and women’s clothing. They carry size Misses XS-XL along with a limited range of Petites. Garnet Hill used the classic sizing chart (XS 4, S 6-8, M 10-12, L 14-16, XL 18) up until Winter 2013/2014. They now seem to have switched to the newer sizing chart (XS 2, S 4-6, M 8-10, L 12-14, XL 16.)

Green Cotton is a partnership with a Danish company to produce organic women’s sleepwear (pajamas, nightgowns, robes) and little girls' casual clothes.

Zinni is yoga wear available only at Garnet Hill. 

They also work with Eileen Fisher, Chan Luu, and Lilly Pulitzer to provide exclusive designs.

Garnet Hill carries a bevy of non-exclusive merchandise from many brands: Velvet by Graham & Spencer, Sanctuary, Born, prAna, Gentle Souls, Trink Turk, The North Face, and more. (The range of brands can cause sizing confusions. Pay attention to the number Garnet Hill puts next to a brand’s size. This will show you, for example, that they consider an Eileen Fisher XL to be similar to a Garnet Hill 18 but a Velvet by Graham & Spencer XL to be similar to a Garnet Hill 10.)

The best finds are in the Garnet Hill house brand. Their great value lies in the fine fabrics: Pure merino wool cardigans. Pima cotton tops. 100% silk flowing skirts. Soft cashmere sweaters. Breathable linen pants. Dresses out of viscose/model knits that have a beautiful drape. (I could live in their maxi dresses!)

The only place to purchase these wonderful pieces in person is the New Hampshire outlet named Garnet Hill: Firsts and Seconds. The items there may be first-quality overstocks or may be factory seconds with defects and damage.

Items made by Garnet Hill will have their RN (manufacturing ID) number on the label: 102816. They also occasionally do deals with two wholesalers, in which case the RN numbers will be 76971 or 104386 

If you want quality casual clothes enlivened with a touch of romance, an air of glamour, or a little retro kick-- start shopping for Garnet Hill!
<![CDATA[Beautiful Brands: Sundance Catalog]]>Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:27 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/beautiful-brands-sundance-catalogSundance specializes in clothing with modern versatility but antique-inspired details. Look for pintucking, ruffles, lace trims, and embroidery that make your everyday outfits special!
Sundance Village was founded in 1969 by movie star Robert Redford as an artisan community in the Rocky Mountains. Sundance Catalog was created in 1989 to offer the unique items handcrafted at Sundance Village that people had fallen in love with while visiting for the film festival. In 2004, Redford sold the company to two private equity firms.

Many of the jewelry pieces are still handmade in the USA. Unfortunately, almost all of Sundance clothing and accessories are now factory-made in Asia.

Sundance has remained true to its commitment to the environment from office resources conservation to recycled shipping supplies.
Sundance mail-order specializes in jewelry, household décor, furniture, and women’s clothing sizes Petites and Misses XS-XL. They use the newer sizing chart. (XS 2, S 4-6, M 8-10, L 12-14, XL 16.) Once a year, they make a special run of men’s clothes.
The only places to purchase the Sundance label’s beautiful clothing are online, a shop in Colorado, a boutique in California, and the outlet in Salt Lake City. (Be careful when shopping at the Utah outlet! Look the item over well, as it sells damaged goods and factory seconds with manufacturing defects mixed in with the first-quality overstocks.) 

Along with exclusive items that carry the Sundance label, Sundance Catalog sells other fashion brands. The more popular brands will be stated in the description. Among these are Johnny Was, Frye, CP Shades, and Sanctuary.  The less popular brands they have a habit of not revealing in the item information. Among these are Blue Tassel, True Grit, J.P. & Mattie, and Aventura. None of these are made BY Sundance Company. Blue Tassel, for example, is an L.A.-based brand that is available in many department stores. They produce 100s of styles a year and Sundance Catalog will only carry 1-2 dozen of those.

Items made by Sundance Company will have the RN (manufacturing ID number) of 106205 on the label. 

Sometimes people confuse Sundance for an Anthropologie brand. The two companies are competitors and do not partner. They do share a distinctive Bohemian look. 

Sundance’s romantic aesthetic is one of my favorites! 
<![CDATA[Color Your World: Spring Fashions]]>Sat, 26 Apr 2014 09:44:45 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/color-your-world-spring-fashions“O WERE my Love yon lilac fair,    
Wi' purple blossoms to the spring”

          -- Robert Burns

Oh, how we yearned through the monotonous winter for a single flash of green, a brief moment of blue, one petal of purple. But now it is Spring! And we are ready to let our spirits become drunk on color.

Don’t know where to begin your celebration? Dress yourself in joyful colors!

Pantone released their Spring 2014 top colors for fashions, accessories, and decor. 
Women’s Wear Daily ranked those 10 colors by how frequently they appeared in designer runway shows. And the top 4 colors for Spring are. . . 

(drumroll please)

#4. Celosia Orange. A fresh citrus tone that is sure to perk you up.

Boston Proper Dress

#3. Radiant Orchid. This pretty purple-pink blend is similar to Lilac.

MoonlitMemory Shawl

#2. Violet Tulip. A soft lavender perfect for antique-inspired items.

Soft Surroundings Skirt

#1. Dazzling Blue.  The color designers loved most is a strong blue that brings to mind brilliant summer seas.

Moonlit Memory Shrug

<![CDATA[Cuddle Up with Cashmere: Part 2]]>Mon, 30 Dec 2013 07:15:05 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/cuddle-up-with-cashmere-part-2What are some features to look for in your search for quality cashmere?

Where it comes from. Where the cashmere was sourced makes a difference in how it lasts. In the steppes of Inner Mongolia, the cold climate means the goats grow fuller undercoats.  This makes for long fibers that have higher resistance to pilling than shorter ones. As the Inner Mongolian cashmere Moonlit Memory favors is washed and worn, it will become softer but not wear.

How many plys it has. The thinner the fibers, the softer the cashmere feels. The ideal is to have a strong yarn made up of multiple thin plys (or threads.) 1-ply yarn is weak and has an awkward “torque.” 2-ply is much better. The more individual plys that compose the single strand of yarn, the larger the yarn. (Though, with the magic of cashmere, it gets no heavier.) The yarn we used for our romantic flutter sleeve shrug was 4-ply. This was full enough to give the desired depth and texture to the dimensional design.

Some other signs of quality cashmere: Crinkle the fabric and see if it bounces back without wrinkles. Rub it and see if there is any fuzziness (future pills.) Hang it and see if it drapes. Stroke it against your neck and check for lack of itchiness (most effective if you have sensitive skin.) .

In the cold Himalayans, where cashmere is originally from, it has always been treasured. It eased the mountain chill while still being soft and light. This rare yarn was collected over years and then worn by the older ones of the tribe during their last decades. 

Still today, the right cashmere can be a practical luxury that provides beauty and pleasure throughout a lifetime.
<![CDATA[Cuddle Up with Cashmere: Part 1]]>Wed, 27 Nov 2013 12:14:44 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/november-27-2013Mom has fallen in love.

It is a bittersweet love. 
It is a doomed love. 
It is a yarn love. 

A valued repeat customer of Moonlit Memory’s was enjoying a gossamer acrylic version of our “Era of Romance Shrug” and made a couture request for the same pattern in 100% fine cashmere. 

I sourced the yarn online and picked out Jade-brand Inner Mongolian cashmere yarn. 

Such light soft texture! Such graceful drape! Mom says it was the best yarn she has ever worked with. It had none of the twisting, splitting, knotting, sliding, or drag that can torment crocheters. She described it as the yarn seeming to work with her. (If it wasn't $45 a hank, I don't think she would consent to work with any other yarn again.)

So how come when I felt a cashmere sweater in the store all that happened was a rash?

Over 10 years ago, the regulations were changed for garments to be labeled cashmere. Before, there were tight controls that it had to be the downy underhairs.

Then everything changed. First the regulations were altered to allow the coarser top hairs from the Cashmere goat to be harvested along with the soft underlayer. Then they allowed it to be mixed with hairs from other goats, sheep, etc. and still be labeled cashmere. Now “cashmere” only has to be 51% from cashmere goats. It may not even contain any of the silky undercoat that used to be the only fiber in classic luxurious cashmere.

There are still the pure forms of cashmere out there. But there are also new cashmere sweaters for $60 that are something completely different under an alias. Since the latter were the only cashmere Mom and I had ever experienced, we had no idea the beauty of the former.

Are you are eager to fall in love, too? 
So what features should you look for in your search for quality cashmere? I’ll reveal some in my next post.

<![CDATA[The Feminine Beauty of a Shawl]]>Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:42:10 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/october-2013Do you ever dress up in an elegant outfit for a special occasion only to shiver with bare arms or ruin the look with a casual sweater?

You, my dear, need a crochet shawl. (Or a hand crocheted shrug. But I’m focusing.)

Graceful shawls, wraps, and stoles were one of the daily delights of most women up until the 1930s. Houses had no central heating or insulation, so a shawl was welcome warmth while still looking delicate and being flattering.

Moonlit Memory has spent months working on an original shawl pattern and our first accidental shawl.

Shawls show up in almost every area of the world. The Persian shāls were named over 3,000 years ago and were part of the traditional dress for both genders in Middle Eastern countries.  

Kashmir, India adopted the shal and their fine wool versions became renowned. By 1700, they were a sought-after luxury for women in Western Europe, where the word was altered to shawl.

The Victorian era saw a love of Oriental designs. Silk shawls embroidered with dragons, pagodas, and exotic birds were shipped from China to the port of Manila, Spain. These inspired the “Spanish shawl” that lengthened the fringe and changed the motifs to ones with local meaning, particularly roses and lilies.

Meanwhile, crochet was invented in Europe, with the earliest known example being from 1800. Intricate openwork shawls were created with crochet. Different forms of crochet were improvised all over Europe as an alternative to true lace, which took so long to hand make with threads that only the richest could afford it.

With Industrial Revolution, machines were made that could mass-produce basic lace and lace shawls became possible for the new Middle Class. Eventually, knitting also came to be done by machine, which helped lead to the demise of the shawl in favor of the sweater. (Most crochet in stores today is machine made, but it took longer to come up with the method and many crochet stitches can still only be hand-crafted.)

Yes, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) really did wear a shawl! While it is fun to picture that dark craggy head emerging out of a cloud of lacey white, men’s shawls were more blanket-like: dark colors, woven fabric, houndstooth or border patterns, with thick short fringe. A man wearing a shawl was not uncommon at the time, but it was surprising for the circumstances. It was an unfashionable habit associated with poor rural folks, like the President originated from.

We were obviously thinking more Lady and less Lincoln when we created our “Antique Elegance” shawl! 

It addresses the most pressing modern question about shawls: “Thousands of years, beauty, warmth. . .whatever. How do I get the thing to stay on?”

Shaping makes all the difference. We designed our romantic wrap to curve in the front so that it stays on easily.

With our “accidental” shawl, we solved the problem by making a shawl that is not a shawl.

MoonlitMemory’s "Reminiscence Vest or Shrug" was originally just a vest. It was a striking ruffled top designed mostly by Mom, who was inspired by memories of vintage pinwheel motifs.

While playing around with an early sample, I realized that a few little tweaks would make it convertible. Now turning the vest upside down creates a shrug that looks like a layered shawl! 
<![CDATA[Spring Fashions! Anthropologie, Soft Surroundings, Sundance]]>Fri, 24 May 2013 10:19:46 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/may-24-2013The whole earth has been waiting for this: Spring! 

Rains have a purpose now, any chill promises to be fleeting, and an awakening has come. The birds rejoice in song, the plants bloom with petals, and we make a joyful cry via. . .pretty clothes!

The fuzzy sweaters and plush jackets that felt so cozy last Fall turned heavy and constricting some time ago. Now we finally get to fling off our fabric cocoons and emerge to flutter our silken (or cotton or linen) new wings.

We had some lovely spring things "fly off the shelves" and it is fun hearing that their recipients are loving them! Here is just a taste of my favorites among the latest fashions:
The "Hibiscus Dare" long maxi dress by LeifNotes from Anthropologie is a stunner! A lush tropical floral print sheer floats around you with full slit batwing sleeves, flared skirt, and a dramatic high-low / hi-lo hemline. In a size 14 that is perfect for a Tall or for a Misses who wants to turn heads with a train.

A full long skirt swirling about you is pure sensual pleasure! And few skirts are better to take for a twirl than a Soft Surroundings one. This gorgeous tiered chiffon maxi skirt is of alternating deep black and fresh seafoam / aqua, both stamped with shimmering gold motifs. The green lining makes the black panel have fascinating shifts in tone as you move.

As a clothing-loving seller, some of my happiest work memories this Spring will be of the Sundance Catalog blouses. 

The tops I chose to offer were all lavished with ruffles, embroidery, lace, pleats, eyelet, ribbons, pintucks, and/or cutwork. Usually silk, every one of them was as light as a whisper. They seemed to have time-traveled to me!
<![CDATA[Perfect Paris Present: Jewelry for Teens]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2013 10:05:51 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/april-16-2013“I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris. . .”
-- E. Y. Harburg

Ah, the dream of Paris! A few months back I was contacted by the mother of a young girl whose imagination had been lit up by the light of that dream.

A lovely Eiffel Tower necklace and earrings set that I handmade with an assortment of purple and pink glass beads is listed in MoonlitMemory Etsy shop.
Mary found it while searching for the perfect finishing touch for her special daughter’s Paris-themed party. She wanted to know if I would adapt the necklace design to not have the purple. However, the more we talked, the clearer it became to me that her teen needed a design as individual as her. 

The finished jewelry set was designed via a series of problems being answered:

How can you invest in a special piece for a growing child? 

So that she could wear the necklace now and in the future, I made an adjustable chain back. 

How can you purchase a heartfelt present that she could keep for years while also keeping to a budget? 

I chose a timeless solid sterling silver Eiffel charm as the pendant, offsetting the cost with practical silver-coated findings.

How do you keep up with a kid's changing tastes and favorites? 

I found a medley of pretty pinks that will blend with everything from pastels to bold tones. This also allowed the jewelry to be sure to match her pink party dress when  I had no way of knowing the exact color for certain. 

How do you have a delicate-sized necklace posse an exuberance and excitement that matches the teen wearing it?
To keep the single strand from feeling dull, I picked beads in an assortment of sizes and shapes then interspaced them with varied touches of gleaming silver. 
Finally, to satisfy the daughter's love of large sparkles, I purchased the matchless Swarovski crystals and got most with Aurora Borealis treatment for extra iridescent shimmer.  

Mary was thrilled with the result! It was a fun commission and it meant so much to hear how happy we had made her daughter.
<![CDATA[Four Ways to Have Multiple Colors in Crochet]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2013 09:49:04 GMThttp://moonlitmemory.com/clothing--jewelry-chat/march-23-2013Here (finally!) are the four different ways to have multiple colors on a hand crocheted garment: 

1. Buy a variegated yarn. Yarn that has been made by the company to have many colors on a single strand is very popular. They now make yarns that even have multiple textures/looks on one strand. People use it as an easy way to make a plain pattern look complex.  

2. Make separate solid pieces and then sew them together with yarn. 

3. Graph-style crochet creates a pattern by picking up one color and dropping the other as you work back and forth, occasionally having to drop one piece of yarn permanently in order to preserve an even texture.  Here is an example of Mom’s graph-style handiwork. 
4. The technique of fastening off the first yarn and joining on the new yarn for each change of color. The beautiful colorblock vest requires that skill.

Method 3 leaves some loose thread strands and method 4 can leave clothing looking like it is covered in fringe. To have a structural integrity to the item, each of these strands should be carefully knotted and worked back in with a small needle. 

Properly done, you should not be able to even find where they once were. However, doing it properly takes a tremendous amount of time and patience.

The reason we will not be making for sales the stretchy medallion-motif top is that it takes too much time to make it right.

At least we did get to see our design and my mother’s amazing handiwork brought to life. And I got to take some pictures to share with you!