Tuesday, 31 March 2015

March #vintagepledge Roundup & Giveaway Winner


Hello! Just popping in to wrap up the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge for March, before handing over to my awesome co-host Kerry for April's fun!


March's #vintagepledge Posts

#vintagepledge in March & Giveaway - A Stitching Odyssey




Remnant Kings Giveaway Winner

Not only did Remnant Kings offer a 10% discount throughout March, they also offered up a £15 voucher to use either in store or online. And the lucky winner of the voucher is...

...Sophie, The Cake Hunter!!!

Congratulations Sophie, I'm already looking forward to your John Kaldor trousers :o) I'll email you shortly with further details.


Share Your #vintagepledge Makes


Kerry and I would love to add your makes to our dedicated Pinterest Board, which is already shaping up to be an incredible source of inspiration this year! You can get in touch by leaving us a comment, emailing us or by using the #vintagepledge hashtag on Twitter. 


We can't wait to see what you make!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Psychedelic Francoise Dress


I made a bonkers Tilly and the Buttons Francoise Dress and I love it! After testing Francoise last year, I was so taken by her simple, yet sweet lines, that I promptly vowed to make another asap.



I've been hoarding this crazy wool crepe for three years - which was sold as a vintage remnant by Croft Mill - and I'm so glad I waited this long to use it. I think Francoise's simple lines are perfectly complimentary and the combination has resulted in a really psychedelic look. Which suits me just fine as I love a retro aesthetic! Originally, I had planned a long sleeved version of Francoise, but realised that could be a step too far with such a busy print.



Once I decided against sleeves, I just knew I had to have a collar...but I was feeling mighty lazy too. My good friend Winnie came to the rescue though, when I remembered the crochet collar she gifted me many years ago. So much quicker than making your own collar and much cuter in this case! Thank you Winnie!


Being relatively narrow, my collar kept curling up, but a quick catch stitch-later and it sits perfectly! Do you like the bright orange bias binding I used to finish the armholes? You can't really see it when I'm wearing it, apart from the odd glimpse, but it makes me happy nonetheless.



I don't have anything new to add about the construction of Francoise that I didn't cover here, but I must reitarte how unbeatable Tilly's thorough instructions are.

Have you made a Francoise Dress? What do you make of the pattern?

Monday, 23 March 2015

1930s Inspiration For #vintagepledge


Hello friends! For this month's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge inspiration post I'm delving into the 1930s - one of my absolute favourite decades for style - exploring fashion trends in a nutshell and how they were reflected in sewing patterns. I hope you enjoy this little jaunt as much as I have!

Although the 1930s are epitomised by the elegant gowns worn by movie stars, and will forever be remembered as the era of Hollywood glamour, women were dressing more practically than ever before. Coming between the two world wars and directly after the 1929 stock market crash, times were hard. The Great Depression led to cheaper materials and ordinary women could no longer afford the excesses of previous decades.

Everyday Style

A newfound preference for practicality didn't mean a loss of femininity. Form became more important than embellishment while the emphasis was on the silhouette. Clothes were cut to follow the lines of the body in a more provocative way than ever before. 

Necklines were lowered and often framed by wide scalloped edges and ruffled collars. The jabot blouse - with a cascade of frills down the front - became hugely fashionable, alongside the pussy-bow neckline.


Bodices were designed with interesting details like inset pieces and yokes, whilst arms grew in importance as designers experimented with square shoulders and voluminous puffed or flared sleeves.



Waistlines were brought back up to the natural waist, or higher, and were cinched in. Hemlines dropped dramatically and skirts were often detailed with yokes and pleats or gathers.


In light of simpler designs, accessories became especially important as women made statements with their belts, sashes, gloves, hats and costume jewellery. It's fabulous to see the importance of accessories even reflected through 1930s sewing pattern artwork.


Sportswear Influences

Until the 1930s, daywear had been more decorative than practical, but with women of all backgrounds beginning to live busier and more productive lives, clothes became easy to wear and un-restrictive. Day suits were revolutionised by Coco Chanel's use of wool jersey and wide-legged pyjama style trousers were introduced by the Tirocchi sisters. This sportier tailoring, as well as the emergence of activewear and more risque swimwear, reflected the more active lifestyle women were embracing and became a huge hit. As the decade progressed, simple clothes like trousers, sweaters, classic shirtwaist dresses and low-heeled shoes became wardrobe staples.

(Image sources: The Blue Gardenia & Erika with a K)

 Slide Fasteners

Originally invented in 1893, the slide fastener - or zip as we know it today - was finally adopted by the fashion industry in the 1930s and became an instant hit. Elsa Schiaparelli even made a feature of it in her designs, often leaving it exposed. This particular little nugget of information really drove home to me how un-original more recent fashions have been! Buttons also became part of surface decoration, with designers regarding fastenings as part of the aesthetic design.


Hollywood Glamour 

Contrasting simpler daywear, evening attire took on a strong element of escapist glamour. Shoulders and backs were bared in the first halterneck and backless gowns and the bias-cut dress clung to every curve. The latter was a new way of cutting fabric, invented by Parisian Madeleine Vionnet, which flirtatiously hugged the female form.


Hollywood glamour also became attainable in an everyday sense, with the creation of the hugely popular Hollywood Pattern Company in 1932, which featured personalised designs from radio and movie stars. Starlettes knew they had arrived when their headshot featured on a Hollywood pattern cover, entering more homes than magazines and newspapers during the Great Depression.


Do you have a favourite decade for style? What's your take on the 1930s?

Don't forget to check out the dedicated #vintagepledge Pinterest Board, which is well and truly overflowing with your fantastic makes!


Whilst researching this post I found Vintage Fashion hugely helpful and a jolly good read.

Friday, 20 March 2015

GBSB Fashion With Fabric Giveaway Winner Announced!


A little bit later than expected, but I'm delighted to finally pop in and announce the winner The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric, which I reviewed here.

The lucky lady is...


...Annie of Left on the Shelf! Congratulations Annie!!! I've emailed you for your address so that the lovely people at Quadrille can post your copy out to you asap.

Happy stitching!

Friday, 13 March 2015

How Do You Dress To Sew?


We've all seen the advice from a 1949 Singer Sewing Manual, urging women to tend to their housekeeping first and make themselves as attractive as possible before tackling any sewing. It's antiquated and hilarious, and we've collectively sighed in relief that times have thankfully changed.


Although I'm a stickler for housekeeping, I think I've actually gone to the other extreme on the appearance front! When I'm at home I tend to dress purely for comfort and warmth, resulting in some questionable (ok, ok...outrageous) pattern combinations. I hasten to add that I don't actually leave the house dressed like this...too often!

My point being, that when I'm wearing a questionable 'outfit' to begin with and I then try on a patterned me-made to check the fit (because when don't I like a crazy pattern?!?) the result can be interesting (ok, ok...vile) to say the least.


When I tried on my Bonnie Birthday Dress so my boyfriend could feedback on the length before I hemmed it, he was quite literally gobsmacked. It was seeing his face at that exact moment that made me wonder if other stitchers ever end up looking like this mid-sewing project.

So tell me, how do you dress to sew? Do you think there's a happy medium to be had between glamour and comfort at home?


P.S. There's a great giveaway over at The Blue Gardenia at the moment - open internationally until midnight PST on Tuesday 17 March.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Leopard-print Walkaway Dress Inspired by #GBSB and #vintagepledge


Butterick 6015 was a bit of a phenomenon back in 1952, being dubbed the 'walkaway' dress, because you could "start it after breakfast...walk-away in it for luncheon". It was such a popular pattern that apparently, manufacturing of all other products ceased until all back-orders were filled.

All I'll say is that women back then must have been machines, because this dress has 6 metres of bias binding to contend with! Needless to say, mine took a tad longer than a morning to make.



Nowadays, the walkaway dress is fraught with fitting controversy and has solicited some damning online reviews. Despite all of this, I've wanted to make it for ages and reviewing the latest book from The Great British Sewing Bee - Fashion with Fabric - was just the excuse I needed.

Bearing in mind all the terrible things I've read about this pattern I was prepared for utter failure, or at very best, a wearable muslin. But with very little effort, I miraculously ended up with a dress I quite like. I like it so much that I unpicked all 6 metres of bias binding and replaced it with a wider one because I thought it would look better. 

I cut out a straight size 12 and I'm pretty delighted with the fit. Apparently the pattern has been tweaked to work better on the modern silhouette, both in the GBSB book and in it's reproduction guise as Butterick 4790. So if you've wanted to try this pattern and have been put off by potential fitting woes, you have options and you still have time to enter my giveaway if you're in the UK. If you're still dubious, check out this helpful post on fitting the walkaway pattern.



One of my favourite features of the walkaway dress is the fluidity of the armhole and wrap part of the bodice. I think it creates such a beautifully feminine shape. The other thing I like, which is probably like Marmite among stitchers, is the slightly conical shape the bust and waist darts create. I gives a really authentic 1950s vibe, which I happen to love, but can imagine isn't to everyone's taste.


Despite being a wrap dress, you don't have to worry about your modesty. It really does wrap almost all the way round with a voluminous, circle over-skirt for further 'protection'. For the curious among you I've shared some pictures of the shift-like under-dress. 


Fluke fitting aside, I've learned two valuable lessons about this pattern. Firstly, I recommend going with something a bit drapey (lawn, rayon, etc) for the main bodice parts for a smoother finish. It was hard to resist the pull of my leopard print poplin, but I think the bodice would look much nicer if it was less stiff. My second observation is about the bias binding. Narrow bias binding is far trickier to apply in large volumes and it kind of gets lost on this pattern. Wider stuff works better in my opinion, but it is prone to puckering/twisting, so go slow! 

As an aside, how do you feel about bias binding? I normally avoid it as I think it can make garments look obviously handmade in a bad way, but I don't hate it on the walkaway dress. Go figure!


In a random act of cheating, I'm counting this make as one of my five for the #vintagepledge. I figured I have the reproduction version in my stash anyway, so what the heck! I should be leading by example of course, but I'm hoping you'll let me off the hook...pretty please?!?

Friday, 6 March 2015

GBSB Fashion With Fabric: A Review + Giveaway




Thanks to Quadrille, today I'm reviewing The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric and giving away a copy to one lucky reader in the UK! Although I can't compare it to the books from the first two series of the popular BBC show - I don't own them - I can tell you that I'm pretty impressed with it as a standalone book.


As I had a bit of 'free' time on my hands, I decided to make a project from the book for a well-rounded review. Predictably, my love of vintage drew me to the Walkaway Dress - based on Butterick 6015 from 1952 - which featured as one of the challenges in Episode 3. Look out for a full reveal of my dress soon!



I found the instructions to be well illustrated, but a little lacking on the written explanation part. The book isn't aimed at beginners and does make assumptions that the reader has a good understanding of basic techniques. However, it provides excellent guides to Core Skills like setting in sleeves, inserting an invisible zip, shirring, and many more.

Overall, it's an excellent reference book covering topics like common sewing terms, choosing fabrics, how to use the patterns, and basic hand sewing stitches. It also contains some great tips for equipment, as it explores the use of more challenging fabrics.

In fact, its exploration of challenging fabrics is one of the book's greatest strengths. It's broken down into four fabric categories - cottons, wool and other animal fibres, stretch fabrics, luxury fabrics - each category complete with a comprehensive breakdown of types of fabric, as well as a super useful glossary.



If you're like me, you'll be pleased to know that the whopping 30 projects on offer are all of the dressmaking kind! There's so many of them that they even come in a separate slipcase! The bad news is that you have to trace them out (eurgh!!!), but the good news is that each pattern sheet is clearly labelled with the projects it contains (phew!!!).

COTTONS



WOOL AND OTHER ANIMAL FIBRES


STRETCH FABRICS


LUXURY FABRICS


Undoubtedly, the best part of this book is the variety of desirable and wearable projects on offer. There's literally something for everyone, whether you're a selfish or selfless stitcher. There's also enough choice to strike the delicate balance between enticing a beginner and challenging someone more experienced. 

If you're a UK resident, this is your chance to win a free copy of Fashion With Fabric! Just leave a comment and your email address below by midnight GMT on Thursday 12 March. I'll then pick a winner at random and the good people at Quadrille will do the rest!