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!

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?

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 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!

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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!

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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.

A Post of Many P’s

You -”What exactly is a post of many Ps?”
Me – “Promised Patterns, Pretty Pants, Phabulous Presents, Palace Party, Pampered Pooch & a Professional Project in a Pear tree of course!”

First up the promised pattern drafting tutorial for the 8 gore 6 godet 1930′s style skirt I posted about in September…and the pdf isn’t a squillion pages long this time . :) While writing and diagramming it I realised it made perfect sense to show how to make a basic Pencil Skirt and an A-line skirt pattern along the way. The big plus is not only can the A-line pattern can be cut on the straight grain as for a simple 1940′s tailored skirt but can be cut on the bias too! So all in all a good start to pattern designing your own skirt collection. In my next tutorial effort I’ll show how to split darts and move them around to add the bow detail for the 40′s skirt and drafting the ‘bucket’ pocket to add to the 50’s pencil skirt.

I do want to point out that my tutorial doesn’t at all intend to replace in-depth pattern drafting books. I’ve tried to keep it simple enough for anyone to follow to get the feel of creating patterns for themselves without getting hung up on too much technical stuff. I loathed taking flat-pattern classes way back when- the instructor was a dragon and nothing I did ever came out right …unless I was making patterns styled for Quasi Modo (he’s my knitting muse now instead) Draping on a stand was my idea of heaven however and that was how I created patterns for years. Slowly though I conquered my fear of set squares, fractions and precision points and started to absorb information from the flat pattern cutters I worked along side. Some books, the Natalie Bray series and the 1942 Harriet Pepin in particular were very useful. Now I work back and forth between draping and flat pattern designing equally at home in both. If I can’t figure out how to do something by one method I turn to the other.

Anyhow enough rambling. I hope you get something useful from the skirt tutorial and please come back & show me what you make. Download the skirt drafting pdf here.

Pretty Pants up next: Using VV patterns Abigail of FarmhouseGarden made a very cute pair of ‘Grannie Pannies’ and Ruth shows off her rather cheeky pair of French Knickers at LessonsInScarlet. Have a look and my thanks to them both for showing off their scanties  :)

On to Phabulous Presents: because that time of year is fast approaching. I’ve made myself two promises regarding presents: first- NO internet shopping. Though it is convenient and I do my fair share I also think it’s important to support small local retailers and sitting in front of a computer is not so much fun as going out and about looking at things (and getting tired feet and banged shins and a short temper… ok well just a little internet shopping maybe). Second- get it done in a timely fashion. Oh-hoho no, that won’t be me running around on Christmas Eve this year 15 minutes before the shops shut. Famous last words.

And of course who doesn’t like to make things to give as gifts? These are two projects I did for the most recent issue of Making Magazine .

Pearly Elf Christmas Stocking

Holiday Hottie Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The editor has kindly said I may post the instructions and patterns on my Patterns&Tutorials page for SewVeraVenus readers. I hope you enjoy them.From the Making website  (projects>sewing)you can also download the Sleeping Beauty nighty project and also a super easy Sari Tunic tunic by yours truly as well. I’ve done quite a few Making Mag projects over the last year and they will all be on this site at some point too (when I get the page done)

And  almost last but hardly least the Palace Party.
OK, not strictly speaking a party but something I am SO EXCITED about… Caravan Palace are playing Brighton next week and I have tickets! Their Electro Swing music never fails to make me want to dance and it definitely feels like time to party when ever  I hear it.
I won’t be dancing at the gig, my foot still isn’t mended enough for that but I’ll be  jigging about a bit ( in a sedate ladylike manner of course) that’s for sure.
Have a look and listen to Caravan Palace -

So that’s what I call a post of many Ps. I dePart leaving you with a picture of my Pampered Pooch.

Too Pooped to Post More

Ah,  just still one more P after all-

I nearly forgot the Katie outfit I recently designed that was made for her most recent promo.
Couldn’t let you go without a peep at that now could I.

Price in Boots

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French inspiration from August 1939


Last weekend I bought the 1939 August of issue Marie Claire magazine in a antique market

from 73 years ago this month!

It has these lovely illustrations of men’s holiday fashions in ice-cream colours which really caught my eye.

Just one month later WW2 was declared.

In the same issue is this article of ideas on using lace as appliqué on ‘bibelots” (I’ve always loved that word)

Inspiration hit and I made…. wait for it…… more french knickers of course.

Serendipity in the form of some lovely soft turquoise-y blue silk broadcloth I bought only the week before.

To make lace appliqué bows you tie a length of lace into a bow and fiddle about with it on your ironing board sticking pins in here and there until it has the shape you like and then you press it very flat.

Carefully re-pin it in place on whatever you will be sewing it on. Flat fabric is easier than an already sewn garment because of having to turn it every which way while sewing.

You can either hand baste it in place first (the methodical way) or go straight to sewing it down (the impatient way) though the pins will really get in the way.

I used a small size 2 straight stitch and was very grateful my machine has a presser foot knee lift!

You could cut some sections of the backing fabric away after sewing which would look lovely and airy- in which case either a tiny machine zig-zag or close hand-whipping the lace edges down would be better.

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Lounge Lady

“Yes, ok, you can come to the pyjama party too!”

‘Lounge Lady’ pyjamas sounds so much nicer than ‘Lounge Jockey’ pyjamas

(what my family has dubbed them because of the print on the fabric :( )

What ever you’d like to call them, they are finished!! More

Are you going to the pyjama party?

at Did You make That?
It’s a sew-along with tutorial on sewing some pj bottoms from a modern Simplcity pattern or a link to drafting your own.
What a good idea…. and just the push I need to make myself some lovely new pjs that I won’t be embarrassed to open my front door in as it seems that when ever I have a pj-day my house is suddenly transformed into Grand Central Station.
I’m opting for using my own patterns as I just happen to have a similar little top I drafted for myself a number of years ago and a number of loose trouser patterns that will do for the bottoms. More

House of Wenger, 3-sided Italian Stitch and a final word on knickers…

…for now anyway.

A few months back a friend very generously lent me these gorgeous pleated silk knickers to photograph for my reference files. Going by period illustrations and saucy photographs of the time  I would date them as from 1925-1930. (clicking on any pictures will open a large version)

Silk pleats!

Think of the ironing. Though I imagine the woman who originally bought these hand-made silk undies from the House of Wenger in Philadelphia in the 20′s had someone to do it for her…. More

Vintage style shoe heaven….

I have found my absolute shoe heaven!

Sadly for me it’s in L.A….. but they ship internationally :)

I’m having palpitations…

and those San Miguel sandals are on sale…

Into 2012 we go… and a free mini cape pattern

Halfway through January already…. so hows that New Years Resolution working out for ya?

The papers have been merrily trumpeting the fact that most of us, if we even made one, will have given it up by the end of this month!

Well I made two and so far so good:
1st: Don’t Over Complicate Things aka Keepin’ It Simple
This can be applied to just about everything in life from sewing to relationships.

2nd: Finish What I’ve Started….. This applies particularly to the backlog of projects I started last year- that rouleaux shouldered dress (still love it and really want it to be ready for Spring), still more lace needing hand-whipping onto this black satin kimono and My Big Project: SewVeraVenus Lingerie. Yup, really fell behind on that one…. my apologies to all of you patiently waiting for the1940′s bra pattern I mentioned in the Autumn. Anyway I now have graded sizes from 30A-DD through 36A-DD and will be running a Birthday Give-Away of five patterns at the end of January to celebrate both a year of (very sporadic) blogging and another year of my life. If you are a subscriber you will be the first to know :)

2011 wasn’t all unfinished business though: in November I moved all my working equipment down from a London studio into my home. A major undertaking as I hadn’t realised quite how much stuff I had amassed. Anyway took a month to settle in but all put away now and a nice work-room to be in. I think my husand has just about gotten over losing his study… and now I have the option of working either home or away and it’s a huge improvement when working on my personal projects as the kitchen table really wasn’t great for sewing especially when family was making cups of tea around me.

Also VeraVenus™ is now officially trademarked so I can add the little™ letters after it, woohoo!

But back to sewing matters: the day before New Years Eve I decided I needed a new dress and whipped up this one:

New Years Eve dress

It’s based on the 1930′s bridal dress I made last spring and a project that had been lurking in my mind for some time and I had to get it in before that ‘finish the old before starting the new’ resolution kicked in. Setting a tight time deadline usually gives me the needed shot of adrenaline to stop messing about and get on with things. I had some pale lavender-grey fur scraps leftover from a costume job which I pieced together to make the square shouldered 30′s/40′s style shoulder cape to wear with it… just what the velvet needed.

Blue felt 1930'3-1940's style capelet

Lastly for now, as a Happy New Years gift to SewVeraVenus readers this other cape pattern, as seen in this blue felt version, can be downloaded by clicking on the picture. It could look great made in wools, felt, fake fur, even linen or heavier cottons… leave it plain or embellish like mad.

(NB:It is a pattern only, no instructions are included… but easy to make!)

Happy 2012 sewing!

A “How To Draft and Make 1930′s Style Circular French Knickers” post.

Just what it says on the tin: how to draft and make knickers like these.

A few weeks ago while digging in a scrap bag for a bit of fabric to trial a 1940′s bra pattern I’ve been working on (more on that later) I unearthed a very fragile and disintegrating pair of 1930′s black chiffon French Knickers …. I don’t think they’ve seen the light of day for 25 years and it’s anyone’s guess why I ever stuffed them in that bag in the first place as I usually keep study pieces in a more accessible place. However, a timely rediscovery as they’re simple to draft and make, so perfect for this ‘long time a comin’ post .

The style I’m demonstrating has a flat waist and is based on a full circle pattern and cut without any side seams. There is a left side opening finished with a straight grain continuous placket and the waist is finished with either a bias or straight grain binding. Inserting the crutch gusset is the trickiest part if you’ve never inserted a pointed piece into a slash opening .

As the style is full and fluted making them in very soft thin fabrics like silk georgette, lightest weight crêpe de chine or cotton batiste or lawn will work best.

I used a silk mousseline (satin faced chiffon) for this first green sample and the apricot fabric in the pdf pictures is a light weight c. de c.

Theres a 5 page PDF *How To* with all pattern drafting and sewing instructions.

I’ve included some helpful (I hope) pictures incase my text isn’t clear enough.

Have a read through the PDF and if you are inspired just download it and have a go.

I’d really love to know if you make a pair :)

p.s.

About the bra in the photo above: More

What I Did On My Summer Holiday…

…wait a minute, I worked all summer. The joys of being freelance! When work’s on offer I feel obliged to take it as there may not be more around the corner.

Well, that’s how I used to think but I’m older and wiser now and less keen on hammering myself into the ground.

Still, the summer months were back to back jobs and just whizzed by without much time for anything else (like keeping my blog updated!)

Here’s some of the work I did from early July through mid August:

3 showgirls for a tv advert I love doing retro style showgirl costumes like these (and couldn’t resist trying out a Photoshop film strip action on the photos)

Next I made …

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I now pronounce you finally finished.

1930

 

Seems like I’ve been working on this forever … but wedding dresses often do. The first toile fitting was just before Christmas and the fabric didn’t arrive until the end of January so it hasn’t been that long really. Getting fittings scheduled is usually the problem. We will have done a total of 5 to get this just so.

Anyway, ultimate try-on and collection tomorrow. Hooray! It’s funny how brides-to-be often say they don’t want a veil, but somehow get more in the spirit of things towards the Big Day and for this we’ve ended with a veil and a tiny cape cover-up as well.

The satin is a fairly weighty 240gm. All seam and hem edges are bound with bias georgette strips and I mounted the bodice on silk georgette as well but left the skirt unlined. With a pair of Spanx underneath not a vpl in sight . Perfect. It fits the bride like a Jean Harlow glove. She’s having a soft waved & rolled 1930′s style hair-do with white flowers pinned in the back and the 3 metre veil will just fall from there.

This job has been a real pleasure, such a gorgeous style to make.

(Pic of original vintage dress in my Rouleaux Obsession post

A peek inside- tiny blue bow for good luck.

 

Little cape cover-up

 

The wedding day.

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