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Free Pattern: 1950s Parfait Stripe Dress Knitting Pattern

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Knitting a dress is always something I've wanted to do but being a very slow knitter, I haven't attempted it yet! I'm in love with this beautiful 1957 dress with its simple bodice and skirt to flatter any figure.
See my free patterns page for more vintage knitting, crochet and sewing patterns.

free vintage 1950s dress knitting pattern from Va-Voom Vintage

20 Free 1950s Style Dress Patterns

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm hoping to sew more this fall and winter while the little ones are in school so I've been collecting some beautiful free dress patterns from all over the internet. Here are 20 free 1950s style dress patterns and tutorials, I hope you enjoy them!  For more freebies, check out my Free Patterns page

 Twirling Sundress tutorial from Mama Says Sew

twirling sundress tutorial from mama says sew

Day Date Dress Tutorial from Elle Apparel Blog

 Upcycled plaid mens shirt ruffled dress pattern from Oh How Joyful Blog 

The Notebook Inspired gingham dress from All Free Sewing

Sun Dress tutorial from The Sassy Sparrow

Sun Dress tutorial from The Sassy Sparrow

50s sundress from Inspired To Make (click the PDF pattern sheets above the picture)

50s sweetheart dress from Inspired To Make (click the pattern sheet PDFs above the picture)

free 50s dress pattern from Inspired to Make

Little Black Circle Skirt Dress free pattern from Craftsy

Bow Neck Dress from Craftsy

Elsa Sweetheart dress pattern from Burda Style 

Elsa Sweetheart dress pattern from Burda Style

Nadja wiggle dress from Burda Style

nadja wiggle dress free pattern from Burda Style

the easy tee dress pattern from Its Always Autumn

the easy tee dress pattern from Its Always Autumn

1950s Carmen Dress pattern from Ralph Pink

Garden Party dress pattern from Honig Design

Garden Party dress pattern from Honig Design

Rosemary dress free pattern (dark green below) from A Robot Heart

Easy boatneck dress tutorial from OhOhBlog

Easy boatneck dress tutorial from OhOhBlog

Katjusha Swing Dress size 34-36 from Sewing Galaxy

Katjusha Swing Dress size 34-36 from Sewing Galaxy

Sweetheart halter dress  and  50s sleeveless box pleat dress free patterns from Sew Vera Venus 

1950s Couture Dress Pattern from the Victoria and Albert Museum

5 Easy Vintage Hair Tutorials for Summer

Friday, July 22, 2016

5 easy vintage hairstyles for summer

Summer is in full swing and it seems to get hotter every week here in St Louis. With heat and humidity, roller sets and pin curls go flat in minutes. Here are 5 easy vintage summer hairstyles to keep you cool and fuss-free till autumn.  See my other tutorials on my Beauty Tutorials page

Lazy Beehive

The Notebook Allie's hair 

1940s Ribbon Braid Updo

How to put on a snood

Retro Miniatures at SquintBox

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I've seen subscription boxes for makeup, accessories, kids and pets but never has a monthly box delighted me as much as SquintBox!

 When I was a little girl, I loved visiting my grandma's house and looking at the dollhouse miniatures that she made. She made the most beautiful upholstered sofas, chairs with tiny legs that she turned on a miniature lathe and 1/4 inch plates topped with slices of pie or sandwiches. My favorite was a Halloween dollhouse that we set in the window every October. It had a fortune teller with tiny Tarot cards and a crystal ball, a kitty curled up on miniature newspaper next to a freshly carved jack-o-lantern and a window that flashed lightning ever few seconds.

Last winter, my husband and I decided to jump into making our own miniatures as Christmas gifts for my kids. We made retro furniture for a dollhouse and I sewed the entire 1959 Barbie wardrobe for my little girl. I even made some miniature Pyrex for myself, just to sit on my kitchen window to enjoy.  There's something about tiny things that bring a smile to people's faces.

SquintBox is a monthly subscription box that sends you a beautiful gift-wrapped package of handmade miniatures each month. SquintBox sent me their launch box to try out and isn't it squeal-worthy?! My mail carrier delivered it on a rainy summer afternoon and I sat on my porch with the kids, laughing and cooing at every tiny treasure. Aren't they packaged beautifully? This month's theme is "celebration".

When my husband came home from work in the middle of our un-boxing, he joined in with the fun. I don't know what it is, but tiny things just crack us up and I think the surprise of not knowing what was inside of each package made it even more enchanting! Pj especially loved the positively wonderful extension cord. This month's SquintBox spotlight is on MidCentury Modern miniature artist, Michael Yurkovic of Atomic Miniature. I recieved his exquisite handmade table top ash tray in my SquintBox, look at the details in the tiny feet! On his website, he makes these with cigarettes, some with lipstick stains and everything. Amazing!

 My favorite miniatures are tiny food. This month's box came with a bottle of wine, a cosmopolitan and a blueberry pie with gorgeous golden crust. Excuse me, does this come in my size?

The vintage copy of Cosmopolitan even has printing on the spine and back cover.

SquintBox subscribers get free shipping each month and if you subscribe for 3 or 6 months at a time, you can save 10-15% off your subscription. A pretty good deal for that many laughs and smiles!

Free Vintage Pattern: 1940s Crochet Jewelry

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Here's a pretty crochet pattern from 1946 for little flower earrings and a matching brooch with little red beads.  Check out my free patterns page for more free vintage crochet, knitting and sewing patterns.

Free Pattern: 1940s Midriff Knit Blouse

Monday, June 20, 2016

Here's a pretty spring and summer knit blouse from 1946 for a simple but elegant blouse with a sexy netting over the midsection.

Check out my Free Patterns page for more free vintage knitting, sewing and crochet patterns. Enjoy!

free 1940s netted midriff vintage knit blouse pattern from Va-Voom Vintage

** this pattern is posted for free so that everyone may enjoy it. Please do not sell this pattern but please do share it! **

Lady in Green- Estella Dress from Lady Vintage

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Last weekend, we took the kids out to Tower Grove Park here in St. Louis before the temperatures got too hot to enjoy being outside. I love Tower Grove especially because its filled with so many interesting, twisted trees and beautiful ornate gazebos for picnics and of course, pretty pictures!

lady vintage dress review and vintage victory roll and snood hair tutorial from Va-Voom Vintage
plus size vintage reproduction Estella green poppy dress from Lady Vintage London

I wore my newest dress, the Estella dress from Lady Vintage from the Lady Voluptuous collection. I can't tell you how much I love repro clothes during the sticky St Louis summers. I do wear authentic vintage most of the time but nothing is better than an easy, comfortable wash n wear dress that you can wear no matter what the temperature is. I love the bold green poppy print with my red hair and wore my handmade snood to match. Snoods are my go-to to keep my hair up in the summer! This one just pins in place on the sides and you can see my video tutorial for this hair style on my facebook page

vintage 1940s hair snood hair tutorial

This dress has a flattering cross-over bodice and short sleeves and a nice sturdy weight to the fabric. Next time, I'm going to wear it with my vintage petticoat. Although I wore this dress on a hot June day, I think the green will be perfect for Christmas time too, don't you think? The Estella dress is also available in grey damask and Japanese blue floral print

Today Lady V has a discount code for Va-Voom Vintage readers. Save 10% off your order with code BRITTANY10

Dress from Lady Vintage
1940s V for Victory brooch- flea market
vintage green rhinestone earrings-gift from a blog reader
snood- handmade by me

This dress provided for review c/o Lady Vintage

Chatting with Mary Zophres on fabulous shoes, vintage on a budget and costumes for Hail Caesar

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with costume designer Mary Zophres about her beautiful work in Hail Caesar. Mary's work can also be seen in The Big Lebowski, True Grit and Catch Me If You Can to name a few. After watching Hail Caesar, which is now available on Blu-Ray/DVD. I had some questions about the fabulous costumes and the actors who wear them and how to create an authentic look on a budget.

Brittany: In previous interviews, you've spoken a lot about how a studio's costume design nowadays is so much different from that of the 40s and 50s. In what ways is a modern costume designers job different from those in the 40s and 50s?

Mary: Well I think one of the big differences is because up until the early 50s, people were contracted to a studio so you were assigned a film. And on that same token, you had access to the staff that could work for you. There are photographs of 20-30 sewing machines set up with people with multitudes of talent, different levels of talent being able to sew the garments that you had designed. And rolls and rolls of fabric. And access to using the fabric that you wanted for a particular suit or a particular dress. And it never wrapped, it never shut down and the people were on on payroll. So, you finished one film and you might turn around the next day and start another because you were on contract and you probably have a month's vacation during the whole year. They were not freelance like we are today. I just finished a film on Friday and I don't know exactly what my next job will be! Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't!

Brittany: That's so fascinating!

Mary: So nowadays, you find fewer and fewer people that are skilled in some of the techniques that they used. Tailoring has become that way too, its much harder to find someone that can do that kind of work. In the 50s, every time a man appeared in a suit or a tuxedo or shirt....anything, you know, they didn't shop for those, they made them all.

Brittany: That's amazing!

Mary: I know! I know, That concept alone is just....In modern film you either rent a costume or you make it and sometimes you can go to a vintage store and buy it but otherwise, with contemporary movies, often times you shop it! And now, we're to the point where you don't even walk into a brick and mortar, a lot of times, you're ordering online so, it's just a different animal! Also, I'm not saying it was better then,  it's just different. We also have moved through a time where films were idealized and it was pretty rare when you found a film that was about reality. In the 70s that became the vogue of how to make a film, to make it more realistic. And now we have both, its like the best of both worlds, we have films that are idealized, we have films that are gritty, we have films that are futuristic, that look like another time period so its a whole different system now. But, the whole industry has shifted, its not just the costume department.

Brittany:  I wear vintage clothes every single day and a lot of my readers do too. You know, I have to be careful to not wear the rayon dress to clean the bathroom! So, my question is: I read that with Josh Brolin's suit, you found an original and you tried to replicate it but you loved the original so you stuck with the authentic garment for his suit, is that correct?

Mary: Yes, we did, that's correct!

Brittany: So, do you find it difficult to fit modern actors in vintage garments and are they nervous about wearing such an old garment because if you have to wear it for several weeks for shooting, does he worry about it getting ruined or rained on or....?

Mary: Well, we all made the decision...because we had a replica...we found vintage fabric at Western Costume. They had some, very very few, but they still had some and I found a piece of vintage suiting and we made a suit for Josh but it wasn't quite the same and it was a little bit more of a vivid plaid. So, our tailor on Hail Caesar made sure that all of the seams were intact and there was nothing that looked like it was going to come apart. To be honest with you, suits from the 1940s are made to last! And as you know, since you're a purveyor of vintage wear, which I am myself.  But look at the advertising "built to last" was what the motto was! They weren't trying to get you to buy a new suit every month like we are now. You could own that suit for 20 years and wear it every day and it would still last.  The way the fabric was woven, the way it was stitched, everything about it was made to last. Once we made sure all of the seams were intact, it was okay. Oh and was in a private collection at Western Costume so the temperature was right. Before that, it had come from Connie Norris's collection and you know, her clothing was not rented over and over again and it was climate controlled so it was very well taken care of and Katie, who runs the private collection at Western Costume kept it in an air conditioned car with padded hangers and was kept in very good condition so, I don't think Josh was nervous, we weren't worried about it, once we gave it a once over and everything was good. Once we saw something start to go on the suit, we took it to our tailor on the show and we'd just make small repairs if we needed to. But, I guarantee that suits today will not be around 70 years from now.

Yes, absolutely! I could buy a cheap outfit from Target and it wont last me any time at all, compared to some of my 40s dresses, which have been around forever and I wear over and over again.

Mary: Yeah, now we're into disposable clothes, which, I heard the other day, the clothes are just filling landfills from people throwing them away and there's a whole new business of recycling clothes. Like, even if your clothes has a hole in it, don't throw it away, take it to Goodwill and they'll recycle it, otherwise we're going to have landfills full of $10 tee shirts and $20 jeans and that's not a good thing for our planet. But that was part of your incentive to buy back then because you're going to buy one suit and it was going to last you a really long time. But Josh wasn't nervous about it, it was partly his choice and he wanted it.

Brittany: Yes, I loved that suit! I read the interviews about it but when I saw the movie I was like Oh yeah, it's fantastic, I mean, he had to go with it! So, I wanted to talk about Scarlett's outfit, that was my favorite scene and I read that you used the same pool that Esther Williams used at MGM and I thought that was so cool! So, I wanted to hear more about her mermaid suit and those fabulous swimsuits. I read also that you didn't have the time to test the fabrics underwater on set, you had to test in an outdoor pool but I wanted to know more about the beading and everything.

Mary:  Yes the question was, would we mould it and make it out of latex or would we make it out of a beaded fabric and I felt pretty strongly that we should do it out of fabric. It just felt more like a vintage suit, they way Esther Williams' were done, they were made out of fabric that was beaded or sequined by hand. I've read that all of her stuff was made by hand so that's how we came upon this idea. We knew that the swim suits were going to be orange and yellow so it then was a process of elimination. The pool was going to be blue. So at one point, we thought about pink and then I decided to use this beautiful green and it would look great on her and really stand out and with her skin and be a graphic contrast to the swimmers. So we started with a fabric that had some beading on it and then we had beaders that work here in Los Angeles.  There were 3 or 4 strands that were twisted and hand beaded to make the scale. And there were, maybe almost 1,000 scales on each outfit, it was a really crazy number! You know, It needed to pop and it needed to sparkle. It needed to have some of that old Hollywood glamour so that's how we decided to do it and it wasn't a place where you could take a short cut. Originally, we were only supposed to have one and in the end we ended up having to have four and that's how we kind of broke our budget because one of the most expensive things for this movie was making the mermaid costumes. And Scarlett has that great curvy hourglass figure.

Brittany: Yes, she looked spectacular and you're right, that color with her skin was beautiful. So, I wanted to talk about Tilda Swinton. Dressing her would be amazing, I love her figure and her bone structure and everything about her look and I really love all of her hats!

Yeah, everything for Tilda was made. A lot of it was based on original suits but we made everything for her. I wanted her to be very dramatic. Every time she enters one of her scenes, she kind of causes an interruption and that's why her clothes are more vivid in nature from the other characters in the film. We made all of her hats too. The gag is, we wanted the audience, the first time they see the two sisters to be confused like "What is this? didn't we just see her?"  From the very first time you're introduced to both of them, we decided to do a hat with a feather going one way and then in the next scene, you see the sister with her feather going the other way. She has a suit with grays with yellow accent and the sister has a gray suit and green is the accent with that gigantic feather. It was so long, it didn't even fit into the frame of the camera. We wanted her to be very chic and like she buys a suit each season or maybe even two, very high fashion. She was in a very fitted, sculptured silhouette with very straight pencil skirts.  We used the same silhouette for her skirts throughout.  We used very big shoulders which was very popular in the late 40s and started to go out of vogue in the early 50s . But because Tilda is a middle aged woman, we felt we had the right look. You know, you found a look that works for you and you stay with it! It was all based on suits that we found from that time period that we adapted for Tilda. Tilda is almost 6 feet tall, she looks great in clothes. Some of the clothes that we found in that time period were too small for her and we wanted it to fit perfectly. And because of the gag of the twin sisters, I had to have something in just the right size, the right silhouette, the right colors with blocks of colors so we ended up making everything for her handbags, to her hats, suit, the gloves. The gloves are handmade and stitched with contrast stitching. Everything except for the shoes, the shoes are from Remix!

Brittany: Oh yes, we all love Remix!

Mary: Yeah me too!  They have a pump that a very good copy of a 1940s shoe. Probably a 2-3 inch heel. There are a couple of changes that we made like adding a shoe clip but other wise she wore that. We spent a lot of money on everything else and I don't think we even saw her shoes in the film.

Brittany: I know, I was looking for them! I always do look for the shoes!

Mary: Yeah, I don't think we ever had a head to toe shot, so from the knee up, that was about it!

Brittany: Well I'll tell them you used Remix, we love them!

Mary: Yes we love them too and thank god for Remix!

Brittany: Okay one more question, You've commented in other interviews that you had a very tight budget and even sewed some of the things yourself. My readers are also putting together vintage looks on a budget so do you have any tips for them on putting together an accurate look on a shoestring budget?

Mary: I think you have to find the right vintage clothing store. Every vintage clothing store is owned by someone picking those clothes. My two favorite vintage clothing shops in Los Angeles are Playclothes on Magnolia in the valley and now down in Long Beach. And there's another one called Kaboom in long beach, its right next door to Meow. There's some vintage clothing stores where the prices are astronomical, I think. You have to find a reasonably priced one or even sometimes in small towns, the thrift stores, the salvation army has great pieces. If you don't know how to sew, find someone in your town who knows how to sew. So many vintage pieces need a little bit of tailoring so make it fit your body, that's what will make you look like a million bucks, if you can make something inexpensive work for you like that.

Thank you to Mary for her wonderful interview and pointing us vintage loving girls in the right direction! Check out Hail Caesar on Blu-Ray/DVD to see Mary's exquisite vintage designs!