Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween all! This year instead of a full blown costume, I went for a 1950s Halloween themed dress instead. Much easier and more comfortable!

Tada! I used a TNT shirtwaist dress pattern for an easy project.

I used Butterick 8078 and a novelty print quilting cotton with tiny potion bottles on it.

It was really fun to wear at my church's Harvest Party. The weather was quite chilly, so I paired it with leggings and gray boots.

I was on chili serving duty so here's a great action shot. It was fun standing next to such a cool pot all day in my potion dress.

What did you wear for Halloween this year?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Youtube: Snoods for Short Fine Hair

Snoods are a great easy option for vintage styles. Here's my fix for ladies with short fine hair who suffer from empty snoods!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Make It Work

Moving will make you think about a lot of things and one of those is why do I have all of this stuff!?!?! So I've been really thinking about my wardrobe to slim it down a bit.

This chartreuse dress is one that may be on the chopping block.

Strangely enough, it's not the color that kills it for me. I like chartreuse and I think it looks pretty good on me.

The bodice never quite fit well. The design didn't lend itself to an FBA and I'm not sure I made good decisions on how to approach it.

Plus I lined it in white which peaks out a lot. :(

So I threw my favorite cardigan over it and voila! Looks great!

So I think this dress will go back in the keep pile and I'll work on some other outfits with it.

How do you make not quite perfect dresses work?

Friday, October 25, 2013

We've moved!

The mister and I (and the birds!) have been moving all week but thanks to the magic of scheduled postings, I was able to keep blogging through it all. We're still working on getting everything set up and all of the kinks worked out but I thought I'd share a bit about the building's history! It was originally a YMCA and actually the back part of the building still is a YMCA but most of it has been converted into apartments. It was built in 1929 and great care was taken when designing the apartments to keep some of the great original details like crown molding and original flooring. Some of the apartments have really unique features due to the historic nature of the building.

And early snap shot of the exterior.

The original lobby with some guests.

Part of the courtyard. It seriously looks like the inside of an Italian villa in there!

I just adore the style of the building!

Do you live in a historic home?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beginner's Guide to Vintage Patterns: Part 3 Care and Keeping of Patterns

Vintage patterns can be in quite delicate condition so it's important to take the proper care so they don't get damaged.

Whenever, I first get a pattern I always take everything out and check to see if all of the pieces are there. It's also a great time to take a peak at the instructions and look at how the dress is constructed. Now, I personally don't like to put the pattern back in the envelope since I often further damage the envelope when stuffing the pieces again.

If any of the pieces are crumpled, flatten them out gently. I have heard that ironing on low heat with no steam can help particularly wrinkly pieces. To keep all of the pieces together, I put them in a clear plastic bag. If the pattern did not arrive in a bag, I use gallon sized zip lock bags. Comic book protective sleeves also work well.

When I go to use a pattern, I trace it onto sheets of tracing paper. You can get them in the drawing sections of craft stores. The pieces are too small for some things so I tape them together with scotch tape. This keeps you from damaging the pieces while cutting and is perfect if you need to make any pattern adjustments such as an FBA. If you have an unprinted pattern, take this opportunity to translated into printed directions.

I also photo copy the pattern cover to stick in a separate zip lock bag. It's also a good idea to photo copy the instructions, but since they are in a rather awkward size for home copiers, I usually skip this step unless the instructions are in particularly bad condition. (Shhh! Don't tell!)

Always store your vintage patterns in a cool, dry environment. I have some vintage pattern storage boxes that work great for vintage patterns. I also have one drawer of a plastic organizer full of patterns plus a second drawer for all of the traced copies. Comic book storage boxes are also a nice option.

It is also important to store your patterns away from other vintage and antique things like lace and linens since they can spread different kinds of molds to each other.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Votes Are In

You all voted and here's what I wore to the date night dinner and a movie!

The green dress won by a lot-about double the votes of any other dress.

And I really love this dress too so I was quite happy it won.

To combat any potential Christmas-iness I stuck with black accessories.

I also went with coral lipstick and blue earrings with gold flecks that sort of read greenish from further away.

I've been crazy busy with school lately so it was nice to have a night out.

And yay for a good hair day.

Thanks all for participating in my date night dress decision! I had fun. Should we do it again sometime?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another Day at the Faire

Unseasonably warm weather here in Ohio threw out my plans to wear my court dress this weekend, so lower class it was!

Love wearing this dress!

It's so comfortable to wear. and the linen is a great midweather fabric.

But it did get rather hot, so for much of the day, I wore the skirt tucked back into my belt.

It really helped cool me off and give better air flow. Plus I got to show off my petticoat.

 Faire Shopping!

I picked up this pretty necklace at the faire. It's so hard to find even vaguely period correct jewelry at the faire. I was looking for something gold tones with non-faceted stones. Success! Plus it matches my court dress.

I also picked up a copy of The Tudor Tailor! Can't wait to start making things from this book.

Huzzah for the faire!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beginner's Guide to Vintage Patterns: Part 2 Sizing

If you missed part 1 on where to find vintage patterns, check it out here.

One intimidating thing about vintage patterns is that the sizing is different than modern sizing. So let's see how to determine what size you are in vintage patterns!

Vintage patterns are sold normal sounding sizes like 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 but they are no where near the modern sizes of the same number! Always go by the actual measurements listed on the pattern. While sizes did shift around a bit over the decades a general misses sizing goes like this:

10-28" bust
12-30" bust
14-32" bust
16-34" bust
18-36" bust
20-38" bust

Plus sizes are given by bust size so a size 40 is a 40" bust, etc. You may also see half sizes which are the odd numbered bust size and usually have larger waists than the corresponding whole sizes. Always go by the actual measurements though as there were not set industry standards for sizing and they vary by decade.

Now that we've got vintage sizing all figured out, let's see how to figure out what size you are!

Vintage patterns (and indeed most modern patterns) are drafted for a B cup. So if you are a B cup, just measure yourself around the widest part of your bust and match that to the bust size on the pattern.

If you don't happen to be a B cup, never fear! You'll need a simple pattern adjustment to get a proper fit. A cups will need a Small Bust Adjustment (SBA) and C and larger cups need a Full Bust Adjustment (FAB). (Excellent tutorial from Colette Patterns here) To find your vintage size, measure your high bust which is under your arms and over your bust, catching as little bust tissue as possible. Use this number to determine your vintage size.

For example, my bust measurement is 37". My high bust measurement is 33". Since I fall between 32" and 34", I can use either size as my base pattern. Or a 33" if I can find it. They end up being super tiny in the waist and hips but fit in the shoulders. Shoulders are a hard area to find so that's a good place to have fit right out of the package.

So, if I use an 32" bust pattern, it comes 32"-26"-35". I want my waist to end up at 30" so I'll need to add 4" to the waist. A 0.5" FBA adds 1" to the waist and hip. The last 3" I'll split between the 2 side seams. Each seam has two pieces so I'll add evenly to the four edges. Each piece will get 3/4" added to it. Don't forget to add to the waist of the skirt too! A usually add 1/2" to the center front seam on the skirt to match up the added waist line of the top from the FBA. Do the same process with the hips for a fitted or a line skirt. Full skirts are usually good to go.

Needless to say, I trace all of my vintage patterns onto tracing paper and make these adjustments to the traced copy.

Ok, so what if you fall in love with a pattern that is not your size? Or what if you're size isn't widely available in vintage patterns?

Don't fret! Vintage patterns can be resized using a process called grading! It's more work but really you get used to incorporating these pattern adjustments into your sewing process. Casey of Elegant Musings has an excellent series on pattern grading. Check it out: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Youtube: Sleeping in Pin Curls

One big part of the learning curve of pin curling for me was figuring out how to sleep in them! The bobby pins poke you all night and some of the curls have the nerve to fall out while you sleep. Here are some of my tips and tricks for sleeping in pin curls.

If you've not yet voted for my Friday date night outfit, you can still vote through Thursday night!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

HSF: 19 and 20 Catch Up

I'm a bit behind on finishing and documenting some Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges so let's get caught up!

The Challenge: #19 Wood, Metal, Bone

Fabric: 3.5 yds wool flannel, 0.5 yds cotton voile for lining, 1 yd cotton twill for interfacing, 0.5 yd mystery wool fabric for guards

Pattern: Self drafted from tutorial on

Year: 1570s ish

Notions: 4 steel bones, 2 plastic bones, ribbon for lacing

How historically accurate is it? As far as materials go, linen lining would have been more accurate and I should have completely lined the kirtle and not just the bodice but I was going for cheap on the parts you couldn't see. I handsewed almost the entire gown using the tutorials here and here. The only things I sewed by machine are the boning channels and one side of the guard and one side of the skirt facing. So yay for historical accuracy on the construction!

I think that for the next go around, I'll hand sew the bodice only and do the skirt by machine. I really like they ways the bodice went together and how the hand sewn eyelets looked but the skirt was loooooong and boring.

I really like the shape it gives me with just 6 bones! Eeep! And it's so comfy to wear! I plan on wearing it under my court dress instead of a corset when it's cold.

Hours to complete: I lost track somewhere around 30 so I'll say about 40

First worn: October '13 to the Ohio Renaissance Festival

Total cost: $30

The Challenge: Outer Wear

Fabric: cotton voile and faux fur

Pattern: self-drafted

Year: 1570s

Notions: none

How historically accurate is it? I did find some evidence of fur lined parlets in portraits so it's good in theory. Real fur and wool would have been much more accurate but I wanted to do a quick, stash busting project. It does keep me quite warm so I'll call it a success.

Hours to complete: 2

First worn: September '13

Total cost: all stash so free :)

Fur! Woot woot!

I'm a bad blogger who didn't do a dress diary but here's some in progress shots of the kirtle.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Vintage Patterns: Part 1 Shopping

Entering the world of sewing with vintage patterns can be quite intimidating whether your a seasoned seamstress or getting into sewing for the first time! Today's post will talk about one of my favorite parts in the sewing process-shopping!

There are many places you can find vintage patterns both online or in person.

1. Yard Sales/ Estate Sales/Thrift Stores

Despite how popular vintage sewing patterns have become, there are still people who don't know what they have so good deals can be found at these places! But you will have to do some digging. Mostly I have found that this category yields mostly 70s and 80s patterns with the occasional 60s jem mixed in. Always keep your eye out though! I found this great 40s jacket interfacing at a thrift store. Be on the look out for sewing notions too!

2. Antique Malls/Vintage Stores

These places have a much higher concentration of vintage pretties, but you usually have to pay for it. Like with the first category, I've found that the 40s and 50s patterns are extremely scarce still with 60s onward being easy to find but investigate your area for yourself. Different parts of the country will have different things. If you area is lacking, try to convince your family to let you sneak off to an antique mall on your next vacation. Don't forget to look for basics. A great pencil skirt pattern is great whether it's from the 40s, 80s or modern!

3. Etsy

I get most of my vintage patterns on There are loads of patterns in one easy location. The price on etsy patterns can be high but deals can still be found! I did a whole post way back on shopping on etsy. (It's more geared towards shopping for vintage clothing but a lot can be applied to pattern shopping too.)

I personally don't like paying more than $10 for a pattern. Maybe $15 if I really like it. So I generally search for patterns and sort by lowest price first. You do have to sort through lots of children's and men's patterns first using this method but there are gems hidden too! The other thing I do is set a price limit to stop at. Then I don't even see any of those pricey patterns! Sometimes if I'm looking for something super specific, I'll break this pattern and sort by relevancy but I do try to keep my favorites full of cheap vintage patterns.

4. Ebay

I don't particularly like ebay. The auction style makes me feel pressured to buy on the spot and I much prefer to leisurely ponder patterns and then purchase when I have the money. But there are deals to be found on ebay. You can also find lots on ebay.

5. Other Online Vendors

Some other online vendors have stand alone websites where you can find vintage patterns for sale. I don't use these too often because they tend to have higher prices and less selection than etsy. However, if you can catch a sale, then you can get some good deals. These patterns as well as last week's 40s pattern haul came from Vintage Martini closeout pattern sale which is still ongoing. (They're stopping selling patterns.)

Next up, how to determine your size in vintage patterns and what to do if you find one you love that's not your size.