1930s | Dresses

1937 dress

By on March 17, 2015

voor 21.20.14This my first garment for this year’s Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge: A dress design from 1937, made using a reproduction pattern from EvaDress (which I bought with my prize from last year’s Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge).


The pattern was easy to use and the instruction were clear and easy to follow but I struggled a bit with the fit. I’m so used to drafting my own patterns and knowing how they are going to fit…

zijWhen I made a muslin using my size according to the sizing table, it was way to big. Even when I went down a size, it was still pretty roomy. I agonized a bit over period accuracy and then decided to try and make it so I would wear this dress. Which is how it became like this.

I shared those considerations both on my blog and on We Sew Retro – Sew & Tell and I got a lot of great advice.

I think the dress is OK as it is now but I will probably try and make it again in something like a very soft cotton or a viscose/rayon crepe.

You can read more about it on my blog.


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Making My Wedding and Reception Dresses

By on March 6, 2015

I have finally completed my blog post on constructing my wedding dresses.  As some of you may know I got married last October and was crazy enough to make not only my wedding dress, but a separate dress for the reception. I don’t have as many construction pictures would like to share the few I do have. The pattern I used for my wedding dress was the 1934 Evening Gown With Drop Sleeves from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

The VPLL ships fast and does a very nice job in packing your order. Look how nice my little bundle of patterns were! I ordered three patterns in all. Each time you purchase a pattern, or leave a review, you earn points towards future purchasing. They patterns are printed on a nice quality paper. The instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow with some additional information provided as well.

My first task after receiving my pattern from the VPLL was to resize it. While the VPLL does offer some patterns in multiple sizes, this was not one of them. This pattern actually goes together rather well, despite my fitting issues. For the bodice I treated the lace and lining as one. The lace pieces were first basted to the lining and then the bodice was sewn together. Next the bias tape binding was added to the neck edges and arm holes. I didn’t have any white or off white on hand so I used peach which I think made a nice contrast to the lace. I made a few small changes, mainly to omit the extra large fluffy sleeves and to add a RIDICULOUSLY long train.

You can read more about my wedding dresses here.

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1930s | 1940s

Vintage Support for the hourglass

By on January 3, 2015

So as I’m doing the HSF (which is now historical sew monthly) and the first theme is Foundations I thought I’d try making a 1930s/40s bra (and girdle..but that’s another subject). Anyway started with the pattern in Vintage Lingerie by Jill Salen. I sort of combined both patterns. I draped the basic pattern.


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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Tea at Two

By on January 1, 2015

I squeezed one last project in before 2014 came to a close. Recently, I’ve been inspired by 1930s fashions so this dress is the next step on my journey to a 1930s wardrobe.


The pattern I used is Wearing History’s Tea at Two dress. Original 1930s sewing patterns can be expensive and hard to find so I love reproduction patterns! Plus this one was multi-sized which is always a bonus.

1930s day dress

I found an adorable set of white vintage buttons on etsy that were just perfect for this outfit! I love using vintage notions in my sewing projects because the add that extra touch of authenticity to an outfit.


It’s been unusually warm in my new home state, Florida, so I did get a chance to wear this dress recently even though it feels quite spring inspired to me. I’m sure it will get loads more wear when the weather warms back up for good in the spring.


More photos and construction details over on my blog.

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1930s | 1940s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Stitching History: Recreating the Designs of Hedy Strnad

By on December 1, 2014

If you’ve ever found a handwritten note or scrap of fabric inside a vintage pattern and been transported back in time to visions of the original dressmaker, I think the following story is going to resonate with you…

These beautiful sketches were designed by ‘lady tailor’ Hedy Strnad in 1930s Czechoslovakia.


The designs were sent to a cousin in America in the hopes Hedy’s talent would secure her a dressmaking job and therefore a visa, allowing her and her husband to escape their Nazi-occupied homeland. Tragically, the plan failed – the Strnads perished in the Holocaust after being interned in a concentration camp.


Amazingly, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee was able to use the information from just one letter to uncover Hedy’s forgotten history, rescuing her work from obscurity to create the Stitching History from the Holocaust exhibit.


In a poignant tribute to Hedy’s talent, the costume shop of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater was able to translate her sketches into finished garments using period fabrics and techniques.




Now the museum is hoping to create patterns from Hedy’s designs so her work can take on a new life and lasting legacy. Can you help?

If you’d like to be involved in the project, please get in touch with the museum at info@jewishmuseummilwaukee.org or share this post with any friends who might be interested.


To learn more about Hedy, the dresses and the exhibition, here’s a fascinating PBS Special that includes lots of detail on how the dresses were created.

Powerful stuff. Imagine how wonderful it would be to get Hedy’s designs into patterns so they could be sewn and worn worldwide – please share this information with anyone who might be able to help the museum bring this dream into reality!



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1930s | 1940s | Accessories

Irish Lace

By on October 4, 2014

Technically not sewing, but it’s from a vintage pattern, and I know there are some other knitters/crocheters on here who I thought might like to see this.

In what little time I have to sew and knit lately, I’ve managed to grab a few moments here and there to  work on a new sort of project for me. A couple of years ago a good friend gifted me with a pretty massive stack of vintage and antique crochet and knitting books, ranging in age from about 1915 to the 1950s. The vast majority of them are crocheted lace patterns (plus one KILLER 1930s knitting book, which I’ve got plans for later this winter), and while I’ve never been much of a crocheter, some of these lace patterns are just too pretty for me not to try my hand at it.

I decided to try and stick with something fairly simple for my first go ’round, so I picked this fabulous Irish lace jabot pattern. There is no dat on the pattern, but I’m guessing it’s from around 1940. It has taken me MONTHS (ok, honestly I have no idea when I started this thing, but if feels like eons ago) to finish this thing. Mostly since I only had little bits of time here and there to work on it, and even then I couldn’t work for very long in a sitting because it started to make my hand cramp after a while. Maybe this should tell me something about my tension?

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

A lot of these patterns call for size 50 crochet cotton, but I had a hard enough time finding 30 anywhere. I’m seriously doubting whether 50 even still exists, but it seriously has to be about the size of hand-quilting thread because the 30 is pretty darn tiny. Anyhoo, this pattern was not only simple, but it was one of the few that called for 30 to begin with, so I guess it was kismet. After the foundation rows the jabot is worked back and forth in a “U” around the center, building outward in a series of simple 7-chain loops. The final three rows are done with an alternating 7-chain loop and double crochet shell. I was kind of winging it on the final rows, since I couldn’t tell from the picture exactly what the edging was supposed to look like. In theory, this is right. Either way it looks pretty, so who cares, right? The entire piece is about 18 inches long, and gets folded in half when worn. I have no ideas what I’m actually going to wear it with since almost all of my clothes have “V” or scoop necks, but I’ll figure something out. It’s just too awesome not to wear.

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

I still need to hit it with a little bit of starch to get the ruffles to hold really well, but overall I’m really happy. I’d say for a first lace project it was a success. Has anyone else been trying their hand at something new lately? I’m always keen to learn new skills (because I clearly don’t have enough projects already). Even if I only end up doing something once I can at least say that I have.

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1930s | 1950s | 1970s | Dresses | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Vintage Inspired Sewing

By on September 19, 2014

I’ve been trying to break out of my comfort zone this year while still keeping to a vintage style, and I have two new pieces to share with you guys!
IMG_3410The first is a maxi skirt. I very loosely based it off of a 1970s Simplicity apron pattern, and I was terribly afraid it would end up looking like a skirt from the 1800s. But I think it looks quite nice with the gray top (inspired from a 1950s Simplicity pattern). I actually look forward to pairing it with a button down top for a more old-fashioned look.

IMG_3385The second is a look I’ve been working on and off (mostly off) over the past year and a half. I really wanted to make a 1930s ballgown, but couldn’t make peace with the price tags I saw on etsy so I designed and drafted my own. I wanted to give it more of a mermaid tail, but I’m terrible at measuring myself before cutting. (And anyway, I don’t think you’d be able to notice because of the wind.)IMG_3391

I have my notes and a tutorial up for the maxi skirt. I just have my notes up for the maxi dress, but if there’s interest, let me know and I’ll post a tutorial for it as well! Hope you enjoy! 😀

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