Saturday, May 31, 2014

Farewell to May with Lovely Spring Frocks from the 1930s

Let's bid the merry month of May farewell with a handful of graceful and flattering tea-length frocks from 1932! 

 Dress 981 has a rather tailored air, with buttons at the hip, a smart center front inset, and a pleasing neckline treatment.

Dress 2551 is a simple and neat affair - pin tucks at the neckline and wrists add distinction.

Dress 2677 is slim, with crisp inverted pleats adding graceful flare to the skirt.

Dress 759 has slimming flare, front and back panels from neck to hem, and sweet bows as accents.

Dress 982 has a smart bodice closing, raglan sleeves, and princess seams the release into double inverted pleats.

Now if only we could still order these mail order patterns! :-)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Sew Yourself a Draped Turban!

Need to switch it up from cloches? This tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s provides all that you need to know to create a chic draped turban. Satin or taffeta and a buckram foundation crown are what you will need. Ruth also mentions rice net, which the Vintage Fashion Guild says is synonymous with cape net. Neither of those exist today (that I could find). I looked at JoAnn's and while ordinary nylon net might work, I think their millinery netting fabric is a better match.

Yummy fashion!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Accent Your Frock with Self-Fabric Flowers

In this tip for 1920s home sewers, Ruth Wyeth Spears provides a template and instructions for a self-fabric flower to accent "the left shoulder" of your frock. Easy-peasy! (Not exactly a 1920s term, but, oh well.)

Enjoy! And don't forget to click the image for an easy-to-read size and for printing out the petal template.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1950s Hair Dos - Pin Curls: The Side

Would you like a 1950s hair style to go with your fabulous 50s dresses? Perhaps you would like something like this:

The following diagrams from a 1950s high school home economics textbook illustrate how you should pin the curls to achieve the desired side effects, from close to the head to fluffy fullness!

Note the direction of each row of curls. Also note the reference to the stem of the curl. There are three parts to a pin curl: base, stem, and circle. The base is the stationary part, attached to the scalp. The stem is the section of hair between the base and the first arc of the circle, giving the hair its direction and movement. The circle is, of course, the part that forms a full circle. The size of the circle determines the width of the resulting wave and its strength. Here are some guidelines:
  • Start with clean, wet hair.
  • Divide the sections of hair for each curl as equally as possible.
  • Each circle should be flat and smooth on its base.
  • The direction in which a curl and stem is placed determines the finished style.
So arm yourself with a box of bobby pins or clippies, a comb or brush, gel (to help your hair hold the curl longer), end papers if you have them, and experiment with these variations. Have fun! Definitely research pin curls on YouTube, or just on the internet generally, for further guidelines and tips.

And just fyi, I don't claim to be an expert on pin curls. I simply lived through 1950s and 1960s when their use was the mode of the day. As a small girl, my mother would curl my hair with rags (whole different topic!), then as I got older, with bobby pins to create pin curls. And by the time I was in high school, curlers were all the rage! ;)

Monday, May 26, 2014

History of Sewing - 1920s Foundation Garments - Waist Linings

In the 1920s, foundation garments were grouped into two main categories: waistline foundations and lining foundations. The topic of this post is to provide an overview of the lining foundations. And just to be clear, in general, foundation garments is not the same as lingerie, which is a different subject (although when we get into slips, the two subjects blur...).

Waist linings serve as both a protection to a dress (though particularly across the shoulders) as well as a means of holding a dress in its correct position, and as a foundation to which a skirt may be attached.

There are three general types of waist linings:
  • Camisole or bodice lining
  • Built-up or plain-waist lining
  • Close-fitting lining

The camisole lining is simplest to make and was considered optimal for young girls and slender women (and also provides a dainty effect under sheer garments).

The built-up lining is preferable for the woman who is size 42 or larger.

The close-fitting lining is essential for dresses that fit closely on figures of all types, and for many types of dresses intended for the "stout" figure.

For one-piece dresses of sheer fabric (as opposed to two-piece dresses), the lining (regardless of type), should be extended to the full length of the dress as a slip, so as to eliminate a conspicuous break at the waistline.

I'll look more closely at the construction of these 1920s foundations garments in future posts.  Something to look forward to. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A 1965 Holiday Salute in Red, White, & Blue!

Look at these impeccable classics - double breasted blazers and crisp, slim pants. It's a salute to Memorial Day, with summer fashion from 1965 that's trim and coordinated!

McCall's 7593
You can find this pattern at my shop, Midvale Cottage on Etsy.

McCall's 7615
You can find this pattern at:
SewYesterdayPatterns on Etsy

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spotted in a Shop Window - Art Deco Drama

This figure-hugging strapless evening gown with its dramatic fan-pleated neckline is so stunning. The light accent of Oriental peonies at the waistline provides a perfect contrast to the neckline and the flaring of the gown below the knees.

Spotted in the window of Luly Yang in downtown Seattle.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Silver Accents for Afternoon Wear

In this tip for her 1920s readers, Ruth Wyeth Spears draws an elegant afternoon dress in a shimmering fabric. To this she applies abstract flower appliques with applique leaves and a ribbon stem. She recommends silver cloth appliques and silver ribbon on a dark fabric (perhaps black?). It's the very newest thing!

Use the motifs in this tip as your template when you want to add this Art Deco element to your afternoon frock. Just tap or click on the image to enlarge it and then print it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

History of Sewing: 1920s Undergarments - Waistline Foundations

Waistline Foundations

Are you ready for the next exciting installment in the story of 1920s foundation garments? (I'm sorry; "foundation garments" doesn't sound especially dramatic, does it? :))

In any case, it's the 1920s  and you have a dress with bloused fullness or with draping, or perhaps a skirt, and you need a foundation garment. Choose from the following.

Inside Stay Belts

The inside stay belt is worn under a dress  or skirt (at the normal waistline, above it, or below it, depending on the style). It serves as a stay to hold certain parts of the dress in place. Not all dresses require stay belts. In general, a stay belt would be used in a dress with bloused fullness or with draping, and with some skirts that would be balanced on the stay belt.

Inside stay belts are made of belting (which can be purchased by the yard), or in a sheer dress would be made of narrow self-material or cotton tape. The ends are fastened with hooks and eyes.

There were two types of belting:
  • Unboned belting: Woven in a vertical corded effect (pretty much as the webbing or belting of today). Unboned belting is straight and best for use at the normal waistline.

  • Boned belting: Usually made of percaline or some firmly woven mercerized fabric to which boning has been inserted at regular intervals in the weaving, and can be either straight or shaped (this type of belting is not sold today, but could be constructed). The shaped belting would be worn under garments with a "below normal" waistline or above normal waistline. The shorter curved edge is uppermost for a below normal waistline, with a snug fit over the hips. If the waistline is above normal, the shorter curved edge is worn at the normal waistline, with the longer curve above it.

To create a stay belt: Use the belting itself to measure the desired length, allowing 1/2 to 3/4 inch at each end for a hem. The two hems should just meet but not overlap. Sew on strong hooks and round eyes (rather than straight eyes) one inch apart, using the buttonhole stitch.

Fitted Hip Yokes

The fitted hip yoke was worn to stay bloused fulness below the normal waistline, and may also be used as the yoke for a skirt that is to be worn with a long overblouse or jumper. The yoke is made so that its lower edge is 1/2 to 1 inch below the desired low waistline, so the depth varies according to the design of the garment. The hip yoke on the left in Figure 1, is a relatively shallow one, while the hip yoke on the right is deeper and would be used with a skirt or dress with a very low bloused waistline.

Figure 1

The fitted hip yoke should not be used in a dress of sheer material, but works well in a dress of material that prevents it showing through. The yoke is usually of the dress material or of a lining material.

To make a fitted hip yoke:
  1. Take your measurements at the point on your figure where you want the top of the yoke to be and where you want the bottom of the yoke to be. Be sure to measure the front separately from the back, as you will be cutting separate pieces for the front and back (joining at the sides).
  2. Cut two strips of muslin, using the measurements plus 2 inches for each piece.
  3. Fit each yoke piece to your figure:
  4. Figure 2

    1. Subtract the front waistline measurement from the front hipline measurement, and then divide that difference into two parts.
    2. In the yoke front piece, create two darts between the center and the sides, each dart taking up half the amount of the difference identified in the previous step. (illustration a, in Figure 2)
    3.  Divide the back section into seven equal parts, first marking off one inch at each end for the seams, and then put a pin at each division point, or six pins in all. The center line will coincide with the center of one of these parts.
    4. Subtract the back waistline measurement from the back hip line measurement, and then divide that difference by six.
    5. Create darts at each pin that combine to reduce the back waistline by the difference identified in the previous step. (illustration b in Figure 2)
    6. With darts basted, try on  the two muslin pieces, with center front and back in their proper locations, pinning them at the sides with a 1-inch seam over each hip. 
    7. If more fitting is needed at the waistline, deepen the side seams at the top, or deepen or decrease the darts, keeping the line of each properly vertical.
    8. Mark the side seams and press the darts flat.
  5. Using the muslin itself as a pattern (or create a paper pattern from the muslin), cut two of each yoke piece from the yoke fabric. The yoke is usually made double because this provides increased strength and makes a neat finish possible.
  6. Sew the right hip seams of the yoke and of the lining.
  7. Trim the seams to 3/8-inch and press open.
  8. Place the yoke and lining right sides together, and stitch  1/4-inch from the edge along the top, bottom and along the end of the back section.
  9. Turn right side out and press. 
  10. Finish the free end of the front section with a 3/4-inch hem, turned so that the outer fold comes directly on the seam line. Trim away the lining seam allowance to remove bulk.
  11. Stitch the other end of the yoke through both thicknesses 3/4-inch from the edge, and this 3/4-inch as the extension for the closing. 
  12. Top-stitch the upper and lower edges, and sew snaps to the opening (as illustrated in Figure 1).
  13. Turn right side out and press.
Got that? :) Next installment: Waist linings!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

History of Sewing - Introduction to 1920s Foundation Garments

You know that the women of the 1920s obtained freedom from dreadful corsets with stays of whalebone and tight lacing. What you may not know is that they did not abandon "foundation garments" altogether.

There were several types of women's foundation garments in the 1920s. The foundation garment served to retain the correct lines in a garment. Which foundation garment was worn depended largely on the specific lines of the garment and the material of which it was made.

The foundation garments were grouped into two general classes: waistline foundations and lining foundations.
Waistline foundations consisted of two types:
  • Inside stay belts
  • Fitted hip yokes

 Lining foundations consisted of four types:
  • Camisole or bodice lining
  • Built-up or plain-waist lining
  • Close-fitting lining
  • Foundation slips

In future posts, I will delve into more details about these undergarments. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spotted in a Shop Window - Crisp Sunny Ensemble

This sunny ensemble spotted in the shop window of Brooks Brothers has so many classic elements to love - a pert, slim linen skirt, crisp white blouse with wing collar and wing cuffs, and a navy blue sweater that sets everything off to perfection.

Some style is simply timeless!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - A Smart Little Hat

Are you ready for another cloche of felt? A favorite and easy way to add a new hat to your wardrobe accessories, the felt cloche in this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s is easy and charming. It calls for strips of felt in different colors, and even the strap and buckle are made of felt. The construction is very clever, so this should be fun to make and wear!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spotted in a Shop Window - Retro Flapper Style

This eye-catching cocktail dress is very evocative of the Flapper era, especially with the decorative fringes. I love the pleated and ruffled "fans" on the bodice and hips. Yum!

Spotted in the window of Luly Yang, downtown Seattle.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Hemline Advice

In this tip, Ruth discusses "a hemline for every figure" - a brief but honest discussion that we all don't have slender figures nor trim legs and ankles. :) The use of pleats, overskirts, and underskirts are all successful approaches "for the woman who does not wear short dresses well" ("short" being a relative term, here).

A very useful tip when sewing your 1920s costumes!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spotted in a Shop Window - Yet Another Variation on the Embroidered Dress

Spotted in a window at Nordstrom's in downtown Seattle, this dress caught my eye. I can't help it, I am rather enjoying these embroidered dresses in the Fall 2014 fashion line of Oscar de la Renta. Composed of a net overdress and black underdress, the embroidery is actually on the net overdress, and both back and front are embroidered. Love the contrast of the colorful embroidery against the black underdress.

Sweet design!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Lovely Silk Dahlias!

This is perfect! I just planted dahlia bulbs in my garden today, and here is Ruth Wyeth Spears, showing us how to create lovely dahlias from silk. I love her recommendation to use several tones of one color for the best effect. It looks like a trip to the fabric store is in order. :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Shorts Weather!

I know that summer is already upon most of the country, but here in the Pacific NW, we are getting a few days of 80-degree weather. We are delighted!

A brief review of shorts fashions through the decades seems in order. No matter what decade, they all look cute to me!

1940s - Most commonly fitted around the waist and hips then loose around the legs. Simplicity 2017 has a rare elasticized waistline version as well. Note the high waist on Simplicity 3673.

1950s - Still fitted, and definitely slimmer around the legs.

1960s - Very slim and fitted! Proportioned for height was an important new feature.

1970s - Both fitted with the zipper moving to the front (a major shocking fashion move - a fly front zipper, just like menswear!) and loose with elasticized waistline (but still looking relatively fitted).

1980s - Elasticized waistlines are most common, and generally loose in the legs.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Trimming a Frock and Coat with Tucks

I love garments with tucks and this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s delivers tucks in spades! Ruth illustrates a frock and coat, both with one-inch wide tucks. She describes this popular form of trimming as being especially chic on solid-color georgette and chiffon fabric. She also describes the technique of using a gauge (note the typo in the article - the first I've found! - where "gauge" is replaced with "gauze" ;)) to aid in making the tucks.

Doesn't the model rather remind you of Lady Mary from Downton Abbey? Or maybe her mother?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Oscar de la Renta Embroidered Dress Redux

I was walking past Mario's in downtown Seattle this past week, and look what was in the window: another embroidered dress from Oscar de la Renta!. You'll remember my post from the other day, which featured two of his dresses as part of his Fall 2014 Fashion Trunk Show.

Here, the dress is still beautifully embroidered in front, but on chartreuse (?) and note the closeup - outlines in the back, but not embroidered. They just look ready to be filled in... :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Enduring Fashion for Girls - Charming 1930s Style Revisited in 1970s

A few weeks ago I posted this dress from the 1930s for a young girl. Butterick 5202 is completely adorable, with a center box pleat (front and back) framed by knife pleats, and a surplice button closing in the geometric yoke. Neat short and long sleeve options and matching panties are noteworthy, too. :)

And then just the other day, I happened to post Simplicity 9346 from the late 1970s in my Etsy shop. Not completely identical, but what striking similarities! And equally delightful. Pleats, yokes, off-set button closing, short & long sleeve options - it's a wonderful and worthy re-envisioning of the 1930s style. :)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spotted in a Shop Window - Sculptured Drapery in a Formal Gown

Spotted in the shop window of Luly Yang in downtown Seattle, this formal gown is simply sublime. It has such an Art Deco look, with dramatic sunburst gathered draping as counterpoint to the gathered skirt. The empire waistline underscores the gathered-draped bodice.

Note the graceful sweep train. And the tiny sprinkle of glitter at the base of the sunburst. Wowza.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Sewing A Chic Cretonne Hat

Are you ready to sew cloche for "sports wear"? If so, then read on, for Ruth Wyeth Spears shows you how with a buckram frame, some cretonne fabric (essentially upholstery fabric, preferably with a floral print), and a band of plain linen.

Remember to choose a becoming buckram frame. I just love the style of this cloche! Oh, and be sure to click or tap the image for a larger view for easier reading.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spotted in a Shop Window - Oscar de la Renta Embroidered Dress

Really? Summer hasn't even started, but the Fall 2014 fashion season is ready to roll! I spotted this in one of the windows at Nordstrom's in downtown Seattle today.

What really caught my eye, though, was this stunning embroidered dress - the shimmering light blue background and the rich gold, blue, and pink floral motifs are dramatic and dazzling. I simply love embroidery.


The black and white midriff dress in the background appears a bit understated in contrast, but is lovely too. ;-)