The World at War 1910-1919
We continue this trip through fashion history with an eye towards the teen years of the 20th century. With the world at war, women drew on their innate ability to “make do”, adding decorative embellishments that could be made from small amounts of fabric. In this episode you’ll see Rebecca Kemp Brent’s modern version of frugal embellishments with bits of fabric turned into eye catching fabric flowers. Her step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and you’ll see her work at a pace that is relaxing and unhurried. She even shows a handy Clover Notions tool for flower making. Click Here to see all the flower forms made by Clover. Chances are your local sewing shop has these in stock or available to special order. You may want to watch this segment once, prepare your materials to make a flower, and then rewind and watch a second time, stitching along with Rebecca from start to finish.
Take a look at the flowers on this 1912 ensemble by a designer named Lanvin. The dress itself was called an "at home dress." Flowers seem to be a perennial favorite for adding a splash of color or a three dimensional accent to an otherwise flat piece of fabric. Today we have the opportunity to re-create the look with appliqué, machine embroidery, or even a 3-D fabric flower like the ones Rebecca demonstrates this week.
As is typical, wartime brought about the need for change. With men at war, women did work they had not previously been accustomed to doing. Practicality eventually made its way into a woman’s wardrobe. I say eventually, because at first we saw less full skirts in favor of pencil slim straight styles. However, some of these first straight skirts were slim to the point of being ridiculous and actually were called hobble skirts. It’s not hard to figure out where that name came from! This style literally forced a woman to shorten her walking stride so much, that walking was more like hobbling. Hobbling became dangerous and there were highly publicized accidents where women were injured by slim skirts that made them trip and fall. This extreme form of a slim styled skirt was then modified and became more practical with walking slits and hidden pleats for walking ease. This skirt style did signal the fact that the fussiness of previous years was on it’s way out and simpler, more practical garments were on their way in. It is interesting to note that the so called pencil skirt has remained in fashion for many decades now.
Angela Wolf spins this slim style into much shorter skirts with added draping details. Watch as she demonstrates the process of draping. It's really a form of improvisational designing. With draping techniques you can feel free to scrunch, pleat, and manipulate fabric until you achieve a good looking silhouette. If you’re not happy you simply start over. As Angela recommends, using muslin for this process means you don’t cut real fabric until you have your pattern all worked out on the dress form. This type of design work is often used by big name designers and for some intricate styles it’s the only way to achieve a finished fashion pattern. Personally I prefer designing on paper but it’s always fun to watch a master draper at work, sculpting yards of fabric into a final, fashionable form.
Click Here to watch this week's line episode of It's Sew Easy. Enjoy all the historical photos and try to pick out at least one small detail you can incorporate into your own contemporary sewing projects.
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