Burgundy Jacquard Dressing Gown

Hubby and I have been long overdue for a vacation for over 5 years now.  A few weeks back we finally went somewhere for a few days – Chicago!  Our hotel was the historic Knickerbocker in the heart of everything, along the Magnificent Mile.  To cut to the point, we explored the hotel in the evenings, and we found the secret door to the speakeasy upstairs as well as seeing some of the unique, original 1930s and 20’s posters which lined the hallways.  All of this made me glad I had taken this as an opportunity beforehand to sew myself something special for the occasion!  I figured (correctly), that by the evening, I would be dog-tired, and not want to stay completely put together, yet stay elegantly presentable while being comfortable.  A vintage 1936 dressing gown was the perfect answer…

It seems a true dressing gown is something that rides a fine line between opposites.  It is not purely utilitarian and overly warm, both of which better suits a housecoat.  Yet, at the same time, a dressing gown is much more restrained than a tantalizing, sexy boudoir robe and not flimsy like a negligee.  It is a garment with practical, chic elegance which is unashamedly luxurious and feminine.  It is meant to be cozy in the way of being light yet chill-busting, because a dressing gown is generally flowing (and very classical Grecian in influence especially for the decade of the 1930s).  This vintage page (below) from a “Good Needlework Magazine”, year 1937, describes the ideal dressing gown.  See how it recommends satin, rayon, silk velvets for the best materials.  A modern robe is no match in opulent charm to a full dressing gown.

Unlike both a housecoat and a boudoir robe, a dressing gown is something to be seen and worn in somewhat private settings, such as a secluded hotel lounge (my immediate modern purpose) or to host late night card parties with friends or answer the front door (traditional recounts of their usefulness).  However, the name immediately implies that a dressing robe is a garment for a stage in-between dressed and undressed…like a “wrap dress sort of a housecoat” for when you would just have your slip on to do your hair and makeup before going out or for doing the opposite actions unwinding in the evening.  Even still, a dressing robe isn’t so much about action, as it is for inaction…especially for any time after the 1930s.  Most homes have had decent central heating since then, as well as leisure time being an attainable part of life, and with the frilly details and scant warmth to a dressing gown, this is something perfect for not doing anything, and completely treating one’s self to a little bit of luxury under the excuse of usefulness.Making this gown was somewhat of a leisurely luxury…it was so easy to whip up!  I used a great, small Etsy shop reproduction of a year 1936 German pattern and some luxurious mid-weight jacquard that seems to mimic a very nice rayon for the ultimate dressing gown for myself.  I am not one to wear reds all that much, but this burgundy jacquard was like a magnet to me in the fabric store…something I wanted to use in some way.  I couldn’t see it as anything but nightwear, for some reason – even though my dressing gown idea meant I needed a whopping total amount.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The fancy exterior is 3 ½ yards of 60 inch wide mid-to heavy weight jacquard, 98% polyester/2% spandex (which feels like a rayon), from Jo Ann’s fabric store.  The lining is a crepe finish (buff, non-shiny), lightweight, matching burgundy poly lining, also from Jo Ann’s.

PATTERN:  a German year 1936 pattern re-produced in PDF form through “Repeated Originals” Etsy shop  

NOTIONS:  I had thread, ribbon, and clasp closures on hand…this needs only very basic notions!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This gown was made in about 10 to 15 hours and finished on August 9, 2017.

THE INSIDES:  …what insides?  This gown is fully lined…

TOTAL COST:   This maybe cost me about $30 or $35, all coming from purchasing the fabric…

Perhaps I only pictured the jacquard in nightwear because I was thinking of the rich red robe of Scarlett in the movie “Gone with the Wind” or Whitney Frost’s robe in Season Two of Marvel’s Agent Carter.  Both ladies wear some dressing robes I crush over but I credit Whitney Frost’s gown to give me the idea to use two metal, gold-enameled filigree clasp buckles from on hand for the asymmetric chest closing.  An elegant robe with a luxury fabric which is not seen that much anymore deserves even more fancy touches…because I can!  Any garment can have buttons.  My gown has something to close it as unique as it is, and there are two less items in my notions stash, too. One of the unique details which are part of the design itself is the pointed, arched front waist seam.  It perfectly complements the gently arched neckline, in my opinion, and both provide a nice ‘frame’ for the asymmetric bodice closing.  The arched, pointed waist is on both sides of the front wrap, and amazingly do line up when the dressing robe is closed.  The waistline does have double tie closings to anchor this flowing robe in place – a pair of burgundy satin ribbon ties for the inside, and a pair of self-fabric bias ties for the outside closing.

The hardest and most time consuming parts to having a finished dressing robe were two things.  I’ll start with the first in the order of being made – assembling the PDF pattern.  I believe we have an extra ordinary amount of open floor space in our living room (where I cut out projects and assemble PDF patterns) and still I was almost completely out of space, so the large size of the connected pages into one full set of pattern pieces might be the biggest drawback for anyone else.  Take note – this pattern is similar to many PDF patterns, especially from Burda Style, where there is no seam allowance given.  It must be added in by you, in the width of your choosing.  As the size for this dressing gown’s original measurements are (bust 38”, waist 30”, hips 42”) technically inches above my body size, I did not add seam allowances so as to easily cut down on the excess.  In reality I could have added little seam allowances because this seems to run small in the overall fit.  It just fits me, without any room for bulky clothes, but I do not think I would like this any bigger because a sloppy fit would make all the fabric to this ankle length robe overwhelming.  So I guess I succeeded in a good fit after all.

Turning all the edges out all around so I could have a fully lined gown was the second challenging part that took up most of the relatively short time I spend on sewing this.  I didn’t really want to bother deciding on a seam finish (bias, French, or raw) and a dressing gown’s inside is seen much more than any regular wearing garment.  Thus I went all out and fully lined my robe, except for the sleeves.  Whenever I want to make something nice, going the extra mile to make that special touch, even though it’s probably a bother, always ends up so very worth it in the end…at least for me!

I know the pattern shows cuffed sleeves, but I can wear that on my every day long sleeve shirts – I wanted the drama that wide bell sleeves add to my dressing gown.  Besides, many, if not most, of the various other dressing gowns I perused on the internet (both patterns and extant garments) have similar bell sleeves, especially the 1930s ones.  I did find the original pattern sleeves to be a tad short when I checked before cutting out.  I am on the smaller side of average for my arm length, and I added 1 ½ inches, so everyone else interested in this pattern take note!

Many of the 1930s dressing robes also tend to have a neckline frill or ruffle, too, I noticed.  I do have a vintage one yard scrap of some sheer, black, mechanically pleated 3 inch wide trim that would mimic the collar on my pattern’s drawn image cover.  I was sorely tempted to add that trim to my dressing gown, but the trim is vintage and uniquely lovely, so I really think it deserves to be seen on a 1930s street dress or nice dress.  I actually used up all of my jacquard fabric on the gown, so a self-fabric neckline ruffle was out of the equation, anyway.  Having something frilly, fussy, and complicated around my neck doesn’t sound like anything but a bother on something meant to relax in, and I like the simplicity of the elegance to my robe as it is.

You really can’t see my slippers all that well, but I am wearing my prized vintage late 1930s to mid-1940s Daniel Green slippers.  They are mine because of an even trade with a local shop of some vintage heels I wasn’t wearing, so I count myself as lucky to have these because they are something I probably wouldn’t have bought otherwise.  They are in pristine condition and just so amazing, I had to bring them on the trip and wear them with my dressing gown.  House slippers have changed so much since these beauties – another example of how modern versions of things cannot stand up to vintage when it comes to class and personality.

Please – do yourself a favor and find a dressing gown pattern for yourself (maybe use the one I did) and make one, too.  Like me I believe it will come together quicker than you imagined, and you will want to wear it more than you expected.  Just find that luxurious fabric that speaks of fluid elegance in your mind, and go for it!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

Vogue’s Summer 2017 Patterns

I know others have said their share on the new patterns just released by Vogue (see them here), but I have so many thoughts on them, that I might as well go ahead and share my two cents on my favorites.

What stands out to me the most this time around is the inclusion of a men’s designer pattern offering – no. 9262, by a man for men.  This is an interesting and encouraging move.  For far too long men’s wear has been pitifully neglected by pattern companies.  V9262-compWhat they normally have to offer is so basic, limited, and generally unappealing, if they don’t sell well it’s partly their own fault.  Granted, my husband and a lot of other men will not be interested in this particular pattern, either in terms of buying it for themselves to use or having someone else make the garment for them.  It’s pretty much just a basic blazer with some quirky details which do make it noteworthy…especially the top stitching.  Menswear has had little changes throughout the past 100 years – it has to be all in the cut and the details to make a garment special for them. I’ve seen many a vintage pattern which would be much more unique and fashionable yet generally appealing (no offence the designer).  Remember, guys do make up a large part of the designing and sewing world – a point so often forgotten…it’s not a solely ‘girl’ thing!  They also can and do enjoy awesome clothes just the same as women, and when a garment is hand sewn, that brings the self-esteem and conscious satisfaction with what they have on to the forefront. Pattern companies need to support more of this, for example by reprinting some vintage men’s patterns, as well perhaps…

There is a loner when it comes to something new for their Vintage Vogue line, but I do think it is a really good one.  They’ve re-released a circa 1960 two piece swim set with a short cover-up dress/tunic, no. 9255.  Swimwear patterns seem to sell at a premium V9255-componline, whether they are reprints or originals, so this is most welcome.  Swimwear takes little fabric to sew (the pattern doesn’t seem to call for any wires or foam), and I see a big market together with a big desire for more retro styles in bathing suits.  I especially love the fact that the bottoms are more like shorts in the way they are cut around the legs – this is exactly what I have to find for swim bottoms myself.  However, the butt cheek darts to fit the back end might not work for many of us (myself included) without adapting!  The ‘View B’ top reminds me a lot of Simplicity’s #1426.  There are differences, I know, and I do still like it, I just plan on only using the bottoms and the cover up.  Shown with the hat and purse on the line drawing cover, this totally reminds me of something from Doris Day’s movie, “Lover Come Back” year 1961.  Although she was too conservative to wear a two piece for the beach scene, she did love a standout hat (see this post for many examples)!  Alone, the Vogue swim outfit strikes me as a slightly more decent version of Ursula Andress’ famous white bikini in 1962’s Bond movie “Dr. No”.

V1548-compOut of all the patterns, I must say I do absolutely LOVE no. 1548, a Guy Laroche design.  Plastron fronts are a garment feature that has perennially appealed and mystified me…and this Guy Laroche design brings the plastron to a notch higher.  Very few patterns actually glue me in like this one did – I could have been drooling in front of the screen looking at it.  For all I know I couldn’t take my eyes off of the line drawing.  The sleeves are structured yet streamlined, like some past 1930s masterpiece.  The front takes the plastron definition seriously by actually having a workable, removable ‘breastplate’, besides giving many options for changing the ‘look’ of the neckline.  Even the hems of the dress and sleeves have a special, understated touch.  The whole thing is harmonious though, not throwing too much together, pushing the limit yet not going over the top.  I think a solid color fabric is a good choice here, although a print with a solid contrast breastplate and hem accent might be interesting, too.  I NEED to buy this immediately and make it up sooner than later!  Where I’ll wear it, I don’t know but it bolsters my belief in modern patterns!

As for the rest of the new patterns, they are generally appealing to me.  Some are V1550-compredundant, others are complex, and a few are plain confusing to me.  I will not go into minute details (unless you’d really want me to – just ask) about my views on the rest except for a few more. The Paco Peralta outfit is the best hankie hem design I’ve seen in a while (in my opinion) but it also seems like a fabric hog that might be hot to wear in the summer unless made from linen or silk like it recommends.  Now, if only we can convince more local fabric stores to actually carry more silk and linen so we can more easily make outfits like Paco Perlata’s?!   This is where the reality of most brick-and-mortar fabric providers and the needs of those whose will sew such a pattern does not match up…and it needs to change.  No. 9253 looks comfy, yet sexy at the same time, (a great combo) and is my favorite.  I really V9253-compwant the fabric it was made from!  I have a vintage pattern that’s very similar if I just add a V-neck, Simplicity 8551 from 1969, and this style was popular in the late 60’s into the 70’s so I’m surprised this one isn’t labelled as retro. Now, no. 9259 stumps me.  How in the freaking world do you do your bathroom business in this!   A bra cannot be worn with this so I envision one having to get practically naked to do one’s potty duty.  No thanks!  A really neat design is rendered worthless to me by being completely impractical.  I do have an original year 1951 Vogue #7375 dress pattern and it has a similar bodice of two halter-style swaths of fabric which cover the bust.  I have seen this type of design on several other garments, from the 1970s to modern, so this is nothing new but looks stunning every time.  Just saying nevertheless, I think this wrap top might work best with a skirted bottom for ease of potty break time.

What do all of you think?  Will you be buying any patterns this time around?  I will be buying just a few, though I do not need to fill up more space in my pattern cabinet…

Simple Luxury: a Vintage Hair Curling Tutorial

Yay!  I’ve reached 200 posts here on my blog!

To celebrate I will offer you something that is definitely different.  Here’s my very first hair tutorial to show you one of my very favorite way of achieving a curly hair style.  This method of pinning or setting my hair for curls was shown to me through my good friend, 'Pickwick Papers' curl-paper illustration-compwho is a hair stylist, by her salon’s owner, Cecil.  Apparently, it is the real-deal old-fashioned way that they used to do it before we women had metal, foam, plastic, wire, and electric devices to resort to for a hairstyle we wanted…ladies resorted to paper and fabric!  I have no idea when “rag rolls” and “curl-papers” originated in history, but my first introduction to this type of pinning up one’s hair was in high school when I read Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”.  There are several references to “curl-papers” in both Nancy’s and other ladies’ hair throughout the book, with the most prominent citations in Chapter 13 (find it yourself here).  Just think – this book was from circa 1840!

It might be the best looking way to set curls (hubby thinks I look rather funny in it), but it is natural, easy on the hair and head, and requires only very simple and readily available supplies.  Little or no money is needed to try it out…only a little time.

This is the final part, number 3, to my post series on easy and simple ways to stay comfy, cozy, and effortless but authentically vintage when it’s time to unwind.  Post number 1 is a 3 hour, bias-cut nightgown and post number two is a fleece, very coat-like housecoat.  The pictures below show my finished style after using my hair curling method. Enjoy the following tutorial!

DSC_0436,p,a-comp,w,combo

This might sound weird to start off with, but I will demonstrate how to make your own “curlers” using something menial but soft and readily available – toilet tissue paper.  This is how Cecil first showed me.  In “Oliver Twist” and Jane Austen times, women used paper – and you still can try this with strips cut from a lunch bag or such if you’d like.  In addition to toilet paper, you can even use paper towels.  I also have “curlers” made from real rag portions or scrap fabrics, the reason this kind of set is often known as “rag rolls”.  However, learning to use toilet tissue paper means wherever you go, you’ll never lack the necessary tools for lovely curls…just sayin’!  Later on you’ll see my curlers made from velvet leftover from this blouse, but just basic cotton is actually the best material, in my opinion, for rag rolls.  You don’t want to use any material silky or slippery in feel.  You want a fabric that will somewhat “stick” to itself.  Here’s your fabric scrap pile’s big opportunity to become useful!

Best perk ever – this set is the most comfortable to sleep through the night in that I have found yet!  This is due to the fact my method of rag rolls is not just wrapping hair around a strip of fabric and tying a knot.  Who wants to sleep on that?!  My rag roll method is all about making the perfect “curler” that eliminates any knotting, tying, or any little bird’s-nest of hair to sleep on overnight.

First off, you need to start with a rectangle that is about 4 inches by 12 inches (or 3 squares of toilet tissue paper to be exact).  You can make your rag rolls longer (maybe 15 inches) if you want them to be a bit easier to work with and you can also make them wider (maybe 5 or 6 inches) if you want thicker “curlers”, but I would not recommend going smaller with the proportions.

DSC_0305a,w,fold lines,comp,combo

You are going to take this rectangle and fold it first in half towards you, long wise (step #1 & #2), and then in half again (step #3).  In other words, the rectangle is being folded into fourths along the length.

DSC_0306a-comp,combo,w

This done, you hold both ends and twist only 3 times.  A semi-twisted rectangle piece, not a tightly wound ‘rope’, is the ideal.  A few twists of the wrist while holding each end is all it takes.  Now, put your finger into the middle and fold the whole piece in half, keeping it twisted.  Voila!  You have your curler!  You can do this as you go to see how many you’ll need or you can do about a dozen and work with that.

DSC_0309a-comp,combo,w

Now, I usually only do my rag rolls when my hair is completely dry or partially dry.  Starting off with wet hair would only soak the rag scrap and prevent your hair from ever drying (unless you sit under a hood hair dryer for a long, long time).  Wet hair with toilet paper “curlers” seems like the formula for a gunky mess, so make sure your hair is dry for this option.  My hair is naturally curly so maybe starting off with hair completely dry will not work for everyone without adding on some sort of setting lotion or the like…I don’t know, I’m not you!  You’ll just have to try and experiment to see what works best for you.

The same thing goes for the portions of hair you want to use – you’ll have to experiment.  I usually grab a portion about 2 inches square from the scalp and always curl under (unless I want a 60’s ‘flipped end’ style).  Now’s the time for some rapid fire quick tips.  Smaller portions make tighter curls, larger portions make looser curls. You can also twist your portions of hair like you did for the rag “curlers” – this helps the hair stay in place but also makes for a loose, wavy sort of curl.  Rolling in with the hair at a 90 angle or more from the scalp creates volume, versus rolling in at a 45 degree angle which creates a curly style that lays closer to the head.  Rolling in all the way to the scalp creates more, tighter curls while rolling only half way up to you scalp leaves a flat crown with curly ends.  There are so many possibilities for changing it up for a different look!DSC_0348-comp,w

I like to make the front side portion as tighter, smaller portion curls rolled in a vertical angle.  The same goes for the bottom back hair along the nape of my neck.  These two spots come un-curled easily over the course of a day and I like tighter curls falling down one side of my face. My hair is cut in long layers, with the front angled down so curling this way pairs up well with my haircut.

Once you have a hair portion, hold the end of your hair because you’ll start curling there.  Find the middle of the rag “curler” (still keeping it twisted and looped in half) and put your other finger over it.  Roll the end tips of your hair twice over both the “curler” and your finger. Then pull your finger out and keep rolling in from there.  Having your finger over the rag roll at the beginning of the curl keeps the tips of your hair from being kinked or rolled way too tight.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a finished curl that has an end which is very frizzy and terribly ugly (called “cow licked”).  Believe me, I tried a set without my finger there at the end just to see what it would do and won’t do it again!

DSC_0313a-comp,combo,w

Once you’ve rolled up as far as you want to go, take your two “pinchy fingers”, thumb and index finger, and peek them out through the loop at one end of the rag “curler”.  Grab the two “tails” at the other end of the rag “curler” and either stuff or pull them through the loop.

DSC_0318a-comp,combo,w

It takes practice to get the loops just right because if they are too big they won’t hold the curl or tails.  If the loop is too small, well…it won’t work at all either, especially if you’re using toilet paper (it breaks and you have to start over).  Again, this step takes a bit of practice.100_6439-comp,w

With all curls looped closed and hair pinned up, I’m ready for bed!

After a night of sleeping sometimes a few curls do come undone.  However, they almost always survive intact well enough to do their job.  All taken out, below at left is what my rag rolls look like un-combed.  After a thorough brushing with a bristle brush, this (below right) is my finished hairstyle.  The curls do relax a bit over the course of the day, more so with extra brushings, but generally last me for two days.  Of course, as my hair is naturally curly, it probably takes to the set better than others might find.

DSC_0430-comp,w,combo

This hair set works for many decades depending on how you use it.  A loose set is something I can use for the 40’s and especially 50’s, while a tight set I use for both the 30’s and the 80’s.  Look what fabric can do for your hair!

Please do let me know if you try this and how it works for you.  It took me several times of experimental sets before I felt like I had it down and was doing it decently enough.  Please do ask me if you have a question – whether it’s something you need clarified or whatever!

P.S. I will have a “short and sweet” version of this hair curling tutorial on my Instagram, just done with velvet rag “curlers” rather than the toilet paper used in this post.  Also, in case you were wondering, the printed tee I am wearing in some of my pictures is my newest Agent Carter acquisition…to see the whole thing, go on my Instagram post here and figure out the meaning to it!

What I’m Watching Tonight…

Related image

I might not have Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 3 to watch, but I am sort of pumped about the CMT (Country Music Television) series special “Sun Records” premiering tonight.  The actor Chad Michael Murray, better known as “Agent Jack Thompson” from Agent Carter, dons some spiffy vintage duds and snazzy ties again to be in the 1950s telling the story of Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records…the iconic Memphis label that introduced Elvis, Johnny Cash, and those who began rock n’ roll.  Some of the previews I have seen seem steamier than the other previews that focus on the music, and I have no idea how decent or authentic it might be.  I have low expectations, if nothing else I am excited to see Chad Michael Murray again on the screen, especially in vintage.  Will you watch this at all?

Extending a Thank You…

A big thank you goes to Linda of “Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!” for sharing her own award and nominating me for the “Blogger Recognition Award”.  I have the best friends over the internet, as well as the best readers ever!  Thank you also, for reading and enjoying my postings, as well as every comment – they always make my day!

blogger-recognition-award-logo

So to follow the guidelines, I will first *try* to make a short summary of why I started blogging.  There is so much more I’d like to say!  I began back in September 2012, originally blogging along for about 5 months to follow along the then popular and amazing “Sew Weekly”.  My new found “discovery” of vintage patterns a year before also started something big in my life.  However, as what was begun by “Sew Weekly” unfortunately was not continued, and the community platform there was becoming a ghost town, I was encouraged by both my hubby and computer-tech brother-in-law to start my own space for creativity.  “Seam Racer” is the nickname appropriated to be by my hubby – I wiz fast (but still precisely) through the seams of my sewing as fast as I’d like to drive my hot red vintage 80’s car.  My title’s related to the dated kids cartoon “Speed Racer” (so fun, btw) taken from a stitcher’s point of view – let me sit down at a sewing machine or a 6-speed, two door race car and I’m happy and ready to be off!

Soon, my blogging became more than just a place to share what I had made and produced, it became my outlet for so much as well as a place to find others, keep in touch with the world, and learn so much.  Also, this is my way to continually polish and exercise my love for writing and expressing myself, and (hopefully) convey to readers things I am passionate about and share the knowledge I have and the way I see things.  My blog is a satisfying commitment that has become one of the best parts to my life.

By way of advice to new bloggers, my first word is to not be overwhelmed by the immensity of what is out there.  The complexity of the internet with the decision of what blogging platform and such to choose was too much for me at first, and rather stressful.  Take your time to learn, don’t get frustrated by mistakes – stressing out over it isn’t worth it.  Find forums to help you learn how the site works and enjoy what you are sharing on the internet just as much as you enjoy it off of the internet.

Second, pictures are an important part of sharing and explaining on a blog, so another way to avoid frustration and add enjoyment is to invest in a good camera or at least one that you feel works well for you.  About a year ago, we acquired a very nice camera with many bells and whistles on it and now photo shoots take less time and we are no longer limited to where and when, night and day as much.  Interestingly enough, I feel that the very fact of the motivation of styling myself for a picture and posing for them adds so much more to my own happiness in my project and gets me seeing how the outfit works.

Now, for my 15 nominees:

Please go and visit these nominees of mine.  If those I’ve named choose to participate, the rules for receiving this award are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.

Keep up all the awesome blogging everyone, and I hope to continue to offer a little something for everyone here on my spot on the internet.