Tree Skirt

As much as I love Christmas trees, I am always so drawn by what is under them…and I don’t just mean the presents!  I mean the displays of nativity scenes, tiny winter dioramas, scale train sets, or even just a tree skirt that is made out of a fantastic material.  Every tree is as special and wonderful as each one of us are!  So here I am imitating the tree as well as staying warm “in the bleak mid-winter”, all the while finding a way to be fancy for the big holiday with this ankle-length, uber-full, 3-tiered, velveteen skirt.  It is a plush forest green color accented with delicate gold mesh ribbon trim…to me, a wearable version of all the glitz and glamour I love about a Christmas conifer!  Worn with a metallic yarn sweater (not made by me), poinsettias, and even ornaments, I am the second tree, I suppose.

This over-a-decade old skirt project is something I am quite proud to still be wearing.  This was a something I made for a Christmas circa 2006.  I realize it is often frowned upon to both keep and wear clothes for this long, but my skirt is made so well (not specifically meaning to brag), nicely treated (it gets worn maybe twice a year around Christmas, thus in newly made condition), and is a such a basic design that I feel is perennially elegant.  Besides…it still fits me anyway! 

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a cotton blend velveteen lined in pastel mint green poly

PATTERN:  McCall’s #5005 pattern for skirts, year 2005

THE INSIDES:  cleanly serged (overlocked)

From what I remember this was an easy make that became challenging due to the copious amount of fabric (3 yards in total) and all the gathering.  How I afforded that many yards of fabric back then I don’t remember so I must have found it at a steal of a price or convinced my mom to pitch in for me.  This is a really nice, heavy, fluffy velvet that makes you want to cuddle up with it.  I was on a velvet “kick” back then (see this wine velveteen skirt I also made way back) and I still have some of my acquisitions from that fabric buying high sitting in current stash, so one winter yet I will go on another spree of sewing more velvet creations.

As usual, I adapted the pattern.  My change only was to make my life easier back then because I was not 100% comfortable with zippers, much less invisible ones.  I went a size up higher for what had been a faced, form-fitting waistline of the top panel so that I could add elastic to make it a pull-on skirt instead.  There is a casing to my skirt with elastic for only the sides and back ¾ of the waistline so that the center front over the belly could be smooth and bulk-free.  In hindsight, I am glad I made a waistline that is adjustable – because of it I’m probably able to wear this for 12-something years.  However, I did not bother to finish off the top edge of the waistline because I really never tucked things in to my skirts or pants at that time (I mostly liked to wear stuff at my hips as a teen, anyway).  Now that I do tuck more tops in and am not as afraid of a defined waist, and wish I had bothered to take the extra time to do that art of my skirt better “just in case” my style changed.  Oh well, the rest of the skirt was done nicely!

My second major change was to make the bottom third panel of the skirt longer.  I did not like the idea of the bottom tier being an obnoxious ruffle, which is the way it would have been had I stuck to the pattern as-is.  By lengthening the third row, it appears to be more like another panel to the skirt rather than a hem ruffle, besides making it the elegant ankle length I wanted.  I am so glad I made this adaptation.  This skirt brings out the inner princess in me the way it swoops, swishes, and covers a staircase when I walk down steps.  When I hold my skirt up to turn or walk sometimes, it reminds me of the way Cinderella or Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” hold their dresses up while dancing.  Twirling is especially great in this skirt…the sweep is tremendous!  I suppose I’ll never grow out of my old childhood dress-up dreams!

As velveteen (just like corduroy) has the tendency to “stick” to other materials worn both over and under it, I fully lined the inside of the skirt with a slimmer two-piece bias skirt out of the mint colored polyester.  The lining’s A-line shape does not match the width of the velvet skirt, I know, but a full underskirt would have only poufed out my velvet skirt in a way that would not have made it as wearable, only more costume-y.  The slim lining skirt underneath lets the gathers hang on their own and actually keeps my body heat in nicely.  I can totally wear some skinny knit pants under this skirt when it is really cold out and no one would know the better.  Between the poly lining and velvet, dressing up doesn’t mean I have to compromise class.

I don’t exactly remember how I cut the velvet out, but I must have cut each of the tiered panels on a different nap.  This is something I would never do today, but I do quite like it on this skirt.  Because the plush of the velvet brushes a different way, each panel has a slightly variable color to it.  The middle panel especially has a frosted overtone to it that I love because it reminds me of the most picturesque part of winter – snow!

I really don’t frown upon my older and earlier makes even though I shake my head to see how far I’ve come and smile at the same time to see how I appreciate my work at any level.  I like them nonetheless for not being up to my current sewing standards.  I’ll admit, I had a “thing” in the 2000s for skirts that were flowing and feminine due to bias cut panels, ruffles, gathers (like this one), and all in longer lengths, more so than today.  However, three rectangles of fabric can’t be that old-fashioned (can they?) and the 90’s and 2000 look is coming back today in conjunction with the 70’s hippie style, anyway.  So here’s to rocking your own personal style in handmade fashion from whatever skill level you are!  You made it…be proud of that and own the fact you created something wonderful.  Respect those older sewing makes.  Christmas is a time (besides many other things) for me to celebrate family and memories, and wearing this skirt lets me dress up in comfort while remembering my past and ruminating over the present.

I hope all of you had a wonderful, joyous Christmas that filled your heart and your mind with good memories, peace, and happiness.  From my family, to you and yours – warm Holiday wishes!

The Outfit of a Christmas Past

Some of my pre-blogging outfits are like ghosts peeking out to appall my current taste in clothes when they are seen from a less frequently visited garment rack or out of a storage bin.  Others, in good number, are still worn by me and occasionally trickle visually onto my blog.  These ones are the ultimate tried and true standbys in my closet, and although I have some reservations about them deserving to be on my blog, this site does feature things I made and if these garments have lasted me this long…hey I’ll give them their moment in the spotlight!

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Here’s a Christmas outfit I made for myself back in 2006.  I must say this is one I am still quite proud of – besides, it has good memories attached.  My aunt’s house was being featured in a Christmas neighborhood tour, and I was delighted when she chose me to be the guard/helper for the occasion.  Being one who sews, of course I used this event as the perfect reason to whip up a new outfit (the one in this post).  How could you get any fancier than two lovely tones of velvet?!  Also, too, I figured correctly that the velvet would keep me warm the week after for the midnight church service my parents and I attended that year.  Even with my coat on, you can still see the prettiest feature of my skirt sticking out from underneath since it’s so long.  Oh yes, I was doing some calculating with this outfit, and it might be a bit dated, but it’s still a winter winner!

My hat was bought to match my outfit, a Christmas gift that same year (2006) from my thoughtful dad.  It has a velvet ribbon around the base of the crown to continue the theme of my outfit.  My matching boots leather suede “Hotter” brand, a gift to myself a few Christmases back.

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The skirt is a 100% cotton velveteen, lined in cling-free polyester;  The top is a polyester stretch crushed panne velourB4230-knit bell sleeve-shawl collar-topbutterick-3654-year-2002-bias-flounce-hem-skirts

PATTERNS:  The skirt used Butterick #3654, view C, year 2002, while the top is from Butterick #4230, view B, year 2004 (whose bell sleeves went onto this 20’s tunic and this 1970 dress).

NOTIONS:  Just basic stuff from on hand was needed here – thread, elastic, bias tapes, and some spare ribbon.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Neither of these took very long to make, but I do not remember exactly anymore – I’m guessing about 5 or 6 hours for the outfit.

100_7051a-compTHE INSIDES:  Both top and skirt were made at my parents’ house so I took advantage of her serger (over lock machine) for all around cleanly finished edges.

The patterns for the top and skirt are great – easy, quick, fit right on, and turning out exactly as pictured.  There is a refreshing lack of both facings and closure notions.

My top was made without any changes or adjustments but now I wish I had lengthened the bottom hem a bit.  The bertha-style collar has the tendency to curl, but I believe that is 100_6986-compdue to the panne velour…it just loves to curl like holiday ribbon run over the edge of a scissor.  Bell bottom style sleeves prevent this top from being worn under a sweater, kind of a bummer because the poly panne is a lot thinner than the skirt and not as warm.  Besides, the panne has a nap that seems to go in every which way at once so it sticks like Velcro to whatever clothing is over it.  This is the only down side to this top, really.  Otherwise, I do love how this is a dressy top without being stiff or stuffy.  Mostly, I believe I choose this ivory panne because I love how the look of it reminds of the beauty of a cold frost spreading, crusting and settling over a window on a cold winter’s day – part of the reason we took our pictures in a snow shower!

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My velveteen skirt had several issues along the way to as you see it now.  When I was first making the skirt, I had miss-read the proportions and lengthened the skirt.  However, it didn’t need it so I ended up taking out the added inches by making a folded over band above the bottom bias flounce.  I think the skirt looks all the better with that band above the flounce.  A few years later, I finally got around to refashioning the waistband so it wasn’t an all-around elastic band-type.  There are two off-center darts down from the front of the waistband so the belly will be smooth, with the elastic going around the back and sides from front dart to front dart. Last year, I realized one of the front darts were crooked and longer than the other, so I adapted that.  The lining inside is free hanging attached at the waist of the skirt.  Its hem ends at just above the bottom flounce of the velvet skirt because when I walk the ruffle above my feet flips up in a rather curious but pretty way.  If the lining was lower than the flounce it would show when I walk.  This might appear a simple skirt, but it has seen its share of tweaking through the years I’ve worn it.

100_7000a-compThis outfit brings to my mind a topic I’ve wanted to bring up on my blog.  You see, when a garment is made by me, I make sure I both like it enough and that it fits me well enough that it gets worn for as long as it will last.   This includes any mending, repairs, fitting adjustments, and even includes the possibility of re-fashioning.  I crafted it for myself and spent the time and money on it, thus I feel no one else but me is better qualified or has more vested involvement to make sure a handmade garment gets loved and appreciated.  Granted some of my past makes are eye-sores to me now, way beyond any ideas of re-fashioning at the moment, and make me shake my head at what I was thinking.  At the same time, I will admit I do like keeping these currently unworn eye-sore garments because it helps me see how creative and individual I’ve been with my fashion all these years and (most especially) see how far I’ve come with my skills.

100_6984a-compAm I just a lone wolf doing this long-term interest in one’s own wardrobe?  This idealism is mostly associated with the war-time rationing efforts of the decade of the 1940s, but I do not see why it should be so ‘cubby-holed’.  Modern “fast-fashion” has no staying power – it comes and goes out of fad every few months, it is commonly made with extremely low quality, and is not made to your fit and taste like a sewn garment can be.  No wonder charity shops are overflowing with unwanted ‘stuff’.  Handmade garments have more lasting qualities, so why give up on them and get rid of them like any old “ready-to-wear”?  Even if you do have store bought garments, or even vintage pieces, you can still take care of them to keep them in fine order rather than letting a fallen hem or frozen zipper be forgotten by being donated away.  In my early 20s, experimenting with store bought clothes which did not fit me well was how I taught myself the ins-and-outs of tailoring.  Sure, clothes might be a cheap commodity nowadays, but it wasn’t always so.  If you have them, use those awesome sewing skills of yours to do more, given the time and gumption of course.  If you don’t sew, it never hurts to learn how to create with scissors, thread, paper and fabric.

What do you think?  Would you rather start anew with a project?  Working on something existing can drag one down.  Does the thought of fiddly repairing send chills down your spine?  Do you (like me) rather enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you invested in your wardrobe after a garment repair has been made?

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Vintage-Style Red Velvet

Yes, red velvet is definitely lovely, and it’s a sweet treat whether it’s a cake for consumption or a fabric for wearing. In this post, it’s a 1927 blouse!

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Shirts and blouses are a staple to the human wardrobe for ages, so there’s much to change while still staying the same through the past decades of the 20th century. Totally un-like a red velvet cake, this blouse is no-calorie and very appropriate for a party. It’s also made from a lovely, basic, vintage pattern which lets the fabric shine! In this case, I chose a fancy, deep burgundy burnout velvet to make an outfit for a St. Valentine’s weekend wedding we were attending.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC: A 97% polyester lycra stretch panne velvet, with a floral burnout design in deep burgundy red showing a black netting underneath. This fabric was bought from Fashion Fabrics Club.McCall's 7250, year 1927 re-release-comp

NOTIONS: Everything I needed for the blouse was on hand already – the interfacing, the thread, the hem tape, and the buttons. I did buy the beaded ribbon for the belt from a Hancock Fabrics store just a few days before wearing it, but what I used to finish that was also on hand.

PATTERN: McCall’s #7250, a circa 1927 modern re-issue

TIME TO COMPLETE: This blouse took me about 8 hours to make and it was finished on February 11, 2016.

THE INSIDES: All the inner seams are in French seams, except for the armscye which is left loose and raw. Oh, and the drop shoulder seam is covered in hem tape.

TOTAL COST: The ribbon belt cost about $5.00, and the burnout velvet cost about $19.00 for just over 2 yards, so $24 in total cost.

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I am very pleased with this blouse and its pattern. The pattern is some modern re-print or re-issue from based on the McCall archive drawings from 1927, and I found it is easy to sew, simple to understand, and fitting true to size. I was technically in between sizes, so, looking at the generous finished garment measurements, I decided to go down to the sizeSears 1927 catalog broadcloth shirt smaller. Perfect! The blouse is loose enough to have the proper 20’s style bagginess, but yet somehow it seems to me to be just fitting enough to also be my size. There is a slight curving shaping in the side seams, which further impresses me as well as the lovely gathering at the dropped shoulder seams in the front. My fabric is a non-authentic polyester, I know, but rather proper-looking, and much easier to sew as a ‘burnout’ than as a regular panne velvet. My velvet also has a wonderful weight and droopiness which makes the sleeves so very elegant. However, I can also see this blouse being wonderful sewn up out of a soft handkerchief-weight cotton or linen (see the 1927 Sears ad at right from here) as basic starting point for an ‘everyday’ 1920’s wardrobe piece, going with a suit set, a jumper, or a skirt.

Even though I was working with a burnout stretchy velvet panne, I still sewed it like it was a woven in the way I did not let any of the seams stretch. The seams are stabilized with hem tape and/or multi-layers of tight straight stitching. The velvet blouse is slightly heavy because – of course – it’s a long sleeved tunic with a lot of fabric and it needed to hold its shape. Everywhere else there is room for the fabric to give, just not at the seams and I believe it really works best this way when using a fabric with stretch for this pattern.100_7058-comp

A special interfacing went into my blouse. Being a burnout and slightly see-through, I used a black interfacing. However, the interfacing was also a lightweight, 100% cotton fiber content, iron-on style. I thought this was an odd combination and picked up just enough for the sleeve cuffs, the collar, and neckline facings of my blouse. I really liked how this cotton interfacing stuck nicely to the back of the velvet as well as being especially stable (being a cotton) to keep things in their proper shape. Yet, it doesn’t seem to turn out as stiff as other interfacings. I wish so much I’d bought more because I haven’t seen it again in my local fabric stores, but I know now that it is nice stuff to work with, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled…or just break down and order some online.

The sole fault which I have noticed to this blouse has to do with another one of its best features…double-cuffed sleeves. They are very nice but somehow travel around my wrists as I am wearing my blouse, strangling the sleeve around the rest of my arm. This uncomfortable situation is especially apparent when I wear a coat, for some reason. I have a suspicion that this twisting habit of the sleeve cuffs is mostly due in part to the fabric, but not all blame goes to this factor. The sleeve cuffs are nice, I will admit, but sort of a bottom-heavy weight compared to the rest of the blouse. When it’s hanging up, I have to pick up the sleeves and drape the cuffs on the cross-bar of the hangar so the blouse doesn’t get its shoulders pulled down. Once being worn, the heavy cuffs aren’t noticeable but I still think not closing them tight enough around my wrists, combined with their weight, makes the sleeves twist around my arm. This isn’t something that makes me like this lovely blouse any less, it’s just a tendency that I thought it might be good to mention in case others who make this pattern find the same issue.

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I did slightly alter a few minor points from how the pattern instructions show to do things. My changes have to do with finishing, not design and fitting. Firstly, I left out stitching in buttonholes through the cuffs. Stitching through four layers of fabric (with interfacing sandwiched in, too) did not sound like anything other than a headache, possibly ruining my fabric or machine and therefore making my project seem less than classy. Besides, I wasn’t totally convinced on the given method of folding the cuffs. As my hubby pointed out, why go to the effort of making double cuffs only to fold each cuff out in half (even with the edge where it comes into the sleeve)? Doing so creates the look of a single cuff, albeit one that is very thick, and your effort and the design seems wasted. Thus, I staggered the double-fold of the cuff at about ½ inch down (out towards one’s hand) from the edge of the cuff meeting the sleeve for a more obviously layered appearance. Then I merely took my chosen buttons and sewed them through all the layers where cuff-links would normally go. Now I am not irrevocably committed to the cuffs being one way or another. I know this method might sound cheap or sort of like cheating but the cuffs don’t feel 100% right just yet and my being happy with my own garment is one of the highest priorities in my personal sewing. The cuffs look no less elegant, so I think, for their lacking buttonholes and a little change in cuff folding. They are actually quite nicely fuss-free this way.

100_7069-compSelf-fabric belt loops are the only other item I left out in the original design. I wasn’t entirely sure I always wanted to wear a belt, or even that I wanted to always wear a belt at that same one exact spot every time. So they were left off of the side seams. I figure I can always sew in thread loops, which I think I would like better anyway as they are more low-key compared to self-fabric loops. For now, I merely use and existing belt in my collection or, as with the fancy beaded ribbon I used as belt in our pictures, use a safety pin inside to tack the belt in place at the side seams. This is another non-committal answer, I know, but one that makes me happier with the versatility and non-complexity of the blouse in the end.

My beaded belt was a last minute improvisation a few days before the wedding event we were to attend. I felt the blouse need a little extra oomph to snazz up the look while still being subtle. A matching belt in the same burnout velvet seemed like overkill and would not be seen, but a basic belt or even a modern one didn’t feel right – this beaded sheer ribbon did! I used basic black satin scraps leftover from making my Christmas Burda Style draped front skirt to make fabric “caps” to cover and support the ends of the ribbon. Between the beads and the fineness of the ribbon I sewed the satin caps in place by hand. One end cap in twice as long as the other so as to close in the center with a loop and button. The button is something I picked up a while back at an antique store, and even though I do not think it is authentically vintage is darn sure looks the part of a 1920’s piece. It has the words “Costume Makers” imprinted on the back.

I feel McCall’s 7250 is an excellent pattern in my opinion all around, but especially for100_7064a-comp those who are just getting started into vintage or even those who are acclimating themselves to the styles of the 1920 era. It can pass as completely modern, or completely vintage, and even somewhere in between depending on how the blouse gets worn and styled with hair, fabric, accessories, and bottoms. I stayed as true to the late 1920’s as I could, with my long strand of black trumpet beads, my two-tone t-strap shoes, and my high-low hemmed, double layered under dress (a high-low hem was something which was a transition fashion easing the 1920’s into the 1930’s). However, I was also nodding to the popular Spanish-influenced or Tango fashions of the late 1920’s with my authentic 20’s era large jeweled hair comb.

My outfit was just enough to be authentically vintage but not too much to look like a costume. This says, to me, that I found a winning piece with McCall’s 1927 blouse. Almost everyone likes a tunic top, and with this pattern there’s no more of that common “I can’t do the 1920’s” excuse anymore. You can rock the 20’s!

“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.