Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques

When I saw this book on Amazon I knew I had to get it. I had a quick scan through the reviews online and decided to purchase.

I adore vintage styled lingerie (total Kiss Me Deadly addict) but it doesn’t come in cheap. If you want quality, you’re most certainly going pay for it.

When it landed through the letterbox with a comforting thud I tumbled downstairs, pulled apart the packaging and gazed and the beautiful front cover.

VL Front Page

I was aware of the author, Jill Salen, as my cousin’s (then) girlfriend (now wife) had lent me her fabulous book on corsets a few years ago when I was first foraying into making my own burlesque costumes. While the book was amazing, the thought of making a corset was very daunting and I loved reading through but it was packed up and shipped back to the lovely Sarah (thank you!).

But, I digress….back to Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques.

I am more than happy with its stylistics. The book is laid out in an easy to read way, spaced out generously (I find books that are “too busy” very confusing due to my dyslexia) and sleek and stylish. It covers 30 pieces from 1890 to 1970 and is set up for each piece as follows:

  • The first page devoted to a beautiful piece of vintage lingerie, photographed beautifully and simply.
  • The following page with a description of the year or era, detailing on the fabric, techniques, measurements and embellishments used.
  • Following this is the scaled down pattern, each reproduced on graph paper for ease of scaling up separately.

While this book as an absolutely beautiful addition to my collection I really should say that it is definitely not aimed at beginners.

There are few (if any) instructions for actually making the garments but it really doesn’t feel daunting to me to consider starting to reproduce any of these items, after all using the internet to find clarity on certain sewing techniques is old hat at this point for me!

VL Page 2

There are two comprehensive projects contained in the back on this book, with full detailing and step by step instructions:

  • A black brassiere (1930s)
  • A petticoat (1905)

Neither of these grabbed me as items I would really like to crack on with; there were far more gorgeous offerings in the previous pages (corselette or the Dior style longline bra for instance) but I am sure that is just a matter of personal taste.

At the back of the book is a handy chapter about embellishing and finishing techniques such as scalloping, making button loops, fastenings etc.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for good a resource of vintage lingerie. I have been looking for something like this for a while now and everything else seemed to fall short of the mark.

I can’t wait to get cracking with my first project from this, although I will definitely be making a toile, sewing in a cheap fabric and then making the final in something a little more luxurious!

VL Page 1

Oh and I am very tempted to purchase Jill Salen’s next book Vintage Swimwear Patterns: Historical Patterns and Techniques, but that’s for another time when my purse is a little fatter I think!

Sewing for Vegas!

Well I had a little good fortune a couple of weeks back (thanks to a big PPI refund) leading the very excited announcement that:

*drumroll please*

 I AM GOING TO VEGAS!

That’s right! In June I will be going to Vegas to attend the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, with a few of my burlesque pals. Not only will I be out there surrounded by super amazing talented folk, some of the best showgirls and guys in the business, some of the legends from the old days and everyone will be super sparkly, I will also be there for MY BIRTHDAY.

For anyone who is used to jetting off to the States or anywhere further than a field in England for their holidays, you probably aren’t as excited as me, but as I have haven’t been abroad for a holiday since we spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in 2010 as my husband is studying full time, this is all kinds of awesome.

Now, foolishly or not, I have decided that most of the things I take away with me will be home made. I really can’t afford to go away and spend a tonne of cash on new threads for the trip. I would like to look as lovely as possible though so for the next few months I’ll be Sewing for Vegas.

Sew Retro

 Now I did have a little money left over (once we’d bought and insured a second hand car – yippee  – we are mobile again!). So I bought a little equipment (self-healing cutting board rotary cutter plus a few other little bits) and enrolled in a couple of Craftsy courses, one of them being the Gertie Sew Retro class.

Sew Retro

I’ve picked a lovely cerise medium weight cotton, with a contrasting pale blue for the trimmings. This will be my birthday evening out dress.

Has anyone else taken this class? Any tips?

I’ve also bought a few metres of stretch denim so I can make the Butterick B5895 Capris, in full length and have a go at making them into shorts. Hopefully I’ll have enough left over to make a pencil skirt too.

I’m planning on making a start this week, progress to follow!

Anyone else got any holiday plans yet?

The Wardrobe Architect Week 6 & 7

The Wardrobe Architect

So I feel off the WA weekly wagon. I just found it really hard, given my answers to the palette week, to organise it in any sort of way…..because, let’s be honest, I’m all about the statement colours!

Neutrals are no good for me. I try to avoid neutrals because I spent so many years in them. I like bright and vivacious. So it took me a long time to get to the point where I could write this blog but I did feel a certain amount of frustration when I think about certain palettes. I did, however, think about how much I am limiting myself by cutting out certain colour combinations, and I think I found a happy medium with the following results.

WA colours

Although I do feel slightly more lost and a little more garish, how will any of that go together?!

Week 7 is about patterned fabric. Now I am totally one of those pinteresters who has a fabric board so I know what I like and what I don’t like. I decided to just link up to my board I have already created on there as I feel like I’d be repeating myself otherwise.

Fabric

In summary: I like florals and novelty prints but most of all I prefer block colours. I don’t have a lot of items in my wardrobe that are prints. I find that block colours look more professional for work and I really wanted to make a wardrobe that was transferable from home to the office. I have to admit that I am rather scared of matching prints too, it has to be said. That’s something to conquer this year though!

Butterick 2475: all Sewn Up

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You may remember my post from January where I said I’d be getting on with the start of this Joanie inspired outfit by starting with the green pussybow blouse. It appears to have taken me an inordinate amount of time to complete. I have (in my defence) been quite busy with other things though; the prep for two interviews in two weeks for jobs I didn’t get (unfortunately), babysitting for our lovely friends’ adorable six month old and visits from old friends; it’s all meant that I haven’t been able to crack on as I would have liked to.

BUT here we are and finished in all it’s splendour is my blummin gorgeous 60s blouse a la Joan Harris (nee Holloway).

Joaniegreen

So where did I start? Having never made a blouse before I wasn’t entirely sure what material to go for. I decided on a trusty poly-cotton which meant the drape would be a bit stiffer than the one shown in the picture but I did want the collar to be a little stiffer, and as I wasn’t sure how this would all play out I thought not splashing the cash on fancy fabric would be the best option.

Butterick 2475

I went about cutting the pattern, fabric and interfacing out and I was quite happily thinking “less pieces, less work than a dress”. Ah, the young sewing fool inside me.

At the end of the first day I’d made the bodice and the collar. It dawned on my when I finished that I’d absolutely breezed the collar this time, I think I’ve been so caught up in worrying about the set in sleeves that I appear to have somehow mastered collars without thinking about it. Pretty good eh?!

Butterick 2475

Then it was sleeve making time. I should state, at this point, I have never made a full length sleeve, the previous ones I’ve made have been short/cap sleeves.

Butterick 2475

So this was a bit of a learning curve.

A sleeve with a cuff turns out to be very confusing when you get down to the cuff part. In the picture above are the markings to make the shirt fit to the barrel cuff. The part that I’m about to start stitching is the reinforced part which is then turned inside out and makes the opening that you then attach the cuff to.

All looks great on paper, all does not make sense once I’ve sewn it and pinned it.

It took me half an hour to figure out what it was meant to look like from the illustration on the instructions and the consequent consultation with my husband, to figure out if I was having a particularly bad case of dyslexic brain. Turns out his dyslexic brain was not computing either.

But with fiddling, and pressing, and a few minutes break away from it I had that all too common eureka sewing moment where it clicked. I finally pressed it, attached the cuff and hoped for best. It turned out pretty well and meant the second sleeve was a breeze.

Butterick 2475

Then it was on to the dreaded time.

The set in sleeve time.

The time of doom.

Now, I made a little list of goals at the beginning of the year (some have totally fallen by the wayside already) and one of these was to master set in sleeves by the end of 2014. So when I went into this part of making the blouse I did so with a new determination that I would not simply settle for “that’ll do” and I would set these sleeves in over and over until I got them perfect.

Plenty of people gave me advice (thank you everyone for all of your helpful tips and guidance) but I really owe massive thanks to Clare at www.sewdixielou.com for spurring me on when I was halfway through ripping the sleeves out for the second time (and on the verge of having a little cry) who simply said “I never use gathered way hate it. I do it by hand gently easing larger fabric pinning every 1/2″. Then when happy pin in between pins then baste by hand. Remove pins check how it looks then machine”.

Now, this may strike you as odd (but probably goes a long way to explaining more than bit about me) but I never considered for a moment that I should use any other method than gathering.

It’s what everyone had shown me; books, sewing tutorials online, pattern instructions. All gathering. It’s a rule right?

Wrong. I am learning more and more that sewing is about finding what works for you and just because people say you should do it this way, it doesn’t mean you have to do it this way.

In the end I went for a bit of both, I gathered a little and then pinned and pinned. I sewed from the inside of the sleeve ; calmly, slowly, gently and smoothed as I went. Et Voilà! A perfectly set in sleeve!

Butterick 2475

So overjoyed was I that I ran about the house and told Tim he should come and look, at which point he did and we embraced and then I did my little happy dance (literally). Then I proceeded to set the other in, with no problem at all and then made Tim come back every five minutes to look at my beautiful set in sleeves on my fantastic blouse.

Needless to say, it wore a bit thin (for him- certainly not for me) after the 50th time, saying that though he was very chuffed for me.

Next up were buttonholes and buttons, which I forgot to buy.  I finally located some small-ish ones and add them to the cuffs and the front of the blouse with a pop stud opening at the top (which is covered when the collar is done up) and here we are, the finished article.

Butterick 2475

Butterick 2475

Butterick 2475

Butterick 2475

Butterick 2475

I really feel like I’ve made sewing skills progress with this blouse.

I have learnt sleeves with openings and cuffs; I have finally managed to successfully set in sleeves and I’ve made a new type of collar. Wholly happy.

Footnote:

As I have said blouse so much in this post I’ll leave you with this little clip from Bottom. I can’t think about the word blouse without thinking about Ritchie giving his famous chat up likes a whirl “my what a lovely blouse you have on”!

The Wardrobe Architect: Week Five

The Wardrobe Architect

Dare I say that this week has been my favourite?! I find it hard to see in black and white and I love colour. This week we were asked to consider the words we came up with previously, the colours we wear and the colours that are in our stash.

I feel like I have a little head start with this as around about a year ago I decided to try and ditch the black outfits I wore at work (it is far too easy to dress in black at the office) and splash some colour about.

Many of the dresses I have made while blogging here have been work appropriate, it’s something I try to keep in mind when I make a new item or put an outfit together.

So, with the above in mind I went to the Robert Kaufman website and looked at the Kona colours as I know they’ve got fantastic block colours (I’ve used them before for sewing). I decided to put together a palette from there. This is what I came up with:

colours

No surprises for  me really, I know what I like; bold, bright and warm colours. I’m not one for wearing pastels, being pale I think they look a bit wishy washy on me and I prefer something that is a contrast to my complexion.

This exercise was good in two ways, it cemented some thought I’d had about my preferences and it let me have a nosey at the fab fabric Kona colours (my purse will grumble). I’m Looking forward to week 6 already!

The Wardrobe Architect: Week 4

The Wardrobe Architect

This week I feel the real fun started. We took our answers from week 3 and started to pull them together to create silhouettes. I used Polyvore as suggested and pinned my creations onto my core style board on Pinterest.

I have to say I’m pretty happy with what I came up with. Having something visual is much better for me when I’m considering what it is I like.

It has solidified that even though I’m happy for skirts to be many things – A Line, full and pencil – bodices really need to be fitted, on dresses, tops and jumpers.

We were asked to think about how we’d cross combine these items, I think all of the below could easily be swapped about and fit together perfectly. I couldn’t help but go for colour but the silhouettes on the pieces I chose are more what it’s about really. I’m very happy with my work this week.

I’d love to see what everyone else came up with, comment and link below so I can have a nosey and follow you!

Week 4 6 Week 4 5 Week 4 3 Week 4 2 Week 4 1 Week 4 7

Week 4 4

The Wardrobe Architect: Week 3

The Wardrobe Architect

This week the focus is on shape. Shape of the garment, not the shape of you and how this makes you feel.

The main elements being:

  • Ease (tight or loose)
  • Length
  • Neckline
  • Waistline position
  • Sleeve length
  • Fullness

We were asked to fill in a worksheet which was in a matrix form listing shapes comparable to items of clothing and on a scale, how comfortable you feel in them.

The Results

Ease: there really was no surprises for me, I know I like form fitting clothes and feel more comfortable in them than in loosely fitting garments.

Length: It did come as a bit of a surprise that while I would normally never wear a a skirt or a dress above knee length I did answer that I would wear much shorter pants. It’s definitely something I’d never really thought about before. For top lengths I found I was open to anything apart from having my midriff exposed. Covered up and with a bolero? yes! Re-living the 90s crop top years….er, definitely not!

Fullness: Skirt wise I’m happy wearing any type of fullness, preferably fitted but I do like a full circle or a fuller skirt at times dependant on the occasion.

Waistline: Again no surprises. I like them high or natural. I feel horrid in dropped waistlines and think they do nothing for my shape.

Necklines: I’m comfortable across the board really. I think my neck and décolletage is really one of my best features so I’m happy to show it off. I’m less happy in higher necklines but they’re not something I wouldn’t consider or never wear.

Sleeves: Again, much the same as above, I’m happy in most and can’t really pick something I’m happiest in.

Overall: It seems from the above it’s my bottom half I have most issues with (no surprises there). I am constantly “big bum” plagued – even when it’s not that big – I know I’m self-concious about this part of me.

I really feel like we’re getting to the nitty gritty this week and I’m looking forward to seeing how this progresses especially knowing that our results from week three will be combined next week with proportions.

Stacey Stitch Gets Social & 12 Month Pattern Giveaway

You may have noticed I’ve done a little overhauling on the blog recently. Not only do I have a fantastic logo/header thanks to the amazing Lucy Blue and a new layout, I also have those lovely new buttons with links to my social media accounts.

Here they are in button form if you’d like to click and link up:


Vintage Sewing Pattern Give-away

In addition to the little online housekeeping I’ve been doing some at home too.

You may have read my post about my new sewing area.

I decided a couple of weeks back to go through the vintage sewing patterns I have and sort them into things I would make/things I haven’t made/things that aren’t my cup of tea/things I’ve made but wont make again.

As many of these were given to me I would like to return the favour and pass them on to someone who’d like them, so keep your eyes peeled because as of this month I’ll be offering up a different pattern from my collection for one lucky winner in every month in 2014.

January’s is this lovely Economy Design dress, which was the first dress I made when I started sewing a few years back. The give-away will begin on 30th January and end a week after, good luck!

Economy Design 212

A Joanie Start to the New Year & Wardrobe Architecture

The Wardrobe Architect

I loved this post on Coletterie encouraging us to take charge of our wardrobes this year.

I definitely fall into the category of someone who acquires things I don’t use, buys fabric because it’s on clearance and regrets it,  and goes for something because it’s close enough!

I’m really looking forward to the follow up posts, hopefully this will help me with a little management and structure when I’m compiling my list of what to sew and what not to sew this year.

And on that note (and before I get too sensible about things) I’ve decided that the next thing I am going to sew will be this fabulous Butterick pattern for a blouse. Mostly I have decided to do it in green because I have the wonderful outfit my beloved Joanie (have I said how much I love Mad Men?!) wore a couple of series back which I really want to emulate.

I’ve bought some plain green cotton, which might be a little too heavy but we’ll see, either way it’ll work out as a good practice or something I can go swishing about the office in.

I start this weekend, wish me luck!

Butterick 2475

Joaniegreen

 

Simplicity 3877: All Sewn Up (The Christmas Edition)

I’ve had this gorgeous pattern since July and have been looking for the perfect excuse to make it and what better than a Christmas party at work? The scene is set, there will be a brass quintet and nibbles and drinks in the Atrium of our building, now all I need to do is make an entrance in something very festive.

Simplicity 3877

I bought this gorgeous fabric by for the skirt part and some matching Christmas tree green for the bodice and got to cutting and sewing.

Christmas dress fabric
Now, I didn’t really give myself the easiest time when I was making this. In between visiting family, a weekend away. tying up my last 6 modelling appearances (I have officially now finished – see me below as a Christmas tree), making and wrapping gift, buying and decorating the tress, icing two Christmas cakes,  and a million more things……..I had about three nights to do this and finished up the last night half cut after a Prof took me and the team for dinner.
Chrostmas tree - wayland thor badger dr sketchy birmingham

Thanks to A J Pilkington of Manicks Productions & Dr Sketchy Birmingham for this pic!

I did (again) struggle with the sleeves – which were, again, meant to be set in…but it seems we do not get on very well, so I did my best, tried not to cry (after sewing a sleeve in inside out and having to get the trust seam ripper out again) and took a deep breath. They didn’t turn out too badly BUT I have made it an aim for 2014 to master set in sleeves!

christmas dress

The light isn’t great in this pic so I’ve added the one below as I think it gives a better impression (and it was too cold to be outside!)

Christmas dress

My dress was complete. So what else but make a reindeer decoration to pin to your head? Add to this some sparkly shoes, festive nails, a lovely Narnia based lamppost necklace and a lot of glitter and I was the most dressed up person at the office Christmas do, but then again when else can you get away with wearing a sparkly reindeer on your head?

Christmas nails

Narnia necklace

So on that note; I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, thank you so much for following my blog and reading my posts over the last six months or so and have a wonderful Christmas! I’ll be back soon (unless I cannot reach the laptop from my eggnog and chocolate coma) xx