1930s | Buttons | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Late 1930s Button Detail Dress with Tulip Print

By on June 23, 2017

1930s tulip print dress

Sometimes you buy a sewing pattern just for the details and this was definitely the case here. The pattern I used for this late 1930s dress was an original 1940s one that I bought from Til the Sun Goes Down. It had the most beautiful shoulder yoke section, which you only ever seem to see on late 30s/early 40s patterns, and I knew I needed a dress with this as a feature. The skirt part of the pattern wasn’t really what I wanted, mainly because it looked very 1940s and I wanted a late 1930s style as this is the era I tend to wear the most.

The beautiful abstract tulip print fabric that I used was a vintage fabric, which feels like a soft cotton but behaves like a crepe or rayon. It was a dream to work with and, along with all the era-accurate techniques I used, helped to create a truly authentic look. In fact, someone I met whilst wearing this dress actually thought it was genuine vintage!

The 22 buttons that feature on the dress were all beautifully covered by the company I use a lot, London Button Company. I asked them to specifically use the coloured parts of the pattern, rather than the black background, to make them really pop out. The matching belt features an original 1930s Art Deco buckle in a bright yellow and I love how it really stands out against the dress.

1930s dress shoulder yoke detail

1930s dress button back closure

1930s dress waist detail

More photos and details about the techniques I used, and how I made the matching hat, can be found on my blog »

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1930s Dress Made Using Original Vintage Fabric

By on January 24, 2017

1930s ruffles dress front

Every now and again you come across a truly beautiful piece of original vintage fabric. You carefully unfold it, hoping and praying that it’s in good condition. You check it over thoroughly, measure it and finally take the very brave step of washing it. At this point you’re on tenterhooks, will it fall apart the second the water hits it? It survives the wash, it dries well and then you press it, checking thoroughly once again for any holes, tears or marks. And finally, you realise you have one incredible pristine piece of 1930s/1940s fabric that’s long enough to make an entire dress. You, or indeed me at this point, then do one hell of a happy dance!

1930s ruffles dress

As you can imagine, I was terrified to cut into the fabric, but I truly believed that this fabric had found its way to me for a reason. I’m very much someone who believes in buying vintage and using it. Every piece of vintage clothing I buy gets worn, I don’t store things away in a dark cupboard but, rather, enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed. That was how I felt about this fabric. It needed to be made into something and not waste away unloved and unappreciated. And it deserved to be made into something authentic.

1930s dress back

I used an original 1930s sewing pattern and original 1930s sewing techniques from both the pattern and a 1930s dressmaking book. The trimmings, such as the rayon hemming tape, were also vintage. The only modern parts of the dress are the white crepe I used for the yoke section and the metal button blanks for the self-cover buttons. That’s why I call this my brand new almost-vintage dress!

You can see more detail photos and find out more about the fabric, pattern and techniques I used on my blog here.

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1930s | Blouses | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

1930s Bishop Sleeve Blouse & Pocket Detail Skirt

By on December 8, 2016

1930s blouse and skirt

Do you ever have an idea in your mind that never really pans out when it comes to your sewing? Yep, that’s exactly what happened here. Both the blouse and skirt were going to be very different to how they actually turned out, mainly due to not having quite enough fabric for either of them!

The white silk with navy polka dots is actually a vintage fabric I picked up at a flea market. It was very narrow and as a result, the originally planned pattern of McCalls – 7053, from their Archive Collection, just didn’t fit. So after abandoning this idea, I decided to use the top half of this beautiful original 1930s dress pattern instead. It’s been sat in my collection for a while totally unused, but boy am I glad I used it this time.

Vintage 1930s Buttons

It worked out beautifully in this fabric, despite having to redo the front yoke many, many times. The issue was that it needed to be lined to give it some stability and the join at the bottom, where the button placket areas overlap, was incredibly fiddly. After many attempts, both on the machine and by hand, I finally got it to sit right. However, after all that stress I gave up on trying to do buttonholes, so just sewed the buttons in place.

1930s sleeve detail

Instead of finishing the sleeves with a mid-forearm cuff as shown in the pattern, I decided to add a long cuff right down to the wrist. I absolutely love this style of bishop sleeve, it’s so classically 1930s, and of course keeps your forearms warm! I finished it off with four buttons and rouleau loops to allow enough room to get my hand in and out.

The fabric itself, unfortunately, has weakened during the pre-wash and making up stages. As a result, I’ve decided to only wear it on special occasions and to try and find another white and navy polka dot fabric for a more wearable version. I think it would work well in a crepe or a soft cotton lawn.

1930s blouse yoke detail

The skirt was drafted from another original 1930s pattern, which I’ve used multiple times as it’s such a simple design so can be changed to just about any style. The fabric is a deep mustard linen, which I bought from My Fabrics and a dream to work with. It’s quite a heavy weight linen so can be used for both summer and winter.

The design itself was taken from an original 1930s skirt I own but haven’t yet worn. I love the little pockets on it, so decided to replicate them here with a slightly different style button tab. They worked out quite well I think and give such a lovely interest to the front of the skirt, along with the deep single kick pleat on the centre front.

If you want to read more about it, and see the gorgeous original 1930s navy suede shoes I wore with it, just pop on over to my blog.

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1930s | Blouses | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

My Exploring New Colours 1930s Outfit

By on September 23, 2016

1930s coral skirt and blouse

Does anyone else find themselves sticking to the same colours with their sewing? I was very much guilty of this until I made a New Year’s resolution to explore new colours, even ones I’d never worn before. One colour that surprised me on this journey was coral. It all began when I spotted a gorgeous coral linen/cotton mix fabric on the website of my favourite fabric shop, ClothSpot. I fell in love and set out to find a patterned fabric that went with it. I found a beautiful one on Fabric Godmother, which had a mixture of coral, turquoise, mustard yellow and fawn in it. I knew it was the one!

1930s bow blouse

I, of course, stuck to my favourite era, the 1930s. I used the coral linen mix for a complicated pleated skirt and the patterned cotton lawn for a short sleeve blouse. The blouse was made using an original 1930s pattern I bought at a vintage fair (you can see it here). However, I decided not to do it with a Peter Pan collar and instead I created a V neckline and added a large pussy bow.

The sleeves are my favourite part as they remind of the puffball skirts of the 1980s. The cuffs are secured with elastic and you push them up inside the sleeve when you wear it to create the puff shape.

Mrs Depew 1930s skirt pleat

The skirt was the hardest part, not only because the fabric was such a pain and kept moving, but also because of the pattern I chose. It was an original 1930s draft at home pattern which I bought from Mrs Depew on Etsy. The illustration of the skirt and the illustration of the pattern pieces just didn’t seem to add up. You can see how confusing it was here.

I’m still not convinced I did it exactly right but at least the complicated double pleat looks like the skirt illustration. Also, I’m really, really chuffed with how the two pieces go together and make a really lovely 1930s day outfit. I just wish, despite my love of pushing myself with my sewing, that it had been a bit easier!

If you want to read more about it, and see other detail pictures, just pop on over to my blog.

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

A Late 1930s Lemon Yellow Dress

By on July 12, 2016

Late 1930s yellow dress

My sewing resolutions at the beginning of the year included two main things. These were challenging myself with projects I wouldn’t have previously tackled and exploring new colours. One of those colours was yellow. I had always shied away from it, mainly because I know citrus colours don’t suit me. However, when I spotted this beautiful lemon yellow fabric online I knew I had to give it a go.

1930s dress pattern

I instantly went online and searched for the perfect 1930s vintage pattern to use to really bring this fabric to life and after a while I stumbled across the one above on Etsy. It was being sold by a seller I’ve bought from several times, Kallie Designs, so I knew it would be in good condition. When it arrived I quickly opened it up to look at the different pattern pieces and I immediately knew this dress would cover both of my resolutions as it looked seriously tricky.

Late 1930s yellow dress

What was even worse is that it was a couple of sizes smaller than my measurements. Before seeing the pattern pieces this didn’t daunt me because I often end up grading a pattern up or down to get it to fit right but I knew these pieces were going to be quite a challenge. Thankfully the only major issue I had was with the skirt as it was much narrower around this area than what the illustration shows.

Once everything was cut out, the hardest parts to put together were the yoke and the faux belt. Trying to get these inserted correctly, and with a smooth curved edge, took several frustrated attempts. However, I vowed not to give up because as it came together I knew this was going to be a really gorgeous dress. Thankfully, once I’d mastered these bits everything else was pretty smooth sailing and it was sewn up quite quickly.

1930s dress pocket detail

The buttons and white fabric for the belt were from my own stash. However, the ric-rac I used was originally from my mum’s stash and dates back to the 1970s. I’m so pleased I decided to add this detailing, something that was optional on the pattern, as it really gives it that frugal look of the late 1930s. Now I want to add it to everything!

If you would like to read more about my oh-so-summery 1930s dress and see more photos, feel free to pop over to my blog.

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1930s | Blouses | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

1930s Wallis Simpson Inspired Blouse

By on May 12, 2016

Wallis Simpson, double collar blouse, 1936

I have coveted the beautiful double collar blouse Wallis Simpson wore during a cruise with Edward VIII in 1936 ever since I first saw the photograph many years ago. I love the fact that despite it being a very simple design it has lots and lots of gorgeous detailing on it. I also love the way it fits her so perfectly, so I was inspired to make my own version for my 1930s wardrobe. However, I didn’t want to do a direct copy of it but rather take the details of it and make my own version.

1930s burgundy outfit

I drafted the pattern myself from some old pattern blocks I made at college and it took two mock ups to get the fit just right. I wanted it to fit snuggly enough that it looked like a tailored shirt but also loose enough so I could move in it. The measurement across the shoulder blades was the trickiest, mainly because I was trying to do it on myself in the mirror!

The olive and burgundy berry cotton fabric came from my favourite fabric shop, ClothSpot and I knew it would go perfectly with the calf length burgundy skirt I’d recently made from an original 1930s sewing pattern. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do in terms of the detailing and what colours I wanted them to be but it was worth taking the time to get it right.

1930s Double Collar Blouse

The largest of the two collars was also self drafted using my oh-so-faithful pattern cutting book, Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wearspacer by Winifred Aldrich. I then traced it again and took about two centimetres off the outside edges to create the second one. The burgundy cotton was from my very big fabric stash and the ivory was rushed to me by ClothSpot after I discovered that I only had white or cream and neither of them were quite right.

Self covered belt buckle

The buttons are self-covered just like the ones on Wallis’ blouse and I also had the belt buckle covered for me by the London Button Company. I’d never used them before but I would highly recommend them to anyone, they were very quick and very helpful when I had questions. As the name suggests they also do buttons, all of which you can have covered in your own fabric, as well as a good range of buckles.

The buckle and the belt, which I made myself, is done in the same wool crepe type fabric of the skirt so it can be worn on top of the blouse or around the waistband of the skirt. This allows me to tuck the blouse in if I wish.

If you would like to read more about my version of Wallis Simpson’s 1930s blouse and see more photos, feel free to pop over to my blog.

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1920s | Downton Abbey Inspired | Vintage Sewing

Early 1920s Cardigan

By on April 20, 2016

One garment from the 1910s and 1920s that often gets overlooked is the belted cardigan. However, it’s actually a classic piece of fashion history from this time period and often pops up in period dramas based in these eras. Women wore them about the house to keep warm before central heating became the norm, you could probably equate them to modern day hoodies!

1920s wool cardigan

I’ve always found them fascinating and have always loved to have one, but most were knitted and I, very annoyingly, cannot knit. So, when I saw this original 1920s wool jersey one on Pinterest I knew I needed to try and make my own version. It would be a perfect challenge for my next Vintage Pledge.

Early 1920s outfit

And here it is! I based the design on an original 1930s cardigan sewing pattern I had, although the 1920s detailing of the large patch pockets and double button belt were just guess work.

Top stitching detail on 1920s cardigan

Sportswear inspired clothing was just beginning to creep into fashion during the early part of the 1920s and one detail that was used in the majority of these garments was top-stitching. I added loads of it to this cardigan to really give it a sportswear feel which was a huge challenge, trying to keep it straight and neat everywhere!

If you would like to read more about how how I made this early 1920s cardigan and see more photos, feel free to pop over to my blog.

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