April 19, 2013

1930's sewing

 I haven't just been looking at those splendid designs from the 1930's. This week, I've started on my first Gracieuse project. 

Like all other Dutch (and French and German) vintage sewing magazines I've ever come across, all the patterns included in the Gracieuse are in one size only. As is usually the case, there is something in each of the magazine's regular sizes in every issue. Gracieuse sizes have no relation to any modern sizing system. They do, however, relate directly to the sizing chart. Your size is half your chest measurement. My chest measurement is 87 cm, which puts me right between the sizes 42 and 45. 
Because I found such unexpected amounts of ease in the vintage patterns I tried before, I decided to start out with the smaller size. 

I picked a blouse as my first pattern. This should give me some insight into the amount of ease used, the back length (the sizing chart mentions only a front waist length but doesn't explain how to measure it) the shoulder width and shape, the ease (or lack of it) at neckline and armscye and the length and width of the sleeves. 
It's the one on the left. Cute collar and button band, something which looks like pintuck shaping, elasticated bottom edge and slim sleeves with buttoned plackets.

This is what the pattern sheet looks like. I wasn't too intimidated because of my earlier experience with 1950's Marion. I should have been. Apparently, 1950's patterns sheets were made to be used by anyone and everyone, these from 1930 however, seemed to be geared towards the consumate professional (there are adds in the magazines which specifically adress professional ladies' dressmakers...) 
There were two different markings used within this five piece pattern. All pattern pieces were intersected by others with only very subtely different markings. And both bodice pieces had to be lengthened.
I managed to trace the blouse pattern using tracing paper though. I have come across several pattern sheets with clear, deep marks from a tracing wheel, so I don't think the original owner was as careful not to damage her patterns ;)

The blouse in the illustration seems to be made from a finely pinstriped fabric, so I cut mine from my only stash fabric with thin stripes: this black linen with narrowly space white pinstripes. This was another bargain fabric, so I just cut out the pattern I had traced and didn't bother with making a muslin.

Unlike Marion, Gracieuse offers some instructions on the pattern sheet:

This is including the warning to lengthen the bodice pieces and the description of the materials required. The instructions brilliantly skip over those issues on which I would have welcomed some information, such as the number of pintucks and how to apply the button band, and suggest a rather counter-productive order of construction, finishing the entire bodice and setting the sleeves before sewing the sleeve darts and cuffs...

I sort of winged it, I used the prescribed width of the pintucks and the area appointed for them in the pattern and sort of cross-referenced that with the difference between the front and back shoulder and the neckline and collar and compared that to the illustrations. I quickly decided not to look at the illustrations anymore. As lovely as they are, their information didn't add up with what measuring the pattern pieces told me... And oh, if the center front is to be cut on the fold and both the front shoulder and the area marked out for pintucks are at an angle, there's just no way those tucks are going to line up with the stripes, is there? 

By now, I have the pintucks done and the button band is on. It's time for the all-important joining of the main pieces... 


  1. Interesting! That pattern sheet looks scary, so great job in figuring out the correct lines to trace. I'm looking forward to seeing the completed blouse.

  2. I would need glasses and a whole heap of patience to trace anything from that sheet! Looking forward to seeing the results.