Vintage Sewing

Lingerie Design: A Complete Course & Vintage Details: A Fashion Sourcebook

By on August 29, 2016

I let out a prolonged “ooooooooh” when these two big beautiful books landed on my desk so I thought you might like to see them.

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The first is not technically a sewing book but I guarantee you’ll reference it constantly in your sewing if you love to sew vintage. We used Vintage Details: A Fashion Sourcebook as a giveaway prize recently and honestly I had a hard time letting it go to the winner. Imagine me wavering in a post office parking lot, clasping the packaged book and intoning “My preciouuuuussssssss” for a solid five minutes.

This book is both beautiful and huge. You’re going to put it on your coffee table and every coffee break from that moment on will last at least four hours as you get lost in the pages and pages of photos of necklines, cuffs, pockets, fastenings, darts, and flounces.

If you’re the kind of person who likes seeing a photo of a garment’s inside as much as the outside, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this book. You can find Vintage Details on Amazon here or trot down to your favorite independent bookstore if you have one locally. No room in your budget right now? Don’t let that hold you back – you can always ask for a copy at your local library.

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The second, Lingerie Design: A Complete Course, comes at a great time for the sewing community because it seems like more of us than ever are trying to sew our own underthings.

Sidenote: I’ve been a little bit obsessed with this Bra Making Forum facebook group lately…I’ve got the popular Shelley Bra pattern from Pin Up Girls cut out and ready to sew but working through the instructions in this book is definitely next on deck.

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What I love about this book is it doesn’t just cover the history of lingerie, the construction details and delicate embellishments, but it shows step-by-step how to construct your own sloper for slips, panties, petticoats, sleepwear, foundation garments and bras. Where the other book is all about inspiration, this is a practical guide to designing, drafting, and construction. Have a squiz at the contents…

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Lingerie Design: A Complete Course can be purchased direct from the publisher here or on Amazon here. Again, don’t forget your local library if your budget is tight!

 

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1950s | Pattern Drafting | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Poppies summer skirt

By on August 5, 2014
Hi, this is me wearing a skirt I made from an old drafting book. I drafted the heart shape waistband myself.
The pockets on my skirt are thanks to Bex at Subversive Femme. I read her blog and in January 2014 she posted this pattern from a dress she had made. I thought they looked so cool I had to use them myself. I love them!
The braid/ric rac that I used I made myself. I found a tutorial on pinterst on how to do it. It’s basically taking bias strips and playing with the tension on your machine and using the blind hem stitch. I had this fabric in my stash and the colour match is so good to my skirt fabric. Very happy!
I added plastic boning into the waistband. I didn’t have enough poppy fabric so used some spare gingham. Plastic boning is really easy to use – I just zig zagged along the edges. I also used interfacing on the waistband too.
This is the pattern I used from an Enid Gilchrist drafting book. I’ve used this pattern 3 times now for 3 very different skirts.

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1940s | 1950s | Mad Men Inspired | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Half-circle chic

By on September 15, 2013

Half circle skirtMy adventures into pattern drafting are not as yet very adventurous but I am learning very slowly but surely.

This is my first half-circle skirt. I made it from some cheap poly-crepe as a tester before I went to wool-crepe. But I am more than happy with the result. It hangs really nicely, thanks to the nature of the drape and also to a heavy stretch satin lining!

The hem was a nightmare to get straight. My own fault for not letting it hang first. The stretch in the bias resulted in an extra 2.5 inches at the front and back, compared to the side seams. So I dutifully unpicked and started again. A long process. But once I’d accurately trimmed and finished with bias tape, it worked a treat.

Half circle skirt

I incorporated a lapped zipper on the left side with two military style buttons on the waistband.

I love the timelessness of this style and for a simple black skirt it feels really more classy than it should! It’s so girly and swishy! More photos and info over at ooobop!

half circle skirt

 

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Pattern Drafting | Swimwear / Sunwear | Vintage Sewing

Another swimsuit.

By on July 29, 2013
Swimsuit
It's not Saint Tropez, but I like it.

I bought a two-piece swimsuit a couple of years ago, a pretty red bikini in my proper cup size from Ballet, which really only served to underline the fact that I’m more of a one-piece swimsuit person. I really am not comfortable with two-pieces, and I wanted a vintage-looking swimsuit with full rear coverage and low legs without the hassle of trying to fit my size 34 F/G bust into an actual vintage swimsuit, because come on, let’s be realistic.

So. It was clearly time to make one. I made an aborted attempt to build a very structured, fitted suit last year, in a heavy black satin with only 20% stretch or something along those lines, and quickly realized that I don’t actually want a swimsuit that I need to be hooked and zipped into. This year I went with regular old lycra swimsuit fabric instead, and since I’m lucky enough to live in a city where there’s a specialised shop for lingerie, dancewear and swimwear fabrics and notions, I got to choose between about a hundred different colours. (“And you chose the snot green? Really?”) I like green, I like chartreuse, I liked the chartreuse better than the available dark greens, and I didn’t want tropical colours or the usual suspects black, blue or red.

Cup drafting is intimidating and I’m not very happy with any of my current cup drafts, so the bust pattern is based on Mrs Depew’s 50’s French pinup bra and adapted a bit. The cups are cut from two layers of the same swimsuit fabric fused together, which does give it a lot of extra stability, and I made reinforced shoulder straps that start from the side of the cups, cross in the back and button to the top of the cups, which keeps everything neatly in place and provides a bit of support.

Swimsuit detail
Full cups and minimal cleavage, which is how I like it. You might get an idea of the stability the fused double layers of swimsuit fabric add.

For the rest of the suit I looked at an old favourite swimsuit of mine, which is sadly worn to the point where it’s coming apart, and drafted the thing with side seams only, a hint of legs and a fairly wide crotch piece. Most swimsuit bottoms and underpants fit my large behind very badly and ride up, this cut seems to do the trick; it does give the full rear coverage that I want, and then some depending on how low on the hips and thighs you make the bottom edge, it’s comfy, it doesn’t have one of those nasty center front seams, and it stays firmly in place. I love it.

The finish of the suit is not what I’d call pretty. I dislike working with knit fabrics – because I’m not good at it, frankly – and I was in a hurry. Call it a test run that turned out wearable, but not perfect. I do like the black plastic anchor buttons, and the bust got some fairly sloppy black satin piping which helps the look, too. But the important thing is that it’s actually a comfortable, serviceable and fairly well-fitting swimsuit that I don’t have to zip myself into.

 

Swimsuit, back
And the back.

 

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1950s | Bags / Purses | Skirts

Reversible Half-Circle Skirt with Exposed Zipper.

By on May 31, 2013

About a week ago I had this crazy idea. What if I made another half-circle skirt, but I made it fully reversible? Little did I know that it wouldn’t be as easy as I first thought when it popped into my head, but I made it work, and I think its pretty fab! I ended up having to use a separating zipper made for a coat, which was a challenge finding one the right color and length, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing!

The lighter fabric is not white- its actually a very pale pink with a tiny and delicate floral vines pattern all over it. The darker one, which I’m pretty sure you can see, its just pink scallops. I drafted the pattern myself, using the measurements kicked out by this awesome circle skirt calculator. My inspiration for this skirt is the one pictured here in this post from a week or two ago.

I look a fright, but I'm not one for wearing make-up when I'm just sitting home all day!

I was able to use up two fabrics I had a ton of in my stash that I had no idea what to do with (I originally intended a summer top but it never happened and I had accidentally ordered double the yardage I needed). I also made a matching (also fully reversible) purse to go with it. The purse is my own pattern design- its not vintage or even vintage inspired, but it goes with the skirt that is! LOL

I also made the button down shirt I am wearing in both photos a few weeks ago out of some other fabric I didn’t know what to do with. I’m really trying to pare down my stash this summer, both of fabrics and patterns, and have a lot of patterns listed for sale in my shop, mostly vintage.

You can see more about this fabulous skirt on my blog here.

 

 

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1940s | Applique | Lingerie | Pattern Drafting

1940’s style french knickers. DIY

By on August 27, 2012

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 appliqués..fun 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.

 

 

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1950s | Blouses | Modern Patterns

50s inspired blouse

By on April 30, 2012

Finally I finished one of my sewing projects! Well, what can I write about it? I used a modern pattern which I altered. This is actually my third blouse using this pattern. If you want to see the other blouses click here and here. I added a bow, a slightly bigger one then in one of the other blouses. And I added a puffed sleeve. The circle skirt I made a couple of months ago. Underneath I wear a petticoat which I made myself as well.

 The fabric is the most slippery fabric I ever used. Its a slightly sheer polyester. Normally I try to avoid synthetic fabric as much as I can, but this time was an exception. A while ago, I got lots of fabric from my mother in law. This one is from that stash. And I fell in love with the print. Really, I couldn’t resist! I knew immediately that this fabric would be perfect for a 50s inspired blouse.


Cutting and sewing the fabric was quite a challenge. Not only the slipperyness (is that a real word??) but also the pins and needles I used left little holes in the fabric. This means when something went wrong I couldn’t redo it all the time, because it would show the little holes.

(Somehow my lettertype changed half way my blog and I’m unable to change it)

I hope you like it!

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