Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Dorr Mill Plaid Hoodie

At long last I present to you my late 1930s Dorr Mill Plaid Hoodie! I actually finished this earlier in the spring but it wasn't until recently that I was able to get some decent photos. This jacket counts towards my 2015 personal vintage pattern sewing pledge. In these pictures the jacket is worn over the blouse (Hollywood 1530) and slacks (Simplicity 1306) that I made last year for the Reading Air Show. It was very warm at the airshow this year but around 7:30 in the morning it was just cool enough and comfortable to wear the jacket. The first day of the airshow I wore my new yellow Du Barry suit.

Several years ago, probably ten now, I purchased this wonderful wool plaid from the Dorr Mill Store. They sell a lot of supplies for rug hooking and rug braiding but you can also purchase their lovely wools by the yard. If you like working with natural fibers like I do, a trip to their physical store is a real treat. The wool for this jacket was originally intended for a cold weather Civil War era dress. The fabric was from the remnants bin so I had to purchase three separate pieces to get the yardage I wanted. I got as far as making a simple petticoat, which I wore a few times for 18th century and Civil War era events, but that's about it. That's a good thing because a) I almost never get to wear my 1860s stuff any more (sad face) and b) if I had cut into the fabric to make a bodice of any kind I most likely would not have been able to use the fabric for another project. Fortunately when I made the petticoat I simply seamed together two panels of the wool and pleated them to a fitted waistband. The third unused panel was left untouched. I was able to cut all the jacket pieces except the sleeves out of one panel. Because I wanted to be able to match up the plaid I had to take apart the petticoat to cut the sleeves.

Yep, early spring in New England! You can see the mountain of snow outside my kitchen widow, a chilly contrast to the bright red tulips and tea pot on the table. That particular evening was spent drinking tea and eating brownies while putting the finishing touches on the jacket.

The cutest tea pot ever!
The sleeves are cut with an upper and lower sleeve section and are slightly gathered at shoulders. The jacket back is cut in one piece on the fold. The jacket fronts are made from two pieces each. And of course the hood, also cut on the fold. Hooray hood! The whole jacket is lined with cotton muslin. I was hoping to use white flannel as a lining to make the jacket a little warmer but couldn't put my hands on it in the stash. I know it's around somewhere, probably hiding with the red and black check flannel I picked up at the same time for another project, boo.

The hood on this jacket is HUGE! And I love it! :)
The whole jacket is gathered slightly to a wide fitted waistband and closes with buttons up the front. The buttons appear to be shell. I added a snap to the very bottom of the jacket. One of my favorite things about this jacket, aside from the hood that is, is the way the front is constructed. It was a little fiddly but I'm happy with the result. I did restitch one front section because the fabric shifted causing the plaid stripes to be off set. I flat felled the seams for a neater finish.

And here is proof that my friend Jason and I were at the same event! Jason is the man behind those awesome Greater Boston Vintage Society events like the White Lightning Ball (see my posts here and here) and the Roaring 20s Lawn Party (see my posts here and here.)

Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: 100% wool from the Dorr Mill Store, cotton lining
Pattern: Simplicity 2823
Year: late 1930s
Notions: Buttons, thread, one snap
How historically accurate is it? Very. Plaids were pretty popular in the 30s and 40s for outerwear.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Fitting the gathered front sections to the waistband and jacket front. Not too difficult just a little fiddly.
Did you change anything? I reduced the size just a touch and added a snap to the bottom front.
Time to complete: About a week, I'm guessing 8ish hours? I'm back at keep track.
First worn: Earlier this spring, first good pictures taken June 7 at the Reading Air Show.
Total cost: I can't remember what I paid for the fabric because I bought it so long ago. I'd guess with the pattern the cost for this project would be in the $30 to $40 range.
Notes: The jacket fits great over a dress as intended and works well with 40s high waisted pants. If I were to make this again for modern wear I would lengthen it a little bit.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

WWII Airshow and a Yellow Suit for 1942

This spring I've been sewing like a mad woman. Between participating in sew a-longs (see my Spring for Cotton blouse here) and getting ready for the big WWII airshow in Reading, PA, I've accomplished a lot! I've been making a healthy dent in the fabric stash as well as my personal vintage pattern sewing pledge. Over the next two weeks I'll be sharing several of these projects.

Photo courtesy of Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments
While I love my true vintage items, I feel it's important to add more reproduction items to my vintage wardrobe, especially for living history events. Being outside in all kinds of weather and moving around all day can put a lot of stress on a vintage garment. Sweat and sunscreen are also bad for older fabrics. So in preparation for the airshow, like a true crazy person, hauled out my stash of patterns and fabrics and set to work.

The Mid Atlantic Air Museum WWII weekend is an outstanding event. If you enjoy history, cool military vehicles and WWII era aircraft, you must go! This year was the 25th anniversary of the airshow and it did not disappoint. One of the highlights was seeing Fifi, the only remaining B-29 bomber still in flying condition, as well as 2 of the 3 remaining B-24s still flying! As a re-enactor I planned to be at the airshow all three days. I knew I wanted to make things that would be comfortable, always key, but also were true to the styles of the war years. I have a lot of 1940s patterns, (shocking!) some I know date between 1940-45 (thank you McCall and Du Barry for including copyright dates!) but others I'm less sure about. My crazy goal was to make things I could pin point to between 1938 and 1944. Below are the patterns I selected. I made two new blouses with Du Barry 5172. (dated 1942), a skirt from Du Barry 5296 (dated 1941), and a suit using Du Barry 5371 (dated 1942). I rounded out my wardrobe for the weekend with the blouse and slacks I made last year and a jacket made from 2823. I brought the Red Birds dress with me too thinking I would wear it for the hanger dance Saturday night but ended up wearing my slacks instead.

Today's post is about the yellow suit as that's what I wore the first day. The yellow crepe for this suit was left over from my Winter Formal Dress made from Simplicity1469.  I received several nice compliments while wearing this. But this suit was so bright outside in the sunlight, yikes! Particularly when standing beside so many drab green military vehicles and tents. I pin curled my hair the day before and brushed it out in the morning. It looked pretty good for the first hour or so but after that the curls went flat. Too much humidity in the air I guess. By the end of the day it was so hot that I said the heck with it and pinned my hair into a messy bun just to get if off the back of my neck. At least my victory rolls lasted all day! My decision to pair the suit with red shoes and a blue hat came from the same newspaper article I used for my recent spring photo contest.

My hair still looking half way decent in the morning.

Du Barry 5371 is dated 1942. The skirt is a classic 5 panel skirt. The jacket can be made with long or short sleeves with or without trim. One of the things I really like about this suit is the mock blouse, or dicky, that is attached to the jacket. This could easily be changed out with one of a different color or style to create a completely new look. Other then fiddling with the waist/hip size of the skirt, the only change I made was to add additional snaps to the end of the dicky. I found it to be a touch too short and didn't want to stay tucked into the front of the skirt. A few extra snaps to the bottom of it and the inside of the waistband of the skirt helped keep everything together. The buckle I used is a vintage one from my stash. The color is a shade darker then the jacket trim but I still like it. I may need to let the jacket out just a touch where it sits at the waist/hips so it sits a little more smoothly. Overall this suit went together pretty quickly. The most time consuming part was attaching the red bias tape trim. One side is sewn using the machine but the other side is hand tacked to the inside.

The untrimmed jacket and a peak at my messy sewing area.

Attaching the red bias trim.
Photo by Neal Howland
Blogger photo op!! Look who I finally had the chance to meet! The wonderful Joanna from Dividing Vintage Moments!! It was great to meet someone I've come to know through the world of vintage blogging. And look at her suit! Isn't it fantastic!?! We made such a colorful pair. Joanna's husband kindly snapped a few photos as proof of our meeting. Maybe next year we can organize another meeting with other vintage bloggers. (I'm looking at you Miss Emileigh! ;) )

Photo courtesy of Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments
Photo courtesy of Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments
Outfit Details
Suit - Made by me, Du Barry 5371
Shoes - red pair from Etsy, brown pair are repros from
Stockings - Trailer Park Flamingos
Pins - Victory pin from Ebay, flowers by 1940s Style for You

Photo by Neal Howland
Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Mustard/yellow crepe from discount fabric store
Pattern: Du Barry 5371
Year: 1942
Notions: Zipper, snaps, red bias tape, vintage buckle
How historically accurate is it? Very! The crepe is very close to dresses of the period and the trim was inspired by the pattern artwork.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? I had some fitting issues with the skirt when it came to attaching the waistband but was finally able to work those out. I think that was more on my (rear) end and not so much the pattern. :P
Did you change anything? Other then sizing I just added a few extra snaps
Time to complete: About a week and a half working during the evenings.
First worn: June 5, 2015 at the MAAM WWII weekend
Total cost: Around $30, although this is the second outfit made using this fabric so in reality it's closer to $15
Notes: Overall very happy with how this turned out! Next time I'll make the dicky a touch longer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Miss June Runner Up!

Exciting news! I just learned today that my photo was selected as a runner up for the Vintage Life Magazine Miss June Contest! I don't know if the runner ups are published anywhere other then Facebook, does anyone know? I will certainly be buying a copy of that issue if my photo is in it. :) Thank you to everyone who liked, shared and commented on my photo.

Right now that yellow dress is on its way to a lucky lady in the UK. The dress didn't fit me as well as I would like but I'm happy it's going to a new home! (You can see more photos of the dress here and here.) If you follow me on Facebook you may have spotted a few new photos from my trip to the Reading Air Show this past weekend. I will be sending one in for Miss August. I just need to pick one! lol!! I'm working on blog posts about my outfits and will be sharing them soon!

Monday, June 1, 2015

"Behind the Seams" - 1860s Swiss Waist in Electric Blue

Greetings all! Today I begin the first of a new series of posts I'm calling "Behind the Seams." I hope to feature a different item each month! In these posts I want to show a few of the more interesting details of some of my vintage and antique garments. Creating each post is proving a little more time consuming that I originally planned but I think all the extra work will pay off in the end. I've always been interested in knowing what the insides of older clothing looks like, how it's sewn, etc. and really want to be able to show those details as best I can. Each post will include LOTS of photos. I'm not really sure how many is too many so your feed back will be most welcome. (Can there really ever be too many photos of an awesome vintage/antique dress?)

I would also like to hear from you, dear reader, what it is you would like to see. What kind of construction details are you most interested in? Any particular time period? Most of my collection is 1920s or newer but I do have several older pieces, such as the one featured today, that I think everyone will enjoy seeing.

This incredible little piece was a surprise find at an antique shop a few years back. I was on a mission looking for hats and was poking around a rather cluttered antique shop (the best kind) when I spied something bright blue a corner. And I mean bright, like electric, blue! Expecting a hat or scarf of some kind I pulled out this little beauty. Most certainly not a hat, lol!

This corselet, or Swiss waist, is a little worse for wear but what a great study piece! A Swiss waist is a boned, pointed underbust garment that was worn over skirts and blouses or dresses. They were very popular fashion accessory in the 1860s. Some even had shoulder straps, like this example. Often called corsages in the 1860s, the terms Swiss bodices, Swiss belts, or Swiss waist belts or simply waists are used to describe the same type of garment. They show up again in the 1880s and 1890s, which is when the name Swiss waist became common. Unlike a corset, a Swiss waist does not fastens with a metal front busk. They have a flat front, with or without a front opening, or can lace up the front with hand worked eyelets. The back fastens with lacing.

Black was a common color as seen in the print below. But many surviving examples, like mine, indicated that some women were not afraid of color! Or patterns! Check out this crazy plaid and paisely silk waist at the The Fenimore Art Museum. Also this one in teal.

(Godey’s, August 1862)
The inside of my waist is lined in dark blue cotton and each seam is stiffened with 1/4" wide baleen. I know it's baleen and not metal because you can see it in spots where the lining is torn or worn away.

The waist closes with 5 hooks and eyes and has 11 eyelets for a cord which is now missing. Each tiny eyelet is only about 1/8" in size and beautifully sewn. The hooks and eyes are most likely a more recent addition.

The edges of the waist are bound with self fabric piped with a narrow cotton cord. Piping was a very common detail on 19th clothing. The waist is also trimmed around the edges with self fabric ruching that is 5/8" wide.

 The eyelets are tiny but bound very neatly. This was made for a tiny gal! When laid flat it measures 24 1/2" long about 9" high at the center from. The back is slightly shorter at 7 3/4". The narrowest part is 2 5/8". It is made of 7 sections. I found it interesting that white thread and a darker brown thread was used to construct the waist. The modern seamstress it taught to use matching thread for her projects so the stitches are not as easily seen. However, on close examination, even on the front where the trim is attached, you can see the stitches. To me this is a good glue that this was something made at home rather then a professional, but I'll admit I have no documentation to support that.

I plan to make a pattern from this someday but I think you could easily draft one yourself from the measurements I've given. If you can't wait, don't worry! Katherine of Koshka the Cat has a pattern drafted from a waist in her own collection. The size and shape is a little different then mine but I really like it.

Source - The Graceful Lady
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