Friday, 14 March 2014

Maybe one day - knitted dresses

If you have read some of my posts before it probably won't come as a surprise to know that I have a thing for vintage knitting patterns. I collect them; some I wish to knit, some I really don't, I just want them as they are a piece of fashion history, or they have comedy value, or I like the picture on the front or I like the props that were used. I catalogue my patterns into women's, men's, children, accessories etc but also into groups like men smoking, scary doll's clothes, bed jackets, 1940's models with great eyebrows, kitsch household items and so on. It is one of these categories that I want to have a look at today - women's knitted dresses.

Marvellous dress with a shirt bodice and lace stitch panels
I really enjoy a great knitted dress pattern like the one above and I am partial to knitted suits too so will also feature them here. As is so often the case with dresses they look elegant, glamorous and well put together whilst being quick and easy to pull on and style. Really, you can look very well dressed for minimum effort if need be which has got to be a winner. But, whilst I adore a knitted dress and have many patterns that I love I have never actually made one and I don't even have one lined up in the 'must make this next I NEED IT pile'. I have questioned myself about this and it seems it is down to two main issues. The first is whether I have the patience and stamina to complete a knitted dress. After all, it would be an enormous amount of knitting. The second is whether, having made it, would it be flattering on my shape? I am not convinced that even with all the greatest underwear in the world, a knitted dress wouldn't highlight any surplus lumps and bumps that one might not wish to draw attention to. It is hard to judge from pattern covers, after all, models are models for a reason.

What a beauty, a belted cardigan and A line skirt, with a
marvellous hat.
A teal V neck dress with a pencil skirt and pockets.
Gorgeous patterned jumper and flared skirt. It looks
like it could be very flattering.
'A slender, elegant dress in a new tweed texture'.
From a Vogue pattern book.
So, at the moment the knitted dresses and suits remain on the 'maybe one day' pile whilst I keep on picking up the patterns when I see them. No reason why we can't take a look at a few though! These patterns from the 1940s-1960s are all for hand knitted garments. Obviously many commercially available knitted dresses would have been made on knitting machines, making the process much quicker. Throughout the period home knitting machines also became more popular.

Great cable detail on the skirt and a blouson jumper to
match.
Scoop neck dress with pencil skirt and moss stitch
panels.
Dress with a pencil skirt and a crossover
V neck top in rib.
Pink dress - ' a deep tuck outlined bib with tiny
round collar and mock gored skirt'.
Blue dress - 'trim blouse with shawl collar and
skirt with can't come out pleats'.
From a Vogue pattern book.
I was inspired to hurry up and write this post after reading a recent post by the wonderful Joanna from Dividing Vintage Moments. It was an Ode to Vintage Knitwear and it features Joanna wearing a fabulous piece of 1950's knitwear. She also features some fantastic knitwear available on Etsy and Ebay. Take a look! It made me go through my patterns and admire all the dresses again!

From a Vogue pattern book. 'A three piece set worked in
boucle wool in broad ribbing for a slender effect'. 
A lace pattern mini dress with matching cardigan.
 A cream suit consisting of a hip length cardigan and
a straight skirt.
From a Vogue pattern book. A ribbed button
through blouse and a straight skirt.
A suit with trim on the shoulders and pockets.
A straight ribbed dress with a matching cardigan.
I think my favourites are the lace panel dress, the belted cardigan suit and the skirt and top with cable details. How about you?

14 comments:

  1. What a wonderful collection of images! I admire your ability to knit. I say please go for it. Might I suggest a two piece? Then, you could start with the top and see how you like it then progress to the skirt. I do think the right undergarments will work wonders. These ladies were very skilled at having the right shape forms under their dresses. I do hope you do this as I'm sure you will look just grand in a knitted dress. I've wondered what knitting machines looked like but haven't googled this yet. I'm sure some of these ladies had these.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comments Joanna. I think your two piece plan is probably a good way to go. I would really need to research my shapewear options too. Several vintage magazines I have contain adverts for knitting machines, I will dig some out and post them.

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  2. I love knitted dresses! Lately I'm seriously thinking about knitting my own dress. I know it's labour itensive. But I just love them so much! IT would be a great challenge.

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    1. I would love to see the patterns that you consider. I think you would look great in a knitted dress! It definitely would be a challenge.

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  3. I adore knitted dresses but I've never knit one either. I did knit a skirt once, and while cute, it added a lot of *ahem* bulk to my lower half. I would be afraid of putting a lot of hours into a knitted dress, only to have the whole thing terribly unflattering.

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    1. I would love to see the skirt. I am so impressed that you managed to complete knitting one - even if it did have 'bulk' issues! You are right, the worry of it being unflattering after all that time is a problem.

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  4. Knitted dresses (and skirts, for that matter) are one of those items that I adore in images and on others, but much like yourself, has so far shied away from because I highly doubt they'll do my figure any favours. I'm not saying "never" to the idea, but it would have to a fairly thick knit, I think, and a shape that didn't cling to every last curve, roll, and wrinkle of my body before I'd even so much as think of wearing it in public.

    Big hugs & happy Sunday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* It's really cool that you have a pattern for a Bar Suit jacket! Now that's one that I would rock without giving it a second thought! :)

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    1. Isn't it funny how so many of us are worried about how flattering or not those beautiful items might be. For what it is worth I think you would look great in one. Perhaps if I ever find one in a vintage store I will be brave and try one on! When I get to knitting the Bar Suit jacket I will keep you posted!

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  5. Oh wonderful stuff, thanks for showing us these! The main thing that strikes me is how small their waists are!! Blimey. So much vintage clothing seems to be cut for a nipped-in waist look which doesn't suit me (or my tum) sadly...but if I was whippet thin with a teeny waist then the "slender dress in a tweed texture" gets my vote. I like to think I'd just wear it anyway, but I know I wouldn't. But they're all fabulous in their own way. x

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    1. Glad you like them! I guess that on the whole women were smaller but I always try to remind myself that they did have some serious corseting going on underneath those beautiful clothes. Maybe you should try 1920s or 1960s looks if you feel the more waisted styles don't suit you as much.

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  6. Yes, I'm guessing a knitted dress would require plenty of shapewear - 50s women had their girdles for that. It always surprises me how sheer / holey some 50s designs are, both woven and knitted, but then with all that underwear I suppose nothing was ever likely to be revealed!

    I keep thinking of knitting myself a 1960s-style suit, but the sheer amount of knitting puts me off. I'm such a slow knitter!

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    1. A 1960's suit would be lovely! But I know what you mean about the time that it would take. It is the thought of all the knitting for the skirts that really puts me off. I am often surprised by the lacey designs that seem to go straight to underwear flashing. But yes, as underwear wasn't exactly skimpy I guess it was safe!

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  7. I love all your patterns! I always like the idea of a knitted dress, but like you, I'm not convinced my wobbly bits would look overly appealing with a woollen cover! :-)

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    1. Thank you Lucy. I feel quite sure that we are all the worst critics of our wobbly bits. I bet if we all wore beautiful knitted dresses people would only notice the dress, not the extra curves!

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