1940s Vintage Pyjamas

By on January 14, 2014
1940s Vintage Pyjamas

1940s Vintage Pyjamas

There are few things I love more than putting my pyjamas on after a hot bubble bath at the end of the day, historically I have never made my own. This seems odd to me as I love vintage style home wear- house coats, nighties and frilly aprons are all the kind of things I live for! I decided to remedy this before Christmas, found this Vogue pattern from the 1940s on Etsy and got cracking.

Now I must confess I did feel a little odd taking photos of myself in pyjamas, in the middle of the day, but us bloggers have to embrace these oddities.

They are super comfy and I have already worn them more than enough to have deemed them worth making. I think I will try a 1950s style pair next with the slim trousers and the baby doll top. A girl can never have too many pyjamas can she! My only complaint is not being able to wear them out of the house!

If you get a chance please do pop over to my sewing blog where I have a few more pictures and a bit more information about what I did with the pattern.

Continue Reading

1950s | Pants / Trousers | Vintage Sewing

De-constructed High Waisted Jeans

By on November 21, 2013


I whipped up a pair of dark blue denim jeans  a couple of weeks back that I have been wearing nearly every day since (although fear not, they have made it into the washing machine a couple of times!) I always think that’s a great judge of a creation- if you are reluctant to part with it for long enough for it to be laundered then you know you have got something right!

The pattern was one I actually worked out from a beloved pair of old Topshop jeans back in the summer. I picked up the jeans for £8 ($14) on a random sale rack in the store, I knew they would be tricky to wear when I bought them as they were a stone background with a rose print on- but the shape and fit were perfection to me. The jeans are high waisted, side zip jeans and slim through the leg without being legging- tight. They have enough retro charm to them to pair really nicely with most of my clothes but are still really classic and simple- well except for the print of course! Having put them on several times, wished they went with some of my clothes and removed them, I finally decided to sacrifice them and use them as a pattern.

To find out  how I turned them into these dark high waisted jeans please pop over to my <a href=http://sewinglondon.co.uk/deconstructed-denim-jeans/> sewing blog</a>.

Continue Reading


Retro Butterick B5209

By on September 7, 2013

I have been on a bit of a republished vintage pattern spree recently! I bought a bunch of them on sale a while back and have been working my way through them recently including this particular one Retro Butterick B5209.

I chose this fabric on account of the distinctly 1940s feel it has as I felt it complemented the style of the dress. Red and burgundy are not part of my usual colour palette and I do think this would be a lot better suited to a slightly darker skin tone but sometimes it’s nice to step outside of one’s comfort zone and wear something a bit different! I also think it’s a good colour palette for early autumn, nice and rich and would look good with a cardigan and over stockings.

The dress itself is rated as an easy pattern and it really, really is! It would be perfect for a beginner, great instructions and nothing more challenging than popping in a zip.  I didn’t do much to change the pattern on the toile- I reduced the sleeves a little to compensate for the way in which my square shoulders jut this style out a bit dramatically and I was in-between sizes so I sized up and reduced the waist. Apparently I wasn’t zealous enough and the finished dress was still a little baggy around the middle but rather than unpick and take it in I decided to whip up a narrow little self-covered belt instead. I am actually quite pleased about this outcome as I really love little self- covered belts.

Thanks for reading and if you have the time please pop over to my sewing blog for a fuller review and more pictures.

Continue Reading


Liberty print shirt dress: Simplicity 1880

By on June 22, 2013

I love shirt dresses! I think the first one I fell in love with was Sandy’s peach one in Grease when I was a little girl. The 8 year old me couldn’t comprehend her makeover- why on earth would she trade the pretty pastel dresses for the shiny black lycra and poodle hair?

Being a lover of sewing with vintage patterns I already own a couple of vintage shirt dress patterns. One of which I have made up in a blue gingham and one I am yet to try but am very excited about.

So I realllllly didn’t need Simplicity 1880 but there were so many cute variations with the pattern and I managed to convince myself into the purchase based on these and the slightly more 40s charm it had going on! I really can talk myself into pretty much anything when it comes to the acquisition of sewing or knitting supplies!

Simplicity 1880 Front

Simplicity 1880 Back

I decided to make up a toile of the version with little puffy sleeves first. I followed my measurements from the back of the envelope and the pattern came up as a pretty good fit so I would definitely say go with your measurements on this one.

The fabric is a discontinued Liberty print that I just love love love love!  I lined the skirt with a white cotton lawn as tana lawn is very fine and as a result a little see through without a lining.

I would definitely recommend this pattern if you want to create a vintage style shirt dress with the convenience of a modern pattern. I have already adapted the pattern to be a sleeveless style as I have always wanted to make a sleeveless shirt dress a la Betty Draper.

I am also looking forward to making one up with the longer sleeves for the cooler seasons.

Thanks for reading, there are more photos and construction information on my blog The Little Tailoress. Pop by and visit if you have a moment.

Until next time.

Continue Reading


Vogue 1083 Vintage Camel Coat

By on February 15, 2013

Hi there, as this is my first post on WeSewRetro I though I would share one of my favourite coats that I made this past winter.

At the start of the Autumn it occurred to me that I needed some staple, comfy, warm winter garments and went out on a couple of trips to the shops to pick some up. The truth of the matter is that even if you knit and sew you just can’t make EVERTHING yourself.

On my travels I couldn’t help noticing gorgeous camel coats everywhere. I loved the warm neutral colour and the lovely soft fabrics.

Plus they brought to mind images of Marilyn Monroe in the film My week with Marilyn. I knew I had to make one but wasn’t sure on the style, alot of the ones around seemed to be cut in the Crombie style which I didn’t think would really suit me.

Then I saw the Jill Sander one below in a magazine and fell in LOVE! It reminded me a lot of one that Kate wears in the TV series Pan Am!

Jill Sander Coat


Kate Pan Am Coat

As well as being beautiful (in my opinion) this full, knee length kind of style fitted my requirements perfectly as I was in need of a winter coat that was long enough to wear over skirts and dresses.

I had a look through some Vintage patterns but ended up choosing a reproduction pattern originally from 1953: Vintage Vogue 1083.

Vogue 1083

I was lucky enough to find some lovely 100% Camel hair coating from one of my favourite UK online fabrics shops Truro Fabrics.

They also had a gold lining that worked really well with it. I am a big fan of their ‘superior linings’, they are completely static free, breathable, easy to work with and they hang really nicely.

The coat calls for interlining and luckily I had some cotton flannel that I bought from The Cotton Patch left in my stash. Their flannel is lovely and as it’s primarily intended for quilting it is super duper wide! I also had JUST enough hair canvas for the front of the coat. Don’t you love it when that happens?

I decided to make up the version without the closure but to lower the neckline. I made up a calico toile of the coat in the size 6 (I would normally make up a size 8 but this looked big.) then I made the following alterations.

* I shortened the hemline by 25cm as the coat was mid calf and I wanted it knee length
* I removed 5 cm fullness from the front panel by slashing from the hemline to mid shoulder and overlapping 5cm at the hemline sloping up to 0 at the shoulder.
* I removed 10cm fullness from the back panel pattern piece in the same way. I did this at two separate points overlapping each 5cm at the hem as this is less disruptive to the shape of the pattern piece than removing hemline fullness all in one spot.
* I ignored the fish dart at the neckline and slashed and spread the outer edge of the collar 1.5cm at the back of the neck- the combination of these two alterations gave me the lower break line for the shawl collar that I wanted.
* I curved the drop shoulder down by 1.5cm on the front and back panel- this was because the drop shoulders were square and didn’t sit as smoothly as I wanted where the sleeve was attached.
* I removed 6 cm of width from the centre of the sleeves. This dealt with the amount removed from the drop shoulders but also removed the unnecessary amount of ease included in the sleeves. They were HUGE!
* I transferred these alterations back to the paper pattern pieces and then made the same alterations to the corresponding lining/ facing/ interfacing pieces.

Construction wise I followed the pattern instructions pretty closely, being a vintage reproduction it uses a lot of the traditional techniques that I love. I added pad stitching to the shawl collar and stitched the hair canvas down with cotton tape, trimming the canvas so that it didn’t extend into the seam allowances. This is a couture technique that helps to create nice flat, crisp edges.


The facing and hem are stitched invisibly down to the inside of the coat by hand. The interlining is then stitched to the inside of the coat along all the seam lines by hand and then finally the lining is attached by hand on top of this!

Before embarking upon all this hand stitching I ran my thread through some tailor’s beeswax as this really helps prevent knots from forming in your thread. Once the coat was completed I created thread chains to loosely attach the lining to the coat at the side seams. This keeps everything hanging nicely and stops the lining twisting or riding up.


This would be a fantastic project for anyone who is interested in sewing a coat using traditional techniques but that feels they need a little more instruction than may be offered from an original vintage pattern (the instructions in these can be a little thin on the ground.). It is not however a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like hand work- consider yourself warned people!



To add a tiny bit of interest I bought a little silver vintage poodle brooch from Candy Says vintage to pop on the lapel. I love her and I think she looks right at home!

I hope you like my post and the coat, I hope I did the pattern justice.

If you have the time to see more of what I have been up to and some of my other vinatge sewing projects then please pop over to my sewing blog The Little Tailoress

Thanks so much for reading!


Continue Reading