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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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1920s | 1930s

Drafting for Fall&Winter!

By on September 17, 2014

 

It seems, when you design and construct your own entire wardrobes four times a year, that the seasons just creep too fast upon you. So many ideas, so many things to make and do and never enough time is the old way of saying things. Am I in this sphere of plight all on my own? Surely not. I hear it enough.

Anyhow, enough with my prattle….

This season is sleeves for me and I’ve drafted two thus far. I saw a beautiful wedding sleeve (photographed in green) in Bellas catalogue from late 1920s the other day and I just had to have it.  I couldn’t afford the catalogue at that moment so I had to keep it in my minds eye painfully until I got home from the antique shop to sketch it out (that will be the last time I forget my sketch pad believe you me). Luckily it wasn’t the only time I’ve seen the sleeve and there’s a similar one being used in wedding fashions of today. It’s basically just a long sleeve unraveled like apple peels and slashed and spread for gathers. The pattern looks like a snake children make in kindergarten.

Drafted fairly quickly I was really pleased with myself that I used too many notches because they were well needed to sew the sleeve precisely.  Here is the muslin for it…

photo 3 (1) Plenty of threads and wrinkles!

I didn’t get enough of sleeve drafting so I did another in a popular fashion of 1932. Since sleeves are big this season I got creative  about where the “bigness” was going to be. On the first one it was fuller all around, on the blue muslin the amplitude was on the lower half towards the wrist. Almost as if the wrists had wings. This sleeve is fully lined but not necessary with the facing I also drafted along with it.  Here it is…

photo 2 (2)    This sleeve was too much fun as well!

Here are both of the sleeves on the mid cowl I drafted to test them out.

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There are a few things I would fix on the green muslin but I am really rather pleased with them both.  And as I am 6 months along there are plenty of things I can make for the sleeves to go on so I may wear them in the winter when the baby is here and I’ve gone back to normal.

Well, that’s all from me for now, do take care!

To boot, you can find more on my site!     www.1930slife.blogspot.com

 

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1930s | Vintage Sewing

1938 pattern

By on September 10, 2014

IMG_2499IMG_2492IMG_2497Finished dress! This one took me a month because I hated working on it. I put a lot of detail into it and I swore it would never end. I am so happy it’s finally done. From a 1938 pattern. Fabric is a stretch poplin, buttons are vintage glass.

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1800s | 1930s | 1960s

Vintage Knitting

By on September 9, 2014

Hi all! I actually have a sweater to show you guys that my mother graciously made for me. It took her a year, so I’ve been waiting for it for a while. But nevertheless, it’s very nice. It’s a pattern from the book A Stitch in Time volume 2. The yarn is a colonial blue, made of 100% wool I believe. I picked some cool buttons I had in my stash, I have reason to believe they are from the late 1800’s. They are made out of bone, and are a lot more yellow than in my picture.

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I also happen to be wearing some pants that I made a short while ago. I know that 1960’s bell bottoms don’t go with a 1930’s sweater, but whatever.

Hope you guys like it, I would definitely recommend this pattern if anyone wants to knit!

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1930s | Blouses | Pants / Trousers

Sporty Separates

By on September 2, 2014

I’m not one for actual sports or sporting events but I do love the sporty look popular in the 1930s. In need of some separates, I sewed up this outfit.

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The pants are a refashion of some 1930s trousers that I made ages ago. They were way to big and just not flattering! So I deconstructed them and reused the blue linen for a new pair of pants.

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The blouse I made from Simplicity 3173 from the 1930s. I also snagged some cute repro 1930s printed cotton that was just perfect for this blouse! You can’t tell from here but it also has small navy bits in the print which makes my inner matchy-matchy sense happy!

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I’m quite happy with how both of these pieces turned out. I even have some khaki cotton twill that would be just perfect for another pair of pants! I’m so ready for fall!

More photos and construction details are over on my blog.

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