Historical Sew Fortnightly, Sewing, What I wear

A sporty ’30s summer suit – from stash

The third Historical Sew Monthly challenge of 2015 is Stashbusting.

Now, most of my sewing IS from stash – the problem is that I keep adding to the stash. :-/  Or starting a project from stash and then finding I need 3m of some fabric I don’t already own to finish it! :-p

I’m quite pleased about this outfit as a stash-busting exercise, because it’s from one of my oldest pieces of boughten stash.  Almost eight years ago, when I was just getting back into historical costuming, I bought ten metres of white cotton almost-pique at an Arthur Toyes 50% off sale (long shall we mourn their passing).  I bought it because it was 100% cotton fabric in white for $4 a metre, so how could I not?

I has this idea that I would make a reproduction of the dress on the seated woman in Monet’s Women in the Garden, but I quickly realised the fabric wasn’t right for that.  I couldn’t quite give up on the idea, or the fabric, so it lingered in my stash, being hauled around and reorganised for 8 years.

This year it finally had the chance to be useful.  With Art Deco Weekend coming up, I wanted to make this, in white with green buttons:

McCalls 8257

Alas, I could not find my green button and buckle set, or green contrast fabric that really felt right in any local fabric store.  But the white not-quite-pique was the perfect fabric.

So I hit on the idea of a handkerchief blouse in green and blue to match my shoes, and a sporty white suit with the skirt from the pattern and the bolero jacket.


Sadly I do not actually own that pattern, but I do have my own 1930s pencil skirt pattern, and the Wearing History Chic Ahoy Bolero pattern.  Sorted!



I am extremely pleased with the whole outfit.  Both pieces are so comfortable and surprisingly versatile.  I’ve never been much of a bolero fan, but this one is really winning me over.  The pleat darts at the shoulders make it sit beautifully, and the longer sleeves are a more flattering length than the usual short bolero sleeves.



So, much to my delight and satisfaction, some of that white not-quite-pique has finally made its way into being clothing.  Sure, I still have over 8 metres left, but that means I can still make that halter dress I wanted.  And, ummm…about 6 more pieces of 1930s clothing!

And, in perfect timing, I found a vintage slim cotton slip in an antique store in Nelson that is just ideal for wearing under this skirt, as long as I don’t go do silly things like sit on an anchor and show off the hem:



The Challenge: #3  Stashbusting

Fabric:  1.5m of white cotton not-quite-pique, purchased in 2007 for $4pm.

Pattern:  My own 1930s slim pleat-front-and-back skirt pattern,  Wearing History’s Chic Ahoy bolero jacket  pattern

Year:  ca. 1934

Notions:  petersham ribbon, bias hem tape (to finish the insides of the bolero hem), cotton thread, and a zip

How historically accurate is it?:  I’m not sure of the petersham finish to the skirt.  And I’m not sure about a side zip on skirts this early.  So.  70%

Hours to complete:  4 for the two.  Talk about satisfactory sewing!

First worn:  Sunday  22 Feb, at Napier’s Art Deco Weekend

Total cost:  $9  ($6 for the fabric – the rest is in zips and petersham)



  1. I actually have a 1930’s pattern drafting book, and if you used the petersham for the waistband, if I remember correctly, that is actually accurate for a finish on the waistband on a skirt in the 30’s. Or at least, a ribbon instead of a waistband is accurate. 🙂

  2. Kate says

    I love that you use the word ‘boughten’. I use it all the time (it’s a GREAT word and I like that it implies that boughten is not the default) and I generally am met with blank stares.

    • I like it because you see it a lot in magazines of the 20s-40s. “Children will love this biscuit recipe! Tastes just like boughten!” “Home-made frocks last longer than boughten.” So it fits the era of my wardrobe nicely.

    • Also a brilliant way of ending the modern confusion between ‘bought’ and ‘brought’ – this drives me nuts!

  3. I think “boughten” sounds right to many of us because English went through an early phase when it still used the verb forms of German. Anyway, that skirt is great! I wish I had one–I could use a well-fitting skirt (or pants, for that matter).

  4. Mary says

    De-lurking to let you know I say something on etsy that might interest you. VintageModeShop has got a 1930’s burda magazine with patterns included.
    I’m not affiliated, I just thought this would give you endless ideas. 🙂

    • Oh My….I love you, but I HATE you! I thought I’d look, because they would be SO far above my budget, so I wouldn’t be tempted. They weren’t, so, uh, Mr D just bought my birthday present. Just a teeny bit ahead of time. Only a smidge. 😉

  5. This is SO beautiful! You did a lovely job and it looks lovely on you!!
    I am so incredibly envious of the weather you have – over here it’s 30-something degrees (F) and cold….and gray…and horrible. The beach with sunshine sounds amazing!
    Lovely, lovely outfit!! 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m very pleased with this outfit! Come July, we shall be cold and grey and horrible and envious of you!

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