Channeling Crawford’s Adrian

I realize the strong shoulders of the 1940s decade is an intimidating turnoff for many, but I embrace them in all their forms.  For whether they are obnoxious or poufy as they can be or just plain sharply tailored, I see the 40’s strong shoulder line as not only a crucial part of the fashion in, before, and after the WWII decade, but also a very interesting garment point often neglected.   Such can be as fun to perfect as they are even more entertaining to see and construct in all its differing varieties.

A strong, exaggerated shoulder line can do wonders for certain body shapes, as I think it does for mine.  Although I am border line petite (just over 5 feet tall), I do not feel that my waist and hips are small enough in proportion to the rest of me, so the appearance of wider shoulders creates an illusion of the ideal body lines (tiny hips and waist).  This is nothing new…I am just copying off of what worked for the famous actress Joan Crawford, when the equally famous Adrian used this same “trick” as what had been done in the 1830s and 1890s to distract the public eye away from conceived body faults about the midsection and create a certain image.  As famous as well-known as both those names are, they had figured out something spot on that we who are in no manner Hollywood sweethearts can still imitate to our advantage.  From a fascination of Crawford’s high, dramatic hairstyles to my amazement for Adrian’s penchant of precise pin striped garments, from the basic need for warm winter wear to the desire for an unusual item to try and sew, I have combined it all to end up with something that is an unexpected way to power through the cold!

This jumper dress was made for a recent trip to visit the historic garment district in Kansas City, Missouri for the exhibit “Suited Up: Tailored Menswear, 1900 to 2017”.  This section of town is claimed to have been (at one time), second only to New York in breadth of territory!  This cozy outfit let me be a wintertime tourist in handmade, menswear-inspired style!  My shoes were very comfy for all day walking – they are Chelsea Crew brand “Gala” heels, reproduction vintage spectators.  My blouse underneath is a resale store item, but my jewelry is true vintage from my Grandmother.  I realize that all put together like I am, this is a more obviously vintage outfit than most other dated fashions that I make and wear, but I’d like to think that it is a statement enough to be attractive in its own way.  I believe the general public that only relies on RTW is so ready for fashion to be something more appealing to them personally other than what is out there.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a heathered brown pure wool with an ivory pin striping

PATTERN:  Simplicity #1238, year 1944, a jumper-dress

NOTIONS:  The main notion used – the numerous buttons down the front – are a prized vintage card authentic to the 1940’s which had been found at our favorite local antique store.  The rest of what I needed – the thread, interfacing, bias and hem tapes, as well as shoulder pads – are modern notions and were already in my stash of supplies.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was made in about 25 to 30 hours…I took my time to get details done just the way I wanted them!  It was finished on February 9, 2018.

THE INSIDES:  As this was pure wool, it was therefore rather a rather itchy fabric which would fray a lot at every raw edge.  Thus every seam was finished off with bias tape, with the hem covered in a lace tape for a fun and feminine finish!

TOTAL COST:  This wool was a gem of a fabric I found in my local Jo Ann’s Fabric store.  I don’t remember what the cost was purely because this kind of fabric is so lovely and hard to come by in brick-and-mortar stores here, so I had to have it regardless of cost.  Nevertheless, I had a discount coupon and 40’s patterns do not need a whole lot of fabric, so – for just over 2 yards I think I spent under $30.

Ah – Adrian and Crawford…one would not be as famous without the other, but I suggest Adrian owed more to Crawford than the other way around.  Crawford had been in movies since the 1920’s, but her broad shoulders served her well in the boyish and hip hugging fashions of the era – she was the right body for the mode of dressing then.  When the 1930’s came along and Crawford was starring in movies where she played as a softer, sexier and wildly talented woman, she needed a signature style to match in Hollywood.  In 1932, Crawford wore a dress designed by Gilbert Adrian know as the famous “Letty Lynton Dress”, a white organdie dress with big puffed sleeves which were covered in ruffles, to make her look feminine and demure.  It is often credited with being the first movie fashion to be widely copied and sold for the public.  Crawford’s wide shouldered dress gave the impression of a tiny waist and slim hips, and the illusion created by Adrian was suddenly in steady demand with popular fashion whether that garment was in a store, from a sewing pattern, created by a tailor, or from other designers.  This would last strongly through the 1940’s, recurring again in the 1980s, when heavily padded and extreme shoulders were common.  Crawford’s movie roles in the 40’s became harder, stronger, and frequently troubled, and so her large shoulder signature style stayed with her but changed to match until after Dior’s “New Look” styles became the craze.

In Adrian’s own story from the book, Creating the Illusion, he said that Crawford insisted on full freedom of movement with her arms, so much so that he had to leave excess fabric which was then padded to not appear sloppy.  I do notice that many 1940’s era vintage patterns leave extra room in the shoulders, and I regard that as room you need for shoulder pads!  But whether the use padding came from Crawford’s fit preferences or Adrian’s direct styling for her body, between the two of them it is a silhouette and a technique that was influential and unmistakable.  Crawford was Adrian’s perfect outlet to manifest the genius of his talent.  It took the perfect actress in the perfect outfit to make the world notice her clothes to a point that the world how the copy that fashion for themselves.  Unlike today, the designers were something to think about afterwards, as the Academy Awards for Best Costume Design wasn’t started until 1948.  Adrian designed the costumes for Joan Crawford in more than twenty-eight movies.  Granted, he did wonders designing spectacular, mind blowing outfits for other actresses, but it is how Joan Crawford wore what he made that had a outreaching effect that is still being discussed and understood today.

Now, the original design for this jumper-dress on the envelope cover is much more understated than how mine turned out and I wanted it this way!  Since I was wearing this to see an exhibit on menswear, I wanted something strong and broad as the famous London-cut padded suit for guys of the early 40’s with a hint of the outspoken Zoot Suits.  Adrian himself was a perfectionist at suits and loved to show the height of his ability by having stripes show off the seam lines (see this 1948 suit at the New York MET museum for only one example).  Following these trains of thought, I also was tempted to add a welt pocket on the chest like a true suit, but as you can see I thought otherwise in the end.  I do love how my jumper dress ends up having a double collar, as I wear the shirt underneath on top of the jumper lapels to cover the wool and keep it from itching my neck.  This is better than a man’s vintage suit which doesn’t have this double collar benefit!  Sewing it was much easier than making a complete suit but has all the same feel as one in a dress version.

I have seen such a unique kind of clothing as a jumper-dress before in a few other 1940s and 1970s patterns and I really like the whole idea of it – a one-piece garment that can be worn with a blouse underneath like a jumper or still work being worn alone as a dress.  The famous actress Gene Tierney wears a very similarly styled jumper-dress, in a lovely light blue sans blouse underneath, in the 1945 movie “Leave Her to Heaven”.  The banded armscye (as this kind of shoulder extension that looks like a sleeve is called) was stiff and sticking out on its own on Gene Tierney, and I used heavy interfacing to copy that appearance.  However I have found an extant jumper-dress in rayon crepe that has a limp, unstructured banded armscye and it is amazing how one small detail as the weight of interfacing can change the whole “look”.  I have even seen a banded armscye which is highly decorated on this fancy 1940’s blouse, or one used upside down in this 1930’s evening gown.  The more you look at fashion from the past, the more you see the variety our modern RTW fashions are missing. 

The pattern for a banded armscye has the general shape of an almond because it is folded in half to be a double layer self-facing piece.  However, this “mock sleeve’’ needs to have a much lower dip, meaning the side seam is closed at a much lower point than regular garments with a true set-in sleeve.  There is a triangular insert piece that can be added to the bottom point of the armscye where it ends at the side seam, meant for when this is worn alone as a dress.  Of course, for this to be that versatile it would not be made from a wool but out of a gabardine, linen, or rayon of some sort, or something else multi-season with some body because I don’t like the ‘limp’ look of that extant dress I mentioned above.  You have to just go all the way for some styles like this – to carry off powerful fashion is obviously being committed to a style that is every bit as strong as you are…or want to be!  Crawford often said that she never went out anywhere unless she looked like “Joan Crawford the movie star”, so I’m supposing that this powerful fashion of hers was like being vested in more than clothing.  Clothing has been described as armor that makes us feel whole or keeps us safe from what brings us down.

The design was deceptively simple, really.  It wasn’t much harder than a shirt with a skirt attached, but it was the tailoring and details that I spend most of my time on to make this.  The layout required a large amount of brain power to have the stripes match as impeccably as an Adrian inspired garment could become.  I must say I was impressed at how well this pattern fit on me and came together, as some 1940s Simplicity patterns can be not that great, so the design deserves credit for my success – and I am quite pleased with this!  I love how the pin striping miters in at the seams, and even ended up matching so well where the darts meet the skirt at the waist.  I even somehow got the collar to match!  To highlight the design and lay around with the striping, I had the banded armscye be horizontal while the rest of the dress was generally vertical.  Adrian was a fan of a geometric approach to clothing.

Making all those buttonholes down the front and matching the buttons in place is and will always be such an exhausting thing to do for me, but every time I see such a garment finished it becomes so worth it in the end.  This garment is especially the case because I used an intact card of vintage buttons, which I was so excited yet reluctant to use.  It’s not that I want to just stash such treasures, or just hold onto them because they do not serve their intended purpose or get to shine just sitting in my collection!  It’s just somehow harder to incorporate an old notion into my modern vintage when I feel that I have to separate it from its lovely, dramatic, pristine display placement on a perfect condition button card.  Such notions like this remind me of how upscale and respected home sewing used to be, besides the fact that the quality of our modern notions have dramatically gone downhill!  The buttons match so well with the wool in color, but it seems to me that their complex face makes them a subtle but still noticeable detail.

I am quite proud of the statement 40’s hairstyle I pulled off with this outfit!  Joan Crawford seemed to wear her hair high up above her forehead on top her head frequently circa 1944 (see here and here), as did her fellow actresses Rosalind Russell and Paulette Goddard to name a few.  Their hair is similar but seems to be more of a comb over than an under roll like mine, making it closer to a Dorothy Gray style.  Realistically, I am not an actress and I needed a hairstyle to stay in place all day!  With a lot of hairspray and pins, it did stay!  Beseme brand “Red Velvet” lipstick completes the vintage look.

So – do you think you will try the over-emphasized shoulder look for yourself?  Do you love it the way I do?  Say yes to the shoulder pad!  Knit fabrics nowadays have people so used to a close body fit, but extra fabric and shoulder pads to structure the body can and does have its benefits if your body shape is something waist and below you’re self-conscious about.  1950s hip exaggeration works the other way around, making your waist and above seem smaller.  I’ll stop there.  All I’ll say is that’s the not-so-advertised benefit of vintage – you can choose an era or styles that work well to compliment your body!  What do you like yourself most wearing?  Are you on the camp of Bette Davis or on Joan Crawford when it comes to the subject of their long-lasting feud? (I’m neutral on that feud, BTW!)

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Multi-Purpose 1971 Jiffy Garment

All I know is that it fits, looks great, and it is in a peacock print (my favorite – see this post) lined in fabric of the color turquoise (another favorite). Can’t go wrong there! Whether it is a dress, or a tunic, or a jumper depends on the weather and how I feel like wearing the garment. That is the versatility of my newest 1970s sewing creation.

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The printed fashion fabric is a 100% cotton from the quilting department, and the lining inside is a cotton blend, twill-looking gabardine solid.Simplicity 9461, year 1971, Jiffy dress or tunic or jumper & pants-comp

NOTIONS:  None were needed to buy ‘cause all I needed was thread…pretty simple, right? It was my decision later to use some bias tape on hand to finish off the armhole edges.

PATTERN:  Simplicity #9461, year 1971, a “Super Jiffy” pattern.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Only about 4 hours were put into making this dress/jumper/tunic thing. It was done in one afternoon and evening on December 3, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  What insides? Everything is tucked inside itself.

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TOTAL COST:  Maybe $8.00 for the gabardine and a few more dollars for the printed cotton.

This little number is kind of a mystery fashion item – one of the reasons why I wanted to try it especially since it’s a one piece “Super Jiffy” pattern. In other words, I’m not committing much time and not cutting into my fabric much since this line of patterns seems to frequently be a large portion manipulated into fitting with clever darts and shaping (see this other 70’s “Super Jiffy” dress). Anyway, what is the real point to this? It does make for a really cute dress, and is decent as a jumper, but the wrap doesn’t close as much as I had thought it would. The 70’s did have some trends of slightly nonsensical layers, such as short cropped sweater vests over blouses or skirts over pants. I will need to wear tights, pants, shorts, or a mini skirt under this for decency’s sake. Maybe I’ll even have to whip up the pants provided in the pattern for full retro effect.

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My pattern is in junior’s proportions, so I had to do some interesting and successful grading up. As this pattern is one big tissue piece, at first I thought I couldn’t just add the amount needed like regular patterns…but then I thought back, “Why not?!” Time for some unwilling slashing to the pattern! So I cut the vertical center front line apart (where the two front cross over) and added in ¼ of my total amount added in, and another ¼ of the total amount was added to the vertical back seam, turning it into something I cut on the fold (rather than having a center back seam like the pattern directs). Then just like the other 60’s and 70’s junior patterns I’ve done (see here or here), I added in 2 inches horizontally across the chest between the shoulder and the bust to lower all the bust, waist, hip, and hem lines in one simple step.

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If you have a strong aversion to doing darts, then this pattern is not for you because they are quite plentiful. However, the darts are practically the only work this garment involves. My consolation to sewing all the darts (and I had to do double because the lining is a second mirror of the dress/jumper) was the final way the garment fits so well. This is seriously the best fitting Jiffy pattern I’ve made yet. Some of those darts are in slightly unusual directions, but they do their job very well – the designers were smart here.

As I mentioned already, the lining is like sewing a second dress/jumper, so as to face the two right sides together, sew along the entire outer edge, leaving a small opening to turn inside out and top-stitch things in place. This dress/jumper could easily been made reversible doing it this way (already did that here), but I have plenty of garments in solid turquoise so I didn’t do this because I really wouldn’t wear it that way. Take note that making an entire second mirror garment for a whole body lining was entirely my idea. The pattern only provides for facing to the neckline/front closure edge and the armholes. Many times I opt out of facings, feeling like they are too fiddly sometimes, but as I didn’t use facings to this pattern I’m not including this in the same pool. The peacock cotton was very this and like Velcro to whatever else it touched except for the gabardine (or polyesters) so it needed to be lined. As my last step, I used simple single fold bias tape to turn under the edges of the armholes in lieu of the facings, too.

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The button at the tab is completely for show and the real closure system is really hidden underneath. When wearing this as a jumper, I seem to need slightly more room than when just wearing as a summer dress. Thus I made to closure system adjustable by having the inner side have lovely aqua ribbons and under the outer tab there is more than one position of hooking for the waistband-style eye. By the way, the unworkable front button is the same as the decorative one used on another turquoise jumper garment – my ’67 jumper. This is the end of these same buttons, don’t worry…it was a two pack with no more to come.

I’m still unsure if this project is done until I can completely make up my mind as to whether or not to add on the hand level side pocket. I don’t know how much wear this dress/jacket will get (the gauge for whether or not to put more work in). Goodness knows, I’ve got the extra fabric for a pocket and can pull out the pattern whenever I feel like I need its utility, but until then it’s going to be basic I guess.

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Yikes! Check out those “headlight” eyes on my doggie!

It’s funny how I find myself gravitating towards 1971 again and again now that I’m sewing more from the decade. Perhaps it’s because of my love for the decade of the 1960’s, so please don’t tire of this trend on my blog. I see most of what our culture thinks of as the “60’s” as noticeably happening between 1967 and 1971, before this the earlier 60’s had more of a 50’s influence in my mind with random trends emerging from the popular music bands. The hippie looks and bell bottoms of the 70’s were obvious in style, fashion, and patterns after 1972.

Multi-use wear garments are my favorite pattern finds to make and therefore wear. They are something generally unavailable to buy “ready-to-wear”, and fun to make no matter how much wearing they get.  I’ve found that trying different styles, fashions, and garments has a higher success rate, lower monetary risk, and higher chance for personal partiality when you make it yourself, besides being so much easier, cheaper, and enjoyable.  It’s a win-win…teaching yourself something while ending up with something uniquely yours to wear!

“Jump-ing” Into the New Year

It’s been a few years since I made my first jumper – a vintage, warm and cozy fashionable (yet unusual) piece of clothing.  As I don’t want my single jumper to get lonely in my closet, I made a second unusual and very fun vintage jumper to kick start my sewing for this year of 2015.

100_4552-comp     Does it look like I love it?  I do!  It’s a little bit of mod and bold and uniquely complimentary all at the same time.  Ah… most importantly it is warm and versatile winter wardrobe piece.  Also, it was a stash busting project!  I have to laugh, though, at the fact that my jumper is turquoise in color.  Looking at the amount of projects that I make in this color, I guess some things don’t change in my sewing habits.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  I don’t really know, but at the same time, I do know.  I’ll explain.  This jumper’s fabric totally seems like a felt by its thickness and composition, but it also feels like a flannel by its softness and brushed pile.  So, to explain, I’m rather confused, but I’ll call it a felted flannel (if there is such a thing).  The content is probably cotton, but there might be some polyester or even acrylic in this fabric.  This felted flannel is backed in a 100% polyester, cling-free, matching colored lining for a smooth feel and fine finish.100_4600a-comp

NOTIONS:  Everything but the zipper down the back and front button came from on hand.  The zipper and button were bought from Hancock Fabrics, with the button being “fiber-optic” from their own “Lauren Hancock” brand.

PATTERN:  a year 1967 junior’s pattern, Simplicity #7255 (I love the studded gloves drawn on the center model!)

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My jumper was made in no time – maybe 5 hours or less.  It was finished on January 10, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  So professional and perfect, because of the very nice construction methods directed in the instructions.

TOTAL COST:  The felted flannel has been in my stash for as long as I remember, and the lining was bought a few years back, so I’m counting both as being free.  All the expenses are from buying the zipper and the button, which is a total of $3.00 or less…cheap, huh?!

Notice that this pattern is a “junior’s” sizing.  So I went back to the same method of adjusting the bust/waist/hip lines as for my last late 60’s junior’s pattern, which you can see by clicking here.  For that first junior-sized dress, I added in 2 inches horizontally at the high chest (above the bust) to lower all the bust/waist/hips at the same time.  After all, I measured and found out that the distance between the main sizing points is correct, just where those spots hit needed to be brought lower.  That same adjustment was done to this jumper pattern and, again, the fit turned out perfectly.  The dip of the side opening falls at my high hip, the bottom point of the front piece ends below my hip, and the decorative button becomes my “fake” belly button – all as the pattern shows.  I know all this sounds strange, and maybe a bit weird, but, hey…the jumper is from the “Space Age” and I do say I like to try new and different things.

100_4564a-comp     Speaking of “new and different”, this 60’s jumper pattern introduced me to a completely odd and never-heard-of-before sewing term for a specific part of clothing – “plastron”.  The back of the pattern envelope States that “the lined jumper with button trimmed plastron has slightly lowered round neckline, very low armholes, back zipper, and top-stitching.”  Apparently the plastron is the downward arching piece which ends around my hip into a tri-pointed keyhole on the front of my jumper.  Now, what exactly is the plastron?  It does indeed sound like some sort of super cool science fiction space story word…sort of like the word “dalek” from the British television series Doctor Who.

From the research I have made, a basic definition for a plastron is more or less and interfaced chest piece that fills the hollow between the shoulders and bust (based on “The A to Z of Sewing” by Janome/uk.com).  However, “Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing” quotes a 1947 book- here –where a plastron is listed as a type of a yoke.  A basic dictionary definition of plastron has several general terms showing how this article of clothing has been around since the middle ages when it was a front piece for armor, and later a defensive protection for the sport of fencing.  The basic idea of a plastron, a separate piece of garment meant for covering the chest/shoulders, was incredibly popular in the 1830’s into 1860’s as well (see this wikipedia page). During those eras, it was popular for women to appear to have wide shoulders, and also use pieces which covered, protected, or fancied up their bodices with such plastron style pieces as a fichu, or a tippet , or a pelerine (see this Pinterest page for a picture of a pelerine).  A pelerine appears to be the closest and1959 dress oldest thing to what we know as a plastron, being that they both are made from the same fabric as the rest the garment, are trimmed and decorated, and have a high neck.  Now, both you and I can properly recognize a style that has been used for many centuries.  I have a 1940’s plastron dress to post about soon and a few 50’s plastron dress patterns I would like to find (such as the 1959 dress at right), so keep watching for this neat style across the decades!

100_4566-comp     After my failure at attempting to make a funnel neck (back when I made this 1968 corduroy dress), I had little interest in making the pattern’s version with the high collared turtle neck.  Although it does look neat on the cover drawing, in all reality I don’t think I could pull off the collared funnel neck view, styling wise.  A turtleneck if definitely a necessary item of clothing to wear with this jumper, anyway, big funnel neck or not.  I have searched high and low with no luck at finding a wild colored paisley turtleneck like the one shown on the cover model at far left – but I do have another late 60’s pattern in my stash to make my own copy at some point.

Anyway, let’s talk about being economical!  Making this jumper using 60 inch width material took even less fabric than the amount listed on the back graph of the pattern envelope.  That is always a nice surprise to be able to make something great on so little fabric.  In total, I believe the jumper only used 1 1/3 yards.  The suggested fabric types also leave this jumper to be made out of practically anything a seamstress might possibly have on hand: cottons, synthetic blends, denims, fleece, linen, double knits, woolens, gabardine, and corduroy.  This is one sensible but strange pattern.

100_4557a-comp     The jumper itself went together in a flash, even with completely lining the insides and covering every seam.  I found the pattern construction methods to be amazingly smart, and for once I followed the instructions almost 100% (only once in a blue moon do I do this).  You sew up the back, connect it to the plastron at the shoulders, and also do the same for the lining.  Then, you sew the lining (wrong sides out) to the jumper fabric all along the back half of the armhole and all the way down and around the plastron.  Turn right sides out, top stitching completely around the edges except for a few inches away for the side seam edge.  Now the zipper had to be installed so the neckline facing could be sewn on.  Next, the bottom front of the jumper had the armhole edges finished off in the same way as the back/plastron piece, lining to fabric, wrong sides out, with right sides turned out and edges top stitched.  I covered the inner raw edge of the bottom front with bias tape before lapping the plastron over the lower front to make one whole piece.  To my happy surprise, the marks to match up the plastron on the lower front matched up so very perfectly, making things incredibly easy.  Last but not least, the side seams were sewn up in one continuous line of fabric and lining so that the top stitching around the armhole bottom could be finished.

100_44381960s vintage home sewing ad frm Miss Dandy blog Aug 7 2009      A 1967 poster for this jumper pattern was found on the internet, with the singer Beverly Ann as the “popular face” to promote sewing this project.  I find it interesting how just top stitching on the plastron in different lengths from the edge changes the jumper’s front.  In the old poster, Miss Ann‘s jumper has the plastron’s edges sticking out dramatically because I suppose it was sewn down about 2 inches in from the edge, looking like a real breastplate.  My own jumper was sewn about 5/8 inch from the edge, making seem to be more a part of the overall jumper.  I like both ways, and can’t decide which I like better, but as my jumper is made how it is, I’m suppose I’ve decided already 🙂

The last decision on the hem finishing was difficult for me because I wasn’t quite sure what length to choose.  On account of adding in the two inches to adapt in from a junior’s measurements to normal proportions, the bottom length came to fall a few inches below my knee.  The jumper, from the hips down, fitted like a very nice, straight pencil skirt, and I felt the hem would look best quite short.  Adding a little “hottie” factor would not be a bad100_4441 thing, anyway.  However, most people I know who lived the prime of their lives in the 60’s and 70’s seem to look back and cringe at the mini-mini lengths they wore for those decades…and I did not want to completely revisit those days.  Thus, my jumper is shorter than what I am used to, but still long enough to be conservative.  The lining is just an inch shorter than the jumper itself, and free hanging separately, attached at the side seams by thread chains.

100_4423     It is funny how just a little bit of different styling changes the theme of the jumper between blatantly junior’s into modern flashback retro.  Knowing about the styles of the era and observing the pattern envelope, I enjoy pairing matching/contrasting colors of my turtleneck and the tights worn with my jumper.  The different toned yellow colors as seen in these second pictures, together with my hair pulled straight back into a low messy bun and basic flat shoes, seems like the junior’s theme for the jumper.  I don’t need any help looking younger than I am.  100_4563a-comp

So, to make an adult theme, I paired it with my knitted beret hat, a basic white mock-neck top, cranberry tights, chunky socks, and suede boots.  This second modern adult theme is my favorite and warmest way to wear my jumper.  The boots you see are Italian leather and were my mom’s boots, bought for some ski trips she took with my dad in 1979, so they are about a decade off in years from the era of my jumper, but they add a special fun and warm touch to my outfit.

Even with being bundled up, I was quite cold in the picture at right and used my jumper as a sort of muff to warm up my hands.  Look for more pictures of the different ways I use and wear my jumper loaded soon to my Flickr page.

100_4433     Creating a garment like my ’67 jumper highlights one of the best benefits to making one’s own clothes – you can try new and unusual styles, something you can’t find or get to wear otherwise.  To me, making one’s own wardrobe is all about exploring one’s own tastes in style, attaining a fit uniquely one’s own, and finding enjoyment from being open to endless possibilities which come from fashion being in the hands of the individual. Being an individual keeps you from turning into a boring, uniformed robot, like so many who wear exactly what the advertising industry tells you is “the thing”.  Sure, I keep up with trends, but just enough to know what’s going on and recognize quality or a vintage style feature when I see it.  This 1967 jumper might be different…and I like it that way.  Will you help me end the fast-fashion, advertising-brainwashing of our modern culture and make your own wardrobe, too?

My “High Standards” 1950’s Jumper

When I think of the word “jumper”, my mind automatically wants to picture a dowdy, sack like article of clothing that is obviously outdated.  I’m not sure why this occurrence is the case for me, but I suppose it’s easy to get misconceptions stuck in one’s head.  So, as I was looking through my patterns for something different to make and wear this winter, a vintage jumper sounded fun along with the knowledge I was taking a risk with my precious fabric.  My standards for a jumper were quite exacting just so I can break my mental block towards jumpers.  The jumper had to be something I will like, feel comfortable yet be quite modern, but still be warm in cold weather.  I am surprised at my success in making something better than what I had hoped.

100_1140a     Here I’m wearing the jumper with my peep toe patent shoes and a vintage velour hat, complete with its original feathers, netting, and jewels.

I did quite a LOT of online checking to get the lowdown on Simplicity 3673 so I would know how to make the look for which I was searching.  It seems this pattern has been made many times, in many different surprising variations.  Most of the reviews were unanimous about two things:  1) the need to decrease the ease in the bust/chest (above the empire waistline it is unreasonably big compared to the ease in the waist and hips),  2)  slightly rounding in the wide boat neck.  I accomplished both at the same time by “pinching out” 1 1/4 inches from the middle of the front and back bodice pieces.  Below is a drawing of what I just described.100_1197

From the waistline down, I cut a half size bigger than my true size (in this pattern), while from the waistline up, I cut a half size smaller than my size – both of which I rarely do.  The waistline was my happy medium, where the seams were a size 10, the one size both top and bottom had in common.  I was making the longer View A, only without either the ‘belt placket’ or the belt tabs.  The center front skirt seam was eliminated from my design by measuring out the 5/8 inch seam allowance and cutting that pattern piece on the fold instead as per instructions.  Believe me, no center front seam here is just about the best thing for this jumper!100_1133a

There were no very challenging techniques here, and the jumper went together easily.  The part about pulling the lining and the fabric right sides out through the shoulder was…well, humorous by the way I got so frustrated I had to watch TV doing it so as to mellow out.  The darts were the most precise and time consuming part of assembly, especially with my lining attached.  I just took my time, in between struggling to find time for sewing, so that I would end up with a professionally finished garment.  I even sewed seam tape (lightweight netting strips) into the armhole and neckline seams so they couldn’t stretch out of shape.  I can’t tell you how much I love seam tape now and wish I would’ve sewn it into more of my past projects.

I tried the jumper pieces on myself a few times throughout sewing it together and they seemed to fit great, but it wasn’t until I was completely done – except for the zipper – that I realized it turned out so…form fitting.  Not exactly tight, just snug, very customized to say the least.  In fact, the jumper was unfortunately “custom fitting” enough that I didn’t have room to properly install a zipper!  I really could not spare the inch or so needed or else the jumper would be unwearable (unless I suddenly did some big time weight loss system).

100_1137a     Sometimes my sewing mistakes end up forcing me to come up with something much more creative and even better looking than originally planned.

The chunky, exposed zipper down the back gave me the best of both worlds: 1) a modern, upbeat feature with a point of interest to break up the dark colors, and 2) extra inches to help the jumper fit a bit more comfortably.  I made long strips of bias tape out of the bouclé fabric and sewed them over the raw edges before installing the zipper.  I’m glad the strips are unnoticeable, blending in perfectly, and they gave those edges more support (as well as more inches).

I even have 1 1/4 yards of the bouclé still leftover, and am planning on using it to make either a small, cropped jacket or a capelet to match.  That project will have to wait until next winter.

Hubby wears a smile when I wear my jumper, which is actually more of a “wiggle dress” the way it fits.  It really took him awhile to peg his idea of “the look” he sees in what I made.  He says it reminds him of a ‘hot librarian’ style…thus my photo shoot is at our local library.  This statement is ironic coming out of his mouth, with his mom being a retired librarian and my girlfriend/maid-of-honor being a librarian for the county system.  In honor of the hubby statement, I will title this next full picture, “Really?! So you want me to bend way down and get a book on the bottom shelf for you?”  So much for calling this my ‘high standards’ jumper!!!

100_1138aTHE FACTS:

FABRIC: a wool/acrylic blend in a chunky bouclé, with a brown and tan color mix (I’d been saving this fabric in my stash for so long, as I don’t have much wool, hoping to use it wisely one day…) & black poly cling-free lining for the insideS-3673

NOTIONS: black bias tape ($2 each for two packs) & a gold exposed zipper (on sale for $1), while the thread, the hem tape, and seam binding I had already

PATTERN: Simplicity #3673, a reprint of a 1956 Simplicity #1734.  My intent was to channel a late 40’s/50’s New Look type of styling here.  I had originally planned on using an old vintage pattern of mine, McCall’s 9815, but when I unfolded it, there was only the blouse pattern! Oh well.

TIME TO COMPLETE: about 15 hours; finished on March 3, 2013

100_1198THE INSIDES: all clean and nicely finished, see pic below, with a mix of bias binding and hem tape – well worth the time, thank you.  The bouclé HAD to be lined , as it shredded EVERYWHERE (a mess for my sewing area) and it was a very loose weave…I didn’t want a jumper that was tight and see-through.  

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