1930s

30s Style Vintage Scarf Top with Bias Cut and Vintage Button Trim

By on February 7, 2017
bias cut vintage scarf top

I was thrilled to be contacted by Dressmaker magazine as they wanted to include my scarf top in their January edition in an article about Second Hand Sews.  I was influenced by 1930s scarf clothing when I designed this top and worked out how to cut a scarf (see below) and then stitch it up into a bias top.

cutting diagram for bias top

I have now uploaded a pdf worksheet on my blog with instructions and photos showing how to make the top if you would like to download it.  The link to my own blog is here

Happy sewing everyone!

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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

Red Linen Wrap Dress

By on September 3, 2016

nippon5

Seeing as vintage can sometimes seem a little bit prim and higher maintenance, it can feel great to just toss on a wrap dress and be extra comfy. No petticoats or under structure, just a linen rayon blend and an adjustable waist tie!

I’ve made a 1930’s inspired wrap dress before, and I used the same pattern once again, a self drafted number cobbled together from my usual kimono sleeved dress bodice pattern and an A-line skirt pattern. I did change the sleeve shape just a bit to be a bit more square and actually kimono like, as I knew I wanted to take photos of the finished dress in a Japanese garden. The red linen/rayon blend is from Joanns, and they carry this same fabric in several colors in their linen section. I like the addition of rayon, it means the fabric wrinkles a bit less ferociously than a linen would on its own. This fabric also has a nice weight to it and holds a crisp edge well when ironed.

Here is a 1930s pattern image that shows a similar dress, though I think these 30’s numbers are meant to be more casual house dresses and I made mine more formal for wearing out and about.

wrap3c

 

The most tedious thing about making this dress was making, ironing, and stitching on the self fabric bias binding along the edges. The dress is unlined, and has no facings, so the bias binding encloses all of the raw edges including the hem. I sewed the bias along the outer edge by machine (that was a lot of pins!) and then after folding it over to the backside stitched the entire length down with invisible hand stitches on the back. Time consuming indeed, but worth it in the end for a nice finish!

 

 

nippon6

I am so pleased with how the dress came together in the end and I already want to make another version in the black colorway of this same fabric! Perhaps that will be a project for next year 🙂 For more photos of this dress and my day at the Denver Botanical Gardens visit me over on The Closet Historian!

nippon10

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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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