Screenshots from Ballet Shoes. Thank you, Netflix, for the suggestion. You weirdly know my taste in fashion.
Screenshots from Ballet Shoes. Thank you, Netflix, for the suggestion. You weirdly know my taste in fashion.
My little 1930s dress is done after much tweaking! I don’t have a lot of experience with bias and I guess if you don’t cut it perfectly on grain there will be a bit of wonkiness to be dealt with.
At first I hesitated to use such a busy print with this dress because you wouldn’t be able to see the that mid-section detail. But I really wanted this fabric in the same silhouette so I just went for it.
Originally the dress was the same length as pictured on the envelope but after photographing it I thought the proportions would be better if it hit above the knee; because otherwise it kind of pulled me down (does that makes sense?). I also decided to go with a more simple sleeve that was also bound at the hem. I had to make the front of the armscye much deeper so there was some trial and error there. The collar turned out way too short and I didn’t have enough fabric to cut out a newly drafted one so I made do; I turned the collar around (it just fit better that way) and left a gap on the front. The fabric is actually more rosy than pictured but to get a closer match in the photo my skin turns out too pink for some reason.
In the first view I fashioned a bow by safety pinning 2 pieces of ribbon to the shoulder seams underneath the collar. But I can wear it unadorned too.
And belt it! There was not enough fabric to make a belt (unless I piece it together) so a skinny leather one it is.
I would totally make this again though next time I’ll take out about an 1″ in the midsection, horizontally, to raise the hipline up, and use a solid fabric or one with a more simple print. Maybe something slightly sheer with a lower hem.
Last year I picked up a couple of vintage dresses that needed some serious altering before I could wear them. Recently I decided to take a break from fall sewing to make the necessary changes; I don’t buy vintage to simply admire or learn from them but to actually use them and these were hanging in the to-do section of my closet for too long! They are somewhat delicate but I don’t mind, I’ll wear clothes until they fall apart (much to my mom’s chagrin).
One of the frocks mentioned I’ll share with you here. Post-alterations it’s now my favorite vintage dress! Once a 1930s floor-length gown it’s now a saucy, ethereal thing. It has its original hem; I just moved the whole skirt up to preserve the ruffle whilst moving up the waistline too. The waist before was more fitted (with a side snap closure) but now I can just slip it over my head. (Yay.) Lately I’ve been making or altering dresses/skirts to make them hit above my knees–a more flattering length for me–but I didn’t want this to be too short. Since the dress is sheer, my solution was to wear a slip underneath that was quite a bit shorter. And don’t you love the capelet? That tie!
Oh, yes, I added some thread belt loops so I can wear a ribbon when it suits my fancy. (I just read on Coletterie a great post about how to make such belt loops by machine although I make mine by hand.)
I love the look of winter white or cream during the cooler months. There is almost celebratory about it, especially when contrasted with dark or jewel tones. (The starry stockings, by the way, are J.Crew tights from the girls’ section that I refashioned. I no longer have a garter belt and for now they are staying up by sheer willpower.)
All I want to do is sew clothes. I have many ideas for other crafty projects, including shop stuff, but at the end of the day I just want to make a skirt or cut out a new blouse. Life has been a bit crazy lately and sewing for the pure fun of it is my therapy, I suppose.
The clothes I’m working on are fall items I can wear now. Because, you know, it’s not really going to get chilly here ’til late October or so.
Here is a blouse I made combining pattern pieces from McCall’s M5977 and New Look 6022. I shortened the sleeves, drafted the v-neck and made the bows. I don’t recommend attaching sleeves to bodice pieces meant for a sleeveless top (which is what I did) because the armholes aren’t quite right but I don’t think it’s noticeable and fits comfortably anyway.
The original design had 5 larger, pointier bows going done the front. Even after testing the placement I didn’t get a feel for what it would truly look like until I had made and attached all the bows. (You might be able to see bias tape stitched down the center front on the inside; this was placed there to support the bows.) But I didn’t like it afterall. Don’t know why, it just seemed too stiff or something. So I re-cut 2 of the bows and attached them just near the v.
The skirt is my favorite of the 2. The colors look blown out in the photo where I’m modeling it but the fabric really is so pretty and has a nice, slightly coarse texture. (By the way, I probably wouldn’t wear those shoes with this skirt out and about because they are too orange but I’m currently without dark brown pumps.)
And yes, I used Simplicity pattern 8418 for this skirt. Of course!
I’m so glad it’s Friday. Do you have any fun plans for this weekend?
Don’t you love it when you are so inspired to do something that you have to do it RIGHT NOW?
Beautiful! I immediately bookmarked this image, on Pinterest, and in my mind. I knew there was a way to make/refashion similar shoes. I had a starting base:
Very old, maybe 1920s or ’30s Mary Janes. You can see me wearing them here. I had been thinking about getting them professionally repainted/dyed a darker color for fall but had been putting it off for no particular reason. (OMG, I just realized, looking at this photo, the perforations form a heart in the center!)
So I’ve been trying to figure out how I was going to get the roses on here. Paint them? (HA!) Waterslide decals? (Probably not suited to leather.) Decoupage with Victorian clip art? (Might be messy.) I have a whole bunch of Victorian stickers on my stationery drawer that I haven’t used. While decorating a package today (for a certain little fairy friend), I realized that the stickers were printed on thin, clear plastic. Eep! Just the ticket.
I went to work straight away. No, I don’t know how durable this is and what will happen when I actually wear them out and about. But I didn’t care, I was having too much fun.
And they are not perfect, there is a wrinkle here and there but I think they look pretty good. I’m going to wait a while to see if the stickers start to peel off; if so, I might put on a coat of satin clear acrylic paint over them.
To finish these off I painted the trim a pretty, faded gold (“Champagne Gold” metallic acrylic paint from DecorArt). These are now the prettiest shoes I own! OK, so where to wear them?
I know, the last time I was going on and on about dresses it was about little smocks and such. But you’ll be proud of me because one of these dresses (the above one, actually) is one that I started a year ago, so at least I’m making myself finish what I start!
My intention was to wear this number last Thanksgiving in Texas during our grand “series of fortunate events.” And while my husband’s family was planning most of the reception activity I was far too frazzled to focus on sewing this dress, especially when the sleeves stopped cooperating. I finally decided, a year later, to finish it or give it up which was enough motivation to figure out the sleeve issue (ones I drafted myself) and apply the finishing touches.
This is Du Barry 2506B. Hands down, one of my favorite patterns. The sleeves in real life were too puffy for me so that’s why I had to change them. The bow at the neckline was not quite as sweet as the one shown so I used this corally-colored satin ribbon instead. At first I thought, perhaps, it looked too much like a Girl Scout or pilgrim dress but in these photos I quite like it. The dark brown dotted swiss is really soft and so comfortable. I omitted the belt because it looks fine with out it but I can always make one later on.
The next dress is quite different:
I had to blow out the photos because the fabric is so dark; it’s a midnight blue rose-pattern lace. It’s the kind of lace that has a nice weight and drape and may be a cotton blend (similar to my wedding dress). I ended up using a slightly darker Petersham (grosgrain) ribbon and kept the look monochromatic.
This style is a departure from my normal look, at least in terms of the sleeves. I’ve seen them called “wingsleeves” before although I’m not sure if that’s the official term. Very popular in the 1940s and ’50s they always struck me as being a little bit masculine or angular and therefore was never that appealing. Over the last few years, however, quite a few vintage patterns with such sleeves have found their way into my stash and I might as well give them a try!
I reduced the width of the sleeves a little but besides that I didn’t have to do much to fit the dress. The pattern size is too small but even vintage patterns add in a lot of ease and I only had to let out the front darts a little. The tiny bows at the neckline are something a little extra I wanted to add. The belt is cut from the pattern; I sewed ribbon along both edges giving it a more finished look while providing extra body. It closes with a very strong snap and a couple of hooks and bars. I couldn’t decide how I wanted to finish the belt. I didn’t have enough fabric to make the belt long enough to accommodate a buckle but I couldn’t find any buttons currently in my stash to decorate it with. I think it looks OK plain, yes?
Another thing about this dress (that is quite obvious): it’s see through! I have some pale-colored slips but none would do. I also have a black one which is suitable enough but I hope to find a navy blue one someday!
I have at least one more holiday dress to share (another one that I started quite a while ago) that I’m finally going to finish. Stay tuned.
After an unproductive week, I ticked off quite a few sewing projects from my list over the weekend. (So I’m going to break them down into 2 or 3 little posts.) The first one I’m going to share is this silvery grey 1930s silk dress that I rescued at a local flea market. It is literally coming apart at the seams and for a while there I had it decorating the wall of my studio:
It’s the yellowed and faded blue one on the far left. Despite, or perhaps because of, it’s sorry state I fell in love. It’s extremely delicate but I decided that I really wanted to wear it, even if only for a day. The first step was to do something about the color: I soaked it in a diluted solution of water and Pearl Grey Rit dye. Then I…
I can’t decided if it needs any embellishment as I sort of love it unadorned. I thought about lightly stitching on a black satin sash either at the neck or in the back. Or perhaps using a sash as a belt around the waist.
What else went into the dye bath? This lovely Edwardian blouse from 1385:
This one started off white and yet took on the same lavender-grey color of the blue dress. This top is also extremely delicate and I bought it for cheap “as is” because of all the holes in it. But I had to…
…I cannot get over the details! This handiwork – can you imagine creating all this from scratch? I’m crafty but I would not have the patience for or the will to do something like this.
So I fixed the holes:
Little patches. I got the fabric from the sides as the blouse was too big and there was a big whole under the arm anyway. I reset the sleeves; I did not re-cut them so they are big-ish but it seemed like more effort than I wanted to spend and I think they look OK.
I know, a lot of work for such a delicate little thing. But the patches are a nice touch, don’t you think? I rather like them.
I love to watch movies for the costumes. (And if you’re anything like me, you do too!) I had placed Kit Kittredge: An American Girl in my Netflix queue months ago for this very reason. I’ve never had much interest in the American Girl doll phenomenon (I have to admit, I’ve been more of a Barbie fan) but when I saw the trailer for this movie I figured it would be a wealth of Depression era fashion inspiration.
“Depression era fashion inspiration” sounds rather contradictory. But even those families who had to pinch their pennies often managed, with a lot of creativity, to produce unique and pretty clothing for themselves. Feedsacks, scraps and old clothes were given new life and transformed things like day dresses and quilts.
My favorite part of everyday 1930s fashion (besides the sweetest prints and handmade sweaters) are the little details: plackets, collars, ties, buttons, etc.!
I don’t want to spoil the movie for you so I’ve only posted some of my favorites. There are plenty more highlights in the movie, including lots of inspiring grown-up wear! (I even spied some Remix shoes.) It’s a cute family film with a wonderful cast (Stanley Tucci, Abigail Breslin, Joan Cusack and Julie Ormond), albeit a little slow at times. It would be a good movie to watch on a Sunday afternoon or weekday evening with a pot of tea and some vintage sewing or knitting to work on.
Have you seen this movie? If so, what are your thoughts? What costumes movies do you find inspiring?
I’ve had this dress for almost a year, picked it up for $15 at the antique market. It is almost a relief to have finally done my fixes on this dress; clothes are really moving from the to do rack to the closet! I really love this dress, I feel really at home in it.
Here’s a look at the before:
A 1970s version of a 1930s dress. You can’t see it in the photos but the little flowers are flocked which I love (not much flocking left but still counts for something). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the style, only it needed some repairs here and there. But for the most part I don’t like high necklines; I feel too closed up. And the sleeves were shortened in a slapdash fashion by its previous tenant (Hmm, I sense a trend) so I had to do something about that.
This is what I did:
I have to say I quite enjoy detailing all the repairs and alterations I do to my vintage finds and I hope you do too! I think so, and I find your comments very kind and encouraging. Thank you.
I have this habit of buying vintage for a bargain (because pieces are damaged, ill-fitting, etc.) and taking forever to getting around to making repairs and thus wearing said items. But I’ve made the commitment to change this bad habit into a good one and I’m working my way through my to do pile. This is the first post of my vintage dress parade and I’ll detail the fixes and tweaks I’ve made for each one. I’ll try to remember to include “before” shots next time, hee hee.
The above late 1930s or early ’40s dress was quite the steal as it was falling apart in various places, had a motley crew of ugly buttons and was an unflattering mid-calf length. My fixes:
Next: I love wearing this ’50s dress. I found it soon after seeing (500) Days of Summer and thought it looked like something Zooey’s character might wear. I bought a pale grey-blue crinoline just for this dress. I’m also wearing the same pale blue slip I’m wearing under the dress above. I considered going dark but then you wouldn’t be able to see the print on the sheer fabric very well. Anyway, here’s what I did:
Hope you enjoyed this little dress tour!
(By the way, thanks for the Lucy love from the last post – it made her blush!)