Iâ€™ve always been a vintage clothing fan. From modest antique fairs and vintage clothing-stocked lofts in New England as a teenager, to today in New Zealand.Â So one thing Iâ€™ll be doing here is posting items from my vintage clothing collection, assembled over 20+ years.
My relationship with sewing has always been more ambivalent. My mom taught me the sewing basics â€“ then declined to go much further with me, even though she used to sew wedding dresses for a living. I fumbled on myself, sewing some Garb back in ye Dayes When I Wore Ye Renaissance Fayre Garb. Later, IÂ took sewing lessons with my friend Gilraen, who is now a seamstress supreme, sewing most of her own wardrobe. Me, Iâ€™m still learning, throwing together knit dresses and tops, doing my own alterations.
Vintage love and sewing ambivalence combine in one activity: turning a vintage piece inside-out to see how itâ€™s constructed. Simple-looking things astound me with their hidden detail. So Iâ€™ll post these things from the outside â€“ and the inside.
Hereâ€™s an example â€“ a mail-order American dress from the late 30s or early 40s. From the good old Sears Roebuck catalog, even. It’s made of a heavy, but slightly translucent, navy-violet crepe, with pink satin details overlaid with navy blue lace. It’s got two small thread belt loops, an indicator that its belt has gone missing. There’s a little sun fading on one shoulder, but otherwise it’s in decent shape.
Itâ€™s very simple looking on the outside. Maybe there was a belt at one point.
But look at all the detailing on the inside.
I think the loose threads are the result of laundering. But otherwise it is in excellent condition. Someone was taking care of a “good dress.”
All that piecing for an inexpensive mass-produced garment!
Sewing is engineering, at the end of the day.