Category Archives: 20th Century Costumes

You win some, you have to laugh at some

You win some, you have to laugh at some

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if an 18th century petticoat and a caftan had a baby? Well look no further than the new Simplicity Pattern #8593. You too can sport the giant-baby-bib look. I bought the pattern as it was on sale at the J and I was planning to attend a 1940s airshow. It’s from their vintage collection, dated the 40s and sounds perfect right?…well…let’s start at the beginning…


Always be suspicious if there’s only one sample

I ordered some very smart white seersucker from, two thumbs up washed beautifully and lovely hand. For being a white on white stripe it’s not even that see through.  Will order again.

One thing this pattern has going for it is speed. I chucked my fabric in the wash on Saturday at 1pm and with a dinner break, and internet farting around still managed to have a fully finished garment at 10:45. With the speed I sew that was fairly impressive.

So what’s unique about this weirdo blouse/poncho/Chippendale’s sized apron? It doesn’t have side seams. The idea is that you tie the back around the front and the front over the back. The sides over lap leaving a gap for your hamhocks erm arms to stick out. Lets say this does not work exactly as planned.


Would you like to see all the way through to my nipple or shall I angle myself so you just get tasteful side boobage? I wore a camisole as I would with any girdled outfit (sophisticated ladies don’t believe in chaffing)…but one small breeze and the world could tell you if I’d remembered to wear my bra right side out.


Gonna go out on a limb and say this was NOT my most flattering shirt to date

I made version D with a peplum because what I lack in hips I make up for in abdominal girth and thought it might be slimming. I think the tucked in version MIGHT have gaped less, but any time you moved it opened amounts varying from “tasteful side boob” to “why am I feeling a massive breeze.” Whole thing felt very disconcerting to wear because of said breeze. Like that nightmare you have where you’re in high school and somehow forgot the side half of your shirt.


Hey baby, like my target camisole? I’m so period correct

I thought it might be more flattering if I tried it without the peplum? tucked in maybe? Perhaps the weight of the skirt waistband would hold the sides together more firmly and I’d feel less of a cross breeze?


I’m too embarrassed by what I’m wearing to look at you in the eyes…hiding my shame


I swear all I drank was tea.

That would be a big ‘ole NOPE on the more flattering.



Pro tip, cardigans hide a multitude of sins. like errant side camisole.

A few final thoughts: Do I regret making this weirdly aerated crumb catcher? Of course not! Firstly it was hilarious to wear, secondly it was more of a “what on earth would that thing that looks good on paper actually DO in real life” sometimes you just get so curious. I could probably put some buttons in the side higher up and limit the gappage. But honestly I look enough like a linebacker without 4″ of shoulder sticking out after me. And in case you were wondering if fit was part of the issue I did try it on my friend Alice who is smaller than me to see if more over lap front to back would lesson the wind tunnel effect. Nope. Still a girl in a giant art smock ready for a messy lunch who’s very concerned with getting proper ventilation to her pits. In summary: I’d probably skip this pattern, unless you get really really hot in the side rib 28672562588_35ab77dc77_ocage and require extra breezes.


1940s Navy floral dress

1940s Navy floral dress

Back in 2006 when I worked for the Company that Shall Not be Named, I got to work at the WW2 weekend put on by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (colloquially named the Reading Airshow). I had fun then but didn’t really get to explore much, that whole working thing. Somehow the idea of an outing was floated for this year and met with group approval.



You can’t tell in this photo but it was 40mph winds and 50 degrees

I of course needed a new 40s dress as my last one tragically shrank in the closet. I was fishing around trying to decide what to do when visiting my parents my mom asked if I could ever use this rayon fabric? PERFECT! We expected it to be 90 degrees as it was June and had been a hot spring so it had to be rayon or cotton…we’ll revisit that later.


The best thing about 1940s sewing is you can buy repro patterns from any of the major pattern companies, they seem to be trendy now. So I settled on Vogue V8728.


Why? It didn’t have sleeves and I was feeling lazy (at least I’m honest?)


Overall I was happy with the way the pattern went together. I cut the size based on my measurment (20 be still my expanding heart). There was a REASONABLE AMOUNT OF EASE and I didn’t have to take 12 inches out of it. I think in general Vogue is better about that, but I was still pleasantly surprised.

maamww2 047_zpsd0ahplej

I did find the neckline to be so wide it was almost impossible for my slip to not show, so Alice very nicely ran a row of gathering through the binding while I did my make up. Now that’s a good friend. So before I wear it again I need to take off the binding and pull in another could inches….lets be honest it’ll stay like this forever.


I wore fully fashioned stockings that I inherited from Amanda because they were too big for her. Turns out they’re for giants as they were baggy on my fatter legs as well. I also ordered a Rago industrial girdle to try tame the tummy. I bought gloves at the flea market there because it was FREEZING. We planned for 90s..we got 50s.


Also that’s my 18th century hat. Shhhh don’t tell on me

The event itself was wonderful. It’s an enormous re-enactment with thousands of people. The encampments are wonderfully done, my favorite being the French Village. The German’s take it in the morning and the Allies recover it in the afternoon. It’s so easy to appreciate the dedication put in by the people who make this event happen.


Amanda and I looking picturesque in the French Village

Our favorite part was definitely getting a jeep ride around the grounds. It felt totally fun and just tiny bit dangerous.


So despite freezing my rear off I will definitely try to go back next year.

Anyone have any other favorite retro patterns I should try?

The Great Bachelorette Party

The Great Bachelorette Party

As I’ve mentioned before my dear friend J is getting married NEXT WEEK! So what are a bunch of costume girl’s going to do for a proper bachelorette party? Why dress up in 1920s gowns and go see the new film version of the Great Gatsby!

The beautiful woman of the hour!

The beautiful woman of the hour!

I used Past Patterns 2757 because I liked the wrap dress shape. I’m an apple figure and I was hoping it would help soften the blow of the bag shape (that and the über spanx I was wearing). The fabric I picked up out of the Joann’s clearance bin and was juuuust a bit short on so it ended up being sleeveless. I swear it was lack of fabric and NOT a dislike of sleeves, that was just a bonus!

I have four pairs of spanx on

I have four pairs of spanx on

Now this dress has ZERO instructions so it’s a tiny bit of a puzzle when you’re putting it together and I had to make a few executive decisions finishing wise. I roll hemmed with my serger around the bottom hem and the ties, but for the neckline I turned the edge back onto the right side and sewed ribbon down over it. This both gave me a little decoration and a bit of stability.

I was going for "serious movie star" and ended up with "slightly constipated"

I was going for “serious movie star” and ended up with “slightly constipated”

Overall I was pretty pleased with it, especially as I only had a week to make it. I accessorized with Rob’s great-Aunt’s mike stole and some fun orange gloves.

why yes I AM having a shirley temple in a champagne flute

why yes I AM having a shirley temple in a champagne flute

Judy of Learning to  Costume looking smokin'

Judy of Learning to Costume looking smokin’

I watched a bunch of youtube tutorials as I was avoiding my finals and thought I would give some absurd flapper make-up a go. I have to say it was pretty funny to wear as I’m generally a no frills kinda-girl.

check out those eyebrows

check out those eyebrows

Having fun with Madame Kat and some Noir editing

Having fun with Madame Kat and some Noir editing


All photos shamelessly stolen from Madame Kat as mine turned out horrible and her’s great. I bow to her awesome.

Black and Cream 1912 Wrap

Black and Cream 1912 Wrap

In March several friends and I went to see the Titanic Exhibit at the Franklin Institue downtown. First let me say the exhibit was exceptional! I highly recommend you see it.

I re-wore a dress I made last year for the Dress U titanic dinner but I was worried about being cold (and apparently was right to worry!) so in the week before the exhibit I whipped up a quick wrap. And I must say it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. The optical illusion created by the waistband and sleeves is very flattering.


On the stairs at the Franklin Institute

I used some luscious black wool that my friend Alice gave me for christmas and picked up some casa satin from Jo-Ann’s for the lining. It’s a poly satin but it has a very dull sheen so it almost reads more as a sateen. I was really happy with both materials.


So you can actually SEE the wrap…I just think the 1st photo is more flattering and hey it’s my blog!

The pattern was heavily inspired by this wrap on the Vintage Pattern Lending Library site unfortunately I couldn’t figure out if it was still for sale or how to buy it. So I stared at the pictures for a while, pulled out some muslin and just kind of futzed till I got something that seemed right. I have to say I’m very pleased with the result.


The all important back view


K and I in the first class hallway.

titanic group_w_jess

The best part! We got to take a group photo on the grand staircase! (well they took it and we paid a stupid amount for it but I’m still excited)


The very best part about this wrap is that I have now worn it not once but TWICE to a friend’s bridal shower and to a wedding last weekend. It looks remarkably well over a modern dress. I call it a great success.