Tag Archives: Original vintage inspiration

Meanwhile Back on Planet VeraVenus…

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I recently read a Blogging Tips article and I now know it’s terrible that I don’t write regularly (five months of silence is pretty bad so thank you to those who had faith and stayed with me), apparently my SEO is terrible, while starting to write this I should already have a title ( I don’t) to help keep me focussed, this post will probably be too long … what else I can tick off the list of Top Blog Don’ts ? Oh and I over-use ‘…’  but hey, on the plus side I do try to keep a tight reign on my use of exclamation points!! Mostly.  Such is life.

I am looking forward to 2016.

Non-the-less I’m back and as usual there are quite a number of  project-asteroids spinning around in my little universe, I’ll start with the closest one : Continue reading Meanwhile Back on Planet VeraVenus…

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

Fashion: Is it vintage or vintage-inspired?

Fashion: Is it vintage or vintage-inspired? – latimes.com.

Just a quicky post: a link to an article concerning one of my favourite soap-box rants concerning how these days the word ‘vintage’ is used so often as either a fashion branding device or to describe clothing that is really nothing more than grubby second-hand tat.

Is a new word needed to differentiate true vintage from ‘new’ vintage?
Do most people not actually involved with original vintage clothing really care?

What do you think?

1940’s Copycat Coat

Circa late 30’s or very early 40’s I think…

The original coat doesn’t look all that fab here but it was just one of those things that you try on and go Wow! So over two months last Autumn I made a version for myself.

-First step was a re-drape of one side of the coat in muslin directly on top of the original to give me the basic shape and style lines. There was a lot more shaping under the arm than you can see in this photo and some tricky cutting near the pocket and I wouldn’t get that accurately if I worked on the flat from a modern coat block. Re-draping is fun anyway and I always learn something new when copying old garments with this method.

-Second step I transferred the muslin pattern onto paper and made corrections from measurements I’d taken from the coat then sewed up a toile from the corrected pattern. After fitting it on myself I decided to add an extra pleat on each side of the centre back pleat and to have them start right at the waist instead of a bit below the belt.

Third step etc- All seemed good enough to get on with my real fabric finally, a sturdy wool cavalry twill. The body went together reasonably easily though the curved dart that goes into a little horizontal seam at the top of the pocket was a real fiddle to do. The sleeves were a twisted disaster however… never did quite figure out what went wrong but had enough fabric (phew!!) to recut them. To get them correct I did finally use one of my own modern basic sleeve patterns altered to the proportions of the original coat sleeves.

I like a snazzy lining in a coat and found this silk twill fabric that still makes me smile on the grimmest of days.

To build up big enough shoulder pads I used one and a half of a mens suit pad in each side.
I didn’t like where the top two buttons hit my chest so left them off as well as leaving off the arrows on the end of the front darts.

The waist buttons holes are self-welted and though the sleeves are done with a proper button vent on the back seam I never actually did the buttonholes on them… and have been roundly told off for laziness by a tailor friend. I will do them …some day. All the under stitching on lapels and fronts was done by hand . I am lucky to have the use of an industrial steam iron as the cavalry twill is tough stuff to press and don’t think I could have managed with my home iron.

Just as a last note on the pleats: the back of each pleat is a seam which though making for a lot more pieces to cut out and sew together really helps the back of the coat keep its shape. The lining is not pleated however, it is just an A-line shape in the back.

I absolutely love this coat and consider it one of my most successful makes to date. I’ve worn it a few times this June even, can you believe it? Not the warmest summer here so far…

Dreaming of Dorothy Lamour

For me the ultimate beach-babe is not off Baywatch and isn’t remotely like Bo Derek .

No, I’ve always held Dorothy Lamour as being the ultimate queen of Glamour Beach.

(Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable do figure in there too as style consultants).

So I got the Dorothy hair style down but the swim suit was missing.

But no longer…

(sound of a fanfare here and a ta-da!)

Move over Dorothy, Vera’s gonna kick some sand in your face.

Lamour 2 piece

This is the most recent proto-type: I’m on version 2 of the pants and version 6 of the bra. It still has pins holding the straps on and a couple of construction issues to iron out but basically it’s the swimsuit of my dreams come to life.

The lycra is swimwear quality (apparently not all lycra is made equal? … something I need to find out more about)  and I lined the bottoms in power-net so don’t even have to remember to hold my tum in all the time- the suit does it for me. The bra cups are backed with a seamed cotton cup for better shaping than lycra alone would give though I’m going to try them in the power-net too just to see how that works… that would make the whole suit stretchy and more modern in construction.

There’s light nylon bones in the sides of the top so it doesn’t crumple and plastic swimwear clasps to close the back band and neck strap. The bottom cut is a little shorter than the one Dorothy is wearing but is still proper ‘big pants’ and I’m loving the modesty panel. Possibly the most flattering suit I’ve put on in recent years.

And a 1 piece version in the works too.

I’ll have a red one, a black one, more print ones, a stretchy lace one, a gold one… one for every day of the week!

A very green coat.

Ready for an Easter parade I am in my exceedingly green coat. It’s a colour that cheers me to look at… but I need to be in an exuberant mood to actually wear it.

The pattern was a 9.65€ find at a local vintage fair and with my new zeal for old patterns I was impatient to try it out. So late one evening at the costume studio I quickly chalked the pattern lines on to my pre-washed linen, lengthened it, cut it out and dived into sewing. The water was cold! Caught out again by the generous amount of pattern ease in a vintage pattern plus it being a bit too big anyway I needed to make a fair few alterations as I went along. That was the night I accidentally got locked in the building and so had not much else to do but to keep on sewing until someone with keys could come back and unlock the front door. I got a lot done by the time I was actually let out.

It’s unlined and the seams are all edged with bias cotton binding. Happily linen is forgiving and easy to work with so all my un-picking and messing about with the fit wasn’t too obvious in the end.

Spring coat

Vintage kimono fabric used for facing and to cover shoulder pads
7 rows of Top-stitching on collar, cuffs, pockets & hem.

It’s a great shape pattern and I will make it as a jacket next for a summer suit with a pair of trousers like these Vogue 5757 I think.

Upcycling, so now I know!

“Upcycling is the art of reusing unwanted items by converting them into something better.”

SOooo,  that’s what I was doing when I made this evening dress from a second-hand silk chiffon sari I bought at a market for 30£ a few years ago!

Though I wouldn’t say ‘better’ I’d say ‘something else’. It’s all relative, the better-ness or not of things isn’t it.

When I bought the sari I had no immediate plans for it, it was just a lovely fabric and appealed to the magpie in me …. I love a bit of sparkle n’ shine.

However the bias dress possibilities were immediately apparent once I began wafting it around and draping it against myself and this dress was made in a day. Careful cutting out to get the motifs well placed on my pattern took the most time and a couple of extra motifs needed to be cut out and hand appliqued in place to fill gaps as well as the edging which I cut off and hand sewed on the seam below the bust.

The bodice is on the straight grain and the two piece skirt on the bias with a side zip up to the armhole. I machine pin-hemmed the neckline and armholes and that was it.  A very simple make as the wonderful fabric does all the work. And enough left to make a large stole.

While looking at it the other day to do this photo I realised that the chiffon around the neck and shoulders is now so fragile it’s finally coming apart. So some backing with flesh colour chiffon or complete replacing with new black is in order but not very high on my list at the mo.

I made a couple for friends after this one out of sequined thin cotton saris as nylon ones just won’t hang well and the dealer had no more silk chiffon ones. Very pretty as well but more ‘bare foot & festival’ in feeling whereas this one actually passed perfectly as a 1930’s evening gown when all dressed up with the right hair and accessories. The local sari dealer is unfortunately gone now and I’m not happy to buy  from the internet as I like to actually feel the weight of fabrics and see how they hang before I get my wallet out. I know if I ever make it to India what my suitcase will be stuffed with when I come home.

The little bag in my photo is from Accessorize a couple of years back. A good place to find vintage style accessories… especially bags.

some of the bags I like from the current Accessorize collection and the decade I imagine they’d work with style-wise.