Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sew for Victory - Polka Dot Blouse and Slacks

Hello all. I've finally finished my projects for the Sew For Victory sew along. My inspiration for this project came from a photo I found on My Vintage Vogue. If you love vintage fashions you need to visit this site!

Source - My Vintage Vogue

Finished blouse using mail order pattern #2588
The pattern I used was a 1940s mail order pattern for a blouse and jumper combo. I didn't make the jumper. That will probably be a project in the future.

Finished blouse using mail order pattern #2588
I used some blue and white cotton from the stash to make the blouse. And a suit wight gray wool for the slacks. The blouse went together easily and quickly. However, I discovered that I didn't have enough fabric to make the blouse the correct length so it doesn't tuck into the top of the slacks very well. At some point I will need to piece together my remaining fabric, which isn't very much, and see if I can make the blouse just a bit longer.

I used button from the stash
The slacks were a little more difficult to put together but not too bad. I used Simplicity 3322. With the exceptions of beach pajamas and lounge wear, women in the 1940s didn't really wear pants. It wasn't until WWII that more women started wearing them, and then it was mainly for work in the factories and shipyards. Women's pants in the early 1940s were modeled after men's. The waistband was at the natural waist which seems very high compared to today's fashion. They legs were cut wide with large cuffs. The cuffs disappeared when fabric rationing began.

I don't have any construction pictures of the slacks, sorry about that. The only real difficult I had with this pattern was inserting the side zipper. Not because of the directions or anything, I'm just terrible at putting in zippers. I like them less then sewing button holes. :( I also found I needed to make the slacks slightly smaller in the waist and hip area then then my listed size. To do this I adjusted the width of my side seams and made slightly larger darts at the waist.

The Facts
: Dark blue cotton with white polka dots from stash
Pattern: Vintage mail order pattern
Year: late 1930s or early 1940s
Notions: Buttons from stash
Wear again: yes
Time to complete: couple hours
Total cost: $2.99 for the pattern, everything came from my sewing stash

: Gray suit weight wool, about $2.50 a yard
Pattern: Simplicity 3322 Reproduction pattern from Vintage Fashion Library, $19.50 (Also available from Eva Dress)
Year: early 1940s
Notions: Zipper, from stash
Wear again: maybe
Time to complete: not sure, I didn't really keep track
Total cost: $25.75 A little more than I would like to have spent but now I have a good pattern I can use again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Crunch time and some resources

Hello all,
It's crunch time for this little seamstress. I have to admit, I don't know if this dress is going to get finished in time. I have a sneaky suspicion I'll be doing some sewing in the car. Still need to cut out my sleeves, cuffs, and collar. Also need to hem the skirt. I finally found my corset, which by the way was in the last place I looked go figure, so I was able to finish fitting the bodice last night.

I thought today I would share a couple resources for those of you interested in women's fashions of the 1860s. In particular American women during the Civil War, 1861 to 1865. I have an album on Pinterest with lots of photos and links to original garments.

First up, Who Wore What?: Women's Wear, 1861-1865 by Juanita Leisch. Since its publication in 1995, the book has become very popular with re-enactors and is a great resource who those just started out in the hobby or for those who want to gain a general knowledge of the time period. It also includes descriptions of accessories and construction tips for those interested in making there own clothing. No patterns, just wonderful photos.

 Juanita Leisch's book is the result of her study of 1860s fashions depicted in cartes de visite, or CDVs. Her book is organized into sections by clothing types - coats, day dresses, ball gowns, underpinnings, etc., and emphasizes the difference in fashion between young women, middle-aged women, and older women. The photographs, there are over 300 of them, show what real women actually wore to the photographer - not the fantasy dresses of Godey's Lady's Book. What I like is that the author tries to dispel some of the miss truths about women's clothing and shows what styles were most common for women in different age groups. There are exceptions to every rule, but as a re-eanctor myself, I like to represent someone from the main stream population. :)

Who Wore What? is available on Amazon but I was rather surprised at the price. Over $50 for a used copy and over $100 for a new one! Ouch! I received my copy as a graduation present about 10 years ago, pretty sure it was under $50 then. I'm not sure I would pay that much for it now. Inter-library loan would be a good option for this book. Don't pay too much attention to the not so nice reviews of this book - some people claim the book is too general, others say the author say no idea what she's talking about. I really can't say anything negative about this book, aside from the current sale price of course. Do keep in mind though, that this book is meant as a general overview of women's fashion and is not an in depth study. It's a good starting point but if you really want to get in depth combine it with other resources. Such as ...

The Way They Were Dressed in 1860-1865 by Donna Abraham. Available on Amazon and at Abraham's Lady. Don't let its small size fool you. This is an outstanding collection of CDVs, nearly 600 of them and all American. Like Who Wore What? its broken into sections. Unlike the previous book, it includes fashions of infants, young boys and girls, and men. It's nice to see the guys getting some attention. All too often the men are left out of clothing books and that's a shame. There are also some interesting group photos in this book.

Last but not least ...
The Way They Were Dressed in 1860-1865 Volume 2 by Donna Abraham. This is a new release. If it's as good as volume one then I will be adding a copy to my library. I plan on stopping at Abraham's Lady this weekend to take a look!

That's all for now. I'm leaving for Gettysburg tomorrow so I wont be posting anything for a few days. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Where do these crazy ideas come from?

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I'm planning a trip to Gettysburg, PA later this week. (Thank you to Cassidy at A Most Beguiling Accomplishment for sharing her 1864 hair images  Also, to Isabella of All The Pretty Dresses who has some lovely 1860s gowns posted on her site.) Over the weekend I got this crazy notion that not only did I need a new 1860s dress to wear, I could some how finish one before I left. Ha! Where do these crazy ideas come from? I don't really know but I started working on a new dress all the same.

First off, I'm being good and using fabric from the stash. The fabric is a light weight plaid cotton that I bought several years ago for the purpose of make a Civil War era gown. I don't have any pictures to share just yet, will take some tonight. The plaid is a nice combo of a brownish orange, blue, green, and white. Plaids were very popular in the 1860s and at $2.50 a yard it was hard to say no.

The inspiration for my new dress. Source- Possibly Ebay, I can't remember
So far I have the bodice fabric and lining cut and sewn together, minus the sleeves which I still need to cut. I cut three panels of my 45" wide fabric for the skirt. I stitched them together last night and started gauging them. Gauging is a form of controlled pleating which is commonly found in mid 19th century gowns, particularly washable everyday cottons. A gauged skirt is whip stitched to a waistband making it less bulky then a pleated skirt. Need to dig out my hoop and corset tonight so I can make sure everything fits. It's been quiet awhile since my last Civil War gown but I'm using an almost fail prove pattern drafted from one of my originals.

 Update 3/19/2013 - Just found this image which is a pretty good match for my plaid fabric. :)

On another sewing note ... I finished my blouse for the Sew for Victory sew along using a 1940s mail order pattern. I used a dark blue cotton with white polka dots. Pictures soon!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Great Hair Fridays - The 1860s

In preparation for a trip to Gettysburg, PA. next week, I thought I would focus today on hairstyle from the 1860s.

One of the most common hairstyle was hair parted down the center of the head and pinned into a bun or chignon and the nap of the neck. Hair could also be confined with a hairnet. Notice that the hairnet pictured below is made of very fine material - not at all like the bright colored, heavy synthetic hairnets sometimes see at reenactments.
Source -
Braids were popular and women often used false hair to achieve some of more elaborate styles, particularly for evening events such as going to the opera or a ball.

Source -

This style pre dates the Civil War but was a style still favored by older ladies. To achieve the fullness at the temples, hair rats were pinned to the head and the hairs draped and pinned smoothly over the rats.

Source -

The Ladies' 1860s Society has a page for 1860's hairstyle with pictures and step-by-step instructions.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pillbox Hats and Chiffon Veils Worn Harem Fashion

Pillbox hats and veils, what could be prettier? I came across the newspaper clipping below while doing some other research and luckily thought to save it. It's good that I did because I also found pictures that are almost a match to the hats described. Opportunity for a blog post? You bet!

1940s Purple Turban Hat - Source
From the Dallas Morning News, October 26, 1938 
Chiffon Veils Are Now Worn Harem Fashion
This Type Tucks in At Top of Pillbox, Flows Around Front. By Alma Cunningham. There are so many distinguishing bits of femininity on the fashion horizon this season that a woman can be different and beautiful in her own way without even trying.

Take veils, for instance. They aren't news any longer, but their infinite variety offers a lot to the imagination. With a green and purple turban, say, you might wear a veil in flesh color to match your complexion, even to the rosy tints of the cheeks, and eye shadow.

A little newer than net or lace veils are the chiffon veils worn harem fashion. Thus type of veil is tucked in the top of a pillbox, flows down the back to the shoulders and comes around the front to cross and float back again. Incidentally, it covers up the back hair entirely, whether it's up or down. Can you imagine anything lovelier than a purple hat with a fuchsia chiffon veil?

I'd like to think that Mrs. Cunningham had a hat like this in mind when she wrote her article.

I'd like to think Mrs. Cunningham had a hat like this in mind when she wrote her article. Image source - Ebay
Not really a pill box hat but it certainly is striking! - Can't remember the source, most likely
Make your own pillbox hat using this tutorial from Tuppence Ha'penny. Make it into the harem fashion described above by adding your own chiffon veil.I would love to see pictures if you do!

Although this image is from 1962, it's another great example of a pink pillbox hat and veil.
Cover Girl 1962, Maggie Eckhart - Photo by Richard Avedon Source -

Friday, March 8, 2013

Great Hair Fridays - Guys Have Great Hair Too!

Good morning all. Hope everyone is having a lovely Friday. It's snowing, again, here in New England. The drive to work was a bit messy but that's ok. I'm looking forward to some snowshoeing this afternoon!

So far my Great Hair Friday posts have all focused on women so today I thought I would do something a bit different. Some guys have great hair too, after all!

Cary Grant in 1941 - Source
Gene Kelly in 1943 - Source
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca” (1942) - Source
The one and only Frank Sinatra
 And who could forget Cary Elwes as Westley in The Princess Bride. That's all for now!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Article in Hey Doll! Vintage Magazine

Hello everyone. Issue 2 of Hey Doll! Vintage Magazine, a fantastic new magazine is out. Never heard of it? Well, it's available to read online and the best part, it's free! Yes that's right, a free magazine on vintage fashions, food, and more. Hey Doll is the creation of bloggers Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage and Bunny of Bunny's Victory.

I'm super excited about issue 2 because it features, among other things, an article I wrote about vintage shoes. The article is an updated version of a blog post I wrote last summer. Other than my blog, I've never had any thing published before. :) Please let me know what you think!

Brittany and Bunny are looking for additional contributors for their magazine so stop by and check it out. Each new issue will have a different theme. I believe next month will focus on the 1960s.
You can read Issue 2 of Hey Doll! Vintage Magazine here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Great Hair Fridays - March 1943

Today's Great Hair Friday post is from a March 1943 issue of the Modern Beauty Shop.

Featuring advertisements on permanent waves, hair safety, coloring, and beauty displays. Enjoy!

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943
Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

Modern Beauty Shop - March 1943

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