I’ve been having fun finding music to match my ‘me’ sewing lately. This week’s me sewing is a ’30s skirt, so it needs one of my favourite swing songs, Lavender Coffin. Great to dance to, and a good conversation starter – we have an ongoing discussion of ways to make a lavender eco-coffin. I’m advocating dye made from blueberries or java plums. It’s not like the colour needs to last! (yes, I have macabre interests).
On a much more random note, I’ve also been doing a lot of sewing to Julietta Venegas lately. It gives me a chance to practice my rapidly fading Spanish. If only I’d known I’d be spending my adult life in New Zealand I could have spared myself years of torture in language classes, or at least taken something I was good at, like Hawaiian. But whether I understand it or not, I enjoy Julietta Venegas. I particularly like Limon y Sal and its cute silent movie aesthetic.
Right! The sewing! The skirt!
This week’s theme on the Sew Weekly is ‘Reality Check’: make something your wardrobe really needs. I’ve tried throughout the year to keep my Sew Weekly sewing purposeful and useful – with each garment crossing something off my sewing list and filling a need in my closet. I don’t believe in sewing things I don’t need and won’t wear just to fill a challenge or a theme – that’s a waste of my time and resources. Six months in there was just one big gap that I hadn’t managed to find an excuse to sew: I desperately needed a black pencil skirt. I have them in almost every other basic colour!
I knew just what style of skirt I wanted: very high waisted, well below the knee, and with pleat details. Enter my beloved ’30s nautical pattern, Butterick 5654. Just the thing!
Butterick 5654, 1930s Nautical pattern
Butterick 5654 is actually a dress, and has no waist shaping, so I had to figure out my own darts, and draft a waistband. I also had to reduce the pattern to compensate for the stretch fabric. I’m particularly pleased with the waistband. Thanks to my blouse it isn’t showing up in the photos, but the waistband has a lovely shaped curved, and it makes me very happy.
My photoshoot, and thus this post, were delayed all week because my camera is in the shop .
To get it done I asked Shell if she would to take pictures on her camera. We took the afternoon off and went to the Embassy Theatre, a restored ’30s theatre with a lovely bohemian Art Deco look, and a bit of international fame as it hosted the Return of the King premier. It fits perfectly with my ‘’30s skirt meets modern top’ outfit.
It’s quite a dramatic setting, so Shell pretended to be a fashion photographer and I did my best to do my most pouty, vacant, fashion model look.
I don’t think I’m cut out to be a fashion model! I’d do my best to look expressionless, but a little smile would slip out:
And then a full on giggle:
Yep! I’d rather sew than pose!
Just the facts, Ma’am:
Fabric: 1.5 metres of thrifted stretch cotton blend $3
Pattern: Butterick 5654
Notions: 1 metre lace trim, hooks and loops, thread (inherited from Nana), invisible zip (thrifted, 30 cents)
Make again? Yes, or at least close variants. Its a lovely, versatile pattern
First worn: Thursday for classes, lunch with a friend, and a photoshoot
Wear again? Yes! This is a perfect fit for my wardrobe
Total cost: $3.30
And the inside?: It’s unlined (that’s what I have a drawer full of slips for), and I finished all the selvedges with my overlocker (gasp!). But I used a mix of black, purple and lavender thread, because even overlocking needn’t be boring.
My apologies dear readers. I know the blog has been very quiet. I’ve been very overwhelmed. Busy seamstress = absent blogess. But it also = exciting sewing things done (whenever I have time to blog about them!).
I’ve got so much to show you on the 1780s chintz pet en l’aire, and a glorious 1900s project, and a 17th century inspired project. So lots to look forward to!
For now, here are the last of my 1930s patterns. I’ve showed you the Excella patterns, parts I & II. Today’s patterns are by a variety of makers, and I’ve arranged them in rough chronological order.
First, the classic, mid 1930s evening dress:
Butterick 4175 – formal frocks
For a more casual look, how about these natty nautical options. I used the top to for S’s nautical playsuit:
Butterick 5654 nautical outfit
For a more mature look, these day frocks are pretty spectacular. I love the asymmetrical collars.
Chatelaine Patterns 1535
And another, more glorious, variant on the classic ’30s evening dress. The back options are totally swoon-worthy.
Butterick 7026 – 1930s evening dress
And last, options for a number of little tops. Even if I liked nothing else about this pattern, the fact that one of the models is wearing dress clips would instantly win me over!
Hollywood Pattern 1336
Right. Back to sewing!
UPDATE: Found one more I’d forgotten about! Isn’t this nightgown pattern just swoon-worthy? I also love that it is a McCalls #23! So early as a separate non-magazine pattern! And that chorus-girl line of models – so droll!
McCalls 23 – 1930s bias nightgowns
McCalls 23 – 1930s bias nightgowns
You can really see how similar it is to some of the evening dress patterns above (no wonder people get confused about whether something is a nightgown or a evening dress! Wearing History & the Vintage Baroness both did fantastic posts about telling the difference – unfortunately I’ve never been able to find the link on Wearing History again, so if anyone knows it please share).
It’s interesting, looking at these patterns, to notice the price differences – from 15 cents to 50 cents, quite a lot in 1930s money! It’s partly based on the pattern type, but mostly about the pattern company. A lot like today!
Last week Anna Karolina’s pretty princess dress got lots of love. Someone even described it as “possibly the most perfect dress ever”. Wowzers! Still, there are always a few who are a little less impressed, so that brought it from a perfect 10/10 to a still bloomin’ impressive 9.6 out of 10, the best we’ve seen in a long while.
I’m thinking 1930s this week. Partly it’s because I’ve been showing you my 1930s patterns, partly it’s because my Goldilocks blouse feels 1930s even though the pattern was published in the 40s (do I think it was an earlier pattern that they re-published in the 40s with earlier illustrations? Yes I do!), and partly it’s because I just bought the most delicious fabric for a future 1930s garment.
So, a ’30s Rate the Dress.
This is Myrna Loy in the pre-code 1933 ‘When Ladies Meet’, about a very ‘modern’ writer who isn’t fussed that her crush has a wife – until she meets the wife.
Myrna Loy in When Ladies Meet (1933)
Myrna Loy in 'When Ladies Meet' (1933)
Myrna Loy with Ann Harding and Alice Brady in ' When Ladies Meet.'
Myrna’s trademark outfit for the film was this white number with spotted trim. What do you think? Modern and liberated, just like her character? And just feminine enough to make a good effort at snaring a man who should be devoted to another woman? Or are all those ruffles and spots just a bit silly?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.