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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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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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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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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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

The essential black dress

By on May 30, 2017

Detail from the pattern envelope, McCall’s 3326. Doesn’t that neckline make you swoon?

I cut this dress out, all organised and good to go, last year, when I was binge planning and cutting…..little did I know I would be getting it finished in time to farewell my dear, and very talented nana. She was nearing 90, and had be one of those women who sewed from a very young age, and kept sewing, then knitting and many other handcrafts for most of her life. Nana Joy had been very supportive when I took up sewing my own clothes as an adult, and was naturally, ready for critical feedback whenever she saw me in a new make. She is dearly missed and I think she would have approved of this little number.

But, I digress, sewing rolemodels aside, on with the dress! I wanted to remake the McCall’s dress with a circle skirt, after making some slacks, I had just enough of this black cotton/linen blend to cut out this dress, using the skirt from McCall’s 3468, above. Very straight forward, the patterns are the same size, feature a side zipper closure, and I have used them both, so, easy!

I really am smitten with the results!

And, I need another!

On my blog, you can read how I made my bound buttonholes, added faux horsehair braid to the hem, for that perfect swirl, (see above). And of course, more photos.

Blog post here.

Are you on instagram? Lets hook up here.

Angela xo

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1940s | Dresses

A 40s wool dress with sunray-darts

By on February 24, 2017

While spring is already knocking at the door, I had the idea to sew a wintery wool dress. This pattern is included in a booklet with fabric-saving-pattens from 1944. It features a very slim skirt, slightly puffed sleeves and sunray darts around the neck.

I used a pure wool fabric in dark green for the dress and a black wool fabric for the contrasting belt and  bow. Unfortunately I was a bit over-ambitious and sized the pattern down too much, now it fits a little tight and has sleeves that are a little on the short side. But I do love it and am very happy with the result.

Here is a the original pattern drawing:

More photos and details I included on my blog parvasedapta.ch

Greetings from Switzerland,

ette

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1960s

McCalls 6569: Gold Satin Evening Dress

By on February 11, 2017

This year I made a decision, a decision not be to scared by fabric. For a couple of years now I’ve had some gold satin I brought back from Vegas in my stash and I’ve been so scared to use it having never worked with anything like that. This year it’s my tenth (?!) wedding anniversary and I thought it would make the loveliest dress for our celebratory meal out.

I picked McCalls 6569 for the pattern; a gorgeous sixties evening dress.

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The first thing I did was post in the We Sew Retro Sew & Tell facebook group to ask for tips, it’s one thing I LOVE about the sewing community, you have a wealth of experience and advice online in a group like that and people are only willing to help and wish you luck. So armed with my new found advice I bit the bullet and cracked on. As you may have noticed if you read my blog, I don’t often make muslins of my clothes but as I was working with an unforgiving fabric I thought I probably should get it right the first time, as a seam ripper might not be the best friend it previously had been to me. I measured up, perfect in the bust but 2 inches bigger on the waist and 4 on the hips (not live I’ve had a baby in the last year or anything….). It was going to need a little adjustment.

To read more about the adjustment process and how I sewed my muslin up pop over to my blog.
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So on to the dress….

I spent a whole night cutting out and marking up the pattern pieces (including the adjusted pieces – see my other blog). My, my, what a pain in the arse. It turns out satin is the most slippery material known to man (slight exaggeration, but it did feel like that at the time).

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The following day I sewed the bodice together which went very well but then it was time for the lining. I should say at this point I have never lined anything in my life but as I was sewing with satin I thought it would probably be a good idea just to bit the bullet and do it.

I then spent a long night sewing the lining to the skirt pieces following this, and here was where I made one of my major mistakes. I have no idea how I marked the fabric up wrong but somehow I managed to.

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When it came to the later stage of sewing it together it meant that I had a row of stitching down the back of the skirt next to the centre seam which I then had to unpick.

With a day to go to my anniversary (and after a lengthy trip to the dentist for two fillings) I spent a full day sewing the skirt pieces together. I attached the skirt to the bodice with relative ease and inserted the zip. Mistake number two: I was silly enough to not check that the fabric was taught when I basted the zip in, meaning that when I went to sew it I, again, had a big chuck of stitches to unpick which left a rather messy side zip insertion.

Thankfully it’s a side zip so really no one’s going to see it unless the come up really close to have a look . I finished sewing the lining pieces together at the waist and was quite impressed with how it looked inside out.

At this point I thought I should just leave the hemming to my anniversary and cut my losses before I cried.

So the day of my 10th wedding anniversary (last Friday) I sewed right up to the last minute but I did finally finish my dress with a couple of hours to spare, and I did get all dressed up and we did go out for the first time on our own in seven months. And here I am in my dress!

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Overall I am extremely happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

To see more photos of my mistakes and successes and to read more about it, please have a look at my blog 🙂

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