Chocolate 1940s

I’m honestly not a very big fan of brown. I’m kind of a black girl – don’t know how or why it happened, but it did. I own only black shoes, besides two white pairs and a red pair. I own only black and grey tights. I only own one brown shirt, and no brown skirts.

So this dress is a significant departure for me, color wise! The fabric was my grandmothers – I think it’s a rayon crepe. I discovered it a bag deep within my closet among her other sewing items, and it came with matching lining fabric, seam tape, bias tape and thread. All that was missing was a zipper, and that I was able to find in the stash – it’s even metal!

I used the lining fabric for the belt and bow – I think I need to slip a bit of interfacing or belting into the belt, it wrinkles a bit more than I like on the sides. The bow itself is absolutely fantastic – a wonderful vintage style that I’ve come across once or twice in 1960s dresses.

The pattern is Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1940s Cocktail Dress pattern. Compared with the last VPLL pattern I made, this one had better directions, but the fit was a bit wonky. Instead of having just a bit extra ease (the given size is about 1″ bigger than my own) it was very baggy. I took about 2″ out of the bust and 1″ out of the waist, and the hips were a bit small. The sleeves were also quite baggy, and I took those in – that, however, might be more of a matter of personal preference. The cut of the pattern itself, however, is unique and charming. The unique cutouts on the neckline are fabulous, and worked well in a fairly sturdy fabric.

I changed the zipper from a side opening to a back opening. I’ve got a rather generously sized head (7 1/4 in men’s hat sizes!) and have found that necklines need to be fairly generous if I’m to get them on without smearing lipstick everywhere. That was the fault in my last dress and there’s makeup stains on it now to prove that!

You can also see my newest Goodwill steal here – a pair of Leg Avenue seamed stockings for half off of retail. Perfect for the authentic vintage look, but I still need to work on getting those seams straight!

The pattern suggests at least 2 1/2 yards for this dress. By removing the front drape, shortening the skirt by an inch, having a narrower hem and ever so slightly overlapping bodice pieces, I was able to fit it into exactly two yards of fabric. If I had known that it was going to be too big I could have saved even more fabric! However, squeezing an already economically cut dress into even less fabric really does echo the war time spirit of the 1940s.

It’s been really refreshing to make dresses this fast – this one took only six hours . . . before I had to alter it. Still, it’s record time for me. I’ve just started using a wonderful (free!) time keeping program called Toggl, which allows me to create tasks and track how much time I spend on them each day by simply activating a timer on my computer. It’s great accountability and lets me know how much to charge clients when I do custom work or alterations. I can’t wait to use it during the school year to track how much time I actually spend working on costumes. Hopefully my productivity this week will continue – I’ve got some fabric set aside for skirts, a whole bunch of half made vintage dresses to finish, and some fabric to list on Etsy! Stay tuned for more posts about that – I’m really excited about the fabric I have to offer, and the prices should be good too!


Thirties and Deep Red.

The 1930s hasn’t ever been my cup of tea before, but after getting a bunch of Vintage Pattern Lending Library patterns I decided it was time I had a go with another era. Quite a few 1930s dresses blend in well to a quirky vintage inspired modern closet, and I need some new winter dresses in my closet. (Summer ones, too, but it’s been so cold lately that winter dresses seem applicable!) Looking through my stash I located a fine wool suiting I had purchased from Jo-Ann on clearance years ago – it’s a very small twill, and about the weight of a heavy quilting cotton. Ironically, it’s almost the exact color of one of my Grandpa’s 1930s Chevrolets – so it must be an authentic dress!

I pulled out Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1930s Seven in One Ensemble. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it – high necklines haven’t been my cup of tea lately, and I wasn’t sure about the skirt length and long sleeves. However, in looking at the pattern more I decided that I really did like the cut – it’s unusual and attractive, as well as being very 1930s. Over all it reminded me a lot of the costumes from the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, and indeed, now that I have a dress from the pattern, I do feel remarkably Helen-esque.

The dress itself has a delightful cut – a large bias cut triangle shaped piece forms the majority of the front bodice, and is top stitched to the upper bodice. The skirt has four gores which are also cut on the bias, and I decided to cut the sleeves on the bias as well, to give them a better drape. The skirt was shortened about 4″ above the day dress length as marked on the pattern, and I shortened the sleeves to elbow length. The pattern fits very nicely on my frame and I didn’t make any alterations concerning fit. The only issue might be that the head opening is a bit small – I have to remember not to do my hair into a bun before I pull it on! This could be easily solved, however, with a little 4″ neck zipper.

The belt is made out of a beautiful silk suiting I had left over from another project, and the buckle is vintage. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be making this dress up again in another variation, and perhaps I’ll try my hand at the coat included with the dress pattern. 

Outfit details –
Dress – VPLL pattern – Seven-in-One Ensemble
Hat – Eddie Bauer
Shoes – Twila, by Born.
Jewelry – Christmas gift from my youngest brother.

Green Chiffon Twenties

This is the first time I’ve actually ventured into the 1920s for my own personal wardrobe. Previously, I never really got them, but after doing a bunch of dresses from original patterns, I decided that I actually really liked the concept! So without further ado, here’s the dress.

I made it from Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1920s Dress with Neck Frill and Sash. It didn’t exactly turn out like the pattern – mostly because I didn’t actually have the pattern here when I made it up! It got left back at school, as this was a dress that was halfway made up for a show and then returned to me late. A lot of the original details got cut out by me, simply because the dress was cut out very wonky.

 The dress itself probably makes me look a little stouter than I imagine myself. But you know what? I can get over that, it’s probably good for me. It’s so delightfully floatly and soft that I totally forgive all of its possibly unflattering lines!

It’s perfect for wearing on hot days dancing outside, when I’ve just changed out of a tight and heavy costume. It’s freedom! I definitely want to make a few more 20s inspired dresses – I’ve got quite a bit of white chiffon that I’m stewing upon. Maybe something with a bit more of a defined waist?  I’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with!