When looking for inspiration for sewing projects, where do you like to turn? Pinterest, blogs, and magazines are obvious resources for collecting interesting imagery, as are fashion and art museums---but have you considered the library?
I checked this Dover book out from our local library, curious to see what ordinary American women were wearing in the early 1920s, and found that clothes of that era had a much more interesting variety of trims and embellishments---and that it was full of lots of ideas that could easily be used for sewing projects today. Since I don’t want to cause any copyright trouble, I just took a few detail photos. The book itself replicates an entire Philipsborn’s catalog, so it is quite large, with lots of ‘models’ on each page. For more books like this, try checking the Dover website. They have a large section devoted to historical fashion, and their books are always moderately priced.
Do you have any favorite books for sewing inspiration that you have found at the library?
All of these blouses use a contrasting ribbon bow at the neckline.
I like the idea of doing an oversized collar and cuffs of a blouse in eyelet and then trimming them in lace. Doing embroidery in two colors along the neckline and sleeves of a blouse is also an interesting idea.
It may be unusual to see special lace or cutwork collars added to shirts now, but they add a lot of visual interest. I noticed that many of the blouses have long sleeves with turn-back cuffs, sometimes cut in interesting shapes. This seems like a simple adjustment to draft using your favorite long sleeved, cuffed blouse pattern.
After a week of welcome warm sunny weather where I could wear a cotton summer blouse and feel comfortable, we are in fickle, surprising spring weather again: very cool cloudy mornings, sometimes sunny afternoons, and rain storms expected. I had planned to photograph some more of my homemade spring and summer clothes, but the weather made it necessary to wear more layers and so I decided to make a post about my new just-below-the-ankle length Simplicity 7880 skirt after all.
I finished my new skirt last week and have worn a few times already. It is made of dark brown poly-cotton broadcloth which I prewashed and then cut to 40 inches long and left the bottom on the selvedge so I didn’t have to hem it (which also makes it convenient to wear boots with, since there is no hem for the boot hooks to snag on). It’s a good length for me, I think, combining the grace and coverage of a long skirt with a short enough hem to make walking and climbing stairs easy. I’ve reviewed Simplicity 7880 a few times in the past (here and here and here for instance) and have worn other versions of it in a lot of other reviews, so I won’t write more about it here, but will instead post some more photos of our weekend walk to the monastery with Gia. Even though there was only the slightest bit of sunshine coming through the clouds, the flowers were spectacular: clover, cherry trees, forget-me-nots, poppies, tulips, wisteria, some lingering camellias, and so many others whose names I have not learned yet. What are your favorite spring flowers? Do you have flowers blossoming yet where you live?
I am wearing my new brown skirt with my recently finished brown cotton blouse (reviewed here), a vintage cotton velvet vest (for the details of its construction, you can look at my previous ‘in detail’ post about it), a vintage black crocheted fringed shawl I found at the thrift store last year, and a vintage Mexican silver and inlaid abalone shell butterfly brooch. Mr Rat took all these lovely photos.
I made this blouse last summer from vintage 1970s-or-80s See and Sew 6390 and it has become a favorite warm-weather blouse for its crisp yet comfortable look. The sewing was very quick and easy, since the sleeves are kimono-style and cut in one with the bodice. The instructions for the collar are clear and simple. I edge-stitched the collar and front band, machine stitched the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the shirt, and sewed the buttonholes by hand. The buttons are from an enormous bag I bought at the thrift store several years ago and have been using here and there ever since. The shirt itself is made of white cotton from an old sheet. For anyone looking for a quick, carefree summer blouse, I recommend this pattern. I’ll likely sew it again—maybe in linen next time?
I’m wearing my blouse with a new Simplicity 7880 skirt, just finished last week, made of dark brown broadcloth. I think I’ll be giving it its own post soon, since it is a good length and a versatile color for me. The malachite necklace I’m wearing in these photos (it was Saint Patrick’s day when I took them) is vintage, a gift from family, as are the earrings.
Today we’re going to look at the details of a vintage brown cotton-velvet vest from ‘The Branch – Div of Joshua Tree.’ I like the tag on this one a lot, because when I lived at home in Los Angeles my family drove through the desert quite often. Strangely enough, though, I found this vest at a Savers thrift store in San Jose, close to where we live now.
The finish on this vest is simple: the front princess seams are edge-stitched, as is the hem, neckline and arms. The inside is finished with a front facing that is interfaced and serged at the edges. The side seams and front princess seams are finished with pinking shears. The back hem, the back neckline and the arm holes are turned and sewn flat. The back has two darts, pressed towards the center.
I planned this blouse to be wearable with any of my Simplicity 7880 skirts, any of my sets of homemade jewelry, and any of my shawls that I’ve collected at thrift stores over the years. Unbleached cotton muslin is a beautiful color and so pale and neutral that it matches everything. The 1970s era Simplicity 8356 pattern that I used for my blouse is simple but interesting with its square yoked neckline and slightly puffed raglan sleeves gathered into buttoned cuffs. I used square buttons that I saved off of an old shirt to echo the square neckline. The square neckline takes some patience and precision, but otherwise the sewing is not complicated for a sewer with experience. After having made so many blouses, shirts and dresses with buttoned cuffs recently, I found it interesting that this pattern uses a facing for the sleeve slit rather than a continuous lap or fold and edge-stitch method. I tried to take a photo to show part of the facing going up into the sleeve. As far as finishing details: I did lots of edge-stitching, as usual, and finished my buttonholes by hand since my machine doesn’t like to make them.
All of the necklaces and most of the earrings I am wearing in these photos are made by me. The necklace, earrings and bracelet I am wearing in the first photo in this post are made of rose quartz and chrysoprase. It astonishes me what beautiful stone beads you can buy for so little compared to buying finished jewelry at the store or online. Jewelry making is very quick compared to sewing, and I find it restful to lay out the beads and string them. Do any of you make jewelry? Do you ever plan sewing projects around your accessories or jewelry that you want to wear more often? Or do you ever make jewelry to match your sewing projects?
This necklace is made of an alternating pattern of moonstones, rose quartz (one of my favorite stones) and a pale green bead I can’t quite remember---it might have been adventurine?
This necklace is my favorite: it is made of enormous beautiful tiger eyes. Tiger eyes are my favorite stone of all---I love the way they gleam and glow and shift.
This necklace is made of off-white agate nuggets with silver plated spacer beads.
This necklace is made of pink lepidolite. The stones have a beautiful matte surface.
This necklace is made of alternating brown jade and ocean jasper, one of my new favorite stones along with agate---jasper and agate are so wonderfully varied in color and pattern! I didn’t know until I started beading that jade also comes in so many different colors beyond green and lavender.
This necklace is made of green marble. They are the largest beads I’ve ever used, and I like the way they remind me of a child’s drawing of what a necklace should look like.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.