Monday, 28 June 2010

I'm back, with a bunch of old dresses, yippie!

Sorry about the long absence, I kind of lost all sewing mojo, I've basically just kept draping fabrics all over myself trying to figure out what to make. Major uncapability in the decision-making-department.

I think that's usually a sign that you need a break, so when Midsummer (which is the summer-opposite, or equivalent if you like, of Christmas for us Scandinavians, one of our biggest public holidays) came up, with a three day weekend, me and my brother went up north to our family's summer house. I love it there! I'm back now, well rested and in all harmony. Hopefully I'm a bit more creative than during the last weeks too.

On the way back we visited my grandmother on my fathers's side (my grandmother on my mother's side died a bit over a year ago, btw, that's her red belt in almost all the following pictures).

She's very old now, I think she's 94, but still lives in her old apartment. She and my grandfather always had two apartments, next door, one - tiny one! - was my grandfather's office. My grandmother doesn't use it now and there are plans to clear it out. Consequence: I was allowed, or actually asked, to look in a chest with old clothes if there was anything I liked.

There was (of course, we're exactly the same size, and she was a very stylish lady when she was younger)!

Here are a couple of decades of dresses from my grandmother (note: they are all awfully creased. They've been tucked away in a chest for about 70 years and I couldn't wait to photograph them, I'll show them again in more detail when I've washed & ironed them!):

I am quite confident this dress is from the 1930's.The puffy sleeves and slim skirt seem like typical 30's.

The material is veeery sheer, I'm wearing my most skin-toned underwear, and you can still see the bra really well. I need a slip if I'm ever going to wear this in public!

The fabric around the neckline is shirred, and the whole dress seems to be crincled (I wonder if it was a dress for travelling, it's also very light weight). I can't really tell though, since all the dresses have been scrunched into little bundles and are about the most wrinky/creased clothes I've ever seen!

There are snap-buttons along one side-seam and little straps to fasten the bra-straps (?) next to the neckline. The material is probably a viscose or acetate (I must bring it to my favourite second-hand-store owned by a wise miliner-lady with an eye for old materials and ask what it is and how to care for it!).

I would guess this dress is from the 1940's? The skirt is a bit too narrow to be from the 1950's, I think.

I can picture my grandmother running around, chasing my father, dressed in it (he was born in 1945). She used to be a gymnast (she worked as a physiotherapist) and was quite a wild child. She later used to rescue both us kids and my grandfather by chasing us (kids, that is) around the house when we got too restless and noisy (she has 12 grandchildren, and about nine of us used to spend summer at their summer house, at the same time. At times too much for any grandparents in their 60's I think).

She was actually a member of the Swedish troops at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Her group didn't compete but did a gymnastics-show. She used to show us kids what Hitler looked like when we asked her to; angry face, two fingers held underneath the nose as a mustasche. Very amusing to little kids!

I had two much loved grandmothers!

Back to the dress! It's a very nice viscose with mother-of pearl-buttons in the shape of flowers, and much of it is hand-sewn. I'm a lucky girl!

Another viscose-dress. This one has a very silky feel to it, is a cream white with light blue dots with dark blue spots in them, covered buttons and bound button-holes. Like the previous one most of the seams are hand sewn.

The shoulder pads must have undergone some kind of transformation, they're very, ehum, compact. Like a bun on each shoulder (that's why I look a bit stiff in the pictures). I have to exchange them for something a bit more flexible!

I didn't think I would like the dropped waistline, but with a belt I do. It actually looks very ladylike, I think. Nice surprise!

Again, I think it's 1940's. The marked shoulders and not wide but not too narrow skirt seem kind of typical.

More 1940's! A red and white striped cotton dress with a pleated skirt and ric-rac details.

There are 4 pleats along the hem of the skirt (which, come to think of it, is an excellent way of temporarily adjusting the length of skirts. I must not forget).

The front of the bodice is cut on the bias, but I think it's only cut that way to add visual interest, to put the thin stripes on an angle.

Finally, a bonus skirt! You can't really tell (even though I tried to show the print in the picture), but the fabric has a really interesting print with photographs of sailboats, hula-girls and waterfalls (next to a spruce-forest, hm, how does that match the hula-girls?).

Could it be a souvenir-skirt?

Sadly it's just too narrow around the waist for me... and I don't think I can make it any larger without quite a load of changes. I think it's a really cool skirt, and would like to wear it (spoken by someone who normally prefers solids to patterns!).

Guess I'll have to start doing some serious sit-ups, hehe...


  1. Woweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee they are absolutely gorgeous and such a lovely gift from your Granny, she has wonderful taste, I love all of them! The red one with collar is stunning, you look great in them all, so summery!!

  2. Really great vintage! My favorites are the 3rd and 4th.

  3. welcome back to blogland :-) What a fantastic present! They fit you wonderfully! I absolutely adore the 1930's dress! How fantastic!!!

  4. Wow, gorgeous dresses! I'm in love with the sailor-collared red and white dress, it really flatters your figure. Lucky girl!
    Oh, and welcome back!

  5. Wow, what luck! That's great that the dresses fit you, and they can go on to live their next life with you!

  6. How lucky are you. I expecially love the skirt on you.

  7. Wow, you are a lucky girl! These dresses are fabulous and they fit you so well! And I exactly know what you mean by draping fabrics onto you and never being able to make a decision. I go through this quite a lot of the time :)

  8. Yay! Glad to see you back to blogging Karin :)
    Those dresses are lovely - all the more special because they used to belong to your Grandma.

  9. Hi, thanks for visiting me... yes that was in Mornington, wow, we must be about the same age if you were in high school in 1991!
    Fabulous dresses, I love the spotty one. Just a suggestion about the skirt, if it has a zip you could always add a panel of material inside and wear it as a mini dress - you can see what I mean here

  10. Wow these are all gorgeous - lucky you! I particularly love the red/cream sailor collared dress!

  11. Amazing! These are some real treasures, lucky you! x

  12. Brilliant find. No old men's suits in that chest, was there..?

  13. Thank you all for comments! I read and appreciate even if I don't always answer here.
    Paddy: no... only womenswear. But maybe now I can join your dress-up-club? Or do I have to swe a new vintage coctail dress to be allowed to enter ;-)?

  14. Wow, you are right- that 1930s dot dress is eerily similar to the Chaiken print fabric I have. I wouldn't be surprised if your dress was indeed the inspiration- it's really lovely.


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