Thursday, 24 January 2013

Sew Grateful Week

Are you joining in?

Sew Grateful Week is hosted by Debi of My Happy Sewing Place, and is now in it's third year.  This is an annual event for the sewing community of the blogging world to show their appreciation for each other, and for those who help and support our craft, and provides an opportunity to give something back.

This year's will take place the week of the 4th to 10th of February, with different things happening on each day, details of which can be found here.  I'm planning on hosting a giveaway and posting a finished project, as well as possibly posting a tutorial or free pattern- I'll have to see about that one though. I'm looking forward to all the good stuff that will be going on in that week!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Underneath It All: More Knickers and competitive sewing

I haven't forgotten my lingerie series! It fell by the wayside a little while I did my pre-Christmas sewing and making, but I've made a few pieces. 

I made up a couple more pairs of the high-waisted knickers, with a couple of fitting tweaks to the pattern along the way, including dropping the top edge down a little. There is a pair to match my spot camisole made last year, and a pair made from the scraps of my Christmas Day dress. The ponte knit makes for nice warm undies!

I also drafted a pattern vaguely based on the shape of an old pair of bought knickers that I liked the fit of, and made up a couple of pairs from this. Both pairs are made from leftover bits of viscose jersey from t-shirt projects, with the very last scraps of stretch lace on the side of the red ones. This pattern is just a two-piece front and back design (modified to include the lace side panels) so is super quick to make. The striped pair were done start to finish in about 20 minutes!

Now I really need to stock up on stretch lace edgings. The white ones had been in my lace and ribbons bag for a good four or five years without being touched, but now I'm on the knicker-making spree I've used almost all of them!

On the subject of lingerie sewing, have you seen the competition hosted by Mrs Depew and Ohh Lulu? They are offering prizes for the best garment made from the patterns used in last years sewalong: the French Pin-up Bra, Corset Garter Belt, and Betty knickers.

I worked on the longline version of the bra at the time, but ran into a few fitting issues that showed up along the way and never finished it. I think I'm going to start from scratch with another toile to address these, then make up another version. Luckily I have plenty of the fabric left for more attempts!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Free Pattern Fortnightly: Sirdar Sports Sweater

This is the first in a new regular feature I want to introduce: Free Pattern Fortnightly. This year I want to try and blog more regularly, and have written a proper blogging schedule for the first time in the year and a half since starting up this page! My collection of vintage patterns is not as large as I'd like, but I do have lots and I'd like to share them more often with you all. I will try and post a range of patterns: it might be knitting, crochet or sewing; for men, women, children or home.

This week's pattern is actually one of the first vintage knitting patterns I bought, quite appropriately. Here in Blighty we're in the middle of a cold snap, with a lot of the country under snow (not that we've seen more than a few flakes here on the coast). This early 1950s sports sweater from Sirdar would be pefect for colder weather and knit up quickly in thick wool:

In three sizes for a 34, 36 or 38 inch bust, this sweater uses thicker wool and a tension of 4.5 stitches per inch. It is knit in plain stocking stitch with deep ribbing at the waist and cuffs, with a ribbed shawl collar.

Friday, 18 January 2013

On the sewing table...

A sneaky peek of what I'm working on.

It involves lots of pleats...

...and a notched collar...

I'm just waiting for my buttons to arrive so I can get this first project of the year completed. I'm planning on wearing it for my birthday meal in a couple of weeks, so you'll have to wait until then for the reveal!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Style inspiration: The Shirtwaist Dress

As I work on the first of three planned shirtwaist dresses on my current To Sew list, I've been gathering inspiration to keep me motivated on the project. These are a few of my favourite patterns and images from around the web so far. Click the captions for sources.


1950s Dress / 50s Dress / Black Shirtwaist Dress / Pintucked / Blackberry 
Sheer fabric with lace and pintuck detailing, via TheVintageMistress on Etsy

Vintage 1950's Simplicity 4960 Sewing Pattern One Piece Dress Size 14 1/2 Bust 33 

Smart Vintage 1950s Black and Silver Striped Shirtwaist Dress 
Fabulous silver grey with black detailing, via Fab Gabs Vintage

Advance 5780- one from my stash. 
One from my stash- Advance 5780

Lovely 1940s styling from Trashy Diva

50's Floral Swiss Dot Shirtwaist Style Full Dress
Blue floral stripes from Blue Velvet Vintage

vintage 1950's dress ...classic dior inspired GIGI YOUNG new york linen shirtwaist full skirt pin-up cocktail party dress
Big and bold plaid pattern in green shades

For more inspiration, I've also started a new Pinterest board that I will undoubtedly keep adding to. I'll let you all have a sneak peek of what I'm making tomorrow!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Votre Mode, 10th May 1956

Today I have pages from another French fashion pattern magazine, Votre Mode, dated 10th May 1956. I bought this one as much for the pattern included, a lovely shirtwaist dress or blouse and skirt outfit. One thing I love about this magazine is the size of the patterns: it is given in continental sizes 44 and 50 (which translate to English sizes 16 and 22), with instructions for resizing that produce a size range from 42 to 52. It is pretty rare to find vintage patterns in a range of larger sizes like this!

The cover illustration is of the shirtwaist option, with a ruffle-trimmed button placket and puff sleeves.

The pattern supplement, showing different options including puff or cuffed straight sleeves.

The magazine includes articles on ready to wear items, as well as home-sewing.

Beautiful summer dresses...

Children's wear...

Embroidery designs...

And more stunning dress designs. I love the red polka dot number!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Double Peter Pan Collar Tutorial: Part 2, Making

So, we've drafted our double collar patterns from the previous post here, and we're ready to sew. Normally, I will attach the collar to a garment after sewing the shoulder seams up, but before closing the side seams or adding sleeves etc. This gives a fairly flat piece to work with, with minimal bulk or handling to get the thing on neatly.

TIP: Stay-stitch your necklines! This should be done as soon as you cut your fabric to minimise the curve stretching out; something I unfortunately forgot to do on this tee, resulting in an inch wide gap between the collars at the back.

Cutting Out

Collar pieces cut and pinned ready to sew

You will need to cut four of each collar piece, so eight pieces in total. If your fabric has a right and wrong side, fold the fabric in half, then lay the pattern pieces on and cut them out twice. You should have two top and two bottom pieces for both collars. I didn't use interfacing, but you may decide to depending on your fabric and if you want a crisper finish. Cut two pieces of interfacing of each pattern piece, one per collar, and apply following the manufacturer's instructions.

Making up


Right sides together, sew the outer edges of the collars together on all four collar parts. Trim the seams if necessary, clip the curves and turn right side out. Press.


Lay the lower collars on the front of the shirt, matching them to either side of the centre front. Stitch at the neck edge.

Lay the upper collars on top, matching the notches to the shoulder seam, and matching the collar ends at centre back. Stitch at the neck edge.


You can now finish the raw edges with your preferred method. You may add a facing or lining, bind the edges, or simply overlock and understitch to the inside. I decided to bind my edges for a neat finish, as follows.

Cut a cross-grain strip of jersey 1.5" wide and long enough to go around the neck edge. Stitch to neck edge.

Press upwards towards the neck, then turn under once, enclosing the raw edges. Topstitch in place.

Next, turn the bound edge down inside the neckline, and topstitch in place. This will hold the binding to the inside of the shirt.

Turn the collar upwardsand press along the line of the facing or binding.

Next, roll the collars to the outside and press your desired fold-over line in the collar. Do this in two stages, pressing the undercollar downwards first, followed by the upper collar. (Try not to press a crease into your collar by accident like I did in this last photo, heh.)

Finish the rest of your blouse as per the pattern instructions, and enjoy!

Previous posts:

- Part 1, Drafting the pattern

Friday, 11 January 2013

Double Peter Pan Collar Tutorial: Part 1, The Pattern

I spotted this collar style on a (children's!) t-shirt a little while ago, and fell in love with it. Unfortunately the colour of the shirt put me off buying it for Little One, but I took a quick phone snap with the thought of copying the style at home. I loved the style so much I decided to try it on a top for myself first. I had this viscose jersey remnant in the stash, which I'd got for free as it was the beginning of the roll and had three big strips of brown parcel tape on it. Nothing that didn't come out with a good soapy soak and hot wash! For the collars, I used some scraps of plain black jersey with a very subtle satin sheen.

To draft your collar pieces, you will first need a blouse or top pattern to work with. This style of collar can be added to almost any style of top, with a variety of necklines, though a round shape works best.


Trace a copy of the front and back pieces of your pattern, marking centre front and back edges. Draw in and then trim away the seam allowances at the neckline and shoulder seam- check your pattern instructions to see how much allowance is included.


Lay your front and back pattern pieces on a large sheet of paper, matching up the shoulder seams. Trace the neckline along the edge from centre front to centre back. Draw along the centre front and centre back lines for three or 4 inches. Mark where the shoulder seam lies along the neck edge, as well as which end is front and back.


Decide how wide you want your collar to be. Mine was 2.5". Mark this distance from the neckline at intervals, and draw a smooth curved line to join the points. This will give us our width guide when drafting.


First, we will draft the small lower collar piece. Starting at the centre front, draw a rounded corner of the collar, down to the width line. Curve the line back up towards the neckline, so that a teardrop shape is formed. The length of this will depend on the size and shape of your neckline, but it should be approximately half the length between the centre front and the shoulder seam.


Next, we draft the main upper collar. Begin your line approximately at the mid point of the lower collar, and draw a similar curved corner to the first one. Move to the centre back line, and draw in your collar corner here too.

Study the shape of the two overlapping collars at the front, and decide if you are happy with the shape of them. Adjust any curves until you're happy with the look.


Trace off the collar pieces individually, and add your preferred seam allowance. I added 5/8" at the neckline edge, and 3/8" around the outer edges. Mark a notch in the upper collar at the shoulder seam, and label your pieces appropriately. As you can see, I traced off the small under collar, then simply added seam allowances onto the drafting of the large collar and used that rather than tracing off a copy. As long as you can ignore the other drafting lines, this is just fine.

That's your finished pattern! Tomorrow I'll go through the cutting out and assembly for the collar.

Click here for Part 2: Making

Monday, 7 January 2013

New fabrics for a new year

I've kicked off my sewing year with a healthy dose of new fabrics. I got some cash as gifts this Christmas, and decided to spend a good chunk of it on some new stuff for the stash. Unusually for me, I have a plan for every piece!

I've decided I need to sew some bolder colours and patterns. My sewing recently seems to have fallen into the red/black safe zone it often does, and any other colours have all been quite dark shades. Though admitttedly, I can't keep myself completely free of red, as you'll see!

4m red leopard polycotton.

This one counts as "bold pattern" even if it is a safe colour. I'm planning a shirtwaist dress with a circle skirt in this, probably the same pattern as my chambray shirt dress.

3m turquoise polkadot cotton

A brave colour for me, not one I would normally choose. I'm thinking a puff sleeved, sweetheart neckline dress in this one. Something with a more 1940s style perhaps.

3m animal print cotton

My last leopard print dress (a jersey halterneck number) was in a sorry state so got resigned to the bin at the end of summer, but I loved wearing it. This will be a different style though, another shirtwaist, this time a 1940s style with gathered shoulders and puff sleeves.

1m polkadot viscose

With this I'm planning on making my first version of the Colette Sorbetto top, with a peter pan collar in plain black.

2m deep magenta ponte roma

After making my Christmas Day dress in this fabric, I had to get some more in another colourway. This shade is just lovely- a rich purple/pink, a bit darker than the camera picked up, that will make another nice wiggle dress. I understand now why this fabric is so popular at the moment!

2m pink floral brushed cotton

Of course, I couldn't fabric shop without getting something for Little One. This will make some desperately needed pyjamas.

That should keep me busy for a good couple of months I think! My main issue now is which project to start first, but the red leopard is certainly tempting me. It would make a very nice birthday dress for the beginning of next month.