Vintage Sewing

Vintage Sewing Books & Manuals

By on July 15, 2019

I love collecting vintage sewing manuals and books! I’ve been collecting for years and I now have a collection of over 100 dressmaking and sewing manuals and books, the oldest of which dates from 1891 with the latest books coming from the mid 70s.

Just some of my most recent finds

I have always loved classic styling, fabrics and fashion. I am a dressmaker and trained in bespoke tailoring at the London College of Fashion. I now own a fabric shop and sewing school, More Sewing (www.moresewing.co.uk). Sewing and dressmaking is my life! I have always looked for vintage sewing patterns but have found problems at times with the pattern fit and the quality of the paper pattern itself. Being able to draft patterns, I have always got on better with sewing books.

I recently drafted this pattern for one of my regulars, the finished suit looked amazing

The books that I have fall into two categories. There are books that I love the look of, even when they are quite basic. 

These illustrations from the 60s look totally different but just as wonderful

Then there are the more advanced and technical books, they really do teach me something and I can use the techniques I learn in designing my own patterns or using them in the classes I run. 

This book from WW2 has patterns for service uniforms!
This book went with a Dressmaking TV programme from the 50s – love the stlye

Where do I find my books? Well, I cannot pass a second hand book shop or a charity shop without having a quick look. I also love a good jumble sale. I do not buy books on the web; I like to hold the book and look at it before I buy it. I am sure I could have a larger collection but I would probably have paid more for it and I would not have had as much fun. Quite a number of my books are from public and professional libraries. It’s sad that more and more libraries are being broken up but at least I am able to give this books a good home.

I love that this book on cutting (from the 30s) has these great illustrations from the author
Classic styling from the Golden Rule

What is my favourite book? It’s not easy to pick one but I do like the Lutterloh Golden Rule book. I have two of these. If you don’t know this book, it is a book of 1/4 scale patterns that you scale up to use with a special measuring system I’ve not come across anything else like them and I love the styling and the illustrations in the book. They are hard to find and if you ever see one going cheap – grab it!

Laura Rigby

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1930s

Dressing Gown

By on January 9, 2019

Hello all,

I am a long time lurker, who has finally remembered to take pictures of something so I can post it. I owe a great debt of gratitude to SeamRacer! She posted her gorgeous gown after I had bought the pattern, but sat on it wishing it had better instructions. After I saw hers I contacted her and she loaded me up with tips, tricks, and a lapped seam recommendation. So here it is, a vintage housecoat/dressing gown. I will be wearing mine around the house in the evening after getting the kids to bed. I always planned on wearing it over a nightgown, but I have it fully lined just the same. I am one of those perpetually freezing people who need layers and layers. Even the sleeves are fully lined. The original did not come with seam allowances, and I added none. I should probably have cut down the original a tad bit, as I needed to take it in quite a lot. I did all the fitting on the matte satin lining, and tried not to fiddle too much with the outside fabric. It is an icy mint green with silvery flowers. It is a rayon jacquard from Denver Fabrics. I used lapped seams on the waist area and they turned out very well. I made my waistband ties fairly thick and pretty long. I wanted them to make a statement if they were going to be there anyway. I have a self covered button as you can see, but it is simply stitched on over a snap closure. I did not want to put a button hole right on the front of that jacquard, very ravel-prone. Over all I am really thrilled with this and I know it will get a lifetime of wear.

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Repairing A 1930’S Orange Chiffon Evening Gown

By on November 23, 2018

Over the Summer (on the same day) my friend Annalee and another friend, Kelley, dropped off bags of goodies on my front porch. Annalee gifted me this gorgeous orange chiffon dress, rolled up in a bag and falling apart. And Kelley gave me this glorious belt with Diamante buckle (along with other wonderful things as well). And last year, my neighbor and friend, Joyce, gifted me a large collection of vintage pieces from her family including this divine black velvet coat (it only needed cleaning). Also among those treasures – another black velvet coat and a peach and black 40’s dress. Both of those were re-worked and given new life. You can read about them here:

Vintage Coat Crusade – Re-Fashion & Restoring my Vintage Coat Collection

Sewing My Gatsby Prototype – Using a Vintage Dress as my muslin….

The condition of this Orange dress was actually not too bad. The thread was disintegrating and the side seams had come apart completely. There was even scotch tape (why Annalee?) holding them together. And the garment was stained in several places with a burn hole right in the center front. I can totally understand why someone would think this dress unwearable but also so pleased that it came to me for rescue.

I repaired the dress from the bottom up, sewing up the side seams, reinforcing some sensitive areas, restitching the covered buttons to secure them in place. And I covered up all the holes and most of the stains in a strategic way.

To find out more about how I did all this, the slip I sewed for underneath the gown, my hair flowers and more, please visit the blog post here.

Thanks and Happy Sewing!

Jennifer

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1920s | 1930s | Dresses

Re-Creating My Grandmother’s Dress – Gatsby 2018

By on October 5, 2018

Every year the Art Deco Society of California puts on the The Gatsby Summer Afternoon. This Gatsby Event is the highlight of my year, as far as vintage events go, and this year was no exception. The weather was perfect (high 70 degrees and breezy), the picnics were exquisite and the company eclectic and entertaining.

For this year’s ensemble, I chose to replicate a look that my grandmother wore (see photo above) in one of her modeling photos. I’ve admired this dress for years and have not quite had the nerve to re-create it until now. That front neck detail with the capelet and ruching really had me flummoxed.

When I mentioned, on Instagram that this was my plan, Deirdre from Vintage Pattern Lending Library suggested I use one of her patterns to start and then she sent it to me! How lucky am I? Thank you Deirdre! The pattern was a perfect jumping off point and it really took the pressure off to have a pattern to start from.

I’m pretty pleased with the overall look, considering, in the end, I only had about a week to pull it off. I completed the ensemble with me-made purse, hat and jewelry. There are a few changes I would make, given the time and inclination (neckline wider and capelet longer in the back). Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with the whole look.

To read the complete post, see pattern adaptations and more pictures from the event, please visit my blog.

Thanks and Happy Sewing!

xo – Jennifer

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1970s | Blouses | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Autumnal Green (Simplicity 5204, Simplicity 7880 and Simplicity 8611)

By on September 24, 2018

 

My most recent outfit is all homemade out of 1970s sewing patterns: the skirt (Simplicity 7880) and blouse (Simplicity 8611) both in a size 8, and the vest (Simplicity 5204) in a teen-sized 11/12.  If you want to see more photos and read more details about my sewing process and thrifted accessories, please visit the blog that I share with my sewing husband: Mr and Mrs Rat.

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1920s | Coats | Vintage Sewing

1920’s Style Blue Velvet Evening Coat

By on
JSerrBlueVelvetCoat

I wore this Blue Velvet Coat to the Miss Fisher Convention this year in Portland, Oregon. In this photo shoot (Thanks Mom!) I paired the jacket with a true vintage 1920’s silk lace and chiffon dress, along with some rhinestone / crystal accessories and coordinating shoes and bag.I think it all works together quite nicely.

When making this Coat, I really wanted a long attached neck scarf like Phryne Fisher (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) wears on many of her coats. As I was cutting out this silk velvet, I really had to squeeze every inch of what I had. So, that meant that I had to piece the scarf. It left a seam on one side in the front that I really didn’t like and the naps were different. This was a dilemma at a late hour. Luckily, I had two beaded appliques that worked perfectly. I bought 3 of them, and glad I did.

I’m really pleased with how the side gusset turned out. At first, they seemed a little small, but after inserting them in the side, they give the coat, just enough swing. Also, there was not enough fabric to make them any bigger, so I certainly can’t complain.

The Patterns I Used – Both from Vintage Pattern Girl on Etsy – 1929 Ladies Straight-Line Coat – Reproduction Sewing Pattern #Z2545 & 1934 Ladies Dress With Coat – Reproduction Sewing Pattern #T1418

For the complete blog post and to see HOW I did the pattern adaptations, please visit my Blog.

 

Until Next Time – Happy Sewing!

xo

Jennifer

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Vintage Sewing

Retro Kids

By on September 18, 2018

There really isn’t anything cuter than a baby rocking a vintage style.  For all my friends who are having children, I have gotten into the habit of giving them handmade clothing for their showers.  Here are a couple I have completed.

Made from quilters cotton at about $25AUD/m this dress and panties took almost the whole meter but I think has a really pretty vintage look.  I love nappy covers.  Generally I could use less fabric on a pattern like this but the striping ment that I had to lay peices in a certain direction.  The ribbon used was left over from a previous project.

 

This little beach set turned out amazingly.  I love the bright cheerfulness of it.  The fabric is just a Spotlight cotton spot and the buttons are also spotlight.  I lined the whole thing in cotton lawn to seal and finish off all the edges.  The hat is a basic tulip hat trimmed with the same button and a small piece of cross grain ribbon that I already had in my stash.

 

 

This tuinc and pants set I think worked out really well.  The splash of blue is just enough to break up the starkness of the black and white prominent in the bunny print.  From memory the bunny fabric was also about $25/m and the blue cotton $10/m but the 3mth size took hardly any of that fabric to make.  The top is fully lined in a cotton lawn and I use flat buttons on the back to avoid having anything stick in uncomfortably on a baby who can’t move much.

There are more details on my blog

 

Happy Sewing

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