All posts filed under: 20th Century

Rate the Dress: red + lavender in the mid ’20s

Last week I cheated and started the New Year of Rate the Dress with something nice and easy and crowd please-y: a 1660s dress in gold. There were some minor niggles about the bodice flange looking like an eel (ahem, eels are awesome), and the precariously low neckline (trust me, those bodices could have four 5 kilo weights suspended off them and dangling down your skirt, and you’d end up with majorly bruised shins but the bodice would STAY PUT), plus the fact that it isn’t a very move-able, practical cut (fair enough, though that was kind of the point), but overall it was love.  9 out of 10 love!  Impressive! This week we move from classic gold to a very unusual colour combination: tomato red and lavender (though I personally would say this is much more of a lilac than a lavender, and someone doing the catalogue at the GMD really likes the term ‘tomato red’) This frock is all about mid-20s decadence and design motifs, but the details aren’t as new as they appear. …

Modern historical kimono wrappers

I know I already have two submissions for the Historical Sew Fortnightly ‘Modern History’ challenge, but I’m quite excited about showing you two more items, because they are my only HSF sewing collaboration for 2014, and they are also a far more interesting take on interpreting historical fashions for modern wear in any case. These are Lynne’s modern historical kimono wrappers: Lynne took the pattern from an original Japanese yukata, but altered it to fit her figure and lifestyle: flaring the body panels for extra width, and adding underarm and shoulder reinforcements. She did all the unpicking of curtain panels, fabric prepping, pattern drafting and cutting of the pieces (i.e. the hard part, where you have to think and probably end up, if not swearing a lot, at least muttering dire imprecation), and I sewed up the kimono on a week-long visit just before Christmas, sitting at a sewing table in her bedroom, watching the birds outside and kittens on the computer and cthunk, cthunk, cthunking along on her lovely Bernina. Lynne is an extremely talented …

The ‘Joy Gives Us Wings’ 1940s dress

The Baha’i Faith puts great emphasis on the importance of joy.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (the son of Baha’u’llah, the Baha’i prophet) said: Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. The focus on joy doesn’t preclude the existence of times of sorrow, pain, sadness, and depression but reminds us that there can be moments of happiness even in those times, and that by finding those bits of happiness, we can make the hard times easier.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá knew about suffering: he spent most of his life, from the time he was a small child, in prison due to the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and the Ottoman Empire.  And yet people who met him vividly recalled the joy he exuded, and his sense of humor and laughter.  One of my favourite stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá recounts how, when he and fellow Baha’is were imprisoned and subject to particularly harsh privations, he insisted that …