bobbin and baste

Pink Sequins

by bobbinandbaste on February 24, 2014 · 6 comments

in 1950s

I think I should call this the ‘dress of seven needles’ as seven machine needles were harmed in the making of this dress. I knew at the time when I was handing over the cash to purchase a sequinned and beaded fabric that it would be a nightmare to sew and I this occasion, unfortunately I was right!

I was working towards making something for the spring racing carnival so I wanted something pretty and floral. I did a bit of a pattern mash up for the dress, using the back bodice of Butterick Retro pattern 5748, the bodice front of Simplicity 1873 (which seems to be a bit of a go to pattern for me!) and then just a gathered skirt, using Vogue 8723 sans pockets. You could really do a gathered skirt without a commercial pattern which I should just do but I guess using the pattern takes out the work of measuring and drawing up a pattern piece, so it’s purely a time saver.

Pulling together the dress itself was pretty easy apart from the struggles with the fabric. I did some internet research on how to work with sequinned and beaded fabric and some sites suggested using a hammer to smash where the beads and sequins run on a seam before sewing the seam together but my fear with that, apart from mess, was too much of the beading unravelling. Thankfully the fabric did have sequin and bead free areas of pattern so I was saved a few times without having to worry about breaking more needles. I used a bemsilk lining in a light pink and lined the lace material as well as having a lining to the dress. So lots of pattern pieces to cut out! I don’t think I could have gotten away with not lining the bodice pieces before putting in the lining as it would have looked too messy showing all the seams and darts which are now nicely hidden between two layers of lining. It gives the dress a bit more stability too.

I made the lining of the skirt about two inches shorter than the dress to show off a bit more of the lace and put in an invisible zipper down the side. Funnily enough the zipper insertion wasn’t as bad as the rest of the construction, when I feared it could have been the worst bit! It was finished off with hand stitching the skirt hem. I’m happy with the outcome, especially given the pain of the fabric and I do still have some of the fabric left to make something else, but for now I can’t face seeing it for a while.

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Pink Roses

by bobbinandbaste on October 31, 2013 · 12 comments

in 1950s

A while back my Mum’s friend had gifted me some vintage fabric that her mother had in her cupboard. From looking at the fabric I suspect it was from the fifties – the print, the width, the feel, all had 1950’s written all over it. Lucky for me there was about 4 metres of it so plenty to make a full skirted dress of some description. It was a super pretty fabric, I don’t think you could have gotten more girly if you tried. After a quick look through my existing vintage reproduction patterns from the 50’s, I chose Butterick 5603.

I thought this pattern would be a nice change as it has the empire waist line just under the bust and then the skirt bottom flares out from there. I cut out a size 12 to ensure it wouldn’t be too tight around the waist as vintage patterns can be that way. I had pre washed the fabric to get out the musty smell it had from years kept in a cupboard. Washing it ended up making it feel quite crunchy, so it felt like I cut almost cutting out paper when I cut out the pattern pieces. Thankfully once I got the iron onto the fabric it softened it. I opted to use contrasting matching pink satin for the neck and under bust trim so it stands out a little more. It was a process finding a pink that I liked that didn’t have that tacky polyester satin feel about it. I ended up finding a fabric I liked in Lincraft. This is a nice pattern to sew up for a newbie to vintage sewing patterns. The skirt bottom is very straight forward, and I only had to take it in a little towards the top of it. I ended up taking it in the at the side seams under my arms but otherwise it was a pretty good fit. I lined it with a pink bemsilk lining which was a bit of a pain to stitch down near the gathers under the bust but I got there in the end.

I gave horsehair braiding a go for the first time on this dress skirt hem too and I love how it turned out. I read Gertie’s book for advice on how to sew on the horsehair braid and it was a doddle. Except for the fact I ran out of it and had to rush back to the store again to buy more – d’oh! I’ll blog about my horsehair braiding soon so I can try and persuade you to give it a go. It made the skirt flare out more but didn’t look too much.

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Swinging 60′s

by bobbinandbaste on October 10, 2013 · 11 comments

in 1960s


Between watching the last season of Mad Men on television this year and spying Simplicity 1609 I have become a little hooked on 1960′s fashion. I’ve always been a hard core fan of the 1950′s dress and haven’t really considered 1960′s until I started my love affair with wool fabric which I think lends itself perfectly to 1960′s shift dresses.

The recommended materials for the pattern didn’t mention wool but I took the risk given the dress didn’t require any sort of folds, pleating or anything else that a thicker fabric might interfere with. I did worry about the zip but given I opted to use a more authentic zip style in keeping with the style instead of an invisible zipper,  it turned out fine.


The dress came together pretty quickly but I warn you that it is narrow in the hips. I had read this in previous online reviews and drafted the pattern so that it was slightly more generous in the hip-butt area without taking away from the sillouette. Even with that extra amount I factored in I still had to go down to less than a 1cm seam in that area after doing my first fitting of the dress. The darts are my favourite part of this dress. I had never sewn french darts before but now I am hooked. They gave a beautiful fit and prevented any ‘pointy bits’ that typical darts can do, especially in woollen fabric!

The only change I made to the construction of this was the neckline interfacing. The pattern suggests you sew in the interfacing to the back seam before the insertion of the zipper. I thought it might be nae impossible to sew a zip with so many layers of woollen fabric so I sewed the zip in first and then hand sewed the ends of the interfacing over the zip on the inside. Much like you tend to with skirts anyways. The bow is a lovely finish to this dress and I suggest you spend a bit of time in the mirror moving it about to get it just how you want it before hand sewing it on. I really enjoyed sewing up this dress – the fabric was ridiculously lovely to sew with and the dress came together in just a day. I am keen to try the other collar variations the pattern offers to make a bright summery casual shift dress too.

More piccies on my blog!