Friday, October 21, 2011

21 October 1957 “Dressing Vintage & an Easy Skirt”

I recently received to fun comments that I thought I would address in this post. Fellow Apronites asked:

“50s Gal,
I adore your blog, it's such a kick! I am wondering if you & your husband still dress in 50s costume, on a daily basis, as you did as you did when you began this blog? Do you still roll play the 1950s at home? Or do you now just post about the way that you wish things were?
It must be such fun to have so much time to devote toward your project. What fun!

Mrs. Walter Sinclair”


“I was wondering the same thing. I imagine that it is challenging to be dressed in character all day; you must thrive on the attention. Wish I had the nerve to do it. Maybe on Halloween.


Well, first off Yes, we do both dress 1950’s. Though to us, it is no longer costume. It is simply our way of dressing. Hubby doesn’t wear vintage pieces only (though some of his trousers were 1950’s pieces I found so those are ‘authentic). But, he wears trousers, button down oxford shirts over under shirts. He wears his pants at his natural waist (not the low rise of today) with a belt. He has many vintage styled socks, such as argyle, and his shoes are a variety of brogues, wingtips, loafers, and bucks. He has one pair of dungarees which he will sometimes where on a work in the yard day.

My wardrobe is made up of some vintage pieces and many handmade pieces made by myself. As I am tall and fuller figured, to buy a vintage dress is often not an option. My wardrobe is still mainly skirts and dresses. And my shoes are vintage inspired as well. I often wear vintage hats.

We recently biked with a new friend and she commented on how ‘dressed up’ we seemed and that I was riding my bike in a skirt. I didn’t notice until she pointed it out, but it is simply are ‘casual’ clothes. That is not to say we are in a tux and evening gown, but I have a good high calf length serviceable wool gored skirt and a cardigan on. Hubby was wearing khaki  trousers, button down oxford, loafers and a pork pie hat. We have no ‘insignia imprinted’ T-shirts or sweatshirts. This is simply ‘our normal’.

To answer the second comment, I do not actually like attention. Luckily, for me, my little town is used to me. I ride my vintage bike in my skirt and the people I encounter at the tea shop, cafe, grocery store, antique store and other various town shops are used to me. I often will get, ‘You look lovely today, as usual’. Which makes me feel good, but I hardly look for attention.

In fact, I recently was in contact with someone from a production company who produces reality shows. They were wanting to put together a show about people who live vintage, a reality show following people about. This is the farthest thing from what I would want. I would love to promote the lifestyle but to be on TV in any capacity is never anything I aspire to. It is too bad, as it could really be an almost fun move, but it is simply not what I want.

Now, I often get many letters from ladies saying they wished they had the nerve to wear vintage clothes. Or that they would like to, but think they would not be comfortable. I counter by saying, as far as never goes, start small.

Wear a vintage or vintage inspired skirt with a modern top and shoes. Another day wear a modern outfit but with a vintage hat and say scarf tied to your handbag. Another day, a vintage/vintage inspired top with modern trousers and vintage/or inspired shoes. After awhile, in this fashion, those around you will begin to see and probably comment, “oh she has such style”. This now gives you leave to dress as you like. Go full on vintage one day and they might be heard to say, “Oh, she can pull that off, she has such style anyway, I would be to afraid to try it.” And you can smile knowing how easily it was to slowly become that woman of style.

To me, dressing vintage is no longer about complete period accuracy. I have always loved various time periods, Victorian, Edwardian, 1930/40s, and will often mix such styles now. I figure, were I a frugal gal of the 1950’s I would most likely still have serviceable pieces from the 1940’s anyway. And to have style is really just to have the basic drive to say, “Well, there is no specific look anymore, so why not just wear what I want”. We don’t want too many “I wish I had done that” at the end of the day, and our clothing is such a simple way to become more empowered.

As someone who enjoys fashion and dressing now, it feels good and I honestly feel better when I am dressed. It is easy now, as anything I grab is vintage inspired, as I have bought no new clothes in three years unless they fit into the look I like. You can really build up a nice wardrobe with very little and with some very BASIC sewing skills.

Today, then, I am going to share my latest creation. An elastic waist skirt. I feel this is very non-vintage specific. It can look anything from Victorian inspired right down to modern depending on how you wear it. And I wanted something easy to make that was as comfortable as modern clothes (i.e. track suits)

Here it is:

newskirt This skirt is very wearable. By wearing a comfortable cardigan that buttons tight to my waist, the elastic waist is not even visible, but what comfort. Though I am still wearing my girdle, it is my comfortable stretch girdle, no lacing or boning. This would work wither with a vintage foundation or not, depending on how you feel that day.

As I forgot to photograph the easy step by step process, I thought I would just draw/Photoshop a basic diagram to make this skirt. It couldn’t be easier as the ruffle is put on BEFORE it becomes a tube, so easy pinning and sewing. And as the ruffle is doubled and sewn into a tube first, you are left with a nice finished hem BEFORE you sew it together.


  1. 3 yards of fabric (I used cotton)
  2. a length of elastic longer than your waist
  3. sewing machine or needle and thread
  4. an iron

I took two yards (72 inches) for my width. I am a ‘fuller figured’ gal, so if one were a smaller size 60 inches might suffice. If you use more and you are thinner you will just have a fuller skirt, which is also quite nice. At this point the width of the fabric is just whatever it came as 45/60 in seems to be the standard here.


Now depending how large you want the ruffle to be will determine the next step. I chose to cut my fabric just above my knee. Knowing, of course, that the final length would be greater than my knee with ruffle added.

elasticskirt2 Now keep this excess and what I did was to take this excess and with my remainder fabric (One yard from the original 3 yard piece) I used it as a template for the Ruffle.

Taking the left over yard, layout the strip cut off the bottom of the skirt piece. Cut as many of the same sized strips as you can get from the left over yard.


Stitch this into one long piece. Then fold that piece over and sew. I forgot to sew with right sides together, but it didn’t matter as when you pin it to skirt the rough edge is hidden in the skirt. IF you do sew it right sides together (pattern facing itself) simply turn right side out when done and then press flat.elasticskirt4

Next, take this long strip of pressed fabric and pin a basic pleat along the bottom of the skirt piece. Remember to keep the outside or right side of the fabric facing it. To be sure, after you pin, hold up and make sure you are pinning on the right side. The pins should be on the inside of skirt. You could also do a gather stitch along the long piece and attach as a gathered ruffle, but I wanted a pleated version this time.

After pinning stitch to skirt. This is all done while fabric is flat so it couldn’t be easier to work with.


Now take your elastic and wrap around your natural waist and pull it about 2 inches tighter (you don’t want it too loose). Remember this is going to hold the skirt up so make it tighter than you think you want it as it gives once it is on. Cut and that is the waist of your skirt.

Now fold the top of your flat skirt piece over about 3” (wide enough to easily allow the elastic to pass through) and stitch close. Then take a safety pin and attach to your elastic and slide through that sewn waist line tube. Pin BOTH ends securely so it does not slip out.


Next, pin skirt together (forming the tube shape of a skirt) starting with ruffled bottom, so skirt meets nicely at bottom.  Now sew this up ending at the waistline, being sure to really backstitch elastic ends for security. Now you are done and no hemming needed. elasticskirt7

This skirt could easily be made in under an hour. And you could also gather the bottom ruffle piece rather than pleats for a different look. Very easy indeed.

I am going to try a few varieties of elastic waist skirts such as gored and full and so on. I think it is an easy way to sew, get a vintage look and still have the comfort a modern gal (who is used to looser clothes) could still feel comfortable. I am determined to help all you gals who write to me saying you wish you could dress vintage but are afraid or worried it wont be comfortable. We can take more control of our lives and we can also infuse our daily lives, even when we are home alone seeing no one all day, with style. Remember we do it first for ourselves and let the worry of what others slide off our back. You will be surprised how quickly the fear of jibes turns to the joy of compliments.

Happy Homemaking.

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