As soon as a friend came in our little sewing shop with a copy of the Dayton Daily News article on Cincinnati’s Art Museums High Style exhibit I knew I needed to go see the exhibit right away.\n\nThings I’m not into, hair, make up, uncomfortable shoes and shaving but I love, love, love pretty dresses and handmade.

Tracy Mcelfresh Tracy McElfresh Tracy McElfresh

Soon after my best friend Kelly said she would like to go with me to see the art exhibit. We changed our girls night to girls day for our November meet up. She picked me up at 10am Thanksgiving weekend and we hit the road to Cincinnati. It’s about 40 minutes south of Dayton, Ohio. This is us overlooking Cincinnati.

Tracy McElfresh and Kelly Wood

Since she is my best friend she really appreciates how annoying I can be with my camera because memories are so important to us. We are a little sentimental for sure! I try hard to protect my friends privacy and not upset anyone that doesn’t want their photo taken.

Cincinnati Art Museum

These are just a few of my ultimate favorites. Elsa Schiapelli’s Seed Pack dress, 1931-41.\n\nCan you guess why out off all of this beautiful dresses this one is my favorite? Me being raised on a frugal (aka poverty) budget my mother never bought me anything new. I learned to sew and refashion at 13 years old. I felt emotionally moved by this dress. To make something so beautiful when you have so very little means a lot to me.

Seed Pack DressTracy McElfresh Cincinnati Art Museum High Fashion

#2 This one was a close match. Lets start with Gilbert Adrain, Dinner Dresses 1944 and lets just say he also designed the costumes for Americas most beloved film The Wizard of Oz . That is not what I chose these two for #2 although I will say it impacted me a little.

These two pieces were inspired by art! I dig that! Can you guess which art style they were inspired by? Cubist paintings from Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso were his muse here. This is also my favorite time period and dress style. I’m HUGE on large prints and the way colors move. I often tease at the shop and say us puerto rican’s love large and loud. Well, I know my family does. If there was one dress I would of loved to flip under and see the construction it’s one of these two. Each piece of color is quilted and pieced in. I’ve already been pondering on how to DIY this technique. All color seams are matched up perfectly. This is not a printed cloth and the craftsmanship was impeccable.

Tracy McElfresh High Style Cincinnati Art museum

The Tarts” Elizabeth Hawes 1937 was my third favorite. It’s the one with the red arrow. When I read she was know for being an outspoken feminist, I looked more closely at her work. I love suggestive attention to erogenous zones as the description implies. I also love the design, gathering, waistline, time period and colors she chose.

Tracy McElfresh High Style Exhibit

Ensemble 1946 looks warm, functional and comfortable and I though I wouldn’t mind making something like that for winter in Ohio. Designer Claire McCardell was considered and widely know for her being the most influential of her generation for American designers. “American Look” I hope to influence an army of makers and designers too.

Tracy McElfresh Cincinnati Art Museum High Style

Let’s move into a little less functional to FUN with these two! The Right is Bonnie Cashin’s 1943 Tweed Toga ensemble. The matching boot covers were too cute.

Tracy McElfresh Cincinnati Art Museum High Fashion

The ribbon dress and how they showed to actual muslin really got me reeling’. The Ball Gown made in Spring of 1947 by Charles James was so pretty. The way the light hit all of the shimmering charmeuse and faille was amazing and the craftsmanship here was grade A+! Oh and there is large piecing again. Everything Charles James had in this exhibit was wonderful.

Tracy McElfresh Cincinnati Art Museum High Style

I can’t leave out those amazing flapper dresses!

Tracy McElfresh Flapper Dresses High Style

There were so many amazing dresses and garments in at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s High Style exhibit that I left out. These were just a small few. If you have the chance to go I highly recommend it and I hope you love it as much as I do.\n\nAs we were leaving I noticed a familiar sticker left on an end cap. It was Sew Huston’s sticker from her little sewing shop in Huston, Texas. I thought wow us indie sewing shop owners are everywhere! I felt it was an opportunity to leave my card beside it.

Tracy McElfresh

I’m home now and happy I had enough money to buy the books they were selling in the gift shop to study more about all the dress history out there. I can not wait to take my sewing to the next level with all this design and love of color in my life.

High Style book\

Tracy McElfresh sketch book

It’s Cyber Monday, remember to blow up the internet with Handmade!!! Visit my TRacyseWS etsy shop.

Photo by James Hayden Dayton Ohio

Tracy McElfresh

Tracy McElfresh is the owner of Tracy’s Sewing Studio LLC.
Tracy McElfresh