I saw this vintage dress on and fell in love. I had to have something similar so set about recreating it.


My pattern is a hodgepodge from other projects- sleeves from a 40′s style evening dress I made for a client, bodice slashed and spread from a slim fitting shirt block and bias skirt developed from a 30′s style pj top pattern I made myself earlier this year. I have to admit I am pretty darned pleased with the results.The main fabric is a heavy satin backed silk crepe and the velvet is a silk & rayon mix. How to re-create the embroidery posed a small problem as hand embroidering it wasn’t something I wanted to spend weeks on and not something I’m very good at anyway. So I came up with a cunning plan… and re-purposed a lovely embroidered upholstery sample I had. To do this first I cut out the areas of embroidery I wanted to use leaving a good margin around the stitching edges and ironed BondaWeb on the back to stabilise it. Then I trimmed very close to the embroidery, lightly ironed it in place on the velvet yoke and pockets and lastly blanket stitched all the edges in place with silk buttonhole thread. I did try a sample first without the BondaWeb but the  embroidery started to fall apart as I was edge sewing it so some kind of stabilising was definitely needed. This is my version:








Making it didn’t go entirely smoothly. I had to reset the left sleeve three times before I got it to hang the way I wanted. Then a certain amount of messing about with making different size shoulder pads and what best to round out the sleeve cap with (felt in the end, rather like in some jackets) was needed. The hem has been done twice. After the first time it was an inch too long to wear with a particular coat so knowing it would really bother me I did it again. Doing the multiple rows of shirring was a bit tedious too. Even so I’m intending to use the pattern again soon with some rayon flower print fabric as the shape is very flattering to wear. It should all go much more easily second time around!


French knickers-a.k.a.tap-pants, petti-pants…. whatever you call them I love them, wear them and keep making more. These are my most recent efforts:

 As a rule I draft my own patterns and while doing these it occurred to me that there is no reason anyone else couldn’t do it too, to their own measurements. It’s a simple skirt block turned into a culotte block. Cut it out in soft thin fabrics, gussie-up with lace and there you have pretty french knickers. The pattern is also the basis for making 20′s/30′s style pyjama bottoms similar to those I made to go with the 1930′s style top I posted a pattern for on my blog a while back.


So to that end I’ve written a knicker  drafting tutorial for the DIY pattern-making inclined. At the end is included how to turn the pattern into an elasticated-waist wide-leg 30′s lounging pj style as well. There is also a brief text-only knicker sewing tutorial that accompanies it.   However, in a couple of weeks I’m hosting a full french knicker sew-along for those who’d like more pictorial step-by-step sewing instructions. (If you don’t wish to draft your own I even posted a pattern in two different sizes UK 10&14 (US 6&10))

   The lace bow appliqué to do!.. were inspired by an article in 1939 Marie Claire magazine I bought a few weeks ago.

To make them you take a length of lace, tie it into a bow and tweak it about until you like it. Anchor it with a few pins onto your ironing board and gently press it flat. Carefully place and re-pin it in position on your fabric. I used a small straight stitch to sew it on…without basting first. But I will admit basting would have been a good idea; all the pins really got in the way and there is a big risk of breaking a machine needle. A minor miracle but this time I didn’t.




Pyjamas for lounging only because there is so much fabric in this 1930′s style that I’d get very tangled if I were to actually wear them to sleep.



I took my inspiration from this Simplicity pattern image. I find myself using the illustrations as inspirations rather than actually using the fragile tissue originals. By the time I’ve traced a pattern off and sworn blue over the folding back into factory folds  I may as well have found a likely basic block in my pattern boxes and just got on with drafting a pattern myself. I stay much calmer. I like drafting my own anyway. So that is what I did.


The fabric is a thin silk. The side seams and shoulder seams are french seamed and the armholes, under bust and hems are finished with bias bindings. The pant legs are a very wide 28″. Dangerous on stairs I discovered. I made the pants waist 4″ bigger than my own and put elastic only across the back as I didn’t want too much gathering at my waist so a side snapped placket was also necessary to get in and out of them.

The top just pulls over my head. The lower part is cut on the bias and the upper on the straight. Doing the V neck in the contrast silk satin was fiddly and could have been a mess except that I used a very light weight knit iron-on interfacing on that piece which helped control it. It’s basically a facing done to the outside rather than the inside. There are super light weight fusings made for silk fabrics but a very lightweight one for knits works just as well. I did try a rolled hem on the sleeves at first but as they are almost a full circle a pin-hem made them stick out just too much so I recut them with a little less fullness and the bound edge keeps them hanging softly.

I have put a free pattern for the pj top as a pdf download on the VV Free page on my blog.

Would I make this again? Yes, I am intending to try the pattern in a cotton jersey . I’m curious to see how that will turn out.

Do I enjoy wearing my PJ’s? – Yes, really fun to wear :)




Last Sunday I made this little cape in a pale blue felt mainly to double check a pattern before I cut it in something else but I like how it turned out and will wear it this Spring I expect. Originally conceived to go with a 1930′s style dress it now looks more 1950′s…

Below is the original collarless cape made to go with this 1930′s style velvet dress I made for New Years Eve (I like to be glam at least one night of the year!) The velvet is a good weight silk/rayon mix… I got it from a friend who said he’d had it at least 30 years so practically vintage fabric

As velvets go it was easy to sew, not horribly slippy like some velvets. The neck and sleeve edges are finished with self bias bindings, only pinked (scalloping shears actually) on the inside instead of folded under to cut down on bulk.

To hem I machine stay-stitched  just a fraction below the hem line, pinked close to the stitching and turned it up just past the stitching and hand caught it in place. It makes for a nice fluid hem on bias velvet and looks neat on the inside too.

I’ve put up a free pdf  pattern at the bottom of the linked post for making the blue collared style yourself.