1950s | 1960s | Burlesque / Pinup | Dresses | Hats | Vintage Sewing

Simplicity 3445 – Birthday Burlesque

By on May 6, 2013

If it’s early May, there are two things those around me can count on:

1. I’ve tormented them for the last month with a countdown to my birthday (39 this year) and…

2. The Vancouver International Burlesque Festival (8 this year) is going on.

I love Vancouver’s burlesque scene.  There are some AMAZING, creative, sassy women working hard. This is why for the last four years I have attended at least one of the three showcase nights for my birthday.

Now usually I prefer to make something colourful, but my husband gave me a bespoke hat for my birthday gift and so I chose to make a 1959 Simplicity 3445, View B for my night out IN BLACK.  How very simply basic of me!

Thank you to momspatterns.com for always having what I need!

One thing I love about buying vintage patterns is the items you sometimes find tucked in the pattern envelopes.  I found a full page from The Los Angeles Times showing a dress similar to View 2, made in jersey for $11.98!  What a treat!

Newspaper from Feb. 21, 1960 with the newly married Mrs. Larry Cessna McVey.
"Star in no-iron Arnel jersey white as the Milky Way"

This pattern was really quite simple to put together and I used some black crepe I found in my stash.  I did a muslin to ensure that I didn’t have to do any major alterations.  The only alteration I had to do was to shorten the dress by 20cm (8″), but being 155cm (5’2″), I’m use to shortening everything!   I had given myself a week to work on the dress, but unfortunately I caught a head cold early in the week. Boo.  Needless to say, I am VERY lucky that this was a straight-forward pattern.  I managed to finish it up in about 12 hours over two days.

Full length picture of finished dress.

I really love the simple details of this dress.  I was worried that the waist gathers would add a paunch where no lady wants a paunch to be seen, but they are really very flattering.  The pleated sleeves are wonderful!  I really would like to make a bright, eye-popping version of this dress, that’s how much I love this dress.

Close up of waist gathers.
Subtle, but gorgeous sleeve pleats.

I don’t have a full body shot of the finished look yet, but I will post one once I have one!  Hopefully you can accept a head shot of the finished look.  I love my bespoke beaver felt percher with antique veil.  My necklace was also a gift – a design from the early 60s.  I wore seamed fishnet stockings and peep toe satin heels with bows at the heels.  We’ve had beautiful weather in Vancouver this week, but the nights still get a little chilly, so I finished the look with a rabbit capelet.

Head shot of the finished look!

I had a fabulous time celebrating my birthday with friends and the girls AND boys of burlesque.  The highlight of the night for me was when Judith Stein, Canadian Legend of Burlesque (in her 60s and STILL putting on a fantastic show!) stopped me after the show and complimented me on my look!  Meep!

EDIT:  An ALMOST full length picture of the finished look.  Picture by Pin-up Perfection Photography.

The final look outside the Vogue Theatre. Picture by Pin-up Perfection Photography.

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1940s | Accessories | Hats

Birdy Beret, 1948 French style

By on January 31, 2013

I just loved the bird ornament on this pattern from Mrs. Depew the moment I saw it. So I bought a copy and made myself one.

The pdf contains instructions for drawing out the hat and bird patterns and describes how to do the other  variations pictured. Sewing instructions are minimalist to say the least. But drawing the pattern is simple and it’s easy to sew. An unlined felt one would be perfect to start with if you were unsure and needed a practise hat.

Anyway I made this to complete a tailored suit which uses the same suede as a trim, but no pictures of me in that ensemble yet as I still have an extra Christmas inch on my waist and the pencil skirt was already tight to start with. As soon as I can button the waistband again I will post about my making of that as it’s a copy of a late 40’s suit and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

But back to the hat- I made this one out of suede and lined it. The bird wings are two layers of suede fused (bondaweb) together to keep them from flopping. Next time I’ll probably do the same on the tail but it depends on how firm the material is. The two pattern changes I made were to enlarge the head opening and make the birds body a tiny bit shorter… but possibly my initial measurements for that were a little off in the first place. Stitching the edges gave it a more finished look I thought.

How long to make?  With drawing the pattern and messing about with my sewing machine to get it sewing suede nicely about 4-5 hours. I expect further hats to take much less time.

Will I make it again?  Definitely. Plans for red velvet, black felt….

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

The Beginning- 1950s Day dress

By on January 26, 2013

Hi fellow sewers!!!

I am currently in Year 12 and am studying Textiles & Design. For the HSC, we are required to make an item/s. I absolutely LOVE vintage things, especially fashion/hairstyles/makeup. My grandmothers fabulous dresses in the 1940s/50s/60s have inspired me to make this Vogue dress, a pair of white satin gloves and a felt pillbox hat:

The dress

To get more marks, I have decided to use a lilac Hemp/organic cotton material which is lovely and soft, as is a great colour too! I have also purchased some great buttons from Etsy.
So far, I have done a bit of work on the bust pieces:

Back and front of the two bust pieces with darts and gathering

and am now battling with the buttonholes. These are no ordinary machine buttonholes- they are buttonholes created the way they used to make them.
You sew around the buttonhole marking, then slice a cross evenly within the buttonhole square, then you push the material through to the other side and then pin and sew the material up ( very confusing)

Here is a great picture of my inspiration- my grandmother’s 1950s fashion-

A lovely flared dress (probably a dark velvet material) c.1960?


A flared, sleeveless dress with a scalloped row of buttons down the front

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1930s | 1940s | Burlesque / Pinup | Hats | Jackets | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

A couple of projects

By on December 22, 2012
Olive drab uniform
Click for full size.

Hello everyone! It struck me the other day that I’ve been rather productive this year, and I haven’t posted here in ages. This is part of what I’ve been up to.

– Another fictive uniform, because apparently I need more of those. I found a wonderful olive drab Prada cotton twill that feels more like a wool suiting, soft with a nice drape to it, bought less than I should have and managed to scrape a short jacket with sleeves to just past the elbows, a plain skirt and a small side cap out of it. It’s finished off with WWII American Red Cross bakelite buttons, and the embroidered Red Cross armband is German.

The skirt is lined, straight with a very slight flare at the bottom that doesn’t show up in this photo, and the jacked is lined with the interfacing, so to speak, a heavy black linen. I wanted this one to be cool and breathable, but still rather structured. At some point I should take out the sleeves and mess around a bit with the fit in the area around the armhole in front, it’s slightly too wide and loose there, but that’s a later project.

Off-white wool/poly blend, red cotton and galloon.

And then I made another one for a party, a Victorian circus-themed burlesque night. I don’t really do Victorian right now, so I made a cigarette girl kind of outfit; in part because I like the way they look, and in part because I have a ton of vintage Swedish military gold galloon – those heavy gold bands, you know – that I wanted to try out. In the end I was appointed lion tamer, too, so no cigarette tray.

Back of the jacket during the fitting process.
Back of the jacket during the fitting process.

So. Short, fitted jacket with a stand-up collar, puffed elbow-length sleeves and a pleated peplum in the back, short circle skirt and a pillbox hat, simple enough. I put a lot of heavy interfacing in the front of the jacket to carry all the metal the galloon contains, a very heavy vintage linen/horsehair interfacing fabric I found a roll of ages ago, and ended up flatlining everything with white cotton muslin to counteract the slight transparency of the loosely woven wool blend. The jacket is lined with red cotton. The skirt is unlined, although interfaced with the same white cotton as everything else, and has side seam pockets that aren’t as well hidden as I would have liked. I didn’t want to have to carry a bag, what with the lion and all; she was rather frisky and became completely unmanageable by the end of the night. She did win the costume contest, though – unfortunately the prize was a bottle of champagne, which lasted about a quarter of an hour, but still.

Lion and lion tamer
...and the end result. Prize-winning lion and lion tamer.

I’ve actually never made a pillbox hat before, although I’ve dabbled with hat-making quite a bit, but it has to be fairly straight-forward, right? Simpler hat shapes are hard to think of. I still have a large piece of extra-thick red felt left from the shoe hat, so I used that for both hat sides and top. Ended up cutting down the size of the thing quite a bit – I measured one of my favourite hats, a simple 40’s sailor hat, and used the same height and circumference for starters, but it turned out way too large. I flatlined the main fabric with white cotton, sewed the two pieces together, pressed and made sure the stiff felt pieces fit well into it. Then I added the galloon to the outer layer, hand-basted the felt pieces together, pushed them well into the outer layer, tucked the seam allowance into the hat and sewed it to the inside. It all stays in place with a comb attached to the bottom edge.

I will definitely be making more pillbox hats in the future, they’re easy, flattering and satisfying. This was a fun project.


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1940s | Hats | Pants / Trousers | Pattern Drafting | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

It’s about Navy and 1940’s this month…

By on December 9, 2012

I’m sorry if this post is all over the place …it looks ok when i type it but looks all out of sink when i preview it 🙁 but as i’ve spent over an hour on it , here goes …This month I have not had to change the thread on my machine at all …Navy Blue seems to have been my muse

It started with another pair of the 1940’s trouser pattern I cut from an original pair a while age (old post)

This is the forth pair and they are of to Dusseldorf to a lady I have never met who gave me a beautiful piece of wool/cashmere mix with a very fine pin stipe and three measurements ;0 I think I matched the stripes up quite well 🙂 She originally gave me the wrong trouser length so I had to add some more fabric in to the leg’s, luckly turn-ups are  very 1940’s.








The next project was a navy spotty scarf turned into a snood for another request, the onlyvintage  scarf I had was  1980’s long one so it had to cut and seamed to create a square before i could begin , she saw a picture today and loves it …










After that I was on a roll so I created a six panel skirt pattern Lindy hop was my insperation, so I went through my stash and came up with a piece of Navy slub Linen i’m not sure how old it is but is sure does smell vintage 🙂 , a used metal zip and some vintage lace seam trim   It took me all afternoon but it’s finished all but a vintage button ….are you the same ? it doesn’t matter how many buttons you have you never have the right one for the job 🙂









The skirt is for my daughter (again) but I think it needs more flare and softer fabric next time.  What do you think ? :))

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1950s | Dresses | Hats | Vintage Sewing

50s Fabulousness

By on November 14, 2012

Oh, 1950s dresses how do I love thee! I’ve had this fabric in my stash for a while and I knew exactly what type of dress that I wanted to make with it!

A great 50s double breasted dress with a great collar!

And too top it off, I found a pattern with pockets (Simplicity 1097)! Score!

I chose some yummy white trim to make the collar pop and a white belt to break up the business of this print.

More photos and construction details can be found on my blog. What’s your favorite fun feature on a dress? Mine’s definitely pockets!

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Hats | Vintage Sewing

ooobop! Lucky Hat

By on October 28, 2012

ooobop lucky hat

Self-drafted hat, using cotton velvet from stash, fully lined with poly lining and decorated with a ‘yoyo’  of self fabric with a central statement button. The ‘Lucky’ button was found in a biscuit tin by my daughter, at a vintage fair we attended last year.

lucky button

I’m so glad it found a special home!

ooobop lucky hat

And I’m so glad I have now got a hat that actually fits my big head… and keeps my ears toastie!

I’m hoping this hat will work for both modern and vintage ensembles. Though I might just have to make a few more in different colours!

It really only took a couple of hours, including the hand stitching and decoration.

More details over at ooobop!

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