1920s | 1940s | 1950s | Accessories | Blouses | Buttons | Hats | Introduction | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

A hello plus 4 finished projects!

By on August 19, 2013

hi dolls! My name is Ines and I’m from Lisbon, Portugal. I’m a beauty and vintage fashion blogger (you can check my blog here www.madameturbante.blogspot.com )
More recently I discovered the wonderful world of sewing! Both my grandmothers were seamstresses, and I always have been interested in this kind of art, but I was very busy learning and doing other stuff. Some months ago I decided to create a brand inspired by the vintage acessories (all decades) called Madame Turbante, and so my mother in law offered me a sewing machine! At the time I didn’t knew anything about sewing! I searched on google and a whole new world opened up for me ūüôā I’m still very new to this, but with your help and inspiration I feel that I can do so much more!

My very first sewing project were my turbans, which I’m most known for! Turbans are very easy to sew. Have you tried?
I created Madame Turbante brand and I sell it all over my country in flea markets. Its funny, because I only own one of my turban designs! :p

 

The other thing I wanted to show you is my very first attempt to sew two pillow cases from a retro fabric available at IKEA (I love IKEA, don’t you?). I loved the result! I watched a video on youtube and I was able to sew them easily!

 

Now the fun projects: Clothes! I was afraid of making clothing, I confess. I can picture some patterns in my head, but taking the measurements is kinda hard for me. Well, in a week I lost all fear and tried to make a blouse inspired by the 20’s and art deco. I drew the pattern myself based on a simple blouse I own, and made the adjustments necessary. I have to say that the most difficult part was to hand sew the buttons holes! God, what a mess! The great thing is that they are kinda hidden from the actually buttons. The fabric ripped a lot. So, it was a challenge, but I loveeee the result! Also, the buttons are vintage, I bought them in a flea market a couple of years ago and I was starting to think that I’d never get to use them.

And finally, but not least, my 40’s skirt with removable suspenders! Another challenge. I drew the pattern from a skirt I already own, sew the suspenders et voila! I didn’t have the chance to use it outside because it is freakin’ hot here in Portugal. I need the winterrrr!

I feel like such a cheater by not using actually patterns. What do you think about that? Are you used to draw your own patterns?

xxx

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1940s | Accessories

A head-shawl

By on May 14, 2013

Headline News booklet
I came across a charming booklet entitled Headline News via the Vintage Pattern Files website and decided I simply had to try out some of the crochet patterns there; it had to be something that I could actually wear, though, which meant the strictly practical ‘head-shawl’ featured on the right-hand side of the front cover (suitable for ‘motoring or riding your bike’) rather than the exotic ‘fascinator’ on the left, let alone the flower-covered ‘captivator’ illustrated inside!

I’d wanted something like this for some time and had actually planned to make up one of my various hat-and-integral-scarf patterns – I have one with a bunch of bright crochet flowers on that I’ve meant to try for years – but felt that this would work quite well to fulfil the double role of keeping my ears warm and stopping draughts whistling down the open V-neck of my tailored coat.

Unfortunately none of the patterns in this leaflet give any indication as to tension, so it was complete guesswork as to what thickness of wool I ought to be using and what size crochet hook. The yarn being advertised (“Lily’s No.600 Crochet and Knitting Cotton”) was evidently quite chunky as crochet cotton went, so I thought I’d try some of my vintage 4-ply wool on the grounds that this was fairly chunky as vintage yarn went, and picked a 2.5mm hook after experimenting with a 2mm hook and deciding that the resulting crochet didn’t look as ‘open’ as the fabric illustrated. All these first three patterns in the booklet are essentially a basic triangle shape gathered in different ways, and the base of the triangle seemed wide enough to drape around my shoulders adequately, so I reckoned this was probably about the right size.

When I reached the apex of the triangle, however, it became apparent that it was on the contrary very much too small! The neck-cord was supposed to be threaded in a semi-circle at a radius of 12″ from the edge of the shawl, and the entire shawl was less than twelve inches deep – something had evidently gone radically wrong.

Fortunately this was crochet and not knitting, which meant it proved possible to retro-engineer a complete six-inch additional section of shawl (with the aid of some mathematical calculation) and then slip-stitch the upper loops on to the cast-on edge in a fairly stretchy manner without the join’s showing too much…

Join just visible towards upper edge of triangle

I’ve read descriptions of young ladies conversing while ‘knotting a fringe’; I never realised how long it took in real life. No wonder they regarded it on a level with doing tapestry as a means of avoiding idle hands!

Winding wool to size around a card before cutting more lengths to knot as a fringe

The next problem was trying to get the weird cockscomb crest working. I wanted it to match the fringe rather than the body of the shawl, and as I’d used a thinner yarn for this I was back to experimenting with hook size again. I tried a large hook, I tried a small hook, I tried using the wool doubled, and eventually came to the conclusion that folding up a thick strip to get the heavy cartridge-pleated effect visible in the photo wasn’t going to work. I also came to the conclusion that the instructions about how far along the strip to place the folds were simply wrong!

So in the end I winged it to produce a lighter and shorter strip that would stand up better under its own steam – the heavy one simply weighed down the front of the head-shawl and caused it to flop – and decided that the mysterious instruction to ‘gather slightly’ the folds implied gathering each separate fold width-ways across the strip to spread the bows a little at the top, rather than gathering the strip lengthways into the actual folds required. At any rate it seemed to provide the requisite stiffening.

After all this I wasn’t particularly pleased with the finished article, which didn’t look much like the original pattern photo despite all my efforts. However I tried it out in the cold and snow of this past spring, and found it surprisingly effective despite the open mesh; it’s not proof against a direct blast of icy wind, but it does keep your head pretty warm otherwise. And I had been getting very, very tired of reknotting my large polyester headsquare, which persisted in slipping undone and was very unflattering.

The drawstring design of the head-shawl (essentially, you just pull the cord tight around your neck to fasten it on) proved as practical as advertised, although I haven’t used it for riding my bike – and the long ends of the triangle hanging down in front fill in the neck opening of a coat very conveniently. It doesn’t have the same tendency as a neckscarf to come unwound if you turn your head, and I found I didn’t spend so much time hunching rigidly to try to keep the draught out. Meanwhile the ‘crest’ on the front does actually serve a purpose in making the design noticeably more flattering than a basic headscarf – it removes the ‘low forehead’ appearance and is much less reminiscent of a Russian granny!

So in fact I ended up wearing it on a more or less daily basis throughout the prolonged wait for Spring: it’s easier (because less bulky) to carry around than a hat and scarf, doesn’t look like a peasant headwrap, and is surprisingly effective as a warm garment. I’ve even been told that it looks appealingly ‘retro’, which is perhaps unsurprising in a 1940s pattern…

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1940s | Accessories | Hats

Birdy Beret, 1948 French style

By on January 31, 2013

I just loved the bird ornament on this pattern from Mrs. Depew the moment I saw it. So I bought a copy and made myself one.

The pdf contains instructions for drawing out¬†the hat and bird patterns and describes how to do the other ¬†variations pictured. Sewing instructions are minimalist to say the least. But drawing the pattern is simple and it’s easy to sew. An unlined felt one would be perfect to start with if you were unsure and needed a practise hat.

Anyway I made this to complete a tailored suit which uses the same suede as a trim, but no pictures of me in that ensemble yet as I still have an extra Christmas inch on my waist and the pencil skirt was already tight to start with. As soon as I can button the waistband again I will post about my making of that as it’s a copy of a late 40’s suit and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

But back to the hat- I made this one out of suede and lined it. The bird wings are two layers of suede fused (bondaweb) together to keep them from flopping. Next time I’ll probably do the same on the tail but it depends on how firm the material is. The two pattern changes I made were to enlarge the head opening and make the birds body a tiny bit shorter… but possibly my initial measurements for that were a little off in the first place. Stitching the edges gave it a more finished look I thought.

How long to make?  With drawing the pattern and messing about with my sewing machine to get it sewing suede nicely about 4-5 hours. I expect further hats to take much less time.

Will I make it again? ¬†Definitely. Plans for red velvet, black felt….


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Accessories | Applique | Burlesque / Pinup | Embroidery

A new year’s project

By on January 5, 2013

I really enjoy making small cocktail hats and other heavily decorated things to wear on my head. It’s the perfect pleasure project, in many ways; I can whip them up quite fast, usually these things come together for specific parties, they generally don’t require a lot of material, there’s very little fitting, lining and other time-consuming work involved, and it’s fun. It’s as free of performance anxiety as sewing ever gets for me, and it feels festive and playful and exhilarating. I’m not shy about wearing odd stuff on my head, either, so the sky’s the limit, really.

For New Year’s, there was a grand masquerade, and for that you need a mask. I also needed a red sequin evening gown, but the red sequin seaweed fabric got lost in the mail and didn’t arrive until yesterday. Oh, well. Another party, I made a sequinned and beaded red half mask in the shape of a gloved hand anyway – I’m a huge Schiaparelli fan, I love mildly surrealist headwear, and oddly enough my wardrobe didn’t contain a decent mask before this one.

Sketch and base for a mask
I went through a lot of paper copies to get the shape right.

The original idea was to use a lonely actual red leather glove, but that turned out a bit too bulky; I think I’ll try to make a hat out of it at some point instead. So I sketched, cut, folded and ended up with a decent pattern of sorts, which I cut and shaped in this heavy linen/horsehair interfacing. There are two darts in it, so that it follows the curve of the head.

Completed mask base
Nice shape.

Then I added steel wire to the edges, for stability and shape…

Mask shape covered with red cotton
Very three-dimensional.

…and covered the base with plain red cotton poplin, and the inside with peach satin. Outlines of the fingers and glove stitching on the back of the hand marked out, too.

Mask beginning to be covered with sequin ribbon.
This was the fun part, really.

And then I covered the whole thing with sequin ribbon, for plain areas, and red glass seed beads, for contours, shades and outlines.

Mask almost covered in sequins
Almost done.

Strictly speaking the sequinned areas aren’t really lighter than the beaded areas, but I wanted more sequins than beads and when they do reflect light your way, they do it much more brightly, so…

Finished mask.

…I think it worked rather well, anyway. I added a couple of rows of tiny black seed beads to stress the outline of the fingers after this, but it doesn’t make much of a difference; there’s just a little bit more of a contour. It fastens in my hair with four of those little toothed metal clips that are often used on clip-in hair extensions, you know – those are the best thing there is for attaching things securely to hair, even short hair.

The mask being work
This wasn't my first glass of champagne.

And then I wore it, with a marvellously vulgar 50’s dress that I got for New Year’s two years ago. I think it turned out quite well.

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1950s | Accessories | Applique | Vintage Sewing

A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

By on December 30, 2012

This year for my soon to be family I decided to make them each a little something. ¬†In my opinion homemade gifts can be the best option. ¬†I wanted to make something cute with and old school feel to it. ¬†What I ended up making was pears. ¬†Now the funny thing was, when I went to Michael’s they had the perfect cards. ¬†So, I made my pears to match.

 

The pear ornaments are consist of felt, embroidery floss and ribbon.

 

Below is the template for the pieces.  Feel free to save them or print them out.  When you do print them out be sure to choose full page option so they will be the correct size.

 

To make the ornament, I chose 2 contrasting colors of felt and white felt. One color would be for the main part of the pear, and the other for the small circle.  The white was for the medium size circle, and the leaf.

 

Once I cut all the pieces out of the felt, I sewed the small circle to the larger circle.  I used a modified blanket stitch.

After that I sewed the circles to the front piece (of the pear cut out) using the same modified blanket stitch.

 

I then, sewed both the front and back pieces of the pear together using a blanket stitch.   Lastly, I sewed a ribbon to the back and wah-la a pear ornament!

 

Some optional additions can be the leaf at the top.  I added small rhinestone to mine to give them a little sparkle.

Let me know what you think and I would love to see what others come up with for this pattern!

 

Happy Crafting!

Nikki

To see more, check out my blog at http://retro-phile.blogspot.com/

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1940s | Accessories

Sew 40s Ruffled Scarf Dickie reworked from Vintage Paisley Satin Foulard

By on December 15, 2012

What to do with a vintage St Michael satin foulard in a divine paisley in rich tones of turquoise, taupe and lapis which sadly has several areas of perfume staining to the centre?¬† Plus, could I turn it into a longer style scarf as I must admit I don’t tend to wear square scarves these days?¬† I loved the colours and textile of this scarf, and fancied trying to make a ruffled scarf, so yesterday evening out came the scissors, the rule and some narrow elastic.¬† I wanted to make a 40s inspired ruffled scarf (a bit in the manner of the ruffled dickies of the time) to wear with my latest purchase of a fab vintage style faux fur jacket.¬† This was a very speedy sewing project and really pleased with how it turned out.¬†¬†Looking forward to wearing it later today!¬† Please visit me at my blog for instructions on how to make this.

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1960s | Accessories | Capes | Dating Patterns | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

A cape for Poison Ivy

By on November 15, 2012

poison Ivy outfitI made a capelet for my daughter’s halloween costume… better late than never, hey?!

Poison Ivy was a fictional character, enemy of Batman, created by DC Comics. She made her debut appearance in 1966.

It was a very quick and easy project, self-drafted using the formula for a circle skirt with the addition of a ruffle on a collar stand.

poison ivy back

I used a weighty green polyester satin for the self and a polyester satin lining in red for the inside.

The only difficulty I had was sewing two very shiny fabrics together…nightmare!

I forgot to enclose the ribbon ties in the collar stand so I used a couple of glitzy buttons to hide the ends of the ribbon which were sewn to the right side!

poison ivy capelet

She was very happy with the result and she looked amazing with the whole ensemble! I just feel very old!!

poison ivy costume

I have included a ‘how-to‘ on my blog, just in case you fancy making one! ūüėČ

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