Well, the arrival of two Alpacas (one of whom strongly resembles Bart Simpson) and some minor barnyard flooding due to a torrential downpour this weekend mean I still don't have any photos to show you of my completed Sew for Victory blouse. She will be finished tonight, mark my words, oh yes she will!
In the meantime I thought I would start a new little feature here on the blog. My "Yes Please" list will run the gamut from housewares to hats and everything in between. I hope you enjoy!
(Apparently I have a bit of a thing for pink...)
I would wear this blouse tucked into a light grey pencil skirt. Add a lightweight off white cardi and it would be the perfect summer/office with an airconditioner outfit. So darling!
A pink Fifties clock radio! I'm so tempted to snap this up and decorate my bedroom around it. Pink, white and touches of gold. It would be so gorgeous!
I don't know that I would actually use this for the techniques and recipes (although I do love to bake.) Instead I might just buy it to frame and hang in my kitchen. The cover is just that cute!
This is probably completely obvious but I would definitely be pairing these little beauties with the blouse above. Slightly whimsical, totally girly and all vintage. I'm in love!
I won't be doing any shopping for a wee bit - the critters around my place have been eating up my Etsy funds...literally, but if you happen to snap any of these pieces up, please let me know so I can live vicariously through you!
In the spirit of the Sew For Victory 2.0 Sewalong I thought I'd put together a collection of Forties dresses and patterns that are currently for sale on Etsy and are just perfect for the warmer weather we're heading into here in the Northern Hemisphere.
This stunning day dress with a 36" bust. Priced at $88 and currently for sale here.
I just adore this playsuit!!! So adorable. Bust 36" and available here for $14.50.
The perfect summer dress in a gorgeous blue floral print. Bust measures 38". Priced at $124 and available here.
Cute and flirty dress pattern...with pockets! Bust 36" Available here for $22.
Dropped waist and polka dots, what's not to love? Priced at $165 and available here.
Peter Pan collars...I adore them! Bust 34 1/2". Available for $14.50 here.
A gingham sundress with a matching bolero jacket. Lovely! Bust measures 36". $124 and available here.
A dress designed to look like a suit, therefore using less fabric in classic WWII rationing style. I just love the collared version! Bust 32" and available here for $15.99.
One of the things about Marilyn Monroe that is often overlooked was her sense of style. Her enduring status as an icon and as a sex-symbol often overshadows the fact that she had a well defined sense of personal style that was, surprisingly, a lot simpler than many of her contemporaries. The candid shots of her dressed in casual wear are some of my favourites, although it would seem that she had a fair amount of control over her on-screen wardrobe as well.
Whether reading at home or acting on film, she is rarely seen in printed fabrics and although many of the shots of her are in black and white, it seems that her preferred colours were just that...black, grey, beige, cream and white, with some red thrown in for good measure.
One of the things I've noticed with my sewing is that I tend to sew garments in printed fabrics, but the clothes that I buy ready-to-wear are usually solids. It was only in studying and admiring Marilyn's style that I had a lightbulb moment - no wonder I haven't been wearing many of the things I make!!! I love the bright, shiny, original aspect of prints and colours and all that craziness but the pieces I wear are usually monochromatic. I may have to rethink my sewing stash...looks like everyone's getting a quilt for Christmas!
I will leave you with one of my favourite Marilyn quotes, and a photo where I can only imagine those words escaping her lips...
I was soooo excited about the wonderful Sew For Victory Sewalong, hosted by the equally wonderful Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. I had oodles of time and chose not one, but two Forties patterns to work with. In the spirit of WWII's Make Do and Mend campaign, I decided to only use fabric and notions from my stash and carefully matched up notions, fabric and patterns and got down to business. I finished the muslin for the first dress and then promptly came down with a nasty bug that had me doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself for close to a week. When the lurgy passed, I immediately scooted into my sewing room and sat down at my machine, ready to make quick work of pattern number one and then start on pattern number two as the deadline for the Sewalong was fast approaching.
My primary machine is a Singer Model 99 from 1945. It's fully electric and is capable of an awesome straight stitch. That's its only stitch, but it straight stitches really, really well...usually.
This is what greeted me immediately upon starting to sew:
What the? Oh. Hello broken Tension Spring. Luckily I have three other machines. I have my Grandmother's late Sixties Singer which is in the shop having the feed dog replaced. I also have a lovely, late 1800's Singer that was generously gifted to me by Derek's brother two Christmases ago. It's been converted to an electric model, but it has a vibrating shuttle which means that I need to learn a whole new way to sew and I didn't feel that this was the project to break the machine in on. That left me with backup machine number 3...
Pretty, isn't she? Oh, but wait...there's something she's not showing you...
That's right. No plug. No electricity. I sewed the entire freaking dress on my 1915 Singer treadle machine. It took some getting used to! I'm not the most coordinated person in the world and pulling pins while operating the treadle with my feet was akin to rubbing my tummy while patting my head with dozens of sharp pokey objects in my fingers and an iron wheel that could probably damage an unsuspecting toe or two. In light of this, I hand basted every seam before sewing. Yes. Every seam.
Once I got the hang of the rhythm of the treadle, it was actually really enjoyable. There's something to be said for going back to basics and while I thought sewing on a Forties straight stitch electric was pretty basic, I seem to have outdone myself!
So, onto the dress itself:
I used a purple fabric from my stash that had a fair amount of stretch in it. This allowed me to eliminate the side zip, which was great as there was no way I was going to attempt a zipper insertion with a treadle sewing machine. I'm sure I would have ended up inadvertently piercing my eyebrow or some other random body part in the process.
I f you look closely, you can see the faint stripe in the fabric, which really lent itself to the bodice of the pattern. I used pale pink ric rac along the neckline and I managed to find a small piece of purple polka dotted fabric to make the belt. I have a number of vintage belt buckles hanging on my bulletin board in my sewing room, waiting to be used and this little pink one was perfect!
I have a few odd fitting issues that I have to deal with and I think that I *finally* figured them out with this dress. I have a narrow ribcage and a full bust, which luckily was dealt with by the bust gathers on this pattern so I didn't have to do my normal Full Bust Adjustment, I only needed to bring the side seams in a bit. I also have to do an Erect Back Adjustment (similar to a Swayback Adjustment but the extra fabric is removed from between the shoulder blades) and a Full Arm Adjustment. They all turned out pretty well! I could have brought the side seams in a little more, but I don't mind the extra ease.
Fabric: Thrifted purple stretchy stuff from my stash. I tried a burn test, but it was inconclusive. The only thing I'm sure about is that it's definitely not made out of asbestos.
Pattern: Simplicity 3353
Year: Early Forties
Notions: Pink Ric Rac, vintage purple polka dot fabric and vintage pink buckle all from stash
Time to complete: Ummmm....
I'm waiting for my Grandma's machine to come out of the shop before I send the Forties Singer in for repair, so I'll be continuing the treadle saga for a little while yet (parts for Grandma's machine are backordered.) Next in line is a pair of Clovers (I'm a little late hopping on that bandwagon,) and then I hope to make the second dress I had planned to complete for the Sewalong. It's going to be a busy, little workshop around here!
ps I'd like to say a big "Thank You" to Rochelle for hosting this Sewalong! The completed projects are all incredible and I'm in awe of the creations that many of the participants were able to pull off.
pps I'm not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but Derek bought me the treadle for Christmas this year and I love, love, love it for many reasons, not just for the fact that it saved my butt for this Sewalong!
After last week's Thrifty Thursday post where I mentioned Lucky Lucille's Sew For Victory Sewalong, I got to thinking and decided that even though I was a couple of weeks late, I would join in on the fun. I pulled out all of my Forties patterns and narrowed it down to two. I couldn't really decide between them as they were two very different dresses for two very different seasons, so I decided that I would try to make both of them. Nothing like starting something two weeks late and setting the bar twice as high huh?
Here's the dress I'll be making first:
I'll be making the short sleeved version on the right with the fabric shown below it. It's a deep auburgine colour with a nice drape and is quite thick. Almost all of the fabrics in my stash are thrifted and unless it's a fragile lace or velvet, or if it's wool, they all get tossed in the washer and dryer. This was no exception and it turned out fine. I'd rather find out ahead of time whether a colour is going to bleed or if the fabric is going to do something weird when washed. There's nothing worse that putting hours into making a dress, washing it once and realizing that it's only fit for the rag bag.
One of the issues I had with this pattern is an obvious one...there is a fair bit of water damage. The pattern is fine, the pattern pieces are all intact, but the envelope is definitely worse for wear and unfortunately the bit where the size is marked is faded and it's impossible to read the second number. This pattern is either a 16 (34 bust) or an 18 (36 bust.) Needless to say, I didn't pick the most straightforward of all patterns in my collection! Oh, and did I mention that like most pre-Fifties patterns, this one was unprinted? Yippee!
This is the second pattern I chose:
The fabric beneath it is a vintage seersucker in a warm teal blue and mustard floral print. I think this would be a great dress for summer with a pair of mustard coloured sandals! I'm a very pale reddish-head, so the cut-out option on the left isn't an option (I don't want to blind passersby if the sun hits my tummy in just the right way,) so I'll be making the dress on the right.
Anyhoo, back to the purple dress...
In the spirit of the Make Do and Mend mentality during the War years, everything I'm using for this dress is coming out of my collection of vintage notions. I also have a piece of vintage purple polka dot fabric that wasn't printed on the grain properly, but I think it will be perfect for the belt as it will be fused and stitched within an inch of its life, so being off-grain shouldn't matter...I hope. It also just so happens to be the perfect shade of purple to go with this dress.
For the neckline trim and the pocket trim I''ll be using ric rac, but I'll apply it in such a way that just the tiniest bit of pink shows. I'm hoping this will work. If not I'll switch to a vintage white lace trim. The buckle is one I've carted around with me for quite awhile and I think it will be perfect!
Immediately after deciding on the pattern and choosing the fabric, I got right to work on my muslin. I don't always do a muslin - I know that I usually need an FBA, a Short Back Adjustment (similar to a Swayback Adjustment, but the fabric removed is across the shoulderblades) and a Full-Arm adjustment (getting yanked around by ex-racehorses = muscles where no muscles were before, apparently...) but because I had no clear idea of the size of this pattern, I figured that I would just go ahead, cut it out and sew it together and figure out my next step from there.
It's cute, isn't it? As you can see by the gathers at the front, no Full Bust Adjustment was necessary. I had to add 1/2" to the side of each pattern piece including the shoulder seam, cut out over an inch for the Short Back Adjustment and add some room to the bottom of the arms, but all in all it was pretty great!
This pattern is interesting because both the bodice front and the sleeve are each one pattern piece. The gathers aren't added in separately, they are just a long extended piece that you slash, gather and sew, so there is no added piece at the waistline, it's just all flows together.
With vintage, unprinted patterns, I always write the pattern number and the piece name (ie C - Bodice Front or whatever it is named in the instructions) on the tissue in pencil. I know many sewists like to keep their patterns pristine, but with unprinted patterns, if one piece happens to flutter off your worktable or fall to the floor behind your sewing machine, there will be absolutely no way to know which pattern it came from when you find it months later (yes I speak from experience.)
I don't trace my vintage unprinted patterns, but I only use most of the pieces once. As I mentioned earlier, I cut out my muslin, as is, transfer all of the markings, dot-by-dot, sew it together, make all of the adjustments, sew it together again, try it on and when it's absolutely perfect, out comes the seam ripper and I tear it all apart. Why tear it apart? So I can have the perfect pattern pieces for the next time I make the dress without destroying a vintage pattern and without time-consuming tracing. How do I do this? Freezer paper. Let me explain:
I figure that since I've already cut out the muslin, rather than tossing it into the rag bag, using it as a template is a good idea. (I don't like to make wearable muslins because I find that I never get around to making the actual item out of the chosen fabric - I just move on to the next project.) After I've taken the muslin apart (all adjustments need to be sewn-in/added etc. first) I iron each piece and then cut a piece of Freezer Paper big enough to cover the pattern piece. Freezer paper has a plastic coating on one side that easily fuses to fabric. You can find it in the grocery store with the cling-film and aluminum foil. Don't buy wax paper - it's not the same thing and will destroy your iron! I place the pattern piece upside down on my ironing board and iron a piece of Freezer Paper onto it.
*Note: Be absolutely sure that you have the plastic side down and iron on the paper side or you will wreck your iron!
I then flip the pattern piece over, cut around the edges and write the pattern number, manufacturer and pattern piece on it along with any notes like "Place on Fold" or grain lines, which on unprinted patterns are shown with different sized dots. I use a good, old fashioned Sharpie for this. After I'm finished with the project, I just fold the pieces up and store them in a freezer sized Ziplock along with the original pieces and pattern envelope. It takes up more room but for a pattern I know I'll make again, it definitely saves a whole lot of steps!
Well, there you have it! I'm hoping to have my fabric all cut out and ready to sew by the end of the day today so I'm off to the ironing board. I'll leave you with a photo of the notions I chose for my other Forties dress. I'm undecided as to whether to make the belt out of the seersucker or to use something else. Any suggestions?
Happy Friday! As you may, or may not know, I live on a farm on a small acreage. We currently have 3 horses with another 2 arriving shortly. My horse, Carson, is a rescue from Circle F Horse Rescue. He is a gorgeous boy and quite the handful! He spent five successful years on the track, racing under the name Big Manila (yes, really) and is descended from Northern Dancer and Native Dancer. Following his career on the track, he was trained as a Hunter Jumper but was injured a number of years later and found himself at the horse rescue when his young owner could no longer show him and afford to pay for both his keep and her university tuition. To make a long story short, I fell in love with this gentle giant and adopted him. He's had a lazy year as I've been working a lot, but little does he know, he's going to be spending a good chunk of time getting back into shape this spring!
This is probably one of the most ridiculous faces I've ever managed to have caught on film (the phrase "ooooh...horsey...soft" is going through my head apparently...) Thanks for the pic Jess!
Charliehorse is our second horse. He was given to us by one of Derek's friends who had adopted him from the auction. Following a horsey acting stint in Doctor Dolittle 3, he was sent to auction by his trainer and was thankfully bought by Shawn who learned to ride on him and who passed him on to us when he found himself with three horses and no spare time. Charliehorse and Carson are the best of friends and spend their pasture time chasing each other around and generally causing a ruckus...and occassionally leaving a trail of superficial, bite related injuries, located primarily on Charliehorse's big head.
Our sweet girl Angel is our third horse. She came to us as the result of a frantic email from a friend of mine. Apparently this little mare was due to be put down on the following Monday (it was Saturday when the email came) and my friend was asking if I had any room on the farm to keep her until a permanent home could be found. Needless to say, she arrived that day...and never left. We fell in love with her calm and gentle disposition and even though she's an old girl, I'm sure she's got a number of years left. I just adore this little horse! (Ignore the "Feb 83" on the photo - it was taken with a Hipstamatic filter that adds retro dates to the prints, although she was probably born only a few years after this date...sneaky Hipstamatic.)
The profiles of the other two horses who have yet to arrive will have to wait until a later date as I need to get to know them before I attempt to regale you with their antics, although they come with the unfortunate names Fila and Reebok, which should be a good indicator of future shenanigans, as I feel that one can't be boring when named after sneakers.
Anyhoo...you may be wondering what all of this horsiness has to do with Fifties Friday. Well, as I currently do most of my barn chores in non-vintage appropriate barn gear (read: yoga pants and hoodies) I started thinking about making myself a vintagey barn wardrobe as I do tend to spend a good chunk of my day doing barn and farm stuff.
As I searched around looking for images to inspire me, I fell in love with images of these gorgeous Fifties cowgirls, some are real cowgirls and some are actresses in cowgirl garb, but I think you'll agree that the inspiration they provide is wonderful!
Red lips matching her hat, scarf and the stripes on her blouse? A perfect example of Fifties colour co-ordination.
I love the fabric this cowgirl's shirt is made of, it looks like it's a print of old ranch brands! Add the pearlized snaps on the cuffs and the embroidery and it's vintage farmgirl perfection.
Source: Unknown - please let me know if you're familiar with it
Riding in a western skirt and cowboy boots? I don't know if I'm up to the challenge, but I love the photo!
Actress Susan Hayward. I love this look and have already started thinking of patterns I own that could be used to recreate it. Absolutely gorgeous!
The green studded belt matching both the green bow in her hair and the green piping on her shirt provide endless inspiration. Now...what are my chances of finding such a belt?
Buttery yellow and warm red are one of my favourite colour combinations. I also love seeing blondes with Palomino horses...will my adoration of colour co-ordination know no bounds? It's not the reason that one of our new horses is a chestnut who matches my reddish hair...really it's not.
I hope you've enjoyed this journey into the Wild West, vintage style. I'd love to hear which of the photos is your favourite and I'll be sure to keep you up-to-date on the creation of my vintage farmgirl wardrobe.
There has been a fair bit of press in the old interwebs lately for the various "make do and mend" publications that came out during WWII. This is probably the result of a number of different circumstances ranging from the dismal economic climate that far too many folks around the world are dealing with, to the resurgence in the popularity of the 1940's. From television programs such as Foyle's War and Wartime Farm (two of our favourites out here on the homestead) to Sewalongs like the one Rochelle is hosting at Lucky Lucille (as an aside...I adore Lucille! She's so sweet!) and Forties wardrobe creation challenges like the one Sarah at 1940's Vintage Wardrobe Challenge has started, Forties inspiration is everywhere and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.
A number of years ago, I was lucky enough to come upon one of the original "make do and mend" booklets from that era. "Make and Mend For Victory" was a book produced in 1942 by The Spool Cotton Company. It included instructions on how to mend and patch items to extend their life (totally unheard of in today's throw-away society,) how to reclaim wool from sweaters (I've done it...that was a whole lot of work...,) how to take a man's suit and use the fabric to make a new woman's suit, and how to add variety to a simple dress with a number of different collars, hats and accessories.
Today, in the spirit of Thrifty Thursday, I though I would scan the photos and instructions for the collars. Just right click on the photo, save it to your computer and print off a copy. If you decide to make one, two or all of these options, please send me a photo of the finished product - I'd love to see them!
I thought I would end with the Consumer's Victory Pledge from the first page of the booklet. Imagine living in a time when taking a pledge like this was not an option. When, if you were a farmer in the UK, your farm could be taken away from you by the government (the War Ags) if you were not producing enough milk and vegetables to contribute to the war effort and when your only hope for a new dress was to eke out as much fabric from feedsacks as you could.
It's my sincere hope that we never have to relive the hardships that our grandparents and great-grandparents did (my Mum was born in England in 1942 and her Mum, my Nanny, was a pediatric nurse in Northern England during the war...a difficult job to be sure,) but the fashions of the day were gorgeous and the make-do-and-mend mentality was admirable. If I haven't missed the deadline I may just start planning my entry for Rochelle's Sew-Along!
I hope everyone is having a lovely Tuesday evening! This is the last night of the sale and even though this is a brand new shop update, everything you see above is also 25% but only until midnight tonight.
Good morning! For this installment of Fifties Friday, I thought I'd treat you to some images from the February 1952 edition of the "Butterick Fashion News." I found this little flyer folded up in a vintage pattern that I purchased and I fell in love with all of the details that were available in the designs for the dresses in early '52. Just click on the photos to enlarge them.
I may have to try to find Butterick 6036 - the scallops and the buttons are incredible!
There are some fantastic details in this section, the pussy-bow blouse in the top left is gorgeous and I just love the accessories in the centre illustration, including the vintage muff worn casually on the arm.
Also from the top left corner is the dress above. The collar detailing is very interesting although given my experience with the neckline on Butterick 7503, this may not be a pattern I try to track down any time soon...
Clothing for teens and girls in the Fifties was so wonderful! The tuck detailing on 5992 in the center is lovely and the scallop and button detailing on 6033 at the right mimics the scallop detailing on 6036 which I mentioned before. I have a soft spot for little girls who wear dresses that are a version of the ones their Mum's wear...perhaps I should start putting money aside for therapy on the off-chance that I one day have a daughter, poor thing.
Last but not least is this ensemble. Thriftiness was still encouraged in the early 1950's and rationing in the US had ended only 6 years prior to the publication of this booklet in 1952 (In the UK, rationing continued until July 1954.) This grouping of patterns above were designed to provide the wearer with "a terrific 'round-the-clock separates plan." The simple 6-gore skirt was designed to go with numerous blouse options, including 6045 for the "softly-tailored daytime outfit," 6042, the "unusual blouse for anytime wear" (love the collar!) and 5957 "your after-five choice" (scallops!) Coming from an era where many of us have closets jam-packed with clothes that don't go with each other, the simplicity of capsule dressing is very refreshing.
I hope each of you have a wonderful weekend!
ps Just a reminder that the Mid-Winter sale is continuing in the shop until midnight on February 27th
dress: Butterick 7503 * pale dusty pink cardigan: thrifted and tea dyed
brown knee-high boots: thrifted * peach beaded necklace: vintage
I can't believe that it's mid-February and this is my first finished make of 2013, but regardless of my slow start to the year I'm happy!
This dress gave me a lot of grief. (Here's the original post on this dress while it was still a UFO.) While I adore vintage patterns, I sometimes feel that there were sewing baskets full of secrets and magical sewing do-dads that were passed down from mothers to daughters in years prior to the 1960's, including, of course, a secret decoder ring for translating cryptic pattern instructions. Either that or post-war pattern makers employed out of work spies well-versed in code writing to compile the instructions for their sewing patterns. Either way, the instructions for the neckline of View C were not easy to follow. I ended up fiddling with the facing for days and then put the dress on a hanger for a couple of months. I rarely put my UFO's away out of view, because I know that I easily fall victim to never thinking of them again, so this dress hung in it's unfinished glory directly across from our bed, mocking me every morning upon waking until I finally jerry-rigged the facing, took the required 4 inches off the hem, sewed on the lace seam binding and hand-sewed the hem.
In my original post, I wrote that I was very chuffed with myself because even though I hadn't made a muslin, the bodice "fits perfectly!" Ummm...nope.
Hello wrinkles of extra fabric! Pleased to see you! Oh wait...no I'm not. I have a short back and I always need to do a short-back and sometimes also a sway-back adjustment. Did I do one here? Nope. I did, however, do a full-sleeve adjustment. Was it necessary? Nope. Sigh.
Even though I've been sewing for years, I still have a bit of trouble with fit. I've got a really narrow ribcage and shoulders but a full bust so I'm still struggling to find the perfect vintage pattern-size/pattern adjustment combo that will give me a perfect fit every time. My feeling is that a pattern with a bust size of 34 (for the narrow shoulders/ribcage) plus an FBA and a little bit extra added to the waist would be that magical combination. I'll have to look through my patterns and see what I can find in the 34" bust size. I'm not sure if I'm going to alter the back on this dress as I almost always wear my dresses with cardigans. We'll see...
The fabric was a really lovely vintage cotton blend that I thrifted some time ago. I like the warm earthy tones and the floral pattern. I'm a huge fan of florals but live in fear of looking like an walking sofa, so I'm rather picky about the patterns I choose to work with. This little leather belt with the tiny buckle were found at an estate sale over 10 years ago. It's so small that I always forget that I have it (it's usually dwarfed on the hanger by my bigger belts) but it works really well with this dress.
Here's a side view of the dress, made a little more vintage-appropriate by the fifties alligator embossed leather pumps that I had initially bought for the store but which fit so perfectly that I can't bear to part with them! I switched to the cardi and boots when my fella and I went out for dinner later as I'm always chilly, especially in this rainy, coastal climate and there's nothing attractive about shivering your way through dinner and trying to make conversation with chattering teeth.
Here's one last photo for you of the dress sans-cardi. I have no idea why I have Jazz-hands and even though I work in television and am very, very familiar with lighting techniques, my peepers in this photo resemble those of a rascally racoon. Sadly, this is the only photo that a) shows the dress and b) is in focus, so here you go...
In short, I'd definitely recommend this pattern (there's one for sale here if you're interested.) As I mentioned in the earlier post, I'm definitely going to make the pencil skirted, Peter Pan collared version, but I'll be sure to make it with all of the required adjustments...who knows, there may even be a muslin involved!
Happy sewing to all of you sewists out there!