Category Archives: 1930’s

French inspiration from August 1939


Last weekend I bought the 1939 August of issue Marie Claire magazine in a antique market

from 73 years ago this month!

It has these lovely illustrations of men’s holiday fashions in ice-cream colours which really caught my eye.

Just one month later WW2 was declared.

In the same issue is this article of ideas on using lace as appliqué on ‘bibelots” (I’ve always loved that word)

Inspiration hit and I made…. wait for it…… more french knickers of course.

Serendipity in the form of some lovely soft turquoise-y blue silk broadcloth I bought only the week before.

To make lace appliqué bows you tie a length of lace into a bow and fiddle about with it on your ironing board sticking pins in here and there until it has the shape you like and then you press it very flat.

Carefully re-pin it in place on whatever you will be sewing it on. Flat fabric is easier than an already sewn garment because of having to turn it every which way while sewing.

You can either hand baste it in place first (the methodical way) or go straight to sewing it down (the impatient way) though the pins will really get in the way.

I used a small size 2 straight stitch and was very grateful my machine has a presser foot knee lift!

You could cut some sections of the backing fabric away after sewing which would look lovely and airy- in which case either a tiny machine zig-zag or close hand-whipping the lace edges down would be better.

Continue reading French inspiration from August 1939

Are you going to the pyjama party?

It’s a sew-along with tutorial on sewing some pj bottoms from a modern Simplcity pattern or a link to drafting your own.
What a good idea…. and just the push I need to make myself some lovely new pjs that I won’t be embarrassed to open my front door in as it seems that when ever I have a pj-day my house is suddenly transformed into Grand Central Station.
I’m opting for using my own patterns as I just happen to have a similar little top I drafted for myself a number of years ago and a number of loose trouser patterns that will do for the bottoms. Continue reading Are you going to the pyjama party?

House of Wenger, 3-sided Italian Stitch and a final word on knickers…

A few months back a friend very generously lent me these gorgeous pleated silk knickers to photograph for my reference files. Going by period illustrations and saucy photographs of the time  I would date them as from 1925-1930. (clicking on any pictures will open a large version)

Silk pleats!

Think of the ironing. Though I imagine the woman who originally bought these hand-made silk undies from the House of Wenger in Philadelphia in the 20’s had someone to do it for her…. Continue reading House of Wenger, 3-sided Italian Stitch and a final word on knickers…

Into 2012 we go… and a free mini cape pattern

Halfway through January already…. so hows that New Years Resolution working out for ya?

The papers have been merrily trumpeting the fact that most of us, if we even made one, will have given it up by the end of this month!

Well I made two and so far so good:
1st: Don’t Over Complicate Things aka Keepin’ It Simple
This can be applied to just about everything in life from sewing to relationships.

2nd: Finish What I’ve Started….. This applies particularly to the backlog of projects I started last year- that rouleaux shouldered dress (still love it and really want it to be ready for Spring), still more lace needing hand-whipping onto this black satin kimono and My Big Project: SewVeraVenus Lingerie. Yup, really fell behind on that one…. my apologies to all of you patiently waiting for the1940’s bra pattern I mentioned in the Autumn. Anyway I now have graded sizes from 30A-DD through 36A-DD and will be running a Birthday Give-Away of five patterns at the end of January to celebrate both a year of (very sporadic) blogging and another year of my life. If you are a subscriber you will be the first to know 🙂

2011 wasn’t all unfinished business though: in November I moved all my working equipment down from a London studio into my home. A major undertaking as I hadn’t realised quite how much stuff I had amassed. Anyway took a month to settle in but all put away now and a nice work-room to be in. I think my husand has just about gotten over losing his study… and now I have the option of working either home or away and it’s a huge improvement when working on my personal projects as the kitchen table really wasn’t great for sewing especially when family was making cups of tea around me.

Also VeraVenus™ is now officially trademarked so I can add the little™ letters after it, woohoo!

But back to sewing matters: the day before New Years Eve I decided I needed a new dress and whipped up this one:

New Years Eve dress

It’s based on the 1930’s bridal dress I made last spring and a project that had been lurking in my mind for some time and I had to get it in before that ‘finish the old before starting the new’ resolution kicked in. Setting a tight time deadline usually gives me the needed shot of adrenaline to stop messing about and get on with things. I had some pale lavender-grey fur scraps leftover from a costume job which I pieced together to make the square shouldered 30’s/40’s style shoulder cape to wear with it… just what the velvet needed.

Blue felt 1930’3-1940’s style capelet

Lastly for now, as a Happy New Years gift to SewVeraVenus readers this other cape pattern, as seen in this blue felt version, can be downloaded from my VV Free Patterns page. It could look great made in wools, felt, fake fur, even linen or heavier cottons… leave it plain or embellish like mad.

(NB:It is a pattern only, no instructions are included… but easy to make)

Happy 2012 sewing!

A “How To Draft and Make 1930’s Style Circular French Knickers” post.

Just what it says on the tin: how to draft and make knickers like these.

A few weeks ago while digging in a scrap bag for a bit of fabric to trial a 1940’s bra pattern I’ve been working on (more on that later) I unearthed a very fragile and disintegrating pair of 1930’s black chiffon French Knickers …. I don’t think they’ve seen the light of day for 25 years and it’s anyone’s guess why I ever stuffed them in that bag in the first place as I usually keep study pieces in a more accessible place. However, a timely rediscovery as they’re simple to draft and make, so perfect for this ‘long time a comin’ post .

The style I’m demonstrating has a flat waist and is based on a full circle pattern and cut without any side seams. There is a left side opening finished with a straight grain continuous placket and the waist is finished with either a bias or straight grain binding. Inserting the crutch gusset is the trickiest part if you’ve never inserted a pointed piece into a slash opening .

As the style is full and fluted making them in very soft thin fabrics like silk georgette, lightest weight crêpe de chine or cotton batiste or lawn will work best.

I used a silk mousseline (satin faced chiffon) for this first green sample and the apricot fabric in the pdf pictures is a light weight c. de c.

Theres a 5 page PDF *How To* with all pattern drafting and sewing instructions.

I’ve included some helpful (I hope) pictures incase my text isn’t clear enough.

Have a read through the PDF and if you are inspired just download it and have a go.

I’d really love to know if you make a pair 🙂

p.s.

About the bra in the photo above: Continue reading A “How To Draft and Make 1930’s Style Circular French Knickers” post.

What I Did On My Summer Holiday…

…wait a minute, I worked all summer. The joys of being freelance. When work’s on offer I feel obliged to take it as there may not be more around the corner.

Well, that’s how I used to think but I’m older and wiser now and less keen on hammering myself into the ground.

Still, the summer months were back to back jobs and just whizzed by without much time for anything else (like keeping my blog updated!)

Here’s some of the work I did from early July through mid August:

3 showgirls for a tv advert I love doing retro style showgirl costumes like these (and couldn’t resist trying out a Photoshop film strip action on the photos)

Next I made …

5 Gold “Icons” for Top Hat the musical (clockwise: Queen Elizabeth, Aphrodite, Brunhilde, Cleopatra… and missing is Joan of Arc as the gold paint on her armour wasn’t dry when these were taken.) These took me and a fab prop maker I work with 3 weeks … with a few very late nights by the end.

Somehow in among those jobs I finished a private wedding dress I’d started in the spring….a rather gothic-y number in black lace, silk & cotton tulle and Italian gold lamé. Definitely has a 1930’s feel to it as well. In motion the 8 soft tulle godets are very frothy and floaty. At the last minute the bride asked to have the scalloped edging from the lace fabric appliquéd all the way around the hem which does weigh it down a bit but still moves beautifully. There are 16 black glass buttons down the back and tiny seed beads stitched on the neckline of the dress and bolero and at the under bodice seam. Hardly noticeable but little details like that make it that much more special. It was worn both to the civil ceremony two weeks ago and a couple of nights after to the party. I’m looking forward to the pictures of it in action! The girl who wore it has pale blond hair and intended to pin it up with blood-red roses. The lamé was so fab that I bought a few metres for myself to make a glam 30’s style bias dress in. Personal Project 2,536 …

There were a few smaller jobs squeezed in those weeks as well… nothing special though.

After all that I had a small collapse, stayed at home for 3 weeks, caught up with family and life…and of course did some sewing for myself.

I’m saving that for my next post.

Oh, and finally I received some simply gorgeous pictures of the 1930’s style wedding dress I posted about making here .

 

I now pronounce you finally finished.

1930

 

Seems like I’ve been working on this forever … but wedding dresses often do. The first toile fitting was just before Christmas and the fabric didn’t arrive until the end of January so it hasn’t been that long really. Getting fittings scheduled is usually the problem. We will have done a total of 5 to get this just so.

Anyway, ultimate try-on and collection tomorrow. Hooray! It’s funny how brides-to-be often say they don’t want a veil, but somehow get more in the spirit of things towards the Big Day and for this we’ve ended with a veil and a tiny cape cover-up as well.

The satin is a fairly weighty 240gm. All seam and hem edges are bound with bias georgette strips and I mounted the bodice on silk georgette as well but left the skirt unlined. With a pair of Spanx underneath not a vpl in sight . Perfect. It fits the bride like a Jean Harlow glove. She’s having a soft waved & rolled 1930’s style hair-do with white flowers pinned in the back and the 3 metre veil will just fall from there.

This job has been a real pleasure, such a gorgeous style to make.

(Pic of original vintage dress in my Rouleaux Obsession post

A peek inside- tiny blue bow for good luck.

 

Little cape cover-up

 

The wedding day.

Pedalling furiously on the upcycle

Shoe Print Top

The idea is about treating scarves as simply another fabric and using them to spark up what could otherwise be a rather plain sewing project. Uses for scarves: cuffs, collars, frills & ruffles, applique´s for spot adornment or to create an all-over-print, bindings, facings, yokes and plackets. I’m sure I missed a use or two there but you get the idea. AND it’s a good excuse to go diving into huge boxes of vintage scarves the likes of which Beyond Retro and To be Worn Again are so fond of. The ones you don’t cut up you can wear. Anyway I think it’s a great way to stretch a remnant of a solid colour fabric that isn’t quite enough to make with on it’s own into something much more fun and unique.

Circular frills made from a scarf
The Green Skirt From Hell

This skirt was one of those projects where if something could go wrong it certainly did. It is a side shoot of this project. I simply wanted to proof the skirt pattern before cutting out the full dress and as I can always use another skirt in my wardrobe  it seemed like a grand plan to whizz it up in a remnant from the stash.

So:

1)pattern incorrect. Check. (hip shaping bad, godets not long enough)

2)fabric problematic. Check. (silk marocaine quite shifty, cut edges fuzz like mad, if there’s a teeny speck of oil from the sewing machine it absorbs it into a spot 10 times bigger)

3)me having a totally bad day. Check.

Not an auspicious beginning. But the professional in me triumphed over my tantrum-ing inner child and I fixed the pattern issues, un-picked and re-sewed seams as many times as necessary to get the hip shape right, the hand picked zip flat and the seam edges from fraying away. The triple top-stitching lines I did on either side of the seams will stay as they are… I’m not proud of them (that’s why no close-up pic) and wish I’d done them on my trusty Bernina Minimatic (which though more than 50 years old sews like a dream) instead of my monster Brother industrial. Even the hem is left down & topstitched multiple times as a finish – the silk was just too spongy to turn up nicely with the 6 godets it has and when all else was done I hand washed it and all the oil marks came out. So yay me and I won’t be polishing the furniture with jade green silk rags after all.

IheartBagPS- I ♥ my new bag from Urban Outfitters: it cheered me up a lot and I can always hold it in front of the bad topstitching if anyone gets too close.