Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Visit to Delaware, 1909

I bought this little snippet of a couple’s lives at an antiques store a few days ago. It’s a studio photograph of Herbert and Margaret Hind, taken in Delaware in 1909. They came to Delaware from Lowell, Massachusetts – or so says the inscription on the back, at least.

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Mr. Hind is super dapper in his nice suit and well-starched collar and shirt. Mrs. Hind is wearing a heavily embellished tea gown, with a multi-strand choker of pearls and a rope around her waist. The rope belt/sash coordinates with the heavy couched decorations on the torso and sleeves of her gown. And finally, I’m always impressed with how most, if not all, people in these older photographs have such nicely done hair. it’s a studio picture, so I’m sure they dressed up a little, but it’s still kind of impressive.

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Mrs. Hind’s tea gown is very much like one in my own collection from 1911, below.

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National Cloak & Suit Company tea gown from 1911, showing similar heavy embellishment on the chest and sleeves, elbow-length sleeves and wide-hemmed cuffs.

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The Ladies’ World, September 1907: A Selection

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I like the seaside color scheme of navy, white and coral.

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I love her outfit; so jaunty.

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All this frufru and fluffiness and corsetry exists UNDER a dress …

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Reusing old clothing by dyeing it. I’m wondering if the neon blaze-orange ink is a subliminal plug for the dye too.

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Tie dyeing in 1907! 

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Fashions for November 1907. Click on the image for a larger picture with more detail. And check it out in the upper right corner … it’s the G-D waist again!

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How to properly fit a skirt.


Super Productivity! Kinda.

So first off, an apology. I’ve been searching WordPress and my own brain for ways to do this, but I can’t figure out how to put a .pdf on a blog post. You know, for patterns. I’m stuck. So for now, I must apologize. I want to share some of the patterns I’ve taken but until I can figure out a way to get them here, un-warped and un-wonky, I can’t. 😦

Other than that disappointment, I’ve been sewing like mad. Mad, I tell you! I just haven’t had the time to blog about it. Or take any nice photos.

Since early January, I’ve made:

1 1910s-1920s velvet hat (HSF Challenge #2: Blue)

1 1918 wool skirt

1 1900s cotton & lace corset cover (HSF Challenge #1: Foundations)

1 1910s linen blouse

1 1910s cotton & lace slip

1 1915-1918 wool jacket

1 silk and (oops) polyester “Votes for Women” yellow rose brooch

1 early/mid 1920s velvet evening gown (HSF Challenge #3: Stashbusting)

1 pair 1930s wool & leather spats

1 late 1920s tennis (style) dress

… and I’ve begun an 1880s-ish corset.

And as always:

1 huge mess

3 small trash bags of scraps

1 medium sized dent in my vintage button & cloth hoard

1 $15 dent in my wallet (you read that right, BOOYAH)

All the 1917-1920 clothes I meant to make for the April HSF challenge, War & Peace, but I was so excited about them I started and finished them way too early. That worked out all right in the end, though, because I wore them for a women’s suffrage play I was in, with the last-minute addition of the Votes for Women brooch.

I made all these with my 1902 Singer, which felt nice, because I was using antique/accurate tools. Yep, I know, nerdy.

And because I’ve been awful at taking photos of my work, here are just the ones I’ve photographed. I’ll get pictures of everything later.

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I am in LOVE with this hat. I usually can’t find something big enough to fit my hair under, so I made it extra big. It’s got that big/loose hat thing that was going on in the teens and twenties, and I can actually put my hair up under it! Yay!

I made the blouse in the photo above from one of my dad’s worn-out 18th century shirts. It was old and threadbare, so I don’t expect the blouse to hold up well. I’ve already popped a few seams – the fibers just fell apart. That being said, I’m surprised at how nicely the shape came out – the pattern was roughly based on one of my modern Gap button shirts. I’m excited to make another, hopefully in a nice batiste, or something that holds up better to drawn-thread work.

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The corset cover (left) was taken right from my original (right), which is just a tad too small for me – not that I’d wear it. I made it from a thrifted tablecloth, mimicking the design of triangular lace appliqués at the neckline. I love it – it’s comfy and even though the materials and my workmanship are awfully crude compared to the original, it’s the best I’ve ever done with a sewing machine, and I’m happy.

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This is my ’20s evening gown. I wanted it to be kind of generic so I could wear it to events. The idea was to make a semi-fitted slip and to drape the velvet on that, but halfway through planning I realized I didn’t have any cloth for the slip. Being on a frenetic sewing high I made it anyway, substituting ribbon for lining. Now it looks like the dress has interior suspenders. It works nicely considering the velvet’s heavy and hot (it was a curtain! Thanks, Laura Ashley), and a lining would just make it more uncomfortable to wear. It drapes fairly well, too, so I don’t consider it a failure. And it’s super comfy!

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The beading came out okay; it looks better hanging than flat, as above. I made the mistake of putting the beads on too tightly, which messed with the straight Deco lines of the pattern I chose. Live and learn.

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This is my late twenties tennis dress. I made it, again, from a thrifted curtain and a few pieces of red bias tape. I like it; it’s very comfy. When I wore it to work with my re-worked cloche and a blazer it became very early-1930s-sportswear-ish. The dress itself is very basic; sleeveless with a V-neck and the skirt has two huge box pleats at the sides.

Now I’m working on a new era: the mid-late Victorian. I’m starting with a basic corset based on an 1880s example, and I’m hoping that, for now, I can get away with the 1860s with it, too. After that comes all the rest of the underpinnings and gowns and hats and shoes and stuff, which will be … challenging. I have one long-term project, a 1900-1920s beaded purse which will take me a year, conservatively, to bead fully. It’s about 40% done right now, and I’m slowly working away at it. Good stuff!


The Ladies’ World, December 1896: A Selection

The cover.

The cover.

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Who pays for all those clothes wantonly destroyed by well-intentioned female efforts? The disgruntled patriarch, of course … buy Pearline soap.

The magazine has one page devoted to Winter 1896 fashions.

The magazine has one page devoted to Winter 1896 fashions: Big sleeves are IN.

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I’m still a little confused over this ad. Maybe these are like modern ones that fit into the armpits of dresses? Some truth in advertising is lost with the perspective of the image, I think.

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The G-D Waist, whose makers never said its name out loud and thought, “wait a moment …”

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… As seen on TV.

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An interesting note on beauty – hairless arms! Balanced by the advertisement for wigs directly above.

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Gotta love these old ads. I’m interested in the photo retouching ad and the ‘Bankrupt Stock Bicycles’.