1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Repairing A 1930’S Orange Chiffon Evening Gown

By on November 23, 2018

Over the Summer (on the same day) my friend Annalee and another friend, Kelley, dropped off bags of goodies on my front porch. Annalee gifted me this gorgeous orange chiffon dress, rolled up in a bag and falling apart. And Kelley gave me this glorious belt with Diamante buckle (along with other wonderful things as well). And last year, my neighbor and friend, Joyce, gifted me a large collection of vintage pieces from her family including this divine black velvet coat (it only needed cleaning). Also among those treasures – another black velvet coat and a peach and black 40’s dress. Both of those were re-worked and given new life. You can read about them here:

Vintage Coat Crusade – Re-Fashion & Restoring my Vintage Coat Collection

Sewing My Gatsby Prototype – Using a Vintage Dress as my muslin….

The condition of this Orange dress was actually not too bad. The thread was disintegrating and the side seams had come apart completely. There was even scotch tape (why Annalee?) holding them together. And the garment was stained in several places with a burn hole right in the center front. I can totally understand why someone would think this dress unwearable but also so pleased that it came to me for rescue.

I repaired the dress from the bottom up, sewing up the side seams, reinforcing some sensitive areas, restitching the covered buttons to secure them in place. And I covered up all the holes and most of the stains in a strategic way.

To find out more about how I did all this, the slip I sewed for underneath the gown, my hair flowers and more, please visit the blog post here.

Thanks and Happy Sewing!

Jennifer

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1930s Print Quilting Cotton Dress

By on September 7, 2017

1930s feedsack print dress

As a 1930s obsessive I’m often drawn to the beautiful 1930s reproduction prints on quilting cotton fabric. However, I’ve always been weary of it because of its stiffness and just knew it wouldn’t be right for the style of clothing I love to make. Genuine 1930s dresses were always made using a softer fabric with plenty of drape, whether it be cotton, linen, rayon, silk or wool, which always hung well.

However, when I came across this amazing feedsack reproduction print I just couldn’t resist it. I knew straight away that I wanted to make a Dust Bowl style dress with it, despite knowing it was going to be challenge.

I used an original pattern from the very early 1930s and, although it was my size, I did have to make quite a lot of adjustments. The main issue was the way it fitted due to the stiffness of the fabric and there was too much bulk everywhere. If it had been made in a much softer fabric, this would’ve gathered perfectly around the waist when the belt was added.

1930s feedsack print dress

For more information about the troubles I had with the fit of this dress, please have a read of my post here. However, if you’d just like to skip to the outfit post to see all of the lovely 1930s detailing and find out more about Dust Bowl dresses, then you can view the post here.

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1930s | Buttons | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Late 1930s Button Detail Dress with Tulip Print

By on June 23, 2017

1930s tulip print dress

Sometimes you buy a sewing pattern just for the details and this was definitely the case here. The pattern I used for this late 1930s dress was an original 1940s one that I bought from Til the Sun Goes Down. It had the most beautiful shoulder yoke section, which you only ever seem to see on late 30s/early 40s patterns, and I knew I needed a dress with this as a feature. The skirt part of the pattern wasn’t really what I wanted, mainly because it looked very 1940s and I wanted a late 1930s style as this is the era I tend to wear the most.

The beautiful abstract tulip print fabric that I used was a vintage fabric, which feels like a soft cotton but behaves like a crepe or rayon. It was a dream to work with and, along with all the era-accurate techniques I used, helped to create a truly authentic look. In fact, someone I met whilst wearing this dress actually thought it was genuine vintage!

The 22 buttons that feature on the dress were all beautifully covered by the company I use a lot, London Button Company. I asked them to specifically use the coloured parts of the pattern, rather than the black background, to make them really pop out. The matching belt features an original 1930s Art Deco buckle in a bright yellow and I love how it really stands out against the dress.

1930s dress shoulder yoke detail

1930s dress button back closure

1930s dress waist detail

More photos and details about the techniques I used, and how I made the matching hat, can be found on my blog »

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1930s Dress Made Using Original Vintage Fabric

By on January 24, 2017

1930s ruffles dress front

Every now and again you come across a truly beautiful piece of original vintage fabric. You carefully unfold it, hoping and praying that it’s in good condition. You check it over thoroughly, measure it and finally take the very brave step of washing it. At this point you’re on tenterhooks, will it fall apart the second the water hits it? It survives the wash, it dries well and then you press it, checking thoroughly once again for any holes, tears or marks. And finally, you realise you have one incredible pristine piece of 1930s/1940s fabric that’s long enough to make an entire dress. You, or indeed me at this point, then do one hell of a happy dance!

1930s ruffles dress

As you can imagine, I was terrified to cut into the fabric, but I truly believed that this fabric had found its way to me for a reason. I’m very much someone who believes in buying vintage and using it. Every piece of vintage clothing I buy gets worn, I don’t store things away in a dark cupboard but, rather, enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed. That was how I felt about this fabric. It needed to be made into something and not waste away unloved and unappreciated. And it deserved to be made into something authentic.

1930s dress back

I used an original 1930s sewing pattern and original 1930s sewing techniques from both the pattern and a 1930s dressmaking book. The trimmings, such as the rayon hemming tape, were also vintage. The only modern parts of the dress are the white crepe I used for the yoke section and the metal button blanks for the self-cover buttons. That’s why I call this my brand new almost-vintage dress!

You can see more detail photos and find out more about the fabric, pattern and techniques I used on my blog here.

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

A Late 1930s Lemon Yellow Dress

By on July 12, 2016

Late 1930s yellow dress

My sewing resolutions at the beginning of the year included two main things. These were challenging myself with projects I wouldn’t have previously tackled and exploring new colours. One of those colours was yellow. I had always shied away from it, mainly because I know citrus colours don’t suit me. However, when I spotted this beautiful lemon yellow fabric online I knew I had to give it a go.

1930s dress pattern

I instantly went online and searched for the perfect 1930s vintage pattern to use to really bring this fabric to life and after a while I stumbled across the one above on Etsy. It was being sold by a seller I’ve bought from several times, Kallie Designs, so I knew it would be in good condition. When it arrived I quickly opened it up to look at the different pattern pieces and I immediately knew this dress would cover both of my resolutions as it looked seriously tricky.

Late 1930s yellow dress

What was even worse is that it was a couple of sizes smaller than my measurements. Before seeing the pattern pieces this didn’t daunt me because I often end up grading a pattern up or down to get it to fit right but I knew these pieces were going to be quite a challenge. Thankfully the only major issue I had was with the skirt as it was much narrower around this area than what the illustration shows.

Once everything was cut out, the hardest parts to put together were the yoke and the faux belt. Trying to get these inserted correctly, and with a smooth curved edge, took several frustrated attempts. However, I vowed not to give up because as it came together I knew this was going to be a really gorgeous dress. Thankfully, once I’d mastered these bits everything else was pretty smooth sailing and it was sewn up quite quickly.

1930s dress pocket detail

The buttons and white fabric for the belt were from my own stash. However, the ric-rac I used was originally from my mum’s stash and dates back to the 1970s. I’m so pleased I decided to add this detailing, something that was optional on the pattern, as it really gives it that frugal look of the late 1930s. Now I want to add it to everything!

If you would like to read more about my oh-so-summery 1930s dress and see more photos, feel free to pop over to my blog.

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1930s | Vintage Sewing

NYC Area? Visit this retro fashion exhibit

By on June 13, 2016

13413640_308759146122699_2510037396698053864_n  Capture

The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC has an interesting exhibit Stiching History from the Holocaust. Among the exhibit’s features are vintage designs brought to life by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The designs, having been tucked away in an attic for over eight decades, were originally sent from Czechoslovakia to America as part of an immigration application. The dress designs offered proof that dressmaker Hedy Strnad would be able to support herself when arriving in the US. Unfortunately, she was never given the opportunity and died in a Nazi deathcamp.

The exhibit’s two main goals are to increase understanding as to why Jews (or other persecuted peoples) did not just leave before Nazi occupation and secondly to mark the immeasurable loss of human creativity as a result of holocaust killings. I highly recommend the small – but very moving – exhibit if you are able to experience it.

I posted photographs on my fb page.

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Simplicity 1690

By on March 4, 2013

Hi–I’m Jeannie and this is my first post on We Sew Retro. I’ve always loved the lines of dresses from the mid-1930’s, so my first retro sewing project is Simplicity 1690. I haven’t been able to date the pattern, but there was a newspaper pattern inside the envelope dated 1936, so I assume the pattern is close to that age.

A capelet pattern drawn on newspaper dated 1936.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the dress from black and white rayon challis. It was quite an adventure cutting the pieces so that the pattern was identical from side to side and that the yoke matched the bodice. The challis was not cooperative the first time around and I found that I couldn’t simply fold the fabric. I had to cut half the bodices and skirts, then carefully fold and match each side of the pattern.

I made one change, choosing to line the yoke with lightweight lining fabric instead of narrowly hemming the neck, tie and sleeve edges as the pattern directions instructed. There are a lot more photos and blow by blow descriptions of my 1930s sewing adventure on my blog

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