Halter tops and dresses- classic “vintage” style for Summer

I am definitely pleased that the weather in Canberra is changing- Spring literally is in the air- its almost like a different scent, the light changes this time of year… free of Winter the options for our weekends broaden. I can barely wait. Today could only be described as glorious. It was a gorgeous day actually. My husband and I made it to a little cafe in Canberra called Elk and Pea (in Braddon)- thumbs up, but do book ahead! The interior reminded me of the industrialised decor that is so popular in the cafes near Venice Beach in LA. It was a great feeling to head to the pool for an hour with my son and then some home to listen to them playing ball together in the garden. Life is made of those simple, magic pleasures. I felt so grateful to be alive.

Anyway back to my passion with vintage fashion… Having read a 1940s LIFE magazine article that has me now quite interested in other designers of the era including Carolyn Schnurer and Tina Leser, vintage style resort wear is definitely on my mind! And nothing is so classic as the halter- or as synonymous with the 1950’s, thanks largely to Miss Monroe!

1950s style... eternal

1950s style… eternal

Luscious red

Luscious red- 7454 made up in an early 1950s pattern book (Onondaga silk advertisement)… LOVE the cloth covered buttons…

Below is a 50s Vogue Pattern Book image of 7375 (featured in Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing- don’t you love the old illustrations in these old pattern books. Art in and of themselves. I actually do have this pattern but making Claire McCardell’s wrap dress pattern is more appealing at the moment. Additionally, whilst I have the book, I misplaced it when we moved house last year. Very annoying… I had really wanted to use the book as a reference. Fortunately, I had made a back up on CD (so I could read it on my iPad using “SPLASHTOP”)… but its probably a little lower on the to do list, especially give it is totally backless… That said, I imagine it would be very quick to make!

Vogue 7375 VPB image

Fine lines, empire lines…! A few vintage sewing patterns I have and love…

There is something so alluring and flattering about the empire line… I like patterns that have a straightforward empire line and those that have a midriff waistline.

Pretty McCall 8437- 1940s glamourarama!

Pretty McCall 8437- 1940s glamourarama!

Simplicity 8243

Below  are a few examples of patterns that feature pretty midriffs with gathered bust lines… I really think this style is so classic. These appearances were in the 1940s, 1950s and 1970s…

photo 4 (1)

Whilst McCall 8437 is made up as an evening dress I think the shorter length in cotton would also be fabulous for a Summer dress in cotton- I particularly like the subtle slit at the back.  The zipper is in the side seam and the instructions advocate the use of grosgrain ribbon for a waistline stay. I have actually started to make this in the pineapple cotton of my last post (to go with the bolero)… most of the bodice pieces have been sewn or basted but I will wait to do the side seams and fully attach the midriff until I can do a proper fitting with a view to finishing it by New Years Eve. Who knows what the second pregnancy will do to my waistline! A small price to pay for a bundle of joy… I will also wait to cut the skirt (but the fabric is all ready and waiting). One modification I will be making is to line the midriff.

If you like this pattern I would recommend it because the instructions are actually pretty good, with notes for sheers (ie hand rolled hems) and velvet… the pattern includes a slip pattern. I think this a gem that will be staying in my collection!

I don’t own this Claire McCardell Spadea 707 (the image is from one of my Spadea catalogues) but it is similar to another McCardell pattern I have and top be honest, there were a few “knock offs” of this Style made by some of the mainstream pattern companies that borrowed many elements odf this dress, so keeping my eye out for them on ebay and etsy…

McCardell 707 from spadea catalogue

 

The flutter sleeve variation on this 1970s Style pattern is a pretty variation too….

STYLE 1157 1970s

In progress: A Claire McCardell bolero, In love: a Tina Leser dress

When my son has a night at his grandmother’s the hours I get to myself are precious- and yet I am torn between domestic drudgery (ie the need to get the house cleaned and vacuumed etc) and to sew or progress my projects. This morning will be a bit of both.. and as with all my projects this one is coming along incrementally.

Not the best photo but you get the idea- the dress beneath the bolero has just been used as a prop fopr this snap but it is a Tina Leser Original hostess dress from the 1950s that I fell in love with

Not the best photo but you get the idea- the dress beneath the bolero has just been used as a prop fopr this snap but it is a Tina Leser Original hostess dress from the 1950s that I fell in love with

Retro style pineapple design on Japanese poplin

Retro style pineapple design on Japanese poplin

The bolero on the mannequin has been adapted from the bolero in SPADEA 1055 by Claire McCardell (late 40s/ early 50s design)? An example of the original dress produced by McCardell can be seen here. I lengthened the sleeve a bit and instead of making it in something soft and drapey I have made it in a retro style poplin that I sourced locally but loved,  (by and large I like Japanese made cottons).

As you can see the bolero isn’t meant to meet in the middle and has piping and a spaghetti strap at the waist. I am still thinking about whether I take the same path with this bolero… it is unfinished, but I do see it being worn over a dress in same fabric or a white tshirt and skirt. In the short term, I plan to use it as a quasi bad-jacket at the hospital after little one is born.

Here is another 1950s bolero I have on my to sew list, for this Summer or next- this one does make an appearance in my 1957 Advance catalogue so i can date it pretty accurately.

Talmack for Advance- a tie-at-back bolero

Talmack for Advance- a tie-at-back bolero

 

I appreciate the photos here aren’t marvellous and I would typically show whole pattern images and snaps from my catalogues. However, after I recently found a professional and well known vintage pattern seller was using images from my blog to sell her patterns- WITHOUT acknowledgement I was a bit surprised. I recognised my own work immediately. I was even more surprised (and disgusted) when she said the images were her own and maybe I was “mistaken”. All I wanted was an acknowledgement of the source. Every other image on the page was watermarked except that one.

So blogger beware. The image in question, was of a Givenchy dress  (McCalls 3625)I posted about a couple of years ago.  Same angle, same lighting, same page blemishes, just cropped. Cropping someone’s work doesn’t make it your own… I suppose I was just surprised that someone would do that, put it on their sales website and argue it was theirs… without shame. Fortunately, I do believe in karma. AND I will never buy anything from their online store. So very vintage or not.

So fellow bloggers… maybe watermarking every single image is the only way to go?

Its unfortunate, but until I have the time to watermark images from my catalogues, I cant share them here… sorry fellow sewists!

Anyway, what do you think of the humble 50s bolero? I think they have a place in my wardrobe! Especially with out harsh Aussie sun.

In progress: A Claire McCardell bolero- In love: a Tina Leser dress

When my son has a night at his grandmother’s the hours I get to myself are precious- and yet I am torn between domestic drudgery (ie the need to get the house cleaned and vacuumed etc) and to sew or progress my projects. This morning will be a bit of both… and as with all my projects this one is coming along incrementally.

Not the best photo but you get the idea- the dress beneath the bolero has just been used as a prop for this snap but it is a Tina Leser Original hostess dress from the 1950s that I fell in love with

Not the best photo but you get the idea- the dress beneath the bolero has just been used as a prop fopr this snap but it is a Tina Leser Original hostess dress from the 1950s that I fell in love with

Retro style pineapple design on Japanese poplin

Retro style pineapple design on Japanese poplin

The bolero on the mannequin has been adapted from the bolero in SPADEA 1055 by Claire McCardell (late 40s/ early 50s design)? An example of the original dress produced by McCardell can be seen here. I lengthened the sleeve a bit and instead of making it in something soft and drapey I have made it in a retro style poplin that I sourced locally but loved,  (by and large I like Japanese made cottons).

As you can see the bolero isn’t meant to meet in the middle and has piping and a spaghetti strap at the waist. I am still thinking about whether I take the same path with this bolero… it is unfinished, but I do see it being worn over a dress in same fabric or a white tshirt and skirt. In the short term, I plan to use it as a quasi bad-jacket at the hospital after little one is born.

Here is another 1950s bolero I have on my to sew list, for this Summer or next- this one does make an appearance in my 1957 Advance catalogue so i can date it pretty accurately.

Talmack for Advance- a tie-at-back bolero

Talmack for Advance- a tie-at-back bolero

 

I appreciate the photos here aren’t marvellous and I would typically show whole pattern images and snaps from my catalogues. However, after I recently found a professional and well known vintage pattern seller was using images from my blog to sell her patterns- WITHOUT acknowledgement I was a bit surprised. I recognised my own work immediately. I was even more surprised (and disgusted) when she said the images were her own and maybe I was “mistaken”. All I wanted was an acknowledgement of the source. Every other image on the page was watermarked except that one.

So blogger beware. The image in question, was of a Givenchy dress  (McCalls 3625)I posted about a couple of years ago.  Same angle, same lighting, same page blemishes, just cropped. Cropping someone’s work doesn’t make it your own… I suppose I was just surprised that someone would do that, put it on their sales website and argue it was theirs… without shame. Fortunately, I do believe in karma. AND I will never buy anything from their online store. So very vintage or not.

So fellow bloggers… maybe watermarking every single image is the only way to go?

Its unfortunate, but until I have the time to watermark images from my catalogues, I cant share them here… sorry fellow sewists!

Anyway, what do you think of the humble 50s bolero? I think they have a place in my wardrobe! Especially with out harsh Aussie sun.

The pre baby splurge – the seed pearl brooch

So I am feeling guilty. Very guilty. But happily so. I am not sure what it is about having a baby but I am going to blame a recent spate of retail therapy on “month 8 syndrome”. Month 8 is that uncomfortable month. I am carrying another human. I wear clothes that look the same EVERY day. I long to wear pretty florals, for Spring, to hold my new baby in my arms. And instead, there is the awkwardness of feeling like a huge blimp that now needs help to put on her socks. I can’t wait for our baby girl, but month 8 is cruel, I tell you (I say that with a smile).

The Canberra Antiques and Collectables Fair

The Canberra Antiques and Collectables Fair

So the most recent little dose of retail therapy was last night at the Canberra Antiques and Collectables Fair at Albert Hall. I was disappointed there was very little sewing related except a card of mother of pearl buttons (yes, really). So I was delighted when on my way towards the exit (and I made my way through crowds 15 minutes after the opening as people jostled and trays of canapés were offered around), I spyed this little beauty stuck amongst other trinkets to a maroon velvet pillow.

The seed pearl brooch

The seed pearl brooch

I love the brooch for its simplicity and understated elegance. No rhinestones or faux gems. The dealer said 30s or 40s, but who knows, really? I couldn’t help recalling a pearl  (excuse the pun) from Claire McCardell’s “What Shall I Wear”: “Tiffany would label my collection junk. But to me it is very special junk that I have been collecting… make each piece your own,” The minute I saw this, I loved it. They are seed pearls, not particularly valuable at all but I thought it would go with just about anything- especially great against black- and reminded me also of the famous Schiaparelli bow jumper that catapulted her from artist to designer. Besides, I reasoned, it would be the perfect brooch to loan my daughter on special occasions as she gets older. Eight months pregnant and I am already dreaming we might one day be friends.

And right now a very special shipment of old Vogue catalogues is making its way from Oregon to Australia… it should arrive this week… finally! I can hardly wait!

 

 

 

Loving Claire McCardell- the classic surplice wrap dress

Before Diane Von Furstenberg stormed the fashion world with her 1970s wrap dress, there was of course Claire McCardell whom I could wax lyrical about for… well… a while. 

A couple of years ago I took my first shot at making her classic surplice wrap dress using Spadea pattern 1146… a dress of which examples occasionally pop up in vintage fashion stores and that are featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, typically in gingham and checks. It is one of my fav McCardell designs because it is so classic, generally flattering and wearable… decades after it was conceived.

I decided that with Summer around the corner here in the Southern hemisphere, Christmas get togethers, picnics and barbecues, another go at this McCardell dress – with what time I can manage before the baby- would be well timed. So I decided to mix a few of my fav things: McCardell, Liberty floral lawn and the colour RED. I confess, I bought some shoes from Lord and Taylor a year ago in the same print and thought why not a matching dress? I found the fabric at fabric.com and bought what remained of the yardage (barely enough).

Got it right this time? A McCardell bodice (made using  Spadea pattern 1146

Got it right this time? A McCardell bodice (made using Spadea pattern 1146… the bottom part of the bodice gets sewn to a gathered skirt (basically) with nice deep pockets.

The images at the Met have been really helpful in terms of interpreting the folds on the pattern which I did have trouble with last time. But I think I have got it right… now all I have to do is baste the way I have pinned! (I find that tricky too at times to be honest, its so much easier to work with fabric on a mannequin than at a table- you can see clearly what you are doing…

Hopefully I will have a few more little opportunities to make some progress!

Another Sunny Spot dress finished- the Summer dress

Another Sunny Spot dress finished (see pages 16 and 17 of the book)- I actually started this almost two months ago and its been sitting in my to-finish-pile. 

A Sunny Spot Summer dress

A Sunny Spot Summer dress

The first thing you need to know is that this dress is loose. I always knew it would be from the photos but it REALLY looked loose when I finished it, I made it in the smallest size, a bit smaller actually for a one year old.The primary modification I made was to shorten it and add fabric covered buttons. I think I will probably end up layering this with a blouse or other- so have pictured it here as such. The fabric was vintage lawn leftover from another project.

Would I make this again? Probably not- there are so many other lovely projects in this book and I wasn’t as smitten as I was with the raglan style blouse featured in other posts.

Baby is due in a few weeks and really could arrive any day so I am really not starting new things right now- just plodding along with projects that have already been cut and that are awaiting a little attention.photo 1-25

Cloth covered buttons at the back, a small but much loved detail

Cloth covered buttons at the back, a small but much loved detail

Simple Summery Styles from the 1950s… more dreams of Claire McCardell

 

So Summer is definitely on my mind… or at least Spring! Though the weather has been literally freezing in Canberra I am pleased to have noticed a few little flowers poking their petals out towards the sun. Its a matter of weeks (if not days)? before our second child arrives in our lives. I am frantically working through what seems to be an ever growing to do list… all those little things I have been putting off (that typically involved some form of cleaning).

All the same, I still try to make time to enjoy some of the beautiful images in my pattern books.

I love the simplicity of some of the Summer dresses popular in the 1950s, not least of all Vogue 8003 which looks super easy to make… and yet so versatile for an afternoon at home, in the garden or at the market… what do you think?

Vogue 8003 as illustrated in a 1950s Vogue pattern catalog

Vogue 8003 as illustrated in a 1950s Vogue pattern catalog

photo-27

 

Claire McCardell is my favourite and thanks to the generosity of an etsy seller, SweetBeeFinds, I am able to share these gorgeous photos of a Claire McCardell sun dress that recently sold at the store. I had been eyeing it off and wishing, but ultimately couldn’t justify the expense with a little one about to arrive… when it sold I wanted to mourn, I just love the back cut out and the pretty cowl neck at the front.

I’d like to think there would be an afternoon I could put my feet up in something like this on a hot day and drink lemonade. But with two little ones (soon) I don’t see that happening for a little while! I do have a McCardell sun dress pattern (Spadea) which rather ambitiously I have started cutting (knowing I probably won’t finish it for eons if baby arrives sooner than later….)

Feast your eyes McCardell lovers! Don’t you just love the colour??? Look at that back… divine.

Claire McCardell- a sunny colour, a fabulous style!

Claire McCardell- a sunny colour, a fabulous style!

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