1930s | Accessories

My First Entry in the 2014 Historical Sew Fortnightly

By on January 14, 2014

So I decided to dive into the 2014 Historical Sew Fortnightly hosted by the wonderful Leimomi. She hosted the same event last year but most of the sewing I did fell outside of the dates for the challenges. This year the date has been extended to 1945, so my WW2 pattern stash can finally be put to work!  The first challenge was in spirit of the WW2 campaign for ‘Make Do & Mend’ a huge task for those on the home front in Europe and the US because of rationing. Ironically I chose a pattern that would have worked for last years challenge; a reprint of Simplicity 1353 dated 1934 from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library (Evadress.com also has a reprint of the pattern in a larger size, the one from VPLL is a medium) The pattern consists of a hat, collar, gloves, and a purse. I made the collar for this challenge from fabric left over from my 1937 skirt.

 
 
I had to cannibalize the scrap piece left to match the grainlines but it worked! I also lined the collar in some of the fashion fabric because of the reveres that would show the lining and also I wanted the front piece line in the flannel for warmth and stability. The other bits of lining came from my 1936 suit skirt  lining (again post to follow) but those grainlines don’t match up because the word cannibalize doesn’t even cover what I had to do to those scraps though I am proud to say I only had to piece together one section of the collar. This pattern is a good example of the “expectation and reality” of sewing because unless you are magic those points don’t come out as pointy as the picture and the revers aren’t quite as picturesque as the drawing, (till you press them within an inch of their lives and then tack them down.) But I am insanely in love with this piece and I do plan on making more.
The Challenge: # 1 Make Do & MendFabric: 100% Brushed Cotton in a Blue and Black Herringbone pattern and Navy poly/cotton lining.Pattern: Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1930 Ladies Hat, Gloves, Purse and Collar Ensemble a reproduction of Simplicity 1353
Year: 1934

Notions: One Button

Hours to complete: It took 4 days of on/off sewing

First worn: Not yet. Audrey had the pleasure though I do plan on wearing it for an upcoming lunch date.

Total cost: Pattern $15 but since it has four items I’m saying the pattern for the collar cost $3.75, Fabric from stash, Button and thread also from stash. So all in all it cost me $3.75 to make.1930 Ladies Hat, Gloves, Purse and Collar Ensemble

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1950s | Accessories | Mens | Vintage Sewing

The Super-Secret Christmas Robe from 1951

By on January 7, 2014

A couple of years ago, I found an amazing vintage Mens’ robe pattern on Etsy and fell in love. I snapped it up, ordered some gorgeous rayon fabric and some ultra-soft micro fleece to line it with. When the pattern arrived  I was so excited… and then somehow I never made it. You know how it is, projects pile up, work gets too busy and then before you know it, it’s two years later – no robe.

So this year I was determined to sew it for my husband for Christmas, and I was determined that he wouldn’t even know I was sewing something for him. In the middle of finals project and a really busy month at Mrs. Depew Vintage I was sewing this robe like a crazy person. And let me tell you, lining rayon with micro fleece is about as easy as getting a puppy to hold still during a cat parade.

I sewed between assignments and studying, before and after work, at midnight while he was working night shifts (gotta love the military) and every time my husband rode his motorcycle into the driveway I madly dashed to stash everything into my studio closet and delint the threads from my clothes to hide any evidence of my undertaking.

Vogue 8753 Robe Front

 

Vogue 8753 Robe Lining.

 

Vogue 8753 Robe Cuff Embroidery

The work paid off though and it came out perfect –  and he loves it!

If you’d like to see more pictures (I didn’t want to bore you with too much) you can read the full post on my blog A Few Threads Loose.

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1930s | Accessories | Burlesque / Pinup | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

It’s been New Year’s Eve, know what that means?

By on January 4, 2014

Glitz, glamour and silly headpieces, that’s what! My home town Stockholm, Sweden, is blessed with a great burlesque club, Fräulein Frauke Presents, housed in one of the city’s classic dance palaces with quite the bad reputation back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Their annual New Year’s masquerade is the perfect  opportunity to break your sequin seaweed and your frivolous mask-making abilities.

New Year's Eve, photo by John Paul Bichard.

I bought this red sequin seaweed for last year’s celebrations, actually, but it got delayed at my local post office and I’ve been sitting on it since. The plans for the dress have changed during the year, for the better I think, and instead of a complicated, slinky number with a high slit and back cut-out, I made… a dressing gown. Sort of. I drew inspiration from a simple, but very glamorous and slightly quirky evening gown that Katharine Hepburn wore in the 1938 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, the one that has the entire back panel of the skirt ripped off in a memorable scene. I translated the inspiration into a long gown with an a-line skirt, containing all the width I could squeeze out of 3 yards of fabric, and a surplice bodice, buttoned at the side, with elbow-length sleeves and a modest v-neck. I really like that combination of the rather casual, simple cut with the inherently festive fabric. It’s a dress that looks comfortable, and feels easy to wear.

The entire garment is flatlined with red cotton poplin, to protect the skin from the somewhat scratchy sequin fabric and counteract a slight transparency, since the base material is a synthetic tulle with very little stretch. I put it together with french seams throughout, for further protection against scratchy sequins on the inside of it, and finished the hem and edges with poplin bias strips on the inside. I also spent a lot of time cutting tiny 2 mm sequins in half, to clear at least some of the seam allowances of the extra bulk. The end result is a very heavy, but, yes, quite comfortable evening gown that I really think I will get a lot of use out of. It’s formal enough for white tie events at a pinch, what with the full length, but also frivolous enough for black tie and just plain parties, and I also think it turned out quite flattering.

Cutting a thousand little sequins in half to clear the seam allowances = major pain in the behind.

I also made the pearl… thing. It’s a masquerade, after all, of course you want a mask of some sort, and I didn’t feel like repeating last year’s sequin glove mask, especially since this year’s theme was the roaring 20’s, which really isn’t my decade, normally. I toyed with the idea of simply draping a few strings of pearls across the eyes, but that seemed a little too easy, and the project grew into this, after having a closer look at showy Art Deco headpieces, the Ballets Russes and Russian kokoshniks. It’s all based on a plain plastic headband with teeth, my favourite notions shop turned out to have an old lot of vintage glass pearls in stock, and the  rest is steel wire, lots of pearl string and thousands of knots, topped off with two enormous artificial peonies.

Pearl headdress in progress, from the very beginning to close to finished.

And it was fun. All of it, including New Year’s Eve. Hope you all had a great New Year’s too, have yourselves a happy new year!

More on both projects over at the Fashion in Shrouds, for once.

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1910s | 1940s | Accessories

Shawls

By on November 2, 2013

It’s getting cold – time to bring the retro-knitted shawls out!

Patons Woolcraft 9th editionI seem to have completed quite a few this year. Here’s an electric blue number knitted in decided non-period wool from my 1915 copy of Patons’ famous Woolcraft booklet, in amongst all the other highly exotic undergarments of the era:

I used a cone of machine-knit acrylic in place of the super-fine Shetland wool recommended in the pattern. The pattern is actually extremely simple, consisting of sets of intersecting ‘fans’ repeated again and again (and again and again and again…): the only difference between rows is that there are three different corner groups, which have to be repeated in a set order, and if you get it wrong you don’t notice until you try to work the next row into it and find that it doesn’t fit. It’s very dispiriting to discover this when each row takes forty-five minutes to complete!
corner of shawl

This is a square shawl measuring thirty-six inches along each side (plus star-border). It was so large that I had to pin it out and steam it on my bed: I don’t have a ‘blocking board’ big enough. But the whole thing weighs only 160 grams (five and a half ounces).
Holding up shawl

It took me a while to work out how to wear a square shawl by looking at the photo in the booklet, but in fact if you fold it right you get a genuine ‘shawl collar’ forming all by itself…

Wearing shawl under cherry tree
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Standing under the rose arch
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My second shawl was also worked in crochet, but was a far faster project! So fast in fact that I did two, with slightly different colour schemes to use up the spare wool: spot the difference.

green shawl in garden
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red shawl indoors
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This was a 1940s pattern for a round shawl entitled “Cozy comfort on cool nights”, and it is designed to sit with a yoke section on the shoulders and a looser section in ‘Solomon’s knot’ stitch. It only takes a few days to make out of double-knitting wool, and is a good way to use up scraps.

front view, sky-gazing in garden
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My third shawl is a triangle shawl of unknown date, since the website I got the pattern from gives only a diagram from an old magazine:
http://www.smart-knit-crocheting.com/crochet-shawl.html

I’ve called it an ‘Art Deco’ shawl, but in fact I’ve been told it may well be older.
Shawl displayed in garden

I deliberately chose a much larger hook size than would normally be used for working double-knitting wool (itself thicker wool than would have been intended for a pattern of this type) so that, instead of getting multiple squares to be assembled together with their edges matching in a further lace pattern, I got a single large square that would more or less fit across my back.

back view of shawl being worn
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This was just as well, since the instructions don’t give any directions as to how you are supposed to make the partial squares to fit along the edges, and I had to guess… and clearly got it wrong, as they ended up distinctly shorter than the full-size motif! Luckily with only two dangling down the front, it doesn’t show.

front/side view of shawl being worn
click for larger images

By using the very large hook size to produce this extra ‘lacy’ effect, I managed to get an entire shawl out of one spare ball of double-knitting wool: very economical.

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1950s | 1960s | Accessories | Dresses | Embroidery | Hats | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

The End of Vintage Major Work

By on October 6, 2013

Hello lovely fellow sewers,

Some of you may or may not remember me but I am the year 12 student who was making the vintage Vogue lavender hemp and organic cotton day dress, with felt pillbox hat and embroidered vintage gloves for my Textiles and Design major work? Any ways, a few months ago I finally finished and handed it in for marking, which was the best feeling ever! (see photo below)

I finished with plenty of time to spare and unlike most of the girls in my class, I wasn’t working late into the night and into the next day in a rush 🙂 I was happy with my finished product despite the many problems and frustrations that came with it- I struggled with the bound buttonholes which were a new skill that I had to learn to master pretty quickly but with a lot of help from my dedicated teachers, I managed to finish them OK. Lining the dress was also a hurdle but after many lunchtimes and afternoons spent at school in front of a sewing machine, I was able to line it with white cotton voile beautifully. The hat was surprisingly easy but (despite the pattern not requiring a stiffener) I was forced to add stiff Vilene interfacing into the side of the hat to allow it to stand up. On the side, I included a vintage lace flower which belonged to an elderly neighbour of mine who recently died, so I felt it was a lovely way to reincarnate her memory in a hat that she would have loved. Both my grandmother’s who were my main inspiration absolutely loved the dress and both said that it looked exactly the same as the many dresses they wore, so I think my job was completed successfully!

I also gained a lot of praise from many people when I told them what most of the outfit was made of (hemp/organic cotton material for the dress and eco- felt for the hat) Many were surprised how versatile the fabric was and hopefully this gave many the idea of using eco friendly fabrics in their  future projects too 🙂

Also, for those who helped me out with a brand name which was required for my folio, I settled on ‘Mary-Joan Vintage’, as these are the names of my grandmothers and I thought it paid decent homage to my main inspirations 🙂 Thanks for all your help lovely sewers xx

My best friend (on the right) and I (left) about to hand in our major works

 

Another photo shoot image

Another photo shoot image
The finished product- we did a photo shoot and my good friend Rosanna modelled for me in front of my Dad's 1962 Valiant S series

the finished hat 🙂

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1920s | 1940s | 1950s | Accessories | Blouses | Buttons | Hats | Introduction | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

A hello plus 4 finished projects!

By on August 19, 2013

hi dolls! My name is Ines and I’m from Lisbon, Portugal. I’m a beauty and vintage fashion blogger (you can check my blog here www.madameturbante.blogspot.com )
More recently I discovered the wonderful world of sewing! Both my grandmothers were seamstresses, and I always have been interested in this kind of art, but I was very busy learning and doing other stuff. Some months ago I decided to create a brand inspired by the vintage acessories (all decades) called Madame Turbante, and so my mother in law offered me a sewing machine! At the time I didn’t knew anything about sewing! I searched on google and a whole new world opened up for me 🙂 I’m still very new to this, but with your help and inspiration I feel that I can do so much more!

My very first sewing project were my turbans, which I’m most known for! Turbans are very easy to sew. Have you tried?
I created Madame Turbante brand and I sell it all over my country in flea markets. Its funny, because I only own one of my turban designs! :p

 

The other thing I wanted to show you is my very first attempt to sew two pillow cases from a retro fabric available at IKEA (I love IKEA, don’t you?). I loved the result! I watched a video on youtube and I was able to sew them easily!

 

Now the fun projects: Clothes! I was afraid of making clothing, I confess. I can picture some patterns in my head, but taking the measurements is kinda hard for me. Well, in a week I lost all fear and tried to make a blouse inspired by the 20’s and art deco. I drew the pattern myself based on a simple blouse I own, and made the adjustments necessary. I have to say that the most difficult part was to hand sew the buttons holes! God, what a mess! The great thing is that they are kinda hidden from the actually buttons. The fabric ripped a lot. So, it was a challenge, but I loveeee the result! Also, the buttons are vintage, I bought them in a flea market a couple of years ago and I was starting to think that I’d never get to use them.

And finally, but not least, my 40’s skirt with removable suspenders! Another challenge. I drew the pattern from a skirt I already own, sew the suspenders et voila! I didn’t have the chance to use it outside because it is freakin’ hot here in Portugal. I need the winterrrr!

I feel like such a cheater by not using actually patterns. What do you think about that? Are you used to draw your own patterns?

xxx

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1940s | Accessories

A head-shawl

By on May 14, 2013

Headline News booklet
I came across a charming booklet entitled Headline News via the Vintage Pattern Files website and decided I simply had to try out some of the crochet patterns there; it had to be something that I could actually wear, though, which meant the strictly practical ‘head-shawl’ featured on the right-hand side of the front cover (suitable for ‘motoring or riding your bike’) rather than the exotic ‘fascinator’ on the left, let alone the flower-covered ‘captivator’ illustrated inside!

I’d wanted something like this for some time and had actually planned to make up one of my various hat-and-integral-scarf patterns – I have one with a bunch of bright crochet flowers on that I’ve meant to try for years – but felt that this would work quite well to fulfil the double role of keeping my ears warm and stopping draughts whistling down the open V-neck of my tailored coat.

Unfortunately none of the patterns in this leaflet give any indication as to tension, so it was complete guesswork as to what thickness of wool I ought to be using and what size crochet hook. The yarn being advertised (“Lily’s No.600 Crochet and Knitting Cotton”) was evidently quite chunky as crochet cotton went, so I thought I’d try some of my vintage 4-ply wool on the grounds that this was fairly chunky as vintage yarn went, and picked a 2.5mm hook after experimenting with a 2mm hook and deciding that the resulting crochet didn’t look as ‘open’ as the fabric illustrated. All these first three patterns in the booklet are essentially a basic triangle shape gathered in different ways, and the base of the triangle seemed wide enough to drape around my shoulders adequately, so I reckoned this was probably about the right size.

When I reached the apex of the triangle, however, it became apparent that it was on the contrary very much too small! The neck-cord was supposed to be threaded in a semi-circle at a radius of 12″ from the edge of the shawl, and the entire shawl was less than twelve inches deep – something had evidently gone radically wrong.

Fortunately this was crochet and not knitting, which meant it proved possible to retro-engineer a complete six-inch additional section of shawl (with the aid of some mathematical calculation) and then slip-stitch the upper loops on to the cast-on edge in a fairly stretchy manner without the join’s showing too much…

Join just visible towards upper edge of triangle

I’ve read descriptions of young ladies conversing while ‘knotting a fringe’; I never realised how long it took in real life. No wonder they regarded it on a level with doing tapestry as a means of avoiding idle hands!

Winding wool to size around a card before cutting more lengths to knot as a fringe

The next problem was trying to get the weird cockscomb crest working. I wanted it to match the fringe rather than the body of the shawl, and as I’d used a thinner yarn for this I was back to experimenting with hook size again. I tried a large hook, I tried a small hook, I tried using the wool doubled, and eventually came to the conclusion that folding up a thick strip to get the heavy cartridge-pleated effect visible in the photo wasn’t going to work. I also came to the conclusion that the instructions about how far along the strip to place the folds were simply wrong!

So in the end I winged it to produce a lighter and shorter strip that would stand up better under its own steam – the heavy one simply weighed down the front of the head-shawl and caused it to flop – and decided that the mysterious instruction to ‘gather slightly’ the folds implied gathering each separate fold width-ways across the strip to spread the bows a little at the top, rather than gathering the strip lengthways into the actual folds required. At any rate it seemed to provide the requisite stiffening.

After all this I wasn’t particularly pleased with the finished article, which didn’t look much like the original pattern photo despite all my efforts. However I tried it out in the cold and snow of this past spring, and found it surprisingly effective despite the open mesh; it’s not proof against a direct blast of icy wind, but it does keep your head pretty warm otherwise. And I had been getting very, very tired of reknotting my large polyester headsquare, which persisted in slipping undone and was very unflattering.

The drawstring design of the head-shawl (essentially, you just pull the cord tight around your neck to fasten it on) proved as practical as advertised, although I haven’t used it for riding my bike – and the long ends of the triangle hanging down in front fill in the neck opening of a coat very conveniently. It doesn’t have the same tendency as a neckscarf to come unwound if you turn your head, and I found I didn’t spend so much time hunching rigidly to try to keep the draught out. Meanwhile the ‘crest’ on the front does actually serve a purpose in making the design noticeably more flattering than a basic headscarf – it removes the ‘low forehead’ appearance and is much less reminiscent of a Russian granny!

So in fact I ended up wearing it on a more or less daily basis throughout the prolonged wait for Spring: it’s easier (because less bulky) to carry around than a hat and scarf, doesn’t look like a peasant headwrap, and is surprisingly effective as a warm garment. I’ve even been told that it looks appealingly ‘retro’, which is perhaps unsurprising in a 1940s pattern…

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