Thursday, October 1, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Smart Neck Finish for a School Frock

I rather like the finishing touch that Ruth Wyeth Spears describes in this tip for her 1920s home sewists. Look how the bands incorporate the facings, which become part of the revers collar. And then those cunning little snaps on an underlay to close it all. This would be fun to try!

Another helpful tip for adding smart style to your sewing projects!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

1940s Raincoat Is the BEST EVER

Full of fabulous details, this very geeky-nerdy raincoat from Woman's Day magazine and the 1940s absolutely has enchanted me. It appears to be designed for someone who needs all manner of  writing implementss while outdoors in inclement weather. It includes:

  • a pocket for a retractable key holder
  • a pocket holder for pens and pencils (with a chain for one of those!)
  • a holder for 3x5 cards (yes, 3x5 cards!)
  • an invisible pocket for tissues
Pockets are located at the hips, at the waist, and on the arm - isn't that rather remarkable? I also love the attachable hood with visor.

I have marked up this illustration to point out the spiffy details:

On top of all these neato pocket details, the raincoat is lined, the hood attaches to buttons under the coat collar, and the hip and diagonal front pockets are bound. First class!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: A Ruffled Summer Frock with Picoted Edges

While Ruth Wyeth Spears feels that this style is for the "sub-deb" (that is, sub-debutante, so pre-teen girl), I think this very feminine summer frock would be lovely fashion for almost any age. Aside from sewing this frock from soft georgette, Ruth describes a technique for creating a picoted edge - very clever, our Ruth!

To learn more about hemstitching (which in the 1920s was evidently something the home sewists paid for, rather than created themselves) that you can create yourself, check out this very informative Youtube video from Professor Pincushion.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Search of Style & Scraps from the Past: A Dress Sewn from a Sears Catalog Pattern

It's the early 1940s, and where would you shop for a "Superior" pattern for an afternoon dress & bolero, as well as the fabric? Why, the Sears Roebuck catalog, of course! Today's finds were in a pattern from the early 1940s, and included both the catalog page that illustrates the pattern, and scraps of fabric from the resulting sewing project!

First, here is the pattern:

"Shop at Sears for Fashion-Right Fabrics and Patterns"

In Search of Style 

And here is the page from the Sears, Roebuck & Co catalog that was tucked in the pattern:

Note that the ensemble on the model is the very same pattern! And fabric at only 49 cents a yard! Which fabric swatch do you like? I actually like blue print that is on the model, though all the patterns are pretty. :)

Here is a close-up from the pattern instructions. Note the "peek-a-boo" breast pockets on the bolero:

Scraps from the Past

Also inserted in the pattern were these lovely rayon scraps (yes, rayon!). I can so visualize this ensemble in this wonderful floral pattern on a soft taupe-brown.

I'd say it is inspiring fashion from the 1940s and Sears!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards - Vintage Tweet with the Latest News

Postcard 37

Sender: Ida Eilts
Addressee: Miss Lilian Maguire, 1902 G Terry Ave, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St Louis, MO
Date: Sep 25, 1908
Image: Holland Building, Seventh Street near Olive, St. Louis, Mo.

Built in 1896, the Holland Building was the tallest building in St Louis MO when it was new. So when Ida sent this postcard to Lillian, this building was one of the most interesting and beautiful office skyscrapers in the St. Louis central business district. This attractive and notable building housed predominantly medical and dental offices and was full of all the latest conveniences, such as elevators, restrooms on each floor, and piped iced water on each floor. It was demolished in 1973.

Dear Lilian; - 
Guess you
think I have for-
gotten you. No, I 
never. How are
you? I'm fine 
& dandy. Florence
married the man
she always told
us she was en-
gaged to. Mr. Ed.
Linda got married
last week.
Ida Eilts 

I love this message! I wonder what Lillian thought of the news? Starting with assurances that she has not forgotten Lillian and never would, Ida tells Lillian the latest news: Florence and Linda have married! I am assuming these are women in Lillian's circle of friends. Of particular note is the way Ida phrases the news about Florence, implying some original skepticism regarding Florence's claims to being engaged: "Florence married the man she always told us she was engaged to." Well, she was telling the truth after all - now that's a juicy bit of news. Ha ha!

1907 Fashion

Monday, September 21, 2015

Use a Guimpe to Create a Girl's Heirloom Gown

A guimpe? What's a guimpe? This beautiful girl's dress that I listed in my shop recently is an excellent illustration of a guimpe, also called a chemisette.  Typically of lace or embroidery or contrasting fabric, it is a fill-in at the top of a low-cut dress. 

As you can see, comparing the pattern with the following illustration (courtesy of Wikimedia), the term "guimpe" really is appropriate.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

While the McCall's pattern has the guimpe buttoned to the dress, more typically it seems to simply have been tucked into the dress. 

A guimpe can also be a short blouse or a dickey worn under a dress or jumper. And from this image, there seems to be no difference between the guimpe and a "modern" dickey or short blouse:

The advantage of the guimpe is the advantage of any detachable insert, that is, flexiblity! Like the detachable collar, you could switch out one insert for another and create a different look. 

And this is my little excursion into fashion history. :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sew a 1920s Wardrobe in a Weekend Using Ruth's Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s

So sorry that I disappeared for the summer! What can I say? Life took over and left little energy for my blog. Life hasn't slowed down any, but items keep popping up and I just have to get back in the groove. Besides, I have missed you all!

So I resume my blog with this shout-out for Costume Academy! They are hosting a "1920s Wardrobe in a Weekend" retreat this weekend! What a fantastic idea, I only wish I could attend. Wouldn't it be fun to sew a one-hour day dress, an evening dress, and an accessory, all from the 1920s, and all in one weekend? Be sure to check out their website, and all their period costume events. They are surely a place to put on your "must-visit" list! I love too, that they have events for other fashion periods as well. Something for everyone. :)

In honor of Costume Academy's event, here is a post from our beloved Ruth Wyeth Spears and another tip for home sewing from the 1920s. Use this tip to inspire you to "jazz up" your 1920s frock with lace!

On the subject of Ruth Wyeth Spears, I was contacted by one of the organizers (Nicole Carlson) of this weekend's event at Costume Academy, asking to know more about her. While I do not consider myself an expert on Ruth, I shared what little I do know. 

Ruth learned her craft first by serving an apprenticeship in a dressmaking shop, and then went on to art school (with her goal being a career in fashion). In 1921 she launched her career in fashion through illustrating sewing directions and the processes of sewing. Ruth's fabulous syndicated series began to appear on the women's pages of small and large newspapers throughout the US in 1925. I do not know the year that her series ceased publication, but I think she continued publication through the 1930s at the least. Ruth created the topics based on questions from her readers. Her illustrations were so popular that they were widely copied in books, booklets, classrooms, and patterns.

Hats off to the successful career of Ruth Wyeth Spears - inspiring fashion in her readers all the way to the present!