Tag Archives: vintage

faffing about ~ buttons, again

Dear friend Sewin Love UK, my secret swap mate, has sent Real Vintage Buttons!  (The beautiful lampwork beads you’ll see glimpses of are mostly on my facebook, so I can concentrate on buttons here.)

As she explains on her facebook page, these came from a good friend who tramped through an old falling down warehouse in Malta. Isn’t Sewin Love generous?! These are so special to her, because of her friendship with the discoverer, yet she parted with some to send me.  That’s a special lady, and am so grateful we “met” through a swap.

Here’s some of the detail about these specific buttons, starting with the green buttons, of course!

  • green embossed w/gold were made in England c 1940s
  • green w/gold outline were made in Italy c 1930s
  • red buttons were all made in England c. 1930s
  • silver buttons were made in England c. 1940s

I was surprised at the silver, which are a metal (nickel or aluminium?), being manufactured in England in 1940s, because I’ve read of the extreme shortages they had, and continued to have, until almost 1960.  During the war years all metals went into manufacturing war implements.  But afterwards I’m not sure, not having read about that.  I asked Samantha, and she, bless her, has contacted the V&A Museum!   Do any of you, Dear Readers, know any more about the manufacture of buttons in England in the 1940s?  If you do, please share!

we who love buttons are not alone

I really did a lot of faffing about last night, but found out some interesting things. Did you know…

want some for yourself?   november spitalfields!

Sewin Love sent me “samples!” – she has these by the gross.  She, they, and much more will be available for purchase by each and every person attending her stall in November at Judy’s Vintage Fair, in Old Spitalfields Market.

Mark your calendars now, Dear Readers!!!  And please take a piccie or two to share with us too far away to attend.  😉 xx

faffing about ~ buttons

click any to go to larger photos

Technically, it’s Wednesday, but I’ve been faffing about so much this should would have been posted Tuesday if I’d stayed on target.  So I’m cheating and back-dating this. Shh – don’t tell!

It’s these buttons. Can’t seem to resist them. And since dear friend & secret swap partner Sewin Love UK‘s latest care package arrived yesterday I’ve had these beauties staring me in the face.

Also… the weather’s changing, which means dragging out all those boxes (well, not that many now that I’ve downsized so drastically) and sorting through, trying to guess what will be needed now, and what to save for later when it’s really winter.

And then there’s last week, which was beastly hot & humid, when I wore my last 2 (new) dresses to death, and began to realize how much I miss dresses instead of bottoms & tops, then realizing the h&h weather could return…   😦

Couple that with seeing Phryne Fisher and reading all about the costumes, which combine British and French 1920’s influence, to better reflect the lead’s character.  The dresses and coats were looking awfully comfortable, even if I don’t have her waif-thin figure. (memo to self: designer says cut on the bias for curvy figures …)

Not to mention trying to decide what to sew next, given all the above.  So it’s been faffing about in general here.

How about you?

1920s costuming stars in aussie mystery series

photo courtesy Australianj Broadcasting Co
photo courtesy Australian Broadcasting Co

Saw the first episode in series 1 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  I was very impressed with the costuming, and you know I’m not a huge 1920s flapper fan.

I have all 3 years of House of Eliott, but was never too impressed by the costuming. Now I think I know why.  The British interpretations of fashion might be a little too tame for my taste, but Phryne (fry-nee) Fisher designers might have that solved.

Check out my Facebook page for more references, including a Vogue Australia article. Feel free to add a comment or Like!

While the land of Oz will be seeing season 2 this month, we in the U.S. must be content with season 1, and that appears to be in a limited number of cities.  But to get to the main event ~ the costumes ~ words from the designer.

Costume designer Marion Boyce gives advice on how to cut flapper styles if you’re curvy:  cut it the bias.  She also talks about having to use some of her own vintage stash for costuming, and how difficult it is for her to let go of some of her treasured fabric.  Don’t we all know how she feels?!

Now I’m wondering… will Phryne costuming upstage Downton ?

What do you think?

More about Miss Fisher ~

  • Wikipedia … “120 costumes for the series… ” and “Boyce explained that Phryne is “completely fluid””
  • Australian Broadcasting Company blog:  “…one of the stars of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is the fabulous collection of period costumes…”
  • YouTube

the monthly stitch ~ update

vintage-challenge-badge-copyNow that we’ve got the first month under our belts…  whaaat?  You don’t know about The Monthly Stitch???

Just like it sounds, there’s a challenge a month, and September’s is VINTAGE!

I’ve been considering all last week which vintage pattern(s) to use.  No decisions yet, but I gotta start something soon.  It’s such a huge topic.  Variety isn’t the problem, choosing is.

October’s challenge is dresses.  They’re calling it Frocktober.  How cute is that?!  Glad we know it now.  Won’t do a dress till then.

come join us!

You don’t have to do anything other than sew to take part, and you can come & go as your schedule permits.  There’s also the collective.  The what?

The collective are the folks who are taking part in the Monthly Stitch.  Guidelines are here, and you don’t have to have a blog to take part.   (But if you’re thinking about starting one, here’s a way to try it out.)   The moderators are Kat, Mel, and Juliet , and they’re super helpful & informative.

Why not click on over and see what’s going on?  Lots of gorgeous capes are on display (last month’s challenge), with lovely posts by their creators.

Come join the fun!


weekly photo challenge: nostalgic

Am a bit behind the weeks here, but hope you’ll forgive.  Considering this is being written by a person who loves sewing vintage & retro clothes, do you really wonder what nostalgic means to me ~ tee-hee !

Doing our usual – here and here are the definition(s) from our fav dictionary:

Nos*tal”gic, a. [Cf. F. nostalgique.] Of or pertaining to nostalgia; affected with nostalgia.

Being fair, not to mention thorough, we go to ~

Nos*tal”gi*a, n. [NL., fr. Gr. a return home + pain.] Homesickness; esp., a severe and sometimes fatal form of melancholia, due to homesickness.

Am I nostalgic for life in the 20s, 30s, or 40s? Nope. Wouldn’t ‘specially want to have lived then. How-E V E R . . .

The styles of fashion then are more feminine to my eye, far more practical, and actually fit real women.  Before I discovered my fabulous fabric store in California (and after it closed) I hardly sewed at all because the whole sewing world seemed to be moving somewhere I didn’t like, or want to go.

New, and often not very good (remember early polyester knits – YUCK!!!) fabrics were coming on the market, and the patterns started going into a strange sizing realm, with not a dart or princess seam for fitting. Making a pattern fit was like making a new one, and who needed that when pattern prices sky-rocketed?

Nostalgic?  You betcha ~ for patterns of the 60s and 70s, when I sewed almost everything I wore, from coats with interlining & bound buttonholes, to nightgowns ~ and they fit.

But my love/lust relationship with colour, fabric, and texture never left, so I was delighted to begin finding out about the huge world of vintage/retro sewing (see Decades of Style pattern above).

Not to mention all the independent pattern makers, who knew exactly what appealed to sewers like myself.  I am immensely grateful to them for keeping me sewing, and for keeping the concept of practical sizing and styles for real women in today’s world alive.

And guess what? Looking through July 2013 fashion mags at the hair dressers I saw countless NY & Paris designers’ Fall Seasons previewed. More & more they’re also getting the idea – vintage/retro ain’t nostalgic. It’s practical, and women want it!

PD/ Here’s the WordPress post.

indie pattern update & a linty life lesson

thanks to Folkwear owner Kate Mathews for photo permission!
thanks to Folkwear owner Kate Mathews for photo permission!

Speaking of ease, it’s accidental that I’m using Folkwear’s Metro Middy Blouse as my indie pattern, but fortuitous because there’s so much ease in this style, and it’s easy to see.  If you look closely at the piccies on the left, you can see the fullness billowing at the hem lines.

After doing a loose-fitting with the pattern pieces, I decided to use slightly smaller sizing that I’d use for a pattern with less ease. Also shortened the sleeve length a tad. It’s hot & humid just now, which is nasty weather as far as I’m concerned, but have resisted my usual impulse to ‘chop sleeves off now’ by remembering this is to wear in air conditioning.

Am thinking about adding some edging embroidery with this, but can’t visualise details yet.  The pattern includes designs typical of the 20s, but I’m thinking of a different look. But that’s the last step, so onward!

Early one day last week I thought I’d spend an hour either zigzagging or serging the edges of the linen-cotton blend before I started sewing it, and sat down at the machines. Began with the zigzag… tried regular tension, then loosened it up. Still not too pleased, so went to the serger, without changing all threads (which is why some are black instead of white). Neater than the zigzag, I thought, despite mis-matched thread.  Proceeded to unwrap new cones of white thread, preparatory to threading. That’s when the trouble started.

There were loose threads sticking out of the bottom of one cone. No way could I have ripped them when taking off the wrapping. I was super extra special careful.  Rats. Serging temporarily not an option.

Being in the mood to do something, I went back to zigzagging edges, until I got to the small curved back neck facing. There, the machine started chewing instead of stitching.  After it did it several times I checked the bobbin, then decided to see if there were any stray threads stuck somewhere.

No threads.  Just gobs of lint, as in never seen so much this side of terry cloth.  AGH — panic stations!  This machine was just serviced!  What did I do???   After I calmed down, which took dark chocolate & leaving the scene of the crime to faff about a bit, I remembered all the lint that came off the fabric during the wash & dry cycle.  I’d laundered it a second time, I lost respect for the fabric… but also in my judgment, for thinking the fabric was ok to use. But there was also a teeny, niggly thought that I might not have cleaned the machine after my last project…

Finally, I decided to just go ahead and sew, thinking this would be an expensive & unplanned muslin (term for trial garment usually made out of inexpensive fabric for fitting purposes, not for wearing). Following Folkwear’s easy-to-read directions, the back & fronts came together quickly, as did gathering the sleeve tops & seams.

Then came the crucial moment: Before I could sew further, I needed to get shoulder & side seam edges finished in whichever method I was going to use. Postponing a decision, I reached for the iron to press those seams flat, and have a think.

I realized I hadn’t enjoyed working with the fabric after I started feeling I was ‘wasting’ my time with inferior fabric. After more thought, I realized finally admitted I’d made that entire Burda blouse, but hadn’t brushed the bobbin case before starting this project.  Uh-oh.  User error. wagging finger, apologies to fabric, hang head in shame.

pressed shell awaiting sleeves
pressed shell awaiting sleeves

The fabric did iron nicely, so am beginning to think better of this project.  It  also reminded  me of a RTW linen/cotton blouse I’ve had for years. That started out feeling heavy & slightly too fuzzy for hot weather wear.  After seasons of laundering, it’s just fine. Maybe I should start throwing this in with every wash load …

What do you think?!

a gathered sleeve awaits being sewn into blouse
a gathered sleeve pinned into arm hole awaits being sewn into blouse

florian pinker

Absolutely fell in love with this device Karen had me try out when trimming my summer dress fabric. Going back to ‘regular’ pinking scissors later this week for the rest of my fabric (cottons & rayons) is gonna be a trial. So…

I looked up Florian pinkers online and found the manufacturer here, and YouTube video (below).  There were also various examples for sale on etsy & ebay.

Not endorsing this, just saying I loved working with it because it not only holds & draws the fabric into the little cutting gizmos, but you also don’t get an uneven line because you never have to reposition the cutters. Video says they’re good for all weights of fabric, leather, and heavy crafting papers, too.

Not ready to purchase a new one, tho’.  Will wait until I spy a real 1930s version, as that’s my fav era. The company says they’ll refurbish a pair if they’re not working properly, or dulled. So if the price tag is right, I’ve got dibs!

Manufacturer does ship internationally, or lists dealers that will.

missing sew grateful week–ack!

SGW+button+overall+200+x+200Lovely Debi, over at My Happy Sewing Place… is having Sew Grateful Week this week.  And I’ve missed participating in just about all of it.

One of the things I’m grateful for, in addition to you, Lovely Readers, are her delectable posts, chock-a-block full of information!

For example: Anybody ever heard of Dutch pockets?  Nor I.  Debi’s got an excellent photo from 1940 here to illustrate.

Note that the photo is also a great example of something I mentioned, mixing dark & light fabrics together in a blouse.  If done correctly, as in Debi’s example, it has slimming effect.

Sew grateful for you all!

starting the new year with vintage

adore this gal, which contains 2 potholders & hangs in Mrs. K's kitchen
adore this gal, which contains 2 potholders & hangs in K’s kitchen

After an unexpectedly busy December, including family things, it’s time to re-group and get back to normal… which means one thing here: vintage!

Am at my favorite, veddy-veddy exclusive B&B for  lovers of vintage things – the private home of dear friends K & G.  My ‘suite’  includes the wolf room, bath, and library, as well as full use of the craft room right across the library.

Their house is better than a museum or antique shoppe, because there are so many collections of things I love ~ vintage patterns, fabrics, laces, buttons &  jewelry.  And I can touch everything – tee-heee!

G has his man cave, where he works his magic on antique metal trucks, so K & I are able to do our things guilt-free.  Here are a few highlights… click any photo to start the slideshow.

Happy 2013 to all!