Gingham & Stripes & More- Oh My!

NM2015It’s been awhile since my last post in April so bit of a catch-up post.  Back in May when I went to visit my Mum in New Mexico among other lovely outings we spent a wonderful afternoon at an iris farm. Irises by the thousands, so gorgeous…who knew! On my “to-grow” list for next year. No smuggling of bulbs in my luggage was necessary as apparently I can buy similar beauties from Holland and also in the UK. However something I couldn’t seem to get in the UK (at a price I was willing to pay) was a half scale mannequin. Yes, I know irises to mannequins? – quite a jump. Anyway ‘back at the ranch’ after the iris outing I was doing some recreational web surfing and came across a place in Alabama that sells PGM half scale mannequins at a nice price. Clickty click done deal. It arrived at my Mums house a week later.  You maybe wondering what is the point of a mini-mannequin. Main benefit is that draping and pattern experiments on the 1/2 scale use up a lot less muslin. When I made my Lutterloh dress I used tons of paper and cotton fabric before getting the pattern right. In draping the dress below I used a whole lot less and did it IMG_3984on a table top at my Mums house. All because on ebay there was 1950’s pattern (Simplicity3595) I didn’t win so I just draped it on my new mini-me. Transfered it onto paper, scaled it up to full size, made some small pattern adjustments and just went for it in this great ikat cotton stripe from my Mums stash. Here is my finished version with side seam pockets :


A friend saw it in progress and made a birthday wish for a blue gingham version and as she is a good bit smaller than me I felt I needed to proof the pattern before I did her size using a couple of metres of what I think was upholstery cotton I found in a flea market …cue version 2 with the stripes going the other way and patch pockets:


Finally this past weekend I did my friends gingham version (winging its way back to N.M. as I type) and yes, now I think I am done with this pattern.

Sweetheart Gingham

Sweetheart halter dressSo you can make one too 🙂 from the pattern I just added to my Free Stuff  page. It’s a UK 12/US 8, 36″ bust/29″ waist. More detailed measurements are on the pattern,  just have a look. The bodice and 1/2 circle skirt patterns are separate pdfs.  *Though for stripes or checks the bodice cf and cb are cut on the bias it is straight grain fused and/or lined to behave and fit as if cut on the straight. I did originally try it unfused and lined all on the bias too… honestly it was a pain! Using the bias only as a decorative feature and not a fitting feature is much less headache. The skirt pattern can also have the grains switched so the cf and cb are on the straight grain and the side seams then on the bias.

VVSweetheart Inspiration
Inspiration: with shorts or a pencil skirt.

I can also imagine the sweetheart halter bodice with a pencil skirt or with loose shorts as a playsuit/swimsuit… on my Free Stuff page are my pencil skirt drafting tutorial and the French Knicker one which would get you there. I have re-imagined the original illustration to give you an idea: The mini-mannequin is back in the UK living in my workroom now. I haven’t yet had another chance to use it but have a couple of Coupe de Paris and Lutterloh patterns lined up I aim to try out small before going big. It’s just finding the time between brides, some costume jobs and my personal ‘impulse’ makes 😉

Here’s a couple of sneaky peeks at a beautiful 1930’s style bias dress I made over May & June. Being worn this Sunday, long silk tulle veil and all.

Lauren detail Lauren train

She’s going to look amazing. I’ll post some pics from the day when I have them.

For myself I made a pumpkin orange linen box pleated skirt. Just the best colour on a grim day!


I’m also sporadically working on an updated LBD too… same bodice with a soft sailor collar and a 4 gore bias skirt, made up here in a drapey rayon. So far its been my go-to hot weather dress.


But for now  after I post this I’m back to finishing another wedding dress, bias silk and gold lace.

On a final note it’s my Mums 85th birthday tomorrow.  She made sewing, drawing and reading into big parts of my life for which I’ll always be grateful. This is us in May.  Happy Birthday Mum !!

Me and Mum, May 2015, New Mexico.



32 thoughts on “Gingham & Stripes & More- Oh My!

  1. You are such a talented lady! I am in awe of your skill! i think there is something wonderful about being a maker of wedding dresses, you bring to life a girls lifelong dream! (Heavy burden I expect though!).

    I love the sundress, you are such an inspiration! I’ve been itching to try my hand at draping too, but frustratingly my work schedule just upped a level and have limited time.

    You are lucky to have a mum who also encouraged you to sew, she sounds awesome!

  2. I enjoyed read your article. Look forward to seeing the photos of the dress toille and all

  3. I so admired those dresses on the wesewretro, and your half scale dummy. where did you get yours and do they ship? amazing dresses – swoon

    1. Thank you Eimear ! My dummy is from PGM, a USA company. Other sewing suppliers in the US also sell that one, sometimes cheaper than directly from PGM. They will ship…. but to the UK would have cost me as much again as the dummy! There are a lot of other US options but all cost a lot to ship.
      In the UK K & L mannequins is an option but £££! Two other companies in the UK are and However the USA companies still have more choices in terms of sizes.

  4. great to have you back, I bought 10 meters of black gingham to make granddaughter some school dresses but the school won’t allow anything but their school dresses and you can’t buy the material anywhere. so I cam make myself a dress out of it

    1. Hi Robyne , oh no! 10m – you’ll be wearing black and white gingham for years 🙂 Perfect for this though.

  5. The dresses are all so pretty! Sounds like you have been having a very fine time.

    Happy birthday to your mom!

  6. I can’t wait to see the rest of the wedding dress. The bottom of the skirt is just beautiful. And I really love the sailor collar version of the LBD. I’d wear that everywhere!

  7. Love the orange linen skirt! I feel the same way about orange. I only have a couple of orange items one being an orange gingham dress with a tight banded waist and full skirt with a scoop neck. It is my happy dress. I also have an orange linen skirt. I’ve been losing weight, 145 pounds in the last year and a half. I can’t keep up in sewing new things so what I’ve been opening up back waistbands and just inserting 1/2 the width of the back with elastic and then closing it. Of course it just makes the waist fit, but it does make all the difference in the way things look. I can keep skirts from falling on the floor, and dresses don’t look like bags. I’m not down to a size 8 yet, nor am I ready to show my upper arms but I love your new dress pattern. Maybe next summer…..

    1. Your waistband solution is a good one. And orange and white gingham isn’t a usual one…. a few years ago I had to make some square-dancing dresses and they were in orange and white gingham, the style similar to your dress, very pretty! It is an uplifting colour. Congrats on your loss too, you sound very determined

  8. Lovely dresses (ikat!) and the picture of you and your mum is beautiful! Thank you for the pattern.

  9. bonsoir l’evasion dans le reve est complet mes felicitations je n’ai pas trouve mieux jusqu’à aujourd’hui et j’attends tourjours de vous lire et vous visiter bonne fin de soirée

  10. I am SO glad you are posting for us again! The stripes on the two sundresses! The sweet n sexy blue gingham frock! The exquisite silk and impeccable making of the wedding dress!! Ohh …thank you Vera Venus!

    And thanks and best wishes to your dear mum for bringing you up so well!

  11. Oh Vera, These outfits are so beautiful! I really love the vintage pattern. I’m here freezing in the desert because the air conditioner is sooooo very cold! LOL! Kathy

  12. Amazing dress. I love vintage designs I’ve just started sewing them. Thank you for the pattern. Love your generosity. Take care of your Mum, Mine is 82 and enjoy her every single day.

  13. I love the dress (I wouldn’t know what i was talking about if I said I loved the pattern)! And I especially loved the photo of you and your mom. Pictures from New mexico were great too, and I remember how well irises grow there. I visited an iris farm just outside Santa Fe, when I lived there. Never would have imagined it.

  14. Love this pattern! That bodice is gorgeous! Thanks so much. And Many Happy Returns of the Day to your Mom! ~Diana

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