Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fitting with Angelina di Bello

This week, I found this intriguing book in my thrift store travels:

Tome II, V.1 Dust Jacket
Beautiful binding

Adding the blurbs from the front flap,
 as they are nearly all I could find out about Angelina Di Bello!

It's pretty interesting; lots about how to make basic fitting and design alterations. Large, clear line drawings and instructions that are thorough, but do expect some sewing knowledge. Here are some of the interior pages:

Adjusting for a high bust

Adjusting for one shoulder higher than the other

On the next page, a numbered list explains all the different profiles of dress
 you will learn to make with Angelina Di Bello's courses--
and notice the television channels she also appeared on at bottom

I found out a little more about this author, teacher, and expert dressmaker via the Montreal Gazette. One of the many fascinating things about her was that she began her first studio in 1946 on Tupper St -- a tiny street that I lived on for years in Montreal! Other amazing points directly quoted from that article:
  • In 1966, she was the only North American to be authorized by the House of Dior in Paris to make use of the Dior Pleat, which had been invented by Christian Dior to eliminate unsightly slits in the back of a garment and which Dior had copyrighted.
  • Di Bello worked with Gazette fashion maven Iona Monahan to co-ordinate the fashion shows during Expo 67. She was responsible for fitting and altering the more than 800 garments that were shown during the six-month exhibition.
  • In 1976, she designed and tailored the Greek gown for the women who carried the Olympic flame as well as all the hats worn by athletes in the Parade of Nations at the Montreal Games.

She also had a tv show on public television for many years, both in French and in English -- in English, the name was "Pins & Needles"; in French, "De Fil en Aiguille". According to a conversation on a sewing forum, her son Francesco (Frankie) assisted on her show and it was quite a family affair. Her husband Luigi illustrated her books and patterns and helped with the couture business -- I had wondered why his bio was included on the back of the book I just bought!

If I could have found a clip from her tv shows, I'd have shared it, but sadly, she seems to be absent from much of an online presence. Thank goodness there is enough to know that she was a busy, creative, and very successful dressmaker throughout her working life. I know I'll enjoy learning from this book, and will be keeping my eye out for the other volumes she published as well.


  1. What a lovely find. What a treasure to add to your sewing library.

    1. It is lovely! I like discovering these new-to-me vintage-ish items.

  2. I remember seeing her show on TVO in Ontario in the late 80's and early 90's, and thinking the styles were really old fashioned, but really they were just timeless classics. Her knowledge and techniques were amazing. She used to demonstrate on 1/4 scale patterns. I still remember some of the things she taught on tailoring ( hand stitching seam allowances in the collar area open to get things to lie really flat). She spoke really fast and you had to pay careful attention to everything she said. The production quality of her show couldn't meet some of the stuff that is being aired today, but nothing today matches her show for level of expertise and amount of information being taught.

    1. That sounds so great -- wish I could find some of them online! I can see how the styles would seem old-fashioned in the 80s, but the techniques hold, don't they?

  3. Replies
    1. I can't believe I didn't know anything about her before this -- especially since I lived right in the area she began in! So neat to research a bit.

  4. Replies
    1. It was! It's why I Iove thrift shopping regularly - you just never know what will turn up :)

  5. As a teen interested in sewing and tailoring, I watched her show. As others have said, her expertise precision were second to none. I would pay and arm and a leg for the show to be abailable on DVD!

    1. I would have loved to have been able to watch her -- how nice to hear your thoughts on it!

  6. I just started reading the first volume in French this weekend. It is has if she was just there because the writing is so simple. I was a child and was watching her with my mom. I still remember her voice. I looked to see if she had been on Youtube and did not find anything. Une grande dame.

    1. How nice to have the memory of her voice as you are reading. Thanks for sharing that - wish I'd have seen her shows, but I didn't know about them then.

  7. I still have some old video of her. She was quite amazing. Unfortunately I don't have any complete seasons on video and they are poor quality. I'd love to find DVD's of the shows too!


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