Tag Archives: 1930s

Finished Project: 1930′s Polka Dot Blouse

I’m trying to finish up a few little UFO’s before the New Year, and I just happened to have this one finished in time for the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s “Celebrate” challenge.


The pattern I used was an NRA (National Recovery Act) era pattern, which puts it between 1933 and 1935.  I altered the sleeve a bit, but otherwise it’s as the envelope shows, the version at the top with the short sleeve instead of long sleeves.

I was a bit lazy, and sewed it up to the size the pattern is in, even though I know it’s too big for me.  I figure with the ties, the shirt can be tied in.  I’m somewhere between the dress form size and the original pattern size.  Because it’s a bit large, I was also lazy and didn’t bother with a placket- so it just slips on over the head, then ties to fit.

The fabric is a poly chiffon I bought at an estate sale for $5, and for the hem I did a little zig zag and trimmed away.  It was a pain, but I like how narrow of a finish it is.  I’m not very good at rolled hems, so this was a good choice for me.

Here’s the HSF required info:

The Challenge:  “Celebrate”  Last challenge of the year!

Fabric: Poly chiffon

Pattern: Simplicity 1676, an authentic original 1930′s pattern

Year: 1933-1935 (NRA period)

Notions: Thread

How historically accurate is it? Not very.  The fabric is not accurate, and the finishing is a mix between vintage and modern.  The cut is authentic, of course, since an original pattern was used.

Hours to complete: Maybe around 10-12ish.  Chiffon is fiddly!

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: Somewhere around $40, including pattern cost.


1930′s Inspiration- Season Your Wardrobe for the Season


Today I’ve got more fun 1930′s inspiration to share from you.  This is from Fall/Winter 1935-1936.

This catalog page includes a bevy of separates that will make your wardrobe sing for the Winter season.  I can see I need more blouses, skirts, and jackets to get me through the year.  All of these would be easily mixed and matched together, if done in a matching colorway.

My very, very favorite is the corduroy suit (at left).  The catalog claims it can even go to tea!  Wow.  My love for corduroy knows no bounds.  It’s hearty, warm, and washable.  Everything I love in daily wear.

The jacket at makes the 1890′s influence on late 1930′s style completely obvious.  Double breasted, high neck, “leg o mutton” gathered sleeves.  It’s funny how the 1930′s took influence from the 1890′s.  To think, it was only forty years before.  It would be fashion today taking influence from the 1970s.  Which does, obviously, happen…

(Gibson Image Source)

Speaking of 1890′s style, this blouse is blaring it out, calling it the “Gibson Girl” style.  I also see ads quite often for “Gay 90′s” style.  In fact, I picked up a late 30′s brooch recently that said “Gay 90′s”, and has a pennyfarthing hanging from it.  It has since met an untimely demise of the little hanging loop and must be mended before I share photos.  An image from Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl, is supplied to compare.  Eh, I can see it…

If skirts are your thing, more than jackets and blouses, check out this great detailing.  The insets of the skirt are cut bias.  It would be simple enough to do with a pattern you have to add an unexpected detail.

Or, if you want to go even more crazy, why not add zig zag insets with buttons, pintucks, or crazy deco pockets?

Hope you enjoy these images!  Happy creating!

Sample Photos! New 1930s Blouse & Bias Skirt Pattern

I have some photos to share with you of my newly made samples of the brand new 1930s blouse and skirt pattern that’s now released!!

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this pattern!  I think it will be one of my basic go-to patterns for vintage wardrobe basics.  Between this and the Smooth Sailing pattern, my separates wardrobe is covered!

The blouse takes SO well to the cute printed cottons.  I know what I’m making more of when I come across printed cottons I don’t want to pass up.  I’d also love to try the long sleeve version in a more cuddly fabric- maybe a soft wool blend- with a zip up the front for the sporty look.  The pattern does allow for a zip-front blouse!

Although not the most flattering pic of me, this picture shows how fabulous the drape of the skirt is!  The pattern envelope shows the skirt a bit more form fitting, but I was so thrilled that it hangs loosely.  The bias makes it feel so comfy and flowy.  I really think I need one in wool, one in satin, and maybe a few more in linen, like this one is.

The skirt actually runs on the long side for the “street length”.  The sample I’m wearing I shortened three inches, and it’s still long (and I’m a bit taller than average).  But hey, don’t forget, bias skirts of pretty much the exact same cut were popular in the 1940s as well (pre-rationing), so if you want to make this work for 40s, just shorten the skirt a bit more.  It would transition great between decades!

Here’s the original pattern image again, so you can compare sample photos with the illustration.

If you missed the prior post with more info on the pattern, don’t forget to check it out!

This pattern is available as both a wide format, mailed pattern, and as a downloadable e-pattern.

You buy the printed skirt and blouse combo here.  It’s available ONLY through me, because this pattern takes up way too much paper to be offer it thorough any of my lovely pattern vendors who stock my line (woe!).  But, I’m cutting you a bit of a deal that way, so if you think you’ll want both pieces down the line, order the set.

You can buy the printed blouse pattern here.

You can buy the printed skirt here.

E-patterns for the blouse and skirt separately are available for $9.99 each.  But be forewarned, this is a mighty big pattern pack, so the pattern sheet alone (not including instructions) takes up a whopping 40 pages each!

You can buy the E-pattern for the blouse here.

You can buy the E-pattern for the skirt here.

Vintage Inspiration: 1936-1937 Winter Blouses & Skirts

I case you’re not on my Facebook page, you may not have heard that I’m in process of developing a new 1930s pattern.  Well, it’s not actually “new”, it’s one I had previously released in my beginning days as a single size reproduction.  Well, no photos of it yet (bwahaha! I like to keep you in suspense!) but I’m cutting out samples today to test it, and I was desiring a little inspiration.

Here we have some darling little blouses and skirts from Fall and Winter 1936-1937 from the National Bellas Hess catalog.  Don’t you just LOVE the details?  I want to make about a million separates for myself right now.  I hope you find these inspiring, too!

It seems like 1936 and 1937 were the years of the tunic.  They’re all over the place!  Tunic blouses, tunic dresses, two piece dresses.  And now they’re back… just over leggings or skinny jeans.

Do you have a favorite blouse of the ones above?

Finished Project: 1934 Sports Jacket

I finally have this finished and ready to post!  I actually finished this jacket one week ago, but am only now getting to the blog post.  Work has been just CRAZY, so I’m glad if I want to sew at all on my own projects.  But the show we’re working on is amazing and I get to sew some beautiful fabrics, so there’s a plus to the work madness.  If you haven’t kept up with my Facebook page, you may not know that new Wearing History releases are on hold for the time being, due to life craziness, but things will hopefully resume sometime around mid November, when I will be able to pick up more projects again.

But here is my jacket!

I have had this pattern for years and years, so it was exciting to finally sew it up!

This was started to be part of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, so here’s the info for the challenge:

The Challenge: Outerwear

Fabric: Green corduroy, bought at an estate sale.  It had to be cleverly cut, as the  fabric had fading down all the fold lines.  Because of this, I opted for the short sleeve version, even though I technically had enough yardage for the long sleeve version

Pattern: McCall 7802

Year: 1934

Notions:  Four vintage plastic buttons

How historically accurate is it?  Very.   It has overlocking to the inside edges and uses poly thread, but otherwise entirely accurate.

Hours to complete: I never keep track of this when doing projects for myself, but I will say it took longer to complete than it needed to, since the bulk of it was made in 15 minute increments when I was able to.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: Hmm… I don’t remember how much I paid for the pattern, but the fabric was probably less than $5, so I would say the total cost was most likely under $30.

I do actually have a mid 1930s blouse cut out of green and orange polka dot chiffon, for the “green” challenge that’s due tomorrow, but I will be lucky if I get it finished sometime in this next month!  I’m so glad that The Dreamstress has chosen to continue the Sew Fortnightly into next year, and extend the date range to 1945!  I have so many UFOs I’ve made this year that need to be completed!

Finished Project: 1936 Suit Frock

I just finished up this sewing project for the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s “Wood, Metal, & Bone” Challenge.  Since The Dreamstress said that rayon and cocoanut shell were allowed as part of “wood”, this is my entry.

In the 1930s there was a fad called a “suit frock” or “jacket blouse”.  These took the tailored look of a suit and combined it with a more casual alternative.

For this challenge I used two vintage patterns from 1936.  Since they were from the same year, the same size, and the same pattern company, they were based off the same basic blocks and fit together without any extra alterations.  I liked the front of one blouse and the back of another.

The Challenge:  Wood, Metal, & Bone

Fabric: Linen look fabric- blend of linen and rayon.

Pattern: Two vintage McCall patterns

Year: 1936

Notions: Cocoanut shell ship buttons and buckle, metal zipper, metal snaps.

How historically accurate is it? Very.  I used interlocking, which was available in factory made clothing but not in home made clothing.

Hours to complete: Quite a few.  Like usual, I didn’t keep track.  I spent the better part of one day on it, then 15 to 20 minutes throughout the last week every day.

First worn: Yesterday, September 21, 2013, to a friend’s birthday party.

Total cost: I had everything in my stash, so don’t remember what the cost was of each part individually.  I didn’t, however, pay $0.10 each, like the patterns have on them in marker (sadly).

Fun Stockings from 1930

Happy Friday!

Here’s a fun little inspiration post from fashion’s past.  These are colorful images of stockings from the Chicago Mail Order catalog for Spring and Summer of 1930.  Click the image for a larger version.

Ladies could choose either rayon (which was invented as a silk substitute), or silk.  This attracted both budget points.

Notice how there are plain stockings, but there are also really cleverly designed ones with detailed French heels and side detailing, similar to stockings of earlier time periods but sheer.  How old fashioned but still risque!

Also notice that ankle socks and heels were popular.  But also offered were these interesting whimsical stockings.  Here’s a 1930 fashion fad for you:

Stockings that appear like ankle socks!  And wild plaid stockings, too!

Finished Projects: A White Pique Sports Dress & A Men’s Sports Coat, Circa mid 1930s

The Queen Mary Art Deco Festival was this weekend.  It’s actually still going on today, I believe…  and while I was still a tiny bit puffy faced and still pretty sore from my wisdom teeth surgery, I was determined to play dress up and see friends.  That, and my husband said he would take me to the new tea room on board.  Nothing can keep a girl from her tea!

For this event both my husband and I had something snazzy and new to wear.  He had a new belted back sports jacket and I had a new mid 1930s sports dress.

I had been home and achey all week because of my wisdom teeth surgery, so wasn’t moving very quickly, but was on and off working on drafting up a pattern I had started the weekend before for him based off of two original mid 1930s men’s jackets.  I am not professionally trained to do menswear or tailoring (though I have some on-the-job experience sewing both, but not drafting) so it was very challenging for me, and the pattern went through several phases of advancement, stepping backward, stepping forward, and then, finally, working out the way we both liked.  The fabric is a vintage fabric and it feels like a raw silk and linen or cotton blend.  I am still debating what to do with the pattern I drafted, though my husband says we should do a pattern for Wearing History (it would be a long time coming, if so, so don’t hold your breath).  My husband sewed this coat almost entirely on his own.  Since I was feeling under the weather, I prepped it and instructed him on sewing.  I think he did an amazing job!

My dress just so happens to meet both what I wanted to this event and the most recent Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge of  #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion.  This dress originally started life as a white cotton pique bed sheet that I picked up at a local thrift store for $5.  I was THRILLED, because good white pique is so hard to find!  I knew it had to be a 1930s sports dress.

I based the pattern on this vintage pattern, dated 1935.  I wanted to change the “lobster bib”, and make it button up the front so I could use fun, red anchor buttons I had in my stash.  I also chose to make the pockets lace up so it had a fun, nautical twist, similar to the feel of these vintage catalog images I posted previously on my blog.  Click the images to be taken to the original posts of the catalog images I scanned and remastered (psst… I’ve been seeing these floating around the internet a lot.  If you want to repost them, please don’t forget to give credit back.  Thanks!)

For the accessories I used a thrifted red belt, a vintage telephone cord clutch that I purchased at a garage sale, and a brand new hat I bought in Old Town San Diego with a 30s/40s vintage flair.  The shoes are also new and were purchased on eBay a couple of years ago.  The “L” brooch was a gift from my good friend, Beth, of V is for Vintage.

For the Historical Sew Fortnightly, here’s the dress details:

The Challenge: #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion

Fabric:  White cotton pique bed sheet

Pattern: Original vintage McCall pattern, adapted for my style preference

Year: 1935

Notions: Red bakelite anchor buttons, white thread, black star eyelets, red silk ribbon, white rayon seam binding, white invisible zipper.

How historically accurate is it?  Other than the invisible zipper I used for a fastener, this is completely historically accurate.

Hours to complete: 7-ish

First worn: September 1, 2013, to the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival

Total cost: Not including the pattern, around $15.  The buttons were the most expensive part of this outfit.  I believe the pattern was more costly, at around $35.

I want to revisit this outfit, as I think it has great potential, but I was a little unhappy with the fit in the photos.  I want to take it in a tad at the waist and bust, fit the belt more closely, and make a red jacket as in the pattern illustration.  I also have enough pique left over to make a matching hat.

We opted to skip the Art Deco Tea Dance, as both my husband and I were a tad under the weather (me from wisdom teeth, he from throwing out his back), so we took the opportunity to try out the new Tea Room at the Queen Mary.  I believe this opened up last year, and I was very impressed.  In general, I’m not a big fan of the shipboard food (not even the loved Sir Winston’s.  It’s just a personal taste thing), but the tea was very good.  The food was small, like all tea offerings, but perfect size for my post wisdom teeth operation!  It was enough food to fill both my husband and I up.  For $32 per person (a little less than the average cost of a good sit down tea), you get a tower of savory sandwiches, scones with clotted creame, jam, and lemon curd, and then another tower of sweets.  The tea wasn’t to my preference, as I like a STRONG English black tea and these were the more subdued American black tea, but I really did enjoy it and will be back.

We ended the evening with a movie on the top deck, under the stars, watching “The Big Broadcast of 1938″.  Other than being one of my husband’s favorite movies, I’m a big fan of watching old movies on the big screen.  How perfect is it that a 1930′s movie about cruise ships is shown on the Queen Mary?  I hope they repeat the vintage movie night at a future Queen Mary Art Deco Festival.

That’s about all I’ve got!  I took a shameful amount of photos, but it was a great day :)


Beautiful Spring + Summer Hats from 1930

I have a very special treat for you this evening.  Here are some absolutely gorgeous images of hats from the Chicago Mail Order catalog from Spring and Summer 1930.

Aren’t these just exquisite?

Click the image above to read descriptions of the color image below.

Click the image below to read the descriptions of the image above.

Just stunning!  This has to be one of the best periods for hats EVER.  *swoon*

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway that Debbie of Vintage Dancer has generously offered to my blog readers!  The giveaway ends tomorrow night!!  Click here to be taken to the post.

Happy Almost-the-Weekend! :)

His Girl Friday at the La Jolla Playhouse!

I can finally share some of what I have been up to at work!  For those who didn’t know, I’ve been working as a First Hand at the La Jolla Playhouse since the winter.  It’s been really great work and I love my co-workers.  So, you can’t even anticipate how excited I was when I heard our present show was one of my all time favorite movies- His Girl Friday, and the show takes place in 1939!  And we got to work with famous Costume Designer, Paul Tazewell, which was fantastic.  He really researches everything and is as particular about period details as I am :)

Our team was responsible for buliding the lead female ensembles (minus hats and crafts), so we built things for Hildy, Molly, and Mrs Baldwin.  Here’s some promotional stills that are property of the La Jolla Playhouse to illustrate:

Here’s a few of the close up shots I took of the costumes while we were building them.  They were so detailed and structurally well built (if we do say so ourselves), that I had to share the details you might not catch on stage.

Here’s an “in progress” shot of Mrs Baldwin’s coat.  This was before we added the rhinestones, bows, and the butterfly frog (that you can’t see in the promo shots, but if you go see it in person you’ll get to see it!).  And yes, we had to attach all that lace by hand!

Here is an up close shot of Hildy’s suit coat.  We based the shape of the body off of an original vintage pattern in my collection and then Sarah Maisel, our talented draper and ukelele superstar, changed the pattern to our needs.  Karen, our master stitcher, actually stacked the pieces one on top of the other, and bagged out all the corners using silk organza.  And, of course, it’s got the tailoring “guts” all in there.  We had help of many stitchers in all the projects, but I think they came out just beautiful.  A real group effort!

We got to costume Jenn Lyon as “Hildy Johnson”, Mary Beth Peil  as “Mrs Baldwin”, and Bethany Anne Lind as “Molly Malloy”, and they were all a dream to work with!

His Girl Friday runs now through June 30th at the La Jolla Playhouse and features many talented actors and a great creative team.  You can read more about the cast here (pdf file).  I haven’t seen it yet but am so excited to see it soon!  It’s a combination of The Front Page (the original 1920s play) and the 1940′s His Girl Friday film we’re all so familiar with, with a few original twists thrown in the mix, too.

I hope you can see it!  Get more info and buy tickets at The La Jolla Playhouse website.