HSM: Challenge 5 Practicality Dorothea Lange and the Dust Bowl


I always love working biography into my historical sewing. Exploring the lives of the people of the era you are emulating is fascinating to me. Dorothea Lange was a photojournalist that documented the people of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. She was contracted by the Farm Security Administration, she freely distributed her photos to national newspapers. I decided to use her practical manner of dressing as my inspiration, I was drawn to her wide legged pants, short shirts and cropped hair. Temperatures during the Dust Bowl reached extremes so I thought cotton would have been practical.


A selection of Dorothea’s photos although I would suggest looking at more of her work including the photography of Japanese Internment Camps during WWII.

Some samples of wide legged pants looks I also took inspiration from.

I collect vintage notions and thought this would be the perfect challenge to use them.     image1        image2


The Details:

What is it: I based this outfit on the life of Dorothea Lange and her work as a photographer during the dustbowl. She wore practical clothes for her line of work so I chose wide legged pants and a half placket peter pan blouse both in cotton. I admit Dorothea was a little more serious than rick rack but it suited the era and I wanted to use some depression era notions I had. The inseam and side seams on the pants are flat felled and they open with a sailor front. The blouse has a half placket with a single button at the neck and slightly puffed sleeves.

The Challenge: Practicality

Fabric: 1 yard white basic cotton for blouse, 2 yards yarn dyed striped cotton for the pants.

Pattern: Self Drafted

Year: 1935-1939 going off of Dorothea’s period working with the Farm Security Administration.

Notions: Pre-War Buttons and Rick-Rack going off packaging design

How historically accurate is it? Extremely including the notions although this isn’t as hard for the 30s

Hours to complete: 4 for the pants 6 for the blouse

First worn: Today for the shoot but I think I’ll be wearing these pants often this summer.

Total cost:$20

4 thoughts on “HSM: Challenge 5 Practicality Dorothea Lange and the Dust Bowl

  1. Mi August 3, 2015 / 10:05 pm

    This is a super cute outfit! And I love your inspiration, she took some great photos.


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