Saturday, 19 October 2019

My Flashy Pendleton 49er Style Jacket

It has been an extremely busy year so far. Some things were rather unpleasant and demoralizing, I feel a bit worn down (and think I also look like it), but at least I tried to find enough time to make lots of things to wear. Sewing mends the soul they say. A denim skirt, trousers, breezy feedsack blouses for the hot summer and stuff for the kids, and a dress for my daughter for her First Communion... I'm quite pleased with what I achieved. (I will try to catch up with some posts!) And I deeply hope our family life will slow down in autumn and winter, and of course there are many more sewing projects.

Only a few remaing scraps...

Talking of autumn, in late August the unusual hot weather ended suddenly and I became well aware (read: I was panicking) that I have too little casual stuff to wear for the cold season.

I love boxy plaid jackets. I know, many people don't like paids, as they're bold, eye-catching, often a bit too colorful, but I have a soft spot for them. Nothing for the faint-hearted. Some of you may remember the winter plaid jacket I made 3 years ago. Now I needed something less heavy for the transitional season.

Ever since I have been drooling over vintage pictures of ladies in Pendelton style plaid jackets. Paired with wide-legged trousers they are the epitome of vintage casual style for me. Not very flattering, but so comfortable! So I looked for a pattern, and found the McCall's pattern 3242 that seems to be pretty much like the Pendleton 49er jacket. The 49er was, as its name suggests, launched in 1949, and it was - and still is - a huge success. They still produce a modernised version, and vintage ones are quite sought after.
Women surely had worn they're husbands' or brothers' jackets and shirts before, especially for work during WW2, but it was after the war that women's leisure wear included more and more sporty garments like trousers and comfortable jackets. The pattern is from 1955, and it has it all - shoulder pleat, cuffed sleeves, back yoke with gathers, notched collar and - big patch pockets!

 I admit, I couldn't keep my resolution and got weak during our summer holidays, when I found several wool fabrics in a fabulously crammed fabric shop in Northern Italy. The plaid fabric I bought was lightweight and seemed to be perfect, and I fell in love with the green and teal the moment I saw it. The weave was not very dense, and I had to be careful not to stretch the material too much. I was glad for decades of experience with plaid matching. The pattern placement was challenging, as I had a bit too little material. But I was able to cut all the pieces and the pockets even on the bias (which requires more fabric).

The remaining scraps...

My pattern is a vintage size M (14-16), and as usual I didn't bother to make a muslin. The finished jacket is a tad lose because I added some width to be on the safe side (which was not necessary), but I like it that way. I had a bigger scrap of chartreuse green silk I used for the yoke lining and for the shoulder pads I made. I have very square shoulders and ready-made pads often are too massive and stiff. The shoulder pleats caused some trouble and I didn't like the first "true to the pattern" version. That's why it took several weeks to finish the jacket, I got a but frustrated before I decided to change the darts slightly.
I will definitely make another one. As I said, I bought more fabric down in Italy, and there's even more in my stash, but maybe I will add half an inch to the sleeve length and the cuff width. Otherwise I will skip the additional width.

Choosing buttons is always part of the fun when sewing. The original 49er jacket had mother-of-pearl buttons, but I wanted something less striking. These Spanish vintage buttons were sold as bakelite, but they're galalith (a similar material based on milk, mainly produced in France and other European countries). They're not exactly the same chartreuse color, but they blend in well, and they're big and heavy, just as I like them.
The best feature are the pockets. They' re essential for me, they carry my phone, keys, bus tickets, my son's cars and stones, and other stuff.

I can wear all kind of stuff underneath it. Like blouses, thin sweaters or cool, funny t-shirts. The one pictured was created by the lovely Susi of "The Pink Bungaloo" –  this one it "Willy the Weener" quoting one of Hank Willaims' songs! She has an Etsy shop, so if you want this special t-shirt too, please buy from her and support an independent small business. (But hurry, some designs are available for a limited time only.) And no, I don't receive a commission nor do I get paid to mention her – I just love her creations.

This jacket is really a useful and fun garment, perfect for the cold season, great to combine with various colours from the plaid. Hello autumn!

Fabric: pure lightweight wool plaid fabric from Italy
Pattern: McCall's 3242, size M
Buttons: vintage galalith buttons bought in France
Trousers: self-made after a heavily modified Eva Dress Pattern (1940 Wide Leg/Simplicity 3322), I added the front pockets, because I need pockets
T-Shirt: "Willy the Weener" by The Pink Bungaloo
Glasses: no idea...
Poppy Felt Brooch: self-made
Earrings: vintage bakelite hoops

Friday, 2 November 2018

Dia de los Muertos Halloween Costumes

Halloween is not a traditional holiday in my country, however, I love it for various reasons. The roots are Celtic, and the Celts lived in my native country before the Romans came. Also, I am fascinated how a pagan holiday blended in Christian religion, resulting in folkloristic traditions that probably most people around the world don't know anymore, because today's Halloween has become quite a commercialized event with not much left in common with the ancient believes. Plus, my kids love to dress up, and I love to make costumes, and it's a good opportunity for all of us to shorten the time until Christmas and put some colour and excitement in the dark evenings of autumn.

 When my husband came up with the idea for new costumes I was hooked. He knows my love for Mexican culture, and the Day of the Dead is certainly something that fascinates people all over the world. This holiday developed from the catholic holiday that is celebrated on the day after All Saints' Day (or Allhallows in older English, therefore Halloween, for Allhallows' evening), on November 2nd. Because of the beautifully spooky costumes and the painted skull decorations that are distinctive for those celebrations and because of the proximity of this holiday to Halloween, the Mexican costumes and specific facial paintings have become popular even in Europe. No wonder I was excited to make some costumes for my kids inspired by the Dia de los Muertos.

As a sewer and a huge admirer of authentic folkloristic crafts, one of the most beautiful things I have ever come across are the various and extraordinarily beautiful traditional costumes of the regions of Mexico. The rich and colourful embroidery is thrilling, and I could spend hours rolling over pictures of those garments that have their origins in Azetc traditions that were mixed with Spanish motives. Of course it would be convenient to have an embroidery machine, but still, trying to produce garments that would look authentic would still be a huge challenge and very time-consuming.

To keep it simple, I made a Charro style jacket for my son from a pattern for a short collarless jacket I found in my 1950s Lutterloh book. It was by the way the first time I made a two-piece sleeve. It didn't turn out too well because the fabric was a rather cheap synthetic material, but it was certainly a good experience. I also made a red scarf and sash. Luckily I found a cheap felt sombrero from an online shop, and some black trousers completed the outfit. (He first refused to wear it as he wanted to be a ghost or a spider or a transformer. I insisted, as he should match his big sister and it's probably the last time mommy can put him into a costume like that...)

My daughter's costume was far more time-consuming. The skirt should recreate the look of embroideries on a bottom ruffle. I spent much time studying pictures of amazing traditional Mexican garments. I sketched some flowers and leaves and made my own stencils, and in some of my many sleepless nights I printed them on the fabric. The material is a rather slinky viscose (rayon) javanaise, similar to a challis, but with a hint of a shine. Maybe not the best choice, but I had it in my stash, and plenty of it, and the skirt would certainly be very flowing a good for twirling. Hand printing viscose was a new experience for me, and I was happy I made some tests before starting with the pieces I planned to use for the ruffle. It's quite different from cotton! There are various flowers, and I used as many colours as possible.

I certainly don't claim this IS a Mexican skirt, but I tried to be as close to the embroidered costumes as possible. And even though my printed version doesn't justice to the beauty of the originals, it's certainly a garment that shows my deep admiration for the traditional outfits.

When it came to making the floral crown, I took to it like a duck to water. I love Frida Kahlo's look and especially her hairstyles, and my daughter does too. There was no doubt it would be the template to follow by for the updo. Felt is a wonderful material for making flowers.

As an avid gardener I absolutely wanted to make flowers that had something to do with Mexico, so I made some researches. To my utter surprise, many of our annual garden flowers originally are native to Mexico, as marigold, cosmea, zinnia and dahlia. I added lilies, calla lilies and some roses, as these are popular in Mexican culture like Mexican folk songs, embroideries etc. Finding a way how to fix and arrange all the flowers on a headband was rather tricky. I couldn't find a tutorial that would meet my needs, as my flowers are a bit heavier than ready-made synthetic faux ones. So I had to find my own solution. But I think it was totally worth all the hours I spent on it, and also stitching almost all the flowers to the headband by hand instead of using the glue gun.

My daughter's costume is completed by a true Mexcian embroidered blouse I found incredibly cheap for a couple of bucks on Ebay, plus a pashmina shawl from my wardrobe. I must admit I am no very skilled at painting my kids' faces on such occasions, but I was quite pleased with the result, keeping it rather simple.

Even if I didn't have as much time as I would have liked, and despite working mainly in the night (oh black fabric really IS a pain in the back in poor light!), everything looked much better than I had hoped. I am well aware that most people are happy with off-the-rack costumes that are available for little money and that can be thrown away after some wear. Yes, I am a bit crazy for all the effort I put in the kids' costumes.

At least a carved ghost for my son's pumpkin...

...and a Mexican skull on my daughter's. I might need some practice.

This gap-toothed little señor completely stole my heart...

Charro costume:
Jacket: self-made after Lutterloh "Der Goldene Schnitt" (The Golden Rule), book edition 6-1949, mod. 139, p. 80
Felt Sombrero: costume online shop on Ebay
Sash: handwoven from Mexico

Frida costume:
Skirt: hand-printed and self-made dirndl skirt with hand-printed ruffle (no pattern required)
Blouse: true Mexican embroidered blouse, Ebay
Flower crown: self-made felt flowers on head band

Monday, 27 August 2018

A 1940s Hawaiian Wrap Dress For My Wedding Anniversary

When I found this stunning heliconia flower viscose (or rayon) fabric in a Hawaiian shop I didn't know yet what I was going to make. I just had to have it, and - it was on sale! I loved it even more in person, even though I usually try to avoid white and natural backgrounds for large scale prints. (I think the make me look bigger.) I could imagine also some beach pajamas. But, despite global warming and the hottest and driest summer I have ever seen in my life so far, we have no beach, and we don't throw that many parties with occasions for dressing up. So a dress it should be, a flowing, light garment for hot days.

Looking through my pattern collection, I was torn between a true wrap dress pattern (quite rare back then it seems) and a robe, both made before. However, I remembered that piecing elaborated designs with several seams in combination with slippery challis viscose fabric was a nightmare, even though that said dress turned out well and is still a favourite of mine. But I wanted to be reasonable, also, I didn't want to cut the fabulous large scale print unnecessarily, so I picked the much simpler British housedress pattern Style 4673, also because of the circle skirt bottom. I own a viscose circle skirt, it wrinkles terribly, but is fabulous for high temperatures.
This should be an easy project, as I said, last year I made a cozy long-sleeved version with a ponte de roma fabric and knew more or less what I had to adjust back then.

The dress pieces went together easily, however, I realized I couldn't make the tiny rows of gathers with this kind of material. I cut the fron bodice pieces on the bias for a better drape and I just was not able to make those gathered rows, that were not on the grain, in addition with the slinkiness of the fabric, look decent enough. So I changed them to release tucks, which was a good idea as I think it goes well with the draping fabric type. However, I think that cutting on the bias probably was not necessary.

The only trouble was the collar extension in the back neck, the fabric kept shifting and wrinkling and drove me almost insane. I also changed the sleeves and took the slightly butterfly-y ones from Simplicity 1778 which promised to be more breezy than the original short sleeve. And it turned out to be a good decision.

My dress closes with pressing buttons, but I added a belt with an exchangeable buckle instead of a sash. Depending on my accessories, I can switch between different colours. I only ned to find a butterscotch-eggyolk coloured buckle in the right size - there wasn't any in my entire (huge) collection of buckles!

We celebrated our 10th anniversary this week! I sometimes cannot believe how fast the years went by. But I was very happy I finished the dress on time for this special occasion. I wore it to a British car meeting, so the cars in the pictures unfortunately are not mine. I wish they were! It was a sunny, but very windy day, and my dress was so comfortable, but a bit tricky, as it kept ballooning, and I once almost had that "Marilyn moment". But it will be a great staple for hot days!

Pattern: Style 4673, 1940s, probably WW2 (war restriction disclaimer on envelope), sleeves from Simplicity 1778
Fabric: heliconia flower viscose (rayon) from Aloha Outlet, Honolulu
Earrings: Vintage bakelite clip-on screws from FB
Necklace: Vintage bakelite from FB
Bangles: Vintage bakelite from various sources
Buckles: Vintage early plastic ones from various sources
Shoes: Moheda Toffeln from Sweden
Bag: Vintage bamboo from FB
Lipstick:  Kiko Cosmetics

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Victory Rag

You are right. I did write "rag". It was supposed to be blouse, but it's rather a rag. It's not the pattern or my sewing skills. It's the fabric. I was drooling over this gorgeous design on Spoonflower since many months. When I finally got the fabric, I was bit sad the colours didn't look as bright and intense as on the original items pictures. I could live with this, as maybe it was due to my monitor. Whatever. I later washed my fabric as I planned to make a blouse of it (I always prewash them). When I was cutting the garment pieces in the evening, I suddenly realized there were stripes all over the fabric were the print was faded. Like wrinkles. I was so gutted - imagine, I was truly shocked. I can assure I DO have experience with all kinds of fabrics, and also with laundry, and never before, not even with vintage materials, have I been so disappointed. Of course, I have seen this before on very cheap materials, especially on my kids clothes, but then, these never last long, and they're not vintage, and they are not meant to be special wardrobe staples for the upcoming years. So no loss. But Spoonflower is certainly not the cheapest supplier, compared for example with all those wonderful US quilting cotton manufactures that offer lovely quality fabrics in good printing quality. I was really upset. Best I could do, as I already had cut into the fabric and return shipping would certainly would have been too expensive and too troublesome (I wonder if they do accept return at all and do give refunds?), was to take pictures of the ruined material and write a complain. I was crestfallen, of course, but I deeply hope they do read my complain and do really something about the quality. For other customers' happiness sake.

Richtig, da steht "rag" was soviel wie Fetzen, Lumpen bedeutet. Eigentlich als Bluse konzipiert. Es lag absolut nicht am Schnitt, noch an meinen Nähkünsten. Ich hatte dieses Design schon lange immer bewundert bei Spoonflower. Als ich es endlich den Stoff erhielt, war ich zuerst schon etwas resigniert, dass die Farben weitaus weniger intensiv als auf den Beispielbildern war. Was ich akzeptierte, es konnte ja auch monitorbedingt sein. Als ich dann aber den Stoff am Abend nach dem Vorwaschen zuschnitt, stellte ich plötzlich fest, dass er von zahlreichen Linien überzogen war, an denen die Farbe ausgebleicht war. Wie Knitter. Ich war total geknickt, fast geschockt. Der Stoff ruiniert. Nun habe ich mit meinen 40+ Jahren schon etliche Erfahrung mit Wäsche, was auch das Waschen von delikateren Materialien wie zB Vintage Stoffen und Kleidern einschliesst. Natürlich habe ich solche Waschspuren schon bei recht billigen Kleidern, v.a. der Kinder, erleben müssen, aber dort hat es mich weniger gestört, da diese Stücke ja auch meist nicht lange halten und oft zerschlissen sind, bevor sie zu klein werden. Doch Spoonflower ist ja nicht gerade der billigste Anbieter von Stoffen, verglichen zB mit all den wunderbaren Baumwollstoffen die sonst in den USA produziert werden. Ich war masslos enttäuscht. Ich konnte nur noch den "Schaden" fotografieren und eine Beschwerde an Spoonflower schreiben, da der Stoff schon angeschnitten war. Ich frage mich überhaupt, ob Retouren möglich sind, aber die Kosten und der Aufwand hätten sich vermutlich auch kaum gelohnt. Ich wollte das aber nicht einfach so hinnehmen, schon allein um anderer Kunden Zufriedenheit Willen. 

There might be some designs that work out well also in cottons, maybe it depends from the colours and nuances of certain designs. However, with all the knowledge of the 21st century they should be able to get better results also on cotton fabrics. When I think of all my true 1940s and 1950s materials that look like new, there's no fading, no bleeding. The design is awesome, like so many others on Spoonflower, but in the end it was totally ruined. But maybe I'm too picky and it's totally ok that fabrics look like this after washing... Upon my complaint I was told that very saturated, dark colours don't get good results on cottons, but synthetic materials are not for me. At least their customer service is good, and I could order a similar design in less dark colors as a substitute.

Vielleicht fällt ja das Resultat bei gewissen Designs ganz gut aus, möglicherweise kommt es auf die Farben und Nuancen an. Trotzdem, mit dem Know-How des 21. Jahrhunderts sollte es doch wirklich möglich sein, dass auch diese Firma bessere Ergebnisse liefern kann. Andere können es auch, und wenn ich denke, wie farbintensiv meine alten Stoffe aus den 1940ern und 50 gern sind, kein Verbleichen, kein Ausbluten, nichts. Das Design ist ganz fantastisch ist, wird aber total ruiniert. Vielleicht bin ich ja auch nur zu heikel und es ist völlig ok so? Auf meine Beschwerde hin sagte man mir, dunkle satte Farben würden auf Baumwolle weniger gut ausfallen als auf Kunstfasern, aber diese trage ich nicht. Wenigstens konnte ich als Ersatz einen ähnlichen Stoff in einer besseren Qualität bestellen, der dann doch etwas besser ausfällt. 

Long story short told, and to get back to the subject of this post: I made another Smooth sailing blouse of it (yes, once more, sorry if I seem boring, but due to my life circumstances I need more blouses currently), adding self-made red piping. The vintage buttons were a gift from lovely Italian lady. Ah well... The blouse might not be a winner, but underneath a cardigan it won't look too bad.

Der langen Rede kurzer Sinn, oder: um auf das eigentliche Thema dieses Posts zurückzukommen: ich hab eine Smooth Sailing Bluse daraus gemacht. Ja, ich weiss, schon wieder. Ich kann auch anderes nähen, keine Sorge, aber im Moment brauche ich einfach aufgrund meiner Lebensumstände viele Blusen und dieser Schnitt passt für mich prima, er bietet genug Raum über meine breiten Schulterblätter und sieht adrett und feminin aus. Die Vintage-Knöpfe waren ein Geschenk von einer netten Dame aus Italien. Naja... Die Bluse mag kein Gewinner sein, wird es aber im Alltag durchaus tun.

Fabric: Spoonflower (Basic Cotton not recommendable), design by eloise varin (highly recommendable)
Pattern: Smooth Sailing by Wearing History
Piping: selfmade
Buttons: true 1vintage, gifted
Brooch: WW2 Victory brooch, I guess from Ebay ages ago
Bakelite Hoops: vintage

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Smooth Sailing Garden Girl Bluse

I realise I haven't been around here since months. It was a personally very busy and straining time, and my sewing motivation suffered a lot. Now spring is here and also my mood for sewing is back again.

As much as I was cursing during my last attempt to make a "Smooth Sailing" blouse, as much was I tempted to give this great pattern another try. After printing out the pattern again and sewing up the fabric pieces and ending up with a badly fitting blouse that had to be taken apart entirely, I finally managed to transfer my adjustments to the pattern. I should have dome this before, but that's what you get for being lazy. The major fitting issues were the much too wide yoke parts (I took away about an inch on each side at the shoulders) plus the width of the bottom sleeves and cuffs (these tend to be a bit narrow on most). I realized I could go with a bust 32", but should add some width below the waistline to be still able to make nice tucks. This sounds a bit confusing, but I'm not very busty, but have a well endowed backside.

Yes, I'm currently pruning my more than 100 roses - therefore my slightly muddled hair.

You may ask why I love this pattern if it has to be changed that much to fit right. Well, if you sew your own garments, you have to make adjustments anyway to have a good fit - that's the advantage when you can sew. Then, this blouse is a basic staple for any vintage wardrobe in a later 30s or 40s style. Separates are a huge plus factor when you can't wear one-piece dresses on a daily basis like me, as a family woman, housewife, gardener, whatever... You can't have enough of them, they look great with simple skirts, denims or slacks, you can make them from fabulous prints or plain solids. And - this pattern offers a variety of possible fabric combinations. Colourful prints with a white or solid collar and cuffs, contrasting yoke parts, piping... I have so many lovely cotton fabrics that maybe are just not enough for an entire garment, but combined with a matching material they would make a gorgeous blouse. "Make do and mend" - and use materials from your stash without buying new fabrics.

So, back to my adventure with this pattern. I cut and sew version no. 3 - and here you have version no. 4. The previous attempt is still not quite finished (as I had to undo and re-stitch it), but this one is. It's certainly not the best item that jumped off my sewing machine, but I was - haha, surprise - in hurry to finish it for the visitors day at my children's school. I don't like those events, social phobia is not what I would call helpful. So wearing something newly made or very special gives me strength to stomach all that. A lovely new blouse is certainly never wrong, and therefore I needed to finish this one.

I loved the fabric the moment I saw it and had to have it (luckily it was on sale), because it's totally me. Little girls doing garden work - could it get any cuter? I'm not sure if it's a "retro style" print or a true reproduction of a vintage fabric, but it really looks like a vintage feedback print. The colour palette allowed me to use some navy blue piping (I made this one myself with ready-made bias binding) and matching vintage celluloid buttons. I finished the blouse on 2 a.m., as I lost a lot time on the design and construction of the pocket. I took some inspiration from Bex' tutorial on her blog Subversive Femme, but changed the shape a bit and added some piping for a different look. (Bex' blog btw is very inspiring - have a look!) From the remaining fabric I also made a matching headscarf.

Now that I sorted out the fitting issues of that versatile pattern, I'm confident this will probably be one of my favourites whenever I need a reliable pattern to knock up a blouse without hassle.

Pattern: Smooth Saling by Wearing History
Fabric: Back Porch Prints by Kaye England (Wilmington Prints), bought from
Buttons: vintage celluloid buttons
Glasses: cheap ones, I guess from H&M
Lipstick: Unlimited Stylo by KIKO Milano, No. 18 - best lipstick ever, holds an entire day and stays on even when you have a meal!
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