January 30, 2016

Another climbing top!

Ok, I really hope I am not boring you with these. This top was actually made from the very same pattern as this one (which you can see in action here) and the only reason why I am posting this is the simple fact that the combination of fabrics in this one makes the arrow design on the back more visible. 
One day, I should go climbing with a third person so I can get some pictures of me climbing high walls wearing this (and a climbing harness)... Then we'll see if the arrow starts making sense ;)

I made this top because I really like wearing the first one. Initially I thought I didn't really need a top with a built-in sports bra but is very nice to wear, nicer than the one without. Which means that, to serve my current climbing schedule, I'll probably make another one. Although a new sporty cardigan and maybe warmer trousers will be up first.

You may notice that I am using handholds and steps in a variety of colours in these pictures... Yes, that is right. I am not climbing an actual route here. The part of the climbing hall dedicated to bouldering was very busy with lots of children so I improvised in a quiet corner. 

I think I did manage to show some moves which are belong to the repertoire of a slightly more experienced climber though...

January 27, 2016

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2016

It's here! Earlier this week, Marie and Kerry announced this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. I'm usually no good at joining sew-along-like activities but this is a challenge I have really enjoyed for the past two years. So of course, I joined again.

For this year, I, Lauriana, pledge to make at least six items from vintage patterns in my stash (which may include knitting machine projects). I want to focus on exploring new-to-me styles and making things I will really wear (I know those two might contradict each other, but they don't both have to apply to each project). 
Besides that, I think it would be nice to do my bit to spread the love of vintage sewing...
So, I will also try and share six original vintage sewing (or crafting) projects with all of you. Mostly, these will be in the form of translations of those "draft according to these instructions" sewing projects which were so popular in so many of my vintage magazines. However, I have every intention to also turn one pattern from one of those labyrintine tracing sheets into a PDF pattern... in July, when Marie and Kerry present their month of blog posts about the pledge.  

January 25, 2016

Comfort sewing

This weekend, I started sewing a new dress. Not a vintage style dress and not a modern one. A comfortable dress, a garment to put on after a long day, to wear when snuggling on the couch with a good book. Or when sewing ;)
I know people wear things like yoga pants with t-shirts for such occasions but, let's face it, that is just not me.

My apologies for the sketch. I know it's hard to see those pencil lines.

Obviously, the right fabric for a project like this is jersey. Soft and stretchy. And I happened to have a piece of black cotton jersey of almost 3 meters. A nice fabric but not suitable for many things. There is no lycra in that fabric at all and, as a result, it has no recovery. I made a top from it once but it bagged out during wear and didn't really regain it shape in the laundry. Oh, and it had no vertical stretch at all
Odd properties which make it unsuitable for fitted garments but great for a skirt.
And the one fabric in my stash which I really liked with that black stuff was this burnt orange jersey. A nice colour, but the fabric is thin and soft. Viscose jersey. I thought it might stretch out badly with that big heavy skirt, so I decided to underline the bodice. I used grey striped lycra, the material I have used for slips before. 

I'm not sure about neckline yet, or about the sleeves really. But I did decide on a fitted bodice and a gored skirt, to be connected in a way which is interesting and yet not too difficult to sew.

And it is working.
So, now I am sewing skirt pieces to that double layered bodice and wondering whether or not I will really end up liking this dress style-wise. 

January 22, 2016

Bella 1951

It has been a while since I have shared any random vintage loveliness. So, today I have for you Bella magazine from January 1951:

Bella was a Dutch magazine which was (as far as I know) at least published from the late 1930's to the late 1950's. It is essentially a more glamorous cousin of Marion: It is larger in size, includes news about high fashion AND a tracing sheets with patterns for all the designs in each issue (although still in one size only).

This was the fashion news, with photographs! One design by Jacques Griffe, one by Jean Peton and two by Maison Alwyn (ehm, obviously you don't get patterns for designs in the fashion news...).

Griffe is the only one of those three design houses I am familiar with and this great evening gown is his creation. With pockets and a huge collar!

I also adore the Alwynn creations:

This gloriously draped jersey dress,

nd the special suit with fold-back details.

And then, there are the magazine's own designs and this month starts with the most eye-catching ones possible: Wedding gowns. And, on the far right of the page, some pretty great dresses for the mother of the bride.

After that, it is on to more every-day wear: 


Every issue includes a pattern which is shown in many variations. This time, it's a dress.

Boy's clothes

Coats and dresses.

January 17, 2016

Feelin' groovy

There is one New Year's resolution I came up with after all: Sewing from stash. And I do not mean that I will try and find a fabric in my stash for the items I have just dreamt up. I always try to do that. I mean I will try and make myself go through my stash (which is pretty big) regularly and come up with projects based on the fabrics which are there (the only item which is getting a fabric buying free pass at the moment is that 1920's dress...). 

These trousers are a first example of that new policy. I have three large pieces of corduroy in my stash, bought at about the same time as the material for my orange dress. The fabric was very cheap at the market, only 1 euro a meter if I remember correctly, and maybe a bit retro in style but made of cotton and nice. I think I had earmarked all af the corduroy for 1950's style dresses but I tend to do that, get carried away with a type of sewing project I like. 
When I had a look at those pieces last week, I realized that the very dark brown fine-wile corduroy actually had stretch. Stretch which made it a lot less suitable for the dress I had mind and very good a pair of 1970's inspired flared trousers. 

So, I made those. 

Nothing fancy really. I used the pattern I had made for these jeans but changed the back, from back yoke to darts. And I made the legs flare out a lot more. I also made them longer. When I made the jeans, I had only just enough fabric and I prefer trousers like these to be on the long side. In fact, I could have made them longer yet.
There's nothing that can make you look so long-legged as flares and heels...

I used to wear and sew flared trousers regularly but I seem to have veered away from them in recent years. It is still a a look I feel comfortable in though. And I wanted to experiment with 1970's looks in this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge anyway. 

Oh, and these trousers finally give me an excuse to wear my big floppy hat! 

January 14, 2016

Vintage intermezzo

No stories about things I am making today. I haven't found the right fabric for my 1920's dress yet and although I have sewn something else (something more practical), I don't have pictures yet. 
Instead, I have these two odd little things to show you.

My grandmother is moving into a nursing home and we, the family, are clearing out the house where my father and his brothers grew up. This grandmother didn't really enjoy sewing and/or crafting but of course she could do it. And she inherited sewing stuff from an aunt of hers. So, even though she has already given me a lot of sewing stuff (the sewing machine I keep in my bookcase and lots of buttons, among other things), little odds and ends occasionally crop up. Last weekend, I found these in a drawer. Little vintage advertising things.

First is this tiny booklet. Recognize that brand name? 

It's a calendar by Gutermann, for the year 1912 (my grandmother was born in 1927, so this must have come way down the family to end up here). Most of the pages inside are blank, but occasionally, lists of available Gutermann products are printed on the left side. 

I really like the back. This is a range of products we still know and love, 104 years later!

The second object is not as old but I really like the artwork. 

It is an advertising leaflet by Palthe, a company I know as a large chain of dry-cleaners (the biggest chain of cinemas here in the Netherlands goes by the same name but I don't think the two are related. Maybe the founders were...) 

but this booklet displays the dye colours available for autumn/winter 1939/1940. Deep, rich colours which you could pick for cotton or silk dresses and woolen coats... I think these were just the fashion colours because the leaflet mentions you could ask to see the sample book in the store which would contain many more colours, on fabric. 
I wish they still offered this service!

January 10, 2016


Just a word of warning: These are not my usual kind-of pretty pictures. These are what you get if I manage to squeeze in the sewing of a toile in a rather busy weekend and then run downstairs and demand from E that he take a few pictures right there and then. Scruffy hair, no shoes and a photographer who is looking down at the model...

Of course, I started to second-guess myself about that 1920's dress. The fabric I had in mind might have been cheap, it was also kind of earmarked for a very different dress. One which, in my mind's eye, actually looks a lot better in it. 
So, I decided to make a muslin after all, using this pale green fabric. It came from my stash and was as cheap as the other fabric but I didn't really know what to make of this stuff. And it seemed to have the right hand for this design.

Ehm... What can I say. It's a genuine 1920's dress. The size and proportions look right for the period but not exactly flattering.

To be honest, I was almost ready to just add this one to "interesting experience" and leave it there. Even if I found the perfect fabric for this dress, would I wear such a sack-shaped thing?

Then I went upstairs again to take it off. And I looked in the mirror and played with it a bit... And I came to a very similar conclusion as before: It wouldn't look quite so sack-like and unwearable if I made a tuck on that waist seam. On the front in this case. That would also draw in the front bodice enough to make the armscyes sit properly (the front bodice is extra wide. In theory, this should provide the neckline drape but in practice, unless it is pulled in at some point, that extra width just spreads out and puts the armscye in an annoying low position).

So, I guess I will be looking for the right fabric after all. I know I do not have anything suitable in my stash (the vast majority of my fabrics has a lot less drape and is more suitable to post-1947 looks). And it looks like a nice colour would help with this dress. No black this time...

January 5, 2016

The first project of 2016

Last week, I spent some time putting together my end-of-year post and pinning my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge pictures to the special competition Pinterest board. Both activities made me think more about the pledge than I had done in a few months. And looking forward to this year's (there will be a Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge this year, Marie has promised as much, but it has not been officially announced yet).

So, I have decided to hit the ground running and start this year with a vintage pattern project. You can see here that I've been tracing...
Yes, it is another make from one of my vintage sewing magazines. As I have mentioned before, the vast majority of vintage patterns I own are on tracing sheets in magazines or in miniature form, like Lutterloh. I think I only own five "regular" vintage patterns in envelopes. And four reproduction ones.

I am making a dress from Gracieuse magazine nr. 16 from 1929 (the magazine was published twice a month so this was second one for August). This dress to be precise:

I'm using the wedding gown pattern. Of course, I will shorten the back of the skirt to un-wedding gown it and I won't be adding lace or making it in white. Other than that, the design of 1920's (or 30's, 40's or 50's) wedding gowns was often not hugely different from that of formal afternoon dresses (it was usually different from evening dresses which tended to show more skin. A proper bridal dress, maybe up to as recent as 1980, was more covered-up). 
You could argue that, with a whole stack of 1920's and 30's Gracieuse magazines at my disposal, I am silly to go for a wedding dress pattern. I suppose I am but it just combines so many features that appeal to me. 

Just look at it. A lot of 1920's dresses have very plain bodices and necklines or rely heavily on separate scarves or surface decoration. This one has a lovely cowl-like neckline. A style which would become much more common in the following years. It has sleek, simple sleeves, asymmetry and an interesting skirt. The overall silhouette is a bit like a robe de style, but without the puffy-ness. 
I would very much like the dress to fit like it is suggested in the drawing: Free and easy but just clinging to the upper hip. Still a real 1920's look, but showing a feminine shape... We shall see.

The pattern pieces look like this. Like all of Gracieuse's cowl necklines, this one is not cut the way you would expect. Instead, it looks like a scoop neck with some extra room. This is also another example of a pattern on which the side seams seem to be set further to the back than we would expect (I noticed the same on the 1929 party dress I made back in 2014. It wasn't there in the 1922 top but that was a kimono sleeve design so it would have been technically tricky to move the side seams. Last year's 1933 gown also had the side seams in the normal place, which you can see here). Here, you can really see the effect in the sleeve pattern piece.  

I'm all set to cut the fabric now. I have some very cheap fabric which should have the right hand for this design so I am considering to just dive straight in. 

January 2, 2016

Another lingerie experiment

Happy New Year everyone!

This will not be a post about sewing resolutions. I may come to that later but generally, pinning myself down is the perfect way for me to loose all enthusiasm for the projects in question. Today, I thought I would show you my last project from 2015 (at least, the last one for me. After that, I did some alterations for friends and made a baby gift).

Before the holidays, I was experimenting with soft bras and version based on my own pattern was largely successful. Successful enough to make me think of a more fancy variation. Preferably one which would also cancel out the one flaw of the blue lycra bra: With excellent four-way stretch its support is a bit on the theoretical side.

This new bra is made from a red lace from my stash. I don't think the material was intended for lingerie and I have only used it for a skirt before (with a lining, obviously). That was just before I went on vacation in 2014, so I did't even blog about it. It is a fairly dense floral lace which only has horizontal stretch. 

I finished the edges with fold-over elastic and for the bottom edge, I stitched on my usual kind of elastic but folded it out, rather than in. I also used my tried-and-tested (for underwired foam cup bras) racerback bra shape with the closure at center front. 

I made one pair of matching panties but because of those black edges, the bra also looks good with black panties. Like my also recently finished (and yet un-blogged) high-waist version. For the past two years or so, I have not only been repeating the same the same two bra styles (the balconet and the racerback/plunge) but also the same two panty patterns: Melissa's lacy thong and my own cheeky shorts - the thong version (in fact, the red panties here are made from that pattern but I didn't use my usual trick with the lace back). In my quest for comfortable panties which don't cause visible lines under clothes, these had come out best so far. 
But there is no reason not to look a bit further. I like the idea of retro panties and the pattern I once made in a lingerie workshop is actually for those. It just needed some tweaking. 

I think the set looks nice but I am not 100% happy with the fit. The side edges of the bra cut a little bit into my chest muscles. I don't feel it but, unless I really keep my shoulder back properly, it is visible. I might be able to solve the issue (I made a small change to that edge because the blue bra had the same problem) but it may also just mean that this style is not ideal for my body. 
Anyway, I will have to wear it for longer to be sure about it.