My most recent sewing project that I’m sharing today actually preempts the previous project I finished just before this one. You see, I planned to take photos of both the same day, except there was 2 inches of snow on the ground and I could only stand being outside without a coat for so long. So you’ll have to wait on the other one.
dog butt in the background
Look what I did for the love of this blog, my friends! I braved the cold and snow (and dodgy lighting—sorry).
When Lladybird Lauren visited Chicago last summer, she and I both bought the same brown wool tweed fabric at Vogue Fabrics. She turned hers into Thurlow trousers last fall, and mine became this pinafore skirt. I think it was the last they had of the fabric, because sadly when Liz of zilredloh.com went back to see if they had more, they didn’t. Sorry Liz.
I wanted an 8-gore skirt just to try something different, so I used the pieces of this Hollywood Patterns dress (pattern 407) and added a waistband. I’m nearly positive the pattern is from 1940. My sleuthing led me to Hollywood 402, just a few numbers down from my pattern. It featured “Betty Grable of 20th Century Fox” on the cover, and looking it up, she only joined 20th Century Fox in 1940, so it couldn’t be earlier. The November 1940 Hollywood Pattern catalog has similar styles but numbers already in the 500s, the June 1941 catalog is going on into the 600s, so I figured it couldn’t be later. So I bet this was from spring or summer 1940.
(Of course I’m totally sewing it as a dress someday, too!)
The art of skillfully cutting length off skirt pieces still rather eludes me. I had to cut off about 7″, about my norm. Folding the pattern pieces around the hip-level and re-drafting the side seams would have dramatically altered the width of all those gores (making the skirt much wider), but taking it from the hem would make a much less full hem. In the end I decided just to cut from the hem. Maybe I’ll split the difference next time. It still falls pretty nicely.
Would any (non-experts) sewists be interested in a post on my new favorite hemming techniques for using rayon seam binding and an a-line skirt? I was personally having some frustrations with getting it to look good on the inside until recently when I hit on just the perfect series of steps (using vintage resources as my guide).
I graded the pattern pieces down slightly to try and get a bit of a better fit in the waist but I went overboard, and after attaching the waistband realized it was too small. It fit, but it was a don’t eat, don’t breath kind of skirt. So I unpicked the waistband, let out several seams and re-cut the waistband. Now it’s perfect. Fortunately I foreaw that it might happen so I serged the seam allowances separately and pressed them open un-trimmed, otherwise I would have been sunk! I may repeat that in the future just in case.
Anyway, because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, halfway through the project I decided I wanted to make detachable pinafore straps. They’re held on with red buttons on the inside that only I get to see.
Isn’t the tweed great close-up? I definitely need more tweed in my life. Oh yes, it’s lined too! Only my second time lining (first was the other skirt you’ve yet to see). I started with cheap poly lining which I didn’t mind that much, but I’m soliciting opinions for your favorite lining fabrics and why. (This is wrinkly because I took the photo after wearing it.)
For the straps, it was easy: I measured up and over my shoulder diagonally from back waist to front waist, added a few inches for insurance, and cut one piece for each strap twice the finished width I wanted for the straps (2″) plus seam allowances. I interfaced, sewed up a back center seam and turned the tubes right side out (the interfacing proved a bit of a problem turning them but it’s okay in the end). Then I pressed, top-stitched about 1/4″ in from each edge, serged one raw edge and measured for buttonhole placement on the back. Once I had the straps buttoned in the back I flipped them to the front, marked buttonhole placement while wearing it, cut off the excess fabric, serged that raw edge and made the front buttonholes.
But I’ll probably wear it more as a skirt because in weather when I want a wool skirt, I also want a sweater. Maybe it would work with a fitted pullover?
Taking photos in the snow wasn’t so bad, but let’s be honest, it went a little more like this.
It’s a classic—a basic wool tweed skirt with removeable straps to transform it into a pinafore whenever I want. I love it. I’m already pretty sure I’ll be wearing this all the time!
40s fair isle hat: knit by me
opera gloves: knit by my mom
silk blouse: Vacation Vintage
Scottish tartan scarf: thrifted
Bakelite bangle: Ginger Jindo Antiques
Bakelite thistle brooch and earrings: eBay
50s rubber overshoes: Fab Gabs