Showing posts with label Vintage Knitting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vintage Knitting. Show all posts

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Choosing & Placing Knitted Shoulder Pads

Here are some examples of effects created by Gauge Swatch Shoulder Pads. These pads are generously stuffed; remember that the thickness or fullness of the pad is up to you. The pad shapes shown here are Square,
and Rectangular.
Read about how to make your own shoulder padding from gauge squares here. It is worth noting that the effect of the Rectangular pad is similar to that achieved with Sleeve Head Rolls.


A Square pad tacked to both the shoulder seam and the inside of the sleeve head, rounding the shoulder line and supporting the apex of the puff.


A Square pad placed halfway down the neck (at about the bra strap) so that half of the pad projects beyond the natural shoulder.The pad is sewn along one side, crossing the shoulder seam, with the inner corners tacked to the front and back of the garment. The free edge of the pad is weighed down by the sleeve, taking the shape of the puff. The seam of the pad, because it is located further down the neck avoids added height but still has a military feel.


A Triangular Shoulder Pad with the fold (the longest side) attached to the shoulder near the centre top of the shoulder seam. The point of the triangle is left free floating to take the shape of the puff. With an overstuffed pad such as this one, a kick-up shoulder line can be achieved.

(My favorite!) A Triangular Pad with the centre point attached to the shoulder. The folded side projects into the head of the sleeve, and dictates the end of the shoulder line.
The sleeve follows the shape of the top of the pad and then falls in a clean vertical drop. This is a good way to give structure to a drapey or lacy knit.
5.A Rectangular Pad attached to the shoulder at the centre of the pad's long seam.  Small stitches tack those inner corners to the front and the back of the garment.
The folded edge of the pad extends the shoulder line and supports the fullest part of the puff sleeve.The outer edge of the shoulder becomes rounded.
 A Rectangular pad attached to the shoulder at the sleeve seam with the long seamed edge pointing up into the puff.  The fullness of the sleeve is kept aloft by the pad's seam.  This is suited to a twin set because of the seaming difficulties.  The determined could tack the lower corners to a bra strap or a under shirt to prop up a knitted jacket.
The outer edge of the shoulder line is supported for a softer war time look.

A Final Note:
Use a seamless join like mattress stitch or grafting at the top shoulder seam in preparation for this type of padding.
 Use a 3 needle bind off if you plan on using modern, store bought shoulder pads; the ridge created by the seam will provide a spine useful for stitching the centre of pads to the sweater.
You are reading "The Quest For Puff" ©Morgan Forrester

Up next:
Padding Vintage Sweaters with Sleeve Heads
Coming Soon:
Vintage Sleeves: Puff Pleating
Vintage Sleeves: Seaming for Puff
Creating Puffed Sleeves Anew

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vintage Pattern Photos with Shoulder Pads

Here are some examples of Vintage Pattern Photos that put Shoulder Pads to good use: vintage sweater sleeves
This shape can be supported by a kick-up pad.  If you cannot find this style of shoulder pad consider using shaped sleeve heads or a rolled pad.
vintage knitting tutorial padding
In this pattern photo you can clearly see the edge of the shoulder pad.  It appears to be shaped like modern women's wear 'coat pads'.  It features a steep increase from the inner to outer edge, and lets the sleeve hang straight down below the modest puff.
vintage sweater tutorial on sleeves
A roll or long rectangular pad (see gauge swatch pads) should be used when the sleeve seam sits this far from the neck and the puff extends the shoulder line.
how to pad vintage sweater
The line of this 1950s shoulder is improved by a round pad.  Although the welt features drastic shaping (presumably full fashioned increases) the sleeve and shoulder are very basic.  The pad creates the shape and adds drape to the heavy fabric.  This is the kind of 'figure enhansing' padding that Dior re-introduced.

knit shoulder pads
Another kick-up shape.  Any kick-up shoulder pad, whether it is a pad or layered, angled sleeve head, needs to be customized and carefully placed.  In this case most of the shaping comes from the fabric type and pleating.  The padding supports, rather than creates the shape.
vintage knitting shoulder pads
To support the apex of this folded puff sleeve, a triangular pad or a modern shoulder pad. trimmed to shape should work.  When the shoulder line is extended to this extreme, consider stitching the pad so that the greater portion of padding is free of the shoulder.  Try flipping a triangular pad so that the point sits at the centre of the sleeve to shoulder seam, and that the long side sits at the edge of the shoulder.
wartime knitting sleeves
Without some sort of pad a cardigan or any kind of second layer would flatten a delicately puffed sleeve jumper.  In this example the pad would most likely have been knit as a small rectangular (almost square) pillow, stuffed with fleece or maybe sawdust.  A clever home knitter might have used her gauge squares!
1940s knitting
Remember that a sturdier knit may not require a shoulder pad.  Often, a dense or thick fabric can support it's own puffed up weight, so long as it has been properly gathered or pleated before seaming into the armseye.
1940 shoulder pads in sweater
This pattern photo clearly shows the outline of a shoulder pad.  It is shaped much like todays shaped pads and is a handy reference for padding placement.  It will have been stitched down the centre spine, with small tacking stitches taken at the two side points of the pad, securing it to the front and the back of the sweater.

'For When You're Off Duty ' is an uncommonly accommodating pattern.  The pattern includes direction of a custom shoulder pad.  Despite the dense fabric created by pleating the firm 1x1 ribbing of the sleeve, this elongated shoulder line would not stay aloft without it's padding.

You are reading "The Quest For Puff" ©Morgan Forrester

Up next:
Choosing & Placing Knitted Shoulder Pads
Coming Soon:
Vintage Sleeves: Puff Pleating
Vintage Sleeves: Seaming for Puff
Creating Puffed Sleeves Anew

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shoulder Pads & Puff Sleeved Sweaters

vintage knitting puff sleeves
There's no need to sit like that; a good shoulder pad will keep your puff in place!

There is a lot to cover. First off, I ask that you shove all your preconceptions, jokes, eyeball rolls and Dynasty memories to the back of your mind. We are talking about a different era for starters.
Shoulder pads in the 30s/40s were a very different beast. They were not the Velcro disks that we immediately think of in a post 1980s world.

Shoulder padding falls into 3 main categories (at least for our purposes)
Sleeve Heads (Shaped and Rolled)
This is of no help to the home knitter.

Elsa Schiaparelli, perhaps best known to us knitters for her iconic tromp l'oile sweaters, pioneered an unbelievable list of fashion classics, among them the Shoulder Pad. The Schiaparelli shoulder is strongly associated with Hollywood glamour, and all the broadest of faux-broad broads, Crawford, Garbo and Hepburn were fans.  Her look is satirized and honoured in the fashion show segment of The Women (fashions by Adrian) Watch the clip below to see how these extreme silhouettes and shoulder styling are era specific. These pads were often triangles; soft cushions extending width. Her 1930s mainstreaming of adjustable shoulder padding into conventional women's wear ensured that the square shoulder of the 1940s was feminine, rather than a simple diminution of military uniforms and other customs of mens tailoring.

You must click HERE to watch on youtube proper.
Watch on Mute!  This is (clearly) not the original soundtrack.

Shoulder Pads are best suited to structural puff sleeves.  Puffed, or full sleeves that have been folded or pleated into the seam benefit most from this style of padding.  Military, kick-up, and elongated shoulder lines from the late 1930s up until the introduction of the New Look in 1947 were supported by shoulder pads and should be now.  The hand knitter working from patterns in this era would have taken this extra step for granted.

Know which look you're going for by reading Puffed Sleeves in the 1930's and 1940's.

Many Vintage Patterns include directions for knitted pads to be sewn to the inside of the sweater. A good example may be found in the V&A's collection: "For When You're off Duty". This little pad is more like a cushion; knit of jumper yarn (sock yarn is a good substitution) and stuffed to your taste. It rests on the shoulder and supports the apex of the puff. Make your own as you would a cell phone cozy. Two squares or rectangles sewn together, or one folded in half and seamed will do. For a softer, pre-war look, you may choose to make your pad out of two triangles rather than rectangles which have a more masculine feel.

Read 'Using Gauge Swatches as Shoulder Pads in the Vintage Style' for more on knitted padding.
Read 'Choosing & Placing Knitted Shoulder Pads' for further guidance.

Today, ready made shoulder pads may be purchased at most fabric stores. These objects are more like the power suit boosters we are used to. For Knitters' use they will most likely need to be trimmed. For this reason I do not recommend buying vinyl pads. Good companies provide different pads for different sleeve shapes i.e. Raglan, Dolman. The pad is sewn to the garment through the center, creating a spine for the pad. Baste this spine and try on the sweater. Working from the outside, still wearing the sweater, take small stitches with the sweater's yarn (de-plyed if necessary) to anchor the pad in place, or for heavy yarns, sewing thread.
For an extreme vintage look I recommend a "coat pad" (a pad used in coats) with a 1" thickness. For a blouse vs. a sweater a 1/2" thickness may be more appropriate.
The looks which large pads can provide depend entirely on their placement, so a great deal of experimenting will be needed.  It is best to do this while wearing the garment, whenever possible.  If trimming is necessary, use a fabric marker to note cuts while holding the pad on your shoulder (with a friend or a mirror).

This vinyl pad is not what we want.  Note the centre stitching along the pad, attaching it to the shoulder seam.  We do want this.

Ready to wear Shoulder Pads tend to come in white, nude or black. If none are available in an appropriate shade for your project they may be covered. For a nude look try using old nylons to cover a pad.
For an outrageous shoulder la Joan Crawford or House of Balmain, consider layering 2 or more pads. Baste them together through the centre spine, and then cover the pad using loose stitches or feather stitches and cover with fabric or nylons. This is a great technique to use if you can only find 1980s styled flat pads.
American football comments be damned!

Generally these kinds of paddings can be made at home with little sewing experience.  With a reliable sewing store in your area though, you may find it easier to purchase ready-made padding, and then alter it at home.  Pads may be opened up at the seam and the amount of wadding can be adjusted.  You may choose to add or remove bulk, or you may decide to push the stuffing to one side or the other, depending on your sweater style or body type.  If you are layering sleeve heads or pads use large feather stitches.  If you are layering fibrous padding stuffs, experiment with spray adhesives.  If a large shoulder pad's slope is to wide for your shoulder or if you have a petite shoulder line, cut your pad in half.  Trim as necessary, adjust the angle on your own shoulder, and then reattach the front and back of the pad using a baseball stitch.  Remember that few bodies are symmetrical, so treat each pad, each knitted piece, and each shoulder separately.

Click HERE to see examples of Vintage Sweater Pattern Photos that put Shoulder Pads to good use.

You are reading "The Quest For Puff" ©Morgan Forrester

Up next:
Choosing & Placing Knitted Shoulder Pads
Coming Soon:
Vintage Sleeves: Puff Pleating
Vintage Sleeves: Seaming for Puff
Creating Puffed Sleeves Anew

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canadian Trends in Wartime Knitting


[Lux Knitting Annual 1942. 
Photo courtesy of your friend, the internet.]

In knitting too, it's a very different war. The last one was mostly a matter of socks but in this one, not even styles stay static nor are garments standardized.
Looking over the new 1942 edition of a knitting annual which is a Canadian best-seller in the field, the Lux Knitting Book, a veteran knitter whose needles have served in both emergencies, pointed out how amazing the contrast is. Methods have altered little but almost everything else has.
She leafed through the book which came off the press only this week, to show what a story the knitting changes tell. Here, for instance, are instructions for knitting sweaters for "women in the services," which would have been somewhat startling even a gear ago. There are garments for evacuees, bomb victims and shelter wear.
Knitting needs for the fighting services tend to be as specialized and varied as the services themselves. That's the trend at least. There's an air force sleeveless turtleneck, for example, and a boatneck pullover for the navy. Full instructions are given for more than a score of service items including a series of knitted accessories which are in constant demand but often overlooked.
For that matter, the contrasts are by no means restricted to active service circles. With the sweater doing so well in fashion's popularity polls, these new up-to-the-minute patterns must be given a share of the credit. And there are suggestions too for smart but practical, easily made gifts. The knitting stylists have done a job this season for the whole family.

-The Montreal Gazette, Nov.8. 1941
Click here, to see an interesting excerpt from this book which I posted last year.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Using Gauge Swatches as Shoulder Pads in the Vintage Style

Even before rationing made reusing and recycling wool necessary, clever knitters were repurposing their gauge swatches (tension squares) as shoulder pads. A swatch can be made into several different styles of pad. We'll be looking at three: triangular, square, and rectangular.

NOTE: The average swatch is knit to 10cm (4"). The examples in this tutorial are each of 24 stitches; a neat display device I tried at The Loop. These swatches were of various worsted weight yarns resulting in 18-22 stitches per 4 inches. The average size of swatch was 5" square.
Because they were for display purposes, each swatch was knit with a garter stitch border 3 stitches on either side and 3-4 rows top and bottom. This is an excellent format for a swatch destined to become padding. The garter border allows for easy stitching and stuffing, and also creates an ideal flat surface for placement and stitching to the garment, particularly useful if the pad is to be removed or used in multiple applications. These worsted weight swatches make a big statement but for a more subtle look, use a fine yarn. The point of this technique is that you will have already made the pads by swatching for your project, and since most of your vintage sweaters will have been knit with a fingering or sport weight yarn your pads will be less cartoony than my examples.

As we know, shoulder pads first became necessary to the home knitter in the 1930s so that the shoulder line could be extended gracefully, and girlish puff sleeves could stay aloft. The first shoulder pads were triangular, a perfect job for the typically square gauge swatch.

Your swatch is unlikely to be a perfect square, but this does not matter much. Fold the swatch in half and pin one side as you begin work on the other. Any waste yarn will work for this project; it need not be the same yarn as the gauge swatch. Using the garter stitch border as a guide, stitch generously. Tiny stitches are nice, but not necessary. Do not seam these two edges as you normally would a knitting project. Grafting or Mattress Stitch will ruin the affect. Backstitches, or even a Running Stitch, if you're inpatient will do the job.
Place these stitches in from the edge. The stitches in the photo were placed in the middle stitch of the 3row/3 stitch Garter border. This works to about .25" from the edge. If your swatch does not have a border like the example pad does, place your seam .5" in from the edge. This will create a ridge you can use to attach the pad to the garment.

Stop stitching your pad together an inch or so before the second corner. Use this opening to stuff your pad. Do not cut your working yarn or unthread your needle.
You have several stuffing options. I stuffed the examples above with raw fleece, but only because it was the easiest thing to hand. Polyfilla, cotton baton and fluff will do just as well. Followers of Make do and Mend may take a tip from WWII and fill their pads with scraps of waste yarn....or even sawdust.

Note: If you are using flat sheets of wadding you should cut these to the shape of your swatches, leaving a .5" seaming allowance along the sides to be stitched. In the case of a triangular pad this means that along the third side the wadding should reach the fold of the swatch. In a square pad you will need to leave a seam allowance along all four sides. You will layer the filler to taste, depending on the thickness of the wadding, but start with just one layer.

Whichever material you choose, resist the urge to overstuff.
Pick your needle back up and finish stitching, closing the stuffing gap, and backstitch to secure. To finish, bury your yarn by inserting the needle into the pad and stuffing and bringing up through the middle of the pad's fabric as pictured further down. Now clip the yarn close to the surface.

Square shoulder pads are made in much the same way and will thrill knitters of 1940s patterns. In the sweater patterns of the 40s we see instructions for shoulder pads start to crop up and although some of them are unique to a single sweater, most are simple bean bags of the same yarn as the main pattern. Remember that under WWII's military influence pads were required to both extend the shoulder line, and raise it. In more extreme puffed sleeves, the sleeve head would be totally unsupported but for padding. This is one reason for disappointing, deflated puffs in home knitting.

In this example the two swatches are of slightly different sizes. This is almost always likely to be the case, and it doesn't really matter for this project. Simply pin the two squares together so that the edges match. The centre of one of the swatches will bulge, but that's what we want anyways.

Don't overstuff the square pad either. The amount of filler in the photo above was a good starting point; you may find that you need less padding than you thought. Remember that placement of the pad is going to be very important. Extreme vintage looks are created when the shoulder pad is stitched in. Overstuffing will actually give you less options and control.

A sticky material like raw fleece will tend to ball up in the middle. We want an even stuffing so use your fingers to distribute the filler evenly.

Bury your yarn as pictured.

A single square can also be made into a rectangular pad by folding a swatch in half and stitching. In my knitting I find this to be the most useful pad. The truth is, it has a bit more in common with another type of padding; a 'sleeve head' or 'roll'. This is because its short sides will follow the curve of the shoulder and support the front and back of a round puff. The term sleeve head is problematic! Read more about this in the intro to this padding series:here.

The rectangular gauge swatch can afford to be stuffed generously. The most important aspect to this pad for knitters, is the top seam. If your swatch does not have a garter stitch ridge remember to place your stitching well away from the edge. Along the long sides of the rectangle sew at least .5" in, creating a flat strip. This is what you will use to attach the pad to the garment.

Next we'll talk about the placement of these pads and the different looks they can achieve.

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Way They Were #4

-Berroco ad, s/s 1987

25 odd years later, Berroco is releasing Nora Gaughan's 8th pattern booklet. It has some gorgeous pieces in it which show off Berroco's core yarns. The styling is quite nice, the palate on point, but what is remarkable about this round of patterns is the fit. While Nora Gaughan's garments are usually generous, drapey, and swingy, these new looks echo a mid 80s sense of ease. Actual patterns from that period didn't always reflect this trend which is strange. The orange top "Pixie" in the ad above illustrates the look. I think that these new Berroco sweaters will fit a wide range of sizes and styles.
Get Nora Gaughan's latest at The Loop this F/W.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Puffed Sleeves In The 1930s

The way clothes change from fashion to fashion directly effects the way we feel and behave in our clothes, which in turn affects our productivity.
Fashion is also a reaction to politics and economy, but adages about markets and hem lines are oversimplifications in my eyes. Fashion fluctuations are as common within an era as are fluctuations in the stock market, and often fashion too has to 'correct' itself (this is what Retro crazes are).

Styles and cuts going in and out of fashion quickly is not a modern thing. If anything, clothing was changing more rapidly in the first half of the 20th century than just about any other time, due in part to the introduction of synthetic fabrics and the industrialization of the clothing trade. It is silly to ascribe one look to a decade. Forgive me then, because I think I have to do just that. I will also have to blab about hemlines and GDPs, but lets look specifically at the ways in which society, economy and women's roles within them effect our topic: puffy puffy sleeves.

Puffy shoulders always indicate a social stress on femininity and domesticity. Many women felt that they had lost their mystique in the '20s and sought to cover up and soften their look, creating curves and shapes with their tailoring if they had none of their own. The sleeve shapes of this period are varied and the puff can be found very high on a short sleeve and nearer the elbow of the longer sleeve.

In the early 1930s shoulders (and everything else) reflected the market crash of 1929. In some cases shoulders drooped and silhouettes followed. As a result, many early puffs fell below the sleeve head. This gives a softer look, and women became softer themselves. A Nostalgic craze, common in periods of economic downturn, brought back the leg o'mutton sleeve, but this too had a deflated look when compared to its 1890s heyday.
There was, however another style of puff designed purely to lengthen the shoulder line. These puffs were supported first by Schiaperelli's new fangled shoulderpads; soft triangles worn to fill out the extra length of the sleeve head. Expect a full history and tutorial on these and other types of shoulder padding.

The atmosphere of uncertainty that bookended this decade left women portraying a soap opera classic; good twin, bad twin. The day looks were sweet and domesticated, no nonsense and handmade. The night looks were clingy, silky, decadent and exotic, and so fashion became romantic but strong as women attempted to take on the same duality.
Gone were the boyish frames of the carefree 1920s flapper, their truly basic clothing and immature feel. This meant that the home knitter had to improve her skills. For the first time since the early 1900s knitters had to contend with complicated in-pattern shaping and finishing techniques. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sleeve, where for many years shoulder shaping had followed traditional northern shaping; boxy and dropped shouldered shapes, whether centuries old circular knitting and steeking techniques were used or not.
Although the 1930s woman was a grown up, fashion still dictated a slim line. This time the widened, rounded, and draped sleeve, along with a new bust line, served to skinny the waist down. More of an upside-down triangle, rather than an hourglass was achieved. The rectangle of the previous decade was gone.

The shoulders that launched a thousand puffs. Joan Crawford wearing Adrian in Letty Lynton, 1932

Emphasizing the shoulder has a slimming effect and often capes were worn over sweaters to stress this ratio even more. This was a good option for less skilled handknitters (indeed, Chanel gave the Schiap a hard time for this trick and for her padded shoulders; Schiaparelli lacked Chanel's tailoring expertise).
The broader squared shoulders as the decade progressed and the Depression gave way to the threat of war are easy to interpret. Still, the main goal was a widening of the shoulder line. While this effect always emphasizes a small waist (think Scarlett O'Hara), it also makes women look more impressive physically, and certainly more capable (think Power Suit). Women found themselves in the workplace and demonstrated their difficult duality in their knitting.

Granny at her first job, in mid 1930s Glasgow. (The date noted is inncorrect) Her hand-knit sweater is lacy and feminine with a simple line. It is a complicated and finicky pattern, showing off her skill. Over her shoulder hangs a calendar with a glamourously gowned lady with massive puff sleeves. This photo really illustrates the two roles women played in this era.

It is due to the Depression that we have such a bevy of innovative knits from this period. Chanel's collections of jersey and cotton also helped to elevate knitwear so that the sweater could be seen as a viable fashion item, making hand knitting much more attractive to young women. In this way handknitting became a practical way to recreate high fashion. As in the decades to follow, knitting for oneself became a way of displaying quite publicly a woman's domestic skill and eligibility, but also a way of exploring self expression under the guise of woman's work.
It also became simple to try out trends. As society reexamined class and gender roles, fashion and street fashion revisited styles and silhouettes from the past...even fictional ones. This tends to happen in revolutionary periods. Often, when young people are in the drivers seat of change, the images they draw upon are ones from their childhood. A fairytale trend emerged, encouraged by the otherworldliness of Hollywood. Princesses and Evil Queens really do have the best outfits, as whimsical patterns from the 1930s attest. Thank you Snow White!

Up next:
Coming Soon:
Vintage Sleeves: Puff Pleating
Vintage Sleeves: Seaming for Puff
Creating Puffed Sleeves Anew

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.

A soft puff below the sleeve head, typical of hand-knit sweaters of the 1930s
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