1940s | Dresses | Made from Curtains

Bright red violets

By on July 19, 2012
Vintage floral print cotton fabric with bright red, lemon yellow and pale blue violets on a dark blue background.
Vintage floral print cotton fabric, vintage glass buttons and cotton sateen for interfacing.

Far too long since I posted here. Sorry about that. Anyway; I’ve had this vintage floral cotton lying around for many years, 4 x 0,75 m all in all, and now I’m turning it into a dress. I have no idea how old the fabric is, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cotton woven this narrow. Probably pretty old? I got it from a friend who got it from her mother. Its last incarnation was as a curtain, but I think this fabric has been through more than that – when I unpicked the seams I also unpicked a lot of handmade knots and loose stitches in a fairly thick silk thread with tiny bits of cotton wool or wadding of some sort attached to them from the body of the fabric, and it has some wear and tear that simply hanging in front of a window can’t quite account for. A pillow, upholstery? Seems weird for such a thin, flimsy fabric, but who knows?

Skirt of the dress half finished, with interfacing and basting showing.
Dress skirt half finished.

I like it, bright colours and all, and I also have eight vintage lemon yellow glass buttons with butterflies on them, as well as a lipstick that perfectly matches the red violets in the fabric – MAC Lady Danger! – and who doesn’t need more floral cotton summer dresses? So I got hold of a piece of reasonably matchy blue cotton sateen to flatline it with – it’s worn and a bit fragile, so it really needs lining for strength and stability – and drafted a pattern for a vaguely late 30’s-early 40’s-inspired, front-buttoned dress with a simple shawl collar in one piece with the bodice, slightly gathered bust (the lining has darts instead) and puffed sleeves. The print feels appropriate for that period; it’s too fussy and old-fashioned for a 50’s kind of dress, and I’ve been making simple shirtwaist cotton dresses with shirt collars like nobody’s business the last couple of years, so I need something else.

Next project lined up: in theory, I should make a practical, sturdy pair of knickerbockers, in practice I will probably end up making another fictive uniform for the Pride parade – if there is time. I’m beginning to doubt it.

Dress bodice cut, basted, darted and gathered.
Bodice front and back, before I added the collar facing.

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1940s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

First post resolutions

By on January 4, 2012

Good evening, everyone! I’m Pimpinett, which is an old-fashioned adjective in the Swedish language, meaning vain, coquettish, careful of one’s apperance in a somewhat fussy manner. It’s rather fitting.

I make 30’s- to 50’s-inspired clothes for myself, and occasionally other people as well. I haven’t done as much as I’d like to lately, though, and I don’t get around to having decent photographs taken of the things I make enough. I hope that having this space to share and draw inspiration from will help on both counts.

Meanwhile, here are a few photographs of a late 40’s or possibly early 50’s evening gown I made some rather vulgar changes and additions to, and wore on New Year’s Eve.

Dress and vintage brocade fabric.

I really wanted to make an evening gown for New Year’s, but there wasn’t enough time, and I’ve been doing a bit too much frenzied last-minute sewing this fall. As a matter of fact, my significant other kind of forbade me. I bought this lovely late 40’s or early 50’s dress instead, in a champagne jacquard satin, which fit me very well but had a few fixable issues; it had been rather shoddily altered with the back darts taken out entirely, the bodice seams were coming apart here and there, the wide, square neckline was rather unflattering on my large bust – too low to work as an elegant, squared-off sort of boat neck, but high enough to look a little clumsy and matronly. It’s also sleeveless, which I’m not really comfortable with, and I tend to get cold.

I should make a petticoat, too.

The excellent vintage store where I got it had the solution in the form of a 1,5 m piece of  pale gold vintage brocade. I took the bodice and skirt apart, copied part of the front of the bodice and cut it out in the brocade, undid the seams around the neckline and armholes and sewed it back in with the brocade on top of the lining fabric, and undid part of the center front seam, so I could turn it down to expose the brocade and create a sort of sweetheart neckline instead of the square. This is the vulgar part; surprising amounts of cleavage. Oh, well. I shortened the shoulder straps, redid the back darts and side seams, hemmed the skirt properly (it was tacked up) and attached the bodice again.

Also, I made a simple, short bolero jacket from the brocade. Big 40’s shoulders with high, darted sleeves, because I love that and wanted to take the dress back in style a few years, and turned-back front panels, to echo the bodice. I should make a pair of huge shoulder pads for it, but for this time I made do with a measly little pair of modern ones and a lot of wool stuffing in the sleeve heads. I also wish I’d underlined the front with something heavy and treated it more like a lapel, but I may do that at some later date, too. It works, for now.

The bolero. Yeah, it was New Year's Eve.


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