History is riding on my back: not-quite-Me-Made-May blouse & skirt

Thanks for all the nice comments about my last handmade outfit post! ♥

If you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been a peep on here about Me Made May. Here’s the deal. I’ve wanted to participate in MMM for the two years and thought finally, I’m ready to do this challenge! But then the bathroom remodel came up, so it seemed a bit silly to dress in me-made clothing in the middle of a construction zone. Plus, we’ll be in the UK for the last week of May which was going to make documenting the end of it difficult, anyway. Alas. At least I’ve been sneaking in some me-made here and there but it’s kind of a bummer. I’ll just have to to set the bar high for myself next year!

So today you get a sewn outfit post from a little bit ago (before I got new specs, which you haven’t seen yet… tease!). It’s yet another one based on patterns I’ve previously sewn. Because I’m trying to close some wardrobe gaps with me-made clothing, turning to patterns I’ve sewn before with success is an easy and fast way to fill it with staples I know I’ll love. But the results still feel very different, so I’m not bored. (And hopefully you aren’t, either!)

The skirt is New York Patterns 1730, a bias-cut pattern from the 1940s. Nothing fancy, not even pockets. Just a basic navy twill skirt. Something I really needed as evidenced by the fact that I’ve already worn in tons since finishing it a couple of weeks ago!

I sewed this pattern first last year, making a green (and equally plain) version. What I didn’t remember when I pulled out the pattern is the hack-job I did last year with the pattern pieces. Good grief. I had modified the seam allowance for a lapped zipper (which needs at least a 5/8″ seam allowance, not the 1/2″ many of my vintage patterns use), but I did something like forget to add 1/8″ to one side seam only. I needed to tidy things up, so in the process, I also removed 1″ from the waistband for a better fit. And now my re-drafted pieces are just right. Yay for a perfect a-line skirt pattern!

I think I may need to stop sewing this pattern on the bias, though. I don’t really think it’s adding anything to a non-striped version of this skirt, so I think it would be fine on-grain. Kind of like Colette Ginger which can be cut either way… speaking of, maybe I’ll give that pattern a whirl for a change of pace the next time I want an a-line skirt. Anyway, both times I’ve sewn this on the bias I’ve has issues with lining up the lapped zipper due to one or another piece stretching (I didn’t remember that from last time until later, otherwise I would have tried to stay stitch the side seams). At the point I realized there was going to be a pucker at the top of my zipper, I had already ripped out the side seam once which resulted in distorting the length of one piece slightly, so I was concerned another time would cause more problems than it would fix. So I just left it.

For all of you who said during my jacket project that I’m so meticulous … not always so, my friends! I’m a perfectionist in some places, but not in others. I’m still going to wear this skirt. A lot. What can I say. I’ll probably wear it enough that I’ll wear it out and need to sew another one, anyway. (How’s that for rationalizing.)

By the way I do still plan on doing a tutorial on my take on a vintage seam binding hem for gored or a-line skirts/dresses (skirts that have fullness at the hem, i.e. not straight skirts). I’m hoping to do that in June. It takes a little time but it’s almost fool-proof. I know because prior to using this method I did my hems using a lot of stupid hard ways that were equally time-consuming but not as effective!

The blouse is yet another McCall 4820 from 1942, are you tired of seeing this yet? Sorry! Really, after sewing this up three times, the only thing I have to talk about is the fabric, since I made no changes to this from the last one.

I used vintage cotton yardage I picked up at some point, and I barely had enough to squeeze out the blouse. To see if I could make it fit, I had to lay it out on the basement floor with all pieces doubled where needed—although I’m still in fear that employing this method will someday leave me with two left or two right fronts if I forget and flip over a piece the wrong way. (The stuff of my sewing nightmares. Please tell me you have them too?)

It had a similar texture and weave to feedsack, but it didn’t have the telltale holes along the edge where it would have been seamed and was a little softer, so I’m not sure exactly what it was, other than very pretty.

Now here’s the truth: it wasn’t in 100% perfect condition. There were some manufacturing issues and blips and blobs, and the fabric felt a little worn after pre-washing (although maybe it was just softer).

I had to question myself why I’d sew a blouse with imperfect 50- or 60-year-old fabric. Would I do that with new fabric? No. So why would I do it with vintage fabric?

I’m really not sure I have a clear answer. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about, as I’ve done this a couple of times now.

Vintage is just so special. Be it clothing, housewares, jewelry, books and accessories, or raw materials like fabric and buttons. I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, of course, as many of you have your own love affair with vintage!

Vintage involves so many interesting layers. History, stories, memories, research and sleuthing, to name a few. When it’s related to clothing it adds more to the mix. Wonderful shapes and styles, colors, patterns, textures. When it’s recreating vintage with my own hands it adds even more layers. Slowing down and appreciating things. Connecting with a community, current and past. Having pride in my skills and joy in creating something with my own hands. Taking something I love (fabric, buttons, notions) and making it into something I love more (better than the sum of its parts).

A love of vintage often necessitates the nurturing and repair of delicate things (and they’re only getting more delicate as the years go by). Anyone with more than a handful of vintage clothing or linens in their closet has probably repaired many things in their day, or bought previously-repaired pieces. And we proudly still wear or use those items as long as it’s feasible. I guess in my own way, I’ve extended this to vintage raw materials, too.

So I sewed a blouse with imperfect vintage fabric that I fell in love with. I mean really, isn’t that print fabulous? A beautiful bright blue and white floral on the perfect shade of tomato red. To me, it was something special. It was worth turning into something even better. And even with its faults, I decided it was worth it to me to use it as-is, in a garment no less.

What can I say, vintage patterned fabric is one of my favorite things. And it’s kind of a magical, authentic combination when it’s used to sew up a vintage pattern. I figure I’ll try to find and use as much of it as I can while I still can… because that well is going to eventually run dry. Someday textiles that comes out of attics, closets and basements will either no longer be usable… or just plain won’t exist any more.

Maybe this all means the blouse isn’t perfect. Maybe it won’t last as long as the first version sewn with modern fabric. But nothing will last forever, anyway! So I’ll give it all the love I can and know that it was better for this wonderful fabric to see the light of day than sit on a shelf.

And when I wear it, I’ll know yet another little piece of history is riding on my back. And I’ll enjoy it as long as I can. :)

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , , ,

Golly, 41 Comments!

  • I agree with your thoughts on the vintage fabric – it’s nice to see that it’s being used and appreciated and made into something lovely, even if it was a bit imperfect or won’t last as long. I will eventually get round to learning to sew properly so I can make such nice outfits as yours!

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  • I love this ensemble! So cute and classic. :)

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  • Lovely outfit! I finished a navy skirt that looks very similar to yours last night (using Simplicity 3688, a repro 40s pattern) and I know it’s going to be a very useful item in my wardrobe. I’ve been too scared to sew with vintage fabrics so far, I worry that I’ll mess up the project and waste the fabric. Aaaah, I wish I was at home and sewing rather than being stuck at work!

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  • This is another stunning outfit, in your array of stunning outfits! And yes, by the way, I’ll happily sew with imperfect vintage fabric, although I probably wouldn’t entertain the idea of doing so with new fabric. My reasons are exactly the same as yours, but you’ve expressed them in a much more eloquent way than I could ;o) And how exciting that you’ll be in the UK at the end of May! What dates and will you have time to meet-up with any sewing bloggers…some of us would love to meet you if the stars align that way ;o)

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    • We’ll be in Cardiff most of the time (and Edinburgh a few days) staying with our friends, with only about 1/2 a day in London before we leave for home (May 24th-June 2nd are when we’re there). I don’t think I actually know where you live? lol I’ll be working around our friends’ plans and such, but if either of those are anywhere near you or are accessible, please do email me! :D

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  • Love this outfit! Both pieces are great and look like they will get a lot of wear. I’ve used imperfect fabric, both vintage and not, when it is special in some other way – minimizing fabric defects and making the most of beautiful fabric is a luxury we have when we sew!

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  • Hey,
    great look! I love your glasses!
    Love

    http://wolkedrei.blogspot.de/

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  • It looks awesome! That pattern looks so easy to alter to my own basic pattern, I think I might try it out :D I want those kind of eye glasses too..!

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  • I think it is the very imperfections that make vintage things so lovable; I love the rough edges and the history of use. I think you were right to make that material into a really cool blouse – you look GREAT!

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  • That navy skirt is a great shape and will go with absolutely everything – I’ve made a few Ginger skirts which is a v similar pattern and wear then all the time (I’m wearing one now!) But the blouse?! God it’s perfect! The fabric, the shape, the buttons, everything about it. Great outfit, you look wonderful Tasha! x

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  • I think it’s fantastic that you’re putting such fabric to work. It’s survived this long and deserves to be turned into a beautiful creation like this at long last (and who better to breath new life into it than you?).

    How awesomely exciting that you’re headed off to the UK! I hope you have an incredible, fun filled, super safe trip!

    ♥ Jessica

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  • Another gorgeous outfit, love the print of the blouse. I need to make a versatile skirt like that.

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  • Beauts! I love the pattern! :)

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  • Love the skirt! I need to know where you got your shoes!

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  • what a greatgreatGREAT outfit, tasha!!! i love it!!! :-D
    nadine

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  • You were right to choose to give a new life to this amazing vintage fabrics!!!!

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  • The print is perfect and meant to be paired with that pattern! You did the right thing by sewing it ;)

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  • Such a beautiful print, and I agree totally about using the fabrics. Better you use it and enjoy it now than leave it on a shelf until it’s too old and fragile for anything else!

    I hope you enjoy your visit to the UK. I wish I lived nearer to the big cities- I never get the chance for any meet-ups with other bloggers.

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  • Oh hun you are so talented! Keep making all these pretties!!! Love it! xox

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  • What a pretty outfit! It suits you so well. I really like the sunny yellow buttons :)

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  • I absolutely love your blog!!
    You are incredibly talented.
    I love all the outfits you create! Thanks for sharing :)

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  • These pieces are both lovely, but I especially love your blouse. That fabric is jsut so beautiful. And I so enjoyed reading your thought about it as well.

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  • Love this outfit:) very cute blouse!

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  • I LOVED love your printed blouse so much and I’m with you –I just adore vintage fabric! I love the shape of the navy skirt!! Having a 40s navy skirt is super useful…I wear mine with everything!!!

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  • How good are those 40′s A line skirts? I’ve knocked out about 5 in the past few months! Some with a suit and some on their own. I wear them so often and not one of them is black – I’ve got khaki, seafoam green, red and brown flecked wool. Okay so maybe 4 – and the brown one has a bit more flare on the gores past the hip. But still – they are just the best kind of skirt!

    Yours is darling too – I think I want a navy one now!
    And the shirt – good idea of doing a pattern piece for each sleeve etc! I’ve only just started tracing vintage patterns (shhhhh) and didnt think to do this. Need to get on the feedsack bandwagon and see if any of my patterns would fit the bill ;-)

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  • What a beautiful outfit and an interesting point you make about flawed vintage fabric. I’d have used it too – if it’s still around after a few decades it deserves to be used, flaws or not!

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  • I love your take on vintage. The history in each item is so special.

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  • That skirt has a fantastic shape to it, Tasha. I may have to try and track down that pattern..
    Can’t WAIT to see the new glasses ;)
    xo,
    ConstantlyAlice

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  • I was having a similar discussion regarding the finite supply of vintage patterns and textiles the other day with my husband. We went to an estate sale at a two-flat that had been in the same family since 1928; it was most recently occupied by two sisters who were both seamstresses. The amount of fabric, trim and patterns they’d collected were unreal. I wanted to buy it all. I wish I had. I actually got sad on the way home thinking about how the generation likely to have held on to these treasures were now largely deceased or on their way out. Someday it will be gone.

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  • Once again, a totally adorable and completely wearable, practical outfit. I just love the simplicity and versatility, but it’s just so CLASSY at the same time! And I really feel your zipper problems and just leaving everything as it turns out. I do that too, so it’s refreshing to see someone else admit it!
    I agree with you on the vintage fabric. Would I sew with messed up new fabric? No. But vintage fabric is….. better than new. …. It’s vintage. So of course it’s usable!

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  • What a fun outfit! I love that bright print– it’s gorgeous! I think you do a service to precious things by making something and using them. My great-grandmother’s good china set went to my grandma, and now my sister, and nobody down that line has ever really used it! I understand not wanting to damage something that’s irreplaceable, but it’s sad to have beautiful things and keep them boxed up for decades.

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  • It’s always a pleasure to see your handmade creation !!!
    so beautiful !!!
    and here, yes here, a Miss L Fire pair of shoes !!!! oh I’ve the same….
    Good choice

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  • I agree with you totally. Just wish I could pull off an authentic vintage look as well as you can! BTW, can I have your lamp please!!!
    Px

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  • Lovely blouse in a lovely print! Good choice with the yellow buttons!

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  • this skirt is incredible. it looks perfectly together with the new blouse.
    i’m looking for a simple blue skirt like this for months now. … still haven’t found it.

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  • Lovely a-line skirt !

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  • I loved your thoughts on wearing vintage, because to me it is also not only dressing in old fashioned stuff :) The outfit is so cute, I love the fabric of the blouse.

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    • upps, I wrote some more, where is it?^^

      Giving old things a new life is wonderfull, in consideration of todays fast fashion and the waste we create trough it.

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  • […] – made by me (Ravelry link to pattern) skirt – made by me boots – Hunter […]

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  • […] McCall 4820 #3 and New York 1730–Yes, another McCall 4820 from vintage fabric, immediately after the last one! This skirt was a repeat, but from a pattern I sewed in 2012. That version is a little big so I tweaked it this time and now have a perfect fit. I kind of hate sewing pieces on the bias so I’m pretty sure I said I wouldn’t do it again…but I probably will. […]

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