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When You Need to Sew Something Vintage–FAST

This past January we hosted a 1933 party at our house.  I’m part of a small group that does .  . . . well not exactly reenactment . . . and not exactly murder-mystery . . . events.  Hard to describe really, except to compare it to a sort of live-action soap opera drama with supernatural overtones.  And NO . . . this is NOT some vintage riff on “Twilight”.

As you can guess, since we were hosting, I was so busy with preparations trying to get everything coordinated (caterer, music, etc.) and organized and ready, that I didn’t have much time for sewing.  I needed at least one day dress (well ideally two) and one evening gown dinner dress.  Weirdly enough I own five evening gowns that look 1930’s (two which are actually vintage), so I was able to slide on that one.   And for one day I was also able to skate with a “faux-vintage” blouse and skirt.

And of course . . . I was down to the wire with only a day to put something together.

Can I see a show of hands of all of you who have been here before?

I did a quick look through my fabric stash and the archives to see what I could find that wouldn’t take too much fiddly work.  The pattern I finally settled on was this one:

Don’t let the “Size 20” alarm you.  It’s a vintage sizing, and is actually equivalent to a 38 Inch Bust and 41 Inch Hip.

I ended up using this size because it was fairly close to my hip and waist measure- ments, but I had to take it in at the bust.  I’m a bit “pear-shaped” these days . . .  sigh.

But this looked like it would go together quick, and that was important, since I only had a couple of hours before I needed to wear it!

Looking through my fabric stash – I needed to find something that was 1930’s looking, and didn’t require a lot of finishing.  So things like French seams, zippers and buttons were out, because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do all of the finishing techniques before I had to put it on.

I found in my stash some light weight cotton fabric that had very art deco looking berries in dark blue and apple green.  And surprisingly I also had some apple green boiled wool that matched the  green in the cotton.

Granted boiled wool probably wouldn’t have been used for this dress – but the wool had the advantage of no raveling edges, so finishing would be minimal.

Here is a picture of the almost finished blouse.

The drop shoulder puff sleeve is pretty cute, I think, with the double row of gathers at the shoulder.

Because I was in a hurry to get it done, I just made two diagonally shaped darts in the front from the shoulder towards the center front.   I sewed them on the right side, so they look like really long tucks.  You can’t see them in the photo, because the pattern blends so well together.  And when the jumper is worn over it, the straps hide them.

Even so, I think this is a blouse that I’ll probably wear with jeans in the summer.  When it’s warm enough not to have to wear three or four layers, like I’m doing now.

I still need to hem it, put buttons or snaps on the front, and bind the seam on the inside neck to finish it up.

 

Here’s the photo of the jumper with the blouse.

The green originally looked to stark against the blouse, so I put an edging of the blouse fabric around the neckline and arm opening.

The sliders on the straps are belt buckles, that I picked more for color – but they are actually a bit too heavy for the dress.  I’m on the look out for something else to replace them with.

And clearly – I didn’t get the belt made – so for the day that I wore it, I just tied off a strip of the blouse material as a sash.

I still need to put some snaps or fastener bars under the straps, and to tack down the slider buckles to the fabric.  I may take it in a bit more at the sides at some point.

I finished the whole thing in about 6 hours of marathon sewing. And got lots of compliments on it at the party!

Classic 1930s Coat Part 1

Classic 1930s Coat Part 1

I was hoping to get the next section about the Traveling Jacket posted, but I got a bit stalled out in the pattern alteration phase. I will be posting up the information about the pattern alterations in the next day or so.

In the meantime, I thought I’d let you know about my current sewing project – a 1930’s coat.

My old winter coat (nearly 20 years old) is finally at the point where further repairs just aren’t going to cut it. And thanks to a very generous Christmas  gift last year from my wonderful mother-in-law, I was able to brush up on my dormant tailoring skills by taking a refresher course at Apparel Arts in San Francisco. (Be sure to check out Suzy Furrer’s book.  Simply one of THE BEST books on pattern drafting, in my humble opinion.)

I went burrowing through the Library’s archives, looking for a pattern close to my size, and matching the requirements of the class.  (Notched collar, welt pockets, two piece sleeve – etc.) Eventually out of 5 patterns than met the requirements, I narrowed it down to this pattern from 1933 –

It has that classic “Casablanca” look to it, and I love the long length with the box pleats falling from the waist at the back to the hem. Another interesting design feature is the long dart that comes in from the underarm and angles down towards the pocket.  (You can see a bit of the dart if you peek closely at the right hand side of the white coat.  There’s a little angled shadow that’s center and just above the double welt pocket – that’s the dart.

Now – if I could only find a pair of those brown shoes shown in the left illustration!

My old coat was black, so I decided that for a fabric I wanted something a bit different.  I wasn’t sure what, one of those I’ll know it if I see it things.  I also knew that while Britex Fabrics would be the number one choice for wool – I didn’t want to pay 250.00 a yard for a full length coat.  I knew if I even browsed over there I would fall in love with something much beyond my budget.

Instead, I went to Discount Fabrics in Berkeley, CA.  Which is a great place, if you don’t mind spending a couple of hours in there browsing.  It’s rather like a fabric treasure hunt, and if you find something you like,  snap it up — because there’s no telling if it will be there the next time you come.

It took me a bit to track down the woolens . . . and while the selection wasn’t nearly as huge at Britex . .  all of it was lovely stuff.   I found what I was looking for.  A blue-gray Italian wool, with a very slight pile surface.  It was a bit lighter weight than I was looking for, but  the canvas and other structure inside should give it more body.

(excuse the slight wrinkles from it being folded!)

The fabric is 60 inches wide, 100% camel hair wool,  and ran about $ 55.00 per yard which means it would have run anywhere from $ 100.00 – $ 150.00 a yard anywhere else.  You can’t really see it in this picture, but it has little flecks of pale blue, pale and medium gray in it.

I made a muslin first, using Nancy Zieman’s book Pattern Fitting With Confidence.  (This is a reissue of her earlier book Fitting Finesse.) I’ve used this primer for years to alter vintage patterns to fit me – and highly recommend her method.

I ended up having to adjust through the waist and hips for my extra inches.  and having to widen the upper sleeve to for my more “fluffy” upper arms.  I also decided to raise the neckline lap at the center front a little higher – since one of the things I hate is wearing a coat where the cold air is whistling down my front!  The muslin only needed a few little tweaks in class (hooray for Nancy Zieman!) — one of which was to open up the shoulder seam a little more to allow for shoulder pads.

Unfortunately I can’t show you the finished muslin – because I’ve already taken it apart to use as the pattern for cutting the coat.  But trust me . .  even as a muslin . . . it looked SHARP!

I decided to do everything in classic couture tailoring methods, which translates into lots of hand work.   I went through and chalked all of the markings, and then thread basted everything . . . and I mean everything with silk thread.

(thread basted pocket opening)

(Dart hand basted and ready to be sewn)

All of the thread marking didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would – and there was a sort of zen quality to plying needle and thread through buttery soft wool.

The refresher course at Apparel Arts helped get my brain in motion – but some of the techniques were a bit modernized for what I wanted to do, such as machine stitching rather than pad stitching being used for the collar.  Don’t get me wrong – for current tailoring these options work great, and are amazing time savers.  But having chosen a vintage pattern, I wanted to do something a lot closer to what would have been done in 1933.

So – my next step was off to research the Library’s vintage tailoring books!

Part two of this series will cover constructing the darts, making the double welt pockets  . . . and what my tailoring research turned up.

My next post will cover sewing the darts and the double welt pockets.

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Afternoon Dress

This version of our pattern # T1060 has the elegant styling that all of the classic 1930’s dresses show.  Featured at the FABRICATIONS Blog – there is a wonderful detailed write up on the construction of this dress.

1930s Gown with Cascade

That amazing sewing maven at the Sew Weekly blog has done it again!  Her version of our pattern # T3946 is sure to turn heads at the upcoming Bay Area Gatsby Weekend.   Be sure to scroll down in the blog and read all the details about the construction of this dress!.

Another Version of Felt Cloche Hat

Here is another beautiful version of the 1920’s Cloche hat made from our pattern number HW001

There’s an excellent review of the pattern at her blog : Silk, Wool and Needles

Client Projects Winter 2010

What a surprise to open up the mailbox today and find several new photos of garments made from the VPLL patterns!

Dress # T7357 made in plaid and blue

First this lovely version of pattern # T7357. I have been wanting to make this for myself for ages – and this picture really inspires me to start to work on it.

Skirt # T1047 made in two-tone white and yellow

I’m actually working on a version of skirt # T1047 myself, in a medium weight purple wool. I hadn’t thought of making it actually in a two-tone color scheme. Below is another picture of the same skirt in a different color arrangement.

Skirt # T1047 made in two-tone plaid and blue

Then there are hats! I never get tired of seeing what someone else does to personalize, and add their own creative touches to a pattern. The two photos below are from pattern # HW001.

Hat from # HW001 – front view

Hat from # HW001 – side view

Circa 1912 Blouse from our Clients

Here is the original pattern image from our website – pattern # E4925.

There is a review at the very bottom of the page that the link takes you to.

Front view of this blouse.  I love the    touches of embroidery at the neckline!

The  shoulder tucks are very flattering – and the lace cuffs are a lovely touch.

Here is the back view of the blouse.

The shoulder tucks continue all the way down the back to the waist.

1924 Women’s Fashion

Characteristics Of The Spring Styles

Spring fashion dictates a silhouette that is narrow and flat, with all curves eliminated as much as possible. Bust, waist and hips are diminished at every point from the shingled head under a tiny cloche hat to the hem of a short and narrow skirt.

Waistlines are conspicuously absent, while the hip line is often indicated by the narrow belt or a gathered girdle, or an ornament, but is quite often eliminated altogether in straight dresses.

Tube or pencil dresses and coats, the coats in full or three-quarter length. There is a tendency toward cape backs in dresses of all types, street, afternoon and evening, because of its straightening effect on the figure, especially when it is at all full in back.

The use of flounces, draperies tiers, accordion pleats, panels, etc. for afternoon and evening dress. The popularity of accordion pleats in flounces, cape backs, and the lower parts of sleeves can not be stressed enough, and is most chic for springtime garments.

The current vogue for two-piece dresses with straight blouses, and exquisite lingerie collars and cuffs, slit pockets, and narrow belts continues unabated.

The skirt length is now short, even in afternoon frocks, and still shorter for street and sports clothes. For evening wear the length various from ankle-length to from six to ten inches above the floor.

Stockings should be as sheer as possible, with either plain or with the drop-stitch clock at the side, in rose, beige, nude, banana, log cabin, Sahara, acorn or peach. The same type of stocking worn at morning (except for sports), noon and night. For evening, even with silver and gold evening slippers, the nude or peach shade is most correct for the newest fashions.

1924 Children’s Fashion

Fresh Frocks For The Wee OnesFresh Frocks For The Wee Ones

Now that Spring is here, the warmth of the sun beckons the little one outside. It’s time to cast away the heavy coats and gloves of winter, and to dress as fresh and sprightly as the first flowers of the year.

Frocks for children are simple this season, being loose and comfortable, both for summer play and for ease of everyday care.

The rounded “boat” neckline is very much in evidence this Spring for children. A flat band often takes the place of a collar, made in matching or contrasting fabric. Collars when seen are to be of either the pointed or rounded shape, and are generally made in white trimmed with delicate lace.

Narrow ruffles as trim are sometimes used, but only sparingly. Shaped pockets, in the form of flowers, pouches or other whimsical devices lend an air of playfulness to these frocks. Hand embroidery and pin tucks also enliven garments made of a single solid fabric.

For the children of school and nursery age every day dresses are made of wool jersey, wool crepe, soft twills, mohair serge, plaids or heavier tub materials on the order of linen, linen-finished cotton, gingham, chambray, cotton or poplin. While cotton is usually the best choice of material for the simpler dresses planned for children, it is a very nice idea to have one silk frock for spring.

Afternoon and party dresses are of crepe de Chine, Georgette, occasionally crepe satin, taffeta and satin. A very nice choice is a striped wash silk in dull blue with a white background, and also having a narrow stripe of burnt orange to set off the blue.

For the tiny tots, the fine lingerie materials, net, Georgette and crepe de Chine are used for special occasions.

1950 Ladies Suit

F7138_web_32B

Ladies Suit Size 32 Inch Bust

This ensemble features an interesting neck line design on the dress. Because the model on the left is turned sideways, it’s hard to see — but it is sort of like a rounded scoop neck – with these strange little pointy bits at the corners.

The jacket has a stand-up collar, and a flared waistline, with some open-seam details, giving it some little tabs at the bottom.

STATUS:

Digitizing is completed on all pattern pieces. Editing on the instruction graphics is in process.

ESTIMATED RELEASE DATE:

August 15

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