So I was at Joann Fabric’s buying 4 spools of black serger thread, and only serger thread. But then… I had a coupon for 50% off a fabric cut, and Butterick patterns were 99 cents, and 2 hours later I stumbled upon this funky yellow geometric fabric. I knew it had to turn into something vintage-inspired. I couldn’t find anything I wanted it to be in Butterick, but fortunately I had bought Simplicity 1913 (at a different 99 cent sale) when I saw Suzannah’s Version on her blog, Adventures in Dressmaking.

I’m having some mixed feelings about the result:

When I first put it on, I really hated it, but now it’s growing on me. Also, I always forget how much I hate gathered sleeves. People complain so much about button holes, but really I’d rather make 100 button holes than gather in 2 cap sleeves.

Next time I make it, sleeveless version. All in all, it’s a great pattern and incredibly versatile; if you want something retro inspired but still modern, I highly recommend it.


My mother did when she was 18 years old!

I got a call from my Grandmother in England a few weeks ago, telling me she’d found this outfit (it’s actually two pieces, a vest jacket thing and a high waisted skirt), which evidently belonged to my mother when she was younger. It had virtually never been worn and she asked me what my waist size was. To our delight it was exactly the same as my mother’s was then! She asked me if I wanted it, and naturally I said yes! I only had her vague description of it and had no idea what I was getting. And this is what showed up in the mail:

When I showed these pictures to my mother, she immediately identified it as an outfit she had made when she was 18 years old. It’s beautifully made and a nearly perfect fit.

So perhaps it’s not retro sewing – but it’s legit 1970′s vintage sewing done by the very woman who taught me to sew :-) How cool is that?


Action Shots :-)

by juliam on April 21, 2012 · 2 comments

in Vintage Sewing

I just wanted to post very quickly to share some action shots of the poodle skirt I posted last week. Thanks for all your wonderful comments and feedback! And I know that several of you were interested in the mechanics of dancing in it, so…

This is how awesome your spins could be:

Like Erika said, this isn’t your every day swing dancing type of skirt, but so much fun for every once in a while!


I know, poodle skirts are cliche. I feel almost guilty posting something that borders as a halloween costume here. BUT. My local swing dance was having a retro night, and I really really wanted to wear a poodle skirt. Sure, I could have made a mad-men dress and been all sophisticated and what not. But I wanted to bounce around like a teenager at a sock hop in 1955.

So, I pose a question to all of you vintage experts – were poodle skirts a real trend in the 1950′s? What about sock hops? And if both are real, were poodle skirts worn at sock hops? Because I’ll tell you, swing dancing in this thing was really hard work!

Regardless, this outfit is less about the poodle, and way more about my crinoline.

I tried to do some research into whether or not poodle skirts were really worn during the 50’s, or if halloween costumes have just taught us false facts. From the information I could glean, crinolines underneath were part of the ensemble. And a crinoline was on my list for my 52 Weeks of Sewing project, so now seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The poodle skirt was made from felt and the applique was cut out and ironed on using double-sided fabric adhesive. The crinoline was based mostly on a 50’s petticoat pattern by elegant impressions (available for free from BurdaStyle here). They say don’t use tulle, but I did anyway. It’s cheap, what I can say?

For the bottom two tiers I used 6 inch wide rolls of tulle to eliminate the need for cutting, used my serger to gather the strips and then serged the gathered tulle together. It resulted in using a lot more yardage than the pattern called for, but I wanted extreme poof. I also made the second tier 10 inches wide to account for the slightly narrower 6 inch strips for the botton two tiers. The hem is a roll hem, also thanks to the wonderful hard work of my serger. It contains 54 yards of tulle strips.

My serger is brand new, so I figured now was the time to try and burn out the motor while I could still send it back :-) It was a champ, though!