Monday, April 27, 2020

The 1940's Dress Made from an Un-Printed Pattern and Japanese Fabric

One Sunday last fall a friend at church invited me over for lunch after service. I happily accepted the invitation. The food was delicious and the company was wonderful. Once we were done eating, my friend, who also sews (the Sunday we met at church we were both wearing handmade outfits, which is how we got to know each other), told me she was whittling down her pattern stash. Would I like to go through the patterns she was getting rid of and take any that interested me? Of course!

I came away that afternoon with several costume patterns and modern patterns, but the crowning jewel was several vintage, un-printed, mail-order patterns from the 1940's. (I think. None of them actually have dates on them.) Now, I'd never actually used a vintage un-printed pattern before, but I was excited to give it a go! Unlike modern patterns, which generally come on large sheets of tissue paper, with several sizes printed on them so you cut out the size you need, these vintage patterns came with one size per envelope. The pattern pieces came already cut out, and there were no ink markings on them. Instead, each piece was marked with different perforations and notches telling what each piece was, what the grain-line was, and where darts and tucks and such were to be sewn.

Of course, it took me much longer to get around to actually using these patterns than I'd hoped it would. Fall came and went, and the entire winter passed before I finally pulled the pretty blue vintage pattern box off the closet shelf to pick a pattern from. What induced me to finally use one of these patterns? The gift of 3 yards of lovely cotton a friend brought me from Japan.

On a mission trip to Japan last fall, this friend went fabric shopping, and picked out 3 beautiful lengths of fabric for herself, which she commissioned me to turn into dresses for her at the beginning of the year. Along with her dress fabrics she also picked out a nice navy Japanese cotton for me. As soon as I saw it, I knew this fabric needed to be used with one of my vintage patterns!  So, once I completed my friend's dresses, out came the un-printed patterns for me to pick from. The first pattern to catch my eye was the one pictured above, with a button-up bodice, what I think is a winged collar (yeah, I'm not very familiar with the names for different collar styles), and beautifully large external pockets. This pattern happened to be in my bust size, so I thought it would be a good one for my first attempt at using an un-printed pattern - no re-sizing required!

When I had a couple free evenings to spend actually making this dress, I pulled out the pattern and was delighted to find that it was complete - all the pieces were accounted for. (With the exception of the back neckline facing, but that was easy enough for me to re-draft.) It was fun to examine the pattern pieces and learn a bit about the original owner of this pattern. She must have been a rather petite woman, as several inches of length were pinned out of each skirt panel. As I'm not exactly petite, I unpinned the pieces and smoothed out the folds. I wonder how long those pins had been in this pattern!

Pattern pieces ready to go, I cut out the dress with no alterations, then sewed it together. It proved to be a rather quick and easy sew. I finished it in about 3 evenings.

When I tried on the nearly finished dress to check the skirt length and figure out button placement, I found it to be a bit too big in the waist. So I added an inverted box pleat at the center back to take it in a bit.

This pleat looks like it was always supposed to be part of the design, and greatly improves the overall fit.

For a little extra something, I decided to trim the pockets and collar of my dress with some daisy trim from my stash.

 To match the white trim, I picked white buttons to close the bodice with.

I had one card of 3 of these buttons, which I picked up at a flea market a couple years ago. Just the perfect amount for this project!

The dress was finished off with a cloth belt.

I found a silver buckle of about the right size in my stash and used flower shaped eyelets to match the daisy trim.

And once those eyelets were pounded into place with a rubber mallet, my dress was done and I immediately tried it on.

I loved it!

The fit is perfect.

The dress is comfortable.

And I really like the over all shape!

This dress has no darts - which is really nice.

Instead it's fitted with tucks at the waist in both the front and the back.

And there is a tuck across each shoulder as well.

I'm excited to now get to wear this beautiful fabric my friend brought me back from Japan!

I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy this project wound up being. 

I wore this dress all day the day after I finished it.

And I think I might just need to make a couple more dresses from this pattern.

It's both pretty and practical - and dresses don't get much better than that!

Though perhaps I ought to try out a few more of the vintage patterns in my stash before making any repeats. . .

Friday, April 24, 2020

Making Edwardian Hip Padding

Hip padding. Bum pad. Bustle. Something to make my hips look fuller and my waist look smaller by comparison when worn under an Edwardian ensemble.

Upon completing my S-bend corset, I decided I'd better also make myself a bum pad of some sort to help achieve the Edwardian silhouette. So, I took to Pinterest to see what sort of bum pads/hip padding were actually worn in 1901.

Scott Hip Pad. FIDM Museum
After falling down that rabbit hole, I decided I wanted to re-create these "Scott Hip Pads" from about 1900, which FIDM happens to hold in their collection, and shared pictures of on their blog several years ago. This bum pad is actually 3 separate pads, one on each hip and one at the center back, all attached to one waistband.

Upon deciding what type of hip/bum padding I wanted to make, I decided to jump right in and get it done. I picked my inspiration one morning, pulled some materials out of my stash, and by noon that day I was the proud new owner of a set of "Scott hip pads".

I decided to use a pretty floral polished cotton from my stash. It was pretty, it was handy, and I had no intention of using it for anything else, so it would do just fine for this project. Once I had my fabric, I free-hand cut the approximate shapes of the inspiration hip pads. Perhaps I should have actually made a pattern, but I didn't feel like it at the time. (Along that train of thought, a mock-up wouldn't have been a bad idea either. . .)

Once I had the cotton cut out for my hip pads, it was time to figure out what sort of stuffing they needed. They didn't need to be poofy; they just needed a little bit of "oomph" and body. After a bit of consideration, I decided cotton batting would serve the purpose well.

I had a decent sized scrap of batting left over from the padding in the skirt of my 1840's black wool dress. With careful cutting and positioning, along with a little bit of piecing, there was just barely enough batting for my hip pads.

Each piece of polished cotton was backed with a piece of batting so each pad would have two layers of batting inside it. I layered the polished cotton backed in batting right sides together then sewed around the edges of each pad using the walking foot on my sewing machine.

Each pad was then turned right side out, and got several rows of quilting sewn along the outer edge.

This didn't take long at all, and pretty soon the 3 separate pads were ready to be sewn together and attached to a waist tape.

I used cotton twill tape from my stash for the waist band.

I just folded the twill tape in half over the upper edge of the hip pads and zig-zag stitched it in place, leaving a length of twill tape coming off each end to be tied around the waist, just like the waist tie on the original.

And with that my hip pads were done!

Well, mostly. . .

After trying the hip padding on underneath an 1890's petticoat, I decided the front edges needed to be a bit softer, so they would curve around the body better, as you could definitely see the outline of the front edge of the hip pad under the petticoat.

So I added several more rows of quilting to the front edges of the side pads.

This did make the side pads a bit more flexible, and they do curve nicely around the hips. . .

. . . but the front edge of the hip padding is still visible under one petticoat. . .

. . .Two petticoats. . .

. . . And a skirt.

So perhaps I made my hip pads just a bit too big?

I'm wondering if perhaps I should consider this set of hip pads a trial run and attempt to make another set which won't show through petticoats?

I haven't decided yet.

This set of padding was super quick and easy to make, so theoretically another bum pad would also be a simple make.

But bum pads aren't the most exciting thing to sew, and I'm not very motivated to make another one right now.

This one does give my pink silk Edwardian skirt a beautiful shape.

So it's safe to say I'm a little undecided on the outcome of this particular project. However, I do think making these hip pads was an experiment and a learning experience, if nothing else.

And, since they were made completely from stashed materials, they count as my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly No-Buy challenge (#7, but this year the rules have changed so you can complete the Historical Sew Monthly challenges in any order you wish.)

What the item is: "Scott" hip pads
How it fits the challenge: All materials came from stash, most were gifted to me by someone de-stashing, or left over from other projects.
Material: Polished cotton, cotton batting, cotton twill tape
Pattern: None, I made my own.
Year: c. 1900
Notions: thread
How historically accurate is it? They have the correct shape. The materials are plausible, but not perfect. I used what I had on hand rather than sourcing stuffing and such more similar to the original hip pads I was referencing. They are all machine sewn, which is accurate to the era, but the machinery used to construct hip pads in a factory in 1900 would have been very different from my domestic sewing machine in 2020. So, 75% I think.
Hours to complete: Less than 3, including patterning.
First worn: Only for fittings and pictures so far - my Edwardian event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.
Total cost: The polished cotton was given to me by someone de-stashing. The batting was left over from another project. The twill tape was bought on clearance over a year ago for less than $1 per yard. So, well under $5 total.