1930’s Summer dress

A little while back I managed to get my hands on my first actual vintage sewing pattern. Even better; it was a 1930’s one! People looking for vintage patterns will concur that the older the pattern, the rarer, so that made me very happy. The seller wasn’t sure what size it was, and just told me it came in all the sizes listed on the back. As I suspected, when I got the pattern it was only in 1 size, but I was lucky that it was exactly right for me!

This is the pattern envelope front. The envelope is damaged along the folds, but all the pattern pieces are in a very good state (very minor short rips around the notches), and the pattern instructions as well.

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Included are a dress with either long or short sleeves, and a jacket. These were the pattern pieces.

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There’s a fabric market that comes to the town where I live, and this spring I found some lovely dress fabric coupons perfect for a 1930’s dress. I had to find 2 the same, as one wouldn’t be enough for the dress, but managed to find one in a lovely red flowered dress fabric.

First was mock-up time! I’ve had some experience with modern simplicity patterns being either too narrow in the back, or too full in the bust. That’s because I’m a bit smaller on top than the standard size, so I was ready to make some adaptations. This is what my dress front blouse piece looked liked after the small-bust adjustment. Cutting and overlapping so that the waist, shoulder and armhole seams stay the same, yet there’s less width across the bust. I looked at online tutorials for this, google is your friend!

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Fitting and tracing is not really my favorite part of sewing, but tea and blueberries are  good companions!

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I only took one progress picture after this… I really loved working with the vintage instructions. I’m also seriously impressed by how they managed to get 3 sewing steps in one picture and still made it make sense. The pattern instructions were one side of the sheet, both dress and jacket, and I didn’t once feel lost despite their compactness.

They also gave several ways of finishing the raw seams, and I decided to pink them for this project! The neckline and sleeves are finished with bias tape, and facing along the neckline split. I appreciated how all hems and facings needed to be finished by hand. With my experience with historical sewing I know how much prettier some things turn out when done by hand, and I think it’s something we’re just not used to anymore.

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As that’s the only progress picture I have, some images of the final dress!

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I was a bit too lazy to set-up the full photo equipment, so just one image of the dress on me, from a slightly odd angle… It looks better on me than on my dress form though, so to show the difference.

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Time for details!

The top of the bodice.

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Sleeve gathers.

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The back neckline has darts for shape. Tiny stitches where the facing is attached.

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The front bodice attached to the skirt. There are gathers on 2 sides, and the skirt is top stitched.

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The only difference I made to the original pattern was to use a invisible zipper, which I believe weren’t actually invented yet in the 1930’s. The instructions do show how to put a zipper in, although they don’t actually call it that yet, and they do also provide a hooks-eyes option.

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All in all this was a very enjoyable project, and I really like the dress. I have several reproduction-vintage patterns I still need to make up, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for originals in the future!

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Cotton flowers

Aside from my historical projects, I also sew more modern stuff for my regular wardrobe. Mostly I make skirts and dresses, I rarely wear any pants, and I love skirts! They’re also so easy to make, which makes them really gratifying. I recently started several projects with regular printed cotton fabrics. I’ve found I really love it, even though it sometimes creases a bit, it’s lovely fabric to work with. For my skirts, I’ve found that if I line the skirt with lining-fabric it also falls really nice and doesn’t cling to my legs. All photo’s are taken with a petticoat by the way, a-line tulle for the dresses, and my cotton bell-shaped one for the skirts.

This was one of the first cotton projects. I just loved the fabric. It’s very summery, and very cute, and I couldn’t resist. The pattern was Vogue – 8701. It’s a very nice pattern, and went together well. I do have to say that it’s better for ‘special occasion’ dresses than for ‘everyday wear’ dresses. The bodice sits beautifully when standing still, but when moving my arms it shifts a bit and I have to pull it back into place again.

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I found the fabric for these next two skirts at the market. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but I couldn’t resist and the price was very good. The red skirt is a circle, the other one a pleated rectangle. The white lace I bought at a market for 2 euro, and I still have about 25 meters left… A bargain!

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The next fabric was also spotted at the market. I originally wanted to make a dress from this pattern, but with a wider skirt:

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I didn’t think I had enough fabric to make a full dress, so I decided to make the skirt of plain black with just a flowered border. I ended up making a circle skirt with the bodice from the pattern, and omitting the collar and sleeve collars. I really love the dress, and it seems to fit me better than the model in the photo! I didn’t have to make any alterations to the bodice either, so I might use it again in future projects. I’m really starting to like dresses with sleeves as well, so you can wear them in other seasons then summer ;). I lined the skirt with lining fabric, and the bodice with black cotton because that feels nicer to the skin. The one mistake I made was that I didn’t pre-wash the fabric. The cotton shrunk more than the lining, making the skirt lining a bit baggy. I eventually sewed a seam between the black and flower border in the skirt to make sure it didn’t show.

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In the end, I did have quite a lot of fabric left, enough for another skirt! I really love the fabric, so I was very happy with this. The skirt is again a simple rectangle pleated to a waistband, but this time with a ruffle attached at the bottom. It gives a nice touch.

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This last skirt was made from cotton bought in a quilt-fabric store. I love quilting cottons, they’re such good quality and gorgeous prints, but not the cheapest. I decided to treat myself with this fabric. The lace at the bottom is made in a lace-museum, with the original cotton bobbin-lace making machines.

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Regency bonnet

When I decided to make a spencer jacket to be able to wear my blue Regency dress outside, I figured that was also the perfect opportunity to finally make up a bonnet. A few years back I bought a  straw half-sunhat-thing on a discount which would be a perfect base for a straw bonnet. I delayed decorating until I had something to wear it with though, and now I’m glad I did because it fits with my dress now!

 

My main inspiration was the blue/straw bonnet in this fashion plate:

Although the straw bonnet is a regency stereotype, I believe fabric-covered bonnets were actually more common. Most fashion plates show other types. The straw version was easiest to make though, so I chose that. Aside from the blue ribbon, I really wanted flower decorations to fancy it up a bit.

 

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I bought a fabric (plastic) flower from Xenos and took off the blossoms. I then pinned them to the side and pinned the ribbon over it to see what it would look like. This was the approved version.

 

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I started with sewing on the ribbons to tie it close

 

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I then glued on the flowers with my glue-gun. Not very period, but the whole thing is plasticky anyway, and it wasn’t going to show.

 

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I don’t really trust glue, so I sewed on the flowers for good measure.

 

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And then I sewed on the blue ribbon around the brim.

 

And finished!

Photo’s of the bonnet worn will come soon!