1926 Silver Lace Robe de Style

One of my summer sewing projects was a new 1920s robe de style. (And yes, I am clearly delayed in posting about it!) I already have one (my 1924 Golden Robe de Style) but I stumbled across a lovely lace at Joann Fabrics in the spring that called to join my wardrobe as a second dress in this category. I attend enough 1920s evening events that I can never seem to have enough dresses. Doesn’t that sound grand written out? I actually do have plenty of dresses, but it’s nice to have variety and cycle through different styles, types of fabrics, weights, etc.

I’ve enjoyed wearing my first robe de style and wanted to try another one with different characteristics. The 1924 golden one is made of silk taffeta and has an ankle length skirt, but I wanted this one to be much lighter weight and shorter in length. I also wanted a different neckline. After looking through my Robe de Style Pinterest board for inspiration I settled on this dress, a Boué Soeurs robe de style from fall/winter 1925-6. This is where my date of 1926 for my new robe de style comes from.

Obviously the lace is not opaque so as with the original dress I needed a lining. I settled on the icy blue because it was from my stash. (You’ve seen this fabric before, in my 1899 evening gown.) It was great to use a stash fabric for cost saving and stash-diminishing purposes as well as the fact that the colors coordinate. And, I was able to accessorize with a large flower pin in a very similar color that has been in my stash since before I had a fabric stash! Isn’t it wonderful to find good homes for odds and ends like this?

In addition to the flower pin, I also wore my extra long strand of faux pearls, my American Duchess silver Seabury shoes, and vintage silver hair pins. Oh, and earrings. But I can’t remember which ones and I can’t tell from the photos which pair they are. I’ll have to figure that out again next time I wear this dress!

The pattern for this dress is me-made, composed of mostly rectangular shapes based on my measurements. The body of the lining is basically an upside down T shape, where the sides are gathered into a slit that extends into the main body on each side by a few inches. (You can see what I’m talking about in the photo below.) The lining has a straight top edge with rectanglur straps attached. The hem angles down slightly on the sides intentionally. I still wanted an uneven hem as with my 1924 dress, but I wanted a less dramatic difference than with that dress.

The lace layer was a little more complicated. I wanted an uneven hem to match the lining, but I also wanted to keep the hem following the scallops across the fabric. So… I had to keep my hem straight. That means I had to make the tops of the sides curve up since the bottom couldn’t curve down, but that meant I couldn’t cut my lace layers as a T, because the curve up would cut into the sides of the dress.

My solution was to add a seam across the lace pieces at the height of the gathers. To do this I perfectly matched the scallops, carefully layered and stitched them with a narrow zig zag, and then trimmed away the excess fabric to make the seam almost entirely invisible. Can you spot it in this photo?

I also had to trim away the ‘eyelash’ bits left over after cutting along the scalloped pattern along the hem. This photo shows that step in progress. A bit tedious, but worth it!

Unlike the lining with its straight top edge, the lace has a v neck on one side and a scoop on the other. This layer is interchangeable in terms of which is front and back, since they’re the same with no special shaping. The edges of the lining are finished by machine while the neckline and the armholes of the lace are narrow hemmed by hand.

This new dress can be worn with or without panniers, but for the first wearing I went without in order to make the full skirt more subtle and to differentiate the dress from my 1924 Golden Robe de Style (which needs to be worn with panniers).

While this dress could be worn at any time of year, I am particularly enchanted with the idea of it being perfectly suited to a 1920s New Year party. The colors and silver lace seem well suited to that theme.

And on that note, in case I don’t get another post in before 2019… happy new year!

1920s Beaded Bag (HSM #11)

The November Historical Sew Monthly Challenge was Purses and Bags (you’ve got your arms covered in July, your hands in September, now make something amazing to dangle from them). Late in the month I realized this was a great poke to finish an idea I’ve had for about six years. It was a bit of a challenge to complete my project before the end of the month, but I just slipped in, finishing it on November 30.

The idea came from my 1912 Tea Gown. I had intended it to have elaborate beading, but decided not to do that for a variety of reasons detailed in that past post. However, I had already beaded one panel that I decided not to use. I’ve been holding on to it waiting for the opportunity to put it to use in some other way. And so, I decided to turn it into a handbag.

Saving your scraps comes in handy on projects like this, because I had plenty of velvet to cut the additional pieces I needed for the bag. I looked through my stash to find a lining and came up with grey silk shantung as the best option. This was also a piece of fabric that I only had scraps of. It was originally used for the boning channels on an 1883 corset I made way back in 2011 (you can see it in this rather old post).

My inspiration is this page showing handbags from 1922 (source). It inspired me to go in a more structural direction rather than a gathered top bag, which was my initial thought.

I had the idea in mind, but I was restricted in the shape of the bag based on the beading that already existed on the main piece. So I cut out another rectangle the same shape as the beaded piece, a long strip for the outside edges of the bag, a strap piece, and a triangle piece to make a flap that would close the top.

Along the way I realized that interfacing wasn’t going to stiffen the bag enough for what I was envisioning. I cast about for ideas of what to use for stiffening and settled on cutting up a shoe box that was in my recycle bin. It was a great weight of cardboard–not too thick, not too thin, and not too bendy. There are cardboard pieces on each flat side, along the bottom, and a strip along the top edge to keep the flap nicely shaped. The pieces on the sides and bottom are (shhh…) masking taped together to create a flexible but stiff foundation for the bag. The piece in the top is stitched into a channel that is only sewn through the interlining so it doesn’t show on the velvet or the lining.

I assembled my pieces, thinking hard about which part to leave open to set in the lining, and struggling a bit with the shifty velvet. I wanted to sew most of the seams on the machine for speed, but sewing it by hand would probably have been more pleasant. I wrangled it mostly into submission, only needing to restitch a few sections as I went along. The only hand sewing came when I needed to close up the lining after putting all the pieces together. Things had become a bit wonky with seam allowances and shifting velvet, so I did my best, figuring that the seam would be on the inside and I really just wanted to finish the darn thing.

After that seam, the only thing left was a closure. I decided on a simple hook and bar. Not quite as classy as a real purse, but it gets the job done and I had it on hand. On the outside is a decorative button.

And that’s it, except the facts!

Fabric: Scraps of silk velvet, silk shantung, and cotton canvas.

Pattern: My own.

Year: c. 1925.

Notions: A shoe box, thread, beads, and a button.

How historically accurate is it?: 60%? The silhouette and fabrics are plausible, though the cardboard probably isn’t. The beads are certainly too big and the method of closure is unlikely unless the item was made at home.

Hours to complete: Not counting the beading, approximately 3 hours.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: Free! All of the materials and notions came from my stash.

An Edwardian Island Adventure

Over the summer, my dance group was invited to create a turn-of-the-century atmosphere for a weekend on Bakers Island, off the coast of Salem, MA. Today, the part of the island we were on is managed by Essex Heritage and is home to a lighthouse, but for our visit the idea was that visitors to the island could get a sense of what the island would have been like over 100 years ago when there was a large hotel located there.

We didn’t actually dance, but we played historical games and activities and explained our context to the visitors. They came upon us along various paths during their walking tour.

I wore my 1904 Anne of Green Gables ensemble. This time, though, I had a new belt and I got my hat to behave. It’s supposed to flip up in back, but was misbehaving last time I wore it and was flipped down in back. Boo!

The new belt is green silk covered with the same lace that I used on the skirt. The green isn’t a perfect match to the skirt, but I like that it coordinates without being too match-y. Taking a photo of it also allowed us to capture the subtle lace detail and woven stripe in the fabric of the blouse better than we did last time, which was a bonus outcome.

In between tours, we took some group photos around the lighthouse and the light keeper’s house. The light keeper’s house, in particular, provided us with some really adorable photos. These were provided to us by the light keepers, who keep their own charming blog (currently about their stay on Bakers Island this summer) which you can view here.

Behind the scenes, we needed to arrive before the visitors to set up. Given when boats were available that meant we had to arrive the day before the visitors. There aren’t any indoor accommodations we were able to take advantage of, so it was camping in tents for us. I’m not really a camping kind of person, but thankfully other people had tents to share. Between the modern equipment and food that we needed as well as the historical clothes, games, and amusements, we had quite the pile of luggage for two days and seven people! Here we are waiting for the boat back to the mainland.

A new adventure complete! The croquet set is still in place but the players are gone! Maybe someday there will be others (or maybe us, who knows?) to once again bring history to life on this island.

Exploring The Crane Estate Gardens

I recently shared photos of my 1925 Blue Coral Day Dress and Lace Cloche, both of which I wore to the Crane Estate Gatsby themed lawn party in August. I wanted to share a few more photos from the day that didn’t fit into posts about the construction of the clothes I made for the event. To start, here’s our elegant, shade-proving picnic setup. This lawn party is always hot, so parasols and umbrellas are essential to stay comfortable.

After sitting for awhile we decided to explore the gardens. Every year I’ve been they’ve been a lovely and cool respite during the hot afternoon.

This year we were excited to find that an area that has previously been closed off behind a locked gate was open! (Check out this post to see the closed gate!) There were lovely flowers in this area and fun spots to take photos, too!

I enjoyed looking at the interesting, new sights as well as the columns. It felt like a grand adventure and was easy to imagine we were in the (mostly well-manicured) ruins of some ancient civilization.

Our walk also included a stroll around the main house, where there were antique car rides. We didn’t take a ride, but it was fun to capture one of the cars in our photos.

All in all, I had a nice day and enjoyed adding new memories to those I already have from this event.

1925 Blue Coral Day Dress (HSM #8)

The summer has been very busy and I don’t feel like I’ve completed very many sewing projects for myself. Really the only reason I’ve completed anything is because I’ve been live streaming my sewing, which forces me to make things from the list of the-things-I-want-to-make-that-I-never-make-time-for. Do you have a list like that? Mine is lengthy!

One of the first of these things-I-don’t-usually-make-time-for projects was a dress made out of one of the fabrics I bought earlier this year. I really wanted to have it for events this month as they are generally quite hot and the fabric I found is nice and lightweight while still being opaque. I found this fabric at a local discount store for the awesome price of $2.99/yard and then later saw it at a regular price store for somewhere closer to $10/yard, which really made me feel like I got a deal!

The pattern for this dress is a Quinnpen special (ie. made by me). I took my inspiration directly from this extant dress at All The Pretty Dresses. Due to that, it qualifies for the HSM Challenge #8 Extant Originals (copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible)!

To start, just the facts:

Fabric: 2.5 yards cotton lawn.

Pattern: My own.

Year: 1925.

Notions: Small bits of contrasting fabric for bias binding, thread.

How historically accurate is it?: I’d say this one is about as close as I can get to 100%!

Hours to complete: Approximately 8 hours.

First worn: August 5, 2018.

Total cost: $10.50 (including the fabrics I used for decorative sash options).

For the bodice of this new dress, I started with my 1927 Blush Sparkle dress (that dress started life as a tube before I added a head hole, armholes, and side seams/darts to about the hip level). For the skirt, I made a circular pattern that had the zig zag top edges that are featured in the extant dress. It was a bit of trial and error process to get the zig zags just right, but I made it in the end! You can see the topstitched zig zag detail on the extant inspiration if you look at the pictures carefully.

The zig zag top edge of the skirt is pressed under and topstitched onto the bodice. On both my dress and the extant dress that detail gets lost in the pattern, but it allows the skirt to have a lovely drape and fullness while the top can stay that straight 1920s shape that is so iconic. Here’s a closeup of my topstitching. Not bad on the pattern matching!

I finished my dress armholes and neck hole using bias, as I believe the original did based on looking at the photos. My only changes here were to use a contrasting color so I could actually see where the openings are (before I put on the orange binding the blue on blue pattern just made a big indistinguishable pile!) and to turn the bias binding to the inside of the openings (given that I was using a contrasting color). Aside from that the only other detail I omitted was a center back seam on the bodice since I had enough fabric not to need it when I was cutting out the pieces.

The photo above shows the dress with two different sash options that I made for it: pink and orange. I bought the orange when I bought the blue, but when I got home I thought it might be too bold and decided I might like the pink better. But I really couldn’t decide, so in the end, I made both!

When I wore the dress, I was still undecided… so I took pictures with all three options: no sash, pink sash, and orange sash. See each look below!

The idea behind a sash was this inspiration: Wilton Williams, The Bystander, August 12th 1925, though after wearing it my preference is no sash! I think that the bold, large scale patterns in the fabrics of the inspiration dresses lend themselves better to a sash than this blue dress.  The bonus part of not having a sash is that the dress is easy to wear, there’s no fussing with keeping a sash in place, and the dress really does have a nice 1920s shape to it even though the detail of the zig zag is lost from more than a foot or two away. What do you think? Does one style of sash (or no sash) speak most to you?

It’s fun to have a new dress to wear, discuss, and document! There are more dresses in the live stream queue, so if you want to stay in touch with what I’m making I would love to have you join me for one of my virtual sewing circles. You can join me on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9-10:30pm EST!

Spring & Summer Fabric Stash Additions: Stripes & Patterns

For most of this year, I’ve had a dress in mind that I want to build for an event in August. I’ve been on the hunt for just the right striped fabric for it for a few months, but really hadn’t found anything that was just right. I was shopping for another fabric and saw that Farmhouse Fabrics had a large section of stripes… I had to come back and look through them!

‘Danger!’ Should have been posted somewhere, because I wound up purchasing three different striped cotton fabrics instead of just the one I’d been looking for!

I have solid plans for all three fabrics, which somewhat justifies their purchase. The green seersucker I plan to make a modern dress out of, most likely with a circle skirt. The cotton candy stripe, as I call it, I’m planning to also use for a modern dress based on New Look #6143. The yellow stripe is intended for McCall’s #7153, a 1933 Archive Collection pattern.

I also came across (yes, I promise, I wasn’t intentionally looking for these either!) two interesting patterned fabrics this spring.

The one on the left is a rayon from Joann’s (and in looking for the link I see they’ve got a whole bunch of lovely looking new rayon prints–more danger!). It’s great that they’ve got a wider variety of fiber contents lately. I think it will make an interesting Henrietta Maria. Leimomi posted one awhile ago that I loved and this fabric reminds me of it a little.

The fabric on the right was super discounted at a local store (though I’ve seen at regular price at another store, so I definitely got a deal). It’s a lovely cotton lawn that I think will make an interesting 1920s day dress. I’ve got lots of evening gowns but my daywear options are somewhat limited. It will be fun to have new 1920s daywear! In fact, I’ve already started making a dress with the cotton lawn! I’ve been posting progress pictures of it on my Instagram account. Check it out!

Oh, I also came across remnants of seafoam green silk taffeta for a bargain price that I also bought, though I don’t have a picture or a specific project in mind for that. It’s hard to pass up silk taffeta even when there is no project in mind, because if you go on a hunt for a specific color you can’t usually find it at a bargain price.

I’m looking forward to putting these new fabric projects high enough on the to-do list to actually accomplish them!

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Dressing Gown & Slip c. 1935

I made this robe about four years ago, for the same film that I made the 1934 Metallic Evening Gown I posted about recently. Like that dress, this robe and the accompanying slip were made and never worn, and so have spent the last four years languishing in my closet.

When I had the opportunity to attend Gatsby On The Isles in 2016 I thought it would be a great opportunity to wear these pieces for breakfast on the second day, and also to get some photos!

The robe is inspired by the silhouette of these robes from 1936. The pattern started life as Burda 7627, which I adapted to get the shape I wanted: a longer skirt with more fullness and sleeves with a little more flare. The slip is inspired by slips in this image from 1934. The pattern for this is actually the same as for my evening gown from 1934, just cut off around knee height and with a different strap situation.

The robe is made from a polyester jacquard. It’s not lined, just faced with more of the same fabric on the edges. The slip is made from polyester charmeuse and edged with lace. Both garments are entirely machine sewn.

I thought it would be fitting to pair these garments with my beautiful silver American Duchess Seabury shoes. These shoes are excellent–a unique historical shape, comfortable, sturdy for walking and dancing, and with gorgeous, lustrous silk exteriors. I even wear these in my modern life–they’re a quirky, elegant shoe to wear for a dressed up event.

On the other hand, I don’t have the opportunity to wear this dressing gown that often (I mean, I could wear it around the house as a modern person, but I don’t, generally speaking), so when I do wear it I really enjoy how elegant and put together it makes me feel. It’s fun to have historical comfy clothes in addition to the day dresses and evening gowns!

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1934 Metallic Evening Gown

Of all the changing styles of women’s clothing in the 1930s, I am most drawn to those near 1933. This dress is no exception, though I’m putting its date at 1934. I designed, patterned, and built this dress for a short film four years ago, but it was never used and has been languishing ever since. So when I had an opportunity to wear 1930s evening wear last year I brought it out. Why not give something a wear that was entirely finished but had never been worn?

The dress is a classic 1930s bias cut gown. It has a wide ruffle around the neckline and applied godets on the skirt at about knee height. The dramatic back view shows off these details best. The inspiration came from this dress dated 1934 and this one dated 1933. I’ve accessorized it with sparkle drop earrings, a clear gem bracelet, and my black American Duchess Seabury shoes.

The dress is made from a metallic gold and navy shot fabric. I loved the metallic but hoped that it would drape more fluidly than it does in actuality. The neck ruffle and bias sash are both made from navy polyester charmeuse. The dress has a full lining of the navy charmeuse.

For not being made for me, it fits pretty well. It’s a smidge short and not perfect in the front torso, but I think the metallic fabric distracts pretty well! Plus, you really can’t tell if I only show you back views… The back is my favorite part!

 

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1950s Queen Of Hearts

At the same sale that I purchased the base of my 1950s super-petticoat and the hat that I refashioned into a 1930s style I also purchased a rather sad 1980s style evening dress. I liked the brocade fabric and had an idea that I could remake the dress into a cocktail length 1950s style dress by removing the sleeves, changing the neckline, and shortening the hem.

I also had this dress in mind. I love the massive decorative butt bow and this remade dress seemed like a great opportunity to put the idea to use. The red had to wrap around the waist as well as making the bow, in order to cover up the original gold waistband, but I had a remnant of cherry silk in my stash that was nicely complimentary in terms of color and just the right size for the job!

From the front I feel generally ok about the dress, but from the back, I love it! Plus, that’s two things checked off the to-do list: I remade the 1980s dress into a wearable 1950s style and I put the butt bow inspiration into action. Plus the fact that I used up a fabric from the stash, which is a bonus!

But why the Queen of Hearts? I decided this was a dress I wanted to wear to an Alice In Wonderland themed event that I recently attended so I had to fit the dress into the theme. I decided on the idea of an elegant 1950s historical nod to Queen Elizabeth in The Crown (which I might have been watching right around the time I was looking for inspiration…). Aloof queen looks are totally my jam, so that works really well.

As long as I was going with a queen look, I decided that a royal order sash would be an easy way to say royalty and hearts all at the same time while also being easy to remove from the dress itself. I did some royal order sash research and decided I liked a sash with a narrow border of a contrasting color. Of course, mine needed to be made in Queen of Hearts colors: black, red, and gold seemed perfect. I pinned heart appliqués behind my shoulder brooch and on the bow to play up the Queen of Hearts theme.

It was fun to accessorize the dress and sash with long gloves, red drop earrings, a tiara, and my silver American Duchess Seaburys (the gold brocade fabric that makes up the back of the shoes complimented the gold brocade dress very nicely!). I think I like the butt bow with the sash even better than the butt bow by itself!

To make the sash, I googled ‘royal order sash’ and looked at lots of images to decide on a design. Mine is made of two rectangles, with an angled shoulder seam and tucks behind the bow loops for shaping. It’s made of red polyester with woven-in tiny black stripes and edged with sheer gold ribbon. For more detailed sash making information, Gina posted very detailed tutorial for making royal sashes that would probably be quite useful if you’re thinking of making one for yourself.

I’ll leave you with this silly shot of the Queen of Hearts with a flamingo. Croquet, anyone?

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If At First You Don’t Succeed… (HSM #1)

I made this 1928 evening dress and first wore it in 2012. Back then it was simple, with just a small cascade of fabric and no sash or bow (I show the construction in detail in this past post). Three years later, I decided to add the sash, bow, and extra cascade of fabric (and wrote a post about it). I liked the effect but wasn’t pleased with the slippery silk moving all over and sliding around. The armholes were also a bit high under the arms from the beginning, causing the trim to dig in a bit which wasn’t very comfortable.

Due to these issues and the addition of other 1920s evening dresses to my wardrobe I hadn’t worn this dress in a few years. But for an event this January, I decided to give it another go. Luckily, the dress still fit and didn’t cling in unwanted places! The first HSM challenge of 2018, Mend, Reshape, Refashion, was the perfect complement for the updates I wanted to complete.

To be specific about the updates, this time I lowered the armholes about 1″ and then pieced in extra trim to fill in the gap, sewed the sash/bow in place, and added an interior waistband that supports the weight of the bow and keeps the dress from pulling down on one side.

Our hotel room had a bonus vanity table and stool that was a perfect prop for photos…

I did my hair like I did last year but added a gold hair comb I recently discovered at my parent’s house. I’m pretty sure my mom gave it to me when I was a child or maybe a teenager… It’s just been sitting there waiting for me to put it to use again!

Just the facts:

Fabric: The only new fabric was a scrap of tightly woven polyester for an inner waistband.

Pattern: My own, based on measurements.

Year: 1928.

Notions: Extra trim to piece under the arms, thread.

How historically accurate is it?: Let’s say 95%, with points lost for the polyester.

Hours to complete: The updates took about 4 hours. I felt like hand sewing most of it so I could watch Netflix!

First worn: With the updates in January, 2018.

Total cost: Free!

I love how this dress looks and fits now! Yay! It only took three tries… It’s a good lesson: if you don’t succeed the first time, try again! And keep trying…! Third time is the charm on this one!

 

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