Retro Glam Mix It Up: Knitted Hat 1960s and Knitted Purse 1945

The Retro Glam Accessory “Mix It Up” postings continues…Here is a very cute stocking cap with pompom from the early 1960s that goes very well with a knitted purse from 1945.

The stocking cap with pompom is pictured at the bottom right of the front cover of “Hats, Hats, Hats”, American Thread Co. Star Book No. 168. I estimate the year of publication sometime during the early 1960s because of the popularity of pillbox hats during that time.

The purse pattern is from “Bags Book Number 228″ published in 1945 by the Spool Cotton Company, Second Edition 346, H-2977 CS.

Retro Glam: Mixing it up-Crochet Hat from 1960 and Crochet Pocketbook from 1945

I will continue to post vintage crochet and knitting patterns while I finish up the Secretary Blouse. I think one of the best ways to make Retro Glam part of your own style repertoire is to take accessories from different decades and mix and match them to create a look uniquely your own.

Here I have paired up a crochet pillbox hat from the early 1960s with a crochet handbag from 1946. By using coordinating or complementary colors you’ll add a different look to your ensemble that will be noticed and elicit interest–in you and the accessories!

The pillbox hat is pictured at the left of the front cover of “Hats, Hats, Hats”, American Thread Co. Star Book No. 168. No date is mentioned for the copyright of publication. However, the pillbox hat became very popular when John F. Kennedy was elected President because his wife favored this style. The public in the USA was very taken with the young Jackie Kennedy in the early 1960s.

The pocketbook pattern is from “Bags Book Number 228″ published in 1945 by the Spool Cotton Company, Second Edition 346, H-2977 CS.

Vintage Knitting Patterns from 1960: Pillbox Hat and Knitted Headband

I’ve picked up sewing the Secretary Blouse again. Let’s hope my schedule stays even. I so look forward to moving on to the sheath skirt and sharing with my readers. In the meantime, here are some more vintage patterns for accessories.

These knitting patterns come from “High Fashion Hats” published circa 1960 by Bernhard Ulmann Company.

Pillbox hat.

Knitted headband.

Abbreviations and needle sizes.

Vintage Crochet Pattern: Clutch Purse from 1946

I’m very busy with my job and conducting interviews for my family history project. The Secretary Blouse is on hold right now. This is just a time when there’s so much to do and I don’t like to sew when I feel pressed for time.

In the meantime I thought it would be good to share some crochet patterns from a booklet the owner of a local craft shop gave to me.

I’m posting two patterns from “JP Coats Bags Book Number 228″ published 1945 by The Spool Cotton Company, Second Edition 346, H-2977 C-3.

If anyone is successful in making one of these purses please send me a photo and I’ll feature you in the blog.


Dressmaker’s Library: “Draping Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design”

“Draping Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design” by Annette Duburg and Rixt van der Tol is a superb book to own if you want to take your draping skills to a whole new level. I have had this book since Christmas 2014 and have learned so much just reading it and studying the photos of the garments in all stages of the draping process.

Each step of the draping process is accompanied by photos which have very clearly marked grain lines and seam lines. The technical drawings are very clear, as well. Even so, it is a book that beginners may find a little difficult to learn from since there are certain details that are very sophisticated. Although I had two years of draping instruction in a classroom, the technique we learned came right out of “Draping for Fashion Design” by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis. Jaffe and Relis’ book would be easier for a sewista to learn from because the construction details used are familiar to anyone who drafts their own patterns or uses commercial patterns.

Duburg and van der Tol create basic bodices and skirts that are used in slightly different ways. For example, the basic bodice does not end at the waist but is extended to the hipline.

Using this longer basic, fitted bodice as the basis of a two piece dress results in a different approach. It seems that the longer basic bodice is used as a support over which the other components of a design are attached. In the photo above for an empire waist dress, the higher waistline is marked off on the basic fitted bodice. The skirt portion is draped on top of that with the bodice remaining in one piece. There are no instructions given to cut the bodice along the higher waistline. The same is true for a two piece dress using a pencil skirt for the lower half. The longer fitted bodice is left as shown in the photo above. I’m not sure what the construction would be like in such a dress in terms of closures. I would think zippers could be slightly bulkier.

A strapless bodice is created from the same fitted bodice extended to the hipline. The entire bodice is draped and then style tape is used to mark the style lines of the strapless design. Jaffe and Relis do not drape their version of a strapless bodice like this. Instead they mark the strapless design onto the dress form and the muslin is then draped to follow the style lines.

A key area of difficulty for me would be draping the set-in sleeves shown for some of the styles created in the book. There is the assumption that the reader knows what a good armhole depth would be and no specific measurement is given. In Nurie and Relis’ book instructions are always more detailed instructing the draper to lower the armhole so many inches down.

These differences, though, do not detract from the value this book adds to the Dressmaker’s Library. By studying the styles and following the photographs one can get ideas of how to simplify the designs and adapt their own techniques to create them.

Two Christian Dior New Look designs from the early 1950s are included in the book with complete instructions for creating the draped pattern. The only drawback is that no construction details are given for things like closures, underlining and interfacing.

There is great value in the study of the designs such as these. The photos showing how the dress form was prepared for draping the style reveal what types of petticoats and shaping are needed if you want to create an exact replica of the look. Tulle and hip padding are two important elements of each design.

The other design element are higher armholes and a slightly sloping shoulder line.

After serious consideration of these silhouettes I do not think many women today would want to wear an exact replica since the hip padding has the effect of making the woman look slightly heavy in the mid-section. For a woman of average height (5’4″ to 5’6″) this could end of making her look dumpy and frumpy. If, however, these styles are used as catalysts to get your own imagination working then the study and outlay for the book will prove worthwhile. The silhouettes can be updated to work in a manner that would be much more flattering to the modern woman. Personally I do not care at all for the hip padding and unusual shapes around the abdomen some of the Dior suits of this era used.

I plan at some point to return to draping using the technique I learned at school using Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis’ technique. I do plan to take the ideas in “Draping Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design” by Annette Duburg and Rixt van der Tol into consideration and use them as a starting point. I’m very excited to see how things will develop.

Secretary Blouse Version 2: French Seams

The Secretary Blouse Version 2 is progressing nicely. This time I have used a black poly organza as the interfacing. The results are very noticeable when compared to Version 1 where I used a white poly batiste. Version 2 does not look at all heavy around the neckline and the front of the blouse. The organza gives just enough support without affecting the drapey quality of the fabric. When I tested the machine made buttonholes the black organza also was less noticeable when I had to open the buttonhole slit. The fashion fabric continues to shred even though I’m being more careful than before. In Version 1 I zig-zagged the seams together and then pinked the edge. This prevented fraying but was not the best finish in my estimation. I wanted something a little lighter.

From “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing”, published by The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY, 1980. This section, ‘Self-finished seams’, is on page 150.

I decided to make French Seams for Version 2. The “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” gives a general description of how it is done when the seam allowance is 5/8″. First pin the fashion fabric from the right side and stitch 3/8″ from the outer edge. The seam is then trimmed to 1/8″. The seam is then turned and stitched from the inside. Since my seam allowances are 1/2″ I did it a little differently. It turned out alright. Here are some extra details to help you out if you decide to try this kind of seam finish. “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” recommends that the finished seam be no wider than 1/4″. Mine came out a little wider than that but I’m happy with the results. This finish is so much better than a serged seam and is a mark of quality in more expensive garments because of the extra time it takes. 1. I used a smooth edged tracing wheel and dressmakers tracing paper to mark all the sewing lines on the wrong side of the fabric right after cutting out the pieces. Then with right sides of the fabric facing upwards I pinned along the seam line which was discernible from the outside of the fabric and basted along that. Using a ruler, I measured in slightly more than 1/8″ from the outer edge using a clear ruler. Tailor’s Chalk was used to mark the sewing line. Then I stitched on the chalk marked line. 2. After stitching along the chalk marked line, I removed the basting threads. This polyester fabric is prone to easy snagging so I cut the basting thread at intervals and carefully removed using a micro tweezer. 3. To prevent further fraying, I used the pinking shears to just barely trim the edges of the seam. 4. It might look like extra work to press this tiny seam open but it makes a big difference in turning the seam to the inside and then basting on the wrong side of the fashion fabric. 5. Pin along the marked seam line on the wrong side of the fabric. 6. Baste and then check the right side of the fabric to ensure the seam is totally enclosed. Stitch the inside seam. 7. After machine stitching the inside seam, steam press flat. Then press towards the back. Now we get to the part the books don’t mention or illustrate. How do you handle the shoulder seam when both the interfacing and the fashion fabric shred? I wasn’t sure what to do because of the shredding. If the interfacing was stable, I might have applied it after sewing the French seams at the shoulder line. I would have trimmed away the shoulder seam of the interfacing and then abutted the seams together using a hand stitch or maybe a zig-zag. Since this wasn’t the case, I just decided to sew the interfacing into the French Seam. I’ll have to trim the seam a little bit when sewing the neckline and sleeves into the bodice. From the right side of the blouse there isn’t any extra bulk at the shoulder line. What would the readers and visitors to this blog do? I’d be interested in your advice. These are the times when no amount of books in the Dressmaker’s Library can help. There’s just certain details that one needs to ask and get advice about. Personal sewing experience shared with others is always a good supplement to the guidelines in a sewing book.