I’m Moving House

Hello all,

A rather sudden decision has been made and I’m moving my SewVeraVenus blog from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org 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!

-Jeanne/VeraVenus

Show off a little why dont’cha!

This is an invitation to come and join the brand spanking 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,

VV/Jeanne

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!

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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.

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.

VVbiasNightie

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.

VVbrnSundress

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 :)

2LittleLadies

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!

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