Tag Archives: 1940s

Halloween: Vintage Style

IMG_5691_editWell hi there, friends!

I come to you today with a fabulously exciting collaboration between the prolific milliner Tanith Rowan and I.  I stumbled upon Tanith’s blog in late July and became enamored with her monthly Whimsy project and stunning handmade hats. She announced in her newsletter an idea for creating a set of vintage-inspired Halloween costumes and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. We exchanged general ideas and set about sketching in the beginning of August. In all, we both came up with 10-12 individual designs and then we narrowed down to 3 for production. And that narrowing was no easy feat. I would happily make every one of Tanith’s designs. Oh and her fashion sketching? Puts mine to shame, folks.

Tiny sidenote – as you look at these, bear in mind the fact that the garments were all sewn in a 32 square foot space. On my kitchen table. If you think you can’t sew because you don’t have room – don’t let it stop you. It can be annoying, but it’s possible and remarkable fun.

1950’s Spider

spidersketchFirst up – a 50’s sheath dress and gathered overskirt with a wide brimmed sun hat. Tanith’s take on the hat is a stroke of genius. Inside the brim, she hand cut felt spiders and hid them between the sheer layers, so they are only visible when the light shines through the brim in the right way.

IMG_0965 IMG_0984For the dress, I used Gertie’s Tiki Dress pattern from her book and made it up in dark grey bengaline. I didn’t gather the skirt as she instructs, though.  I just used the simple pencil skirt instead. Of all the pieces for this project, I expected to have the most trouble and be the most frustrated by this one, just because of the complex nature of the construction and it being my first time using boning in a garment. It went together smoothly, to my great surprise. I even lined it! The “web” overskirt is self-drafted and made of creamy sheer. It’s loosely gathered using a technique I used last year to make an Anthropologie inspired duvet cover.

IMG_0976 IMG_09681930’s Cat

catsketchNext, a 30’s day outfit with a long skirt, bow-tied blouse and short cropped jacket. Tanith’s hat is a crown of fur with a knit fabric carefully gathered across the center and two velvet ears on the edge. By the way – a note about Tanith’s remarkable hat designs: she knows what a hat needs to help it stay on all day. For this hat, she built in a plaited bandeau that wraps around the back of your head to keep it in place. My hair mostly covers it in these photos, but trust me, it’s there.

IMG_1014The skirt here is Wearing History’s 1930’s Bias Skirt pattern. I tried the print at home version and have never been so impressed with a print at home pattern. Lauren took great pains to make the matching of the pieces easy and she succeeded. If you were on the fence about trying any of her patterns, I highly recommend them (and no, she did not ask nor pay me to say it).

The blouse is Gertie’s Bow Tied Blouse (from the book above) made in cotton dotted Swiss. For some reason, this one item was the hardest and most frustrating to complete. I wish the pattern pieces from the New Book for Better Sewing were numbered or lettered somehow because I spent a whole hour convinced I did not have the pattern piece for the collar. It’s called a Collar Band in the pattern and it confused the heck out of me. The directions for sewing are a bit vague, too. If you are not an experienced sewer, they will be hard to follow. Anyway – the back is closed with 5 bound buttonholes and finished with vintage buttons. Gertie’s bound buttonhole instructions are my favorite bar none. If you are looking to attempt them, check out her tutorial in this book. In the end, I’m quite pleased with the result and will be making the blouse again.

The jacket is self-drafted with a big wide collar to give a proper backdrop for the bow on the blouse. The jacket fabric is vintage gray wool a friend gave me and it was perfect for this use. It’s been waiting on my fabric shelf for just such a project.

Of the three outfits, this is my favorite. And as Tanith said in her post, I love them all!

IMG_1027 IMG_1026 IMG_10421940’s Bat

batsketchThe final outfit is a 40’s batwing suit made of houndstooth brocade. Tanith’s beautiful rendition of this hat blew me away from the moment I unpacked it. It’s another example of her thoughtful practical-ness, too. Inside, there are two elastic loops you bobby-pin to secure it.

IMG_1090I initially intended to add directional quilting as you can see from the sketch, but when I found the houndstooth fabric, the quilting seemed like it would interfere. This design also has a back closure and no, the back closure theme was not intentional. The lines of both designs just seemed to fit with what we were going for. The pattern used for this outfit is Simplicity 1706 from the 40s. The buttons are another set of vintage beauties waiting for the right project to come along.

IMG_1059 IMG_1054 IMG_1046I am so honored to have worked with Tanith on this endeavor. She is a lovely person full of ingenuity, talent and brilliance. Make sure you go check out her post on this project over at her blog and while you’re at it, look at her Whimsy project, too!

Also, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to my dear friend Mrs. T who kindly dropped everything to take off on a photoshoot adventure with me at a moment’s notice. She snapped all the photos here and did a truly wonderful job. I love you, dearie.

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How to Wear a Crocheted Snood

Hello friends! Today, I’d like to dive right in and explain how to wear a crocheted snood. Crocheted snoods are simple to put on and keep on, making them the perfect hair solution for quick trips around town. I guarantee your errands will feel glamorous if you don one of these! And an added benefit for those in the colder climates: crocheted snoods are incredibly warm. It’s like wearing a hat without the hair-smushing drawback.

You will need:

  • a crocheted snood (see below for where to buy one or how to make your own)
  • hair pins (I use bobby pins from Sally’s that match my hair color)

Step 1

Style the front of your hair. In the photo above, I have two huge pincurls rolled to towards each other to the middle. My hair was parted slightly off center before I made the curls, so they are not the same size and slightly askew.

Step 2

Brush out your back hair. I often curl the ends a little, too. I do this with a round bristle brush: Take a section of hair, position the brush at the ends and gently catch the ends in the brush, curling the hair under in a circular motion. This helps give the back hair more body once it’s inside the snood.

Step 3

Gather up your back hair and pin it in a large loose pincurl at the nape of your neck. Not too many pins, only about three or so. This pincurl bun doesn’t need to hold very long, it only needs to keep your hair out of the way while you pin on the snood.

Step 4

Take the snood, with the ribbon ends positioned at the top of your head (if it has a ribbon) and wrap it around your head, covering the pincurl bun. Now you pin it in place:

Pin the top, behind your front hairstyle

Pin the sides, behind your ears

Pin the bottom, under the pincurl bun

Step 5

Reach into the snood mesh and remove the pins holding together the pincurl bun. Fluff the hair into the snood so it fills out.

Step 6

Tie the ribbon at the top.

Here’s a little demonstration gif so you get the idea:

Where to find one

Premade snoods are available from a variety of online sellers. My green one in the photos above was a very thoughtful present from our lovely friend Patricia. She discovered The Snood Lady – a dear woman who meticulously reproduces snoods in modern yarns from a vintage pattern. The Snood Lady even sells fancy jeweled snoods for weddings and special occasions. (Edit 10/24/12 – The Snood Lady is closing up her website, so see the other links I’ve provided for premade snoods.)

Of course, there is Etsy – a wealth of premade snoods in a variety of colors: Aprils Bag and Stitch In Time Design in the US and Eden Valley Vintage and Gin Poodle in the UK (thanks Tanis for letting me know about your shop!).

And if you are a crocheter, you can make your own! The free pattern I used to make my red snood is here (Ravelry link). I added a couple more rows of crochet to this pattern so I could thread a ribbon around it (details on the exact stitches are on my Ravelry page for the project). Annalaia’s shop has 10 vintage crocheted snood patterns and a special pattern for containing layered hair can be found in Patterns ala Carte’s shop.

I hope these ramblings encourage you vintage ladies to give snoods a try! And as always, if you have questions or if I didn’t explain something good enough feel free to speak up.

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How to Tie a Snood with a Scarf

Let’s chat about snoods. I realize some of you may find the title of this post crazily repetitive, particularly if you hail from across the pond. But in the 40s sense of the word, a snood is a “a netlike hat or part of a hat or fabric that holds or covers the back of a woman’s hair.” It’s a casual alternative to pinning your hair up, as Ann Sheridan so beautifully demonstrates above. I’m fond of wearing snoods because they lend a 40s look in a quick, easy fashion and are great for days when your hair decides to strike. In my world, there are two types of snoods: special crocheted versions and scarves I tie myself. Today, I’d like to share the instructions for tying a regular 24″ square scarf into a snood.

You will need:

  • a square scarf that is at least large enough to tie completely around your head – something in the 24″ square range. If you can wear it as a babushka, it will work for this. Triangular scarves work just fine, too. In fact, the two lace snoods seen in my photos are actually triangles. Any material will work, but scarves with a sheer quality are more authentically snood-ish.
  • hair pins (I use bobby pins from Sally’s that match my hair color)

Step 1

Prepare your hair. Style the front with large pincurls, a little rabbit ridge or just pin it back. If you have bangs, you are all set. The back of your hair need not be brushed or straightened. In fact, this is a great style to tame freshly pincurled hair for a few hours.

Step 2

Fold your scarf diagonally, from corner to corner, creating a large triangle. Flip your hair forward while bending at the waist, so your hair falls over the top of your head. Tie the scarf around your head with the square knot just touching your forehead (so it will be over your front styled hair for now). Leave the scarf ends loose.

Step 3

Adjust the point of the scarf to become a pocket for your hair, tucking in loose pieces. Roll up the scarf from the point, corralling your back hair in the pocket created. Secure the top of the pocket with hairpins.

Step 4

Move the top knot behind your front hair, carefully untying it and retying it if necessary. To finish, take one of the loose scarf ends and tuck it into the side it falls closest to, securing with pins. Repeat for the other loose end. Tuck any flyaways and secure with more pins as needed.

If you are confused, have a look at my little gif:

If you have any questions or if something is unclear, do be sure and speak up! I’m happy to help. And keep an eye out for my next snoody post – next week I’ll be writing about crocheted snoods – how to make and wear them!

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Secrets to Vintage Hair Success

(photo from silent_screen_queen)

Vintage styled hair is an integral part of being a vintage girl – well in my opinion, anyhow. It’s just one more piece of the puzzle that helps lend a girl that classic film star feeling. My technique of choice is pincurling because I favor the 1940’s rolled, smooth styles. Ladies, if you’ve never tried pincurling, you honestly have no idea what you’re missing. If you are interested in learning, YouTube is chock full of valuable information from our leading vintage gals. I learned from Aya’s Tutorial (part 1, part 2) but Lisa (part 1, part 2) has great instructions, too.

My reason for bringing all this up today is that I have discovered a marvelous vintage hair secret that I’d like to share. Well, it’s not so much a secret but I think it’s relatively unknown. In the tutorials above the ladies recommend using hair products or water as a setting lotion when you pincurl. These do work to terrific effect and there are many superior products to buy (check out this Fedora Lounge discussion for tips on the best ones). However, I’ve always been overprotective of my hair and try to avoid hair products and heat when styling. It’s become something of an obsession with me, so when my storebought setting lotion ran out a month ago, I decided to see if I could make my own.

My search led me to the aforementioned Fedora Lounge thread where I was soon engrossed in the ins-and-outs of setting lotion. Some of the ladies mentioned the possibility of homemade setting lotion and as I read further I even found links. I printed out two of the most promising recipes and set about procuring ingredients.

So far, I’ve only tried the first one but it has proved to be such an immense success for me that I couldn’t keep it to myself another moment. It’s a blindingly simple recipe that uses only 2 ingredients and takes only 15 minutes to make.

Flax Seed Hair Setting Lotion

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon whole flax seeds

Combine the water and flax seeds in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the mixture is gelatinous (about 10-15 minutes). Strain out as many of the seeds as you can. Let cool. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

The result is an odorless, colorless gel that can be used just like setting lotion or putty when setting pincurls. It has the consistency of egg whites. Don’t worry if you aren’t into cooking. It’s a forgiving recipe. The first time I tried it, I forgot about it and it boiled over a bit, but the mixture turned to jelly anyway. I tried straining the seeds out, but they get pretty set into the jelly and it’s a tough task. I just left the seeds in and was careful not to get them in my hair. [2/8/11 Update: After making this recipe once every two weeks since posting this, I’ve found that it’s quite easy to strain the seeds out. Just be sure to strain as soon as you take the mixture off the heat. If it has a chance to rest, it sets up.]

The marvelous part of this is the softness of my hair after pincurling. No yucky hard pieces where the product has built up, no greasy feeling. Just soft, dry, perfectly curled hair. I have found that my curls stay in longer and better with it, too. The product I used always gave up within 2 days of setting my hair. Last week, I was able to go for 4 days with my flax seed set and it was quite easy to fix my hair style each morning. I was testing to see how long it would last – I don’t normally go 4 days without washing my hair! :)

One more tip: if you want that amazingly shiny hair we often see on classic film starlets, massage some tea tree oil into your scalp and comb through your hair before pincurling. Works like a charm and smells divine, too!

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4/14/10 Update: I have a convert! Be sure to check out the post Kate of Vintage in a Modern World wrote about her flax seed experience!

2/8/11 Update: Another convert! Atlanta of The Story of a Seamstress and her gorgeous pincurled, self-set hairstyle.

6/13/11 Update: Joanna of FriendSheep is a happy convert!

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