When the Option Is "Sew or Freeze"

Flashback Summer: "Sew or Freeze" - 1930s winter fashion
1934 winter frocks, from Glamourdaze

For many people, sewing is a hobby.  It's fun to sew the little tote bag, the pinterest shirt refashion, the decorative table runner.  However, for me, it's much more dramatic.  It's "sew or freeze" time!

As fall approaches, I've been reminded of how chilly I was last winter when I realized I had completely insufficient amounts of vintage winter clothing.  Winter clothing in general, actually.  In light of that revelation, I knew I had to make more cold weather-appropriate pieces to wear for this winter.  However, FALL IS COMING. Fall means coldness, and it's followed by more wintery coldness.  The clock is ticking!

So right now, I have several wintery projects underway.  I'm trying to sew quickly while still maintaining high quality craftsmanship to make the pieces durable.  The only tricky part?  There just aren't enough hours in the day!  Making quality pieces means it takes a lot longer, and while I know it will pay off in better garments, it's hard not to take short cuts when I feel like I have so many things to make and so little time.

Flashback Summer: "Sew or Freeze" - 1930s winter fashion
from Glamourdaze

You see, I don't want to cave and just go buy things at the mall that are cheap but warm.  I want pieces that I love, pieces that fit me perfectly that I'll wear for years to come.  With a smaller budget, creating them myself is the best option cost-wise, but it's more labor-intensive.  It's forcing me to be more organized in my time management to get as much done as possible during the day.

Obviously, my situation isn't literally as dramatic as "sew warm clothes or die a frozen death," but I do legitimately need a few winter wardrobe essentials like a new coat, snow-appropriate shoes, and warmer mix-and-match pieces.  In most of my spare time, I'm sewing, sewing, sewing (and knitting) in anticipation of the changing season.

Is anyone else (in the Northern hemisphere) panicking at the thought of winter coming?  Have you ever felt like you've been caught unprepared for weather in terms of your vintage wardrobe?  What are your best sources and bits of advice when it comes to vintage winterwear?


  1. Winter doesn't ever take me off guard but then again, I a) have been wearing vintage styles for eons and b) live in Chicago, where I sometimes really could die if I weren't prepared. ;-) Honestly though my best tip is layering, I'm a bit fan of transitioning pieces with layering. I transition lots of things from warmer weather to colder weather that way. My latest favorite (and inexpensive) base layer pieces are by Uniqlo, and they're thin and can fit under all but the most thin and tightest things. For example, I'll wear a long-sleeved one and sometimes an additional short-sleeved under a sleeveless blouse, with a wool cardigan on top, to transition a summer top to winter, and it looks completely appropriate (and if your neck is cold, tuck a cute scarf in). That means I can get away with not having to have two entirely separate wardrobes, which doesn't appeal to me (nor do I have the room for that). Fill in with some good basic separates... because a wool skirt can be paired with a lighter top for fall, and more layers or warmer tops for winter, where a wool dress is less useful and can't really be transitioned to slightly warmer weather. A warm cardigan can be worn with a light tee in fall/spring, and as many layers as you can pile on in the dead of winter. Things like that are how I think about winter fashion. :)

    1. That is brilliant! Layering is the best. I've realized I don't have enough long-sleeved layers, but I think I'll be alright with the things that can go under it, like you talked about. That actually makes me feel better about not having specifically "winter" dresses, cuz--you're right--they really can't be transitioned to any other weather.

    2. I have learned the art of keeping warm while wearing a skirt or dress.
      -Coat wool, knee length is best. A light weight thermal jacket to line your coat for extra warmth, add thick belt to pull in your waist to keep from looking bulky. On a really cold day my friend who did not know about the extra "coat" asked me if I was warm because my coat looked thin. I had to explain about my extra layer.
      -Slips full or half (color beige or nude to go with everything)
      -Thermal fleece pants to wear under your dresses or skirts. I got mine in two colors grey and pink. Just make sure your skirts cover your knees and you wear long enough socks so they do not peek through.
      -Socks thermal boot/ski socks, over the knee socks, and knee highs. I wear these every time I wear my boots and they keep my feet very warm. These are the kind I wear http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000JG...2978712&sr=8-2
      For over the knee socks these socks are super warm http://www.rocknsocks.com/socks/over...nee-socks.html they have good knee highs, too. Another good web site for knee highs is sock dreams. I wear these under my boot socks.
      Since I wear over the knee socks I find it hard to keep these socks up so I got a pair of mens sock garters and these work great! at keeping my socks up.
      -Shoes. I wear my boots out doors and bring an extra pair or shoes with me to work to change into or I'll leave a pair at work. So I don't have to wear my heavy boots all day long.
      -Leg warmers. These are great to wear. You can wear them under skirts or dresses. I wear mine when I don't wear my boots and they kept my feet and legs warm. And no one said anything when I wore them with high heels. I just removed them at work and put them back on after work.
      I wear these over my underwear http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/s...-app-02-p-app1 they are cotton tap pants and they kept me super warm paired with a slip.
      -Head scarfs. Large square ones you can find these on Ebay for cheap. Plus they do not spoil your hair do. And they are a lot more warmer then hats. I have quite a few of these and its great. Its makes it look like I have more than one outfit.
      -Camisole to wear under dresses and blouses (Colors beige or nude) for extra warmth.
      -Skirts wool
      -Sweaters wool pull overs
      Also added to my favorite winter ware are fleeced lined leggings. I know some of you are saying, oh no not the dreaded leggings, but I say yes to leggings. Now, I personally will never ever ware leggings as pants, yuck! These leggings are great when worn under skirts or under pants in the winter. I got these fab leggings at Walgreens. Here is a great review of the very leggings I adore http://mimsysblog.wordpress.com/2013...ined-leggings/ I only hope these are not a limited addition to Walgreens.
      The best boots I found are by Columbia Women's Bugaboot Winter Boot http://www.amazon.com/Columbia-Womens-Bugaboot-Winter-Black/dp/B00A84ALUM/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1443890245&sr=8-6&keywords=columbia+womens+boots since I do not drive I walk every where. These are the absolute fantastic boots to wear when you have no choice but to walk on ice. I fell on the street really had on year and bruised my neck. This scared me so much that I looked online for the best boots to keep out the below degree cold and still be able to walk out doors when needed. One of the tips I also go was to also make sure your books are rubber souled this will also prevent you from slipping.

  2. I have the opposite problem! I have mostly fall- and winter-apporopriate clothes, plus love a good layer, so when it comes to summer, I'm always dying in the heat. I had to finally give up and wear more "summer" clothes, even when I really wish I could wear autumnal styles year-round.

    1. Ha, I totally understand! Fall and winter styles are my favorite too, but they tend to be more expensive to buy because of the larger amounts of fabric. And vintage winter things just seem harder to find!

  3. Really looking forward to seeing what winter wear you create! I love vintage winter fashion because it always looks so much more glamorous than summer wear - and because I can't help being fascinated by what outfits those that live in cold climates put together :D

  4. Ha! Emileigh, I can totally relate to the "sew or freeze (or burn if the predicament falls in the Summer :D )". I will probably start panicking once October rolls around, but for now I am pacing myself and finishing up my late summer/early autumn pieces. Thankfully I have quite a few pieces that I will be able to wear this winter, but boy do I need help in the blouse department! Sheesh! As far as winter wear (sources outside of sewing), we girls just discovered a site called Woolovers. We haven't purchased anything from them yet, but their sweaters look like they are very high quality! Here is the link: http://www.woolovers.us

    And as far as layering, etc. I will actually wear a modern day t-shirt underneath my sweaters. It's like wearing two layers of sweaters if you think about it; one fine weight, and one heavier weight. I hope to switch out most of my tees for blouses, but I am going to be keeping some of them for exactly this purpose of layering.

    Happy sewing!

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  5. Way to go in thinking ahead for the colder months. I've always rather loved them, you know. It must be the Canadian in me. Yes, they can be woefully cold and sometimes in mid-January I would give my favourite Bakelite bangle to feel the heat of July again, but with layers, tights, warm vintage coats, and a few more layers - plus some sturdy snow boots - I get by and delight in the coziness of the season right up until the last sludge street filled days.

    Happy sewing!
    ♥ Jessica

  6. Here in Southern California we don't really see proper fall till...November? But, I've got a post lined up to talk about the things I'm gonna attempt to sew up so I don't end up freezing when the cool weather eventually hits!
    And I'm rather fond of layering with an undershirt and plain T-shirt if I feel super cold under a blouse or a nice dress which covers me up nicely.

    Carla, TinyAngryCrafts

  7. For once in my life, I feel like I own enough sweaters to last me through the winter -- my goodwill ALWAYS has cashmere. Add in the chunky cardigans that I've knitted, and I've got sweaters galore! I have wool skirts out the wazoo. Where I will probably be lacking this winter is cozy socks, and perhaps more knitted tights/leggings. But I'll also be debuting my vintage knitting cami and knickers set!

    I love fall and winter clothing, and I am looking forward to seeing your creations! I hope it's all snuggly wool and velvets!

    -- Tegan

  8. Good luck with your sewing, I am looking forward to seeing what you make. My wardrobe needs some more autumn/winter warm pieces, wool skirts especially. I am trying to be realistic about planning my knitting so that I get things ready for the right season rather than just knitting what takes my fancy at the time which is what I normally do!