Re-releasing vintage pattern 2859 was one of Vogue Company’s best moves, in my humble opinion, and I really enjoy the finished results. My version of the blouse/top from V2859 embodies three of the most popular, most distinctive fashion trends for women in the 1930’s, not to mention the fact my top pays homage to two of that era’s top rival designers, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli.
FABRIC: stable cotton jersey knit in a dusty pink color
NOTIONS: already had the thread I needed and just enough 1/4 pink bias tape, leftover from sewing this mini apron.
TIME TO COMPLETE: finished on Feb. 18, 2013, after about 15 hours of time. Making this took longer than I thought from looking over the assembly, being my first ‘Advanced’ Vogue pattern (the label is really there for a reason).
THE INSIDES: Unfinished! The knit I used doesn’t ravel and the top was complicated enough, so…it’s not messy, just not perfect inside.
TOTAL COST: Free…the best benefit of using a fabric from one’s stash!
I will now show you the 30’s fashion trends of my blouse.
1.) Knits were the trend in an array of solid colors, thanks to the practical luxury of Coco Chanel, who first designed knit suits in 1916, even though Schiaparelli popularized the new fabric. Jersey knits gave 30’s women the chance to be more flexible in their day-wear fashions. A knit suit was much more comfy and easy to move in than a stiff, business wool suit, and 30’s knits tended to be in a brighter palette for new options. Besides, the 30’s ideal was for fabric to “flow” over and “hug” women’s bodies (think of the bias dresses and use of silk), so knits continued the body clinging style further.
2.) Before Elsa Schiaparelli, pink had really not been integrated into feminine fashion quite like it was in the 30’s. Elsa’s distinctive pink color was, back then, labeled as “shocking pink” and was released in 1936 as the shade of her personal perfume box. Let’s say my Vogue top, being a ’35 pattern, could have been made in ’36, out of a more toned down pink, so I would be (historically speaking) quite fashionable.
3.) Low back or V-back tops and dresses were popular on account of sunning/tanning becoming the new look of beauty, instead of a marker of lower social status like previous years. There was now more of a reason to show off a girl’s back, sometimes also the shoulders too! See my “New Year’s Evening Gown” for a deep V-back 30’s garment I’ve made already. Designers of the 30’s were obviously pushing the limits in a different way, a more Greco/Roman way, than in the 20’s. This style is smart in another manner because in a low or V-back clothes you have a visual interest from behind, not just in front, that is eye-catching and fashionable in all eras!
The construction of V2859 – as an “Advanced”- was not really hard for me, just time consuming and challenging to the point of actually being enjoyable. I found it quite complimentary for the pattern instructions to take it for granted that I can figure out what I need to do, instead of (like Simplicity) going into a tiresome, exacting, and windy explanation of how to do every step. I feel as if I get to use my sewing skills and knowledge this way. There is no cut intended towards sewers who need thorough instructions. If it wasn’t for the assembly sheet, we, myself included, wouldn’t make half of what we do sew. However, I’m just saying this for other seamstresses who are where I am at with my sewing skills. Beginners would definitely find this pattern confusing, no doubt.
This top is the third 1930’s clothes item I have sewn, and now find myself more impressed than ever with the styling and construction details of the era’s patterns. My twist-neck top is a beautiful compliment to the waistline with an emphasis on the hourglass shape. Take note, the sleeves change style if you look at the envelope back: from the front they are kimono sleeves, while from the back they are raglan sleeves. The points where the sleeve seams meet (at the bottom of my neck on each side) was VERY tricky, but it turned out O.K. for me.
There were a number of changes I made to this blouse pattern which seem to generally be a good idea as these little points help its fit and appearance.
Firstly, making this twist-neck wrap top out of a knit, I went down two sizes…this trick works well for vintage patterns not specifically listing a knit on the envelope back under ‘suggested fabrics’. Secondly, I added a 2 inch band (5 in when I cut it out) to the bottom so that the hem ends at or just below my waistline now. Even if someone DID wear this top over another dress, I still think this blouse ends too high above the waist to look good. By adding an extension, it can now be worn alone as a top with my skirts as well as over a skimpy dress! Then, at the side opening for the tie, I sewed an extra square of fabric onto the inside -with one side open (of course). That way no skin can show from underneath. The two pictures to the left and right show both sides of the bottom half of V2859, letting you see both the details of how it wraps and my finishing touches.
Another important change I made was to the front seam and front neckline. The front center seam had to be sewn in several inches from the neckline down to where the darts start. I’m petite and there was too much extra fabric in the bust; bringing the center from seam in made my top fit better with minimal drooping. Later, I also make a skinny strip of bias tubing to stretch behind my neck from shoulder seam to shoulder seam.
Finally, I added a bias neckband because the way the instructions said to finish off the small V-neckline were difficult and tacky. Over the rest of the top the stitching is unseen. I think exposed stitching in an obvious spot makes this top look casual instead of dressy. My idea of sewing on a bias neck binding is (I think) much more polished, besides the fact it is so much easier to sew on than achieving a tiny hem. I hand stitched the neckline band on to make sure it was done invisibly.
Just one last note: my skirt in the photos is several years old, from J. C. Penny’s, and my shoes are from a resale store. Nevertheless, my outfit is true to the 30’s, since my skirt is long and bias cut, while my shoes are T-straps with a deco design and a Spanish heel. My fake 30’s bob turned out well…you can’t tell how much hair I tucked and pinned underneath. My outfit made me want to go dancing!
Have you ever seen the lovely Doris Day’s first movie, “Romance on the High Seas”? (If you haven’t seen it, you really should!) It was released in 1948, and for her first song in the movie she is wearing a strikingly similar version of my pink 30’s top – see the pictures.
Her top looks like it’s a light blue satin with a wrap bottom waistband as well, except it has the classic 40’s sleeves…skinny, close-fitting with wide and puffy shoulders. This tells me A LOT about the popularity of this V2859 blouse design. For it to be worn in Hollywood over a decade later, reinvented for the current era, and worn for the debut of a rising star, already popular for her singing, means to me that this blouse design is more than just a cool pattern – it’s a fashion winner. Besides, it’s never a bad thing to feel that one has a little portion of classic Hollywood glamor in one’s wardrobe, right?