Tag Archives: 1930s

decorating the whither the weather hat ~ handkerchiefs & lace

Before Jane Austen’s time, women were saving bits & bobs of jewellery, lace, ribbon, buttons, and fabric to use for decorative purposes ~ including hats.  That’s what I’m going to show over the next couple of days, starting with these …

Remember this collection?  It would look equally good on this hat, but it’s not coming off the blue!   And lest we forget our vintage hankies…

whither the weather hat

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Remember this?  Last night I reacquainted myself with Bernie, the sewing machine, and finished up this thick fleece hat, using Folkwear’s Metropolitan Hat, #269.  I should explain that my improvised hat stand has unfortunate effects on the hat which don’t occur on a rounded cranium.

With only 3 pieces, it’s a snap to sew up.  I’d pictured this hat in this fabric forever (said fabric having been stashed probably 10 yrs.) but made two changes.

Because of the fabric thickness, I didn’t do a lining.  And, instead of doing the pleats down the back before sewing the centre back seam, I pleated after sewing the seam.  The fleece was stretching so much I decided not to faff about trying to get them to match. It was so much easier!

Next time, I’ll overlock everything except the pleats, which will made for a much neater finish inside.  (Because the front brim gets turned up there’s a seam that could become visible, but I’ll not turn the brim up that much.)

As an experiment with scrapes, it’s turned out quite well.  Next task is deciding how to trim it.

saturday, stall #37, old spitalfields, london!

click to see Samantha's post about these pillows!
click to see Samantha’s post about these pillows!

Wish I could be transported for the debut of Samantha’s Ultimate Vintage Upcycle stall at Old Spitalfields Market this Saturday… sigh!

She’s collected some very rare fabrics & notions, and upcycled them in delightful ways.

You simply will not belief the love and care that’s gone into these, including documenting the history of each, passing it on for the latest owners to know, talk about, and treasure.

2 sets red buttons
remember these? by the GROSS she’s got ’em, and many more!

Don’t believe me?  Read a bit of Samantha’s blog or Facebook and you’ll see!  Or read a couple of me older posts about here & here.

my suggestion: arrive early & bring lots cash ~ and say “del sent me!”

Beginning Monday next, she will begin selling on Facebook with PayPal.

Old Spitalfields Market map ~ scroll down the page
“The nearest Tube stations are Liverpool Street, Shoreditch High Street and Aldgate East, all around 5 minutes away. Old Street Tube station is a 15-minute walk, as is Moorgate.  See www.tfl.gov.uk for all bus routes etc.”

whither the weather

Suddenly it’s become unseasonably cold and wet, and the prospect of making and wearing these pinstripes has gone South to warmer climes.  There’s a more permanent solution, but it has to wait until Monday holiday, when I can get to the fabric store sale.

What’s the solution?  Delightful Debi Fry, My Happy Sewing Place, just started up her ABC’s of vintage sewing series again, and the pinstripes needed her info on underlining.  Thank you once  again, Ms Debi!

You know what that means: the green fleece hat moves under the needle sooner!  In fact, it got cut out last weekend, thread chosen, and stitches tested.  Well, it is 3/8” thick per side.  The pattern is Folkwear #269, Metropolitan Hat. Have made it before, and it’s a treat, simple but so classy.  Have been dreaming about this make for a looong time.

Happy sewing, Dear Readers!

crossing delancey & bubby’s apron

When I saw the name of the pattern, I immediately remembered a great actress from the movie, Crossing Delancey. Her character’s name is Bubby, as in hubby.  Her character is the quintessential Lower East Side New York Jewish grandma, and brings life to the movie.  In the trailer above, there’s even a quick scene of her wearing an apron, although not quite this style.

It’s a good think I had more than a yard of each fabric, as the ties still had to be cut, and I’d already decided I wanted larger pockets, and they also had to be cut.  I wanted a bow for 1 closure, and that was extra, too, but I managed not to need to piece it.  Oh – just realized I might have tried a bow cut on the bias.  Wonder what that would have been like… next time!  Do see the photos in yesterday’s post so you can see.

My advice: if you’re making this, have at least 1.5 yards of 45” fabric on hand for each side, and don’t plan to make it any wider!

At this point, I disregarded the remainder of the instructions, but had read them through once to be certain it was a normal construction.

First, I sewed the shoulder seams together for both sides, instead of leaving them open.  That was a design choice of mine, as I wanted longer straps without any closures.  Being a reversible apron, I did some things in bits, such as sewing along the lower edges, across the bottom, and back up the sides, starting and stopping at the markings for where the ties were to be inserted.  That left the upper halves and necks still open, but shoulder seams done and holding things together somewhat.

I wanted to insert one of the bands and double-check the fitting, and once that was done, I went ahead with sewing up that side of the pinny’s outer edge on that side only.  That I did after ironing the 2 fabrics carefully, matching up the lower, already stitched and top stitched pieces. As I got up toward the shoulder area, I wanted to make certain everything would fit smoothly, so I took extra care by ironing those seams ahead. Also made the top stitching much faster.  😉

Once the bottoms of both sides were sewn on the inside and I’d turned them right side out, I did the top stitching.  More on that below.  I chose not to try doing anything more from the inside of the pinny when moving up to the shoulder areas.  Just too complicated for me, and the fabrics seemed to be matching up extremely well, so I ironed and top stitched, still with that little edge of the lighter fabric showing on the darker side.  Am not a fan of binding on every apron!

With 1 side completed, I got to play around with a bow.  Decided to use a 4” scrap piece of both fabrics (cutting the pattern out identically meant I had identical scraps, too – hehee!)   Don’t know how long they are, I just went with what looked right.  i really thought I’d line the bow, too, but once I had one cut and tied I realized double thickness  was too heavy and thick.

But I did like the concept of some sort of gather, so did the 2 pleats when inserting the bow ties into the apron, folding them from 4” down to 2” using 2 pleats, measured by eye.  Then I completed the top-stitching of that side of the pinny, measured and ironed before inserting the bow ties.

I really did have more fun than I’d thought rolling the lighter side of the fabric over to the darker side while top-stitching around everything, and it didn’t take nearly as long as I’d imagined.

That left the neck, which had to be re-cut, as I knew I’d drive meself crazy trying to get a V-neck to match on all 4 pieces of cloth.  It got rounded right quick, seams ironed first to be sure both sides fitted neatly together, then stop stitched.  Ironing took a bit of imaginative folding, to get each side flat up around the shoulder straps, but that fabric affinity worked in my favour and kept everything neatly in place for ironing.

Just realized that I could have reversed some of the pocket pieces, and lined each side with the other… another variation for next time!

Have pinny, can bake ~ weather’s about right for the first batch of Autumn scones, and Samantha’s just sent me her mum’s fav recipe… Anybody ready for tea & scones with jam?!

cutting 2 patterns once

pinny turned inside out, or outside in, depending on your choice of fabric!
pinny turned inside out, or outside in, depending on your choice of fabric!

There are only 3 pieces for this pinny: the body, a self-lined pocket, and side ties.  I had trouble figuring out the tie from what got printed from the downloaded PDF, so just used the 1 piece I had clearly marked, and made up another, longer tie for the bow. Thought long streamers on both sides would be too much frou-frou, and get in my way.

I started with what the directions said:

“1. Fold 45 inch fabric so that selvages meet in the center of the fabric.  2. Fold fabric again to bring left hand fold to meet the far right hand fold. This will give you two folded edges on the right hand side, which will become the center back for the pattern pieces. This will allow you to cut through multiple layers and not waste fabric.”

Here’s what I did, not being patient enough to faff about putting my two cottons together and doing this only once, and also knowing I needed a more fool-proof way to be certain my folds would have both sides equal ~

click any photo for slide show & captions

I cut off the white selvage from the one side of each fabric. Have you noticed – fabric used to be woven with selvages on both sides, and now only 1 side’s left plain, for manufacturing info?  Know I read somewhere about this, but only remember the bit about selvages now being woven differently with no need to be cut off.  Anybody else know about this?

Back to the pinny ~ I carefully folded the fabric in half and ironed the center firmly, with steam.  That gave me the center, ironed all the way down the fabric, as a marker.

Then I opened up the fabric to full width and folded each selvage to the center.  I remembered to measure – ta-da!  Just to be certain the 2 halves were equal. They were.  Then I ironed the fold on each side.

Once that was done, I folded one folded side over to the other. I now had both folds together. I ironed that, too.  Then I placed the pattern piece onto the fabric and found it only just fit.  No room to spare, and I hadn’t made any changes to it in width, but was thinking I might.  Uh-uh!  If you want to, you’ll have to either piece it, or use wider fabric!

I repeated this with the second fabric, then put them together. My relatively new pinking scissors wouldn’t cut through all the layers, but the fabrics had great affinity for each other.  In other words, they stuck together really well, even when I didn’t want them to.

Decided to just cut out each side separately, as the cottons are medium weight, not light summery voiles. For the second fabric, I simply laid down the first already-cut fabric and it stuck almost like glue whilst I cut out the second fabric.  Much easier than using the paper pattern, which didn’t stick at all!

Will have to continue this tomorrow, for final thoughts and more photos!

ennui pinny

I’ve been looking for the quintessential (for me) apron pattern for some time, having none in my pattern stash.  Unless you count the dim, distant memory of using a yard of 36” wide cotton that was my first sewing project in school home economics class a bazillion years ago.  Ugh.  Talk about uninteresting projects, all of which would make it a very unlikely project for this month’s  Vintage September on the Monthly Stitch.  Right?  Not necessarily…

“Vintage” allowed too much to choose from, and uncooperative weather left me totally undecided.  Until last week, when I stumbled upon some free patterns online at fabric.com.  One, from a man on staff, was a pattern for an apron his grandmother had made and he contributed it in her memory.  Hmm.  Remembering my apron need, I realized it might just do…..

However, I did make a few revisions, and the method for cutting it out deserves a post all it own.  Click back tomorrow for that once!


The neckline had to be lowered.  Notice in earlier photos it looks almost V-necked.  Once I started doing all the edge stitching I quickly decided the V wouldn’t work, so I modified it.  However, i did stick with rolling the lighter side of the fabric over to form a tiny edging on the floral side.

I also made the pockets wider, and repositioned them according to my own arms’ length.  Decided to get a bit frilly with one pocket on the floral side, giving it an eyelash trim, but decided that  really didn’t show against the eye-watering print, so didn’t add to the other side.  The beige side’s pockets I left widened but plain.  The pattern called for self-fabric lining for these patch pockets, and the cottons were heavy enough, so I didn’t both to use any interfacing anywhere on the pinny.

In addition to lowering the neckline, I lengthened the shoulder area slightly and cut it into more of a strap and omitted both button & popper closures.  I felt both might be a little wearing on my shoulders.  Also omitted them on the side closures, as I didn’t want to have to fiddle.

Bows are nice, and I do like them as long as they’re not tight around me middle, so I decided to cut my own generous width for the left side closure. I cut 4″ strips as long as the leftover fabric was, hemmed them all the way round, and angled the bottoms.  When placing them in between the 2 sides I made 2 pleats, pointing them downward so no flour could get into the folds.  That made them about 2″ wide.  At first I considered making the ties reversible, too, but decided the doubled fabric would be too thick and heavy for a perky bow.

Everything fits, I can get into & out of it easily, and now I have a pinny!  The cutting process will follow tomorrow – how to fold thrice and cut once!

faffing about ~ buttons, again

Dear friend Sewin Love UK, my secret swap mate, has sent Real Vintage Buttons!  (The beautiful lampwork beads you’ll see glimpses of are mostly on my facebook, so I can concentrate on buttons here.)

As she explains on her facebook page, these came from a good friend who tramped through an old falling down warehouse in Malta. Isn’t Sewin Love generous?! These are so special to her, because of her friendship with the discoverer, yet she parted with some to send me.  That’s a special lady, and am so grateful we “met” through a swap.

Here’s some of the detail about these specific buttons, starting with the green buttons, of course!

  • green embossed w/gold were made in England c 1940s
  • green w/gold outline were made in Italy c 1930s
  • red buttons were all made in England c. 1930s
  • silver buttons were made in England c. 1940s

I was surprised at the silver, which are a metal (nickel or aluminium?), being manufactured in England in 1940s, because I’ve read of the extreme shortages they had, and continued to have, until almost 1960.  During the war years all metals went into manufacturing war implements.  But afterwards I’m not sure, not having read about that.  I asked Samantha, and she, bless her, has contacted the V&A Museum!   Do any of you, Dear Readers, know any more about the manufacture of buttons in England in the 1940s?  If you do, please share!

we who love buttons are not alone

I really did a lot of faffing about last night, but found out some interesting things. Did you know…

want some for yourself?   november spitalfields!

Sewin Love sent me “samples!” – she has these by the gross.  She, they, and much more will be available for purchase by each and every person attending her stall in November at Judy’s Vintage Fair, in Old Spitalfields Market.

Mark your calendars now, Dear Readers!!!  And please take a piccie or two to share with us too far away to attend.  😉 xx

faffing about ~ buttons

click any to go to larger photos

Technically, it’s Wednesday, but I’ve been faffing about so much this should would have been posted Tuesday if I’d stayed on target.  So I’m cheating and back-dating this. Shh – don’t tell!

It’s these buttons. Can’t seem to resist them. And since dear friend & secret swap partner Sewin Love UK‘s latest care package arrived yesterday I’ve had these beauties staring me in the face.

Also… the weather’s changing, which means dragging out all those boxes (well, not that many now that I’ve downsized so drastically) and sorting through, trying to guess what will be needed now, and what to save for later when it’s really winter.

And then there’s last week, which was beastly hot & humid, when I wore my last 2 (new) dresses to death, and began to realize how much I miss dresses instead of bottoms & tops, then realizing the h&h weather could return…   😦

Couple that with seeing Phryne Fisher and reading all about the costumes, which combine British and French 1920’s influence, to better reflect the lead’s character.  The dresses and coats were looking awfully comfortable, even if I don’t have her waif-thin figure. (memo to self: designer says cut on the bias for curvy figures …)

Not to mention trying to decide what to sew next, given all the above.  So it’s been faffing about in general here.

How about you?

weekly photo challenge: the golden hour

Interesting challenge this week, and one I was eager to find besides-the-obvious meanings. Sure enough, according to Wikipedia, the golden hour can also mean . . .

  • the first hour a customer spends with a new product (software engineering)
  • the first hour “after major traumatic injury” (medicine)
  • 7 to 9 pm telly in Japan (Americans say prime time)

My favorite dictionary says . . .

GOLDEN, a. Made of gold; consisting of gold.  1. Bright; shining; splendid; as the golden sun. 2. Yellow; of a gold color; as a golden harvest; golden fruit. 3. Excellent; most valuable; as the golden rule. 4. Happy; pure; as the golden age, the age of simplicity and purity of manners.  5. Preeminently favorable or auspicious.

Here’s the WordPress post.