Still on the lookout for everyday dresses that don't need a belt, I loved the look of this early 1940s pattern, with the interesting, easy construction and belt-less option rare in vintage styles.
I wanted to make the 3/4 sleeve version in a more pricey fabric, so my first trial was with a thrifted sheet.
I did like the pattern and how easy it was to adjust. I made a few minor changes, including cutting the dickey across the grain to have some fun with the stripes.
And I have to say, I have tried shirt-collar patterns before and they never turned out well, but the one on the dickey was done differently and it was soooo much easier! It consisted of basting the collar to the dickey, then sewing the facing right sides to the dickey, with just a few inches left open for turning. I'm going to try that method on my next shirt-collar project.
I liked working with the fabric, and the border print on the sleeves, but it is most emphatically striped!
Of course it can also be worn with a belt.
I especially liked the fullness the pleats gave the skirt, while retaining a more slender silhouette and a practical working width and length. You can see it clearly because of the busy print, but the back pleat is topstitched - something not in the instructions but on the pattern illustration, so I did it too.
The dickey could be sewn in place if desired, but I just pinned mine in to allow for the possibility of wearing it with one of my other vintage dickeys.
I may actually like this look better!
But worn either way, it was fun to make and a helpful first trial of another vintage pattern on my ever lengthening and evolving to do list.
My latest installment in my Polka Dot Project - after making a 1940s 2 piece outfit, a New Look dress, and a 1950s dress among others - was to jump back to the 1940s using a pattern long on my to-do list.
It actually was a very quick and easy one to make, though not boring, and an enjoyable process.
I used this pattern, and just had to try the unusual sleeves for this dress, though I wasn't sure I would like them as well as the plain 3/4 sleeves.
Though this is clearly a 1940s pattern, I think the big sleeve option was included as more of an evening dress style, when more fabric was allowable. But I barely squeezed them out of the fabric - they take a lot of fabric! I ended up having to take a few inches out of the width in order to fit everything before cutting.
The side pleat adds some graceful interest, as well as a bit more width to the otherwise WWII slender skirt.
These cute buttons I had in my stash mirrored the dots!
And this was my first project after getting our serger, long buried, in use. I love it! And how tidy it makes the inside of the dress! (Yes, that's another hand-picked zipper - my go-to way to insert zippers now.)
The widely scattered polka dot fabric, in three shades of dots, made for a versatile dress as far as accessorizing goes. First I paired it for a more casual look with a self belt and flower brooch, straw clutch, and espadrilles.
Then to show its possibilities in a more formal setting, I tried it with black accessories.
Note: I'm wearing the seamed nylons I tell you how to make in my August Tutorial.
This is the first airing of a hat I got a while ago and haven't had a chance to wear until now.
I did cut a few corners that I wish I hadn't - namely interfacing the belts.
But I do like how the bow as shown in the pattern illustrations emphasizes the asymmetrical interest in the skirt. (Though I didn't realize until after the pictures that the bow wasn't straight. Grrr.)
The sleeves were a bit of a pain to wear, but I ended up liking how they look, which is the important thing. :-)
My Polka Dot Project might have to take a back seat for a few weeks since I have non-polka dot sewing with a deadline to get done and another ensemble I am itching to work on after the deadline, but I still have plans for adding polka dots to my wardrobe over the next few months! I want to explore their possibilities as contrast and trim too.
But for now I was pleased to cross another pattern off my to-do list and end up with a fun summer dress in a fresh version of that versatile print.
Just to prove I have been sewing with something other than polka dots recently, here are pictures of my late 1930s housedress made to fill a gap in my wardrobe.
I wanted something in a dark print (so the lines had to be simple), something that was fitted without needing a belt (hard to find in vintage patterns), and above all - not be wrinkly! I love sewing with cottons, but once in a while want something I can just pull out of the closet and put on.
I found the answer in a late '30s mail order pattern, which was fitted with sets of 2 long darts in the front and the back, and used a seersucker which really doesn't wrinkle and is comfortable.
It did have a little cute detail, though, with the overlapping zigzag button front.
I also did another hand-picked zipper for this one - not because I wanted a couture touch on a simple everyday dress, but because I had no invisible zippers the right color and I can not do neat overlapped ones on the machine. Also since I was top-stitching in black thread a messy zipper would have been...noticeable.
It is very easy to wear and cool for summer, and was quick to make from start to finish. I made it even simpler (though the pattern was very simple) by topstitching a narrow hem around the edge of the skirt and sleeves instead of facings or traditional hand-stitched hems.
I always have a long list of things I want to make whether I need them or not - but it's nice to make something I actually need once in a while, and get some use out of it.
This month's tutorial is courtesy of my sister Elsie, who came up with the idea and did the models.
One must for authentic 1940s costumes are seamed nylons, since stockings then were made with a seam up the back. It's not impossible to find seamed nylons today, but a lot of times there are few options for a really authentic look instead of a rockabilly retro. In Debbie Sessions' excellent post on 1940s stockings, she pointed out that black back seam and cuban heels came into fashion in the 1950s. While I have seen cuban heels in some 1940s illustrations, they were not black, and it's almost impossible to find brown-on-brown cuban heels except from vintage style hosiery makers, which are pricey. So she recommended buying the nude or flesh tone option in seamed stockings, but often that is not quite correct either if it's too light in shade. Vintage nylons were usually denser, had more sheen, and were a darker shade than a lot of modern nylons.
So all that to say, you can buy seamed stockings in different lengths, or pantyhose. But the options and sizes are limited, and you'll pay more for one pair than you will for a package of what you normally wear. So if you already have a favorite brand, here's how you can make an authentic look on any size or shade of nylons.
For this project, you'll need brown thread a shade or two darker than your nylons...
...a pair of nylons or pantyhose (these are knee length nylons, what we had on hand - a darker shade would be even better)...
...and a sewing machine. These models were made using the double straight stitch setting - a narrow, close zigzag would probably also work.
First, check your stitch on some fabric before you try it on the nylon!
Turn the nylon inside out and pinch the middle of the under side together, right sides together. You can do this an inch or so below the toe reinforcement.
Start sewing the seam, very close to the edge. It will make a little bitty ridge but won't be uncomfortable to stand on.
You'll need to stretch it as you sew, especially around the heel area. A nice steady pull.
Keep it slow. The nylon will snag if you go too fast.
The seamed side will start to curve.
When you're done, you'll have a tiny ridge on the inside starting at the bottom of the foot.
And when you turn it right side out, it will be a subtle brown line.
Repeat for the other leg. To put them on, as with other seamed nylons, roll them up and guide the seams straight up the back with your thumbs.
While they will still not be identical to real vintage hose (though much more practical and comfortable!), you can use your own nylon choice for fit and comfort and end up with something much more similar to the real thing than a flimsy, pale facsimile. And you'll save a lot of pennies!
Till next month,
~Kristen - Verity Vintage Studio
Look for my new tutorials posted sometime during the first full week of every month. Hairstyles, crafts, repurposing, project journals, do-it-yourself vintage or alterations, etc.
I was in need of a small lamp to light my vanity - I was thrilled to get a vintage hand painted bedroom set that included a vanity! - and checked thrift stores in vain for something both small and pretty until I found a lucky find - a candlestick lamp with a vintage feed sack shade!
Someone had made some old quilt squares into a lamp shade, covering a generic shade with the cuteness of vintage prints.
I was especially delighted because my small room already has a lot of vintage quilt features.
The bedspread I snapped up for $10 at a clothing donation center and love for its softness, warmth, and the cheerfulness of it; the valances were strips of quilt blocks from the 1930s given to us by my great-great aunt, and backed for valances by my mother.
I even have quilts scattered around in the details!
Incidentally, vanities were a wonderful invention! It's a great help with little things like collars and cuffs and hair flowers, when you're tight on dresser space, and keeps them all at your fingertips. Plus it's nice to have plenty of mirror and be able to sit down while combing your hair.
I was amused to notice how much this picture describes me. Vintage quilts and furniture, old books, vintage fashion and hats (hat pins), crocheting, Idaho (picture in the mirror), and Roy Rogers/old movie/western collectibles. Yep, that's me!
But rabbit trails aside, I was very happy with the newest addition to my little retreat and just love the glow it gives when I turn it on in the evenings.