Vintage Sewing

Costume Collections of the World

By on March 8, 2014

Hello everyone! I just launched a collaborative Google map which might interest a lot of the readers here – it’s a collection of costume and textile museums from around the world. You can open the map here or by clicking on the image below.

I was inspired by Vicki’s Map the Sewintists project which has been so successful. If you haven’t checked out the Map of Sewintists yet, get on it! The map portrays sewing enthusiasts around the world – each of whom contributed to the map by adding a pin of their location and links to their blogs (if they have one).

Costume Collections of the World is the same idea – anyone can add and edit the information on the map. I started the map out with a small selection of museums and collections I found through Google searches, but I would be extremely grateful if anyone would like to put additional locations on the map – either collections you have visited yourself or places that you know about. The goal is to have a thorough, world-wide map of museums and other institutes that focus on all manner of costumes, accessories, or textiles. My hope is that it will become a useful resource for anyone interested in sewing, fashion, textiles, etc., whether they are sewists on vacation, researchers looking for information, or people who like to browse online museum collections looking for inspiration.

If you haven’t created a custom Google Map before, here’s the low down. You can add locations to the map in two ways:

1. Enter the museum name in the search bar and press enter. Then click on the green pin that appears on the map,  and click “Add to map.”

2. Click on the “Add marker” button located directly below the search bar and place your pin in the appropriate spot on the map. Give your pin a title and a short description. A link to the museum’s webpage is very helpful!

You can also add photos by clicking on a pin, clicking on “Edit” (pencil icon), and then clicking on the camera icon. You can add photos found online or upload your own if you’ve visited the museum yourself and would like to share. Just be sure to click “Save” when you’re done editing each location.

(For more info on editing Google Maps, you can click here.)

So if you have a minute and the inclination, please add a pin! Or spread the word if you know others who might like to contribute or look at the results. I have high hopes that this map will get the same frequent usage as Map the Sewintists and become a valuable resource for the sewing community and anyone else with like interests.

Thanks for listening! If you want to read my original blog post on the subject, you can click here.

** UPDATE **

Thank you everyone who has added to the map! I’m so pleased how many new locations appeared just overnight!

Also, I discovered it is incredibly easy to accidentally delete or move things on the map, but if you press ctrl+Z you can quickly undo any error.

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1920s | Sewing Machines | Vintage Sewing

Reassembling a Singer 66

By on June 13, 2012

Hello again! I’m back with an update on my adventures cleaning my Singer 66. As I mentioned before, it’s from 1923 and quite dirty, gunky, rusty etc, so I’ve slowly been disassembling and scrubbing everything.

Most recently I took apart everything on the bottom of the machine, cleaned it, and put it back together. I’m a little exhausted from doing the tutorial over on my blog, so I hope you’ll forgive me for just posting a quick before and after here.


I’m not exactly a clean freak, but seeing all the parts shined is extremely satisfying. If you want to see the process, head on over to my blog post!

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Singer 66

By on May 27, 2012

Hi everyone! I can’t contain my enthusiasm, so I have to share this purchase I made with you…

It’s a Singer 66, and the first antique sewing machine I’ve owned. I’ve been teaching myself to sew for a few years on a machine that I think is from the seventies. It works fine, but lately I’ve been admiring vintage sewing machines more and more… and becoming increasingly curious about what it’s like to sew on one. I love Peter’s blog over at Male Pattern Boldness and seeing the different machines he finds and fixes up. I suppose I can owe it to him that I took the plunge and bought this machine after seeing it on Craig’s List.

As you can see, this machine needs a lot of cleaning. Happily, though, all the parts seem to operate quite smoothly. It even came with most (or even all?) of the original parts. Check this out:

I haven’t actually tried out any of these attachments yet, nor have I even threaded the needle and given it a go. I’m going to try to give it a thorough cleaning first, which it really really needs. It has been in a smoking household for many years, and I’m not sure if all the grime is from that or from something else. It’s pretty dirty though. I used Peter’s helpful list of vintage sewing machine resources as a starting point for the cleaning process. You can find it here.  I also found this amazing website: My Sewing Machine Obsession, which has wonderfully detailed photos, diagrams, and instructions detailing how to disassemble, clean, and reassemble several types of vintage sewing machines. Elizabeth of My Sewing Machine Obsession recommends using Dr. Bronner’s almond oil soap because it is very gentle, and cleaning the outer body of the machine with q-tips – so I started on this yesterday. Here’s a quick before and after…

Getting this far took a lot of q tips and the better part of the afternoon. I guess I have my work cut out for me! I won’t go on for too long here, in case not everyone is interested in seeing many many photos of this lovely new acquisition of mine. But if you are interested, I am going to try to document the whole clean up process over at my blog: Feel free to drop by!

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Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Re-making a vintage dress

By on March 22, 2012

Hi everyone! I have a re-sewing project to tackle, and I’m looking for a little advice. It’s not sewing from scratch, but hopefully it won’t be out of place here since it is definitely vintage!

I like to admire vintage dresses, but I don’t often consider purchasing or wearing them. But while wandering around thrift stores and antique malls in Indianapolis last week, I happened upon this beautiful dress…

it came from Broad Ripple Vintage, if anyone’s curious

I love the cool colors, love the flowers, love the piping at the neckline, love that it is cotton, love that it looks so wearable! And when I was able to actually zip it up in the dressing room – well, it sealed the deal and I made my first vintage purchase ever. I was ready to wear it right away out to dinner that night, until I noticed that it smelled badly of smoke. A careful hand-washing did the trick, however. You should have seen the color of the water before the first rinse. Yuck!

Aside from the smoke, there are a few other things I would like to change. Please don’t cringe, vintage-lovers! I’m going to try to protect the integrity of the dress as much as possible. But I would like to alter it slightly (the fit is just a little tight) and also strengthen it so that it will last for many more years. The dress construction looks very simple, aside from the zillion little pleats in the skirt. There is no lining, just facings.

Overall, the dress is in very good condition. No holes or worn spots really – just some fraying of the seam allowances. So I’d like to ask anyone who is interested, how would you go about altering this dress? The cotton is very lightweight, so my current thought is to take the bodice apart carefully, underline it, and try to let out the side seams a little. That leaves the question of what to do about facings – try to reuse them? Make new ones? Use bias tape to bind the armholes and neckline instead? And what can I do about the double row of piping on the neckline (which I love!)? I would really like to try to enlarge the neckline just a little, so I may have to replace the piping with new.

What would you do? I’m so smitten with this dress that I’m ready to put some real effort into it, so all thoughts and suggestions are welcome!

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1960s | Capes

Simplicity 6651 – Wool cape

By on January 16, 2012

Hi everyone! This is my first post here, but I’ve been admiring everyone’s makes for some time. I wanted to share my completed cape from this winter – Simplicity 6651.


Here’s the pattern envelope:



I made this out of a loose-weave wool with a faux fur collar and a poly satin lining. I even did bound buttonholes! I had to draft the lining and facings myself –  a feat I am quite proud of.

However, after all that effort I’m just not that fond of it. It might be that it is just too big for me (I made a medium and I am 36″ in the bust). Or it might just be the style. It was an excellent learning experience though! So now the question is, to keep or not keep? And what do people think about capes in general?

More details on my blog: Errant Pear


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