Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Projects: The ‘Make Do & Mend’ 1940s suit ...

I've made several ‘complete’ outfits during my dressmaking experiences that also include a range of fashion accessories (bag, hat etc). Here’s one of them – a suit (skirt and jacket), top, garment cover, hat, bag and some textile jewellery (all individually detailed over the next few days).
This entire outfit was made for a promotional event that related to ‘Make Do & Mend’ during World War II.

The suit was 1940s military-styled, reflected the glamour of 1930s evening wear yet also stepped towards 1947 ‘New Look’. It was made using black viscose fabric that was ‘seconds’ - the main interest of it being that it shimmered under artificial light showing a small geometric motif between raised stripes. Unfortunately it had little ‘body’ and was initially unsuitable for the chosen design. However, with the addition of an interlining (as well as a lining) and stiffened lace inset panels on the jacket, the fabric was totally transformed. The skirt was cut in shaped panels and had an uneven hemline.

Here's the original jacket sketch also showing some of the cords used for buttons. As you will notice from the jacket itself, it's almost identical to the original sketch.

Matching earrings and buttons were made from recycled odd 1940s raincoat buttons.

Laces and edgings (for both jacket and top) were made entirely on the sewing machine (but used no base fabric to work from and was stitched rather like a netting process) - here shown samples right.

2 styles of inset panels were made for the jacket - one in black and white with black machine made lace covering a white satin (see left with buttons and striped lining)

- the other used small offcuts that had be
en randomly patchworked together to create an almost ‘pile’ type of fabric (see left showing lower sleeve edge).

The skirt was panelled with an uneven hemline - shown close-up at right with metallic thread finishing.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

‘ Petticoat & Honey ' patterns ...

NOTE: If you find this post interesting, more are on display here OTHER PATTERNS

Teenage magazines in the 1960s often included instructions of how to adapt and make fashionable clothes - my personal favourites were Honey and Petticoat, both of which I sent to for their popular and boutique-style patterns (see below).

The Petticoat pair of ‘basic’ patterns were printed on a non-woven fabric – similar to that of dressmaking interfacing. This enabled the pattern to be actually stitched together for sizing purposes, it could be used many times as well as being easily transferable to paper for adapting to those design/styles as shown within the magazine. A section of the magazine was entitled ' dbd ' (Dead Broke Department) and as specific fashion items became popular, they were detailed with instructions for how to make them or adapt the basic pattern into another garment. Full instructions were provided for the pattern alteration, fabric cutting layout and making up the garment as well as a 'fashion' photo showing the garment being worn.

At first tops and skirts ...

then dresses ...

Later trousers were included (hence 2 basic patterns):


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My interest in fabric & fashion

To start this month off, my dressmaking, fabric & fashion interest  began with making dolls clothes & the discovery of paper patterns. These were available in the local department store where (in the late 1950s), I started visiting for fabric & thread remnants (better than the local market as there was a greater choice). Pattern display catalogues were on view for pattern selection & there were many to choose from. Pocket money did not extend to a regular weekly or monthly pattern buy, so good choice was essential. A basic, adaptable & general dolls clothes pattern was always sought - here's 2 of them & I still have some of them left today! (The one on the right is a typical example of those sent away to obtain from women’s magazines of the day.)

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