The “Mix Up” Suspender Skirt

the artyologist image of suspender skirt inspired by 1939 sears catalogue

I’ve been sewing for probably 15 or so years, since my mom taught me when I was quite young. I look back to the early days of my sewing adventures, and the garments I made were often baggy, shapeless, ill fitting and unflattering. (Whew, that’s a mouthful of insulting descriptions!) I wasn’t very good at choosing garments that would look good on me, and not very good at fitting said garments either. Fortunately with time and practice though, my sewing skills have improved. I like to think that my style has improved a bit too 😉 I still have so much to learn, but each time, I get a little bit more accomplished. One of the garments that I am the “proudest” to have been able to make is this suspender skirt.

the artyologist image 1939 sears catalogue skirt

I came across this illustration in a 1939 Sears catalogue. This group of skirts are called “Mix Up’s”, because of their ability to mix-and-match in your wardrobe. Interestingly “Mix-and-Match” separates weren’t really a marketed item until the Depression and War Years, although of course people always did mix and match. During those years where poverty turned into rationing and people didn’t have the money or the resources to make new outfits, mix and match separates were worn to help stretch the wardrobe. It is interesting that in this catalogue- that is the marketed feature of this skirt. (Also jealous to note the $1.98 price tag for a wool skirt- although in todays dollars that would be. . . only $34. . .  ok never mind I am still jealous)

the artyologist image of suspender skirt inspired by vintage sears catalogue

I love the suspender skirt in the centre, so I decided to try and make something like it. I didn’t have a pattern, I had never drafted a pattern from scratch before, and I only had a limited amount of fabric, as I had already used most of the twill for a pair of trousers, so it was a bit of a learning curve! I used an a-line skirt pattern I already had for the bottom, but I draped and drafted the vest/pinafore/suspenders. It took a few tries, and a lot of fiddly fitting, but fortunately I have my mother- master seamstress- to lend a hand when needed, and so it turned out! I omitted the laces in favour of a non-functioning button, and didn’t put buttons on the straps, instead placing them on the back of the skirt. The skirt is also made of brown denim twill rather than wool. So the skirt is “inspired by” rather than a direct copy of the illustration. I am afraid that I don’t have pictures of the process, and actually I don’t really know what I did aside from drawing a shape I liked and cutting out a test muslin, so I won’t be able to tell you how to do it yourself. 🙁 Your welcome.

It is one of my favourite skirts however, and has become, like the advertisement said, a great “Mix Up” item in my wardrobe, as it goes with almost every top I own.

the artyologist image of button detail on 1939 vintage inspired suspender skirt

Excuse the excessive amount of crumpling in the photos. 🙁

the artyologist image of cloud reflections on a pond

the artyologist image of 1939 inspired suspender skirt and vintage scarf headwrap

Wearing a bow on your head makes your day just that much better, don’t you think? Just look at how happy I am in this photo.

the artyologist image of earthies oxford shoes

A note about these shoes. I bought these two years ago, and they quickly became one of my favourite pairs. Then while wearing them last year, when I was riding my bicycle, I crashed. I skinned my knee, I scraped my bicycle, and I did not cry. But I ripped the leather off the toe of these shoes- and that made me want to cry! I wasn’t sure if anything could be done, since there was a spot about the size of a nickel scuffed out of the leather, but I took them to my local cobbler and they came back like this! You can’t even see in this picture where the leather was damaged! So, the moral of the story? Take your shoes to the cobbler as they can work magic. Oh, and perhaps don’t wear your favourite heels while cycling, in the event of accidentally destroying them.

the artyologist- vintage scarf headwrap

the artyologist image of 1939 vintage inspired suspender skirt

the artyologist image of back view of 1939 vintage suspender skirt

the artyologist image of poplar trees and clouds

 

Spring Cometh

the artyologist image of spring leaves budding on a tree

April

They promised me a flower-bed that truly should be mine,

Out in the garden by the wall beneath the ivy vine.

The box-wood bush would have to stay; the daily rose bush too;

But for the rest they’d let me plant just as I chose to do.

Though not a daffodil was up the garden smelled of Spring,

and in the trees beyond the wall I heard the blackbirds sing.

I worked there all the afternoon; the sun shone warm and still;

 I set it thick with flower seeds and roots of daffodil.

And all the while I dug I planned, that when my flowers grew,

I’d train them in a loverly bower and cut a window through;

The visitors who drove from town would come out there to see;

Perhaps I’d five them each a bunch and then how pleased they’d be!

I made my plans- and then for weeks forgot my roots and seeds,

So when I came that way again they all were choked with weeds.

-Katherine Pyle

the artyologist image of spring leaves and grass

the artyologist image of peony leaves coming up in april

the artyologist image of tree budding in april

 

Vintage Covers: Vogue February 15, 1941

the artyologist image of Vogue February 15, 1941

the artyologist image of Vogue February 15, 1941

A Spring fashion forecast: Here is the perfect ensemble for transitioning from the dreary days of Winter to the early days of Spring. The soft cashmere jacket is warm for chilly days, and eschews the heavy layers of winter garments. A classic colour palette of red, black and camel gives the ensemble an elegant touch. The look is topped off with a co-ordinating turban, classic pearl earrings and a brooch for an extra sparkle. 

Here is another look inspired by a vintage Vogue magazine cover from February 1941. I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, so this may not be seasonally appropriate for you, but where I am today we are expecting snow! It is cold, so on a day like this, this outfit has a certain appeal. . .

Fashion Revolution 2016

the artyologist image for fashion revolution who made my clothes

On April 24, 2013 the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1,134 and injuring over 2,500 people. This week, to raise awareness about the global fashion industry, in memory of this terrible tragedy, and to ensure that it never happens again, I am participating in Fashion Revolution. (Look I even got instagram so I could take part!)

The idea behind this event is simple: look at your labels, ask the brands of your clothing #whomademyclothes? We need to be aware of the fact that all of our clothes are made by someone, somewhere, and we play a part in ensuring that those people work in safe and fair conditions. We can demand better care and safe working environments for the people who make the world’s clothes.

Personally I never used to think much about where my clothes came from, or who made them- they just appeared at the store as far as I knew. Who spun the threads? Who dyed the fabric? Did the people who sewed them work in safe and responsible conditions? These were not questions that crossed my mind. I thought that sweatshops and horrific tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, were a thing of the past.

I first became aware of the reality behind cheap fashion, when I read Elizabeth Cline’s book “The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion”, but it was the Rana Plaza collapse that changed my view of the fashion industry and really made me aware of the secrets that lay behind the tags on our clothes. Suddenly tragedies were not outdated, and the fashion industry had a face behind it. 1,134 people died that day. These were mothers, sisters, brothers and families suddenly gone, because of unsafe working conditions, in order for wealthy consumers to be able to buy cheap clothing. The garment and textile workers are the ones who ultimately pay for the insatiable appetite consumers have for fashion.

And that is why I decided that day, that I would not participate in the cheap fashion trend anymore.

Yes, it can be depressing to hear about the devastation taking place in the name of fashion. Yes, it can be difficult to find fair trade clothing. Yes, it can cost you more money. Yes, it can be frustrating to try and fill your wardrobe while avoiding cheaply made clothing.

But can we really afford not to?

We each have a voice, and by the choices we make each day, we are shaping the world we live in. Each one of us is personally responsible for the choices we make.

So, even if you aren’t taking part in Fashion Revolution, I encourage you take responsibility for the choices you make each day regarding the clothes you wear, be a conscious shopper and help to create a world of safe, ethical and responsible fashion.