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. :)

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 :)

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!

Oranges & Lemons, Almost A Miss and Summer Fabrics Waiting.

photo from http://spitalfieldslife.com

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 cotton fabric

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.

Print version

fabrics in waitingHere 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…”

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

Wearing and shopping vintage, with a bit of camping thrown in… does it get better than that?


Not much better in my book!

That’s what it was like at the Twinwood-Glenn Miller Festival two weekends ago.

Fab outfits, brilliant music, tons of dancing, great people-watching and a fair amount of rain.

Day 1- I wore the raincoat I made from McCall 5760 over Vogue 5757 wool gabardine slacks I very recently made. The ground wasn’t too muddy yet so I could still wear my nice brogues.

My hair was really acting up in the damp windy weather …so I just ignored it.

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Now I’ve Started I Just Can’t Stop…

…making swimsuits that is. And this pattern from the late 50’s/early 60’s is a real gem

I can see this in solid colours as well as other prints. It’s a fast and easy thing to sew.
Making it up in lycra is definitely worth a shot too.
As a full length all-in-one for hot weather off the beach? I think that could be fab. It’s such a good shape and fit I may even make a little linen dress from it as well

I really like a pattern that has possibilities of going much further than what is on the envelope.

The fabric used here is a hand printed cotton from India and I lined it with black cotton lawn just to keep the inside neat. I pre-washed both.

Instead of buttons up the back as suggested I inserted an invisible zip. I can get in and out of a garment with a back zip on my own but cannot manage buttons and asking for help can be awkward. Can anyone really do buttons up the back themselves?? I can’t even do bra hooks in the back…

But getting back to Butterick 6536 . It’s sized for 32 Bust/26 and a half  Waist/35 Hip. And it fits me at 34/28/38. That ease thing in commercial patterns again. The 1940’s swimsuit I made a couple of weeks back was true to the pattern size. And this one, though pictured as being form fitting, looked positively baggy and not very nice on my daughter who is very close to the Butterick 14.

But that’s a good thing it was too big for her because it’s MINE now all mine! Fits me just like the illustration. The only thing I would change on a second make is to scoop the back lower and make the channels for the side gathering strings as strips sewn on top rather than hand stitching little eyelets. I’m not after authenticity of make, it’s the retro silhouettes I love.

In exchange for losing a swimsuit the daughter has selected a June Havoc Hollywood dress pattern from the 1940’s, an off the shoulder top from the 50′ and a playsuit from the 70’s plus fabrics from my stash cupboard, and  I get to make her all that.

Hmmm, somehow not a even deal here.

Taking the plunge 1940’s style…

Project ‘Swimsuit’ is finally under way.

All last summer I talked about making some retro styled beachwear for myself, daughter and friends.

Did I actually get around to it ? weeelll,  I sketched ideas, collected some 1940’s and 1950’s patterns and original garments for reference… and then suddenly last summer was over.

But amazing early warm sunny weather has hit the south coast of England this last week and my thoughts turned once again to sun and sea.

 I saw this 1940’s pattern at the Vintage Pattern Lending Library  and decided it was the answer to my annual beachwear problems

The cotton fabric is from a French Connection skirt I bought 6 years ago. I always loved the print but finally the waist just became too tight so the skirt landed in my scrap bag only to be recently rediscovered and recycled into this swimsuit.

The top is bagged out with a lightweight black cotton poplin and that is what I used to make the shorts that attach under the skirt as well.As the fabric was limited cutting out was tight. The waistband is pieced from 3 scraps and I narrowed the band on the bottom of the bodice to be the same width as the waistband. My skirt finishes 1&1/2″ shorter than the pattern which was just too long for my 5’4″ height and I saved a bit more on the cutting layout by not including the 2″ hems allowed for on the pattern. The fit was perfect and the pattern for the shorts underneath could make a great pair of flat front wide legged trousers at a later date.

A cotton swimsuit will be quite a different experience from a lycra one especially in terms of drying out time after a dip. I’m ready to put up with some dampness in exchange for style though.

All in all I’m really pleased with the outcome and full sail ahead.



A very green coat.

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.

Spring coat

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.

ANY excuse to buy more vintage patterns will do

So when Kate (what a dancer!) and I were chatting during the break at a Swing Commanders gig last night about how hard it is to find original 40’s lingerie in her size I just jumped on it. I knew exactly where I could get a couple of patterns for her having seen them just the other day at So Vintage Patterns.
It’s not like I haven’t already got similar original patterns, I do. Though this bra looks a better cut and what I have is in a smaller size and to top it off I seriously dislike grading patterns. Grading is just not as much fun as the perusal of my favourite pattern sites, the success of finding precisely what I’m looking for in both style and size, the anticipation and finally the day of arrival. Solid excuse.
When the patterns do get here the plan is to coach her through sewing them up herself as she can basically sew but is a little nervous of silk and things cut on the bias.
I can’t wait! I’m thinking I may photograph the progress and put it up as an on-line tutorial on how to make your own.
Also it hopefully will get me working on my own vintage-esque lingerie again: there’s a pale green silk french knickers and bra set languishing in half-finished limbo and a short black satin kimono that I am taking longer than forever to hand whip the cream lace onto.
Yes, I side track easily…always too many projects on the go.

 

 

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