featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in magazines and newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the OddBallGrape.com wine education blog with her husband. She also writes the romantic fiction serial WhiteHouseRhapsody.com. Learn more about Anne and her books at her website. Today she stops by to discuss her passion for sewing and 1920s fashion.

Oddly enough, when I was researching my mystery novel, Fascinating Rhythm, it didn’t occur to me to make outfits based on 1920s clothing, even though I was making a fair amount of my own clothes at the time. But the intervening years were not kind to my waistline, and I realized fashions from the Roaring 20s were.

Who knew this kind of “sewing retro” was actually quite stylish and hip? Granted, most retro fans prefer outfits from the 1940s and ‘50s, but 1920s styles offer some significant advantages.
The styles are much more flattering to the fuller figure. The lines are generally a lot simpler, and the clothes aren’t fitted as tightly, which if you’re new to pattern drafting and adapting, makes life a lot easier. There are plenty of resources, including the VintageDancer and DecadesofStyle websites. Past Patterns has a pretty nice collection of designs from the 20s, as well.

However, I would offer the following caution – if you’re new to sewing clothes, get some practice in on simple, current patterns first. Most of the retro patterns assume you already have basic knowledge of how clothes go together and, truth be told, the instructions aren’t always written as clearly as they could be.

You’ll also be better off with a commercial pattern for your first project or two, unless you’ve got a fair amount of experience re-drawing and even drafting your own patterns. 
And no matter how much experience you have, I also highly, highly recommend making what’s called a muslin first. Find an old bed sheet and make your new outfit out of that first. Or use some other really cheap, but similar fabric. That way, you’ll know how the pattern goes together and whether it will fit before you cut into that luscious $30-a-yard silk. And you may end up with a cute, second outfit, as well.

But go ahead and plunge in. Who knows? You may be cutting out The One-Hour Dress and following vintage instructions to drape your own dress.

Fascinating Rhythm
It's New York City, 1924, and editor Frank Selby has been killed in
his apartment. The primary suspect is his secretary Kathy Briscow,
because Selby was known for that kind of behavior. And Kathy does have
a motive, just not the one they think. She's been doing Selby's work
for him, including editing The Old Money Story by wealthy socialite
Freddie Little. Freddie, however, is pretty sure it wasn't Kathy who
killed Selby. So the two team up to search the speakeasies and streets
of the city to find a killer with an obsession.

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