Pretty Blue Pinafore…

After my success with my last “Shabby Chic”, fully convertible pinafore, this next one is in the real deal vintage 40’s style as a one piece dress.  This pinafore dress has an amazing attention to detail and the way it was designed includes a new-to-me shoulder seam method.  This is also my first time making an Anne Adams brand pattern…and I love the fit, style lines and proportions.  It might not receive as much out-and-about wear as my last pinafore, but I think this was the most perfect use for a longtime orphan (material not yet matched to a pattern) in my fabric collection, a quaint feedsack printed seersucker I’d been holding onto for years.  Yay – one more bolt of fabric is out from my stash and able to be enjoyed.

If you’re confused about what a pinafore is, please see my preceding introductory blog post on “The Summer of the Pinafore”, the inspiration behind my recent sewing.  This post’s pinafore is not like the multi-use floral one with a modern flair that I blogged about last, so here I will further explore the colors, fabrics, and prints used in the history of pinafores.  It’s weird to see how pinafores seem to reflect deeply subtle societal changes in the times around them.  A garment for the basic needs of women and children has a surprisingly very rich history.


FABRIC:  a 100% cotton print with a slight seersucker texture

PATTERN:  Anne Adams #4988, circa 1943

NOTIONS:  I used everything from on hand in myexisting stash – thread, bias tape, interfacing scraps, a card of vintage baby rick-rack, a vintage metal zipper, and three vintage buttons from hubby’s Grandmother.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Making this pinafore took me about 15 to 20 hours and it was finished on July 22, 2017.

THE INSIDES:  All clean, as they are all bias bound.  The waistband is smoothly finished by an extra facing piece I added

TOTAL COST:  This unusual vintage specialty fabric was bought at Wal-Mart…of all places…as a “value print calico”.  I still had the receipt with the fabric.  2 ½ yards was bought back in March 2013 for $6.88.  What a stinkin’ great deal!

This is one of the very few patterns in my stash that had a very deep set personal, self-imposed “duty” to sew myself a version.  Why?  On a practical level, the pattern and its instruction sheet are absolutely crumbling to dust so I felt an urgency to make a dress from this design before the condition of the paper turned dire.  There is a better reason, though.  There is room to believe the original owner/recipient might be a distant relative we never heard of before!  You see, one weekend, on my occasional visit to our city’s antique and vintage shops, I came across a shocking and exciting find of a 1940’s pattern, whose old postal recipient had the exact same last name as ours.  Her address was in our same city, quite nearby, too.  Our last name is on the more unusual side, and it’s in the traditional German spelling, so the family has always said that anyone else with this same name in town was probably some relative, however distant.  Finding this pattern make the family dig into our genealogy again.  To make things even more special, the year of 1943 was written on the instruction sheet…very much appreciated because mail order patterns are seldom able to be so specifically dated.  Everything about this pattern was a touching, exciting, special opportunity…probably something that will not happen again and a neat happenstance to find in the first place.

Whether rightly or wrongly, I somehow was surprised at the amount of detail and well thought out design to this pattern, as if I thought mail order patterns were second rate.  I feel bad now because this was a killer pattern not in a standout or “chic” fashion way, but by having a great fit of both pattern pieces and finished dress, nice instruction sheet, and impressive design lines.  I am probably so used to primarily using patterns from the four major brands in every era (Simplicity, McCall, Butterick, Vogue), as well as the coveted yet well-known defunct brands (DuBarry, Hollywood, and Pictorial Review, to name a few).  I realized from using this Anne Adams pattern that I should give more mail order patterns a better appreciation.

Anne Adams from my knowledge is an all-American pattern company (yay!) which lasted from the 1930s to the 1960s and were the last to use unprinted, pre-cut tissue.  Her company’s patterns were available through the local newspapers along with related Marian Martin brand.  Apparently, Anne Adams designs were from uncredited designers who tailored to real women, offering larger sizes and even customizing designs for local fashions trends (so the city girl and country girl could have their own style)!  Many Anne Adams patterns do have scalloping as part of their designs, with a penchant for trimming, so I suppose this pinafore is a semi-classic design for this company!  My pinafore does strike me as a very country girl look for a city woman to purchase…I can tell the pattern pieces had been used before so I’m really curious if it was the original owner – our mystery distant relative – that made this for herself!

This was unexpectedly challenging and sort of difficult in the way of being quite detailed and having many steps to make.  This step had to be done before this step…oh and don’t forget the trim…was the sum of my sewing progress in repetition.  I really needed those crumbly, falling apart instructions and the fact that there were substantial parts missing made sewing a bit more challenging.  Not meaning to brag, but for many garments I’ve been making recently, I have not needed the instruction sheets so having a project be a surprise challenge was a good change.

There is really a lot going on with this dress!  Most of it is in the front, and although the back is rather basic, it does have first-rate seaming and shaping.  I enjoy how the vintage metal zipper I used in the side really makes my pinafore strike me as close to an authentic vintage piece.  Asymmetric scalloped bodice closing, tapered rectangular neckline, set-in waistband, center front skirt box pleat, and curved, set-in-style pockets are all awesome, but I like the sleeve ruffles the best.

The shoulder seam is defined by the spot where the gathers are brought in and stitched down.  The smart part is that they are set into the main body of the dress!  The horizontal shoulder seams, which run from the neck outward, are divided into two separate seams – the true shoulder and the over-the-shoulder ruffles – by the vertical opening for the gathering to work.  This did make the bodice one big piece tow work with!  I had to iron the finished ruffles and stitch the seam allowance flat (facing towards the neckline) so that the over-the-shoulder ruffles don’t flare upward obnoxiously…what they want to do!  They might be over the top but these ruffles are so fun to wear and were interesting to sew – not to forget mentioning extremely comfy, too.  The openness of the sleeves and the airy breeziness of the ruffles make this so very easy to move around in, stay cool, and have all the freedom to perform all the necessary or menial tasks a pinafore is meant to be worn doing.

I’m not one for rick-rack on my clothes, by I’m actually surprisingly won over to the benefit a card of the vintage baby size notion added along the edges here!  As I said before, the quainter a pinafore is made, the more it is jazzed up with novelty embellishment, it only makes it look all the better.  Without the rick-rack, anyway, I do believe much of the seaming details would be sadly lost.  I just made it – I only had about 4 inches leftover of the rick-rack after I was done adding it along the pockets and neckline edges. Whew!  I couldn’t cut it any closer if I had pre-measured how much I would’ve needed.  I really think this project was meant to be!

The slight puckering to this seersucker makes it simply a dream to wear and work in.  Reproduction aside, this is (to my knowledge) the true vintage way of doing seersucker – not the giant bubbled, ugly print stuff I see offered nowadays.  It is so cooling the way it keeps an airy distance from off of the skin.  It holds a good shape without being too stiff or getting droopy yet stays soft and comfortable due to the brushed all-cotton content.  Fabric like this is a goldmine to come across these days and that’s a shame.  I’m glad I resisted the urge to hoard this because now I understand why its material gold…it’s not just because it’s rare, it also great to wear!

I suppose I went with a rather traditional color tone for pinafores by making mine in a primarily baby blue print.  You must remember, that in the 1940s blue was still considered a woman’s color and shades of red, including pink were a man’s tone.  The modern opposite methodology of thinking was not around as of yet (read a further explanation of the gender significance of pink and blue in this past post of mine).  Even Hollywood used primarily blue pinafores to costume their best actresses in the decade of the 1940’s, the era I see the most pinafores on the Silver Screens.  Perhaps the most famous of the blue pinafores has to be the gingham bib-style one worn by Dorothy in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” (of which I made my own version for a past Halloween).

Also, the popular 1945 musical movie “State Fair” abounds in blue toned peasant looks, aprons, and pinafores.  The movie’s main actress Jeanne Crain wore at least two shoulder ruffled, baby blue pinafores that were really more like jumpers than my own dress version.  For another obnoxious shoulder ruffled Hollywood pinny in a more basic color of white, I’d like to highlight one that Betty Grable and her associates wore in the 1944 movie “Pin up Girl”.  There’s even rick rack along the edges just like my own and Ms. Grable still looks hot!

Traditionally the pinafore was worn for many years in primarily white and it wasn’t until the 20th century that they became something worn by anyone other than children in prints and colors.  Going upon the concepts of Rousseau that children are their own entities with their “duty” being to learn, play, and be healthy, late nineteenth century girls, young women and sometimes small boys were dressed in pinafores made of plain, mostly white fabric, so they could have comfortable option to protect their clothing when they did their “work”.  With this concept, pinafore from that time were a sort of “uniform” for doing what children did best.  Besides, at that time modern methods of washing were not available and a basic white pinafore would’ve been relatively easy to wash, bleach and starch back to normal if dirtied.

In the 20th century, this had changed to the pinny becoming part of the clothes it was originally meant to protect.  In 1946, Life magazine noted this shift in an article on children’s dress, noting that “children used to wear washable pinafores over un-washable dresses. Now a pinafore becomes a washable dress.”  (Quote from the FDIM Museum blog here.)  Beginning somewhere after WWI (circa 1920s) novelty and juvenile prints, fabric with patented movie themes, and feedsack cottons also helped contribute to the pinafore usage switching from a basic, white, covering children’s clothes to a one-piece, fashionable garment for the dirty work needed to be done by all ages.  In 1941, the U.S. had about 31 textile mills manufacturing the fabric for bag goods which, in 1942, it has been estimated that three million American women and children of all income levels (roughly 3% of the population) were wearing at least one printed feedbag garment.  The element of fun was definitely brought in to loosen up the “uniform” of a pinafore with printed, colorful fabrics.

For adults to adopt a garment as childish in historical use, so sweet in its styling as a pinafore, I don’t think it’s because of being in a wishful time-rewind fantasy world.  Yes, it can be out of place to adopt the fashions of an age group different than your own.  I see it as extending the practicality of a garment, and bringing some lighthearted charm to mundane tasks with something as basic as what clothing is worn to perform necessary tasks.  The rise of the “junior” class of teenagers mid-1940s no doubt further propelled the idea of staying youthful (a key theme of pinafores)…what they found popular, adults paid some heed to and women found ways to bring their trends into their own style when desired.  Sure, pinafores evolved somewhat into playsuits, or jumpers to be worn over blouses, and even into dresses with ruffles and trim that mimic a pinny, so there was no rigid way to achieve a pinafore look.  But no matter what the kind of pinafore, they still find a way to way to mix practicality and playfulness in a way that can be perennially appealing.

Clothing of today is rarely such a hybrid mix of so many different aspects of appealing yet useful, comfy yet nice in one garment.  As odd as it might seem, a pinafore definitely has a place that can best be understood if you make and/ or wear one for yourself.  There are so many, unlimited ways to achieve some sort of pinafore style that I’ll take a chance and say that there is one that could work for any woman or child.  There are 1960’s simple A-line pinafores, 1970s prairie looks, and even modern ones out of denim or suiting.  Why just a few weeks ago the famous 19 year old actress Elle Fanning was out and about wearing a fuchsia pink pinafore with a crop tank underneath and designer accessories for an up-to-date option.  Perhaps my “Pretty Pinafores” Pinterest board can further inspire you to find a style that suits you, or at least find an image to like and appreciate.  Let me know when you find it!







“Retro Forward” Burda Style: Ruffled Halter Neck Sundress

I must confess, a sundress is something I very much enjoy making, especially when it comes to patterns with interesting details that challenge my sewing skills.

Fun, feminine, and perfect for scorching weather, the perfect sundress for me also lets my skin enjoy some air and sun…which is good for my spirits because I am by nature a warm weather-loving girl. My newest magazine from Burda Style, as well as a contest on their blog site and a “Sundress Sew-a-long”, enticed me to sew up one of their designs – a ruffled, halter neck, vintage inspired sundress.

100_5663a-compExcellent construction method laid out in the instructions, as well as a wonderful design, made sewing this sundress turn out as a satisfying success. The predominant details showing off are the ruffled and gathered elastic halter strap, the cut out and pleated bodice, and a full gathered skirt. The full lining of the inside makes for a clean and professional looking garment, not to mention being comfy on the skin. I’m very happy with my finished dress.


FABRIC:  The floral fabric for my dress is a very lightweight and sheer printed 100% cotton gauze. It is hard to see unless I am in the outside light, but the print has a dark navy background with white flowers and a very faint pink center spot in the flowers. My dress’ lining fabric for the entire upper bodice half is a basic but soft white bleached 100% cotton muslin. The skirt portion of the lining is a 100% polyester pongee cling-free fabric.

Burda Style Ruffled Halter Dress 4-2015 #111A line drawingNOTIONS:  All I needed was plenty of thread, some stay tape mesh ribbon, and a zipper. The interfacing was omitted. The zipper was the only notion bought.

PATTERN:  Burda Style Halter dress with Ruffles 04/2015, numbers 111B and 111A. The difference I can see between A and B are one is shorter, one is longer. I chose a skirt length between A and B for my dress.

THE INSIDES:  Almost all inside seams are covered by the lining. The only slight change I made to the original instructions was to cover the waist seam in bias tape instead of keeping it under the skirt lining.100_5540-compTIME TO COMPLETE:  In total, I spent 10 to 15 hours of “enjoyment” on my dress. It was finished on June 20, 2015.

TOTAL COST:  I got by with 1 5/8 yard of floral gauze fabric for my dress, and the muslin and pongee linings came from my stash. The floral gauze had been bought at a Hancock Fabrics store a month before intended for another different project, so it was kind of on hand as well. Anyway, in total my dress probably cost (for floral gauze fabric and a zipper) a total of $15 to $20.

My pattern had come from the April 2015 magazine issue (cover image at right below), but a downloadable version ofApril 2015 Burda Style magazine cover the halter neck sundress is also available on the Burda Style website. Either way, the Burda patterns (for those readers who don’t know) need some assembly and tracing before being ready for layout on your chosen fabric. A scissor with a magnetic ruler guide helps immensely to quicken along the step to getting a finished pattern prepped. This is the stage where I pick out my size, tracing out only the size I need to use, including any grading and adding seam allowances.

For this pattern, I actually went down a size in everything from the normal size I choose for myself from Burda Style. Looking at the model’s version, I noticed it looked a tad roomy on her. I wanted mine to be tailored more tightly as I am generally on the small size when it comes to fit. Going down in size really gave me the perfect fit, I believe. Take note – the pattern is also sized for petites. I did not change this but made it “as is” since I am right on the high end of the height limit for that category. In my mind, see this pattern as decently easy to grade out of a petite size, nevertheless. Whether wrong or right, I would have added the necessary height into two spots: the lower bodice bands and the upper bodice just under the bust. I am happy with the height proportions of the finished dress on myself and think anyone about 5 foot and 3 to 5 inches can get away with it being petite.

100_5681a-compThere were just a few slight things that I personalized to make my dress. I wanted to go with the feel of the soft cotton gauze fabric and have a dress that has an overall softer and easy theme to the way it wears on myself. Thus, as I briefly mentioned above, I eliminated the interfacing called for in the entire bodice. My sundress still holds its designed silhouette, but it just makes it more of what I exactly wanted to make. There is stay tape in the seams to keep the cotton in its original shape since I didn’t use interfacing. I also 100_5541-compadded a small self-drafted bias tape to support and finish off the left side edges where the zipper gets inserted. The self-fabric edge tape blends right into the rest of the dress and is barely noticeable, but gives me a tad more comfort by providing a little more room as well a peace of mind that the zipper seam will not tear the thin fabrics of my dress. Also, as I was working with half the amount of fabric as the pattern called for, I was able to cut all the other pattern pieces out correctly by cutting out the halter ruffle piece on the straight grain (vertically to the selvedge) rather than the bias. The ruffle gets gathered anyway, so I figured correctly that changing the grain line wouldn’t affect all that much. Finally, as there is so much gathering at the waistband, I do have an exposed seam there but it is nicely covered in bias tape. No major design changes or alterations to the style was done otherwise.

100_5660a-compBurda Style’s Ruffled Halter neck dress pattern is challenging enough to be good to sew without being hard enough to be frustrating or impossible. The bodice and ruffled strap just came together before my very eyes after just doing the first few parts (1, 2, and 3), as you can see in my pictures. I did get lost as the how the exactly finish off the ruffles’ edge, so I decided to just make a ¼ inch hem. Having the strap be a bias strip with a ruffle, and then adding elastic and gathering it too is very intriguing and creative to me. At first, I was afraid the strap was going to be uncomfortable, tight, or confining to wear, but – no, it’s not at all! Burda Style’s measurements for the elastic length in the strap is perfect to be taut but still comfy in my opinion.

Combo pic of the first few construction stepsThere are two looks to the halter neck sundress. If I have the elastic in the halter strap lay flat along my neck at the top of the shoulders, then the ruffle lays down, nice and tame. If I roll the elastic up so the halter strap lays up against the back of my neck, then the ruffle is frilly and perky, like a modern Elizabethan ruff.

100_5691-compOn the Burda Style page for the pattern, there is this summary, “This dress will turn heads when you walk into the room. It has a close fitting bustier with a full skirt with wide waistband, like the iconic Fifties silhouette. The most eye-catching trait is the wide riffled RetroForward badgehalter strap that hugs the neck.” This summary obviously fits this sundress into my “Retro Forward” blog post series. To me (and hubby), this sundress seems like a mix of several decades of vintage touched with a slight futuristic appeal. I have not been able to find a clear past trend for ruffled neckline that wrap around the neck, except for some briefly recurring fashions of this style in the 1960’s and 1970’s (see this dress and this pattern). The trend of summer swimsuits and sundresses with an under bust cutout can be found through the 1940’s and 1950’s. There is a modern counterpart pattern which reflects the design of my Burda ruffled halter sundress – see Simplicity 1371. It seems that the “midriff ventilation” trend was most popular and widely seen between the mid to post-war 1940’s into early to mid-1950 decade. See my inspiration collage of patterns and old advertisements below for examples. The full skirt trend was also popular in the 40’s (and 50’s too, as an option to the “wiggle” slim skirts of the era), as was the wide close fitting waistband and pleated bustier center front detail.

1947 Peck and Peck striped summer playsuit fashions advert & 1948 Pedigree Bathing Suits vintage catalog adHollywood 1778 yr1946 playsuit with cutout in front & Hollywood 1353 Pinafore dress yr1944

My new Burda Style sundress is ready and waiting for warmer days and special occasions. I did get to wear my dress so far to some uneventful occasions in our first heat of the summer. Behind me in the pictures of our photo shoot, you can see some beautiful pink/peach Italian Travertine rock that is part of a distinguishing building in our town, the Lindell bank. So often it has the nickname of being the “Art Bank” because of its beautiful and obviously large statues flanking the sides of the building. I love how the muted calming colors of the building and the peaceful, nature-themed statues offer a moment of calm to what is one of the busiest trafficked intersection in our area.100_5666a-comp

Come to think of it now, the “Art Bank” reminds me of my new halter neck sundress. In the way the “Art Bank” behind me in my pictures is a thing a beauty that calms in the midst of chaos, so my dress instantly brightens up my mood when I put it on, besides making me cool in the heat and proud to be wearing a style you don’t see elsewhere. I love being an individual and my sewing helps me silently proclaim this statement. What do your clothes say for you about you?

The Little 1943 Blouse “On the Prairie”

Here is a little different style of a 40’s top to add more variety into vintage sewing. Just when you think you’ve got a decade understood, wham…here comes a style to throw a wrench in your wheels and keep you from thinking you know it all (as in my case). History, and especially the history of fashion is a bottomless pit of info – I hope you enjoy the dive in as much as I!

100_4227compThis 1943 blouse definitely has a country-style look that easily reminds me more of the 1870’s. It was never supposed to end up like this – it just happened mostly because of the homey, almost too cute, tiny floral print on the cotton fabric. I really enjoy doing gathering and small details, so with the ruffled front and sleeves this blouse was definitely “up my alley”. I just have to be careful how I style my hair and pair it with bottoms or it becomes something from “Little House on the Prairie – does 1943”. I should call this project the multi-decade mash-up top! badge.80

This is another  “Agent Carter” 1940’s themed post.


FABRIC:  An ultra-soft 100% cotton in a tiny floral print (a mix of small portions of the colors steel grey, dusty blue, rust orange, dark brown against a background of creamy ivory). This cotton is thicker than most quilting cottons, so between the colors and the fabric weight, my blouse is perfect for chilly weather!

hollywood1117_yr1943NOTIONS:  Everything I needed was on hand already – a vintage grey zipper leftover from repairing a 1960’s era dress, thread, and bias tapes.

PATTERN:  Hollywood #1117, year 1943

TIME TO COMPLETE:  I was finished on November 9, 2014, after maybe 10 (or 12 at the most) hours. This was my Thanksgiving Day outfit – perfectly roomy and comfy, perfect for visiting with family and eating lots of food!

THE INSIDES:  The blouse’s side seams are French seams, but the rest of the seams are bias covered.

TOTAL COST:  My only cost here was for the fabric, which was about $10 in total.

I’ve already used Hollywood pattern 1117 before to make the skirt with the arched front waist (see the finished skirt here). I am incredibly pleased with the finished skirt, and found its sizing and fit to be right on for me, needing little or no adjustments beyond a slight grading up in size. This was a good sign. There are many vintage original patterns (between the 1920’s and 1940’s) that I find seem to run wonky in the sizing. Not all of them, mind you… but I’m getting to a point where I can surmise which pattern brands have predictable sizing (I’ll save this discussion for some other time unless you want to ask me for my opinion). However, when it comes to a pattern that has separates, once I sew up one piece from a pattern, such as a skirt, and find that I like the fit, then I feel quite safe to make the other pieces, such as a blouse and/or jacket. The situation just mentioned with vintage “separates” patterns is what led me to making my 1941 military wool suit set (post here) as well as this 1943 “Little Blouse on the Prairie”. I’m beginning to really like the old Hollywood patterns now that I’ve made a set from #1117.

100_4231compThis really a sweet twist on a basic 1940’s blouse design. It has simple sleeves with slightly gathered shoulder tops, and the conventional 40’s tucks that end at the waistline for a bloused effect. There is also the classic wrap-over the-shoulder seams which end at high chest at the collarbone. The tops of the front bodice are gathered, not pleated as some blouses, into the wrap-over shoulder seam. I added some extra length to the bottom, as is my norm, to make blouses easier to stay tucked into a skirt or trousers.

100_4230compIt’s amazing how such a little addition as strips of ruffles change the look completely. This was the tiniest gathering I’ve done in a while. I was tempted to get out and use my giant monster-looking ruffle attachment on one of my old sewing machines, but as I needed the strip to be a particular length, I thought better of it. There are two very long strips for the neck that get sewn together at the center back of the neck and taper at the ends, while the sleeve ruffles are two long strips that get sewn into a circle. As per instructions, the strips for the ruffles are single layer, and cut on straight grain, with the outer edge receiving a narrow ¼ inch hem. I wish I had done a double layered bias ruffle instead, just because I’m not sure if I like the wrong side of the fabric showing, although my blouse turned out just fine the way it is.

100_4257compAll I know is it sure was a challenge to get all that ruffle gathered onto the edges. I enjoyed it, though. My hubby was intimidated when he saw the neckline chock full of straight pins to keep the ruffle down for sewing – I’m talking about a whole box’s worth of about 200 pins. If I had put it on then… Ouch! Firstly, I sewed the ruffle down to the neckline and sleeve edges first to keep everything in place and take out all those pins. Then I sewed down the bias tape over the ruffle so the raw edges insides would be covered when the ruffle gets turned straight out. All this bulk and layers of fabric was a challenge for my Singer, and I should have used the Brother machine’s heavy duty setting. If you are doing this pattern, or something similar in the way of ruffled edges out of a heavier material, if might be a good idea to use a machine or setting that can tolerate substantial thickness…don’t break your most important tool for creating with fabric!


Whoo Hoo! Don’t mean to make it look like I’m flashing you here.

I was totally lost and confused in regards to the instructions about the zipper insertion so I made up my own and installed it in the center front. It seemed I was supposed to add the slide fastener in the center front because the instructions said a brief mention of closure between the ruffles and there wasn’t any markings or mention of where to position the zipper on the side. I went all out vintage with an old original zipper in the front – I figure it should be stronger than the modern zippers (which was all that I had on hand at the time) with its metal teeth. I didn’t know how else to do it but the connected end of the zipper (covered with bias tape) is at the top of the neckline, where it comes together. This makes for a slightly awkward and snug fit to get the blouse over my head, and I have to remember to fix my hair after and not before putting it on. I would have rather put a modern separating zipper, but I didn’t have one on hand, and couldn’t think of the harsh modern look it would have lended, ruining the overall quaintly vintage theme of the blouse. Do you also try to stick with what you have on hand? It is a challenge but feels satisfying in the end.100_4255a-comp

After my blouse was completely finished, the hips had just a bit too snug of a fit for the blouse to lay right on myself. So I unwillingly unpicked (I hate unpicking) to make slits on both side seam bottoms – much better!

My “Little Blouse on the Prairie” is so very clearly the style that the character of the villainess Dottie Underwood wears in the Marvel television series “Agent Carter”. My blouse’s secondary nickname in my head is actually “Dottie’s style blouse”. Dottie “supposedly” came from Ohio (the mid-west of America), from farmland Dottie combo pictureterritory. She wore homey, sweet, toned down fashions to make her fashions play that part of an innocent country girl and help her seem the opposite of what she was to Peggy Carter – a dangerous threat. She wore cream colors, pastel yellows, olive greens, and small floral prints and cultural-themed sweaters – all of which is in my ruffle front blouse in this post, if only in very small doses.

Not that I am the type of person to want to play the par100_4659a-compt of the evil character, but, just for fun, I did my best at making an “evil Dottie” photo. Maybe I succeeded too well because hubby was like, “Oh, goodness, whoa…” as if he was at the receiving end of my tough attitude. Gee, I was only having fun! It is fun to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially when it comes to the decade of the 1940’s, although things were tough for a woman in that decade.

This ruffled blouse my not be my favorite 1940’s creation, but this project has won me over to wearing it again and again by its features. It fits so well in the arms and shoulders and bust plus the ruffles and thick cotton is nicely warm in the winter, all the while still keeping me a comfortable temperature inside buildings by having the short sleeves. I have a big box store brand micro suede skirt which I like to wear with my blouse (you see it in our pictures). It has all the feature of a forties skirt with its high waist and six-panels, shaping it into an A-line perfect for activity and, ahem, martial arts kicking like Agent Peggy Carter (I wish). Lucille in blue ruffled blouse with Bud from Best Foot Forward movie - cropped pic

The ruffles of my 1943 blouse are another interesting fashion feature of the decade of the 1940s. They are something you see a whole lot of in the 40’s, and when you do they are often, like my blouse, used as an easy way to jazz up a garment (especially the small ruffles that don’t require much extra fabric to make). After all, a ruffle front blouse was good enough for the famous Lucille Ball to wear in a movie made the same year as my top, “Best Foot Forward” of 1943. Ruffles and ultra-feminine features like ruffles, bows, and quaintAdvance 4214 pattern 1940s ruffle neck two-piece playsuitcountry prints (such as the Advance #4214 play-suit pattern shown at left) had begun to be popular with the Bavarian/Tyrolean cultural fashions beginning at the late 30’s/early 40’s, lasting through the entire decade of the 40’s. However, I find peasant blouses to be the one remnant from that trend that is perennially appealing…after all, the 1970’s brought them back to be used in our modern times as well.

Do you have an outfit that you made which is different than what you normally like to wear, but you find yourself liking it after all? I feel that is one of the best perks to sewing your own clothes…to get to try all sorts of new, different, and unusual things and have fun experimenting with fashion, such as I did with my “Little Blouse on the Prairie”!


What’s Red and Black and Ruffled All Over?

Why my new “Parisian Dachshund” apron, of course! I’ll bet you would have never guessed that one coming, he he 😉

100_4760a-compNo really, with all its miss-matching of cultures and objects, this apron has a rocking vintage flair, fun prints, and feminine attitude. I can never get enough of aprons, but this newest one tempts me the most to wear it out for more than just cooking or entertaining. Should I wear this one as a fashion statement, what do you think? I personally think the apron looks best going overboard in matching and accessorizing in the spirit of fun, like I did in my photos…flowers, feathers, large bright earrings, tight black knit-wear underneath, deep red heels, and a big hairstyle! This wild combination shows the outgoing fearless side of me.

Just like for my “Tea for Two” aprons, my “Parisian Dachshund” apron was made into a carbon copy duo: one for me and one for a gift for a family member. I had small doses of both my fabrics and used my high efficiency cutting practices to make two of these highly dramatic frilly versions of a kitchen clothing cover.

As is normal for me, my best aprons are created when I don’t use a pattern. The starting ‘blank’ for this “Parisian Dachshund” apron was to outline an existing rectangular “cobbler’s” style apron which I own already. Then my supplemental fabric, the one with the layers of Fleur-de-lis, roses, dachshund silhouettes, and scroll work, was cut into long wide strips, to be ruffled. All four of the edges were finished on the strips before I ran two rows of loose straight stitches to gather the top about ¼ inch away from the edge.

100_4768a-compI’ve always wanted a supper frilly, ruffle apron in forever. I was totally tempted to add two layers of ruffles to my “Parisian Dachshund” aprons, and I cut out two rectangles for a gathered duo, whether I used them or not. After sewing on one layer to the apron ‘blank’ bottom half, two ruffled layers seemed to make it way over the top. Thus, for each apron, I ended up with an extra not-yet-gathered rectangle, and it went towards making the back ties. I made sure to be precise and center two layers of print for the width of each tie. See how nicely the layers of dachshunds, Fleur-de-lis, and roses can be seen so much better on the ties than on the ruffle? By the way, I hate doing ties…but somehow or another I always seem to suck up my disgust and make them well 🙂

Cutting out the two apron ‘blanks’ out of only one yard left me with nothing more than a small triangle of scrap fabric left. This small triangle was slightly adapted and cut into more of a crescent shape and made into a neck band for my version of the apron set. I really enjoy the way that this crescent shape fits nicely around my neck. The two skinny ends come to join into the apron top corners, while the flared middle lays over the back of my neck like a collar. For the gift apron, I used two leftover ties of the ruffle fabric to make ties for neckline to make it easier to get around and over the head and face of the recipient.

100_4773a-compPockets are a must in my book for an apron! I took a liking to a decent sized scrap of black denim, and used it to make pockets for the aprons. Inspired by the interestingly placed decorative, but useful, pockets on many vintage patterns and garment originals, I added a “mother and daughter” type of pocket style to the “Parisian Dachshund” aprons. There is a normal hand sized pocket, monogrammed for a special touch with the wearer’s initial (a “K” for me, and a “B” for the gift apron) in bright red thread. There is a mini, but still useable (for change maybe), pocket hanging over the edge of the bigger one and slightly a step off and above. Both pockets are top stitched down in two rows of the same bright red contrast thread. I love to add little details and fine work to my projects!

100_4764-compThis apron is perfectly blended with everything that I love and enjoy: dachshunds, anything French themed, Fleur-de-lis, and aprons. My mom’s side of the family has always had a 100_4774a-compdachshund in the household – my Grandparents had several, as well as my dad and mom, her sisters (my Aunts), and myself and my family currently own one. These long and short dogs are sweetest companions I know. Our own dachsie is good to everyone, but he is especially close to me, his dog-mommy. Anything French is hard to resist for me, after the wonderful time I had in that country years ago. I can never get enough Fleur-de-lis stuff because it is very symbolic to me in many ways, but especially since it is the symbol of our town’s patron, King Saint Louis IX.

Aprons are very meaningful and special to me, as well as easy but an incredible amount of enjoyment to create. I try to make each apron different and uniquely individual, especially when it comes to giving them as presents, which is my favorite thing to do with aprons! My aprons are not at all something to ‘save’ in fear of ruining them – they get displayed by being worn on a daily basis and getting loved by enjoying using them. The neatest old vintage aprons are always the ones that are stained and torn or threadbare because I can’t help but think of the times they saw and the work they helped out with – in other words an apron can be a tangible memory! Besides, I seem to think of aprons as the best friend of someone who sews or works with fabric – an aprons protects garments while decorating your style for the day, all the while expressing your personality. What an odd but special combination!

100_4763THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  Both fabrics are 100% cotton “M’Liss” brand prints, from the “In Paris” line of designs sold at Hancock Fabrics. I only had 1 yard of the red and black scroll fabric used to make the basic apron ‘blank’. The “layered with lines of designs” fabric was used for the ruffles and ties – and I only had ½ yard of it! Scraps from on hand went towards the apron pockets.

NOTIONS:  Thread was the only notion needed and that was on hand in plenty.

PATTERN:  None – I just winged it!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Quick and wonderful – each apron took about 2 1/2 hours each, and both were done on December 10, 2014.

TOTAL COST:  Should I really address price when it comes to a gift? Anyway, with such a small amount of fabric used to make the two aprons and scraps for the pockets, the price was a very reasonable total.