All posts by VeraVenus

About VeraVenus

"A modern make on vintage style"

The One That Got Away and Circular Knicker Redux

Been cruising eBay a bit recently. Yeah, it’s under control, just. Got some chic vintage French fashion magazines, a wonderful German pattern magazine that is killing my eyesight with deciphering it’s spider-webs of pattern sheets, and a couple of Weldon’s Lady’s Mags from the 20’s and 30’s complete with tissue lingerie and dress patterns. This 1920’s Weldon’s Fancy Dress issue is the One That Got Away:20130817-195231.jpg

I really do wish I’d bid that little bit more on it. It reminds me of this wonderful early 1920’s photo of my Italian grandmother in a fancy dress costume. She was a dressmaker too.
Faye- in Halloween Costume - early 1920

Also during WWII she was the only woman out of 4000 employees in the U.S. tank parts factory where she worked who became a Journeyman Machinist. Continue reading The One That Got Away and Circular Knicker Redux

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

And the winner is…

And the winner is….

Villbomsten.

Congratulations!

I’m currently checking through the pattern for any corrections needed and will be mailing her copy out next week.

Thank you all who participated in the Bloggin’ Blues dress pattern give-away!

Bloggin' Blues Dress

Bits & Bobs and A Loose End or Two

Monday. 3pm. And I might as well face the fact that the work I should be doing (1910 outfit for up coming TV show) is just not going to get a look in today. It’s snowing!! Like the railroads here, a bit of weather and my day goes to hell. That’s my Monday excuse and I’m sticking to it. So a good day instead to catch up on blog bits and pieces and post a few little items that had been shunted aside and that I do feel a little guilty about not getting back to. So in no particular order-

VeraVenus30'sPJs1: I have redrawn my 30’s PJ pattern in Illustrator and now it looks all lovely and ‘professional’ and is clearer to use than the original hand-drawn and scanned one 🙂 The cover illustration and included Sewing Instructions got a bit of a makeover too. If you had down-loaded this pattern previously please do replace it with the newer one.

 

 

 

1950's style
Pencil Skirt with Bucket-Pockets

2: Remember the 3 skirts from September -my, how time flies! Well a very nice reader (as I’m sure you all are) contacted me a few weeks back to ask when was I actually getting back to the skirt drafting tutorials I had started as she really wanted to make herself this 50’s style one with the ‘bucket’ pockets. I re-checked the tutorial and all the info you need to draft a pencil skirt is there. And now today I’ve posted a pdf for the bucket-pocket pieces. It is a tiled pdf so you can either just use it just as a reference for how the pattern pieces are shaped  or you can adapt the pieces to fit your own pencil skirt patterns, self-drafted or otherwise. As always just drop me a line if you need help.

3: A GIVE-AWAY 🙂 The second half of my Second Year Blogaversary celebration (the LBD being the other).

ONE copy of my Bloggin’ Blues dress pattern. It will be the complete pattern, hand copied onto pattern makers spot & cross pattern paper, posted to wherever the winner lives. Size is a UK12 (89-73-96cms/35-29-38ins) but will easily work on a figure either a bit smaller or a bit larger.

"Bloggin' Blues" dress
“Bloggin’ Blues” dress

I gotta be honest now, this is not a “beginner” project… the bias draped sleeves take a certain amount of finessing (read hair pulling) to get them to hang nicely, the multi-rows of shirring take ages to do and the rouleaux loops down the front are, well, rouleaux loops and the hassle they always are. But it is a fab dress, dare I say so myself. I’m about to make another in a rayon floral print which will look very different. I’m still debating whether the sleeves, yoke and pockets should be in a plain fabric to contrast or to do the whole dress in the print… watch this space.

Annnnnyyway, if you haven’t been put off now by my saying what a fiddly dress it is to make and you would relish the chance to have a go yourself leave a comment saying so and next Sunday the 17th before I shut down for the night I will post an Entries Closed comment and randomly draw a winner to be announced a couple of days later. Until the Entries Closed comment is there the draw remains open.

So, short of explaining how to move darts around and split them as needed for that bow skirt I think I’m fairly caught up. With blog things at least. Everything else is another story…

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The Little Bias Dress pattern has landed

Little Bias Dress pattern cover image
Little Bias Dress pattern- download from VV Free Patterns page

aka the LBD.

“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.

photo of black Little Bias Dress by VeraVenus
Little Bias Dress by VeraVenus

LBD 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.

 

Capital ‘V’ Vintage, A Bias LBD & A 2yr Blogoversary!

Chestnut Satin & velvet 30's dress
Chestnut brown satin & velveteen 30’s dress

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 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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7ZYBIHmLAE&feature=player_embedded]

and so into 2013

we go…
Into 2013

The New Year walk was walkedGlynde, the locals were wished all the best for the 2013,

the neighbours

2013portraitand the official beginning 2013  portrait was snapped.

The Christmas tree is now on the recycling heap and ornaments have all been lovingly packed away. Every year there are loud protests ( SOooo embarrassing Mum!) when The Angel of ‘Happinosh’, Bad Santa and the Rude Rocket are brought out and hung on the tree but they are among my favourite Christmas decorations and will always have pride of place… secretly I suspect the offspring are rather pleased that their toddler-art is still cherished.

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And finally the last crumbs of the holiday baking mountain have been consumed and I can but hope my waistline returns soon to its pre December measurement.

IMG_1608BiscottiBaked Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I have a New Years Resolution? Not really other than something safely vague about doing more exercise …..

 

With one thing and another this season seemed very subdued. Toning down Christmas commercialism is certainly welcome… and maybe next year even the perfume manufacturers will get the idea that less is more and we won’t be treated to the likes of Brad Pitt droning on for Chanel  in the hands-down absolute winner of worst perfume ad of 2012! It was good for a laugh the first couple of times I saw it but by NYE the entire family could recite the words. Not good.

Anyway I do wish SewVeraVenus readers a Very Happy New Year and leave you for the moment with this helpful idea from 1947 for brightening up your January outfits:

1947 Complete Book Of Sewing by Constance Talbot

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 (sorry blog is now gone). 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.

 

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.

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

 

Singing the Blahblah Bloggin’ Blues

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.

So.

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 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.

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