HSM #4 – War & Peace: The Black is the new black Suit

The garment I made for this month’s challenge actually dates from the mid thirties, when World War I was already some years past. Still, had it not been for the Great War, it would not have existed as it does: a black skirt suit for everyday wear.

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Black had been the colour of mourning for a long time. I read that even in ancient Rome clothes of dark colours were worn for mourning, but definitely by the 19th century female mourning attire in Europe was universally black. I think black evening wear existed, but it was no colour used for day wear. This changed after WWI. So many soldiers had been killed (supplemented by the deaths caused by the Spanish Flu, which alone cost the lives of more than 25 millions), that black clothing was omnipresent in all spheres of life and all social classes, so gradually it lost its distinct meaning. Since then it has gained great popularity for clothes of all kind (an early example being the famous Little Black Dress of Chanel’s from the twenties).

So here is my report for the suit I made: It is actually an UFO I had started before my pregnancy. The jacket was all done, and I am quite proud of it. It follows this pattern:

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Although it looks a bit ruffled on the dress form, it fits very nicely, the setting in of the sleeves (my personal nemesis) and the bound buttonholes have worked out well, it looks as neat on the inside as on the outside, and I like the buttons on it, although they are not vintage. The fabric is a fine wool of good quality, pleasant to work with and enjoyable to wear.

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Going for the skirt I took the black fabric from top of my pile and started. I had made a muslin for it and it turned out fine. When I went looking for the lining fabric though I had to realise I had used the wrong fabric. Bad news on a monday morning. The good news was, that when I unfolded the original fabric, I found a nearly finished skirt, with lining and all – which had completely slipped my mind. Well, yes. Not so good news for my brains, maybe. Unfortunately I hadn’t made a muslin at the time but just fitted the skirt as I went along, and this shows in the seams, which are a bit uneven and rippled. Well, it’s nice to see anyway, that I have made some progress over the last year, and the second skirt looks much neater. For the sake of completeness, here it is:

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Although of course there is not much to see in a basic black skirt. It is a classic thirties form with six panels and a side opening and is of a linen/wool blend. I like and already wore it.

The Challenge: War & Peace

Fabric: 100% wool (+linen/wool blend) – both from stash, I don’t remember how much I bought of it.

Pattern: Vintage pattern for the jacket, both skirts my own patterns

Year: about 1934

Notions: yarn, two zips, four buttons

How historically accurate is it? Very! Only exception: the back opening in the original skirt and the plastic buttons. So: 95%

Hours to complete: I cannot say – most of it was done over a year ago. The second skirt took me about 5 hours.

First worn: The whole suit: not yet. The jacket several times over the last months. The second skirt yesterday, playing soccer mum for my daughter.

Total cost: No idea, same as the Hours to complete-question

I have to say, that I really loved this challenge! It was something to ponder on, which was fun, and I was pleased, too, that all the reading and looking at pictures in the last months bore fruit. Of course this also took me back into my thirties-comfort zone, and after the experiments with twenties’ clothes, this really felt like home. It seems though, that there will be rather more twenties stuff – I just can’t bring myself round to daily doing a roller or pincurl set, when most days I don’t see anybody except my family and maybe the grocery clerk. So I guess it will be a twenties bob next time I go to the hairdresser. And without the appropriate hairstyle I always feel strange in vintage clothing.

On that note – practicality!

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