Category Archives: 1940s

Visiting WWII For A Day

I was all ready last weekend to create lots of picture heavy posts for the blog, and then my computer seriously died and required hard drive replacement. Luckily, Mr. Q takes care of me and established external backups a long time ago, so I didn’t loose anything (whew!!!). The store was able to fix my computer fairly quickly, but I’d lost the weekend to go through pictures and create posts.

So today is a quicker post with pictures from a WWII event a few weeks ago. WWII is a period I hardly ever visit and don’t have clothes for in my closet, so I was grateful to be able to borrow things from friends and Mr. Q’s closet (he had a polo shirt that looked way better than anything in my closet for this outfit!). The only thing I had was shoes and stockings–thanks guys–I would have been sad indeed without help!

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We were a mix of female War Correspondents and Women’s Army Corps. Good thing War Correspondents didn’t have uniforms, because my outfit was a bit thrown together…

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The day was gorgeous, though a little cold early in the morning. We just went for the day and enjoyed wandering around the Allied and Axis camps and watching the staged battle. This particular reenactment is known for the large variety of WWII vehicles that are on display and in use, which was neat to see.

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Here is the German telegraph set up. The Axis camp actually had a lot of things to look at and one especially interesting interactive set up with food from the period.

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The Germans also had some really snazzy cars and other vehicles. They did a few drives around the battlefield before the battle actually started.

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Prior to the battle some tanks had been hidden just inside the trees across the grass field. It was my favorite part when they came trundling out mid-battle (especially the well hidden ones that we didn’t spot before things started!). My second favorite part was when, after the battle, they backed the tanks back into the trees to reset for a second battle later in the day.

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And finally, a Russian unit in the Allied camp. We met another female reenactor who was with the Russian unit (women aren’t that common at these WWII events, you know, so it’s especially neat to meet others, especially those you don’t previous know). The tea and fur coats were pretty tempting while the day was still cold and later in the day there was music! Fun!

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1940s-Does-Modern Anne Adams Dress

Summer is here, and I’ve been wearing dresses a lot lately. I’m trying to expand the number of dresses in my wardrobe and trying to incorporate more garments that make use of a pattern of some sort rather than just being a solid color. This new dress is… well, a dress, and it has a pattern! And, it’s purple with a wide skirt. What is not to like?

Robe with slip (1)

The inspiration is this Anne Adams dress pattern #4752 from the 1940s.

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I love it, and really wanted to make a dress just like it. But then, I also wanted a nice full skirt just like another dress I bought from H & M years ago and wear often. Turns out that the full skirt made the angled stripes on the skirt totally impossible to pull off. I tried! It was sad looking, though, and in the end I decided I’d be much happier with the dress if I adjusted the design to accommodate my more-full-than-1940s skirt. Good decision, because I love the dress just as it is! I wouldn’t mind some day making the dress with a skirt that has less fullness and a more 1940s silhouette and trying the stripes as they are in the inspiration, but it wasn’t fated to be for this iteration.

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See? Because the skirt is full it’s a curved piece, which meant that the striped panel had to have darts to fit, which wrecked the line of the stripes.

Once I decided to go for the Modern-Does-1940s look I also decided not to bother with the buttons on the bodice. My dress does have topstitching like the pattern image, though you can’t really see it with all the stripes going on.

The dress is constructed from a medium weight cotton I found on the remnant table at my local fabric store for $3ish/yard. Love that price! The armholes and hems are finished with self fabric bias. The dress closes up the left side with a purple lapped zipper. If you’re going to be purple, why not be PURPLE? (Maybe I should call this the Purple People Eater Dress?)

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The bodice is a little different than the inspiration, because I wanted to make it fit my body. Thus, both sides of the bodice are gathered into the angled waist piece to create space for the bust (in the inspiration the dress is drawn with the proper left side being flat… but that would mean also being flat chested on that side…). The other thing is that I have a shoulder seam in my dress, and I wound up gathering the front pieces at the shoulders to make the whole thing sit correctly on my body. You can see in the picture with the dress on the mannequin that it started out with no gathers on the shoulders, but it wasn’t fitting me in a flattering way, so I gave up and altered it to be comfortable.

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The back bodice has darts and corresponding tucks in the skirt. The tucks were unintentional, added only because the skirt had stretched out and was bigger than the waistband when I went to attach them. That’s what happens when you cut corners and don’t stay stitch… But see the perfect chevrons on the side seam? They make me happy!

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I’m wearing modern summer sandals, but I did attempt to do a nod-at-the-1940s hair style for the photos. I don’t mind the style, but clearly I need some more practice (and likely a different hair type without so much frizz) to really get a 1940s style going.

Thanks so much to my wonderful friend photographer, who is so willing and excited to document the things I make so I can share them on my blog! Of course, the trade off is that she gets to practice photography skills on a willing model… Works out well for both of us!

Patterned Stash Additions!

If you look at my clothes, modern and historic, you might notice that I usually wear solid colors. Yes, I do mix solid colors in outfits. But there it is: I hardly ever wear patterned fabric. I want to branch out a bit, at least in my historic wardrobe, so when I saw these patterned fabrics on sale I couldn’t resist.

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So here they are: my most recent stash additions. On the left, a rayon challis with a slightly lilac tinted grey background and little teal clovers all over. On the right, a super lightweight cotton lawn with dots in shades of purple and pinkish/redish/orange. What for? I’m thinking 1930s or 40s for the challis and a 50s summer dress for the lawn. I’m pushing the envelope, thinking outside my normal eras! Of course, these projects are pretty low on the list of things to get done… so don’t expect to see them again soon. But maybe this summer the 50s dress could be a fun project. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll know I have patterned fabric in my stash, and that’s enough for me!

Bolero jackets in the 20th century: 1930-1950

Evening Ensemble designed by Elsa Schiaparelli 1938

A few posts ago, we took a look at Bolero and Zouave jackets from the mid-19th century and Bolero jackets from the 20th century: 1900-1909. While I was looking at images related to those posts I found a few amusing boleros from the mid-20th century and decided to share those with you as well!

Let’s start here: with this evening ensemble designed by Elsa Shiaparelli at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My first thought about this was something along the lines of the following: “The dress has a lovely shape. What’s the abstract embellishment on the bolero?”

Gymnast bolero designed by Elsa Schiaparelli 1938

Well, look carefully at the Bolero picture. It’s decorated with gymnasts!

Evening dress by Elsa Schiaparelli 1938

Here’s the back of the dress without the bolero over it. Such lovely lines. In the picture on the right, you can also see the texture of the dress fabric. It’s difficult to discern what it is. Looks to me like it might be a jacquard  or watermarked fabric. Do you have other ideas about what the fabric is?

This next bolero was designed by Balenciaga in the 1940s. Its style is much more traditional than Schiaparelli’s gymnast bolero. The beading and other trimming on this Balenciaga bolero is exquisite!

Balenciaga Bolero 1946-1947

The Oxford English Dictionary includes these quotes regarding boleros in the definition. They are good context for the style and use of boleros in women’s clothing during the mid-20th century.
1941    ‘R. West’ Black Lamb I. 407   The boleros the women wore over their white linen blouses.
1968    J. Ironside Fashion Alphabet 35   Bolero, a short jacket reaching to the waist, worn open over a blouse‥sleeved or sleeveless‥worn by Spanish dancers and bullfighters.
I’m including this final bolero just for fun. I can envision it with a slinky black bias-cut 1930s evening gown with a low cut back… It even has a matching belt! This bolero strongly reminds me of the style of Ginger Roger’s dresses in her videos with Fred Astaire. I’ve also included just a few fun pictures of Ginger’s fabulous dresses below so you can see her general style. Beautiful!

Evening Bolero 1933

Evening Bolero 1933

Belt to go with Bolero 1933

Top Hat 1935

Carefree 1938

Flying Down to Rio 1933