1938 pattern

IMG_2499IMG_2492IMG_2497Finished dress! This one took me a month because I hated working on it. I put a lot of detail into it and I swore it would never end. I am so happy it’s finally done. From a 1938 pattern. Fabric is a stretch poplin, buttons are vintage glass.

Vintage Knitting

Hi all! I actually have a sweater to show you guys that my mother graciously made for me. It took her a year, so I’ve been waiting for it for a while. But nevertheless, it’s very nice. It’s a pattern from the book A Stitch in Time volume 2. The yarn is a colonial blue, made of 100% wool I believe. I picked some cool buttons I had in my stash, I have reason to believe they are from the late 1800′s. They are made out of bone, and are a lot more yellow than in my picture.

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I also happen to be wearing some pants that I made a short while ago. I know that 1960′s bell bottoms don’t go with a 1930′s sweater, but whatever.

Hope you guys like it, I would definitely recommend this pattern if anyone wants to knit!

Vintage Simplicity 6371

Last week I tried a pattern that I had just ordered to save shipping costs on Etsy when I ordered another pattern. The cover illustration looks not very interesting but I was in the mood for sewing a blouse and thought that I could just give it a try. It is Simplicity 6371 from the early 80’s and promises a “Fuss Free Fit” – and oh boy, is this true, I am so delighted! I used view 5 with a pin tucked yoke and black trim. I had bought the floral cotton fabric last year at a fabric market in Cologne and thought that this pattern and fabric combined would look like one of my beloved 1970s Jessica’s Gunnies blouses. The pin tucked yoke looks much more complicated to sew than it actually is and I enjoyed sewing it a lot, it was a bit like a crafting smaller objects or doll clothes. The insertion of the collar and sleeves was a dream and the blouse has such a nice and comfortable fit, I am sure that I will make this pattern again and again. Maybe I will try to make my own collar designs? Today I paired the blouse with an actual Jessica’s Gunnies skirt and a hat and we took some pictures of it this afternoon when we took a walk the outskirts of Cologne, the later summer light was so dreamy…

There a few more images on my blog, Draped in Cloudlets.

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butterick 2704 – green wool coat with kimono sleeve

 

green cloak

I bought this cloak in a charity shop locally, the colour is a vivid green, and the wool is a mid weight tweed.  I think it was originally a cloak used in a primary school play or float for St Patrick. (Irelands patron saint) as it was made for someone slightly smaller than me. Some time ago I had up-cycled (well not really as it didnt really up) another cloak unsuccessfully to a jacket, where is should have worked with the cut of cloth I had,  and used kimono sleeves, so at least l learned from the experience when I went to make this one.  Incredibly easy, its a reversible (if desired) coat, but I just lined it, changed the length, and pocket style.  I am thinking I may use a hook eye close at top or make a decorative frog (?) but have not decided.  Coat very comfortable and very wearable as is, so no hurry!

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butterick 2704 green coat with kimono sleeve

 

Retro Inspired Birthday Dress

I am a little late posting this as my birthday is in July. Every year for my birthday I try to make a dress for me to wear that day. This year I made a 1950′s inspired cutout dress. I have always wanted a cutout dress since seeing that iconic dress Marilyn Monroe wears in the film Niagara. I drafted my own pattern. The fabric I used was actually a twin sheet from Target I bought ages ago for about 5 bucks and the black buttons I already had in my stash.

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Using vintage patterns and upcycled vintage fabrics

I have sewn and made things all my life. I have also always been a terrible hoarder. Along with vintage clothing, I have been collecting pieces of vintage fabric since my teens, mostly attracted by the prints and colours of the early 1960s.

A few years ago, I started making children’s clothes from pieces too small for anything else. I found two vintage children’s patterns that would just squeeze a dress out of a piece of fabric barely bigger than a cushion cover. My favourite arty, abstract prints of the late ‘50s and very early ‘60s made for something quite different from the small, cute prints usually associated with childrenswear.

Infant dress made from upcycled vintage curtain fabric.

Infant dress made from upcycled vintage curtain fabric.

Having used up most of my stock of just-about-big-enough pieces of fabric, I allowed myself to start buying fabric again. I have a real fondness for the large scale prints of mid-century furnishing fabrics and if I can find a curtain (I never cut up a pair) with enough usable fabric left after the sun damage to the edges and any paint has been cut off (old curtains were often used as dust sheets for decorating), this can make an adult-sized dress.

For the winter trees print dress shown below, I particularly enjoyed playing with the contrast of skeletal winter trees with a sleeveless summer dress. But there was also the fact that there was so much damaged fabric there was not enough left for the sleeves!

Dress made from an upcycled curtain.

Dress made from an upcycled curtain.

I started collecting vintage patterns purely for the illustrations on the envelopes. I used to display these in frames, but luckily I saved all the pattern pieces. It’s not only patterns – I sew on my Nanna’s old sewing machine, a “Diplomat“ from 1963 (even though I have a brand new machine, still in its box, unopened, under my bed…)

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I am finding that as my friends’ parents get older, boxes of fabric from hoarding mothers and grandmothers are coming my way. One of my friends has given me several large boxes of clothes her mother never got around to mending and garments she cut out and never made. In one box alone there were five red and white gingham school dresses to fit a girl of approximately 7 years old – and my friend is now 50!

The huge advantage of using deadstock (old but unused) fabric over salvaged fabric is that it will almost always have been stored away from the light, so there is no fading or wastage. Lots of these fabrics are of much better quality than you would easily find nowadays, particularly the linens and wools. The downside is that, if you make to order, you can’t always have exactly what you’re looking for – you have to wait until the right thing comes along and some colours are not as common as they are nowadays. However, if you like the typical colours of a particular period, dyes are different now and the shades are quite unlike the ones in modern fabrics.

 

It’s not only the patterns and fabric I’m giving a new lease of life to – as well as using my Diplomat when I secretly have a modern sewing machine stored under the bed, never having taken it out of its box – I also use vintage threads, zips and buttons. I often see free-standing wooden sewing boxes at fleamarkets and boot fairs. Nine times out of ten these are still full of threads, notions and equipment. I started buying bagfuls of this stuff when I was making the children’s dresses and getting through a very large amount of bias binding and I’m still working my way though all the threads, hooks and eyes and zips.

My nanna's sewing machin – a pleasure to use.

My nanna’s sewing machine – a pleasure to use.

My real weakness is buttons: I have jar after jar of sorted, colour-coded vintage buttons and have to try and stop myself buying more whenever I see them. Recently I bought a very large tin with an enamelled design of a Chinese dragon and when I got it home found that it was full to the brim with sets of beautiful buttons already sorted and bundled.

Seven carrier bags of fabric arrived from somebody’s mother’s hoard a couple of weeks ago, so I had plenty of fabric to choose from! This wool jersey was great for an early 1960s column dress, but the fabric was too bulky for the bow that trims the “empire band” across the bust in the pattern.

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I was very lucky to find a deadstock bolt of this leaf print crisp linen in a junk shop – I just have to remember not to sit on the chair (salvaged, naturally!) I upholstered with the same fabric when I wear it!

Dress made using a late 1960s patterns and leftover deadstock curtain fabric.

Dress made using a late 1960s patterns and leftover deadstock curtain fabric.