1940s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1940s Organic Cotton Gingham Dress

By on October 12, 2017

5955 McCall sewing pattern, 1946

After watching the brilliant documentary The True Cost, about the human and environmental impact of fast fashion, I decided to try and make a completely ethically-produced dress. I chose to make it using an original sewing pattern from 1946 that I had won in a competition on the Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds Facebook group. It’s a little later than my usual style dress (1930s to early 40s) but, as it looked like it could easily be from the late 1930s, I decided to go for it.

1940s organic gingham dress

The fabric I used was 100% organic cotton gingham from the Organic Textile Company. They produce this beautiful soft cotton in two different sizes and both in three different colours, red, blue and black. As I loved both sizes so much I chose to use both in red and use the smaller one on the bias. Of course, each of the pieces I cut in this way had to be stabilised with straight cut facings.

1940s organic gingham cotton dress

All of the trimmings I used were either vintage pieces or items I already owned, even the ivory cotton thread I used to sew the dress up. This all adds up to an almost totally ethically made garment. However, there is one thing I did have to buy new, and it wasn’t organic or ethically-produced, so I can’t quite say this dress is 100% ethical.

Head on over to my blog to find out what this item was and, if you want to know more about why it isn’t ethical, have a read of the comments at the end of the post.

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1950s

Double trouble

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Dear WeSewRetro Readers,

meeting the Tailleur Bar in my ensamble

I had been searching for a vintage Simplicity 4538 pattern for some time, never having any luck with buying it. When I discovered that Simplicity has just reissued this design as a repro 8452, it landed straight into my shopping basket. The blouse is in fact a two-seam rectangle, but what a glorious rectangle it is. It is quick to make (it took me one afternoon form cutting to giving the final touches), drapes beautifully and has two glorious 1950s characteristics: it gives a wide yet soft-shouldered look and accentuates the waist like a solid cincher.

The black skirt is the bottom part of a vintage Butterick 6976 form 1954. Side note: it was one of the very first vintage patterns I have ever bought… The skirt has 6 panels and features 4 box-pleats, which amounts to a great fullness at the hem and creates very graceful movements.

To see and read more, I invite you to my blog, rvdzik.blogspot.com 🙂 Thank you for visiting!

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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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1950s | Modern Patterns | Skirts

A Retro Gertie Butterick B6285

By on July 30, 2017

This skirt was almost the death of me! But it’s finished and I love it and I want to make more and more and more and… you get the idea.

This pattern is quite gorgeous. Mine is made from a heavy cotton sateen from Spotlight in the most vibrant red and black.

Pockets. Can life get any sweeter?

 

 

It was paired with a black eBay petticoat which is a bit scratchy, hence the slip underneath that. It was toasty warm and certainly made my Monday much more agreeable.

Those with a keen eye will notice the slash neck top is the Gable Top by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. It’s such a great staple top and I’ve been making more of them over the weekend.

Swing and/or twirl around to my blog to read the story of the skirt.

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1920s | Accessories | Capes | Downton Abbey Inspired | Vintage Sewing

Make a 1920’s Inspired Shrug for added Glamour

By on June 29, 2017

 

My friend Jonathan invited me to his 30th birthday party.  He wanted to leave his OWN roaring 20’s in style and asked everyone to come dressed up for the occasion.  What a great opportunity to play dress up and put on a made-by-me gown from my favorite era!

Original dress and wrap

Yay!  I had everything – Dress, shoes, stockings, gloves, hand bag and wrap.  But the truth is, I didn’t really want to wear a wrap.  I wanted something a little more glamorous. So why not turn my metallic gold organza wrap into something more special?  I could throw it together in a couple of days, right?  So I did.  It’s not 100% accurate to the era and time, but I think it evokes the glamour of the era (and my inspiration photo – see below) and went perfectly with my dress already (see this post for more info about the dress)

The Finished Look!
My Vintage Inspiration

Here is the finished look.  I am happy with the way it turned out.  It was created from a metallic organza wrap that I owned already, and a vintage white fox collar that was purchased online. The stitching was done entirely by hand and the collar is removable.

If you are interested in how I created the Shrug, visit my blog post about making it.

You can also visit me on Facebook, Instagram or Sign up for my Blog posts in your email.

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

A 1920’s Blouse Done 3 ways with One Vintage Dress Pattern

By on June 25, 2017

Three Blouses from One 1920's Dress Pattern

As part of my quest to build a “Miss Fisher” wardrobe, I’ve sewed up three little blouses inspired by separates her character wears in different episodes.  This post will show you the 3 blouses I have made, starting with one pattern.  The base pattern is the Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1920s Ladies Frock with Pleated Skirt Inset – Reproduction Sewing Pattern #Z2773.

Here is my Finished Blouse 1. I love it and wear it all the time!

 

For the first blouse the fabric was made from a printed stretch silk charmeuse and coordinating white silk habotai collar and tie ends.  I kept the tie exactly as on the pattern, making the ends contrast and the tie the same fabric as the blouse.

For blouse #2,  there were a few revisions to the pattern/construction – namely adding a loop under the collar to hold the neck tie, omitting the bottom band (with added length) and omitting the contrast tie bottom on the neck tie (adding length here again).

Close up view of front neck
Front view of finished blouse

Blouse #3 has to be my favorite so far.  It’s a departure from the other two but was easy to create using the same pattern. I sketched it after watching Series 2 episode 3 (Dead Man’s Chest) and decided to modify this pattern to get the look.  This version was made in a printed paisley cotton lawn and the flat piping was made from white seersucker scraps that I had floating around as well as white covered buttons (joining sleeve ends) that were also floating around in my stash. On a related side note, there was some great conversation about Miss Fisher’s blouses in The Miss Fisher Philes podcast , when they discuss this episode (Series 2 episode 3 (Dead Man’s Chest)), making reference to Miss Fisher wearing more separates than dresses.

If you would like to read more about how exactly I revised the pattern to create each of these looks, visit my blog post here.

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

Thanks and Happy Sewing!

Jennifer Serr

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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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