Friday, March 31, 2017

Orange you glad it's Spring?: A Rust, Linen Waistcoat

Orange you glad it’s spring? I know I am and that means more garment posts. The main reason, maybe the only reason, many of you even tune into this blog . . .maybe. When these shots were taken, it was simply beautiful. The sun was shining, it was reasonably warm out . . .but not that warm out.
It really was just right to show of a new Lutterloh make, one made in orange or rust colored linen. This is just one of my many pieces that I have made for spring this year. To come yet are some more dresses and separates. All of my pieces were inspired by my Dutch ancestry. Tulips, windmills, and orange are just some of things I was inspired by. I am also excited for this warmer weather so that I can wear my new shoes from Royal Vintage. Stay tuned for a product review . . .  Anyway, on to the waistcoat:

Today, a waist coat from 1941. This is another unique separate piece that so far I have gotten a lot of wear out of. I have worn it with a matching orange rust skirt, which I will feature at a later date, and this green checked skirt. This piece was actually an after -thought. From this linen, I first made a dress, then a skirt, and from the remaining scraps, this.
The Original Illustration: Figure B

The waist coat was pretty easy to assemble and the facings finished it off quite well too. I did make a few minor style/ fit changes to the neckline which you can see in my pictures. Once I had the facings in, I finished off the bottom edge with a simple hem. I did not line this one like I did my first waistcoat because I was not happy with it. Besides, I think the lightness of the linen here simply required it be faced. For some finishing touch, I prick stitched all the way around the armholes, neckline, and pockets for texture. The pockets are not functional, they are just decorative. The buttons are interesting to note. I found these years ago from I don’t even remember and they are old cut or etched metal ones.  The pockets here are faux. I made these from sewn rectangles, ends finished, and prick stitched in place. There are two at the waist line and one at the breast.
Since it was a touch of chill in the air, a green wool sweater was a nice addition.

I have found this piece to be very versatile too and have worn it with many blouses already. I ought to admit that my ruffled blouse is my favorite with it. I love how the ruffle and the sleeves have that 30s excessiveness to them. Not only can I wear with this my different blouses, the color lends itself to many color pairings. Greens, creams, navies, browns, etc.

With this new piece, I paired it with another former Lutterloh make, the skirt and my classic go-to: a long length creamy wool coat and felt bonnet. To make this look a spring look, I added a corsage of velvet, paper, and cotton foliage. This floral piece was actually pulled of one of my Civil War bonnets that I decided to retire and re vamp. I loved the flowers and instead of dooming them to a box, I thought why not keep wearing them? I love their definition and texture.

For jewelry, I could not resist to wear my white rose set of screw back earrings and brooch. This was a nice set I got in Northern Michigan in a large antique mall. These were an exciting find because they came in their original box with the original store labeling still on the bottom of the box. Is that not exciting?

Of the shoes. I am so thrilled about these new shoes and they came from Royal Vintage. A place I have been wanting to check out for some time. Although I will be talking about these more in-depth later, I have to say now that they go with everything.  Naturally, I wore them

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

40s Trousers

Recently I have been adding 40s trousers into my vintage wardrobe and so far there have been no regrets. They are roomy and comfortable. They look sharp with blouses and sweaters too. What are the main characteristics of a 40s trouser and what materials can be used to make a pair? Do they open down the front with a fly like todays trousers or do they open at the sides? These are some questions that I plan on addressing here.

40s trousers are easily identified by their high waist (not hanging around the hips like today's trousers), straight legged look. These trousers also close up at the sides (one or both) with zippers or buttons. Only on very rare occasions do they close up a the front with a fly (see above, to the right).
If you plan to make a pair, they can be made out of wools (preferably something light weight), linen, sturdy cotton, seersucker,  or denim. Trousers can be done in a solid or even a plaid. Colors include many greys, browns, tans, blues, and even greens.
Many trousers from this era are pleated at the front of the leg with a single or even a double pleat. Looking at originals is the best way to determine the looks of the pleats. A pressed crease is common too.
Construction wise, these trousers have a wide waistband (almost 2 inches in some cases) and very deep hems too. The trousers end around the ankle or just above the shoes. The seams are either on the outside of the leg, inside of the leg, or both. Darts at the back are common to shape the pant to the bum.
Pockets? Yes, pockets are an option with 40s trousers. They can be large patch pockets like in the example directly below or else small welt pockets at the waistline.
What can these trousers be worn with? 40s trousers can be worn with simple blouses in a variety of styles, sweaters, or else a matching jacket to make a pant suit (see examples below). Who can wear these? This is a question that comes up with all sorts of clothes that rest in history. From what I can tell, these were popular with a variety of women for work and play just as the advertisements here suggest. In fact, these trousers were popularized due to the war pushing women into the factories. As a result, these hard working women needed something as practical as they were.

So far, I only have two pairs made up but feel the need to add a few more. . . I will (hopefully) get my first pair up here, and second too,  for show and tell eventually. . .promise . . .I am quite thrilled with them and have worn them a great deal already  . . ..

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Vintage Undergarment Techniques and Embellishments

Personally, I adore vintage undergarments. They are both practical and decorative in nature and deserve closer inspection. For this post, I want to focus on the different ways 40s bras and tap pants can be adorned.  Based on the research that I have been able to do, 40s bras and tap pants were rather flimsy. China silk, slinky rayon, and soft cottons were the most popular materials. Now, this makes sense for tap pants, yes? But what about the more supportive garments like bras and girdles? Girdles were constructed out of much more robust materials and you can read more about them here. I will not be focusing on girdles though, just tap pants and bras. Bras were, like the tap pants, made of rather thin materials. Based on one original in my collection, bras were not lined. So what gave them structure and body? Simple, top stitching. Lots and lots of top stitching that was both decorative and functional. The bra then closes in the back with hook and eyes. For wearing ease, there is some elastic.

Based on Lutterloh patterns, bras were simply constructed consisting of around 3 pieces. The top cup, the lower cup and the sides. The shape of each bra is consistent from pattern to pattern with only slight variation here and there. Tap pants on the other hand vary a great deal from very simple patterns to those that are very complex with multiple parts. My favorite patterns are the most- simple ones. Depending on your body type, you may utilize a different pattern than the individuals alongside you.

Tap pants can have elastic waists or can have a fixed waist band. If they use a fixed waist band, they can close with hook and eyes, buttons, or even snaps. To see an original pair in my collection and some of my research, look here.

With all this research and admiring of originals, I just had to make up a couple versions for myself. In each set, which I made to be matching I tried to utilize different techniques and embellishments. Each technique is very simple and can be replicated at home. Some, of course, require more practice than others . .  . . something I have learned myself. Each set was made with only 1 yard of material with some creative cutting and planning.

Pink Set with Lace Applique

This was my first set made up in light pink china silk. The bra and tap pant were embellished with cotton lace applied in lines and angles inspired by a German illustration. 
The illustration

 The tap pants have a fixed waist band and are accented with a baby silk rose. The lace applique was a pain in the rear but oh so worth it. Personally, this is my favorite even though the lace on the bra is not even. Don’t look to close  . . .

To do this one, I recommend a great deal of time and some pins . . .lots of pins really. Take the lace at one piece at a time because to pin all the lace on at once and then sew will lead to some colorful language and some skewed lines. Trust me. I found the best way to tackle this one is to go slow, do one part at time, and admire what you accomplish. Also, press often.

Black Set with Top Stitching

The second set I made I decided to make generous use of a very simple technique that take only a spool or two of thread and your time. In other words, if you need a cheap method of embellishment, I recommend top stitching. Although you really can't see it well here (although you can certainly see the white cat hair  . . .figures), I top stitched the lower cups straight across, and the upper cups by following the overall lines of the top cups. The sides I did as well in a cross hatched pattern.

To do this one, I started with the bra front all made up and pressed and then picked a pint on where to start. You can start anywhere you want and do any design you want too. To ensure that the stitched are even spaces apart, I used the foot of my machine as a guide. Once the front cups have been top stitched to your heart’s content, add the sides and you can top stitch those too. To make sure that as you work, your project remains smooth and un- puckered, I recommend frequent pressing. For this set, I left the tap pants plain.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review: Vintage Hairstyles: Simple Steps for Retro Hair with a Modern Twist

Recently I picked this book while shopping for something completely different.

Like stated in this book’s title, Vintage Hairstyles by Emma Sundh and Sarah Wing offers step by step instruction on how to re-create a wise selection of hairstyles from the 20s through to the 60s making use of modern tools, but with period techniques. Along with period hair, make up, hair accessories, and even eye wear is discussed too.

Looking at the 40s chapter specifically, this book makes a great deal of use of curling irons and modern tools to help you sculpt hair dos appropriate for the 40s. Although this text does mention pin curls for each chapter, the curling iron is heavily recommend as the tool of choice. This suggestion supports their original argument and statement of using modern tools for making their looks. It should be mentioned too that although it is the modern tools that get the most attention in this book, the authors have given some attention to the original tools and have offered some history on the use of those items too. One particular period method that Sundh and Wing discuss is the practice of not washing the hair regularly. This is an important topic because period hairstyles were achieved with hair that was not always cleaned on a regular basis. This unwashed hair does help with many of the styles in my own experience.  

To support the hairstyles, some background on the history of the era is provided as well but, unfortunately, some of their claims are rather inaccurate or just too brief. On section, that on 40s lipstick, is rather brief in that it does not discuss the ideal shape of 40s lips. On the section discussing the 40s as a whole, the statement briefly describing the “victory rolls” as a largely post war style to celebrate victory, is rather inaccurate as victory rolls were prevalent throughout the war years.  .  .not just the end. Although this book is rich with information, there many rather repetitive sections throughout the book. Regardless of the repetitive text and slightly inaccurate or brief information, this book would be an excellent edition to any girl’s vanity table. The step by step direction are clear and concise. The styles in the book are beautiful, inspired, and for the 20s, 30s, and 40s, the looks are quite period and would look excellent on any head. The book also, quite cleverly, has a page hinting at what head shapes would be enhanced by what kind of hair style. Another refreshing part of this book that truly sets it apart is the end where eye wear is briefly look ed at.  

As a whole, Vintage Hairstyles sets out to accomplish just what is said in the title and introduction. This book, like already said, would be an excellent book to be added to any vintage hairstyling library. One thing to keep in mind regardless about this book is that is it a wonderful styling book covering hair and it’s accessories (which are well covered in this text along with some tutorials on how to make some simple ones yourself) and not necessarily a history book. Overall, nice book and pretty good impulse buy if you ask me.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Thicker Stocking

To say that 40 stockings came only in delicate, sheer nylon would be inaccurate. In fact,  there are examples of cotton stockings that are much thicker (but not too thick) and more appropriate for those colder months. I first hear of these stockings in a 40s fashion book and of course I cannot completely remember the title. Since then, I have been on the search for said stockings. I found my first pair from War's End Shop. These were cotton/ wool blend, brown in color, and went up to the knee. They did not stretch much. Much like a modern sock almost in style. After owning and studying an original pair, I have been on the search for other similar stockings and alternatives too in the modern world. Enter, tights. Believe it or not, I have been quite successful in finding modern tights that, on the surface and unbeknownst to the critical eye, look very much like period cotton stockings.
Before I get onto the alternative, here is an original illustration featuring these knee high stockings:
What I find to be particularly fun about these is there color: bright red. Not only that, but they match her outfit. What a grand idea, yes?
Another piece of evidence supporting these knee high, thicker stockings can be seen below:
These appear to be white in color but textured. What exactly is the pattern here? That I do not know but I imagine that a search into period knitting patterns may give a better idea (that and how to recreate them).

From these two images, it would appear that younger women may have sported these but I do not know if that would have been a solid rule or not. That is something that deserves more research. From the pages of Der Goldene Schnitt, this is a look common with the young and there are a couple with more mature women wearing them too but it is still not a solid yes or no who can and cannot wear them.   

Now we have some of the "technical" stuff out of the way, we can talk alternatives. Of course, if authenticity is your game, use the originals. They are out there and very reasonably priced too. If you want a more modern alternative for what ever reason, you can find them almost anywhere really. Look for natural colors or else documented colors (like the red above). Look for some with a texture to them (Stay clear of the stretchy solid colored tights that toddlers wear and have the feeling of modern nylons). You can find some good ones at Aerie, Target, and the like. 100% cotton is a plus if you can find them . .  . Prints or stripes? I have not seen documentation for those yet . .

Monday, March 6, 2017

40s Hats According to Der Goldene Schnitt, Part 2

Here is part 2 of Hats According to Der Golden Schnitt. These are from 1941 and much like in part 1, these cover a wide variety of styles and utilize a selection of materials. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Identifying 40s Prints and Colors

If you have been following my work this past year, you may have noticed that I have not used many cotton prints. Which, quite frankly is a shame because 40s prints were colorful, vibrant, and artistic. In my work so far, I have made use of wools, sheer cottons, cotton seer suckers, or else simple cotton checks, flocked dots or plaids. Beyond that, I seemed to have omitted the very foundations of 40s fashion: colorful prints done up in the most versatile of fabrics, plain weave cottons. Were they completely omitted? No, I have used some in my past projects already.

Why have I done this? I believe I have done this in an attempt to get away from using a material that in the past I always used for my projects. Feeling like I was lacking versatility and flexibility in my sewing skills, I tried to use new materials. Through these new materials, such as rayon crepe, fine wools, and even silk, I definitely learned a few things and am certainly a better seamstress for it.

As of late though, I have found myself desiring to return to my roots and as a result want to get back to sewing with plain weave cottons. To facilitate my return, I want to look at what were period 40s prints, what kinds of motifs, sizes, and colors were used? These are only some of the questions that I want to explore to aid me in my search of period 40s cottons. I hope too that my research here will aid others as well.


The colors used in the 40s ranged from vibrantly bright jewel tones to those dusty romantic ones. Look for navy blues and blues of all kinds along with yellows, pinks, reds, tans, browns, aqua, oranges, greens, purples, burgundies, creams and white.  Of all the colors, many have a juvenile air to them but there are also just as many that are more mature (if a touch less common). These colors were seen in solid rayon, broad cloth, and other materials and weaves, including cottons.


When I started to look at 40s prints, I was truly impressed with the immense variety that was available. Of the most popular prints, I noticed stripes and florals (flowers, leaves, and organic subject matter) were the most common, next were plaids, checks, dots, paisleys, and novelty prints. The florals ranged from small to medium in size. There were some large florals but were rather rare and had small/ medium flowers mixed in with the print. The flowers, leaves, and other organic figures ranged from abstract cartoon like images to almost realistic impressions. This blend of abstract and realistic offers a true blend of personality to 40s prints. Almost any individuals taste could be serviced in this decade it would appear. Of these florals, florals mixed with stripes or plaids, florals mixed with dots, and florals mixed with florals seemed to be very popular. Nature seemed to provide a great deal of inspiration.
Although a 30s ad, there are some elements here that resonate into the 40s.

Plaids and checks were popular as well and came in a large variety of color ways, sizes, and complexities. Some plaids were simple and some were very complicated. Dots largely made use of two colors, one color for the background and the other for the dots. I have not seen dots that were multicolored. Novelty prints were based on abstract designs and cartoons. Although they drew inspiration from the real world, these novelty prints offered a sort of escape. Some novelty prints included small animals, sailors, and other patriotic themes.  The scale of these prints was rather small and they seemed to be a very American item. Something to consider when building a wardrobe for specific impression. Boarder prints were also seen.

Of the prints, I have noticed that some have distinct patterns and directions while some are more “random”. These prints that seem to lack any true directions must have been especially practical to frugal or beginning seamstresses because the prints did not have to line up in any particular way. For the prints that had a direction but were small in scale, those too did not necessarily have to line up in the event there was simply not enough material. These small prints were very common due to that rationing that the war brought on.

No matter an American, British, French, German, or another impression all together, 40s prints seemed to not have changed too much from country to country. As a whole, the prints and colors seen in the 40s appears to be a larger world trend. In the pages of Der Goldene Schnitt, The illustrations give hints and suggestions of prints and fabric choices in the brief descriptions. Stripes seemed to be incredibly popular based on Der Goldene Schnitt’s recommendations. Next were florals and solids.