Category Archives: vintage

Outfit Post: New 1940s Plaid Suit!

I’m so, so excited!  My Christmas present from my husband got here, and it has to be one of my very favorite vintage things I’ve ever owned.  He said I could pick out a couple things on Etsy for my gift, and I jumped on this suit from Raleigh Vintage.  It’s an early 1940s lovely wool suit- kind of like a tweed, with a thick weave in a bold red, white, gray, and black.  So yummy!!  I’ve always admired vintage suits, especially the “man-tailored” or “collegiate” style ones, so I’m very excited this lovely suit is now gracing my closet :)

I love how I can wear the suit open or closed- both look really authentic to the sporty look of the early 1940s,

My felt “envelope” hat is also new.  I bought it recently from Frock You Vintage in San Diego.

And a silly little close up.  I felt very “film noir” detective girl in this suit!

Now on my wish list, I would love to find a red tweedy wool jacket so I can mix and match a 1940s wardrobe, and a gray or red overcoat.  Someday!  For now, I’m just much too thrilled with my new to me vintage suit :)


Finished Project- The “You Were Never Lovelier” Fringey Dress

Thanks to my good friend, Beth, I have pictures to share of this project!

This was another dress I made for Costume College this year.  The theme of the evening on Thursday night was “Carmen Miranda,” but when I was watching You Were Never Lovelier a month or so before Costume College I knew I needed the fringey dress that his lead singer of Xavier Cugat’s band wore in one of the opening numbers.  It just so happens to be on YouTube, so here it is (and now the song will be stuck in my head all day).

The dress and strap were made of fabrics in the stash.  The fringe was bought on Etsy.  I had an interesting time coming up with the pattern- it actually started life as two seperate patterns (one mid 1930s, one mid 1940), which were combined, draped, and completely altered to make it work to be similar to this design.

Here’s Beth and I at the party.

And, of course, since it was Carmen Miranda themed, I needed to add a turban!  Stephanie posted a great image of Carmen Miranda with a butterfly turban, so I knew I needed one!  It was made by draping swimwear fabric on a foam head block, then creating rings of quilt batting and covering them with the same fabric.  The pointy bits were sewn to that shape then I added millinery wire to make them stand up. The glittery butterflies came from Ebay.

That wraps up all the projects I made for this year’s Costume College :)  Many thanks again to Beth for the pictures!

>Outfit Post- 30s Linen Suit for Spring

>I was asked be Mena to participate in “A Common Thread” project on The Sew Weekly (see the post with my blouse here)! It was great fun, since I know some of my favorite gals in blog-land were also participating (in fact, I was rather flattered and shocked to be asked- I don’t feel by far on par with them!). When I went to a local park to snap photos of that blouse, I also toted along one of my vintage 1930s suits for show and tell :)

Since the blouse I made was from the first half of the 1930s and very spring-like in color scheme I decided my white linen belted back suit would go perfectly! I brought along one of my very favorite 1930s hats- a white felt with button accents, and snapped a few shots.

I admit I have a very strong fondness for mid 30s belted back jackets and suits.  I have a couple other white linen belted back jackets of this era, but this was my first complete suit so I was beyond thrilled when I found it on Etsy last year.  If belted back jackets are the holy grail of menswear, they can be even more rare to find in womens wear since womens 30s suits in themselves are hard to come by!  I love how completely unstructured and breathable the linen is.  There’s no interlining, no lining, no hymo (or hair canvas).  In fact, I’d really love to try my hand at making one someday- seems it would be a very quick and easy suit project!
Happy Spring, everyone!

>New-To-Me Vintage Sewing Machine!

>I had to share my newest fun find! This was waiting for me at a thrift store a few weeks ago- it’s a vintage Pfaff 230 machine with table and chair.  I found it for… (drumroll please)… just over $30!  Crazy, right?  I was working on my new swimsuit on this machine (sneaky-peek on the dress form in the pic).  It’s the first machine I’ve owned that’s powered by a knee lever.  Interesting! I’ve worked on industrial machines with a knee pedal for lifting the foot but never one powered by the knee.  It’s something to get used to!

I love how the little chair pulls out and has two drawers at the bottom.  Perfect to keep pins away from curious kitties- even if they try their darndest to find them anyway (example above).  The machine folds down and the flap covers the top- and when you put the chair back in it looks like a little mid-century end table.  It’s really pretty tiny!  That’s German engineering for ya.  I was too lazy to fold down the table for pics, but you get the general idea of what it looks like all closed up.

 I really like the machine and it runs really well, even without a professional tuneup.  It must have been pretty high end because it’s got all sorts of different stitches it can do- though I haven’t tried any out yet.  It looks kind of intimidating!  It doesn’t go as fast as my modern Pfaff machine which is the only real downside I can find with it.  I like sewing FAST.  It’s fun.
Yay for new toys!  Especially new toys that are vintage and sewing related!

>Still Plays With Dolls

>Christmas brought me some fun toys- actually, more of the toy variety than I’ve had in a very long while!  I got a new lovely vintage Boudoir Doll from my aunt, and my husband pitched in for the rest of my new Tonner doll, so I got to have both of them on Christmas morning!

The lady in the large hat is my second and newest Boudoir doll- so now I have one for each of the twin beds in my spare room and as soon as I get to tidying it up they’ll sit on my vintage satin comforters.  Such fun!  But hopefully none of our visitors have a fear of dolls- especially the somewhat “distressed” type.  My husband finds these creepy but I think they’re just lovely, and all the little cracks and age wear seem more like a story to be told than flaws to my eye.  I love that my newest girl even has pantalettes, and they both have the cutest vintage pumps painted on!

My new doll is from the new Gowns by Ann Harper line from Robert Tonner.  This is my first real Ball Jointed Doll, and it’s great fun to be able to move her torso, wrists, elbows, arms, and knees.  It makes her look quite real sometimes!  I have to admit, I pre-ordered this doll and didn’t see her in person until she arrived so I was a little disappointed she wasn’t quite as she appeared in the promo shots.  She seemed to have more realistic hair and more beading on her gown than she does in actuality, but I still really like her.  I guess when you’re a bit of a fabric snob that sometimes things don’t add up to your expectations ;)  But she does have that glam old Hollywood style thing going on that I loved so much about the Gene dolls with a little bit more realistic features, so I think she’s loads of fun.  I have heard through the grapevine that YesterMorrow on Ebay will soon be offering vintage French 30s patterns for 16″ dolls as well as the repros of French patterns you can draft up to human size proportions.  Exciting, non? I bought one of her books as a pre-Christmas treat for myself and am excited to try it out. 

I’ve been learning that a lot of old dressmakers used dolls.  It was quite an old way to design and drape, and showcase new collections.  When we were in Paris last year we got to see the Madeleine Vionnet exhibit and I got to see firsthand her little doll she did all her draping on.  So neat!  And I know in the 18th century fashions were spread abroad often times by sending “fashion dolls”- all dressed up in the mode of the day in miniature.  Fun stuff!

>Make Do and Mend- The Big Apple Dress


Shortly after my blog post on the Big Apple as a fashion craze I ran across an adorable housecoat from the 1940s on Etsy.  The fabric was beyond wonderful- a large apple print in cotton, but the dress had some issues like larger tears, stains, and wear.  Luckily the seller (Factory Girl Vintage on Etsy, who has some other lovely things as well) had a low price on it so I took a chance and bought it to use for a project dress.

First thing was to oxyclean the dress since it had some larger all over stains.  It did get them a bit dimmer, but they are still there.  It’s ok- it’s a casual dress anyways!  The bodice had large tears, particularly on one side of the front- one about 2″, one probably 1″, so the first thing to do was put the dress on and mark where I wanted my hem to be all the way around.  The extra length was to be what I would piece the bodice with.  Next thing was to rip the bodice all apart and have a look.  I ripped out the sideseams, part of the armscye, and removed the waistband after deciding doing a square inset piece (kind of like a faux front yoke and placket combined) was the best bet.   A lot of the bottom was pretty stained and had several larger holes but I cleverly cut around it and pulled out them hem to “make do and mend for Victory”. I wanted it to look more day dress or house dress than robe-like, so the center front skirt got seamed up, the front belt piece was seamed at center front, and I added a zipper to the left side (since it was center front button closing before).

I had to play a little thread mending underneath one of the buttonholes, but I hid it with two large buttons on either side- luckily for me it was a fashion trend of the early 40’s anyways to have big buttons on the waist!  I did kind of mess up one sleeve by making it too short on one side, but oh well… still not too shabby for no pattern combined with laziness!  The sleeves originally had piping around the bottom, so I cut across that and used it as accent for the short sleeves.
I’ve got before (from the listing) and after pictures! Horray! And now I can do the big apple in my big apple dress- although this version is more like 1941 than 1937.  And… I don’t know the dance.

>Vintage fun in San Diego

>Ah… the vintage fashion show was this weekend, so now I’m calming down a bit after all the prep and can post on my much neglected blog!  I’ll have pictures up of that soon, but for now I’ve got some fun ones to share :)
I hadn’t really had much of a chance to get all dressed up, but a darling friend came for a visit, so of course during her stay we had to take a day to get all dressed up and do some sightseeing!
She’s a big World’s Fair fan, so I figured I’d show her where the San Diego expo was.  We’re fortunate enough to have many of our buildings preserved in one area, Balboa Park, which is now a sort of Museum Row, so we toddled down there for some fun in the sun, all dressed for our excursion!  We looked in at the buildings where we could, pretended to be “ladies who lunch” and have yummy sandwiches on the patio of the Prado restaurant,  and saw a fun exhibit on San Diego Style at the Historical Society Museum, where they had some lovely things from the 19th century to modern day including two suits by Irene and Adrian.  Fun!  She’s wearing a lovely rayon crepe dress with beaded arrows, very reminiscent of Ginger’s dress in Carefree, don’t you think?  And I adore her little tilt hat, that I now call the “confetti hat” because of all the little triangles of colored felt attached to the veil.  I’m wearing a vintage two piece dress my husband found for me at an estate sale and a fun hat we found the day before at an antique store.

Next on our excursion was Hotel Del Coronado- a beautiful Victorian seaside hotel, which is where part of the Wizard of Oz and Somewhere in Time were written, and where parts of Some Like it Hot were filmed.  It was the perfect place for our summery pajamas! Hers are inspired by the New York World’s Fair and she had them custom made by NudeeDudee, and mine are my Farmerettes I made inspired from a 1938 catalog picture.  Since the first leg of her journey was made in LA where she went to the vintage expo and found a chenille beach cape, and since I also had one in my stash, we thought it was the perfect excuse to play dress up.  The beach was very, very windy, and I was amazed at the amount of warmth that those capes supplied! I think they need to make a resurgence!

Ah, what a lovely visit it was!  Hope you all are enjoying your week so far!