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The one thing I am absolutely petrified of sewing (besides knits) are trousers.  I don’t know why two tubes and a crotch of material are so intimidating to me, but perhaps it is because I am sort of difficult to fit and all of the endless muslins and alterations scare me off.  A dress is much easier to fake if the fit is not ideal, but trousers cannot be helped if the fit is not right.  Knowing this, I scoured for some repro 30s/40s style trousers (wide leg, high waist) and found a few shops that sell them.

First up is Heyday clothing’s Swing Trousers (hey looks, it is Fleur de Guerre modeling them!)

Check out the gorgeous Fleur in those trousers!

I could only give more love to these trousers if they had them in my size.  I really wanted green ones and would have settled for navy or black, any of the wool colors, really, but sigh, none of them were available in my size.  They look absolutely lovely on those that I have seen wear them though and eventually they will be mine.

Second up is Vivien of Holloway’s Swing Trousers which I found and for which I quickly fell.  I bought them in green, and may I say, they are divine.  I was worried about fabric quality, very worried (I’ll get to that later) but these are lightweight, yet still warm, have the perfect amount of drape and swing.  I highly recommend them (and no, they aren’t even paying me to say that!).

Next up is a seller on etsy, Jitterbuggin, who makes vintage-style trousers from vintage patterns and vintage haberdashery.  I am not usually one to go for the overall look, and yet, these are rather enticing.  Perhaps it is the kicky pinstripe on that sassy model, but if I had the spare cash, I’d definitely want a pair of these.

A note about fabrics–the reason I had worried over the fabrics at Heyday and Vivien was because in some of the photos, the fabrics look very “costumey/polyestery” but having read the reviews, almost everyone comments on how the fabrics are much  nicer than pictured and are of really good quality.


With the wealth of actual vintage sewing patterns available out there, I had been steadfastly ignoring reproduction patterns in my pattern-buying/browsing, but recently I’ve been swayed by two repro patterns out there.


Image Copyright Wearing History

The first, is one by Lauren over at Wearing History (if you haven’t looked at her website, you really must, it is a treasure trove of vintage sewing and costuming) is a pajama pattern but could also be adapted for a beach costume or lounge-wear.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  Too bad it isn’t the correct size for me (Pssst, Lauren, are you making more?) but if any of you out there would fit into it, please buy it and let me know how glorious it is to swan about your house in such a garment (find the etsy listing by clicking on the image).


The second pattern that has caught my eye is this one by Jennie at Sense and

Image copyright Sense and Sensibility patterns

Sensibility patterns.  This is the 1940’s Swing Dress pattern and while I am certain that there are a multitude of actual vintage dress patterns like this, I really do love the details at the shoulder and the waist and am very drawn to buying this one instead of poring over thousands of vintage dress patterns to find those same details in a vintage pattern.


Have any of you made up either of these patterns?  Are you a fan of repro patterns or do you prefer to stick to the “real thing” so to speak?  Any opinions are welcome!

I was reading Anja’s Clever Nettle blog today where she mentioned that after longing after a vintage photo album she finally bought it.  This particular photo album includes wardrobe photos of a girl from the 1930s and I was struck by one particular photo:

hooded dress

Photo copyright Anja Louise Verdugo at

how amazing is that dress?  It reminds me of the vintage Simplicity 3276 dress here, except the dress in the photo has so many more luscious details and looks more structured and put together than the Simplicity pattern.  I would love to find a pattern (I’m too chicken to attempt to make my own simply basing it off a photo) and make up this dress, and rock it with the same attitude and confidence this girl shows!

So Gertie’s post today about sewing winter coats got me thinking: when you sew a coat, and you are looking at sizing, do you sew your size the way you sew your size in a dress or shirt or trousers or do you go up a size because you are wearing this coat over a sweater and scarf or other bundly clothing?

I’m nowhere near ready to make a coat (I don’t think) but in my musing, I happened upon this pattern, Vogue 8626.  Looking at it, it seems to have a lot of give.  I am V8626normally a size 12 or 14 in Vogue, but would I go up to a 16 for a coat that I want to wear a sweater under or do the patterns account for that?  Any advice please leave it in the comments!

Edited to add–the Vogue website doesn’t have finished measurements for this garment, so while I know what they say my size is, I have no idea the amount of ease in the pattern because finished measurements are not online (or I don’t see them).

I have decided to splurge out and buy a dress form, but having scoured the reviews for a few hours, I’ve realized that the modern Singer and Dritz ones have very bad reviews indeed (most saying that they are cheaply made and break easily).

I have heard a lot about the foam Uniquely You dress forms but there are mixed reviews about the performance of the foam and the most critical review was of the “uni-boob” with which the makers endowed this form.    Said offending anatomy can be seen at the right.

Then there is the PGM dress form, which looks suitable but isn’t overly adjustable so I’d have to work on padding it out in places that need padding.  The PGM one I’m looking at is the #603 and is seen at left.

Then of course there is ebay–there are various vintage Wolf dress forms from the 80s on ebay, which might be nice, but the measurements seem a bit odd and I would once again need to pad.

Other vintage forms on ebay are enticing, particularly these three:

This is a Wolf brand dress form from the 50s.

This one is an Acme adjustable dress form–I just love the thought of owning something Acme..not sure why I have nostalgia for the company name.

Another push button adjustable dress form that looks promising.

So, I turn it over to you, dear readers…any recomendations on dress forms?  I like the idea of having an adjustable one, so that I could change it if I gain or lose weight.

So I have this dear little pattern from Folkwear (#219) 219illand I’ve been trying to make up the camisole and tap pants.  Well, unfortunately I started with what I thought would be easiest–the tap pants–and boy was I wrong.   I don’t know if it is me or the pattern, but I cannot for the life of me sew the crotch correctly.  I’m following the pattern instructions and somehow it comes out wrong every time (I’ve ripped this thing 3 times now!).  I’m thinking of just ripping it one last time and sewing it the way my intuition is telling me and not the way the instructions indicate.219views

To explain, the instructions seem to tell me to sew the front to back at the crotch seam, then sew the U-shaped seam, then the straight side seams, but when you do that, it seems the crotch is backward and you can’t sew it nice and flat.  Anyone have tips or can commiserate with me?

It really is a cute pattern and the camisole will be adorable with the notions I bought from PollyDanger.  The camisole calls for a bias strip to house the ribbon drawstring and I chose this adorable one with some fabric covered buttons to match.

Adorable, right?  Too bad this very simple pattern is driving me batty!  I even had my sister look at the pattern because she is more experienced in clothes-making and she said I was doing it as per the pattern instructions.


This lovely photo is copyrighted to Tara Bradford, who you can find here:

I’ve been debating getting a dress form for about a year or so and wondering if it is worth the money spent and the space it would take up.  I know there are great ways to make your own, but I’m just not into that at the moment.  So, I am soliciting your opinions (and I even have a handy poll) and want to know what you think!  Are you one of those who can’t live without their dress form or have you shunned one and still make fabulously tailored clothing?

Also, I’ve always been intrigued by the look of these:dress form cageBut I’m not sure it is overly practical for actual sewing, you know?

Well, I can hardly believe it has been a year since I started sewing clothing, but it has been so much fun.  I learned how to sew in Home-Ec (now you know I’m an ancient one) but we only made some pillows and curtains and I learned more about how to sew by hand than I did with a machine (to the point where it was known in my family that if you needed something hand-sewn, I was your girl, but my sister was the machine-sewing-goddess).

I started out making a superbly easy dress, the Simplicity 3835 Built by Wendy pattern where you can make a shirt or three styles of the same basic dress.  I first made the shirt, but I can’t show you a photo because the back seam ripped open on my first wear (made with a very vintage lightweight sheer wool, which in hindsight, pulled through the seam).  I haven’t repaired it yet, I’m not sure why, but it does remind me of how far I have come.

Out of the same lightweight vintage wool, I most recently made this dress:

nana dress blogAnd this is a landmark dress because I made it without a pattern.  I based it partially off a vintage dress I already owned and partially after seeing the Anda dress from Burda.  I think it makes me look a bit thicker in the waist than I actually am, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I placed the waist a bit higher than I should have and used the wrong type of elastic/binding so it is a bit more bulky than I would like.  Which might make it seem like I am unhappy with it, but really, in real life, it moves very well and I am happy with it and incredibly pleased with the success I had in making a dress from an image in my head instead of from a pre-printed pattern.  I have some goals for myself (Colette Chantilly in a green silk is one of them) and hope that I get more adventurous in my sewing than I have been previously.

So, what have your sewing accomplishments been in the last year?  Do you have any goals for your future crafting or are you happy just to go along with the flow and see where it takes you?

I recently read this article about Queen Victoria’s underclothing being unearthed and put on display.  Show here are her chemise and split drawers, which got me thinking.  I have made up plenty of tap pants which range from serviceable to adorable to sexy depending on materials and embellishments.  But here is the rub (pun intention to come)–my thighs rub together when I walk.  I know, this is not an uncommon problem among women, but in lieu of wearing Spanx or some other girdle arrangement, what could I wear under dresses during the day so that I could walk without chafing, then, like a sign from above, I saw these royal underwear.

Queen Victoria's undergarments on display.

Queen Victoria's undergarments on display.

Those split drawers (open underneath to allow for use of the toilet) would be perfect for keeping my thighs intact and allowing the area to ‘breathe’ so to speak (those Spanx can be quite tight and non-breathable).  My only problem is, how do I make them?  They seem to be just two tubes of material sewn up and attached at the top and crotch, but can I swing this without a pattern or even a real-life model to go by?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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