Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Vintage 1950s Swimwear: Surf Togs and Beaunit Fabric

Vintage 1950's swimwear owes it's molded, corset style to great innovations in textiles suitable for beach and pool. One brand, Beaunit Fabric, produced fashionable satins that could stretch by using elastic fibers.

This industry ad from a spring 1951 issue of "California Stylist" also promotes the "Surf Tog" label, showing a princess seam line strapless swimsuit that would have had a zipper down the center back. It has dress maker details including a cuffed sweet heart neckline with bow and a modest sheath skirt to cover the upper leg.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fashion Books: Universe of Fashion, 20th Century Fashion Designers

Creating a fashion library can be essential for both research and inspiration to collectors, designers, costumers and students of fashion. In the 1990's, there were many fashion and costume history books written that reviewed fashion's progress during the 20th century.

A collection of small volumes was published by Universe Publishing and Vendome Press in 1996 and 1997. The titles I show here look at Alaia, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, and Valentino. There are several other designers such as Poiret, Dior, Schiaparelli, Courreges and Chanel, in the "Universe of Fashion" collection. Different authors were sought to profile each designer. The rest of each volume is dedicated to glossy photos of their work.

These small books contribute to any library, providing a quick overview of style and influences that anyone should have on hand.

Universe of Fashion, Universe Publications, a division of Rizzoli, and Vendome Press, 1996, 1997.
Volumes: about 80 pps, size: 8 3/4" High x 6 1/2" Wide

YSL and Alia Book Set available HERE

Versace, Valentino and YSL Book Set available HERE

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vintage 1950's Playset: Simplicity 1605 and How to Sew Your Own Playset

1950s fashion

Sewing a 1950's vintage style summer play suit set is not has difficult as that may seem. When making vintage styles, sometimes you have to copy an idea, rather than use a pattern. This Simplicity Pattern 1605 dates from the 1950's. It has has a classic detachable skirt worn over a short playsuit.

1950s play suit

The wrapped bodice seems strongly influenced by Claire McCardell and other American designers who were creating styles with an Indian sari influence. The jumpsuit image shows how the edge of a sari or border print could be used to create a dramatic diagonal on the one shoulder top.

For a sewing project, this outfit is worth taking a second look, especially for the wrapped neckline which can be made with or without the second shoulder panel. The easy to sew gathered skirt is accented by a detachable cummerbund. The skirt fastens in front and it acts as a cover-up for going indoors at the country club.

The back of the pattern shows how the pieces are cut. Even though this pattern is no longer available, it is possible to re-create the same look with a gathered skirt over a jumpsuit or shorts and halter top. Probably the easiest way to get a similar pattern is to create your own pattern hack. Using two Butterick patterns, this look could be created.

To sew your own wrap bodice and skirt, start with Butterick 6582.  It has a great version of this wrapped bodice, but attached to a gathered skirt.  Using this pattern, the surplice top could be used.  When fitting it, be sure to determine your waistline, since that is where the shorts will be attached.  If you want to make this a 'crop top' and not attach the shorts, that would be even easier to fit.  Use this pattern for making the detachable skirt by sewing the fabric to a straight waistband that meets in the front.  There should be a wide sash too that wraps around the waistline.

To make your shorts, use Butterick 5895.  It is a well fit pant with a high 'natural' waistline.  A fitting muslin would be the next step so that the best length for shorts can be drawn on the leg and transferred to the paper pattern.  It would also be important to pin the bodice to the waistline so that the correct waistline is determined.  You may want to lengthen or shorten the pant waistline at this time too.

This outfit would duplicate the one we see here, making it a great 50's style play suit for the summer!

This "Throw-back Thursday" post was adapted from the original posted July 13, 2011.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vintage Swimwear: 1951 Carribean Collection by Catalina

Vintage swimwear by Catalina are classics.  In the 1950's, bold new designs were created for collections that this California label produced to attract a sun loving customer. In 1951 the "Carribean* collection" showed sea themed graphics on their daring strapless one piece stretch swimsuits, along with other styles including men's trunks to match.

Go Carribean* with Catalina!
...Catalina's new Carribean* collection, beautiful new designs, gay sun-filled colors, fanciful patterns and fabrics, all created with a true Carribbean flavor!

STAR FISH fanciful design hand-printed on knitted two-way stretch Celanese, Lastex and Nylon.
Features Catalina's new patented POWERLIFT bra. Exciting Carribean* colors.
Matching men's STAR FISH trunk.
"as featured in LIFE"

California Stylist, Spring 1951

What's not to love with this early 1950's California swim suit. This wildly popular motif has been well documented, but I felt it was right for a re-visit this summer. Perhaps we are ready once more for bold accent patterns on the front of our maillot swim suits, along with a cute version for the man in our life (or not).

This ad boasted a contest to promote the new "Carribean* collection", and was also advertised in "Life" magazine. This ad was seen in "California Stylist", an industry magazine geared towards wholesale buyers looking at California labels to stock their retail stores across the U.S.

Catalina History review: HERE

Friday, June 5, 2015

WWII Fashions: Spring of 1942 Sewing Patterns

Spring of 1942 came only a few short months after the start of WWII, and by August, WPB Limitation Order L-85 would take effect to begin the war era restrictions on fashion. With this in mind, it's easy to spot the adoption of styles that required less fabric. Fashion manufacturers had been making a transition into a leaner fashion look since the late 1930's when a new war seemed at hand.

Simple, yet charming dress styles are offered in this Simplicity spring catalog for 1942. The dresses shown here tend to lean towards a classic button front style with an "A" shaped skirt that just covered the knee (about as high as society would tolerate). I have included the full page so you can see that most of the design was in front, and nearly all dresses sport the same simple darted rear view.

In general, these styles are easy to sew and can be adapted from current sewing patterns. Color blocking and contrast buttons gives design interest without using additional fabric. The slender silhouette is due in part to the use of rayon and acetate textiles that have a soft drape, such as crepes and imitation silk weaves.  We also know that many women were sewing crisp cottons too.

Using these pattern designs can also help to date vintage fashion from the WWII era.  Look for the same silhouette and style details when dating.  There also will be a noticeable lack of zippers in dresses and skirts.  You will also find that after the war, many women kept this look until they could afford the Dior influenced silhouettes, so dresses like this with longer length skirts are often from the late 40's.


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