Inside My Vintage Sewing Box

When The Boyfriend and I moved into our flat back in August, we had to buy furniture as we had previously lived in furnished flats. We bought a load of flat pack stuff from Argos and Ikea (bed, sofa, bookcases) partly because we needed things quickly and partly because they’re relatively cheap. But apart from these basics, we wanted to try to get nice things from our local anqtiques centre and we did find a nice coffee table, a table for our phone and this lovely sewing box (which we keep our tv on):

It first caught my eye because I love the mid-century vibes, then when I realised it was a sewing box, I had to have it! And it came with lots of sewing goodies inside!

There’s a crochet hook and thimble in the lid, and I love the unashamed shade of pink of the fabric lining!

There are quite a few poppers and hooks and eyes.

There’s what I assume is a home-made needle case, complete with needles – and several other packets of needles. (How many times can I say needles!?)

I particularly love this little paper packet of needles – it looks like it should have matches in or something!

Possibly my absolute favourite item is this slightly crazy pin cushion with sumo wrestlers (?) around the edge.

I like this retro box of pins too!

You never have too many thimbles or tape measures πŸ™‚

The only sad things about this little haul is that these are the only buttons. They’re nice, but it would have been great to have some really cool old buttons!

The main bulk of what was in the box was threads and ribbons and a bit of elastic.

Β  Β  Β Β  I feel a little weird about using the stuff that came in this box, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure the previous owner of the box used all of the things she kept in there, so I don’t think it was a life’s collection or anything. I just feel like I should keep the contents intact for some reason.

Have you every found a secret haul of sewing goodies?

Designer Inspiration: Mary Quant

My latest designer inspiration is Mary Quant – I thought I’d continue the 60s theme from my last fashion history post as I love it so! I also love her famous Vidal Sassoon haircut. Should I copy it do you think?

Mary Quant Hairstyle - Vidal Sassoon

Born in London in 1934, Mary Quant opened her first boutique (they always seems to be called boutiques and not shops!), Bazaar, in 1955 on the King’s Road in Chelsea. It was from the very beginning that the mini skirt idea started to take off – this is something new to me, I always thought this was definitively a 60s phenomenon! The jury is out about who actually invented the mini skirt (which includes very short dresses) – it could have been Quant, it could have been Andres Courreges, or John Bates. She herself said “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.'”1 What is true is that Mary Quant named it, after her favourite car – The Mini (obvs).

 

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Quant is also credited (by some) with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that were so often worn with the new shorter skirts and dresses. It could have been Balenciaga who showed harlequin tights in 1962. It basically seems like several people were having similar ideas in fashion at the same time – but Mary Quant seems to have been the one associated with inventing/ popularising the most innovations.

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Another of these innovations was hot pants. Here is Quant and Grace Coddington (of Creative Director of US Vogue and giant red hair fame – she used to be a model, and she features quite a bit in The September Issue, which I would recommend) modelling hot pants underneath dresses – I assume this was a thing?!

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“Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s/60s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.””2

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After opening a second Bazaar store in 1957, Quant started to design more and more of the items she was selling, instead of merely ordering them in. “For a while in the late 1950s and very early 1960s, Quant was one of only two London-based high-end designers consistently offering youthful clothes for young people. The other was Kiki Byrne, who opened her boutique on the King’s Road in direct competition with Quant.”3

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From the 70s onwards, she moved away from designing clothes and concentrated on homeware and cosmetics – which she says are a part of fashion. According to her Wikipedia article, she claims to have invented the duvet – though a quick google tells me that Terence Conran was the first person to sell the modern duvet, or continental quilt, in Britain, having got the idea from Sweden.

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She was particularly known for monochrome colour-blocking.

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She also seemed to have embraced bright colours, like these dresses, in orange, mustard and red. I particularly like the mustard one, and I like the contrast collar, cuffs, hem and pocket on this one.

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Like so many designers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, MaryΒ  Quant produced sewing patterns – I think it’s so cool how they all accepted people wanted to copy their styles so made patterns. I guess it probably wasn’t the same people who would buy the clothes and would make the clothes.

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I like the pose in the photos of this one!

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Not sure about this one to be honest!

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I like this one with the high collar and the pleated skirt. Not sure how flattering it would be on me – the drawing looks better than the photo.

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In 1966 she was made an OBE and in 2015 she was made a Dame. Not bad for someone who never studied fashion! Although she moved away from fashion design, for me – and I’m sure for many other people – the thing I will most associate her with is her mod designs of the 60s. I’m definitely going to look out for any of her patterns so I can recreate some of her looks!

 

 

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My first finished Vintage Pledge – 1960s Coat and Dress

I’m excited to share my first finished Vintage Pledge outfit with you today! I made a dress and coat combo for my niece and nephew’s Christening last weekend.

Ta da!

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I made it with this pattern which I borrowed from my Grandma.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI liked the idea of the dress and coat being made from exactly the same fabric, like the blue combo pattern illustration, but I had some green and white stripey fabric left over from my wedding Elisalex and a bunch of green cotton drill in my stash and decided to stash bust instead of ordering new fabric – I would have needed about 6 metres for both the dress and the coat and I’m a bit poor at the moment!

This was my first time sewing with an unprinted pattern and it was definitely confusing until I realised the pieces are numbered with numbers punched in holes. I laid out all the pattern pieces on my floor and it looked like this (this wasn’t all of the pieces!):

Christening-Outfit-1There were LOADS of pattern pieces! This is because there was the dress, the coat and the coat lining, which needs totally different pieces than the coat shell. Since making my Spring for Cotton dress from another of my Grandma’s patterns I was on the lookout for her having shortened the pattern pieces. This was fairly obvious – she had cut about 4 inches off the coat pieces (but not the dress, so she must not have made the dress) – I know it was 4 inches because one of the offcuts was in the envelope. It was also obvious she had shortened it because she cut off the piece numbers! Luckily there was a guide on the instructions, so I could work out which piece was which. I added 2 inches back onto the length at the cutting out stage (but then later shortened the dress and coat!).

The pattern was really (at least) a size too big – it’s a 34 bust but I’m a 32. Most of the rest of the women in my family have large boobs,Β  but not me! I thought it would be fine as it’s not a super tight/ fitted style. I think if I made it again – I still like the idea of a totally matching coat and dress – I would take the dress in a little across the chest/under the arms and across the back.

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Definitely some pooling in my lower back! I would also do something about the shoulders as I feel a little like an American footballer!

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The dress is made from some green (obvs!) cotton drill I’d had in my stash for a couple of years. It was maybe a bit stiff for the dress, but it turned out okay. The only problem I had was getting the neckline to sit nicely – it looks fine off and when I ironed it, but then when I put it on it puckers slightly in a couple of places.

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Before I put the zip in (a black invisible one I had in my stash – this was definitely a stash-busting make!) I tried it on and it looked rather like a hospital gown! I think it was the scrubs shade of green and the shape without the back seam sewn/ zipped up that made it look particularly bad!

The dress has a couple of tiny pockets in the centre front seams, which are cute but really too small to put anything in – they’re definitely too small for a phone, but I guess the pattern was designed before mobile phones!

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The sleeves have facings instead of hems, which I catch stitched in place.

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The dress had not been shortened by my Grandma, and I had to take 16cm off the hem in total – 13cm + 1.5cm twice seam allowance, which I catch-stitched in place.

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Now onto the coat, which I seem not to have taken many photos of, sorry!

It was a really well drafted pattern, everything lined up perfectly, which was rather pleasing. I was very careful when cutting it out as I juuust had enough fabric, so maybe that contributed too? If you’ve made up a vintage pattern, have you found the drafting is particularly good?

The thing I found less good about this vintage pattern was the sparse (to say the least!) instructions. I’ve read this before so I think this is common for vintage patterns, as sewers at the time did know how to do stuff without needing to be told in the instructions. Thank god I’d done welt pockets before, on my Freemantle coat refashion, or I would have been very confused!

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The major thing I learned was that I should have traced off all the markings when I cut out the coat, but I didn’t really know which markings I needed – the pattern had holes to mark the stitching line, as well as darts and marks for the pocket placement. If I’d traced them all, I probably still wouldn’t have know which ones I needed! So I kept the pattern next to me and got out the pieces as I needed to find markings. If I make this again, I will know which markings to trace! There is a key on the instructions for which sequence of holes means which thing, but until I was faced with the fabric, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me I’m afraid.

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The coat should have had buttons (and a collar), but I decided I quite like the streamlined look of it without. It does mean it maybe looks a little big. Maybe I’ll add buttons now I’m not sewing to a deadline. I’m hoping this will still be a wearable coat on warm Spring days.

Christening-Outfit-5I like the swingy shape of the back (though I should have ironed it before I took these pictures!). It does look too wide for me across the shoulders and shoulder blades – this might be because it’s meant to overlap at the front when it’s done up. Or it might be the same issue I have with the dress, i.e. it’s a size (or two) too big.

I was going to hand stitch the lining in place as the instructions said, but I used Grainline’s tutorial for bagging out a lining (again) instead and did it by machine. Next time I sew a vintage pattern, I’m going to construct it as the instructions say, to make it more authentic.

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Because the coat was a bit big, and definitely too long, despite the fact that I had already shortened it by 2 inches (from adding 2 inches back on from the 4 inches my Grandma had already cut off). It looked like it was waaay too big for me and not mean to be that shape. I decided to shorten the sleeves as well as the length, to make it look a bit more flattering. I measured to take off 13.5cm from the sleeves – 12cm + 1.5cm seam allowance. I trimmed them and then stitched them on my machine. I had to take 21cm off the length of the coat – this also made it the same length as the dress, which was pleasing. I cut 12cm off the lining at the hem and 13.5 cm off the shell – the shell was longer than the lining to allow for the facing at the bottom, and I left 6cm extra on the shell to allow for a 3cm fold up. The 6cm plus 1.5cm seam allowance plus the 13.5cm is the 21cm total I had to take off, of that makes sense!

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Although I had to do a bit of maths to figure out the hem attaching the lining to the coat, once I’d worked out which pattern pieces were which, this was actually not too difficult a sew. Probably because I just sewed it straight out of the envelope and didn’t make any changes – I feel like fitting is the most fiddly and difficult part of sewing sometimes. I’m definitely less scared to tackle other vintage patterns, including unmarked ones, to complete my Vintage Pledge. I might make a muslin next time, though, to get the fit better! Have you made anything from a vintage pattern? How did you find the sparse instructions?

 

 

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My #VintagePledge

β€œ#VintagePledge

I’m sure if you follow sewing blogs – and like vintage style/ sewing patterns – then I’m sure you’ve heard of A Stitching Odyssey’s Vintage Pledge. If not, it started in 2014 as a way to encourage people to make things from the vintage patterns I’m sure many of us collect/ hoard. It’s running throughout the whole of 2016, with a focus of activity and prizes in July. I’ve followed the activity for the last 2 years and this time I finally decided to join in.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I have some mostly 60s and 70s patterns from my Grandma and some from a friend of a friend who was clearing out her mum’s things.

I have already made one of my Grandma’s patterns, with limited success for Spring for Cotton – it did end up really a bit short, but I’m sure when the weather warms up I’ll be pulling it out of my closet with glee!

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I, Amelia of thriftmakesew,wordpress.com pledge to make 3 outfits/ garments from my vintage pattern stash, at least one of which will be from an older, unprinted pattern.

Since I’m making this pledge, I thought I’d have a look through my pattern stash and see what I might want to make.

From the beginning, this pattern was probably my favourite one from my Grandma. I have a Christening for my niece and nephew coming up in April so I might make the matching dress and coat combo for that.

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I kind of fancy making an old school 70s-style shirt dress. It would be good for when the weather warms up, and I could layer it with tights and a jumper/cardigan when it’s not so warm (i.e. 80% of the time in England!)
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Sometimes I feel like going full-on 60s all the time in my clothing but other times I feel like I don’t want to stand out that much! But on the days when I do feel like going full-on retro, I may need an authentic 1960s blouse…..

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Out of my other stash of vintage patterns, I think this one might be my favourite. Not sure when I’d have occasion to wear a full-length coat, though!

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I managed to pick up this Simplicity pattern from a now local second-hand bookshop – I could definitely love a place where the bookshops have patterns! There are also several vintage shops, which I’ve noticed also have vintage patterns quite often. Fingers crossed I can find one of the Chester Weinberg ones! I really like the little double-breasted jacket, so I might give it a go. I like the square collar on the dress too, and I don’t think I’ve got any other dress patterns like that (though I’d have to check to be sure!).

Simplicity 2841 from Inprint

And finally, I feel like I need to make the 80s-tastic hooded top from the middle pattern! These three were given to me by one of my friends from my job I just left, so I feel like I should make at least one of them! I may not wear it out of the house, but it would be good for lolz!

80s-tastic patterns

Have you made a #VintagePledge? What patterns are you planning to make? Are you as scared as I am that they will be way harder to make then modern patterns!?