1940s CC41 Blouse – The Vintage Bazaar 1930s Navy Skirt – Made by Me 1930s Navy Scarf – Made by Me 1930s Navy Crochet Handbag – Kate Kitsch Lapis Lazuli Drop Earrings – Shepton Mallet Flea Market 1930s Style Viviene shoes – Hotter Shoes
I’ve been a fan of Hotter shoes for many years now and have actually featured them on the blog before, back in 2016 and last August. So, when they contacted me at the end of last year and asked if I would like to review a pair of their shoes from their 2018 Spring collection I jumped at the chance.
British brand Hotter was first established in 1959 by Thomas and Harriet Houlgrave under the name of Beaconsfield Footwear. Thomas had previously worked for Skelmersdale shoe company and the knowledge he gained during his time there helped them get started. Initially they only manufactured slippers but, in 1992, the Houlgrave’s son Stewart created the Hotter Comfort Concept and the world’s most comfortable shoe was born. Don’t believe me? Try a pair, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!
Although Hotter are probably most well-known for their more practical shoes, they do have a legion of vintage fans. This is due to their smaller collection of heel shoes that have a strong vintage influence. They even have their very own vintage blogger, my lovely friend Jenny from Annotations of Jenny.
The pair I chose, the beautifully named Viviene, are classically 1930s with a navy and cream two-tone colour way and t-bar styling. The lovely scalloping detail on the edge of the cream gives them a really pretty feminine feel. The heel is just under 2″, which is quite an authentic height for the 1930s. Heel heights increased a little during this decade, but it wasn’t really until the late 1940s that a 3″ or higher became more of the norm.
As soon as they arrived I knew I had to team them with this gorgeous soft cotton, original CC41, blouse from the 1940s. I picked it up at The Vintage Bazaar last year and have lived in it ever since. The colour is at its most true in the close up shot above where you can see the cute navy and cream print. I can’t decide whether they’re supposed to be sweets or tyres!
The skirt is a navy linen kick pleat skirt that I made using my self-drafted pattern. This is the third time I’ve used this pattern and I still really love it. It’s so easy to make and the style is so comfortable to wear. It creates a real 1930s sportswear look, which I’m so fond of.
The hair scarf is made using an off cut of the skirt’s lining and the size and shape was taken from an original 1930s silk scarf I picked up at Shepton Mallet Flea Market. I really need to make some more of these as they’re great to just throw on for a different look to a hat.
The navy handbag is an original 1930s crochet one and still has its original clear celluloid peacock handles. It’s in amazing condition and carries so much, not like most of my other vintage bags. I actually have an original 1930s crochet book that has the pattern for this handbag in it, so one day I will definitely be making my own version.
The Viviene shoes bring the whole ensemble together and add that finishing touch of vintage footwear with plenty of comfort. Something that’s incredibly rare these days, especially with heels. I could wear these shoes all day and my feet would be just as happy at the end of the day as they were at the beginning. As always, the sizing was spot on at a UK 4.5 and my feet had enough room to move without the shoes feeling loose. Hotter are probably one of the most consistent brands in terms of sizing and every single pair I own is a 4.5. (I love that they do half sizes!)
I’ve now got my eye on the beautiful Rose Gold version, which would look absolutely amazing with one of the 1920s beaded Flapper dresses from Tilda Knopf. I’d just need to find a suitably glamorous event to wear them to!
Disclaimer: Hotter kindly provided me with the Viviene shoes in exchange for this review, however all views expressed are my own and reflect my honest opinions.
One thing I’m going to try and do more of on the blog is to show you some of the original 1920s, 30s and 40s magazines, catalogues and books from my collection. Today, I thought I’d start with a recent purchase, a Vogue Pattern Book from October – November 1935. I’ve decided to do this in two parts so I can keep the images nice and big for you to have a good look at, and have a read of the wonderful text. You can click on each one to view a larger version. I have picked out a number of my favourite patterns, rather than including the whole book, as it’s got nearly 100 pages.
The book itself was used in a store for the sales assistant to show customers the sewing patterns that are going to be released for those months. On some of the photos you can see the hole in the top left corner where it was allowed to hang from a piece of string for easy access. I would love to go back in time and experience going into a haberdashery shop or department for myself and having beautifully coiffured sales assistants attending to my every need.
As you expect, there’s quite a lot of coats featured, due to it being from the Autumn. I couldn’t help but feature most of them, I love 1930s coats! You’ll also note that the colours are extremely autumnal, from greens to browns and from yellows to burgundies. It’s such great inspiration for my sewing later on in the year. The last two pages show a huge collection of swatches to show off the latest fabrics for the season. I really wish these were coloured photos, but nonetheless, they’re an amazing insight into the types of fabrics used at this time. And as you may have guessed, I’m already on the hunt for modern day versions of these!
Yes folks, it’s that time of year again where I figure out all of the gorgeous vintagey projects I want to do throughout the forthcoming months. As there are so many of them, I’ve decided to treat this as a kind of brain dump of the things I really want to focus on in 2018. It will probably seem like a lot, and there’s no way I’ll get them all done, but it’s more about having a reference point I can keep going back to when I’m not sure what to tackle next. (Sorry, this is going to be a long one!)
So, what goodies are in the plan?
Despite it already being February, I actually haven’t done any real sewing yet this year. However, to ease me in, I am starting with this gorgeous Grevillea Beret, which was created by my lovely and talented friend Tanith Rowan. I love it because it reminds of a 1920s tam, a cute oversized beret style hat that was often worn low on the forehead.
I’m making mine in a navy velvet I’ve had in my stash for many years. The lining is then being created from left over scraps of white and blue polka dot silk from my leg o’mutton sleeve blouse. I’ve done the main bulk of it, but I’m waiting for the self cover buttons to arrive before I go any further.
And talking of my leg o’mutton sleeve blouse, I am finally getting around to making a dress from the pattern I used for it. This has been in my to-do list for over two years, so now it’s time to get it done. I will be making it in this deep pink vintage rayon and will add white buttons, once I’ve found some. I think this will be a lovely in-between season dress that can be worn for just about any occasion.
I also have this beautiful 1930s dress planned, which is from a pattern the gorgeous Kitty Lou very kindly traced for me. The fabric is a Liberty lawn cotton called King’s Meadow. In 2016 it was created by Liberty of London exclusively for Remnant Kings 70th anniversary and is a recoloured version of an original 1940s Liberty print.
I have an original 1930s collar that I’m going to use on this dress instead of making the one in the image. It’s a removable one, so the neckline of the dress will probably be finished as a round neck. I can’t wait to make those puffy sleeves though!
Looking ahead to the summer, I am currently planning a holiday in the sun in early September. It’s not 100% confirmed where it’ll be but, wherever it is, it’ll be hot. I’m seriously craving vitamin D right now!! So, with that in mind, I am thinking beach pyjamas. I mean, what else would a 1930s gal wear on such holidays?
These two beauties are featured in the Record Fashions magazine I featured on the blog a few months ago. Since purchasing that magazine, I came across the Austrian version of the exact same magazine from July 1938. And not only that, it had the enormous pattern sheet (bigger than A1) still included, which you can see below. Of course, I snapped it up straight away!
Click on image for larger view
The pattern for the beautiful pink beach pyjamas in the image above are included in all those thousands of lines. And these are the different pattern pieces I need to pick out and trace off. Thankfully, it is easier than it looks! I will, however, get the big sheet carefully photocopied before I go ahead and do anything, because it is quite fragile.
I’m also planning to make a couple of hot-weather-friendly tops to mix and match with my skirts. I was thinking along the lines of the top half of both of these dresses, which are also included on the pattern sheet. As I have a sizeable chest area, I do always need to wear a bra and I think I could just about get away with wearing one with these two. I’d also love to crochet a lightweight vest top but, when you get to my crocheting list below, you’ll see why I’m not committing to it here.
Heading into winter I am absolutely determined to finally make my own version of the 1930s suit that was featured in the Fashion & Textile Museum Jazz Age exhibition. I think that’s going to be a bit of theme with my sewing this year, to finally get on with the projects I’ve been putting off for some time.
This suit will hopefully be made in a vintage purple houndstooth wool fabric that I picked up a couple of years ago. I say hopefully because it’s it’s going to be a tight squeeze to get it out of the length that I have. I can, of course, play with the length of both the skirt and jacket to try and get it to fit.
I also have a couple of winter skirts that I want to make using wool fabric I already have. Thankfully, these can be done over a free weekend as they’re pretty simple designs, but they’ll be the sort of wardrobe staple I love to have for work. They’re also great for mixing and matching with my blouses and jumpers to stop myself getting bored with my clothes.
There are literally thousands of crocheting projects I want to do, but I think I’ve whittled it down to a more manageable list for 2018. Quite how many I’ll get done remains to be seen, especially as two of them are quite big projects.
My first project, which I started on the 3rd of January, is very nearly completed. I have crocheted the front, back and both sleeves and have sewn them all together. It’s in a dark brown as the main colour with ivory detailing, which looks gorgeous together, almost like white and milk chocolate.
However, the waistband is knitted and, after attempting to do it for myself for a whole two hours and getting nowhere, my mum offered to quickly do it for me. She pretty much did it in a hour or two! I’m now waiting to pick it up from her at the weekend, so I can get the jumper all done and wear it before the weather starts getting too warm.
The next project is also underway and it’s this stunning checked jumper with a huge bow. When I first spotted this pattern on Subversive Femme’s Etsy shop I actually thought it was knitted, so I was so happy to find out it was actually crocheted. And believe it or not, it’s actually really simple to do. I’m not looking forward to weaving in all the ends though!
I decided to make this in what I would call deep royal blue and red, which were inspired by the colours in the first jumper on this Free Knitting Patterns page on the The Sunny Stitcher blog. The bow will be in red and I was thinking the waistband and arm cuffs would be done in the blue. However, I’ve started the first row at the bottom of the front using the blue, so I’m not sure it will look right next to a blue waistband. I’ve gone too far to rip it back and start again with the red, so I’m just going to wait and see how I feel once the front and back are complete.
Once the checked one is complete I will be going back to my peach cardigan. I had to take a break from this back in the autumn of last year because it is a very fiddly pattern to do. It’s not complicated at all, it’s just that it’s crocheted in fine cotton thread with a tiny hook and every little knot is created using six different stitches. As a result every row takes me about 15 – 20 minutes to complete.
I’ve completed about 90% of the main bodice section, which is all done in one piece. So, once that’s done, it’s just two sleeves, the collar and the waistband to do. Therefore, I’m hoping this will be done by the end of May.
After that one’s all done I’m going to need a quick and easy project to do and this cute but simple cardigan will be the perfect antidote. It’s created in a 4 ply merino wool and I’m on the hunt for a lovely navy to do it in. I may just need my mum’s help again to do the waistband and cuffs as, once again, they’re knitted. Why can’t I get my head around knitting?!
Another thing I want to make in preparation for my late summer holiday is a pair of crocheted sandals. I was so inspired by Jess’s (Duchess of Hutch) pair that she made last year in green and cream. They really are wonderful, I’m so impressed with them. However, one thing Jess said about hers was that the heel part stretched quite a lot when walking, which meant the sole kept slapping against her foot like flip flops. So, when I spotted the pattern below, I knew the bottom pair would be a better choice as the heel strap is more fixed.
At the moment I have no idea what colours to make them in, but I want to add wedge soles to them for a bit of height. I’ve found a really lovely cork pair which aren’t too high that will be perfect, but they’re quite costly. I just need to weigh up the benefit of added height compared to a cheaper flat pair.
My last one before it gets cold again will be another simple but cute jumper. This one was originally made in angora, but to create the fluffiness I will probably go for mohair. The pattern actually suggests several colour options, green with brown ribbon, plum with grey or turquoise with black. Personally, I love the sound of plum with a grey ribbon, so this is likely to be my choice. Although it could all change by the time I get to do it!
My plans for next winter are focused on two crocheted suits, which I just know will take me forever to do. It’s slightly daunting and I may need to break them up with an easy project (or two) for my own sanity. The one above has long been a firm favourite of mine, although I have no idea what colours I’d do it in. The pattern suggests blue and white, but I want to crochet a dress in those colours at some point, so would go for something else. Any suggestions?
This one I’ve mentioned before on the blog, exactly a year ago to be precise, when making plans for 2017. I fell in love with this crochet ensemble when watching the brilliant Bonnie & Clyde TV series and I’m still determined to make it. I have a pattern I can use as a base and, with some slight adjustments, I’m sure I can make it work. I want to crochet the matching hat and scarf too, just to really finish it off. The only problem is making sure I have enough yarn as this one will be more about guess work.
So, that’s it. And yes, it’s a massive list, and I know it won’t all get done, but I will try my hardest to not deviate from it too much. I have a tendency to do that when I plan anything, so hopefully by having this list will keep me more focused.
One thing I love about blogging is all the like minded people you get to meet online. One such person is Kristen from Verity Vintage Studio, a blog I have been following for a few years now. Kristen and I have a lot in common, we both love vintage, we both love sewing and we both love crocheting. We also both love the 1930s. Whilst I remain more focused on this decade Kristen likes to explore looks of the 1940s and 50s too.
One thing we don’t currently have in common, but something I’d like to try at some point, is that Kristen creates her own crochet patterns. These range from cute wrist warmers and accessories through to garments and home accessories, which are all available through her Etsy shop Joys In Stitches.
So, imagine my excitement when Kristen got in contact at the end of last year and said she was about to launch a new 1930s crochet beret pattern. Not only that, she would also love to work on a collaboration together where I could try out the pattern for myself, before its release, and provide some photos to go on the final pattern. Of course, as I always like to help out fellow bloggers and crafters, I said yes straight away.
After receiving the pattern as a PDF, I had a good look through it and found that the original yarn Kristen used was Cascade Yarns Venezia Worsted. Immediately this rang a bell, because the beautiful 1930s Christmas jumper I had made for me was also done in a Cascade yarn. I knew then that I wanted to make the beret to match the jumper.
I went on the hunt for Venezia Worsted in a matching colour but found that it wasn’t available in the same red. However, Cascade did do their 220 yarn in an aran weight (the UK term for worsted) in Christmas Red, exactly the same colour as the red on my jumper. I snapped up one skein from the Deramores website and eagerly waited to get started on it.
This was actually a really quick and simple beret to crochet. The main thing for me is that I’m used to working with tiny crochet thread and tiny hooks (usually a 1.5 or 2mm) which take forever to just complete one row or round. However, this beret called for much thicker yarn and a bigger hook (4.5mm), so it came together in no time at all.
The pattern itself is perfectly straightforward, with the majority of it being worked in half-double-crochets (half-trebles in UK terms). Each round is laid out clearly, ending with the exact number of stitches you should have done. So if you’re unsure at all, you can just do a quick count to double check.
I did get stuck on one bit in the decorative section of the brim, but that was just down to the terminology used. It’s something I’d never seen in anything I’d done before and I couldn’t quite figure it out. However, after a quick chat with Kristen the penny dropped and I charged on to the end.
The little ruffle embellishment is such a lovely touch and I could just imagine it being used on original 1930s pieces. Again, it’s very simple to do, it’s just a flat rectangle shape that’s slightly shorter on one of the long edges and scalloped on the other.
Kristen’s version had three smaller buttons on her version, but I knew I wanted to tie it together with the skirt I made to go with the matching jumper. As the buttons I used on that were a lot larger, I decided to just use two. I sewed them on using matching red thread for extra detailing.
I’m so pleased with how this beret turned out. It’s a cute jaunty style that’s slightly smaller than all my other berets and it can be worn in so many different ways. I’m sure I’ll use the pattern again to create others to match my outfits as it’s so quick to whip up.
I was so honoured to be part of this project, especially so when I’d sent the photos to Kristen and she responded with such glee to how it turned out. It’s a little scary, though, to suddenly see my face come up on Etsy when searching for 1930s crochet patterns!
This outfit, which I wore on Christmas day, is pretty much the style I’ve lived in over the winter. A cute 1930s jumper and skirt, a matching beret and lace-up boots have become my uniform, but this is definitely my favourite.
The jumper was beautifully knitted for me by the wonderfully talented Amanda at Betty Sparkle’s Vintage Knitwear. I’d wanted a stylish 1930s alternative to the god-awful novelty Christmas jumpers that everyone seems to love wearing over the festive period and, when I spotted the pattern for this on Etsy, I just knew it was the perfect one. It was originally from the September 1933 edition of Stitchcraft magazine and was proudly shown on the cover in exactly these colours. It was just what I was after.
I bought my pattern from Pamoolah Vintage as a PDF for just £3.60 and quickly forwarded it to Amanda. She came back straight away with yarn suggestions and I headed online. The one she particularly loves working with, Cascade 220 Fingering, amazingly did a colour called Christmas Red. It was like fate!
The 1930s style crochet beret I made myself in Cascade 220, which is an Aran weight, and is in exactly the same Christmas Red. I embellished it with the same buttons that I used on the skirt to really tie the whole ensemble together. The pattern I used was from a project I have been working on with Kristen from Verity Vintage Studio, but I will wait until my next post to tell you all about that.
The original jumper pattern had quite tiny pompoms on the ends of the neck tie, but unbeknownst to me at the time, Amanda decided to make much bigger ones. When they jumper arrived I squealed rather a lot at the size of them, because I looooove pompoms. I even had a pompom Christmas back in 2016!
The sleeves are rather unusual as the bodice part is created with magyar (grown on) sleeves down to the top of the arm and then the sleeve is attached to the end. This means there’s no awkward armhole shape to easy the sleeve head into, but rather an opening that is the same length on both. I’ve seen this in a few 1930s sewing patterns as well and it’s typical of its time where they made garments look complicated but were actually easy to construct.
The skirt was made from a flecked grey wool I’d had in my stash for many years. In fact, I remember making a pair of wide leg trousers out of it back in the late 90s. I used my old faithful 1930s Simplicity pattern as a basis and then created my own little pocket. I’m a little bit obsessed with top-stitching at the moment, so I decided to add five rows to the pocket and one to the tab for interest. Expect to see more top-stitching in the future because I’ve just invested in a rather nifty sewing foot that helps to keep the lines straight.
Along with my 1930s winter coat, the boots you can see in the first image have been one of the best purchases I’ve made just recently. I’ve been after a pair of knee high lace-up boots for so, so long and I found a beautiful brown pair for £14 on eBay back in November. They have a great 1930s look but have slightly higher heels than what would’ve been worn back then. It didn’t bother me though, because at 5ft 3″ any extra height is a bonus.
Then just before Christmas I came across another pair on eBay, this time in black. (They’re like buses, aren’t they?) When I looked at the listing I realised that they were exactly the same boots as my brown one, exactly the same size and from exactly the same shop. Of course, I pounced immediately and on the Saturday before Christmas Day they arrived. I have lived in both pairs ever since as they keep me so toasty and warm.
Happy New Year! Yes, it’s that time of year again when I look back over the last 12 months and review all the vintage garments I’ve made.
It’s been an odd kind of a year because I was much more focused on what I want to create, rather than just making random things just for the sake of it. I also added crocheting and hat making to my list of hobbies, so it was strange not to completely concentrate on sewing. At one point I was actually beginning to miss sewing so much that I had to force myself to drop everything else and get back to it. As a result, I was slightly worried about doing this roundup because I didn’t think I’d made that much, but I guess, once again, I was wrong.
I actually completed my 1930s Ruffles Almost-Vintage Dress at the very tail end of 2016, but it wasn’t featured on the blog until January of 2017, which is why it’s included. It was made using an original 1940s rayon crepe in pale Airforce blue, modern white crepe and an original 1930s Anne Adams pattern. Despite absolutely loving this dress, I didn’t actually wear it at all during 2017 and I have absolutely no idea why. Come the summer this year, though, I will defintiely be digging it out of my wardrobe.
My 1930s winter plaid jacket was also finished at the very tail end of 2016, but the whole outfit didn’t come together until early 2017, with the majority of it being made by me. The jacket was created using a 1930s reproduction pattern from Mrs Depew and beautiful multicolour plaid wool from Ditto Fabrics. The navy crochet beret and navy crochet scarf were also both made by me, as was the 1930s brown wool crepe skirt.
I have worn the jacket so many times in 2017 and I’m sure I will continue to do so this year. It has become such a staple in my wardrobe and I team it with so many of my skirts and trousers. it’s the perfect piece of outerwear for those not-quite-so-cold days.
This 1930s mustard crochet jumper and hat was my first big, and I mean big, project of 2017. This was my second ever attempt at crocheting a jumper and it still remains the one I’m most proud of. It was made using an original Bear Brand pattern from 1932 and WYS Signature 4 Ply Sweet Shop yarn in their beautiful butterscotch colour. I made the hat to match in the same yarn but using a Fleisher’s pattern from 1933. I actually made another version of it for the winner of my blogiversary competition, which you can see here.
As much as I love this jumper I haven’t worn it that much due to it being incredibly warm. However, it was such a blessing on the snowy days we had back in December and it was great to actually look stylish in those low temperatures, rather than throwing on an old worn out modern garment!
These kelly green 1930s style wide leg trousers made a very brief appearance on the blog back in the early summer when I wore them to Berlin. I made them using some left over wool suiting I bought way back in the 1990s. The pattern was created by adapting an original 1970s wide leg trouser pattern and comparing it to photos of original 1930s trousers. They have the classic 1930s low crotch and natural waist finish, which makes them so incredibly comfortable to wear. I have plans to make several more versions of these in different colours because they’re a brilliant staple piece.
This 1930s style burgundy wool felt hat was my very first attempt at hand blocking millinery. At the time I was extremely happy that I’d actually managed to do it, but I haven’t worn it at all since this photo was taken. The problem is that I can now see my mistakes and it irritates me when I look at it. However, it was a great learning experience and I went on from this to create one of my most favourite hats ever!
And this is it! My late 1930s tulip dress and halo hat is one of my most favourite outfits of the whole of 2017. The hat is the perfect shape for my face and the day this photo was taken I got a lot of compliments about it. I added a cute brooch I crocheted of purple stemmed flowers, which can easily be removed and changed for something else, making it perfect for mixing and matching with other outfits.
The dress, however, has been worn many, many times over the last six months. It was made using vintage fabric, which I got as part of a big haul, and an original early 1940s pattern that I bought from ‘Til The Sun Goes Down. I adapted the skirt part to make it look more 1930s and more me! It’s so comfortable to wear and there are so many gorgeous 1930s details, making it my most favourite dress. However, the only problem now is that I’ve broken that amazing belt buckle. Noooo! There was a lot of swearing and cursing myself for being so clumsy, but I’ve got over it and I’m now on the hunt for a replacement.
Despite the many problems my 1930s dust bowl dress gave me whilst making it, I actually ended up falling in love with it. It was so perfect for the various scorching hot days we had over the late summer and kept me nice and cool. It was made using a reproduction 1930s pattern from My Vintage Wish on Etsy and reproduction 1930s print quilting cotton. It’s quite possibly the most 1930s looking fabric I’ve ever used but the weight of it was awful for this style of dress. However, I’m now thinking about using similar quilting cotton for curtains in my spare room as the weight will be perfect for those.
My 1940s chevron stripe crochet jumper was actually completed back in April but I didn’t feature on the blog until late September. It was made using the most irritating original 1940s pattern that had so many mistakes in it and vital pieces of information left out of it. Another vintage gal on Instagram posted a jumper her mum had made for her using the same pattern and she said her mum had just as many problems as I did. The yarn was a gorgeous bamboo/cotton mix by King Cole with a lovely drape and I chose three very 1930s colours that contrasted beautifully.
In early October I completed my ethically produced 1940s gingham dress. It was a journey that started earlier in the year after watching The True Cost documentary. I wanted to really consider every piece of fabric, every notion and every bit of haberdashery I used whilst producing an era authentic garment. It was a great experience and I absolutely love the result. I haven’t actually worn the dress yet, apart from the day I photographed it, because the weather turned cold after that weekend. However, this will be my first go-to dress come the summer. I will also be continuing to really consider the materials I use in the future with everything I make.
The last piece of crochet I featured on the blog in 2017 was my 1930s crochet Parisian striped blouse. This was made using an original Paris Sponsors Crochet Book by The Spool Cotton Company from 1935. I used DMC Petra size 5 crochet thread in emerald and white to create a really crisp look. This was my first crochet garment made in crochet thread and boy did I notice the difference. It’s so tiny compared to wool yarn and you need to use a tiny hook, which means it takes forever to make. However, it was worth it in the end, this jumper is sooooo 1930s!
My last, and favourite, creation of the year is this 1930s winter coat in dark teal and brown. I made it using a beautiful textured pure wool from Dragonfly Fabrics and buttons from the lovely Kitty Lou Vintage. The pattern was half self-drafted and half from an original 1930s tailoring pattern drafting book from the late 1930s. Almost everything else I wore with it to create this outfit, including the gorgeous matching dark teal hat, was original 1930s vintage.
This coat has very rapidly become the most practical garment I’ve made to date. I wear it all the time and it is so cosy when the temperature really drops, especially when I team it with my new-to-me 1930s style lace up boots. This is the first winter where I haven’t resorted to modern clothing to keep warm on any occasion, which feels like such a great achievement.
And there you have it! There are a few things that I made in 2017 that still haven’t made it to the blog, either because they’re just boring practical pieces or I just haven’t got around to photographing them. These include two 1930s skirts, one in navy linen and one in grey wool, a 1930s style red crochet beret (post coming soon), a super chunky mustard coloured crochet scarf, a peach coloured 1930s short sleeve crochet cardigan and a cute vintage style knitted and crocheted cushion.
Looking forward, I’m going to stick to my more focused approach. It not only helps to fill up those rapidly shrinking holes in my wardrobe but also allows me to create pieces that are methodically produced to a much higher quality. I’m sure they’ll be plenty more sewing and crocheting in 2018, but I also hope to create a few more hats, as well as finally tackling embroidery. I can’t wait!
One thing that often crops up on the blog, and on my social media, whenever I post anything to do with 1930s crochet is the fact that people seem to struggle to find patterns to use for their own projects. This always surprises me as I have a massive long list of patterns I want to make that I’ve found on the internet. Okay, so the majority of them aren’t the original copies, but they do give you everything you need to be able create your very own vintage crochet garments.
So, I have put together a list of my favourite sellers, and websites where they offer patterns for free, so I can always point people in the right direction whenever anyone mentions they can’t find any good vintage crochet patterns. I hope you find this list helpful too.
Free Vintage Crochet
A huge collection of free crochet patterns from the early to mid-20th Century all taken from original crochet booklets and magazines. With over 2000 patterns to choose from, and continually added to, you be hard pressed to not find something you like. Lots of different types of patterns are available from clothing to accessories and from a plethora of home accessories to Christmas decorations.
PDF reprints of complete booklets or magazines are also available at a tiny cost and often contain knitting patterns too. There’s also lots of crocheting information, such as how to crochet, hook conversions, vintage sizing and discontinued yarns.
Focusing mainly on the popularity of crochet at the very beginning of the 20th Century, this site offers a good selection of booklets and single patterns. You might even find the odd one from the 1800s! Many patterns are for edgings and motifs, as were popular during this time, but they do have some beautiful Priscilla pattern booklets from the late 1910s/ very early 1920s that contain the most incredible jumpers. Majority of patterns are free but do double check.
A large collection of knitting, crocheting and sewing patterns from the 1910s to the 2000s. Sells both original patterns and PDF reprints, always double check the description for more information of what you’re buying. The website isn’t the easiest site to navigate and find what you’re looking for, but they do offer their selection of PDF knitting and crocheting patterns via Etsy.
A good selection of single PDF reprint patterns from a variety of eras from the 1910s to the 1970s, with a strong emphasis on 1930s and 40s. Mostly clothing with a small amount of accessories and home decoration and doll patterns. Also offers knitting patterns from the same eras.
A selection of really beautiful knitting and crocheting booklets from the 1880s to the 1950s. The majority are printed, bound and then sent to you in the post, although there are a few that are also available as a PDF download. As the company is based in the US, for those of us in the UK this does mean that this can amount to about £20 per booklet, but as each one contains a vast number of patterns it’s worth it. I’ve personally bought from them and they arrive quickly and beautifully presented, so you can get on with your crafting immediately.
Almost 1000 vintage knitting and crocheting patterns available as PDF reprints for 99p or less. Ranging from the 1930s through to the 1970s and focusing mainly on clothing, there’s a huge amount of choice. There’s even a great selection of footwear! My only niggle with these is the colour wash added to the photos, it makes it hard to see definition on some of the garments.
This blog is run by the lovely Wendy from The Butterfly Balcony and is an online library of free vintage knitting, crochet and sewing patterns that are scattered across the internet. Each one has a link to the original post where you’ll find the pattern. There’s even a 1930s free crochet pattern from me! Just be warned, this blog has been going a long time, so some of the linked websites are now no longer live, therefore some patterns may be unavailable.
There are quite a number of sellers on Etsy that sell vintage crochet patterns, who I have listed quickly below, but the ones above have the best collections. I have personally bought from all of them or used some of their free patterns. Therefore, they all come highly recommended.
If I’ve missed off any vintage crochet pattern sellers you are aware of please let me know below and I’ll add them to the list. Also, I have quite a number of original 1930s and 40s crochet patterns that I keep thinking about adding to this blog. Is this something you guys would be interested in? Again, let me know below.
On Sunday I had the usual email newsletter from Sky TV telling me about upcoming shows for the week. Usually I have a quick flick through but nothing really catches my eye. However, this time was different and at the top it recommended a new tv show, Babylon Berlin, starting in just a couple of hours. It looked right up my street. The photo that went along with it was the dead giveaway and so I set the Sky box to record the series. At 9pm I settled down on the sofa and tuned into Sky Atlantic. Within seconds I was hooked!
Babylon Berlin is based on a series of six books by German author Volker Kutscher. His work is focused on historical accuracy and this series, and the TV show, begins in 1929 at the tale-end of the Weimar Republic. They continue through to 1933 when the Republic came to an end and Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor. It’s a period that absolutely fascinates me, and trust me Babylon Berlin does not disappoint. But it doesn’t stop there, Kutscher has just completed his seventh book, which is set in 1935, and hopes to continue through to 1938 before bringing it to a close.
The TV show is the most expensive German TV series ever, costing €38m. It was developed over the course of four years, was filmed in 300 locations and used a whopping 5,000 extras. Can you imagine the number of costumes they required?! It was co-produced by German public broadcaster ARD and Sky, hence why it’s being shown in the UK. It has also been purchased by Netflix, so will be shown through them in the US.
So, what’s it all about then? In a nutshell, sex, drugs, partying, jazz, cabarets, dancing, cross-dressing, the criminal underworld, revolutionaries, poverty, just about everything you’d expect from Berlin in this time period! Okay, so there is a storyline and it is very intriguing. The main two characters are Gereon Rath, a mysterious new inspector who’s just joined the Berlin vice squad, and Charlotte (Lotte) Ritter, a young woman living with her family in poverty who loves to party all night.
There’s also the Russians. The beautiful and incredibly intriguing Svetlana, the main Russian character, by day seems to be a revolutionary and by night is a cross-dressing performer at the Babylon Berlin nightclub. There’s an amazing scene where she is performing along with four women all dressed in the classic Josephine Baker banana costume. It’s moody, artsy, with sections of high energy when the audience joins in.
The main premise of the story is that it’s a crime mystery. It starts with a raid on an illegal adult film set, which seems simple enough, but as different characters are introduced it becomes more complicated. Certain people seem to know each other, even though they’re from different sides of the track. You wonder how deep the so-called good guys have got themselves within the seedy criminal underworld. And just how do all the main characters connect to each other? I don’t want to go into it in any depth because I don’t want to spoil it!
One thing Babylon Berlin does exceptionally well is realism. Forget the glamour of Hollywood and the gloss of BBC productions, this is gritty and really makes you feel like this is actually what it was like back in 1929 Berlin.
The thing that struck me the most was the women’s hairstyles. Yes, they were bobbed, but none of them were perfectly quaffed. Lotte didn’t have time to reset her hair every night, she was way too busy in the club, so yes her hair was straggly and out of place when she rushed to work the next morning. Hey, but that’s what a cloche is for, right? You can hide anything under one of those!
The chief costume designer on Babylon Berlin is French designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud, also know for the fabulous film, Perfume: The Story of a Murder and many European films. His costumes are wonderful, just look at the width of the guy’s trousers in the middle of the above photo! For those who don’t know, these are what was known as Oxford Bags and were first popular at Oxford University in the mid-1920s. However, the majority of looks are very much German fashions of the time. There were subtle differences to American and British fashion which are hard to pinpoint but are definitely there. If you’ve seen Amazon’s The Last Tycoon, you would’ve seen this subtle difference with Hannah Taub’s outfits.
Babylon Berlin is definitely worth a watch, even if you’re not keen on subtitled shows (unless you’re fluent in German, obviously!). It’s incredibly compelling and the locations and cinematography are outstanding. In fact, they even built three of their own 1920s streets that, apparently, look almost real! Just don’t watch it if you’re easily shocked, it has full-frontal nudity from the outset and explores many taboo subjects. But that’s what makes it so brilliant. It doesn’t apologise for any of it or try and shield you from it. Like I said, this isn’t Hollywood or the BBC!
The first season, currently being shown on Sky Atlantic on Sundays at 9pm, is eight episodes long, as is the second season. Season 3 is already in production, due to it’s immense popularity in its native country, so I will definitely be gripped for some time to come.
Apologies for the on and off radio silence at the moment. Life in general, both at home and at work, are extremely busy and finding time to dedicate to the blog is proving difficult. However, I have finally managed to photograph the last crochet garment I finished for you to see.
Back in the first half of this year I seemed to be on quite a roll with finding original 1930s crochet patterns and booklets and one that’s really special to me is the Paris Sponsors Crochet Book No. 46 by The Spool Cotton Company. It was published in January 1935 and contains a whole host of jumpers, hats, collars, cuffs and other accessories. Every single one has a truly 1930s uniqueness about it, with wonderful and inventive detailing.
The one that caught my eye immediately was the Parisian Striped Blouse, a short sleeve jumper with a detachable collar. (I’ve added a link to a free version of this pattern at the bottom of the post). It screams mid-1930s with its simple shape and exquisite detailing and I knew straight away I wanted to make it up in emerald green and brilliant white. However, finding the exact shade of emerald green I had in mind wasn’t easy, especially in a 3 ply. Eventually, after a couple of disappointments, I found the perfect shade in a size 5 crochet cotton thread. As this was exactly the type of yarn the original pattern suggested, it was absolutely spot on. Thankfully, it also came in a brilliant white, so I quickly ordered four balls of green (no. 5700) and two of white (no. B5200) in DMC Petra Size 5.
The jumper itself was fairly straightforward, with just two stitches throughout, but I did have a couple of issues with the fit. Firstly, the initial length of it was way too short. I only discovered this once I’d completed both the front and back pieces and quickly pinned them together to try on. I was so mad as I’d checked the length after finishing the first piece, but clearly I hadn’t held it high enough on my shoulders.
Anyway, the jumper ended up being stuffed into a bag whilst I tried to figure out what to do. After about a month I dug it out again and decided to extend the height at the shoulders. The reason I did it this way, rather than adding it on to the bottom, is because it’s crocheted from the bottom upwards. If I’d added it to the bottom, the extra rows would’ve been stitched the wrong way round and it would’ve looked obvious. As the neckline underneath the collar is a basic V shape, it was easy to rip back the last couple of rows that created the shoulder shape, and then add in a few more before adding the shaping back in.
Once this was sorted I could get on with the sleeves. I actually ignore the pattern’s instructions for these as they were a bit odd. I actually think they were wrong, because the shape that would’ve been created looked nothing like a sleeve! Anyway, I just took a basic sleeve pattern piece from one of my sewing patterns and used that as a guide to create the shape. Of course, I made a note of the number of stitches I used on each row so I could replicate it again for the second sleeve.
The collar, however, was the fiddliest bit. Naively, I thought it would be quicker than the rest of the jumper but, boy was I wrong. It started out okay at the collar edge but, as it grew and grew, each row was taking me forever. I was so happy to finish that last white row! Then I had to neaten the edges where the buttons were going to sit. This meant changing colours again as I crocheted up from the bottom to the top. And you should’ve seen the huge number of threads I had to weave in once it was done. Remember I said on my last crochet jumper post that I was never going to do colour work again. Hmmm, I should’ve listened to myself!
The pattern said to create buttonholes by doing a chain of six stitches on the last row when crocheting up the front. Well I did that, attached a button and tried it on. It looked awful. All it did was pulled the chain away from the edge leaving a massive gap in the middle. I couldn’t make the chain any smaller as I wouldn’t be able to get the button through. Oh good, another puzzle to figure out. In the end I just sewed the buttons on as close to the edge as possible and added a hook and eye behind them to close the two edges. Thankfully this worked a treat and there’s minimal gaping.
The buttons themselves also took an age to complete. I created these using some cheap silver coloured buttons I’d had in my stash for years and then I very roughly covered them with scraps of white cotton fabric to make sure the silver didn’t show through. Next, I crocheted little round pockets to go over the buttons and secured them tightly around the button shank. In the end I made eleven buttons, ten for the jumper itself and one for spare in case any of them fell off.
In the end, minus the month it sat in a bag, this jumper took me a total of two months. Probably half of that was on the collar and buttons! I would say I’m about 90% pleased with it. It still has a couple of fitting issues, one being that the shoulders are a little wide. However, I have attached bra strap holders to the inside to keep these in place. Also, because it doesn’t have a waistband, the bottom tends to stick out at times.
However, despite all of the niggles in the making up process and the fit, I do love the jumper a lot. The first time I wore it out I had loads of compliments, which was a lovely confidence booster in my crocheting ability. It’s the first thing I’ve made in proper crochet cotton thread and actually it was really easy to work with. My next project, which is from the same 1930s crochet book, has already taken me three months! It’s also done in the same thread but in a beautifully classic 1930s peach colour. Again, it’s lovely to work with, but boy-oh-boy are the stitches long winded. Hence why it’s taking me so long. I’m hoping to get it finished by Christmas but I’ll believe that when I see it!