As I mentioned in my last post I did a lot of thinking and researching over the holidays about the things I want to sew in 2016. This led me to make a few vintage sewing resolutions of things I must make sure I do over the next year to both improve the variety in my wardrobe and tackle things I have wanted to do for a long time but have been putting off. I’m sure they’re not the only the things I’ll be doing as I have a tendency to deviate from sewing plans, but I will try and stick to them as much as possible.
Choose Different Colours To Work With
We all have gaps in our vintage wardrobe, I am no exception, and one thing I tend to do is stick to the same colours all of the time. At the beginning of Autumn I vowed to add some burgundy to my wardrobe, a colour I love but seemed to have none of. Since then I have bought a burgundy 1930s style dress from Oxfam, made my burgundy Christmas velvet dress and made a burgundy wool crepe dress from an original 1930s pattern. I’m also currently in the process of making a cardigan and a skirt from the remainder of the wool crepe fabric. Like I said I tend to stick to the same colours! So my first resolution is to explore new colours and concentrate on making garments in colours that I am seriously lacking.
One of the few things I bought over the holidays was this 1940s dress pattern from Rebecca at Kallie Designs on Etsy. I’ve purchased a couple from her now as she tends to have ones without envelopes so discounts them quite heavily. It doesn’t bother me to not have the envelope as I tend to trace off the original pattern and put it into its own plastic bag before filing, so it’s essentially a new pattern. It saves the original delicate ones from getting ruined.
I can see this dress being made in all sorts of fabrics and have already decided on the two above as I lack both yellow and green in my wardrobe. The yellow floral cotton poplin is perfect for a spring dress and, although yellow isn’t a colour I usually can wear (I don’t do well with citrus colours), this is pastel enough that it won’t make me look ill. I have already bought the green snowflake cotton as it was a bargain from eBay and I will use it to make this year’s Christmas dress, although I probably would’ve changed my mind by then.
Navy is a colour that really suits me but surprisingly I don’t have much in it for a 1920s/30s look. When I saw this beautiful photo in a post on Vintage Everyday I just knew I needed this entire outfit. The navy suit looks like it could be made in jersey which is something I have shied away from mainly because, like many seamstresses, stretch fabrics terrify me. However, after seeing Jenny from Frantically Jenny Frances’ journey with stretch materials I’m inspired to attempt it myself and this suit would be a great place to start. I already have a green cloche hat which you can see on my Instagram and a green slash neck top from Vivien of Holloway that may work with it, so I’d pretty much be there.
And talking of navy and green, I can also visualise the dress pattern above in a lovely quality navy textured crepe with contrasting green piping around the bottom of the yoke and green buttons and belt. I’d also be tempted to add more 1930s style sleeves, perhaps three-quarter length ones with bishop sleeves. I think it would look very elegant and perfect for wearing in those in between seasons.
One colour I have absolutely zero of in any shape or form is brown. It’s a colour I run away from screaming and shouting in anguish. I’ve always associated this colour with a rather dowdy neighbour from my childhood who wore, and still wears, this colour with my other run-away-screaming-colour beige. Now, I know that some of you lovely vintage types wear brown so well and so stylishly that I know it can be chic, elegant and very attractive, however, it wasn’t until I saw this beautiful 1930s dress (that’s still available, by the way!) on Cutxpaste’s Etsy shop with it’s stunning orange, red and white print on it that my opinion got rather instantly altered.
The bright colours make it look fun, fresh and beautifully autumnal and not at all dowdy. It actually looks rather luxurious as it hangs just beautifully, a perfect fabric choice for the cut of the dress. The visions of brown and beige polyester have been wiped from my mind and I’m now on the search for a similar looking print preferably in crepe.
Did you watch Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None over Christmas? It was a wonderfully thrilling 1930s crime adventure set in a cut off hotel in the south west of England. Go watch it if you haven’t seen it! From the moment Maeve Dermody, who played Vera Claythorne, stepped on to the screen I was bewitched by her clothing and this stunning purple and grey suit was no exception. I adore both colours but again lack either of them in my 1930s pieces. This needs to change and wouldn’t this suit be just perfect to replicate?
Increasing My Vintage Lingerie Collection
When I got back into making my own clothes again one of the first thing I made was a pair of navy and white French knickers from a few scraps of fabric I had in my old fabric stash. I have just enough left over to make a matching bra but I have never actually managed to get on and do it, hence why I’ve never shown you the knickers. This definitely needs to be amended and I have a ton of lingerie projects I want to work on this year.
I’ve already purchased and downloaded the above 1940s French bra pattern from Mrs Depew to make the matching bra to my French knickers, I just want to make a mock up first to check sizing and fit before cutting it out as everybody’s boobs are different. I also want to make sure I use proper techniques to sew the real one up, so I’m making sure I do a lot of reading and research before I launch into it.
Another reason I want to do more lingerie sewing is that I was gifted these two beautiful pieces of fabric by my favourite fabric shop ClothSpot. Both pieces are remnants from the end of the roll that were attached to the cardboard with sellotape so were completely unsellable! They’re about a metre each, just enough for lingerie items, and are a beautiful silky viscose type fabric.
The one on the left is a colour I’ve never really seen before, it’s not pink and it’s peach, it’s kind of in between. The tiny dots are an oh-so-creamy colour and add a really sweet detail to the fabric. The one on the right is slightly more blue than it appears in the photo but has a definite grey tone to it. It features a trailing floral woven print and always makes me think of Kirsten Dunst in the Marie Antoinette film and all her succulent blue silk fabric gowns.
I’m going to use both pieces of fabric to make a couple of items from this stunning 1930s lingerie set pattern that I received as part of my Vintage Secret Santa gift from a lovely lady called Sophie. I couldn’t tell you how excited I was when I saw this on Christmas morning! I’ll probably make the teddy (main picture on the right) and the French knickers and will use the above bra pattern to make a complete set but I’m still unsure about trimmings. I know I’ll spend hours researching original 1930s lingerie and what trimmings these used before I decide.
This fabulous full-length 1950s dressing gown looks so incredibly simple, the only issue is it needs a whopping 5 metres of fabric. However, I can visualise this in so many ways, a beautiful plush velvet, a simple floral cotton, a luxurious silk (can you imagine the price of 5 metres of silk!) and, of course, alls sorts of quilting so have no idea which to go for first.
As it’s so simple I would love to mess around with the pattern a bit too, changing the sleeves perhaps to a bishop style for a more 1930s look, widening and changing the shape of the lapels and giving it a puff sleeve for a more 1940s look or adding copious amounts of marabou and ruffles to create a glamorous Hollywood screen goddess look. Oh the choices are endless!
Braving The Scary World of Millinery
Another thing I have never attempted before is hats, mainly because it absolutely terrifies me. There are so many things you need that I have never heard of or worked with and this is particularly so with vintage patterns. However, to help ease me into it I have found three relatively easy and instructive patterns that can be sewn rather than blocked that are all from the 1920s and 1930s to get me started.
This is another pattern from the wonderful Mrs Depew (I purchased both when she had a special discount over Christmas) that comes in a ready to print size 22″ which should be okay for me. The recommended fabrics are velvet, tweed or wool and I can see this hat working really well in all three, however, I can see several mock ups being made before I’m truly happy with it. Thankfully it only needs 1/4 a yard of fabric so it won’t be too hard on the purse strings.
This lovely 1930s pleated beret looks like it’s probably going to be the easiest of the three here so will probably be the one I attempt first. It’s made up of only two pattern pieces and features darts around the rim to create the shape. It would work well in so many fabrics with heavier ones creating a much more defined look and lighter ones being more of a floppy beret. The combinations of colours are endless and I can see this being a pattern I go back to time and time again. I just have to be brave and step over that first hurdle of actually starting it.
This very Downton Abbey 1920s hat will be one I attempt should the other two turn out to be successful. This one definitely scares me stupid but the pattern by Elsewhen Millinery includes lots of instructions including information about how to achieve the right thickness with different types of fabric. There are two different versions of this hat also included and the other one has a much wider brim which would be perfect for a late 1910s / early 1920s look. And talking of Edwardian styles, I would love to make this beautiful blouse to wear with it!
Have you got any sewing or crafting resolutions for 2016? What are you planning to make?