How to get the vintage look with modern patterns – 1930s Glamorous Beach Pyjamas

beach pjamas1

The 1930s saw a glamorous trend in beachwear – wide legged trousers – usually in lightweight fabrics known as beach pyjamas. It has been re-invented – you might see it in the sailor outfit style of the 1940’s and it was seen again in the 1970’s.

It is often the outfit I love to when I watch any of the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series – all that lounging around in the sun looking chic with big wide brimmed sun hats.

Long before lycra – these wide leg trousers give glamour to any girl – just ensure that you accentuate the waist and if you are short (like me) avoid going too wide! You want to roughly be balanced as an hourglass – try not to take the line beyond the shoulders. If you want to go wider – use a light chiffon or these beautiful light polyester silks – it will flow nicely but won’t stick out!

Beach Pjamas Vintage photography

Tops don’t have to co-ordinate but it can look very stylish if you do.  If you don’t want to go that far, just add a small matching detail – like covered buttons, a small scarf or a little frill edging to bring the outfit together. The illustration below shows just how many variations of tops work well with this style.

beach pjamas three

I love the first detail in the illustration above with the turn ups, not quite so easy to make – but if you like the 1940’s style – well worth the extra effort.

All these designs have a central seam and very little gather at the waist, notice the garment is fairly fitting until about mid thigh, then it becomes fuller until the bottoms end up a lot wider. This is what makes this style work – it accentuates your natural curves – not hides them under voluminous material.

The  illustration also shows that the length you are aiming for – the feet just peep out. A good length is just above your shoe to avoid tripping up on them (especially important for dancing!)

Beach pjamas 1930

You know this is a 1930’s style from the hair styles – no victory rolls! The diagonal stripes are used very effectively in the centre – a nice challenge but you will need double the quantity of fabric to get the stripes right.

M7577_aThe McCall Pattern M7577 is just out this Spring, it is very similar to the beach pyjama style of the 1930s. What I love about this pattern is that it is flattering for nearly every body type – in a really fluid fabric it will ensure you look very Chic on your summer holiday and it will keep you cool as well.  It is very retro 1970’s with the full sleeves but as a basic for your 1930s style – it is a great start.

M7577

You don’t have to use the top section of the pattern, you can simply make the trouser element and then use delicate lingerie elastic at the waistband which will make it delightfully comfortable.

If you like your retro look to be completely authentic, then take out the gathering at the waist and insert a side placket to fit from the mid thigh to the waistline – not quite so comfortable but a neater finish if the waistband is going to be on show.

M7577_02

 

I would also use a top from another pattern – the faux cross over is nice, if you added a sailor collar it would work, but the back lace detailing is a current trend not usual in Vintage style.

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If you love the 1970’s then the bell sleeves are perfect and look flattering as well. Given that I am shorter than the pattern average – I would shorten the sleeve length, so that it sits on my wrist.

M7577_01

This pattern would also make some great pyjamas – even in the shorter length. What attracted me to the pattern is the potential for the short length to create some pretty French Knickers – the line is very flattering.

Overall – this pattern is very versatile and makes a good addition to the sewing room.

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Flowers – Dress for a wedding

flowery fifties dress

A dear friend of mine was getting married so I decided to make myself a dress – I have been gradually working through my fabric stash -this beautiful fabric was bought a couple of years ago from a curtain shop that was closing down. In all I had just over three metres that I had snapped up for £7!

Fabric design

The fabric is big and bold the flower heads were enormous, but the repeat was manageable with the quantity of fabric I had. I also loved the weight of this cotton, similar to the purple linen I used for my spring dress. I have also been learning some Couture techniques that I was hoping to put in practise: using an underling.

Threadcount pattern

This pattern came with my Love Sewing Magazine and, joy of joys, it came in a DD cup! No full bust adjustment for once! What a brilliant idea! The Thread Count patterns are very well thought out and I hope that other patterns will follow their lead!

The princess seam line, just off the bust line works well for my body shape, it makes the bodice  easier to adjust without deep darts. I really struggle because my bust is quite big, I avoid waistline darts as there is not enough room and they end up very deep! The pattern was very easy to follow –  I was delighted to find after making the toile there was no pattern adaptation other than bringing in the back by a couple of inches.

I decided to change the lightly gathered skirt opting to use a circle skirt to avoid extra bulk around the midriff. I am short waisted with a bit of a tummy which reduces the overall space between the bust and waistline.

Princess seams

I used a beautiful soft voile as the underling – it was the first time I had used this technique – oh it is delightful, suddenly the garment has more structure! I hand stitched the princess seams open – it might look messier than my overlocker, but I find I really enjoy the control hand stitching gives! This will be covered by the lining anyway.

pattern matching 2

I used the underlining to pattern match the bodice pieces, I wanted the design to flow round the body – while the design was large I had enough fabric to get the pattern matching right on the bodice.

pattern matching side seam

The side seam worked beautifully – once again hand stitching the seams open to the underling, meant that no stitches came through to the front of the garment.

back bodice zip

The pattern matching came up well along the back bodice, although it was difficult to do on the skirt.   I hand stitched the zip to the underlining again – so there is no visible stitching line the right side, only the zipper pull is peeping out from the top.

Organza skirt lining

I used a organdie lining for the skirt – I had to pattern match as best I could – trying to ensure the flowers ran centrally along the front. The underlining helped the skirt to maintain its crisp shape, allowing the garment to flow around the body, as it is quite slippery.

threadcount pattern

The skirt flowers matched the bodice but I could not be as accurate as I was on the bodice as there simply wasn’t enough fabric to play with. Although I am quite pleased with the results.

Reading poem

Here I am wearing my dress and reading out a poem during the service, the dress was supported by a net underskirt.  It was a fabulous wedding and a beautiful day!

the Happy Couple

The happy couple! Congratulations!

Burda Skirt 6834 – perfect for hourglass, curvy girls and sway backs!

 

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Home fires will be back on our screens soon – I love the show and quietly  coveted the beautifully fitted wool suits the ladies of the WI wore – so this was the inspiration behind this skirt. I wanted to challenge myself to make a really fitted garment without using stretch fabric.

I am an hourglass – while it might be the ideal body shape, it tests fitting skills to the max! Not only is there a 6 inch difference between my waist and hip measurement, but being short the height between waist and full hip is only 4 inches! If you think about an hourglass it is a rounded shape, so it not just goes in at the sides but also the front and back – so a sway back is part of the challenge (not to mention the rise of the middle aged tummy!).

 

If, like me, you are curvy, the traditional A line skirt ends up with huge deep darts at the back but the six piece skirt, like this pattern, offers more opportunity to accomodate the bulk over six seams – so this is an ideal pattern for curvy ladies!

As you can see from the toile the waist has to be reduced by quite a lot, but each seam can divide the overall reduction – giving a lot of opportunity to refine the shape.

I had to add a few inches at the hip – it is easy to do, just draw a straight of grain line in the centre of the pattern piece and add inches. As long as you do this inside the pattern lines you won’t alter any of the pattern edges so it should all line up.

Burda 6834 toile second fitting

The waistline of the second toile needed some adjustment but you can see that this pattern makes enhances curves! As I am fairly short, I decided to go for a slimmer flute at the bottom.

Burda 6834 skirt

I had this beautiful purple wool fabric in my stash – we are not into summer yet and wool is such a great fabric to wear – it seems to maintain an ambient temperature. I wanted this project to test my fitting abilities – and wool is the ideal choice because you can shape it so easily with steam.

 

The left hand picture shows the skirt seam before it is steamed – I used my dummy to maintain my shape as I gently held my steam iron about 4 inches away. Then using a pressing cloth to gently work from the seam outwards- look how beautifully the seam lays open – but also because you can stretch and shape the wool – it hugs the body nicely.

In order to avoid the ‘librarian’ look I wanted my skirt to be a bit edgy, so this embroidery design by urban threads was ideal. The top left is the design on white, but when I tried it as a sample on the fabric the black was not enough of a contrast to do the embroidery justice, so I used lime green!

Burda 6834 lining

My first lining fabric was a nightmare I chose it because it was fushia pink and made a great contrast but  it was way to flimsy and ended up fraying so I had to completely rip it out and re-do the lining. I had this lovely weighty oyster polyester silk which complemented the skirt nicely I decided to end the lining at the straight edge rather than the frill. I hand stitched it between the skirt facing, (while watching England play Wales in the Rugby) again on the tailor dummy to maintain the shape. Hand stitching gives you so much control – I am addicted to it. Years ago I avoided it – wrestling with my machine to get the fabric under the foot. Then unpicking it because the seam was off – now it is just a case of placing a stitch exactly where I want it and no unpicking!

 

I love my fancy machine stitches and never find much use for them – so it was nice to use a patterned stitch at the edge of the lining.(top right)  I made little chain tacks using in soft cotton Perle it holds the lining in place but allows for some movement. I also embroidered a tiny loop for my top closure using buttonhole stitch – my hand embroidery skills come in useful! It is these tiny details that give me such satisfaction. I don’t want my sewing to be the same as a shop bought skirt – I want it to be better! These details have mostly disappeared as clothing is made as fast and as cheaply as possible.

I love my skirt – it was a painstaking effort in all it took me three weekends to make but it was worth it. The lining slips around beautifully and it is so warm and figure hugging – I could never buy the same fit, I am just too oddly shaped!

The fitting took a lot of time but that was the challenge of this exercise and I have my toile to make more skirts!

I would recommend this pattern – its the first time I used a Burda pattern – having learned a few couture techniques I thought wrongly that Burda patterns did not include a seam allowance, but they have changed.  I think Burda have some great styles and the instructions are straight forward, although I have to admit, I didn’t follow them!

ttfn x

 

 

 

 

 

Love Sewing Magazine Ruby Dress Pattern Review

 

 

 


04-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-010

 

 This ‘Sew Simple’ pattern came with Love Sewing Magazine – called the Ruby Dress

I thought it looked lovely – it is reminiscent of the 1950’s – a very flattering style, good for pear shapes or hourglass because the full skirt covers hips and thighs and focusses attention onto a small waistline which are the assets of a pear and hourglass shape.

07-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-002

There were a couple of adaptations I wanted to make to the pattern:

 

Replace the centre Zip in the back to a concealed zip in the side seam.

11-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-006I traced off the back pattern piece, using cross and dot paper.

I removed the seam allowance in the centre; because I have narrow shoulders pinched out a dart so that it narrowed the back slightly towards the top.

I drafted a mirror image to create one pattern piece that would not have to be cut on the fold. When you cut on the fold it is easy for the fabric to slip slightly out of grain – this can affect the fit and drape of the dress.

Increase bust allowance for a fuller bust

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I am a 34 G bust – so I had to adapt the pattern to allow an extra 2inches at the bust line but 34 is very narrow, so I needed to bring the pattern in at the back and shoulders.

Once again I traced off the front bodice and hit a problem – the bust point was not indicated on the pattern. So I had to find my own bust point – you do this by laying the pattern piece across your body, mark the peak of the bust as a big dot. Then cut out the side dart and move it down so it is pointing at the dot. (I had to move the dart down about 2 inches)

I made a quick toile and found that I could just increase the side seam by 1inch, and move the bottom seam by an 1inch – it would give me that extra room.

10-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-005I also checked the measurement across the back – being narrow shouldered I needed to take another 1/2 inch out of the v at the back. I also skimmed an inch from the shoulder seam so it would finish at my shoulder.

Because of my large bust, I had to pinch out about a 1/2 inch dart at the neckline. I also altered the neckline so that it would sit just on my collarbone using a french curve to round it off.

Even though I am inserting a side zip, I did not need to add any further seam allowances as there would be sufficient room to insert the zip along the side seam.

I drafted new pattern pieces with these changes – these could be used to make more dresses without the need to go over the fitting again.

Lengthen the skirt length

I added approximately 3 inches to the bottom of the skirt, so that it would sit just below the knee instead of just above.

I added a cap sleeve – in keeping with the fifties style.

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My Fabric choice

I had two lovely pieces of curtain fabric to work with from a local curtain shop. The spring linen was a remnant of 3 metres for £5. The silky satin lining was a pale green 5 metres £7 which was an absolute bargain.

I wanted to line this dress and the weight of the satin would help the garment flow easily as well as protecting me from the sharpness of the zip. In essence it means you make two dresses, but it feels luxurious to wear.

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I believe the finishing of a dress makes a huge difference between the high street – it is what makes dressmaking so wonderful. Most clothing is so cheap that the design details are the way they reduce costs. I aim to sew garments that I could never afford to buy, not just for the customised fit but the small details you get with high end, great pattern matching, bra clips, lining attachments – details you will find in couture houses.

I made the lining dress first so that I was able to check the measurements again – before I worked on my outer fabric.

 

 

The challenging areas on this pattern are the neckline and the deep v at the back.

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In order to give more stability – after stitching the lining and bodice pieces together I ran some hemming web between the two layers and ironed in place. This created a beautiful crisp finish to the edge and also stabilised the v at the back.


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Its a great idea to attach the lining to the zip flap – I used my normal zip foot as it allows you to sew close to the zip edge.

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I loved the pattern of this pretty spring fabric, but the darts at the front of the dress made it look a bit odd, so I appliquéd a couple of flowers over the seam so that it looked better.

14-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-011

I increased the skirt a little to add fullness and my ruffler foot made the regular pleats a doddle.

On reflection, I think I might make the next one more of a circle skirt without pleating.

16-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-014

 

This pattern was very easy to work with – although I did not follow the making up instructions as I was confident enough to make it myself. However, if you are new to sewing it might be worth either keeping the magazine with the pattern or just the pages where they give you instructions on how to make up, then the two won’t get lost!

I use the resealable freezer bags to store my patterns, its easy to see what they look like but there is also room for my adapted patterns too. (I can never get the pattern back into the envelope).