Saturday, November 21, 2015

Let's Talk About: Fabric and Textile Resource

What is fabric all about? What makes fabric types different? Learning to recognize different fabric types is a huge requirement for anyone who wants to work with fashion. To help make this easier, FabricLink has a new website that includes lots of information, with great tips on fabric care and more importantly, there's a great chapter titled Fabric University

Fabric University is a comprehensive resource for learning about all aspects of fabric and textiles.   Whether you need to know about a specific fabric type or how a certain fiber like silk will launder, this is the site to refer back to.

For a career or hobby in a fashion (or interior design) related niche, the basic understanding of textiles is essential.  The FabricLink website can be used to get that education or to supplement a difficult college course in textiles.  If you study it closely you can learn all of the necessary information required to gain increased understanding and knowledge in the field of textiles and fabric.

Fabric University
Fabric Care

"Let's Talk About" is a series of blog posts on Fashion Design that will provide the reader with an overview of important design processes and elements.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

1949 Fashions: Simplicity Sewing Patterns

This vintage 1949 August brochure for Simplicity sewing patterns shows diverse new silhouettes available to home sewers that year, for 25 cents each.  The company provided a wide range of styles suitable for it's readers who would be making their own clothes for summer and fall.

The longer length silhouette that followed Dior's presentation of the "New Look" in 1947 was becoming accepted by 1949. This fashion trend was supported by more fabrics and trims available following the war, and a need in general for a new fashion style after so many years of fashion trends being nearly 'frozen' in time.

The cover shows shirt dresses, probably in cotton, having gathered or flared skirts with wide winged collars that would be so popular throughout the following decade. Shirt dresses were a comfortable alternative to the usual skirt and blouse ensemble so commonly worn during the World War II era. These would be widely adopted and worn until silhouettes dropped the natural waistline in the late 1960's.

Probably the cutest illustrations in this brochure are of these three dresses, whose back views are so important that they rate an illustration as well as the front view. The hourglass silhouette is accented with seamlines and fullness that give a nod to Victorian gowns.

The pages of this brochure show many different kinds of details used to create individual styles at the time: winged collars and sleeve cuffs, kimono sleeves, button closures and skirt pockets. You'll notice a page dedicated to the mature figure who was looking for slimming styles, and the younger junior sewer who wanted cute, young silhouettes with full skirts.

This was clearly the start of "1950's Style" as we know it today. The wonderful shapes, hourglass silhouettes and soft shoulders gave fashion its distinctive look for that era.

Do you sew or collect this era of fashion?  Have you found many home sewn dresses like these?  While today top labels from this time are more valued, it is the many hand made dresses that were so popularly worn in the daily lives of real women and girls during the late 1940's and 1950's. When you find a home sewn dress today, you can be sure there's a story behind it.

Patterns Shown, most are missy sizes 12 - 20:
Cover: 2920, 2923
Front and Back views: 2917 (Junior sizes), 2925, 2927
Softly Tailored, Now and Later: 2920 (Junior sizes), 2918
Fall Forecasts a Slim Silhouette: 2919, 2924
Slimming Variations of the Button-Fronter: 2922, 2926, 2921, 2923 (Womens and Half sizes)
Full-Skirted Frocks with Young Necklines: 2928, 2929 (Teen sizes 10-16)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vintage 1960's Davidow Jacket: Close-up View

This Davidow jacket comes from a suit c. 1962. It has a Chanel influence, like so many other Davidow suits from that era. Here, the bold trim has been refined to become a narrow crepe edge, rather than the usual textured bindings. I just listed it for sale on Etsy and thought I would share it here too.

The jacket has a boxy body with hip bone length torso and 3/4 sleeves to create a compact, neat silhouette popular at that time. The subdued trim is a crepe used also for the lining. It wraps around the edges as shown in the lifted collar view. The pockets have flaps, and are actually functional. There are bound buttonholes, worn here with gold toned buttons that may have replaced self covered buttons from the original suit.

For structure, this soft lightweight jacket has very thin shoulder pads.  Davidow was known for their light styling, often without traditional tailoring interfacing or structure in the Chanel style.  This jacket does not have a structured front to support the buttons, and the collar is very thin as well. From advertisements (see below), it is probable that the skirt was narrow.

The I. Magnin label denotes the high quality and sales price for this original suit. It would have been sold at a trunk show, made to order per the customer's measurements. The suit may have sold for between $145 and $198 in 1962.

To get a better idea about this luxury brand, there are several advertisements with prices HERE.  This article also goes into more detail about the label.  I show another Davidow suit that is probably from a few years later HERE. For more examples, my "Davidow" folder on Pinterest also has many examples from this wonderful suit label.

Keep this label on your radar when you scan wool jackets and suits at a yard sale or thrift shop, they are distinctive and use quality fabrics, so they won't be easy to miss.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Trending in 1950's Style: the Fashion Dirndl Dress

Fashion Dirndl Dress: Trend in 1950’s Style

In the 1950’s, the fashion silhouette emphasized a full skirted, close bodied dress that closely followed in style many regional costumes in Europe. Heavily influenced by this folkwear, very full skirts dresses, often made in authentic cottons, were popular following the rise in popularity of Dior's New Look in 1947.

This look developed in the early 1950’s, but it got its start during the 1930’s when ‘peasant’ style skirts and blouses became popular fashion items. It's during this time that the term 'dirndl' comes into popular use in the U.S. to describe a gathered skirt on a waistband.  Easy to sew, with a wide variety of textile patterns and embroidery to choose from, peasant looks borrowed from many authentic garments, including Mexico and South American textiles. The New Look with its full skirts was a natural direction for the peasant trend to follow with increasingly wide skirts and corseted style bodices

Two Swiss women, wearing long aprons

Three Latvian women, with extensive hand embroidery

Estonian women, wearing heavy silver necklaces

 Adaptions of this look were especially popular in junior fashions. These styles might include a gathered bodice to imitate the under blouse worn in the regional costumes. While we may use the term ‘shelf bust’ today, at that time, the usually white gathered bustline was a nod to the hourglass outfits worn for festivals in many regions of Europe. During the 50's this might be as simple as a jumper bodice with white blouse or a low cut bodice with bustline insert.  This easy to sew look caused a trend in home sewing, combining the popular silhouette with easy to sew cottons into well fit, full skirted dress.

One American label, among many that would design and manufacture these dresses for the junior market, was Lanz of California. While the parent company produced more authentic styles, the American design room located in southern California during the 1950’s would capitalize on the junior customer with bright cottons in popular prints and ginghams. At Lanz these were usually made from cottons with authentic Austrian prints, or plaids and wools with a European flair. Even the trims of rick-rack, piping, and covered buttons helped to create the look.

Lanz Originals, of California, Fall 1955

Today there is a growing interest in dirndl styles, as was discussed recently by Gertie in her blog. While authentic dirndls may seem a bit too costumey for most, fashion adaptions are a new point of view to take when designing dresses today. The low cut blouse insert is especially popular, as seen in Gertie’s  patterns.  Burda has regional dirndls and Folkwear shows an Austrian dirndl too.

What brought my attention to this growing style trend was the overnight sale of this cute authentic dirndl. Clearly, this look is something that is going to be seen more often and could become the most recent 1950’s style that will be adopted and adapted for current wear by retro design labels.

Title Slide: Clockwise from upper left:
Blue Plaid: McCalls 5406
Turquoise Gingham: McCalls 5406
Red Corset: Butterick 9635
Gingham Puff Sleeve: Advance 9432
Bridget Bardot: uncredited photo

Assorted Patterns Slide: Clockwise from upper left, excluding patterns listed above
Red Dress and Gingham jumper (2nd edition) Simplicity 1010

Original color plates from: Lands and People, the world in color, 1929

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vintage Fashions from Fall 1953

A classic little sweater set is always in style, 1950's fall fashion at its best.  After buying this set, it's off to the fabric store to find a good matching wool tweed for a skirt in slim pencil style shown in the little sketch above, or nice full circle in a length that seems to be mid-calf for that year.

Choosing a suit would take all day, trying to find the perfect fit, color and style.  In 1953, there was an hour glass silhouette to the jackets, so often a blouse could not be worn under that smoothly fitted shape.

It's hard to believe that any mature woman would be comfortable in such a whittled down waistline with the under garments required to achieve the look, but this coatdress with a tweedy texture in rayon is available in half sizes cut for fuller figures.  It's double breasted with a sailor collar and 3/4 length sleeves with cuffs.

So, 62 years ago, these styles would have been on everyone's list of what to wear, whether they went downtown shopping to buy the style, or bought fabric instead and sewed up their outfit on the Singer at home!


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