HiHo Sewing in the US of A I go.

Well hello from southern New Mexico where ostensibly I’m on holiday visiting my mum. But not to sew for two whole weeks??
I m p o s s i b l e.
Weeks before my arrival I’d been lurking on USA ebay and won some lovely vintage patterns and had them sent to my US address. It was nice to be able to buy a few Hollywood patterns particularly which I don’t come across on UK ebay that often. Believe me when I say I wasn’t planning at all to sew on my visit, honest I wasn’t!

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I lasted a mere 6 days. The vintage patterns were whispering to me. I shouldn’t have been left alone in the house! A rummage in my mums well stocked fabric cupboard produced various summery possibilities notably a biscuit coloured linen/rayon mix fabric- Oh my, just perfect for the Hollywood pleated hip shirtwaist. How could I not begin immediately? Using my mums left handed scissors almost put a stop to it all as I’m right handed. Then I discovered the kitchen scissors were right handed and cut the linen reasonable well so I was off to an almost flying start.

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As to making it: The most perforations on a pattern ever. Tailors tacks? Phooey, I’m on holiday! I merrily dotted away with a regular lead pencil but then read that the pleats got formed by folding and matching all on the outside so the pencil dots all ended up on the right side. Oops, well they erased pretty much and what didn’t blends into the speckled weave. Those pleats into the horizontal front (they also form bust darts of sorts) and back armhole slashes had me confused at first – talk about minimal pattern instructions – but I finally figured them out. One of those construction things that once it’s been done it makes perfect sense. The linen started ravelling a lot but using cotton bias binding tape over various seam edges put a stop to that. Once the pleats had all been sewn and the 4 bound button holes made putting it together was a cinch.image

So, a few long afternoons later voilá! Worn today ….with a bias slip underneath of course and my first pair of Remix shoes. Been wanting a pair for ages. They’re comfy as anything and sure to be worn for years. Fabrics for the Butterick skirt and Hollywood shorts and bra will be coming home with me too giving my mum an excuse to restock.
As if anyone ever needs an excuse to buy more fabric.
And a Good Thing I travelled with a spare bag.

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(click pic for link to remix site)

It hasn’t been totally sewing though. Today I made an English cream tea for some American friends … tried out the Paul Hollywood Great British Bake-off scone recipe as I didn’t have my usual with me. Turned out terrifically. I think it may replace the recipe I’ve been using for the last 15 years.

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(click pic for link to recipe)

Sewing on holiday isn’t a Bad Thing, is it? I also started crocheting an afghan, cooked other nice things, helped with a huge closet clean out… maybe going to need a rest when I get home. :)

I have a bias

towards slips. I am a slip convert, a slip missionary even.

Do you know that these days many women don’t own even a single slip ?!

Maybe because they think slips are prissy and redolent of prudish sensibilities: “The more fabric between your body and the world the better!”

Or perhaps they are haunted by memories of scratchy cotton-organdie slips that granny/aunty/mum made them wear under Sunday best ? 

There are some very contemporary and excellent reasons to wear a slip:

-A slip can help mask bumps and lines from your other underwear thus making your dress look smoother and hang better…especially under an unlined dress.

-A slip in cold weather can keep you warmer.

-A slip in hot weather keeps your dress from sticking to your body thus giving the visual impression of ladylike coolness.

-A slip can prevent unfortunate revealing moments caused by weather events like a surprise breeze or being back lit by sunlight

-In her 1950 Sewing Simplified book  Mary  Brooks Picken writes “Wear your dress proudly: When your dress is finished, the last stitch taken, hang it where you can see it. Consider when and with what you will wear it. If you haven’t the right slip, make one at once.”

And well, they just make for nice dressing/undressing wear.

Arm poses optional.

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Are you beginning to think  “hmmm, well yes a slip might be nice…”

One more hurdle to jump. Welcome to the Slip Shopping Minefield-in one corner is cheap floozie’ wear…

 and in the other is crazy expensive ‘designer’ wear (and for that kind of money I’d rather buy shoes or even go on a weekend mini-break)

There is a simple solution and I know you could see it coming a mile away:  D.I.Y.

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VeraVenus Bias Slip Pattern

Just added to my FreeStuff page is the pattern for this cut-to-cling bias slip in 3 sizes (33”-39” bust, 35″-41”hips)  with basic sewing instructions. I’d say making a bias slip is intermediate sewing. However you learn sewing by doing so have a go with some inexpensive easy fabric regardless of your skill level.

There is quite a lot of sewing info in my French Knicker tutorial on cutting flimsy fabrics, doing french seaming, pin hems, attaching lace etc. all applicable to sewing slips too.

The pattern can be adapted to make a gorgeous nightgown and is also marked  for cutting off to make a camisole as well.

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Before you rush off :

1) DO TEST (ie toile/muslin/prototype) the pattern FIRST to check fit. It is cut to fit neatly. The 3 sizes are nested so you can see how I did the grading and so could grade up yourself even further for larger measurements.

2) DO Choose appropriate fabric, one with a good bias stretch i.e. not a taffeta or a dupioni or firm cottons or polys that don’t give on the bias much. Silk crepe de chines, georgettes and charmeuse generally have a good bias stretch but certainly rayons, thin cottons, and many polyester fabrics work perfectly well cut on the bias too. My own most often worn bias nightie is made from cotton. You can blend one size top with a different size hip. For example  my hip measurement is on the border between Size1 and Size2 so  I used Size2 hip line for cotton or less giving fabrics as it gives me more ease and the Size1 for very bias stretchy silks as I do like a clinging fit in a slip. That’s why trying the pattern out first to see how it works for you is important before using a special fabric.

3) DO Pre-wash your fabric first. Silk, rayons and cotton especially can shrink a little with washing and better that this happens before you spend hours sewing something than after. Pre-washing gives silks a nice vintage feel. I put mine through a super short machine cycle and then hang dry and give a good iron on the wrong side after. If you’re in doubt wash a small sample and check the result.

Go.

Download.

Have fun sewing!

And the winner is….

drum roll please……

BARBARA from the Netherlands HOORAAY

So send me your address Barbara, via my contact form, and I will mail it to you on Monday (or as soon as I hear from you)


Thank you all who left a comment hoping to win…but never fear there is some good stuff coming soon as I’m in the process of getting another free (and multi-sized this time!!) pattern ready to post :)

Flash Valentine 1940s Undies Pattern Give-away

I have an unused reproduction pattern for a 36 inch bust, 40 inch hips (produced by The Vintage Pattern Shop) of this 1940s bra, slip and knickers to give away. The draw is open from now, Thursday evening,  until midnight Feb. 14th UK time.

If you are interested just leave one comment below and on Saturday afternoon (UK time) I’ll do a random draw and announce the winner and pop it in the post next week.
Weldons Pretty Undies no.50

I’ve been collecting vintage lingerie patterns and magazines with their original free patterns for a couple of years now and have a nice little collection growing. Also I finally started making a photo record as I have bought duplicates a couple of times now!

Here’s a little show-off of what I’ve got so far ( I’m particularly pleased with my Weldons magazines; it was the one with the pink cover and eau de nil lingerie that opened my eyes to these as collectables) :

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That’s all until the draw :)

Handbags and Gladrags

Where did that summer go? Cold, wet and nasty here in the UK now… where I am at any rate. But tomorrow morning at some hideously early hour I start the 18 hour long trip that lands me in still warm and sunny southern New Mexico to visit my mum for two weeks. A very welcome break from work and crummy weather :) So this post is a quicky Hi y’all with a free 50′s style dress pattern AND a cute bag to make. I did these two projects for the Christmas issue of Making Magazine that hit the newsstands yesterday. The patterns can be downloaded from my free stuff page. The dress pdf is 33  pages! I’ve put the full size A0 & A1 pattern pdfs up too for those of you with access to large format printers.  I expect to be making quite a number of the bags myself soon in tweed, fake leopard fur, sequin- fab to give as  Christmas presents I thought.IMG_3123

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I’ve got lots of other posts in the works too: “Waist Not, Want not” about, you guessed it,  ideas of what to do when that lovely vintage skirt/jacket/dress  fits you everywhere but the waist is just too tight. I’ve spent quite a lot of time recently doing alterations on my own wardrobe tackling  exactly this issue and I havea 40′s cocktail dress and a Tippi Hedron style 60′s suit waiting for me in NM that certainly will need some waistline adjustments (letting out in other words).  As if I’d let a little thing like a too small waistband stop me from wearing vintage ;)

Another post coming soon is titled “All That Glitters”.  It will mainly be about working with difficult fabrics like sequins and lamé since I seem to be making a number of sparkly things these days not the least of which is this sequin gown from a 1930 pattern. I added a back cowl drape to it and am making a matching cape as well. This is a personal project no less and I’m going to have to work very hard at where on earth I’ll wear it! Hmmm, maybe a Dinner At Eight themed birthday party in January? *sigh*  A girl can dream.

In the meantime I’d better pack for my trip. Hope you enjoy the dress and bag patterns, screenshot_259See you soon!

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Wasn’t Jean Harlow just the epitome of 30′s glam?

Gorgeous Gingham LBD

Gorgeous Gingham LBD

Sarah Jane of Romantic History blog made herself a very pretty LBD in gingham from my free pattern. Click the pic to see more about this and the other lovely things she sews on her blog. Thank you for sharing your result Sarah Jane !

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Something For The Weekend: a free vintage styled sundress pattern.

It is the hottest summer here for 7 years -  sundresses needed fast!

This cotton swimsuit (still my fave) I made from a vintage Butterick pattern a couple of summers ago provided the inspiration. I re-drafted a similar style bodice (bust 35-37ins/89-94cms) and the pattern is now up on the VV Free page for you to download and use with just about any skirt pattern you like or even sew it onto shorts or bloomers for a cute swim/play suit similar to the Butterick one.

Dress #1:  A gathered scoop-neck bodice attached to a simple dirndl skirt -  cut rectangle 28″ long x100″ around/71cm long x 250cm around; gathered evenly and sewn onto the bodice. The dress has a centre back invisible zip and I added two patch pockets. To keep the neck wide I spread out the front neck gathers towards the sides and hand tacked them firmly into place onto the strap otherwise they would keep sliding back down towards the centre.

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VVsailboat sundress

Dress #2:  A higher necked bodice with a centre front seam sewn to leave a split at the top and attached this time to a circle skirt.  The midriff has been totally topstitched in rows. The appliquéd skirt is a project based on 50’s souvenir skirts that I recently designed and made for the Augusts issue of Making Magazine.

MM37 Final Cover

The tutorial pdf from the magazine, which you can download by clicking the little Making cover picture, explains how to draft a circle skirt to your own waist measurement, construct it and has a template for the boats which are appliquéd using BondaWeb. To use the circle skirt it with the Sundress bodice you simply need to add a centre back seam into the skirt. Due to the angled edge under the arm  placing the zip centre back  is easier than in the side seam .

Alterations: The bodice patterns fit a bra size 34C/D-36C.  When altering the pattern for my two sizes smaller daughter I simply darted about 8cms of fullness out from the top of the neck to nothing at the under-bust seam on the pattern. I also lowered the front neckline about 3 centimetres. Next, to fit her smaller waist and ribs I took a couple of centimetres off the whole centre front of the pattern and off the centre back too. For a larger bust and waist those alterations could be done in reverse- so do a slash and spread adding fullness at the top neck and over the bust and also add some height rather than subtracting. Then add what you need for your waist/ribs divided evenly between the centre front and centre back. For grading up more than two or three sizes you may be better of spreading the pattern out at the side front and back too, rather than just at the cf. and cb. Have a look at the Threads Grading Guide I’ve got over there in the sidebar for an idea of how to do this.

I started out wearing both dresses with the straps tied behind my neck but finally decided shoulder straps would be more comfortable. Depending on how you choose to wear them you may find a little dart at the side bust is needed- usually not if you wear the top as a halter style but quite possible if worn as shoulder straps. I had to add darts to my blue dress and where I placed them is marked on the pattern. My brown dress is made in a quite soft rayon and even though I don’t wear this one as a halter either it didn’t need side bust darts.  It seems to depend on a combination of your figure shape and the fabric you use.

What about a bra? – I prefer to present a firm front to the world so covered and tacked bra cups onto the lining.   An alternative would be to get one of those multi-way bras and sew ribbon loops on the inside of the bodice that the S-hooks above the bra cups can be hooked onto so you don’t need to use and therefore  see the bra straps. Is it a generational thing… my 19 year old daughter isn’t fussed if her bra straps show or not. I prefer not showing.

The pattern is marked to cut a lining (I simply cut mine from the same fabrics) so in construction all the upper edges are bagged-out. However if you don’t want the double thickness simply bind the edges with straight cut strips. Straight rather than bias because they then will help to keep the edges from stretching. Written on the pattern pdf are only the very basic sewing steps- no more or it would be many more weekends before I finally got this posted!

Please do make a toile to check fit on yourself first what ever you do!!

Off to sew my daughters dress now so she will stop harassing me! Its being made from a red cotton sari. I’ll post a pic when all done.

Uh-Oh Lutterloh

A few months ago I was very generously gifted not one but two Lutterloh pattern books on cd, from 1940 and 1941. That very same week on eBay I bid on a Summer 1949 supplement being sold from France. Amazingly I won it for not too much. So completely and utterly spoiled for choice and unable to decide which design to start with I photocopied a number of my favourites and randomly drew this one to be my first Lutterloh make.  That fine cotton hummingbird fabric I posted about back in April was used for it – and going by my self-imposed ”one out-one in” stash rule I can now buy a new fabric ;)

I resisted the impulse to edit my pics to make my waist look as small as the illustration… or to make the illustration look as realistic as me.

So without more ado here is my Lutterloh 1949 make:

VVlutterloh dress2 VVlutterloh dress1Lutterloh was started in Germany, 1935,  and is still going strong today. It’s similar-ish contemporaries were a French system called Eclair Coupe Paris and The Haslam system which I think was American. This is a YouTube video of the Man From Lutterloh demonstrating with a simple waistcoat how it all works (14 minutes long if you have the patience). I find the principle totally intriguing and would love to distribute my own patterns in this miniaturised way but I’m quite sure the method is copyrighted up to the hilt so will be sticking with the old multi-page cut n’ tape pdfs for now.

So how did my try at Lutterloh go? Well, drawing the pattern out was dead easy like the advertising says. But…and this is a big, HUGE  ‘but’ : there are no seam allowances included on the patterns, no real indication of grain placement, and no facings or lining pieces. Also there are absolutely no sewing instructions or finishing suggestions, no hints of what to interface, line or even where to put openings to get the garment on and off.  So, basically, if you don’t know how to work out all of that or really don’t relish the challenge of learning and experimenting I wouldn’t recommend rushing off to buy one of the (expensive) reproduction vintage booklets on Cd that are available. There are some lovely styles from the French system sold singly on Etsy by Mrs.Depew Vintage which could be an inexpensive way to experiment if you are so inclined. Someone else on eBay in the USA sells whole collections of vintage Eclair-Coupe  Paris on Cds at a (in my opinion) very reasonable price. If it does appeal I recommend you consider arming yourself with a good sewing and  perhaps a fitting book as well.

How accurate was the pattern once drawn out? Actually not too bad at all. The sleeves needed no alterations other than shortening to suit me and the skirt just a little adjusting to hang well. I did add a good amount more fullness into it than the pattern had though. The bodice needed the most alteration as the shoulder height and pitch were really wrong on me, the armhole needed moving in an inch and the vertical under-bust dart was in a bad place so I finally just took one of my own basic bodice blocks and made a similar pattern with it, knowing then that all elements would fit me. I’m not at all sure if the bodice problems were due to me being a bit careless with how I marked my initial pattern points or what. I’ll have a better idea when I tackle a second style.

I made a muslin mock up first which as well as highlighting fit issues was a huge help in deciding how to finish edges and where to locate the zip. I opted for one in the left side seam instead of a centre back one, and made the left side under-wrap  pass through a slot formed by leaving a part of the right dart open…rather than the usual side seam opening, which I thought was kinda clever *pat on back*.  The neck edges are finished with a narrow self bias binding. The three extended sleeve darts definitely needed some support so some very stiff Vilene cut in crescents shapes then sewed into the armholes did the trick. The belt ends are just closed in the back with hooks and bars.

I’ve read on the internet that while Lutterloh Co. is still a very active company in producing contemporary styles they aren’t interested in reproducing the vintage books. I also have gleaned that the company is fairly hot on copy write infringements- it seems ok for people to post pictures of the styles but absolutely not of the actual patterns. Google ‘Lutterloh patterns’ for all kinds of further info.

Anyway it’s an interesting pattern system, a fab way to access unusual vintage patterns from 1935 onwards and like I said (while gazing at my badly organised shoeboxes bursting with vintage pattern envelopes) until you draw them out on paper they take up virtually no space!

Lutterloh maybes

Ah, and what about the fab chunky platform shoes I’m sporting in the pics you ask?

Audley 'Dingo' shoes

Ok you didn’t but I’m telling anyway- they’re from Audley, London, bought as a ‘my foot is better’ celebration. After my stupid, stupid foot breaking accident of last September (and I never wore those stupid wide legged trousers again!) I lived in sensible, supportive, lace-up walking shoes for 8 whole months. Nice with trousers but dreadful with dresses. I’m also still doing foot strengthening exercises and lots of foot massage and can see a pair of ‘Joan’ shoes from ReMix in my future to go with my next up Lutterloh make planned in brown wool crepe with brown velvet applique leaves:Lutterloh1941

Next day edit:  The urge to do some digital surgery became too great this morning so here is me as a Lutterloh Lady :)

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Two Little Ladies From Lutterloh

Frank Lutterloh, the current head of the company has just started a Lutterloh blog as of Sept. 2013 featuring both contemporary and vintage clothing made with the Lutterloh system. Should be interesting!

Nicole Needles made a LBD!

Nicole Needles made a LBD!

image by Nicole Needles

I’m so thrilled to see that someone has used my free Little Bias Dress pattern with such great success :) Click on the photo to get to Nicole’s blog for more photos of her fab results plus an interesting mini history lesson on the Great Depression and her thoughts behind making a cotton version.

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The One That Got Away and Circular Knicker Redux

Been cruising eBay a bit recently. Yeah, it’s under control, just. Got some chic vintage French fashion magazines, a wonderful German pattern magazine that is killing my eyesight with deciphering it’s spider-webs of pattern sheets, and a couple of Weldon’s Lady’s Mags from the 20′s and 30′s complete with tissue lingerie and dress patterns. This 1920′s Weldon’s Fancy Dress issue is the One That Got Away:20130817-195231.jpg

“Darn it, I really wanted that!”

I really do wish I’d bid that little bit more on it. It reminds me of this wonderful early 1920′s photo of my Italian grandmother in a fancy dress costume. She was a dressmaker too.
Faye- in Halloween Costume - early 1920

Also during WWII she was the only woman out of 4000 employees in the U.S. tank parts factory where she worked who became a Journeyman Machinist. To be honest I don’t actually know what Journeyman Machining involved but I am quite sure it wasn’t a sewing machine. Probably explains why I’m the one in our household who actually can put Ikea stuff together -hah! Family lore says she used to swear a blue streak when sewing difficult things… guess that’s also in the blood. This recently finished bias satin dress brought out the worst language over the last weeks that my family says they heard since the last wedding dress I made. I hope to have photo’s of it in action late summer.

LLbias Wedding dress

Fortunately the dress left just as this little bundle of joy arrived. Buster puppy + silk gown = potential disaster, besides I’m getting nothing much done when he’s awake, squared.

BusterVV

And on a final note the re-vamped Circular Knicker Tutorial is FINALLY back up on the Free Stuff page! All that was wrong with it, and not even very wrong, was how I’d done the math to work out the waist line. A kind reader who obviously knows her number stuff pointed out the correct formula for a smooth fitting waist (the way I’d done it made for some waist ease that in less fine fabrics became gathers) so I thought between that and it being the first tutorial I’d posted here a re-vamp was in order. Until I looked up Pi. And simple as that equation is it literally made my head hurt to even think about it. Even as I type these words a thick fog hovers over my head threatening pain. Fortunately I very rarely find myself needing to draft circles to precise measurement. A small mercy. I’m going to go play with my new puppy now.

See you soon..


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Oranges & Lemons, Almost A Miss and Summer Fabrics Waiting.

and round and round and round in my head went that song the entire time I sewed this dress. GaaaH!!!  I’m about as far from being a London cockney as a transplanted-to-Brighton ex-New Yorker could possibly be.  My children learned the lyrics in school and I learned from them as we marched around the South Downs singing this at the top of our lungs. Gave the livestock quite a fright.

The other week a local fabric shop gave me a couple of meters of this lovely citrus fabric in exchange for having pics of my results to show off on their FB page. (as I checked the link worked I saw some fab new dalia patterned cotton just in…. look away now!) But anyway, fabric in exchange for pics is a win-win situation in my book. I even have a glass necklace of oranges bought on a long ago trip to Venice to accessorise with. But now I cannot get that damn song out of my head.

I haven’t sewn from a vintage pattern for a while. This was nice quick dress to do and helps justify my growing pattern collection, sort of. Yeah ok really not at all but I do better with my fabric stash… that is a fairly constant one fabric in to one out. Vintage patterns are roughly ten patterns bought to one used. Not so good. Thankfully the often silly prices of vintage patterns do help me keep a check on myself.  Catherine of  The Makings of an Urban Rustic has recently been making herself some pretty full skirted summer dresses and they reminded me just how much I like this silhouette. And even though, baby, it is still really cold outside some new summer clothes seem the way to sew. I’ve been trotting out the same ol’ dresses for a few years now as the English summers make their half-hearted appearance.

Makower cotton fabric

Makower Oranges & Lemons cotton fabric

Now jumping back to the 1940′s, the second version of the Bloggin Blues dress is underway (pattern corrected, copied out and in the post tomorrow Villblomsten :)  ) This time in a rayon challis print. It’s very different than my original effort isn’t it?!  At first I was seriously not loving it & had to leave it for a bit. The fabric is very limp and the print is a little too reminiscent of a flannelette nightgown I once had. But I soldiered on as I had to at least check the pattern was in good working order. But then styled with a red buckle, a scrap of red velvet for buttons, a red handbag and visions of a dash of red lipstick on the day-  and no miss but a hit! It needs its back belt, red buttons and loops, shoulder pads, a hem and she’s done.  It hasn’t quite got the punch of the first BB dress but is very wearable and I’m sure I will.

Print version

fabrics in waitingHere are three highlights from the big pile of fabrics I’m determined to use soon: the hummingbird fabric, quite new, is destined to become another full skirted sundress. That’s easy. The embroidered raspberry chambray has been brought out 5 years running but I still haven’t used it-  a bit of an eyeful colourwise?. Maybe the slim skirted version of the 60′s style I just sewed or possibly just a shirt. Which ever, it’s crying out to be worn someplace sunny to keep it from looking too garish… so not surprising if it ends up back in the fabric cupboard for yet another year.  And then there is the crazy daisy punched linen I bought a couple of years ago. That’s gonna be a tricky one. Not least because it’s white so a guaranteed Pimms spillage magnet. Also the construction techniques will be difficult regardless of the style it gets used for. But when I’m next up for a challenge it’s the fabric I’ll reach for.

Some of you may well be wondering “where does she wear this stuff?”  Well, what can I say… I’m the best dressed walker on the South Downs and you’ll certainly hear me coming-”…when I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch. When will that be say the bells of Stepney…”

And the winner is…

Villbomsten.

Congratulations!

I’m currently checking through the pattern for any corrections needed and will be mailing her copy out next week.

Thank you all who participated in the Bloggin’ Blues dress pattern give-away! I’m intending to release this pattern later in the year as a commercial pattern, multi-sized UK 10-20 along with some other lovely patterns. But don’t worry, there will be more nice free things coming too :)

Bloggin' Blues  Dress

Bits & Bobs and A Loose End or Two

Monday. 3pm. And I might as well face the fact that the work I should be doing (1910 outfit for up coming TV show) is just not going to get a look in today. It’s snowing!! Like the railroads here, a bit of weather and my day goes to hell. That’s my Monday excuse and I’m sticking to it. So a good day instead to catch up on blog bits and pieces and post a few little items that had been shunted aside and that I do feel a little guilty about not getting back to. So in no particular order-

VeraVenus30'sPJs1: I have redrawn my 30′s PJ pattern in Illustrator and now it looks all lovely and ‘professional’ and is clearer to use than the original hand-drawn and scanned one :) The cover illustration and included Sewing Instructions got a bit of a makeover too. If you had down-loaded this pattern previously please do replace it with the newer one.

1950's style

Pencil Skirt with Bucket-Pockets

2: Remember the 3 skirts from September -my, how time flies! Well a very nice reader (as I’m sure you all are) contacted me a few weeks back to ask when was I actually getting back to the skirt drafting tutorials I had started as she really wanted to make herself this 50′s style one with the ‘bucket’ pockets. I re-checked the tutorial and all the info you need to draft a pencil skirt is there. And now today I’ve posted the pdf pattern for the bucket-pocket pieces. A bit of a cop-out but I just couldn’t get my head around explaining completely how to draft them. So you can download the pieces and hopefully you’ll see how the pocket works and can adapt the pieces to fit your own pencil skirt patterns, self-drafted or otherwise. As always just drop me a line if you need help with my pocket explanation.

3: A GIVE-AWAY :) The second half of my Second Year Blogaversary celebration (the LBD being the other).

ONE copy of my Bloggin’ Blues dress pattern. It will be the complete pattern, hand copied onto pattern makers spot & cross pattern paper, posted to wherever the winner lives. Size is a UK12 (89-73-96cms/35-29-38ins) but will easily work on a figure either a bit smaller or a bit larger.

"Bloggin' Blues" dress

“Bloggin’ Blues” dress

I gotta be honest now, this really isn’t a “beginner” project… the bias draped sleeves take a certain amount of finessing (read hair pulling) to get them to hang nicely, the multi-rows of shirring take ages to do and the rouleaux loops down the front are, well, rouleaux loops and the hassle they always are. But it is a fab dress, dare I say so myself. I’m about to make another in a rayon floral print which will look very different. I’m still debating whether the sleeves, yoke and pockets should be in a plain fabric to contrast or to do the whole dress in the print… watch this space.

Annnnnyyway, if you haven’t been put off now by my saying what a fiddly dress it is to make and you would relish the chance to have a go yourself leave a comment saying so and next Sunday the 17th before I shut down for the night I will post an Entries Closed comment and randomly draw a winner to be announced a couple of days later. Until the Entries Closed comment is there the draw remains open.

So, short of explaing how to move darts around and split them as needed for that bow skirt I think I’m kinda caught up. With blog things at least.Everything else is another story!

The Little Bias Dress (free) pattern has landed

aka the LBD.Little Bias Dress

“Just-below-the-knee 30’s inspired bias dress. It fits snug over the hips and the lower skirt then flares out into a 1⁄2 circle. The V-neck bodice is cut on the straight grain and finished with a facing. There is shirring under the bust and across the back waist which also has a 2 piece belt. The entire skirt and the fluted 3⁄4 circle sleeves are cut on the true bias. All seams are best simply pinked and pressed open though french seaming the long side seams of the nightgown worked well. Sleeve and skirt hems are finished with either a hand or machine rolled hem. Armholes are bound with bias strips. This 10 piece pattern (all seam allowances included on the pattern) is sized to fit a UK size 10/12, 162-167cm/ 5’4”-5’6”height person. “

So, after making my LBD dress first posted about here last month I thought it could be adapted to also make a sweet 30′s style nightgown…and in some soft  embroidered cotton lawn it did. The instruction pdf I just posted suggests tells how the adapt the dress pattern to make this style too along with pattern/body measurements, fabric suggestions, notions and a cutting layout even :) I think by following the Threads grading guide it would not be difficult to grade this pattern up a couple of sizes.

LBD3LBD nightgown

However I should warn you the tiled pattern is a whopping 28 pages to print and tape together!  If you know of a CAD print service (cadtoprint.co.uk for instance) to whom you could email the full A0 pdf (edited to add: 33.1 x 46.8 inches) and have them post you back a full size printed sheet drop me a note via my VV contact form and tell me you would very much like a full sized pdf. For the brave and patient among you the  sewing instruction pdf and tiled pattern pdfs are now all up on the VVFree page…in both A4 and US letter tiled formats :)

If someone could give me suggestions of similar digital printing services in the US, Canada Europe etc I’d be grateful as I’d like to list them on the blog because it’s a question I get asked from time to time and I only know the UK possibilities.

My next post will be for a draw to win one printed  pattern of that other dress now known as the Bloggin’ Blues dress even though my blog blues are long gone. As soon as March begins the year ahead feels full of promise even though the weather here is still perfectly miserable.

I love love love a violet posy!

Capital ‘V’ Vintage, A Bias LBD & A 2yr Blogoversary!

This past wet and cold Sunday morning seemed a good day for mooching around antique markets so the Mister and I headed to Lewes, East Sussex.Lewes shops Brighton has some good ones too but the grass is always greener in Lewes. I got to choose where to start and it was straight to my fave, May’s Antiques, where a small but great selection of mostly pre 50’s clothes, is always to be found. I do buy and wear some 60s/70s clothes but sometimes I just want something older than I am- and that’s what I call Capital ‘V’ Vintage. Within minutes I saw this wonderful 1930′s chestnut brown bias cut full length gown chestnut 30's dress and just knew we were made for each other. The main fabric is slinky rayon satin and the upper bodice is a dense cotton velvet. The winged sleeves have something stiff and slightly crunchy in them to make them stand up… I’m thinking probably a wide horsehair braid. The panels are pieced in lovely curved lines but it was the back detail that was the deal maker. It’s in pretty good shape, only a couple of small mends and a dry-clean needed. I really rarely make such a flash decision- and do sometimes regret it when I do but not this time. I consider the dress a ‘study piece’ however it does fit me well and could certainly be worn if the right occasion arises. ‘Dinner at Eight’ anyone?

Just as I was leaving I spotted these four French magazines. I almost didn’t look at them because I thought they were the same vintage Marie Claire magazines that I’d already bought a few of a while back and boy oh boy I’m so glad I took a second look! The earliest is from 1939 and the latest 1951.

Elegance covers

The cover illustrations are so gorgeous that I would have bought just those if that’s all there was to them but the insides are just packed with page after page of fabulous dress illustrations and a few more colour plates too. I’ll post a few scans from them at a later date, they are very inspirational if you are interested in details from this period.

Lewes Flea MarketMoving along to The Lewes Flea Market we admired a small 1834 painting of a Brighton Shrimp boy, pondered over pretty china, discussed the clock yet again, patted some sad taxidermy and finally arrived in front of this lovely art-deco convertible brooch.

deco convertible brooch

A while ago I read a great post on Oh For The Love Of Vintage all about dress clips and then realised a little clip I already had was actually half of a convertible brooch. Then I received a complete convertible brooch this Christmas and as of Sunday I have three ( two and a half really) convertible brooches. And that’s how a collection begins!

*****

If you saw my Birdy Beret pattern review post last week I mentioned I was going to a White Mink “speakeasy” night and aimed to make a new dress in a day.

This LBD (Little Black Dress or Little Bias Dress, take your pick) was the result, made in record time!Bias LBD

8:30 am-9 drink coffee.

9-10:30 make the pattern.

10:30-11:30 cut out.

11:30-12 drink coffee.

12-5 sew as fast as possible.

5-6 take a break & say hi to family.

6-7 try on and decide a black organza flower brooch decoration is desperately needed and make one.

7-8:30 bath, hair, make-up and wolf some dinner down.

9pm-2am dance, dance, dance!

Saturday – lie on a sofa and don’t move much.

Now, I know for a fact a lot of other sewers get that awful compulsion to make something new at the last minute rather than wear something already in the closet. Confess that you’ve gone out with a raw edge hem or a waist pinned together – or what is the most unfinished state you’ve ever worn a dress in?? Tell me, I won’t tell, I promise!

*****

And shame on me as I forgot VeraVenus’s blogoversary on January 11th….will she ever forgive me ?!

To belatedly celebrate and show my heart-felt thanks to all you SewVeraVenus readers and followers for your ongoing interest and encouragement I’ll be posting a new free downloadable pattern quite soon: I thought I’d do that new LBD pattern in two sizes and also a give-away draw for one printed and mailed to anywhere copy of this dress pattern. Plum 40's copycat dressStay tuned for the announcement. I hesitate to say how ‘soon’ is quite soon… as I need to digitize and redraw it, but I’ll try for not too long a ‘soon’. Meanwhile I leave you with this swinging clip from White Mink.

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