Not the most ground-breaking make but as usual, there is a continued method in my madness!
I have hundreds of really lovely vintage and modern dressmaking patterns and a serious desire to make and wear each one but every so often feel like I’m winging it too much. For sure I get there in the end and it looks great for the camera but as the maker, I know what secrets lie inside!
So I need to rehearse skills on basic garments such as this pencil skirt to improve technique and reassure myself that I am still improving!
I really enjoy going back to the drawing board sometimes, quite literally! The pattern for this skirt is one I drafted back in August 2012. But I have made quite a few adjustments since then, which I really like, and I think make for a better fit.
I moved the darts apart slightly on the front.
I lengthened the skirt to below the knee (ooo get me and my bravery!)
I tapered the skirt by about 2 inches either side for a more pencilled effect.
I added a waistband.
I included a PROPER vent including mitred corners!
I made a much better job of the lining and learned how to line the vent.
What I should also have included:
a hand-picked zipper
more overlap on the waistband to add a button along with the hook and bar.
On the subject of hook and bar, even that was a revelation. I first used hook and eyes thinking they would suffice. But they really didn’t! They kept coming undone it wouldn’t be too long before they bent out of shape. So I dutifully replaced them with a sew on hook and bar. It’s much better but even though I sewed it in from the edge of the overlap, it still shows, so I need to set it back a bit further.
Nearly didn’t make the effort to do a mitred corner on the vent, but jolly glad I did. Before hemming I sewed the lining, right sides together all the way down the vent edges. Before hemming the skirt outer fabric I carefully unpicked the thread using the eye end of a needle. I used that loose thread to sew invisible stitches to attach the remaining lining once I’d trimmed and hemmed it. Such a neat trick! (And a great excuse to show off my mitred corner!)
Interfaced waistband and hem using a lovely woven fusible interfacing. Nice and sturdy. Just the ticket!
I didn’t scrimp on the fabric for this skirt. I think you can afford to be a bit more frivolous when you only need a meter of fabric to play with. So I bought some quality British wool and boy does it feel good. A dream to sew up too.
I’m anticipating some questions on lining the vent, and I am really sorry I haven’t included it this time. A combination of no step by step photography and a serious lack of remembering exactly how I did it myself! I know it wasn’t that difficult and I hope to bring that part to you on the next one I make. And I will be making more because it was my original mission to make and own a pencil skirt for every day of the week. Different colours and styles. That would be so cool and not too unachievable!
Mr Ooobop! was of course, my lovely photographer for this and most posts.
Shoes by Vivienne Westwood… oh yes!
Top hand made peasant top that I didn’t get round to blogging!
Well I’ve certainly got that winter nesty feeling. Never thought I’d say it but the rain can tip down as much as it likes. The wind can howl till it’s heart content and who cares if it’s cold as a polar bear’s nose. I am happily inside, toasty and warm, making bread, watching old movies, sewing and putting up my freshly made Roman blinds, or Roman shades if you are anywhere but the UK!
I’m assuming the fabric is vintage. It had that musty attic smell about it when I landed 5 metres of it, for £10 at a charity shop. But nothing a spruce in the washing machine couldn’t sort.
The hardest thing about these darn blinds (or shades) is photographing them! Too light outside and you get too much show through. Too dark and you see nothing!
Too long trying to be arty farty with it all and you get cat-hassle!
I’ve made these on a couple of occasions before but only posted on Burda. This set I made for Little Miss Ooobop’s room using an remnant of fabric I picked up in a discount fabric store for a fiver:
And these black ones I made for my eldest daughter… for considerably more pounds:
This is a great sewing project for a beginner because it only involves sewing in straight lines. But as many times as you make them you still have to measure twice and cut once. Or in my case, five or six times. It’s all in the maths.
For anyone who’s interested I will compile a tutorial. I didn’t take in-progress shots, mainly because I worked in such a horrendous way, spread all out on the living room floor with cats jeopardising the project every step of the way! But I will create some diagrams which should be a lot easier to follow. Just not tonight, ’cause I’m pooped!
I love a 50s style blouse and this pattern was a definite sell the moment I saw it. The pattern itself was a freebie with Woman’s Day (about 55 years ago!) and as luck would have it, the gift supplement was in that Morrisons bag too. Great to see the blouses modelled and photographed. Sometimes those illustrations on the cover of the envelope give a slightly different impression to what they look like in real life! 😉
Norman Hartnell, or “Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell, KCVO (12 June 1901, London – 8 June 1979, Windsor) was a British fashion designer. Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to HM The Queen 1940, subsequently Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II 1957.”
“Although worried that at 46 he was too old for the job, he was commanded by the Queen to create the wedding dress of Princess Elizabeth in 1947 for her marriage to Prince Philip (later the Duke of Edinburgh). With a fashionable sweetheart neckline and a softly folding full skirt it was embroidered with some 10,000 seed-pearls and thousands of white beads. He subsequently became one of the Princesses main designers and so gained a new worldwide younger generation of clients, as the Princess began to take on more duties and visits abroad. The younger Princess Margaret became the obsession of the press and her Hartnell clothes were similarly given huge publicity and received much newsreel coverage.”
It’s a worry that he thought he was too old to continue at 46!!!
Anyhows, I quite fancy ‘a wardrobe of crisp gay blouses’. And if Norman’s are good enough for Queenie, they are good enough for me!
This was on the whole a very simple pattern. I measured off the tissue and figured I could add a bit on the waistline, as I usually do to get a reasonable fit. I made it up in a cotton poly that was semi decent just in case it worked!
But oh no! My measuring skills were unbelievably inaccurate. Either that or I have this illusion that I am the size of a small child!
I considered moving on to another project. But of course that would have been hugely defeatist of me and heaven knows I need to learn to grade a bodice properly so I set about cutting and slashing.
It worked, kind of. Well at least it fits but there are a couple of issues for a blouse so simple.
I think I need to open up on the lines of the hip a bit more. It’s a little snug!
I graded up the sleeve in line with what I had increased on the bodice but there was far too much ease. So I used the original sleeve piece. Still a little too much ease for my liking but that seemed to be solved with the addition of some shoulder pads. I used the cuffs from the toile for my real one because the dots ran into each other and defeated the object of having cuffs at all!
I have to say, the method suggested for the sleeve cuffs was a bit long-winded and strange. When I do it again I will be cutting on the bias, and attaching in the same way I did to my shorts.
The winged-collar effect is not a wing collar at all. It is just the effect of opening up the facings. There is no raised collar stand at the back, just a faced neckline so it is a very flat feature. Next time, I might be inclined to cut the front piece at the start of the inner facing and sew a contrasting colour piece that folds back just to accentuate the shape.
The ‘lapels’ seems substantially smaller than those photographed. Next time I might grade the front and front facing allowance a little, too.
The instructions called for a bias cut strip to finish the back neckline and join the front facings but as luck would have it, the previous owner had cut a ‘back facing’ piece from some newspaper. I checked it against the back piece to make sure it was meant for this pattern. I just had to decrease the depth a bit, otherwise it fitted perfectly. It created a continuous facing too, which is surely a better idea and certainly much neater too. I understitched the adjoining seam, to the point just before it folds back and catch-stitched to the shoulder seams to stop it poking up, willy nilly!
Because the design called for 3 buttons I had an array of odd interesting ones to choose from. My son so kindly remarked that, because the shirt ‘kind of looks quite old, it would be good to use those old fashioned phone buttons’. I am sure he meant that in a good way! 😉
So that just about wrapped up my chilly childless Saturday. Amazing what you can achieve in a few hours when the house is vacated. The photographs (care of the wonderful Mr Ooobop!) and the blogging took a little longer… such fun!
I had the perfect sewing window today – Little Miss O at a party for 4 whole hours and a day far too chilly to hang outside for my liking!
But I wont dis the weather – that would be far too predictable for a Londoner – I will embrace it. And so I hatched a plan to make a hat. I really don’t know how I get through every winter, convinced I don’t suit a hat, and freezing my poor little pixie ears off for the sake of not looking like (more of) an idiot!
So spurred on by the prospect of a toasty bonce coupled with an opportunity to make a minor stash bust but best of all, make a perfect showcase for one of my favourite buttons, the mini mission began!
Mr O had a similar hat – albeit a bit more manly! – so I set about drafting a pattern. I have quite a big head so this was another good reason to make one. If ever I find a hight street hat that I vaguely like, the chances are it will be too small!
Little Miss O found this button in a biscuit tin at a vintage fair in Islington last year. Just a single lonesome button with the word ‘Lucky’ on it. Could sure do with some of that ‘luck’ stuff right now so here’s hoping!
It’s got an interesting stamp on the back but I can’t find any reference on line from where it might have come from.
To create the decoration, I made a ‘yoyo’, my first one in fact! For those that don’t know, a yoyo is a circle of fabric (in this case the circle that was cut out for my head hole!) gathered close to the outer edge and pulled tight. The raw edges are tucked inside and some reinforcement stitched sewn. Of course a statement button is a brilliant idea to cover up the scruffy bit in the middle. Velvet is not as manageable as cotton but a few needle pricks later, the result was very acceptable!
I wore my new hat down to our ‘local’ for dinner tonight but didn’t take it off. I was a bit worried about the hat-hair issue. But hey, guess what happened when I took it off when I got home?! Hair looked better than it did pre-hat!
The outer fabric is a cotton velvet, wonderfully donated to me by a friend who was having a clear out. There are many more metres so I am contemplating a matching jacket! Contemplating I said!!
The inside is fully lined with a matching poly lining so it feels really neat. The band was machine stitched, right sides facing and then turned inside like giant bias trim and hand stitched to the seam line, using an uneven slip stitch. The stitches were quite small and sunk into the pile of the velvet so I am very pleased with the results.
I’m pretty sure this kind of hat will go with vintage or modern styles. Just need to make a few more in different colours!
Thanks to the wonderful Mr Ooobop! (of course) for the fabulous photos!
Well Bridget Jones, eat your heart out. Mine are big and all silk!
There has been a lot of knicker making activity going on in blogworld recently. For example these pretty French knickers by Kat at The Couture Academic, these ‘little pants‘ made by Rachel at the House of Pinheiro and just check out Gertie’s prolific pant production line! Plenty ’nuff inspiration to ease me gently into the beginnings of lingerie-making.
As with most things I do for the first time, I headed to my Burda Style magazine collection, remembering a Lovely Lingerie section in issue 01/2012, which of course included the perfect pattern.
The only thing that flummoxed me was that these ones had a side zipper! I can’t get my head around having to zip up your pants in the morning, call me old-fashioned! I guess the rationale was that the over layer of tulle wasn’t too stretchy and I for one would never be able to get non-stretchy nicks over my hips!
So first mission was to find some stretchy lingerie fabric so I could omit the zip. I went in search of stretch cotton satin but on presentation of skirt-weight cotton sateen each time, I gave in to the more luscious lure of 100% stretch silk. At £15 metre, these are definitely the most expensive but certainly the most luxurious pants I own. My faithful haberdashers in Shepherds bush market stocks the elastic lace at 50p a metre which softens the blow!
These were such an easy and delightful make. Though I don’t want to give you a ‘bum steer’ (!) They are more time-consuming than you would think, to stretch-and-stitch the elastic lace, top-stitching it twice on each opening . . . especially on to slippery silk.
Oh, and by the way, I make no apology for the lack of modelled garment. How could I possibly compete with the way that Scruffy Badger so confidently models her frilly knickers?!
As promised, here is the finished shirt. It is a revisit to the same shirt I made for Mr Ooobop! almost a year ago. On first inspection I thought it must be 70s, given the flappy collars and slim fit. But one reader clocked the hairstyles on the pattern envelope and said it was probably more 1980s. Either way, its another vintage make that has been a valuable learning curve and keeps the old chap happy at the same time… double whammy!
I made some brave adjustments to the pattern this time. (Well, brave for me, that is!) Namely to the chest, shoulders and sleeve length. Of course there is a knock on effect for each change, given the many different pieces to this pattern, so I had to keep on my toes!
I have said it before, and I am very conscious of blowing Mr. Ooobop’s trumpet, but he is very good at knowing what fabric suits and especially good at choosing buttons. Check these out…
They are little chunky white buttons with a yellow fill and a black outline. They are indeed a trifle camouflaged here but I can’t imagine any other button being better on this shirt. I have mastered buttonholes, which is a good thing seeing as there were 13 of the damned things to make, but I did get a bit over confident and had to unpick two of them because they weren’t perfectly centred in the placket. I really don’t want to be doing that on a regular basis. Took as much time to unpick 2 buttonholes as it did to sew 13 of them AND hand sew on all of the buttons!
I couldn’t resist adding a couple of new features to this one. I underlined the collar, the collar stand and the under flaps of the pockets in a plain red cotton…
… and I added some bias trim to the curved shirt hem. Mostly because Mr. Ooobop! wanted to preserve the length. It was an obvious solution but I think it makes for a lovely finish too, highlighting the shirt-tails!
I am really happy with the fit on this one.
Mr Oobop! got a fair few comments when he turned up at his last gig.
The finishing on this shirt – all the topstitching and flat felled seams – was the time consuming bit. but imagine how long it took me to match that rose on the shoulder?! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge 😉 )
Special thanks to George, Tom and Cat of The Redfords for the fabulous photography.
I thought you might like a look in more detail at that Ebay haul I won in July.
Their arrival was a little ungainly to say the least. Not damaged in any way but clearly hurriedly bundled and tied up in… a Morrison’s bag. Not that there’s anything wrong with Morrison’s. But I did have a moment of OMG have I just bought a sack full of rubbish?! Surely these antique patterns deserved a carriage with a little more style!
I gingerly untied the knotted handles. Actually that’s a lie. I completely tore the bag apart because I couldn’t wait a minute more. Was a bit whiffy to say the least! But I can totally forgive the smell, the packaging and the wait.
I think I am still gobsmacked.
For starters, almost all of them are my bust size which means the only alterations will be to the waist and hip. So much less faffing. Even the few that are too small will be worth the adjustments. And I tell no lies when I say that each and every one was a doozy. Most of them unused and uncut.
The first little beauty that caught my eye was this cut out cover of Home Notes. A delight in itself but what was the chance of the patterns for these beauties being inside?
Every little lovely chance. I had guessed 1940s by the styling but in fact this unused and perfectly preserved pattern is nicely dated October 7th 1939:
Love the bit about: “Other sizes… obtainable FREE on application”. Can you imagine that happening nowadays?
I can’t find dates on most of the patterns but all are truly vintage and very beautiful. This is the first I’ve heard of Economy Design patterns. And I feel pretty damned lucky to have landed these lovelies:
Next up is a more familiar name, Simplicity. These stylish little numbers have all their pieces in tact, despite the damage to the envelopes. In fact the one on the right had some very interesting accompanying material!
Whoever Mrs Poole was – the name on most of the mail order pattern envelopes – she was a lady of very fine taste with impeccable organisational skills. In the envelope with Simplicity 8488 (above right) there was this cutting:
Great to see these vintage patterns in ‘real life’ photos. And it makes me love the ensemble even more! Also inside the envelope (from Readers Digest) was each copied piece of the pattern, traced and labelled with precision onto a 1960s edition of the Daily Express. This is one of the reasons that all these patterns are in such great condition and seemingly unused. Mrs Poole has dutifully copied them and kept the originals factory folded. This has given me a fine source of entertainment too, reading all the snippets of the papers. This one quite topical: “Billie Holmes, 24 year old Hull engineer, won the first Olympic cycling road race trial yesterday – by ONE inch. And this victory, over 96 miles near Chesham, Buckinghamshire, strengthens his claim for Rome spot……”
Thank you Mrs P.
Leach Way Patterns is a new one on me too. Any one heard of these? The dress pattern was still in it’s original mail order envelope which is date stamped 1949, so I might be inclined to date the coat and the suit around that time too. Needless to say, all three in perfect condition.
Weldons is a name I recognise. I have a couple in my collection already and I love how they are always so incredibly stylish and yet a little bit quirky.
Now I am assuming ‘Womans Day’ was a womans magazine and this was a supplement… correct me if I’m wrong:
But even better still, than this cheeky little gift book, the blouses featured on the cover and in centre spread are an exclusive Norman Hartnell pattern and all the appropriate pieces are present and correct in this gorgeous little pattern envelope:
I love this 40s (?) McCalls suit. It is so reminiscent of the suits my grandma used to wear:
And who could resist running up a few slips and bloomers for under their vintage dresses?
Woman’s Realm was defo one of my mum’s reads. So these conjure up a bit of nostalgia. I love the first dress. It’s numbered WR.1. I wonder if that is the first ever dress pattern issued by Woman’s Realm? The middle one is far too small for me in any case but the wedding dress with a few adjustments, I’m sure would be really flattering. I do like an empire waistline.
Here’s a classy Dior number from Woman’s Journal:
There’s a couple of other great coat patterns too. One from Odhams and the other from Woman’s Own magazine. I am thinking of making a coat. Just thinking, for now!!
I think Mrs P was too as there were various cuttings of coat images too:
It’s amazing that all the pieces seem to be present for these Du Barry patterns. Whatever their pattern envelopes were made of they certainly disintegrate in a big brittlesome way. But look how Mrs P (I presume) has lovingly recreated the image herself. Don’t you just love the sharpness of these suits and frocks?
I do like a shirtwaist dress and was delighted to find this one from Woman’s Weekly in the bundle. Woman’s Weekly was another of my mum’s reads. I distinctly remember the pink header and the elongated type on the cover:
Here’s a smart little dress suit from The People. One day, one day!:
There was one little girls pattern included in the bundle. I would love my youngest daughter to wear little vintage dresses but I think there is some chance and no chance of that ever happening 🙁
Most of the other patterns were from Woman magazine. Another of the larger format mags if I rightly remember. And what a fine selection we have here:
And imagine how excited I got when this one jumped out at me:
With all supporting cuttings once again:
I love the collar and the buttoned hip pockets. Not to mention the self covered buttons all the ways down, ooo… and the self covered belt. How amazing would that be?!
I am soooo making that Hardy Amies number!
And this wrap dress from Woman looks so much more inspirational in the mag too:
And, if ever I am going to make a pair of ‘Trews’, it is going to be this pair! I love that they are called ‘trews’. I thought that was a term only used and made up by my mum!
Apart from the masses of cuttings that I still have to sift through – believe me, there are stacks of pattern pieces cut out from really old newspapers – the above are without edits, the most amazing collection of patterns ever. Not one duff one among them. Well…. there was this strange one…
…which has to win the prize of most random pattern ever!!
Sorry for my lack of garment posts of late… I appear to have been sucked into a herbaceous night garden!
Here is a sneak preview of Mr Ooobop’s new shirt. I feel naughty for not waiting ’til it’s finished but there is an issue of buttons and therefore, buttonholes. Mr Ooobop! is very particular about his buttons and ‘these things take time’ apparently. Well, not as long as this blooming shirt I hope!
Any hows, will fill you in with the details and hope to present you with a modelled shirt image real soon. What delights were laid upon your sewing table this weekend?