Friday, February 27, 2015

Excerpts From the Past • 1940s Pattern Book

I can't believe it's already been a week since my first "Excerpts From the Past" post!
Today I am sharing a delightful pattern book that actually has no date on it, but looks to be from somewhere in the mid-1940s. It is a book showcasing "Laura Wheeler" Designs, which you could then order the pattern for through the mail. I wish the patterns were still available!

I am having a blast coming up with photo props for these magazine pictures! Today we have my little tomato pin cushion, which I searched for for days before I found it. I ordinarily use a little cupcake one that a friend gave me, so I hadn't seen this little guy in ages! He is pretty iconic.
The bird scissors is a gift from my dad.
The spools of thread are from a very dear friend who passed away last year. They sit up on top of our sewing room ribbon board, reminding us of her.
The needle case is actually full of sewing machine needles for my great-grandma's treadle machine. 
And last, but not least, is the doily made by the same great-grandma. We have bunches of them; I am determined to learn how to make them sooner or later and carry on the legacy!

Unfortunately, this book is in rough shape, but I tried to retouch the scans as much as I could. I hope you enjoy!

First off is a "Jiffy-knit" blouse, which looks very fun to make. And really, crocheted shoes/slippers? That's amazing! Especially when they look so cute!

This weskit is very pretty; someday perhaps I will conquer cables. Right now, however, cables have the victory over me.

This page showcases all kinds of doilies and embroidery patterns. I love seeing the pineapple designs! When we were on vacation, we visited a mansion in which we learned all about pinapples and hospitality. That mansion had pineapples on bedposts, chandeliers, chairs and doilies!
Pineapples hold so much more meaning after hearing that! Not only do they taste good, but they're friendly too. ;)

Ooooh! An apron! With ruffles!! I can't believe I haven't made a pinafore apron yet. That's definitely going on my "make" list right now.
I have never made a slip cover, but as the magazine says, they are "magic to a faded room - the answer to a housewife's prayer." That sounds like it could come in handy someday!

This is one of my favorite pages; the apron is of course adorable, but the hats are so lovely! I love those "fascinators" that they wore back then. So cute!
The pillbox hat on the left reminds me very much of Sense & Sensibility's Pearl Harbor Hat Pattern. I need to wear mine again!

Ahh. More aprons. The little girl's apron is just too cute!! What could be more adorable? The other pinafores are equally as pretty with the lovely rose, zinnia and "luscious fruit" designs.

I have to confess, this is my favorite page out of the whole book. These have got to be the cutest little dolls I've ever seen. And the neat part is, they're not all just for girls! Look at those soldier and sailor dolls! I always am pondering what sort of things a person could sew for a little boy, and this has most definitely made the list. I can't wait to make one (or two...) someday!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

• Broccoli and Gingham 1940s Dress •

Otherwise entitled, Make Do & Mend, Of Fruits and Vegetables, How to Get a Dress Out of Two and a Half Yards, or Historical Sew Monthly #2.

Now that all that's settled, I can continue. :)
This dress is indeed a tale "making do and mending." Making do because of a definite shortage of fabric, and mending because of some mistakes that I made.

I originally intended this fabric for a blouse, but I loved it so much that I really wanted a dress out of it. I laid out pattern after pattern, thinking that there had to be something that would work out of 2 1/2 yards. No. Nothing would, it seemed.
But, stubbornness prevailing, I had one last pattern to try laying out. Vogue 8728. It almost fit on the fabric, which gave me enormous hope. Determined to make it work, I decided that I could use a contrasting fabric for parts of it. Enter the famous blue gingham! That fabric has been used for so many things, it's just crazy! My mom has a 1950s dress that has a gingham belt and piping, I made a blouse out of it ages ago, and recently, a baby dress.
Obviously, after all of those projects, there was not much of it left, but there was just enough to get the front and back bodice bottom (on the bias) and seam binding! I never thought of the two fabrics matching before, but they really do go together beautifully. It's ironic, because the broccoli fabric itself is on a light diagonal gingham background. It seems they were made for each other!

I had to make several alterations to the pattern; since the pattern sleeves are awfully short and large, I extended them up and out into kimono-style sleeves. I also made the neck about 1 1/2" higher.

Through trying to remember to do all of these alterations, I managed to forget one very important one; making the neckline narrower! I was so mad at myself. I was beginning to detest this vegetable-laden dress! What would fix the very wide neckline? A neckband? Big bias binding? (Wouldn't that look just lovely....)

I finally decided to sew in a piece on each shoulder in order to make the neckline narrower. It seemed like a rather ludicrous idea at the time, but it actually worked quite well! It is not, perhaps the most desirable thing to have to do on a dress, but under the circumstances, I'm pretty happy with it!

We found this delicious green bakelite buckle at a local antique shop recently, and it adds the perfect touch! I just love it. And it's our first bakelite item of any kind, so it is definitely exciting.

I pieced the back of the bodice out of necessity, but I'm actually very glad it worked out that way. It makes it look like an intentional continuation of the contrasting bodice front. 

My mom decided to make a dress out of this pattern as well, using some gorgeous matching fabrics that she had in the stash. I just love those fabrics together! We affectionately named our dresses "Blueberry" and "Broccoli."

Oh, and did you see her shoes??!! They are too stinkin' cute! I realllllly want them. I'm not entirely jealous, however, because I actually have a little surprise of my own in the shoe department. But that will have to wait until next week when I have a matching dress to photograph them with. Bright orange somehow doesn't quite match this dress. *tear*

Yep. We're weird like this. Proud cow pose followed by Roman soldier. How delightful.

And now, for the delightful HSM details!! I have been frightfully delinquent in participating in the HSM this year, so I am excited to be back into it! 

The Challenge: Colour Challenge Blue
Fabric: Cottons purchased at two different quilt shops. 2 1/2 yards of the broccoli, and leftover scraps of gingham.
Pattern: Vogue 8728
Year: 1943
Notions: Zipper, thread, belt buckle
How historically accurate is it? Mmmm...85-ish%. There is some serging, and the zipper may or may not be correct.
Hours to complete: 8(?) It would have been less if I had not taken some detours into mistake-land.
First worn: Last Sunday, to church. (And this past Sunday, to church.) I guess I like it. ;)
Total cost: $35
I'll be back on Friday with either another Excerpts From the Past post, or an apron!
Thank you all for the delightful comments on the magazine scans - it gives a girl the incentive to keep it up!
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Excerpts From the Past • Circa 1944

Since our stash of vintage magazines and paraphernalia is rapidly growing, I thought it was about time to share some of it! I enjoy seeing Brigid's magazine scans so much!

It was fun to come up with little vintage objects to photograph with the pamphlet! I opted for my grandma's pinking shears, an old [old] measuring tape, and bobbins from my great-grandma's treadle machine.

This little pamphlet is from 1944, and features adorable housedresses and aprons. It's hard to imagine the USDA releasing pamphlets with such lovely contents!!

Click on each image to enlarge for a clearer picture.

This is my favorite out of all of the dresses. In fact, I have a pattern for a very similar dress that I might just make out of the fabric in the top picture. I love ruffles. And quick to iron? Now I know I need one!!

The descriptions for these dresses are in the picture below.

It is so interesting to read about each design and the handy features for around-the-house wear. Back pleats for easy movement, roomy skirts for stooping, and of course pockets!
I love the picture of the lady getting her mail.

And now....aprons!! Each one is designed, just as the dresses are, for practicality and ease while doing housework.

A mop apron? So nifty! I need one of those too.

And lastly, this lovely jacket. It looks so practical and comfy, and the idea of lining it with flannel sounds....really good.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures! I'm planning on continuing this "Excerpts From the Past" series, so there will be more lovely magazine scans up here before long!

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Flowers in the Snow • 1940s Dress

*EDIT: This dress is now for sale in my Etsy shop.  See the listing here.*

About a week ago we had a day of blissfully warm weather (46°), which made for a perfect opportunity to photograph a very springy dress! It was awfully bright for my sensitive Norwegian eyeballs though, so I had to opt for the sunglasses look.

I made this dress shortly after finishing my black one because I loved the simplicity of the pattern. It's one of those patterns that seems complex at first, but when you make it you discover how easy it is!
I got this fabric several years ago at Hancock Fabrics, and shortly afterward decided that I did not like it. So, I traded with my mom for her share of some pink plaid that we had gotten together.
A few weeks back, however, it happened. I fell in love with the yellow fabric again! Thankfully, my mom was sweet enough to trade it back to me. I am so glad! It's just such a pretty, springy fabric.

It was one of those days in which I did. not. feel like messing around with fancy hairdos for hours, so I opted for a snood. I actually like them quite well, I just forget to wear them! They're bad-hair-day-friendly too, which is a huge bonus. 

I love the subtle details of the dress! The pleats add just the right touch. 

These big candy buttons are my absolute favorites. I never knew what they would ever be good for, so I was excited to find that they matched this fabric!
As with my black dress, I raised the neckline 1 1/2", and instead of having a button/snap closure, I prickstitched the bodice to the yoke 3/4 of the way across. That way I still can get it on and off easily, but I don't have to deal with the bulkiness and annoyance of snaps or buttonholes.
I lined the bodice with batiste, as per my sheer hatred towards lining fabric. I did not line the skirt.

Since buckles are so seemingly sparse, we developed a neat (or wacky, however you look at it) way of using buckles for multiple different dresses. Instead of sewing the belt to the buckle, we just thread the pointed end of the belt through the buckle, sew a hook to that end, and then a corresponding eye to the correct spot on the other end of the belt. It seems to work quite nicely! I already share this buckle with my green shirtdress.

Unfortunately, my favorite shoes are wearing out awfully fast. I just got them this past summer, and already I have had to replace the rubber part of the heels because one spontaneously fell off. Now they are just showing tons of scuff marks everywhere. It's so sad! I'm going to have to look for some new (quality) shoes.

• Photography by my mom

No, I didn't throw it at her.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

• Of Ric-rac and Aprons •

This week, our church hosted a ladies' craft night. It naturally follows that I would be wearing an apron, since aprons are my favorite
Of course, I couldn't just wear any old apron. I had to have a new one! So, with only about 2 hours before we had to eat and leave, I started making it. Let's just say my sewing machine got some strenuous exercise. But that's good for it, right?

I wanted to make one with ruffles on the shoulders and seam binding all the way around, but in view of my schedule, I opted for an easier design. I used See & Sew B5518, altering the bodice slightly because I wasn't putting in elastic, and I put on a different pocket. Oh, and did I mention ric-rac?
I wanted it to look something like view C in Simplicity 3544, so I added the cute little rows of ric-rac on the top, bottom and around the pocket.
If I use this pattern again, I will definitely be lengthening the straps by several inches at least. I should have measured them before I made them, but I wasn't taking time for anything like that when I made it. No pins, no markings. Just cut and run!!
Believe me, when I'm making a dress, I do things quite a bit more carefully.

Just as a side note, the dress Thelma Lou is wearing is not sheer unless you happen to have tomato-colored skin. That would be an inconvenience.
In any case, it's so nice to have a new apron to wear! I might just have to sew another one soon! :)

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Monday, February 9, 2015

• Green 1940s Shirtdress •

I had intended to post a different dress today, but in view of how much I love my brand new shirtdress, I moved it up to the front of the schedule. Today's post is actually similar to last week's, because the pattern I used is not a vintage reproduction. (shocking, right?)

I was perusing our pattern stash last week, unsure what to make, so I decided to take a peek in the box of non-vintage patterns. I thought that maybe, just maybe there would be something in there that I could redeem. I went through the box several times before I decided that this pattern, Butterick 5846, might just fit the bill! It had definite possibility; a yoke with the bodice gathered on, lots of pleats and a pretty but not too full skirt. 

On a whim, I decided to look it up online to see what other people's renditions of the pattern looked like. Was I ever surprised to find that everyone else referred to it as a "1940s shirtdress!" I happily did some measuring and jumped into making it.

I made the longer skirt from view C, which ended up being the perfect length. I also omitted the button closure on the skirt, and put in a side zipper.

I have long admired this fabric at JoAnn, but something else always caught my attention and I would end up not buying it. I even saw it up in WI when we were on vacation, but still didn't buy it. A few weeks back, however, my parents bought it for me for my spiritual birthday, and I was very happily surprised! It is so perfectly vintage. I just love it!

I had intended to use some different little pearl buttons, but I didn't have enough of them. It worked out for the best though because these little beauties match even better! My mom had them in her button stash, and let me have them.
She's just nice like that. :)

This buckle was a marvelous find at an antique store a few weeks back, and it really matches the dress very well. I actually share the buckle with another dress, which I will talk about more next week! 

I absolutely *love* the details of this dress; the pleats make it nice and fitted at the waist, while being extremely comfortable and roomy on top. 
And all of that topstitching!! I love it!!

I really had no problems while making it other than with the collar. The collar pattern piece has little triangles which you are supposed to staystitch around and snip on one collar piece so that it can be slipstitched down over the seam allowances once the collar is finished. I found out (after sewing everything....and trimming everything) that those triangles need to be moved about 2 3/8" out (towards the points of the collar), or you will end up having that much of the collar seam showing. Thankfully, it was a pretty easy fix.

I really like the skirt, but I feel like it's not quite authentically 1940s. Although the pattern pieces might be able to be laid out a little differently, my dress took 5 yards, which is more than a typical 1940s dress would have taken. All that aside though, since our fabric isn't rationed, I don't have a problem with making a slightly fuller, swingy skirt. :) 

• Photography by my mom •

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Monday, February 2, 2015

• 1940s Gumdrop Dress •

...Otherwise known as Gumdrop #2. 
Gumdrop #1 is still in fabric form, waiting to be transformed into a 1950s dress.
All that aside, I made another '40s dress! (surprise!)
Lily posted a few weeks back about her 1940s dress, and I fell in love with it immediately. The design is so simple, and yet so detailed! We actually had the pattern on hand, Butterick 5951, so just a few days later I produced this dress. And I couldn't be happier. It is one of those dresses that you just feel good in. It's a wear-it-every-day-dress.

I had looked at this fabric for weeks and months, but never thought it was much to write home about. One day a few weeks ago, however, I picked it up and *boom!* fell in love with it. I ended up only using 3 1/3 yards of fabric for this dress, thanks to the fact that it has no nap. I just love dresses that don't take much material!

The very same day that I bought the fabric, we went to an antique store and found this delicious green buckle that just *happened* to match the fabric perfectly. That was definitely Providential.

And, we just *happened* to have four perfect little green buttons in the stash as well. I just love it when that happens!!

I did not want to line the whole bodice, so I just made neckline facings. I also put in a keyhole opening and a side zipper, as Lily recommended.

Speaking of zippers, I bartered with my mom and got a brown metal zipper to use. I was a little leery of it at first, I mean, a metal zipper? Won't it be scratchy or something? All of my fears dissipated as soon as I put the dress on. It's actually more comfortable than regular zippers. It's super-bendy and just amazingly comfortable, not to mention flat and easy to sew! I'm hooked!!

I was thrilled to actually have to widen the shoulders of the dress for once! I know...that sounds a little weird. Recently I had been having to take in the shoulders in every single dress that I made because the pattern called for shoulder pads. I was starting to doubt whether I really had wide shoulders anymore!! My fears are now relinquished, thank goodness. ;)

We found this whimsical hat a few weeks ago and fell. in. love. It is daringly whimsical, at least for me, but I actually like it more than most of our other hats! The brown color matches a lot of outfits, nicely enough.

It ended up being ridiculously snowy out yesterday, so we had a very interesting photo shoot. Freeeeeezing cold, snow-covered minks, and whiteout conditions just between where I was and the camera! We managed to get a few good ones though, thankfully. I love the snow, it's just annoying when it complicates picture-taking!

• Photography by my mom
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