1930s | Vintage Sewing

NYC Area? Visit this retro fashion exhibit

By on June 13, 2016

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The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC has an interesting exhibit Stiching History from the Holocaust. Among the exhibit’s features are vintage designs brought to life by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The designs, having been tucked away in an attic for over eight decades, were originally sent from Czechoslovakia to America as part of an immigration application. The dress designs offered proof that dressmaker Hedy Strnad would be able to support herself when arriving in the US. Unfortunately, she was never given the opportunity and died in a Nazi deathcamp.

The exhibit’s two main goals are to increase understanding as to why Jews (or other persecuted peoples) did not just leave before Nazi occupation and secondly to mark the immeasurable loss of human creativity as a result of holocaust killings. I highly recommend the small – but very moving – exhibit if you are able to experience it.

I posted photographs on my fb page.

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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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1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | Vintage Sewing

Announcing the Vintage Suit Sew Along

By on April 8, 2016

vintagesuitsewalong

Hello We Sew Retro Sewists,

I have an exciting announcement, it seems to be the season for Sew Alongs! A friend of mine, Amy Jansen Leen from Chica Chica Boom Chic and I have been planning a Vintage Suit Sew Along, and I have all the details on my blog if you would like to join….

We are going to share our progress, tips, inspiration and at the end of the Sew Along we’ll share all your and our makes!

So, who’s in?

Visit my blog, Mermaid’s Purse, for all the details, including how to participate and the time frame.

#vintagesuitsewalong

line drawing of suits

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1930s | Coats | Downton Abbey Inspired | Vintage Sewing

1930s In-Between Seasons Coat

By on February 10, 2016

Last autumn one of my goals was to make a 1930s lightweight coat so I can wear it during those in-between months, when it’s not quite warm enough to go without one and not quite cold enough for full on winter coat, scarf and gloves. After trawling both Etsy and eBay I finally found this beautiful original 1930s pattern by Bestway, a company who produced sewing patterns for the home sewer and were available to order via the Bestway magazine.

1930s Bestway Coat Sewing Pattern

1930s lightweight coat

I used an amazing aubergine and grey mix suiting fabric that looked and behaved like wool but was actually a polyester mix and it was a dream to work with. It took me forever to make due to the traditional tailoring techniques I used but it was definitely worth it in the end as it hangs so well.

1930s Bakelite buttons

The buttons had to be authentic and after many hours of searching I found these original 1930s Bakelite ones on Etsy. I absolutely love the classic Art Deco lines on them and I think the size of them really adds the right amount of detailing to the coat.

1930s aubergine coat

If you would like to read more about the coat and see more photos feel free to pop over to my blog.

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1910s | 1930s | 1950s | 1970s | Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

The great white dress

By on December 17, 2015

Hi all you wonderful crafting & sewing fellows!

It’s crazy, I haven’t posted anything in here for years, but the great big white deserves a mention, methinks 😉

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My inspirations for this dress was all over the place. I was looking at Edwardian wedding gowns, 1930’s drapes and flowy sleeves, 1950’s circle skirts and 1970’s hippie layers and lace stuff… You can imagine the confusion and headaches I had over design choices!

In the end I went for a completely self drafted design, with added details from all the periods I was inspired by, and I think it worked pretty well! I used my standard bodice pattern for starters, cut it up to find the “perfect seam lines” (and of course that meant having a seven-piece bodice. Smart), and then made a few muslins to try to perfect it.

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The skirt is four layers – four different fabrics – full circle.

IMG_1284cFor a bunch more pictures, come over here: http://sewewellyn.blogspot.se/2015/12/finally-wedding-dress-pictures.html

And here’s the post with some of my inspiration: http://sewewellyn.blogspot.se/2015/05/wedding-dress-inspiration.html

 

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1930s | 1940s | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

A Skirt Suited to Adventure

By on November 5, 2015

ruskin1

Hello again! I have been trying this year to add new neutrals to my wardrobe after years devoted to basic black. In that effort I decided I needed a light brown skirt for this fall! I wanted something a little different from the usual pencil skirt shape I always make so I added a circular flare to the side seam of one side. In theory this was easy enough to do, but for the first go I just didn’t add enough flare and the skirt hung sort of odd. To fix this I added a larger triangular shaped godet into the flared seam for more fullness. It drapes much better now but I probably should have weighted down the hem (sewn a small chain into the hem tape) for it to hang even better. I used a bias tape facing to finish the hem, in a lightweight shantung silk that is my new favorite fabric for hem facings! It just does the job so well, the only problem is that it is expensive stuff, luckily one yard is enough to do several hems!

 

 

ruskin2

I am really happy with how the skirt turned out in the end and plan on making a little bolero to match for a sort of suit.  I think the skirt looks sort of late 30’s/early 40’s and I can’t wait to style it for the colder weather with even more vintage looking accessories. For more photos of this skirt, visit me at theclosethistorian.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

ruskin7

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1930s Cotton Butterfly Day Dress – Butterick 5764

By on September 3, 2015

I was able to snag this pattern, and loved the variation of the dresses.

butterick 5764

I wanted to make this a true 1930s day dress for view C, so I constructed the dress of a quilter’s cotton. I wanted to keep the natural drape of the collar, so I made that piece of a poly peachskin.

butterick 5764 fullI made a few changes, and there were a few challenges with this pattern. One change I made was that I added a slight elastic waistband instead of making the belt. Some of the challenges included having to make a back yoke as the collar did not come close to reaching the back bodice. Also, the french cuffs were designed to be very small, the construction was odd and the end result was not practical. I ended up just scrapping them, and making a keyhole construction while keeping the gathers at the button cuffs. You can read more of my trail of tears here.

butterick 5764 close up

I fully lined the dress, and am most pleased with the finished product.

butterick 5764 side

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