April 8, 2015

Fashioning spring?

Does it already feel like spring where you are? Here in the Netherlands, we had a couple of nice days in March but the rest of that month was miserable. It seems to be warming up now though.

As you may know, I'm not really into planning my sewing. Of course, I have a long list in my head of things I would like to make. And if wardrobe needs make themselves felt, the items to meet those will jump the queue. But I don't try and commit myself to certain goals. For me, that takes too much of the fun out of my sewing. Which can make things complicated. Some things I love in theory end up spending a LOT of time on that mental list...

There are a couple of those which beg for attention again this spring.

There's the striped dress with the pleated tiers. I've got fabric and buttons and the pattern shouldn't be difficult. The only thing holding me back (apart from, so far, the weather) is the fear of having too many shirt dresses. Which might be silly because I love them.

Then, there's the idea of a spring suit. In vintage magazines, they always suggest that ladies carefully pick out a stylish suit for the warmer month and wear it for the first time on Easter day. I like the idea but I don't have summer-weight wool in my stash (and let's not even start about silk suiting) and I rather doubt I would have much of a chance to wear such a thing.
However, since last autumn, I have a fabric in my stash that might be suitable. It's linen but a bit heavier than usual and in a grey and black herringbone weave. It would be cool to wear but looks like a sporty wool fabric. Not very summer-y but I'm not sure I care too much about that (not for every single item I make, that is). I've been turning the idea around in my head for a while. All the most sophisticated 1950's style suits have narrow skirts but this fabric is linen so it would crease rather noticeably. And I'd like my spring suit to have some kind of extra interesting feature.

And then I remembered this from my Pinterest board. I found this picture of a grey jersey suit by Pierre Balmain in the magazine Margriet from 7 October 1950 (this was a weekly). According to the text, the panel on the skirt can either be worn as a simple, straight wrap-over or draped and pinned into the jacket pocket like this. I'm not so sure I could get that to work (I've often wondered about 1950's jersey. It's often treated like a woven. Here, some stretch would help with that drape but I wouldn't like to make that clean-cut collar and those pockets in a spongey, stretchy material like that) but I just love the look like this. And because all of the drama is actually in the skirt, I could make a much tamer pair of trousers to wear with the jacket for a very different look.

And then, there is my continued interest in draped and gathered 1940's styles. I have found some fabrics which should work for that. 

Now, I'll just have to decide between this dress from EvaDress (a shorter, daytime version), a design from my late 1940's Lutterloh book, something (even more risky) from my issues of the magazine La Femme Elegante from the late 1930's or drafting my own using one of these two Studio Faro tutorials. Oh, or giving the two repro Vogue patterns I bought years ago another chance. I tried one years ago and it didn't work out but maybe I should just have sized it down...
And all but one of the options would even count towards my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge.

Speaking of which... If you take part in pledge or follow the posts about it, you've probably already seen this: Marie published the stash interview with yours truly on her blog yesterday. 
These interviews with participants are a new feature in the blog posts about this year's pledge and I was more than happy to take part. 
Reading blogs about (vintage) sewing, I sometimes get the impression that we all seem to be sewing with vintage patterns from the same, mostly American, companies (with the notable exception of the Lutterloh system). While this makes a lot of sense for American seamstresses and bloggers, it doesn't really for anyone who lives in a country which, back in the day, hardly imported those and instead produced its own patterns. 
Maybe it's my inner history geek taking over, but I love the designs and the social history I find in the magazines in my collection. 
I more than understand a stash like mine isn't for everyone. You have to be willing to do some very careful tracing. And be able to sew with little to no instruction. But I love it and I hope you will enjoy this little look in the stash.
Of course, I will continue to share the contents of one magazine or another, every once in a while. 


  1. Wow that suit is stunning! I'm so looking forward to seeing how you channel that in your new spring outfit

  2. Oh that suit is gorgeous! Now that I am soon pushing 40, I might be grown up enough to actually wear one! Can't wait to see what you come up with :)
    As for the patterns all coming from the US; in my case, living in Norway, I find that most all pre 70s patterns I have to order from overseas. Nothing of that sort is being preserved in my country. When old ladies homes are emptied, the trend is to order a container and dump it all on the landfill. Both my grandmother's homes got treated like that, and I know they both had some patterns and sewing related things. I guess this is a product of being a wealthy nation, people generally don't see value in old stuff and that is a shame! It is very rare for me to find sewing patterns in thrift stores, and it seems this is very common in both UK and US. So lucky for me, they're spreading the love :)

  3. Where would we, vintage loving sewers, be without people willing to spread the love? ;)
    Here in the Netherlands, it's fairly easy to find sewing magazines from the 1950's and 1960's. They are mostly sold on local auction websites by people cleaning out grandmother's attic. I guess the Dutch just have the habit to try and make a bit of money from emptying out homes, rather than dump everything in landfill.