Lady in *REALLY* Red - Simplicity 3851 Pattern Review and Reveal!

Recently I found an incredible yellow 1940s dress that had beautiful details, an amazing print, and would--miraculously--fit me perfectly.

However, before I could get to it after work that evening, it sold on Etsy in a matter of hours.  Talk about depressing.  Finally geared up to drop some cash on a dress, and it sold so quickly.  I was more dejected than one should be over a dress.

However, I finally accessed my gumption reserve and said, "Well HEY NOW, I don't need your perfect 1940s dress!  I'll make my own perfect 1940s dress!  And it will FIT me perfectly!  And it will be amazing!  I do what I want!"

So, I took the money that I was going to buy that dress with and bought three vintage patterns in my size, 16 vintage belt buckles, and 1940s rayon-cotton fabric.  I have set about making dresses and blouses I love to add to my wardrobe.  Not to mention, talk about being more cost-efficient.  I am going to be able to make at least 3 dresses out of the same amount of money I would've spent on one vintage one.

Here is the first creation, a bright red frock made from Simplicity 3851!  (There's a summary of the deets at the bottom.)

I found this VERY bright red fabric in the clearance section of Joann for around $3 a yard. It's mostly rayon with a bit of polyester thrown in.  (I generally hate polyester, so a fabric has to be "mostly" something else for me to care about it at all.)  For such a low price, I couldn't resist!  Luckily, I had enough fabric to make this pattern.  I used it as a wearable muslin.

I finished it on the way down to a couple of friends' wedding in Florida this past weekend!  It worked out beautifully, which was great because I brought no plan B outfit to wear!  This is also the first time I've done a real collar on anything, so I was extra glad things worked out!
I also ended up wearing it to another wedding this past weekend, and the "official" outfit photos are from then.  These pictures were taken after several hours outside in a Missouri summer, and, unlike my hair, the dress was still going strong!

And you may notice the shoes are not quite 40s, but I love them.  For in my book, gold snakeskin is a neutral.

Outfit details:
lucite purse: gifted
red dress: Simplicity 3851 from Sydcam123 Etsy shop
shoes: Payless
belt: me-made, buckle from JanesVintageToo Etsy shop
bakelite bangles: gifted

Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Fabric: rayon-polyester
Pattern: Simplicity 3850
Year: Unsure, early 1940s, probably during WWII
Notions: I used 13 buttons, 1 zipper, belt buckle, belting, and shoulder pads
How historically accurate is it? Very accurate!  The only not-so-accurate part would be the shoulder pads I used (from the 80s, I think), the polyester fabric content and the synthetic belting.  But who cares?  No one sees that!
Any tricky parts to the pattern?  Nothing really tricky, just tedious (cough, buttons and loops).  There are also several pieces that are drafted on your own (like the button loops and belt), but they're just rectangles and not difficult.
Did you change anything?  I used shoulder pads and raised the hem 3 inches for my shortness.  I also used slightly larger buttons, so only 13 of them on the bodice.
Time to complete: about 3 days 
First worn: Saturday, July 19
Total cost: $26 pattern + $7 fabric + $1 shoulder pads + $5 belting + $1 belt buckle + $6 button kit = $46 (but many of these elements, like the pattern and belting, can be used again or have leftover pieces for other projects.)
Notes: The pattern is pretty simple, actual, and that's coming from someone who has never made a real collar and only 6 buttonhole loops previous to this project!  The directions were easy to follow, the pieces obvious in how they fit together, and the fit perfect for me!
I bought a size down from my bust size (I'm a 31-32", and the pattern is a 30"), and it worked out to exactly the right size.  I recommend this for others buying 40s patterns, as the bust measurements seem to run large.

I used some stiff scrap fabric as stiffening for the sleeves, but it isn't working as well as I'd like (see the droopy sleeves above).  What would you use for stiffening?

P.S. Thanks to my friend Lauren and to Alicia for letting me use your phone pics!
And also, this was my first time trying Cheerwine soda, and it was delicious!  I'm not a huge soda fan, but I REALLY like this one!  Very flavorful!

10 Tips for Sewing Vintage

Flashback Summer: 10 Tips for Sewing Vintage

As even the most experienced sewing enthusiasts can attest, vintage patterns can be quite confusing at first.  They don't include all the pieces needed, they assume you know certain skills that you may or may not actually know, the sizing is different from today, and the unfamiliarities go on and on.  Sewing vintage can be a beast.

However, sewing vintage is so worth it, too.

I began sewing with vintage patterns about three years ago, and I thought I would share some of the things I have learned along the way for those of you who have been equally as bewildered by vintage patterns at one point or another.

Please feel free to help everyone out and comment with your own tips for sewing with vintage!
It's a constant learning process, and we all learn slightly different pieces of information in our sewing journeys.  Combined, we all know quite a lot about vintage sewing and can help each other immensely!

Emileigh's Tips for Sewing Vintage:

1. Buy patterns based on the measurements closest to yours, not the size printed on the envelope.
Sizing has changed over the years, and it's safest to buy according to your measurements.

2. "Ruching" means a part of a garment that has been gathered as a design element, and it also means "ruffle trim."
I just learned this one.  Like three days ago.

3. Learning certain skills before sewing vintage patterns will help you a LOT.
I would suggest knowing how to insert zippers, make buttonholes, create bias facings and trims, and make your own shoulder pads (for 1940s patterns).

4. Certain decades catered to certain body proportions.  You are not weirdly proportioned, I promise.
Many vintage patterns have seemingly strange proportions they cater to that were in vogue at that time.  1950s and 60s patterns often have much smaller bust-to-waist ratios because it was assumed a foundation garment would be worn.  1930s and 40s patterns tend to have less extreme proportions (like the 30-25-33 combo I find often).  Learning how to work with the proportions of your chosen decade and change them to fit you can avoid lots of frustration!

5. 1940s patterns tend to run large in the bust.
This could have saved me so much money and anguish on patterns. I don't know why it's so, but it is.  For example, I have a 31-32" bust (a modern vs. vintage bra measurement difference), and I find that 1940s patterns for a 30" bust work perfectly on me.  I would suggest sizing down.

6. Vintage patterns may be more petite in general.
In modern patterns, I have a heck of time fitting my smaller shoulders and shorter height, even with patterns with a smaller bust measurement. While vintage patterns may still be a bit "tall" for me, they tend to have smaller shoulder, neck, sleeve, and wrist proportions  than modern patterns.  Some women find these tricky to work with, especially for girls with guns that need to increase a sleeve width or ladies with broader shoulders.

7. 1940s dresses are often meant to have a "blousy"-looking top, so the shoulder-to-waist measurement is longer.
If a 40s dress has a torso 1-2" (if not slightly longer) more than your shoulder-to-waist measurement, it will probably be fine, if the design includes a blousy fit.  Don't shorten it, or your dress will feel too high-waisted and you'll lose that 40s bloused look.

8. The little details make a difference.
Things like blind hems and hand-stitched finishings will really help your garment look truly vintage.  Take the time to do them and make a quality piece for yourself that will confuse people in 100 years as to whether or not it's actually from the 20th century.

9. Expect to have to make some pattern pieces on your own.
I was completely shocked when my first vintage patterns didn't include all the pieces.  I thought I had been gypped, sold a pattern with missing bits!  However, it wasn't so.  Many patterns don't include pieces it was deemed "easy" for the seamstress to draft herself, often rectangle shapes or facings made by tracing other pieces.  
Read a pattern thoroughly first and see which pieces will be needed that aren't included.  Then you can cut them with everything else and save time.

There have been several times in my ignorance that I have decided to take a shortcut on a vintage pattern only to realize it was extremely necessary later.  Vintage patterns include pieces and finishes that modern garments don't, so even if you think a piece is superfluous, I would be very careful in choosing to omit it.

What have you learned about vintage sewing that you'd like to share with the rest of us?  Any tips could help!

Controversial Post: Vintage Prints and Jewelry - Racist?

I'm making the new theme of "Controversial Posts" to add to the blog, and this is the second in the theme.  You can find the first one on altering vintage here.

Most of us in the vintage world love a good novelty print and brooch, but there are times when vintage pieces make me cringe with their cultural and racial stereotyping.  Obviously, this was acceptable in the 40s, 50s, and 60s (and even later), but they aren't so well received in most places of the world today.

However, I don't think that all pieces depicting a different culture are racist.  I've determined six questions that I filter pieces through to determine if they're acceptable to me or not:

Does the piece highlight a different race or culture?  Who?

Are the scenes/people depicted in a way that enforces a stereotype?

Is this stereotype derogatory, neutral, or positive?

Could this stereotype be rooted in the stylized, artistic representation of a people/scene?  Does this stylized representation seem to be trying to insult, or merely exaggerating a common feature?

Does this piece, overall, give me a good impression of this people/culture?  Does the piece strike me as whimsical or as making fun of someone?

Knowing where I live and what I look like, what are the odds that someone would take offense at me wearing this?  Is it worth the risk to me?

Now below, I'm going to use this filter to analyze two vintage pieces, a novelty print and a jewelry set, to show you guys my line of thought on this. 

I think it's also good to note that we often think of "racist vintage" as pertaining only to black people or islanders, but in reality Asians, Caucasians, Middle Easterners, and Latinos are also depicted in vintage motifs.  It's important to incorporate all the relationships between these races, not simply focusing on a black-white race view of things simply because it tends to be the "loudest" issue in society right now.

You may or may not agree with my analyses of the following pieces, and that's perfectly alright because we all come from different world views.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about it, or see how you would analyze any other vintage pieces!

Example #1
for sale here
Does the piece highlight a different race or culture?  Who?
This is highlighting Hawaii and native Hawaiians.

Are the scenes/people depicted in a way that enforces a stereotype?
Absolutely.  Hula skirts, leis, palm trees, surfers; the print is made of Hawaiian stereotypes!  It reflects all the assumptions people have about the tangible parts of Hawaiian culture and show that Hawaii is a chill, fun place to be.  Also, all the people are orange, reflecting a darker skin tone.

Is this stereotype derogatory, neutral, or positive?
It seems positive to me.  Hawaiians proudly hula dance and surf still, and leis are still worn.  They don't seem to be upset with these tangibles being connected to them in any way.  Not to mention, who doesn't look at this and wishes they lived there?

Could this stereotype be rooted in the stylized, artistic representation of a people/scene?  Does this stylized representation seem to be trying to insult, or merely exaggerating a common feature?
Mostly no, these stereotypes are found in the actual subject matter.  Of course, Hawaiians are not the same color (and definitely not orange), but this seems to be a style and color palette choice.

Does this piece, overall, give me a good impression of this people/culture?  Does the piece strike me as whimsical or as making fun of someone?
Definitely a good impression.  It has a fun, tropical feel to it and makes me want to go to Hawaii.

Knowing where I live and what I look like, what are the odds that someone would take offense at me wearing this?  Is it worth the risk to me?
Since I live in Missouri, the odds are pretty low that someone would take offense, and it would be worth the risk for me to wear.  (And I do have a Hawaiian print dress, shown here and here.)

Example #2
for sale here
*Quick note: this is listed as blackamoor "Nubian" jewelry, but I have Nubian friends and this is NOT what they look like at all, not even remotely Nubian-looking.

Does the piece highlight a different race or culture?  Who?
Yes, it's "blackamoor" jewelry, which I'm assuming is meant to portray Moors, or black Muslims.

Are the scenes/people depicted in a way that enforces a stereotype?
Heck yes.  The facial features include exaggerated lips, literally black skin, and a shaved head along with cultural features such as the gem earrings and large turban.  It promotes the jolly, simple, exotic black person stereotype that was especially common in the 1960s and earlier in the West. (Think black face routines, etc.)

Is this stereotype derogatory, neutral, or positive?
I would put this in the derogatory category.  "Simple" is not a positive, and perpetual "jolliness" voids one of normal human emotion.  The turban is a bit exaggerated, but I'd say it's neutral.  Moors did wear turbans back in the day, so..... makes sense.

Could this stereotype be rooted in the stylized, artistic representation of a people/scene?  Does this stylized representation seem to be trying to insult, or merely exaggerating a common feature?
It could be a little bit rooted in the style, perhaps with the colors chosen. The exaggerated facial features, however, are suggestive of imposed racist traits that aren't flattering and are meant to be demeaning.

Does this piece, overall, give me a good impression of this people/culture?  Does the piece strike me as whimsical or as making fun of someone?
No, it seems to be making fun of them.  They are cartoonish to the point of almost creepy.  They don't seem like normal humans.  It's not acceptable.

Knowing where I live and what I look like, what are the odds that someone would take offense at me wearing this?  Is it worth the risk to me?
There are a lot of black people in my area, and I would feel embarrassed to wear this out.  (Even if there were absolutely no black people around... I would be embarrassed to wear this out.) It's not appropriate, and it's not worth the risk.  It's a no-go for me.

What are your thoughts on my analyses?  Do you agree or disagree?  Do you have any pieces you would like to share or let the community discuss that you're unsure of?

Wedding Pictures #2!

Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage dress

Today I have a follow up of my first wedding photo post!  These are from the lovely Ashley Edwards, the second shooter at my wedding (and also a friend from my dorm hall), of Ashley Brooke Edwards Photography.  She got some good experience working with my friend Noor at my wedding, and she's producing fabulous photos!  Here are some of the wonderful pictures she shot:

Some of you may recognize the band in a photo below: Sarah Jane & the Blue Notes!  They were AMAZING!  They look vintagely fabulous, their musicianship is incredible, and they were great to work with, very flexible and very kind.  They even learned "Faithful Forever" by Glen Miller just so Jacob and I could have it played live during our first dance, which was so good of them!  I highly recommend them for any of your upcoming events in the St. Louis area!

Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding
My grandparents in their '40 Ford my grandpa has restored, also our getaway car for the day!
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - groomsmen
Jacob and the bros
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage dress and veil

Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage dress and veil

Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - groom
Hands off ladies, he's mine! 
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage dress
Didn't my mom look great?!  She pin curled her hair and wore a real 1940s dress for the occasion, and rocked it!
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage going away trousseau dress
This was my going away outfit!  I'll have more shots of it for you in the next wedding picture post!
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - father daughter
Instead of a father-daughter dance, my father and I did a crane folding ceremony, as in folding Japanese origami cranes.  My dad showed me how to do it when I was very little, and it's been a "thing" of ours ever since.  It was much more meaningful than a dance.
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage decor
Here was the table at the front of the church for cards, gifts, and signing our wedding poster instead of a guest book! 
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - mother son
Jacob pinning on his mom's corsage
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage swing band, Sarah Jane & the Blue Notes
Sarah Jane & the Blue Notes!
Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage dress

Flashback Summer: My 1940s Air Force Military Wedding - vintage decor
We decorated the tables simply with vintage linens, fresh flowers in old jars and vases, candies, paper cranes folded by my father, and pictures of Jacob's and my relatives who had served in the military back in the day.

Family Recipe: Egyptian Salad

Flashback Summer: Family Recipe - Egyptian Salad

First, to clarify, no, my family is not technically Egyptian, and despite this, I am still going to share this recipe as a family recipe.  I will tell you why.

Egyptian salad is eaten by every family in Egypt, and I'm pretty sure there are no exceptions.  I call it a family recipe now because this salad is one of those things that, to me, tangibly represents how my family has been affected by our move overseas.  When we went to Egypt, we didn't know.... well, anything, basically, about Egypt.  As we grew to love the people and the culture, we began integrating parts of that culture into our own lives.

For me, Egyptian salad represents that.
When I eat this salad, it tastes like home.  It reminds me of how my Egyptian friend David teased me and said I would never get married because I didn't know how to make a correct salad or even dice the vegetables "properly."  It reminds me of sitting in the kitchen talking to my mom and sister as I chopped the vegetables into tediously small cubes.  It reminds me of going to the local vegetable store and having the owner, Mohammed, help me pick out the best vegetables to use in the salad.

This salad has become a family recipe that represents all the good about Egypt that has become a part of each of us.

Flashback Summer: Family Recipe - Egyptian family eating meal
An Egyptian family eating.  source.
So now that you now how awesome the meaning behind this salad is, I will share the recipe with you!  It's super simple, extremely healthy, and ridiculously refreshing.  Seriously, I make a giant bowl to leave in the fridge and eat as a snack throughout the week.  And I normally consider salads to be "rabbit food," dear readers, so you know this salad is GOOD STUFF.

This salad is very much done in a "to taste" fashion, meaning there are no specific measurements.  I've tasted lots of versions of it with differing proportions of ingredients, and the instructions below can be considered a base that you can work off of to make it your own!

cilantro (not pictured, but definitely worth including)
olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper
* A good veggie proportion would be 1 cucumber and 1 tomato to 1/2 onion.
Flashback Summer: Family Recipe - Egyptian Salad

1.  Dice the tomatoes into small pieces and put in a bowl large enough to mix everything in.  The smaller the pieces, the more authentically Egyptian.  Chop up the cilantro and add it as well.
Flashback Summer: Family Recipe - Egyptian Salad

2.  Do the same with the cucumbers and onions.
3.  Next, pour enough olive oil in to coat the veggies, but not so much to as to make them feel oily and drippy.  Just a bit.
Flashback Summer: Family Recipe - Egyptian Salad

4.  Next, add a quick splash of lemon juice and mix the salad.  Now taste it, and if you'd like more lemon taste, splash some more in there.  (Note, it's always better to have to add more than to have a too-sour salad, so start with small amounts until you like it.)
5.  Lastly, salt and pepper all of it to taste.
Flashback Summer: Family Recipe - Egyptian Salad

You can leave this in the fridge and it will get better after sitting for a day or so.  The flavors blend together more and become even tastier! 

P.S. In the making of this post I had a very sad jadeite accident.  Does anyone do mosaic/craft/collage work that could use jadeite pieces?  They're such a beautiful color, I'd prefer not to waste them by throwing them away.  Anyone have a use for these or know someone who would?  I'll give them to you!

6 Non-Joann Modern Novelty Print Sources

As I mentioned in a previous post, I and seemingly most others in the vintage world love a good novelty print.  However, although there are thousands of garments with novelty prints available, there are far fewer pieces of novelty fabric that can be used to make one's own garment.  Especially if you want something unique or have not-so-common measurements, making your own clothing can become necessary.

However, like I said, what to do it with?  Vintage novelty fabrics are not as available and can become quite expensive.  Not to mention, oftentimes there aren't very large pieces available.  What's a girl to do?

Enter modern novelty fabrics.

Before you reject them as inauthentic, let me explain and show you some options.  Modern fabrics are generally cheaper, sturdier, and readily available in large amounts.  If you look, you can find modern prints that look vintage, too.  Adorableness, like the vintage playsuit Frances made with modern fabric, is waiting to be created.  Here are 6 non-Joann sources I have found for cute, new-but-vintage-appropriate novelty prints:

There's a large array of prints here, including this cotton-linen fan print I adore:
I can envision so many fabulous things made out of this!!!

This is quilting cotton for Christmas, but it's pretty dang adorable anyway.  I like the addition of the blue, a nice change for a Christmas fabric:

From the writer of Vintage Notions (which I LOVE and reviewed here), comes this fabric shop.  This site sells home decorating fabrics, but some may still be appropriate for garments (thicker, stiffer pieces).  It includes fabric like this postage inspired one:
And also this whimsical bird fabric:

This site has a good selection of novelty prints, including some with a retro feel, like this adorable food themed one:
Or this also food themed, but specifically sushi-inspired fabric!  Doesn't sushi sound great right now?!  (I'm writing this pre-lunch...)

This site has a bunch of really unique prints, even including some Frida Kahlo-inspired ones!  I really loved this cute mason jar print:
and this creative take on a stripe: zippers!

I found this interesting old schooner sketch fabric.  It's a little less flamboyant than other novelty prints and works for a subtle theme:
and I couldn't resist this other nautically-themed fabric.  (This company also ships worldwide!)

Do you know of any other good novelty print sources we could all benefit from?

I have no relationship with any of the companies listed above at the present time.  I am not receiving any compensation for these recommendations.

Miss August Vintage Life Magazine Contest Help!

I have exciting news!  I've entered the "Miss August" competition with Vintage Life Magazine for the first time!  I took the leap and submitted this photo:

Part of the judging takes into account the number of likes, shares, etc. a photo gets.  Would you mind going over to the photo on Facebook and helping me out?  You can find the photo here:

I would HUGELY appreciate your help in liking and spreading the word!  Not to be dramatic or anything... but help me live the dream.


But really.

Fancy Print Fixation

There seems to be a novelty print love resurgence happening right now, and rightly so!  I started getting into them..... well, when I realized they existed about a year ago, and I've been hooked ever since!

I love novelty prints because they're such an easy way to mix vintage with almost anything else you love, as long as there's a novelty print ever been made of it.  For example, I, of course, love Egypt because I lived there.  Which means I adore this hieroglyphic 40s dress for sale right now:

However, there are lots of options!  This dress would be fabulous for the lady who loves to cook (or, heck, eat!):

Or someone looking to stereotypically celebrate their Dutch heritage (I love this one, I won't lie!):

Perhaps you are a princessy type.  Express that with a royally themed skirt:

Did you grow up doing ballet and still love it?  This skirt would be an excellent choice for wearing to a ballet one night:

Some people just love games.  If you are a fan of board games, card games, etc., you can reflect that in a novelty print.  Maybe you're even a poker champ, in which case you should definitely wear this skirt to your next tournament:

And music!  There are so many novelty prints devoted to the wonderful thing, like this amazing blouse:

Basically, what I'm saying is: don't just buy any random novelty print just because it's a vintage fad.  Buy the prints that you truly love and express yourself with them!  You have the ability to visibly demonstrate something about yourself in a way that nothing but a novelty print can really offer.  (Who says, "Wow, she must love music, look at the shape of that skirt!"  No one.)  Use this to express what is unique about you!

If you could find/have any novelty print in the whole world, what would it be and why?