Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stash rehab shruggery

So... you know how I am going to a wedding this summer? And I am going to make a 50's vintage pattern dress?

Well, I haven't started yet and I am getting twitchy. The muslin must be cut this week or I am doomed, doomed I tell ye!

So instead of doing that, I hatched a plan for some kind of over-garment for the actual wedding bit. In the medieval chapel. Where it will be chilly. Don't forget, I haven't even bought / chosen the material for the dress yet, and yet here I am making a shawl / shrug out of alarmingly bright yarn which goes with nothing except possibly black...? I am crafting myself into a corner here!

I have a ton of Hipknits aran silk in the stash, all gifted. I have tried knitting with it, I have tried crocheting with it, and I am never happy with the result. It is beautifully soft, has a subtle gleam, and comes in such glowing colours, but I can't seem to make it work. So I thought I would experiment with the Sheryl Shawl (Rav link) from Blueprint Crochet. There was no logic or pre-planning to this decision. I was actually looking for my print-out of the Clapotis pattern when I came across this one.

I don't know what I think. It is kind of floppy rather than drapey, and it is coming out pretty huge. This is just one base motif - so seven of these would give me a helluva wingspan. I don't think it is a coincidence that there are only two Sheryl Shawl projects on Ravelry... and the one with pictures is not happy.

I can see where this is headed. Into the shruggery! Clapotis, anyone?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Floral Daze

I have reached the stage where I no longer know right from wrong.

All I know is, I am making a 1950's style dress to wear to a wedding... and my shoe-boots are red suede with a big 3D rose on the front.

I can't decide on a fabric.

What do YOU think?

Because somebody has to make a decision around here.. and it doesn't look like it's going to be me at the moment.

FL reckons I should be looking for silk, not cotton. I explained that he was asking for the moon on a stick.

So, top to bottom:

1- John Kaldor Monaco cotton sateen

2 - Favourite Fabrics Raspberry Rose cotton with slight stretch

3 - Clothworks Cherie Hearts cotton sheeting

Or have I lost my mind, and they are all completely hideous cheese-festival fabrics?

Be honest with me, friends!

ETA: Since posting this, I came across this blog piece (and its comments) on appropriate wedding guest attire. No black, white, red or green?!

I am going to wear a paper bag.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

FO: Self-Striping Baby Cardi

This was going to be a quick project. I thought it would take me a week, tops.
Several weeks later, here we have the jazzily-named DROPS b14-27, a free pattern which is supposed to be knitted in two colours of alpaca. I used self-striping sock wool instead.

It was a very easy knit. Too easy. I lost concentration and had to rip back the second sleeve when I knitted it as if it was the front.
But I was determined to finish it by the end of the week, and I did, thanks to Groove Armada at Glastonbury on the BBC last night! Those regular beats kept me going: click, click, click to the end. Woo hoo!
Pattern: DROPS b14-27
Yarn: On Linie Supersocke 100 sport color, part of a bulk order from a shop in the Netherlands. I only have one ball left now - it's proven to be a good buy.
Buttons: Vintage 1940's from Clover Crafts and Curios at Eeee baaay.
Very cute! But the blue buttons don't make it unisex. The next baby had better be a girl!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Off Knitting... or off to Knit?

I have been so excited by my vintage sewing recently that my knitting had slid into the gap between the arm and cushion of the sofa, and I didn't even bother to pull it out. Hopeless.

So before I get all psyched up to make my Dress For A Wedding, I am taking a pause to knit.

I decided the only way to get my knitterly groove back was to set myself a challenge. So I hereby undertake to:

1-finish the baby cardi this week

2 - knit FL's second birthday sock this month

Because July is going to be all about new knitting projects. I need to blow a fresh breeze through my yarn stash.

I want to knit all four of the "Woods Family Collection" sock patterns. Their context appeals to me. These are not "just sock patterns", they have a story to them, about real people, a family. Because I am being good, I will knit them from stash. There is a certain skein of sportweight yarn which needs to be rehabilitated, and it is up first!

And then today I got an email:

"Hi there!

We are looking for test knitters for the upcoming book. If you are interested, please fill out the following form at XXXX

Selected test knitters will be assigned a pattern and invited to a yahoo group. A PDF of the assigned pattern will be emailed separately, upon joining the yahoo group. Test knitters must provide their own yarn and needles. As compensation, test knitters will receive the final pdf version of the pattern they test knit and a choice of any other individual pdf pattern from the book OR $10 off a pre-order copy of the book.

The timeline for test knitting will be FIVE DAYS. Test knitters must be able to complete one sock (not the entire pair) within that time period.

Cookie A"

OF COURSE I can knit a sock in 5 days - pshaw! I throw down my gauntlet to anyone who says not! (Shut up, FL!)

Pick me, Cookie! Pick me!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FO: 1940's Back-Buttoned Sandpiper Blouse

A Back-Buttoned Blouse sounds like such a flapper-ish garment somehow. It makes me think I should be dancing around in a long string of beads and cuban heels. Doing the "Black Bottom". Alliteration gets me every time.

So here I am in my wellies and jeans. What a vintage diva!

However, this blouse comes from the late 1940's / early 1950's, not the twenties. The pattern is undated, but there are little clues, like the advert for a "Lightning Zipp Slide Fastener", and the slightly wider seam allowance than the 1948 pattern I made the other week.

And those ladies in the illustration probably had "modern" hairstyles.
I bought the pattern in a last-minute eebaay swoop for £3.00. I wanted the look of the trendy Sencha pattern but with longer sleeves. As I tailor-tacked the pattern markings (so many of them!), I realised there is a lot more detail in this vintage pattern than in the Sencha.

It has pleats at the waist / hip area back and front, and on the front shoulder. It is designed to be worn with shoulder pads. The central "strap" forms the front neck facing and provided the opportunity to show off my fabric-matching skills - look at that cheeky sandpiper! And the sleeves have neat little turned-back cuffs which are slightly flared towards the top edge for added perkiness. The back neck facing is cut from a 2-inch wide bias strip. The button / buttonhole bands are folded self-facing. None of the pieces are interfaced, but this cotton had enough stability to cope.

Fabric choice is definitely very important for this style. It is truly "Blousey", as Clare discovered about the Sencha. You don't want to use anything stiff or the whole thing will sit there like an origami paper balloon. It's like a bat-wing without the wing, if you know what I mean. This organic cotton from Cloud 9 was only just soft enough. A craft-weight "quilting cotton" would be too stiff. Voile would be perfect! Mmmmm!
I really enjoyed making this garment. It felt so very "authentic" despite the modern fabric. The instructions were clear (I will look out for vintage "Style" patterns again!) and packed with little tips - like cutting open the buttonholes away from the fabric edge, to mitigate against the risk of over-enthusiastic ripping.

Pattern: Style 4820, vintage size 34"
Fabric: Sandpiper from the Beyond the Sea Collection by Cloud 9, from Saints and Pinners (it arrived the next day!) I used exactly 1.5m. Only scraps left.
Buttons: Vintage 1940's plastic from Clover Crafts and Curios at eebaay: 6 for £1.

I love it! I enjoy its seaside-y freshness and its vintage vibe. Despite being yellow, it doesn't make me look ill. I like having the front free to showcase unusual necklaces or brooches while the buttons do their business in the back. And I can actually do it up myself, which was an unexpected bonus!
Would I make it again? Well, yes, I am tempted to try out the embroidery transfer. Maybe go for a contrast strap / cuff feature. But I certainly won't be going for the higher collar of View A - definitely too vicar-like!
Jewellery credits:

Birdcage pendant from Fairytales and Hidden Notes
Cameo hairclip from Freedom at TopShop
I searched in vain for the tiny red 1950's souvenir "a present from Obermarrergau" binoculars I used to play with as a child. I thought they would make a fab "birdwatching" necklace to wear with this blouse! A bit like this one.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

FO: Liberty Underpants x 5

I tried to think of a witty title but it's all been done before, so here, simply, are my homemade (under)pants!

You want a modelled shot? Don't talk crazy - not for you, not for anyone!
I followed the advice of other bloggers, and simply traced round my favourite pants, working out where the seams should be, and the type of construction that would stand up to the most wear and tear. I used my best-fit Pants to Poverty, which have a broad elastic waistband, like a Calvin Klein style. Actually, this is the one thing I don't like about them, because the elastic went grey really quickly. So I traced up to the top edge of the waistband to cut the main fabric.
I was surprised to find that there is a lot more fabric at the back than the front. I suppose it's obvious really (um... your bum sticks out at the back, Roo!) , but I hadn't realised that this would be achieved by having a slightly curved seam, and a lower front than back. It also explains why cheap knickers never fit properly. There is a lot more "design" involved in a pair of knickers than I ever imagined!

I cut the first 2 pairs in one piece, with only a centre front seam, as I thought this would be more comfortable and minimise the number of seams which could possibly go pop. I used the overlocking stitch on my (Bernina) sewing machine for the first time and it was a revelation - sewing jersey is MUCH easier than it ever was just using the zig-zag on my old Singer model.

For pairs 3 to 5 (yes! I made 5 pairs out of half a metre of fabric!), I had to add side seams to eke out my material.

So: front seam, gusset seam, then line the gusset - again using the original pants to draft a pattern, and then I sewed the side seams, where applicable. The final step was to bind the edges with "foldover elastic", which is how Amy and several of the Me-Made-May-ers did it. (That link takes you to Amy's you-tube tutorial.)

Foldover elastic is not readily available in the UK, but I bought it from the English Couture Company for about 50p a metre. There is a minimum spend of £10, but they sell so many wonderful stretch laces / elastics / bindings, I had no trouble stocking up with haberdashery that I knew I would use. They also sell bra-making kits... but I managed to rein myself in! Because they were moving premises, they took for-e-ver to dispatch my parcel, which was very frustrating. These should have been done and dusted weeks ago. But they did apologise and everything I bought is of very high quality.

I switched from "overlock" to "universal stitch" to sew on the elastic - so many new tricks!

So there you have it. Now you've seen my undies. Clearly I have no shame. My mother is appalled.


- Self-drafted pattern
- 0.5 metre Liberty cotton jersey from "Little Treasures" at Ebay (£6.20 plus p&p)
- assorted foldover elastics from English Couture Company (£0.50 per metre on average)

Once I had the pattern cut, and worked out how to change my machine to "overlock", and then to "universal stitch", this was a quick production-line-style sewing session.

Would I make them again? Absolutely definitely yes, even if only to entertain my family. I am thinking of trying a boy-short style next time!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beautiful Blogs

Well - how kind! Karie of Fourth Edition and Mooncalf have both nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger Award - thank you! Have you read their blogs? You should!

It's one of those Round Robin things where you have to come up with ten random facts about yourself and then spread the love by nominating another ten bloggers.

Ten Random Facts?

1: My maiden name had a “yogh” in it. This is a letter which no longer exists in modern English and has been replaced by the letter “z”. As a result, nobody ever pronounced my surname correctly, as they treated it like a “z” when it actually sounds more like a “g”. I wrote an essay about it once!

2: I cannot stand the word “savoury”. It makes me think of “slavery”, which on the one hand is an evil perpetrated by power-abusers, and on the other is a description of Scottish dogs when they dribble and drool. Ugh.

How odd – I am going all linguistic on you!

3: I have always had a red nose and cheeks. Despite this, my mother insisted on dressing me in pink. There is a terrible family photograph of me aged about 8 in a handknitted cardigan in a colour called “sizzling raspberry” which was so pink it was practically radioactive. Not good.

4: I have now knitted more pairs of socks in my life than I have skeins of sock wool in the stash. Which must mean I am allowed a splurge soon, mustn’t it?

5: I am into Finnish literature at the moment. I can’t wait for the new Tove Jansson translation to be published! Right now I am reading “The Year of the Hare” by Arto Paasilinna.

6: At University, after I got over missing FL, I hung out with music students and musicians. So, yeah, I knew Ben and Tracey, Stan and Paul and Norm, and my ex-husband-to-be was friends with Roland’s sister. But would any of them remember me? Err… no. I don’t think so. I doubt any of them knew my name back then. But it doesn’t stop me feeling hugely nostalgic when any of their songs come on the radio. Saddo namedropper.

7: Speaking of which, I once met Philip Larkin in Grandways supermarket on Beverly Road in Hull. He was wearing a dirty-old-man’s trenchcoat and was carrying a big umbrella. My memory tells me he also had on a salmon-pink scarf or cravat, but I am not sure anymore. I was hesitating over the cheapest own-brand coffee powder… but I can’t remember what he had in his basket. It might have been Carnation milk and a newspaper?

8: When I was about 15, my hair suddenly became curly, out of nowhere. I had something approaching a blonde ‘fro for about 6 years, right through University, and then the curl disappeared again as suddenly as it arrived.

9: I taught myself classical guitar up to Grade 4 standard, but it all came unstuck when I realised my hands were not big enough to stretch to the Grade 5 chords. One day I would like to learn to play the fiddle like my Auntie Sarah – she used to play mad jigs when she had had a couple of Drambuie’s!

One more…

10: My earliest memory is of falling asleep in my bouncer/swing which hung from the sitting room doorway, watching my grandad shave in the bathroom sink using a big bristly brush and frothy soap. He had his braces on over his vest, but no shirt, and had very high-waisted trousers and he was whistling.

Now you want ten bloggers?:

OK, to expand your horizons, here are ten lesser-known blogs that I really enjoy reading:

In no particular order:

La Ville Inconnue is a precociously stylish A-level student with a passion for vintage styles. She'll probably be famous for something one day.

CoutureArts is a lady of similar years to myself who doesn't so much home-sew as produce couture garments at home. Fiendish technical skills and a funky twist to every garment. Formidable.

Light and Macaroni blogs a little bit about sewing, about raising her family, but mostly about what it is like to be inside her own head. I love her frankness, her individuality, her intelligence. Even if sometimes it makes for hard reading.

Jeshknits is an indie-designer knitter who knows what suits a bigger gal. If I was a bigger gal I would want to be her best friend and have her knit something for me.

Lisainray has MM. But she is also a Bollywood actress. And she writes. Boy, does she write.

Restlessrobot sews and knits, but she doesn't make a fuss about it, if you know what I mean. I was really impressed by her recent Holiday Wardrobe. Her photos might be fuzzy but I like her everyday style.

OK, now I am not sure who reads what, so forgive me if I am recommending "old friends" to you:

Wedonothaveaknittingproblem is a collaboration blog - two Irish (American?) girls who knit and design socks. Fab socks!

Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing Oh I know you know Gertie! But isn't she fabulous?

Tilly and the Buttons Now, this girl claims to be new to sewing, but she is doing pretty darn well for a beginner! Vintage style sewing.

One more?

I am struggling here. It seems like the whole bloggy world has already been nominated, or is one of my readers and will think I am just being suck-up-y! I think I need another knitter. How about:

I Want To Go To Faerie College This girl manages to combine hockey and knitting while studying in the Netherlands. She chooses great patterns and yarn. I don't know where she finds the time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Yippee-aye-yay! I found a holiday cottage which ticked all the boxes:

  • sea view for me
  • near a sandy beach for me (me first, me first!)
  • near a (good quality) golf course for him
  • within reach of An'Teallach for him
  • electricity, tv, running water, indoor plumbing - all included!

And... um... the dog is going into kennels for the week - double hip-hooray!!!!

I can't tell you how close I came to giving up. I actually found somewhere in the right area, which allowed dogs and was near golf... but was then told by FL that the golf course was "very poor", I nearly flipped! Um - you hit a ball with a stick over some grass into a hole - what is there not to like?! Luckily, another hour of Googling uncovered a little gem of a cottage. It means I can't go to the Hen Do, because the dates clash. But by this stage, my priority was definitely to book a break. And this time, there will be no last-minute cancellations. Even if I have to drive us there myself, and even if FL spends the week asleep.

And there is a - gasp - proper coffee shop in the nearest village!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This Week's Projects

This week I am trying to keep my sewing momentum going with the Sandpiper Blouse.
It is lovely fabric, but it lost some colour when I pre-washed it (dye-ing the accompanying whites a delightul shade of primrose!). That'll teach me!
The pattern is by Style and is undated. I can't seem to find any info on the web dating vintage UK patterns: all the info is about the big US companies. It is definitely post-austerity era as the central panel is entirely decorative, rather than practical, and has to be cut on the fold. I had to shorten the sleeve slightly to fit it into the remaining fabric. The pattern came complete with embroidery transfers, so if this one works out I might make the embroidered version with longer sleeves.
Tonight I will be tailor-tacking the pleats. More pleats!
Looking forward, I am feeling deeply inspired by these trousers. I have some lovely swishy navy cotton "trousering" and want to add anchor buttons for that nautical vibe.
And I am seriously considering a Liberty rose print for my Dress-for-a-Wedding, as used by Gertie in her fabulous wiggle dress. There is a more photographic rose print here, but I think I want to go the whole premium-fabric way with this project! I just need to make a muslin first...!
And I do still knit. The garter stitch baby jacket suffered from late-night-knitting syndrome and I had to rip back a sleeve. But if I just keep plugging away with a few rows every evening I should be done within the week. I've kinda lost the love for this project, cute as it is.
I really fancy rustling up some plain vanilla socks, just for the fun of it. Mmmm Lorna's Laces!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three Socks and a Mountain

First of all, many thanks from the birthday boy and girl - your good wishes are appreciated! We had a lovely evening out on Saturday. FL is greatly enjoying telling his pals that I only knitted him one sock. There was an audible snort when I told him that some knitters are doing a 52 Pair Challenge this year. What? You think I can't do it?! Um, you are right. The girl liked her socks, although there was a bad moment when I realised she thought they were armwarmers and got really excited! At least I know what to knit her for Christmas.

I have been searching for a holiday cottage, so that FL can take me for a walk to / in / near his favourite mountain, An'teallach. It has been very frustrating. Most holiday accommodation was booked up months ago, so it's all the oddities that are left: the over-priced, £1-slot-meter-for electricity, bring your own bedlinen, no television sort of place. I actually found two beautiful cottages in glorious locations, but FL tells me they are too far away from a golf course. Since he had just finished telling me he had only managed three holes yesterday, I wasn't viewing this as a priority. Grrr. And he wants to take the dog with us. Double grrr. I know who will end up being dragged across a rainy field in pursuit of a rabbit when she would much rather be knitting. I have come closer to losing my temper over this than over any other thing in our 6 years of living together! I just want a holiday in a simple but properly-equipped cottage near the coast, so I can sit and knit and look at the waves. Maybe flipping Greece would be easier! Ah... but we can't take the dog to Greece can we?!

Moving on... my wedding shoes arrived and they are beyond fabulous! But my daughter has pointed out they will look "rubbish" with the teal rose fabric I blogged about the other day. She's right of course. Oh - and I had better not be thinking of adding red piping to try and make the colours go together...?! She knows me too well, that girl ... and clearly she has been reading the fashion books I gave her for her birthday!

So I am in search of red rose-print fabric. Or else I will take up FL's suggestion and wear the Tea Dress to the wedding - it looks rather good with the red shoes! (Oh yes - how rude of me - thank you so much for all your kind comments about it!) But I don't want to miss the opportunity to make a fab fifties frock.

Keep Googling, Roo!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

FO: The 1940's Tea Dress

Finished at last! My 1940's Tea Dress is finally done, dusted, ready to wear!

I made so many adjustments, it is barely recognisable.
Once the lace was gone, I changed the neckline, added pleats to the sleeve ends, and cut 8 inches off the length.

The buttons were supposed to go all the way down the front, but they are made of glass and are quite heavy. I thought they would distort the shape and I risked a gaping front. So at my daughter's suggestion, I stitched the front closed below the waist. Much safer!

I also realised it was hanging off my shoulders. I have ordered shoulder-pads, but in the meantime I have stitched in a couple of pleats across the shoulders, which add a bit more definition to the top of the sleeves, and make the whole thing fit me much better.
It now looks a lot more 1970's than 1940's. Shrug.
And the colour looks terrible on me without red lipstick!

1948 mail order pattern from "Today's Pattern Bureau".
Fabric: viscose crepe from The Remnant House, for only £2.80 a metre. It is quite a heavy "cold crepe" and it doesn't go static - woo hoo!
Buttons: vintage black glass. 36 buttons for 99p from Eeee Baaay.

Lipstick: Benefit Flirt Alert, won from a lucky number on a Flake wrapper!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Birthday weekend

We have two birthdays on the farm this weekend!
On Saturday, FL will be ... (drum roll) ... seventy-five!
On Sunday, my baby girl will be ... (cymbal crash) ... fourteen!
We are going out for a meal on Saturday evening to a fab Turkish restaurant in the city for a double celebration.

So the chances of me getting much sewing done this weekend seem remote, but that's OK.

Sewing update:

Material and patterns have arrived for the two vintage-style blouses. I should get them cut out if nothing else.

I should get the tea-dress ready for its buttons, which are in the post.

My knicker elastic has still not been dispatched (since 26 May), so I have 5 pairs of pants hanging about awaiting edging. Can't wait to show you!
And there is the slight issue of making a muslin for my Dress-For-a-Wedding. I am in total denial about this project. Because the material I bought is wrong for the pattern, I am not sure whether to buy new material or a new pattern.
I found the perfect material for the pattern (above), but it's quite expensive and I would have to buy 4 metres. I think I need to check I can make the pattern fit before I splurge.
ETA: OMG! The shoes are reduced and they only have my size left - woo hoo!

Knitting Update:
FL will be getting a single sock for his birthday. Sorry honey!
But I am making good progress on the baby cardi, which is 75% done.
I really really want to knit my Audrey-in-Unst cardigan!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The lace is off

It took me three hours to unpick the lace from my tea-dress. Three hours in which every nearby surface became festooned with tiny puffs of cream lint. The dog was sneezing. Lovely. Unpicking the stitching was not an option - it was the only thing holding the dress together down those long princess seams. I had to cut out the lace and tease the remaining edges out from between the stitches with a pin. Grrr.
I did try adding more lace round the neckline, but it was not good. So I heaved a great sigh and got snipping.

As I cut, I became quite philosophical. More and more, I realise that I am drawn to sewing clothes that verge on the "modest". I fear I may be about to be recruited to an extreme religious community if I carry on producing and wearing such garments. It is just as well I cut my hair. If I had gone out in this frock with plaits and Birkenstocks, accompanied by FL with his big bushy beard and long hair... !

So I am thinking of shortening the tea dress and lowering its neckline, tightening the sleeves and adding shoulder pads. I pinned the neck open and stuffed my shoulders with a pair of FL's socks for this picture! I am going to take it up to the knee. To make it more "vintage-inspired" than literally "vintage". Too literal, that's my problem! It will require shoes with a heel and a fair old slap of make up to pull this dress out of the scullery and onto the dancefloor - and I'm up for that!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Sewing WIP: 1940's Tea-Dress

"Admire this dress for its quick efficiency". That's what it says on the instruction sheet.

But so far, there has been nothing "quick" or "efficient" about sewing this dress.

And I have a horrible feeling it has taken a whole heap of work to make me look like Anne from The Famous Five. Or worse still, George wearing Anne's frock.

Red lipstick would do a lot to improve this look... if I had eyebrows.

FL says it looks like I am wearing a pinny (apron) on top of my dress, and it's all down to the lace framing the central panel. That blinking lace had to be fed under the front panel seam with a pin as I sewed, 5 stitches at a time. I am NOT taking it off again!

But FL reckons I could take it off the top edge of the front panel and continue the existing line up to the shoulder. What do you think? Here's a picture of the front before I continued the lace round the point.
MY feeling is that I should keep what I have done and add the lace round the back of the neck, which is what was shown in the original illustration.

Which will make it look even more like a "housedress". Because I suspect that is what it is. It's meant to be for wearing around the house while you clean and cook and act the wonderful wifely housewife. It is NOT the vampy swing-dancing dress I planned at all!

I wonder if the buttons could help rescue it? I am thinking of black "jet" glass. FL thinks I should use fabric-covered buttons so they "disappear" but I think that will draw even more attention to the lace.

What do YOU think?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Summer Evening Sewing

All week, I have been driving home to sunshine... although during the day the "haar" has hung over the city and kept my office cool.

Back at the farm, the dog and I have been enjoying long evening walks though the buttercup-filled fields, spying deer and the occasional hare as well as the more usual rabbits. It has been quite energising!

It inspired me to paint my toenails yellow! Bizarrely reminiscent of emulsion paint, I nevertheless recommend "Cheeky Chops" from Butter London! No nasty chemicals.
Instead of collapsing on the sofa with my knitting of an evening, I have been doing some sewing, although there is nothing to show for it yet! My 1940's tea dress has proven to be rather labour-intensive in its preparatory stages.

There has been loads of basting to do! Each sleeve has six darts. The front panels are top-stitched onto the side fronts, so have to be tacked to keep them safely in place when it comes to machining. Pins would not be sufficent with this slippery fabric. I know it would annoy me if I was to "waste" my weekend on hand-stitching, so all of this work is hopefully setting me up for a speedy sew on Saturday.

I pounced on another 1940's blouse pattern (from ee baay in the UK) which I am rather excited about. Sorry about the craptastic photo from the listing, but you can probably make out the pleated shoulders and contrast centre front panel. It buttons down the back. Oh - and comes with an embroidery transfer too!

I am planning to make this up in the sandpiper print from Cloud 9. I reckon it would have a real seaside look if teamed up with some navy (linen?) sailor trousers.

And I might make another one in navy with white pin-dots, to wear with my granny's (plastic) pearls. Crikey - it's the beginnings of a capsule wardrobe!

Not that I have a pair of navy linen sailor trousers either... hmmm. (ETA: Sorry, the link kept crashing - they are from Joules) .

So it's all about the sunshine, the buttercups, the golden.

It must be summer!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

ISO The Perfect Vintage Blouse Pattern

The latest sewing obsession chez Roobeedoo: the quest for the perfect vintage blouse pattern.

Obviously, it would be too easy to just pick up a copy of the cult Sencha pattern. Instead, I have to find a genuine vintage pattern that looks like Sencha, but has sleeves.

Why? My reasoning is that I will never wear a cap-sleeve blouse without something on top. I live in the frozen north in a poorly-heated house, and frequent a draughty workplace where they switch the heating off from May through October.

So I have been seeking a pattern with the following characteristics:

Short or ¾ or long sleeves- but definitely with sleeves

Keyhole neck detail

Back buttoning

Tapered waist

I have been surprised to find lots of choose from, all from around the same period. This style appears to have been the height of sewing fashion in 1947 or thereabouts!

I thought I would share pics of some of my favourites, all from Etsy.

For a long time this blouse / skirt combination had been top of the list, but I am wary of too "sweet" a style.

Plus it is too small... even in my skinny state. And I am wary of major alterations.

I rather like the square set-in-sleeves of this one but the neck is too high and plain.

I saw an even-more-fussy "stepped" square sleeve today - way too much potential trauma! Though I can see it could be attractive in a contrast lace.

Hmmm... I rarely consider using two fabrics in one garment.

In the end, I bought the pattern at the top of the page. It has that crucial keyhole / tie neck, plenty of darts to adjust the fit, and a rather alluring tapered sleeve. I can imagine it working well in a jersey / stretch fabric, which would be a warmer option for September, when tops are going to be in short supply if I don't get stitching now!