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. 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

Flash Valentine 1940s Undies Pattern Give-away

I have an unused reproduction pattern for a 36 inch bust, 40 inch hips (produced by The Vintage Pattern Shop) of this 1940s bra, slip and knickers to give away. The draw is open from now, Thursday evening,  until midnight Feb. 14th UK time.

If you are interested just leave one comment below and on Saturday afternoon (UK time) I’ll do a random draw and announce the winner and pop it in the post next week.
Weldons Pretty Undies no.50

I’ve been collecting vintage lingerie patterns and magazines with their original free patterns for a couple of years now and have a nice little collection growing. Also I finally started making a photo record as I have bought duplicates a couple of times now! More

Uh-Oh Lutterloh

A few months ago I was very generously gifted not one but two Lutterloh pattern books on cd, from 1940 and 1941. That very same week on eBay I bid on a Summer 1949 supplement being sold from France. Amazingly I won it for not too much. So completely and utterly spoiled for choice and unable to decide which design to start with I photocopied a number of my favourites and randomly drew this one to be my first Lutterloh make.  That fine cotton hummingbird fabric I posted about back in April was used for it – and going by my self-imposed ”one out-one in” stash rule I can now buy a new fabric 😉

I resisted the impulse to edit my pics to make my waist look as small as the illustration… or to make the illustration look as realistic as me.

So without more ado here is my Lutterloh 1949 make:

VVlutterloh dress2 VVlutterloh dress1Lutterloh was started in Germany, 1935,  and is still going strong today. It’s similar-ish contemporaries were a French system called Eclair Coupe Paris and The Haslam system which I think was American. This is a YouTube video of the Man From Lutterloh demonstrating with a simple waistcoat how it all works (14 minutes long if you have the patience). I find the principle totally intriguing and would love to distribute my own patterns in this miniaturised way but I’m quite sure the method is copyrighted up to the hilt so will be sticking with the old multi-page cut n’ tape pdfs for now. More

Oranges & Lemons, Almost A Miss and Summer Fabrics Waiting.

photo from

and round and round and round in my head went that song the entire time I sewed this dress. GaaaH!!!  I’m about as far from being a London cockney as a transplanted-to-Brighton ex-New Yorker could possibly be.  My children learned the lyrics in school and I learned from them as we marched around the South Downs singing this at the top of our lungs. Gave the livestock quite a fright.

The other week a local fabric shop gave me a couple of meters of this lovely citrus fabric in exchange for having pics of my results to show off on their FB page. (as I checked the link worked I saw some fab new dalia patterned cotton just in…. look away now!) But anyway, fabric in exchange for pics is a win-win situation in my book. I even have a glass necklace of oranges bought on a long ago trip to Venice to accessorise with. But now I cannot get that damn song out of my head. 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

Wearing and shopping vintage, with a bit of camping thrown in… does it get better than that?

Not much better in my book!

That’s what it was like at the Twinwood-Glenn Miller Festival two weekends ago.

Fab outfits, brilliant music, tons of dancing, great people-watching and a fair amount of rain.

Day 1- I wore the raincoat I made from McCall 5760 over Vogue 5757 wool gabardine slacks I very recently made. The ground wasn’t too muddy yet so I could still wear my nice brogues.

My hair was really acting up in the damp windy weather …so I just ignored it.


Now I’ve Started I Just Can’t Stop…

…making swimsuits that is. And this pattern from the late 50’s/early 60’s is a real gem

I can see this in solid colours as well as other prints. It’s a fast and easy thing to sew.
Making it up in lycra is definitely worth a shot too.
As a full length all-in-one for hot weather off the beach? I think that could be fab. It’s such a good shape and fit I may even make a little linen dress from it as well

I really like a pattern that has possibilities of going much further than what is on the envelope.

The fabric used here is a hand printed cotton from India and I lined it with black cotton lawn just to keep the inside neat. I pre-washed both.

Instead of buttons up the back as suggested I inserted an invisible zip. I can get in and out of a garment with a back zip on my own but cannot manage buttons and asking for help can be awkward. Can anyone really do buttons up the back themselves?? I can’t even do bra hooks in the back…

But getting back to Butterick 6536 . It’s sized for 32 Bust/26 and a half  Waist/35 Hip. And it fits me at 34/28/38. That ease thing in commercial patterns again. The 1940’s swimsuit I made a couple of weeks back was true to the pattern size. And this one, though pictured as being form fitting, looked positively baggy and not very nice on my daughter who is very close to the Butterick 14.

But that’s a good thing it was too big for her because it’s MINE now all mine! Fits me just like the illustration. The only thing I would change on a second make is to scoop the back lower and make the channels for the side gathering strings as strips sewn on top rather than hand stitching little eyelets. I’m not after authenticity of make, it’s the retro silhouettes I love.

In exchange for losing a swimsuit the daughter has selected a June Havoc Hollywood dress pattern from the 1940’s, an off the shoulder top from the 50′ and a playsuit from the 70’s plus fabrics from my stash cupboard, and  I get to make her all that.

Hmmm, somehow not a even deal here.

Taking the plunge 1940’s style…

Project ‘Swimsuit’ is finally under way.

All last summer I talked about making some retro styled beachwear for myself, daughter and friends.

Did I actually get around to it ? weeelll,  I sketched ideas, collected some 1940’s and 1950’s patterns and original garments for reference… and then suddenly last summer was over.

But amazing early warm sunny weather has hit the south coast of England this last week and my thoughts turned once again to sun and sea.

 I saw this 1940’s pattern at the Vintage Pattern Lending Library  and decided it was the answer to my annual beachwear problems

The cotton fabric is from a French Connection skirt I bought 6 years ago. I always loved the print but finally the waist just became too tight so the skirt landed in my scrap bag only to be recently rediscovered and recycled into this swimsuit.

The top is bagged out with a lightweight black cotton poplin and that is what I used to make the shorts that attach under the skirt as well.As the fabric was limited cutting out was tight. The waistband is pieced from 3 scraps and I narrowed the band on the bottom of the bodice to be the same width as the waistband. My skirt finishes 1&1/2″ shorter than the pattern which was just too long for my 5’4″ height and I saved a bit more on the cutting layout by not including the 2″ hems allowed for on the pattern. The fit was perfect and the pattern for the shorts underneath could make a great pair of flat front wide legged trousers at a later date.

A cotton swimsuit will be quite a different experience from a lycra one especially in terms of drying out time after a dip. I’m ready to put up with some dampness in exchange for style though.

All in all I’m really pleased with the outcome and full sail ahead.

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.

ANY excuse to buy more vintage patterns will do

So when Kate (what a dancer!) and I were chatting during the break at a Swing Commanders gig last night about how hard it is to find original 40’s lingerie in her size I just jumped on it. I knew exactly where I could get a couple of patterns for her having seen them just the other day at So Vintage Patterns.
It’s not like I haven’t already got similar original patterns, I do. Though this bra looks a better cut and what I have is in a smaller size and to top it off I seriously dislike grading patterns. Grading is just not as much fun as the perusal of my favourite pattern sites, the success of finding precisely what I’m looking for in both style and size, the anticipation and finally the day of arrival. Solid excuse.
When the patterns do get here the plan is to coach her through sewing them up herself as she can basically sew but is a little nervous of silk and things cut on the bias.
I can’t wait! I’m thinking I may photograph the progress and put it up as an on-line tutorial on how to make your own.
Also it hopefully will get me working on my own vintage-esque lingerie again: there’s a pale green silk french knickers and bra set languishing in half-finished limbo and a short black satin kimono that I am taking longer than forever to hand whip the cream lace onto.
Yes, I side track easily…always too many projects on the go.



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