Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sew for Victory

I decided to participate in the Sew for Victory sew along hosted by Rochelle New of Lucky Lucille. This is the first time I have participated in this sew along, which is now in it's second year. I made an ensemble from a 1940's Clotilde pattern sold by the Chicago Tribune. While I don't have an exact year for it, I know that it was sent for on July 10th (the original owner made a note of this), the style, language and sewing directions say early to mid 40's to me. I purchased the pattern on Etsy and it included the original newspaper advertisement, very cool!

I made my dress to replicate what was specified in the newspaper ad: For spectator sports, business hours, and informal social wear this cool frock is ace high. There's no collar to clutter the neckline and the sleeves are kimono style, cool, and easy to sew. If you like pockets, the pattern provides for four of them, two on the bodice, the other two on the skirt. The original is fashioned of pink cotton with the pocket flaps and diamond shaped buttons in navy blue. There's an unusual jacket to keep this frock company. It may be of flowered cotton to contrast if you select a plain shade for the dress itself. Lumber jacket lines are employed for the lines of this jacket, which has a shirtwaist collar and snug waistband.

Let me tell you that finding diamond shaped navy buttons was virtually impossible! I finally found some vintage 1940's navy blue square shaped buttons (far away in England!) which I sewed on at an angle. My fabrics are Mushroom and Coal shot cottons by Kaffe Fasset, I really love shot cotton! I did not use a flowered cotton for my jacket, instead I used Coal shot cotton. I might make a floral version if I can find a floral print that coordinates and that I would wear, a difficult task.

I made a few alterations; lengthening the back bodice pieces of both dress and jacket and adding a waistband to the dress. They blouse a bit more than in the illustration, but I don't mind (and the amount varies based on the undergarments that I wear with the dress). I hand worked my buttonholes and hand sewed the facings and side closures (four snaps and two hooks and eyes), for the hem I used some hand dyed lace as a facing. I used vintage buttons on the jacket in a mauvy color, I liked the flower pattern on them as it recalls the printed cotton they recommended for the jacket. I also used a vintage buckle, pink with a floral motif, for my belt. It wasn't specified in the pattern, but it does clearly show a belt with a lighter buckle on the pattern so I whipped one up from my extra Coal fabric. Oh yes, I also left off the bodice pockets, because I do not need to call more attention to that area! I do now have two extra pockets which I may add to the jacket, reversible pockets are nice after all!

Sorry for the poor picture quality! It is very rainy today and the artificial lights in my sewing room really skew the colors of these fabrics! There will be better/more photos posted later, once I pick up my daughter from school. She is my official photographer after all! Larger versions of these pictures can be found on my Flickr page here. I would also like to thank Rochelle for hosting the sew along, I love 1940's fashion and am always looking for an excuse to sew more of it! Thank you Rochelle!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Challenge seven; Tops & Toes

For this challenge I made a hat that I have wanted to recreate for quite some time and a pair of clog/sandals. Both are based on images of extant items from the early 1940s. My hat is a semi reproduction of an American Surrealist hat circa 1940 or '41. It's a knitting hat! I've only seen one image of it, in a book titled Forties Fashion From siren suits to the New Look I wish I could find out more about it, or at least see some additional images of it! Does anyone know where this hat currently resides?

I just love the wide textural mesh used in the original. Sadly I couldn't find such a mesh available now. I did luck out and find a great nylon substitute on Etsy at a very reasonable rate! I used wool felt for the base which I hand sewed into a pillbox shape. It turned out very soft so I made my own hat stiffener from potato starch and water, it worked very well! I hand painted my knitting needles pink using paint which I had leftover from repainting my daughter's bed. Here it is front and back, but not on a head yet!

My shoes are a conglomerate of WWII era sandals and also souvenir sandals from the Philippines which were often brought home by servicemen as gifts for their wives and girlfriends. Most of the original souvenir sandals that I have seen have been carved and painted, or just painted.

Carving them was going to be too much work for me to do (especially while holding a baby) and painting them was just too colorful for my tastes. I used a wood burning kit to create the images on the heels of the shoes instead, which is reminiscent of the right images above. It was my first time using a wood burner and it was fun! Evenly burning the curved heels was difficult though! I also bought the cheap wood burner and it's tips unscrew as you use it meaning you have to turn it off and let it cool before you can adjust it and get back to work, rather a bummer in the time wasting department! I also covered the tops in cotton strapping held by leather and nails to give them a more period look. Unfortunately it turns out that modern clogs tend to be glued onto cut out areas on the soles before being nailed down, due to this I ended up laying the strapping over the original straps, leaving them partly visible. It's not the best look, but I would need to find soles without this modern shortcut in order to make them more authentic. I'm not entirely happy with these yet, but I do really like my burned images. I am thinkng about buying a pair of wooden soles and doing these again.

The Challenge: Tops

Fabric: Wool felt and nylon mesh.

Pattern: None

Year: 1941

Notions: Knitting needles, paint, thread.

How historically accurate is it? Very, though my bamboo wood needles are not quite accurate.

Hours to complete: Not including drying time for my stiffener and paint, one and a half , including drying time, around ten.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: $1.50 for the felt, $1.00 for the net, $4.50 for the needles, so $7.

The Challenge: Toes

Fabric: Cotton strapping, leather scraps

Pattern: None

Year: Mid 1940's

Notions: Wooden soled clogs, nails

How historically accurate is it? Hmm, aside from the non removable under layer they are pretty accurate, we'll say 75%.

Hours to complete: Around two

First worn: Not yet, it snowed again!

Total cost: $15 for the shoes, $2 for the strapping, nails from stash, so $17.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Me Made May 2014

Me Made May is coming (Hosted by Zoe from So, Zo...What do you know?)! I participated last year and it was quite entertaining and in addition it helped change the way that I sew. It encouraged me to sew more wearable clothes and less costumey things (my personal designs tend to make me look rather like an extra from sci-fi movies) and also prompted me to take more care on the finishing of my garments. Typically I would follow the pattern directions and many of those don't call for seam finishes other than zig-zagging or serging. Now I finish all of my seams carefully, and take more care in general while I sew to insure that I make a lasting garment that I will wear. So here is what I pledge for this May:

I, Liberty of LeVagabondage, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear no less than one handmade garment each day, and no one item more than twice each week, for the duration of May 2014.

I will be posting my outfits on Flickr once May begins, and this year hopefully I will be in some of the photos!