We’ve been enjoying a beautiful long fall, with warm temperatures for most of the past month, but in the last few days it’s dropped and that wind is cold in the mornings. I’ve still been wearing my summer wrap skirts and short sleeved tops, albeit with a coat on top, but these last few days have put me in the mood for cozy knits. And what better way to get in the mood for colder weather than some good vintage knitwear! Today I’ve got the 1959 “Easy to Make Fashions for the North, South, East, West” by American Thread Company, Star Book No. 149.
First up this lovely cropped cardigan. I will take one each in black, brown, camel, sage, rose and navy please. Interestingly, this one features a detachable collar, fastened with Velcro, which was still extremely new at this point, having been invented only a few years before in 1954.
On the other end of the spectrum is the long cardigan, which can be made to any length you like. I love this late 50’s look, where the styles held onto some of that 50’s glamour, but had loosened up a bit.
Now for two lovely cardigans…and I have cropped the models faces out of the images because whoever owned this pattern book thought it was a good idea to draw their faces with a blue pen! The cardigan on the left reminds me of Welsh knitwear designs- it’s so intricate!
Now for some his and hers pieces!
I love this yellow one, it’s like an upscale version of a hoodie.
This is my go to winter look- well not with that toque! But I love tucking a pullover sweater into a skirt, especially a cute plaid one like that.
And lastly two beautiful stoles!
Which vintage knitwear pieces are your favourites? Are you looking forward to sweater weather again, or would you prefer that the temperatures stayed warm a while longer?
I found this great vintage knitting book when we were organizing our new sewing/craft room. It was mixed in with some sewing patterns and books from the 1980’s, so I’d never looked closely at what was in that folder (the anorak pattern dissuaded me) but when I emptied out that folder to put on the shelf, I came across this book by Patons & Baldwins Limited Toronto: Styles By Beehive Series No. 40. The back page was torn, so I didn’t know what year it was from, but judging by the styles I guessed 1940’s. I was able to track the year down online and I was right; it was from 1949! This book was my Grandma’s and it was open to Page 9, the “Antelopes” sweater, below right, which is why much of the colour is rubbed off that page. I wonder if she ever made that sweater?
I hope you enjoy seeing these lovely 40’s fashions!
On a different style note- I love the waistband of this skirt, above, it looks kind of like a half waistcoat.
The checked grid pattern on the cardigan above adds such a great detail.
The earliest “Uggs”, above.
Would you wear a hood like these?
I like the texture of the one on the left, above.
I love the cardigan on the right, below, too. It’s lightweight and would look so nice paired with a skirt.
Because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I thought today would be the perfect time to share some of the evening wear and wedding looks from the Creative Hands book series from the 1960’s – 1970’s. (Also published under the name “Golden Hands”) There are a lot of eras in the past that had elegant evening wear…the 1970’s wasn’t one of them, unfortunately. However, there is still much inspiration to be had!
I have published some more images from the Creative Hands series here, here and here.
Starting off with the wedding looks, I don’t think the above image is supposed to be a wedding look, but it has that iconic space boho look the late 60’s and early 70’s was famous for.
Here is a wedding look featuring a floor length coat with a hood and the front buttons all the way down. I love this piece!
Here is another wedding dress, on the right. I wish that the fabric they had chosen was softer so the gathers didn’t pouf out like that, but it’s a pretty Regency style which is also very iconic for the era.
Here’s the final wedding look, and a knitted stole. I love the fashion illustrations in these books; these two are so detailed.
Now this is an interesting evening dress in silver yarn (with matching silver platform shoes too). The cowl hood is crocheted separately and added afterwards, it says.
They were really into the silver yarn/thread, as this lacy top demonstrates. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be an evening look, or not, but because it’s silver I thought I’d include it!
Here is the last silver piece; an angora sleeveless top. Definitely not my favourite look. That shawl would be very pretty if worked in a natural fibre and not synthetic, though.
I love the floral skirt on the left. There was definitely a thing for patchwork in the 70’s, and it’s actually a great way to use up textile scraps. We should bring it back!
Another patchwork look- this time inset onto a plain background. And on the right an amazing embroidered dress. Both dresses are in the popular A-Line style.
And to finish off, this beautiful fashion illustration of a dress with bishop sleeves and lace collar and cuffs. Made of a very soft and lightweight cotton/silk blend, or a chiffon this would be so elegant! It’s definitely got that Gibson girl look of the Edwardian era.
Which look is your favourite? Would you wear any of these dresses? Do you like to dress up for holidays such as Valentine’s Day?
When I published this post about personal style a few months ago, one of the inspirations I listed was Beatrix Potter from the 2006 film Miss Potter. Not only are the costumes of Miss Potter some of my favourites, but the movie itself is also high on my list of favourite period films. Starring Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson and others, with costumes by Anthony Powell, this movie tells the story of Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit and other children’s books. I shan’t spoil the story it if you don’t know it, but definitely recommend that you watch it yourself, not only for the story, but also for the cinematography, the beautiful English scenery and of course the costumes!
When I watch historical films, I don’t usually mind if things aren’t “100% historically accurate” down to the very last buttonhole, as long as the costumes fit the story, are well researched and they don’t jolt you out of the timeline. If the costume designer displays expertise of the era that the film was set in, I’m not too picky if they have chosen to interpret and tweak history in a creative way for the purpose of story telling- please just don’t use any zippers or incorrect underpinnings! Thus, today, I’m not going to go over whether this film is historically accurate, or even accurate to Beatrix Potter’s real life, but rather, I’m sharing what some of my favourite inspirations are from the costumes in this film and how I have integrated those into my own personal wardrobe.
Costumes are such an important part of a movie, as clothing gives insight into how people present themselves and interact with the world and what message they are sending. Even in fictional movies, costumes can still demonstrate how people wear and move in their clothing and can give more understanding than a static photograph can.
The film is set in the early years of the Edwardian era, from 1902- 1906, and is full of high collared blouses, peplum jackets with puffed sleeves and elegant walking skirts, but one thing I love is how wearable the costumes look.
One key feature of Beatrix’s wardrobe is her subdued, earthy colour palette. My own wardrobe consists of these colours- shades of brown and tan, earthy greens, smoky blues and creams. I think that these colours are specifically used to show Beatrix’s love of the countryside and connection to nature, especially the Lake District, which is reflected in her oft repeated colour blue. These colours all blend together extremely well too.
Beatrix’s costumes in this film are tiny bit Victorian, (mainly her small London hats) which I think reflects that her character doesn’t chase the latest trends, but is instead absorbed with her work. She also wears a very plain style of clothing, which is used to juxtapose her style against her mother’s which is a much fussier, ornate style. Other ladies are also shown wearing much more glamorous pieces, yet Beatrix is always bit pared back. Her clothing choices are far from boring though! There are so many subtle details that you miss upon first glance, but stand out with a second look.
I have realized, over time, that my favourite looks from the past are ones that are more traditional and classic, rather than the opulent, “fashionable” ones and I often find myself wanting to pare things back in my own wardrobe too. I am always drawn to classic styles over trends. Beatrix’s costumes are a great example of a character whose clothing has intricacy and detail, but is still rather minimal in ornamentation compared to the popular fashions of the time period.
Her clothing choices display many details; from extra long shirt cuffs, to contrast collars, to shaped waistbands, to unique buttons- there’s so much to take note of when you take a closer look. There’s so much inspiration for future sewing projects too! Using details like this adds interest and depth to your wardrobe.
I also appreciate that Beatrix has what would today be considered a “capsule wardrobe”; which is what a standard wardrobe for any time period before the modern era would have been. She is consistently seen repeating key pieces and mixing and matching them to create new looks. Her blue shirtwaist is a common repeat, as well as her brown blazer and walking skirt. Because each of her pieces coordinate with each other, she is able to create an infinite amount of combinations. This is such a useful way to curate your own wardrobe- one I am still perfecting myself!
Almost every outfit she wears consists of the tried and true skirt + shirt combination. She has a couple beautiful wool A-line skirts that coordinate well with her blouses. While I probably wouldn’t personally wear a floor length wool skirt like this, shortening this style to knee length suddenly modernizes the look, while retaining that classic look.
She also proves the value and versatility of a good white or cream basic blouse. She has several that she rotates through- each slightly different- featuring lace insertion, embroidery or pleating. While each individual blouse is different, they all coordinate well with the other pieces in her wardrobe, as well as providing a background for brooches and jewelry.
Speaking of jewelry, I absolutely love this long necklace she wears. Is it a watch? A key? A locket? I can’t tell and haven’t found any answers…what do you think it is?
I really like how it clasps to her waist almost like a chatelaine or something. Long pendant necklaces are one item that I absolutely love to wear in my own wardrobe.
There is just something so elegant about them, and I think they work quite well to add some jewelry without the flashiness of a statement necklace. Brooches are also an under utilized piece of jewelry today, I think. I have several vintage brooches, but don’t wear them nearly as often as I should!
Another wonderful part of Beatrix’s wardrobe are the straw hats that she wears while visiting the Lake District! This is the epitome of the cottagecore look- and I love it! I’m not a big fan of the tiny Victorian hats she wears in London, and I interpret the large informal sun hats that she wears while in the country as shedding the stuffy London rules and expectations and becoming her true self.
Her clothing evolves when she leaves London, becoming softer and more rugged. For example, she eschews her fitted, structured jackets for casual knitwear. I think this reflects her love of nature as a key component of her character, and shows that she has fully adopted the country as her own. She takes advantage of layering to create visual interest, as well as warmth!
One final detail that I love from her costumes, are her aprons. You just can’t go wrong with a good apron when you’re doing some messy work around the house. I love historical aprons, because not only were they were designed to protect your clothing, but they look pretty at the same time!
Well, these are some of my favourite details from the costumes of Miss Potter. Have you seen Miss Potter? What are your favourite parts of her wardrobe? Are there any films that you draw fashion inspiration from?
Today is the last post in this McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft series, because we’ve, sadly, reached the end of the book. For this post, I’ve got some lovely vintage 1950’s accessories to share with you.
Above, is a smocked hostess apron. I love wearing aprons while cooking, because if I don’t, I will inevitably splash all over my clothes. I don’t have any hostess aprons, but I think they are so of-the-era, don’t you think? Do you wear an apron while working?
This is a really cute scarf. I think it would keep you warm, without being too bulky, and I love that it provides the perfect spot to show off a vintage brooch.
Ahh some lovely hand made gloves. I like the look of the lacy ones on the right. (Though why do pictures of gloves always look like a murderer preparing for their evil deed?)
These home made trims would add such a nice detail.
And finally, I love these beautiful vintage illustrations, as well as the ideas on how to use sequins for effect. Those stars scattered across a plain dress would be so pretty! The best part about home made clothing, really is the endless options for customization, isn’t it?
That’s all the photos for today; a bit of a shorter post. While I don’t have any more 1950’s images to share from this book, I do have other vintage catalogues and books, so I will still keep sharing from those in the future to keep this series going. And, as always, if you are interested in making any of these vintage crochet/ knitted accessories, feel free to contact me, as I am glad to share the patterns!