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Oct 22, 2011

BREAKING! The 1944 Outfit Project



Friends, I am very excited about my next project and I hope you will be too.  I'll be making three separate garments, all from 1944, to create a lovely WWII-era ensemble for demure Miss Cathy Lane.

The genesis:  I was perusing Etsy last week, and I stumbled upon this cute jumper and blouse pattern (above right) for only $3.  DING DING DING!!!  El Cheapo just had to have it.

I love the simple sweetness of it, and couldn't you just see a youthful Gene Tierney or Jennifer Jones -- or even somewhat more mature Eve Arden -- wearing that outfit onscreen?

Joan What's-her-name and Eve Arden in "Mildred Pierce"

Here's an ad for a somewhat similar jumper, from a September, 1944 Screen Guide magazine I own:







Now that it's fall, we couldn't have Cathy parading around in nothing but a jumper and blouse, so I decided to look for a suitable coat pattern.  And that's when I found this, also on Etsy:



It cost quite a bit more than $3, but what are you going to do?

Yesterday I went to look for fabric ideas, and here's some of what I came up with.  I don't want anything too matchy-matchy, and I want it to have a period feel.  The coat, I think, should be wool; the jumper can be velveteen, corduroy, or plaid or patterned wool tweed.  The blouse will be a very soft cotton, perhaps a soft camel and white stripe.







Last night, I remembered that Pattern Review has a Refashion contest starting November 1, which is just around the corner.  So at the flea market this morning, I picked up this huge salmon pink wool blanket.  It's not perfect -- there are some difficult-to-capture-on-film areas of fading and discoloration -- but I think it's usable.  It's darker than it looks immediately below, more of a rose beige, but I wanted to show you the blanket-stitching.





I'm fond of many of the styles of the mid-Forties and, paging through Screen Guide, part of my vintage movie magazine collection, I was reminded how lovely they are.







Oh, look what else I picked up!  I don't think it's real fur, but I love the look.



And that, readers, is what's on tap, starting soon.

What do you think?  Can you see a salmon coat, perhaps with contrasting lapels, combined with herringbone jumper and brown striped blouse?  Or should I go with textured velveteen?  Planning a new project is fun!

You can see more photos from my 1944 Screen Guide here.

Have a great day, everybody!

30 comments:

  1. I think the muff is real. It is a sheared fur. Just a guess. Somewhere I have a recycled 40's dress. Pink wool sheet blanket(just guessing) and black velvet. Maybe post an inspiration photo if I get to it

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  2. I can't imagine what my house would look like if I lived a few blocks from a flea market. I love the muff and the patterns.

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  3. Johanna, could it be sheared rabbit? The individual hairs are very fine.

    Marilyn, it would probably look like what mine does most of the time -- a mess.

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  4. YAY for 1940's project! I absolutely love the patterns you choose and major thrift store scores!

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  5. Oooohhh! I love both patterns, but especially the coat pattern. Cathy will look fabulous in both! If I find a similar pattern, I'd love to make that coat.

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  6. Love the patterns! I have found some great vintage ones too on etsy and I can't wait to get started. Have fun!

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  7. I love the salmon wool, Peter. (Evidently, your pooches do, too!) That would be gorgeous for the coat, I think. But then, I'm really partial to the pink color family. I think it would be great with some velvet trim.

    I love planning new projects as much as I love seeing the finished results. My current project is a "period correct" civil war outfit for my son to wear to Gettysburg for the big reenactment day in November. What a project, but all of the 100% natural fabric to work with is heavenly! And very expensive!

    Happy Sewing!

    http://www.learnhowtosewnow.com

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  8. i'm excited! another project for Miss Cathy :)

    I am a little perplexed though...why is the garment called a jumper? What is it exactly? is it a pinafore over a blouse?

    In Australia a jumper is what you would call a sweater, so this garment you're making Cathy has me confused.

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  9. I love your choices and the patterns are just great. Lately I've been sewing with cotton velvet and it sews up so lovely I think you should use it for one of the garments. That muff is so lovely and it looks real to me in the photo.

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  10. Salmon wool coat! Salmon wool coat!

    I tried to make a muff but got completely lost in the lining, quilting, pocket insertion, turning, and stitching parts. So basically I have a nice tube of single-layer fleece. Good thing I didn't try it with fur!

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  11. Suzi, jumper is the American term for pinafore.

    Nan, I'm now thinking the muff is sheared rabbit...or maybe chihuahua.

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  12. Velveteen, use velveteen! (Imagine me jumping up and down like a cheerleader while trying to persuade you.) Maybe one with a devoré effect?! Something floral? Though taht might not be WWII anymore...

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  13. Beautiful! Not really my taste, 40's clothes, but I'm anxious to see Cathy in these outfits. Bet she'll look gorgeous in them. Good luck sewing those. Certainly not an easy project, brave man.

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  14. I worked in the fur business many years ago...the muff looks like sheared beaver to me. Very durable fur, very warm.

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  15. Yeah, I'm thinking sheared beaver too.

    I have a vintage sheared beaver coat I received as a gift years ago and say what you will about wearing fur, it is wonderful in bitter cold and I refuse to give that coat up.

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  16. ok - my two cents - I would dye the blanket (1944 was in the midst of the War and I don't think any thrifty person would have made themselves a pink coat - too easily stained or dirtied), using acid dyes (see Dharma Trading) in rust or brown to go with the muff (and I think that is sheared beaver, Peter).

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  17. Hooray for a return to sewing and impending visit from Cathy! Love the textured blue swatch but perhaps if the salmon pink is the biggest piece then browns/camels would look a little more grown up?

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  18. Are you sure you want to cut up that blanket? Your "kids" look really comfortable and they might not want to give it up. Love the patterns. I just bought 6 patterns (1 current, 5 1960's) from Goodwill yesterday for a whooping 29 cents each. My big splurge.

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  19. I want to see a chihuahua IN the muff. Think you can wrestle them off the coat/blanket for that shot?

    It's good to see (read) you excited about a project! Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

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  20. thanks for the jumper/pinafore clarification Peter:)

    ps. i bought a 220V .9A motor/foot pedal/belt combo for my vintage class 15 Japanese clone on eBay from China...fingers crossed all it needs is an Australian plug and then i'm good to go...except for finding a light housing replacement that is :/

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  21. What a fun project! While you're stitching madly away, I hope Cathy will let her hair grow a bit and give it some curl. Her pixie cut is terrific for '50s fashion, but if she's going to time-travel back to the '40s, longer, fluffier hair would really complete the look. Think Greer Garson in "Mrs. Miniver," or perhaps Ann Sothern in "A Letter to Three Wives."

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  22. As soon as I saw these patterns I thought Greer Garson with a curled updo. The blanket would look good dyed a deep hot pink that would go with the muff. Just be aware what any sort of strong heat does to pure wool - you could end up with it felted!
    I look forward to seeing the clothes modelled by Cathy. I've always suspected that she inspired you to blog...

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  23. Ladies, don't you think Greer Garson is a little "long in the tooth" to be Cathy's style icon? Ann Sothern I can live with.

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  24. I'm far from an expert on fur (or beaver for that matter), but beaver seems to be right. Did I just say that......? Eeek.

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  25. Thanks, Jan-Theo. And congratulations on your new blog (check it out, kids).

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  26. Thanks Peter! All warm and fuzzy again ;)

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  27. Peter:

    Greer Garson's hair was always MUCH younger than she was ;)

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  28. Just my 2 cents... if you're using the pink wool balnket for the coat (which I highly endorse!) I'd do a brown tweed something for the jumper and a cream blouse. Remember, everything had to have many uses and a cream blouse would go with any other skirt/jacket combo. Brown and pink is one of my favorite color combinations! Maybe your coat can have tan saddlestitching for topstitching and that will tie in nicely with the muff and the jumper?

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  29. Peter, I just love it all. There are lots of women who follow you. My question to them is why don't women want to dress like this again? To me it looks wonderfully rich and chic. Maine isn't the fashion capitol of the world, so most of what I see women wearing is either LL Bean sweaters and jeans, street walker slut material or hippy dippy ethnic earth mama garb. Hopefully Cathy can cause a fashion revolution!

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  30. I'm gonna vote for you on patternreview. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful pink coat. I'm actually envious because I had this little sweater from Ralph Lauren that is cute but I never find that I want to wear it - too much like something a person in an ice fishing shack would wear while going bonkers. I thought about turning it into a tam o'shanter or a clutch or even a weird bustier. Anyway, other things intervened. So there you are with your singular creative vision and those chihuahuas to inspire us all. And probably someone on eBay will just snap up my sweater anyway, as is. "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of all - 'it might have been.'"

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