Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on June 2, 2014
Vogue Pattern 9114 Pattern Review
I am happy to share pictures of a 1950s dress which I actually sewed last year, but just now had photographed! I made this dress last fall in anticipation of my England costuming trip, and you might remember seeing it (albeit topped with a lavender lace bolero) in the blog post about my visit to The Ritz for tea and to the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was a marvelous dress to wear around London, but I thought that without the bolero it would look just as at home on the beach!
As you can see, this was the dress I wore while at the V&A last fall. I got so many comments on it!
Thinking back to when I wore it at the V&A, I remember that people commented that I looked like I was part of the costume exhibit. You can’t quite tell in the two above photos, but with the huge crinoline petticoat underneath the skirt was ginormous! But since I only make it to the V&A every several years or so, I like it just as well without the bolero for a more casual, sun dress look.
Vogue Pattern #9114 caught my eye right away because of the beautiful floral print on the dress and the oversized sunhat! What distinguishes this design from your average 1950s dress pattern are the very unusual diagonal tucks under the bust, the square neckline, and the buttons down the front. It also has the loveliest ribbon bow hanging down the front that looks so elegant and feminine.
When choosing my materials, I picked a fabric whose print was as close to the pattern cover as possible, only in lavender instead of rosy pink. And pearl buttons were exactly what I had in mind with this print!
On a scale of 1-5, I would probably give this pattern a 4.5. It is slightly trickier to sew than a standard 1950s dress, but the finished results are well worth the effort. The only thing I wasn’t particularly fond of was how huge the waist was. I had to take the waist in about 3 inches I believe, and even then it wasn’t quite fitted enough. Of course, I do like my bodices to fit snugly so that it makes the contrast greater between the skirt and the bodice, but if you don’t take the waist in it won’t look like the pattern cover unless you’re larger in the waist than the pattern calls for. The tucks/darts were a tiny bit challenging, but they certainly were fun once I got them to lay properly!
I chose to omit the short sleeve just because it would not have worked to wear the lace bolero over it otherwise, but if it wasn’t for that reason I think the short sleeve would be just adorable with the dress!
So without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos taken on a very windy day at the beach!
For all the beach pictures, you can’t quite see the effects of the crinoline petticoat underneath because the wind was blowing so hard. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that this skirt really *is* much fuller when it’s not all windy. Also, because this fabric is a twill, the heavier weight pulls the skirt down instead of fluffing out as much as something thinner would.
So there you have it! Vogue 9114 worked really well with this fabric, I think, and I’ve had so much fun wearing this dress the last several months!
Well, I hope you all are having a wonderful week, and I’m looking forward to sharing some upcoming projects with you in the near future!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on April 20, 2014
A Vintage Pink Easter Dress – Hollywood Patterns #1878
Happy Easter! I wanted to show you all the vintage dress which I wore today to church for Easter Sunday. Back in the “good old days”, nearly everyone went to church on Easter (in America, that is), and all the ladies and girls wore their finest outfits for the occasion. Most families, if they could manage, bought new Easter dresses for each female member of the family every year, complete with new hats, gloves, and shoes. I am told that the term “the Easter parade” was coined in New York City in the late Victorian era, when the women’s attire which they “paraded” on their way to church became so elaborate that many people would come to the street corners just to see the spectacle of a fashion parade enroute to church, and to pick their favorite hat from the crowd. Decades later, Irving Berlin penned the song “Easter Parade” in 1933, which was later sung by Bing Crosby in the film Holiday Inn in 1942. Then in 1948, this song was used yet again in a film starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, and titled, aptly, Easter Parade.
Well, today is obviously a far cry from the days when everyone would dress up, (or when everyone would go to church for that matter), but I still take the opportunity to do both whenever I possibly can.
I sewed this vintage Easter dress using Hollywood Pattern #1878. Seeing as it was printed in the late 1940s (and possibly into the very early 1950s), it is extremely rare. So I was super excited to find it online a few months ago! This design has a peasant style upper bodice with fitted waist, gathered cap sleeves, and a semi-full skirt.
The material is a floral print cotton batiste, lined with blush pink China silk lining. At the seam between the upper bodice and the cummerbund, I added a pink floral ribbon which has a tiny floral pattern on it quite reminiscent of the larger print.
Here’s a close-up of the bodice, where you can see the ribbon at the bodice/waist seam.
~It closes with a side zipper, and it’s quite comfortable to wear, especially compared to many vintage dresses! ~
~ The Accessories: The ruched pink gloves and ivory net hat are both vintage pieces that I picked up at an antique shop recently. I don’t know quite how old they are, but they were both in excellent condition. The hat is made from a stiff netting that has flocked polka dots on the material. It might not exactly be an “Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it”, but it at least certainly counts as an Easter hat!
I did this hairstyle as a mixture of two different styles which are demonstrated in the book “Vintage Hairstyles” by Lauren Rennells. If I haven’t mentioned it before, this is my favorite hairstyling book ever!! The author has extensive film experience and is a real pro at 1930s-1960s hairdos. (This is my honest opinion of the book – I am not paid to do a “product review” of it.)
I will note that the late-afternoon lighting today rather washed out the color of the fabric, so unfortunately you can’t see as much of the pattern as I’d like. Nevertheless, I hope that you can still get a good idea of what it looks like! But here is a very non-historically accurate picture (on Pinterest) which I took inside today so that you can get a better idea of what the color is if you wish to see.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on April 5, 2014
Why Don’t We Dress Up Anymore?
I love dressing up! I like to put time into my appearance and feel presentable when I go out of the house, but sadly most people today don’t agree with me. In fact, I finally stopped asking about dress codes last year because I was tired of being told, “Oh, you know, just wear whatever.” Well, my goodness – “whatever” sounds like a simply lovely thing to wear to that party! Or what about the time I was going to an important business meeting a while back and I was instructed that I should wear (and I quote) “jeans and a top” to be introduced to this important person? Whatever happened to trying to make a good impression? Whatever happened to showing people you care enough about them to dress up, or that you at least have enough respect for yourself to put on something that shows you care about your job, your position, or whatever it is you’re doing? I get rather tired of being the only girl at church who is wearing a dress, and I think it’s sad that this culture has lost so much dignity that we just honestly don’t care one bit what we look like. The pervading attitude seems to be, “Why should I get out of my sweatpants to go to a function when they are so comfortable?” (Yes, I’ve heard that reply before.) Well, I’m all for comfort, but is that really the number one priority when it comes to our lives? Are we all a bunch of grown-up little kids who need our clothing to feel like soft and cuddly teddy bears in order to not have an “uncomfortable” day?
Most of you know that I don’t believe in wearing “blah” sorts of clothes. You know, grey sweatpants, baggy t-shirts, flip flops…. No, those things are not my friends. I detest ugly clothing with a passion. It never ceases to astonish me that people actually pay money to own some of the threadbare garments of today, and that they still somehow think they’re being fashionable! The phrase “casual chic” is sometimes used as an excuse for hole-y jeans, unraveling fabrics, and moppy hairstyles. The sad thing is that frumpiness is so extremely common in our culture that in general we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It has become a common occurrence to see a 40-something year old lady grocery shopping in her gym clothes, a mother of toddlers dashing about town in leggings and her husband’s t-shirt, and teenage girls walking down the street in such small amounts of fabric that I fear for their safety. – When I was a toddler, my mama taught me that big girls put clothes on before they leave the house, I don’t know about yours! 😉 LOL!
All kidding aside though, I feel sad when I see people who live their whole lives in such a hurry that they never take time to really dress up! One does not need a grand occasion or an invitation from the queen in order to put on a pretty dress and some lipstick before they leave the house. Simply waking up is a good enough reason to be in a happy mood every morning and let your attire reflect that mood by putting some effort into your appearance!
Merely being a lady is a good enough excuse to spend 15 minutes doing your makeup and a few minutes choosing a flattering outfit for the day. Every girl or woman is so special and precious, and you deserve the time it takes to feel pretty every day!
In days gone by, ladies spent a large amount of time in the morning at their dressing tables, whether it was the in beruffled days of Victorian times, or in the more glamorous decade of the 1950s. The early morning routine was a time to get ready for the day ahead ~ to apply makeup, coiuf the hair, and don lovely clothing and jewelry before you were “fit to be seen”.
I know that many people dress up only for rare occasions, but here are several thoughts I’ve had over the last few years:
(The dress shown above is what I’m wearing today as I write this post.)
Wearing Classy Clothing
As a little girl, I remember sitting on the living floor in my grandparent’s house and playing with toys while my mom and grandma sat on the couch going through old family pictures from the last thirty odd years. Aside from the general remarks about, “Oh, how she’s grown” that you might expect, the majority of the comments were sprinkled with giggles and moans and remarks such as, “Oh, that DRESS! It’s hideous!” “I can’t believe we used to wear shorts like those.” “Can you believe that they thought that was pretty?”
And then my mother randomly made a comment that has stuck with me for the rest of my life. She said, “But you know, someday people will look back at the pictures of what we’re wearing today and probably think the same thing.“
And you know what? She was right! In the early 90s women’s wardrobes consisted of those dreadful stirrup leggings, oversized t-shirts, neon colors, frumpy flat loafer shoes with tassels, and lots and lots of jumpers. (Jumpers, by the way, are probably my least-favorite article of clothing EVER.) Just an FYI – LOL!
~ Elegance is Always in Style ~
But no matter how hideous an outfit was at any time in history, you can be pretty sure that the long haired hippie or the bobbed haired flapper who wore it thought she was awfully cool at the time when she wore it. So here’s my point – we must choose clothes that are BEAUTIFUL, and not just trendy! There HAVE been decades of clothing when no one could ever look back and say “That was ugly”, because nearly all of the clothing from that era was designed with class, taste, and elegance! No one could POSSIBLY say that Grace Kelly’s wedding dress was out-of-date, that Lily Elsie’s lace gowns were unbecoming, that Queen Victoria’s ball gowns were unflattering, or that Lucille Ball’s 1950s day dresses were ugly. Because you know what? All of these ladies’ outfits were designed in such gorgeous styles and fabrics, with such classiness and elegance in the cut and fit, that at no point in history could they ever be considered unattractive or overdone. It *IS* entirely possible to choose such lovely and timeless clothing for today that even in twenty years from now people won’t shudder and say, “That was SO 20-teens!” just like we say, “That was SO 1980s!” about perms and oversized pouffy sleeves nowadays.
So what styles can we choose to wear today that will always be as classy and beautiful as possible? My motto is: “Elegance is always in style!” Here are some observations I’ve made:
- As a general rule, romantic and feminine styles will always be beautiful, no matter the decade. Stick with truly beautiful and flattering styles whenever possible!
- Lace – Lace blouses, skirts and dresses are almost always beautiful. Yes, Gunne Sax dresses can still be dated to the 70s, but most of them are still gorgeous even if they aren’t the latest fashion. Lace is probably one of the most elegant fabrics of all time, so you really can’t go wrong with lace, as long as it’s not in a bizarre color.
- Ruffles – I have yet to see a ruffled blouse from any era that I didn’t absolutely adore! Many modern takes on the Edwardian shirtwaist (think Anne of Avonlea), have resulted in gorgeous, ladylike versions of office-attire blouses. Ruffles at the neck, down the center, and at the wrists are just dazzling, and when I look at all the ruffled blouse patterns from the last 40 years they are almost all still classy and gorgeous.
- Defined, natural waistlines – When in doubt, always choose a natural waistline over a dropped waist dress! The “hourglass” silhouette is SO much more becoming than “tent” shaped silhouette. The most beautiful decades of fashion history all had the same thing in common – the cinched waistline. Empire waistlines *can* be pretty when done right, but they oftentimes tend to suggest pregnancy so they are usually best avoided unless you’re wearing a Regency costume.
- Classy colors – White, Creams, ivories, golds, peach, soft pink, mauve, dusty rose, bright red, sapphire blue, periwinkle, aqua, silver, forest green, lavender, royal purple, chocolate brown, jet black, etc., are colors that *usually* stand the test of time and are often found in some of the most beautiful vintage clothing. However, some of the more abstract or “avant garde” colors are not going to be flattering on most people, unless that person wants to look like a clown – Neon yellows, bright orange, lime green, etc, will only be “in” for certain seasons and then will be “out” again in a hurry.
- Dainty prints – Polka dots and dainty floral prints have almost always been in fashion. Large oversized prints on fabrics are perhaps one of the biggest threats to clothing today. I see *so* many outfits pinned on Pinterest where I think, “Well, that maxi skirt would be fine if it wasn’t covered with the most horrible chevron print in teal blue and bright orange…”. Honestly, I have been shocked at the outfit pins that many girls I follow have pinned (even girls who are into vintage clothing!), and that they usually add these pins to “Beautiful Clothing” boards. Not to be unkind to anyone, but a sloppy mustard colored sweater over a red and aqua chevron striped dress is not pretty today, nor will it ever be pretty in the future! We must make sure that we are choosing clothes that are truly lovely and tasteful, and not just because “It looks like the outfit that such-and-so wore on the front of a magazine.”
- Tasteful, modest styles – I believe that dresses look prettier when skirts are not above the knees, when necklines are high enough to not show off things that should be kept private, and when dresses have cap sleeves or at least very wide straps to ensure they will stay on. 😉 Today’s mindset seems to be, “The less fabric you wear, the more attention you will get.” But honestly, there are a lot of dangerous people out there nowadays (believe me!), and it is just a lot safer and more appropriate to wear a beautiful outfit that doesn’t show cleavage or bare thighs. Think of the classy and fabulously elegant day dresses worn by Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Lucille Ball – did you know that *almost* all of those dresses were extremely modest? You don’t have to wear a low neckline or cinch your skirt up to look beautiful or attractive!
- Boleros – I LOVE boleros! They are so effortlessly elegant and flattering. You can wear a simple knit one over any a casual dress, or a sparkly one over an evening gown. The shorter cut of boleros makes them so much more becoming on most women than longer jackets.
- Circle skirts – Yes, I know these are very “1950s”, but they are some of the classiest articles of clothing ever. Toss on a sweater or a knit top with one, add some flats or high heels, and you’re likely to be the best-dressed lady in your town!
- Pearls! – Small or large, white or ivory, single or double strand, I doubt whether any decade passed without pearl necklaces and earrings making their mark. Pearls are really the ultimate go-to accessory to keep on hand.
- Hats – Some may argue that hats come and go (and this is true), but hats are still extremely elegant and beautiful. Don’t be too shy to don a hat for a wedding or even “just because”!
- Nylons/Tights! – I’m not as good at wearing tights as often as I should, but if you’re wearing a dress that isn’t super long it will look SO much classier and more polished if you wear tights. Nylons are for your feet and legs what foundation and powder is for your face. Keep several spare pairs on hand in case you get a run in them! 😉
Tights make all the difference in the world.
It *is* a lot harder than it should be to find classy, modest, and feminine clothes nowadays, but I have found lots of gorgeous options that are now on my Pinterest board called “Feminine Fashion for Today” which hopefully is a good collection of ideas for people who are trying to find things to wear.
Here I was at Westminster Abbey, wearing ruffles and polka dots.
So now that I’ve elaborated on what exactly I mean when I say “dressing up”, let me encourage you to dress up on a regular basis! Nowadays people usually only dress up for weddings and funerals, but it really shouldn’t take some life-shattering event to make people look respectable, right? Those of us who really take the time to dress up may find ourselves as the “odd ones out”, but if enough of us start taking a stand against frumpiness it will start becoming the norm, rather than the exception. So next time you plan on heading out somewhere, don’t even think of driving off in your workout clothes! Put on some lipstick (red, please), toss on a dress, pull out your pearls, and arrive at a look you can smile at when you see yourself in the mirror! Sooner or later you will find that the rewards of looking and feeling classy are far greater than those of feeling cozy!