Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
Tag Archives: retro
May 15, 2012Posted by on
I have finally completed construction of my version of the Ladies’ Wrap #0291.
And it’s reversible!
I decided a lined version of the wrap would look better, and because it would be lined, I could easily make it a modern 2-in-1 wrap.
So here’s how I made the 1912 wrap completely reversible (photos enlarge when clicked):
Since I chose to eliminate the center back seam on the solid turquoise satin side, I cut the satin on the cross-grain in order to fit the width of the pattern. (This also solved the layout problem in the instructions where they forgot to tell you to turn the pattern piece over and cut mirror images for each side.)
But, unlike the satin, I determined the metallic brocade shouldn’t be cut on the cross-grain because the woven print of the fabric looked best using the standard selvage to selvage width.
So I decided to sew two panels of the metallic brocade fabric together (matching the woven print) before I cut anything out of it.
Because of my fabric choice, the project now got tricky. Most sewists will never have to deal with some of the following issues, but if you ever do, you might find the information useful.
The brocade I used is a continuous brocade, meaning there were lots of floating threads on the back, and I knew it would fray like crazy once I cut it.
And those floating threads are stupidly shiny metallic beasts (the fabric looks like sequins in person), which made the back side hard to mark. The threads also made it next to impossible to match my print because they prevented me from seeing the flower pattern from the wrong side of the fabric.
Red was the only color that would show on the fabric’s color scheme, and the only thing that would mark the metallic was either a red Sharpie or red thread. (I decided against the Sharpie idea just in case it should ever bleed onto the satin turquoise half of the wrap.)
I lined the print up on the right side of the fabric by folding one panel’s selvage edge under and pinning in place. Then I thread-traced (in red) both sides where they would be stitched together.
After tracing the stitchline, I repinned the panels directly through the thread-traced lines from the wrong side of the fabric, making it ready to sew together.
I stitched the two panels together (shockingly, I only had to redo a small 3-4 inch section to fix an alignment issue), removed the thread-tracing, serged off the extra seam allowance, and ironed my seam allowances open.
I chose to flat-line my metallic brocade with a thin white cotton fabric for many reasons, but the main three are:
- I could easily mark the cotton and actually SEE my marks on the cotton fabric.
- The cotton fabric would prevent the floating metal threads from snagging and wearing holes in the satin that would ultimately be backed up against it.
- The cotton fabric would soften the ridge of the center back seam allowance where it would touch the un-seamed center back of the satin.
I traced the wrap pattern onto the cotton (in pencil) by lining up each half to the seam between the panels. Then I pinned like crazy to keep both the cotton and the brocade panels lined up, and thread-basted the layers together – about an eight of an inch outside of the traced stitchlines. (From this point, I treated the brocade and cotton layers as one piece.)
On the pattern piece, I notched a line one-quarter-inch inside the trim placement line using a scrapbooking hole-punch. (Why spend something like $40 on a professional pattern notcher when you can use a $7 square rectangle punch that actually has a reservoir to catch the punches and a rubber grip?)
On both the satin and the brocade sides, I marked my trim placement line using the notched dotted line.
At last, I was ready to actually cut my fabric! Scissors please!
I cut out an unmeasured seam allowance around the traced lines but I did NOT cut into the points separating the sleeves from the body yet. My motto is only cut your fabric when absolutely necessary – especially when it comes to point sewing.
Next, I stitched the four darts and pressed them to one side. The brocade darts were pressed toward the back, and the satin darts were pressed toward the front so that the final layers together would not add thickness in the same place. (I did not cut the darts open as the instructions were written because they were not that big or bulky.)
Then I machine stay-stitched the satin half (about an eight of an inch outside the stitchline) and I serged around the cut out brocade/cotton piece to prevent fraying.
Trim sewing came next. I cut 4-inch wide bias from some black crepe-back satin, and pinned it (right side down) along the marked lines on each sleeve.
I stitched one-quarter inch (presser foot width) in on the edge of the black bias – thus attaching it to the actual “trim placement line” because I marked my line one-quarter inch in.
This allowed me to hide my stitchline under the bias (unlike the written instructions for the trim) when I pressed the bias back to the sleeve edge. I machine-basted the bias to the edge of the sleeve and trimmed off the excess.
Then it was time to join the two wraps!
I stitched the two wraps together (matching the marked stitchlines and ignoring the unmeasured seam allowance) leaving it open where the collar would attach.
I made an extra stitchline inside the underarm points because of the fraying nature of the brocade. And then using my sharp scissors, I cut carefully to the point and immediately fray checked the edges around the point.
Once I had turned the wrap right side out, I hand-stitched around the underarm points to secure my crazy brocade and to prevent a stress point later.
And the reversible wrap was almost complete!
Then I made the collar with one side pre-folded in and attached the other side to the wrap, sandwiching the opening (left for turning the wrap right side out) between the collar pieces.
I hand-stitched the folded-in side of the collar to close everything up, and then decided to do a nearly invisible pick-stitch along the edge of the collar to control the edge. I also pick-stitched through all the layers of the sleeves (just inside the turned edge of the bias trim) in order to keep the layers from shifting.
I made a matching black front-tying belt with a back gold buckle decoration and secured the front overlap with a center front snap.
I chose not to use tassels on the sleeve points (because tassels always make me think clergy or home décor) and instead, attached a few beads to the four points.
I think this pattern is meant for someone who is comfortable working with bias edges – there are so many angles and points for something so visually simple it’s not really beginner level. My fabric choice complicated matters for me during construction, but I made it work. While the fabric I chose makes the wrap rather warm (it would be perfect for cold weather), it could easily be made of a variety of different fabrics.
I can’t decide which side I like better on the outside – they are both so different!
And… that’s a wrap!
February 24, 2012Posted by on
My sister’s 1930s wedding was more “Hollywood glamour” than Depression era style. (Here’s Part 1 in case you missed it.) Of all the items I created in such a short time-frame for her special day, I was the most pleased with how her headpiece turned out. But I also had fun with the details of her bridal gown and the flower-girl’s dress.
I subtly embellished her custom wedding dress with beads and feathers. (Once again, I was disappointed that the photographers didn’t take a lot of full-length shots I was hoping to have for my portfolio).
My sister loves and has studied the Japanese language & culture, so she included a few Japanese touches in her wedding (more about those details in a future post). Because of the popularity of Asian influences in the 1930s and ’40s, the Japanese elements blended well with the overall Art Deco style. Thus, we decided to incorporate this into her dress with a custom hand-beaded appliqué of a Japanese crane that wrapped around the side of her dress.
My favorite part of the wedding gown was the train of feathers. When I suggested the feathers to my sister, I didn’t really expect her let me use them on her dress, so I was delighted when she agreed with the idea. I love that the feathers added something wonderful to the back of the dress for the wedding guests to look at during the ceremony. (Very Ginger Rogers.)
After the ceremony, the photographers captured one of the few full-length shots of the gown as the happy couple descended the stairs.
For the reception that followed the marriage vows, I used a few safety pins to bustle her train to keep it up off the ground (so that she could move among the guests more easily).
As you can see in the next photograph, I also pinned together the points of the double train on my copper bridesmaid dress and looped it over my arm for the reception.
The job of the flower-girl was filled by our cousin Lucy, who was four at the time. Her dress was made from the same fabrics as the bridal gown, along with some left-over fabric from my own wedding dress from two years before.
The sash was of the same copper-colored fabric used for the bridesmaids’ dresses and tied in a knot in the front – the perfect way to secure an active little girl’s sash to avoid constant re-tying!
Lucy wore a few bridal feathers in her hair, and the trim at both the skirt hem and edges of the ruffled sleeves had a feather-like look. (I also used a little of the same trim on the edges of the crane appliqué on the bridal gown).
And nothing else captures the vintage 1930s feel quite like a sepia-toned photograph:
More about the vintage location, how some guests dressed for the theme, and overall retro wedding details in a future post…
February 7, 2012Posted by on
Today the mailman rang my doorbell and left a package on my doorstep. It was from my Mother-in-law, and it was rather heavy.
It’s always fun to receive unexpected gifts, and this was one of the most thrilling because when I opened the box I found this:
It’s a full inch-and-a-half thick! Over 1000 pages of detailed history, and it’s BIG – 9.25” x 13.25” sized pages! It includes everything from clothing to refrigerators to children’s toys to tractor parts.
The photos are fantastic and the detailed descriptions are wonderful. It’s in surprisingly good shape for being from 1947 – I only found one “dog-eared” page and I’m not sure it was folded on purpose. (My MIL said she found it for only 5 bucks at a thrift store!)
Of course my favorite section is the women’s fashion.
I find it interesting that the styles of jackets and coats back then aren’t terribly different from the modern styles in stores today.
Other than the elaborate Forties hairstyles and the fact that none of the models are wearing jeans, it’s kind of hard to date the coats.
And look! Tying the belt of your coat isn’t such a new idea even though current fashion magazines act like it is.
There are pages and pages of beautiful hats! I wish it were easier to pick up millinery supplies at my local fabric stores – I may have to make some of these!
I love the style lines of this dress:
Some of the pages are even in color! These sweaters and cardigans are still considered stylish today:
I would love to be able to digitize this catalog to preserve the history! I may have to invest in a handheld scanner in the future…
December 4, 2011Posted by on
It’s December, so my husband and I have been pulling out all the Christmas decorations. I have a retro 1950s style kitchen and I try to keep my kitchen decorations in line with the theme.
When I was born, my grandmother made me a felt Christmas stocking. I’m sure it was one of those stocking kits similar to what they still sell today, but she made it over 30 years ago – so it has a simplicity that the more modern patterns lack. Just felt pieces, sequins, and beads. I hang it on one of the upper cabinet doors in my kitchen.
On the long row of cabinets, I hang one felt ornament from each upper cabinet handle.
I designed & crafted the six ornaments in various shapes that I found in retro graphics or wrapping paper patterns. In order to attach them to my cabinet handles, I attached two pieces of ribbon on the top of each instead of a loop. That way I can just tie them on with a bow.
Making the ornaments is quite simple – I just started with a basic shape and then cut tiny pieces free-hand and hand-stitched them on, adding sequins here and there. Once the front design was finished, I cut a plain piece of felt for the back and stitched around the outer edge of the entire thing (remembering to insert the ends of my ribbon at the top edge).
A little project like this is great for scraps and it is good hand-sewing practice. (I would have loved to do something like this as a kid!) Sometimes it is just nice to do a craft that doesn’t really involve much planning or patterning – you can just cut and start sewing, making it up as you go. And if you don’t like how it is turning out, you can start over without wasting much material. =)
The reason I thought to make my retro kitchen ornaments is kind of a long story.
A number of years ago, I was working as a costumer on a low-budget TV movie/webisode series and we had a large pile of felt fabric scraps leftover from one of the webisodes that required some costumes made from felt (in the script, the mother character was making costumes for her daughter’s school play).
Since it was just before Christmas and the workdays on set were long (and often boring), I kept myself busy by creating some hand-sewn ornaments out of the felt scraps and a few sequins that I had in my personal stash.
I created 15 unique ornaments for some of my fellow crew members and a few of the actors – it was a completely free way to give personal Christmas gifts and I had a lot of fun making them. A couple of my closest crew friends even joined me in the craft and made some gifts for their own friends & families.
Some of the ornaments are inside jokes and others just represented an interest/job of the recipient. I sketched the more detailed ones and then traced the shapes I drew onto the felt before cutting & sewing.
I gave each ornament inside a hand-delivered Christmas card, and something like this would be perfect for mailing inside a card because they are flat and light – they might not even cost extra postage (you’d have to weigh it to be sure though).
Everybody who got an ornament was thrilled – especially since each one was so personal.
The most detailed ornament was of the Yellow Submarine from the Beatles’ Album cover:
I made this for a guy who is a major Beatles fan, and his reaction to the gift was probably the most amusing – he was so astounded that I made him something so in line with one of his favorite things, he was worried that his girlfriend would be upset that it was his “favorite gift ever!”
And the Hippo was my favorite:
Because who wouldn’t want a Hippopotamus for Christmas?