Vintage Sewing

Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong

By on October 16, 2013

Hello Retro Sewists! I’d like to invite you all to join me for a sewalong. I’m inviting everyone to sew a blouse or dress with a bow on it during the month of November. (I’m announcing it now so you have enough time to plan!). Bows have been found on blouse necks through the decades, and I’d love for you bring your love of retro sewing to the sewalong.

I’ve created a Flickr group where we can all share inspiration and progress. I’d love it if you would join the Flickr group now and upload photos of bow-neck blouses you’ve already sewn (and links to your blog post or pattern info) to serve as sources of inspiration. As you finish your sewalong blouses, you can add them there too! We can share progress on Twitter and Instagram once we start planning and sewing using #BNBsewalong.

Head over to for more details and buttons you can add to your blog!

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1930s | 1940s

1939 Knit Bobble Cardigan

By on June 18, 2013

Although this is a knitting project, not a sewn one, I thought that it would be of interest to WeSewRetro readers as I know a lot of sewists also knit. This sweater is from a modern book that published a collection of vintage patterns called Vintage Knitwear for Modern Knitters. This pattern is originally from 1939, but a woman that knit this sweater when the pattern was published in 1939 certainly would have continued to wear it through the 40’s making it WWII era.

The buttons on the sweater are also vintage, although I’m not sure from exactly when. They were among a collection of vintage buttons that I have inherited from a couple of different sources and have clearly come off of a used item or have been banging around in a jar for a very long time as they have dents and scratches. I purchased the modern shawl stick although I intend to do a bit of research and find a more period appropriate design. If anyone can point me to information on that end, it would be appreciated! I have more information on the sweater construction on my blog and on Ravelry for those that are interested.

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1960s | Dresses | Mad Men Inspired

Mad Men Challenge – My Joan Dress

By on April 4, 2013

My Mad Men dress for the Mad Men Challenge. I had to copy Joan. Just about every episode I ogle something she has worn. I used the wiggle dress from Gertie’s Book and added arm flounces and drafted my own collar. I deviated from the original collar, making it a bit more mod, as I don’t have the strong bust to balance out the original collar (and, I will admit, couldn’t figure out how to get such ample ripples). I used Gertie’s suggested period construction by inserting a hand-picked zipper, sewing my hem by hand, and inserting the underarm gussets using a silk organza facing. The dolman sleeves, despite a couple rounds of fitting, still aren’t quite perfect over my strong shoulders. Check out my blog post for more details and photos.

Does anyone know how to get the ample ripples in the original dress?

Has anyone successfully fit tight dolman sleeves over strong square shoulders?

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1940s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Sew for Victory: Hollywood Patterns 1942 Shirtwaist Dress

By on April 1, 2013

I now present to you my 1940′s dress for Sew for Victory. It’s from Hollywood Patterns (No. 855), from May 1942, endorsed by Betty Grable of 20th Century Fox.  It was my first time using an original 1940’s pattern, which was a fun experience. I’m actually a bit disappointed by the dress, mostly because I was talked into fabric with which I’m just not in love. Oh well. Not every project can be a winner. And I’ve certainly been inspired by all the lovely creations others have made for this sewalong! See my full blog post for more details.

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1940s | 1950s | Blouses | Dresses | Shirts

Sewing Through Gertie’s New Book

By on February 22, 2013

I’ve been having a fun time sewing my way through Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, and enjoying the vintage flair it’s adding to my wardrobe. I’ve found the construction fairly simple, although not suited to the absolute beginner. Her suggestions for vintage construction techniques are a great resource for knowing how to make true-to-period pieces, although you may want to look elsewhere for detailed technical instructions if said techniques are new to you.

I started with her basic high-waisted pencil skirt pattern to sew my autumnal wool pencil skirt. I followed all of her suggested construction techniques including boning the waistband and hand-picking the zipper. I’m madly in love with that skirt! I took the same pattern and added scallops to bottom and top to make my red scalloped pencil skirt. I’m wearing it with the bow-neck-blouse, which I also quite like, although I futzed with the collar quite a bit to keep it from choking me. Finally, I’ve made the shirtwaist dress. Although there are several changes I want to make for the next time, I’m happy with the result. I’ll definitely continue to sew my way through book, so there will be more to come.

One of the best parts of the book, in my opinion, is how she has sized her patterns. She’s based them on her body type – an unassuming bust and noticeable hips – which is perfect for me. I’ve found that I need to do only minor modifications to make the patterns fit me well (other than adding on quite a bit of length, but I have to do that with everything). If you are busty, you will probably need to make full-bust-adjustments, and if you don’t have a rear, you’ll need to cut down on some of the shaping.

I’m always happy to share more opinions, so feel free to ask. I have tutorials planned for some of the construction techniques used on these pieces, so keep an eye on if you’re interested. Hearts! -e

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