Category Archives: Vintage style

Vintage style bicycle-print blouse

I saw a shirting fabric with a bicycle print at Jo-Ann’s and couldn’t resist:

How cute is this bicycle print?

How cute is this little bike?

I decided it was perfect for a shirt, and since I had already altered dress pattern Butterick 5846 to be a blouse, I used that. I did move the tucks down an inch, because I think they stopped too high, and I also made each tuck a little shallower. (As it turns out, the fabric has some stretch to it, so I probably didn’t need to make the tucks shallower. I really need to start paying closer attention to the information on the bolt ends.)

Here’s the finished blouse:

The fabric didn't seem like it would stand on it's own, so I also bought a coordinating blue for the collar.

The fabric seemed like it needed a little something extra, so I decided to use a contrast fabric for the collar. I forgot to take photos when I finished, so these were taken after the first wash.

And the back:

I do like the yoke on this pattern, but I am over making all those tucks!

I think I am over making the 12 tucks called for in this pattern!

Detail of the collar. The light area is just the sun through the shrubbery in my back yard.

Detail of the collar. The light area on the collar is just the sun peeking through the shrubbery in my back yard.

IMG_0950

I bought the buttons a while ago from a Jo-Ann’s clearance bin at 50 cents a card. They are octagon shaped and faceted. A good match for the bicycle wheels, I thought.

I’ve worn this blouse a couple of times — once with my wide-leg denim pants and once with some navy capris — and I really like it. But I usually wear blouses untucked with pants or capris, and this really flairs out below the tucks. In short, it makes my butt look big. And I don’t even have a butt.

But this blouse will be fab tucked into a navy skirt. I need to get on that, but the sewing project list is long!

Vintage-style denim pants from Simplicity 3688

My second attempt at Simplicity 3688 is a success.

This is a distinct improvement over my first go at the pattern. Nearly two years ago, I tried (with a few tragically cut corners) a fitting technique that didn’t work out for me. I decided to go back to my favorite way to fit a pattern: Make a muslin and figure out what I need to change from there.

For those who aren’t familiar, here is the rather famous Simplicity 3688.

Simplicity 3688

Simplicity 3688.

It’s a reproduction of a 1940s pattern that is well-known among people who like to sew vintage styles. I’ve made the skirt twice.

For the pants, I cut the pattern a size smaller in the hips than in the waist, but that’s the only change I made before the muslin.

From the muslin, I determined that it was an inch too long in the crotch and that if I took that inch out through all the darts, they would end in much better spots. I also needed to add two inches to the length. That’s it.

I made the pants from a dark denim (that turned out to be stretch) with white top-stitching thread and a white vintage button at the waist. Here are some closeups of the details.

 

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Top-stitching on the waistband.

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Adorable vintage button closure.

Note that the buttonhole isn’t stitched with the usual satin stitch. The buttonhole was a new-to-me technique on my sewing machine. The Fancy Damn Sewing Machine has an automatic buttonhole function and fancy foot. You tell the machine how big your button is, set the wheel on the foot so it starts at the beginning of a buttonhole-sewing cycle, and press the foot pedal until your buttonhole is complete. Works like a charm (except on silk).

But I had told the machine I was sewing on heavy denim, so it changed the buttonhole stitch style from a satin stitch to Xs, and it wouldn’t let me go full automatic. I used a regular buttonhole foot. I had to hit the reverse button when the first side was long enough, then the machine made a bar tack and started sewing the other side of the buttonhole. When I pressed the reverse button again, it finished with a bar tack. Amazing.

The pants are very comfortable, and the fit is close, but there are some things I already know I want to tweak for the next time around:

  • I thought at first that the crotch was still too low, but then I realized that my waist is lower in the front than in the back, and if I fixed the pants to match, the crotch would fall where it should and the pants would hang better. I have already adjusted the pattern at the waistline to accommodate this.
  • The waist may need to be taken in. Since my hips have always been a size smaller than my waist, I am used to wearing pants very tight in the waist so they aren’t crazy loose in the butt. These pants have zero ease in the waist, but I may want a half-inch to an inch of negative ease. I’m going to wait on that decision until I’ve worn them a few times.
  • Somehow I made the pattern too long. I don’t think I’ll bother to change that, better to err on the side of too much length than too little.
  • I’d like to add single-welt pockets to the back. I’ve never made them before and am dying to try the technique. I actually could still add them to these pants.
  • The top-stitching length gets shorter the more layers I went over. I think I’ll need to lengthen the stitch in thicker areas so it all looks the same. I also think I should use a longer top-stitch length overall.

And here are the pants on me, with the blouse I most recently finished (and a new pair of shoes).

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

The finished pants.

I don’t normally wear blouses tucked in, so here’s how I wore the pants on my recent visit to the Legion of Honor Museum.

Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846. Photo by Robert the Husband.

Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846.

The blouse is in a quilting cotton whose print I couldn’t resist, so it doesn’t drape well, but next up is the same blouse in an adorable bicycle-print blouse-weight fabric.

And here are the pants on me a few days later, with a knit top, cardigan, and loafers. So comfortable! I’ll probably wear them like this most of the time.

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Mark the Brother.

A different way to wear the pants.

I really like the silhouette and comfort of these pants. I’m definitely going to make at least two more pairs in denim and dial in the fit before I eventually make a lined pair from the really nice navy wool crepe in my stash.

Museum Visit — High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection

Another wonderful costume exhibit has arrived in San Francisco, so my Museum Girlfriends and I headed out to The City on a beautiful spring day.

This month, High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection opened at the Legion of Honor. The architecturally stunning museum is situated high on a hill in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park, with postcard-worthy views of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge.

The Legion of Honor Museum. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

The Legion of Honor Museum.

High Style showcases more than 60 costumes from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit captures key moments of 20th Century fashion design, from 1910 to 1980.

In this post, I highlight a few of the costumes that I found particularly interesting. The first to draw me in for a closer look reflects the brief period in the early 1920s when wide hips accompanied the familiar dropped waists.

Jeanne Lanvin, 1923. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Jeanne Lanvin, 1923.

This silhouette will be familiar to fans of Downton Abbey. Lady Rose sported similar styles in the recently concluded Season 5.

Lady Rose MacClare.

Couture gowns feature hours of hand crafting, as the exquisite beading of this gown shows.

Jean-Philippe Worth, circa 1907. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Jean-Philippe Worth, circa 1907.

While some of the intricate beading on display seems out of reach for an amateur seamstress, the look of the bead detail on this bolero jacket could be emulated with machine embroidery.

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1940. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1940.

There was an unexpected vintage movie treat in the form of this costume.

Fontana, 1954. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga

Fontana, 1954.

Ava

Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa.

This American day dress from the 1940s was one of my favorites because of its graphic punch and timeless style.

Madame Eta Hentz, 1944. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Madame Eta Hentz, 1944.

I don’t know how the crossover detail was achieved, but I’d love to figure it out.

This dress features beautifully constructed seaming with gold trim inserted.

Elizabeth Hawes, 1936. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Elizabeth Hawes, 1936.

I have always loved this poetic and dramatic blouse style. It reminded me of a favorite movie costume.

Norman Norell, circa 1970. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Norman Norell, circa 1970.

Lauren Bacall in 1953's How to Marry a Millionaire.

Lauren Bacall in 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire.

Below is my favorite garment in the collection. It’s fun and makes me smile. My companions and I decided this bubbly bubble dress would not work very well for a sit-down dinner. It’s strictly stand-up cocktail attire.

Arnold Scaasi, 1961. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Arnold Scaasi, 1961.

The last portion of the exhibit was devoted to Charles James, which I appreciated because although I was in New York during the last week of the James exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I just didn’t have time to go.

This James dress features three different kinds of fabric in similar colors so that it looks different as light hits it at various angles.

Charles James, 1947. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Charles James, 1947.

I loved this charming sketch from James because it’s so relatable. It looks like it’s right off a legal pad!

Charles James, 1956. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Charles James, 1956.

James was known for his elaborate garment understructures that turned clothing into architecture. The showstopper garment below, along with the rest of the Charles James costumes in the exhibit, is not on a full mannequin like the other displays. This shows how much of the shape is within the garment itself, rather than from the form it is on.

Charles James, 1955. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Charles James, 1955.

The room that houses the red dress also had monitors with fascinating computer animations showing flat pattern pieces turning into James’ three-dimensional designs, X-rays showing boning and other structure within dresses, and bisections of dresses to show how skirts are supported.

As I said, this is just a small portion of the garments on display. I don’t even get into the striking hats and glorious shoes. If you’re a fan of 20th Century fashion and within reasonable distance of San Francisco, it’s worth the trip.

The accompanying 250-page full-color exhibition catalogue, High Style: Masterworks From the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, features most of the garments from the exhibit and many, many more. It’s a great deal at only $35.

High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection will be on exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum through July 19, 2015.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Victorian London is brought to life every Christmas season at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

As someone who enjoys elements of bygone eras, I have been intrigued by this event for years. This weekend, I finally decided to make the two-hour drive and brought along my teenage daughter and her girlfriend. We had a blast.

Held in a large exhibition building in Daly City (just south of San Francisco), the Dickens Fair creates a Victorian-era streetscape complete with shops, food, and entertainment. Modern elements of the building are camouflaged, and the floor is strewn with straw.

A clock on the street.

A clock on one of the buildings. The design of the event is beautiful.

A shoppe sign.

A pub sign. Food and beverage choices included spiced nuts, meat pies, fish and chips, pasta, Greek food, pastries, a large tea shoppe (reservations recommended), and several pubs.

One of the stage shows.

There are a number of stages with shows throughout the day.

Hundreds of engaging performers in period costume as well as several well-known Dickens characters are found throughout the event, and attendees are encouraged to dress in costume as well.

Gentlemen dining at one of the establishments.

This is one of the many tableaus that actors stage to add atmosphere.

The Ghost of Christmas Past helps Ebenezer Scrooge recall happier times at Fezziwig's Dance Party.

At Fezziwig’s Dance Party, we saw the Ghost of Christmas Past taking Ebenezer Scrooge on a trip to remember happier days.

We saw Queen Victoria several times throughout the day.

Of course, Queen Victoria reigns over the Dickens Fair. She and her entourage made several appearances.

As I don’t have any Victorian garb, I opted to wear my Clara dress and a pair of riding boots. I almost brought a shawl, but thought better of it. It turned out to be rather warm inside.

Next year, I plan to FILL my shopping basket with purchases.

Next year, I plan to FILL my shopping basket. There are a wide variety of goods available, including Victorian-style clothing, jewelry, candles, soaps, and antique books.

Together, this all makes for a charming holiday outing. Now that we know what to expect, we can’t wait to go back next year to see more of the stage shows, sample a wider variety of the food, and buy more gifts.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair runs for two more weekends this year at the Cow Palace.

You can find the rest of my photos on Flickr.

 

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