Tag Archives: 40’s

The Passover Dress

So, just to warn you, I know that this is a sewing blog, but this post is going to get historical and personal, and if that’s not your thing, I just wanted to warn you straight away, and you can feel free not the read this, really, I wont mind. Of course, I’m never all about the stitching and the snipping, but still, just so you are aware before you dive in, you’ve been cautioned.

So, I decided to participate in the wonderful and talented Lucille‘s Sew for Victory challenge, and honestly, I really didn’t think too much about this before I did it. After all, there are a lot of sewing challenges and sew-a-longs and dares out here on the interwebs and really I’ve participated in (and continue to participate in) many of them. And I do love this period of dressing and pattern making, I do, the lines, the designs, the fabric efficiency, it’s wonderful! It is. And it’s a great challenge, I’ve been thrilled to see what other people have been making.

But recently I was watching an episode of Foyle’s War with my roommate (a  fantastic series, everyone should watch it) and all I could think was, thank god I wasn’t born in this period. Because if I had been the age I am now, or any age, really, in the 1940’s, well, I would probably not have survived. After all, I’m Jewish.

This week is Passover, in fact, it started on Monday night, at sundown, as all Jewish Holidays do, start at sundown, that is. Passover is a celebration of the exodus from Egypt, a celebration of freedom from oppression and a recognition of the cost of freedom and the Jewish struggle for liberty in every age and generation. We celebrate our escape from the bondage of Egypt year after year with a seven-day festival and a retelling of the biblical story, accompanied with a flat tasteless cracker, Matzoh, which is called “the bread of affliction” for a reason. Because it’s the worst.

At any rate, when I think about the 1940’s, I can’t help but think about the major event that dominated that decade. And, honestly, can any of us really ignore that? The war effected everything, and it CERTAINLY effected fashion on a fundamental level. It effected fabric production and hemlines and cuts and refashioning and everything. 40’s fashion is specific because of the specific events that shaped it’s existence. But I’m I suppose I’m loathe to idolize or at least glorify that decade because of what it would have meant for me to have existed within it. I could not be more glad not to have lived through the 40’s. It’s only through the grace of history and fate that my family, for the most part, happened to have survived the war via avoiding alternative homicide (ask me about Russia in the 20’s!). But we were the unbearably lucky ones. And for the most part, we were the exception to the rule.

So when we Sew for Victory, as fun as it has been for me, and really, it has been fun, I love this period, I love these patterns; I can’t help but think about the realities of this period, and the implications that it had for the real people who lived and died in this time. So I decided to wear my 40’s dress to my Passover Seder, and as I did, I celebrated the holiday. and reminded myself of how lucky I am, how lucky my family is, and how unlucky so many of us have been. This holiday, this Passover, is the time that we remember, that we spend with the people we love, that we tell each other, Next year in Jerusalem. And what does that mean? It means, next year, we will all be together. Next year, we will all be free.

There is a poem that I have recently read, and love:

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,

Give me away.

Obviously nothing else I can say will matter as much as that. So here is my sewing:

This is the dress I made:

PD 2PD 3

The pattern is Simplicity 1720. It’s an easy enough pattern, though the skirt has a ton of gores, though I can’t complain about how it hangs, because I love it!.

PD 4

The fabric is a rayon from an Ebay sale almost a year ago. I was concerned this would look too 1990’s, but, I actually think it works well.

PD 5I did french seams throughout, and though the front has facings, I just did bias tape for the neck and sleeve hems.

PD 7I love the way this hangs, I think it’s surprisingly modern.

PD 8Check out the details!

PD 9I love the back yoke, fussy as it is.

PD 10These buttons where unbearably expensive, they cost me more than the fabric. That is a real story. I got them at M and J trimmings, and I was so intimidated that I didn’t bother to ask the price until I was ringing it up. And it was HIGH.

PD 11Real Talk? These shoes probably ARE from the 40’s. They were my grandmother’s.

PD 6

I can honestly say that I love this dress, I do. It needs that belt (for REAL the bodice is too damn high) but I do love it. And I wore it to Passover, despite the chill. You gotta pretend it’s spring, right? Fake it till you make it…


Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Must You, Darling? Pants

Well, I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to make a fuss, or anything, but I made another pair of pants. Actually, pants isn’t really the right term for what I made. I made trousers. Honesty to god trousers. Wide legged 1940’s style sick baller awesome rockstar trousers. Miss Marple style solving crimes, making romantic connections and generally achieving at life trousers. Bam. Like you do. When you literally win at life.

I made these pants over my winter break from work, but I didn’t get the chance to photographer them until yesterday. I paired them with a vintage sweater I recently picked up at a shop in Old City, which in my mind looks very cute, but in reality looks a bit waist-less. Oh, well. You can’t have everything.

Usually I dilly-dally with words, but this time, here it is, photos of my triumph. Read mortals, and weep:

Yeah. That’s right. Trousers. These come by way of Simplicity 3688, a lovely vintage reproduction pattern. The pattern actually includes a skirt, which I’ve made, a jacket, a blouse and these pants. High waisted, wide legged and full of delightful vintage flare, these pants were on my to-make list for about a year. A year, people. That’s, like, the entire lifespan of a honey-bee. Think about it.

But I was afraid, really. Pants. PANTS. I began sewing about a year and a half ago. Back then, did I think I could make a thing like pants? Absolutely not. I was like, tote bag? BLOWING MY FRACKING MIND. And now I make pants. My, how times have changed.

Okay, yes. They are a bit wrinkled. And yes, I’m in the middle of an upscale thrift store. I got a t-shirt for my mom for 5 dollars. You don’t know my LIFE.

So I made these from a wool I got from my beloved Jomar for 5 dollars a yard. I got 3 yards, which, at Jomar, where the cutters are as generous as they are surly, means about 3.5 yards. I made these pants, and a pencil skirt (post to come) and I still have a fair amount left. Jacket muslin? Mini-skirt? Who can say.

I look sadly devoid of waist in these photos, ,which is sad, because I have a lovely waist, it’s one of my favorite things about my body. Oh, well.

I made my lovely friend Laura take these photos. Laura is the best, and she humored me while we took these in the middle of Buffalo Exchange, an excellent thrift/resale store which we both deeply enjoy. These pants look very elegant with these four-inch Steve Madden heels. They don’t look quite as elegant with my typical Dansko Mary Janes, but if one balances the comfort of one versus the style of the other, I will take my Danskos any time.

Let’s talk about the butt, shall we? How nice do I look back there? These trousers fit me well in the posterior, I must say.

I am super short. Well, not SUPER short, like my beautiful and awesome friend Jenny, who is Shakira sized, but fairly short. Fun fact, of my three best friends from college, two of them are not only my height (5′ 2″ and 1/2″ ) but also my shoe size! (8.5). Yeah. We did not become friends over such things, but they ended up being this weird thing between us. I can’t complain. All the ladies I know have excellent taste, and I love being able to scour their wardrobes for goodies. At least, I could when we lived in the same place. Now, I just dream.

Still, I was worried about these wide legged trousers. But I honestly think they can make short ladies look good, when they are hemmed to the right height.

That’s the trick, right?

The sweater, you ask? Acrylic. Probably late ’50 or early 60’s.

I love it. It’s a touch loose but so comfortable and I adore the shape .

This is a side view. Here is the thing about high-waisted trousers, they can’t highlight a great feature (your waist) while screwing a feature you might actually like (your tummy) that isn’t %100 flat. LIKE ANYONE’S IS. But  I love these, I feel so grown up in them.

Laura suggested that I stand in 4th position, and I thought that was nuts. And then I did it. And it worked so well.

That’s Laura on the side. It’s a shame she wouldn’t let me shoot her in this adorable cape-coat she got. It was lovely.

Okay, now for sewing notes. This was, for me, a wearable muslin. Honestly, the waist is fine, the legs are fine, but the rear is a bit tight, and the crotch is as well. So the next time, I will be adjusting those things. But for the most part, this fit works for me and though it’s restricting,I like this fit. I feel so ’40s, and all I want to do is dismiss my cute but tedious fiance and fall in love with that fashionable stranger…

Don’t you?

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Filed under Fabric, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage