Irish Lace

Technically not sewing, but it’s from a vintage pattern, and I know there are some other knitters/crocheters on here who I thought might like to see this.

In what little time I have to sew and knit lately, I’ve managed to grab a few moments here and there to  work on a new sort of project for me. A couple of years ago a good friend gifted me with a pretty massive stack of vintage and antique crochet and knitting books, ranging in age from about 1915 to the 1950s. The vast majority of them are crocheted lace patterns (plus one KILLER 1930s knitting book, which I’ve got plans for later this winter), and while I’ve never been much of a crocheter, some of these lace patterns are just too pretty for me not to try my hand at it.

I decided to try and stick with something fairly simple for my first go ’round, so I picked this fabulous Irish lace jabot pattern. There is no dat on the pattern, but I’m guessing it’s from around 1940. It has taken me MONTHS (ok, honestly I have no idea when I started this thing, but if feels like eons ago) to finish this thing. Mostly since I only had little bits of time here and there to work on it, and even then I couldn’t work for very long in a sitting because it started to make my hand cramp after a while. Maybe this should tell me something about my tension?

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

A lot of these patterns call for size 50 crochet cotton, but I had a hard enough time finding 30 anywhere. I’m seriously doubting whether 50 even still exists, but it seriously has to be about the size of hand-quilting thread because the 30 is pretty darn tiny. Anyhoo, this pattern was not only simple, but it was one of the few that called for 30 to begin with, so I guess it was kismet. After the foundation rows the jabot is worked back and forth in a “U” around the center, building outward in a series of simple 7-chain loops. The final three rows are done with an alternating 7-chain loop and double crochet shell. I was kind of winging it on the final rows, since I couldn’t tell from the picture exactly what the edging was supposed to look like. In theory, this is right. Either way it looks pretty, so who cares, right? The entire piece is about 18 inches long, and gets folded in half when worn. I have no ideas what I’m actually going to wear it with since almost all of my clothes have “V” or scoop necks, but I’ll figure something out. It’s just too awesome not to wear.

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

I still need to hit it with a little bit of starch to get the ruffles to hold really well, but overall I’m really happy. I’d say for a first lace project it was a success. Has anyone else been trying their hand at something new lately? I’m always keen to learn new skills (because I clearly don’t have enough projects already). Even if I only end up doing something once I can at least say that I have.

pauline trigere dress/dresses Mc Calls 7530

the more pauline trigere clothes I see, the bigger a fan I am, so I was delighted when I saw this on etsy, and in a size 34.  I thought I would give a go at the dress first, but as I am trying to make up these vintage patterns by upcycling, getting the sufficient amount of fabric wasn’t that straightforward, especially as the bodice takes a lot fabric than expected (its especially wide at bust).

McCalls 7530

I made 2 versions, the first one in orange was made to envelope size so I could get a sense of what the full design was like, and the second one in blue I made bigger in the skirt as I am a classic pear.  the blue fabric was so light it had to be starched, and both dresses have short underskirts but I think the gathers are awful on the blue dress (so I dont know if its the starch, the underskirt, or just excessive gathers).  It fits fine but the gathers are too much, and I am thinking of trying some soft tucks instead, but figure I should leave it for a while, and maybe a fresh look at it in a few weeks, the fit of the bodice is divine, and only 2 darts…..more at my blog 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApauline trigere mc calls 7530


Late 1970s Krizia playsuit

Some of you may have seen my post on McCall’s Krizia patterns, released in the late 1970s to early 1980s. I sewed up the playsuit from one of my favourites, McCall’s 6624, a playsuit and wrap skirt pattern from McCall’s “Carefree” line.

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

McCall’s 6624 by Krizia (1979)

It’s a short and strappy playsuit, with the bodice and shorts pleated into a midriff band, a combination zipper fly/button front, and shaped side vents on the shorts.

I had a sparkly stretch knit found at Fabricland that seemed suitably disco. The pattern isn’t specifically for stretch knits, but one of the recommended fabrics is synthetic jersey.

My wife photographed me by an awesome local graffiti mural—a collaboration between two Toronto artists:

More photos and construction notes on my blog

My Favorite Halloween Costumes

My Favorite Halloween Costumes

By Tam Francis

I have wonderful memories of my mom making costumes for us as kids and I have carried on the tradition. As we approach the Halloween season, I thought I’d share some of my all time fave sewing projects starting with one of my favorite classic movies: The Wizard of OZ!

Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Flying monkey Wicked Witch

Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Flying monkey Wicked Witch

Of course, wearing vintage on a regular basis, I play dress-up more than most. As my children get older they have taken charge of their dressing up and their costumes have become less elaborate, so they don’t need mom’s help. I thought I would share some of my favorite Halloween Homemade Costumes. The above picture is my two kids and my friend’s daughter (Dorothy’s costume was store bought).

Wizard of Oz Witch and Flying Monkey Look Back

Wizard of Oz Witch and Flying Monkey Look Back

This was one of my favorite years. We had agreed to go with a Wizard of Oz theme, which may not be original in itself, but how many flying monkeys have you seen? I’m not sure why it thrilled me that my daughter wanted to be the wicked witch, but it was fun to make her costume and the fact that she thought outside the box not wanting to be Dorothy or Glenda filled me with glee. The Flying Monkey, was a horse of another color.


vintage butterick halloween

Vintage one-piece Halloween costume for Flying Monkey

At the time there were NO patterns for flying monkey costumes. Perhaps there are now, but when I made his costume I used a standard one-piece body suit (like the Butterick pattern) which I made in furry gray fabric. The jacket was pure fabrication. This was BEFORE DVDs were popular and we had The Wizard of Oz on video. I paused, and rewound and paused and rewound and hand drew the monkey jacket design. And talk about a pain in the emerald city, all the piping was crazy to sew. Of course I could have painted it on or done something less elaborate, but my mother’s voice is forever in my head telling me to do it right.

A couple years later I convinced my husband to do a couples costume and hoodwinked him to be one of the guys from the Brush and Wash from Wizard of Oz (you know the part where they’re in Emerald City and getting spruced up to see the Wizard). I had always loved the color green and the cute 40′s gals who did the hair trim! I fabricated my husbands hat and my collar and sleeve cuffs. I used a 1940s pattern for the dress body, but fit it a tiny bit long in the waist for me. Although it still worked, it scrunched up a tiny bit at the waist. It was amazing to swing dance in though!

Wizard of Oz Brush and Wash Couple

Wizard of Oz Brush & Wash Couple

I’ve done some other crazy costumes through the years like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland (hand painted skirt–sheesh), and a vintage Marie Antionette. For more check out my blog


Do you have a favorite Halloween costume you’ve made?

Constructing Cigarette Pants, & a Flat-Lining Tutorial


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!

Last dress of Summer



Well, maybe “first dress of Fall” would have been a more suiting title but it doesn’t make as nice a reference to a song, right? Right.

Just wanted to share this quick dress (only took me a day from start to finish) made from the fabulous free pattern available at Sew Mag. It was my third attempt. First two were pretty much ok, but this one came together especially nicely. I like the way my zipper insertion seems to be gradually improving and I’m learning to take more care about details like gathering the skirt evenly and making the seams in clean lines. It’s my sixth dress ever and I believe I’m still under ten self-made garments. Getting better and loving the process!

Feel free to take a look at my blog for more photos of the dress if you like it.