Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1930's "Ultra-Modern Magic Bias Slip"

Greeting dear friends;

As this sultry summer weather suffocates the midwest I have found renewed inspiration to continue making 1930's style dresses for summer wear. After I finished my most recent dress, I discovered I needed a slip or underdress to wear beneath it. Since a search through the local thrift shops for a full length slip was fruitless, I began researching 1930's underwear and came across these lovely instructions for a 1930's bias cut slip: http://dressmakingresearch.com/1930s_under_dress.htm

With nothing to loose, I set about making this slip for myself. It is my first ever bias cut garment so I was confounded at first by the odd cutting and sewing insructions. However, I followed them to almost a T, and it produced a very serviceable slip - plus I'll have the satisfaction of knowing it is period correct when I wear it with my dresses! :)

It is odd to wear a bias cut garment. It moves differently on the body and clings and drapes differently. I don't know if I exactly like it, but I will get used to it. The only thing I changed on the directions was the length and drafting of the skirt piece. I made my own piece (very similar however to the pattern instructions) since I didn't want to fool with making the pattern piece as the instructions said. I eyeballed and measured and it came out good enough. :P

The bodice is made of 4 squares of fabric and the instructions called for cutting them out as 15" square. I assumed that since I am probably larger than the average size woman of the 1930's I'd need to make the squares bigger. I originally cut them out at 20" square. Well, that was way too huge due to the way the bias fabric drapes so I ended up using 15" squares after all.

I don't have pictures yet of my new dress but here is a sneak peek: I think this one is my favorite so far. I decided I like the early-mid 30's a lot better than the later years, so tried to go for that look with this dress.

Have a lovely week!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blue 1930's Summer Gown

I whipped up the skirt to my new dress on Saturday afternoon, while David read and dozed and the boys tried for hours to climb a certain tree outdoors. I put the last few stitches in mid-afternoon, and wore the dress to church yesterday. David took some pictures of it after we got home from church and I must apologize for this first photo. I have such a disdainful, arrogant look. I have no idea why, but I know it is Davids fault. For those of you who know David personally, you will know well that he is quite a tease and he delights in taking candid shots when his subjects are unsuspecting and occupied, for example, with telling a wayward child to not go into the patch of itch-weed. But let us not see the picture of that one.
Since I was pretty much on my own as far as pattern goes with this dress, I did make this up a little different from the inspiration image (see two posts below). The original style looks to be a yoked bodice with minimal fullness above the bust and at the waist, with short fluttery gathered sleeves or a set in short sleeve with a narrow ruffle edging, a smooth set six-gore skirt with sewn in pockets on the front skirt, a just-below-knee-length hem and a tie belt with a bow in the front.

Since the pattern image was from the 1940's, and I prefer the lines of the 1930's, I made up my bodice pretty close to the original image but I lengthened the skirt and tried to get it slimmer at the hipline. I think I need to try this skirt pattern again and take even more fullness from the hip/thigh area and flare it into the hem instead, but, for my first try with a from-scratch drafted skirt pattern, I was pretty happy with the results. For a better line, I think I ought to also lengthen the skirt by 1-2". It is longer than my pink dress I posted about last week but not quite as long as the between calf and ankle length that Nancy Bradfield describes 30's skirt hems in Costume in Detail. Since my figure is not flattered -yet- with smoothly set skirts (durn post-baby belly bulge!), this one has a little fullness at the waist which is gathered to the waistband at the same vertical lines as the gatheres on the yoke and lower bodice. To get slightly off topic, I love gathers. Or pleats. They are so slimming if done very lightly and in strategic places. Gathers lightly skim any lumps or bumps and smooth everything out - and any bulge is visually seen as the effect of the gathers, not physical demerits. :P

Instead of using a tie belt I made a narrow waistband and made a seperate sewn bow (not tied) that is pinned to the waistline of the dress with a big safety pin. This gives the visual appearance of a tied belt, but is far more structured and secure. No worries about twisting or slipping or the bow coming untied!

I did not put pockets on the dress as in the original image. I thought about it and even made a pattern piece for the pockets but in the end decided to leave them off. For one thing, pockets just seem "aprony" to me. This is okay if I were only to wear this dress at home, but I wanted to be able to wear it to church or other places if I want to. I would never wear an apron in public, so I left off the pockets. Another reason is that any aprons I make (and I really do need to make at least one or two new ones) will have pockets, and if I am wearing this dress at home, I will most likely be wearing an apron over it. So pockets on the dress would not really be necessary.

I used a lightweight blue cotton for this dress, which is printed with a viney/feathery design in white. I have no idea if this print is period correct (and I doubt it) but I had 9 yards of this on hand and it has been sitting in my sewing stash for about a year and I needed to start using it up. I used 3 yards for this dress. 6 to go. I love blue though and even if the fabric is not totally right, I still like how it looks. The dress is totally unlined except for the yoke area which is bag lined with white cotton.

Speaking of the yoke. . .I have found I detest square necklines. The original image had a nice square neckline and I thought to myself, how hard can that be? It was very hard. The square kept wanting to stretch, and I had to redo the neckline about three times. The finished shape is not really square like I wanted it to be. V necks or scoop necks or even sweetheart necklines are so much easier to do.

Well that is all I can really say about this dress! It is a simple little style. I did try to do a 30's inspired hairstyle for church. I love the great images and tutorials on ReVampVintage.com so since I have naurally wavy/curly hair, I tried the brush curls. I wetted my hair and combed styling lotion into each section before rolling it up and pinning it. They hardened into steely little sausages and I stupidly did not realize I was supposed to brush them out once the curls were dry. I may try comb waving at some point. But it is not a style I will do every day.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Because Sometimes I Want Something Completely Different. . .

. . .so this week I made myself a 1930's dress. Going for an O Brother Where Art Thou look.

Last Fall was the Season of Dressing 1820's. I must admit, I fell away from that after Christmas, and slowly, with clothing gained from hand-me-downs and thrift shop buys, began to dress more modernly. I realized (again) I really don't like dressing modernly every day and in the summer, don't really feel like wearing a chemise + corset + petticoats + gown every day. So this summer is the Season of Dressing Vintage. I have a few gowns already made, and now this one, with plans for a few more.

This time around, my attempt at a vintage style went much better. I have always had trouble fitting dresses like this. I have been reading my circa 1970's Vouge Sewing Manual lately and came to realize a few things about fit. #1, the book said to be careful to not overfit a garment. An overfitted garment looks just as unattractive as a baggy one. I think I had that problem since I'm used to fitting something over a corset.

Also, I think hem length is really important with dresses that are not full length. In the sewing book, it said to adjust a hem til it suits you. I realized that on myself, there are only a few places on my leg where a hem is flattering. Just below knee length is NOT, and just above ankle is NOT. So freeing myself to make the hem length suitable for me was really liberating!

I'm really happy with how this dress came out. I've been trying to loose some weight and have lost a little so far, so this dress was a nice reward for that. :) I think I could definitely get used to wearing styles like this on an everyday basis. It's not as frilly and femininely romantic as, say, the 1820's or 30's, but, very comfortable and liveable! And best of all, David loves this style. I don't think I've received so many compliments from him since before we were married. ;)

Next up is a dress based on this pattern image; I think it will be a perfect summer house dress!


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day, 1860's Style

It seems, now, for all festive occasions we have taken to wearing our 1860's clothing. This Independence Day was no different - it was a perfect excuse for dressing up. It was David's idea, actually.
Now, I am a lover of most historic fashion. In fact, the 1860's era I really don't like, fashion-wise. The styles really are not all that flattering and really, compared to other eras, severely plain. Still, I find myself more and more being drawn into it. I feel completely comfortable in my 1860's garb and wearing it is second nature. I actually prefer it to my modern (or semi modern) clothing that I have gone back to wearing on a daily basis. This is not the case, with, say, a regency dress. I guess the feel of other eras is just foreign to me. 1860's fashion is "home". I guess it always will be. I am becoming reconciled. I did not choose the 1860's; rather, it chose me.
Anyway, for the occasion of the 4th we donned our petticoats, tunics, gowns, waistcoats and trousers. David requested I make patriotic cockades for us. Since this was suggested the day before we needed them, my versions are made from modern (poly) grosgrain ribbon. I looked at a few examples of originals in Echoes of Glory and based ours off the least ornate. David contributed two Federal Eagle buttons for the centers. I did not have time to make the boys their cockades but no matter, they would have pulled them off anyway and perhaps done Horrid Things with the straight pins we attached them with!

To make Malachi's gown festive was a simple matter of attaching two red bows at each shoulder.

The older boys wore their blue trousers, their new white-and-black print tunics and caps and a red taffeta necktie. The neckties did not last all day and they did not look extremely well because the tunics lack collars.

I was asked a while ago to do special music at our church for the 4th; and not a common patriotic song. Something a little different. I wracked my brains to think of something but every thought led to a dead end. I looked online, found some incredible very old (mid-to-late 18th century!) patriotic songs but they were chock full of the politics of the day. I tried to write a song of my own but struggled after I got the first verse and chorus down. It just wasn't working. I ended up recruiting David and we gave a rendition of The Battle Cry of Freedom, which was written in 1862 and was Abraham Lincoln's campaign song in 1864 when we he ran for the presidency with Andrew Johnson. David sang it; I accompanied him on my violin.

A very close second in our choice of song though was an old one from my copy of The Sacred Harp. Written in 1798 by Jezaniah Sumner, this song is filled with beautiful imagery and language.

The morning sun shines from the east
and spreads his glories to the west
All nations with his beams are blest
Where'ere the radiant light appears
So science spreads her lucid ray
O'er lands which long in darkness lay
She visits fair Columbia
And sets her sons among the stars
Fair freedom her attendant waits
To bless the portals of her gates
To crown the young and rising States
With laurels of immortal day
The British yoke, the Gallic chain,
Was urged upon our necks in vain
All haughty tyrants we disdain
And shout, Long Live America!