Category Archives: sewing

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.

SaveSave

Advice for the sew-fearful

I do agree with the first paragraph but hmmm, if I tackle the household chores (all urgent) first I’ll simply have no time left for sewing today…I vote for sewing first- boring stuff later.

And face and hair get done after I have my new dress finished hopefully just in time for Husband’s arrival home and he’ll be so thrilled at how gorgeous I look that he’ll whisk me out to dinner never even noticing the house is a mess and the dogs are still smelly.

RESULT!!  and as one of my muses said ” ….after all, tomorrow is another day.”

Keeping calm and carrying on…. fur stole pattern posted

(Fake fur of course)

The Mad Men style furore seems to have died … or maybe it’s just off the radar until the next season starts? If a bit of 50’s/60’s glam is on your things-to-make-list the pattern for this stole is now up on my Free Stuff page… finally got around to digitizing it.  Until my broken foot is healed computer work is about all I can do for a while. Which means I’ll get to those 3 skirt drafting tutorials sooner rather than later too.

Which tutorial shall I do first: 30’s, 40’s or 50’s??

30’s
40’s
50’s
last of the summer sweet peas

And aren’t these sweet peas the most amazing colours! That’s half of my autumn/winter palette right there.

French Knicker Sew-Along: Day 2

So diving straight back in where yesterday left off todays post covers attaching the waistband, hemming your knickers with and without lace and (with reservations, you’ll see why) how to do a hand made button-hole as well showing a thread-loop. (By the way any picture will open full size in a separate window when clicked) Continue reading French Knicker Sew-Along: Day 2

French Knicker Sew-Along Day 1: ready, steady…

…sew!

Day 1- today covers cutting out, hand sewing on lace motifs, sewing french seams and how to attach a continuos side seam placket with either a hand or machine finish.

Day 2- tomorrows post covers adding a waistband with either a fabric or elastic (ha, didn’t expect that did you!), machine appliquéd lace hems and motifs, machine pin-hemming, hand-made button-holes and other closing options. Continue reading French Knicker Sew-Along Day 1: ready, steady…

Bows into Darts. A Mini How-to

In the post before this one Holly commented that she’d love to know how I put the bows into the darts on the skirt I made for myself a few weeks ago (and as I’m always ready to avoid what I am really meant to be doing)  here is a mini how-to do just that.

1940’s style silk crepe Bow Skirt

-Basically the ‘bows’ are sewn into pair of parallel darts creating a centre strap effect. If you only have one front dart divide it into two darts. They can be very shallow. (when I do a more in-depth tutorial on drafting the complete skirt, I’ll show how to divide one dart into two) The darts on my skirt are 2cm apart and finish parallel to the centre front skirt seam.

– Stay-stitch a fraction inside the dart ‘legs’ and iron on a 2.5cm strip of light weight interfacing from the top edge to  2/3rds of the way down in the ‘strap’ area between each pair of darts. It will cover the stay-stitching you just did and be caught in with the final dart stitching.

– Make 2 pairs of bow ’ears’. These are simply strips of fabric bagged-out into a tube. No interfacing was used as they would probably have been too thick. The finished  dimensions of my ‘ears’ are 4cm wide and 4.5cm extending out from the darts. I coaxed each into a centre box pleat with some hand stitching. Continue reading Bows into Darts. A Mini How-to

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.

Continue reading French inspiration from August 1939

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…. Continue reading House of Wenger, 3-sided Italian Stitch and a final word on knickers…

Into 2012 we go… and a free mini cape pattern

Halfway through January already…. so hows that New Years Resolution working out for ya?

The papers have been merrily trumpeting the fact that most of us, if we even made one, will have given it up by the end of this month!

Well I made two and so far so good:
1st: Don’t Over Complicate Things aka Keepin’ It Simple
This can be applied to just about everything in life from sewing to relationships.

2nd: Finish What I’ve Started….. This applies particularly to the backlog of projects I started last year- that rouleaux shouldered dress (still love it and really want it to be ready for Spring), still more lace needing hand-whipping onto this black satin kimono and My Big Project: SewVeraVenus Lingerie. Yup, really fell behind on that one…. my apologies to all of you patiently waiting for the1940’s bra pattern I mentioned in the Autumn. Anyway I now have graded sizes from 30A-DD through 36A-DD and will be running a Birthday Give-Away of five patterns at the end of January to celebrate both a year of (very sporadic) blogging and another year of my life. If you are a subscriber you will be the first to know 🙂

2011 wasn’t all unfinished business though: in November I moved all my working equipment down from a London studio into my home. A major undertaking as I hadn’t realised quite how much stuff I had amassed. Anyway took a month to settle in but all put away now and a nice work-room to be in. I think my husand has just about gotten over losing his study… and now I have the option of working either home or away and it’s a huge improvement when working on my personal projects as the kitchen table really wasn’t great for sewing especially when family was making cups of tea around me.

Also VeraVenus™ is now officially trademarked so I can add the little™ letters after it, woohoo!

But back to sewing matters: the day before New Years Eve I decided I needed a new dress and whipped up this one:

New Years Eve dress

It’s based on the 1930’s bridal dress I made last spring and a project that had been lurking in my mind for some time and I had to get it in before that ‘finish the old before starting the new’ resolution kicked in. Setting a tight time deadline usually gives me the needed shot of adrenaline to stop messing about and get on with things. I had some pale lavender-grey fur scraps leftover from a costume job which I pieced together to make the square shouldered 30’s/40’s style shoulder cape to wear with it… just what the velvet needed.

Blue felt 1930’3-1940’s style capelet

Lastly for now, as a Happy New Years gift to SewVeraVenus readers this other cape pattern, as seen in this blue felt version, can be downloaded from my VV Free Patterns page. It could look great made in wools, felt, fake fur, even linen or heavier cottons… leave it plain or embellish like mad.

(NB:It is a pattern only, no instructions are included… but easy to make)

Happy 2012 sewing!