Sew Relaxed

VV Weldons pattern pjs

PJ layout illustration showing how F. & B crutches are almost identical, placket and faced buttonhole method.

PJ layout illustration showing how F. & B crutches are almost identical, placket and faced buttonhole method.

Take a late 40′s or early 50s Weldons pj pattern add a fun flamingo cotton border print bought yesterday  (Ditto Fabrics, UK) and hey presto- pjs. It’s an unprinted pattern but the original seamstress very helpfully pencil labeled each pattern piece. I joined the two pants pattern pieces together down the sides so there is no side seam on my version… but as the top of the pants has pleats and a tailored waistband I still had to make a slash placket on the left hip to get them on and off. I also left 2 of the back pleats unpleated, which gave me about 3 inches extra in the waist. I cut a longer waistband and slotted in a bit of elastic into the centre back to create some ‘give’. I had bought  2 and a half metres of fabric with no particular usage in mind but looking through my vintage pattern stash this one seemed perfect.  Unfortunately the fabric was only 45″ wide and so I had to lose 3″ off the length of the top to fit all the pieces in. The crotch is very low and almost comes to a point rather than the scooped out shape modern trousers have.  I still need to add buttons and buttonholes and will be sleep testing properly tonight. But so far I’d say I will definitely be using this pattern again- comfy to wear, more practical than my earlier silk pjs, definitely uncomplicated to make- a relaxing project for a change,just what was needed after a manic month of costume work.

The black velvet and pink floral georgette were very recent jobs. I can’t post pictures of the other things I’ve worked on for ‘confidentiality’ reasons. Whatever. The lower row of images are a few costumes I made last year… just re-found the photos on my computer. I’m not that organised when it comes to taking pictures of all my professional jobs… mostly only if I like them. Been a lot of bias dresses between my own and 3 of these. The pink floral georgette was a nightmare to work with. Couldn’t press it well, terrible fraying. Give me bias velvet any day over nylon georgette ever again again!!

Anyway this goes to show why sewing up a pair of easy cotton pjs from a vintage pattern is my idea of relaxation :)

The sewing book give-away winner is…. and a new free coat pattern



You were ‘in’ and you have won the sewing book:)

 I want to say a huge thank you everyone who participated and to all VV followers, but especially the 18 who help me reach 1000 and the 5 beyond that even! I enjoyed all the lovely comments everyone left too :)

And for all, just added to VV Free today :


Available to download from the VV Free Patterns page

A pattern for this cardigan/kimono coat I was commissioned by Making magazine UK to do as a project for their February 2014 issue. I always get my project  samples back and now it is Autumn I thought those in cooler climes might like a super easy casual coat to make. I am wearing mine almost every day at the moment.

The blanket appliqué is from a Mexican sarape my mother bought on a trip there in the early ’60s. Sadly a few years ago it was savaged by moths and that damage along with the general wear of years made it too fragile for use as a blanket. But I rarely let textiles go…. there will always (well almost always) be a way to up cycle/recycle so I do hang on to stuff (as my closets, drawers, shelves attest) This project came along and was perfect. The sarape blanket has been with me almost all of my years and now can continue to be in a new form.

The included sewing instructions are specifically for a fabric like boiled wool which doesn’t fray when cut but you can add seam allowances onto the pattern where edges are ‘net’ along with lapel facings and a lining and  to use it with almost any cosy fabric you like. Grading to larger sizes can be done with ‘slash ‘n spread’. Have a look at the Threads guide.

I made an earlier version some years back in a wonderful hand silk screened velvet left over from a costume design job. It has a kimono style band as a collar instead of the shawl collar the current version has… in velvet it looks very ’20s I think.

I’ve always meant to make a linen version too to wear with some 30’s style trousers-  but so much to make and not enough time.

It never ceases to amaze me how with just a change of fabric and some different details a basic pattern design can take on on a whole other era and feeling.

Do you find yourself sticking to a few patterns you know work for you, that you love and just experiment with variations on the theme or are you always on the lookout for new patterns to try?



Celebratory Give-Away (a 1944 Sewing Book)

edit Sept 26 2014:



Things I’m celebrating 1-2-3

1- Today my first 4 patterns were sent off to be printed :)

2- I am very close to 1000 followers, woohoo, go the blog!

3- My workroom is now super tidy after the disastrous bookshelf collapse of last week threw it into total uproar…

…which is how I discovered I had 2 copies of this 1944 soft cover Butterick sewing book one of which I am now giving away.

It contains 60 odd pages of really useful sewing advice covering alterations, marking, seams, pressing, some embroidery stitches, buttonholes, setting sleeves and tons more. Vintage yes, but still awfully helpful. It’s a little fragile but at 70 years old who isn’t.  A nice start to a vintage sewing book collection or a nice addition to what you already may have. More

Sew It and Sea


Remember my Lamour swimsuit from a few summers back? I finally got back to that pattern and over the last 4 months in between costume work and wedding dresses I’ve developed a whole little range of retro styled swimwear and thought I’d give a preview of some of the pattern styles I’ll be releasing.

For the last two weeks while free of commissions I’ve been working my socks off testing, sampling different sizes of the grades, trying out different fabrics. The gold halter suit & the sparkly turquoise and tan are both patterns designed for lycra. The turg/tan number has been my choice of beach wear these last couple of weeks …even though the sparkles keep coming off and making me look like a hardcore fan of body glitter. There’s 2pc versions of both.



The other patterns are for woven cottons; the bodices can be used with skirts to make fab sundresses too.  Optional mini skirts are in the works to join with the tops so the suits can even become vintage style swim-dresses if the little pants aren’t your thing. 

I may even do some ready-to-wear suits… already been making a few for friends who don’t sew and have a couple of factory possibilities to check out. Anyway that’s all even further down the road. 

Sizes you ask? I hesitate to give size names as they vary so much from country to country, company to company. However the 6 graded sizes I’ve had done cover busts 32″-42″/84cms-104cms, hips 35″-45″/ 91cms-109cms.

Amourette Jolie 2pc Amourette as Dress

So far the patterns are finished. The grading has been done.

I’m 1/2 way through adding seam allowances, grain-lines, info,  checking notches match and make the patterns into size nests.

Still to do:

Write sewing instructions (someones gonna have to tie me to a chair for a week  2 weeks for that one!)

Illustrations for the envelope & pics of real women in the suits (the fun stuff!)

Oh and of course getting them printed on light weight pattern paper.

Oh, yeah, the website : getting a proper shop set up.

Arrrggh all of a sudden I feel a little overwhelmed.

Never mind, I’ll get there.

Stay tuned ;)

Sew it and Sea!


I’m Moving House

Hello all,

A rather sudden decision has been made and I’m moving my SewVeraVenus blog from to self-hosted this week so I can turn it into a more fully-fledged website (with blog & a pattern shop under one roof)
Things may look a little weird around here this week….my lovely custom fonts had to be turned off and my pretty blog header seems to come and go for starters. Quite honestly I haven’t a clue about this stuff but with the help of the WordPress Happiness Engineers all should be back to normal fairly soon.
Wish me luck!


Show off a little why dont’cha!

This is an invitation to come and join the brand new SewVeraVenus Flickr group.

Come and show off what you have made using VeraVenus patterns.

It’s a bit like a ghost town on the group page right now…winds whistling around the empty gallery rustling the same old photos of my own sewing (I posted some of my pics for now just so something would be there). I’d so much rather see what you’ve made and I have seen some fab makes around the interwebs. Yes I do do the occasional google search on ‘veravenus’ and some really lovely things have shown up on blogs but people rarely send me photos (I know, we are all so busy!) So unless I spend the time hunting around I don’t get to see what y’all get up to. So I am hoping if I created a SewVeraVenus Flickr Group some photos of your sewing from VV patterns would magically appear there … posted by you for everyone to see.

Flickr picTo get to the group page just click the pic above or the one over there in the sidebar on your right and upload away.

Thanking you for your photo contributions in advance,


P.S.  If you don’t have a flickr account but would be happy to have me post photos on the group page for you just email them to me: sewveravenus(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add them. If you do have a blog  don’t forget to send the relevant link so I can add that in the description.


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!


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.

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.

(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 pretty well though next time I will reduced the liquid by 3oz!


(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.


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.

VVcream bias

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.


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.



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) :

IMG_2722 IMG_2724IMG_2726 IMG_2723

That’s all until the draw :)

Previous Older Entries

French-Knicker Sew-Along PDF

Click the picture to go straight to the full sew-along pdf to download and read later.

©VeraVenus 2014 All rights reserved. 'VeraVenus' is a registered trademark

Follow my boards on Pinterest

VeraVenus on Flickr

Come and share!

%d bloggers like this: