All tied up

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MMblouse picAs seen in Making magazine logo   Issue 58/March 2015 of Making magazine was released in the UK yesterday and in it is this simple front buttoning bow tied blouse pattern and tutorial by yours truly :) Now the issue is on the shelves I can share this version with you- available on my Free Patterns PageKimono-Bow-blouse-flat

It’s based on the same hip-tucked body shape as my keyhole neck kimono/magyar blouse and like that one also has a 30’s/40’s feel to it. Works with or without shoulder pads as well.


Yesterday as an after thought I added optional extra front and centre back tucks to this pattern to help you make the hips a closer fit if desired. Top-stitching along each tuck looks nice too.

However if you’re just not a pussycat bow fan…

Say NO to the bow

….you could add a different sort of collar; a less fluffy bow tie, a peter pan, a simple stand or even just sew on a vintage lace collar to the round neck.

Green satin blouse VeraVenus

This little green silk satin blouse is one I made years ago. It has a very similar style armhole though shaped closer to the shoulder and with a little curve in the underarm so it forms a closer fitting grown-on cap sleeve. The simple skinny tie collar is just a straight folded band.  A detail I particularly like from 30’s and 40’s bloused is multiple close rows of top stitching. It lends an instant vintage feel to a modern make. I went to town with that idea, even adding it on at the seams and hems.


I like the bow blouse with jeans but it works really well with some of of my vintage 40’s suits.

I’ve just been sorting through my Spring/Summer wear (inspired by this sunny day) and remembered that a few of those of those have undergone some major alterations to get them to fit me nicely. A post on what I think of as ‘kamikaze alterations’ is on the way. It may give you some useful ideas on how to approach various fitting alterations on vintage garments, particularly how to gain that valuable waist and bust real estate. It’s more than just letting out a couple of darts as you will see.

Stay tuned…


A little more on the kimono front

Simple vintage style blouse- free pattern @

Magyar blouse with shoulder pads


Magyar blouse

No shoulder pads and with tie belt from the dress.


Left over from my recent adventures in vintage Japanese kimono deconstruction I had enough of  one to also make this simple magyar/kimono blouse.

The definition of magyar blouse says  that  ‘…the sleeves are cut in one with the body.’  I’d also call that a kimono style top. I’m not sure of or even if there’s much difference between a magyar and basic kimono cut …if anyone does know a distinction please enlighten me.

In any event the magyar style of dress bodice & blouse seems to have been around for a long time in western fashion history from before WWI through the 30’s, into the 50’s and pops up beyond though in more recent decades maybe that’s when it began to be called a ‘kimono’ cut.  Really I’m just making a supposition on that, don’t quote me.


My blouse started with a vintage Style pattern, envelope long gone, maybe late 40’s. However the pattern is sized for a teeny-tiny person so I redrafted it to a human size for myself and made it up in kimono silk. I decided after the fact that I  prefer three keyhole or tear-drop cutouts rather than two (as in this velvet dress I made  a couple of years ago) so the pattern I posted  has 3 keyholes.  You will need to look up bias binding techniques if they are new to you as the neckline and keyholes are finished with small self bias bindings. Other than that it is an easy make and could have a collar instead of cut-outs, or a V neck or something if you just can’t face doing those fiddly bindings. It’s a nice basic shape that is wide open for creative interpretation.  Thinner fabrics with some drape will work best…. even a jersey could!

Pattern size, seam allowances, fabric amount needed etc are all included in the blouse pdf. on my VV Free page. It would be a very easy pattern to grade up or down following the Threads Grading guide link over there on the right.

Magyar blouse flat


my at-work wear.


vintage  resin button

vintage resin button

Though shown up there with a black pencil skirt made from my skirt drafting tutorial with bucket pockets and these little resin seahorse buttons (Is it easy to make buttons like these? I’ve been wanting to experiment with resin for ages) I have mostly been wearing my blouse with just jeans for ordinary day-in-the-studio attire. Lol, is it obvious I’m not big on taking selfies?



While I’m about it here also is how to make one kind of shoulder pads from 7 inch circles. These are the ones I made for the kimono fabric Hollywood pattern dress and as I used tiny poppers to hold them in I can quickly swap them into the blouse . Not just a pretty face here, ya know!

Pictorial on how to make shoulder pads for 40's style dresses












Cornish Pasties


Cornish Pasty thoughts have set my stomach rumbling…. dinner time!


In answer to Anna’s comment below about altering the pattern or something similar for a larger bust I’ve made this quick diagram. If done on a full size pattern with this proportion of spreading about 8cm/3″ inches total would be gained across the front at bust level and about 4cm/1 1/2″ between shoulder and waist line. The waist and hem are brought back to the original pattern size by swinging the lower side seam back in and making the tucks bigger. Some adjustment in fit may also be needed at the outer shoulder to make the arm opening nearer the original size. Of course if more is needed across the front the spread would be larger but the principle the same. Two useful measurments to take are your side seam to side seam over full bust and shoulder over bust point down to waist to work out how much you need to add.   Hope this helps  :)

VV Kimono Blouse FBA

VV Kimono Blouse FBA



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. :)

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