I like being able to connect with other people who love sewing and love vintage and love the WWII era specifically. One of the ways that I do that is by reading Emily's blog Emily's Vintage Visions, and Emily has consented to do a blog interview with me! I will let her introduce herself as she can do it much better than I.
Hello everyone! I'm Emily from Emily's Vintage Visions and I'm very happy to be joining Sarah on her blog today. I have been blogging since 2012 but started sewing many years before that. I enjoy researching and creating clothing from multiple time periods, mostly the 18th century and 1920s to 1950s. Any excuse to get dressed up if perfectly fine with me. :) As my little blog began to grow I decided to expand my social media presence and now you can find me on Facebook, Pinterest and, new this summer, on Instagram. My confidence in my vintage sewing skills have grown too and I am very slowly beginning to offer ready-made reproduction items in my Etsy shop. I live in beautiful New England with my husband and two cats. They like to keep me company as I sew and "supervise" a large amount of my work! My husband shares my love of history and "old stuff" and together we enjoy going to yard sales and flea markets to add to our growing collection of vintage treasures.
I enjoy reading about your sewing projects and your interest in all things vintage. What first drew you to vintage fashion?
Thank you! I guess I have always had an interest in history, even as a little kid. I enjoyed going to yard sales and museums and learning about how people lived in the past. I grew up on a farm in an older house in New England so I was always surrounded with history. And as a kid I loved playing dress up, what kid doesn't?! I was in high school when I really became interested in historical fashions and started sewing for myself. My mom taught me most of the basics and a few special sewing tracks as well. About that same time I started my collection of antique and vintage clothing, mostly pieces that were in really rough shape that no one else wanted or could be purchased really cheap at thrift or junk shops.
You have participated in living history from many different eras. What are those eras specifically and what is your favorite time period to do living history?
I started out in 18th century, and as much as I am loving vintage fashions right now, it still remains my first love when it comes to history and clothing. I was part of a very small Civil War group that portrayed a branch of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (the fore runner of the Red Cross) when I was in high school but most of the events we attended were really tiny. I did manage to attend the 140th anniversary of Cedar Creek with a good friend of mine. What an experience! My summers during high school, and later during college, were spent at a small open air museum as an interpreter. I can remember one summer in particular spending as many as 6 days a week wearing my 18th century clothing between work and weekend reenactments. So I can tell you most honestly stays are comfortable to wear so long as they fit you properly! I've attended a handful of War of 1812 era events and over the last few years more events geared towards the 1920s, 1930s and WWII. One of the things I really enjoy about WWII events is being able to interact with veterans and people who remember what life was like during those years. To hear about their experiences first hand is just incredible and I really value those moments.
What drew you to those eras of history?
I was drawn to the 18th century, particularly the 1740s to the 1770s, because of the area I grew up in. It helped a great deal that there are several 18th century museums and historical sites practically in my back yard. The 1860s have always been interesting to me because of the clothing but also because I have ancestors who fought during the Civil War. The fashions of the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s are just incredible and I love that they can be worn today without looking too out of place. I would get some really strange looks at the grocery store or gas station when I was dressed in my 18th century clothing!
What has been your favorite event you have participated in?
Goodness, there have been so many it's really hard to pick just one! I've been reenacting since I was about 15 and have had the opportunity to travel all over New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Canada to attend events. (My brother who is also a reenactor got to travel to Belgium for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo!!!) I think the one event that still stands out the most was the 250th anniversary event of the Siege of Louisbough. My group and I drove all the way to Nova Scotia and spent nearly a week sleeping on the ground in our canvas tents and cooking over an open fire. The weather was completely unpredictable but we had so much fun. We still talk about our meal of fish and chips cooked over the fire! My first trip to the Mid Atlantic Air Museum for their annual WWII event was really amazing too as I love vintage aircraft. It was during that trip that I had the great honor to meet Lt. Dick Cole who served as Jimmy Doolittle's copilot during the famous bomb run over Tokyo in 1942. Mr. Cole is now the sole survivor of the Doolittle Raiders. This past May my husband and I traveled to Newport, RI for an Art Deco weekend. We spent two and half days with a fantastic group of individuals who love dancing, vintage fashions and music as much as we do.
If you could recreate any dress from history, what would it be?
Oooh, that's another hard one! Well, I've always wanted to make an obnoxious yellow/gold 1760s saquec with all the trimmings! I finally found some silk taffeta in the color I wanted so it might actually happen. I have a weird fascination with those amazing silk crinkle gowns by Mariano Fortuny and don't believe I have seen anyone recreate one. So that would be a fun challenge.
What is the one sewing project you hope or dream of completing in your lifetime? Or have you perhaps completed it already!
Is there room to list them all? lol! I was crazy enough to make my own wedding gown for my vintage themed wedded in 2014. I used a reprinted pattern from the 1930s and although I might do things a little differently if I were to make the dress today, I'm pretty happy with how it came out. I have fabrics in my stash for specific "someday" projects including a 1770s riding habit, 1760s/70s silk gowns, and an 1860s ball gown. (I'm not saying how long they have been in the stash!) I think two dream projects that are high on my costuming dream list are an 1870s bustle gown because BUSTLE! and an 1890s Worth style ball gown. I'm still drooling over the black and white one created by Redthreaded for Costume College this year.
This may or may not be different from the question above. What has been your proudest sewing accomplishment so far?
I'd have to say my 1770s stays. They are sewn completely by hand and took forever to finish but I'm so happy I made them the way I did. They are are so comfortable too. I know my sewing skills have come a long way over the years and I'm always looking to build on them. As many people might know, or possibly not, I'm starting to sew ready-made reproduction dresses and blouses from vintage patterns in my stash. The fact that people want to purchase my creations is a HUGH accomplishment and one I feel very humbled by.
What are some resources you would recommend for those just entering the enchanted world of vintage and vintage style sewing?
The internet is a fantastic thing these days! There are some many great vintage and historical costume blogs to read, online tutorials, Pinterest of course, and many other sites including museums like the MET and MFA that have digitized most of their collections. These things didn't really exist when I was first starting out so I struggled a bit to get things right. One of the things I always tell people who want to get into vintage or historical costuming is to study as much original source material as you can. The artwork on vintage patterns, old family photos, vintage magazines such as Life and Ladies Home Journal are all great resources. Even old Hollywood movies!! The more you look at original sources the more you will start to notice certain details in clothing, hairstyles, etc. It's very easy to be overwhelmed and drawn to the fancy formal gowns and high heels but stick the the basics first. Start with a simple wardrobe and build from there. Choose items that you can easily mix and match. Also having a few accessories that you can change around will give your basic suit or blouse and skirt combo a lot of mileage. I think the most important advice I can offer is to have fun with it! We all start somewhere and it's important not to get discouraged.
My sincere thanks to Emily for taking the time to answer these questions and let me and you get to know her better! I know I had a lot of fun with this interview!
Please go ahead and connect with Emily in her various nooks across the web:
Sarah loves to sew, learn more about sewing, and create items with a vintage flair. Her arch enemy is clipping curves, and she has a tolerable relationship with the seam ripper.
Visit me on Etsy
My Favorite Links
The Boyer Sisters
Emily's Vintage Visions
Mode De Lis