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May 27, 2011

Friday Forties Midriff Madness!

Memorial Day weekend is upon us here in the United States and the unofficial start of the summer season.  Can you think of a better time to whip up a vintage mid-Forties midriff?

I picked up this rather worn gem (Advance 4147) on Etsy and it's one of those early patterns with no ink markings but just perforations.  Once you've sewn a few of these, they start to make sense; all the info is there.  Seam allowances on this pattern are 1/2 inch.

The pattern pieces themselves looked untouched, though they were fragile, as you'd imagine a sixty-five-year-old pattern to be.  Advance wasn't top of the line (it was the J.C. Penny house brand).  A McCall's pattern of the same period will be sturdier as well as printed.

I had a hard time finding the right fabric for this -- I wanted a cotton print with a vintage feel but nothing too dainty.  I ended up with what looks like Tiki bar wallpaper -- palm trees, volcanoes, hibiscus flowers -- a little kitschy but I like it.    Laid out, it's actually quite geometric, as you can see.

I wanted the skirt to be solid, and I remembered that in my muslin fabric stash I had an old gray/blue Wamsutta sateen flat sheet that matched the blues in the floral fabric perfectly. 

The sheet has a rather heavy drape and satiny polish, and made the floral fabric look stiff (and cheap) by comparison.  I decided to tie the two together by cutting the "blouse" from both fabrics and making it reversible.  That way the top and solid skirt will look more matched in terms of drape.

Essentially, I sewed two identical tops and stitched them together along the top and side edges.

Here's how things look as of last night:

I think I'll finish the bottom with right sides together, then pull everything right-side-out through the kimono sleeve, and finally, finish the sleeves with bias trim cut from the sheet.  That way the blue side will be completely blue, and a little blue trim will peek out of the edge of the floral side.

To tie things together further, I may do the skirt button facings in the floral fabric, so some of it can peek through when the skirt is partially unbuttoned.  The shorts will be made entirely of the floral fabric, at least that's how I see it so far.  Cute, right?

Readers, it's time to get to work.

Memorial Day celebrators and others, I wish you all a wonderful weekend.  We'll be here as usual; no rest for the weary.

Have you caught the midriff madness yet?

Beware -- it's catching!


  1. Adorable - but please let it be for Cathy! I know fashion repeats itself but I sure do not want the male-midriff to get a 2nd Era! LOL

    I really love your ability to pick out faric! I get so inspired by the clothes you make for both yourself and Cathy too! Especially your creations for Cathy ;)

  2. I love that fabric, it's perfect! This is going to be a great outfit. I have a playsuit pattern from Wearing History that I want to make for the summer. Can't wait to get on it!

  3. Wow, this is fantastic. I love the way you put it together!! You are so talented!

  4. I haven't caught midriff madness, sadly baring ones midriff when you are over 50 and a tad on the "fluffy" side is not a good look, but Cathy doesn't suffer from either of these afflictions. Looking forward to seeing her model a new outfit.

  5. Dang. When you use a sheet it looks like fashion fabric. When I try it, it looks like a sheet. Sorta like "Gone With the Wind" ala Scarlett O'Hara vs. Carol Burnett. I love your eye for print and color.


  6. Ha! Chico DeBarge! Throw Me Back. Thank you for the high school reminder. Now I seem to remember Prince having some midriff somewhere, too. I wore a midriff little dance number to a Paula Abdul concert. As you can guess my age now, I'm past the point where it looks good or even appropriate but I'd love to see some girls work it.

  7. I can't wait to see the finished outfit! I'd love to make one of these to wear at the beach..but I never go to the beach. Maybe I should make one just in case? :]

  8. Love, love, love it. I had one of these in my stash and I have not gotten around to making it yet. Someday soon I will have time to sew least I hope I do. Have a great weekend.

  9. Too cute! Can't even think about what I'd look like at 66 in a midrif top! Yikes! But it'd be cute to wear it over a tank top maybe. But I don't think so. Your's will be enough for me to enjoy!

  10. ooohhhh I am so excited for this project! Your print fabric choice is perfect!! And I had no idea Advance was the J.C. Penny's interesting!

  11. That's a REALLY cute pattern, but I have a very "thick" middle, so no baring the midriff for me. Maybe some day I'll find the energy to work out and lose the spare tire...maybe :)

  12. LOVE the midriff look!! The only "really nice" part left on moi... LOVE a top-buttoned (just past the gorgeous bra line) beautiful sweater... with "the rest" open. Looks nice with slacks or skirts. ;)

  13. I am so excited for this project, to quote Debi above!

  14. This will be great on Cathy, but is definitely not a look I could pull off right now! Very much looking forward to seeing the finished article!


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