Possibly my #MonetaParty Dress

This was going to definitely be my #monetaparty dress but I’m currently half way through another one which I like more, so that one may end up being my official entry for the competition/party. This one was probably more of a wearable toile!

But it does have pockets! This is my face when I have a dress with pockets!

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After asking on instagram, the consensus was to use this fabric which is navy with white flecks, instead of some teal stuff I also had in my stash – which I’m glad about now, because I think that will make a better Christine Haynes Marianne dress.

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I made the size xs and did have to take it in a little under the arms. I think because it’s quite a thin, drapey knit, it looked a bit saggy!

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I also sewed the waist seam with a 2cm seam allowance and not the 3/8″ that pattern says, because I felt it just sat slightly too low to be flattering. I have an H&M rtw dress that is a similar style to the Moneta, but without pockets and with a v-neck, and the waist seam is really quite high, so I was aiming for that, though it still isn’t quite the same.

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I do like the fabric, but when it’s stretched it goes white, the colour it is in the wrong side. The bodice therefore looks like it’s stretched too much, because the tiniest bit of stretch makes it look too stretched, because of the white showing through. I am wearing it with a navy vest underneath, which you can’t see, because it’s not really see-through, it just looks like it is, if that makes sense?

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Luckily without changing anything except the underarm seam, the xs size fits me snuggly across the back, which is the place I usually have issues with fit.

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The main issue with this dress, and what makes it a wearable toile, is that I messed up the neckline. I sewed it with a twin needle, but it didn’t quite catch the whole hem so I thought I could sew it again, overlapping one row of stitching so I ended up with 3, but that didn’t quite work. So I unpicked all the rows, and sewed it again. But by then the neck was stretched out and doesn’t look great. I wonder if I could rescue it a little with a neckband, but I’m not sure I like the dress enough to go to the extra effort.

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I decided to try full outfits that I’ll wear when wearing this dress, and I think it looks good with mustard yellow, with a cardigan done up (to hide the terrible neckline!).

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Even with the cardigan undone, it distracts from how wide the neck sits on my shoulders. And I’m sure people wouldn’t notice the neckline too badly if I don’t point it out!

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I also really like it with my Colette Astoria – it sits just at the right place to hit the waist seam. It looks like it could be a top and skirt. This is how I wore it to hang out with Sarah from Like Sew Amazing today to have a irl #monetaparty, where I sewed most of my second Moneta, which is looking more promising, as long as I don’t mess up the neckline again!

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I couldn’t resist showing you this outtake from my photoshoot, where The Boyfriend came out of the room which is behind the doors I use as my backdrop! You can’t see him, but I like the photo my camera, which was on a timer, took of me!

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Designer Inspiration: Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin who was born in 1922 in Italy, worked under Schiaparelli and became head designer for Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier in 1947 and he’s still alive! He launched his own label in 1950 and was interested in geometric shapes, especially bubbles:

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The above dress is obviously one of the more extreme geometric designs, which is great in its way but I like his more minimal designs too, like the heart one below. I’m not normally a huge fan of hearts, but there’s something about the proportions and design of this that I really like.

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When I was first thinking about looking at Pierre Cardin, I of course, thought of him as a 60s designer, but having discovered he started his own house in 1950, then I found these 2 more 50s-style designs. You can already see his interest in structure and shapes.

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I love this dress worn by Mia Farrow! Although its shape is not geometric, the colours obviously are. She seems to have some rather funky tights too.

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I really love these bubbly dungarees! They look a bit boob-squashy but I guess boyish figures were in style in the 60s. I kinda want to make a copy of these! Maybe for SewDots…..

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And talking of dots, I love these totally circular pockets. And I’m always a sucker for mustard yellow!

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He seemed to use cut-outs quite a lot to give the geometric designs he liked. These ones look a bit like Star Trek uniforms to me, especially the orange on in the middle – maybe Cardin was the inspiration for the costumes (or vice versa)?

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I included these ones because glitter.

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I love all three of these dresses, especially the one on the left. Good hats too. Could do without the leering man, though……(It might be Cardin himself, I can’t really tell!)

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I like this monochrome offering and it seems a bit more wearable than some of the others, if the cut-out on the stomach wasn’t actually cut out!

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I quite like the half and half colours on this dress – and the way the navy sneaks onto the green side. Not sure it would be totally office-appropriate though…

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This seems to be one of the less extreme dresses, and I love it! I like the shaping of the placket-type-thing and the I guess quilted shapes on the bottom.

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With this one, I’m just curious how the collar stands up and was made! Not convinced about the colour….or the fabric, it looks almost shiny. I wonder what it is? Anyone know?

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I like how this one combines the cut outs and the structured designs. I kinda want to see a picture of it with the model’s arms down, I bet it looks a bit rubbish! Good boots though.

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Cardin was still designing clothes into the 80s (he’s moved towards designing cars and buildings and things as well as fashion). This bubbly coat seems to be from 1987.

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As with most designers of the 60s, Cardin released sewing patterns based on his designs. I’m not sure about the collar, but I like the shaping on the yoke and the swingy shape of the dress.

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I think this one looks much more interesting in the drawing than the photo – you can’t really see the seam lines in the cream. I’m digging the weird grey 60s hairdo too!

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I really like the shape of the neckline on this one, and clever how they’ve shown it colour blocked as well as all in one fabric.

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I really love this jacket – I may have to search ebay for a copy of this pattern! It might look a bit costumey but I don’t really care.

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You can’t beat a great 60s swing coat! And the collar! I wonder how they get it to stand up….

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Do you like Pierre Cardin or are his designs a bit too costumey do you think? I kind of like how extreme the clothes are, but I probably wouldn’t have the balls to wear most of them without toning them down or making them a bit more modern!

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Designer Inspiration: Mary Quant

My latest designer inspiration is Mary Quant – I thought I’d continue the 60s theme from my last fashion history post as I love it so! I also love her famous Vidal Sassoon haircut. Should I copy it do you think?

Mary Quant Hairstyle - Vidal Sassoon

Born in London in 1934, Mary Quant opened her first boutique (they always seems to be called boutiques and not shops!), Bazaar, in 1955 on the King’s Road in Chelsea. It was from the very beginning that the mini skirt idea started to take off – this is something new to me, I always thought this was definitively a 60s phenomenon! The jury is out about who actually invented the mini skirt (which includes very short dresses) – it could have been Quant, it could have been Andres Courreges, or John Bates. She herself said “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.'”1 What is true is that Mary Quant named it, after her favourite car – The Mini (obvs).

 

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Quant is also credited (by some) with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that were so often worn with the new shorter skirts and dresses. It could have been Balenciaga who showed harlequin tights in 1962. It basically seems like several people were having similar ideas in fashion at the same time – but Mary Quant seems to have been the one associated with inventing/ popularising the most innovations.

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Another of these innovations was hot pants. Here is Quant and Grace Coddington (of Creative Director of US Vogue and giant red hair fame – she used to be a model, and she features quite a bit in The September Issue, which I would recommend) modelling hot pants underneath dresses – I assume this was a thing?!

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“Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s/60s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.””2

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After opening a second Bazaar store in 1957, Quant started to design more and more of the items she was selling, instead of merely ordering them in. “For a while in the late 1950s and very early 1960s, Quant was one of only two London-based high-end designers consistently offering youthful clothes for young people. The other was Kiki Byrne, who opened her boutique on the King’s Road in direct competition with Quant.”3

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From the 70s onwards, she moved away from designing clothes and concentrated on homeware and cosmetics – which she says are a part of fashion. According to her Wikipedia article, she claims to have invented the duvet – though a quick google tells me that Terence Conran was the first person to sell the modern duvet, or continental quilt, in Britain, having got the idea from Sweden.

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She was particularly known for monochrome colour-blocking.

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She also seemed to have embraced bright colours, like these dresses, in orange, mustard and red. I particularly like the mustard one, and I like the contrast collar, cuffs, hem and pocket on this one.

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Like so many designers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, Mary  Quant produced sewing patterns – I think it’s so cool how they all accepted people wanted to copy their styles so made patterns. I guess it probably wasn’t the same people who would buy the clothes and would make the clothes.

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I like the pose in the photos of this one!

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Not sure about this one to be honest!

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I like this one with the high collar and the pleated skirt. Not sure how flattering it would be on me – the drawing looks better than the photo.

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In 1966 she was made an OBE and in 2015 she was made a Dame. Not bad for someone who never studied fashion! Although she moved away from fashion design, for me – and I’m sure for many other people – the thing I will most associate her with is her mod designs of the 60s. I’m definitely going to look out for any of her patterns so I can recreate some of her looks!

 

 

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Fashion History – The Early 1960s

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In the 1960s, for the first time, fashion looked to London instead of Paris. Think of Carnaby Street and the Kings Road – there were loads of little boutiques which got new styles in every week, with young people being the main customers, of course. The 1960s saw fashion become an integral part of young people’s identities for the first time, and they had the disposable income to buy all the new fashions – and labels like ‘casual’ and ‘formal’ dressing no longer mattered.

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The early 60s were all about simple lines and clean shapes. The shift dress was king, moving away from the extreme waist definition of the 50s, started by The New Look. Mary Quant was an early queen of the shift, but it was widely adopted, with design details like large pockets and cut outs adding design details which were missing from the shape of the dress.

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Colouring was another way to add design details to the simple shift.

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It was in the 60s that trousers first took off like never before – they had obviously been around in the 20s (wide, pyjama-style) and women like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn wore suits in the 30s and 40s – but the 60s was where they became more main-stream than they’d ever been before. They especially took off when in 1963 Cathy McGowan wore a pair to host the music tv show Ready Steady Go.

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I was slightly struggling to find good photos for this post – there are so many amazing clothes from the 60s and great designers who started in that era that I couldn’t work out how to narrow down my search, so I decided to look up Twiggy, whose style I LOVE! I definitely kinda want these massive earrings! Are they discoballs or baubles!?

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I think this dress could be easily recreated with the Megan Dress from Love At First Stitch. The one above could maybe be made with the Megan too, if I could work out how to do the ties on the front.

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Technology advances meant fabrics became more easy to wear and care for, as polyester was blended with other fibres. This led to the more avant-garde designers using slightly less conventional materials, like paper, plastic and metal. PVC was also invented in the 60s and was available in black and white. Designers also used traditional evening fabrics, such as velvet, lace, and brocade, for daywear.

This is Audrey Hepburn in a Paco Rabanne dress made of I think giant sequins, from the film Two For The Road.

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Andres Courreges was also known for his extreme cut outs and space-age-y use to unconventional fabrics and materials. The 2 white ones are clearly not wearable really, but I still love them! Digging these giant sleeves too!

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In 1960 24-year-old Yves Saint Laurent showed his final collection for Christian Dior, then set off on his own to create a cooler Beat collection including leather suits and knitted caps. With this he signalled the beginning of the end for French Haute Couture. In 1962 he launched his ready to wear label, Rive Gauche.

1960 Yves Saint Laurent, 24 years old, showed final collection for Christian Dior, sent out a cool Beat collection of black leather suits and knitted caps to an astonished and bewildered audience, sounded death knell of haute couture. 1962 invented his ready-to-wear label Rive Gauche. I love the 2 dresses on the left!

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In 1966 YSL launched the first classic tuxedo suit for women, ‘Le Smoking’, which paved the way for androgynous fashion and 80s power suits.

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Catherine Deneuve wore one too.

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This YSL suit is AMAZING! I definitely would love to copy it, even though I may not have anywhere to wear it! Maybe I should make it and then just wear it on a random Wednesday or something.

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Laurent took inspiration from pop art in his designs too, most famously his Mondrian dresses.

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I love the Mondrian dresses, and also the one with the lips below, left.

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Although the ‘youthquake’ meant young people were moving away from more tailored, formal styles, I still love 60s suits, like these 2.

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This evening gown is fairly fab!

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Of course, I couldn’t round up fashion from the early 60s without looking at the amazing sewing patterns available at the time. All the major designers, whose names we still know now, released patterns:

Nina Ricci

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Lanvin

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Yves Saint Laurent

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and Pierre Cardin.

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Don’t forget, of course, Chester Weinberg! I would like to add to my vintage pattern collection with some designer ones.

The big pattern companies were no different, so here’s a little selection of my favourites.

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Do you like the 60s? Who’s your favourite designer/ style icon?

 

 

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My first finished Vintage Pledge – 1960s Coat and Dress

I’m excited to share my first finished Vintage Pledge outfit with you today! I made a dress and coat combo for my niece and nephew’s Christening last weekend.

Ta da!

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I made it with this pattern which I borrowed from my Grandma.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI liked the idea of the dress and coat being made from exactly the same fabric, like the blue combo pattern illustration, but I had some green and white stripey fabric left over from my wedding Elisalex and a bunch of green cotton drill in my stash and decided to stash bust instead of ordering new fabric – I would have needed about 6 metres for both the dress and the coat and I’m a bit poor at the moment!

This was my first time sewing with an unprinted pattern and it was definitely confusing until I realised the pieces are numbered with numbers punched in holes. I laid out all the pattern pieces on my floor and it looked like this (this wasn’t all of the pieces!):

Christening-Outfit-1There were LOADS of pattern pieces! This is because there was the dress, the coat and the coat lining, which needs totally different pieces than the coat shell. Since making my Spring for Cotton dress from another of my Grandma’s patterns I was on the lookout for her having shortened the pattern pieces. This was fairly obvious – she had cut about 4 inches off the coat pieces (but not the dress, so she must not have made the dress) – I know it was 4 inches because one of the offcuts was in the envelope. It was also obvious she had shortened it because she cut off the piece numbers! Luckily there was a guide on the instructions, so I could work out which piece was which. I added 2 inches back onto the length at the cutting out stage (but then later shortened the dress and coat!).

The pattern was really (at least) a size too big – it’s a 34 bust but I’m a 32. Most of the rest of the women in my family have large boobs,  but not me! I thought it would be fine as it’s not a super tight/ fitted style. I think if I made it again – I still like the idea of a totally matching coat and dress – I would take the dress in a little across the chest/under the arms and across the back.

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Definitely some pooling in my lower back! I would also do something about the shoulders as I feel a little like an American footballer!

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The dress is made from some green (obvs!) cotton drill I’d had in my stash for a couple of years. It was maybe a bit stiff for the dress, but it turned out okay. The only problem I had was getting the neckline to sit nicely – it looks fine off and when I ironed it, but then when I put it on it puckers slightly in a couple of places.

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Before I put the zip in (a black invisible one I had in my stash – this was definitely a stash-busting make!) I tried it on and it looked rather like a hospital gown! I think it was the scrubs shade of green and the shape without the back seam sewn/ zipped up that made it look particularly bad!

The dress has a couple of tiny pockets in the centre front seams, which are cute but really too small to put anything in – they’re definitely too small for a phone, but I guess the pattern was designed before mobile phones!

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The sleeves have facings instead of hems, which I catch stitched in place.

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The dress had not been shortened by my Grandma, and I had to take 16cm off the hem in total – 13cm + 1.5cm twice seam allowance, which I catch-stitched in place.

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Now onto the coat, which I seem not to have taken many photos of, sorry!

It was a really well drafted pattern, everything lined up perfectly, which was rather pleasing. I was very careful when cutting it out as I juuust had enough fabric, so maybe that contributed too? If you’ve made up a vintage pattern, have you found the drafting is particularly good?

The thing I found less good about this vintage pattern was the sparse (to say the least!) instructions. I’ve read this before so I think this is common for vintage patterns, as sewers at the time did know how to do stuff without needing to be told in the instructions. Thank god I’d done welt pockets before, on my Freemantle coat refashion, or I would have been very confused!

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The major thing I learned was that I should have traced off all the markings when I cut out the coat, but I didn’t really know which markings I needed – the pattern had holes to mark the stitching line, as well as darts and marks for the pocket placement. If I’d traced them all, I probably still wouldn’t have know which ones I needed! So I kept the pattern next to me and got out the pieces as I needed to find markings. If I make this again, I will know which markings to trace! There is a key on the instructions for which sequence of holes means which thing, but until I was faced with the fabric, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me I’m afraid.

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The coat should have had buttons (and a collar), but I decided I quite like the streamlined look of it without. It does mean it maybe looks a little big. Maybe I’ll add buttons now I’m not sewing to a deadline. I’m hoping this will still be a wearable coat on warm Spring days.

Christening-Outfit-5I like the swingy shape of the back (though I should have ironed it before I took these pictures!). It does look too wide for me across the shoulders and shoulder blades – this might be because it’s meant to overlap at the front when it’s done up. Or it might be the same issue I have with the dress, i.e. it’s a size (or two) too big.

I was going to hand stitch the lining in place as the instructions said, but I used Grainline’s tutorial for bagging out a lining (again) instead and did it by machine. Next time I sew a vintage pattern, I’m going to construct it as the instructions say, to make it more authentic.

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Because the coat was a bit big, and definitely too long, despite the fact that I had already shortened it by 2 inches (from adding 2 inches back on from the 4 inches my Grandma had already cut off). It looked like it was waaay too big for me and not mean to be that shape. I decided to shorten the sleeves as well as the length, to make it look a bit more flattering. I measured to take off 13.5cm from the sleeves – 12cm + 1.5cm seam allowance. I trimmed them and then stitched them on my machine. I had to take 21cm off the length of the coat – this also made it the same length as the dress, which was pleasing. I cut 12cm off the lining at the hem and 13.5 cm off the shell – the shell was longer than the lining to allow for the facing at the bottom, and I left 6cm extra on the shell to allow for a 3cm fold up. The 6cm plus 1.5cm seam allowance plus the 13.5cm is the 21cm total I had to take off, of that makes sense!

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Although I had to do a bit of maths to figure out the hem attaching the lining to the coat, once I’d worked out which pattern pieces were which, this was actually not too difficult a sew. Probably because I just sewed it straight out of the envelope and didn’t make any changes – I feel like fitting is the most fiddly and difficult part of sewing sometimes. I’m definitely less scared to tackle other vintage patterns, including unmarked ones, to complete my Vintage Pledge. I might make a muslin next time, though, to get the fit better! Have you made anything from a vintage pattern? How did you find the sparse instructions?

 

 

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Book: Vintage Fashion

Since moving to the Cotswolds, The Boyfriend and I have made an effort to explore little villages and towns, including Stroud, which has some excellent vintage and second hand shops. There are quite a few bookshops too and in one of them I found this book:

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I had to snap it up, obviously! It’s about the history of clothing in the 20th century and also about collected and wearing vintage clothes – there’s a glossary in the back of loads of vintage shops. The introduction is by Zandra Rhodes, who says:

“Vintage – what wonders this word now conjures up when linked with fashion! A magical harvest of wearable art! A wind from a past season that must be dipped into, sampled and tasted; old yes, but the garment is a survivor of the twentieth century and as such has become a classic of importance.”

The book covers each decade of the twentieth century up to the 80s – 1900-1929 are lumped together into one chapter. In the introduction they talk about the move from couturiers setting fashions and seamstresses reproducing this to mass manufacturer by the end of the second world war, removing individuality to some extent as people bought more off the rack (and made things themselves from commercial sewing patterns). The book points out, though, “why choose from ready-to-wear options produced for you, when the whole history of fashion is available?” I feel this way about sewing my own clothes – although I don’t want to look like I’m going to a costume party every day, it does mean people are less likely to have the same clothes as me because even if they use the same pattern, the chances of them using the same fabric too are pretty slim. This wouldn’t be the case if I bought all my clothes from Primark…..

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I love this dress on the first page of the 1900-1929 section. It’s a black peplum-bodiced velvet dress, trimmed with bands of velvet, with a white turnover collar, by Paul Poiret, 1924. It represents the change in this era – from Victorian/ Edwardian fashions of corsets, frills and flounces, worn by the wealthy and titled in society, to the move towards modern silhouettes, the loss of the corset (as women became (slightly) freer after the First World War) and the birth of the jazz age and the increasing influence of the media; women took their fashion cues more from film stars and by reading Vogue and Vanity Fair, rather than from Kings, Queens, Lords and Ladies.

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I love this dress too – I think it looks much more modern then First World War era! It was designed by Henri Bendel, who owned a shop in New York which originally sold designs by Chanel and Schiaparelli, then made own-label versions. I love the close up of the embroidery pattern on the fabric – it looks like running stitch you could do on any modern machine! Maybe I should make a copy…….not sure I’d have the patience, though!

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These silhouettes are ones I particularly recognise as being from the 1920s. I wrote a whole post on the early 1920s, if you would like more information about it. By 1924 the flapper was in full swing – they were known for their behaviour as much as for their fashion – the smoked and put on their make-up in public! The waistline of dresses dropped dramatically in 1925 to below the hip, and by 1927 it had disappeared entirely. Hemlines rose as the waistline dropped, to a scandalous 15in, to just below the knee. The flapper style crashed, along with Wall Street, in 1929.

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The 1930s is the ‘Hollywood glamour’ era. The style of cutting on the bias to show off the natural curves of the body was an almost compete reversal from the boyish, loose, straight styles of the 1920s. Designers also experimented with different fabrics (and new synthetic ones starting to be developed) because people could not afford luxury after the crash and between the 2 wars (though, of course, they didn’t know they were between 2 wars!).

Chanel (above, right) and Schiaparelli (below, right) were the 2 most influential designers of the 30s. Chanel had revolutionised day wear by seeing the potential in wool jersey as a comfortable, cost effective fabric. She focused on easy-to-wear sporty styles in neutral colours, including black. Where Chanel thought couture was a profession, Elsa Schiaparelli thought it was an art. Born in Italy, she was a close friend of Picasso, Dali and Man Ray, and published a book of poetry in 1911. She created clothes in bright colours, with an exaggerated silhouette – high waisted and broad shouldered to elongate the body – this was probably her own style as she was barely 5ft tall.

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Below is a floor-length harlequin wool felt coat from Schiaparelli’s 1939 Commedia dell’Arte collection. She had a shorter career, retiring during the Second World War, and although she was very successful at the time, dressing stars like Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich, she is less well-remembered now. Perhaps because Chanel’s house kept going under Karl Lagerfeld? I think the below coat is quite 60s in a way, so maybe she was a bit ahead of her time.

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I think the 1930s are my second favourite decade for fashion, after the 60s, obviously. These dresses just look effortlessly elegant. Maybe I’ll have to give McCall’s M7154 a go finally!

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At the end of each chapter/ decade of the book is a round up of key looks, and coloured squares to show the palette of each era. It’s a handy quick reference!

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The 1940s was all about the suit, which echoed the military uniforms seen on service men and women. They were cut with a quite masculine shape, emphasising the shoulders, to show how women meant business. Utility clothing was also an important movement in this era. Called the Victory suit in America and Everyman’s clothing in Germany, most countries had their version of the restricted fashions designed to save materials and labour.

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Of course, the end of the decade was all about Dior’s New Look. According to the book, the below outfit is from a Vogue Pattern by Pierre Balmain, rather than being an actual Dior. I love that the book acknowledges how many women sewed the latest fashions for themselves.

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One thing I hadn’t really thought of before, when thinking about the history of fashion, was the influence of countries and cities. Paris was the centre of the fashion universe up to the 30s but when it was occupied by Germany in 1940, America had to step up and find it’s own way stylistically. Their Victory suit was less austere than the British version – I guess they weren’t as restricted with materials as Britain, on the ration, was. And obviously the influence of Hollywood was really starting to take off.

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The 1950s was a decade of hope – after the Second World War and the positive reception of Dior’s New Look, women began to want to dress in more luxurious, feminine clothes (after enduring the masculine tailoring of the 40s). There was a slight backlash against this move back to the feminine, though – women had been liberated to some extent during the war, working as landgirls and in factories, and they didn’t like the idea that they would revert to being feminine and restricted to a romantic ideal.

There were 2 main silhouettes of the 50s – fit and flounce, both intended to emphasise a small waist, which could be achieved with underwear and strategic padding. This was the last decade when Paris still dominated, and I feel like it’s one of the last slightly old-fashioned decades (at least from a modern point of view) where women were still expected to have hats, gloves, and matching shoes and bag. I love these drawings of the different silhouettes,.

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Dior himself experimented with many different silhouettes throughout the decade – he wasn’t a one-trick pony. The below picture is from his last collection before his death in 1957. You can see he had started to move away from the hour-glass shape and I think you can start to see the emergence of what I would consider a more 1960s style, especially the red coat on the right.

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Although the 50s isn’t really a decade I am particularly drawn to in terms of my own style, it was undeniably an elegant decade! I can’t get over the flawless make-up and hair in this picture!

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I do like the 50s colour palette, though! Lovely turquoise, pink and yellow.

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Now my favourite decade – the 1960s!

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In the 1960s London took over from Paris as the city everyone looked to to set the styles, especially Carnaby Street and the King’s Road. For the first time young people had money to spend and wanted to spend it on clothes, music, and their whole lifestyle. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were changing music, models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were becoming stars and the way fashion was photographed (by David Bailey and others) meant it appealed to the young.

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I feel like I want a bright, patterned suit, like this one by Biba. The dress is also Biba and is equally fabulous! I love the print of the fabric. Biba was the cheaper end of the fashion scale in London and she capitalised on sales by selling whole outfits, including make-up and tights, so people could get everything in one place. Mary Quant, Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes and many others came out of the London scene too. If I could have lived at any time, I think I would definitely choose London in the 60s!

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Although London led the way, Paris was behind the space-age fashions of the 60s, including this red and white collection of 1968 by André Courrèges. The space age look was inspired by the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States – Yuri Gagarin successfully orbited the earth in 1961 and the moon landing was in 1969. The designs were minimal, both in style and in colour palette and were modelled on what we would be wearing in the year 2000.

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Towards the end of the 60s, the hippy look started to creep in. Pop music gave way to rock and at the same time people started to find a new style to wear to festivals and elsewhere. It wasn’t a designed look, but was about buying things second hand and items from other cultures (such as Indian kaftans, and Afghan jackets) and looking like an individual. This doesn’t mean that fashion didn’t follow and create new versions of this hippy look, though. The above look is a sort of lux version of the hippy look, in my opinion – I do love the combination of colours, though. This is by Bill Blass in 1965.

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The ‘mod’ look was all about simplicity of style – simple shapes which were comfortable to wear. Then you had the rockers, and the hippies and psychedelia. It seems like the 60s is the first time it’s creeping in that you could express yourself through fashion and not just wear the same styles as everyone else. This gets more extreme in the 70s and has maybe led to today’s fashion being about ‘trends’ rather than any particular style.

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I’ve included the round-up of the 60s because look at the colour palette! Orla Kiely anyone?!

Ah, the 1970s. I should pay a lot of attention to this decade as it’s apparently back in style this season. Does anyone else feel like the decades of the past just cycle around every couple of years?

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The 70s was definitely about lots of different styles. The bohemian flavour of the 70s was epitomised by Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell, who designed together until their divorce in 1974. The above coat is one of theirs – she tended to design the prints and he showed them off to their best in the clothing designs. Clark carried on the bias legacy of the 30s, showing off the female form again after the straighter, simpler shapes of the 60s.

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A review of 70s fashion wouldn’t be complete without mentioning punk and Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. Coming out of bondage gear – rubber, leather, studs, chains – Westwood and McLaren mixed these elements with more traditional fabrics like muslin or cotton t shirts, cutting them up and pinning them together to create new shapes. Where flares had been getting wider and wider, punk reigned the trouser in and went back to drainpipes and skintight leather.

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Glam- (or glitter-)rock music dominated the charts in the early 70s – the likes of David Bowie, T-Rex, Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. They dressed in shiny, luxurious fabrics, platforms and make-up.

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One of my favourite fashions of the 70s is Disco. Starting in New York and Studio 54, the music was made to be danced to. The clothes followed suit – those that would look best being danced in inside clubs. They favoured shiny fabrics like satin and lame and bright colours like fuchsia, pink, and electric blue. In the clubs the silhouettes were loose and flowing and on the street it included drainpipe trousers and boob tubes.

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It seems that most of the fashion trends of the 70s had an associated music style. I was watching a programme about music in the 70s and it was the decade when consuming music was at its highest and in pretty much every genre there was great music being produced – The Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, Eric Clapton, Jackson 5, Queen, Donna Summer, Dione Warwick, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, The Sex Pistols, ABBA, David Bowie etc. It seems like it  really shifted in the 70s to people dressing as individuals rather than following the only fashion that was on offer. I haven’t even mentioned the continuation of the hippy style, the revival of decorative arts and crafts, and the influence of Japan.

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I think the 80s is probably my least favourite decade in this book. I just think it’s the decade style forgot – sorry if you love the 80s! Feel free to convince me why it was great if you think so.

At the beginning of the decade, young people were feeling the pinch of the Reagan and Thatcher governments so fashions were created out of necessity and lack of funds. By the middle of the decade, though, people were better off and the 80s saw the beginning of an obsession with labels – like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Armani, and Versace. Tailoring took it’s masculine queue from the unisex looks of the 70s, such as in Annie Hall and from androgynous stars like Annie Lennox and Grace Jones. The suits above, right, are Chanel! I think it’s just the styling that makes them look 80s, if you look at the shapes of the jackets and skirts, you could almost be looking at the 40s.

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The skirt went kind of mental in the 80s – puffball, ra-ra and mini-crini (which I assume means mini crinoline, demonstrated by the Westwood one above, middle). These were paired with cropped jackets and over-the-knee stockings. The ready to wear copies were apparently appalling as they were not as easy to replicate as people thought!

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I didn’t take photos of many of the 80s pages – I just find it too ugly and boring to write about! Sorry not sorry.

What’s your favourite decade for fashion? Do you collect vintage clothing?

My #VintagePledge

“#VintagePledge

I’m sure if you follow sewing blogs – and like vintage style/ sewing patterns – then I’m sure you’ve heard of A Stitching Odyssey’s Vintage Pledge. If not, it started in 2014 as a way to encourage people to make things from the vintage patterns I’m sure many of us collect/ hoard. It’s running throughout the whole of 2016, with a focus of activity and prizes in July. I’ve followed the activity for the last 2 years and this time I finally decided to join in.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I have some mostly 60s and 70s patterns from my Grandma and some from a friend of a friend who was clearing out her mum’s things.

I have already made one of my Grandma’s patterns, with limited success for Spring for Cotton – it did end up really a bit short, but I’m sure when the weather warms up I’ll be pulling it out of my closet with glee!

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I, Amelia of thriftmakesew,wordpress.com pledge to make 3 outfits/ garments from my vintage pattern stash, at least one of which will be from an older, unprinted pattern.

Since I’m making this pledge, I thought I’d have a look through my pattern stash and see what I might want to make.

From the beginning, this pattern was probably my favourite one from my Grandma. I have a Christening for my niece and nephew coming up in April so I might make the matching dress and coat combo for that.

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I kind of fancy making an old school 70s-style shirt dress. It would be good for when the weather warms up, and I could layer it with tights and a jumper/cardigan when it’s not so warm (i.e. 80% of the time in England!)
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Sometimes I feel like going full-on 60s all the time in my clothing but other times I feel like I don’t want to stand out that much! But on the days when I do feel like going full-on retro, I may need an authentic 1960s blouse…..

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Out of my other stash of vintage patterns, I think this one might be my favourite. Not sure when I’d have occasion to wear a full-length coat, though!

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I managed to pick up this Simplicity pattern from a now local second-hand bookshop – I could definitely love a place where the bookshops have patterns! There are also several vintage shops, which I’ve noticed also have vintage patterns quite often. Fingers crossed I can find one of the Chester Weinberg ones! I really like the little double-breasted jacket, so I might give it a go. I like the square collar on the dress too, and I don’t think I’ve got any other dress patterns like that (though I’d have to check to be sure!).

Simplicity 2841 from Inprint

And finally, I feel like I need to make the 80s-tastic hooded top from the middle pattern! These three were given to me by one of my friends from my job I just left, so I feel like I should make at least one of them! I may not wear it out of the house, but it would be good for lolz!

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Have you made a #VintagePledge? What patterns are you planning to make? Are you as scared as I am that they will be way harder to make then modern patterns!?

Designer Inspiration: Chester Weinberg

The other day I was scrolling through instagram, which is one of my favourite pastimes if I have 10 minutes to kill, and I came across this sewing pattern (I’m sorry but I can’t remember whose feed it was on):

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I immediately thought this was a fab 60s dress! (The photo might be slightly less fabulous, however!). I had never heard of Chester Weinberg so I did some googling, and it turns out he was quite a famous fashion designer in the 60s and 70s – he was up there with Oscar de la Renta! “With his daring yet elegant clothes and outsize personality, Weinberg was the undisputed darling of the fashion press, and he was equally beloved by the industry, winning a Coty Award in 1970—the fashion equivalent of an Oscar. He worked with a who’s-who of models, photographers, and editors, and dressed socialites and celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, and Nancy Reagan. As an instructor at Parsons School of Design, he mentored the likes of Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, and Marc Jacobs.”1

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“Despite all this, his name today is familiar only to a handful of museum curators and vintage fashion aficionados. This is largely because, on April 24, 1985, Weinberg became the first fashion designer to succumb to AIDS. The tragedy of his premature demise—he was 54—was compounded by its terrible timing. Although he’d been working steadily, Weinberg was no longer famous, and his passing went unremarked by the public. Within the industry, his death was willfully ignored.”1

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I love these 2 coats – the green of the one above is just amazing and the blue below seems like one of those typically 60s colours. And look at the collar! I think I need a 60s coat in my future…..

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This might be my favourite of all the Chester Weinberg clothes I found. I’m trying to think of ways to recreate it. Any ideas of patterns I could use as a starting point?

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“The look of a Weinberg is familiar even to those who have never heard of him, for his designs were some of the defining looks of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Black-scarfed models in swirling, long black dresses topped by smock jackets in Jackson Pollock-like yellow silk or apple green mohair, a vivid wool gabardine suit with an empire waist, cinched by a wide contrasting belt, a gray geometric print dress, all are images of “mod.” At the same time, Weinberg’s designs were classically simple and elegant, with details like ribbons, princess seams, inverted pleating, and his signature ruffles. From a navy blue, silk dress with an empire waist to a wool crêpe chemise dress with black lace over a lining of light cocoa, vintage Weinberg is still fashionable.”1

You can see examples of the prints he used below.

I actually really like this fabric – and the style of the dress. I like the detail of the piping around the waist seam, so cute!

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This print is definitely right up my street! I like the high neckline and the high waistline.

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I can’t decide if I like this coat or think it’s awful……. I think I like the style but the fabric is….not my taste.

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“After his company folded, Weinberg designed dresses and sportswear for a company backed by Jones Apparel Group, cashmere sweaters for Ballantyne of Scotland, furs, costumes for the Twyla Tharp ballet As Time Goes By, and patterns for Vogue and Butterick.”1

Obviously I realised he designed sewing patterns, since that’s where I heard of his first, but I still think it’s awesome that a major fashion designed of the time make sewing patterns so people could make his fashions themselves at home. Maybe this is because it was way more common for people to still be sewing all their own clothes in the 60s than it is now. Are there any designers of a similar fame lever doing the same now?

Here is a selection of my favourites of his patterns – all the ones I found were Vogue, so I’d be interested to see any Butterick ones if you know of any. I think I may have to collect all of these – and then go full-on 60s with my clothes!

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This coat pattern might be my favourite – I’m clearly in a coat mood at the moment! If you need me I’ll be on ebay…….

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