Join me in my adventures as I write romance novels and sew vintage and contemporary fashion.

Monday, February 18, 2013

30s Dress ~ Chapter One

The Writing

I have a deadline. It’s five weeks away, but in that time I have to produce 75,000 usable words while teaching full time. Of course, this makes me want to sew.  Part of that desire is escapism, part is procrastination (I may as well be honest here) and part of it is needing to use another part of my brain while the story percolates.

When I was a newbie author, I thought writing would get easier after a few books, but it doesn't.  I’m working on book number sixteen and just hit a wall. Some people call this writer’s block. I call it “the deadline isn't close enough to panic my brain into breaking loose its secrets.”  Some may think, “But hey, you write romance. There's a formula, as in boy meets girl, etc…” Yes, but writing successful genre fiction is tricky because readers have set expectations and you have to meet them, while keeping the story fresh. Much, much easier said than done.  Sometimes it hurts my brain. That's when I start sewing. Then when I finish a tricky seam only to discover that I've sewn part of the facing into it, that's when I go back to the writing.

The Sewing

I've started my first 1930’s project using a pattern I bought on eBay for about $10--Simplicity 1690. The pattern envelope and directions are in bad shape. I’m nuts about saving old stuff, so I carefully unfolded the pattern pieces and ironed them  with a dry iron prior to tracing. I enjoy tracing the patterns. I do it freehand, even though I have all the required rulers and curves. I tidy things up later with the curves and straight edges if need be, but usually the lines are fine as drawn. I guess I've got a good eye and a steady hand.

The pattern tissue is in good shape considering the fact that it’s almost 80 years old. I encountered a couple of damaged pieces, but with the help of the pattern directions—or the Simplicity Primer, as it’s called—it was easy to figure out what the missing part looked like. One oddly shaped piece had been ripped in two, and the two pieces simply folded and put back in the envelope.  It makes me wonder about cellophane tape in the 1930s. It was during the Depression and things we take for granted, like cellophane tape,  may not have been so common. Or perhaps the seamstress had merely been out of tape. That's what I love about retro sewing—the history and the mystery.

My favorite part of this sewing adventure so far is the handmade newspaper pattern that was enclosed in the envelope. I think it was for a capelet of some kind. 

The newspaper gives me a general date—1936—a general locale—Sioux City, SD—and some interesting news headlines. For example, it was noted that DiMaggio had a bad day. My favorite part of this small glimpse of history is the ad for shoes…

I love the shoes. Especially the ones called “Women Educator Shoes”. I’m an educator by day, and these shoes would go beautifully with my new dress. Too bad I can’t get my hands on them.

1 comment:

  1. Love those shoes - each one could certainly be on sale in a shoe shop today (though not for that price....).