Tag Archives: dressmaking

Refashioned!

My new nightdress. Formerly a linen shirt belonging to my husband. I’ve been hanging on to the shirt for ages but now seemed like the right time to use it.

The original

I’ve extended it with a leftover piece of linen table cloth. Both fabrics are very soft after long years of laundry. I bought the lace trim to try to tie it all together and make it look more feminine. I’ve replaced the plastic buttons with shell buttons.

I’ve got a fair size collection of shell buttons taken off old clothes, found in charity shops or donated by kind friends.

It’s been an interesting project for my “new” machine

I did French seams to avoid having to start on the zigzag attachment yet. And I put a lot of the trim on by hand because I couldn’t get past the lack of a free arm.

Any advice on how to cope without the free arm please let me know.

Next time’s project has to use the zigzag attachment. It doesn’t have instructions so I’ll need to do some research. Maybe YouTube?

I’m pleased with it though.

Thanks for dropping by.

Enjoy your week

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, recycling, Singer sewing machines, slow fashion, textiles, Thrift, upcycling

This has been my go to skirt whenever we’ve had really good weather.

I made it at the beginning of the summer from most of a batik jellyroll. I bought the jellyroll thinking that it would do for a workshop I was taking but it was not to be, and I was left wondering what to do with it.

There’s a lot of fabric in a jellyroll: a knitting bag for a friend, one of my fabric pots, this skirt and a few scraps.

My other go to skirt this summer has been this lavender 1934 linen one. I love this skirt.

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And talking of the 1930s, Emily Ann is moving along with her 1930s dress and has been investigating laundry and dressmaking techniques from the time. Why not go over and take a look?

Thanks for calling by.

Norma x

18 Comments

September 25, 2016 · 5:25 pm

#OneYearOneOutfit Progress

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OneYearOneOutfit is really underway now I’ve sewn the Merchant & Mills top. It’s a bit dull at the moment because it’s waiting to go in the dye pot for solar dyeing. The mordant was a carton of sour milk and the first dye will be dock leaves unless I spot something better in the meantime.

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The facts :

Fabric : undyed medium-weight Irish linen bought from a re-enactment trader on Ebay.
Thread: linen from the above fabric run through beeswax (bought from a Farmers’ Market). Obviously, it wasn’t possible to use thread like this in a sewing machine.
Seams : backstiched and then hand overcast to finish.
Hems: hemstitched by hand.
Pattern : Merchant & Mills long sleeved Curlew top from their Workbook. Lining omitted.
Next step: the dye pot!

It took me about 8 hours excluding cutting out – I should think 2 hours would be plenty if I were using a sewing machine. I really like the pattern by the way, and will make it up some other way when I get time.

Why am I doing all this?

I’m trying to make an outfit from my own “fibreshed”, which I believe to mean the British Isles.

So far, I’ve managed to get natural Irish linen fabric and very local undyed Welsh woollen fabric but I haven’t been able to buy threads.

For the linen fabric it seemed best to take short lengths from the fabric itself and wax it for smoothness and strength.

For the wool fabric, my generous friend has very kindly offered to spin me some local wool thread – I’ve had a go with her sample and it works well.

Dyes have to be natural and growing in the fibreshed for this project so I’ve opted for hedgerows, fields and gardens around my home village in mid Wales. I’ll probably keep overdyeing the linen top until I’ve got the colours I like.

If you’re interested in the project, take a look at the principles and the participants here.

Enjoy your week.

Norma x

16 Comments

Filed under #1year1outfit, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, sewing, textiles

No pattern tops for starters

Following on from my posting here, I thought I’d show my no pattern tops. They are very good tee shirt replacements for everyday life. This one used 1.5 metres of 1.2m wide fabric. As I’m trying not to save scraps, I’ll make the remainder into one of my fabric pots and some bias binding – both to sell over the summer if I’m lucky.

Me Made May Day 7

A younger me wearing one made from a charity shopped Liberty print skirt

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And the whole collection…

They are all different, but all made by tucking and manipulating fabric to fit my shape. Buttons are my favourite fastenings so they always feature in these tops and dresses.

Odd? Yes, I suppose so, but they can be quite pretty, they are cool to wear and they don’t use much fabric. The dress was made from only 1 metre of 1.5m wide fabric.

Meantime on the 1930s front, I have a blouse I made a while ago which I think will make a good starting point for this:

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Thank you to all those of you who offered sugestions as to where I could find a pattern – I think going through all your suggestions helped me to realise that I actually had something that I could use. I’ll show you soon.

EmilyAnn has some interesting pointers to share on her 1930s dress toile. I am learning a lot from her methods.

And for the #oneyearoneoutfit project, I’ve started sewing the bias Irish linen top. I’ve unpicked some of the threads from the fabric to use as sewing thread as I’ve been unable to source any suitable linen thread. To make it usable I stick to short lengths (about 12 inches)  and pull it through a beeswax block. It seems strong enough. Obviously, handsewing is the only way to do it.

Once I’ve made the top I plan to dye it with plants from my garden (or maybe my neighbours’ fields).

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

15 Comments

Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, sewing, textiles

1930s Sewalong – Please Help Me!

This is the blouse I was planning to sew for my 1930s outfit – minus the scarf bit – that wouldn’t suit the cotton fabric or me.

But I’ve got a problem. I undid the blouse pattern ready to trace it and found I didn’t like it. I just won’t wear it. I know I won’t.

So here’s plan B:

 

I would like to make the “summer coat blouse” from The Needlewoman June 1934 in the same linen as my skirt. But I can’t find a pattern that I can use as a base. Has anyone seen anything that would work, please? I don’t feel confident that I could cut my own pattern so I need a base to work from.

The cotton fabric won’t be wasted, it will be one of the tee shirts seen here.

All help gratefully received.

Thanks

Norma x

PS EmilyAnn can cut her own patterns – see her blog for the wonderful journey from fabric, through drape to pattern.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, sewalongs, sewing, textiles

Working Wardrobe?

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No, not in an office or a shop but muddy work on our plot growing vegetables and mucking out hens.

I wear these tee shirt replacements with hardwearing trousers (usually jeans) often bought from charity shops. Over the years I’ve found that tee shirts are rarely in reasonable condition in charity shops but a small piece of fabric – new or from someone’s discarded stash – will make a good replacement tee shirt.

The photo shows the best ones I have. One or two are made of fabrics that are a bit too stiff and some are very worn and ready to become cleaning cloths.

Mostly they are hidden under jumpers or even a coat so they’re not much seen. If I really like them (and the ones in the photo are all in that category), I will wear them to town a few times first.

As for jeans, I know quite a few of you wouldn’t wear them but I do because what else can hide the dirt so well and not need ironing when they’ve been washed? They’re even better if they are being saved from landfill. Ideal for my working wardrobe.

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while will know that I can’t even let old jeans die completely. Look here and here for some examples.

What’s in your working wardrobe?

25 Comments

Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, jeans, sewing, textiles

1934 Skirt

I’ve finished the 1934 skirt using only 1930s methods. It’s been a fun process and I’d recommend it as a way of relaxing. Definitely slow sewing.

Some 1930s details: the side placket and the waistband

Press studs / snap fasteners were the usual way to fasten a skirt or dress in 1934. Zips were still unusual, at least for home sewers in the UK; only one of my many 1930s sewing books gives any instruction as to how to insert a “slide fastener”.

The waist is finished with Petersham ribbon as instructed both by my pattern and by the various sewing books. The waist edge is turned over the top of the Petersham and the raw edge should be finished with “Prussian binding”. I have no idea what that is, so used a narrow bias binding. You can see from the photograph that it’s a nice finish. I did the waistband by hand – easier than by machine as it didn’t need unpicking afterwards….

I finished all the seams by hand overcasting and sewed the hem by hand too. My 1930s machine is straight stitch only.

What did I enjoy and what worked well?

I like the waist finish very much and would use that again.

I enjoyed the hand overcasting most of the time.

I love turning the wheel of my old Singer. How can it sew so well after 80 years?

I love the pleat. If you have been watching The Durrells on ITV on Sunday evenings you will have seen Mrs Durrell (Keeley Hawes) wearing a skirt with a pleat like mine, but she has one in the back too. It’s not needed for movement but it looks lovely.

What I did not like and what I would do differently

I would stay stitch the waist. One of the books warns you to check the waist measurement as the waist is likely to have stretched. When did stay stitching come in? It’s not in any of my 1930s books.

I would make a button placket rather than the press studs or I might use a zip. I’d stick to the side fastening as I think that looks good.

I will add a back pleat as well as a front pleat just because I liked what I saw on the television.

The next step is the jacket. I don’t wear suits but I think an unstructured jacket would look good with some of my other clothes. I’m going to give myself a break now and pick up the jacket in a week or two.

Meantime I’m going to be looking at this book again and again.

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It has some photos but mostly it has illustrations of 1930s clothes. I just love the illustrations.

EmilyAnn is making progress with her 1930s dress pattern so why not go over and take a look?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, history, sewalongs, sewing, Singer sewing machines, textiles

More of the 1934 Skirt

The skirt’s front pleat makes walking possible but I wasn’t happy with the original design (see here for reasons if you are interested in technical details). Above you can see the inverted pleat I made instead. I looked up pleats in my 1934 (ish) copy of Polkinghorne’s book and this was something they did, so it’s authentic. I’ve sewn it in place with hand topstitching as described in the instructions for this pattern.

I’ve found the process very soothing, turning the handle of my 1930s sewing machine, overcasting the seams by hand to stop them fraying. I’ve got the left side seam and placket to do next. This is very slow but satisfying sewing.

EmilyAnn is making great progress with her 1930s dress. If you’d  like to try making your own pattern, her blog is the one to read.

Carol has some very interesting 1930s photos and sewing details if you like 1930s clothes.

Meanwhile, I have bought this to make the blouse.

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I’ll have to change the neckline because the fabric’s cotton rather than “washing silk” and it won’t drape correctly but it’s definitely a 1930s style novelty print.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

6 Comments

Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, history, sewalongs, sewing, Singer sewing machines, textiles

The 1934 Pattern

The 1934 pattern is too fragile to use; not suprising when it’s  been folded up inside a magazine for 82 years. It has no markings except for notches and darts cut into the pattern pieces. Seam allowances of 1/2 inch are included.

I’ve started with the skirt. It’s a straight skirt with a slight flare towards the bottom but the main reason you can move in it is that there is a pleat in the centre front seam from around knee high.

I copied the pattern on to greaseproof paper and graded it up from the rather slight hip measurements of the original to mine. Plenty of ease allowed; I can always adjust when I’ve tacked the real thing. I’m no expert pattern grader but if you’re interested in trying, I think a skirt is the easiest.

How I grade a skirt:

Don’t alter any centre seams – you’re likely to throw out the grain line and the skirt will never sit correctly. Just increase the side seams equally. So if you need an extra 2 inches, add half an inch at the side seams; that gives you an inch at each side.  Take a look at one of the commercial multi-sized patterns and see how their size variations are done and how they keep the shape- an easy way to learn.

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There are no hip or waist measurements provided with the pattern – the instructions say to pin the pattern pieces together before you start to check the pattern will fit. The rest of the fitting is done after cutting out – I guess even old sheets were valuable in the 1930s and not to be cut up for toiles as I have done.

The main difficulty with the skirt pattern is the pleat in the centre front. The instructions say to press it to one side and that’s all. That’s not enough because the pleat would sag unless sewn in place. Sewing it in place would require a line of stitching showing on the outside but just on one side of the centre seam.

I can find no reference to a single front pleat done this way in 1930s sewing books and I think it would look awful. I hope the 1934 magazine readers were not disappointed in their suit. Maybe they did the same as me: I’ve turned it into an inverted pleat as described in The Art of Needlecraft by RK & MIR Polkinghorne (1934). It works on the toile.

EmilyAnn is sewing 1930s too. Take a look at her pattern – made by draping – here.

Norma x

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, history, sewalongs, sewing, Singer sewing machines, textiles

All about the skirt

Beautiful but rather dull fabric. I bought it because it’s Welsh and feels wonderful. So, how to make it more interesting?

Well, I think the buttons do that; they are shell buttons but with colour. I bought them on a trip to Cardiff last year with this fabric in mind. Yes, it’s been sitting around that long…

Why the binding? I made a mistake when I cut the pattern out and wasn’t able to cut all the pieces side by side. The binding means I don’t need a hem so it’s as long as I really wanted it to be.

I was pleased that the pattern matches all the way around. I read a tip once that you should use the pieces you’ve already cut to cut the rest. Technical details: I cut half of the back and then turned it over to cut the other half. I could have made a full size pattern but this was quicker.

I laid the back next to the place where I wanted to cut the first front and lined up the pattern before cutting. I turned that front over and used it to cut the other front. If you have a commercial pattern there are usually notches to help you line up the pieces – useful for checks too. This pattern is by me, made from tracing around a skirt several years ago: I didn’t bother with notches. I’ve used it many times and in various fabrics and lengths eg. this long black denim version

The lining was left over from making this coat. I bought more than I needed because I liked it so much. I love a purple lining and this one is lovely and soft.

Interfacing: scraps of lightweight cotton fabric.

Binding: leftovers from another project.

Only the fabric was local so I’ve got a way to go before I wear really local clothes but it’s given me something to think about. The fabric was wonderful to work with, it washed beautifully and I only had to buy thread to finish it. I’m looking forward to working with wool fabrics for #oneyearoneoutfit.

When I don’t need to take photos with my phone I’ll show a photo of me wearing it.

Thanks for looking in.

Norma x

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under dressmaking, sewing, textiles