Tag Archives: 1930s

Another 1934 skirt

 

 

This one is Irish linen – navy pinstripe.

How is it different to the others?

It has a zip in the side. The lavender one has press studs and the wool one has wooden buttons.The lavender skirt doesn’t have a back pleat.

The zip was a lucky charity shop find and dates from the 1960s (still in its original packaging). It works fine, but I rubbed the teeth with a pencil point to ensure smooth running.

I sewed this one on my modern Pfaff and finished the seams with a machine zigzag stitch. I did insert the zip by hand (because I am rubbish at zips) and hemmed the bottom by hand too. I sewed the lavender skirt on my 1930s Singer and finished all seams by hand overcasting. I sewed the wool skirt 100% by hand.

I think I might have made a mess of this skirt if I hadn’t made the other two very slowly beforehand. I have had plenty of practice with the pleats now.

I’ve been very encouraged by the support of EmilyAnn in Brooklyn who’s sewing 1930s along with me. Take a look at her marvellous recreation of a 1930s dress. Wonderful sewing and technical details.

Which is my favourite?

I love the wool skirt so much but I did need a slightly lighter version for warmer weather.

What next?

I’ve been trying to work out what I need in my wardrobe and I think a dress and jacket for a summer wedding need to be high priority. I’m also planning a garden dyed skirt (or maybe wide trousers) and a top but whilst I might make them now, the actual dyeing will probably take all summer.

I’m planning plenty of posts about garden dyeing for this year, so look out for that if you’re interested.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, sewalongs, textiles

Wearing the Landscape

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OneYearOneOutfit – the final outfit reveal.

Top: Lots more detail here.

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Before dyeing

Made of Irish linen, garment dyed by me with docks, onion skins and a pattern made by hammering English Marigolds into the fabric. I kept the top in the dark after each dyeing session to help set the dye.

Bias cut, sewn by hand. Pattern: Merchant & Mills Curlew.

Skirt: Lots more detail here.

Welsh wool, spun in Wales and woven at the National Wool Museum. No dyes, these are natural sheep colours.

Pattern: 1934 from Home Journal magazine. Extra pleat inserted by me.

Scarf: All welsh wool. The cream and the grey are natural sheep colours. The golds are onion dyed by me.

The scarf replaces the waistcoat I knitted which I hate: it makes me look much bigger than I like. It will make a gorgeous cushion cover and I’ll work on that over the next few months.

Boots: Made by Celtic & Co in Cornwall from British sheepskins which are mainly a waste product these days. They were a Christmas present from my husband.

Is it wearable? Yes! I have worn the skirt and top together and felt happy with it. I put these boots with it to make it a British Isles outfit and prefer my black leather boots to make an outfit.

The top is a great match with my black trousers so will get worn that way too. I love the skirt and it goes well with a couple of other tops (and the black leather boots rather than these). The scarf is lovely and warm so is sure to get lots of wear over the winter.

What did I learn about British Isles textile products? There are no natural fibre threads spun in the British Isles so far as I can tell. All my threads had to be pulled from the fabrics so handsewing was the only option.

Plenty of handmade wooden buttons are available and they are so beautiful.

 

There is lots of Welsh knitting wool available – hand and machine spun. I’ve loved using it and will definitely use it again. It looks and feels beautiful. My knitting skills do not do it justice (and that’s not false modesty).

How will I take it forward?

Making clothes from completely local products is time consuming and can be quite expensive.

A lot of work goes into bringing up sheep, spinning yarn, weaving yarn, dyeing , knitting and handsewing. If all my clothes had to be made this way, I would have very few. It makes me understand why Elizabethans left each decent garment to a favoured person in their will. They were valuable and valued.

My life won’t allow me to have every item made this way but I plan to use elements in the future.

Lots of garden and other natural dyeing planned. I loved doing it. I’m growing woad to try to get local blue dye. The plant was eaten by caterpillars so I’ll have to try again.

I will visit WonderWool Wales again and buy more Welsh wool fabric. For a jacket, perhaps.

I am a terrible knitter but definitely improving because of all the practice I got doing this project. I’d like to use some of the cream or grey wool to make a sweater for next winter.  Or the one after!

I bought a 10 metre roll of undyed linen so I think another Curlew top or dress but dyed a different colour. Made by machine next time with purchased threads.

I really like Merchant & Mills patterns so I’ll probably make more of theirs in 2017. (I made an “unblogged” summer top from one of their patterns too).

Why wearing the landscape? That’s how I felt about #oneyearoneoutfit when I was working on my clothes. I wanted to take it further and see what else I could do with natural colours and fibres. It occurred to me that maybe wearing nature’s current products rather than those that have been buried under the earth for centuries might be a more sympathetic look for me.

I’d love to hear your comments on that.

Happy Stitching!

Norma x

 

 

 

 

 

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Victorian Style Petticoat for a 1930s Skirt

It proved impossible to find a secondhand silk dress to line this oneyearoneoutfit 1930s skirt. It’s made of Welsh wool tweed and needs something underneath to complete it. If I could’ve sourced some very lightweight undyed Irish linen it would have made a great lining. It was not to be.

Instead, I decided I’d have to make a petticoat to work with it. I was inspired by the lovely cotton lace I was given and some white cotton lawn from my stash made it possible.

The top of the petticoat uses one width of the 115cm wide fabric and the bottom frill is 150cm wide. It was the only way to get a long swishy petticoat out of 1.5m of fabric.

Unlike the Victorian petticoat it resembles, it has elastic at the waist. It has French seams, a rolled hem and I’ve satin stitched the lace to the petticoat. All techniques used in the 1930s but I did them all by machine.

I couldn’t resist some handsewing so there’s white cross stitching in cotton perle on the gathered seam.

I’ve used cotton threads throughout so that I can dye the petticoat in the future if I want to. Interestingly, the very fine cotton thread I used for all the sewing behaved well even when stitching the elastic in. It needed to be upright on the sewing machine spindle because it was straight wound onto the bobbin.

It doesn’t count towards oneyearoneoutfit because it isn’t local fabric or thread and I’ve no idea where the elastic comes from, but it does make the skirt wearable. A wool skirt with no lining teamed with a too short petticoat would never get worn, but this combination made me feel fabulous when I wore it. And that’s what we’re all looking for from our clothes, isn’t it?

Thanks for dropping by

Norma x

 

 

 

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A Very Local Skirt

This is it- my slowly sewn, 1934 oneyearoneoutfit skirt. It’s an all wool winter skirt and I can hardly wait to wear it. It’s not very photogenic  (like me sadly!) but looks lovely in reality. It’s the same pattern as this linen skirt but I’ve added a back pleat (as worn by Mrs Durrell in The Durrells), dropped the waistline and lengthened it to just above my ankles.

I chose a visible button fastening instead of the invisible snap panel. Although I do have some British made snaps from the days when factories here still made that sort of thing I decided to go with these lovely buttons.

Close up of the pleat topstitching – it’s the same back and front.

Now for the nitty gritty :

Fabric : Bought from Cambrian Wool, it’s a herringbone weave using Jacob wool in its natural colours.

The wool came from a farm in West Carmarthenshire and was spun at the Natural Fibre Company when it was still operating in Lampeter.

It was woven at Melin Teifi at Drefach Felindre. This is the location of the National Woollen Museum of Wales.

Buttons : Bought from a local craftsperson at the Wool & Willow Festival held at the Minerva Art Centre in Llanidloes. They are made from blackthorn.

Thread: Unravelled from the fabric and surprisingly strong. The darts were sewn with some very fine thread spun by my kind friend using fleece from sheep farmed in the local community. I was worried about sewing the hem invisibly with wool thread, but I needn’t have worried because it can’t be seen at all.

Overall : I love this skirt. It’s entirely handsewn so it was very slow to make. It was enjoyable though! I’m getting into handsewing.

Except for the linen at the waistline it is made entirely from very local Welsh products – I would guess that everything comes from less than a 100 mile radius of my home.

I don’t like waistbands and my 1934 pattern doesn’t use one either so I went with the undyed linen. It helps to stop the waist stretching.

What would I change?

I think it may need a lining to make it a very long lasting garment. I also feel that a winter skirt without a lining isn’t really right – does anyone agree? I may add one in time.

EmilyAnn has been sewing 1930s with me. A lot of very interesting topics have come up, including 1940s laundry. I recommend you to take a look.

If you are wondering what oneyearoneoutfit is, take a look here.

I have been busy over the summer, although not blogging. There’s a completed linen top – dyed with garden dyes – waiting to be blogged. And I’ve been knitting up some local wool. More to follow…

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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No pattern tops for starters

Following on from my posting here, I thought I’d show my no pattern tops. They are very good tee shirt replacements for everyday life. This one used 1.5 metres of 1.2m wide fabric. As I’m trying not to save scraps, I’ll make the remainder into one of my fabric pots and some bias binding – both to sell over the summer if I’m lucky.

Me Made May Day 7

A younger me wearing one made from a charity shopped Liberty print skirt

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And the whole collection…

They are all different, but all made by tucking and manipulating fabric to fit my shape. Buttons are my favourite fastenings so they always feature in these tops and dresses.

Odd? Yes, I suppose so, but they can be quite pretty, they are cool to wear and they don’t use much fabric. The dress was made from only 1 metre of 1.5m wide fabric.

Meantime on the 1930s front, I have a blouse I made a while ago which I think will make a good starting point for this:

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Thank you to all those of you who offered sugestions as to where I could find a pattern – I think going through all your suggestions helped me to realise that I actually had something that I could use. I’ll show you soon.

EmilyAnn has some interesting pointers to share on her 1930s dress toile. I am learning a lot from her methods.

And for the #oneyearoneoutfit project, I’ve started sewing the bias Irish linen top. I’ve unpicked some of the threads from the fabric to use as sewing thread as I’ve been unable to source any suitable linen thread. To make it usable I stick to short lengths (about 12 inches)  and pull it through a beeswax block. It seems strong enough. Obviously, handsewing is the only way to do it.

Once I’ve made the top I plan to dye it with plants from my garden (or maybe my neighbours’ fields).

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

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1930s Sewalong – Please Help Me!

This is the blouse I was planning to sew for my 1930s outfit – minus the scarf bit – that wouldn’t suit the cotton fabric or me.

But I’ve got a problem. I undid the blouse pattern ready to trace it and found I didn’t like it. I just won’t wear it. I know I won’t.

So here’s plan B:

 

I would like to make the “summer coat blouse” from The Needlewoman June 1934 in the same linen as my skirt. But I can’t find a pattern that I can use as a base. Has anyone seen anything that would work, please? I don’t feel confident that I could cut my own pattern so I need a base to work from.

The cotton fabric won’t be wasted, it will be one of the tee shirts seen here.

All help gratefully received.

Thanks

Norma x

PS EmilyAnn can cut her own patterns – see her blog for the wonderful journey from fabric, through drape to pattern.

 

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#1year1outfit – Local Clothes

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Welsh woollen fabric – undyed – yes, this is the colour of sheep. Or some sheep anyway. There are two metres of it; more than enough to make a skirt like this.

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If it looks familiar that’s because it’s the 1934 skirt but with the inverted back pleat I saw Mrs Durrell wearing in ITV ‘s The Durrells.
This is the beginning of my #1year1outfit project.
The skirt poses lots of questions:
Where can I find local threads?
What about fastenings, petersham, bias binding?
And what are the alternatives?

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I have a vast collection of snap fasteners,  hooks & eyes etc. Most of them were found in old sewing boxes and date from the 1970s & earlier when Newey made them in Birmingham. Now, is it in the spirit of the project to use these vintage notions? Please let me know what you think.
I thought I had found an answer to the thread : silk spun in Macclesfield. But it turns out it isn’t.  So if anyone knows of any thread spun in the UK I’d be glad to hear of it.
I’ve been finding out a lot about long gone fabric and sewing industries and will be posting about them as the project continues.
If you are interested,  I bought the fabric from Cambrian Mountains Wool. It’s a new project and very local to me – I live in the foothills.
The top and other garments I’ll leave for future posts.
Thanks for dropping by.
Norma x

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1934 Skirt

I’ve finished the 1934 skirt using only 1930s methods. It’s been a fun process and I’d recommend it as a way of relaxing. Definitely slow sewing.

Some 1930s details: the side placket and the waistband

Press studs / snap fasteners were the usual way to fasten a skirt or dress in 1934. Zips were still unusual, at least for home sewers in the UK; only one of my many 1930s sewing books gives any instruction as to how to insert a “slide fastener”.

The waist is finished with Petersham ribbon as instructed both by my pattern and by the various sewing books. The waist edge is turned over the top of the Petersham and the raw edge should be finished with “Prussian binding”. I have no idea what that is, so used a narrow bias binding. You can see from the photograph that it’s a nice finish. I did the waistband by hand – easier than by machine as it didn’t need unpicking afterwards….

I finished all the seams by hand overcasting and sewed the hem by hand too. My 1930s machine is straight stitch only.

What did I enjoy and what worked well?

I like the waist finish very much and would use that again.

I enjoyed the hand overcasting most of the time.

I love turning the wheel of my old Singer. How can it sew so well after 80 years?

I love the pleat. If you have been watching The Durrells on ITV on Sunday evenings you will have seen Mrs Durrell (Keeley Hawes) wearing a skirt with a pleat like mine, but she has one in the back too. It’s not needed for movement but it looks lovely.

What I did not like and what I would do differently

I would stay stitch the waist. One of the books warns you to check the waist measurement as the waist is likely to have stretched. When did stay stitching come in? It’s not in any of my 1930s books.

I would make a button placket rather than the press studs or I might use a zip. I’d stick to the side fastening as I think that looks good.

I will add a back pleat as well as a front pleat just because I liked what I saw on the television.

The next step is the jacket. I don’t wear suits but I think an unstructured jacket would look good with some of my other clothes. I’m going to give myself a break now and pick up the jacket in a week or two.

Meantime I’m going to be looking at this book again and again.

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It has some photos but mostly it has illustrations of 1930s clothes. I just love the illustrations.

EmilyAnn is making progress with her 1930s dress pattern so why not go over and take a look?

 

 

 

 

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More of the 1934 Skirt

The skirt’s front pleat makes walking possible but I wasn’t happy with the original design (see here for reasons if you are interested in technical details). Above you can see the inverted pleat I made instead. I looked up pleats in my 1934 (ish) copy of Polkinghorne’s book and this was something they did, so it’s authentic. I’ve sewn it in place with hand topstitching as described in the instructions for this pattern.

I’ve found the process very soothing, turning the handle of my 1930s sewing machine, overcasting the seams by hand to stop them fraying. I’ve got the left side seam and placket to do next. This is very slow but satisfying sewing.

EmilyAnn is making great progress with her 1930s dress. If you’d  like to try making your own pattern, her blog is the one to read.

Carol has some very interesting 1930s photos and sewing details if you like 1930s clothes.

Meanwhile, I have bought this to make the blouse.

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I’ll have to change the neckline because the fabric’s cotton rather than “washing silk” and it won’t drape correctly but it’s definitely a 1930s style novelty print.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

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The 1934 Pattern

The 1934 pattern is too fragile to use; not suprising when it’s  been folded up inside a magazine for 82 years. It has no markings except for notches and darts cut into the pattern pieces. Seam allowances of 1/2 inch are included.

I’ve started with the skirt. It’s a straight skirt with a slight flare towards the bottom but the main reason you can move in it is that there is a pleat in the centre front seam from around knee high.

I copied the pattern on to greaseproof paper and graded it up from the rather slight hip measurements of the original to mine. Plenty of ease allowed; I can always adjust when I’ve tacked the real thing. I’m no expert pattern grader but if you’re interested in trying, I think a skirt is the easiest.

How I grade a skirt:

Don’t alter any centre seams – you’re likely to throw out the grain line and the skirt will never sit correctly. Just increase the side seams equally. So if you need an extra 2 inches, add half an inch at the side seams; that gives you an inch at each side.  Take a look at one of the commercial multi-sized patterns and see how their size variations are done and how they keep the shape- an easy way to learn.

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There are no hip or waist measurements provided with the pattern – the instructions say to pin the pattern pieces together before you start to check the pattern will fit. The rest of the fitting is done after cutting out – I guess even old sheets were valuable in the 1930s and not to be cut up for toiles as I have done.

The main difficulty with the skirt pattern is the pleat in the centre front. The instructions say to press it to one side and that’s all. That’s not enough because the pleat would sag unless sewn in place. Sewing it in place would require a line of stitching showing on the outside but just on one side of the centre seam.

I can find no reference to a single front pleat done this way in 1930s sewing books and I think it would look awful. I hope the 1934 magazine readers were not disappointed in their suit. Maybe they did the same as me: I’ve turned it into an inverted pleat as described in The Art of Needlecraft by RK & MIR Polkinghorne (1934). It works on the toile.

EmilyAnn is sewing 1930s too. Take a look at her pattern – made by draping – here.

Norma x

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