Okay, Ladies! Let’s talk brassieres! The more vintage sewing I do, the more I hate my bras. The grapefruit shaped T shirt bra just looks all wrong. So, here’s the $64,000 question. What sort of shape do you prefer under your vintage style clothes? Do you go all out for the torpedo shaped bullet bra or is that just too much? I personally like a 1940’s shape, which is right between the grapefruit and torpedo. Sort of like the brassiere equivalent of Goldilocks. Just right! Have any of you made your own bras? Would you buy a vintage style bra pattern? Thoughts?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although I am a big lover of silk hemp and other natural fabrics, I sometimes do some odd and quirky sewing with materials that aren’t the usual.
This tends to lean towards wearable art, I have used plastic bags, bottle tops and packaging straps.
This time I used punctured bicycle tubes
it was interesting to work with, but I enjoyed the challange.
here is a taster, I am hoping to get into a runway show with it fingers crossed.
don’t worry she is wearing a unitard, it is just flesh coloured lyrca.
if there is anyone else that enjoys working with odd materials I would love to see what you have made.
Vintage pencil skirt using Burda 8155.
I have made a few of these skirts, but this is my fav because of the cute little sailor buttons i added to the front dart seam.
It is made in a light cotton, perfect for summer and what a breeze to make!
Check out my blog for more info:
I used a vintage simplicity pattern for this dress, i pretty easy to make shirt dress with only 2 pieces! It has the best in seam pockets and a nice full skirt, i am getting alot of wear out of this one! It also has a cute 50’s full collar, and cute turned up sleeve cuffs that just add to the dress.
Check out my blog for more info on this dress!
I really enjoy making small cocktail hats and other heavily decorated things to wear on my head. It’s the perfect pleasure project, in many ways; I can whip them up quite fast, usually these things come together for specific parties, they generally don’t require a lot of material, there’s very little fitting, lining and other time-consuming work involved, and it’s fun. It’s as free of performance anxiety as sewing ever gets for me, and it feels festive and playful and exhilarating. I’m not shy about wearing odd stuff on my head, either, so the sky’s the limit, really.
For New Year’s, there was a grand masquerade, and for that you need a mask. I also needed a red sequin evening gown, but the red sequin seaweed fabric got lost in the mail and didn’t arrive until yesterday. Oh, well. Another party, I made a sequinned and beaded red half mask in the shape of a gloved hand anyway – I’m a huge Schiaparelli fan, I love mildly surrealist headwear, and oddly enough my wardrobe didn’t contain a decent mask before this one.
The original idea was to use a lonely actual red leather glove, but that turned out a bit too bulky; I think I’ll try to make a hat out of it at some point instead. So I sketched, cut, folded and ended up with a decent pattern of sorts, which I cut and shaped in this heavy linen/horsehair interfacing. There are two darts in it, so that it follows the curve of the head.
Then I added steel wire to the edges, for stability and shape…
…and covered the base with plain red cotton poplin, and the inside with peach satin. Outlines of the fingers and glove stitching on the back of the hand marked out, too.
And then I covered the whole thing with sequin ribbon, for plain areas, and red glass seed beads, for contours, shades and outlines.
Strictly speaking the sequinned areas aren’t really lighter than the beaded areas, but I wanted more sequins than beads and when they do reflect light your way, they do it much more brightly, so…
…I think it worked rather well, anyway. I added a couple of rows of tiny black seed beads to stress the outline of the fingers after this, but it doesn’t make much of a difference; there’s just a little bit more of a contour. It fastens in my hair with four of those little toothed metal clips that are often used on clip-in hair extensions, you know – those are the best thing there is for attaching things securely to hair, even short hair.
And then I wore it, with a marvellously vulgar 50’s dress that I got for New Year’s two years ago. I think it turned out quite well.
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.
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.
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.
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.