Monday, July 30, 2012

1930s Butterick Sewing Patterns

I couldn't help myself. I've acquired a few more vintage patterns to add to my stash. The first three are Butterick patterns from the 1930s. The last one is a 1920s Pictorial Review Pattern by Pictograf.

Can't wait to use these! Does anyone have fabric and/or color suggestions?

For Butterick pattern 8491, I'm thinking crepe or a linen/rayon blend. Something with a bit of body that will drape nicely. I love the diamond-shaped insert and gathered detail on the bodice of this dress. There is a very similar dress in the collections of my local historical society made from a stunning raspberry/maroon crepe that I've always wanted to copy. Actually that dress, because of its color and wonderful details, was one of the items I chose to showcase in the vintage fashion show I organized last summer. You can see some of the pictures from that show on the Springfield Art and Historical Society's blog

Butterick pattern 8491
Butterick pattern 8491
This one with short sleeves would be a great dress for summer. Very sporty! White with colored buttons perhaps?
Butterick pattern 6398
Butterick pattern 6398
I wasn't really sure about this pattern at first. I thought the gathering on the bodice of view A was a little odd, and still do, but it's growing on me. Love the sleeve options for this pattern.

Butterick pattern 6617
Butterick pattern 6617
Every vintage pattern collection should have at least one 1920s pattern right? Not sure if and when I'll use it, but it looks pretty simple. I'm guessing this pattern is early 1920s as the skirt length is fairly long.

Pictoral Review Pattern 2102

Monday, July 23, 2012

Scenic Train in the Adirondacks - 1940s Style

Last Thursday Cori and I decided to get dressed up in 1940s clothing and take a train ride. This is little adventure is something we've talked about doing for a while now but because of time restraints and a lack of proper vintage clothing for Cori were not able to do. Until now!

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad runs from Saranac Lake, NY to Lake Placid, NY. You can also ride the train between Thendara, NY to Utica, NY. During certain times of the year the train offers special family events and programs. A lot of people on the train and at the stations asked us if we were part of one them. For more information about the history of the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid Railroad or for ticket and event information click here.

The view approaching the Lake Placid train station
View along the tracks
Train station in Saranac Lake
Cori was really excited the food car was selling Cracker Jacks
After the train ride we walked around Saranac Lake for a bit and went to dinner. We bumped into several people Cori knew and who didn't recognize him at first. (He normally has a goatee so people outside of our 18th century reenacting group are not used to seeing him clean shaven.) Through out the day people stopped us to chat. We talked about our involvement in living history and love of history and vintage clothing. A few people were surprised to hear that what we were doing was just for fun. It was great seeing veterans stop Cori and talk to him about his uniform and their military service.

So a little info about our clothing ...
A couple weeks ago Cori and I found a set of vintage U.S. Navy dress blues at an antique shop. And they fit him! We were excited because although we've found Navy pants and jumpers (the blue tops) at antique shops and surplus stores before, they tend to be very small. A good example is the set of WWII blues I picked up last year that hardly fit me! They guy that wore them was tiny. Anyway, we did a bit of research and learned that the markings on Cori's jumper stand for Chief Petty Officer. The patch that looks like little lightening bolts stands for Information Systems Technicians. The three stripes at the bottom of the sleeve represent a minimum of 12 years of service. The reason all the stripes are gold and not red signifies service with good conduct. (Cori joked that he would have needed to enlist at age 14 to have that many years of service.) The jumper came with a set of ribbons but after further research we discovered that the ribbons were Coast Guard and not Navy. That's OK because after a trip to the Army surplus store in Saranac Lake, Cori was able to find most of the WWII era ribbons he needed.

The only item Cori needs to complete his uniform is the black silk neckerchief. Oddly enough, its proving to be a difficult item to locate. If any one has has suggestions on where to find a U.S. Navy neckerchief or has one they would like to sell, please let me know!

My dress, which I posted briefly about last week, was made using DuBarry 2413B. Sorry, no construction pictures. I didn't think to take any. I didn't have time to make a matching belt so I wore a red one I picked up somewhere in my travels. Also my "V" for victory rhinestone pin. The buttons on the dress are new. I had red vintage buttons but decided not to take them off their original card. The shoes are original 1940s purchased on Etsy. I wore them most of the day and found them to be really comfortable.

The little plaid suitcase was perfect for carrying my camera and some other little odds and ends. I figured since I was going to be a train I should look like I was traveling somewhere. :) I had a hat I was going to wear but after pinning my hair up discovered the hat  wouldn't fit my head. Ooops! Actually that was alright because I was pretty happy with how my hair turned out. I still need some practice forming the victory rolls and getting them to look neat. My hair is quiet long and I've found that most 1940s hairstyles are best suited for shoulder length or shorter hair.

Hands down the best experiences of the day were:
Meeting this wonderful family at the Lake Placid train station. The older couple, who told us they were teenagers during WWII, were thrilled to see us all dressed up. It was like having our very own welcoming committee! They asked to have their picture taken with us and of course we said yes. Cori offered his arm to the wife and she grabbed a hold of him with a great big smile on her face. I don't think she wanted to let go! The daughter took us a side and told us how excited her parents were. We really made their day. I guess seeing us step off the train brought back a lot of war time memories. If you are reading this now, I want you to know you made our day too! It's reactions like yours that make what we do for fun so worth while.

The family we met at the Lake Placid train station
The second best part of the day was dinner, and not just because the was the food good. During dinner a waitress came up to us and said "the ladies at that table over there want to buy you two a drink." Cori made sure to tell them he wasn't actually in the service and that we were dressed up just for fun. Apparently the ladies were part of a local theater group and loved our outfits. The just wanted to show their appreciation for what we were doing. How cool is that?

Navy Dress Blues - Big Red Barn Antique shop
"Dixie Cup" hat - Major Plowshares Army/Navy surplus

Dress - Made by me using DuBarry 2413B
Belt and gloves - Thirfted
Suitcase - Gift from my friend Tracy
Shoes - GingerRootVintage

Monday, July 16, 2012

What I'm working on now

I though you might enjoy a sneak peak at what I'm working on now. This pattern, DuBarry 2413B, is one I purchased recently from FloradoraPresents on Etsy. It's a great little tailored shirtwaist dress from the late 1930s or early 1940s. I'm leaning more towards the late 30s because the skirt is quite full compared to those during the war years when fabric was rationed. There are two options for sleeves - long or short. And the skirt, which is cut on the bias can be pleated or left plain. The bodice also has cute little triangular shaped pockets.

DuBarry 2413B with vintage buttons and buckles
I'm making the dress out of blue linen - which I discovered once I got it home is actually a linen blend, but that's ok. It's not as dark as it looks in the picture. I found some red vintage buttons in my stash that I really want to use but I think I will end up using modern ones. I don't really want to remove the vintage ones from the original cards.

At a local antique shop I hit the vintage buckle jack pot! I found a whole string of vintage buckles - literally, they were attached to a piece of string - for about about $1 a piece! A few were metal but most were either shell or plastic. One might even be Bakelite but I'm not sure. There was a nice variety of tension buckles and two piece buckles. It's funny, I was thinking before I found these that it might be fun to collect different kinds of buckles. And suddenly, Pouf! instant collection. :)

This book was a great investment!
My plan was to have this as an outfit for July 4th, hence the red and blue theme. Well, that clearly didn't happen ... I have a special trip in mind for later in the week so I'm working hard to get this finished. Stay tuned!

I made really good progress yesterday - attached the bodice and skirt, hemmed the skirt, attached pockets and collar. Now all that is left is to cut out and attached the sleeves (I'm going with the short ones) button holes (I hate doing button holes) and sew on the buttons. Not too bad after having spend the majority of the day picking raspberries and make raspberry liqueur!

Here are two other patterns I picked up on Etsy.

Fun 1940s play suit from YellowCabVintage

Day dress from 1946 - Simplicity 1668 from CynicalGirl

Friday, July 13, 2012

Great Hair Fridays - "Winged Victory" How To

As a continuation of last week's post on Victory rolls, I thought I would share a sort of "how to" I came across.

In November of 1942, the magazine American Hairdresser published a photo and setting instructions for an up-do called "Winged Victory". This is a lovely variation of classic victory rolls. I love the way the rolls come together on the side of the head. How did they get them to look so perfect!?

American Hairdresser, November 1942

American Hairdresser, November 1942
Published almost a year before in September of 1941, the Modern Beauty Shop shows us that the Victory hairstyle was already in vogue even before the United States entered World War Two. I think the multiple curls set on top of the head in the image labeled "Stern Bros.Salon Stylists, New York City" are super cute.

Modern Beauty Shop, September 1941
Modern Beauty Shop, September 1941
Modern Beauty Shop, September 1941

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sizing Up Vintage Shoes

So you're looking for that perfect pair of vintage shoes. Something from the 1930s, 1940s, or 1950s perhaps. You are ready to start shopping! But wait, consider a few questions first.

- Are you looking for a particular style to meet the requirements of a particular period of time? And if so, what style? Be sure to do your homework so you know what you are looking at when you start shopping.
- How often do you plan to wear the shoes? Everyday, only for special events, not at all you just want a pretty pair of shoes to look at.
- What condition issues should you look for (and avoid) when shopping for vintage shoes? Cracking, scuffs, worn out insoles, broken straps, etc.
- What about the details? Heel height, pretty details like bows or buckles.
- And most importantly, how do you know what size shoe to buy?

Group of ladies trying on shoes, c 1942. - Source LIFE

So how do you know what size vintage shoes to buy?

Morning Glorious Vintage 
It's true that vintage shoe sizes haven't changed too much over the years, unlike clothing sizes. A size 7 vintage shoe, for example, will be roughly the same size as a modern size 7. Roughly, but not exact. As a general rule, dress shoes do run a little narrow. And this is especially true of vintage shoes, so you will want to keep that in mind if you have wide feet like I do. If you have the option of trying a pair of shoes on before you buy them, excellent. But when shopping online, obviously you won't be able to. Keep in mind that the majority of online shop owners will not except returns for shoes that don't fit properly. They take the time to list the necessary information and it is up to the shopper to know what size will work best for her.

So, to avoid heartaches and headaches alike - know your measurements, know your measurements, know your measurements!

Shoes that are too narrow or too tight will not be comfortable. Ouch!

My pair of red peep toe shoes were marked as a US size 6/EUR 36. However, I tend to wear a modern size 7. Depending on the style and type of shoes I can wear anything from a 6 1/2 to a 7 1/2
Shopper's Tips - Go by the actual measurements of the shoes and NOT by the listed size.
To ensure a good fit, measure of a pair of your own comfortable shoes across the ball of the foot (the widest point), and from toe to heel. Take both of these measurements on the inside on the shoes. A flexible ruler is helpful. Compare these measurements to those of the vintage shoes you think you want to purchase. It's a good idea to measure a pair of shoes that have the same heel height as the pair you're shopping for. Don't measure your own feet to compare with the shoes' measurements on the site. Don't forget to leave yourself a little wiggle room! If you like your shoes to fit snug or a little on the loose side, take that onto account.

Trying on shoes before you buy is best but not always an option. Image source
Depending on the style of the shoes, measuring the inside width can be difficult but this is important to know. For my own feet to be happy, I need an inside measurement of 3" to 3 1/4". I looked at several pairs of 1940s shoes online that listed the widest point at 3" only to find out that actual inside measurement was way less than that. If I plan to wear a pair vintage shoes anything less than 3" on the inside is an absolute no go for me. However, for display purposes the sizing wouldn't matter.

When in doubt, ask for help!
Don't be afraid to ask questions. When looking for vintage shoes online, I found the way shoes measurement were listed to be a little inconsistent, at least on Etsy. One shop will measure the widest point on the inside of the shoes and other shop across the bottom. Once I knew what I needed for my own measurements, I asked shop owners to clarify how their measurements were taken. Each and every person was extremely help I must say!

Good shop owners will be happy to answer all your questions and help assist in finding a pair of shoes that fit.
The Lady Eve - Glamourdaze
Condition issues:
As with any article of vintage clothing, whether it's a hat, a dress, or a pair of shoes, expect some kind of wear. Occasionally you will see NOS - new old stock, or "dead stock" - items in near mint condition. Excellent condition can mean a higher price.

When looking for shoes, take a look first at the soles and then the heels. If no pictures are provided ask to see some. You should look at the amount of wear on the soles. Check for cracks or other flaws to the soles and heels. If you plan on wearing them for more then the occasional photo shoot this is important. You want to make sure the shoes are sturdy and safe to wear. Worn out insoles can easily be replaced. Scuff marks on the soles are no big deal but if there is cracking anywhere on the shoes that could be a problem, particularly with leather shoes as they can become brittle with age. Leather conditioners can help but in some cases the shoes may be beyond repair. Check the buckles (if there are any) and other details such as the stitching or decorative bows to make sure they are secure.

Ask yourself - If there are flaws, can you live with them, considering the age of the shoes of course? Can they easily be fixed? (A bit of polish or leather conditioner, new insoles, etc.) Is it worth the extra cost to have them fixed? If you answer "No" to any of these questions you should probably keep looking.

Remember, the hunt for the perfect pair of shoes is all part of the fun! :) I hope you find this post helpful.

Daniel Green Footwear ad from Vintage Ad Browser

Vintage Ad Browser
Vintage Ad Browser

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Ok, I know I'm a day early. But I'll be on vacation for a couple of days and I don't think I'll have computer access so I'm posting early. :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I'll be at the Hubbardton reenactment this weekend. If you are there feel free to stop by and say hello!

On a side note - Great Hair Fridays will be postponed this week. Check back next Friday!

Susan Heyward

Ava Gardner

Piper Laurie

Jayne Mansfield

Myrna Dell
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