Tuesday, May 26, 2015

1940s Green Suede Ensemble

Thank you to everyone for your comments on my recent posts. My post blogging myths and perfection was an interesting one to write. And I have to say I have really enjoyed reading other bloggers' responses to Lauren's challenge. It takes a lot of courage to share certain things.

I would also like to thank everyone who has responded to my clothing survey and post about Future Plans. Please keep the feedback coming! The more input I receive the better prepared I know I will be. So far the survey responses have indicated the need for more separates, like blouse and skirts, as well as the desire for more prints. I was surprised by how many people commented that they wanted to see purple clothing. I will have to see what I can do! I'm still very much in the planning and research stage, and will most likely put out another survey later in the year, but any and all feedback is welcome. Please feel free to share the survey with others.

Also, in case you missed my FB post I'm having a spring/birthday sale on Etsy. Everything is 20% off (including the dress you see in this post) with the code "BIRTHDAYSALE".

And now, on to today's post!
Earlier this spring I began a search for a pair of green 1940s shoes. I have black shoes, brown and even blue but I want to diversify my selection of accessories. It was Joanna who alerted me to a particular ebay posting for a pair of green suede shoes. Along with the shoes were a pair of matching gloves and a purse! Too good to be true! I placed a bid and waited. Much to my delight, I won!

The listing said the shoes, made by Vitality Shoe Company, St. Louis, MO, were purchased in 1949 by the seller's mother and worn on her wedding day as part of her "going away" ensemble. The gloves were custom made for her mother and match the shoes and purse perfectly! I was incredibly pleased to find that both the shoes and gloves fit me just right! I sent a message to the seller letting her know the items arrived safely and how happy I was with them. She very kindly wrote back and shared a little more about her parents. Here is what she said.

I am so glad they have found a good home and that they will be worn and enjoyed. ...
Here's the story that goes with the shoes and bag if you want to use it.  These were worn by my mother as part of her "going away" outfit on her wedding day, September 7, 1949. The gloves were custom made for her hands, which are very small so I'm delighted they fit you. She wore these during their honeymoon and for VERY special occasions the first year they were married.  She then put them away in a box with the gloves inside the bag, to keep them safe and they have been there ever since.   She and Dad were high school sweethearts and started dating when she was 15,a sophomore, Dad 16, a junior.  They dated 5 years, were married 60.  We buried Dad on their 60th wedding anniversary, a very sad day.  Their's was a true love match.  Nothings perfect but there was a lot of love.  Mom's Alzheimer's has progressed to the point she can't remember much but she remembers Dad and the loving life they shared.

I believe the stories should be shared so our herstory and history is passed on. If there are any pictures from Mom and Dad's honeymoon, we've yet to find them.  I do have a photo of each of them the year they married and one from their wedding day I just love because hey look so happy. They were married on a Wednesday (Mom was very non-traditional) and they were coming out of the church,(when this picture was taken) just after school let out and all the kids were running down the street headed home (this was back in the day of neighborhood schools).  Mom said the kids were laughing and being kids and Mom and Dad were so happy they started laughing with them. She said it was a very magical day. My grandmother, who was an artist, painted this in amazing detail and color and my youngest daughter has it hanging in her home. 

It's always nice to know the story behind the vintage and antique items I wear and collect, but this one story will always stay with me. You can bet I will treasure these items for years to come.

Outfit Details
Dress - Facebook trading page
Bracelets - Local antique shop
Necklace - Was my grandmother's
Stockings - Bobby's of Boston warehouse
Shoes, gloves, purse - Ebay

Picture from the ebay listing

Friday, May 15, 2015

Excepting Lauren's Challenge - Social Media and the Myth of Perfection

Over the last few days I have seen several bloggers take up the challenge offered by Lauren of Wearing History to share the “behind the scenes” stories of some blog posts, to show that none of us are perfect. Her recent post about social media and the myth of perfection is well worth the read. It's a very thoughtful and poignant post about our real/authentic selves versus our self-constructed image in social media. Lauren's post is a good reminder that how we portray ourselves, or how others portray themselves, on Facebook and the blogoshphere is sometimes far removed from the actual portrait of our lives and experiences. It's also a good reminder that we need to be kind to one another. No one likes to share the bad and the negative aspects of our lives so we put on a happy face and do our best to carry on. Like many bloggers, I want to present myself with my best foot forward. I very rarely post anything online of a personal nature because I'm actually a very private person. Some things I'm just not comfortable sharing online.

I gave a lot of thought as to whether or not to take up Lauren's challenge, because as I said I'm actually a very private person. I wouldn't describe myself as a shy person but I can sometimes be very self-conscious. It's easy for me to get worked up over something that is not that big of a deal. I don't really like going new places on my own if I don't know anyone else. And I'm really uncomfortable being the center of attention. (This was a real problem for me when planning my wedding. It's pretty hard to "blend in" when you're the bride!) When I started blogging I held off posting images of myself for a long time, partly as a privacy thing, but also because I wasn't completely comfortable with the idea of total strangers looking at pictures of me. (I still get a little weird-ed out when certain people tell me they read my blog.) It took a long time to finally feel comfortable posting pictures of myself in my vintage and historical clothing. Over time I was thrilled to discover just how wonderful and supportive the online costume/vintage community can be. I'm so thankful for the people I have "met" and the friendships I have made. :)

That being said, this was a really hard post to write. Some of these are kind of funny but some were hard to share.

Day one into a three day WWII event. It was an event I'd never been to before and there was soooo much I wanted to see and do. And it was hot! About mid way through the day I realized I was extremely dehydrated, so much so that I couldn't eat dinner without feeling like I was going to be sick. Just the smell of food made me nauseous. I made Cori take me back to our hotel and as soon as he parked the car I got sick. Luckily I manged to get the car door opened first! I got out of the car and was sick again. And to make things worse I almost ruined my new suede shoes. Gross I know. Cori was such a dear and cleaned them up for me while I was resting and recouping.

This one is going back a few years. We were sailing in a small wooden boat from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum down the lake to Fort Crown Point for an 18th century event. What started as a lovely afternoon sail on Lake Champlain turned into a five hour rowing session because the wind died. I had to pee so bad during our "sail" that I seriously considered using the bucket used to bail water.

Many of you will be familiar with the story of how Cori and I got engaged but I don't think I ever shared this particular story or photo. Here we are in our "green screen" engagement photo at VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey event back in January 2013. The screen was set up in a the conference room of the hotel where the event was held. In the next room over there is a small kitchen. When everyone was watching us and taking pictures one of the kitchen staff caught her uniform on fire. Fortunately she was not hurt and the fire was put out quickly!

I'd spent weeks working on my dress only to be frustrated by the final fit and stressed about getting my hair right. When this photo was taken I was really hungry, had the beginnings of a major migraine and was rather annoyed with Cori who wanted to go take pictures instead of finding food. Shortly after this photo was taken he proposed.

The GBVS Winter Formal. We drove two hours to get to our hotel and I spent too long getting ready. What should have been a 15 minute drive from the hotel to the event took over an hour because we took a wrong turn. We arrived late and very cranky with each other and almost missed dinner.

Some of my pictures are Photoshopped. I suffer from psoriasis which is particularly bad during the winter months when the air is extra dry. I typically avoid wearing skirts during certain times of the year as a result.

After attended an 18th century event in the morning, I changed out of my 1770s clothing in a public rest room and put on my 1940s dress, stocking, etc. Then drove another hour and a half to attend a WWII event. Cori drove and I styled my hair in the car. I pretty wiped out at the end of the day when this picture was taken and my hair was spitting out bobby pins left and right. But that's a real battleship behind me and I got to go on board. Totally worth it!

I normally have someone take photos for me but didn't have anyone this particular day. All the photos of my Spring for Cotton blouse were taken using the timer on my camera. I don't have a tripod so I'm forced to get a little creative with where and how I set up my camera.

Sometimes a single photo can say a thousand words. With two weeks until my wedding, with lots left to do, running on very little sleep. Oh and we'd just closed on our new house. Yeah, no stress there! To top it off while driving home that night I hit a deer with my car.

In real life, I almost never look this good. Sometimes I dress up just to take pictures and that's it. Although I do like to work vintage or vintage inspired items into my everyday wardrobe, at heart I have to confess that I'm most comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Or a sweater, because it's cold in New England!

Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out. We went to a friend's wedding Friday night, got up early to drive to an 18th century event only to discover we were missing a few critical articles of historical clothing. In this photo Cori is missing his linen shirt and had to borrow my neckerchief and an extra pair of my stocking. (Which are now completely stretched out, thank you.) I somehow managed to forget my shift. Thank goodness I'd packed my bed gown! Oh and we had to change in the parking lot.

We went camping and slept outside. In the morning I got dressed in a parking lot, and yes that seems to be a common theme with me, for the 1920s beach party. The beach was lovely but the water was freezing and we were almost eaten alive by nasty little black flies.

Back when I'd first started blogging, I wrote a post asking for advice about what to wear for an up coming event. A few days later I discovered that my post had been re-blogged by a local, and very poorly managed, news blog. I was horrified by the comments left on that site. Most of them, anonymous and in one form or another, basically said not to wear anything at all. I tried contacting the admin of the site to have the comments removed as they were inappropriate and offensive. But there was really no way of contacting them so I deleted my own blog post so there was nothing to link to. I was so embarrassed that I almost didn't go to the event.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Results are In! - "Color Recipes for Spring" Photo Contest

First off, I want to thank everyone who participated in my "Color Recipes for Spring" photo contest!!! So many wonderful photos! :) This was the first time I've organized anything like this here on my blog, or anywhere else for that matter. I was afraid at first that no one would enter, that maybe my readers were not seeing my posts, but then the photo entries and wonderfully encouraging comments began coming in. I'm so pleased that this contest was successful. It seems that everyone really enjoyed it. I'm seriously thinking about hosting another photo contest in the future. What do you think? Something for the fall perhaps? I'll be looking for a new inspirational article!

A few house keeping notes
  • What did you think of the criteria for this particular contest? i.e. read a historic newspaper article and create and outfit based on it? I know it was a little unusual but it seemed worth it to try.
  • Did I give enough time for the contest? I announced the contest on April and the original deadline was April 30th. I moved it back to May 3rd.
  • Any final thoughts or suggestion for a future contest?

I learned a lot in using the 1939 article to put together my own outfits and now have a list of certain colors and articles of clothing that I need to add to my vintage wardrobe. (I had so much fun taking photos, I even entered this one in the Vintage Life Miss June contest.) I don't know about anyone else but I’m going to refer back to this in the future when I’m trying to put together outfits. It was fascinating to read the way colors were combined. Most 1930s/1940s movies and photos are in black and white and are great in terms of details but sadly not colors. This article was a real eye opener in terms of color combinations!! The next time I watch a classic Hollywood movie you can bet I'll be watching it with new eyes.

So, on to the photo entries. THIS WAS HARD!!! There were ten entries total. You gals did an outstanding job with your ensembles, seriously!! Navy combos seemed to be the most popular but I was pleased to see some of the other color combinations described in the article as well. Black with splashes of bright colors, hyacinth blue and red, and different shades of lavender and mint! Yum!! Another nice surprise was the mother and daughter entries of Esther and Debbie. Esther blogs at Dolly Creates where her mom often appears in the most charming vintage ensembles.

After much thought I decided to pick one winner and two runners up. The winner is the photo that best represented the descriptions in the newspaper article. The runners up are photos I think best captured the overall feeling of the era and spirit of the contest. In no particular order, let's first look at all the entries and their outfit descriptions. (Some of you sent more then one photo. All photos were added to the Facebook album which can be viewed here. In order to keep this post as short as possible I'm only adding one photo each.)

Kelly of Seam Racer 
My submission is of an outfit - a year 1942 shirt dress and a velvet year 1940 hat.  This dress is made from a vintage McCall pattern, and the fabric is micro suede, with both the silky and plush sides used to contrast the panels and show off the design.  My dress is nicknamed “Winter Mint” to describe the pastel green/aqua color.The hat is from a vintage Simplicity pattern and made from 100% cotton plum velvet scraps leftover from a past project.  I bought tarlatan for the brim interfacing, like the pattern directs, and used a Bakelite button to close the headband-like crown.  I also made a belt to match the dress from some leftover vinyl.

Kelly's entry shows a great use of color and I love the outfit name, "Winter Mint." I would not have thought to pair a pastel green/aqua with purple or suede and velvet for that matter. I like how she used the fabric to make the contrast panels on the dress. I was really pleased to see this dress because I recently purchased the same pattern. You can read more about Kelly's outfit here and here.

Emily of Vintage Dreamer 
The cut of my dress would reflect the style of the late 1940's when Christian Dior's New Look was first making it's way into the fashion world. I used Butterick 6018, which is actually the reprint of a 1952 pattern. By omitting the unnecessary buttons on the front, (because I did not have the ones that I wanted, nor did I have the time to search for them) it reflects the practical opinion of post-war society. 
(4) Moss green full-length coat, print dress, apple blossom pink hat, pink gloves to match hat.
I have a full-length moss green coat, but, since the weather was in the lower eighties today, I left it out. I also have not had much luck in finding vintage or vintage-styled hats and gloves, but I have appropriate shoes!

I think Emily's outfit is really sweet. The bright pink of the flowers behind her really make the print of her dress pop! I can just image how divine she would look wearing this with her moss green coat in cooler weather. You can read more about Emily's dress here.

Jessica of  No Accounting for Taste 
I had a blast putting my outfits together. I tried four, and only three worked out, and two were really hard to choose between. I ended up going with this one because everything I had was so spot on:
 If you prefer the lipstick red, choose a narrow leather belt, a shoulder bouquet, and a ribbon band for your hat in the red. Wear it with a navy skirt, a navy jacket with a white chalk stripe, navy sailor, navy shoes, bag and white gloves.

"Spot on" is exactly what I thought when I saw Jessica's entry. The navy and red is so classic, she looks like she stepped out of the pages of a vintage magazine. I thought this image really captured the Dallas Morning News article in a visual form.

Kristen of  Verity Vintage Studio
I went with the Navy & Wheat combo, suggested in the 3rd option. I already had the “natural color straw hat with spring flowers and a navy veil” and the “two-piece navy suit, navy shoes and bag", but had no blouse the color of wheat so as a substitute I wore my white-and-blue blouse with wing collar and dramatic sleeves. I paired it first with the wheat gloves and navy bag as suggested, then switched it up a bit with navy gloves sporting a woven straw cuff, and a wheat clutch. I loved some of the other suggested combos but this was the only one actually in my closet and I had no time to sew another, though now some of those outfit descriptions are on my list to make! It was highly enjoyable!  

I really enjoyed Kristen's entry which you can read more about here. It was so charming and perfectly planned and put together.  I love her blouse! Navy and wheat colored accessories are not something I see much in the vintage and living history community. I also enjoyed the "discovery" of Kristen's blog which I have now added to my blog roll.

Pam - Antipodean Stitcher  
This is my entry for your vintage visions photo comp. I was trying to do the hyacinth blue dress and red shoes, but my dress is a bit lighter in shade. 

I was so pleased to see someone try the hyacinth blue with red accessories! Pam's outfit is wonderful and very much is the spirit of the Dallas article.

Esther of Dolly Creates 
I am afraid I don't have many solid colors in my wardrobe - only one, in fact (black), so my entry is a patterned blue floral. I was inspired by one of the ladies who was wearing a summery straw hat in a picture from your first inspiration post. May I present my outfit, Springtime Periwinkle! :) Thank you for hosting this contest! I hope you will do it again, at which time I hope to have added solid colors to my wardrobe!

"Springtime Periwinkle," you can't get more delightfully spring then that! I like that Esther's hat ribbon matches her dress, something you often see in true vintage ensembles. You can read more about Esther's dress here.

Debbie - Debbie is Esther's mom who is often appears on Dolly Creates.
Here is my entry for the 1940s Photo Contest! It is called "Lavender in Spring." Thank you for hosting this lovely contest! I can't wait to see all the other entries.

One of the nicest surprises of this contest was Debbie's entry. Debbie is Esther's mom and the two are often featured sided by side on Esther's blog Dolly Creates. "Perfect for spring" was what came to mind when I saw Debbie's outfit. I love the ricrak trim on the pockets. You can see more of Debbie's dress here.

Bonita - Lavender and Twill
My 1940's outfit is inspired by navy, red and wheat {cream}. Navy blue is such an elegant color, and I have really enjoyed the chance to work with it more in my wardrobe.  I have been inspired by the wonderful vintage advertorials {such as the one you posted} to pair it with classic colors such as red and cream.  I have a lot of red in my wardrobe, and although navy, red and white can fall a little on the side of patriotic, I find the creamy wheat color draws it back a little and takes the outfit more to the realm of complimentary tones rather than Australia Day {or 4th of July for my state side friends!}. 

What more can I say about Bonit's outfit other then I love it?! Inspired by the navy, red and wheat combos in the article, she paired navy with cream. It's very true that when pairing certain colors with navy you run the risk of creating a "patriotic" outfit. I love that Bonita went with navy and cream. Her printed blouse breaks up the navy and create a very soft looking spring ensemble. Read more here.

Brigid of Boyer Family Singers
A Beach-y spring ensemble of Navy and Red, inspired by the sea-side fashions of the 1930s. All of the pieces are modern, excepting the hat and necklace-turned-bracelet (the blouse is Banana Republic, and the pants are made by me from a soon-to-be-released pattern) but they work so perfectly for the 30s era, making for a believable, yet comfortable outfit that I don’t have to be worried about. I would totally wear this for a trip to Florida in the Spring, complete with a Ukulele to strum as I lounge on the beach. 
(2) If you prefer the bright red, wear a navy .... a straw hat with a white and bright red ribbon crown. 

 Brigid's outfit is so playful and fun! What more can I say? I want to go to the beach right now don't you? Her pants are made from her newly released Linden Lady pattern. Go check it out!

Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments 
I have this wonderful scarf that I thought would be great for the theme of color.  ...  I didn't quite have the color combinations accessible in the article but I must say they are quite inspiring.  I'll have to remember these for the future.  I think I wanted to capture the idea of fashion of the period.  I love the late 30s in fashion and putting this outfit together kind of refreshed my love of this period.  I've been spending quite a bit of time in the 50s so it is really nice to back and reflect on the 30s again.  I think what I got out of the article was to look at color accents so I tried to do this with the outfit I put together.

Colorful, eye-catching, and classic. That's what comes to mind when I see Joanna's entry. The bright colored scarf really pops and I really love the yellow flowers against the black. And how great is that purse!?

See, I told you this was hard! So without further ado, the winner of the "Color Recipes for Spring" photo contest is ....
Jessica!! Congratulations!!

The runners up are Joanna and Kristen! Congratulations ladies! I will be in contact with you all shortly about your prizes. Thank you again to everyone who participated. You are all winners in my book!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Green Silk Sacque

Hello everyone! I will be announcing the winner of my "Color Recipes for Spring" photo contest next week.  But until then, please enjoy this post. :)

I've been going through some photos of my past projects. I've posted a few images of this 18th century gown before but I feel like I have not done it justice here on my blog. My first post about it back in 2012 shows a few construction pictures. Believe it or not, this was one of my very first 18th century gowns. I attempted one before using diagrams and notes from some well-known costuming books but the final result left much to be desired.

First wore for a little photo shoot in the fall of 2009. It was not 100% finished, the back neck facing was missing and it didn't have cuffs. But I really wanted to get some pictures of it. Please excuse the silly "doily" pinner cap on my head. I didn't have a proper cap at the time to wear with such a formal gown. Fortunately, I've since purchased "The Profligate" precut cap kit from Larkin and Smith. It will be perfect with this gown. I can't wait to have it finished and do another photo shoot.

For all the photos in the post the gown was worn over a linen shift, fully boned stays, pocket hoops, under petticoat and a matching silk petticoat.

These two photos were taken inside my parents house. The house was built sometime between 1790 and 1800. When removing some old wallpaper in the front hall, we discovered not only the original plaster wall but remains of some stenciling. Over the years my mom was able to recreate the stencils and repaint the wall. (Similar wall stencils can be seen in historic buildings at the Shelburne Museum and Historic Deerfield.)

The gown's first real debut was at my 18th century garden party the following summer. You'll notice the addition of the large wing cuffs that were common in the 1740s and into the 1750s.

Then in Williamsburg in 2010 with my ridiculous hair. And yes, that's all my real hair.

My friend Abby borrowed the gown for historic fashion show I organized for a local historical society. It was fun to see how the the gown looked on someone else. I still have plans to update this gown but as I don't have many opportunities to wear this or my ivory silk gown, that project has taken a back seat.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Proper Look at the Check Gown

This is an older project but one I realized, after a recent Facebook discussion on 18th century crossbarred gowns, that I have not properly shared. This post has actually been sitting, unfinished, in my draft folder for quite some time so I figure it was about time to complete it. Also, it has been a while since my last non-vintage post. I first blogged about my blue and white crossbarred gown here. And you can read a little more about my research here.

The  inspiration.
The black and white print, Native Meltons, by British artist Richard Houston (c.1721-1775). Which is based on the painting, The Oyster Girl, by French artist Philippe Mercier (1689-1760). The original painting by Mercier was sold by Christies in 2013.

Painting - "The Oyster Girl" by French artist Philippe Mercier (1689-1760).
Print - "Native Meltons" by British artist Richard Houston (c.1721-1775) Fitzwilliam Museum
Second print

A young woman standing beside a window at a table, a basket by her right elbow, opening oysters and putting them on a plate in front of her, looking up towards the veiwer, wearing a wide-brimmed hat over a frilled cap; after Mercier.
Print - "The Fair Oysterinda" British Museum
"The oysters good - The Nymph so fair! Who would not wish to taste her Ware? No need has she aloud to Cry'em Since all who see her Fare must buy'em.' "

The fabric.
You will notice that my fabric has one extra vertical stripe so it's not a perfect match to the print/painting. Pretty darn close though! As I mentioned in my first post about this gown, I bought the fabric long before I found the painting/print. Here in New England there used to be an annual gathering called the Women's Winter Weekend. It was a chance for the ladies to get together for a couple days and share research, period recipes, patterns, and various 18th century sewing and crafting skills. It was also a chance to purchase fabrics, trims, books, etc.

Gown construction.
I had made a few gowns before this one, but mostly with solids and one with stripes. I feared the checks on this fabric would be difficult to work with but found the opposite to be true. Plus the linen itself was a dream to work with. It didn't hurt that I had some very talented ladies helping me out! A very large portion of this gown was constructed during a Hive workshop with the ladies that run Larkin and Smith. This gown is made very much like their new gown pattern.

The lining is constructed first using a firm linen fabric. The back of the gown has a center back seam and the side seams are lapped. Next I cut the panels for the center back and skirt, having measured from the base of my neck to a few inches above the floor, and from my waist to a few inches above the floor. The skirt panels were seamed with the long running stitch and then set aside. It's important to note that if you plan to wear any kind of hoop or bum roll under your gown you need to take those measurement over them. Since I planned to use this gown for a gowning class impression I didn't bother with either of those.

Setting the sleeves.
You can set the sleeves of an 18th century gown yourself if you have a dress form, but it's certainly easier if you have someone to help you. This is a nice close up showing the pleats and basting stitches on the sleeve head. This area is then covered with the robings.  

This is a good photo showing the gown front before the robings were adding. You can see the little darts that help shape the bodice at the bust and also the placement of the sleeves. I was wearing my old stays for this workshop. The gown fits a little differently over my new ones.

Adding the robings
The robing are just stripes of fabric sewn into a tube and then tacked to the gown fronts. On some surviving examples the robings are only sewn to the shoulder area and left floating. We did a pretty good job of lining up the stripes. :)

Adding the gown robings.

Here you can see the neck facing being pinned in place. The edges are mitered to meet the edges of the robings.

Adding the back neck facing
Pleating the skirts.
Here you can see all the pins holding my pleats in place. The gown bodice and pleats are first basted in place. Then the pins are remove. Basting is an extra step but it makes sewing the pleats so much easier and you don't need to worry about pricking yourself.

Pleating the skirts
 Side view

The finished gown. My first outing with this gown was a trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

This has become my favorite gown to wear for events. Because it's linen it is cool and comfortable. I enjoy wearing it with a striped petticoat and printed neckerchief just to mix things up a bit. One of these days I'd like to get the materials together to actually reproduce the print this gown is based on.

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