Fashion through the decades: 20s & 30s

Flapper Fashion - 1920s

Fay wray - actress and flapper girl

Fay wray - actress and flapper girl

Before the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis who brought us the iconic 1930s fashion styles, there were the super chic (and now very well known) styles of the roaring twenties. From the ultra-glam flapper girls to the first waves of cool androgyny, 1920s fashion was all about liberation, finally being able to try new things while having a lot of fun in the process.

After WW1, things loosened up (literally) when it came to ladies fashion - the corsets came off, skirts got shorter and thanks to one particular fashion legend, Coco Chanel, trousers for women were acceptable for the very first time! Fashion is eternally grateful to Mademoiselle Coco Chanel for so many definitive 1920s fashion styles, and some of the greatest fashion ‘inventions’ still to this day, for example; the little black dress, skirt suit, costume jewellery, espadrilles… But her greatest, most overarching influence? It has ot be the liberation of women’s clothing and the concept of ‘casual chic’ in the 1920s. Chanel led the trend for a flatter, corset-free bust, a streamlined silhouette with no hyper-waistline and as we already mentioned, she popularised trousers for women… So next time you let you are feeling bloated or just want to through on something loose fitting and baggy, you can aim your thanks to this woman.

Moving on to another iconic 20s style…

When it came to popular materials in the 20s, for evening dresses most were made of fine fabrics like silk, chiffon, taffeta and light velvet. They were usually sleeveless for young women and long sleeves for older women. Own anything with a dropped waist? You can thank the 20s for this iconic feature along with layers/tiers of fabric creating some fullness from the waist down. For those wanting to stand out and be more glamorous than the rest (basically anyone with good money) Beaded dresses were the way to go. Although everyone often thinks fringing and metal sequins when it comes to flapper dresses, this was actually quite rare. We often also think of these dresses as being short but this too is a myth! Real flappers wore knee-length or longer gowns that swished and swayed white dancing to jazz.

1930s

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Although the 1930s is remembered as a time of economic struggle, 30s fashion was an era of revolutionary style thanks to advancements in clothing production and the popularity of Hollywood cinema. As well as Great Depression (which began with the stock market crash in ‘29) causing an increase in the resourcefulness of ‘day wear’ fashion, as women could no longer afford to change outfits from day to night as the may have done before.

Advancements in technology also began the following following trends we still widely use today such as zippers as fasteners, fitted bras with cups and the bias cut method (a process of cutting material at a 45 degree angle so that it clung to the body.)

30s KEY ITEM: A “feedsack” dress, which as the name suggests, is a ladies dress made using the material from a sack of animal feed. (Bags from flour were also used!)

HISTORY BEHIND THIS ITEM:  Although the trend of the feedsack dress actually began in the ’20s when resourceful women realised they could upcycle the material used for the sacks to make clothing for themselves and their family, the trend grew rapidly due to economical necessity during the Depression era (30s). It didn’t take long for those in the animal feed industry to catch on to this ‘fashion’ trend, and competing companies released floral patterned sacks for women along with novelty prints such as animals, clowns, etc sacks for dresses made for the children. This led women requesting their husbands to buy the more ‘stylish’ feedsacks with their final outfit in mind.


Capsule Wardrobe: Bottoms up!

Straight leg, boot cut, cropped, ankle grazers…. the list goes on when it comes to various styles of trousers making it a more popular choice than ever when it comes to being a staple piece in the modern ladies wardrobe. Despite their increasing popularity over the years, trousers weren’t considered ‘acceptable’ women’s attire until the 1970s and even then, in some places it was illegal for women to wear trousers! These days, trousers are worn by women for all occasions without any masculine connotations . One of the woman we can also thank for this is, Coco Chanel - The first woman who dared to wear a pair of pants in her daily life.

Ash Jeans Pattern Set

Ash Jeans Pattern Set

JEANS

“History of Jeans and Denim. Jeans are pants made from denim or dungaree cloth. They were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873 and a worn still but in a different context. Jeans are named after the city of Genoa in Italy, a place where cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane, was manufactured.”

Now many sew-ers seem to have a fear when it comes to wanting to tackle making their own jeans but we think they are the most satisfying make! Here are some patterns, both from Megan Nielsen Patterns , which cover different styles in each pack! :

Dawn Jeans (4 in 1)

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Ash Jeans (4 in 1)

VINTAGE

Not only does this 1940s vintage pattern by Simplicity come with the patterns for amazing loose fitting pants & the great overalls…it also comes with a sweet blouse and blouse with hood pattern.

FITTED

I could go on for ages about various trouser patterns I love, I will quickly mention the Tyyni Cigarette trouser pattern by NAMED. I personally think these would be the perfect capsule wardrobe make. These trousers are so flattering that they would look great for both work or day-to-day !

Capsule Wardrobe: A 'short' history of skirts

The skirt: a garment so distinctly feminine that in the 1800s, the word itself was slang for woman. This particular item of clothing comes with a lot of history too. The skirt is said to be the second-oldest garment known to mankind, with loin cloths winning the award for the oldest.

Today, a skirt's design is all about personal style. But not long ago, long skirts were the only way to go. For hundreds of years, a long skirt was the very definition of luxury, mainly because fabric was so expensive.

Here are some of my favourite classic styles and patterns to create your own!

THE PENCIL SKIRT

Here at SC HQ are totally loving the Pulmu High-waisted Pencil Skirt by NAMED. Whether you love wearing a pencil skirt to work or dressing it up for a night out at the weekend - we think this particular pattern would work well whatever the occasion!

THE MINI SKIRT

THE DENIM SKIRT

Available to create in various lengths, the Leonora denim style skirt by SEAMWORK would make a gorgeous wardrobe stable! This particular pattern features all of the usual denim garment constructions, including flat felled seams, a classic back yoke, belt loops, and jean hardware. Perfect for those looking to maybe advanced there garment making knowledge.

THE MAXI SKIRT

Depending how confident you are when it comes to sewing and drafting patterns, it is easy enough to draw out and make your own maxi skirt pattern! If not, you will often find them included as part of a set in many of the ‘old school’ patterns such as this one by NEW LOOK. It also includes patterns for a tank top, tee shirt, pull on pants and maxi dress with side slits which could also be makes for your ‘me-made’ capsule wardrobe!


Want to have a go at making a skirt or another item of clothing but unsure where to start? Why not book on to one of our pattern classes at either our GLASGOW or DUNDEE studios to get a helping hand from one of our amazing tutors!

PS. As always, remember to tag @sewconfident in any photos of your creations AND use the hashtag #scCapsuleWardrobe as at the end of April we will be picking one lucky winner to win a fantastic mystery prize!

Capsule Wardrobe : History of Two Coats

With this months theme being all about creating your own, ‘me-made’ capsule wardrobe, I thought it would be interesting to not only tell you some of my pattern choices but explore the history behind them! In this first post I will be looking at all things outer wear. Remember to keep us updated on your capsule wardrobe makes this month by tagging us and using #SCcapsulewardrobe !

The Trench Coat

Trench coat pattern by ‘NAMED’

Trench coat pattern by ‘NAMED’

The trench coat was developed as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats worn by British and French soldiers in the First World War. Invention of the trench coat is claimed by two British luxury clothing manufacturers, Burberry and Aquascutum. Usually made from of waterproof heavy-duty cotton gabardine drill, leather, or poplin. The classic versions come in various lengths ranging from just above the ankles (the longest) to above the knee (the shortest). Traditionally this garment is double-breasted with 10 front buttons, has wide lapels, a storm flap and pockets that button-close. The coat is belted at the waist with a self-belt, as well as having straps around the wrists that also buckle (to keep water from running down the forearm when using binoculars in the rain). The coat often has shoulder straps that button-close; those were a functional feature in a military context. Originally the trench coat was an item of clothing for Army officers (developed before the war but adapted for use in the trenches of the First World War, hence its name). Trench coats have remained fashionable in the decades following World War II. Their original role as part of an army officers uniform lent the trench coat a businesslike respectability, although many prefer to tie the belt in front (rather than use the buckle) to project a more casual look than strict military dress.

Want to learn how to make your own Trench coat? Book on to Jennys Trench Coat Class now!

The Denim Jacket

Denim Jacket Pattern by SEAMWORK

Denim Jacket Pattern by SEAMWORK

Denim blue jeans trace their history back to 1860s Italy -- if not earlier --the rugged bottoms haven’t gone out of fashion since, and over time have worked their way up to the top half of the body, sported by figures as iconic as Marilyn Monroe and the Marlboro Man. Todays denim jacket exudes a sense of sturdy individualism, but it took many decades to establish itself as a pillar of fashion. Around 1905, American jeans manufacturer Levi Strauss and Co. introduced the “Levi Blouse,” an outerwear shirt intended as a companion to work pantaloons. By 1938, the blouse was officially redubbed a “jacket.” Strauss produced six versions of the jacket through 1947, making minor additions and variations. The late 1940s and & 50s saw the denim jacket transition from workwear into day-to-day attire as Strauss introduced lightweight coats in its western wear line. Although Levis premiered a womens jean jacket in the late & 40s, a denim-wearing Marilyn Monroe made the piece fashionable for mainstream women -- cementing the jacket as a unisex staple -- during a 1950s photo shoot. For men, icons such as James Dean helped to associate the denim jacket with a sense of individualism. By 1962, Levis settled on the double-breast pocket featured on most modern jean jackets. Later, hippie culture experimented with everything from shearling lining to sleeveless denim jackets. Want to learn to make your own like Sew Confident Colette? Check out our Denim Jacket Class!