Simple Luxury – a 1940 Flannel Bias Nightgown

I’ve been wanting to post this for so long (two years), but it’s a nightgown so I don’t usually make sure to have make-up on and decently arranged hair in evening when I want to be cozy and relax!  This is the first part of a small three part February series of easy ways to do vintage for nighttime.  Emileigh of “Flashback Summer” blog beat me to the punch, and has a similar idea with her own “Lovely Lounging” series for February.

100_6226a-comppw

Vintage fashion really knows how to make basic items so elegant and beautiful, and I think nightwear is one of the best examples of that, especially in the 1930s and 40’s.  Not that new luxury nightgowns cannot be found nowadays as well, but they tend to cost a lot of dough and are generally in static-attracting, non-breathable polyesters.  On the flip side, so many flannel nightgowns available (even today) are the “granny-style” Lanz of Salzburg type, completely vintage authentic, decent, quaint, and cozy.  Yet, I’m too afraid that a vintage one will end up tearing irreparably, so although they are so beautiful and still rather easy-to find in our town, I only own one and don’t wear it to sleep in.

100_4670-compwNow, the 1940 pattern I used for this nightgown’s post was so quick (a few hours), easy (only four pieces), required little fabric (just under 2 yards), and fits and feels wonderful to wear with the bias-cut skirt working in my favor.  This has the best of both elegance and warm comfort, not to mention it’s new and hand-made vintage.  I am totally hooked…I want one of these to wear every night!

Now you’ve also got a glimpse of our tiny 1930’s era bathroom, too.  Lucky for me I like lavender so much, since I see it every day!  We are proud to be one of the seemingly few homes in our primarily 1930’s/1940’s era neighborhood which still has many original features, especially in our bathroom.  We have lavender swirled Vitrolite tiles, powder grey/blue painted walls, and black and white tiled floor.  Odd combinations of colors were a popular craze starting in the late 1920’s…at least we don’t have colored fixtures, too!  Anyway, this architectural chat should postponed to get to “The Facts”.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  100% cotton brushed flannel in two prints – just under two yards of a purple and green floral with an aqua background, with an extra ¼ yard of a swirled purple print.

100_4669-compwNOTIONS:  Everything I needed was on hand already, only needs basic items: thread and bias tapes.

PATTERN:  Simplicity #3508, year 1940 (…this was such a lucky buy on Ebay, one of those where nobody bids and you get it for the dirt cheap starting price!)  By the way, look at this year 1940 Hollywood #544.  This Jane Wyman pattern is just about an exact copy of Simplicity #3508!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  From cutting out to finish took me about 3 hours.  It was finished on February 27, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  raw but nicely stitched over

TOTAL COST:  These fabrics were bought so very long ago (maybe 10 years back) from Hancock Fabrics, so I’m counting this as free.

This nightgown is a great example of a small niche in the decade of the 1940’s – pre-WWII times.  The fashion from 1940 to 1941 (and maybe 1942, for a stretch) has a very unique style in my eyes.  It shows strong influence of the styles from the decade before, the 1930’s, so much so that some early 40’s designs can be similar to as far back as about 1936.  Yet it is still the 40’s, too, so that lends its own touch to the styles.  The popular Tyrolean/Slavonic/Germanic designs of the late 30’s and the Latin American prints which spawned of the “Good Neighbor Policy” of 1933 was another way that influences carried over into the 40’s as well with such items as pinafores, peasant styles, dirndl-style embroidery, fun border printed skirts and dresses, Xavier Cugat music, novelty brooches, and unusual hats (like turbans, for one example)…this is just a short list.  Besides, rationing wasn’t in effect as of yet in America and our country’s designers were just beginning to hold their own against the other leading fashion headquarters of the world.  I see in the early 40’s a glimpse of something similar but yet apart from the rest of what 1940’s fashion became – it also gives me the sneaking haunch that had not WWII changed and influenced so much, the decade could have looked much differently than we know it.

100_6228a-compw

My duo of matching/contrasting flannel fabric has been something I’ve been holding onto for about a decade because I liked it so much and also because I wasn’t up for sewing nightwear until just a few years ago.  My original intent was pajama pants, but no – I have enough of them.  One night when I was in the strong mood to wear a vintage nightgown, I had finally felt I was holding onto the flannel long enough and laid my pattern and fabric out in the early evening and started cutting.  By late night (our bed-time) I had a new, glamorous nightgown.  Oh, thank goodness for uncomplicated, easy satisfaction projects!  I love it when you can start something and wear the results on the same day!  So many early 40’s patterns were labeled as simple-to-sew, when really they are complicated by today’s standards.  This nightwear pattern has no easy-to-make labeling, but it is truly a breeze.

100_6233-compcombow

Perhaps the other best part was the fact there is no need for any closures.  No zipper, no snaps, no ties – the bias gives enough, and the pattern sizing is generous enough that this just slips on over my head.  No facings, either – just bias tape finished edges all around.  How easy can it get?  The flannel body keeps me warm enough, the sleevelessness gives me just enough to air to keep myself from being too hot, and if I’m chilly I’ll just cover up with my housecoat…another tease of what’s in the next post, sorry!

Before I forget to add fitting facts – this nightgown did run large (like 2 sizes too large).  Granted some extra room comes from the double facts that flannel gets larger as it is washed and worn besides extra ease needed to make this a slip-on gown (as I said above). However, I sewed a full front and a full back and then sewed the side seams as my last step so the fit is easily adjustable.  The nightgown pattern also was originally oh-so-very long.  I graded out about 10 inches from the length.  I do not need to trip all over an evening gown length just feel elegant in my bed wear! 100_6236-compw

The bottom hem band of contrast was added not so much to extend length (although I didn’t mind) but just to provide a matching contrast which would pair well with the tie belt.  I didn’t want just the aqua floral, not that it isn’t so pretty, but I had kept the purple swirl flannel paired with it for such a long time the two deserved to stay together.

As lovely and simple and quick as this nightgown was to make, this was (at the same time) another unprinted, hole-punched markings pattern where the pieces do not properly fit or match together.  The bodice needed to be cut smaller to fit into the skirt and the gathers didn’t seem quite equal, and I think this is mostly due to the skirt portion.  I have read before that unprinted patterns can be off-balance, because of the way they were made.  Large stacks of many, many layers of sheet are die cut and if you get one towards the bottom, its markings can be off – and anyone who sews knows that every little variation counts towards a successful finished garment.  Oh well, this is a simple enough design it was not hard to adjust, so I’m sorry if I seem like I’m complaining…just making an observation for you all just in case you happen to snag this pattern for yourself, too…and do buy it if you see it, and if it’s not too much for your wallet!

100_6224a-compwThere are plans in the works to use this pattern again, believe me.  Out of all the patterns in my collection, this one is a true asset in the way it is a good base, a tried-and-true starting point to tweak and draft off many other variations, especially some of the ever popular 1930’s era bias gowns.  Just imagine how this design would hang and drape in a lightweight sweater knit or a silk charmeuse for a dress version!  My immediate ideas for re-incarnations of my nightgown’s pattern are Simplicity #3835 (year 1941), one of these 1933 dresses or this 1935 evening dress (both from “Eva Dress”), and even this super elegant Butterick #5413 (year 1933).

For now, I just hope to make the bed jacket at some point to keep the chill off my arms when I don’t want the weight of a full housecoat.  I did make a bed jacket from a different pattern, modelling it over this post’s nightgown (link to see it here), but this was actually a present for my mother.

Stay tuned for the next installments of my vintage nightwear reveal.  Now, to decide which night wear project for myself to tackle next.  I actually have three in the queue – will you help me pick the next one?

dsc_0051a-comp-w-textwcombo

Advertisements

Candy Stripe Blouse

dsc_0976-compwI don’t know about you, but we have plenty of candy leftover still from Christmas (and even a little from Halloween).  Among the candy, we had so many candy canes we actually were able to decorate the tree with them!  Now that the tree and Christmas are past and out of sight, we have to work on finishing those candy canes still around.  Well, how about instead taking care of some scraps of red and white candy striped fabric?  As one who’s not that crazy for sweets (I know, call me odd…), this ‘sewing option’ to finishing off some ‘candy’ is my kind of thing!

Hubby thinks of the hospital volunteer “Candy Stripers” when he sees this blouse.  I know the two share similar fun red and white stripe usage, but they technically wore pinafore-style jumpers and my garment is just a blouse.  Still, both a pinafore and my 1940 blouse are peasant themed, and a rather “cute” (yuck – hate that term) style which tends to make one seem younger than one’s actual age (I don’t need help there).  Both are from the same decade – my pattern dates to 1940 and Candy Stripers originated in 1944.

dsc_0960-compw

However, my blouse has something extra to it that makes it uniquely special in its own way, apart from any history or style or whatever.  It is made from fabric given to me by my Grandmother.  This post is in memory of her, as she is now deceased as of this past weekend.  The fact that the fabric for my blouse was from her gave me some stress and self-inflicted pressure, at first.  I wanted to make the very best I could with what she gave me, but I realized when planning to make this blouse that she would want me to only enjoy and be creative with what she gave me, and nothing less.  I felt the fabric and the pattern were made for on another, so it must be the best re-use of her scraps – I am quite pleased with my blouse, and thankful for her always encouraging appreciation of my talents.  She was seamstress herself, as was her mother, too, so she had some awesome and useful sewing related items she was sweet enough to want to see what I would do with.  Grandma, this blouse is for you!

dsc_0974a-compwThe date of this design (as I mentioned above) is 1940 – thinking back, my Grandmother was 10 years old that year.  To make this blouse all the more poignantly related to Grandma, the family (myself included) suddenly realized, while looking at pictures of her long life over the weekend, how very similar her face and mine are to one another.  Goodness, we seemed to have more in common than I knew.  She was such a lovely woman, always with a kind word, a smile on her face, a thoughtful act, and a love of nature and of family, just to name a few qualities.  I just hope I can be more like her, not just in face, but in person, too.

THE FACTS:hollywood-1991-year-1940-envelope-front-compw

FABRIC:  a 100% cotton flannel scraps, from the stash given to me from my Grandmother; linings and facing are cotton broadcloth scraps from on hand in my stash

PATTERN:  Hollywood #1991, year 1940

NOTIONS:  The only notion I bought was the trio of front buttons; otherwise, everything else was from on hand – the thread, bias tape, and hook-and-eyes

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was relatively quick – 6 to 8 hours were spent to make this blouse and it was completed on February 4, 2016.

TOTAL COST:  Just the buttons were bought (modern & basic red half-ball type) , so only a few dollars in total

This was a fun, intriguing, yet challenging project all-in-one.  I had plenty of inspiration that I had found for late 30’s and early 40’s striped blouses (many of which can be found on this Pinterest board of mine) so it was just a matter of choosing a combo of directions 100_6728a-compwfor each section of my own blouse.  This part was quite the memory game, trying to remember which pattern piece was for which section of the blouse and trying to lay it out in the intended stripe placement, all the while remembering to match lines!  At first, it seemed I was quite limited as to what I could do because the fabric was a scrap piece, all cut up already in odd places.  But, some mind crunching and much switching around of pattern pieces (again, like a puzzle game) and I was able to get what I intended, with only the blouse bottom waistband being necessarily cobbled together from four individual parts to make a whole.  In all, this was another “close call” sort of project where you cut the pattern squeezed onto the fabric so much so that you barely have a few inch scraps leftover – so difficult but these kind make the most of every inch of fabric.

As was the case for other Hollywood patterns, this blouse again ran large.  I know it seems it is supposed to be quite poufy and generous by design anyway, but I accounted for it by slightly downgrading with bigger, more modern, seam allowances.  My only complaint to this top is that the button front neckline does not give me enough room for my head.  I am able to put the blouse on as you can see, but getting it on is like some sort of skin pulling, “second birth” experience (sorry ‘bout the mental picture) that leaves the tasks of fixing one’s hair and applying make-up to be something that comes after being dressed.100_6948-compw

The awesomely full and puffy 30’s style sleeves are my favorite part to this blouse, besides being proud of the matching I achieved in the arm pleats on the side (see right picture).  Also, this is the first Peter Pan collar that I really actually like on myself for some reason.  The controlled, even fullness of the bottom band is easy to wear – nothing to come un-tucked!  The flannel keeps me just warm enough on chilly days but the short sleeves prevent me from being overheated when being inside.  In all, this blouse is a great wear, so comfy with full movement, bold statement striping, and a vintage look that is a good kind of unusual.

dsc_0970a-compw

In order to avoid a side zipper being too stiff for the side closure, I buried my intolerance for hand stitching and sewed in snaps.  The snaps keep the bottom blouse poufing out like it should above the bottom band.  A strong waistband hook-and-eye holds the waist 100_6946-compwtogether.  Sometimes I tuck the waistband into my bottoms (as when I wore my 40’s style denim skirt) and sometimes I leave the blouse band out (as when I wore it with my 40’s jeans), and I can’t decide what I like better.  The blouse appears more like an Eisenhower-style jacket when untucked and closer to a blouse when tucked.  Either way, I guess I do need to find more than just navy and denim bottoms to match with my blouse, at some point.

This last mention is no big deal, but I wish I had thought about “setting” the colors before100_6949a-compw I washed the blouse fabric.  It was a crisp red and white originally with a generally smooth feel, but after washing the flannel its brushed finish fluffed out more than expected and the red leaked slightly into the white turning some stripes into a faded pink tone.  The color problem is not something obvious enough to really show in our pictures, however I wish I had thought of it beforehand and am keeping this lesson in mind for the next bold two-tone fabrics that have to make their way to the washer.  Any suggestions on how to do this “setting” of dyes that leach?  I have seen salt water soaks being recommended, but does anyone have first-hand tips to share?

I attempted to channel to quaint hairstyle on the cover of the pattern envelope with a simple ribbon headband.  In the one set of pictures I even tucked my hair up to have more of a late 1930’s look, then the other pictures have my hair left down long for more of the ‘40’s young lady’ look.  It was after the pictures for this post were taken that I saw these old photo booth shots of my Grandmother in 1940 when she was 10 (center) and some others as a teen in post WWII times.  In the 1940 pictures, she had her hair short and curled, wearing the same ribbon-headband-with-a-little-bow just like me, but the teen pictures are pretty alike, too!  These old photo booth pictures make me see similarities between us all to well…

imag0192crp-1-me-and-grandma

There are many ways to remember the past, but remembering it through fabric is kind of special.  You get to wear it, do creative things with it, and it can be seen in pictures for a long time after.  Admittedly, there is nothing that can beat a memory but clothing certainly can add to that recollection or bring it back.  This might not be the best garment I’ve made but the special background to it makes it pretty great to me.  Now that the time for stories coming directly from my Grandma is past (sadly), I’ll keep paying attention to my her pictures and maybe I’ll see a glimpse of what she made with the other part of the fabric I used to make the blouse in my post.

Save

Little Pieces of Tropical Paradise

Vintage multi-piece play suits have always intrigued me with their lovely mix-and-match factor and smart wear-ability.  Thus I had to make my own rather than just keeping up the looking and admiring!

100_3171-comp-w

When I say ‘play suit’, I am not talking about the modern interpretation of the term as a sort of jumpsuit.  I mean the 1930’s to pre-1960’s outfits geared for play, sport, leisure, and/or swim time which are often comprised of several pieces layered for practicality – a more skin revealing under set complete with add-on pieces for more decency when going out, as well.  (See this blog post on the “Vintage Dancer” for more info and pictures on 1940’s play suits.)  Here, my play suit is a four piece set of a self-drafted sarong skirt, a tie-front crop top, and a pair of skirt-like shorts (skort), all true to the 1940’s, while part four is a knit ¾ sleeve shirt for a modern touch.          100_3646a-comp

These pieces were made a while back as my submission for the “Vintage Play suit Sew Along” in May 2014 sponsored by “Girl with the Star Spangled Heart”.  The skirt is what sees the most wearing, with the sports skirt/shorts and the knit shirt both coming in second.  As our land-locked mid-west of America is woefully lacking in bodies of water, the crop tie top is the least worn (not what I would wish).  Pool side lounging here I come!

The location for our photo shoot is again our town’s lovely 1930’s wonder in architecture, the Chase Park Plaza.  Our last photos taken at this location, albeit inside, were for the blog post about my emerald green 1930’s Vionnet evening gown.  This time we took advantage of their lovely pool courtyard and a slow, unpopulated lounge area to have a period background…complete with palm trees to match my fabric!

100_3156a-comp-w

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  All of the 1940’s pieces (the skirt, the tied crop top, and the skirt-like shorts) are all in 100% rayon challis.  The ¾ sleeve modern top is made of 100% cotton interlock knit.  All fabrics were bought at the now defunct Hancock Fabrics.

hollywood-1479-combo-wPATTERNS:  A vintage Simplicity 3356, from the year 1940, was used for the skirted shorts; a vintage Hollywood 1479, from the year 1944, was used for the crop tie top; a year 2006 Simplicity 4076 was used for the knit shirt; and the long sarong skirt was self-drafted by me…so no pattern here!  By the way I definitely have plans to make the jumper ad blouse from Simplicity 3356, as well as the nightgown from Hollywood 1479!

simplicity-4076-knit-tops-year-2006NOTIONS:  Just the normal notions were needed and were on hand – thread, interfacing, bias tape, and buttons (which were from hubby’s Grandmother’s stash). The only thing I had to buy was a duo of zippers.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Making a play suit is a bit of a time investment, but the two tops and the skirt were easy and quick, taking only about 3 or 4 hours each.  The skirted shorts took longer, at about 20 hours.  The tie-front crop top was done on May 23 while the sarong skirt was finished on June 2, and the skort on June 12, all in the year 2014.  The ¾ sleeve knit top was made in 2006 or 2007.100_3192-comp

THE INSIDES:  Well, the older knit top was made at my parents’ house so I took advantage of their serger (overlocker) for the seams.  Otherwise the rest of the seams on the rest of the garments for the play suit set are in mostly French seams with some bias bound seams, too.

I know, I know – my tie-front crop top actually comes from a pattern for nightwear – how risqué!  It is pretty much similar to other play suit and bra top patterns from the 1940’s.  I love how it shows just enough skin while still keeping me covered (it still has puff topped sleeves, after all).  I can wear normal underwear or a swimsuit top under this easily, which is nice that it does not require anything different.  Actually, I anchor the tie front of the top to the center front of my bra…oops, too much info.  Best of all, it was super easy to whip up.  This is the main reason I took the extra time to do the tiny hem and the French seams.

100_3149a-comp-w

The sarong style wrap-skirt was very fun to make and I am happy that I was able to re-create what I envisioned, something not always achieved.  Sorry if I get a bit technical here but simple complexity is hard.  You see, when I think of sarong, I picture a skirt that is in 3D, meaning I see it as supposed to have flowing movement yet clinging drape.  All the reprints and reissues I see available did not fit the bill – they are all either merely side tie skirts with some sort of gathers or tucks to create drape and a simple back view but basically just plain skirts, still not the ultimate hottie level.  At first planning, I will confess, I was going to use something simple from on hand such as McCall’s 6519, from 2012, or a McCall’s 5430, from 2007, but after making the crop top I was left with only 1 ½ yards making all my chosen patterns no longer feasible, so I went for the self-draping route.  Since I do not have a mannequin I had to stand in front of our full length mirror with my pin box nearby and experiment with different tuck and dart placement and direction.  I did not cut into the fabric at all, merely stitched and manipulated one yard and a half cut (60 inches wide) into what you see.

100_3200a-compI will lay out my method of drafting the skirt as best I can so hopefully you can do the same if you’d like too!  First I chose which length would be the circumference of my waist and hemmed that edge.  Next, I found the center of that waist edge and figured that would be the back, then measured several inches out from that point to make some small (maybe ½ inch) darts for about 8 or less inches down.  Now the back of the skirt is done.  Next, I put the back up against myself and marked with pins what would be the side seam points on each side.  Then I started the experimental parts where adding a few small angled tucks to each side seam was successfully tested.  My tucks are angled opening up towards the back of the skirt – this brings in the skirt to gently shape under the booty and around and over the hips for an hourglass outline.  This step was hard to do.  I actually had to pin the waist100_3201-comp back to the top I was wearing that day so I could experiment with the darts.  After the waist sides were o.k. and top-stitched down, I worked on adding deeper tucks to the ends of the wrap.  These tucks are also sloping, between horizontal and vertical, and there are more on the end that is seen from the outside than on the end inside.  The front corners were softened to a rounded drape by merely turning in the bottom hem front points at an angle and simply taking them down.  To close the wrap inside is an elastic strap with a waistband hook (to make things semi forgiving), and on the outside a lovely olive green shell button with another loop of elastic.  Totally ready to be whipped on…or off if I need to just wear the skirted shorts underneath.

100_3187a-comp-w

I’ve worn my skirted shorts with my vintage blouses, and this gives me a very 30’s looking sports outfit.  I can wear them with modern tops and it looks fun and flirty, especially with some flat sandals.  Tops from other decades, with some large victory rolls or a ponytail, give a vintage-does-modern appeal.  The way I can change up the aura of the date of these skirt-like shorts is the best perk.  These shorts do have such a wide hem they are not the best for some exercising (too revealing) but are awesome for playing tennis in, I tried that out!

100_3161aa-comp-w

As great as these vintage skorts are, I do need to try again in the future to make a better version.  The main problem with this pair is I believe the rayon challis fabric I chose.  It’s so wrinkly for something with details that you only sit on to mess up any ironing work, it doesn’t hold up well the minute I start to sweat – the fabric not tight enough.  With the rayon, I end up with darker colored spots where it’s wet from sweat (…embarrassing) and I’m beginning to get obvious holes from tension at the spots where the pleat top-stitching ends.  Rayon on top of rayon is also rather too stifling to wear for the summer.  Perhaps next try, I’ll sew these up in a cotton blend gabardine.  Reconstructing History has some 1944 play shorts  that are very similar to the one’s I made and they recommend rayon, linen, cotton (all too light and wrinkly) as well as denim.  Any other suggestions for another fabric thick enough, low on the wrinkle factor, and good for summer comfort all combined for my next play suit shorts?

100_3164-comp-combo-w

I kind of fudged my way through these vintage shorts as best I could but it was a real struggle.  What took the most time to make the skorts was due to the fact that the pattern was unprinted.  I’ve worked with unprinted patterns many times before, but with all the pleats, together with the grain line markings and such, my limits of comprehension of connecting the right dots was put to the ultimate test.  To top it off, in order to support the skorts’ pleats across the belly and cut down on any see-through issues, I had to draft my own one piece liner to go inside.  The liner was a great idea and really needed, but a second layer of rayon, on top of rayon, was not the best idea…should have used something else 100_3194-compwhich was lighter like batiste perhaps.  The instructions gave no clear designation of what to do with the space under the side button closures – I had ideas of adding in pockets, or full button closure (sailor-style), but finally settled on the easy-but-not-so-authentic option of zippers.  Looking back, I really don’t need double closures (there are buttons and zippers on each side seam), and next time I will eliminate one side to sew it closed and add in a button or hook-and-eye method like I’d thought.  Darts were even added to the inside of the waistband to give it more curve and bring it in – I believe it was drafted too straight.  I’m tired just going through its problems.  Oh well, I like what I have and now I know what to do and what to change for the next attempt at this lovely, complex design.

100_3643a-compLast but not least is my modern ¾ sleeve knit top, which was picked out of my closet during the planning stage of my playsuit as something which was finally going to have a specific outfit to match with.  I had made it such a while back and it never has seen that much wearing previously because it’s gentle dusty green never match with much but a solid skirt or denim.  Not that this is the only modern top I wear with the play suit, but it gives me a reason to highlight what I remember as my first totally successful me-made top.  It really has some body hugging shaping if you make your “correct-according-to-the-chart” size.  If you don’t want it to fit you as snugly, go up a size.  Also, I found the length to be a bad spot – too short to tuck in and not long enough for it not to ride up untucked – so making the hem longer might be a good idea.  Otherwise, this is a great top and easy to make and wear.  I’ll have to go back to the pattern and make some of the other views offered!

Gertie’s summer 2016 release of Butterick 6354 Gertie's B6354 combo picgave me quite a surprise at how similar it is to my own play suit – especially in the choice of fabric pattern and colors – as I mentioned before in this post.  These colors and this “palm leaf with flowers” seems to be rather prevalent when I was looking at play suit inspiration – see this color picture of actress Peggy Moran at “Glamourdaze”, or visit my Pinterest board for more.  I do find Gertie’s play suit as sort of a hybrid blend of pieces that make it more of something from the 50’s era, though it does seem awkwardly like it sort of should be from the 40’s.  Besides, one could make this set from patterns already released (such as Simplicity 8130 for the tops, Vintage Vogue 9189 for the shorts, out-of-print Vintage Vogue 8812, year 1940, for the bolero, and any adapted pencil skirt or real wrap skirt pattern for the mock-wrap skirt).  Sorry…I’m not meaning to criticize, I just would rather see variety than redundancy in the patterns that are released.

100_3144ab-comp-w

As I mentioned above, play sets are a bit labor intensive, after all you have to make three or four separate garments just for a finished set!  However, it’s well worth it, especially when done with a vintage perspective for those of us who love the styles from the past.  Now I have some easy vintage garments that set my wardrobe up for some playtime, or easy dressing in style!  Plus, it doesn’t hurt to feel a little of the past’s relaxed associated with holiday or hot-weather wear, does it?!  This is much more fun than for me to wear than whatever most people wear for modern leisure/exercise time.  Yet I’ll bet it’s more comfy…and less confining! I actually just finished sewing a year 1959 play set, so get ready for an upcoming post on my interpretation of vintage sporty wear courtesy of the next decade!  Now if only summer would last a bit longer…

Save

“Winter Mint” Dress Part 2 – Velvet 1940 Hat and a Belt

After making my suede 1942 dress, I was a bit stuck. I couldn’t figure out what colors or styles to accessorize with it. As is normal for me, if I don’t have what I need, I scrounge around the house, enjoying the challenge of crafting something from what is on hand. Thus, I was led to using another neat pattern, utilizing from my stash, and finding an exciting new way to make a belt. badge.80

This is another post that is part of my “Agent Carter” 1940’s sew along.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  For the hat, I used 100% cotton velvet scraps leftover from a skirt I made for myself back in 2006. Some cranberry anti-static 100% polyester lining that was on hand went towards finishing the inside of my hat. The belt is a thick vinyl, veined and slightly weathered surface, with a mesh fabric backing to it.

100_4515a-compNOTIONS:  Only extra thread and a buckle was needed to buy, as well as tarlatan (I’ll explain this later) for the velvet hat. The ribbon for the inner band of my hat came from my stash and the button is (I believe) Bakelite that came from hubby’s Grandmother’s collection; see the left picture.

PATTERN:  The hat: Simplicity #3323, year 1940 (look at the other amazing accessories – I want to make the purse soon) ; the belt: my own idea…in other words, no pattern.Simplicity 3323 'accessories to match your costume' yr 1940

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My dress’ belt was made in an hour or less, not counting time for glue to dry, in early January 2015. The hat was so easy, I shocked myself…it was made in only 3 or 4 hours, and finished on January 18, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  Hat finishing details are very nice and clean, with no raw edges – they are all enclosed and covered.

TOTAL COST:  The hat cost nothing because I used scraps from so long ago. The belt cost only a few dollars – we found the vinyl for it on clearance, and my belt was made from the leftover scraps of using towards another project. In total, I suppose we paid less than $5.00 to make these accessories.

My little one’s new toy chest had recently been covered inside with some vinyl hubby bought from the fabric store, and – what do you know – it was a very good matching color close to the satin side of my suede, with enough left over for a skinny belt. I cut out two strips of vinyl material the same length and width as another skinny belt which was on hand, and glued the two pieces together using “Shoe Goo” brand glue. For a while I considered sewing the belt strips together (too thick), but I ended using the shoe goo because it was easy, dries flexible, clear, and strong. The glued pieces were weighted down with boards for 24 hours before I hand sewed the one end under around my chosen belt buckle.

100_4531-compTo make the holes for the belt buckle to close in around my waist I went for a very unusual but highly successful tool – a bead reamer. I have had this reamer on hand for some of my beading/jewelry creating, to help with making holes in gemstones, rocks, and fine (but hard) materials I work with sometimes. My reamer tool comes with 3 different sized, diamond covered, conical-shaped bits, and is not mechanical, merely twisted or pushed by hand. It was perfect for making good sized holes without tearing the surrounding vinyl, like an awl tool did. I suppose I could have used a drill bit to mechanically make my belt’s holes, but a drill seemed like overkill and the reamer cut through the belt like a hot knife into cold, hard butter. Only by experimenting do we learn, and WOW…I had a happy experiment making my belt. I recently found some more vinyl in a different color and I’ve got some cool ideas coming!

100_4914-compAfter my happy success with my latest vintage hat creation, I was stoked to jump into making another. This one is also amazing! It seemed like I took a long blink and the hat was done – no kidding! It was so easy and foolproof I want to make more versions in denim, in satin, in anything pretty, versatile, and leftover in my stash. Perhaps the best part about my hat is the fact the pattern pieces are so economical, there is no need to buy anything to make it – scraps are plenty sufficient, no matter how worthless they might seem! The fabric I had left available to work with was more or less four 12 to 20 inch triangles. I can’t say enough good things about this new vintage hat of mine, except that – like I’ve said before – vintage really does things right, in the smartest way possible. There’s more to old patterns than meets the eye, too. I don’t see nearly as much of this old-time ingenuity in many patterns nowadays, and I don’t know about you, but I’d like to bring more of it back.100_4510-compThe amazing part of my hat’s styling and design is the way it becomes very necessary part of a wardrobe by being incredibly simple – an accessory that could seem like it would complicate things, becomes effortlessly convenient. I myself LOVE hats, and I will be the first to admit they are a sort of a bother. They take up plenty of space to store, don’t like being smashed, are something additional to remember when putting together an outfit, and (the final query) what really do you do with them when they are off your head? This one hat pattern answers all of those points just mentioned. This hat’s brim is soft enough to be rolled up, but the tarlatan in the brim still has enough body to keep its shape. The button-at-the-back headband style of fastening on one’s head and the open backed crown accommodates several different hairstyles. Most importantly it can be buttoned onto a purse strap or belt loop so that there is always somewhere to hang the hat so you don’t lose it when it’s not on the head. The crown is soft and the brim supple so it can’t really be smashed. Most of all, this hat can be stored flat when the crown headband is unbuttoned, making it take up as much room of a piece of paper. My new vintage 1940 velvet hat embodies the word “versatility”.

100_4511Originally, the choice of some newly bought suede leather casual/dress heels (Hush Puppies brand) inspired me to use the material chosen for my hat. Not only did this velvet fabric match my shoes color wise, it also is rather historically accurate, compliments the plush theme of my “winter mint” dress, adds a touch of glamor and richness, and thins out my extensive stash of scraps.

I was intrigued by the back of the pattern instructing the use of “tarlatan” for hat brim. At first I was considering just using some sew-in interfacing or something readily available and modern, but I actually just couldn’t do it. After using such a luxurious fabric and trying to be “historical” with my hat creation, I decided to use tarlatan and thus see what how the hat was truly meant to be both made and worn.

100_4508-compNot knowing where to even start finding or locating tarlatan, I began with an internet search. A rough technical definition for tarlatan would be that it is “a thin, plain weave, open mesh cotton textile finished with stiffening agents and sometimes glazed.” The plain stiffened tarlatan is the lightweight option, and the glazed version is more or less the heavier weight. As it turns out, tarlatan seems to be used more in the arts department nowadays, used for the etching process as a lint-free and scratch-free wipe. A slew of phone calls and tarlatan was located at a local “Dick Blick” art supply store, which was also the only one in town with tarlatan in stock. Even online, tarlatan seems to be sold in what they call ‘wipes’ (one yard by one yard squares). Lucky me…the “Dick Blick” store’s tarlatan had been in back store room forgotten and neglected, so it was still uncut, in one long roll. Hoping to use tarlatan for more projects to come, I took advantage of this find and I was able to get one long, un-cut, 2-something yard portion. Yay!  However, even more exciting was the conversation I happened to strike up with the store manager who was checking me out at the register. She (the store manager) apparently had used tarlatan herself for several amazing projects. She said she made herself her own super-fancy “Kentucky Derby” hat, as well as sewing together an authentic “Dior’s New Look” suit, with the tarlatan used to create the hip fullness and shaping of the jacket. Her husband even worked for Simplicity Pattern Company! Apparently there are more people around me that sew than I realize.

One last word about the tarlatan. I did experiment with it before using it for the hat. I used it in the waistband for my 1941 wool pleated skirt, in lieu of modern iron-on interfacing, and it worked out great. I even cut a strip and soaked it in a bowl of water, wrung it out, reshaped it and let it dry, just to see what type of abuse the tarlatan can handle. Surprise…it held up remarkably well, and even kept a good percent of its original stiffness (in other words the starched/glazing didn’t wash out). Tarlatan is also no trouble when it comes to actually sewing with it, too. I was afraid my machine’s needle would get stuck on the mesh weave, much like a having pin in the way.  Not at all!  Tarlatan really is wonderful to sew with and use.

Simplicity 3323 'accessories to match your costume' yr 1940 back drawingThis hat is so simple it really could be self-drafted. It is basically a crescent shape, cut twice out of your chosen fabric and once from the tarlatan, with four triangles, which have outwardly curved edges, to make up the crown. Those triangles are also cut out from the chosen lining for the crown. The brim is faced with the tarlatan sandwiched inside and the outer edge is finished (inner edge left raw). Next, the four triangles are sewn together, from the outer fabric and the lining, for the head crown, so they can be faced with back of the head opening edge being finished. The corners of the brim are folded in, and the brim and the crown get sewn together – voila! You have a hat! All that is left is to sew in the inner ribbon band (which covers up the only raw edges) and make the headband strip, tacking it in place and making the buttonhole.

As much as I wanted to do things perfectly, I still don’t have any proper Petersham ribbon on hand, so I made things work and used a ribbon from my stash. However, this is no ordinary ribbon, for me at least. I’ve been meaning to use this ribbon, with its swirling ancient Celtic-style designs, towards making my own version of Arwen’s purple velvet dress, from the third “Lord of the Rings” movie. As my pattern for the dress is gone and I’ve had the ribbon since 2003, I finally went ahead and used it for my hat. I know this story probably makes no sense to you, but it makes me feel good to finally use this ribbon on something. 100_4513-compPlease notice the lines of stitching along the outer edge of the brim and along the buttoned headband. I was terribly worried about getting the lines perfectly straight, and not wavy or wonky, and I think I succeeded decently. Those stitching lines are no doubt decorative but they also help tremendously to keeping thing in place. As much as I love the look, I can’t help but think of quilts and their decorative stitching when it see those lines of top-stitching on my hat. Oh, just think if those lines of stitching were done in a contrast color on say a white poplin version of this hat? Ah, I have so many ideas.

100_4945a-compI have seen hats similar to the one I made on other patterns, in fashion drawings, and also be worn in many movies, all in the mid to late 1930’s into the early to mid 1940’s. For one example, I will show you the actress Joan Blondell’s hat, from the Busby Berkeley movie “The Gold Diggers of 1937” (my favorite old film!). See the open back of the crown and where the brim ties together there is a hanging 100_4947a-comptassel?  Sometimes you McCall 4575 year 1942have to look closely to see that a hat is basically the same design, because often the brims were folded up and decorated with a brooch or pin, thus appearing completely different (see this pattern of mine from 1942 for a folded up brim, or Glenda Farrell‘s hat in “Gold Diggers of 1937”). Here’s the “versatility” factor again.

100_4507-compMy hair-do is an easy vintage style, one I call a “half-toilet bowl” (which is not a very complimentary label, I know). My hair style is now ever easier to make due in part to a new amazing gadget I recently found in a drug store. It is labelled by Conair as “Classic Vintage Roll”, a sausage shaped nylon netting rat with a tiny, but long, clear elastic running through it like a headband. In under 60 seconds, I pull the headband down on my head with the rat at the back of my head. Then, I tuck the hair up and around the rat and tuck the ends under, securing the rat down with a few pins. It is extremely comfortable and my new go-to piece to wear – and I am not in any way getting a perk for saying this either. I just thought others might like to know about this.

A turban out of scarf apparently was also another option to add style to my head but still FashionExpert,AnneEdwards,fromWomensMagazine,how-to-tie-a-turban,BritishPathe,1942keep it warm. This 1942 picture advertises how to do it but I tried and couldn’t get it right. I think there probably is a knack to doing it that I haven’t found yet, but I’ll keep trying. I have some pretty scarfs that are dying to be worn as the picture shows.

100_4509a-compHead wear and hairstyles are a whole other world of fashion and history. I don’t know if it’s “up my alley” to dive into this department, but it kind of does go along with wearing what I make and putting authentic outfits together. Whether or not hats and hairstyles rock your boat, please appreciate my work, my interests, and musings here. Perhaps I can inspire you to branch out and try something new and different and challenging…like I do! Believe me, when you’re done, you feel amazing.