Thursday, 30 June 2011

Vintage Playsuits and more!

So I came across a article, Seamless Path to Vintage, in the Toronto Star. The article addresses how some clever businesses have been meeting the demand for vintage clothing. As vintage clothing become more and more scarce and fragile, shop owners have been adding reproductions to their shops. It is an interesting article, check it out!  

They also mention an online company called Decades of Style that until now I was not familiar with and they have some lovely patterns.  

They have arrived!

The Colette Patterns are here! And perfect timing too!

It is 32 degrees C, that converts to 90 degrees F, or just plain hot with a humidex advisory thrown into the mix. Perfect weather to be enjoying the backyard pool... oh wait, I was dreaming there. No backyard pool and I don't know how to swim.

Next best thing, enjoy the air conditioning and some sewing time until it cools off a bit. And there is so much sewing to get done. Two skirts in que, the McCall's hat, and now the Colette Patterns, a cute wrap dress and back buttoned blouse.

I have to say that I am very impressed with the packaging of the Colette Patterns. First, it comes with all the sizes from 0 to 18. Sweetness since I fall in between sizes. And the pattern instructions are contained in a booklet form and the pages are seamed together. Wow, this is going to make for some easy access reading on the patio once it cools off a bit.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Lov'n the Pink Skirt... who knew!

Vogue 2885 Front View
Vogue 2885 Back View
The pattern test for Vogue 2885 is finished. A currently out of print pattern that is still available in the current catalogue.

With no muslin around the house, I turned to some linen fabric I purchased years back.

Well, the good news is that I can go ahead and cut the Liz Claiborne Fabric because the test pattern fit like a glove.

The shocking news, I actually like the pink skirt.  I'm liking it enough to actually wear it out in public.  Of course, I'm going to have to take the steamer to the fabric to get the fold marks out of the front.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Bittersweet News or Fashion Blues?

The big news this morning, in this country, has to be that the back-to-work bill was passed forcing postal workers back to work.

You think that I would be happy about the news.

I have been anticipating the arrival of the two Colette Patterns that I had ordered earlier this month. Now they will soon be on their way. I'm not celebrating the bittersweet news.

I ordered the patterns at the beginning of the labour dispute. I knew full well that there would likely be a delay but that the mail was getting through. Canada Post workers were engaged in rotating strike action. They did not shut down the mail delivery across the whole country, rather they targeted a day of action at  pre-determined cities before moving on to another city. During this strike action I still received my Vogue patterns that I ordered on-line. If I were to allow myself to be completely selfish, everything was working out fine. Canada Post and their workers were going through their negotiations and discussing their labour concerns and Canadians were receiving their mail.

I was aghast over the whole labour dispute when Canada Post locked out their workers putting an end to the rotating strike action. Mail boxes were sealed shut and my Colette patterns were being held hostage by Canada Post. And then our Prime Minister emerged from a meeting last night arguing that he sided on the Canadian people. I'm not so sure that he's the hero that he's trying to portray himself.

Am I happy the Colette patterns are on their way. Yes. But I wasn't in a rush that I would have liked to see this type of ending to the postal workers concerns. I certainly have enough sewing projects and alterations to keep me busy till they arrive. And if the patterns don't arrive in time to become part of my summer 2011 wardrobe, I'm okay with that. Look at them! That retro vibe is so timeless.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Pigs do fly!

Busy week at work and fighting some bug, so I just haven't had time to blog or sew. I'm back now.

I was torn about which Vintage 1940s style skirt pattern to use. Well, this is the one, Vogue 2885.

Looks like a cute pattern.  The back pleat has a triangular insert.  There is a side zipper and the skirt waistline has waist facing pieces, no waistband.

I'll be testing the skirt pattern out on another fabric before I cut it out of the Liz Caliborne fabric I picked up in the home decor department.

No muslin around the house so I'm using a pink and beige striped linen that I have no inspirational or emotional attachment to. I just want to make sure that I get the fit right before cutting it out the red and white fabric. If the test fabric and pattern turn out in the pink and beige linen it might make a cute skirt to kick around the house in.

I know!  Pink. Who would ever think that Moi would be adding pink into my wardrobe. This will be the second pink something I've made this spring. I guess pigs do fly.    

It is all pinned and ready to cut... but right now it is time for a cup of tea and then off to bed as I have an early start to my day. Hopefully, this weekend I can start on my sewing project.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

When in doubt...

"When in doubt, wear red".  ~Bill Blass

While shopping in the home decor department at Fabricland I was drawn to a bolt of Liz Claiborne fabric but I wasn't thinking home decor. The fabric felt fabulous as I held it between my fingers, 100% cotton that had my imagination running wild. 

The curious woman, shopping in the same aisle, was taken aback when I revealed my plans.

"Maybe a jacket?" I replied.    

"Don't!" she said, "I know fashion and you don't want to wear a loud print like that!"

"Don't hold back", I thought momentarily to myself. But I was too busy seeing red, the fanciful red print that popped from the white background, to let her comments become an annoyance.   

For a moment, she had me doubting where my imagination was taking me. Just for a moment before the fabric made it to the cutting table. I asked the salesperson her opinion.

"Beautiful!", she replied.  

I don't know what I was thinking asking. Of course she would encourage the purchase. She's a salesperson. 

I don't regret my decision to purchase a couple of metres of fabric. Despite being on sale for $5.00/m, how could I resist?  

I did, however, change my mind on what it will become. Now I'm thinking a skirt, something retro, 1940's, slightly flared, maybe cut on the bias? I have a few options to choose from. The one thing that I am sure about is that I glad I picked up the fabric.  

I also found a linen/cotton blend for a hat that has been in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks.  It is in a deep red colour. I'm just sorting through my pattern options.  It is coming down to the vintage Vogue pattern (circa 1958) or the McCall's (circa 1995).  

I might have some doubt on the pattern I should choose, but there is no doubt about wearing red!  

Monday, 20 June 2011

What to wear... cycling?

New bike-pedestrian route in South Winnipeg
I live in blue jean and tee-shirt country.  However, I have to say that I have noticed some pretty stylish people riding their bikes to work in the morning.

Bike to Work Day 2011 is approaching.  I have to commend the city for promoting cycling as a form of everyday travel. Winnipeg has not been the most bicycle friendly city I have encountered. But I have to admit that the city has embraced this mode of transportation in the past year.

The new bike and pedestrian routes are a welcome addition to the city.  It gives the cyclists a sense of safety that one does not have when riding on the road next to drivers that don't seem to want to share the public space. There are a lot of those kind of drivers in this city.

Life as a cyclist in Toronto seemed a lot safer. Those carefree rides wearing floral Fashion Crime skirts down Queen Street.

So needless to say, I welcome the new bike and pedestrian routes.

But since I am talking about it, aren't they beautiful? And I do admit that riding to my weekly trip to the bakery I do feel a great deal safer.

So, will I be riding my bike to work on Friday?  No. I wish I could be one of those stylish peeps cycling to work. Sadly, there is no safe place that I can confidently lock up my bike.  It doesn't stop me from cycling in my off-work life though.  So what to wear?

I love looking at old bicycling photographs from the turn-of-the-century. The couple on their four-wheeler didn't let cycling stop them from being stylish. And I love that they are wearing hats!

In this 1896 illustration the "winter bicycle girl" sports a fashionable attire including some well-heeled footwear. Why is it that cycling in heels seems to be something exotic or out of the ordinary? Women have been doing it for over a century!

Were they on to something?  

Safety-wise I think they might have been.

Blog writer Constance Winters of Lovely Bicycle! asked readers what they thought about the Mary Poppins Effect.  Yes that Mary Poppins, the character popularized in a series of children's books by Australian born novelist P. L. Travers.

Well, the theory goes that "only a monster" would hurt Mary Poppins and that it explains the different cycling experiences women would have based on her outfit.

Burda Style 7489

Basically, the belief goes women riding their bikes in a dress or skirt are treated nicer by motorists on the road.  Do I think that it is far fetched?  Absolutely not. I've noticed it during my years of cycling.

I might be more comfortable wearing a pair of shorts and my Burda Style tunic but I have always felt safer in a dress.

That works for me since I love wearing dresses and skirts.  But what about men, do they also experience a change in attitude from drivers on the road if they wearing a suit of business attire?  Hmm, I wonder.

What do you think?

Do you believe in the Mary Poppins effect?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Vogue 7836

Vogue 7836 is finished and Mom is smiling.  Yippeee!

Her wish list for a dress was quite simple: loose fitting, with sleeves and pockets.

The Vogue pattern consisted of three pieces the front, back and sleeves.  The back has a centre back zipper and shoulder darts.  The front has bust darts.  I cut out the pockets free hand and made bias tape using the same fabric of the dress.

I did a few alterations to the pattern.  To give her more ease and create an A-line appearance to the dress I repositioned the front when cutting out the fabric.

I laid out the pattern piece on the fold at the neckline and pivoted the bottom hem away from the fold line about a half inch.  It worked!  It gave Mom the loose fitting ease that she wanted.  I also cut out the back of the dress at the same angle as the front. Otherwise that is the only alternation that I made pre-sewing.

At the first fitting, Mom requested that the neckline take on another shape.  She wanted the front neckline lowered.  She wanted it lowered again at the second fitting.  Tough client!  Kidding, Mom.

I didn't take any width off the back neckline or the shoulder seam line.  I just used a dressmaker curve to reshape the front neckline to Mom's desired measurement.

Mom's favourite feature is the pockets.  They were cut with curved bottom edges and placed on an angle.

Would I use the pattern again?  Absolutely!

I had to talk her into the fabric.  It is a 100% Cotton Sateen stretch.  Well, actually she loved the fabric.  She wasn't so convinced on the colour choice.  But now that it is finished she likes it.  I think she looks good.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Vogue 7836

Time to sew something for someone else...

I am using Vogue 7836 "five easy pieces" for the dress pattern. And seriously, it really is an easy pattern, only three pattern pieces!  Front bust darts, back shoulder darts and a zipper is about as challenging as it gets.  I think I can handle this one.

The dress is for my mom who has very simple taste and easy requests, "a dress with sleeves and pockets". Pockets are an easy addition to this basic pattern.

I found this fabulous fabric at Fabricland. It is a yellow background, floral patterned, sateen cotton stretch.  

Monday, 13 June 2011

Vogue 8709.... finally done...

A quick trip to Fabricland for a new set of buttons to finish off Vogue 8709 and it is done.

This Marcy Tilton's Designer Original, will go down as one of my favourite patterns to sew!

I enjoyed the tips and new techniques included in the pattern instructions.  Although, I didn't use the staystitch plus technique for easing the sleeves I am intrigued enough to try it out on a later garment.

I would recommend this pattern without hesitation and look forward to sewing it again.  For certain this pattern gets a 3/3 spools and thread rating!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Vogue 8709.... almost done...

Vogue 8709 Inside back peplum 
 So with the sleeves attached to the bodice I was able to sew the pleated peplum.

The back pleated peplum also extends to the front and front pockets.

I wasn't quite sure how the back pleat would look, but I actually quite like it.  I think it is a nice detail that balances all the draping happening in the front of the jacket.

I found that it was easier to work with if I basted the peplum to the bodice and everything worked out fine.

I did a lot of basting (and hand stitching), and it was all worth it. The pieces fit well if you match the patterns markings with care.  I didn't find any need to clip the corners to make things fit.  

Now to move onto the facing bands.  Well, this is where I goofed and did not pay attention to which of the band pieces would need to be interfaced.

I interfaced the wrong ones. Thank goodness I had extra fabric because it was back to the cutting board for me!
Can you guess which one?  

One of these is not like the other!

Now that that near mishap was taken care of I was able to focus on sewing again.

The front bands fit perfectly and no issues sewing them in place.
Vogue 8709 instructions, illustrations are shaded as right sides
Does something look odd to you in this picture?  For a second, okay maybe more than a second, I thought that I made another error.  On the instruction sheet it looked like I had cut my pieces out the wrong way.  But step #47 set me straight! Luckily, I looked ahead.
Adding a bias tape finish
I used the pattern pieces for the collar from View B and I'm so happy that I did.  It took some time and care to piece it altogether but I have to admit I was quite impressed with the design of it.  Gathers, pleats, and tucks worked well together.

Vogue 8709 bias tape finish
One of the pieces of the collar has the salvage exposed and on the shirt photographed on the pattern envelope.  It does look quite nice.

I chose instead to finish the raw edge with bias tape and I'm happy with the end result.
Vogue 8709 Inside view of right side collar

A little hand stitching to finish off some of the seams...
Vogue 8709 the right side of collar

The other side...

You're going to have to wait to see what the collar looks like tomorrow.  I promise to post a picture as soon as I have the buttons sewn on.
Vintage glass buttons

I thought that these vintage glass buttons would look good with the print.

But then one broke.

Drats!  I only had seven of these buttons, the exact number that I need to finish off the jacket.

So, I'll have to make a run to the fabric supply store after work tomorrow and see what they have in stock.  I need seven 3/4" buttons.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Vogue 8709....

Vogue 8709 Bodice fronts
I started sewing Vogue 8709.  So far I am finding it an interesting pattern as I'm piecing it all together.
Vogue 8709 View B 

I'm making view B with the four piece single layered collar.

The bodice back is cut on the bias which will give it a nice ease.  And you're probably thinking that I made a mistake cutting out the bodice front pieces, but no, I didn't!  It is a design feature that will come together when the collar is applied.

The sleeves are sewn and view B has the traditional men's style cuff and pleat detailing.  And a wide buttoned cuff that I love.

It has been a while since I last sewed a shirt style cuff and it was easy.  Reinforce along the pattern markings, and clip open.  Now you're ready to sew on the placket along the cut edge.  

Right now the sleeves are pinned to the shoulder seams of the bodice until I tackle the project in the morning.

But I am curious... did anyone make this jacket and try easing the cap of the sleeve using the staystitch plus method given in the sewing instructions?

I opted for the double rows of wide stitching to ease the sleeve, old habits die hard I guess?

But I have to admit I am intrigued by this new technique.  I'll have to practice this method and see if it really is an "easier" method that "works better than doing the double row of basting stitches".

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Vintage Patterns...

 Here are a few Vintage finds from my pattern collection.

Vintage Butterick Maternity Pattern circa 1950's.
Even though it is a maternity pattern, I do love the jacket.  I have to give it a try and see if it will work.

Vintage McCall's Pattern circa 1950's. 
I can picture this dress with a decorative metal zipper in the back.   I think the front pockets are just awesome.  Three-quarter sleeves for sure and maybe some adjustment to add a bit more ease in the hip area.

Vintage Hollywood Pattern circa 1940's.
The pleated shorts are just too cute, aren't they?

Vogue 8709 Fabric choice

Well, I've made a fabric decision for Vogue 8709 and have been busy cutting the pattern pieces.  Fourteen pattern pieces!

Okay, I'm really taking a break from cutting.  

A chocolate cupcake and tea break.  

And then I just have three more pattern pieces and the interfacing to cut out.  And then some marking transfers and I'll be all set for some weekend sewing. 

Oh, but back to the fabric choice...

100% lightweight cotton
I hear the kettle whistling... tea time!  But before I go really should share the Chocolate Cupcake recipe since I can't share the cupcake.  They really are de-lish!  

I think the cupcakes are delicious without the icing, but I have included the recipe for the icing too.  I got the recipe from a co-worker and the source states that the it is from the book 500 Cupcakes, published by Sellers Publishing Inc.  

Ultimate Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes (For maximum luxury, top with chocolate heavy cream.)

For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp. ground almonds
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Frosting:
2 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. orange extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  Place 12 baking cups in a muffin pan.  Put the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, or medium bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir until completely melted.  Set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, cream the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and thick.  Gently fold in the melted chocolate and remaining ingredients.  

Spoon the batter into the cups.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. 

To make the frosting, sift the cocoa and confectioners' sugar together into a medium bowl.  Add the cream, vanilla, and orange extract.  Beat until soft, but the cream should still hold its shape.  Spoon over the warm cupcakes.  Store unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 2 days.  

Makes 1 dozen.  

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tip of the Day... Pre-washing

Have you ever purchased or created a garment that you absolutely adored?

You know the kind of garment that makes you feel sweet and the sweetness continues as the compliments come in.  And then you wash it and the most devastating thing that could possibly happen happens.  It shrinks.  Deep breath.

Don't fret, pre-washing your fabric before you cut and sew will prevent this scenario from occurring.  I know the excitement to get to work on a new project but this is one step that you don't want to skip.

You need to consider the type of fabric that you are planning to see and how you plan to care for it.

Cottons, like denim, can be washed in the washing machine and dried in the dryer.  Drying a denim fabric can give it a new softness.

I also find that dark denims tend to bleed their dye sometimes.  Prior to the pre-washing process you can also treat the fabric to prevent this.

Dissolve 1 cup of salt in about 4L of cold water.  Pre-soak your denim for about 45 minutes before pre-washing your fabric.

Still on the topic of preventing dyes from bleeding... I often worry about red dyes.  For this colour, I tend to take a different approach and use vinegar as my secret tool.  I mix 2 cups of regular white vinegar with about 2L water and pre-soak my fabric for about an hour.  Then I can continue with pre-washing my fabric.

Linen fabric I would pre-wash in the washing machine and put into the dryer but I also use one more step.  I gather the fabric and fold it in long lengths matching the salvage edge and I safety pin through all the thicknesses.  This way the fabric does not become tangled during the washing and drying process.  And if you are quick enough to grab it out of the dryer as soon as it stops you will find that the linen fabric will not develop any wrinkles from being left in the warm dryer sitting in a tousled state.    

Silk and other delicate fabrics I would typically hand wash.  I would recommend a gentle laundry detergent like Zero.  And I would hang to dry delicate fabrics or garments.

Wools I would treat completely different.  If you are going to invest in some good quality wool for a winter coat or suit, I would treat it exactly how you would as if you purchased the garment ready-made--Dry-clean it before you proceed to cut it.  

When I was learning to sew it was recommended that pressing your fabric was an alternative to pre-washing.

Well, I'm not really a fan of ironing but seriously it is not the reason that I won't recommend this method.

Past experience has revealed that this is not necessarily a reliable method.  I found that I have avoided disappointment if I take the time and care to pre-treat my fabric of choice.  

Now we're on a road to happy sewing...

Moving on... after a big decision.

I have been thinking about Vogue 8709, a jacket with side pockets and a peplum and sweet collar detailing.  But I'm stuck on what fabric to choose for the project.  

My first choice was this red and white fabric.  It is 100% cotton and it has a medium weight to it, but now I'm not sure. 

I also have a black and white art print in lighter weight 100% cotton .  

I love the print, but is it too much? 

Hmmm, I'm going to have to sleep on this one... 

Monday, 6 June 2011

Colette Patterns

Sencha 1007
Sencha 1007

Crepe 1013
Have you heard of Colette Patterns?

They are a small pattern line out of the United States but with big style!  Their patterns have a vintage vibe going on which we all know I adore.

And the best feature of the website... the models.  Seriously, it is so refreshing to see real-looking models.  No air brushing to edit out the curves.  Curvy women who look great in the clothing that they are modeling.

I can't wait to test out these patterns when they arrive.  I just ordered them.

Oooh, I should mention they have a fabulous how-to page that you might like to check out!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Skirts and Hemlines... oh my!

Photo from
Clements Ribiero Dress

So sew for the past few seasons short skirts and dresses have graced the runways.  But there is a new skirt trend for Spring/Summer 2011... the midi-length.  Oh my!  Does this mean it is time for a wardrobe renovation?
Photo from

Vogue 8637 Marcy Tilton

Vogue 1248
Andrea Katz Objects

Vogue patterns have been right on top of the trend with some new additions for the spring/
summer 2011 catalogue.

The AKO skirt, Vogue 1248, has some interesting details with the shirt sleeve belt tied in a bow and the oversized gathered pockets but the length is what rocks this look!

Vogue 8737
And Marcy Tilton's midi-length skirt, Vogue 8637, has front draping details.

Vogue 8737 made it into my collection of new patterns because of the tee-shirt, but I have to admit that I find the midi-length skirt intriguing.

But what is a gal to do if they don't want to part with a fav and still want to look fashionably fabulous?  

You might want to pick up the latest issue of threads.

Barbara Emadi wrote an informative article and tutorial on how to extend your current wardrobe and sewing patterns to fit into the new hemline trends.

Although I'm not a fan of the contrasting insert near the hemline because of my petite stature and wanting to create a lean taller appearance, Emadi does offer a creative solution to incorporating the new midi-look.

It is worth a read, I will admit that I do like the look of the polka-dot skirt with the curvy extension Emodi added to Butterick 5391. To me, it screams retro rick-rack ribbon trim chic.

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