1930s | Blouses | Skirts

classy, sassy and fun 1930s separates

By on January 25, 2013





i actually would like to make a little tie for the blouse out of some leftover lantana.

i feel like in the 1930s and 1940s simplicity really and truly lived up to its name. the fashions are very much of the day and relatively easy to construct, provided you don’t actually need the pattern instructions, which are a bit skimpy. the blouse went together in a mere two hours, and languished only because i wasn’t willing to sacrifice the time for a trip to jonathan embroidery for the buttonholes. (#firstworldsewingproblems, right there) unfortunately, the white cotton voile, although completely dreamy, does not photograph well, so you will have to take my word for it that the seams are as awesome as the pattern illustration suggests. i nipped up the back using a trick kenneth king taught me to create a built-in swayback adjustment, and i got a nearly perfect fit.


a few construction details, to justify the post: i did finish the blouse entirely in french seams, including on the armscyes. i topstitched the front panels to give them a bit of extra detail, and created a sort of shirt placket facing by using a piece of silk organza selvedge similar to the way suggested by the “clean facing” technique on off the cuff. i used heart-shaped buttons on everything, just because, and finished the skirt in a just-barely-long enough piece of trip leftover from my “parisienne” dress.

full post at puu’s door of time.

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1950s | Dresses | Mad Men Inspired

a mad men dress that nearly drove me mad

By on January 15, 2013



pattern inspiration. it proved too much of a wiggle dress for me, and i couldn't get it fitted properly so i used it as my inspiration to redraw vogue 8409.

9 months in the making, people.  NINE MONTHS.


so, let me run you through the construction details on this new year’s baby. it started off fairly well in march of 2012. i was innocently preparing to use this as my submission for the “mad men” sew weekly challenge. i had cut it out and substituted the skirt and redrew my bodice from vogue 8409 and i was all set. i used the cut-up bodice of my biggest disappointment ever to make bias tape and a neck facing, and decided to use some of that tape to make piping on the waistband. i also decided, because it was the right way to construct it, to bone the waistband, so i used sew-in interfacing and some muslin to create a boning layer. that is where i stopped in march of 2012, after the third time i tried to re-baste all of the layers of that waistband in place.

to finish up this bad boy, i slip-stitched the inside waistband in place, tacked down the neck facing with a catchstitich, and beaded the side zipper because that is one of my favorite details. i also used the last of the bias tape to hem the sleeves for an extra pop of color.

as you can see, the fit is solid but not perfect, but i can live with that because it neither gapes at the neckline nor the bustline and sits pretty nicely at my natural waist. maybe i could have pulled in a slice in the back to accommodate how narrow my back is, but c’est la vie.
full blog post at puu’s door of time.
original inspiration post at puu’s door of time.

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1910s | Downton Abbey Inspired

renfrew, downton style

By on December 27, 2012

The sisters Crawley- Lady Edith, Lady Mary and Lady Sybil, season 2

for many, many moons now i’ve wanted to adapt this dinner dress of lady mary’s (circa 1918 in the show) into something wearable and a little more modern for myself. you may even recall some of my earlier ideas.

after a few false starts, i settled on adapting the design to a t-shirt as the most wearable and achievable goal.  there were some construction adventures, but in the end i’m pretty happy.

full post and more photos at puu’s door of time.
top styled with a modified 1940s simplicity 2571.

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1940s | Blouses

simplicity 1927: flirty forties, part II

By on December 17, 2012


although i’m still pretty embarassed by my sloppy skirt construction, i’m also still a pretty huge fan of my version of simplicity 1927, tackled earlier this summer.

since then, however, i’d had a vision of using a tiny pucci splurge (a mere 1/2-yard from mood fabrics) to eke out the little blouse bodice so that i could have a fun, simple and elegant way to wear this skirt. i love my t-shirt style bodice, but some days it does feel a little bit casual. the pucci is a lot of print, meanwhile, and a simple little bodice seemed a great way to honor that print and not complicated it.

20121212-093736.jpgfull blog post at puu’s door of time.

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1910s | 1950s

vogue 1043: lady mary style and a fifties pattern

By on December 10, 2012
inspiration point: lady mary's sheer surplice bodice dinner gown from series 1 with green underdress

our office holiday party was on friday, which obviously required a new dress. not only was it my first time to dress up in a little while, my company was recently acquired and there were 300 new co-workers on whom to make an impression.


i had been wanting for a while to riff on one of the series one downton abbey gowns of lady mary’s, a neat bit of sheer work with applique and a green underdress. however, as i started chewing on this idea, i realized i needed to do more than riff, i needed to adapt.

so i started with vogue 1043, which had a surplice bodice i had already fitted and worked on. i changed the side zipper to a CB because i wanted to hand-pick and bead the zipper. i went for a high-low hem, because even though this trend is EVERYWHERE, i sort of love it. it adds a major element of fun to a garment, and i cannot help myself. so i took the quarter-circle skirt of V1043, adjusted the hems, and added gathering in the back two panels for an almost-bustle and some skirt volume. i almost went super-trendy and did an even sheerer dress over a shorter skirt, for that au currant long-sheer-skirt-over-hot-pants look, but i decided that was taking it a bit too far. and also, all of the really gorgeous sheer fabric was more slippery and harder to work with than this lovely light cotton voile.


full blog post and additional photos can be found at puu’s door of time.

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1940s | Dresses

simplicity 1507: 40s-inspired tennis whites

By on August 9, 2012

The Facts:

Fabric: cotton eyelet from paron’s, underlined with cotton organdy from Mood
Pattern: Simplicity 1507 (previously made here)
Year: 1940s
Notions: zipper
Time to Complete: longer than it should have
First Worn: august 8, 2012
Wear Again: yes
Total Price: ~$60
Challenge Theme:  “olympics”

earlier this year, as i was gearing up for my favorite live sporting event–wimbledon–patternvault provided us with an amazing post discussing the history of tennis fashions along with several examples of gorgeous vintage tennis dress patterns.

i seethed with envy, because i had not thought of this first.  in fact, it had not occurred to me to make a dress inspired by the sport i most enjoy watching (i suck at playing, but i can watch with the best of them), and the drool threatened to overwhelm and short-circuit my keyboard.  luckily for me, i had a second chance (much like andy murray and his championship on centre court!) to rectify this wrong with the “olympics” challenge on the sew weekly.  full post at puu’s door of time.



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1940s | Shirts | Skirts

simplicity 1927: flirty forties

By on July 26, 2012

i’d been working on this specimen for this week’s “sew weekly” challenge, “reality check.”  what can be more of a wardrobe staple than a black skirt and white top?  but of course i took it in a bit of a weird direction.  otherwise, what was the point?  i had some very specific inspiration on this one.



also causing palpitations of envy was steph c’s april BCT “hack,” where she re-drafted her classic “blank canvas t” based on several classic 40s details, including a keyhole neckline and a bolero.

 for the top, i used my alabama studio sewing + design (with which i have been having a serious affair lately) t-shirt and bolero patterns.  i kept the skirt from S1927.  i ended up with some fascinating construction order on the skirt, let me say.  the original pattern calls for a faux overskirt, made by strategic placement of a ruffle above the hemline of the skirt.  it’s actually a very cool bit of pattern drafting, and i should have realized that in the 40s they wouldn’t be wasting fabric on an overskirt layer.  still, after some consideration, i decided that i wanted an overskirt on mine instead of a giant ruffle, so that’s the way i went.  i trimmed the overskirt with a cool lace, also from daytona, and both fabrics were stiff enough that i got some great volume from the intense fabric gathering called for in that waistline.

full post and a couple of bonus cat photos at puu’s door of time.

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