Friday, 23 January 2015

Enid's Not A Square!


Everyone knows I LOVE a cropped jumper, so needless to say that I was over the moon when Jennifer Lauren offered to send me a copy of her Enid Sweater to try out. And surprise, surprise, I'm a big fan!



One of my favourite things about Jen is her unique sense of design which sets apart her patterns from other similar ones. I'm also a big fan of how easy Jen's PDF patterns are to use (she has a knack of setting them out and breaking them up in a really well-ordered way), as well as how detailed her instructions are.


For my version of Enid, I went with the square neckline for an authentically vintage look. A word of warning here: even if you're experienced with knits really pay attention to Jen's neckband instructions and don't skip a single step! I overestimated my abilities and only just about managed to salvage this make as a result. My neckline doesn't look bad, but had I followed the instructions more carefully from the start, it would have looked even better!




Adapting the Enid Sweater pattern for stretchy knits

Enid is designed with sturdy sweatshirt knits in mind and requires you to cut the bodice on the bias to maximise the stretch. However, it seems like I wanted to break ALL the rules with this make, as I decided to use a stretchier knit and cut my bodice on the fold. The latter wasn't an issue, but my fabric choice resulted in pooling around the side-bust area and seriously wide/floppy sleeves! So I unpicked it all (it took a deflatingly long time) and used my Violet Dress pattern pieces to amend my Enid ones. By placing Violet on top of Enid I was able to reduce the sleeve (by a lot) and side bodice (by a little) widths. If you're a big cheat like me, I hope this tip helps, because Enid's worth it!




So there you have it, my first Enid Sweater. I imagine it'll be my first of many, including making it in a sweatshirt knit...how it was originally intended to be!



Have you made this pattern? What are your thoughts on Enid?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Inside My Vintage Pattern Stash - #vintagepledge


To kickstart the monthly pattern stash interviews Kestrel Makes and I have planned for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, I'm sharing my own collection today. But first, I want to thank the 120+ of you who have already signed up! What really excites me is the interesting mix of pledges unfolding. You've made ambitious plans like sewing a vintage pattern each month, transforming sketches from historical costume books into patterns, sewing your first ever vintage pattern, and exploring a range of decades. You've also made some wonderfully specific and personal pledges like sewing a 1990s jumpsuit, using a pattern passed down to you by your grandmother, sewing your wedding dress using a 1963 pattern, and plucking up the courage to use the pattern your dad bought you when you were 15. Some of you even sell patterns or make clothes for a living and have pledged to make more time for personal sewing. And best of all, some of you are bringing a new dimension to the pledge by knitting along! So thank you all again for making #vintagepledge so special and let's coerce even more people to join us!

Anyway...less gushing, more stash-sharing! 

HOW AND WHEN I STARTED COLLECTING VINTAGE SEWING PATTERNS

I can't pinpoint exactly when I started collecting vintage patterns, but it was around the same time I started blogging, so almost five years ago. I blame it all on We Sew Retro, of course! I'd only just started exploring the online sewing community and when I stumbled across We Sew Retro, seeing everyone's lovely creations was like love at first sight...much to my bankcard's distress!

VOLUME OF PATTERNS AND HOW I STORE THEM

For the purpose of this post I actually counted my vintage patterns for the first time ever. I got to 213, but I'm pretty sure I have a few more squirrelled away in my pile of UFOs. I knew I had a lot, but I've been in denial...maybe it's time for a spring clean! I store my patterns exactly how you can see them in the picture at the top of this post - in cardboard storage boxes with the more fragile ones in plastic sleeves. The boxes live on a bookshelf in my sewing room, which I'm guessing isn't too hot/cold, light/dark or humid/dry as they all seem to be doing just fine. However, if you'd like to take better care of your vintage patterns, these two posts seem pretty helpful. 

WHAT ATTRACTS ME TO THE PATTERNS I COLLECT


Call me shallow, but when choosing patterns it's all about the artwork! I rarely look at a line drawing and get excited, but if I like what I see on the envelope then I'm sold. I know I miss the potential of loads of patterns and get swayed by pretty pictures even when I know a design won't suit me, but you can't dispute the beauty of vintage sewing patterns. So much detail went into the envelope artwork back then, especially ones from the 1930s and 1940s, including hair and make-up, jewellery, accessories and shoes! If you look at later patterns, shoes are often unfinished or just a bland sketch...but look at the detail in the beauties above! 

MY FAVOURITE STYLE ERAS
1930s


1940s


1950s


1960s


When I first started collecting vintage patterns I was quite literally obsessed by the late 1930s and 1940s. I found the elegant designs alluring and nostalgic in a way I can't even explain. Although I still have a soft-spot for patterns from those decades, I was wary of creating a 'costumey' wardrobe, so I looked to the 1950s and early 1960s for simpler and more wearable designs. I do think, however, that carefully considered fabric choices and simple adjustments can help integrate patterns from all four decades into a wardrobe suitable for my modern lifestyle.  

THE OLDEST PATTERN IN MY STASH


Ironically, the oldest pattern in my stash (as far as I know) is also one of the best preserved. Simplicity 3296 was released in 1930, but I originally bought it thinking it looked very 1940s! Either way it's absolutely stunnning, but I've yet to make it...perhaps this year's #vintagepledge will be the push I need!?!

MY THREE FAVOURITE VINTAGE PATTERNS


With so many gorgeous patterns in my stash, it's actually impossible to pick just three favourites and I think my choices would change depending on my mood, the weather and so on. However, I do adore the ones pictured above, partly because they're beautifully illustrated, but mostly because they combine simple lines with really interesting details. Now to find identical fabric prints...especially that leaf print...swoon! 

THE PATTERN I'LL NEVER MAKE, BUT WON'T GET RID OF


After banging on about how much I love 1930s styles, this pattern is just too 1930s and would never fit in with my casual lifestyle. Yet, I don't think I can part with it. Does anyone else hoard patterns like this in their stash? Can you explain why we become so attached?

WHERE I GET MY VINTAGE PATTERNS FROM

At first I bought a lot of my vintage patterns on ebay, which was fun until I got stung in vicious bidding wars. Discovering Etsy was a game-changer and is probably the sole reason I now have so many vintage patterns! There are so many sellers listing what seems to be an abundance of patterns, often at reasonable prices. Just some of the shops I've tried and loved are: Sew Unique Classique, One More Cup Of Tea, Studio G Patterns, She'll Make You Flip, anne8865, Sydcam123, Adele Bee Ann Sewing Patterns, Grey Dog Vintage, Viennas Grace, Vintage Pattern Drawer, Aunt Nonnies Nest and Yard of Goods. There are many, many more though that you can discover by using the search box to find patterns from specific decades, companies, etc. I've also had some luck in local charity and vintage shops, but for me Etsy has been my favourite source of vintage sewing patterns.

I hope you enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of my vintage sewing pattern stash! Kerry will be sharing hers this coming week, so don't forget to check out her blog. From February we'll be sharing monthly vintage pattern collections, as well as discount codes and giveaways...all in the name of #vintagepledge!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Violet Is A Bad Girl


After my first Violet Dress was mistaken for a nightie, I decided that Violet 2.0 was going to be a bad girl! If you ignore the pathetic attempt to channel my inner biker chick (I just look moody), then I think I've succeeded thanks to my fabric choice. I got both the wine-coloured fleck jersey and the quilted glossy jersey from Minerva Crafts for an absolute steal in their sale, but I think they've sold out of both as I can no longer find them online. Sorry!



I can't stress enough how much I love this pattern from Bluegingerdoll Patterns, especially the cool yoke detail, which dependent on fabric choice, can achieve so many different looks. This time round, to match my fierce aesthetic, I decided to omit the bust-line gathers for a less 'girly' bodice. Once again I made this up in a size 10, but where I went wrong was deciding to tinker with the sleeves for a snugger fit. I sized the armholes and sleeves down to an 8, not taking into account that my jersey was much heavier-weight than last time! As a result, the dress has tighter sleeves than desired and the bodice is pretty snug too. However, I've convinced myself this won't be a problem once I lose the extra pounds I gained over festive period! Serious lesson though: when tackling knit projects, really pay attention to your jersey's stretch factor!



I really, really, really love how the quilted yokes turned out! I ended up topstitching most of my seams down as they were quite bulky because a) my fabric was quite thick to begin with and b) I overlocked my seams as, contrary to most jerseys, these two frayed. I quite like the look of the topstitching though, so I don't mind.


The cherry on top of this Violet Dress is that it even fits in with my plans to have fun with knits this year, so it's a pretty good start to 2015 even if I do say so myself! How has your stitching start to the year been? And more importantly, have you whipped up a Violet yet?!?

Friday, 9 January 2015

Join the 2015 Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge!


Back by popular demand, the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge has returned for a second year! For those of you who don't know, it all started last year when I realised I've been buying vintage and reproduction sewing patterns faster than I can sew them, so I pledged to use at least five of them during 2014. I invited you all to join me on a whim and was overwhelmed with the response - over 100 of you took the pledge and we sewed up almost 200 makes between us! You can admire all of the makes on my dedicated Pinterest board.

EXCITING PLANS FOR 2015

This year the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge is going to be even bigger and better, mainly because I have a co-host! The wonderful Kerry of Kestrel Makes and I will be working tirelessly to bring you monthly inspiration posts through the decades, insights into fellow stitchers' vintage pattern stashes, giveaways and discounts, round-ups of your makes, and final prizes. Exciting stuff, no!?! 

Whether you're taking part in the pledge or not, if you have an enviable or eclectic vintage sewing pattern collection we'd love to hear from you! You could be one of our montly interviewees!

MAKE THE PLEDGE YOUR OWN

If numerical targets aren't your thing, there are many other ways you can join in, like pledging to:

  • Use your first ever vintage sewing pattern.
  • Sew up a specific pattern from your stash.
  • Explore patterns from a particular decade.
  • Have fun patterns from a certain range of decades.
  • Get creative with you vintage sewing patterns!

Although I didn't quite achieve my 2014 pledge, managing just three of my five promised makes, the fun I had and the excitement of seeing all your makes was second to none. In the hope that I can do better this year, I'm sticking to the same pledge:

During 2015, I, Marie Koupparis, will sew up at least five of my vintage or reproduction sewing patterns.  

SHARE YOUR MAKES

Without a doubt, the best part of the pledge last year was seeing all of your makes! Once again we'll be sharing your makes on Pinterest, but we can't do it without you. To inspire others and be in with a chance of winning a final prize, you can share your makes by:


So, what are you waiting for? Grab a button (beautifully designed by my boyfriend again) and start spreading the word!

200 x 200 pixels

300 x 300 pixels

Monday, 5 January 2015

New Year, New Wardrobe


The start of a new year is always symbolic of new beginnings, isn't it? One thing I've put off for ages is sorting out my wardrobe, so I thought I'd seize the cliche and start 2015 with a clean slate. Amongst the three bin bags full of RTW items, some still with their tags on, I also amassed the above sizeable pile of handmades. I normally feel really attached to things I've made myself, but this time I decided that ruthlessness and honesty were the only way forward. I grew tired of searching my overflowing wardrobe, yet feeling like I had nothing to wear. So into the pile went handmades that I don't wear for a number of reasons: ill-fitting, damaged, don't like, don't suit. Some will go to the charity shop, some to my mum and others I'll re-fashion (maybe) or recycle for the sum of their parts (zips and buttons). 

I made some tough choices, but overall I feel excited to build my handmade wardrobe back up during 2015. Although I'm not setting myself 'resewlutions' I'm destined to fail at, I do have some plans and ideas for this year. 

CONCRETE PLANS
I don't usually like tying myself down to fixed plans, but these are two makes that I've been excited about for ages! I want to make a gathered-back Archer with this unusual floral voile that has a lovely flannel-esque feel to it. After being pleasantly surprised with the fit of my first Francoise, I want to make a long-sleeve version in this vintage crepe with a rather phsychedelic feel...groovy baby, yeah!
 


FUN WITH KNITS

I ruddy love knits - they're easy to fit and sew, and even easier to wear! Some of the patterns I'd like to have more and new fun with this year are:

DRESSES
Moneta - Colette Patterns
Violet - Bluegingerdoll Patterns 

TOPS
Linden Sweatshirt - Grainline Studio
Bonnie - Bluegingerdoll Patterns
White Russian - Capital Chic Patterns
Enid Fitted Sweatshirt - Jennifer Lauren


FLATTERING SKIRTS

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that skirts are my style nemesis. Although this isn't so much of an issue with dresses, I still only feel comfortable in fuller skirts, but have come to the conclusion that gathered waists aren't the most flattering on me. I have a reasonably small waist (in comparison to my bust and hips at least), so this year I'm looking to highlight this with alternatives to gathered skirts. As well as some of my vintage sewing patterns, I also hope to explore some contemporary patterns: 

Belladone - Deer and Doe
Flora Dress - By Hand London
The Mortmain - Gather Kits
Lonsdale Dress - Sewaholic Patterns
Lilou - Tilly And The Buttons


So there you have it, my 2015 plans in a nutshell, with details of this year's #vintagepledge coming on Friday! What are your stitching hopes and aspirations for this year?

Friday, 2 January 2015

The #vintagepledge Prize Winners

Eeeeep! I'm so excited to be back again today announcing the winners of the four Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge prizes! I can't say it enough, but a huge 'THANK YOU' to everyone who took part and made it the success that it was...just check out Pinterest for the proof! I wish I could shower you all with prizes, but I'm hoping to share some offers with you all during this year's pledge. Anyway, enough chatter...onto our four prize-winners:


I absolutely adore Michelle's makes, particularly the diversity in terms of sewing for both warm and cold weather. Her three dresses are styles I would gladly adopt in my wardrobe and her raincoat (you must read the bargainous story behind her fabric) is just so cool!


2. Petit Main Sauvage$35 to spend at Eva Dress Patterns
Lauriana has such a great aesthetic and the enviable ability of making styles from a range of decades - 1920s right through to the 1960s - look totally wearable. Even more impressively, she seems to suit wearing styles from all of these decades, which I'm sure you'll agree, is no mean feat! 


3. Fadanista - $25 to spend at the Selvedge Shop
Sue has frankly outdone herself and the pledge! She's the embodiment of under-promising and over-delivering, with a staggering 19 vintage pledge makes under her 2014 belt! From skirts and blouses to jumpsuits and dresses, this lady has seriously got it going on!



4. Mermaid's Purse - a choice of 3 digital patterns or e-books from Mrs Depew Vintage
Angela created some super chic outfits, which as a magpie for busy prints, I can only aspire to! I love her mid-century style, especially how effortless, yet 'put-together' it looks.

Congratulations ladies!!! It's been an absolute pleasure! I'll be in touch via email to arrange redemption of your prizes!

Watch this space next week for details of this year's #vintagepledge!