Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spotted in a Shop Window - Designer Gown Pretty in Pink

I have to stop and smile every time I walk past this fabulous froth of cotton candy pink that is a formal gown in the window of Luly Yang in downtown Seattle. The style of this designer gown is so reminiscent of 1950s gowns - positively delicious!  I love the texture of the full skirt, the way the bodice and drop waist are snugly wrapped, the sweetheart neckline, and spaghetti straps. And the color -so girly-girl pink! :D Note that langorous feather fan - the perfect accent!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Enjoying the Style of Vintage Pedal Pushers or Capris

We had a touch of spring this past weekend, with temperatures reaching the upper 60s on Sunday. Which made many pull out their sunnier clothing. Which put me in mind of capris, otherwise called pedal pushers in the 1940s and 1950s, which provide cute details that you don't see in the store-bought variety. I love the ones that add special treatments to the hemline outseams for that extra touch of spark and fun:

  • Fold-back cuffs
  • Wing cuffs
  • Sporty vents
  • Buttoned vents
  • Bound and tied vents

And of course, a pattern that includes a darling blouse along with the pedal pushers is always a bargain! Enjoy these examples:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Exotic Fashion with Nehru Style

Does it look better on the envelope or in person? The following pattern, Simplicity 7994, features Nehru fashion for the ladies. Fashion influences from exotic locations (meaning anywhere but here) were a big deal back in the 1960s and 1970s. In this case, the Nehru jacket takes an A-line turn and is done up in rich fabrics, such as brocades, silks, and paisleys. Far Eastern was in!

So here is 7994 in person. It's the outfit on the right. What do you think? I have to admit, that 7993 on the left is cuter (to me). :) Is it because the dress in 7994 is also used as a tunic, making for a long tunic?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards - Vintage Tweets: Want to Go Back to Work?

Postcard 030

Sender:  Tillie
Addressee: Miss Lillian Maguire, c/0 Mrs. Mueller, 1902 G" Terry Ave., Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St. Louis, MO
Date: June 9, 1908
Image: Country Club. Junction City, Kansas

This image conveys a country club of gentility and bucolic beauty. The Country Club in Junction City, Kansas no longer exists in this form, although there is a Country Club and Golf course there.

Hello Lillian, how is everything,
and everybody? I thank you
very very much for the postal
and also the book of beautiful
views, I appreciate them
both very much. You ought
to come to work, next week
the Circus is across the street,
you know there won't be much
work done. Hoping you are all
well, will write more soon.
Your friend, Tillie

Lillian receives a message from Tillie, her co-worker at the homeopathic pharmacy in St. Louis, MO. From this message, we cannot determine whether Lillian is staying temporarily or permanently in Seattle for her health. Clearly Tillie thinks she might come back. And what better incentive for a return to work than the fun of a circus across the street?

Lillian has been thoughtful and generous, remembering friends by sending postals and picture books - the next best thing to being there! And check out this lovely dress and short coat - perfect for an afternoon outing - too pretty to wear to a circus?

1907 Coat and Afternoon Dress

Friday, January 23, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Trimming a Satin Frock

Reverse pin tucks! AND hand-embroidered panels! This is a win-win tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears for her 1920s audience. Can you visualize it - a black satin frock with panels embroidered in peacock blue and gold? I simply love Ruth's ideas.

Do you think it's better to embroider the panels and then stitch them to the dress, or complete the sewing of the dress and then embroider it? My guess is the former, but I could be wrong. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards: Vintage Tweet from Ada, June 5, 1908

Postcard 029

Sender:  Ada J. Matz
Addressee: Miss Lillian Maguire, 1902 G" Terry Ave, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St. Louis, MO
Date: June 5, 1908
Image: Jefferson Barracks, St Louis, MO

The Jefferson Barracks still exist, and the entire area is now managed by the Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation, complete with museums, historic buildings, and so on. Another worthy place to visit if ever I am in St. Louis!

Dear Lillian: - 
Many thanks for 
the beautiful card and
handsome souvenir. Words
fail to express my surprise
and great delight when
the parcel came to hand.
We have rain almost
every day and today it
is scorching hot. Am glad
to learn that you like it
so well in Washington.
With sincere good wishes, 
I remain,
Ada J. Matz

I wonder what the "handsome souvenir" is that Lillian sent to Ada. This post card is such a gracious thank you and greeting. Ada reports that the weather has been days of rain and now scorching hot in St. Louis. I suspect that is not the weather that Lillian has been experiencing in Seattle! ;)

An Afternoon Dress - 1907

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sewists Use Tip to Sew Lovely 1920s Dresses!

About a year ago, I posted this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s:

This tip has inspired more than one sewist. I was thrilled to hear from Gabriela of the Pour La Victoire blog, who had recently created a 1920s frock and added a cascading drape using Ruth's tip. I think her results are absolutely wonderful and a fabulous testament to the 1920s. In the following images, borrowed from her blog, you can see how much the cascading drape adds to her evening frock. 

I   absolutely love the color of her frock, the beading is simply exquisite, and the total effect is simply elegant. I can't imagine the careful effort and amount of time it took to add the beautiful beading to the frock.

To read all the details of how Gabriela constructed this dress, check out her blog, Pour La Victoire. In her blog, Gabriela also mentions Lorna, who had also used this tip to accent her 1920s dress (along with a friend). Lorna kept in touch me when she was sewing her dress, so be sure to follow the links to her blog, Loran's World. Loran has sewn other wonderful 1920s dresses, and loves to knit too! So be sure to browse her blog and be inspired.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Before and After: 1950s Shortie Pyjamas Become Delightful Dance Costume!

This is a happy story to relate, in which a professional dance costume sewist (name: Helen) is asked to create a vintage pyjama costume for a dance contest. Happily for me, she turned to my shop on Etsy, Midvale Cottage,  and purchased this charming pattern, Advance 7803 from the mid-1950s.

The drama was in the shipping. She lives in the UK, I live in Seattle. It was New Year's Eve and she needed it ASAP but without costing more than she could charge for the finished product! Needless to say, she got it in time to sew it for her client. Hurray!

And here is the absolutely adorable costume that she sewed for her client. You can see that she sewed view 2. I love the choice of fabric, it is perfect for this vintage outfit. And the pom-pom trim makes it super-cute!

To see more photos of these pyjamas, her client's feedback, and more of her costumes for dance recitals and performances, visit her website: Dance Festival Costumes. Kudos to Helen on a wonderful result, and many thanks for sharing her pictures!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards: Vintage Tweets - Time to Get Out of St Louis for Keeps!

Postcard 028

Sender:  C. M. De Rinza French Lady
Addressee: Miss Lillian Maguire, 1902 G Terry Ave, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St. Louis, MO
Date: June 4, 1908
Image: Wabash Bridge, Forest Park, St Louis, MO

I suspect that this bridge no longer exists, but in this postcard it looks relatively new and very picturesque. Forest Park is still in St Louis. This very large park is a major center for the city, with civic buildings, a zoo, and a golf course. If I ever visit St Louis, I'll have to be sure to visit Forest Park!

Dear Lillian,
I am so glad
you are so well
pleased with your
new home & sincerely
hope it will bring
back your health
which after all is 
the greatest blessing
of all. I trust I may
be as fortunate
as you & get out next 
spring for keeps no 
returning for me.
Thanks for your postal.
Linda left us last Saturday
& Florence Abel leaves this [sic]
Things are changing rapidly.
With love from C. M. De Rinza
French Lady

The message on this postcard is very warm and confiding. It emphasizes the gift of health, and informs us that health in that time period was not a secure thing. It also seems to indicate that young women of Lillian's circle were all anxious to leave St. Louis. In addition to Lillian, Linda and Florence have left (married? simply moved? where did they go?) and this writer, the "French Lady", intends to leave too, "for keeps". This is such an interesting and intriguing peek into young women's life at that time!

Afternoon Dress 1907

Thursday, January 15, 2015

1946 Originator Sketch: Artful Gathers Create Beautiful Frocks

While I am tempted to call it smocking, I suspect these frocks illustrate the use of shirring to artfully gather fabric, for a front peplum in one case and a side cascading drape in the other. Regardless, such clever, creative ideas result in beautiful frocks. Delicious!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spadina Museum Staff Sew Ruth Wyeth Spear's Cloche

Almost a year ago, I posted this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears for sewing a charming cloche:

Last week I was totally delighted to hear from the staff at Spadina Museum, a 1920s house museum located in Toronto. They created this hat, using Ruth's instructions, and then posted the results (complete with steps) on their Facebook page. Now is this cute or what? What a success! :D Be sure to visit their post on FB and look at all the pictures. Spadina Museum looks like a must-see if ever I can make it to Toronto!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Spotted in a Shop Window: Diagonal Details Make the Dress

Simple yet elegant sheath, spotted in the window of Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. I love all the diagonal folds, with the skirt mirroring the bodice. I am not sure why putting the mannequin in a cage was considered creative, but it doesn't diminish the eye-catching style of this elegant little dress. That is a beautiful blue, too.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards: Vintage Tweet from Tillie, May 26, 1908

Postcard 027

Sender:  Tillie
Addressee: Miss Lillian Maguire, c/0 Mrs. Mueller, 1902 G" Terry Ave., Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St. Louis, MO
Date: May 26, 1908
Image: Los Banos (The Baths) San Diego, Cal.

This postcard from Lillian's co-worker in St Louis, Tillie, shows a photograph of Los Banos (The Baths), located in San Diego, California. I don't think this building exists anymore. At least, I could not find it on the internet.


Hello, Lillian; -
I received your pretty
card, was very glad to hear
from you, also glad you 
liked the photo. We are having
warm weather, give me the good 
old summer time. Hoping to hear
from you soon again. Tillie.


So Tillie loves the summer weather. :) Of course, in May it was probably still pleasant. I was searching for information on the climate for St. Louis, to see just how bad it could be, bad enough that a person would have to move elsewhere for their health. And it seems to be essentially very hot & humid in the summer (sub-tropical almost) and freezing in the winter. So a move to Seattle for Lillian would have meant a move to a much more moderate climate, not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter. :) Smart move.

A beautiful afternoon dress 1907

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Voices from the Past: 1940s Seamstress Documents Her Work

How well do you document how you sewed a garment? Or do you document your changes at all?

The seamstress who sewed this very fine man's 1940s sports jacket in the mid-1950s wrote copious notes that detail her steps to construct this garment and then tucked them in the pattern envelope.

Not only are there a plethora of measurements, she describes numerous details about how many of what were used and exact placements of buttons, buttonholes, pockets, and more.  Read these notes and be impressed with the level of detail - I am!

Here are two hand-made pocket pieces that were included with the notes.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Scraps from the Past and Voices from the Past: 1960s Chemise & Jumper

The Pattern: McCall's 7409
This versatile pattern from 1964  features two A-line jumper variations and a dress with drop waist, and blouse and slim chemise.  Popular styles at that time, this pattern was featured in McCall's Magazine and Seventeen Magazine.  "It's Young Fashion!"

The Scrap: Tucked into the pattern above were the scraps picture below. The sewist seems clearly inspired by view C on the far right of the illustration! The patterned fabric (a soft cotton or cotton-mix) in gold, avocado, and purple is quite similar to the pattern of the chemise. A small bit of matching purple (in a more linen-weight cotton) was probably used to sew one of the A-line jumpers or dress.

Voices from the Past: "This fits Rinda it just the same as her shif[t]. I measheard [sic] it." (written in pencil on the envelope front). Lucky Rinda to get this ensemble! I wonder if Rinda had a bouffant hair-do too?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - Embroidered Collar & Cuffs

Well, I adore hand-embroidery and deep collars and cuffs, so this is superb tip from my point of view! Thank you, Ruth Wyeth Spears for this tip for your home sewists of the 1920s! I love the Napoleon-style collar and the deep contoured cuffs - so totally elegant. The hand embroidery uses simple stitches (single stitch, cross stitch, and satin stitch) that produce a beautiful, rich look, especially if you include gold thread in the pattern, as Ruth suggests.

I definitely want to try this one! Perhaps on a jacket - don't think I could pull off a full coat. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

1946 Originator Sketch: Tailor a Coat with Pin Tucks

Ah, my favorite - pin tucks! These coats feature fan-shaped tucks that taper to produce a small waistline. Note the differences in collars and pockets. Inspiring!