Posts Tagged“sewing”

Ode to Vintage Sewing: Inspiration

Follow sky turtle’s board vintage sewing on Pinterest.

I’m not even sure what makes it so special. Why vintage sewing is so magical and breath-taking.

Maybe it’s the black and white pictures, the perfect hour-glass silhouettes, the feminine lines, or maybe it’s how nicely they fit the women in vintage fashion photography.

Clothes are so affordable now and we’ve become such automated shopping machines, that buying a garment that fits, that’s both durable and well-made is not important anymore.

In September last year I started a clothes shopping fast and five months later I’ve bought: a pair of pants to replace the pair that my mother accidentally burned and fitness gear (a pair of shorts and a t-shirt).

I’ll share more about this soon, but one of the things I’ve realised is how few clothes we really need. I’ve travelled for 3 weeks in December and January, in different climates and I’ve managed with around 12 pieces. I washed t-shirts overnight when I needed to, I mixed and matched and in general I was free to enjoy my holidays and not worry about what I’ll wear (my secret was to take everything I really loved with me:).

One of my resolutions this year is to sew less. To spend more time drawing clothes, thinking about garments I would like to sew and less time sewing. I want to create garments I will love. And wear and wear and wear.

Vintage fashion is one of my new sources of inspiration. Hope you like the Board 🙂



Couture Sewing Techniques: How to Sew a Banded V-Neck

couture sewing tips

So you want to make your handmade clothes flawless. You buy the good fabric, the best thread, you invest time and hope to make clothes that will fit and last forever.

If making clothes that look as good on the wrong side as they do on the good side is your things, then you’ll find this small couture sewing guide really useful.

Want to know the secret of a perfectly sewn banded v-neck on a knit fabric?

  1. Interface and staystich your neckline
  2. To cut your neckband, measure the garment’s neckline, then ad 10 cm (4 in)
  3. Fold and press the neckband, overlock for a tidy finish.
  4. Stitch the band in place, stop a few cm before the end of the V neck, then overlap the ends.
  5. Trim the neckband and topstitch the neckline
  6. And Voila! a beautiful, couture banded v-neck.

Look at the step by step instructions below:

Holiday Sewing: 5 Beautiful Linen Aprons

Do you cook? I do. Does your kitchen get very messy when you do? I do. Do you wear an apron? Me neither.

I always thought there was something too cute about them. Too housewivey. Until I saw a coffee barrista sipping their slow made brew, dressed up in a chambray shirt and covered with a pale olive green linen apron.

Aprons can be beautiful, especially when they are at work.

Here are Jones and Didier Murat, a beautiful couple who run Vergennes Laundry, via Remodelista.


The next two aprons are made of linen and can be found at Shop Fog Linen. The cool thing about linen is that is becomes softer with every wash, but if you like the crisp look you will have to iron it after each wash, otherwise it will look like in the photo above.

blue grey garcon apron

full apron navy blue

Another nice full apron is this one from More & Co. It’s made in softer striped linen and has one small pocket.

linen apron 1

In case you were wondering how difficult it is to make the pattern for one, this apron from Mill explains it all:


Do you have some linen or cotton around? Don’t you feel like giving your cooking a little bit of style?


How to Draft A Fitting Back Bodice Block

I’ve talked about pattern blocks and how they can make pattern making easier by offering a basic template to work on. Instead of buying pre-drafted pattern blocks I decided to make my own. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially if you have a copy of Helen Joseph Armstrong’s Pattern Making for Fashion Design.

The instructions are clear and to the point. The illustrations in this post are taken from this book.

For the front bodice check out my previous post, Sewing Course Lesson 2 – How To Make a Basic Bodice Block.

Step 1

How to Draft A Fitting Back Bodice Block

Starting from the left side of your paper, draw a line AB with the same length as your full length measurement (check out this post if you’re not sure which measurements you have to take).
Then draw a line AC equal to your across the shoulder measurement. Square down from C 3 inches.
Draw a line BD measuring the same as your center back length, then square out 4 inches from this point
Draw BE, which is equal to your back arc + 3/4 inch. From E square up a few inches.

Step 2


Draw AF, which is your back neck measurement and add 1/8 inch so the bodice won’t feel to tight around your neck.
Draw BG, which is the shoulder slope measurement and add a 1/8 inch
Daw FH, which is your shoulder length + 1/2 inch. Square down from F to D
BI is your dart placement and BJ is your waist arc, plus dart intake of 1 1/2 inches, plus another 1/4 inch for ease.
IK is your dart intake measurement.

Step 3

To get JM square down 3/16 inch
MN is your side length measurement
To get LO square up from L 1 inch less than MN
Draw the fart legs from O and then draw lines from K to M and from B to I.
Mark half of GH to create a point P
Draw a 3 inch line PQ in the direction of the O point
PR measures 1/4 inch. Draw a dart leg from Q and connect to F. Mark 1/4 inch from P and draw the other dart leg.
DS is 1/4 of DB
ST is your across back measurement with a 1/4 inch added for ease.
Draw the armhole and the neckline with a French Curve.

Even though this looks a little complicated, once you have the measurements drawing the lines is pretty straightforward.

This bodice has a vintage vibe: super slim waist, (almost) pointy bust, fits at the true waist. It’s also interesting because those back darts make it very stylish. I think I could use this bodice as it is to make a fitted dress, I made the bodice our of fabric to see how it fits, but I am not sure I want a dress that’s that form fitting at the moment.

I will update this post when I write more about the adjustments I made to it.

Do you draft your own patterns? Any tips?

On Sewing with a Time Limit and the Beautiful Sewers of the British Bee


Have you watched The Great British Sewing Bee? I have just watched the second episode and I’m inspired to sew more and learn more.

The contestants are amazing. I don’t know how they could find so many beautiful and talented people who sew so well.

I think the challenges in the show are difficult because of the time limit. This can changes a person’s way of sewing completely. I am a rush sewer (not that I watched the show I know I can say that without thinking people thinking I am a hole in the pavement:) so I think I could have done well in some of the chalenges, especially the 1 hour ones. But for people who take their time (something I am trying to learn), having a time limit might make sewing very stressful. And many of us sew because we like to, not because we have to.

I’ll go back to how amazing these people are. I don’t even know if I could ever be as good and as methodical as Ann or as neat as Lauren. Stuart is fantastic; he’s witty and funny and such a quick learner, I think. Tilly is great too. I can’t believe she’s only been sewing for a couple of years, I didn’t know that. I really like her approach to pattern making, to construction, to sewing in general. She fits sewing to her purpose and her technique with her personality. I think she would have done much better if she was given more time!

My favorite sewer is Mark though. He seems like such a nice person, I really like his style and he seems to have a nice family as well. His costumes are exquisite, they must require a lot of work, lots of time and lot of attention to detail, which is something the judges have said he was lacking. I disagree. It’s just the time limit. And the types of garments that he has to sew. Why would Mark need to sew a skirt? I don’t know how to make men trousers, but I’ve made trousers before and they are pretty similar when it comes to pattern, construction and fitting issues.

What do you think? Have you watched any of the sewing challenges?

Those Clothes We Love to Hate


Have you ever spotted a dress, a coat, a jacket, what have you, loved it, had to have it, made it (or bought it), only to realize there is something terribly wrong with it, that will never allow you to wear it happily?

Maybe it’s too transparent, or maybe it clings too much, maybe it wrinkles like crazy, or maybe it makes your bottom look fat and your legs short. You love it, you hate it.

What do you do? Do you zip and bare? Do you keep it “just in case”? Do you give it away without thinking twice?

Here’s my list of unbearable discoveries made about garments I otherwise love:

  • The length of the dress is perfect, but people can see your underwear if you walk too fast – do you wear fancy knickers and walk like a lady?
  • The fabric is beautiful and itchy – is there a magic softener?
  • The shirt is fantastic, but it wrinkles horribly the moment you put your bag on your shoulder – do you wear a clutch and try not to move too much all day?
  • The pants are great, until you wash them the 15th time and they lose their perkiness – can they be saved?
  • Everything is perfect, except it makes me look 3 sizes bigger – should this matter?

What about you? Do you have a love-hate relationship with the clothes you make? What annoys you? How do you deal with it?

How to Get Perfect Darts with Tailor Tacks

This week I learned something quite cool: using tailor tacks for darts. I don’t know why I never put any attention into this previously, but it’s quite a time saver, you get perfect darts and there’s no mess or unhappy after-washing incidents.

First insert the needle once through both layers of fabric. This is a skirt dart, but a bust dart works the same.

taylor tacks 1

Then slightly open the two layers, making sure the thread is long enough to cut.

taylor tacks 2

And snip, making sure you left the threads a bit longer, so they don’t get fished out when you move the fabric.

taylor tacks 3

Another thing I mark on the fabric are the dart legs. You can mark this with tailor chalk or washable marker, but I just create small snips at the same time as I cut the fabric from the pattern.

taylor tacks 4

Now all you need to do is match the snips and create a triangle with your tailor tack (that pink thread at the end of the triangle)

taylor tacks 5

You then sew the dart, making sure to sew a few stitches backward when you start and end your line. Some experienced sewists say you shouldn’t backstitch at the end of the dart. You can simply tie the threads at the end, but I do this when the fabric is crisper and I know the pleats are not going to be pulled to much, thus they will not show on the right side of the fabric.

taylor tacks 6

Just remove the tailor tack and here you go: your perfect dart.

taylor tacks 7

Now press and continue with the next steps of your project.

Do you have a different way of getting perfect darts? Do share 🙂

A Cute Vintage Gathered Yoke Blouse

This is another idea from ”Precision draping; a simple method for developing designing talent” by Nelle L. Weymouth.

And it seems so easy to make also: just cut a (sort of) diamond shape above the bust, then slash and spread the remaining part of the bodice to create pleats. Then sew back together.

I would work with a relaxed version of the bodice for this. The bodice I made with this method comes out very fitted. For this blouse I would just grade it to a bigger size so the blouse has some movement. And it’s easier to take in then release a garment anyway 😛

This is a very similar garment (image from here), with long sleeves, a shirt collar and made in black silk.

Various Vintage Necklines and How to Draft Them

Happy New Year! May 2013 bring you many new sewing ideas and lots of hours of sewing fun.

One of the books I started the year with was “Precision draping; a simple method for developing designing talent” by Nelle L. Weymouth. Published in 1889, this is a lovely book; everything is so well explained and it just makes pattern drafting seem so easy! I got to this book via The Perfect Nose, who posts lots of vintage goodies as well as marvelous sewing projects of her own.

One of the things that I sketched into my notebook for future reference were the necklines and how to design facings. My favourite were the sweetheart neckline, the triangular keyhole neckline and the peter pan collar, both the rounded and the pointed version.

The full lesson on neckline facings can be found here and these are the drawn notes I took while reading. Drawing helps me both remember notions I would like to experiment with and understand better what it is to be done. Just don’t get to bored by the repetitive busty lady shown below.

1. The Sweetheart Neckline
A rounded and rather modest sweetheart neckline is shown here, but you can make it as generous or as square as you like it.

The Sweetheart Neckline

2. The Keyhole Neckline.
A triangular shape is shown here but the same can be done with an oval shape.

The Keyhole Neckline

3. The Peter Pan Collar
The Peter Pan collar has been getting a lot of attention lately and I’ve seen many tutorials and even made my own following the pattern of a blouse I have. This all seems silly when you notice how simple it actually is to draft. If only I had pictured it like this 6 months ago.

The Peter Pan Collar

4. The Pointed Peter Pan Collar
Another reason why I am such a sucker for sewing books is learning the names of things. And then calling them by their names, dammit 🙂 This is such a pretty collar; did you know it was called a pointed peter pan? How do you call it?

The Pointed Peter Pan Collar

Hope this sounds at least 25% as exciting as it does to me and if not, well, I expect you to write about it in the comments section 🙂 I’d rather be told when I am boring than yap yap yap alone.