FO: Vintage dress



I feel quite confident in describing this as a vintage dress. I may have sewn it in 2016 on a modern sewing machine, but the pattern, fabric, and zipper are all vintage, so I think it is pretty authentic. I suppose that’s not that important, but I do think it makes it unique.


This dress is made from a pair of curtains (50s/60s, at a guess) that I bought for a whopping £3.50 at a charity shop. I forgot to measure them, but each panel consisted of two pieces sewn together; one panel made the bodice, and the other became the skirt. Each panel was quite short, so I used the original hem & cut off the top instead for the skirt.

I absolutely adore this fabric, so I was determined to make this a great piece. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite meet that goal. As you can see, it’s wearable, but very far from perfect. My pleating isn’t great, I didn’t pattern match around the waist (and I have a travelling waist, i.e. it’s at different points on my body throughout the circumference), the darts are pretty rubbish, and I think I stretched the neckline.


But I guess there are some okay things about it. While overall the dress is a little big, it did allow for a good bit of movement. The armholes weren’t quite right, but overall I was reasonably happy with how the sleeves turned out. And best of all, I think this is probably the best finish I’ve had on a garment so far. I love how the satin bias binding looks. So much so, in fact, that I might go buy more and finish the other seams the same way (because let’s be honest, overall it still looks pretty rough!).P1060249


I wore the dress to a colleague’s wedding and did get a few compliments, though they were all from colleagues who know I sew & had probably guessed I needed an ego boost! It still felt nice to debut, though, and I hope I have occasion to wear it again soon.

Vogue 5096 update


My button-back blouse is coming along well, though unsurprisingly it’s not perfect. I had to make several adjustments because it was one size too big. I thought I might be able to get away with it, because it’s meant to fit fairly loosely, but unfortunately not. As you can see, I took out about an inch vertically in front. There was still awkward bubbling around the armholes, so I spent some time reading about fitting issues. It’s  hard to tell what they are when you know nothing about tailoring! Similar problems can be caused by completely different parts of the pattern, so finding the right one is a challenge. In this case, it seemed most likely that the armhole issue was caused by the difference between my bust and upper bust…don’t ask, I’m not sure I can explain what that means! The upshot is that I tucked out a small amount of fabric horizontally above the bust & it seems to have worked.P1030552P1030556

Once I was happy with the fit of the muslin (as you can see, I was lazy and didn’t include the sleeves) I went ahead and cut out the pieces. The majority of it is sewn up already. I’ve followed the pattern’s recommendation to make bound buttonholes. I was really nervous about these, but I’m fairly happy with them as a first attempt. I’ve no idea why I didn’t practice them on different fabric first. The edges aren’t very sharp, and the fabric doesn’t match up like it’s meant to. Oh, well. They won’t be that visible when the buttons are attached… And I did at least have the sense to work from the bottom up, so hopefully the more visible buttonholes are a bit better.


Wednesday yarn-along

Well, I didn’t manage to finish my sweater while I was on holiday. I was too busy reading and staying out until midnight just to see what the light was like. (It was like late twilight, if you’re curious.) P1020980

What I’m reading: Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins, by James Runcie

I love cozy mysteries, and books with priests as the main character. For me, this one doesn’t quite live up some of Runcie’s previous books, but I am still enjoying it.

What I’m knitting: vintage striped jumper

I’ve finished the back of the jumper, so I’m hoping I’ll finish the rest soon-ish. At the moment I’m spending a lot of time helping a friend with wedding decorations and working on some late housewarming presents, though, so I guess it could be a few weeks.

What are you reading this week?

Linking up with the yarn-along.

Yarn-along no. 13

It’s been a great week for knitting and reading. In preparation for our upcoming holiday, I read Finn Family Moomintroll for the first time ever and picked out my holiday knitting project. Finn Family Moomintroll was quite short, so I’m already on to the next book, hooray!

What I’m reading: Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville


If you cross The Phantom Tollbooth with Neverwhere or Mirrormask and maybe Alice in Wonderland, you’ll get an idea of what Un Lun Dun is like. It’s a classic quest story with a great teenage heroine who needs to rescue a city in an alternative. If you couldn’t guess by my comparisons, I think it’s great. It is clever and witty, and I am laughing a lot. How can you not when one of the companions is a pet milk carton named Curdle? I’ve only read one other of Mieville’s books, The City & The City, which was brilliant and detailed to the same level as Un Lun Dun. I think Mieville might on his way to becoming a favourite author.

What I’m knitting: Vintage striped sweater

This cool pattern is in Stitchcraft April 1947. I love the diagonal pockets, though I am going to put them below my bust to avoid awkwardness. Hopefully this will be a quick knit and I can finish it while I’m on holiday. I’m also going to count it toward my vintage pledge.



Linking up with the Yarn-along.


Simplicity 5728 progress & setbacks

I’ve been working on my dress again this past week, and have started cutting into the fabric. It’s pretty exciting! It’s time consuming as I am cutting each piece out individually rather than doubling the fabric. The risk of stretching & getting uneven pieces just wasn’t worth it to me, thouh.

So far I’ve cut out the back panels, the midriff piece, and half of the skirt pieces. But as you can see, I’m running out of fabric. I made a couple of crucial errors – I started cutting before I washed the fabric, and I also didn’t lay out all the pieces before I started cutting. Rookie errors, I know. The problem is that I have enough for two skirt pieces and one sleeve, but not quite enough for both sleeves. So what do I do? I think this dress would look strange with 3/4 sleeves. Do you think it’d be too obvious if I sewed pieces together to make it long enough? I think there’s enough fabric overall, but not in the direction I need it.


Vintage pledge: first item done!


A couple of weeks ago, I finally managed to complete my first item for the vintage pledge! I am really pleased with it (though I am less pleased with the fact that it isn’t Simplicity 5728, which is still underway). My vintage pledge isn’t just about vintage patterns; I said I would sew 3 items using either vintage patterns or vintage fabric. This playmat/baby blanket uses vintage fabric from 1982 and has a back made from fleece.


I spotted this fabric while I was browsing eBay one night. I put it in my watch list and tried to forget about it, as it seemed quite expensive. Alas, that plan didn’t work; I was still thinking about it when a good friend had her first baby. As the fabric’s very whimsical & had actually made me think of said friend straightaway, I decided to go for it. What a good decision!


The print was on a bigger scale than I’d anticipated, so the idea of making it a playmat came to me when it arrived. The playmat is 120 cm square and used most of the fabric.

I followed Purl Bee’s instructions for a playmat. Some medium-weight batting was cut to size, then the fleece was laid on top of that, then the vintage fabric went facedown on that. It was quite straightforward, really. I was really nervous about sewing the batting, but that was mostly okay. To minimise the chance of my machine accidentally eating the batting, I put the fabric on the bottom and the batting on the top. It only caught on my foot a couple of times.


Once I had sewn the majority of it, I turned it right side out and handsewed the rest. I am pretty chuffed with my handsewing on this! I think the fleece did a brilliant job of hiding the thread. 🙂


Instead of leaving it as just a plain mat, I made a strap with Velcro sewn on so it could be rolled up like a sleeping bag. This bit really wasn’t perfect; I found it really hard to judge where to put the Velcro, and it ended up being too tight. It still works, though, which is the most important thing.


Ta-dah! The one thing I haven’t taken a picture of is the baby’s name embroidered on the fleece. Little touches make all the difference for gifts, don’t they?

New vintage stash additions


Last month, Kerry over at Kestrel Makes shared a great post on stashes & consumption. It’s a topic that really deserves its own post, and I am working on one at the moment. But I will say that, as someone who hates spending money, it isn’t a huge problem for me yet (at least when it comes to fabric; yarn is a different matter!). I almost only buy fabric when it inspires me to make something in particular.

My willpower when it comes to saving money seems to be significantly lower when I’m on holiday. Evidence: I bought all this when I was visiting Hay. I only bought the red floral fabric and the cornflower blue yarn in Hay itself, though; the rest of it came from a shop in Hereford. The shop’s Rose-Tinted Rags, and as well as selling vintage textiles and haberdashery items, it’s a charity that teaches people to sew. If you’re ever in the area, make sure you stop by. This time when I went in, I walked straight into a group of women sewing outlandish bras and having a great time. Just the right atmosphere, I think! Everyone’s very friendly and helpful, too, without being suffocating at all.

There are 4 rooms of vintage treasures, including patterns, and this time these were the ones I couldn’t resist. Though it looks like a lot, I’m very pleased that everything in these pictures came to just over £25. I think that’s pretty reasonable, don’t you?


The red floral fabric is about 1.5 m2 (slightly longer than it is wide) and it is the one exception to my usual rule of knowing what I want to do with fabric. It is actually a little more twee than what I usually go for. Do you think a shift dress would work? I think a skirt wouldn’t really.

There are nearly two metres of the vertically striped yellow fabric, and I think it would make a really lovely shirtdress. I’m not sure there’s quite enough of it, though, as it is quite narrow. Lots of my friends are having children at the moment, though, so I will use this to make something adorable for a baby if I don’t have enough for a dress.

The blue striped fabric is a knit, and was quite inexpensive. I thought I’d buy it for when I’m ready to branch out into sewing with knits. It’s a good all-purpose fabric, but at the moment I am thinking it’d make a great pair of summer pajamas. It’s 60″ by 2 metres, so there really is quite a lot!

In the back, that raspberry-coloured fabric is Scottish wool, a skirt kit from (I think) the 1960s. I was so pleased to see it, as I’d spotted one in a very unfortunate colour at a local charity shop a few weeks before & had been wanting one.


My favourite, though, is this gauzy fabric with squares of blue, grey and white thread. I am very sure it was intended to be used as a curtain, but I really hope there is enough to make a lined dress! I think it is absolutely perfect for a breezy summer dress with cap sleeves. I just need to decide whether I want the lining to contrast or similar (blue or white?).

Finally, I found my first blouse pattern! It’s a 60s pattern and has a button-back. It looks quite straightforward, so I will hopefully get around to making it this year so I can count it as part of my vintage pledge.

Any better suggestions on what I can make with these fabrics?