So my housemate the Adorable Folkey and I also sing together in a duo called The Bombshells, where we basically do Andrews Sisters covers and sway in a semi-coordinated manner (we’re really not very good at the swaying. We look like we might stop singing at any moment to lumber off in search of braaaaiiiinnnnssss….). We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to do stuff like put together a website, and a facebook page and business cards and stuff, but something else we need is some cute matching ’40s style outfits, because every other group that does this sort of thing looks darn spiffy. It’s lame to show up in sneakers and ponytails.
I’ve been doing a bit of research (because I want them to be semi accurate of course!) and thinking carefully from a drafting perspective because my pattern-drafting manual was first published in ’61, which is close enough to the ’40s that a lot of the techniques would still be very similar, especially in the basic edition. And the author does talk quite a lot about how ‘our mothers’ used to do things. Well. My mum barely knows what end of the needle the thread goes in, but I think they meant more like her mum, who was a nurse in the ’40s. Every time I start thinking about ’40s style I think of my Nana, and of Aunty Izzy, who still dressed in killer ’40s fashions right into her 70s.
Because Adorable Folkey and I are both very pear-shaped, I’ve gone with a quarter-circle swing-style skirt with two box-pleats in front for striding (Folkey never walks, she only strides). It’s mostly bodice and sleeve options that were up for debate, and because we’re also both card-carrying members of the flat-chested community, anything that looks good on one of us will suit the other.
My research took me to these two lovely blogs, (Lucky Lucille even LOOKS like Aunty Izzy used to! It’s incredible! And now I also know why there’s never any good fabric at Savers… because this awesome lady gets there first!) and between oogling their vintage patterns and taking random suggestions over facebook and from Folkey (because I really want her to like these costumes so she’ll actually wear them), I drafted a sailor-esque bodice with little pintucks at the waist and a dropped front shoulder seam. The consensus over facebook was that our friends preferred navy blue out of all the options I gave.The other two were khaki and grey because Folkey is famous for being allergic to bright colours and prints. She’s not really. But I wanted to go for a more uniform-esque aesthetic anyway, so solid colour it was! I got oodles of navy blue cotton voile and a bit of white too, because I don’t want us to bake doing Bourke St Mall in summer.
So basically, this is where I’m up to:
Cue Handel Messiah: HAAAAAAAAAAA-LE-LU-JA!!!
It looks a tad odd on Dido because she’s spent the past few weeks wearing my robe a l’Anglaise, and so she’s still all compressed and hasn’t puffed back out to a non-18th-century shape yet.
Construction-wise, it’s actually been pretty good! I haven’t run into any major barriers yet, and I’ve had enough foresight to do things like reinforce the front edges where the buttons are going (with some heavy canvas stuff) and so forth. The only thing that hasn’t gone to plan is that my zipper foot is missing, so I can’t make piping until I source a new one. I compromised by just peeking the lining out a little from under the shoulder seams. It’s not as bold, but I sort of like the way it sits really flat and doesn’t distract from the massive bias-cut sailor stripes on the collar. I’m also very proud of my pin-tucks and topstitching. I’m not normally good at things that need to be even and/or symmetrical, but BEHOLD:
Not totally even but pretty damn close.
Sadly my phone is being pissy and refusing to release the photos of the topstitching; you’ll just have to take my word that it’s awesome.
I also got a set of pinking shears. I’ve been meaning to for ages, but the fact that pinking was a popular method of seam finishing in the ’40s tipped me over the edge. I LOVE THEM. It’s so quick and easy and attractive and doesn’t waste butt-loads of thread. It also means that I might get around to trimming that robe a l’Anglaise, but that’s for another time.
Pinking is cool.