Category Archives: Vintage style

Teal and navy lawn: It’s done, and I LOVE it!

The teal and navy lawn version of Butterick 5846 is complete! It was a long road to get here — partial muslin, pattern adjustments, full wearable muslin, more pattern adjustments — but it was well worth the effort. I now have the best-fitting dress I have had since, well, I had two children.

Here’s the “before,” you might say:

The mood board for this project.

The mood board for this project.

And here’s the “after”:

This was my first time working with cotton lawn. It's wonderful to sew.

It’s a basic shirtdress, so I can do approximately 1 zillion variations.

And the back.

I think it’s on “Gene” the dressform a little off-center.

Gene’s wearing a belt, but the dress doesn’t actually need one because the fit at the waist is so nice. (I did place the buttons with a belt in mind.) The second set of pattern adjustments I made, after the wearable muslin, were right on the money. These adjustments will be very handy for other projects going forward. After making the wearable muslin and discovering that it only comes to my knee, I opted for the longer length, trimmed only to make the hemline even.

On the inside, I decided to go all “Laura Mae” with rayon seam binding tape. I had practiced on the wearable muslin and LOVED how tidy it made the inside. Check it out:

Every exposed seam is finished with navy Hug Snug rayon seam binding.

Every exposed seam is finished with navy Hug Snug rayon seam binding. (Is it just me, or does the inside view look like a Gunne Sax dress from the 1980s?)

 Here’s a closeup of the waist seam and side seam intersection:
How pretty is the inside?

How pretty is the inside?

The ONLY thing I don’t love about this project is the little pattern-matching problem. Did you notice? Close up, this fabric looks like it has a random all-over pattern. Once I pinned the first piece to my dress form, however, I noticed that the pattern actually has strong horizontal lines. This is not so great to discover AFTER all the pieces have been cut out. Note to self: Look at the fabric from near AND far before cutting.

And here it is on me!

With pearls and bangles. Photo by Maddie, the teenage daughter who thinks this outfit "looks funny."

With pearls and bangles for a vintage vibe. Photo by Maddie, the teenage daughter who thinks this outfit “looks funny.”

I plan to wear THE HECK out of this dress. If you see me in it way too many times, please be a Dear. Don’t say anything.

Thanks!

Next up, some casual summer skirts and tops with the cottons and linens I’ve been stashing for the past few months.

We’re sitting in the mid-90s in Northern California this week. Which makes it very difficult to look at the woolens JoAnn’s just put in the stores. Please! Not yet!

Interested in vintage?

If you are interested in vintage, but don’t know where to start or are at all intimidated, read these two wonderful posts from Ladies who are Livin’ la Vida Vintage:

Tuppence Ha’penny: So you want to do vintage?

and

Diary of a Vintage Girl: Going against the flow

The bottom line from these two lovely ladies: If you have any interest at all, just go for it. Wear as much or as little vintage as you like. Mix your decades and your influences. There are no rules except having fun.

There is no wrong way to do vintage.

Beauty after 40, circa 1949

The prize of this month’s trip to the Sacramento Antique Faire was a vintage beauty book: Edyth Thornton McLeod’s Beauty After 40, published in 1949. While some of the advice is charmingly out-of-date, the author has a very upbeat and pragmatic attitude about the ‟Fourth Period″ of life.

A few fun passages and photos (click for a closer look):

❦ “The idea of women losing their looks, their sex life, and the ability to lead a full life when they reach the menopause is an old wives’ tale and has no place in modern thinking and achievement.”

❦ “Those of you who have not fully understood the menopause, and have secretly thought that you would have no further interest in sexual relations, must banish this thought at once. During the menopause and after, there is no lessening of your desire to enter into the normal sexual relations which you have always enjoyed — or endured!”

Woman with gardenia

She’s holding up so well, people give her flowers.

❦ “Silver hair is an asset to smartness and to charm.”

❦ “Forty is a state of mind! Dramatize your GRAY HAIR and capitalize on your GRAY MATTER!”

Silver siren

She’s a “silver siren.”

❦ “Don’t, don’t dare go about the house without a corset and a bra — that’s the Road to Ruin!”

Corset

Corsets are good for you.

❦ “Plastic surgery is here to stay. I feel that it is a part of the modern approach to beauty or beautification of both face and figure.”

❦ “If you have been married and divorced several times, why should I give you advice? You’ve had variety, and they do say that variety is the spice of life! If it’s spice you want, go ahead and say, ‘I do,’ again and again!”

Weddings after 40

She’s ready to marry again.

❦ “After Forty you can laugh at tragedies because you know that they so often turn out to be comedies.”

That last quote is a serious piece of wisdom, my Friends.

An old friend that happens to be a vintage sewing book

My mother had the Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book, 1970 edition. I LOVED leafing through that book when I was a kid. The techniques were interesting to me even before I learned to sew, but the pages on putting together a wardrobe were absolutely fascinating. Even the “casual” looks were elegant.

Years after I grew up and left home, I spotted that same book, same edition, at an antique fair. I couldn’t snatch it off the table fast enough. I think it was $10, but I would have paid just about anything to have my own copy. Following are my favorite pages:

Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book 1970 edition, Page 325

The purple fabric looks fantastic with the leopard accessories.

Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book 1970 edition, Page 326

This page makes my heart go pitter-patter. Nothing is classier than a tweed suit.

Better Homes and Garden Sewing Book 1970 edition, Page 327

I have to admit that the hats frighten me a bit, but the bags and shoes are beautiful. And why don’t we wear gloves anymore? They are so much more attractive than a little bottle of hand sanitizer.

When I was in college, I’d sometimes go down to the basement of the school library to look at the Vogue magazines from the 1940s and 1950s. They were right out on the shelves. The women all looked so sophisticated.

I spent several hours at the mall this afternoon, chauffeuring a couple of eighth-grade girls. Although I picked up a camel cardigan and a cream sweater that would both look good with vintage-inspired pieces, the outfits on these pages are far more stylish than anything the mall had to offer.

As I drove out of the massive parking lot, I felt happy not only that I can sew my own clothes, but also that I have vintage sewing books to turn to for inspiration, including one I first read more than 30 years ago.

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