Friday, August 31, 2012

The Dropped-Waist Dress: Très Chic or Terribly Unflattering?

Today I thought I would continue with my 1920s fashion research.  I know that there are quite a few people out there that avoid the dropped waist look because they believe it is rather unflattering.  And to a certain extent, I agree.

Seeing as I have a rather long torso, the silhouette actually makes me feel right at home – a design that accentuates what is already there!  However, I have wide hips and a relatively small waist, and I like to accentuate the smallest part of my body.  The flapper look does NOT accomplish this.  

But why should I let that stop me from enjoying a wonderful part of fashion history?

Yes, it is arguably one of the least flattering looks for most female figures, but seeing these illustrations side by side makes me appreciate how amazing the fashions really were.

It amazes me how many different looks can come from the same basic silhouette.  The addition of a ruffle or some lace here and there, or a section of pleats and pintucks does wonders for the drop-waist look of the 1920s.  Or how about a sash and a floppy bow?  Buttons, buckles and brooches also add extra flash to the look.

When I think about the amazing fabrics that they were made of, I wish I had an entire closet full!  And these are just day dresses - the evening looks are spectacular.  One day I will have to make a gown based on one of the amazing designs by Erté.

I think it is interesting to note that these fashions look the same on children, young adults, and adults alike.  In fact, it is hard to tell which pages are catering to the young and the not so young unless you read the fine print. 

The Victorians were the first to create fashion specific to a younger generation that looked nothing like what adults of the time were wearing, only to have designers make an adult woman look just like a young girl with no curves a couple of decades later.

The pattern I have been working on is Vogue 2535.  A bit shapeless, yes, but it is also unlike anything else I have, which is making for a fun project.  

What I did not find were any scalloped hem dresses in the 1928 Sears Roebuck Catalog.  But perhaps Sears was not quite as up to date as Vogue?  Makes sense to me!

[Images from the 1928 Sears Roebuck Catalog]

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog’s First Birthday

It is hard to believe that today marks the one year anniversary of this little blog of mine.  Where, oh where, does the time go?!

So to kick off the festivities, I thought a giveaway was in order!

Advance 9130 is a cute blouse pattern in a Size 14 (Bust 34).  I can’t decide if I like the short sleeve or long sleeve version best, although a previous owner clearly liked the short cuffed sleeve look!  The pattern is complete except for the back neck facing, however, there is a lined piece of paper in the shape of the facing piece.  Two of the pieces have a few small pieces of old tape, but I was able to get them apart without any problems.

McCalls 4924 is a classic skirt pattern, perfect for Fall - I see it in a textured wool.  The pattern is sized 8-14, and the pieces are cut out for a size 10, although it would be easy to add a couple of inches with all of those seams.  All pieces are accounted for.

In honor of my very first blog post, I thought that an empire-style dress would be fun.  McCalls 2147 is sized 10-14 and in factory folds.  The pattern is marked “Evening Elegance” but I think it would look really cute in a kitschy print in a shorter length.

Simplicity 7506 is a shift dress from 1967.  I just love the side dart shaping.  The pattern is in its original factory folds and is a size 14 (Bust 36).

To enter, just leave a comment below saying which pattern/s you would like to adopt.  I will pick the winners on Saturday.

And I would like to say a huge thank you for joining me on this blogging journey.  It has been an amazing year, and I cannot wait for the next!  And, of course, happy sewing!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Vintage Textile Envy

I have been working with contemporary patterns for a bit, although nothing ever seems to look current on me (the evidence may be found here, here, and here).  So I decided that it was time to go vintage, and even further back in time than my current 1940s/1950s obsession, just to shake things up.  Since I recently have discovered a love of the 1930s, I decided I should head even further back to the 1920s.

And where does a project begin?  With the fabric, of course!  Well, not always, but for a bit of inspiration, I though it was as good a place as any.

And here is a bit of my 1920s research.  While I wish I could shop the Sears Roebuck catalog, this is mainly for fun and because my fabric has been chosen.  I really am trying to be a good girl and use yardage from my stash, only purchasing extras like lining, thread, and buttons as needed.

"Sheer and dainty crepe," "perfect charm by the yard" taffeta, and pages and pages of rayon and silk in the most beautiful colors and prints are what I found.  Ginghams, florals, and abstract prints abound.  Crepe de chine, velvets and velveteens, metal, and brocades.

I can’t help but think of The Great Gatsby.  Although the era may have been filled with conspicuous consumption, it sure made for some lovely textiles.  And how about those incredible cocoon coats made of scrumptious patterned velvets?  Not to mention all of those amazing hats!

And I just love all of these patterns!

But for now, I am going to concentrate on the rayon on my sewing table and my vintage reproduction pattern.

[Images from Sears Roebuck Catalog, Fall 1928]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Retro Inspiration from Gertie & Butterick

Patterns by Gertie, Butterick 5814

Oh my goodness!  I do not know where I am going to find the time to get through all of the projects I already have planned for this upcoming winter season, and now here are three more that I simply cannot do without!

Patterns by Gertie, Butterick 5814

I am so excited to see Butterick’s new line of vintage inspired patterns by Miss Gertie.  Congratulations to a very talented lady! 

Patterns by Gertie, Butterick 5814

I wonder if she had anything to do with the instruction sheets – if so, I bet we are all in for some fantastic construction techniques!

Patterns by Gertie, Butterick 5824

This jacket may just be the perfect coat pattern – it really doesn’t get any better than a shawl collar, don’t you think?!  I cannot wait to try it out.  The only problem will be finding the perfect fabric (which Gertie certainly did!).

Patterns by Gertie, Butterick 5824

And while I have more patterns than I know what to do with, I have to admit that I cannot wait for the next wave of Patterns by Gertie!  If that cocktail dress is anything to go by, they are going to be stunning.

Butterick 5813

There is also a retro re-issue.  It is lovely, but that coat pattern is still going to be first on my list! 

Butterick 5813

That’s three new retro styles – I think I am in heaven!  Although, my poor pattern drawers are already complaining about how cramped they are, and these may just send them over the edge.

Butterick 5813

The styling is simply wonderful - do you think those fabulous cars belong to Gertie?  And all of those envelope clutches and yummy – hmm  . . . I feel another project coming on.

Butterick 5832

The only other pattern option that interests me is this one.  I am intrigued by the bodice draping.  I think it might be fun to use parts of the bodice pattern and substitute another skirt and sleeves (I don’t think that skirt and the hoops required would fit in my car).

Butterick 5811

Oh, and the peplum on this one looks like it might be fun to play with, but I am not sure . . . mostly because of the awful fabric that the sample was made with.

It looks like I am going to be busy, busy, busy!

Which are your favorites?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

All Wrapped Up

Although I have an aversion to many 1970s styles and fabrics, the classic wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg is a notable exception.  It is pretty amazing how well the style has held up over the years.

I finally found the perfect pattern for this fabric (from  I have been hoarding it for over two years, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.  And then Vogue 8827 came out in the most recent catalogue.  

With a little inspiration from DVF, the project really came together. 

Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, 1975–76

The collar was the first thing I noticed about this pattern.  I just love it!  Although I do not have any immediate plans to make another version, I believe a contrasting collar would look quite fetching with the design. 

I went ahead and used the medium length version and I am very glad that I did.  The envelope drawings are a bit misleading, and I really do not think that the shorter version would have covered my knees.  As it is, I would have liked to have a few extra inches to work with, but it certainly does not ruin the dress for me.  On the other hand, the sleeves that I used are incredibly long - I used the three-quarter length version which turned out to be more of a bracelet length.

And there were a few other issues.

I suddenly realized that one of those green colors looked very much like bright lime.  Along with yellow, lime is not one of my favorite colors.  When I first saw the fabric in person, I thought that the other greens distracted from the bright color.  But once I cut into it, and was staring at it for an extended period of time, that bright color made me rethink my initial impression.  I do, however, love the gemstone peridot, so I have decided to get over my fear of the color lime, and start calling it peridot!

The other issue was the extra pattern ease.  When I first tried the dress on, it looked like an unflattering bathrobe.  Thank goodness for fabric belts and drapey rayon!

Instead of following the instructions and using ribbons to close the inside edges of the wrap dress, I used a loop and button.  To close the outside flap, I added a small snap.  The pattern instructions do not include this final step, but unless you want to continually adjust the dress or expose a whole lot of skin, you are going to want to add that second closure.  The belt is not sufficient!

This dress was quite easy to put together -  no buttonholes, or zippers anywhere to be found.  And overall, I am very please with the finished product!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 8827
Shoes:  Oh Deer!
Necklace & Earrings:  The Vintage Flamingo
Bracelet:  Gift

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Knitting in the Summer Heat!?

Although the temperature in my apartment has been on the uncomfortable side of hot for the past couple of weeks, I have been in the mood to knit.  Does it make sense?  Absolutely not.  But I have missed my knitting needles.  It is necessary, however, to take breaks because all of that yarn sitting on my lap becomes a bit much. 

The pattern (Ribbon Threaded Jumper) is a vintage one from A Stitch in Time, Volume 2.

It took a couple of repeats for the pattern to stick in my head, but once I got going, it was quite easy.

I am currently working on the neckline, which joins the back, front, and two sleeve pieces.  I have a tendency to get bored with sewing seams together, so it may take me some time to actually finish the sweater.  And then I have to find some ribbon that works with the yarn - I hope it is not as challenging as finding appropriate buttons!