1940s | 1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

‘Pass the Peas’ Dress – a Vintage Mash-Up

By on April 5, 2016

Hello! I’ve just come back from adventures in Los Angeles and Hollywood, where as well as visiting all the sights, I also managed to do some fabric shopping. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to visit Mood’s Los Angeles outpost; instead, I was excited about seeing Islands Fabrics, which is a whole store devoted to Hawaiian and Tropical fabric!

I was very restrained and only bought one piece, which is the barkcloth-weight leaves in the picture below, bottom right:
Juat a selection of what I purchased

The rest was picked up in the surrounding shops, and there were so many more than expected:

Most of them are earmarked for shirts for Mr Needles, would you believe, but I managed to sneak in one more for myself, the little garden peas print cotton. It was sitting unloved on a pavement at the bargain price of only $2 per yard (had to go back to Imperial for this visit; metric never really did take off in the US), so I felt sorry for it and bought a couple of yards.

At first I saw it as a blouse – it seemed like too much pattern for a dress – but this beauty had been playing on my mind:

This was part of my prize from Vintage Pattern Pledge for 2015, run by Kerry at Kestrel Makes and Marie at a Stitching Odyssey. It seems apt to use the pattern won from 2015’s pledge as part of 2016’s pledge, so I went for it!

Just one hitch – buying without a specific project in mind had backfired, and 2 yards wasn’t going to be enough to accommodate the flared skirt. Solution – use a straight skirt from another favourite pattern, Butterick 8571:

I’ve used this pattern twice before, once as illustrated here, and once just as the skirt here and it worked out fine both times.

I had planned to take some pretty photos in my garden, doing some gentle weeding or something, but the recent gales we experienced here in the UK have turned my neglected garden into a bit of a mess. But I carried on regardless – here’s the new dress in action:

I don’t think the change in skirt makes too much difference – it still looks 40s’ish. besides the skirt, I also had to adapt the sleeves to a shorter length in order to fit them in. But I gave them a little scalloped detail just as a reference to the original ruched shape:

Inside of sleeve with facing



Speaking of sleeves, I decided to insert the sleeve before the side seams were attached, on the flat, as it were. This was much easier and less fiddly than the usual technique of closing the side and underarm seam first, and the sleeve head came out pretty smooth:

The neckline is the main feature on this dress, being made up of 2 draped and pleated panels which then attach at the centre front and are covered with a little tab:

Before attachment to bodice…


…and after



I wasn’t quite sure how to finish this seam so that it was neat and attractive, and the instructions give you no guidance. I finally decided to bind it with bias cut from the same fabric as the lining:

The hem was also finished with matching bias strips:

I rarely line a dress fully – I get too hot! – and this was no exception. I used a gold poly to line the skirt, which you can see at the kick pleat at the back:

And finally it all gets closed up with a zip at the centre back, which is again a necessary departure from the pattern which saved fabric. But I did stay old-school and put the zip in by hand, with a little hook and eye at the top:

And that’s pretty much it. I’m off to learn how to drive this thing!

See you soon!


Continue Reading

1970s | Jumpsuits / Pantdresses | Vintage Sewing

It’s a Jumpsuit! McCall’s 5366

By on May 30, 2014

I won this pattern a little while ago in a competition run by the lovely Stacey Stitch, and wanted to make the jumpsuit as soon as I saw it:


I used a poly cotton gaberdine  and came up with this version:


I made a few adjustments, specifically adding a waist seam with elastic, and slanted pockets at the front. To see some more details head over to my blog,  NicoleNeedles.




Continue Reading

1940s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Vogue 8728 – a Bit of Winter Sun

By on November 28, 2013

It’s dark and grey here in London, so I fancied making something highly inappropriate and summery to cheer myself up. Here’s Vogue 8728 to the rescue:

I used a lovely poly-cotton from Minerva fabrics with a cute little nautical print:


The dress has a yoke on the front bodice, with a gathered bust section, making it pretty easy to fit. Because it’s the 40’s, there are little shoulder pads inserted under the cap sleeves. And the skirt is gathered, so it’s nice and swishy when you walk:

And to finish it, I made a simple belt  with a bow that sits on the waist:

All of this was courtesy of the Minerva Bloggers Network, which everyone should go and check out – there’s some great stuff on there made by some talented people, and the best bit is the fact that you can buy a kit of each project!

You can also check out my blog for more details: nicoleneedles.blogspot.co.uk


See you soon!


Continue Reading

1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1930’s Bias Dress – Sew Vera Venus free download

By on July 12, 2013

I decided to break out of the my usual mid-century sewing and try something from the 1930’s. This pattern was a free download from Sew Vera Venus; after a bit of tweaking with the fit, it went together like a dream.

Here’s some details:

I used a light cotton with berries and flowers on a black and white gingham background, perfect for summer:

Fabric detail

The sleeves are super floaty and cut as a large circle. I couldn’t get it across in the photos, though; this is the best I could do:

flared sleeve

The skirt is cut on the bias, with a flared piece attached at the bottom. The dress moves and drapes with you, making it feel very dreamy and romantic! I didn’t want to ruin it all with a horrible zip, so I decided to use a side button placket. I even managed to find some little mother of pearl flowers that matched the fabric:

Close up of the button placket

And it’s all finished off at the back with a little belt, which I just tied in a simple bow:

And that’s it! One final look, and I’ll see you soon!

Continue Reading

1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Simplicity 5096 – 1960’s A-line Dress

By on April 7, 2013

I’ve had this pattern for years, and always liked its mix of 1960’s modern A-line shapes mixed with a more old-fashioned tailoring and elegance:

I made view 2 with the longer length sleeve from view 1 in a basic poly-cotton twill.


The bow at the front is black satin, and I added a self drafted collar in black satin to match:

The dress went together so easily – I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the size, and the A-line style is so comfortable and easy to wear.

Cold, windswept London - can you believe this is meant to be Spring?

I’ll post more details soon at my blog, nicoleneedles.blogspot.com


Continue Reading

1950s | Jackets | Vintage Sewing

Vogue 2934 – I’ve Got To Find an Alternative to Red…

By on October 16, 2012
Vogue 2934

I’ve been sitting on this pattern for quite a while but I finally found the time to make it! I had some red polyester twill lying around, which was intended for another project, but didn’t work out. So I decided to put it to good use. And here it is:


It’s such a lovely, easy piece to wear – I’ve hardly taken it off since finishing it! But it has made me realise I have a lot of red in my wardrobe – I’ve got to work on wearing some other colours…

Anyway, the jacket was really easy and quick to make. I chose the size medium, which worked out fine. I also lined it in a black and red poly-cotton:

Jacket and lining detail

It’s such a fun jacket to wear, that I think I’ll probably make it a few times more in different colours and fabrics – watch this space!

For more details, check out my website: nicoleneedles.blogspot .co.uk

Continue Reading

1970s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Red Pinafore Dress – Style 4782

By on September 13, 2012
Style 4782, 1971

I made this dress (view 3 to be exact), quite a few weeks ago, but have been wearing it so much I haven’t had time to share it with you!

Here it is:

Little red dress, made out of mid-weight poly-cotton twill

A close up of the little pockets on the front:

The neckline is square, with a pointed seam running under the bust:

I wanted this dress to be really quick to make, so I left out lining and kept hand stitching to a minimum. I used a combination of French seams on the center front and back, and run and fell seams at the sides:

The only place I used hand sewing was to insert the zip, and to finish the neck facing and the hem, which I faced with a section of light poly-cotton cut to the shape of the skirt hem:

Close up of faced hemAnd that’s that! Take a look at my blog to see a few more pictures

Continue Reading