Tuesday, July 31, 2018

My 1930's House Dress!

So let's conclude these 1930's dress posts, shall we? 😄 This project seems to have gone on forever, though in reality it was only about a month.

For my dress I wanted a wrap front dress really bad, but as usual I did not have enough fabric to make one. I still wanted an easy-on, easy-off style that was relatively unfitted so when I came across the image of this pattern, I was inspired to make my own version of this pull-over dress.

The dress is lightly fitted through the torso and flares out into a gentle A-line shape at the hem. The sleeves are plain and fitted and there are darts on either side of the front neckline, from the shoulder to the upper chest. I decided to do a V neckline with a collar, as per the pattern image. It seemed easy enough to make, but I didn't feel like draping a pattern. I wanted a fitted-but-only-slightly pattern for a front and back bodice to use for a starting point. So, I used my copy of the Scroop Otari Hoodie and traced around the front and back bodice pieces, adding a little width to the torso and flaring out the side seams into a mid-calf length hem. I narrowed the width of the back shoulder and darted the front shoulders to fit. It worked perfectly and the fit is just right for a house dress. I also used the sleeve pattern from the Otari Hoodie, shortened, to make the sleeves.

I had just under 2 yards of a cream, pink and blue floral cotton for the dress. There was almost nothing left after cutting out very short sleeves and the front and back dress, so I pulled a length of pink striped cotton/linen off the shelf and used that for cuffs to extend the length of the sleeves and for a big pointy collar. I made a strip of it into a belt that closes with hooks and eyes. The dress can be worn without a belt, too - but I prefer the look with a belt. From my last scraps I cut two little patch pockets, edged with a fold down triangle of the pink.

This was nearly all machine sewn with the hem being done by hand. I also finished the facing around the inside of the collar by hand. The seams are french seamed for tidiness and the whole thing is quite sturdy now that it is done. It's definitely not a flattering garment,  by any stretch of the imagination, but it is comfortable and pretty and I  have received so many lovely compliments on it, mostly about how seeing it brings to mind moms and grandmas and great-grandmas and how they wore similar dresses around the house in years gone by. That makes this garment a successful one! 😄

With all the layers on I feel very proper and clothed. It is certainly different than what I normally wear and I'm so glad I made this outfit.

My hair was the hardest part to figure out. In the end I brushed my hair for the first time in about a year to make it mostly straight (I normally just finger comb or use a wide tooth comb in the shower), and twisted it and pinned it behind my head along with the hair braid I use for 1860's events to give the appearance of a bob from the front. It's a vastly different look than my usual but somehow suits the dress!

After making this, I decided I really want to make a more dressy 1930s gown. There is a late 20's dress in my book that could work for an early 30's "better" dress. I want dark blue rayon with yellow trim! But that is still a someday project.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Girls 1930's Dresses

When I planned my 1930's dress, I had several pieces of printed cotton calico that weren't quite correct for 1860's reenacting. One piece was just under 2 yards long and became my dress. I had a yard for Anne's gown, and just a bit for Rosie's, left over from the skirt of the dress I made her for Valentine's Day. The prints are not reproduction and probably not quite right for the 1930's, either, but they look good! I was happy to be able to use up some odd pieces of fabric and the girls can always use new play dresses!

I made Rose's dress first, even before I made my undergarments. Hers is based on pattern illustrations from the early 1930s and features slashed-and-gathered details at the underarms, front and back. I wanted to keep this dress as simple as possible, to go with what truly would have been an everyday, plain, easily sewn at home style that a little girl in rural Appalachia would have worn back then. 

I love the unfitted look and hemmed to just above the knees, this is long enough to count as a dress and short enough to be practical for an active little girl. Underneath, according to the patterns I found, a little girl could have worn matching panties or shorts. 

To finish the dress, I added plain fitted sleeves and finished the neck and sleeve hems with white bias binding. The back has a bound slit and closes with a button and elastic loop. Rose has worn this dress quite often since I made it and it will fit for a while!

I was going to make Anne's dress in a similar style but with tucks at the shoulders that released over the chest. BUT. . ..there wasn't enough fabric. At all. I ended up having to make her a more fitted style but I am glad for that because I LOVE how her dress came out! There isn't much growing room in it, but it will look nice for this summer and Rose will grow to fit it. 

Anne's dress has a fitted bodice with a V neckline, finished with a contrasting collar and bow made of blue plaid. The skirt is A line and hemmed to just above the knee. I had just enough scraps left to put in short sleeves and make a placket in the side seam, that closes with hand applied snaps. 

We all went down to the river (yes, it actually is a river though it is a very small part of the river here!) and the kids splashed and played under the bridge in the shallows. The sand is soft there, so it's a favorite spot. Benjamin caught a crawdad! 


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Little Bit of Summer

It's been hard to find time to sit down and blog about my projects; it's been a crazy busy summer. My own six kids, ages 3-11 and usually at least that number of neighbor kids are running through the house almost daily. 😂 School starts in a few weeks and as the summer winds down it seems the chaos is growing more fervent. The nights are later, the mornings earlier, and the activity swift and intense as the kids pack all they can into their last month of freedom.
What a beautiful road to travel.

Sunflowers, where the dove hunting grounds will be opened in September.

Evening sunshine. :) 

Begonias in the front yard. 

It's been a summer of baseball, fishing, 4-H, putting in a garden and watching it grow, mowing, going to the park, the library and VBS, planning a few living history events, enjoying visits from out of state family (and the kids sure enjoyed visiting their grandparents out of state as well!) and helping neighbors find run away dogs. It's been cook-outs and sparklers on the porch at night and bike rides and thunderstorms. 

Malachi up to bat. 

Sweet Anne turned six!

He caught his first fish this summer - and a lot more after that!

Got her fishing pole and her Barbie. ;) This girl has no fear of worms, either.
She loves digging them out of their plastic cups filled with wood shavings!

I had planned to post about the girls 1930's dresses today but night finds me still having that undone and at this point, I'm too tired to do it. 😂 Instead, here are just a few pictures of our summer so far. Sometimes on blogs that focus solely on historic sewing, it's easy to forget that the authors live in 2018, just like everyone else, and life is 98% normal day to day living. And there is beauty in that simple old hum-drum routine.  
Yes, I generally look tired, I think, lol. I turned 32 in May and I sure am feeling it!
The year after next Rosie will be the last baby to start school and I hope I can
find time to go back to school myself - and maybe get a little more sleep. :) 

One of Judah's photographs for 4-H.

Evening. :)

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer and looking forward to the beauty of changing seasons as autumn approaches. 


Friday, July 20, 2018

Some 1930's Impression Photos

Thanks to Malachi we were able to get some nice photos of our new 1930's style dresses this week. Benjamin wore his overalls and a button up to join in on the fun. 😁

excuse Rosies decidedly modern tattoo, one of her favorite
prizes from the library for her summer reading log.😆

I have a few computer issues to fix over the weekend but will have a more detailed post up soon! This was such a fun project and I love how everything turned out.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Homemade 1930's Underthings

Ever since our really-super-hot event in June I have felt a little burned out on making 1860's things. I do have a few shirts in various stages of completion for a couple friends but I haven't done much else to build up our kits. I may want to make Anne a new dress before our event in August but that is mainly because I think the skirt on her new dress came out a little skimpy and a fuller skirt would look better. But that's just in the maybe-possibly-someday-if-I-have-time-if-I-feel-like-it stage.

I've been really digging into family ancestry lately, partly because I do so in fits and starts whenever I have time and inclination and partly because I am determined to really, finally at last find a record of a Civil War soldier in own bloodline and find out what their story is. (And so far my research has proved at least several Union soldiers who were great-great-great-great uncles and 1 who was a Confederate, who deserted, but NO RECORD of a direct ancestor yet!) 

Anyway, while researching my great-grandmothers line in West Virginia I became very invested in her life story. I've talked about my great grandma on my blog a little bit in the past. She came from a not well-to-do family and her husband, his family, all their parents, grandparents and great grandparents and on as far back as I can trace all were from the same general area of West Virginia (or Virginia, prior to 1863). I have happy memories of this little, spunky, kind looking lady who made exquisite things and helped spur me down the path of fiber arts. She married the love of her life, my great-grandfather, on August 8, 1931 in Ripley, West Virginia. My grandma was born not long after. 
My great grandparents

I really wanted to make a 1930's outfit representative of something my great grandma may have worn in the 30's. I have made a few 30's dresses in the past but I wanted to do a better job this time; to make something that really was real, if that makes sense. Something my great grandma may have made by hand or on her own sewing machine and put on for day to day wear around the house as a woman of modest means in West Virginia. 

My grandma, sometime around 1944
To start properly, of course, you need the right under layers! I pulled out my book Women's Wear of the 1920s by Ruth Countryman and looked at the patterns they had for under things. While most of the under things in this book are from the mid 20's, there are a few from the very late 20's and 1930. I decided to use their pattern for the 1930 panties and try the 1929 darted cup bra. The bra was a flop (ok, yeah, bad pun) 😂 so I looked online at original 1930's brassieres and original patterns from the 30's showing how a homemade bra would have been cut and sewn. In the end, I chose to make a two piece cup like this original:

I made both garments from light pink, lightweight cotton from Wal Mart that is actually surprisingly nice in quality. It's not as fine as true voile or lawn, but it still washes very nicely and is smooth and soft and doesn't create much bulk. 

I made the brassier fronts and back in two layers, bound the edges with narrow binding and made narrow shoulder straps as an extension of the binding. I liked how it looked, being plain, but originals often seem to be decorated at least a little with lace. At the encouragement of a friend who put up with my anxious musings upon the subject (much praise for their patience!) I added lace and ribbon to decorate the top and bottom. I was so happy with the fairly good fit. 

Next I tackled mocking up and making the 1930 panties from Women's Wear of the 1920's. These weren't difficult at all and I got them made in a day. Each leg is cut in one piece and the waist edge is narrowly bound. A hook and eye (probably actually vintage to the 1930s or before!) closes the back placket opening. 

Finally, I needed a slip to go under the thin cotton calico my dress would be made of. I didn't want to use the same cotton as the other under things as a slip needs to be able to, well, slip, over the bottom layers and have the dress easily slip on overtop. I ended up finding a mystery fabric at Wal Mart for 50 cents a yard that had a nice slippery feel and was light enough to not add much bulk. So, the fiber is almost certainly not historically accurate but it will result in me being able to wear all these things together without the layers catching on each other and bunching up.

The slip is based on simple ones seen on original pattern covers from the 1930s. While I saw a lot of bias slips with seams on the torso and waist and hips, I chose to go with a one piece slip that hangs down straight from the neckline, with a little shaping to make it slightly A-line. It is lightly fitted with darts at the side bust. 

I aged a few photos in photoshop to make them look old-timey. 😉 I still need to figure out a good 1930s hairstyle for medium length hair. ..I never do my hair at all so any sort of style is challenging for me! 😂