A Fashionable Stitch » sartorial sewing

Authentic Inspiration from Casey of Elegant Musings

Today’s post comes from Casey of Elegant Musings. I’ve followed Casey for a very long time and have always loved her wonderful vintage style, plus she’s a very accomplished seamstress. She’s given us some extra fabulous authentic vintage inspiration (something I always look to her for)  for our Ginger skirts. See? The possibilities are positively endless with an A-line skirt. I hope you’re having a spot of tea while you get ready to enjoy what’s below. Thank you Casey!

Hello, everyone! When Sunni asked me to write up a little inspiration post for this sew-along, I couldn’t have been more excited; inspiration posts are always such fun to put together and share! When the new Ginger pattern was released I just knew this was going to be a fantastic pattern. It’s one of those styles that you can customize and really make your own using simple variations on embellishment or even more complicated ones that involve manipulating and altering the pattern. The inspiration-gathering phase of any new sewing project is often my favorite; I love to dig through my extensive image files and vintage magazine collection for details that jump out at me. Because vintage fashion is so rich with details and ideas, I collected up a few to share with you that I thought would fit the silhouette of the Ginger skirt.

The 1940s was an era that the a-line skirt ruled; the slightly flaired silhouette kept within the straighter silhouette that was popular during the decade, and because it didn’t require much fabric fit within many of the fabric restrictions imposed during the war years. This is probably my favorite era to gather inspriation for this particular skirt style; there are loads of variations!

1. View 1 and 2 of the Ginger skirt have a center front seam cut on the straight of grain, which is a great point to add some extra fabric to create a deep box pleat, such as shown here. It requires a bit more fabric, but adds some extra fullness to the skirt as well.

2. With the raised and shaped waistbands on view 1 and 2, it’s easy to see how adding a wide self-fabric sash or even a narrow ribbon, tied into a bow, would be a lovely addition! I also love the patch pocket here; sporty meets sweet.

3. Another center front pleat idea; but what I like more is the shaped patch pockets. The contrasting stitching is a fantastic idea; try using a few strands of embroidery floss or purl cotton for maximum effect.

4. A sheer overskirt split down the front is a novel idea! Wouldn’t this be dreamy on the Ginger made up in silk? Simply cut out additional skirt pieces from a sheer fabric (chiffon, georgette, etc.) and hem the center front edges rather than joining. Baste to the waistline of the under skirt and stitch to the waistband as directed. Gorgeous!

1. This whole ensemble is cute, but what I wanted to draw your attention to was the waistband embellishment. Imagine adding some embroidery, beading, appliqueing a patterned ribbon on, or even just attaching a few vintage buttons across the front. Wouldn’t that be a neat little way to personalize this?

2. I’ve already mentioned pockets a couple times, but I think they bear repeating—especially since pockets applied to the surface of the skirt are so easy. Check out this oversized pocket from the mid 40s—isn’t that wild and great for stashing things?

3.  A little ruffled peplum would be fun to add to this skirt—and super easy. Just cut out a strip of fabric about 2 1/2 times your waist measure by the width (plus allowances for hemming!). Hem one long edge and both the short ones, gather the unfinished edge and baste to the waistline of the skirt. Or attach to a piece of wide ribbon to make it detachable!

4. Another great surface design idea—applique! Super easy and could be anything from a cheeky embroidered design, to beading (which is what this looks like) to felt appliques a la 1950s.

1. For gals that have narrow hips and want to visually balance the silhouette, this is a great idea to add a horizontal seam across the hip. Simple trace and split your pattern at the level you want, add seam allowances to the bottom of the hip yoke and top of the lower skirt piece and seam! Try topstitching in a contrasting thread too.

2. Why not take a page out of this lady’s c. 1950 look book and lengthen your Ginger? Very pretty especially in bold patterns or prints.

3. Another sheer overlay idea; this time without hemming the center front edges as before. Simply construct another skirt out of the sheer material and baste to the underskirt before attaching the waistband. Easy and a great way to practice using sheer materials and creating a rolled hem!

4. I love this skirt because it really reminds me of view 3 on the Ginger pattern. Stripes are a bit tricky to cut out, but just remember to select one that is balanced and refer to a good sewing book for helpful tips.

1. Why not add a bit of shape to the hem of your Ginger? This mid 40s dress sports a zig-zag hem, but scallops would be equally lovely.

2. Or try a reverse scallop for another effect! Super fun and a great way to use contrasting fabrics!

3. Finally,  a really simple but pretty look: lace. This lace has been sewn in the seam of the skirt (easy to do: just trace your pattern, measure the depth of the bottom edge you’d like, cut and add seam allowances to the cut edges). But you could add some peeking out at the hem, or even in scallops, loops or rosettes!

I hope you enjoyed this little roundup. Using what inspires you and your imagination is part of what I find exciting about sewing. I hope perhaps a few of these caught your eye and gave you a few ideas as to how to take your Ginger skirt and make it truly yours.

Expert’s First Garment

Like Tasia, I can’t remember my first sewing project either! I’ve been sewing since I was about 6, so that’s 20 years of projects to try and sift through (the ol’ brain just isn’t up to it!). Instead I thought I’d share with you on of the first I was really proud of and felt started me on the path to becoming a better seamstress. When I was a teenager I became fascinated with learning how to draft patterns and decided to enter a pattern competition in which you had to create your own historically-inspired pattern. Not daunted by my lack of pattern drafting knowledge, I made a pattern for a mid 1830s style gown (complete with enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves!). I really took my time on this project, creating muslin after muslin, studying pattern shapes from the era, and details of construction. Although I ended up not entering the competition, the learning experience of drafting my own dress from scratch and learning to persevere through the inevitable hiccups that come with any project were invaluable. Lessons learned that I still use today!

  • Stephanie - Wow! How amazing! I really want to work in adding embellishments to my sewing to make them extra special. :)ReplyCancel

  • Darci - Great post with so many fantastic optional ideas! An A-line skirt (from the “Sew What Skirts” book) was my first project where I felt successful and creative as a sewist. That was only a few years ago! It was so fun to pick fantastic cottons to play with, and started me on the road to creative garment construction.

    Sunni, got any pix of that fantastic gown?ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - Wow! And here I keep thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just an a-line skirt!” Shame on me! And thank you, Casey (and Sunni!) for sharing such wonderful ideas. I just might have to whip up a “boring old” a-line for myself! :DReplyCancel

  • zilredloh - What a great inspiration board, Casey. I usually never think about embelishing until I see everyone else’s finished pieces and get the “I wish I would have done that” syndrome.

    Perhaps I’ll get wise this time around… :)ReplyCancel

  • Day 4 of Ginger – Fabric Picks « VickikateMakes - […] fabric which she also intends to line.  Casey has also done an amazing inspiration post for styling the skirt.  A lot of food for thought there and some […]ReplyCancel

  • Vicki Kate - I’m loving the idea of a sash at the waist or some lace at the hem. The deep box pleat sounds interesting too… Really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with to personalise their skirt!ReplyCancel

  • Portia - Marvelous post choc full of fab ideas!
    PxReplyCancel

  • Crystal - This was a great inspirational post. So many options really makes you realize how few patterns you really need.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - Such wonderful ideas. I love how this sewalong is going, it is great to see how other people aproach the same project :). If you have time I just posted a fun little sewing poll on my blog.ReplyCancel

  • Corinne - What a great selection of ideas for this sew along. Great ideas Casey, hard to choose which one I like best.ReplyCancel

  • punky chewster - wow that’s a great article! I never thought about the different things you could do with ONE skirt!! i’m excited to try it out myself now. and this is great because i LOVE skirts!

    i’ve actually reconstructed my first skirt not too long ago, from an old beach dress that was too large for me.

    http://elephantislove.blogspot.com/2011/05/crafting-on-monday-beach-dress.htmlReplyCancel

  • Elaine Maul - What a fantastic post! So many choices!!!

    I’m now wondering whether to make Ginger in a plain colour and add embroidery.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - great post! It left me wanting to make like 20 gingers!ReplyCancel