Inspire A Style: Miss Fisher

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My love of vintage style has infiltrated almost everything. From my obsession with classic novels to the period TV dramas that are pretty much always on my television, bygone eras are well-represented in my daily life (in fact, I’m watching Mad Men as I write this). But no show has influenced my adoration of vintage fashion to quite the extent of the incredible Phryne Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Who?

Phryne Fisher is the main protagonist in the Australian murder mystery series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Set in 1920s Melbourne, the show follows Phryne as a private detective and total badass. An incredible feminist, Phryne is also the embodiment of the flapper style.

There are many reasons to love Phryne other than her other-wordly fashion sense (although that will obviously be the focus of this post). She is a beautiful middle-aged woman, liberated from the confines of society’s traditional gender roles, and unapologetically determined to retain ownership of her life. Although this is obviously a fiction – divorced from the reality that even the most liberated women of the 1920s were limited in their autonomy – it is one that I love to take refuge in.  Watch it and, trust me, you will feel the same way.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 13.59.59Make sure to particularly enjoy Aunt Prudence’s face on the right of the shot.

Why?

So back to style. Why does Phryne Fisher deserve a particular place in my heart as fashion inspiration? The 1920s are, undeniably, a little outside of my usual era of reference. But part of the excitement in designing and constructing your own outfits is the ability to handpick a tailored combination of garments, accessories and eras. For my part, I love to extract key details from a variety of vintage periods and Phryne Fisher provides the perfect variety of ’20s evening and day glamour from which to draw inspiration.

For many present-day lovers of vintage style, the 1920s is intimidating territory. It has such a distinctive look and would be, in many respects, difficult to integrate into the everyday life of a modern woman. But Phryne Fisher’s look provides a few key details that would work perfectly for anyone inspired by the glamour and sophistication of the 1920s.

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What?

Other than a sleek bob and some gorgeous red lipstick, there is a lot to be learnt from Phryne’s embodiment of the ’20s. As spectacular as the high-glamour looks are the simple and uncomplicated garments that are very present throughout the series. The sailor smock shown in the photo above, made up in a silk/satin, shows that the 1920s were not all beads and feathers. Take this gorgeous Godet dress pattern from Burdastyle, make it up in navy silk with white detailing, and you’ve got a stunning replication of Phryne’s chic look.

Simple garments made up in interesting geometric patterns are also a key facet of Phryne’s wardrobe:

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An outfit like the above is simply done. A plain skirt paired with a bold vintage-style blouse – such as the Anderson blouse from Sew Over It – would make the perfect work-ready outfit. If you wanted to go authentic, vintage fabric that would work for this look is available from multiple sources. I’m particularly in love with the selection available at ‘Til The Sun Goes Down.

There are just so many options, all of which are totally viable for a woman who doesn’t necessarily want to look as if she’s just walked out of a costume drama. That said, always make room in your life for a long necklace and a jewel-dripped hair accessory. Phryne would.

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In the meantime, make sure to set aside some time for a Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries binge session (I know for sure that it’s available on UK and US Netflix) and give in to the fabulous Phryne Fisher.

“Beside every good man is a good woman, and she must always be ready to step in front.”

– Phryne Fisher

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Disregarding the origins of this holiday as something of a corporate conspiracy, it’s nice to have a day that reminds us that love is just about the greatest thing we have to share with one another. So whether you’re celebrating or not, remember to give everything that you have to give. After all, we only have each other during our short time on this planet – so use your time to put joy, laughter, and love out into the world!

For my part, I love you all. Thanks for sharing this day – and my sewing journey – with me.

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My Valentine’s Day filled with tea, cake, and my Joan dress!

New Projects

Happy Wednesday, lovelies!

Congratulations on making it half-way to the weekend. It’s been a truly miserable week in Colchester – pretty standard for an English February, really. The major downside of cold and rainy weather is that I revert back to standard leggings/flannel combo, abandoning my lovely vintage wardrobe. But spring will be here soon! I’m waiting for the sun!

I’ve got lots of exciting things coming up sewing-wise. Hopefully one of these things will be getting around to properly hemming my Joan dress (hand-sewing is not my forte) – since I’m planning on wearing the dress for Valentine’s Day, I should probably actually get on this. But I’ve been too excited planning out my new projects!

For a while now, I’ve had the Eliza M Alma Wiggle Skirt pattern hanging around.* I bought a fabulous tweed fabric at the Twenty-Something Sewer Meet-up in Walthamstow, which I earmarked for this skirt. But I’ve been avoiding getting started until I found a pattern and fabric to make a complementary blouse. I finally found it last week in the Clara Bow Blouse from ‘Til The Sun Goes Down, which I’m going to make in a dark blue silk.

Hopefully this will make for a perfect combination! I was planning to have these made by next week for a work trip to the International Criminal Court (by day my life is VERY different) – I figured it would make for a great work-smart outfit. But it’ll require a massively productive sewing weekend, so we’ll see! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Enjoy the rest of your week and I’ll be back soon with more vintagey updates!

Laura x

* I’ve not been linking to Eliza M because of a malware warning on their website. But the patterns are available for purchase elsewhere. I’ve been purchasing mine through Fabric Godmother.

Mrs. Marryat Advises: Part II

If you are new to Sew for Victory, you might not yet know about my deep adoration of vintage women’s magazines. Although mostly for the ads (which are SUCH an insight into the life of women from past eras), it’s also a lot about the articles. Dated as they often are, it’s pretty incredible to be reading about the concerns, hopes, and preoccupations of the women to whom these magazines presumably catered.*

Mrs. Marryat is one of the strangest, most fascinating characters that I’ve come across so far in my intellectual journey into the life of the ‘1940s woman’. Some of you long-time readers might remember that she has made an appearance on this blog once before. Mrs. Marryat was the advice columnist for Woman’s Weekly in the 1940s. And although she often comes out with the sort of advice that turns the stomach of my modern-day feminist self, sometimes I do actually learn a thing or two about 1940s etiquette. As an engaged person, this tidbit caught my eye. I thought I would share it with you to answer a concern over which I am sure you have all, at some point, lost sleep:

NOT UNLUCKY

“I am to be married shortly, and I would like your advice as to whether it is unlucky to wear jewellery on my wedding day. My lovely white dress has a square neckline, and I would like to wear a cross and chain to take off the bareness, but I have so often heard that it is unlucky for a bride to wear ornaments of this kind. – MARY.

I can set your mind at rest by assuring you that it is not in the least unlucky for a bride to wear jewellery on her wedding day. Most brides wear a necklace, a brooch, or some ornament; and nearly all brides wear their engagement ring as well on the right hand. So follow out your own wishes and wear your cross and chain, and dismiss any superstitious ideas which have no meaning at all.

Let’s hope this marriage survived, otherwise Mrs. Marryat may have a LOT to answer for…

——-

*This is by NO means a suggestion that (1) the experience of women has ever been the same across the board, or (2) that the roles often cast on women by society are correct, preferred or acceptable. In fact, I’m vehemently opposed to both of this ideas (see Sew for Victory: A History, if you want to read more about how I reconcile sewing/vintage/feminism as things that I love).

The Joan Dress

It’s done! I won’t lie, it was touch and go for a while. Attaching the lining to the shell tested my patience to the limit and led to a brief ‘I will never sew again!’ moment. Thankfully sense prevailed and a few tugs-and-pulls later, things came together. So here she is – the finished product!

This pattern really challenged my (still developing) skills. As well as requiring a full lining, the dress also features my first ever kick pleat. So there was plenty here that was new for me. But I’ve always steered clear of choosing patterns on the basis of their level – I figured that sticking to ‘beginner’ or ‘advanced beginner’ patterns would not necessarily move my skills along as fast as I wanted. This strategy comes with its own set of challenges and I would say that the Joan dress was probably on the cusp of what I’m currently able to achieve. That said, I’m only 6ish months into my sewing journey, so I figure that’s not too shabby!

Anyway, let’s talk about the pattern! I decided from the outset that I wanted to invest in quality materials and use those exactly recommended. So I worked with a gorgeous red crepe and black lining fabric. These sewed up like a dream. Plus, I think the red works really well for that ’50s-era look. The pattern’s careful detailing – the tailored look achieved by the darts, plus the fabulous necktie – all enhance the vintage feel.

This is the first pattern that I’ve made from Sew Over It. It featured probably the clearest set of instructions that I’ve yet seen accompany a pattern, aided by a lot of great illustrations and diagrams. I had no problem following along and – for the first time – didn’t need to google/youtube anything for clarification. This makes me particularly happy given that I own 3 other Sew Over It patterns! The pattern also sizes perfectly. I graded out at the hips to accommodate my ample rear but had no problems with the fit at all. So you can be quite confident in the sizing chart given with the pattern.

I adore this dress. It’s got such a classy, but everyday, feel to it. And dressed up with a brooch (one of my Christmas brooches made an appearance!) or with a thin belt, it’s perfect!

So would I recommend this pattern? Absolutely. It’s simple to follow and produces a stunning dress. However, if you haven’t got any experience with lining, I would recommend either trying a simpler pattern first (I worked with Colette Pattern’s Beignet skirt as a preliminary exercise) or just be sure to take your time. But it’s well worth the effort. My Joan dress will next appear for my Valentine’s Day high-tea with my beau – the perfect garment for a day dedicated to love! Watch this space.