Monday, 30 September 2013

Fall For Cotton: Finished!

Don't worry readers, I haven't fallen off the edge of the blogosphere. I have been sewing, but I've also been adjusting to a new routine now that the not-so-Little One has started at nursery school. I also spent last weekend feeling sorry for myself after she brought home the inevitable stinker of a cold that accompanies the first week of school.

I meant to do in-progress posts as I made my Fall For Cotton blouse, but in the end it came together so quickly that I never stopped to think about it! As a recap, this was my plan:

A 1950s Weldon's blouse pattern, made up in a vintage check printed cotton fabric of undetermined age, though almost definitely older than the pattern.

As I said in my previous post, I made it up in a bargain polycotton check first off to test the fit and familiarise myself with the pattern. It needed grading up a size, but I just added half an inch onto each side seam edge and onto the sleeves. I often have to adjust patterns for narrow shoulders, so by just adding to the sides I hoped to avoid this. I'll share that shirt another day, but the fit was good so I cut this one out the same. I had to cut around a big fault in the weaving half way up the length, so actually ended up using all of the almost 4 yard length for this blouse.

When it came to buttons, I had nothing suitable in my tin so I was going to have to buy some. It wouldn't have felt right using modern buttons on this, so I treated myself to a card of deadstock vintage buttons from International Quality Kitsch on eBay.

This shop is a very random assortment of deadstock bits and pieces from 1960s pocket money toys to 1940s hair slides.  Squeaky animal orchestra with interchangeable heads, anyone? No. Thought not. The selection of buttons is lovely though, and very wide with a good variety of colours, materials and novelty and basic buttons. I decided to go with these yellow ones as a contrast. I'm trying to bring a touch of yellow into my wardrobe as an accent colour. It doesn't suit me to wear as clothing, but it's a colour that works well in accessories I think. After Tasha's recent post on hand-worked buttonholes, I decided to go whole hog and do the buttonholes by hand too! Not that my little camera would focus well enough to show the buttonhole stitches clearly, mind you.

After making up my test garment, and due to the fabric limitations caused by that weaving fault, I decided to change the cuffs slightly. The original cuff is formed by folding a facing extension back on to line the end of the sleeve, which is double the depth of the turned-back cuff. This used a good 6" of extra fabric length on the sleeve, and the resulting cuff was a bit floppy and looked awkward when I bent my arm at all. So, I opted to make a narrower add-on cuff, which I cut on the bias for visual interest.

I didn't bother concealing the cuff seam: it's just hidden under the cuff. Nice and easy.

I flat-felled the shoulder seams, and finished the back neckline with a bit of self-bias.

All in all, a nice casual basic for the cooler months, with space for a thin layer underneath if needed!

What about you? Who else has done Fall For Cotton?


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Fashion In Film: Film Review 1948

I found another of these books last week, from the same shop as the previous one, and owned by the same two women, presumably sisters. This title is Film Review, by F. Maurice Speed, and is a review of the films of 1948, with previews of films due for release the following year.

The inner title page is typically 1940's bright. The very first page of this book has been cut out, however. I can't help but wonder whose picture it was; did the books original owner have it framed in her room perhaps?

Susan Peters in a lovely bias-checked pinafore

Susan Peters, Alexander Knox

Angela Lansbury with a head full of curls, alongside George Sanders

Angela Lansbury, George Sanders

Esther Williams and Peter Lawford in tropical beachwear

Esther Williams, Peter Lawford

I love Jane Powell's super-girly eyelet cotton peasant blouse!

Jane Powell

Jane Wyman in a green ensemble. Check out the button tab fastening on the jacket.

Jane Wyman

Rita Heyworth looking festive in pink velvet and white fur.

Rita Heyworth

I had a bit of a thing for Robin Hood films as a kid, including the garishly technicolour ones of the early 20th century, so I had to include this one. From The Prince of Thieves.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Pinspiration: Autumn/Winter wardrobe

I know some of you may still be in the throes of late summer sunshine, but 'ere up north there's definitely a nip in the air. Blackberries have been picked and frozen ready for my first go at jam-making when I have enough empty jars, the evenings are drawing in quicker, and we've had three days of downpours.  Time to pull out the woollies!

Here are a few of my favourite seasonal pins so far- some things to make, some just to admire. Click the caption to go to the pin

Vintage knitting pattern: Date-Maker cardigan | By Gum, By Golly

1950's Jean Patchett

1950s fashion: red coat dress with Peter Pan collar

Pretty plaids

Wool & tweed skirts, a winter wardrobe basic

Great vintage look for winter. Glamorous and cosy.

Thalhimers 1950s Dress and Capelet

Subversive Femme: Target 'Quick-to-Knit' Cardigan, with shade card. c. 1950s

Bon voyage gloves

For more, follow me on Pinterest! These images and many more can be found on my boards for Winter Vintage and Vintage Knitting Inspiration.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Mrs Jones

The last week or so I've been working on a project for the boyfriend, which meant I got to pull out one of my old beauties to sew on.

This is my hand crank Jones' Family C.S. Isn't she lovely?

Jones Family CS

This is one of the machines that he surprised me with a couple of years back after saving them from being scrapped. What I've been sewing this week involved using a heavier thread, which my Singer is horribly finicky about. Fortunately, the Jones copes just fine with them, so I get an excuse to use her! Actually, she does much better with a thicker thread. Years of sewing have worn a slight thread groove in the tension spring on the shuttle, so it doesn't put much (if any) tension on a modern polyester thread, which are much finer than old cotton threads were. Having just finished up my sewing, I thought I'd take the opportunity to get some photos of her. Enjoy! Please ignore the background detritus littering the table...

Jones Family CS, Queen Alexandra decal

The text referring to Queen Alexandra dates her to somewhere around 1910-1915, as far as my searching has found so far. Unfortunately there is no longer any record of serial numbers to help with dating like there is with Singer machines.

Jones Family CS bobbin winder

The bobbin winders on these machines are truly things of simple engineering beauty. The rubber tyre rests against the flywheel. As you crank it, it rotates the bobbin in the winder. Simultaneously, the worm gear drives the geared steel wheel: the heart shaped cam attached to it pushes the thread guide arm from side to side, feeding the thread evenly along the length of the bobbin. It's a really relaxing thing to watch.

Jones Family CS

The back is just as highly decorated as the front, with "English Made" proudly emblazoned amidst the decals. These machines are still fairly easy to find in the UK, though the non-standard round shank needles are sadly not. I have 9 left.

Jones Family CS

And in case you were wondering what exactly I've been sewing, here is a little sneaky peek. You'll have to wait a little while for full photos. I'll be very surprised if any of you can guess what it is!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Hereditary skills

Since she's been old enough to sit on my knee and ask questions, the Little One has been "helping" me sew. She'd sit on my knee at the machine, be in charge of passing me pins or taking them out as I sew a seam, and of course, like any child, loves rummaging in the button tin. She's been getting a little big for knee-sitting, however, so I figured it was about time to set her off on her own with some things.

For her third birthday earlier this year I put together a sewing kit. I'd been picking bits up for it since before Christmas, when I found this adorable litttle straw basket in a charity shop, adorned with raffia flowers and a butterfly.


Embroidery threads
Wool on cards (from my oddments bag)
Kids knitting needles
Felt pin cushion
Large pins with easy to grab heart shaped heads
Bodkin and tapestry needles
Button box with an assortment of novelty buttons. Everything from stars to snails!

I also got the idea from another blog some time ago (goodness knows which one) to do some outline pictures to stitch on. I bought an A4 sheet of plastic canvas and cut it into 4, and drew a design on each in marker pen.

Of course, I couldn't just leave it there. Oh no. I wouldn't pass up an opportunity to buy a cutesy little mini sewing machine now, would I?

I picked up this toy Singer from eBay for well under a tenner including postage. It does a lockstitch, unlike a lot of toy machines which only do chain stitch and therefore unravel as soon as you pull it out from the machine. It dates from the mid-1980s as far as I can tell but is still in decent condition and works.

While I was working on a project yesterday afternoon she got the urge to join in, and pulled out her sewing basket. We took delivery of Boyfriend's new tool chest that morning, which meant that she had already claimed the cardboard box. It made a perfect sewing den.

Once I'd finished up my sewing, we sat down to make something together, and came up with this. Her first ever sewing.

D'aawww. She sewed the patchwork top on her machine, hand-winding it with the little wheel. Then she picked out the lace and sewed it on by hand. She got a bit obsessive about the stitches being in the right place. They HAD to go from one pink bit to the next. Finally, she sewed the button on with almost no help, I whizzed it through my machine to add a back, and we stuffed it.

She took it to bed last night and gave it pride of place with Panda's head on it. It must be special if Panda gets it!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

On the needles

Well, knitting those few tiny things seems to have eased me back into knitting, and got me thinking about my other on-the-go projects. I have a couple of things that need finishing off that I'll be glad to see the back of. I've imposed a rule on myself when it comes to knitting, that I can only have one project per person on the go at any time i.e. one for me, one for Little One.

*Apologies for the crap ironing-board photos. My table is currently covered in bits of motorbike seat!

First up is the one I really want to finish soon. I started this at the end of last winter, and it just needs another sleeve! I adapted it to have long sleeves, as there is a major gap in my wardrobe where long sleeved jumpers should be! It has taken a considerable amount of time to knit due to the fine wool and lots of cables. I've really enjoyed making it but I'm looking forward to being able to wear it this winter.

For Little One, I'm currently making a cardi in this beautiful colour. It's insanely hard to photograph (and describe) but it's a sort of dark jade/turquoise/aqua kind of shade. Its the bottom left design, with the heart-design lace panels. Hopefully it should be a quick make- it's in DK.

Added to the one project per person rule is one more thing for my friend's baby: a blanket, of course! I wanted to do something quick and easy, with multiple colours but no seaming of squares. I settled on a zig-zag blanket, and used this one from KnitCulture as a guide, though I changed the number of stitches cast on. I'm about half way up it now, or possibly less. I can't decide how many repeats of the stripe pattern to do. Three repeats will make a fairly square blanket, but four would make it longer than it is wide. I think I'll have to measure the width more accurately once I get to the end of the third repeat and make my mind up then.

What about you? 
Are you knitting anything at the moment?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Fall for Cotton

A couple of days ago, Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum, By Golly announced their latest sewalong: a joint endeavour called Fall For Cotton. It's a fairly open sewalong, with the only rules being that participants use a vintage pattern ('20s to '70s) and that the fabric used must be 100% cotton.


I really enjoyed Rochelle's last sewalong, Sew For Victory, so I've decided to put my name in for this one too. Having had some time to consider, I think I've settled on what I'm going to make. As I already sew frequently with vintage patterns, and with pure cotton fabrics, I wanted to up my game a little for this. Taking part in a sewalong always seems to demand more effort of me than my normal sewing would. Not a bad thing. I've decided to make my first ever garment using vintage fabric! Properly old vintage fabric, anyway. With the exception of making dolls' clothes with my nanna's scrap fabrics as a kid, I don't think I've ever knowingly used vintage fabric for anything.

A few months ago I bought 4 yards of a blue and red on white printed check fabric for next to nothing. The photo in the listing was terrible and out of focus, but I decided to take the gamble based on what I could make out and the low price. When it arrived it was actually very pretty, but also very grotty! I can't decide how old it even is. It's only 27" wide, so OLD. That's for certain. I'm thinking 1940s or maybe even '30s. What do you all think? The weave is quite coarse and a little uneven in places, so I wonder if it was hand-loomed or just low quality. The latter is a possibility if it was produced during wartime, I suppose. I don't really have enough experience with vintage textiles to be sure though.

So, on to washing. The whole length had spots and stains and little rusty marks on it, and had that typical old smell that always puts me in mind of the inside of the cupboards at my Nanna's house when I was a kid. I dunked it in a bucket of warm water and oxy stain removal powder, and this was the result after two minutes' gentle swishing:

Gross, I think you'll agree. Two more buckets and a soak later, followed by a good rinse with clean water, and I hung it out in the sun for a few hours. Most of the stains have come out, except for a few spots on the worst area (pictured above), and it's also a lot softer now the starch has all been washed out. It's certainly a lot brighter at least!

So, looks like the fabric's a goer! The next important question: what pattern am I using?

This one:

I bought this one a few months back and have been saving it for my Autumn wardrobe. I'll be making it up in a polycotton check first to test it and find out any fit issues before cutting my precious vintage fabric. It's a very rare thing that I find decent yardage of vintage fabrics that I can afford, so I don't want to waste it!

And yes, I'm very susceptible to influence from pattern illustrations regarding fabric choice, heh.

You can join in and keep track of everyone's makes for the sewalong via the Flickr group.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Fashion in Film: The British Film Annual 1949

I picked up a copy of The British Film Annual: 1949 from a charity shop this afternoon and couldn't wait to share some images with you all. Period cinema and film-related literature is a great way to get inspiration for vintage styles, and for the couple of pounds I paid this book does not disappoint. This book was put out by British newspaper The Daily Mail, in connection with the National Film Awards.

The book has a couple of pages each dedicated to a total of 54 films released in the previous year, with black and white and colour images. There are screen shots, studio portraits and promotional images. I've picked out a selection of my favourites to show you.

Valerie Hobson, Blanche Fury
Valerie Hobson as Blanche Fury

Greta Gynt, Pat Parsons, Easy Money
Greta Gynt as Pat Parsons in Easy Money

Young actress Hazel Court

Gene Simmons as Ophelia, Hamlet, Ophelia
Jean Simmons as Ophelia in Hamlet

Anna Neagle, Judy Howard, Spring in Park Lane
Anna Neagle as Judy Howard in Spring In Park Lane

Patricia Roc, One Night With You

There are, of course, some beautiful hats being worn.

Margaret Lockwood
Margaret Lockwood

Beatrice Campbell, My Brother Jonathan
Beatrice Campbell as Edie in My Brother Jonathan

Greta Gynt, The Calendar
Greta Gynt as Wenda in The Calendar

Of course, you can't have 1940s fashion without some novelty prints!

Sally Ann Howes, My Sister And I
Sally Ann Howes in a beautiful leaf-motif dress.

Sheila Sim, Robert Flemyng, The Guinea Pig
Sheila Sim in The Guinea Pig

Paula Valenska
Paula Valenska in a beatiful leaf print with contrast collar.