Well, this week’s post was actually supposed to be an outfit post to show you the gorgeous 1930s summer dress I recently completed. Yes, that would be SUMMER dress! I know, it’s officially Autumn, but this pretty much sums up my life right now. I feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up, not just with my sewing but with everything, from blogging, work, seeing friends and family, housework, just everything. This is making me feel really quite stressed and it’s beginning to wear me down.
Last weekend I had planned to photograph the aforementioned dress but disaster struck when the front and side of hair had set perfectly overnight but the back didn’t. I ended up looking like I had two hairstyles, curly at the front and sides and dead straight at the back. No amount of curling with the curling iron sorted it out and after about two hours of getting really stressed over it, I called the shoot off. To try and relax, and salvage the day, I went out for lunch and then ended up at a local garden centre looking around their newly launched Christmas ranges. It certainly helped.
Anyway, having now finished my latest sewing project, that I plan to wear this weekend (with just a day or two to spare!), I have decided to slow things down. It’s time to stop trying to cram everything in at the last minute. It’s time to reduce the stress. And it’s time to start enjoying what I love to do again, rather than resenting it. So, as I never ever seem to have the right coat or jacket to wear, I’ve decided to work on a project to make myself the perfect 1930s Autumn/Winter jacket.
‘How will this help?’ I hear you scream. Well, because it will force me not to rush it. Tailoring is something I love to do and it’s something that takes time and precision. It’s also a lot of hand sewing, something that generally always soothes me. I can sit on the sofa with a box set on the TV as I do it. So, what is it I want to make?
Generally all 1930s jackets, like dresses from the period, have a basic silhouette to start from. This entails of a semi-fitted bust, fitted waist and literally skimming the hips. The length sits at high to mid hip and are often finished with a belt to highlight the waist.
The one above in McCall’s Style News of May 1935 was the initial look I had in mind with large checks and a wide collar. It reminded me of one worn by Ginger Rogers in the 1930s which had a detachable cape. However, the collar is very similar to my 1930s lightweight coat and this gapes too much to give adequate chest and neck coverage. What I want to achieve is something that’s warm and cosy.
With that in mind I found these two where the collar goes right across the front and fastens in front of the shoulder. They actually reminded me of the one ClothSpot made recently and posted on their blog. It has the same sharp point finish that fastens to one side. They’ve also featured it with scarf tucked underneath, just like the one above in green.
Another really interesting collar is the one on the left in the above. I love the sharp point of the collar that then flows into a top stitched vertical seam and finally becomes a pocket. Just looking at the model illustration it looks mind boggling but the flat construction illustration above actually makes it look fairly simple. This is classic of the 1930s. So many of the original 1930s patterns I buy initially look really complicated, then after looking at the pattern pieces it makes complete sense.
These two single breasted jackets are gorgeous with their multitude of buttons. The first one looks rather Alpine and makes me think of The Sound of Music! I imagine it to be a grey felt wool with a green velvet collar, brown suede belt and gold coloured metal buttons. It’s exactly the sort of thing my mum would love!
The second one has a more sports wear look, which is the sort of look I want to achieve. I love the patch pockets, wide belt and high fold line of the collar.
And look what Caroline from The Sunny Stitcher spotted at the Fashion and Textile Museum’s Jazz Age exhibition! Those pockets!! I actually want this entire outfit and I recently picked up a purple and ivory dogtooth vintage wool fabric that I may be able to eek a suit out of. This is now in the plan for my Winter sewing!
I love the double breasted jackets from the 1930s and the one in this green suit is just gorgeous. It’s classic, simple and smart, however, for me it looks a bit formal here. I think it’s the lack of belt that makes it look more business like (wouldn’t it be fabulous to wear for a high powered job?).
The length of this one is pretty much what I’m after though. It’s slightly more on the higher hip than the Alpine one and I think this lends itself to showing off any skirt detailing a bit better. I have a couple of 1930s skirts that have pockets on them and I’d want these to be on display rather than tucked under the jacket.
After lots and lots of searching for the perfect pattern I finally found this incredibly versatile one from Mrs Depew. Thankfully it’s not a draft-at-home one like my coral skirt and resort wear blouse, which both gave me a lot of headaches. Instead, this is a paper pattern that was painstakingly reproduced by Mrs Depew from an original 1930s one. It’s a little bit small, at a 32″ bust, but I can easily grade it up.
The one I think I’m going to go for is style A but without the cape. I’d love to make it to match but I didn’t buy enough fabric for them both. 🙁 This style is pretty spot on, double breasted, a high fold line of the collar, patch pockets and finishing on the high hip. The only thing it’s missing is the belt, but that’s easy enough to make.
And this is the fabric I plan to make it in. I chose it because it had so many colours in it and, as result, will go with so many different outfits. The background colour is slightly darker than what it shows here, more of a light beige, then there’s green, blue, brown, a dark mustard and a purple/burgundy colour.
I think brown leather or Bakelite buttons would work well, but then I’d want the buckle on the belt to go with it. That’s going to be a job to find ones that match! I’m also going to crochet a navy scarf to wear with it that tucks in the classic 1930s way. The top illustration shows this perfectly. I’d also love to get (or make) a brown faux fur collar to go on top for those really cold days.
To make the jacket I will be using traditional tailoring techniques using references from my oh-so-fascinating 1930s sewing book and knowledge gleaned from when I interned with a tailor during college. I also recently bought two amazing 1930s sewing magazines from eBay (which include the original patterns!) and one of them is all about women’s suits. There’s some great tips in there for getting a really beautiful finish to jackets.
I will post the progress of this as I go along to show you what I’m doing and how it’s looking. The first thing though is to make a mock up and getting the fitting just right. This will be a task in itself and I must, must, must remember to try it on with a jumper on underneath. I stupidly didn’t do this with my lightweight coat and now the sleeves are a little too tight to wear anything bulky underneath.