Dresses | Modern Patterns

Simplicity 1913

By on July 22, 2012

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.

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1970s | Blouses | Skirts

I didn’t sew this but…

By on July 18, 2012

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?

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Vintage Sewing

Action Shots :-)

By on April 21, 2012

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!

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Vintage Sewing

It’s What’s Underneath The Poodle

By on April 15, 2012

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!


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Accessories | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Vintage Modern Challenge – A Kid’s Dress for Grown-ups

By on January 21, 2012

There’s a contest being held by BurdaStyle and Indygo Junction where you are supposed to take one of Amy Barickman’s wonderful vintage-inspired patterns and turn it into a piece of your own. One of the prizes is for a significant modification to become an Indygo Junction pattern, so my goal in creating this piece was to create something that would fit into the Indygo Junction repertoire and would be versatile as a pattern.

And then when I saw the children’s Urban Prairie Dress pattern, I was struck with a tidal wave of inspiration. When I was a child, I always used to look enviously at the women’s clothing wishing I was big enough to wear it. Now I have the same feeling when I look at the children’s section. So when I saw Indygo Junction’s Urban Prairie dress, I knew I wanted to wear it.

So, I blew it up into a grown-up pattern! It essentially ended up being a redraft of the original, but I tried hard to maintain the original look while turning it into a more “womanly” piece with some finer details. It’s edged with flat eyelet lace and tied in the back with a double ribbon bow that actually comes out of giant buttonholes in the waistband. I love pockets in dresses, so I added some of those, too.

I had some extra eyelet lace and decided to add a headband. I love Amy Barickman’s Zipper embellishments, so I made the heart on the headband out of a red zipper. I was having so much fun that I couldn’t resist using some extra ribbon to put the little bows on my shoes. I think this outfit just begs to be worn on for Valentine’s day 🙂

More pictures either at my BurdaStyle or on my Blog!

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Black Lace and Satin Blouse

By on January 11, 2012

This project was not in my originals plans for the day yesterday, a pair of jeans for my 52 Weeks of Sewing project was. But, then I decided to make a shirt to go with the jeans, and then it turned into “hey, I should just try that blouse from that Vintage Modern Design Challenge that BurdaStyle just posted.” Ultimately, the jeans never got made and the blouse morphed into this!

It is based on a free blouse pattern from Indygo Junction. And wow, what a pattern to use! I’ve never don’t anything like that before, it doesn’t give you any paper pieces just instructions on how to chalk it out yourself. The entire back panel is lace, and the front pattern is a mystery (polyester?) satin I had lying around. I actually cut the blouse to the specifications, but then took it in significantly after the fact (it’s taken in about six inches, and then I added darts to the front). I also shaped the side seams to bring the lace back panel slightly forwards. The cuffs were done as instructed, but I shortened the sleeves and then I added another “cuff” as the bottom hem, all in the same lace as the back panel.

My hope was to create a piece that is a more modern variant of the satin blouse which could be turned into a real pattern and recreated. I’m pretty pleased with it – all the adjustments I made mean it’s a little bit messier on the inside than I would like, but all in all considering my lack of experience with this type of thing, I’m happy!

More photos on my BurdaStyle profile. More information on the Vintage-Inspired Modern Style Design Challenge here.

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1950s | Dresses

Black and Red Swing Dress

By on January 10, 2012

A black and red 50’s inspired swing dress – it has a circle skirt and and elasticated back. It was simple and a lot of fun to make and I’m excited to swing dance in it this Saturday! It’s not hemmed yet – I’m still deciding whether or not I want it much shorter. It’s part of my new years resolution to sew 52 garments in 52 weeks.





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