1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Red Linen Wrap Dress

By on September 3, 2016

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Seeing as vintage can sometimes seem a little bit prim and higher maintenance, it can feel great to just toss on a wrap dress and be extra comfy. No petticoats or under structure, just a linen rayon blend and an adjustable waist tie!

I’ve made a 1930’s inspired wrap dress before, and I used the same pattern once again, a self drafted number cobbled together from my usual kimono sleeved dress bodice pattern and an A-line skirt pattern. I did change the sleeve shape just a bit to be a bit more square and actually kimono like, as I knew I wanted to take photos of the finished dress in a Japanese garden. The red linen/rayon blend is from Joanns, and they carry this same fabric in several colors in their linen section. I like the addition of rayon, it means the fabric wrinkles a bit less ferociously than a linen would on its own. This fabric also has a nice weight to it and holds a crisp edge well when ironed.

Here is a 1930s pattern image that shows a similar dress, though I think these 30’s numbers are meant to be more casual house dresses and I made mine more formal for wearing out and about.

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The most tedious thing about making this dress was making, ironing, and stitching on the self fabric bias binding along the edges. The dress is unlined, and has no facings, so the bias binding encloses all of the raw edges including the hem. I sewed the bias along the outer edge by machine (that was a lot of pins!) and then after folding it over to the backside stitched the entire length down with invisible hand stitches on the back. Time consuming indeed, but worth it in the end for a nice finish!

 

 

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I am so pleased with how the dress came together in the end and I already want to make another version in the black colorway of this same fabric! Perhaps that will be a project for next year 🙂 For more photos of this dress and my day at the Denver Botanical Gardens visit me over on The Closet Historian!

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1930s | 1940s | Vintage Sewing

1930s Vintage Costumes for Theatrical Play & the Dance Floor

By on August 20, 2014

~ 1930s Vintage Costumes for Theatrical Play & the Dance Floor ~

By Tam Francis

I recently posted a new bog post about my adventures in sewing vintage. I usually blog about EVERYTHING vintage from swing dancing to classic movies, to sewing. I had the pleasure of making two costume for a play I was cast in and hoped at least one of them would transfer to the dance floor.

The first one I tackled was supposed to be a 1930s vaudeville outfit from a song called: Turn on the Heat! (I’ve got a video of the original 1929 clip on my website)

Here’s the pattern I used (with modifications), to attain the 1930s look. It doesn’t match the video exactly, but has the art deco feel I think?

pattern for Turn on the heat

I lost the collar and shortened it quite a bit. In fact, I kept going between the video and my garment, inching it up my leg until it looked sassy and theatrical. I couldn’t find fur so I had to use several feather fur boas. I didn’t want to do a hood, (like in the video) because of a quick change right after and no time to fix the hair-do. It turned out pretty cool I think and the director was thrilled! What do you think? Does it have a 30s theatrical feel? Does it evoke a touch of humor? Did you watch the video to compare? Have any advice on what I could have done differently?

turn on the heat costume

This is the success story, at least I feel like it is. The other dress: The Blue Dress, for my final scene, was an EPIC fail. If you’d like to see how that went wrong and what I learned in the process. Pop on over to my blog  about this crazy adventure in sewing!

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Have you ever felt something you made has crashed and burned? Feel like you rip out more seams than you sew? I’d love to hear about here, or on my blog 🙂

 

 

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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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1930s | 1940s

Schaperelli inspired hat – a preview

By on December 28, 2012

So this hat pattern was suggested to me when asking for a retro hat that I could sew without buckram or wire involved. I was a little sceptical as to how it made a ‘hat’ so I did a mock up. (I’m making the real thing for a sew along but this is a little preview). I used a scrap of unknown material, might be denim, might be cotton.

The instructions were simple enough. I did add a little to the 10~” hight to give me more to play with…

I realise now its supposed to be shorter to make a base. Which you then add things to and trim. I’ll probably make the real one in felt or a silk with a lining.

Looks like little cat ears from the front. lol!

I added a ‘bow’ pin. In real life I’d probably pin with a decorative hat pin or a broach.

What do you think?

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