Monday, September 30, 2013

Spotted in a Shop Window - Swing Coat!

What do you think? Is this not a super-cute coat? It has more than a tent silhouette - it has beautiful bias flared swing fullness.

It reminds me of the coats of the 1940s (and a bit in the early 1950s). In that era coats with swing fullness (especially in the back) were enormously popular. Adult or child, these coats were definitely tailored, and had delicious back fullness and flared drape. Here are a few examples from patterns currently in my shop:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

1950s Refashion - Slacks Convert to a Sporty Stole!

A nifty stole with pockets in the end and a belt to keep it close - this is perhaps the easiest refashion to make, requiring no purchased pattern.

To make, begin by ripping apart a pair of worn of outdated slacks, using the side with little to no wear (in this case, the back side). Cut each leg on an angle, and then sew along the cutting lines (rounding off the point). New fabric was used to line the stole. Two patch pockets were cut from scraps and sewn to the ends of the stole to cover wear marks. The slacks waistband was re-stitched along the open side to create a belt that fits your waistline, and fastens with hooks-and-eyes.

This could be a fun item - you could play with the lining, using different colors and textures in the fabric. And the belt and pockets could be optional.   

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - A Free Pattern to Trim Your Dance Frock with Velvet Roses

I love how Ruth Wyeth Spears writes about this frock made of "pale lavender chiffon over a darker lavender slip". Can you imagine the colors? :) Note how the rose appliques and the bias bindings on the neckline, armholes, and drop-waist twisted band are made of rose-colored chiffon velvet. What a pretty picture!

Simply trace the petal shape multiple times on a 10-inch square of velvet for each rose applique, and repeat as often as desired around the skirt. Sweet!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

1950s Refashion - From Outdated Topper to a Fresh Box Jacket

It's time another refashion from 1950! In this one, an old "topper" was converted into a fashionable box jacket by working with its existing lines.

As shown in the diagram, the box jacket was created from the topper by doing the following:
  • The shoulder line was narrowed, lowered, and rounded
  • Sleeve width was reduced
  • Roll-back cuffs were made by turning under a wide hem and top-stitching the new sleeve edge
  • Lining was cut off to meet the raw edge inside the sleeves
  • Back fullness was taken in
  • Patch pockets were cut from the bottom of the topper and the edge hemmed. Pockets were set at the hemline.

And here is the final result!

A belt adds the finishing touch! And don't forget your gloves. ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spotted in a Shop Window - More Peplums!

Seen in recent walk past Nordstrom's store windows in downtown Seattle are two tops with peplums.

This one has wonderful bias flare:

The slim strapless two-piece dress at left has a sleek flared peplum - such eye-catching style.

In vintage patterns, you can find the peplum in almost any decade, but the peplum was at the height of its popularity in the 1940s. Here are a few examples:


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Facing a V-Neckline

In this home sewing tip from the wonderful Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s, the collarless V-neckline was evidently a new and very smart style! She explains in careful detail how to finish the V-neckline with a bias facing, rather than a bias binding, for a more chic effect.

When working with patterns from the 1940s and earlier, facings were, well, simply not included as pattern pieces. It was left to the seamstress to know how to face a seam. The seamstress could use bias strips (as described in this article by Ruth Wyeth Spears), a bias binding, or simply cut a piece to match the outside shape of the piece to provide a neat finish, using the same pattern piece or pieces being faced as the template for the facing. Facings are typically made of the same fabric as the garment, but may also be made of lighter-weight fabric or in a contrast color.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

1950s Refashion - Change an Old Coat into a Pert Little Jacket!

Refashioning new clothes from old has been practiced for....well, a very long time. They were particularly important in the 30s and the 40s, but extended into the 50s. With the 1960s, this art or skill seemed to wane in popularity.

Now that refashioning is enjoying a resurgence, I thought it would be fun to show refashions of the past. I'll start with one from the October 1950 edition of Woman's Day magazine.

This refashion from 1950s shows how to take an old moth-eaten coat (shown in the upper right corner), and using a Woman's Day pattern, create this cute short "button-upper" jacket.

The refashion salvaged enough fabric from the old coat, using the lower part of the coat, to create the front and back panels of the jacket. The jacket pattern originally called for dolman sleeves. But since the coat panels were too narrow, the sleeves were pieced below the shoulder, with the seams disguised with welt stitching. Facings and covered buttons were made from leftover scraps. A very clever and cute result!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Sewing a Taffeta Frock

In this tip, Ruth Wyeth Spears (1920s advisor to the home seamstress) discusses different ways to finish seams for items sewn with taffeta. Lightweight but crisp, taffeta can ravel very easily, so you will want to finish the seams.

For the seam marked with A and B, Ruth describes hemmed edges for the seams. For the seam marked with C and D, Ruth describes a variation of the flat felled seam. She recommends the first type of seam finish for long seams, but recommends the second type for shoulder seams and armhole seams.

Excellent advice!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Two Versions of Special Style from 1940 - Jacket with Shortened Sleeves to Show Off Blouse

In 1940, patterns appeared which featured a jacket in 3/4 length with wide hems above a full puffy sleeve. It must have been a new and popular style!

One variation is found here in Simplicity 3406 from 1940. The jacket is cropped, bolero-style, and the blouse is classically structured, with beautiful and feminine frills on both long and short puffy sleeves. The skirt has many gores for wonderful flare:

In contrast, another variation from Vogue in 1940 has a longer, more tailored jacket (with an option for traditional long sleeves), but still with those signature 3/4 sleeves, and a simpler, no-frills blouse with puffy sleeves (long and short). The skirt is similarly simpler, with fine flare and straight princess seams.

Each version has a lot going for it - I like them both, but for different reasons. Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Trimming Your Dance Frock with Pearly Sequins!

In this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s, the application of purchased sequin bands adds sparkle to your dance frock or evening gown. Note her recommendation to use a "heavy dull silk crepe" for the best contrast with the shimmering sequin bands.

Such bands of sequins on net can still be found - check out this example in Suhafuha's shop on Etsy. And Creations4Keeps on eBay has sequin bands too, just not on net.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Scraps from the Past - Blouse & Dress with Eye-Catching Style!

This light, pink damask-style fabric with a floral motif was tucked in a pattern from 1947 - the damask foral motif doesn't show up too well in this scan (if you click on the image to enlarge it, you just make it out), but it is a soft, glamorous fabric, perfect for a blouse or dress.

And here is the pattern it was stored with - Anne Adams 4967 for a lovely blouse with eye-catching keyhole neckline, flared skirt, and dress. There is a personal note written on the pattern: "Martha, I guess you have enough for one more blouse without sleeve." Indeed!