Happy Halloween! Hope you are all having a delightful holiday with lots of inventive costume fun-ness, apples to bob for, caramel corn, doughnuts on strings and other delicious old-fashioned treats.
Do you need some last minute costume inspiration? Let’s look at some suggestions from a 1930s Bestway Fancy Dress and Carnival Costumes catalogue.
Would you go as a ‘Flower’, a ‘Clown’, or ‘May Day’?
Or perhaps you want to lord it over ‘May Day’ as the ‘May Queen’, go as a different variant of the clown look in ‘Hoop-La’, or throw political correctness to the wind as a ‘Red Indian’?
A more acceptable form of national dress might be ‘Tyrolean’, or you can avoid cultural issues altogether as a generic ‘Peasant’ (I’d love to see the kid who dreams of being a peasant for Halloween). Slipping even lower on the social scale is the ‘Charwoman’ costume, and slipping between the sheets is the adorable ‘Lavender Bag’ (sorry, that sounds wrong).
How about an adorable ‘Kitten’ (or Black Cat, if that’s how you play it), ‘Drummer Boy’, ‘Robin Hood’ (though it would probably be more obvious in green), ‘Little Star’ (Starry Night?), and ‘Sunflower’?
Even more saccharine sweet is this ‘Fairy’. I wonder what people would make of the ‘Son of the Desert’ costume? And who would guess ‘Folly to be Wise’ and ‘Pierrette in Print’? Why is she carrying a stool anyway?
I’m trying to imagine tinies loving their ‘Madame du Barry’ and ‘French Courtier’ costumes (also, was dressing your toddler up as Madame du Barry the ’30s version of baby bikinies?) or teens loving any of these costumes (correction, teens except for me – I would have been all over these as a teen). The ‘Hallowe’en’ is classic, the ‘Spinning Top’ is too cute, and probably too esoteric, ‘Pompoms’ is such a classic ’30s Pierrot look, and I think one or two clever people might just get ‘Powder Puff’.
Finally, for the ultimate in disbelief, here are some ‘Styles Boys Like to Wear’. Do they now? I think you might get littlies into the ‘Penguin’ suit, maybe even the ‘Canary’, but I reckon when it comes to the ‘Knave of Hearts’ & ‘Tommy Bardell’ you are all out of luck (also, why would anyone dress as Tommy Bardell? He’s such a minor character, and a nasty one at that!)
What do you think? Which would you wear? Anyone rushing to make a Powder Puff costume?
Reminder! One day left to enter the Giveaway!
One of the upcoming classes I’m teaching is a ’30s garden party dress class. I love ’30s garden party dresses – you know the ones; chiffon, ruffles, floral prints, with that incredible ’30s ability to be ridiculously cutesy feminine and very glamorous and sophisticated at the same time.
For the class, I’m debuting an idea I’ve been working on. A lot of 1930s dresses are made from very similar patterns: a basic bodice, married to a full-ish skirt attached with an interestingly seamed dropped waistline, with a choice of sleeve treatments. I’ve taken this formula, and am turning it into a pattern that allows lots of choices, while still being a good introduction to vintage ’30s sewing techniques.
To start with, my pattern has a basic bodice. I’ve taken the bodice from patterns like Excella E3006 - this type of bodice has the advantage of back princess seams, great for adding a little more shape and fitting a wider range of bodies.
The 30′s Garden Party Dress – Bodice
For necklines, my pattern has the choice of a V neck or a gentle curve: the two most popular 1930s necklines.
The Garden Party frock with a V neckline & double-pointed skirt
To go with the choice of necklines, there is a choice of sleeveless, slim short or long sleeves, or little cape-sleeves borrowed from Excella E3137.
Finally: skirt choices. How about a delicious double-pointed skirt shown in patterns like this McCall’s example from 1931:
Or my favourite 30′s skirt, the gentle curve and fullness of Excella E3169:
The ‘Garden Party’ frock with gently curved skirt
Both skirts can be done with either an even hem, or a back dropped hem:
The ‘Garden Party’ frock with dropped hem
I’m really excited about the class, and about the pattern!
30′s Garden Party Frocks runs Sat 10 & 17 Nov. Register Here
Remember the ‘Deco Echo’ blouse I made back in February? You may even remember the pants I was wearing with it as a 1930s beach pyjama set. I didn’t tell you about them, because, well, they weren’t actually finished. And by not actually finished I mean ‘something that I’m terribly ashamed to admit was held on with safety pins’.
Yeah. I confess. I was so rushed in the run-up to Art Deco weekend that I didn’t manage to get the everything remotely properly finished, and the pants were one of the items that were terribly put together, terribly badly finished, and just not OK. (see example below)
But with a 20s/30s challenge coming up on the Sew Weekly and a trip home to Hawai’i I had the perfect opportunity to actually make my beach pyjama pants properly.
My inspiration for the garment and the look was the beach pyjamas that were so popular at beach resorts in the 1920s & 30s. They are such an elegant, practical garment, but not what we usually expect from 20s & 30s fashion.
Beach pyjamas on the Cote D’Azure, colourized postcard, 1930s
Beach pyjamas at Nice, colourized postcard, 1930s
My first set of beach pyjama bottoms went wrong because of an under-abundance of time and an over-abundance of engineering. I tried to include a high-waisted un-darted yolk with piping trim, side pockets, a fancy side placket fastening, period-accurate hook fastenings, a symmetrical, direction print,and french seams all into one garment. I also used the wrong interfacing because I didn’t have the right stuff to hand. Not surprisingly (like the camel with too many straws) the pants rebelled.
The yoke didn’t sit right on my bottom and gaped around my waist, the piping had to be re-done a half dozen times to be symmetrical, the yoke-facing ended up only facing half the yoke, the pockets gaped and getting them to meet the french seams was a nightmare, and the placket was a ridiculous mess. It needed fixing.
For my re-make I took the pants apart apart, ditched the pockets and the fancy side placket, set sun-burst darts into my yoke to make it sit properly on my way-curvier than the ’30s ideal bottom, re-did the yoke facing and a lot of the piping, and re-set the whole thing with a nice, simple, still-period-accurate side fastening.
Whew! Much better! I’m now proud to wear these, and they are a joy to wear. So light and comfortable in the Hawaiian summer, while still looking elegant and dressed up.
Isn’t the fabric fabulous? It turned up at a fabric sale in NZ, and I immediately snapped it up with Art Deco visions dancing in front of my eyes. I wish I’d got more! The print reminds me of scales from a distance – hence the ‘Deco Mermaid’ title. And it’s a delicious 100% cotton light, draping sateen. So unusual, but utterly luscious to wear.
Unfortunately my pants still have two problems – I got turned around sewing the hooks and loops into the placket, and I sewed them on to the wrong sides (hooks to back, loops to front instead of the other way around). Gah! I’m going to have to re-do that.
On the bright side, I need to show you where I sat to sew the unfortunately facing hooks and eyes:
It almost makes it all better, doesn’t it? ;-) Those are the woods around my parents house: not landscaped or anything. The dress I’m wearing in that picture is one I made when I was about 14. It still fits!
The other problem is that the pants simply don’t fit. I took these photos after two weeks in Hawaii, eating my parents incredibly healthy diet, and running around doing farm chores every day. I’ve dropped a full size. I’m not sure if I want to fix that
The photos were taken by my Mum at ‘the Cove’, a little beach just a 10 minute walk from the family farm. It’s where we always go to swim, because while it isn’t as big or pretty as other nearby beaches, it has the nicest swimming – it’s deep and sandy.
I wanted to capture both my island as it is now, and the sense of old Hawaiian postcards in my images. The latter was inadvertently helped by my Mum – she forgot her glasses so couldn’t see if the photos she was taking were in focus!
Sigh. Just looking at these makes me homesick again. It was the most amazing trip, and it’s good to be home, but I still miss Hawai’i dreadfully. I can’t have both!