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.

M7577_03

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Liberty Prints at the London Museum of Fashion and Textiles

 

Liberty Artistic Dressing

London Fashion and Textile Museum Liberty Exhibition 2016

There are not many chaps out there who are willing to encourage a fabric obsessive like me but the lovely Mr D asked me if I wanted to visit the Museum of Fashion and Textiles  as he had noticed there was a Liberty exhibition! I leaped at the opportunity! We headed off by train early on a chilly Saturday morning, after a short pleasant journey,   I found myself stepping through the glass doors and bright interior –  a world of Textiles  -Heaven on earth!

 

The exhibition was organised chronologically: this display of kimonos dates from the early years of Liberty around 1870. The exquisite hand embroidery was simply, divine. The butterflies and iris adorn exquisite silk kimonos and you can see in the bottom left an example of wallpaper that inspired  the kimono decoration.

I was thrilled to be able to get up close to the exhibits eager to feast my eyes on construction,  finishing and techniques used. I am fascinated by design details – and spent a great deal of time noting and photographing in order to create a reference at home. Having recently taken up hand embroidery it was inspiring to see it utilised in high end fashion it tends to go in cycles. The two items above were  examples of the dress reform movement. Women wanted clothing that was more practical, the late Victorian period where the S curve was in Vogue this was revolutionary! The dress on the right had exquisite pleating that simply followed the curves beautifully – a good 60 years before the 1930’s bias cut.

I spent a great deal if time taking in the wonderful construction details of the 1930’s to 1940’s stand. I particularly enjoyed the way the red flower dress was thoughtfully made. The neckline is trimmed with appliquéd flowers, the sleeve cap is full typical of the 1940s and has a lovely velvet ribbon detail running down the centre finished with a little bow. The velvet ribbon detail is repeated at the front placket, and the overall placement of the red/pink flowers is skilfully done.

The 1970’s saw a revival in ‘folk’ costume especially the use of smocking. The whole of the seventies section brought back memories of warm summers wearing gypsy skirts! I the brown  dress,  fabric is entirely shaped using this technique it allows so much movement that you can put the clothing on without the need for zips or darts! The wedding dress reminded me of the 1980s.

Art Nouveau had a revival in the 1960s prompting the use of more romantic folk styles classical empire lines, Victorian Butcher sleeves – updated with modern prints and fabrics. The wonderful detail of the corduroy dress yoke was a delight to my eye!

There were lots of displays of the patterns used and I did not realise Kate Greenaway had designed for Liberty (centre)

 

It was a wonderful exhibition – I took a lot more pictures that I shall use for reference there were so many examples of different construction techniques and embellishment ideas that I am still buzzing days later. I can’t wait to include them in my sewing.

The Museum of Fashion is just a short walk from London Bridge Station it is a real treat for any lover of textiles or fashion.

Talking French – Flattering Lingerie – no more muffin tops!

What a warm lovely summer! I am still plugging away at the vintage elements – will be posting soon, but with the hot weather I thought I would talk Lingerie!
The photograph above illustrates what is frustrating about the underwear widely available – it is just so unflattering! It distorts the model’s rather lovely shape her cheeks are poking out from the bottom, they cut across the widest part of her body in a band -these knickers sabotage your sexiness  no matter what your size. It does make me wonder just what manufacturers are thinking and why we put up with it. It is nigh on impossible to buy anything else, so fortunately being able to sew means I am not restricted to what is available in the shops.
You can buy these from ‘What Katie did
French knickers on the other hand begin at the smallest part – the waist, and follow a woman’s curves gently to finish just at the top of the leg. This makes everyone look beautiful it works with the lines of the female form rather than against them.
You can buy these from ‘What Katie did’
Of course what comes as a shock when you pick up a pair or make your own – is that they seem huge!
Used to these mean strips of fabric, the volumes of lace or satin are a big difference but stick with it.  Once you have something around your natural waistline and not cutting across your hips, you will find your ‘muffin’ top becomes a distant memory.
It feels wonderful to have knickers around the waist again, that you might find you never go back. Make them out of stain or silk, and you have a whole beautiful sensation as it flows round your hips.
They are bliss to wear under a summer dress as they are cool and have no visible panty line. Of course your man will find it irresistible, all that wonderful accessibility will be on his mind!
Available from ‘What Katie Did’
The French knickers here are from What Katie Did, they ship world wide, but they are very easy to make.
You are simply making light, airy shorts which in the warmer weather make summer dresses a pleasure to wear.
Especially if you are a little more generously proportioned as I am.
Last year on holiday the temperatures were very high, I had put on a little weight and was shocked at how my thighs rubbed together and became extremely sore.
French knickers are perfect for solving this problem as the fabric takes the ‘rub’. In addition if you suffer from Thrush or cystitis they really do help prevent these occurring.
I will be sharing my knicker making adventures next time.
afternoon! And the fabric requirements are not big at all.

1930’s Glamour Hollywood Style

Glamour 1930's style

If I had to choose a particular era it would have to be 1930’s. Maybe it is all the wonderful Poirot TV series I have enjoyed over the years where I have learned to love the simplicity of the Art Deco style combined with the beauty of bias cut fashions. Dresses flowed – Vionnet had brought bias cutting into the hands of dressmakers and it lets cloth flow around the body like nothing ever seen before or since.

1930's Hollywood inspired patterns

Women wanted to wear the fashions they saw in the hollywood movies and pattern makers  used hollywood actresses on their patterns. Just look at the fabulous detail of the bodice, with the beautiful corner detail on the back. The bias cut skirt would have followed every contour, so you might have to be rather slim to carry this off.

1930's velvet gown

This beautiful velvet gown shows the enduring feature of 1930’s style, the diamond waist piece. This might not be cut on the bias, the grain line would have most likely run vertically from the top point to the bottom and would have given structure that allows the bias cut pieces of the bodice some element of stability.

1930's dress pattern

In this pattern illustration highlights just how the fabric clings and follows the contours of the body. The side panels at the hips are the diamond shapes that would be running in the opposite direction to the skirt pieces. The bodice looks as if it is cut on the straight of grain, whereas the feminine sleeve would have been semi circular in shape to give those softly floating ripples.

Bathing costumes 1930's

The bathing suits were far kinder to the body than the two piece costumes of today. This style would enhance any woman’s figure, the use of stripes creates an illusion of drawing the figure in – a slimming effect.

pjs 1930s

Imagine how glamours you would feel wearing these pjs around the house? Usually in satin or silk, the fabric would brush softly against your skin. Definitely one up on the Onesie for style.

tea dresses 1930s

Imagine living in a world where you dressed up for tea – these beautiful tea dresses have clean lines but the pattern allows extra fabric in the panels gathered together so as not to interrupt the style, but would have allowed the dress fabric to flow as the woman walked. Notice the top of the sleeves are fairly well fitting, it is not until the 1940’s or late 30’s we see a gathered cap.

1930's style

The beautiful details in this dress are simply delightful – there is so much going on here and yet the lines are simple and would enhance the wearer. I would suggest this is a late 1930’s early 1940’s because of the gathering at the sleeve cap. However the front panel with the pleating is an aspect of the 1930’s. Notice how the smocking has given a lot more ease in the bust area, while the centre panel accentuates the waist.

Simplistic style of 1930's

We are back again to flat sleeve, and the length of this skirt suggests its 1930’s. I like the sailor style collar with the feminine bow. The top is nipped in and enhances the waistline and I adore the button details on the hip.

day dress

I could not help adding this beautiful dress – the way the buttoning flows from one side to the other really does delight my eye.

Bias cutting is not for the faint hearted, it is challenging. Looking at the styles and patterns from the past, I think women must have had superior sewing skills because none of the patterns you buy today have that degree of complexity. However, I am inspired to try.