26 Mar 2013
in 1960's, dressmaking, vintage reproductions, Vintage style
Tags: 1960's summer dress, dressmaking, vintage inspired, vintage patterns
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 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.
Here 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…”
31 Jan 2013
in 1940's, Accessories, Inspiration, sewing, shoes, vintage reproductions
Tags: 40's beret pattern, french beret, sewing a beret
I actually haven’t sewn anything since before Christmas which for me is almost like not breathing but a break every now and then is good even I admit. Instead over the hols I baked like crazy (umpteen batches of biscotti and a Baked Alaska) and just this past Monday returned to the UK from a couple of weeks in southern New Mexico- though I did finish a blouse while I was there but that doesn’t really count and it still needs buttonholes. So yesterday, after tidying up my workroom which suffered from family invasion while I was away, I wanted to make something simple that wouldn’t tax my jet-lagged brain and would get me back in the sewing groove.
This little 1948 French beret pattern from Mrs. Depew was just the ticket.
The pdf contains the instructions for drawing out the pattern for the simple, nicely proportioned small beret and the cute bird ornament. Sewing instructions are very minimal but really it isn’t hard to construct.
The two things I changed were making the head opening a few centimetres larger (maybe french women had little heads in ’48 or maybe I just have a big one) and I shortened the length of the birds body by 1-1/2 cm so to my eye at least it had more of the same proportion as the illustration. I also lined my beret. The birds wings are two layers of suede fused together so not to be floppy and I wish I’d done that for the tail too. If you make this hat yourself doubling up the bird fabric is something to bear in mind depending on what you use. The edge stitching is also something I decided to add just to make it a little more tailored in feel to go with my newest Miss L Fire shoes ( on sale)
Now my suede-trimmed tweed suit (a version of a vintage late 40′s suit which I had to copy for a film in November and that just happened to fit me too- occasional perks of my job) that I made just before all the baking started is accessorised and ready to go … just as soon as my Christmas waist goes away and I can button the skirt again that is.
Will I make this beret again?
Most certainly. This first one took about four hours to make with my messing about some but will take half that in the future. I have some red velvet lined up for a loopy bow one and some turquoise suede to make a second bird beret in. A black felt one with a sequinned or beaded bird could be fab too I think. All in all a successful make.
Now I’m going to whizz up a little black satin dress based on my 30′s PJ top free pattern to wear tomorrow night to a White Mink evening…. because of course I haven’t got a single frock to wear!
12 Nov 2012
in 1940's, Inspiration, It's in the Details, random, sewing, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1940's, applique, dressmaking, shirring, vintage dress, vintage inspired
Had a bad case of the blogging blues these last couple of months and had to just walk away and think for a while. Blogging was supposed to be an enjoyable thing but became a stress and an obsession instead. I have enough of those already. It got so I couldn’t make anything without thinking about whether or not I ought to be photographing my progress, jotting down the steps and writing a tutorial. And how often did I check my stats?? Sheesh, talk about a creativity killer. Can’t say I’ve come to an understanding with myself about what I’m doing here on WP or why or for whom… but hey I didn’t hit ‘delete this site’ so even if not exactly back in the saddle at least I’m walking alongside the horse. And I have been sewin’ up a storm while singin’ those blues and at the end of the day making clothes is my passion and I just have to keep sight of that.
A while ago while idly perusing vintage dress sites looking at pix of dresses hoping for some inspiration I came across this red beauty on FabGabs.com (site now under reconstruction) and it was love at first sight!
photos by FabGabs.com
So I made a version for myself. It’s made from a heavy silk crepe I’ve been hoarding for years just waiting for the perfect moment to use it and has a velvet yoke, sleeves and pockets. The embroidery is cut out from an upholstery sample, first BondaWeb-ed to stabilise it and help stick it in place on the velvet and then blanket stitched with silk buttonhole thread all around the edges. The pattern itself is a cobbled together job- draped bias sleeves from a 1940′s style evening dress I made a private client a couple of years ago, skirt, also bias is a lengthened version from the 30′s pj top I put a pattern up for (DIY page) and the bodice was adapted from a fitted shirt block. The 4 rows of shirring at the top and bottom of the bodice to control the fullness is a technique I really like and don’t use enough. In a panic I discovered I was down to my last fabric buckle covering kit and they are so hard to find these days… Vogue Fabric site has them in USA and Amazon.com. But they won’t ship them to the UK for some reason so had to warn my Mum in New Mexico a packet of a dozen is headed her way which I’ll collect in January. Phew, panic over
I’ve used the cut-out embroidery technique before on this georgette and velvet kimono I did for Making Magazine (a UK craft mag I do sewing projects for quite a lot)
That’s a pic of one of the 18″ square upholstery fabric swatches a friend who works in a posh interior design shop gave me and the image below shows how I machine stitched it on. Going around all the edges with blanket stitch is somewhere on my to-do list….. someday. Anyway I think it’s a good cheat for adding embroidery onto clothes for those of us who don’t embroider.
08 Sep 2012
in 1940's, How To, It's in the Details, Sew-along, sewing, vintage reproductions, Vintage style
Tags: 1940's, how to sew vintage style french knickers, lingerie, Making vintage style lingerie
Day 1- today covers cutting out, hand sewing on lace motifs, sewing french seams and how to attach a continuos side seam placket with either a hand or machine finish.
Day 2- tomorrows post covers adding a waistband with either a fabric or elastic (ha, didn’t expect that did you!), machine appliquéd lace hems and motifs, machine pin-hemming, hand-made button-holes and other closing options. More
26 Apr 2012
in 1930's, dressmaking, How To, Inspiration, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1930's lingerie, 1930's style silk pyjamas, free pattern, sewing, vintage inspired
“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
18 Apr 2012
in 1930's, Inspiration, sewing, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1930s pyjamas, dressmaking, pjs, vintage inspired, vintage patterns
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
14 Mar 2012
in 1950's, Free pattern, How To, lingerie, Vintage Lingerie, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1950's, free pattern, granny-pants, lingerie, stretch silk
100 SewVeraVenus blog followers as of today, a nice round number
Thank you all so very much for your interest in SewVeravenus!
So to celebrate I thought I’d put up the super-easy version of my ‘Grannie Pannies‘ the big-knickers that I was making patterns for a couple of months back.
A printable-cut-it-out-and-stick-it-together-with-tape pattern.
(UK size 10/12 , that’s hips 36′ to 39″, but easily grade-able to bigger/smaller sizes by following the Threads Magazine grading advice.
The pattern can be downloaded from the VVPatterns & Tutorials page.
Fabrics: one or two way stretch jerseys, stretch silk, stretch lace, cotton lycra…
Have at it- cut ‘em out, stretch-stitch together…. zig-zag stitch some elastic at the waist and legs and presto your very own big-yet-ever-so-sexy-knickers.
Bridget Jones eat your heart out.
04 Feb 2012
in 1940's, dressmaking, lingerie, sewing, Vintage Lingerie, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1940's bra pattern, lingerie, vintage inspired, vintage style bra
This morning I faced the fact that I had to just stop making samples, doing fittings, planning, thinking, what-if-ing (aka procrastinating) and just get this give-away (first blogged about here) going.
So here’s the deal: More
19 Jan 2012
in 1930's, 1940's, Accessories, shoes, vintage reproductions
Tags: shoe heaven, vintage inspired, vintage styled shoes
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…
16 Jan 2012
in 1930's, 1940's, dressmaking, How To, sewing, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1930's caplet, dressmaking, free pattern, short cape
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!
12 Sep 2011
in 1930's, DIY, Free pattern, How To, patternmaking, Vintage Lingerie, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1930's lingerie, free pattern, how to draft vintage French Knickers, how to sew vintage style french knickers
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
About the bra in the photo above: More
08 Sep 2011
in 1930's, costume, dressmaking, vintage reproductions, wedding
Tags: Costumes, dressmaking, vintage inspired, wedding
…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 …
18 Jul 2011
in vintage, vintage reproductions
Tags: Fashion, vintage, vintage inspired
Fashion: Is it vintage or vintage-inspired? – latimes.com.
Just a quicky post: a link to an article concerning one of my favourite soap-box rants concerning how these days the word ‘vintage’ is used so often as either a fashion branding device or to describe clothing that is really nothing more than grubby second-hand tat.
Is a new word needed to differentiate true vintage from ‘new’ vintage?
Do most people not actually involved with original vintage clothing really care?
What do you think?
27 Jun 2011
in 1940's, Coats, sewing, vintage, vintage reproductions
Tags: 1940's coat, dressmaking, vintage
Circa late 30′s or very early 40′s I think…
The original coat doesn’t look all that fab here but it was just one of those things that you try on and go Wow! So over two months last Autumn I made a version for myself.
-First step was a re-drape of one side of the coat in muslin directly on top of the original to give me the basic shape and style lines. There was a lot more shaping under the arm than you can see in this photo and some tricky cutting near the pocket and I wouldn’t get that accurately if I worked on the flat from a modern coat block. Re-draping is fun anyway and I always learn something new when copying old garments with this method.
-Second step I transferred the muslin pattern onto paper and made corrections from measurements I’d taken from the coat then sewed up a toile from the corrected pattern. After fitting it on myself I decided to add an extra pleat on each side of the centre back pleat and to have them start right at the waist instead of a bit below the belt.
Third step etc- All seemed good enough to get on with my real fabric finally, a sturdy wool cavalry twill. The body went together reasonably easily though the curved dart that goes into a little horizontal seam at the top of the pocket was a real fiddle to do. The sleeves were a twisted disaster however… never did quite figure out what went wrong but had enough fabric (phew!!) to recut them. To get them correct I did finally use one of my own modern basic sleeve patterns altered to the proportions of the original coat sleeves.
I like a snazzy lining in a coat and found this silk twill fabric that still makes me smile on the grimmest of days.
To build up big enough shoulder pads I used one and a half of a mens suit pad in each side.
I didn’t like where the top two buttons hit my chest so left them off as well as leaving off the arrows on the end of the front darts.
The waist buttons holes are self-welted and though the sleeves are done with a proper button vent on the back seam I never actually did the buttonholes on them… and have been roundly told off for laziness by a tailor friend. I will do them …some day. All the under stitching on lapels and fronts was done by hand . I am lucky to have the use of an industrial steam iron as the cavalry twill is tough stuff to press and don’t think I could have managed with my home iron.
Just as a last note on the pleats: the back of each pleat is a seam which though making for a lot more pieces to cut out and sew together really helps the back of the coat keep its shape. The lining is not pleated however, it is just an A-line shape in the back.
I absolutely love this coat and consider it one of my most successful makes to date. I’ve worn it a few times this June even, can you believe it? Not the warmest summer here so far…
10 Apr 2011
in 1940's, Coats, sewing, vintage, vintage reproductions
Tags: coats, sewing, vintage, vintage patterns
Ready for an Easter parade I am in my exceedingly green coat. It’s a colour that cheers me to look at… but I need to be in an exuberant mood to actually wear it.
The pattern was a 9.65€ find at a local vintage fair and with my new zeal for old patterns I was impatient to try it out. So late one evening at the costume studio I quickly chalked the pattern lines on to my pre-washed linen, lengthened it, cut it out and dived into sewing. The water was cold! Caught out again by the generous amount of pattern ease in a vintage pattern plus it being a bit too big anyway I needed to make a fair few alterations as I went along. That was the night I accidentally got locked in the building and so had not much else to do but to keep on sewing until someone with keys could come back and unlock the front door. I got a lot done by the time I was actually let out.
It’s unlined and the seams are all edged with bias cotton binding. Happily linen is forgiving and easy to work with so all my un-picking and messing about with the fit wasn’t too obvious in the end.
Vintage kimono fabric used for facing and to cover shoulder pads
7 rows of Top-stitching on collar, cuffs, pockets & hem.
It’s a great shape pattern and I will make it as a jacket next for a summer suit with a pair of trousers like these Vogue 5757 I think.