All tied up

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MMblouse pic
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


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. More

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! More

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 ?! More

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



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.


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. More

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 the pdf pattern for the bucket-pocket pieces. A bit of a cop-out but I just couldn’t get my head around explaining completely how to draft them. So you can download the pieces and hopefully you’ll see how the pocket works and 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 with my pocket explanation.

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…

The Little Bias Dress pattern has landed

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.

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 ( 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 me a violet posy.


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!


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!


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.


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.


Lounge Lady

“Yes 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…

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

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