The ‘Aviator’ Dress

By on February 7, 2013

Hi everyone! I am SUPER excited about my new dress and I know all of you We Sew Retro peeps will really love the vintage styling!  I was very inspired by the movie ‘The Aviator’.  Set in the 1940’s it features a stellar cast and some fabulous costumes (though I wasn’t entirely a huge fan of the script…)  There’s a dress worn by Kate Beckinsale’s character (which is supposed to be Ava Gardner) that I just fell in love with:

The dress only shows up for a couple of scenes in the movie but I just love the entire ensemble from the great color blocking combo (yellow and navy) to the keyhole neckline to the FAB-U-LOUS hat!!  I even had the perfect pattern in my stash:

This Advance pattern (No. 4143) is from 1946.  I bought some navy viscose for the main fabric and a delicious mustard yellow wool jersey fabric for the sleeves.  The pattern is magnificent. The keyhole neckline and neckline facing went together quite easily.  The dress has two bodice and back waist darts for shaping and a great four gored skirt.  The hardest part was the sleeves–not so much sewing them but getting them lined up and perfectly matched (they were attached using lapped seams).  Once I was finally happy with the placement of the sleeves the sewing went really smoothly (the wool jersey is a dream to sew with–no slippage there!)

When I originally posted my inspiration photos, everyone was saying how much they loved the hat! I loved the hat too, but where would I find the perfect matching hat?  That’s when Ellen from BMillinery left a comment on my blog that she’d love to try and make the hat to match the outfit if I was interested.  OH YES!!!!  So, I sent her all the fabric I had left over and she made the most amazing hat to match my dress:

Just look at it!!  I absolutely adore it.  The front is an exact replica of the Aviator hat.  We didn’t have any photos of the back of the hat so Ellen used her creativity and just look what she came up with–the back of the hat is stunning!  It’s held on with lots of bobby pins and a hat pin.  There are six small elastic loops on the underside of the hat through which the bobby pins are placed.  Isn’t it just amazing?  Ellen has an Etsy shop and does custom orders as well and I definitely look forward to utilizing her creativity and talent for making such beautiful hats!

To celebrate such a wonderful, thoughtful and creative gift, I knew that I wanted to take some fun Aviator type photos.  There is a fantastic spitfire memorial (603 Squadron) in Edinburgh that I knew would be the perfect backdrop.  I had to get special permission to take the photos at the monument since it’s so close to the Edinburgh airport, but I’m so glad I did!!  These little planes were powerhouses during WWII and were decisive in ensuring a British victory during the final months of the Battle of Britain.

Not only was I able to take pictures in two of the coolest locations in Edinburgh (the Spitfire Memorial and on top of Calton Hill) but I had the opportunity to work with Phil from PSD Photography for the photos.  Phil was nominated as the Scottish Fashion Photographer of the year through the Scottish Fashion Awards.  How freakin’ awesome is that?  His work is absolutely amazing and I feel so incredibly grateful to have been able to be a part of the creative talents of Phil and Ellen for this project! This just fits in perfectly with Sew Grateful Week that I’m hosting over at my blog (because I am really grateful for the amazing talent of both Ellen and Phil)!

This is definitely one of my favourite outfits I’ve ever sewn!  Check out more fun photos on my blog!  And YAY to great sewing inspiration!

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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

The Tiptoe through the Tulips Dress

By on September 6, 2012

Hi everyone! It’s been too long since I posted on my favourite vintage sewing website-We Sew Retro!  I am super excited to share my latest creation.  The dress was inspired by a delicious border print fabric that I got at Edinburgh Fabrics during a meet-up of sewists called the Crafters’ Ceilidh last January!

I used Simplicity 4209 from the 1950s. Is it just me, or to border prints make you think of the 1950s?  It seemed a match made in heaven!   And I just love the draped neckline and gathered skirt.

My border print fabric is a medium-weight dressmaking cotton–so it’s a little heavy for the draped neckline but holds the skirt gathers beautifully.  This border print was fantastic in that half of the fabric was pure white and the other half was the border print–making it super easy to make a dress out of it.  While white isn’t a colour I usually choose, I was sold on the bright teal tulips with brown accents.

The dress closes with a full bodice length zipper down the back.  I followed the directions and inserted a lapped zipper which I am pretty  excited about!

We found a golden patch of flowers and thought that was perfect for the tulip inspired 50’s dress.  YAY! Super happy to be back sewing again, especially since the last garments I made were for a mammoth project making a kilt jacket for my husband’s graduation.  Sometimes it takes awhile to get back into the swing after such a big project but this was the perfect summer sewing interlude. Plus, I figure the dress can transition into autumn and spring as well with a cardigan or jacket. I just love it!  Check out my blog for more pictures.

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1930s | 1940s

A Marlene Dietrich Inspired Suit

By on April 9, 2012

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted here in ages! I just wanted to share my latest creation that was inspired by Marlene Dietrich that I made for the Sew Cinematic challenge.

This is my best Marlene Dietrich pose.  Though nobody makes looking serious and stern look as glamorous as Marlene:
I used McCall 3260 which is a pattern from 1939 for the tailored jacket.  I love how this pattern transcends time and looks almost modern.  It features a notched collar (or a collarless version), neatly shaped front pockets, a pleated sleevecap and a fairly straight sleeve.
 The pattern instructions are very complete and include instructions on interlining the facing and collar (which I did with muslin), using tailor’s tape as well as lining instructions.  I didn’t have any tailor’s tape so I just cut thin pieces of fusible interfacing and placed it just inside the seam line all the way down the front facing of the jacket and also in the collar.  And wow, what a difference that makes to having a crisp edge.  I didn’t use interfacing anywhere else in the jacket as per the pattern instructions.

I forgot to mention the fabric.  This is a British lightweight wool that I got on a super sale at my local fabric store (with a groupon voucher no less).  I LOVE this fabric.

I was very careful in cutting out the fabric to try and match up the plaid stripes.  Can I just say that I love the shape of the pockets as well–a neat crescent shaped opening at the top of an otherwise normal patch pocket.  Topstitching pockets always makes me nervous, though!

 I lined the jacket with some remnant mystery fabric that I got in San Fransisco for $1.  I believe it is also some sort of sateen.  It’s not your normal lining fabric and has a medium-hand.  I really like the structure it gives to the jacket.  I also forgot when I was inserting the lining: a) how much time it takes to hand sew it down, and b) how you need to leave quite a bit of ease in the lining fabric.
The trousers are my favourite TNT (Tried ‘n True) pattern, a Simplicity reissue (3688) from 1941.  I also used this pattern for the One Week, One Pattern challenge and this is my fourth make of these trousers.  I got just enough of this British wool to make the jacket.  After a week of thinking about the jacket, I decided I should go get some more of the fabric since it was such a ridiculous deal to make matching trousers.  I went back to the store and luckily, they still had some of the fabric and I ended up buying the rest of what they had!  I think I might have enough leftover to make a matching skirt!
I wore a basic white shirt and borrowed one of David’s ties and wore my brown beret to complete the Marlene look.  I really love it!
There’s something about a suit that gets me every time!  I intend to wear this one a lot.  I am really happy with the construction of the jacket and I think these are the best trousers I’ve made yet!  Thanks Marlene for the inspiration!  More pictures over on my blog (and thank you everyone for your sweet comments on my blog post!)

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