Monday, August 29, 2016

1943 and Aus Alt mach Neu

1943 was a turning point for Nazi Germany in a variety of ways but most importantly in Fashion. With shortages and rationing putting a choke hold on the fashion scene, women had to find new and creative ways to stay stylish. Shortages along with rationing removed various goods and garments from the shelves and backs of many German civilians, men, women, and children alike. This lack of clothing was evident in their magazines such as the Frauen – Warte where many make – do – and – mend instructions and diagrams were offered to help women turn old men’s suits or coats into new outfits. Although many ideas were offered to give new ideas, these magazines also grew shorter in length as a result of the lack of materials caused by the war. “Make new out of old” or, aus alt mach neu,  became a more common phrase as the war dragged on and in 1943, this slogan really began to pick up because the war had drained so many resources. Besides making old garments into new ones, ideas for cheap and easy accessories became more common too to update old looks that began to visual tire. Some accessory ideas included collars and cuffs.

The pages of the Frauen Warte, like the pages of the Make do and Mend books offered in the U.S., offered a great deal of ideas and instruction for how to make new outfits out of old ones. From the above example from 1942 children's clothes and women's clothes are updates and created from a few simple clothes.
Trimming an old outfit was also an economical way to make a new look that required less money and time than making a whole new outfit. Trimming ideas included scraps from old garments, pockets, buttons, etc. Creativity was truly put to the test here and in other parts of the globe.
Besides trimming, I believe color blocking, or the mixing of solids and/or prints became more common place in making new looks and setting fashion trends. From 1943/44, The Frauen Warte offers a full page devoted to such seamstress work that could put to work two very old or shattered garments to make one new look completely intact and in fashion.
An interesting detail to this page is that fact that the women are all sporting very practical head wear or hair styles. Turbans kept hair out of the way and clean. Hair done up did the same thing. Pairing practical hair dressing with equally practical dressmaking truly emphasizes the fact that women wanted to look good in a time where fashion was quite stressed. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

As of Late . . .

Thank goodness for the scheduling feature blogger offers because without it my little blog here would have gone dead. . .With that said, you may have just been wondering what I have been up to. Well, I was farming away and handling the very entity that is the public at my family’s blueberry farm. I have been doing so since I have been a tot and quite frankly would not have it any other way. During the 6-7 week season I do a little retail therapy, plan my future sewing projects and make up a wish list of my post season purchases to make me feel better about having been drenched in sweat, berry juice, and the occasional insult from an angry customer or two.

So what are my plans? Well, I am so glad that you asked! Near the end of the season when things slowed down, I managed to squeeze some sewing in just to show to you all. The items I whipped up included some underpinnings and a few clothing pieces . . .all of which I hope to photograph soon to share with you all. I even had the opportunity to scale out a few French patterns from my Éclair Coupe Paris collection. Hopefully, I will be making those up in the fall or winter.

Some of my other plans that I hope to accomplish in the coming seasons are some more pieces from my Lutterloh books (of course) which include a few suits in contrasting solid and plaid, a few more separates, and some dresses. In addition to some more “everyday” pieces, I want to focus on some work wear that I can wear in the summer (a jump start for next year’s summer blueberry season) so I can finally wear vintage year round. Some work wear pieces I would like to whip up include some coveralls, some shirts, and a simple jacket or two. I will need to do some research on appropriate materials, etc. so expect a few upcoming posts on that . . .I actually already have a particular pattern in mind for work wear and cannot wait to share it with you all.

Over the summer, I started to wear a great deal of head wraps and turbans to keep my hair out of my way and many people quite liked them. To encourage the spread of the wearing the head wraps and turbans, I will have a few posts on those in the future. . . .so, stay tuned!

Thursday, August 25, 2016


German fashion WWII

A term coined by those who saw the German woman as unfashionable and unattractive, “Gretchen” personified the ideal German woman physically and aesthetically in Nazi Germany in the eyes of those looking on. Nazi ideology detailed the role of women as tied to the home, bearing children, and keeping her husband happy. She was also wide hipped, wore simple clothes, wore her blonde hair done up in a bun or braids, and wore no cosmetics.. She was also physically fit and healthy. Ultimately, “Gretchen” was the ideal Nazi woman who embraced Nazi ideology. It should be mentioned too that this woman was the exact opposite of the "new woman". Having a competing image of women was possibly an attempt to break down the "new woman" image that continued to irk the Nazi ideology but in the end all their attempts would fall on deaf ears and blind eyes due to reality and the Nazis conflicting policies.
German fashion WWII

What did this image of "Gretchen" do for German fashion? This traditional image promoted dirndls or traditional German costume as this kind of garb embodied the German culture and the ties to nature, the countryside, and the folk past which Nazi ideology sought to promote. As a whole, the image of this ideal woman was Nazi ideology and culture represented in a so called real life woman. Having a women embody the policies that the Nazi regime endorsed, gave their system support, or the image of support, among women because conformity was a building block in Nazi culture. 

Did many women conform to this image? That is a good question that is rather hard to answer because many of the sources concerning German fashion that are primary sources are incredibly biased (for obvious reasons I don't think I have to elaborate on) and give an inaccurate view of their women suggesting that they wore this garb all the time or close to it.  Of course, that is propaganda which the Nazi regime was good at using.

It is clear that many women did adopt this image (or tried to) and that equally as many women did not adopt this image for various reasons. On the topic of fashion magazines and the pattern book Der Golden Schnitt, women are wearing very modern clothes typical of the 40s and not the folk wear. Below are two examples of photographs with women not wearing the folk wear but instead clothes typical of the 40s. 
German fashion WWII
German fashion WWII

Reality offered an interesting perspective. Since many women physically and aesthetically did not fit into this image, I argue that the vast majority of German women living under the Nazi regime dressed like average everyday women typical of the 40s. Many women also wore cosmetics too which conflicted with the ideal German woman image but their wearing of cosmetics was to fit into that ideal image.

If more women chose to wear the clothes typical of the 40s rather than the Tracht/ folk wear, it suggests many things. One conclusion that can be drawn is that women in Nazi Germany wanted to look fashionable more than they wanted to adhere to an ideology and that Nazi ideology was rather weak in terms of women's fashion because Nazi ideology could not appeal to the many women living under the Nazi regime. It should be mentioned too that many Nazi leader's wives chose to wear chic fashionable clothes rather than the folk wear.


Dirix, Emmanuelle and Charlotte Fiell. 1940s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook. London: Goodman Fiell, 2013.

Koonz, Claudia, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.

Guenther, Irene. Nazi Chic?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich. New York: Berg, 2004.

Guenther, Irene. “Fashioning Women in the Third Reich”, in Life and Times in Nazi Germany edited by Lisa Pine. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The "New Woman"

I’m certain that this “new woman” is not a new term to anyone as it has been used to describe the woman who came to full fruition in the 20s. This woman worked outside of the home, wore stylish clothes, and broke from tradition entirely. In Nazi Germany, this woman was seen as a threat because she defied the traditional image a woman was meant to adhere to. In Nazi Germany, the ideal woman was at home with children.

Where did this “new woman” come from? Well, in Germany, this “new woman” was a result of WWI which pushed women into the working world to replace the men who went to the front. In the post war world, the Weimar Era further promoted this image by allowing women the ability to hold pubic positions and vote. Although not all women welcomed this new found freedom, many women found this era new and fun. For young, single, and childless women, the Weimar Era was greatly welcomed as Claudia Koonz argues. For the married woman with children, Koonz’s argues that this Era was not welcomed at all as it placed on them a burden to both work outside the home and support the home itself. In the 20s, this "new woman" also adopted rather masculine fashions too and integrated these elements into her wardrobe. Some elements included trousers, dinner jackets, and ties. Causing alarm in traditional circles, the return of long skirts and feminine detailing in the 30s was greatly welcomed but would be short lived when the 40s arrived. Due to the war, women were once again pushed into the workforce and larger 40s fashion trends called for masculine details, strong shoulders, accentuated waist, and knee length hemlines.

What did the “new woman” do for fashion in Germany and Nazi Germany? Since the “new woman” was stylish, had her own income, and was independent, she adopted rather masculine and stylish clothes. According to Emmanuelle Dirix, this “new woman” also was more likely to wear French clothes, which in Nazi Germany, were not well received by the Nazi ideology. Essentially, the clothes and fashions worn by this “new woman” were the opposite of those worn by the ideal German woman as perceived by Nazi Germany which will be discussed later. Many of the fashion trends this "new woman" adopted were trends that were more typical of the 40s which for German women included many international fashions.

The “new woman” was not the ideal woman in Nazi Germany and there were attempts to remove her image but, her image was in fact never gotten away with but almost promoted during the War years when working women were championed as doing their duty for the war effort. Like in WWI, women were drawn into the workforce by necessity and in WWII, this was no different. Although Nazi Germany tried to push the image of the domestic woman, the war instead promoted the "new woman" image because the war needed a labor force that only women could provide on the home front.

There were efforts though to contain this woman but the efforts fell flat on numerous occasions. One attempt in particular to contain women in the working world was to encourage them to take feminine jobs like clerical or secretarial jobs. Later during the war, women were given jobs that continued to encourage their feminine side. In Occupied Poland for example, female volunteers trained Aryan women the art of housekeeping, German culture, etc. . .all of which were more feminine than masculine.


Dirix, Emmanuelle and Charlotte Fiell. 1940s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook. London: Goodman Fiell, 2013.

Koonz, Claudia, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.

Lybeck, Marti M. Desiring Emancipation: New Women and Homosexuality in Germany, 1890 – 1933. Albany: State University of New York, 2014.

Harvey, Elizabeth. “Remembering and Repressing: German Women’s Recollections of the ‘Ethnic Struggle’ in Occupied Poland during the Second World War” in Home/ Front edited by Karen Hagemann and Stefanie Schuler – Springorum. New York: Berg, 2002.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Welt Pocket Turorial

Normally, I am not a fan of pockets simply because I don't use them. When I do, they are simply decorative or to keep my sewing skills in check. For a tutorial today, I offer you how to do a welt pocket. Enjoy!

First, determine where you want to opening of your pocket to be and draw a line.
 Next, for the pocket, cut 2 squares, making sure that one is longer than the other. They should only extend  past the pocket only an inch or so. Pin these along the line you drew.
Sew the squares to the "base" or the garment you want like shown above making a rectangle around the line.

Cut open the pocket by cutting on the line and cutting diagonal lines up the corners starting at he end of the drawn (now cut) line.

Turn the pocket to the inside by turning the top to the wrong side.
For the bottom Portion, press the extending  ends in.
Press the bottom up.
Next, tuck in the bottom portion through to the wrong side but not the entire portion. You want to create a "pocket lip" like above. Press.
Pin the bottom and top portions together.

Sew like shown above. Try to get as close to the pocket opening as you can.
Trim the excess.
There, a welt pocket. Since I was still working on this particular project at the time, I pinned the opening closed.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Product Review: Kriegsende Militaria

I found out about these guys on a facebook group and so glad I did. Offering only original items, there goods are in top notch quality and offer a nice authentic touch to mostly German impressions but also American ones too. One of their products that I enjoy in particular are dead stock stockings which means old stockings that are unworn. I have been a customer of theirs for about a year or two now and am still very happy with their service. They also answer their emails promptly  - a bonus I say.
They have incredibly fast shipping and the stockings are more like originals at an unbeatable, incredible price ($13/ pair last I bought). They have both American and German marked stockings for that added touch of accuracy which is a nice touch.

I usually buy at least 3 pairs of stockings from them at a time because I love them that much and honestly at that price I feel I should just get a hundred and call it done. I like their sizing method more too because it works for me and I find it much easier.

When I bought mine . . .around the second batch I noticed something goofy though and that was that the stockings I ordered were shorter than usual. There was nothing wrong with them other than the fact they were short and funny thing is they actually worked better for my small stubby legs. I would like to request give me the short ones but I don't know if they even noticed that as they were only shorter by a couple of inches. In terms of wear and tare, I have gotten years worth out of them.

I have also purchased a tilt hat from them, my very first original. I love that hat and the quality of it is like the stockings - top notch. Overall, they carry really good products and advertise them accurately. highly recommended and I would buy from them again over and over.

To make this an honest review, I have to mention this little event . . holiday shopping almost a year ago, a black hat was ordered but could not be provided because it could not be found even though it was listed for sale. Although I was bummed, who ever handles their business managed the situation beautifully. Their communication was honest, fast, and the whole issue was remedied quickly.  . . faster than expected.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Dress in Green and White

1940s Lutterloh
From a 1941 Lutterloh supplement, I was intrigued by this one for quite some time and decided to make it up. The skirt was definitely unusual and featured small welt pockets and color blocking. I constructed the detailing on the skirt with lapped seams. The neckline was bound in the green/white check and finished with a white bias band like seen in the photo. The sleeves were an unusual puff sleeve cut all in one.

The sleeves were the trickiest parts as when I originally cut them out, they were much too large. So, I took them in to make them tighter and to get that puffed look, I added what I would call a "soft shoulder pad" which is a large ruffle added to the inside of the sleeve cap.
The bodice portion was, to me, awfully blousy which I was not too fond of so I took the bodice and skirt waist in too.

1940s Lutterloh
To accessorize this outfit, I chose my brown pumps, brown handbag, green gloves, and 30s straw hat.

1940s Lutterloh
see, functional pockets!

1940s Lutterloh

1940s Lutterloh

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Using Vintage Notions

If you are like me, then you enjoy using vintage and found sewing notions in your projects to add an extra level of authenticity or else unique taste. Here, I offer some of my experience and tips with using vintage notions.

Lace, Ribbons, and Material
lace and ribbons are common items I find and use in my works because I like their look and feel. Fabric/ material is another thing I like to find and use because I find it at great prices. When I buy these things, there are certain elements that I look for that determine if I take it home or not. How much is there? If there enough yardage for what you want to do? How about the condition? These are some of questions that I ask myself. Often, I will unfold the material or unravel the spool of ribbon to check its quality too. Often, old textiles will change color with age or give off an odor. If there discoloration, can you live with it or will it not bother you? Smell? Often that can wash out or air out.
 Iron them carefully first with the low setting and then building up heat once you know the fiber can handle it. Old material is often quite weak so I recommend tugging a corner of it to test it strength. If it pulls apart, shreds, etc. then it is way to weak to use. Weak fibers will also fall apart with wearing and washing.
Silk trims over time will shred so look for that if buying ribbons. Once that shredding starts, it keeps going. I should mention too that sometimes old fibers will change color in the sun rapidly so be aware of that.
Buttons and Buckles
 These elements can really add a pop of personality. When I buy these, I look to see what kind of shape they are in and if they are in sufficient quantity. For buckles, are they whole? broken? Check for gluing or repairs. For buttons, are they in usable shape? Buttons, especially functional ones, get a LOT of use. Personally, I shy away from wood buttons because these absorb the oils in your fingers, discolor fast, and fall apart over time. Metal buttons can rust so be aware for rust spots. Early plastic and celluloid can crumble, crack, etc.
When looking to buy vintage patterns for use, are all the pieces there? Is the pattern in usable shape? Open up the envelope to see .  . .. Make sure too you know your measurements as vintage patterns had one size only unlike patterns today which are multi sized. For more information, check out this post here.
Don't buy or use old thread because it simply is not strong enough. Period. How do I know this? Experience . . .bitter experience. . .
Zippers, Hook and Eyes, and Poppers (Snaps)
These are often quite plentiful and when found at a great price, I recommend scooping them right up. Normally, hook and eyes, poppers, and zippers are easy to spot and buy. Look for no rust or discoloration (especially with zips as vintage zips are metal).
Rayon Hem Tape
Sometimes this can be found and when you spot it, it is strong enough to use? To test it, I tug on it and if it holds up my aggressive tugging, then good chances it will hold up to sewing use.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Yellow Striped Seersucker Dress Paired with Green

1940s Lutterloh
It's hard to believe that this yellow/white striped seersucker almost became 40s pajamas! The only reason this became a dress is because there as not enough yardage for PJs. The inspiration for this to become a dress came from the original illustration below. I liked the yoked bodice and on the one the contrasting bottom (that was needed because there was a lack of yardage for this to be a dress too but the white worked out way too well). Below, the original illustration from 1940.
1940s Lutterloh
In making this dress up, I was afraid that it would be too juvenile so to mature it up, I added a dark green buckle, a change from what I originally planed on doing (white mother of pearl one was originally planned).
 One feature that I'm afraid make it so juvenile was the puffed sleeve and the ruffle trim I added to it. In constructing the bodice of the dress, I used lapped seams to connect the yoke to the lower portion of the bodice.
1940s Lutterloh

To accessorize this dress, I went with dark green gloves, green felt hat, white peep tone wedges, and a brown handbag. I also added a cream toned removable peter pan collar accented with a large green neck bow. I was inspired to use the collar and neck bow from the original illustration.
1940s Lutterloh

1940s Lutterloh
The back of this dress is highlighted with the back yoke closing with 3 pearl buttons. Other than that, there is a side zip to get in and out of it (there will be a tutorial for how to put in a zip too).

1940s Lutterloh

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ruffled Trim Sleeve Tutorial

Today I offer you a tutorial to make a sleeve simply trimmed in a ruffle and finished with a bias band of the same fabric like you can see above  . . ..

 Step 1) Assemble your supplies which will consist of the sleeve you want to trim, your ruffled trim, and a bias band of fabric to finish the sleeve. For my example, I am using a short sleeve with a purchased ruffled trim but you can do this with any length sleeve and any kind of trim.

Step 2)Pin your trimming to the right side of your sleeve just above the edge of the sleeve. Machine baste in place and remove pins as you go.

Step 3) Place the right side of the bias band over the trimming and the right side of sleeve. Match the edge of the bias band and sleeve. Sew the bias band to the sleeve on the basting stitches of the trimming. This will help you make sure the trimming is firmly and cleanly applied.

Step 4) Once the band is sewn in place, open in up to check your work, does it look good? If so, then turn the band down and bring the sleeve sides together, meeting the right sides. Sew like you normally would. See below for my example:
sleeve sewn up

Step 5) Once sleeve is sewn, press own the seam.

Step 6) Now that your trim is in place, it is time to finish the sleeve with the bias band. Turn the sleeve band edge over a 1/4 inch and then fold again to encase the raw edges. Pin and sew in place.
fold over edges

pin in place

sew and remove pins

finished inside edge

Tada! A sleeve trimmed and finished just like that. Below is a quick step by step guide:
ruffled trim sleeve tutorial

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

40s Seersucker

Seersucker is, and was, a popular summer textile in the 40s and onward. What is seersucker you ask? Seersucker is a cotton material, typically a stripe or plaid,  with texture as the stripes have a "wrinkled" or puckered look paired with those that are smooth. Besides stripes, prints were seen as well but much less often. Made into many civilian dresses, suits, and outfits, nurses and other women's uniforms were also made out of seersucker too. What made this material so popular was that it was so easy to care for and required no ironing.
Personally, I love suits . . . but I mostly have them in wool and thus they are not summer friendly. BUT! did you know that seersucker was used to make 40s suits? Ne neither until now! These are definitely on my to do list! Take a look:

How long has this textile been around you may ask? Well, it has been around for a very long time! In the 19th century, it was used only in men's wear and with limited colors (narrow blue/ white strip or narrow brown/ white stripe), and by the 20th century had shifted to men's and women's wear. Why the shift? I don't know but I'm glad it happened.

The Vintage Fashion Guild
Raleigh Vintage

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lapped Seams Tutorial

I have found that I have been using a lot of lapped seams in my own garment construction so I thought that I would include a tutorial for doing lapped seams on straight edges, curves, and corners.

Step 1)Take the pieces that you want to like together and determine which one will go on top, and what to go on the bottom. This is important because with a lapped seam, you over lap the pieces together and then sew. These kinds of seams are both functional and decorative. These are also great for getting smooth tricky corners to look good.
Step 2) For my example, my bodice has two pieces and my top bodice piece will overlap my bottom piece. To prepare, I pressed the top piece edges and notched the corners and clipped the curves. Clipping the corners, especially once like I have help get a smoother corner and it is really easy to do. All you do is clip it diagonally, press to the wrong side (see right hand side, top image). For curves, I clipped small sections, not more then a centimeter deep. Pressing these can be a little tricky but slowly and carefully press to the wrong side (see right hand side to the bottom).
You don't have to baste these edges up, but it is a good idea to do that, just make sure the stitches can be removed later.
Step 3) Next, with the edges pressed thoroughly, place the top portion of the bodice on the bottom and pin in place. I started at the bottom of the middle and worked my way up keeping my pins close together.

The corners require some care but ease the pieces together and pin. Once done pinning, basting is a good idea.

Step 4) Now that the pieces are loosely attached, you can now sew the pieces together. I like to try to keep a small stitch as close to the edge as possible . . .as you sew, remove the pins. When you get to the corner, get as close as you can or want on the one side and before you turn the needle, stop sewing, drop the needle (there should be a button or a lever on your machine), turn the material, and then continue to sew. That is what I do to get a clean angle for my corners.

Step 5) One sewn together, pins removed, and any large basting stitches pulled out, press thoroughly.

Tada! lapped seams! And below is a quick guide too:
lapped seam tutorial