Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Summer Sewing Inspiration & 1940s Palazzo Pants With Simplicity 3364

Gosh has it been that long since I last posted?! Well I guess it is simply because I didn't have much to blog about. My skirt for the Sew For Victory challenge has been finished up to the point where I need to hem it (well, minus the pockets, but I'll talk about that in another post). I still haven't got a mirror so unfortunately I am stuck again. So eventually I decided to move on, yet again, to a new sewing project.

Simplicity 3364
Ever since I purchased this pattern, I have been very eager to make a pair of extra wide 1940s summer slacks, also known as palazzo pants. They seem like such an ideal and lovely casual piece of summer clothing. After rummaging through my fabric stash I was holding this cheap, slippery, dark blue synthetic fabric, thinking why on earth I ever bought it when it suddenly hit me; I had it in mind as a test version for the palazzo pants! It is a cheap fabric but it has a lovely shine, color and drape. I don't really know how to describe it.. I guess if lining fabric and satin had a love baby, this would be it.

You might remember that I was planning to use this pattern to make pyjamas as well - I'm not sure yet if these will turn out as 'pants pants' or pyjama pants. If they do turn out as pyjama pants then I will make a matching blouse from the same fabric. The pattern is really simple and I should have them finished pretty quickly - no mirror needed to hem these! Thank goodness. I don't know whether this will be my second entry for Sew For Victory.. maybe I'll just enter the skirt and leave it at that.

The weather has been exceptionally nice here in the UK for the past few days and my hands are just itching to make a summer wardrobe. So I thought I'd share my favorite inspirational images from the 1940s and 1930s of three key garments that I hope to recreate; Palazzo pants, floor length skirts and hooded blouses. Enjoy!

Gene Tierney in a pair of lounging slacks. Her halter top looks identical to the one on the model below - Via
1940 - From the Life archive, photo by Peter Stackpole
"Bold tropical print fashions a new type of lounging slacks costume for the personal wardrobe of Dorothy Lamour. The trousers have a wide waistband, fastened with novel giant hooks and eyes of silver. The fullness of the slacks gives the effect of a skirt and Dorothy´s jumper is scarlet novelty silk. Her necklace of yellow beads alternates with strands of silver chain." - 1940 - Source

Source unknown
1940 - From the Life archive, photo by Peter Stackpole

The resort news for 1942 - Via

Models Lined Up For a Fashion Show, 1941 - Santa Monica, California - Source

Betty Davis for spring 1938
I just love these blouses with hoods! - Mary Anderson, 1940 - Source

Barbara Jo Allen rides a bike. In hooded slack suit. 1943 - Source

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sewing Updates & Sew for Victory 2.0

I had hoped to show you my finished Butterick 3810 by now, but alas, I haven't finished it yet. I found out that hemming a dress without having a full length mirror is.. quite impossible! It's so silly because it never even crossed my mind. Especially since this dress is quite long right now and I'm not sure what length I'd like it to be so I really do need to see myself from top to toe. So now I'm on the hunt for an affordable full length mirror and until then Butterick 3810 is on hold.

By now I am sure you have heard all about Sew For Victory 2.0. If you haven't, head over to Rochelle's blog and read all about it!

After some indecisiveness about what to sew, I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and go for a red skirt. I'm using this lovely red fabric and Simplicity 3450 from 1940 to make a cute skirt with a gather at the front and big pockets. The pockets are actually 'suspended'; they are not stitched onto the skirt and only tacked loosely to the skirt's waistband. The rest of the support comes from the belt that goes underneath the pocket flap. Hence the term suspended. However, I'd like to wear the skirt without a belt so I think I will stitch them onto the skirt. I also find it kind of a weird idea that the pockets are free to flop up and down..

I have absolutely no idea if I'm even going to wear this skirt at all. I never wear red. But sometimes you have to try something new, right? I do have to mention that it's not as bright as it appears in the picture.

I should have it finished pretty quickly (assuming I will have a mirror shortly..), so I will do more than one project for this Sew for Victory challenge. I'm not sure what the next one will be yet. My mom just sent me another box with a large portion of my fabric stash so I finally have a few more options!

I can't wait for the final round up to see all the beautiful things everyone has made for Sew for Victory 2.0!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Finished (Sort of): Mrs. Depew 1940's Tap Pants in Silver

I am sort of reluctant to call this a finished project; it is a muslin that turned out to be wearable, but doesn't really reach my usual sewing standards because I initially didn't think it would turn out wearable.

So I started this little project on a whim; I was thinking of joining the HSF challenge and wanted to join in with the challenge Pink by making some satin pink undies. But I had never sewn with a slippery fabric before so I took this silver poly satin I already had to practice on.

I used Mrs. Depew's 1940s Tap Pants pattern. This is one of those draft at home patterns where you take a special measuring tape to enlarge a mini sized pattern to a full sized one, drafted directly into your size.

Drafting the pattern was surprisingly easy. I had no idea what to expect before I started, but the process is pretty straight forward and took very little time. It does help - quite a bit - if you have a french curve to connect the dots. I have a french curve from Sew Easy with a grading ruler and it has probably been the best investment - sewing wise - so far. That thing is so darn handy.

After drafting the pattern I added just a bit of width at the side seams (because I had a feeling it might turn out rather tight) and added the seam allowances (because those aren't included in these patterns). I made a muslin out of a thin white duvet cover I picked up at a charity shop for a pound. The fit was too wide at the waist, strange enough only at the back, so I played with the darts first, but this didn't look right so I made the side seams curvier instead. The fit was now pretty much perfect and I have to say that the pattern itself was pretty darn close to being the right size.

Now that I had the fit right I moved on to the slippery fabric. I wanted to practice french seams which I had never done before. I marked all of my seam lines thinking that would make it easier to stitch a straight seam. Well that actually had the opposite effect; I was trying to stitch on the lines so hard, including the fact that this fabric was slipping and sliding in all directions, that my stitch lines are all over the place. Normally I would have hand basted everything first, but since I initially didn't think it would turn out wearable I just threw it under the machine straight away.

For some reason the front was longer than the back, something I did not notice on my first muslin. Unfortunately, with this fabric  it shows quite a bit if you try to ease it in. It also made my placket longer on the front than the back.. whoops.

This fabric frayed a lot and when I got to the point of finishing the hem the fabric had frayed all the way to the seam line at some points. So I decided to use a decorative scallop stitch on my machine to 'embroider'  the hem on the seam line and cut off the excess fabric. I am curious to see how it will hold up after wearing and washing.

So, there are quite a few things wrong with these knickers. The inside looks awful. But it still looks pretty okay on the outside so I thought it would be a shame to throw it in the bin. It won't be suitable to wear underneath my clothes, the buttons I used are too bulky for that, but it is suitable for 'boudoir' wear, or maybe to sleep in.

Oh and I am definitely convinced to try more of these draft at home patterns from Mrs. Depew. I was a little skeptical about them at first, but if the fit always comes this close it certainly is a cheap and quick way to get some great patterns.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Finished: 1940s Knitted Lumber Jacket

I finished my second knitting project! Yay! In case you missed my last post, I made the 'Lumber Jacket' pattern, published in The Australian Women's Weekly, March 23 1946. I cast on January 20 and finished it the 24th of February.

I used 4 skeins of Cygnet DK yarn, 100% acrylic, in the shade 'Bottle'. I am not too crazy about it in terms of quality (the plies are very loose), but it-is-SO soft! Especially after washing it with fabric conditioner. I feel like cuddling my cardigan all day long.

I am so happy that the fit turned out exactly the way it looks in the pattern picture. Even though I made a gauge swatch and calculated carefully, I had my doubts whether it would turn out as blouse-y as in the picture while I was knitting. But it's perfect! Never doubt your math, I guess. The only thing I changed is the sleeve length. I added one inch because I like to be able to pull them over my hands when I'm cold.

The pockets and the collar are finished with a crochet edge. Right after I finished the cardigan I looked up a list of crochet terms to translate something, only to discover that there are different terms in US English and UK English. Double Crochet in US is called a Treble in UK. Double Crochet in UK is the same as a single crochet in US. Who would ever expect a thing like that?! Since my pattern is Australian, and uses UK needle sizes, I am pretty sure that the Double Crochet term is English. Meaning: I should have done a single crochet in US terms. It would explain why I felt that my pockets looked too big!

The buttons are just plain black fish eye buttons.

This was a very simple pattern, definitely recommended if you're a beginner! Although I do have to say that the pattern is a little inconsistent sometimes. For instance, for the front it tells you to "continue working in stocking stitch" and totally forgets to mention that you need to work 8 sts of ribbing at the center front as well. Though it was obvious to me, I can imagine some people might get confused.

You can get the pattern for free here, and it is also listed on Ravelry.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Mrs. Depew 1940s Tap Pants, Butterick 3810 and a Knitted Lumber Jacket

In my sewing plans post I mentioned that I hoped to join the HSF challenge so I had plans to join in with challenge number 3: Pink. I figured it would be a great opportunity to combine this with my sewing plans to make tap pants and full slips in a lovely peachy pink. I almost forgot that I purchased Mrs. Depew's 1940s tap pants, a draft at home pattern, about 6 months ago. I've been eager to try one of these draft at home patterns so I decided to have a crack at it.

My mother had just send me another box, this time with a few of my fabrics (my fabric stash is still back in the Netherlands, sob) and one of the fabrics was a silver (poly) satin remnant I picked up once. Prefect for a first round to practice with slippery fabric. I will reveal the result in a separate post.

After my half baked attempt at the tap pants, I realized joining the HSF challenge isn't financially viable. Money will be so tight for the next month or so that I can't purchase any fabric or patterns at all. So I'll have to sew with the fabrics and patterns I have right now. I sure miss the fabric market in Arnhem, where I purchased all my fabrics for just €1 per meter..

So I moved on to another project on my list that I had both the pattern and the fabric for: Butterick 3810. I have this lovely dark burgundy/aubergine-ish color that seemed destined for it. It is a medium to heavy weight fabric with a lovely drape.

The pattern is a size 18 - 36" bust - way to big for me with my 31,5" bust. So I took 4 inches off overall, and 4,5 at the bust. I had this 'floppy' black synthetic stretch fabric that isn't really good for anything but now I could use it to test out the pattern. I quickly whipped up a muslin - this pattern is really easy! - and assessed the fit. It was still way too big and made me look huge. I pinned out a shocking 3 inches at the waist! I need to loose a lot more width at the waist than the bust and the hips so now I'm scratching my head, trying to figure out the best way to adjust the pattern. This pattern certainly seems to have a lot of ease.

Moving on to knitting, I just finished knitting the last piece of my bottle green lumber jacket from The Australian Women's Weekly March 1946. I still need to sew in ends, block, sew up and do some crocheting. Hopefully I'll have it finished in a few days. I'm thinking of knitting a dress for my next project, or something else that's bit more difficult/time consuming. I'm finishing these cardigans way too quickly! (And I already did my best to drag this one out.) Frustrating, if you don't have the money to buy yarn often.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Australian Women's Weekly: Fabric illustrations by Petrov

I warned you that the Australian Women's weekly was a giant source of 1930s and 1940s inspiration and I would be posting lots of their lovely patterns, illustrations and articles. So here is another one. (Frankly, I haven't even started! So I hope you guys enjoy these posts.)

Today I wanted to share a couple of the lovely fabric illustrations made by Australian Women's Weekly's illustrator Petrov. All of these happen to be cover design. He created many more lovely (fashion) illustrations for the magazine, which I will definitely share in the future as well.

September 25, 1937 - Source

January 8, 1938 - Source

March 11, 1939 - Source

August 12, 1939 - Source

April 27, 1940 - Source

September 21, 1940 - Source

March 29, 1941 - Source

How cute is that little Scottie dog?! - 12 July, 1941 - Source

July 11, 1942 - Source

January 23, 1943 - Source

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sewing plans for 2014

Lots of bloggers have already posted their sewing (and/or knitting) plans for 2014. I wasn't planning to write one myself at first, but then I started to realize that it is actually a great way for myself to get organized.

So far I have sort of been sewing like a loose cannon, completely without pre-planing or any kind of structure. But now I actually have some solid plans for things I want to sew this year. Or even better, I simply need them. My wardrobe is a disaster at the moment. I am still transitioning from a modern wardrobe to a vintage one. I still have hardly any vintage clothes to speak of (not counting original vintage pieces which I really only want to wear to special occasions since they're so fragile). In practice this means I still dress myself in modern clothes pretty much every day. Aside from that, I was only able to take about 1/3 of my clothes with me to England so I don't have many clothes to choose from either. But this actually had a refreshing effect. I don't miss any of my clothes at all. There is nothing in my modern wardrobe that I really love and couldn't live without. Out with the new, in with the old.

So here are my sewing plans for 2014, sort of in the order I want/plan to sew them:

1. Make at least 2 pairs of 1940s slacks. I absolutely need these but I'm a little frightened to make trousers because of the fitting involved. I hope to make them in navy blue and bottle green. Or mustard if I dare. I already have the famous Simplicity 3688 lying around for this. I do think I will have to make some adjustments to the pattern because I already noticed it will be too short for me and I also want them to be pretty wide. This one will definitely require a muslin, or two.

2. Make a jacket from Simplicity 1535. I really need a jacket but I'm not sure if I'm ready for a project like that yet..

3. Make two pairs of 'harem pyjamas' with Simplicity 3364; one from a thin cotton with short sleeves for summer, one from a thick fabric with long sleeves for winter. As mentioned in my previous post.

4. Make a pair of wide summer slacks with aforementioned Simplicity 3364.

Photo from the Life archive, by Peter Stackpole

5. Make the skirt to match the blouse I'm currently sewing (Simplicity 3450). I'll make the version with the 'suspended' pockets (they're not stitched onto the skirt, they hang from a belt!).

6. Make a floor length skirt from a lightweight fabric for summer. I bought a pattern for this last summer but unfortunately it got lost in the mail together with a dress pattern. (Still mourning over my loss..). I'm still looking for a replacement pattern. I have found lots of floor length skirt patterns from the late 40's, but none of them are gathered at the waist like in the picture. And that's what I want.

7. Make a dress. I definitely need more dresses too, but I don't have anything specific in mind at the moment. I still have Colette's Ceylon and Butterick 3810 lying around.

8. Make a summer blouse from McCall 7242 (view B)

9. Make two full slips (I don't need half slips because I have a stash of deadstock ones!). The first one just plain to practice with slippery fabric, the second one with lace. Still looking for a pattern, I think I'll get one from Mrs. Depew

10. Make a jumper dress (preferably in corduroy) for winter. Not sure if I will use Hollywood 1776 I just ordered or if I will get another one.

11. Make an a-line skirt and plaid blouse, inspired by this outfit. Hollywood 1776 has both.

12. Make at least one pair of knickers. I think I'll get the Panties & Bloomers pattern from Wearing History

13. Make a floor length robe/housecoat for winter. Still looking for the perfect pattern.

14. I will also allow myself to make at least one garment just because it's pretty, and not because I absolutely need it.

15. Finish my Mrs Depew Bathing Beauties bathing suit. I've never written about this, but it was actually my third project. I have no idea what I was thinking making a bathing suit as a third project, from a vintage pattern that needed to be re-sized as well. And yet I managed to finish about 2/3 before I gave up. My only UFO so far!

So that's 20 separate items to make and one to finish! I really do need much more clothes than this, but I tried thinking of the most essential basic pieces I need to build a foundation for my wardrobe. I'm not sure if I will really be able to make all of these items in 1 year. I'm also still on a tight budget since I still haven't found a job.. And I would really like to join the HSF challenge this year too.. I guess we'll just have to see how far I get!