Monday, January 31, 2011

Working with Faux Fur...

To say I had trepidation about working with faux fur is an understatement.  I've heard how difficult it is and have ready countless articles which included box cutters and electric shavers....

I've had this thin faux rabbit fur from EmmaOneSock.com in my fabric stash for a short while.  It is super plush and soft...

I carefully cut out the fabric (with small snips from my normal scissors....no box cutters for me...scissors are dangerous enough in my hands!) and it cut beautifully.  There was, of course, tons of fur on the floor when I was done but the pattern pieces were fine (and the fur was super easy to vacuum up)!

I practiced sewing on a scrap and the seams were totally fine.  In fact, better than fine...you can't even tell where I sewed!  I actually really liked sewing with the faux fur!!  I cut out all the main pieces (just the bodice front, back and sleeves).  I decided to interline this with cotton batting (similar to my cape).  I am really happy that the pattern had directions for interlining.

There are two large darts in the bodice front (one on either side) and also in the bodice back.  Instead of doing the darts in the interlining, the pattern instructed me to cut them out and then catchstitch the pieces together.  Here's a close-up of what it looks like:

And here's the bodice back interlining:

And then the pattern instructed me to put stay tape around the outside.  Unfortunately, my local fabric store didn't have any stay tape.  BUT they did have a sale on silk organza and I seem to remember that Gertie used this in her underlining or interlining.  So, I decided to give it a try as I've never sewn with silk organza before (and they are constantly referencing it as sleeve stiffener in vintage 30's and 40's patterns).  Here is what the pattern instructions look like (1940 Simplicity pattern instructions are much more detailed then 1940 McCall pattern instructions):

And here's what I did with the silk organza:
Oh yes, I used pins on my faux fur.  After initial testing, I found it made no difference (pins versus weights, i.e. soup cans).

What about you?  Ever worked with faux fur? Interlined? Use Silk Organza?  I must say the weight (i.e. relatively thin) faux fur has made it a dream to work with.  I can't imagine working with something thicker or stiffer.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What I'm Working On...

Happy weekend everyone!

I'm working on a few projects this weekend/week including trying to finish my 1935 cape as part of the Sewing Through the Decades Challenge:
I started this in December before we moved.  It got all packed up but now it's time to finish this beauty!  I am really happy with the cape so far!  It's interlined and lined and is in a beautiful blue/grey tweed fabric.  There are still quite a few steps I need to complete including attaching the collar, attaching the cape to the jacket, finishing the pockets, doing the buttonholes, making the belt and finishing the lining!
Here's how it looks so far:

This next week's Sew Weekly Theme is to create a garment inspired by another garment available for sale somewhere (you get early notice of the sew weekly themes through the newsletter).  After a preliminary search on etsy, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to make up something that's been on my list for awhile: a 1940 faux fur jacket (in fact I already have the fabric I want to use).

Here's my inspiration that is for sale on etsy (for $238 by DarlingNikkiVintage): 

I have the perfect pattern which is Simplicity 3529 from the year 1940.  I've had this pattern for a couple of years.  The first thing that drew me to the pattern was the long coat.  But recently, the little jacket has been calling to me!  I am going to make my jacket (the short one in the picture) in black faux fur:

So, if all goes well, I'll have two lovely toppers to wear soon!  Do you have any projects that you weren't originally planning to make but they've sort of pushed their way to the front of your list?

Friday, January 28, 2011

1950's Gathered Skirts

Here are some more lovely catalogue scans, this time of skirts from 1955.  I love the small flower one below (also the plaid dress)!


Some great ideas for printed skirts:

I ADORE the yellow number below.  I love how the pockets match the blouse:

Which do you like best?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blue floral dresses from 1955-57

Here are some lovely floral dressds from the 1950's.

This first dress is from the 1955 Spring Sears catalogue.  Love the pale blue petticoat sneaking out underneath:

What about these lovelies from the Spring 1956 catalogue.  I am a bit partial to the red rose one:

Also from 1956...love the bodice on the blue flower dress:

Another great one from 1956.  I am a huge sucker for matching accessories.  I love the matching umbrella:

And the last one is from 1957 which promises that you will 'look radiant in bouquet prints':

Which is your favorite?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A 1950's gathered skirt

Ever since Gertie posted a tutorial (back in Aug '09) on how to do a gathered skirt, I've been wanting to try it (check out part 1 and part 2 of the tutorial here).

To follow on the floral theme, I decided to use up some floral fabric from my stash (alas not as nice as the other fabric--but it's pretty too):

I decided to pair this with a pretty pink vintage cashmere sweater.  This is how it turned out:

And here's another shot:

I like how quick this is to put together!  I definitely needed a quick fix this week as last week was a bit more intense (but also fun) :-)

Any quick projects on your list?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foiled plans...

Remember my plan to make up a nice swing dress using the vintage blue floral crepe from my stash?  Well, imagine my horror when I discovered two fairly large dark red stains on the fabric that I hadn't seen before:

This is my first time working with crepe.  Should I try and wash this out by hand or take it to the dry cleaners?

There wasn't enough fabric to cut around the spots--so the swing dress will have to wait.  Though I may be able to make a nice blouse from this!  I'll spend some more time with it and see if it comes out.

Have you had any vintage fabric discoveries?  Any sewing plans foiled at the last moment?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Resources for 1930's and early 40's patterns

Several people have asked me where I find my patterns.  So I thought I would put together a list of resources that I go to for 1930's and early 1940's patterns.  I thought it would also be good to highlight the resources that are good for those living outside the U.S. as well!

The best places to get really good deals are:

  1. Ebay (including Ebay UK), and
  2. Etsy
Ebay tends to be the luck of the draw.  Sometimes you find a really good deal that doesn't include a lot of competition.  Ebay UK has less 1930's and early 40's patterns but I have still managed to find a few (my 1935 cape pattern for example) for a really good price.  Interestingly enough, there tends to be loads of competition on Ebay UK for patterns that start out at really low prices (i.e. 0.99) but not a lot of competition for patterns that start at £7 or more (which is where the 1930's and early 40's ones usually start).  Again, it depends on the luck of the draw.

I often buy from the Ebay U.S. site because there are LOTS of patterns and many sellers mail to the UK for very reasonable rates.  PLUS, it's in U.S. dollars so there is a bit of an advantage (though it's becoming less nowadays).

Here are several U.S. Ebay sellers that have fantastic shipping to the UK:
  1. Vintage4Me2:  This ebay seller often has 'buy it now' and 'make an offer' for patterns.  Most patterns are listed for under $20 (sometimes for very early patterns as well--great selection of 1920's, 1930's and 1940's).  The shipping costs are really good and shipping is very quick.
  2. Oncillakat: A tremendous selection of patterns.  Mostly 40's and 50's though I occasionally stumble across a late 1930's pattern.  Again, really good shipping to the UK.
An invaluable resource for Ebay is Collector's Weekly.  They have a vintage pattern section that lists the most popular patterns currently listed on ebay by highest price but also by most watched.  This is a great resource because if there is a pattern you are watching you can look at this list and see if it is on it AND you can tell how many other people are watching it!!  It changes daily.  You can also check lots of other ebay listings (they have a section for vintage sewing machines, 1940's hats, etc.).

On Ebay UK some of the vintage pattern sellers include:
  1. Lookingforabargains: Great patterns (mostly 40's and 50's) but the starting bid is low.  Sometimes lots of competition depending on the pattern.
  2. *butterfly*vintage: Another great vintage pattern seller on Ebay UK.  Sometimes there are patterns that start at low prices and othertimes they start at a specific price.  Oftentimes there is free shipping.  I have found quite a few 1940 patterns from this seller--all for really good prices!!
Etsy is a treasure trove of patterns and it has the added benefit of not having bidding.  That said, if you see something for a really good price you have to act quick (especially for 1930's and early 40's patterns).  Oftentimes sellers won't have the option for shipping to the UK.  I have found most sellers are willing to ship and will add that option after I contact them to find out how much it will be.  If you really love a pattern and it's for a good price, ask the seller to reserve the pattern for you while they add the UK or overseas shipping option.  Just be sure if you do ask a seller to reserve a pattern for you that you go and buy it in a short timeframe (I would say within 24 hours if it is a cheaper item--you can ask for longer if it is a seller you know or the item is more expensive).

There aren't many 1930's or earlier patterns on etsy for cheap--but occasionally you'll find a gem and then you have to act quickly!  There are lots of etsy sellers that I love for patterns: Patterns from the Past, Sydcam123, Selvedge Shop, Wearing History, KallieDesigns, CherryBubblesVintage, MidValeCottage, Pattern Peddler, and NewVintageLady to name a few.  There are loads more and oftentimes the best thing to do is to search by '1930 pattern' to see what comes up!   

There aren't many sellers for the UK, but Top Tottie's Vintage has fabulous vintage clothes and sometimes has 1930's patterns!

There are lots of independent websites for vintage patterns and some have really good deals. 
  1.  Wicked Lady Collectables: A UK online pattern shop! whoohooo!
  2. Best Vintage Patterns: One of the best vintage pattern sites I have seen, unfortunately, they don't ship internationally.  But if you know someone in the states that you can have the pattern mailed to--then it's perfect!
  3. Woodland Farms Vintage:  I just found this website yesterday and what a treasure trove especially for early patterns! It looks like they ship internationally (not sure how much), you can also reserve items for 10 days (if you are an international customer) and they have layaway!
  4. Vintage Martini:  They ship to the UK but it's in a flatrate envelope (which isn't that cheap: $13 or so)
  5. Main Street Mall Online, Vintage Patterns:  This includes several independent online stores including Stitches and Loops, Miss Helene's Vintage Sewing Shoppe and the lovely What-I-found shop (Tina has a lovely blog as well).  I just use the mall's homepage search engine to search all the shops at once.  It takes a while as all the pattern photos have to load but I like looking at all of them at once.
  6. Patterns from the Past:  Though limited for 1930's and earlier, this shop has a great list of 1941 McCall patterns and other early 1940's at very reasonable prices (not sure about their international shipping).
  7. Lanetz Living: Lots of variety! Some weeks it's early 40's and 1930's, other weeks there are 50's and 60's gems.  Definitely add the Lanetz Living blog to your RSS feed as new patterns are featured once they go into the store! And they get snapped up pretty quickly as the prices are so reasonable!  Reasonable shipping as well.
  8. Moms Patterns:  The patterns start at the 1940's and the cheapest shipping option is $6 for one pattern (but cheaper if you buy more patterns because then they ship with a flat rate box).
  9. Out of the Ashes:  Again better for 1940's patterns.   Shipping prices are very similar to Moms patterns.
  10. Your Pattern Shop:  Some 1930's patterns--prices are variable.  1st pattern ships for $5.50 to the UK (approx. £3.40)
  11. The Blue Gardenia: Denise has an amazing selection of 1930's and early 40's patterns--plus lots of gowns.  Denise also has a blog (with lots of giveaways) and good sales.  Shipping usually via flat rate envelope.
  12. So Vintage Patterns: A load of patterns with lots of gowns.  I believe this site also has layaways and pretty affordable international shipping (though the patterns tend to be pricier--but you'll find lots of unique patterns here).
  13. Echo Vintage:  A handful of 1930's patterns and international shipping is based on your location. 
  14. Mystique Vintage: Some really nice 1930's/40's patterns at reasonable prices. Both domestic and international shipping is included in the price!
  15. Vintage Stitching: Patterns start in the 1940's, good prices AND shipping is included in the prices of the pattern (for both domestic and international)!
  16. Dandelion Vintage: International Shipping dependent on location and weight of item(s).  Several 1940's patterns.
  17. Heavens to Betsy: Lots of vintage patterns starting at the 1940's, tend to be a bit more expensive, flat rate shipping of $6.00 and then will adjust according to actual cost.
  18. Davenport and Co.: Not sure if they have international shipping but have several vintage patterns...located in New England.
  19. Cemetarian: Lots of vintage patterns.  I've gotten a few 1940 patterns from them and I seem to remember the shipping being very reasonable.  Great section on dating vintage patterns.
  20. DeWitt and Co.:  They've just added lots of 1930's patterns.  Not sure how much international shipping is...
  21. The Cupid and the Swan:  A few 1930's beauties (tend to be more expensive then their early 40's counterparts).  Not sure about international shipping.
  22. Tangerine Boutique: Several lovely 1930's patterns (mid to higher price range..i.e. $30-40)
  23. Hawk Crossing: Great selection of 1930's (and some reproduction patterns as well). Not sure about international shipping.
  24. Ballyhoo Vintage:  I just found this site and I am swooning over the patterns.  Variable prices and shipping via global priority mail (I'm assuming this is weight-based).
  25. Stonehill Collectables:  Vintage sewing patterns by decade (with 1930's and much earlier as well).  International shipping (not sure of the rates). 
Another EXCELLENT resource for dating vintage patterns but also for finding vintage pattern sellers is the Vintage Pattern Wiki.  I LOVE this wiki and can spend hours browsing the patterns!  Sometimes the patterns will have a link to a place where you can buy it.  I find many new sellers this way.  In fact, that's how I found the Woodland Farms Vintage (#3 above)!
    Probably the BEST way of getting a 1930's pattern is by purchasing a reproduction pattern.  The great thing is that you get the pattern but on new stock paper (so it's not as fragile).  Plus, the repro pattern sellers are fantastic and often have great deals, competitions and discounts!  The only downside for international customers is that the shipping is often more (because they are a bit heavier).  Usually you can buy 2-3 repro patterns in a flat rate box BUT then you may get stuck with paying customs on the UK side because you've spent more (you are supposed to pay customs on anything over £18 which the post office will flag up and won't let you have your package until you pay---though it's not very consistent).  We just need a UK-based reproduction pattern seller!!

    But these repro pattern sellers are fantastic:
    1. Decades of Style: Some really cute 1930's patterns.
    2. EvaDress:  EvaDress is currently having a competition! The prize is that you win $100 worth of their patterns!
    3. Sense and Sensibility:  Mostly early regency patterns but they have an early 1940's pattern that Casey is using for the swing dress sewalong!  Also Lisette from What Would Nancy Drew Wear is doing a sewalong using the S&S patterns for a regency dress (I am seriously considering joining this as there are tons of Jane Austen events in the UK in the Autumn!)
    4. Vintage Fashion Library: They also sell original patterns
    5. Vintage Pattern Lending Library:  If you review or provide a picture of one of their patterns that you've sewn up then you get another pattern free! Whoohooo....they are also on Ebay.
    6. Wearing History:  Don't forget you get a 10% discount until the end of January by entering 'sewinghappyblog' in the comments box!
    Phew! Sorry for all the text!  I'm sure I'm missing LOTS of links/resources!  Especially for 1950's and later patterns (I only included resources for 30's and 40's here).  What are your favorite vintage pattern sites?  Are there other repro pattern sites?  What are your experiences of buying vintage patterns (especially if you live outside the U.S.)?  Any good resources for 1930's and early 1940's patterns you would like to share?

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    What I'm Working on This Weekend...

    Thanks again for all the lovely comments on the 1933 dress and jacket!  This week I'm heading back to the year 1940 to make a dress!

    If you get the Sew Weekly newsletters (which are great because they have a weekly giveaway!), you'll know that this next week's theme is Something Floral, Something Blue.  Turns out that most people have some sort of blue floral fabric in their stash....which may not be far from the truth because I actually do (one of only two floral fabrics in my stash is blue!).  I got some amazing blue crepe floral fabric on ebay UK (I think 4 meters for £2.99!!)  I was really excited when I got it (I got it awhile back) as the first fabric listed on most of my patterns is crepe.  So this will be my first time sewing with crepe fabric and I am super excited!

    So, I'm going to start on this pattern tomorrow (and you can see the fabric I am using as well):

    I am going to try view B with the short-sleeves.  This looks like a fairly straight forward pattern to sew.  But I've learned awhile ago not to try and predict the 'easy to sew' versus the complicated patterns.  The first pattern I ever did was marked 'easy to sew' and it took a couple of years (and lots of alterations), whereas the EvaDress 1933 outfit looked complicated but was very straightforward.  I'll just go with the flow and see where it takes me!

    What about you? Do you have any blue floral fabric in your stash?  Do you ever misjudge whether a pattern is easy or hard?

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Nuts and Bolts of the EvaDress Jacket

    Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on the 1933 dress and jacket.  They so made my day!   And thank you for helping me pick which pictures to submit (I think I am going to go with #1 and a side view one and potentially a back view as well).  You are all so wonderful!

    A few of you asked about how the jacket actually goes together.  It is much easier to sew then it looks!  First the jacket pattern comes in one major piece--yes, one piece.  The scarf is the second piece.

    So, there is a back seam (just fold the jacket pattern in half and sew the back seam).  After you do that, there are two very small seams for the shoulders.  That leaves the big open space at the top of the arms as you can see below (these are just faced and hemmed on the inside--which I must say hemming on lightweight wool is a *dream*):

    To make the sleeves stand out, there is a long dart which you can see in this photo:
     Then the sleeves just close like any other sleeve.  They instruct you to stop sewing about three inches from the bottom and to make a sleeve opening with snaps or buttons.  Luckily, I have very small hands so I have no problem fitting the tight sleeve over my hands (and lightweight wool has a bit of a stretch to it AND I hate doing sleeve openings).

    Now, for the jacket front.  That was really easy.  The pattern gives you a jacket front that looks like this:

    It's all one piece with the jacket.  The pattern comes with the jacket front facing that you just sew to the right side and then turn to the inside and hem and that finishes the jacket front.  No complicated lapels or anything!

    Next up is the scarf.  It's just one long piece of material with a slight curve for the neck.  You line the scarf with the skirt material (unless it's wool) by sewing both pieces together and then turning it inside out and slipstitching the opening closed.  That's the scarf pretty much done!  You just need to then make 3 buttonholes on each side as such:


    Now for the buttons.  The buttons get sewn directly onto the jacket. One side as such:

    One side of the front goes under the other side.  Then you bring the other side over it and button it to the buttons on front of the jacket (forgot to mention above there are buttonholes on one side of the jacket as well--meaning that one set of buttons is buttoning two things: 1) jacket front and 2) scarf) like this:

    Definitely place the buttons while you are wearing the jacket! That helps to get them in the right position.

    My mannequin is not the same size as me--she was a present from a colleague, so she's more for draping then fitting (this jacket doesn't fit her very well when it's closed).

    Once you've got the jacket closed then you just drape the scarf over it and attach to the buttons on both sides:


    The fabric makes those nice folds between the buttons on it's own.  That's because the buttons are placed closer together then the buttonholes are...so there's a bit of pleating that happens when you button the scarf to the front!  The most important thing for this jacket is picking the right fabric--I think lightweight wool is listed as the first fabric choice...but it really is the best and drapes really well but is substantial enough for a jacket.

    The last big bit of sewing on the jacket are the gussets.  The gussets are basically a diamond shaped fabric that goes under the underarm to increase the range of motion for the arm.  You basically sew the diamond shaped piece onto the open space left in the underarm area (you don't close the seams completely and that's what gives the open space).  Here are the gussets on my jacket:


    There is a step-by-step guide for putting in the gussets on this very pattern in the Threads September 2007 issue (number 132)--which you can buy directly from Taunton Press (it's the vintage patterns issue).  But the great thing is that you don't see the gussets--so even if they aren't perfect, it's fine!

    What I love most is it is an excellently drafted pattern...they really knew how to make clothes fit and have fabulous draping in the 1930's!  The pattern was pretty easy to sew with, between the pictures and the words I could figure out what I was supposed to do (which is good because the pattern piece for the jacket is really odd shaped--I am conceptually challenged so I wouldn't have figured it out by just looking at it!)

    What do you think?  Do you think you might tackle this pattern?  Or another pattern from the 30's?

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    My 1933 Outfit...

    This week we are going back a decade to 1933 for both the Sewing Through the Decades and the Sew Weekly Challenges.  I finished the EvaDress reproduction pattern of the Katherine Hepburn frock!  I absolutely love it!!   Here's the photos....


    I adore the jacket details:

    I did my hair in pincurls and slept on them--they turned out perfectly!


    And the back (I was having fun with the black and white photo setting!):


    More jacket details:

    Full-length view.  I shortened the skirt by several inches (but I have to do that on every pattern).  I also had to shorten the scarf by about 2.5 inches.  Instead of sewing an closure around the wrist (with snaps), I left out the closure (i.e. just closed the seam all the way down the arm) and since I made it with lightweight wool that has a bit of stretch, I can easily fit it over my hands but still have the tight sleeves (which I love)!


     hehehehe...I like this photo:

    Another close-up of the jacket:




    What do you think?  Also, which photo do you think I should submit for the EvaDress competition?

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    1933 Dresses

    I've found lots of dresses from the 1933 fall and spring Sears Catalogues that look very similar to the EvaDress pattern.  I absolutely adore the criss-cross and button detail that a lot of these have.

    This page you may recognize from the Everyday Fashions of the 1930s.  I love all these dresses but the middle left image has a similar buttoned scarf detail to the Butterick (EvaDress) pattern I am using:


    Here's another one (upper left corner), this time in silk flat crepe:

    Here's another pair of beautiful dresses!  I'm liking the one-sided scarf detail as well:

    Another one with the buttoned scarf, but this time with a smaller scarf:

    Ohhhh...I love when they have pages in color!  Check out the dress in the middle on the bottom.  I love the collar in white!

    Which are your favorites?

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Underbody to the 1933 EvaDress Pattern

    Have you ever wondered how exactly this pattern worked (I know I did)?

    You can't really see from the pattern, but there is an underbody camisole which is attached to the skirt.  The 'jacket' is completely separate from the dress.  I finished up the underbody and skirt this weekend and here's what it looks like:

    If the bodice wasn't so low cut, I would contemplate just wearing this on it's own.  The v-point is very flattering.  Though it is definitely making me think about buying another EvaDress reproduction pattern with very similar lines (a 1938 McCall pattern):
    The underbody material is some cheap satin that I picked up at a charity shop and it frays very easily!  So I decided to use my vintage rayon seam binding to bind the seams instead of overcasting or pinking them:

    I wrapped each seam edge with the seam binding like such:

    The inside seams look like this:
    It took a bit longer but I feel better knowing my seam edges won't unravel--plus I've had the seam binding for awhile so it's really nice to use it!

    Phew! And that's just the underbody and skirt....now to the jacket!
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