HSF/M Challenge #3 Stashbusting Late 30s Rayon Dress

This challenge is pretty straight forward. I love late 30s early 40s fashion and feel like it fit in perfectly with stashbusting seeing make do and mend and the great depression.  I bought the blue rayon at a rummage sale in St. Louis I think it is 40s or earlier due to the type of dog and the style.

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The Details:

What the item is: rayon novelty print dress.

The Challenge: #3 stashbusting

Fabric: dog and dish print rayon and black cotton velveteen

Stashed for?: 5 years or more

Pattern: self drafted

Year: 1937-1942

Notions: one tiny vintage button and a pearl plastic buckle

How historically accurate is it? I would say 80% If the sleeves and hem were longer I would say 100%

Hours to complete: about 10

First worn: today for pictures but I love it and I am sure I will wear it again and again

Total cost: When I bought the materials I’m sure it was under $20

Not your Grandma’s GOOP, a 1924 Detox Diary

the road to beauty

Hi everyone, Erin here.
It’s been a long winter here in New York. Finishing off a delivered pizza and yet another frustrating episode of Girls the other night, I decided to curl up with The Road to Beauty*, a 1924 beauty manual I picked up last summer. Thinking I would come across entertaining tips involving arsenic complexion improvers and X-ray facials, I instead found a detox diet plan remarkably similar to the GOOP-approved diets women still use today!

The book is written as a pseudo- novel/instruction manual centered around three 40-something women on vacation together: Rose, described as short, plump, and motherly; Nona, tall and angular with strict habits; and Gloria, the Gwyneth Paltrow of the  group, who looks young and radiant and decides to whip the other two women into shape. The narrative follows them over the course of three weeks as Gloria instructs them in their paths to recovering their “twenty-years ago” selves using exercise, beauty treatments and detox diets – including, as I was so surprised to see, a juice fast!

Of course, the history of diet and exercise in America goes back further than we usually think. As early as 1850, girls were warned that they wouldn’t be ‘fit’ mothers if they did not exercise, though the idea of a “modern woman” who chose to do sports for recreation didn’t really take hold until the advent of the “Gibson Girl” in the early twentieth century.**

As someone who has tried modern detox diets in the past, I thought it might be fun to follow along with the book for a week and beautify as great-grandma would have done, for “research” (I’ll admit-  found this diet plan especially charming because you can eat bread and drink coffee, two things that every modern diet tries to eliminate). Though this book contains two separate diet plans, one for losing and one for gaining weight (I’ll summarize that one for you – eat cream with every meal), I will be adhering to the following basic rules for reduction:

ABSOLUTELY NO: “sweets, pastries, butter, fried foods, rich salad dressings, rich meat and fish sauces, starches (potatoes, rice, macaroni, spaghetti, and noodles), bread except a little whole-wheat or bran bread toasted.”
“Excess of meat- once or twice a week is enough”

ABSOLUTELY DO: “practically all vegetables, carrots, beets, string beans, asparagus, spinach, celery, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, sprouts, turnips, all vegetable tops, dandelion greens, mustard greens, beet tops, and any others you can get. Dried beans, lima beans, and peas are rather high calorically speaking, but you may eat them occasionally as a meat substitute”
“Fish, except salmon, is good… but it should be boiled, baked, or broiled”
“A slice of pineapple every time [you eat] meat… helps digest it”
“plenty of fruit… cooked and raw”
“8-10 glasses of water daily”

And, finally, the actual diet plan:

Day One

-Upon rising, a glass of hot water with the juice of half a lemon. Ten minutes of exercises.
-Breakfast: Coffee, one slice of toast.
-Lunch: Tomato soup, celery, baked apple and a slice of zwieback.
-Dinner: Two poached eggs on toast with one slice of crisp bacon, orange salad with a little french dressing.

Day Two

-Glass of orange juice on arising, ten minutes exercise.
-Breakfast: Coffee, bran muffin.
-Lunch: Spinach salad, garnished with hard boiled egg and pimento, a slice of crisp toast.
-Dinner: Broiled fish, tomato aspic on lettuce, garnished with chopped egg and nut meats, or cottage cheese. Fruit.

Day Three (Liquid Day)

-Hot water with lemon on arising.
-Breakfast: Coffee and a slice of zwieback
-A glass of milk at eleven, sipped slowly; for lunch a cup of strong, clear soup; another glass of milk or cup of thin cocoa in the afternoon.
-Dinner:  Cup of soup and a glass of milk or fruit juice before retiring.

Day Four

-Glass of orange juice on arising, 10 minutes exercise
-Breakfast: Prunes, with a small portion of dry cereal and milk, coffee
-Lunch: Waldorf salad- apples, celery, and nut meats on lettuce with French dressing, a bran cracker or two.
-Dinner: A lean lamb chop, string beans, lettuce heart with a little French dressing, lemon jelly.

Day Five

-Hot water with lemon on arising, 10 minutes exercise
-Breakfast: Baked apple, coffee
-Lunch: Vegetable soup, a cracker.
-Dinner: Roast chicken, combination salad, slice of pineapple

Day Six

-Hot water with lemon on arising, 10 minutes exercise
-Breakfast: One scrambled egg on a slice of toast
-Lunch: Lettuce salad with mock Russian dressing (chili sauce with a little mayonnaise), a cracker
Dinner: Vegetable dinner, a corn muffin.

Day Seven

-Orange juice on arising, 10 minutes exercise
-Breakfast: Stewed figs, coffee, a slice of toast
-Lunch: Vegetable salad, a slice of zwieback
-Dinner: A small piece of steak, stewed tomatoes, asparagus tips with pimento and French dressing. Prune whip (a small portion)


* Burbridge, Mabelle Antonette. The Road to Beauty. New York: Greenberg, Pub., 1924

**Gordon, Sarah A. “Make It Yourself”: Home Sewing, Gender, and Culture, 1890-1930. New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

Historical Sew Monthly #2 – 1920’s Navy Silk Dress

Going through my collection of vintage patterns earlier this month (it seems to grow on its own…), I found this cute mid-1920’s pattern that would be perfect for the HSM #2 – Blue Challenge. I knew I wanted to make a casual day dress, and this silhouette evoked the style of some of the Chanel dresses that I have had my eye on for awhile.

blue mccalls

The pattern itself is an early McCall’s printed pattern, so it was really fun to work with. Most of my other patterns from pre-1930s are pre-cut pieces, which can be a little more challenging to work with due to cutting irregularities. The directions weren’t much more detailed than the others, but they did give a really cute guide to seams and seam finishing. From the illustration on the cover of the pattern, I would date it from the early 1920’s, maybe 1924-25?

Initially I wanted to make this out of wool crepe, but couldn’t really find any examples from the time period to support this fabrication. So when I went to the local wool shop (which sadly went out of business before this project was even finished) I bought a navy silk shantung instead. I was only able to find one example of a silk shantung dress from the 1920s, but I was happy to see that it was in a cut very similar to the dress I am working on. If I end up remaking this pattern, I will definitely use this example for embellishment inspiration, it’s so wonderful and reminds me of Sonia Delaunay designs. From looking at examples like these as well as advertisements from the time, I would guess that this style was popular from 1925 to at least 1928, as I can find the most examples of this style from 1927 – 1928.

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(From left: page from Bernard Hewitt catalogue, 1928; Chanel dress, 1927Silk Shantung dress, Metz & Co, 1927-1928)

Some styling inspiration from 1927-1928:

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(Clockwise from Left: Stocking advertisement, 1928Thomas leather oxfords, 1927; La Vie Parisienne, 1927)

And finally, the finished dress! It is constantly snowing here now (I wish I was in Florida with Sophia!), so we had to make do and some of the photos are out of focus.

Blue 2fulll 1

Blue 3

What the item is: Day Dress

The Challenge: #2, Blue

Fabric: Navy Silk Shantung

Pattern: McCall’s 4752

Year: circa 1925-1927

Notions: Only thread! This is a simple pullover dress

How historically accurate is it? I would say 90%, I followed the pattern instructions exactly, but I’m not sure that silk shantung would have been a popular material to use for this kind of dress. Also, I used a junior’s size pattern thinking it fit perfectly considering how short I am, but the sleeves and hem ended up shorter than they should be.

Hours to complete: 4-ish.

First worn: For photos, today!

Total cost: $21 (2 1/2 yds of material at $7/yd)

Historical Sew Monthly Challenge #2 Blue 1930s Beach Ensemble

Hi Sophia here,  For the 2nd HSM challenge I decided to make a crazy printed art deco beach ensemble. This was such a fun look to make an wear I got some stares and many complements.

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IMG_0711I started with one of Erin’s vintage patterns for pajamas. I did some minor alterations to make the pants more flattering in the crotch and added cuffs to the bottoms of the pants because they were far to short. I pulled a lot inspiration photos for the styling and bathing suit design. I noticed that many of the women on the beach would wear slightly mismatch prints patterns and colors. I started with the body of the beach PJs and matched a vintage printed scarf with that and then used those colors to shop for my bathing suit and trim fabric for the PJs.


The navy blue bathing suit was really fun to pattern and make at least the 2nd time around the first go around it was so short and wide I accounted for stretch totally wrong. I loved how suits at the time had thin criss crossing straps, although I made the straps out of knit and I wish they were a woven they were stretching throughout the day. If anyone is interested I can post a pattern drafting tutorial it is only 5 pattern pieces and is relatively easy to make.  IMGP0054IMGP0028IMGP0045

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What the item is: 1930s beach ensemble
The Challenge: #2 Blue
Fabric: Beach PJs: white and mint light weight cotton in a decoesque print and a cerulean blue medium weight cotton for trimming. Bathing suit: navy cotton/poly blend ponte knit and white cotton rib knit for binding.
Pattern: Beach PJs vintage french pattern borrowed from Erin. Bathing suit drafted by me.
Year: Early 30s
Notions: Hook and eyes for the pant closure, two vintage celluloid buttons for bathing suit.
How historically accurate is it? The beach pjs are 100% to me they have a hook and eye closure and are 100% cotton. The bathing suit is more like 50% I would say the look and pattern are 100% the sewing and fabric are not. I wanted to use wool knit but I couldn’t find the right kind at our local fabric store and didn’t want to order online without feeling it and making sure it was suitable.
Hours to complete: 2 days for the PJs one day for the bathing suit.
First worn: Yesterday to the beach although it was to cold to go into the water properly.
Total cost: Beach PJs $45 Bathing Suit $20

First stab at 1950s sewing

I have been a long time 40s, 50s, and 60s vintage wearer but I usually sew early 20th century and earlier. My Dad’s car club has a show every February and thought it would be a good time to give it a stab. I made a new look inspired top and circle skirt and wore an amazing vintage vintage petticoat underneath.


inspoSome inspiration I pulled.

fulllookSorry the photos are filtered I didn’t take them haha


A goofy photo for good measure.

10532359_10152827133994821_6775183874445557513_nAnd a sweet photo of my Dad and Stepmom in front of their 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Challenge 1: Foundations Regency Underpinnings

Sophia here! So for the first HSM challenge of the year I decided to tackle Regency underpinnings. So I have always been very inspired by post revolutionary France and the dramatic impact that it had on fashion. I needed these foundations to build on for the War and Peace challenge later this year. I shot the photos on my lovely friend Victoria.

2009-03-08 19.31.10 copy

The research:


While I was researching I found such a wide variety from this era. It was a major transition from the hard boned stays of the 1700s to the soft corded stays of the early 1800s. I tried to keep these short stays historically plausible but I also wanted them to fit my body type and have decorative corded elements. I would like to change the stays to fan lacing when I can figure it out. (tips anyone?)

The Process:


To start with I made an inner layer out of a light weight cotton it hold the plastic bones in place to be corded around. Then I stitched it to the upper layer starting from the center and working my way outwards. To cord I used 3 strands of light weight cotton yarn used for crocheting.


The gussets in the lining are machine stitched a big no no considering I hand stitched the rest.


I made the busk out of a paint stir stick.


The eyelets were stitched over metal washers to insure security.

The Results:

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The Details
Fabric: Stays: 100% cotton jean outside, 100% cotton broadcloth lining, 100% cotton interlining Chamise: 100% cotton bleached muslin
Pattern: Both pieces were self drafted.
Year: 1800-1815
Notions: Both pieces were sewn with cotton thread and have cotton draw strings. The stays are corded with cotton cording and have a small amount of plastic boning. The busk was made from a wooden paint stirrer stick. I did use metal washers to reenforce the eyelets.
How historically accurate is it? Stays: 90% all visible stitching is hand done. The design is a combination of several examples from the Met. The metal washers and plastic boning take it down a few points. Chamise: 60% they are machine sewn and too short I want to lengthen them with another panel. The pattern is correct.
Hours to complete: Stays: So many that it makes my head spin. Chamise: One afternoon.
First worn: To shoot photos on my model. I’ll probably wear them for the war and peace challenge.
Total cost:Under 50$ some notions were stash and the yardage was under 10$ yrd.

1920-30’s Lingerie Set

Erin here! I was really excited for the first HSM challenge “Foundations”, as I have been making 1920s and 30s dresses for the past year but never had the correct undergarments to wear with them. I bought the book Vintage Lingerie by Jill Salen on a whim a while back, and wanted to recreate a 1920’s bra that was featured in the book.

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The description in the book says that this particular set was made by nuns in Ceylon, and the detail is extraordinary. It’s made in a similar way to the Kestos bra, straps crossing in the back and wrapping around the front, hooking to front buttons for closure.

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This was my first time sewing lingerie, so I drafted this pattern without all the fussy details of the original (though I would love to recreate this set in full one day!) Using the pattern from Vintage Lingerie as a basis was fine for a trial run, but I wish they had given more specifics. I made mine without elastic in the straps, as the author didn’t mention elastic at all in the description, so it’s slippery and impractical when I move around. I’ll definitely be trying this again – with a few little alterations to the shape and changing the back straps to covered elastic. (I apologize for the grainy photos! I was using a phone camera for this post!)

full bra

bra detail 3

This bra was popular into the 1930’s, so I decided to pair it with the whimsical Circular French Knickers that Jeanne of VeraVenus created a wonderful tutorial for. They were super easy to make with this tutorial, and so pretty.

tap pantspanty detail
And finally, though I am a bit camera shy (especially wearing lingerie, on the internet!) I would like to present the final ensemble, worn here with a vintage chenille bathrobe from the same era!
 lingerie set

The Challenge: #1 Foundations

Fabric: Silk Habotai

Pattern: Bra adapted from Vintage Lingerie by Jill Salen, Circular French Knickers from VeraVenus

Year: late 1920s – early 1930s

Notions: hook and eye, two buttons, thread

How historically accurate is it? About 80%, I’m not sure that the fabric is entirely accurate, and unfortunately I made the bra straps to cross in front when I don’t think they are supposed to!

Hours to complete: 4, including drafting the patterns

First worn: For this photo, this morning

Total cost: $1, I got the fabric for free and only paid for the buttons at a local sewing shop

Historical Sew Monthly January Progress

Sophia here! So I have been making slow but fruitful progress on my regency stays. I also plan on making a chamise and stockings based on The Dreamstress’ wonderful pattern. So here are few pictures of my progress. Look forward to my complete post later this month.


The pattern which has been ever changing since I started sewing.


The bust gussets turned out to be really fun to make.


The start of the body, unfortunately my had sewing precision is lacking but this is my first hand sewn period garment.