Category Archives: sewing

Well Hello!

Long time no see.

A year and a bit since last post but I’m still here. Over the last month I’ve been giving the blog a visual brush-up and dust -off. Lol, that’s been fun… fighting with themes, wrangling with css and making some big messes under the WordPress hood. Along the way this site suffered some serious downtime and non-downloading pdfs… apologies to anyone who came looking for a pattern at just the wrong time.

Anyhoo, I’m all finished moving the furniture around for now and hope you like the fresher look and easier to find (well I hope they are! ) free pdfs etc.  If there are site issues, for instance you’re getting a “404 Oh No!” on a download from my Free Patterns page and you have a moment to contact me please, please do let me know.  I have checked through everything myself but things do slip between the cracks.

So where was I for this last year? Pretty much right where I always am but dealing with :

A) Turning 60. Six months later I still can’t believe how far down the list my birth year is when filling in online forms. 50 was no big deal, it just sort of slipped by. 60 feels like a corner being turned. Not sure what the difference is or if there is even really one at all. It could be because various media says there is one so I am expecting to feel one… meh, maybe. Lol,  I’m not adverse to the odd nap now and again and I do like to be home and tucked up by 12pm at the latest. Not a bad change then if that’s all there is to turning 60. My Mum commented that if I think 60 is a long way down wait until I have to scroll down to 87 like she does. I should be so lucky!

B) Selling the house, moving to a smaller town/ not selling the house, staying put and just fixing the damn house before it falls down. Been on this particular carousel ride since last fall. In the end we’ve stayed put. Some real big fixes were needed and we treated ourselves to a new bathroom along the way. The old one was ‘vintage’ but not in a nice way. Probably installed late 60’s. But OMG do I ever wish we’d left well enough alone! Two steps forward, one step back. My husband sang me a funny old English song : “The Gas Man Cometh” about workmen. Just too true.    “The Gas Man Cometh”  is on YouTube   (NOT my husband singing it I hasten to add)

C) Empty nest syndrome. I’m not really finding it as bad as they say. I like a quiet house and a kitchen as tidy as I left it. With Skype/ Facetime/ Messenger  I can be as nagging and they can be as annoying as usual. Everybody’s happy. And the kitchen stays tidy.  And wow, it is so much easier and faster now for offspring to tap the Bank of Mum and Dad than it used to be! Virtually instantaneous. I remember standing in a freezing phone booth in the snow, Berlin 1977, crying while making a collect begging call home.  My hand were so cold I kept dropping the coins before I could get them in the slot and the international operator cut me off twice.  Anyway there’s a good chance given todays world economics that they’ll be back. In a moment of madness that was actually another reason we thought of moving 😛

D) A bit of makers boredom.  Other than costume work I just didn’t feel like making things. Or not the same things. I’ve been doing it a long time now. So I gave clothes making a bit of a rest and tried something else. Dolls. Yep, dolls. Hang on, don’t leave! Wait and see where this is going….  I love trying out vintage patterns but tend to avoid those that I won’t actually wear. I reasoned that making clothes for dolls could be a way to try different vintage styles out but in a fourth of the size more or less.  Not as much fabric to buy or storage space to take up once made. But I didn’t want to dress someone else’s dolls, I wanted to make my own figures inspired by vintage Boudoir Dolls. To start I signed up for a little online class to make a fabric doll bust mounted on a candle holder. A lot of fun and I learned great techniques along the way. Next I tried a couple of purchased body patterns. Nice, I learned more techniques but still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I set about creating my own doll body patterns. Lots of trial and error, and many redos and undos later I made a few I’m happy with.  And then life got very busy with house fixing and costume jobs so I haven’t been able to get back to doll making for six months. I’ve built up a good supply of all things needed to make and dress more so plan to get back to it as soon as. Along with some fab vintage patterns I plan to trace, scan and scale down to dress them in!

Boudoir Babe
Image of two handmade cloth fashion dolls
A Flapper & my interpretation of Betty Boop
Marie Antoinette bust made with Sharon Mitchell tutorial

So thats where I’ve been.  Years definitely seem to turn from one into the next much faster than they used to. Scientific American has an answer for this phenomenon if you’re interested.  

Below are just a few of the costumes and clothes I did make during the last year, the ones I liked the most. So kind of a rambling post  and thanks for still being here and reading it! See you soon, a proper soon this time. 🙂

All tied up

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

Continue reading All tied up

A little more on the kimono front

Simple vintage style blouse- free pattern @ veravenus.com
Magyar blouse with shoulder pads

 

Magyar blouse without  shoulder pads tied with belt from the dress.
and without shoulder pads and tied with 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. Continue reading A little more on the kimono front

Kimono My House

Oh, kimo-No!

Ok, so what I didn’t know when I started writing was that my post title is also the title of a Sparks album from May, 1974 ( I guess I was listening to  other music at the time) I like the album cover anyway so there it is. Next I learned that the title is a take on the 1951 Rosemary Clooney song ‘Come on-a My House’. Next stop was at the rather wonderful Japanese YouTube version which I share with you:

Isn’t the stuff you  find on the internet amazing…

But I’m wandering.

Anyway to get to the point this is a post about my most recent up-cycling/ re-purposing/ extreme ‘make-do-and-mend’ venture involving, you guessed it- Kimono. Continue reading Kimono My House

Sew It and Sea

Remember my Lamour swimsuit from a few summers back? I finally got back to that pattern and over the last 4 months in between costume work and wedding dresses I’ve developed a whole little range of retro styled swimwear and thought I’d give a preview of some of the pattern styles.

Continue reading Sew It and Sea

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!

image

I lasted a mere 6 days. The vintage patterns were whispering to me. I shouldn’t have been left alone in the house! Continue reading HiHo Sewing in the US of A I go.

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.

photo of brocade party dress
VeraVenus 1950’s party Dress

small black suede evening bag by Veravenus

Continue reading Handbags and Gladrags

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