Tag Archives: vintage-inspired

speaking of Spring hats & cleaning

Finished the first bit of the hat for my friend who’s out of town. Then decided to start me summer hat as it’ll be needed eventually.

Making a bit of headway in organising a new sewing space, and am taking part in the Spring Clean Your Sewing Room that Hannah Smith is hosting over on her blog, made with hugs and kisses.

spring-clean-your-sewing-space-big-buttonAm now taking photos of all patterns, as Great Friend Karen’s doing, and will make notes in somethingerother to help keep track of what’s what. Would you believe all my patterns are in 2 small file boxes?! Am trying to use more of them, not just collect & gaze wistfully.

The fabric stash, which is currently in 3 humongous plastic tubs, may continue in them, at least whilst in this teeny place. Am slowly collecting all the bits & bobs scattered hither & yon and putting them near/on/under the new table upon which my sewing machine & serger will sit.

As you can see, the sewing machine’s already there. Uhm ~ just realized the big red lamp can now be put sewing tablethere instead of a corner of the keyboard… and have brought out the few sewing books I moved. There’s sew much online (sorry, couldn’t resist) that many things seemed redundant as I was packing up to move. Sew changes have been made since last night…

getting back to navy rayon


Remember it? Slow going, but I’m blaming it on the weather. (smug grin)

Snow on Monday and last week’s cold weather cooled my sewing ardor, pun intended. But I have managed to stay-stitch/zigzag all the edges, and am thinking about French seams when it warms up a bit.

Bulbs in the village are peeping out in exposed areas, as you can see below.

still stalling…

can't help myself - insanity reigned when i couldn't resist this slightly vintage piece!
can’t help myself – insanity reigned when i couldn’t resist this slightly vintage piece!

Last week I had an opportunity to get gussied up a bit, and literally dug out this pin to wear with a scarf.  Isn’t it wonderfully tacky?!  It glitters like $1,000 bucks, despite missing stones. Don’t mind – wear it anyway.

Have another outing this week, and am tempted to wear it again.  But also have a store-bought (discount) dark green blouse that I glitzed up with these buttons.  Can wear either the blouse or the pin, but not both.

As it was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, I  had an even gaudier pin to wear.

Ain’t bling fun sometimes?  Lol!


I think it all stated while I was watching a recent (relatively) Poiret, “Cat Among the Pigeons.”  It begins with a close-up floor shot of a woman walking in a pair of what I call Spanish heels.

I absolutely a-d-o-r-e the shape.  And have several pair.  🙂

Later there was a scene with the new secretary.  Instant Pause while I went went gaga over the blouse fabric.  Can you be-ieve that print??? And it’s greeen, too.

Now fast forward to the discovery of that box of sewing goodies. It contained another rayon fabric that immediately reminded me of the Poiret blouse.

While not too much like the blouse fabric (read more normal), it is a greeny teal shade.  Just might get made into a similar blouse, once I locate a pattern.  Summer is a-comin’ in, so would want short sleeves, lowered, but still with a bow, neck. Now where have I seen just that pattern…

little navy rayon

rayon remnant reminiscent of the 30s
rayon remnant reminiscent of the 30s

Picked this up as a remnant for very little dosh, and immediately cut it out. Then let it age for several months… a number of months. But we’ve all done that!  (Haven’t we?)

The rayon is what I’d call a medium weight, and I decided to try out the slip part of  Vogue 1103. Don’t remember why I thought of that at the time, but now am thinking nice little summer nightgown, or house dress.  Definitely too low to wear comfortably anywhere but in private. Tut-tut! The fabric irons beautifully, washes & feels ditto. Reminiscent of a 30’s pattern, don’cha think?

thought a close-up of that pattern might be nice
thought a close-up of that pattern might be nice

It was on the top of the excavated box from the other day, along with thread, and assorted other goodies.  Pressed all the wrinkled pattern pieces and fabric into loveliness, and realized everything’s cut on the bias. So it stretches, and doesn’t ravel.

Only 2 pattern pieces – front & back – and a few self-fabric bias strips for arms and neckline. Has 2 bust darts, which were designed out of clothes round about the 1980’s. In my book, that makes it retro. Guess I thought it might need a bit of elastic to fit properly, as I’ve made meself a note to use clear elastic if necessary.

here's the drawing, from Vogue's web site ~ thank you, Vogue!
here’s the drawing, from Vogue’s web site ~ thank you, Vogue!

Wouldn’t it look nice with red binding, though… but don’t have any, and am too busy to go out and get some!

This was cut out before I had my nifty pinking sheers, but that bias cut stopped the raveling, even with all the handling. Guess if I were really doing the right thing, I’d French seam the sides. But bias, at least this bias, stretches too easily. Am hoping this will be a quick and easy project.

Hope those aren’t famous last words.  😉

tea dying

IMG_1835If you feel white isn’t for you, but you have a gorgeous fabric in white/with white background/with white in a pattern, think about tea dying your fabric.

Important!  Be sure you can put your fabric in hot water.  Cottons get best results.

I’ve done this many times, when I wanted something more vintage-looking, or just wanted to tone down a too exuberant pattern.

Important!   Try this with a small scrap of fabric first, so you can judge how strong to brew the tea, how long to leave fabric in the hot tea, if there’s any shrinkage, and what it’ll look like when dry.  Fabric colors do look different when dry!

Here’s a large bathroom project I finally completed about 3 years ago.  The pattern was too bright for my purposes – a shower curtain (below) & under-sink storage area curtain (top).  (In these photos, the background looks white, but it’s not!)  Finally, after looking at the fabric for at least a year, I was looking through a magazine one day & it hit me: The problem with the fabric was it was too darn bright.
So I tested a strip of it with some tea and it came out exactly as I’d hoped.  Hurray!

However… with something using this amount of fabric I couldn’t do my usual tea method.  I cheated.  I found some brown Rit dye and put a cap full in the washer with the fabric.  Perfect!

Then I set the dye by pouring in some white vinegar in the final rinse water.  (Never seen any measurement for how much vinegar to use.)  Vinegar’s always worked for me, and is a method I’ve been told and read about forever.

Incidentally, I used tea & vinegar several years ago on some smaller projects.  They’ve never run or faded, and I wash them in the washer with regular setting.

So remember to have fun with your tea dying, and be sure to have some white vinegar around to set it once you’ve got what you want.

any black tea will do, and any white vinegar

 Added later …

Because I did this project 3 years ago, I don’t have a before photo of the fabric. Instead I just now took a photo of a bit of the fabric combined with a white tissue, so you can tell the difference in background colour of the fabric.  Hope it helps explain the subtlty I was trying for.

top is white tissue, bottom is tea dyed fabric
top is white tissue, bottom is tea dyed fabric

crocheted winter hat

can you see the slight pinwheel design in the top?
can you see the slight pinwheel design in the top?

For once I found a crochet pattern easy enough to attempt.  Am pleased meself took time to rip out until the subtle design appeared correctly. Sorry I didn’t make note of the pattern or designer’s name.  Might be local as I didn’t find anything when I searched for the name back in November (when I was planning this slightly delayed post).

Made it bigger, as yarn was in the stash, and knew I wanted to be able to pull it down over my ears when it’s really cold.  Content of yarn is 50% cotton, 50% rayon, so it’s very soft and has a slight sheen.

area on sides with elastic insertion, a double crochet pattern section
area on sides with elastic insertion, a double crochet pattern section

Threaded some narrow elastic through the sections to check and see if my idea was totally crackers, then sewed some ribbon onto the elastic & started threading it through.  (above)

Not quite completed, but wanted to get something out to indicate I did do stuff even if I wasn’t posting… Also kept up reading everyone else’s blogs, just didn’t have time to reply. Apologies to all!

a december project

after wearing several times without the red button, decided to add it... just cause red's so nice!
after wearing several times without the red button, decided to add it… just cause red’s so nice!

Apologies for the delay in reporting my experiment with a zippered hoodie sweatshirt.  I wanted to change the overall effect from casual to something more feminine.  Hm… tried out some lace and crochet work.  A piece that seemed just right had tiny stains that wouldn’t bleach out.   Buttons might hid the stains.

You know I  couldn’t resist that combination!

The sweatshirt fabric was too thick to sew comfortably by hand.  Had to use lots of very short straight stitches, with the needle stopping in the down position so everything could be shifted around the circle.  Actually, that didn’t get done too accurately, so button placement came to the rescue!  Then I got out the pliers to help get the needle through the fabric enough times to sew on the buttons.

Some buttons flop around a bit because they’re shank buttons, but I don’t mind.

All that’s needed now is an idea for replacing the frayed ribbed cuffs.  Suggestions?

bits n bobs

Lady Cora's mum from ITV.com Photo Gallery
Lady Cora’s mum from ITV.com Photo Gallery

Have been in alternatively quite different states of mind lately, ogling through the Simplicity Sewing Books received in the mail (more about them later), trying to think 20s instead of 30s a la Downton, and discovering in the light of day that the 2 buttons for the transitional green skirt (currently in the wash before final elastic-waist fitting) don’t match after all.
So will give it all a go, and get it out of me system…

Transitional skirt + button = NOT!
Transitional skirt + button = NOT!

Transitional green skirt.  Well, that photo says it all.  Off the carefully sewn 2 buttons will come, and we’re down to a plain dark green skirt.  Could be worse.  At this point, after all the pains from cutting to seam binding to matching thread for top stitching, guess I’m just grateful to have it wearable.  We need work horses as well as confetti pieces.   😉

Downton Abbey-inspired.  Although we won’t have Downton until 2013, we’ll be hearing and seeing a lot before then.  Meanwhile, inspired by that sweeping arm of Lady Cora’s mum as she arrives at Downton and  descends from her limo, I might have discovered what to do with a bit of stash from me golden years in California.

stash velour stretches...
stash velour stretches…

Only sticky wicket is the fabric is velour, with a lot of lengthwise stretch.  Will need to back it with something to stop gravity, and curtail the too slippery wrong side.  Perhaps wool + interfacing.  This will require some thought, but might be sorted by the time Downton rolls across the pond come January.  Am currently thinking the tunic from Folkwear #264 Monte Carlo Dress

Simplicity Sewing Books.  Decided to use Amazon to purchase copies of the 1930, 1940, and 1950 editions of these, and compare them.  Have 20s & 30s thus far.  It’s been so great to read them, with 30s including a great section on godets, which the 40s doesn’t mention.

It’s also been tremendous because I’m reminded of how I learned to sew a home in the early 60s.  We didn’t have many zippers around, so most of the skirts that got made by any of us had plackets and poppers for closure.

Belt-making kits were unheard of in our house!  We used a length of interfaced fabric, or the stiffer belt interfacing if there was any about, and maybe an old buckle.  As I recall, sometimes the buckle was the problem — no way to fasten it, so it became more of a sash.  he-he!

Toodles, possums!