Reconstructing History Sewing Pattern Review 1304

Today’s post features a dress I made using the Reconstructing History 1304 sewing pattern. Reconstructing History are an American based sewing pattern company, specialising in reproducing historical patterns.

The sheer range of sewing patterns available on the Reconstructing History website is quite astonishing. Reconstructing History offer a broad range of styles, periods and genres, from the fourteenth century right through to the late 1940s. As part of my writing work for Vintage Dancer, I was asked if I would like to review a Reconstructing History pattern of my choosing. Although I was tempted by this Regency Riding outfit, and this 1910s Walking Suit, the pattern that won my heart was the 1304 Day Dress and Jacket from 1933.

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The pattern itself was fairly difficult to work with, due to both the design details of this particular style, and the pattern itself.

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This was my first experience of using a Reconstructing History pattern, so the review contains my experiences and thoughts of using this one pattern only. During some parts of the construction process I did find myself thinking I would have preferred to work with the original, vintage pattern, rather than the Reconstructing History incarnation. This was mostly due to the sizing lines all being identical – making it very difficult to follow and apply pattern notches.

The fabric requirements were also a problem area. According to the back sheet of the pattern, the dress required 5yrds 40 inch wide, or 3.5yrds 54 inch wide. But, within the instruction booklet it stated the dress needed 4yrds 40 inch wide, or 2.5yrds 54 inch wide. So which was it? This was only clarified by me physically laying-out all the pattern pieces onto fabric, to then measure both the length and width of the material in order to determine the desired yardage.

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Hiccups and glitches aside, I am pleased with how the completed dress turned out. I used some beautiful reproduction late 1920s/early 1930s fabric from Maltings Fabric – the Hampden. I wrote about a visit I made to Maltings Fabrics in my previous post here. The fabric is a viscose crepe, and has a lovely handle and drape to it. Somehow, the print reminded me almost of a rainbow Dalmatian dog (I know that sounds completely bizarre!)

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In order to accent the design details, I used a plain black viscose crepe for the belt, cuffs and neck frills. My favourite feature of the pattern is the sleeves. The sleeves are full, then where the cuffs are applied there is a series of three tuck pleats. The cuffs also feature an interesting V detail, perfectly art deco!

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As the fabric features beautifully muted pastel shades, I managed to find an original 1930s belt buckle on eBay that was a perfect match! I accessorised the dress with an original 1930s bag I purchased just after Christmas, which still contains its original mirror. I chose white over-the-knee socks which I wore as stockings, a cloche hat I have had for a few years, and Bridgette heels by Hotter which I purchased in the sale a few weeks ago.

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Overall, I am really pleased with the dress, and I am in love with the fabric! As I will be imminently making my wedding dress (which is 1930s), this dress presented a few design details that will definitely put me in good practise for the task ahead!

My conclusion and final thoughts on the pattern

The pattern contained some nice historical information, which added context to the design. The instructions were detailed, and included both text and illustrations, making them easy to follow. The paper the pattern was printed on was of high quality, and I liked that the pattern was printed onto one side of the paper only.

However, with the identical sizing lines, lack of grainlines, even a few typos on the pattern pieces, there were moments when I found the pattern could be more user-friendly. The biggest point for me was however, the fabric requirements confusion. When I am sewing a garment, the last thing I want to do is waste time calculating and figuring out how much fabric I need, when it should be stated clearly on the pattern.

As aforementioned, I was given the opportunity to chose a pattern to review from Reconstructing History, in order to write a full review for publication on Vintage Dancer. Whenever I am given something to review, I always aim to be constructive, and to stay true to my integrity, which I hope I have done so here.

Has anyone else worked with Reconstructing History patterns? What did you think? How did you find them? Let me know in the comments.

Links & Outfit Details

Until next time dears!

 

Decades of Style 1920s Tulip Kimono Sewing Pattern Review

In this post, I team the 1920s Tulip Kimono by Decades of Style Pattern Company, with the vintage inspired Valetta heels by Hotter Shoes.

Often with sewing patterns, I will chance across one I like, and usually purchase it there and then. This is especially true of original vintage patterns, as these are of course harder to find. However, with patterns produced by large companies, or smaller independent labels, sometimes it takes me a while to actually get around to purchasing and trying out these patterns. Last year this was the case with the Colette Oolong, and this year it has been the turn of the 1920s Tulip Kimono by Decades of Style.

This particular pattern has been on my little (who am I kidding) um, long, list of patterns to buy for at least a year. As Decades of Style have recently added a further 3 patterns to their 1920s line, I decided that it was high time I actually purchased the pattern and tried it out!

To further add to my motivation to make the pattern, I am working with Hotter Shoes for my third season, and I knew the 1920s Tulip Kimono would pair perfectly with their vintage inspired Valetta heels.

The PDF print out of the 1920s Tulip Kimono by Decades of Style Pattern Company.

Ironically, as I wanted to start using the pattern as soon as possible (after holding out for over a year to purchase it in the first place – my mind works in mysterious ways!) I purchased the PDF version to print out at home. Included in the zip folder is a file containing the print at home A4 size pattern, and also a large format version to print out at a copy shop. I was curious to try out the copy shop version, but unfortunately the quote I received was in excess of £40. Obviously I decided to print out the pattern at home instead.

As the pattern is loose-fitting, I decided not to make a toile. The fact that this Decades of Style pattern includes both sizing measurements AND finished garment measurements make it much easier to select the right size for the amount of ease/fit you require. (Also one of the reasons I didn’t make a toile – I referred to the finished garment measurements to get a clear idea of how the garment would fit me).

The pattern pieces with my lining, trims and tread.

The pattern itself was very clear and concise, making it a dream to work with. The PDF includes 9 sizes, which are all clearly differentiated through variations to individual sizing lines. I cut the size A-32, which gave a nice amount of ease whilst still retaining a streamlined shape.

We shot these pictures at the utterly beautiful Charleston House, the perfect setting for a 1920s inspired look.

For the fabric, I wanted to choose something evocative of both the Aesthetic movement, and the Arts & Crafts movement. Liberty seemed like the perfect choice, so I decided to use Liberty cotton twill fabric. The fabric itself is beautiful, the colours are wonderfully clear and vibrant. However, when I got the fabric home, I discovered an ugly line travelling directly up the length of the material through the middle. In the shop, the fabric had been folded and stored on the bolt, so had over time developed a pressure line at the point. I hadn’t noticed this at the time of purchase – I should mention here, although this is genuine Liberty fabric, I did not purchase it from Liberty’s. Instead I purchased it from a fabric store in London that I had not previously been to.

Detail. The piping trim matches the tassels, which in turn pick up on the red and orange shades in the Liberty fabric.

Undeterred, I was determined to carry on with my Kimono. In light of the defect in the material, I decided to cut out each pattern piece individually, with the fabric as one layer. This. Took. Forever. Especially as some of the pattern pieces require to cut 4 rather than 2. But, I really didn’t want a great line screaming out on the garment. By cutting the fabric this way, it was unavoidable that one of the sleeves has part of the line visible, but the other parts are placed on the inside facing pieces. As the print is directional, this also added time to the pattern cutting process. In total, it probably took me about 2 hours or so just to cut out the fabric.

The completed outfit.

In order to make a feature of the lines of the pattern, I decided to use self-made piping within the hem bands and cuffs. I feel this helps to break up the pattern of the fabric slightly, whilst also drawing attention to the interesting cut of the Kimono.

The Valetta heels by Hotter Shoes are one of my favourite styles from the brand. So comfortable, and the cut-out details really evokes an early twentieth century feel.

The pattern is comprised of 7 pieces – Front, Back, Sleeve, Cuff, Collar, Front Band & Back Band. Although the Kimono is not fully lined, the hem of the jacket is lined by cutting the front bands and back band out twice, thereby lining the hem of the jacket nicely and concealing the seamline on the inside. I did however, decide to fully line my version. To do this I cut the pattern out as directed, but in addition cut the Front, Back and Sleeve pieces again using lining fabric. Instead of sewing the inner hem bands to the jacket as directed, I sewed the lining pieces together, then stitched the inner hem band pieces to my lining. Finally, I sewed the entire lining to the Kimono.

I teamed my newly-sewn Kimono with a 1920s style dress, and the Valetta heels by Hotter Shoes.

For next time, in all honesty I think I would have been equally as happy without fully lining my jacket. As long as the side seams, sleeves and armhole seams are finished neatly or French seamed, I feel the inner hem bands are more than sufficient to give a lovely finish.

Back view.

The Kimono fastens at the front with a loop and original vintage button. I added a pair of tassels for a bit of whimsy, and to tie-in with the colour I used for the piping accents. I also stitched an inner ribbon tie to keep the jacket fastened neatly, as the design is slightly double-breasted.

The 1920s Tulip Kimono by Decades of Style – Things to Note

  • On me, the sleeve cuffs were really long, so I turned them under twice to diminish some of the length.
  • It is not necessary to line the Kimono as it is already partially lined at the hem bands anyway.
  • Easy to use and assemble.
  • The pattern comes with an A4 instruction booklet, which talks you through each stage of the construction process.

Total time to make – it probably took me around 2 days. BUT- I did have that difficult line in the fabric to contend with, and I decided to add decorative piping & fully line my Kimono. If I had used a non-directional fabric (without any defects!), and omitted the piping & full lining, I probably could have made the Kimono from start to finish in around 4 hours or so.

Would I recommend this pattern to others? ABSOLUTELY!

As previously mentioned, part of the reason for making this Kimono was because I felt it would be the perfect accompaniment to the Valetta heels by Hotter Shoes.

The Valetta are available for SS17 in Navy leather or Black suede, I am wearing the Navy leather version in these pictures. The Valetta are actually one of the first pairs of Hotter Shoes I owned, with the purchase of a Burgundy suede pair back in 2015. I have worn that pair on numerous occasions, and always feel stylish and comfortable – a winning combination!

To read more about the Valetta, my inspirations behind this outfit, and to see original 1920s shoe adverts and illustrations; visit the Hotter Shoes blog It’s a Shoe Thing here.

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I would definitely make up the 1920s Tulip Kimono pattern again. I feel this pattern has endless fabric possibilities – a wool version for a casual light coat, velvet or silk for an indoors lounging version, cotton or corduroy for a daytime version.. the list goes on. I also think this pattern would lend itself perfectly to surface decoration in the form of fabric painting, embroidery and printing. So many possibilities!

Until next time dears!