My 40s gray wool skirt & feedsack blouse

As I mentioned in my last post, while I’m in bathroom-land I’m going to catch you up on some of the things I sewed towards the end of winter and beginning of spring! I think after this post I still have three things (with a possible soon fourth) left to show you, one of which may even result in a mini tutorial when I come back up for air in June after our trip.

What can I say, sewing has really become a big deal for me in so many ways, especially this year. And speaking of which, if you haven’t already you need to go read Rochelle’s beautiful sewing manifesto, especially if you are new to sewing. I just love the online sewing community!

Anyway, today I’m sharing a gray wool skirt and feedsack blouse, both from 1940s patterns I’ve sewn up before.

(Oh and hello, welcome to my step-grandmother’s hutch. Remember how I said my mom and step-dad drove it across country a few weeks ago? You’ll be seeing lots more of it, for sure! And yes, I still ‘squee’ every time I look at it, thankyouverymuch.)

I finished this skirt and blouse back in—my goodness, I think the skirt was completed in January and the blouse in February. I actually wore this outfit (along with my Curlicute cardigan) to the Chicagoland Vintage Clothing, Jewelry and Textile Show at the end of February, so Liz and reader Molly and her friend are the only ones who’ve seen it!

In fact I actually bought these shoes at that show. Navy blue heels from the 1940s, and pretty comfy. Swoon!

The skirt is a second version of Simplicity 2211 from 1945 (the first was my diamonds skirt), using a nice gray wool, lined with poly lining. I usually don’t bother lining skirts as I wear slips, but I’m starting to come around to the idea of doing it here and there. This was the first one I did before moving to the wonderfulness that is rayon bemberg lining. The skirt is a little big, because I sewed it before discovering I was wrong about my waist size (it was just after this and before my pinafore skirt that it dawned on me), but with the belt I can cinch it in slightly.

Due to a boneheaded cutting error, I ended up having to piece together the waistband, with a seam strategically placed at the side seam of the skirt. Due to said same boneheaded error, I also had to do that with the belt. But while a seam in a waistband isn’t the end of the world, you really don’t want to see that on a belt! So wide belt carriers were my answer to that. (I’d call them belt loops except they aren’t very loop-like.)

The seam of the belt is hidden exactly behind the back right tab. Pretty sneaky, huh? Boy was there some math to get that just so.

I think the first time I noticed similar belt carriers outside of Western-wear was about 6 months ago, on a 30s-style skirt from Nabby’s Vintage Life. I loved her skirt so much I pinned it for safe keeping. While I was trying to decide if similar belt carriers would look nice on my 40s gored skirt, I encountered this circa 1940 Hollywood pattern online, and that sealed the deal!

{Source: Vintage Patterns Wiki}

I created my own little pattern piece to sew them. I find for fiddly things, pressing is way easier with a cardboard template inside. You can see the difference it makes below!

The top of the tabs are machine-stitched to the waistband, but my mom had a great idea for how to attach the angled part of the tab to the skirt: since I hand pick-stitched the lapped zipper, she suggested I mirror that in the tabs and pick-stitch them, too. I love it!

I couldn’t decide on a buckle for the self belt, so I used a blue plastic vintage one and just tacked it down in the back with contrasting thread. That way I can easily remove it and swap it to something different if I’d like down the road! In the meantime, it’s a swell match with this blouse.

The blouse is my first button-down made from a vintage feedsack, sewn using McCall 4820 from 1942. Can you believe how vibrant the colors are??

Now seriously, it’s been a goal of mine since I started to sew again in 2011 to be able to make myself feedsack blouses, but the yardage is really skimpy on them (we’re talking around 37″ x 46″). I knew it would be next to impossible unless I had a very slim-fitting pattern. But once I sewed up my inspired-by-Debi blouse with this pattern, I suspected it might be The One. And I was right! You don’t know how excited that made me! I have at least three other feedsacks lined up to turn into blouses now. Hallesewinglujah.

To figure out the cutting layout, I had to cut out doubles of all pattern pieces that required two and open up pieces on the fold, just so I could see it all placed out on the fabric together. In the end I can get every piece but an under-collar on one feedsack! So the under-collar is just muslin.

I modified the pattern pieces to have a straight hem instead of the westkit-style hem in the original pattern, but that’s it, so this pattern has now moved into tried-and-true territory. You’ll soon be seeing a third version recently completed in vintage fabric, and I could easily make a dozen more… and likely will! What can I say, I like winning patterns.

While I never explicitly meant for this blouse to go with the gray skirt, I think they make quite a smart pair!

Along with the vintage feedsack fabric, I used vintage buttons from my stash that just happened to match perfectly.

Overall I’m quite happy with the skirt and the blouse, and have worn both several times in the last couple of months. Both are great everyday pieces for me. I guess a sewist can’t ask for more than that!

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , , ,

Golly, 58 Comments!

  • I love how the clock makes you look like Lady Liberty in the first photo! :)

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  • I must ask you something…. do you have more pleasure when you wear your own creations or in vintage? I don’ t know how to sew or knitt so I cannot have this kind of feelings.

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    • Really good question, Laurence! I don’t think I have a real clear-cut answer, I’ll have to think about it more. I think it’s partially different feelings for me. I love the satisfaction and pride of making things myself (along with enjoying the actual process of sewing or knitting them, too), and especially when I use some element of vintage in it– an old pattern, or fabric, or a technique. But I love vintage clothing too for somewhat different reasons. The history, the fabric, the colors and textures, that interesting mystery of wondering how the items spent their earlier days, and of course the amazingness of the garments/accessories themselves. Tings like that. I know what I sew and knit will never be the same as original pieces, but I love both. :)

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  • The set is beautiful! I can’t believe that blouse fabric came from a feedsack; the print is so modern and vibrant. And I love the starbust coming out of your head in the first picture, it’s like you’re the Lady of the Amazing Hutch. Please tell me you did that on purpose :)

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  • The print on the feedsack is lovely! Your creations really spur me on to be a better sew-er(I wont use the word seamstress, as I am really nowhere near that!) I’m currently struggling with a 50s dress pattern. The minimal instructions (with no diagrams!) are sooooo hard to follow!!

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  • Very beautiful! Love the colors of your blouse with the grey of your skirt.

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  • Love that print! Nicely done!

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  • I’m forcing myself to only ick two things that I love about this outfit: the material you used for the blouse – gorgeous, and the belt loops – great idea to make an ironing template!!! I can’t wait to see the rest of your awesome projects!!!

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  • I love all the little vintage details you incorporate into every one of your projects. The belt buckle and buttons compliment each other so well and I really like the waist tabs on the skirt. Very pretty!

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  • Those colors look FABULOUS together. And they look really great on you too. I am impressed with how you made the limited yardage — and the cutting oops — work for you. I think sometimes I enjoying seeing the challenges of a project that were overcome better than I do a perfectly executed project.

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    • I know what you mean! Those are sometimes the things that make me never want to think about a project again, or love it all the more… it’s funny how it can go either way. ;)

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  • That blouse is killer! I absolutely love the fabric! The whole outfit is just perfect ;-)

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  • As usual everything you sew is sublime! :) Step-gran’s hutch combined with the mirror tile behind it is making my head explode from all the awesome. Hooray for western-style belt loops! I just added those to my Gertie pedal pushers to fix my awkwardly fitted waist. They are so easy to do and make everything just that much cuter!

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  • Absolutely beautiful – you, the skirt, the blouse and the hutch! Love it all!

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  • So great! That grey skirt is such a great basic and the blouse makes me swoon!

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  • I LOVE THIS OUTFIT! You are so adorable! That blouse it a dream!

    xoxo,
    tina

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  • Your outfit is SO amazing! Vintage and adorable, but it looks so wearable and practical too! I’m a bit scared to try making a button-down blouse (I feel like resizing and buttonholes could be difficult), but this encourages me to try!

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  • I knew I’d seen that outfit before. It’s so pretty in person. :) And, I adore those shoes. Great find!

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  • Oooh what a lovely outfit!! That is a really nice skirt and I can’t believe the colours in the feedsack fabric – they work so well with your skirt you’d think you intended to pair them together.

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  • I really love the idea of the belt buckle you can change out. It really brings the shirt together with the skirt, and it’s totally versatile!

    I had to look up feedsacks; I’ve never seen cloth feed sacks, other than burlap. I can’t believe that fabric is vintage! The colors are so fresh and vivid. And I absolutely have to steal those belt carriers for a circle skirt that has a droopy waist. =D

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  • Both of these items are so great, I really wish I could sew like you!

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  • OMG, that hutch and clock are TO DIE FOR! Cough cough, so is your outfit, of course……BUT THAT CLOCK!! Swoooooooon.

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  • Wow – another amazing outfit! I’m really in love with that blouse – hard to believe those colors are still so vibrant, and the print is so cool.

    And lucky you: your grandma’s hutch is gorgeous!

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  • You are completely Adorable
    <3 Elise

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  • Impeccable and beautiful creations!!! Also, that hutch and your SHOES….SWOON!!!

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  • The blouse material is GORGEOUS!! I’m terribly surprised to learn its vintage. So vibrant! Where did you find it?
    The entire outfit is super lovely! I think over my summer (when not sewing comic con costumes) I’ll work on making pretty clothes.

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  • hello tasha,
    i love your blog! Your fashion is very specially and beautiful, it looks great!
    greetings from upper-austria!
    illa

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  • Your creations are so stunning :)

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  • These turned out fabulously! The perfect fit and a great combo! Very flattering cut for you too! Wow!

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  • Both of these pieces are all kinds of wonderful! Seriously love the classic shape, hue and hem length of the skirt, and the fabulously cheerful colour palette of the top. Every time you make and share something with us, dear Tasha, I find myself wishing I could wave a magic wand and have one (or two in this case) just like it appear in my closet.

    Awesome work – I can’t wait to see your other recent sewing projects, too.

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

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  • I found your blog through pinterest, and I have to say you are absolutely amazing!! I have been collecting vintage patterns for quite sometime, but haven’t had the courage to start a project. I’ve sewn pillows, curtains, blankets, and a baby quilt but never embarked on a clothing project. What would you recommend starting first? I have a gorgeous early 50s beach wear pattern, but I might be in over my head. Any advice? Thanks, Hannah
    justpeachy-darling.blogspot.com

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    • Thanks Hannah! I’d say if you’re willing to take it slow, you can try just about anything first! You’re in a great phase because you don’t know enough to really be intimidated by anything since it’s all fresh and new. Just take your time, look up things when you hit stumbling blocks, and have fun! :)

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  • You look so wonderful! I adore that skirt and blouse :)

    xo,
    Em

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  • Great outfit! I love all the little details on the skirt! Well done! And hot damn, that hutch is amazing!

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  • Fantastic outfit! I love the angled carriers on the skirt and the print of the top is perfect.

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  • I love that outfit, I wish I could sew that well. I especially love the belt loops and the belt,such a cute detail :)
    teapotsandbelles.blogspot.com

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  • Gorgeous! Love the combination, and I’m sure these pieces will see lot’s of wear in other constellations as well =) Very clever soloutions for the waistband and belt!

    Wow, you’re really on a roll with your sewing now! Isn’t it great how when one crosses some hurdle (too little time, some other huge project, busy work etc) suddenly it becomes easy to find sewing time? And it sure is easy to get a taste for finishing projects =)

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    • You are absolutely right! I have definitely gotten a taste for finished projects, especially as they are so much quicker (even the jacket) than knitting projects! ;)

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  • Super flattering on you. Nice color combo too!

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  • “Hallesewinglujah” haahah!

    You have really been on a roll this year! You’ve sewn so many beautiful pieces!

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  • This outfit is really beautiful, it matches so perfectly!
    I love how you made the buckle match the blouse and the belt loops are a very cute detail.
    And well done, how you hid your belt-mistake below the loop :-) I had to make a waistband for my last skirt out of three pieces and planned to cut both edges to make it fit, so the seams would be somewhere at the sides. And of course without thinking I cut it on one end, ending up with a seam only slightly off the center front. So I know how it feels.
    Could you answer me a question concerning the blouse fabric: Does it feel different than normal cotton fabric? I mean, they were meant to contain grains, aren’t they scratchy or of lower quality than vintage fabrics made to become clothes?

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    • Thanks! I find feedsack to actually be perfectly comfortable. While it was indeed meant to hold grains and the like, it was often used for clothing. While I haven’t read anything about this in particular, I do wonder if it after some years, it was manufactured with that in mind. It’s definitely not scratchy (a little stiff until washed, but what cotton isn’t). It’s a little bit looser weave, but not so loose that it doesn’t hold its shape or anything. The feel is kind of like a medium-weight cotton, and depending upon the sack, can be a little softer/more drapey or about like quilting cotton. I imagine just like anything, there were different manufacturers to account for some of the differences. And the sacks of the size I’m talking about held 100 pounds, so you can imagine they were probably pretty durable. Of course they’re not always in the best condition by now, but if you get a good solid one, it’s definitely clothing-worthy. I wish I could hold one through the computer to show you. :)

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  • The furniture in the background looks fantastic.You are such a skilled seemstress and an inspiration to us as we take our first baby steps.I admire all the details in both skirt and blouse and hope to see your next project soon.

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  • That outfit looks wonderful! The vibrant colours of the blouse really pop out against the grey wool…. can’t wait to see what else you’ve got up your (sewing) sleeve!

    http://www.mancunianvintage.com

    PS that piece in the background is fabulous!

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  • This outfit is all sorts of fabulous! And thanks for the tip on pressing small pieces! Brilliant!

    I spy some Starbust in the background! That’s my pattern too! :)

    xoxo
    -Janey

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    • Eagle eyes! :D Yes, sadly that is *all* the Starburst I currently own. But hopefully I have some room to grow…although after getting all of my step-grandma’s rose china as well I wonder how many sets of dishes two people should possibly own… LOL!

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  • Love this! Great job and great patterns!

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  • gorgeous outfit. the colours go together so perfectly! love it.

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  • I just can’t get my head around the fact that they used such gorgeous fabrics on feed sacks! Never happened here in Finland, all feed sacks were coarse linen, jute or hemp, definitely not suitable for blouses nor other clothing.
    You made great job with both, blouse and skirt. No-one would have noticed the seam on the belt if you wouldn’t have mentioned it, so no damage there ;)

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  • Oh my, the blouse fabric is so so lovely (and the rest of the outfit as well)!

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  • This is awesome. And the inside of your house looks fantastic too!

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  • I could just cry about how amazing the inside of your house looks. That piece of furniture! Those fleck gold mirrors places in shape of windows! Not to mention the AMAZING. YOU MADE. OUTFIT. Ugh! You’re killin’ it. Feedsack fabulosity, for sure!

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  • Wow, I can’t believe how fantastic this skirt looks! You are truly very talented!

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