Vintage Blackmore 8194 dress

Blackmore 8194 vintage dress

I needed a dress for a wedding. Not just any old wedding but a beautiful Indian wedding where I couldn’t hope to compete with the finery of silks and saris. No pressure, then! I rifled through every kind of fabric and bored all the Goldhawk Road shop owners senseless with my dilemma, during the weeks leading up to the big day.

Blackmore 40s dress

I diligently visited a roll of paisley brocade in A-One Fabrics, three days on the trot, properly umming and arrring out loud. But it wasn’t quite right. I ordered some gorgeous cotton satin roseprint from Minerva thinking … actually who knows what I was thinking. It was all wrong until I spied a roll of drapey green fabric at the back of the shop. 100% polyester it transpires. My inner snob rose to the fore but I bashed it back down when I handled the weight and the smooth silky texture and noted the lack of crease when I screwed it into a ball. And oh the colour! Not to mention the price tag of £4.00 a metre. I wasn’t arguing at all!

I already had this pattern in mind: Blackmore 8194. It’s not dated but I’m guessing late 40s. Vintage Patterns Wikia has it down as 1950s but also claims that Blackmore published paper patterns between 1845 and 1940, so that doesn’t add up!

Blackmore 8194 sewing pattern

I was sold on the waist and hip detail, the softly gathered side fronts that fall from the hip and that cheeky little key hole detail with the bow tie feature.

Blackmore 8194 dress keyhole detail

Incidentally the bow tie itself is some vintage liberty homemade bias binding that I inherited.

I made a quick bodice toile in the original size, half knowing it was too small, but wanting to test the pattern without sleeves. Inevitably I changed my mind and graded the pattern up a size. Redrawing the pattern allowed me to add the seam allowance on too. Something this pattern didn’t allow for which also shows it’s age a bit, I think.

Blackmore 8194 vintage dress

I’m quite used to vintage patterns without markings or seam allowances but one thing that struck me as a bit odd with this one, was an instruction to “Make darts in the back bodice where shown by dotted lines in diagram”. Quite literally the diagram which is the tiny pattern layout illustration on the back of the packet. So it’s anyone’s guess, really!

Inserting the gathered panels into that front skirt panel was a bit tricky but quilting skills have taught me how to clip and pivot at a point, so it wasn’t too terrifying. Again, the instructions are loose: “Gather upper edge of side fronts to fit hip yoke of front as in sketch and stitch together matching VV to VV.” Simples, lol!

Blackmore 8194 inserted panels

I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. And it worked well for a wedding where colour was the order of the day. But there are niggles: I forgot to add seam allowance to the sleeves which actually doesn’t appear to make much difference but I did sew them on back to front! How much difference that makes will show in the next version which I’d like to make soon while it’s all fresh in my head; The waistline could do with a bit of ease. I like how it’s nipped in but it’s not that comfortable! And although the fabric is nice and drapey, I’d like to try it in a lawn or a lightweight cotton so that the neckline and the darts press sharper. I also neglected to do my usual adjustment to take out the excess fabric from the back bodice. I cheated instead by removing the zip and trimming the centre back seam… not very well!

Blackmore 8194 vintage dress back view

Considering I pretty much sewed this up the day before and was hemming on the morning of the wedding, I think it turned out pretty well. The niggles can so easily be sorted next time round. And to get change from a tenner is such the ‘Brucey bonus’ that I feel it prudent to reward myself with some lovely lawn!

I don’t have any of the official pictures from the day to share as yet but I’m sure you can imagine how stunning all the ladies looked, as did the men in their exquisite flocked and braided coats. I can’t begin to tell you how gorgeous my friend the bride looked. But I did shed actual tears – in a good way – when she walked into the room. Such an honour to have been invited to such a special day. And I’m so glad I went to the bother of making a dress, especially.

Blackmore 1940s dress

Photos by the wonderful Daniel Selway
Location: St Pauls, London
Shoes: Lola Ramona
Handbag: vintage from local Fara Charity Shop

Me Made May 13: My final days

So here we are. The final days of Me Made May ’13! I feel quite sad in a way. But relieved. And accomplished. And enlightened. So thank you SoZo for setting this brilliant challenge. I didn’t realize quite what a knock on effect it would have. Or how it would make me feel. I wholly recommend this challenge to anyone who has yet to take the plunge. 

I really didn’t think I would make it to the end of the month. For sure there were repeats and some days no photo evidence at all. In reality, taking a photo of yourself every day is really difficult. Easy at first with all the initial enthusiasm for the challenge but then harder each day as the sun disappears, the hubby sets of earlier for work and the outfits get more tight-fitting the older they are!

But the journey was worth it. It was fantastic to focus each day on each hand made garment and realise where I’ve come from and what I’ve arrived at. Confirmation on what I’ve learned and achieved was invaluable. I don’t have time to stop and think properly about most things these days, especially what I’m going to wear on any particular day. So this was a fantastic excuse for self-indulged focussing, on past experience as well as some future plans. Oh yes, of course the flip side of the coin has meant my project list has increased ten-fold. But hey that list always makes for sweet dreams, if nothing else!

So to wrap up… the final days of  Me Made May ’13.

Jersey cowl neck top

DAY 22: Silk touch jersey cowl top and wool pencil skirt
Neither of these are blogged, I made them so long ago. But the cowl top is made from a free pattern on Burdastyle by Ichigogirl. Its the same as the stripy one I made. The skirt is a Simplicity pattern that my mum gave me to kick start my sewing antics. It has a little vent on the front knee. I didn’t line it, unfortunately and this is something I would never do with wool now. I should really go back and line it. It would hang much better and not stick to my tights!

Day 23 black self-drafted pencil skirt

DAY 23: Black self-drafted pencil skirt
This is possibly the most worn and practical of garments in my wardrobe. It fits like a glove, because I drafted it to my exact measurements. It’s properly lined and the lining is even properly attached to the vent. The waistband incorporates a woven interfacing so it doesn’t roll and is fastened by a hook and bar instead of a rubbish ‘eye’! It was a fantastic learning curve making this skirt. So absolutely worth all the effort that it feels fantastic to wear. I always imagined a whole weeks worth of these to choose from and I still think that is highly necessary. They are perfect work skirts and glam up nicely for a spontaneous evening out too!

DAY 24: Stripy wool mini A-line skirt
A miserable day. No sunshine at all, so the woolly skirt came back out. No photographer today I’m afraid. I’ve come to realise how much I wear this skirt. Mostly when I can’t think of anything else to wear. It fits; it’s comfortable; it goes with DMs… and it keeps my butt warm!

Day 25 mmm13 Elisalex shortened

DAY 25: The shortened Elisalex
Today was the 20th anniversary of the day my dad died. Always a sad day. But always a good excuse to don a pretty dress and catch up with my wonderful brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. The cemetery is a bit of a trek from the bus stop so I needed to sport something easy to walk in. Small heels means small skirt in my world so there was only one thing to do. And that was to chop the bottom off my test Elisalex dress! So glad I did. The duvet cover did good! Although I love my longer rosy version, it’s kind of ‘for best’ but this cheeky little version is now a great little throw-on when-the-sun-shines-and-go dress!

DAY 26: Grey pencil skirt
No photographic evidence today. I wore the first pencil skirt I ever drafted which still fits pretty well. Its lined but has no vent. I was taking things one step at a time back then and to learn to create a vent was information overload! I have to take pigeon steps but it still works. It’s a good staple, though a little boring. It’s days are numbered as soon as the others are on the cutting table!

Day 27 goat eating dress

DAY 27: First summer dress of the year
Today we went to the Surrey County Show. An ideal place to sport a full on flowery frock. Not such a great idea to wear in the goat tent though! Note that Mr O sought his photo opportunity before letting me know what was occurring! I still love this dress but I need to take some volume out of the back. I didn’t notice before but it gapes at the zip. I’m pretty sure its a simple fix. And hopefully it will fit better.

Day 28 Danielle dress

DAY 28: Danielle dress
Now here’s a blast from the past. Almost 2 years ago to the day. It was a bit of a squeeze, I can tell you. So much wrong with this dress but I still like the vibe of it. The fabric was a charity shop find, unsure of the content but it’s soooo itchy and scratchy. I thought I was being out there by using red lining but that turned out to be a no-no with the pale open weave fabric on the skirt! I can’t really breathe in this dress and you can tell by the pull across my chest but this dress is a lovely reminder that I should make another that fits in a much lovelier fabric.

Day 29 button back top

DAY 29: Button back retro top
I was fast running out on day 29 so it was a great propmt to rectify some issues with some garments I don’t tend to wear any more. This one in particular was really annoying to wear because I made the neckhole too small. I really liked the jewel neckline but in reality it kind of chokes you to death. Only problem was that the first buttonhole started right at the top, so to lob a centimetre off the neckline would halve my first buttonhole. My need to wear a me-made top spurred on a quick fix and I replaced the buttonhole with a press-stud and sewed the button on top so nobody will ever know!

Day 30 vintage pencil skirt with pockets

DAY 30: Vintage pencil skirt with pockets
Not yet blogged but again, a hurried make out of desperation but boy I’m glad. I’ve been meaning to make this for yonks! It still needs some fine tuning and this is really just a test garment but I will fill in the details when I blog it. But what’s more to say? Its a pencil skirt with pleats and front pockets… hooray!

Day 31 1940s shoe dress

DAY 31: 1940s shoe dress again!
A shameless repeat but one I’m prepared to wear again and again. This is by far one of my favourite dresses. It gets comments from total strangers as I stroll down to Sainsbo’s. It’s cool and comfy and is covered in shoes! This is the item of clothing that I need at least 5 more of. Along with 7 pencils skirts, my wardrobe should have at least 7 of these too!

And so we leave the month of May and venture on to pastures new. A prom dress for my friend’s daughter is on the go, FBA’s and all, a bespoke pencil skirt for my daughter’s birthday present and another that was bid on by my friend at the school auction. (Far too nervous to ask what she bid!)

Thank you as always for your wonderful comments and support x

Me-made May’13: My first week
Me-made May’13: My second week/
Me-made May’13: My third week/

Me Made May 13: My third week

I did it. I actually made 3 weeks of Me Made May ’13! It wasn’t as desperate as I thought it would be and I’ve really enjoyed it! The only thing that has been a bit tricky is getting a photo when the mister has left earlier for work.

Most of the garments I have worn this week have issues. Mostly fitting issues. Things drafted either too big or too small and things that no longer fit because of some unwelcome poundage that crept up over the last year or so! I must learn to create things that fit in the now and not for when the pounds are shed. Because it doesn’t work like that!

Another revelation, which comes as no surprise to me, is that I need more skirts and tops for work. I’ve no shortage of ideas. Just got to pull my finger out!

So here we go. Week 3 of  Me Made May ’13.

pin dot jersey top

DAY 15: Pin dot jersey top
New Look 6753. This is one of the few jersey tops I’ve made. I like how it’s an easy-to-wear casual top but it’s not my favourite top to wear. Perhaps because I made it too big and its defied all my attempts of shrinkage too! I have since been advised to make a size smaller when using stretch fabric. I’m sure I’d love it more if it fit more snuggly. Still better than a Primani top though!

stripy cowl top

DAY 16: Stripy cowl top
This was a great free pattern from the Burdastyle website. Really simple to put together and really easy to wear. I’m not convinced I graded it up properly, or enough for that matter so the cowl isn’t as dramatic as it could have been. But I still like it.

pinstripe wool jacket

DAY 17: Wool pinstripe jacket
This is a pattern from Burdastyle magazine, issue 11/2010. It was my first venture into tailoring and is anything but perfect but it prompted me to delve more into the art of old school tailoring techniques which are now ready to employ when I embark on another. Once again I overestimated the size but that means it’s great to wear with a few layers underneath and boy I needed them today! The pinky mauve pinstripe means it doesn’t really go with much apart from a flooky pinstripe skirt that I owned already!

floral mini skirt

DAY 18: Floral mini skirt
I made this in march last year and it still feels good teamed with Docs and a cardi. Keep meaning to make more of these. They are so simple and so cute and so easy to wear. So long as its none too windy!

tartan shorts

DAY 19: Plaid shorts
I do enjoy wearing these. Despite the fabric going all bobbly on me. Only on the weekend, mind. Won’t catch me in the office with that much leg out! I wore them down to the river pub to meet some friends. The pattern I used was Simplicity 2659. A simple and satisfying overnight make. There will be more of these. It’s just a matter of time. However I will not be using the twill tape facing method. I will draft a properfacing this time. They do need a bit more structure at the waist and front. And I must make them a wee bit bigger next time!

black rose party dress

DAY 20: Black rose party dress
This is me and my lovely fella, the last of the party people, at the end of his spectacular 40th birthday party. It was taken in the wee hours of the morning and so I’m very glad the photo is such poor quality! The dress, which I just about fit into, was whipped up overnight for a party March last year. I have since found some very similar fabric which will be another one of these one day!

DAY 21: Wool check skirt
I didn’t manage to get a photo of today but rest assured it was a me-made kinda day. I wore the same wool check skirt I sported on the second week, day 10. Crazy that May has turned out cold enough to sport a woolly skirt more than once in the space of a couple of weeks.

Can’t believe there’s only one more week left. I think I’m going to have to dig real deep now!

Laters! x

Me-made May’13: My first week
Me-made May’13: My second week/

Me Made May 13: My second week

If I’m honest, I thought that So Zo’s Me Made May ’13 would be an easy 4-poster for the month of May. I really thought it would help to bridge the massive gap between my sporadic makes and make me look more efficient than I actually am. Well, it has been a good gap-bridger for sure, but it hasn’t been a doddle!

I’m sure many of you can relate to the pre-work madness of getting kids off to school, while catching up on the jobs you were meant to do the night before, shouting threats of x-box confiscation if the son doesn’t arise anytime soon, feeding the cats with one hand and signing homework books with the other before getting one’s own butt out the door to work. So throw a rummage through the drawers for a me-made outfit and fluttering of the eyelashes at the general direction of ones hubster for a quick photoshoot into the equation and, well you can imagine what the neighbours must think!

But all that aside. It has been a total eye opener. I have worn things I had completely forgotten about and there has been a realisation of how much I’ve advanced. I may even go back to some of these projects and fix some niggling issues. But I equally might not!

So here we go. Week 2 of  Me Made May ’13.

Vintage wing collar blouse

DAY 8: 1950s wing-collar blouse
Butterick 556. Im still very happy with this blouse even though the shoulder pads have gone all lumpy and weird in the wash! The sleeve heads leave a lot to be desired. I remember thinking at the time that the sleeve looked more gathered than eased into the armscye. I really need to make another but better. So good to wear to work.

Day 9 1940s shoe dress

DAY 9: 1940s Shoe Dress
Butterick 2638. This is the same pattern I used for the red version and with the same issues, ie button placement. I think I prefer the shorter length sleeve. The shoe-print fabric was such a great find from a charity shop. It’s 100% cotton with such a smooth finish. I need more of these dresses.

Day 10 wool check skirt mmm13

DAY 10: Wool check skirt
I wasn’t expecting to include this skirt in May. It’s a blanket-weight wool, an ex-throw in fact, turned pencil skirt! But we all know how the weather in Blighty is a constant surprise! I self-drafted the pattern. I didn’t stay stitch the waistline before adding the waistband, hence why it probably came up a bit bigger and just noticed that the lining peeps at the hem otherwise, quite happy with this one.

Day 11 mmm13

DAY 11: Dotty shawl collar swing jacket
I made this a good couple of years back from a free pattern in Sew magazine. It is a great spring jacket with three-quarter sleeves and I love the fabric. I had to create the buttonholes by hand but apart from that it was very easy to put together as far as I remember. I do enjoy wearing it. Something about the collar makes it feel vintage and glamourous.

DAY 12: Grey pencil skirt
Hubby off to work early + non obliging offspring = no photo! But see photo above. I wore it yesterday too. Don’t judge!

day 13 stripe wool skirt

DAY 13: Stripy wool skirt
You really can tell how chilly it was this week. All the wool came out to play! This is a very simple A-line mini skirt from Burdastyle magazine. The fabric is a twill-backed Italian wool from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. Very lovely to wear.

Day 14 lace peasant top

DAY 14: Lace-trimmed peasant top
I didn’t think I had much love for this top. Mostly because it’s white and partly because of the lace. But seeing it here with a black skirt and after wallowing in all the lovely comments I got at work, I think I do now. One of the quickest tops to rustle up and tuck into a skirt. I need a red one! 

Feels so good to round up week two. Only a couple of days for week three… eek! See you soon! x

Me Made May 13: My first week

Not so very long ago I signed up to So Zo’s Me Made May ’13. Whereby I pledged to wear something handmade, every day throughout the month of May 2013. I did leave it till the very last minute, knowing what a flake I can be. And to be honest I could do without creating extra work for myself. I really do have plenty ’nuff on my plate right now! But… what fun! And what revelations…

So here is what I pledged:

‘I, ooobop!, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2013’.

There was still a big pause before I pressed the ‘publish’ button. I don’t have an issue with wearing something handmade every day. In fact that it an ultimate goal. I would love to own an entirely handmade wardrobe. It’s having enough to last a month that’s the issue right now! So I think you might be seeing a few repeats unless I can rustle up some emergency quick-makes!

Here are the first 7 days along with my discoveries:

Blouse pattern from Burda Magazine September 2011 issue

DAY 1: Gingham Burda Blouse
Have since learned that this shirt is too long and hence too tight on the hips.
An easy fix… if I get round to it! Would love to try one in a block colour
to make use of those fabulous shoulder darts. Should also wear it with a belt.
It’s not the shapeliest of blouses!

day2_norman_hartnell_top_mmay13

DAY 2: Norman Hartnell blouse
Very fond of this blouse. Very easy to wear. Perfect for work or going out.
And given that it was a relatively simple make, I need to make more!

day3_1940s_red_dress_mmm13

DAY 3: 1940s Shirt-waist dress
I still love this dress. Any dress with a midriff gets my seal of approval.
Have since learned to be more precise when sewing buttons in position.

Day4_70s_dress_mmm13

DAY 4: 1970s Dress
I have neglected this dress. I didn’t line it and so I can’t successfully wear it with tights
which is kind of a necessary requirement in the UK!
Would happily make this one again. The shape is very cute and I do love
the statement collar!

Day5_NewLook6750_mmm13

DAY 5: Daisy dress with red bias trim
New Look 6750. One of the first dresses I made, hence not blogged.
Note to self: As lovely as cotton voile is, it’s not very good at
hiding all those lumps and bumps, expecially if one has made the dress a tight fit!
Also must remember to allow a bit of ease when binding sleeve hems.
Near cut off the circulation in my arms!
Only dress so far I am not entirely comfortable wearing.

Day6_Elisalex_mmm13

DAY 6: Elisalex dress
Dress completed and worn to a picnic on this day. By far my most
favourite dress. incredibly comfortable. Very stylish and very satisfying to make.
It’s a keeper!

Day7_gingham_-peasant_mmm13

DAY 7: Gingham peasant top
One of the easiest tops I’ve ever made. Love wearing it with a pencil skirt.
Need to make some capri pants to pull off that Doris Day look.
Keep meaning to add a tiny black bow to the front neckline!

One of the great things about this challenge for me, is having some proper attention focussed on each garment. I usually throw things on without a thought, especially when I’m off to work, in a ‘that’ll do’ kinda way. I’ve been wearing far too many rubbish Primani T-shirts when I don’t really need to. If I just make a few more tops, I can ditch them altogether, especially if I include a quality t-shirt or two on my project list. Wearing me-mades on a daily basis really does have a feel good factor.

I’m sure the next few weeks will get more and more challenging and probably with some new revealations but so far so good and lessons learned already. Cheers Zo!

Home-made maternity belt, circa 1940!

I was just searching for a date on this pattern so I could update my vintage pattern collection page with this little beauty…

Du Barry 2479B…when out popped this little cutting which tickled me, I must say:

home made maternity belt circa 1940
home made maternity belt circa 1940 (click on image to enlarge)

If you do try this at home, remember “It is best to adjust it while lying down.”

In the latter months?!! I can just imagine trying to get up off the bed, like some ungainly upside-down tortoise.

And there’s me thinking the 1940s was all about glamour, inside and out! Doh! It’s a wonder all 1940s babies weren’t born squished like Flat Stanley!

Incidentally, I didn’t find an actual date. I’m assuming (once again) that this pattern dates 1940ish but any more accurate hunches are appreciated.

Horizontal or vertical buttonholes?

horizontal buttonholes

I’m in the process of making a second version of the 1940s shirt dress I made in May, and I’ve been prompted into wondering (ie arguing with Mr Ooobop!) whether it is usual to make horizontal or vertical buttonholes on a garment. I couldn’t bear the quandary any longer!

So I did a little research and came up with the following…

  • Horizontal ones allow for a little more expansion. The button can slide along the opening without distorting the buttonhole as much as a vertical one.
  • It’s easier to sew buttons in position, following a column of vertical buttonholes as there is a little  more room for manoeuvre, but you have to sew them on more accurately to meet the positions of the end points of horizontal buttonholes.
  • Horizontal buttonholes generally can’t be placed on a shirt placket band as there is not enough room for them to sit comfortably and so vertical ones are used.
  • Exceptions include the collar and cuffs where there is more stress, then you will find a horizontal one. And in the case of more expensive shirts, the bottommost button too!
  • Horizontal buttonholes take a bit longer to create as the foot needs to be repositioned and position measured each time, whereas its easier to shift the position down each time for vertical ones. I’m thinking this is a reason for mass produced garments having vertical ones.
  • Horizontal buttonholes stay buttoned more securely. Any stress across the garment opening, pulls the button into the the end of the buttonhole, where the button stops.
  • It is a little less-fiddly to button up with vertical buttonholes.
  • Most vintage patterns are marked for the buttonholes to be created horizontally.

So there you have it… fascinating, hey?! It doesn’t prove much except that you can seemingly create them however you like… so long as it works for you and your choice of garment!

I’m going with horizontal ones and now feel much happier about doing so. Apart from the fact that it makes me feel a bit rebellious, (and that I won the argument) I like that it’s a little bit of authenticity for this little 40s number.

Which way round do you sew your buttonholes? Any reason different from the above?

I’m hoping to have said dress all finished and blogged by the weekend so bring on the sunshine so Mr Ooobop! can take some sunny shots!