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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Mindful stitchery – hand embroidery

 

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Turn of the sewing machine and settle down to a more sedate pace, the gentle art of hand embroidery is creative mindful meditation. Far more transportable than machine sewing, hand embroidery can be enjoyed while watching a good film, sitting in a waiting room or travelling by train. You only need a few skeins of thread, small embroidery hoop and a good long needle.

While embroidery techniques might seem outdated they are essential to the dressmaker, couture sewing is always hand stitched – these techniques can give your garment a high end finish!

There are two forms of embroidery that delight me, the vintage style spring pastels on cotton and the glorious vibrancy of folk art on wool.

I am planning a hand embroidery afternoon – with tea cake and stitchery, so I thought I would create a few samplers.

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One of the most challenging aspect is to create evenly spaced stitches especially on cotton this sample is only 6inches wide by 8inches long on a 100% cotton.

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This close up shows the weave of this cotton – getting the spacing right is essential especially for stitches that are woven.

As you can see the couching, weaving and cross-stitches need to look uniform so there is a great little trick I can offer you.

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Create a grid using washable marker pen, the guidelines will help you to create even stitches but they can be washed away after the project is done! (You did not see them in the earlier example!) once you have completed a few stitches with the grid, you will get a feel for the distance needed and will be able to stitch evenly without.

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Using wool felt creates a whole different effect, like folk art, this piece was created some time ago by eye!

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And it is easy to use ribbon weaving to create a nice frame for stitches, this time using tapestry wool.

If you fancy an afternoon of Tea, Cake and embroidery I am running a class on Friday 11 March 2016 – details here.

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Vintage Womans Weekly Magazine – August 12, 1933

01-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933

Sit yourself down, with a lovely pot of tea and some vintage cups and take a perusal of a Womans Weekly, 1933! Over 80 years ago! It is fascinating to look  at what women were reading about back then-when I spotted this in a charity shop I could not resist it!  I am hungry for  vintage details – because you can look at the styling that was taking place back then in context.

As you can see from the front cover – the magazine came with a knitting pattern – for average to large sizes. This gives us a clue that the magazine was mostly aimed at mothers and grandmothers rather than young women – which is still true of the magazine today.

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The inside cover has a advert for another magazine, most likely by the same publishing 04-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 3house – that includes free patterns. The two button suit is very glamorous –   the hat and gloves completes the outfit – no woman would be seen outside the house without them!

The September issue of Home Fashions caters especially for the late holiday folk who want smart styles for last minute frocks and suits for the sea and the country. Free patterns are included for making the most attractive suit and little puffed sleeve blouse. There is a Coupon Pattern for a charming ensemble that consists of an afternoon frock and coatee suitable for patterned silk. Then there is a special supplement of lingerie fashions showing the newest and loveliest designs and including models with the new on-the-cross cut.

Bias cut had only just been introduced and popularised by Vionnet and it is still a wonderful way to create beautiful feminine lingerie.

Notice the pretty blouse peeking out from the jacket top! You can see how sixties fashions were inspired by the 30’s -with this cropped jacket, pillbox hat!

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I adore this charming feminine blouse, the lace frilled edging is a lovely detail around the button placket as well as the collar, it looks as if it is flat not gathered or pleated.  Lace would have been mostly cotton as nylon had not been invented.  Note also the fullness of the sleeve – a feature throughout the 1930s.

Both illustrations include a six  gore skirt finishing somewhere between the ankle and the knee.

The silhouette is streamlined, after the 20’s flapper style which hid the waistline and saw women flattening their chests – thirties fashion with the bias cut – creates flowing garments that enhance and accentuate curves.

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On a gingham holiday frock the only relief might be a wide, white pique belt. Smartest, if the lines in the weave run down.

This is the opening page of the magazine – the title ‘Weekly Whispers’ is rather quaint, don’t you think? I have to say that even with my glasses I am struggling to read the small text. Oh imagine – it was usual for readers to visit a dressmaker rather than off the peg! Advice in their letters page is just as useful today as it was then.

‘Women are becoming more practical about underclothes, at last’ remarked a very shrewd dressmaker to me the other day. They are awake to the fact that it is just as important for the under the gown to fit well – as it is for the frock itself. There’s logic of course in her remarks, when a dressmaker has provided a good line to a gown it must be very heartbreaking to have it all spoilt by the basics -ill fitting underclothes.

What great advice – given that a lot of these dresses would be cut on the bias, any undergarment bump or bulge would be visible. It is the same today, the muffin top is a pure invention of badly designed underwear. French knickers are ideal under a bias dress – it also flows around the body without cutting in – as you find in the average cotton brief.

Pleated organdie frilling makes this dainty collar and bow. Two double pieces of frilling joined together and gathered up in the middle. A brooch would cover the gathering stitches.

Pleated organdie frilling makes this dainty collar and bow. Two double pieces of frilling joined together and gathered up in the middle. A brooch would cover the gathering stitches.

A friend of mine, who has no maid, has made the prettiest organdie covers for her tea table. When there is a little party, she gets everything ready and then she covers the table with this organdie square. (It is hemstitched and strewn with little flowers in simple embroidery) It looks so pretty and gives such a feeling of freshness to the tea table.

Imagine, not having a maid… poor thing!   Oh how dreamy this dress is! I imagine it to be made of Georgette fabric – that has enough weight to make the most of these lovely lines! Dresses were often ‘updated’ by maids – to give a garment a new lease of life. Here there are instructions for making an organdie bow.(see caption)

Here is a fairytale design for the loveliest luncheon set.

Here is a fairytale design for the loveliest luncheon set. The flowers are worked mainly in Satin stitch and stem stitch. The pattern was available post free from the Woman’s Weekly Transfer department in Oxford St, London.

It seemed that readers engaged in home crafts – here is a lovely pattern for a ‘luncheon set’ – if you were not using a full table cloth – then smaller sets were made of linen – similar to place mats today, even trays were lined with linen cloths – you can usually pick these up in charity shops or antique markets.

An Adventure to make in two colour knitting - Woman's Weekly, August 12 1933

An Adventure to make in two colour knitting – Woman’s Weekly, August 12 1933

The knitting pattern was a front cover feature – and it was why I bought this particular issue among the six available. Notice how close fitting this garment is – very different from knitwear available today.

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A friendly little jumper – a thing to be gay the Autumn! Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

The use of the colours works so well – and I adore the collar what a lovely finish. Her hairstyle is classic, you also see it on models of 1950’s. Once again the skirt is a tightly fitting six gore skirt – but as it is white the details are almost lost.

Who would have known it - a vicar is a love interest for dear Norah - complete short story in Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Who would have known it – a vicar is a love interest for dear Norah – complete short story in Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

Short stories are still a feature of the magazine today, the tale of Norah and Peter Cunningham had a hundred readers so stirred up enough to ask for a sequel!

Peter Cunningham was a big manly fellow, sufficiently unlike the orthodox parson for tongues to wag in the village when he had first arrived.

It seemed that Norah and Peter were just beginning to have feelings for one another when a silly girl grabbed all his attention! Poor Norah was left alone with a broken heart – and that is why readers pleaded for more! Thankfully – it turns out that Norah and Peter finally found each other again.

Peter drew her hand through his. ‘ ‘Never mind the fog’ he said. ‘The stars are shining somewhere’ My stars are shining here’ Norah answered. ‘Happy’ he asked. ‘Perfectly, perfectly happy’ she answered. ‘You will always be’ he told her.

Little Bill on his Holiday - Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Little Bill on his Holiday – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

There are a number of little poems scattered throughout the pages, wether or not they were reader’s poems it isn’t made clear. I love the illustrations – similar to Mabel Lucie Attwell who was very popular at the time – she illustrated for the Tattler and the Illustrated London News.

Ponds Advert - Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933. Endorsed by Lady Hindlip.

Ponds Advert – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933. Endorsed by Lady Hindlip.

It seems that celebrity endorsement is not a modern concept, here is a peer of the realm endorsing Ponds Cream. There are a few other adverts in the magazine, some companies are still trading; cutex, harpic, New Zealand Lamb, Robin Starch and Kraft cheese (foil wrapped triangles!)

Kellogs All Bran Advert - Woman's Weekly - August 12, 1933

Kellogs All Bran Advert – Woman’s Weekly – August 12, 1933

Kellogg’s were advertising back then, but some names are lost in the mists of time. Cepos – monthly pain relief for headaches and Neuralgia  (I am not alone!), could be bought ‘without embarassment’ Fennings Children’s Powders and Southalls rubber pants for babies! There is even a Liquid hair remover called Taky way.

Mrs Marryatt gives some very wise advice - Woman's Weekly, 12 August 1933

Mrs Marryatt gives some very wise advice – Woman’s Weekly, 12 August 1933

Mrs Marryatt was giving advice just as she does today! In this article it is suggested that girlfriends ensure they are not dismissive of their beau’s female relatives.

There is one thing which girls often forget when they are rather keen on meeting young men – and that is the value of being friendly and nice to the womenfolk of the men they meet.

Young women are recommended to take a middle road between disinterest and disregarding women in his life but not to ‘over do’ the friendliness either.

A weariness comes in the society of the too demonstrative friends.

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What a future wife should own before marriage – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

This wonderful article specifies what a bride should have in her Hope Chest or Bottom Drawer as she approaches her wedding day.

  • 3 pairs of sheets
  • 6 pillow cases
  • 3 bolster cases
  • 1 under blanket
  • 1 counterpane for each bed
  • 1 eiderdown for each bed
  • 3 top blankets
  • 6 bath towels
  • 6 face towels
  • 3 breakfast cloths or sets of mats
  • 6 table napkins
  • 2 roller towels for kitchen
  • a few tray and afternoon cloths
  • 6 dusters
  • 6 tea cloths
  • 3 glass cloths

It is quite a modest list – but entirely made up of textiles in one form or another! Imagine a young girl carefully embroidering her tray cloths – in the hope that she would one day have a home of her own. It is why they are so prolific, and often in good condition – as they would have been reserved for high days and holidays!

Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

Food and recipes did not feature very large in this issue – There are a few short paragraphs with sandwich filling suggestions for a picnic. The illustration beside it is delightful – the lady’s hat frames her face, and once again we see full sleeves on her dress. Big florals and geometrics were fashionable in this Art Deco era, and the gentlemen would have worn shirts and jackets. The sandwich filling suggestions are: cream cheese and walnuts, minced ham and cress, cheese and tomato and egg mayonnaise.

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The front cover features this dress which is ‘This Week’s Bargain Pattern’ readers had to cut out a coupon (still intact in this issue) and send it to the Woman’s Weekly offices with enough stamps to cover postage (4 1/2d ) there is an alternative address for Australian Readers. The pattern was created especially to give a slimming effect – with the pattern sizing available from 36 up to a 48inch bust and a special version for ‘short women’. 

Front dress pattern 1933 Woman's WeeklyThis week we have thought of our older readers! We have found them a slimming and gracious little dress for printed silk and the pattern can be had in all the large sizes as well as in the average size. A new afternoon frock is a boon for the late Summer days and for the early Autumn, while later on, it looks so pretty under a heavy coat. This design slims the figure very cleverly with the centre seams and the skirt carried in points above the waist. Notice how the bodice itself comes down in a point into the skirt to keep the figure perfectly flat in front. The little vestee and pretty cowl-like collar give softening at the neckline. I suggest you choose a printed silk in any dark colour, and have the collar and cuffs in cream georgette – so much softer than dead white. 

August 12, 1933 dress pattern layout

August 12, 1933 dress pattern layout

Front dress technical drawing

The layout of the pattern and instructions are also included on the page – there is not a lot of detail! However I really enjoyed reading the problem page at the bottom entitled ‘Is this your problem too? – write to the London Girl if you have dress problems – she knows all the answers’

Skirt length was an issue, women needed to feel they were respectable. Ida asked about the correct length of a skirt from the ground as she had just learned to sew. London Girl replied: For streetwear, skirts are now fourteen inches from the ground. Sports clothes and man-tailored costumes are sometimes worn a little shorter. For afternoon occasions ten to twelve inches is correct, and evening dresses should be instep-length or just clear of the ground. 

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The remnant frock – Amazing what we can do with our gleanings from the sales. Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

There is something very taking about a plain frock well tailored. The box pleated flounce makes pattern 52,415 distinctly interesting, (and box pleats are so easy to manage!) Perfectly simple – the two piece skirt and plain bodice and a neat cape collar. Short or long sleeves are equally smart. 

12, August 1933, Woman's Weekly

12, August 1933, Woman’s Weekly

FUN – IN A NEW DRESS – The special occasion that needs a special frock. What a harassing problem this is unless one prepares one’s wardrobe with an eye to the future. A long frock, prettily cut, will always come in for the dances and social evenings that are soon to be here again. This design with a dear little cape to hide the low neckline when needs be. The two piece skirt has true circular flounces, and is joined to the bodice at the waistline. 

Double Frill dress, Woman's Weekly 12, August 1933

Double Frill dress, Woman’s Weekly 12, August 1933

It seems that London Girl is promoting the Woman’s Weekly patterns and given that there are four pages of patterns in all – it would suggest that women were making their own clothes.

Two remnant dresses

Two remnant dresses

Notice all the patterns have full sleeves, with bows and or dainty button details. Also the cape adaptation – helped when wearing Sunday Best to church.

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Updating coat advice – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

If you have a light summer coat which needs a spot of ‘doing up’ try the effect of very dark revers on it. These light-and-dark contrasts are extremely chic at the moment. 

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Best Way Outsize Summer Fashions – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

That ever-perplexing-problem, ‘What to wear on holiday’ is easily solved if you make your choice from the many attractive designs in Bestway Outsize Summer Fashions. This useful book contains a host of flattering designs especially cut for the larger figure. All easy and smart to wear. There is also a FREE pattern for making this charming frock. 

It seemed that most women had little option but to make their own clothes – and there were many pattern companies to choose from. Sizing difficulties is not a modern phenomenon after all!

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Holiday suggestions in the 1930’s Jersey promises fun and gaiety and all possible amusements! 

25-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 24There is a lot of illustration – mostly of young, slim women and dashing young men! Older women are not portrayed in such good light – our poor Matron and Mrs Marryatt are rather stout!

10-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 9More advice – this time childcare from a Matron of a big welfare centre. The letters ask about treating stinging nettles (dock leaves) and dandruff. Rub the skin of the head with a freshly cut lemon before washing her hair with tar shampoo. Massage a mixture of castor oil and eau-du-Cologne onto damp hair at every night. Wash hair once a week. 

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I love the way the flowers adorn this gorgeous lady! This is the Beauty Advice section

I am having my first permanent wave shortly, I want to get it in really good condition. What do you advise? -ZITA

Use a good tonic, like Bay Rum and Cantharides. Massage a little into the roots of your hair twice a day. You need not bother to shampoo your hair as the assistant will wash it first. 

SUNBATHING OIL 

Would you mind telling me where I can buy sunbathing oil? CITY GIRL

Most chemists keep sunbathing oil to-day. Several good brands are put up for sale a 1s 6d size.

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I hope you have enjoyed your time travelling tea break!

Enjoy the summer! 

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Little Vintage Tea Cup Sewing kit

I have a passion for vintage tea cups and when I spotted this one at a local  craft fair I could not resist. This is not just a tea cup: lift the pincushion lid and you will discover a little sewing kit.
The needle case is a needle felted jammy dodger; there is also a reel of cotton and a tiny pair of scissors!
I leave the needles treaded: one with white cotton and one with black ready for the little emergency sewing – the time you want to go out in your favourite dress and the hem has come down, or a button pops off at the last minute, this little sewing kit is ready and waiting.
The little needle felted jammy dodger is easy and fun to do, the tutorial will be on here soon if you fancy making your own.