1950s | Pants / Trousers | Vintage Sewing

Constructing Cigarette Pants, & a Flat-Lining Tutorial

By on September 28, 2014


Hi all!  I’m documenting the process of drafting and constructing my 1950s cigarette pants, and this time I’m flat-lining them (an underlining technique that also functions as a seam finish).   Lots of photos, as well as full instructions if you want to try it yourself, are here at my blog:

Constructing Cigarette Pants: Flat-Lining

along with the first two posts in the series, Drafting Cigarette Pants and Drafting Cigarette Pants, Part 2.

Happy sewing!

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1950s | Pants / Trousers | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

Drafting Cigarette Pants

By on September 19, 2014

I’m not brand-new to pants (the first pair of jeans I made), but I’ve never drafted slim-fit trousers before and to be honest they’re a bit intimidating. So math!  Much fitting!  Wow!  But I have some great herringbone woolen in my stash (somewhere between a flannel and a boiled wool, very nice quality, from Gorgeous Fabrics a couple of years back), a job I can’t wear jeans to, and a sudden interest in late-1950s silhouettes, so I thought it was time to take on the challenge.


Drafting discussion and fitting photos are here at my blog.  I made a couple of breakthroughs and (hopefully) did away with a major fit issue in every pair of pants I’ve ever sewn.  I would love some input from those of you who are experienced at fitting pants–there are some horizontal wrinkles in the back thigh that are still stumping me:


Needs length in the back fork, maybe?

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1940s | Blouses | Pattern Drafting | Shirts | Vintage Sewing

Forties-inspired blouse

By on July 12, 2012

Hi all!  I have been working on the perfect 1940s-inspired casual blouse pattern for quite a while, and I think I’ve cracked it.



Strong shoulders, convertible collar, and short wide sleeves that you can roll up easily–perfect.  I even found a way to get the yoke to act as a sort of dummy collar stand in front, eliminating the need for a facing.  This shirt makes me feel like I’m working in a munitions factory, or at least the Women’s Land Army.



More pics & construction details over at my blog, Some Things I Have Made!

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Pants / Trousers | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

I Made Jeans!

By on March 28, 2012



It was tough, but I did it!  I’d been talking about making jeans for ages, and I finally got around to it last weekend.  The actual construction process went really fast, so if you’re intimidated by the idea of branching out into jeans, don’t sweat it!  All you need is a good trouser pattern–the back yoke and pockets are easy to draft–and everything else that makes these recognizable as jeans is just detail work and choice of materials.



These are pretty much the ultimate in practical sewing.  I could wear these anywhere–gardening, hiking, on a boat, on the floor putting puzzles together with a five-year-old–and if they get ripped or worn out, they’ll look great with patches.  I love them cuffed, as above, but they also look good left loose to hang over my boots.  In the summer, I’ll probably wear them with a light blouse or t-shirt tucked in, but lately I’ve been throwing a sweater or heavy plaid flannel button-up on top and that looks great too.  They’re a wardrobe godsend.


More pictures and construction details over at my blog!


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Vintage Sewing

Historical resources

By on February 22, 2012

Hi Sew Retro–

I’ve long been interested in the historical context of the clothes I sew, and I’m an academic by nature, so of course I’ve done loads of reading.  I’ve been running a reading list series on my blog to try to share some of these resources with the rest of y’all, particularly the ones that are available free or online, and the latest installment is up!

Reading List Part Four: So You Want to Learn Some Primary Source History

Parts one through three:

Reading List Part Three: So You Want to Learn to Sew Historically

Reading List Part Two: So You Want to Learn Some History

Reading List Part One: So You Want to Learn to Sew


I’m updating these as I come across new sources, so I’d welcome suggestions–and if anyone else is interested in doing something similar, get in touch with me–maybe we could work up a resource page on domestic history!

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Lingerie | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

Do you make your own underwear?

By on February 20, 2012

I do, now!


What with the Seamless pledge and all, I’ve been trying to make everything in my wardrobe, from the inside out, so I figured it was time to tackle underpants.  I drafted them up from Natalie Bray’s More Dress Pattern Designing, which calls them “pilch knickers”–I’m not sure why.   These days, most (if not all) of the clothes I wear on any given day are me-made, and I draft everything to fit at my high waist, so it’s actually a relief getting that one last layer in line with the rest.


More details over here at my blog.  🙂


Do any of you make all your own clothes?  Bras still elude me, unfortunately, though I’ve got several experimental projects in the pipeline that I’m hoping will fix that.  I’d love to be All Me Made All the Time someday.  Anybody else on that road with me?

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1800s | Lingerie | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

Slightly, But Not Entirely, A Corsetry Project

By on February 3, 2012

I might be doing some light corsetry? Maybe?



I’ve been wanting to make my own bras for a while, but none of my research was really inspiring me (underwires, yuck).  When I saw this post on Wearing History (through this blog I believe!), I thought: wait a second.  Why not take some cues from corsetry instead?  So I drafted this up.  It’s based on Regency short stays but in no way intended to be period accurate.  I’m not sure how wearable it will be, but I guess I’ll see when it’s finished!  I pinned the most useful visual resources I found on my Pinboard, and I will hopefully have a post up on Regency corsetry resources soon, since somebody else should benefit from my several evenings’ worth of research!


This project has also been sparking a lot of thought for me about self-sufficiency, invention, and self-made wardrobes.  If that’s your cup of tea, the full post is over here at my blog.  🙂

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