There is perhaps no individual so enjoyable and immediately likeable in the television series “Agent Carter” as Ana Jarvis. (I’m not counting Peggy Carter or the delightful Mr. Edwin Jarvis, the two headliners for the show, in this comparison…they are of course fantastic in their own right!) Ana was the devoted wife of Mr. Jarvis, the butler and all around assistant to the inventor Howard Stark. Her escape from the Nazis in Hungary at the outset of WWII is a tear-jerker. The character of the sweet, compassionate, and spunky Ana Jarvis really captured the show even when she was just a mention in Season One before we saw her in person for Season Two. The very first moment we meet her on screen (played by the Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek) she is so full of life…and her bright and fun wardrobe choices reflect her personality. Anyone who has a garter that doubles as a gun holster is definitely quite the character! Check out the colorful recreations of Ana’s clothing choices that I have already made – my first, my second, and my third.
For that first sighting of Ana in “The Lady of the Lake” episode, she was wearing “Green Kimono” print rayon crepe blouse from fall 2014 made by the vintage reproduction clothing company Trashy Diva. It was paired with a 1940s style box pleated pencil skirt in a complimentary green tone. Her curly hair was twisted up to the top of her head, with hoop earrings and a simple necklace. After years of searching, I am happy to have recently acquired a copy of the same Trashy Diva blouse Ana wears on screen (much thanks to a hot tip from a good friend) in both my size and preferred price range. Then, just last week, I made my own matching green skirt to match. Now I have a true-to-screen outfit of my very own! This is so exciting!! Most of all, it was simple to come together once I had the perfect Agent Carter RTW garment to come my way. I can make a skirt – no problem!
FABRIC: one yard of an all-rayon twill with a satin finish
PATTERN: Simplicity #8508, a reprint from the year 1948, originally Simplicity #2323
TIME TO COMPLETE: The skirt took me about 4 hours to cut and make, and it was finished on September 20, 2021
THE INSIDES: clean as could be – bias tape covers the seams and vintage rayon binding covers the hem
TOTAL COST: The fabric was bought at a rummage sale where material is sold by the pound, so this was probably only $1.00!
First off, I want to point out a few important things. I have already harped on the pattern I used for the skirt in this post here, although most of my critique was directed at the suit jacket. I have not used this pattern before now – in that post I was merely comparing the reprint with the original design and pointing out ‘flaws’ in its modern implementation. Yet, at the same time, I heavily changed up the skirt pattern and rather used it as a guide for me to draft my own similar pencil skirt. Thus, do not look at this as a true review of the pattern. I was working with only one yard of material, when the envelope back calls for just shy of two whole yards! Yeah, I was really stretching my ability to reduce a pattern’s fabric need here. This was a case of finding the perfect fabric which also happens to be in the wrong amount (too little), and I was determined to make things work. Also, I just love drafting skirts!
I only used the pattern as a guide to the general shape and fit I needed. I layered the front and back pattern pieces together at the sides, matching up the seam lines but also eliminating the side seams. Instead I traced out two side darts instead for shaping the hips – the space left open from matching together the side seams needed to be brought in somehow. A small 7 inch zipper was hand stitched into the left side dart. I also then laid out the center back on the fold rather than have a seam. It has a straight seam anyways, as most 40’s skirts do, since all of the shaping is in the side seams and the over-the-booty darts which come out of the waistline. Even if I wasn’t on a crunch to make this idea work on one yard I love the smoothness of paring down seams on such a luxurious fabric that is this rayon twill. This is the way that the pencil skirts of the 1950s and early 1960s work – as few major seams as possible.
Finally, the center front box-style pleat had originally been mostly incorporated into the main body of the skirt but I did not have enough room on my fabric layout for that. Instead, I cut the pleat to be its own panel. It is seamed into the skirt down each side of the center front cut down the main body (so there are no seams within the pleat itself). I based my new panel off of the small add-in piece given for the lower half of the pleat, extending it to run the full length of the skirt (from waist to hem). This piece was cut out of the top half of the fabric leftover from cutting the main body – the benefits of working with a wider 60” selvedge. My pleat panel was 22” wide at the hem, tapering to 18” wide at the waist, by about 27” long, the length of the skirt. My new extended panel worked out better for the way I wanted my skirt’s pleat to open up at a much higher point, 7 inches down at the level of my hips, rather than the pattern’s markings for the pleat to open up lower mid-thigh, 7 inches above the hem. I still kept the original pattern’s below-the-knee length, which is too short to truly be from 1948, yet perfect for Ana Jarvis’ early 1940’s aesthetic. After all, Ana’s Trashy Diva blouse is listed as “modeled after a year 1937 vintage pattern”.
I was literally left with almost nothing left at this point, so I had to do multiple piecing to end up with a waistband. The rayon is buttery soft, so with a bit of ironing out of the seams, and with interfacing attached to the backside, you’d never guess how I cobbled a waistband together. This was practically a zero-waste project. It also happens to go with SO many other blouses and tops in my wardrobe. I’m wondering how I ever got by without this skirt before now.
The final silhouette of my skirt has a bit more of a ‘tapered hem’ than what the original would have been if I followed the pattern faithfully. The center front pleat is much softer of a look – no matter how much pressing and steaming I did – than the seamed two-piece pleat the original pattern designed. Nevertheless, I made this work on one yard and I adore the slimming, curve-hugging, comfortable and cute skirt I ended up with, even if it is different from the pattern. Whenever I invest more than the norm of my own creativity into something, I enjoy it all the more…especially when it is Agent Carter themed!
To keep up the Agent Carter theme, I am wearing Peggy’s color of lipstick #104 “Always Be True”, the bright “Red Hot Red” by Besame Cosmetics. This was a color which was part of the special “Field Agent” lip kit box offered through Besame several years back now. In the series’ episodes, Ana shared her dress ideas with Agent Carter when she had events to attend and missions to accomplish. I can completely see Ana being influenced by Peggy in turn with something like a lip color! I am also wearing vintage mid-century hoop earrings and my reproduction Chelsea Crew brand double strap mustard yellow heels.
I am happily surprised at how lovely the Trashy Diva blouse is – this is my first item from this brand. The rayon crepe de chine is absolutely lovely, and the details are very nicely done. The label says to dry clean it, but I washed this by hand in cold water with a gentle detergent (no long soaking) and it turned out just fine after drying it flat. Although the insides are modernly overlocked (serged), I am pleased enough to feel like they are a good option to my own vintage sewing…and this is saying a lot! They seem to either hold or gain in monetary value over the years so they are a worthwhile investment for your closet. Rarely do I feature a ready-to-wear item along with my sewing creations in my blog’s posts, but there is a very good reason for doing so this time – because of Ana Jarvis – not just because I am absolutely thrilled with it!
It’s funny how a well-written, well-played fictional character can become seemingly real and larger than life. Agent Carter as a series is the best example of this occurrence as a whole, speaking from my limited experience with television shows. The helpful Ana Jarvis is a grounded, more pragmatic temper for many of the spirited personalities around her, especially when there are dangerous missions to undertake. Even still, for all her practicality, she is wonderfully artistic and creative in her tastes and appreciation of culture. Mr. Jarvis did a world of good saving her life and giving her his wholehearted love, and Ana in turn shares with so many others such admirable understanding and affection. Peggy might be the heroine of the series but Ana is a wonderfully relatable character. I find it an honor to step into her place for a while through the wearing of her wardrobe.