1920s | 1930s | Downton Abbey Inspired | Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

Sewing a 1920’s Art Deco Evening Gown

By on June 11, 2017
Art Deco Ball - Jennifer Serr
Art Deco Ball - Jennifer Serr
At The Ball

Well, the day (Art Deco Society of California’s) of the  Preservation Ball arrived and I was prepared!  This year’s theme was Death on The Nile (the Agatha Christie Murder Mystery) with a focus on Egyptian Revival of the Art Deco era. I was lucky to be gifted some beautiful fabric, salvaged vintage trims and good luck at Britex for the finishing touches to my gown and headband. Thanks also to Barbara Mooney at Daisy’s, here in Alameda, for lending me the PERFECT necklace and pointing me to some wonderful coordinating earrings (in her shop) that I will treasure for years to come.

Dressed Up with My Handsome Husband
Dressed up with my Handsome Husband

In the end, I’m happy with the final look. My foundation garment worked well on the dress form so that I could drape my gown to my measurements, however, did not work under the dress when I was wearing it.  It still needs some modifications to the cups and the straps showed. Fitting can be a challenge sometimes and often requires multiple fittings (which I did not do this time – ugh).  I ended up wearing a 1920’s-style corset that I made two years ago.  It’s strapless and gave me the right silhouette.

Front View of my Dress
Back View of My Dress
Back View of My Dress

Below are some photos of the process by which I created this dress – Draping the fabric directly on the dress form.  For a more in-depth view of my process including inspiration, sketches and step-by-step photos, visit my blog posts here, here, here & here

Taping the Dress form and foundation for Draping
Taping the Dress form and foundation for Draping
Draping the Back Bodice
Draping the Back Bodice
Draping the Side Bodice
Draping the Side Bodice
Fabric Draped and trims placed
Fabric Draped and trims placed

See more of my projects and vintage inspiration on my blog or connect with me on instagram!

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1920s | Downton Abbey Inspired | Vintage Sewing

Early 1920s Cardigan

By on April 20, 2016

One garment from the 1910s and 1920s that often gets overlooked is the belted cardigan. However, it’s actually a classic piece of fashion history from this time period and often pops up in period dramas based in these eras. Women wore them about the house to keep warm before central heating became the norm, you could probably equate them to modern day hoodies!

1920s wool cardigan

I’ve always found them fascinating and have always loved to have one, but most were knitted and I, very annoyingly, cannot knit. So, when I saw this original 1920s wool jersey one on Pinterest I knew I needed to try and make my own version. It would be a perfect challenge for my next Vintage Pledge.

Early 1920s outfit

And here it is! I based the design on an original 1930s cardigan sewing pattern I had, although the 1920s detailing of the large patch pockets and double button belt were just guess work.

Top stitching detail on 1920s cardigan

Sportswear inspired clothing was just beginning to creep into fashion during the early part of the 1920s and one detail that was used in the majority of these garments was top-stitching. I added loads of it to this cardigan to really give it a sportswear feel which was a huge challenge, trying to keep it straight and neat everywhere!

If you would like to read more about how how I made this early 1920s cardigan and see more photos, feel free to pop over to my blog.

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1920s | Blouses | Downton Abbey Inspired | Giveaway | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

1920s Silk Blouse and Pleated Skirt

By on March 11, 2016

After admiring everyone else’s achievements last year for A Stitching Odyssey’s Vintage Pledge I decided that this year I was going to join in. My own pledge was to challenge and push myself with my sewing. I’ve just finished my first outfit for the pledge, a 1920s silk blouse and pleated skirt. I created the pattern for the blouse by tracing around a simple silk top I already had and then making my own adjustments. The pattern for the skirt was McCall’s M7022 pleated skirt which I lengthened to a more suitable 1920s style.

1920s blouse, skirt and cloche hat

I used a beautiful Pre-Raphaelite inspired green and purple floral silk for the blouse which I bought from the fabulous ClothSpot and this was my first challenge. I’d never worked with silk before so was really, really nervous about starting it and I put it off for about four months. The Vintage Pledge was just what I needed to force myself to be brave and just get on with it. As it turned out there was nothing to worry about!

Pre-Raphaelite inspired silk fabric

I added vintage, probably early 20th Century, jet buttons to both the front of the blouse and at the side to close the band around the bottom.

1920s blouse, skirt and cloche hat

The skirt is in a black cotton twill that I dug out from my stash. I’m not overly happy with it, mainly because the fabric is all wrong for the style of skirt, it’s way too stiff. I’m not sure if I’ll try and adjust it or just make a different one.

If you would like to read more about how the whole outfit and see more photos feel free to pop over to my blog. And while you’re there why not check out my latest post where I’m running a giveaway of £40 to spend on fabrics at ClothSpot. (Giveaway ends midnight 20th March 2016)

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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 | 1920s | Blouses | Downton Abbey Inspired

Downton Abbey inspired blouse

By on December 24, 2014

Recently, I re-watched season two of Downton Abbey and for the first time, the clothes really appealed to me. Especially some of the blouses looked like they would still be nice to wear now.

I have some vintage pattern magazines in my collection which date as far back as 1918 so I started looking for options. In those magazines, there are plenty of pictures of lovely designs and readers could order the patterns for those… Just some of the designs (about one in each size) were included on a tracing sheet.

jurk_topI finally found these dresses in an issue of Gracieuse magazine from 1922. The middle one is more or less in my size (and so loose fitting I didn’t worry about that) and, more importantly, has the design I was after. So, I used the pattern pieces for the dress bodice to create this blouse.

blouse3It was a bit difficult to find a way to wear it. The blouse is very comfortable and I like it, but most of the bottoms in my wardrobe are more 1950’s in style and really didn’t work with it. I like the look with these trousers though. Not really period accurate but it doesn’t look ‘off’ either.

blouse voor 2With this blouse, I’ve also completed my goal of five items from actual vintage patterns for my Vintage Pattern Pledge.

As usual, you can read more about it on my blog.

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1920s | Accessories | Downton Abbey Inspired | Dresses | Hats

1921 Bustle Effect Dress

By on February 13, 2014

I made this dress to wear to a Downton Abbey inspired tea, but also as an entry into the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #3 Pink.  The pattern itself is a repro of an original 1921 Butterick pattern and it went together very nicely.  For being such an old pattern the instructions were much better than what you find on BurdaStyle magazines, although they are wholly inadequate Big Four standards today. I used a poly shantung for economical reasons but other than that, the dress is pretty historically accurate.  Actually, it’s not a dress but a skirt suspended from a “long underbody” and then a blouse on top. I am very happy with how it turned out.  It’s not something I can just wear around but it served its purpose, and I think I’m going to use during Costume College for day activities.  For more pictures and a description of the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge, please visit my blog.  I almost forgot, I made the hat too, using Simplicity 1736 and wool/rayon felt.

 

As a side note, I hadn’t made any posts since the blog was moved over from Blogger but I could have sworn I had an account.  Apparently I didn’t so I had to create one, and it’s showing that I have no other posts.  Bummer.

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1920s | Downton Abbey Inspired | Dresses | Hats | Shirts | Vintage Sewing

Going Gatsby for an Afternoon

By on September 9, 2013

This year I finally made up my mind to create a historically correct 1920’s outfit for the Art Deco Society of California’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon in Oakland, California.  This Art Deco picnic was held at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate and the attire is daywear from 1920-1940 (the Art Dcco period of course!).  It is a living history event with no spectators as everyone is a participant.

Gatsby Summer Afternoon

I made not only my outfit, but my husbands’ as well, even venturing into hat-making, which is a pursuit that I have never delved into before.  My dress is a seafoam green floral poly chiffon with a yellow crepe back satin slip.  It’s made using Vogue 2535, a 1928 design pattern that is out of print.

Vintage Vogue 2535, Original 1928 Design

I added a sash out of my slip fabric and fabric rosettes made from my dress fabric.  I love this pattern and it’s very comfortable to wear, even with synthetic fabrics and a hot afternoon.  The cape is most definitely my favorite feature and I also love the handkerchief hemline.

My hat is a 1920’s garden party hat made with maize silk dupioni and a buckram base.    The sash is the same yellow fabric I used for my slip and I added vintage silk millinery flowers.  I used Butterick 4697, a “Making History” pattern that is also out of print.

Butterick 4697

As a history scholar, I try to get my vintage repro outfits historically correct.  I am ….mostly …. with the exception that I could not find any crocheted gloves in time and my lace glovemaking pursuits were futile.  Also, it was very hot that day and I couldn’t stand wearing my seam-back pantyhose….. I think stockings and garters are the way to go!

If 1920’s men’s patterns were readily available I would have used them for my husbands’ outfit, unfortunately they are not easy to find.  Fortunately, men’s fashion has not changed much in the last 100 years, so I improvised.  My husband’s shirt is McCalls 2447 and is made of blue Burberry herringbone stripe shirting.  It has collar stays and French cuffs with vintage blue sapphire cufflinks that were my grandpa’s (which of course, you can’t see!).  His vest is Vogue 8497 (out of print) and is made of navy cotton poplin with vintage metal buttons and lined with striped shirting.  His trousers are vintage from a thrift store.  I bought him a 1920s vintage silk foulard tie with a geometric design, but what do ya know?  I forgot to pack it….

His golf cap is Vogue 8869 and is made of a black/midnight blue wool coating from my stash.

Overall it was such a great day, albeit HOT, and we are already planning for next year!  I’d like to make Vogue 2535 in a silk/cotton voile and use some contrasts.  I have in mind making my husband a seersucker suit, so if anyone knows of any great vintage suit patterns, please let me know!

Mr. and Mrs. Hughes at the Gatsby Summer Afternoon

Happy Sewing!

 

 

 

More details and photos from this event on my blog.

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