Tag Archives: Vintage

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 🙂

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.

       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?

Wardrobe Architect Week 2: Defining a Core Style


Here I am back for the second week of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect. This week it’s about trying to work out what our core style is, building on what we found out about ourselves in week 1.

There is another worksheet, with some questions, which again I’ll cover here.

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy,
poised, powerful, etc)?
Comfortable, the right temperature, unique (but not standing out too much), and correctly dressed for the occasion – I hate feeling way under- or over-dressed.
When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the
feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?
uncomfortable, not like me, feel like people are judging me for wearing the wrong thing (though, of course, they’re almost certainly not!).
Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?
Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin and Lupita Nyong’o. Interestingly they all have short hair! I like how Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin both have a slightly vintage vibe, but also look cool and fashion forward – and I think they can both pull off multiple kinds of look. And Lupita Nyong’o always looks chic and cool and her clothes fit perfectly. I also like all the bold colours she wears and the interesting silhouettes she pulls off.
What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?
I often feel like I want to look like a rock star, but I just don’t think I could pull of a leather jacket! I also love the masculine/ androgynous look of someone like Tilda Swinton, but I feel being only 5’3″ that I couldn’t really pull that off! I also go through phases of really liking 40s style clothes and the lindy hop style, but I think it’s the wrong era for me.
After answering these questions, you come up with some words from your answers from last week, then narrow it down to 3-5 words. Mine are:
With these words in my mind, I made a new pinterest board to pin photos of outfits I like (which is the last stage of this week’s exercise).  You can find all the image sources on pinterest. It seems that the pictures I pinned fit into a few different categories.
1. Casual outfits with trousers (most pleated) and slouchy shapes on the top.
core-style-1 core-style-2 core-style-3 core-style-16 core-style-20

2. Modern and vintage outfits with interesting style lines

core-style-21 core-style-13 core-style-18
3. Shift dresses, tops and coats with 60s vibes, particularly with collars and stripes.
core-style-7 core-style-8 core-style-9 core-style-12
4. More modern-looking boxy tops, with interesting prints on the fabric.
core-style-15 core-style-17 Then I have a few photos that don’t really go together or into the categories above. They’re a mixture of vintage and modern styles, but they are all quite loose silhouettes.
core-style-5 core-style-6 core-style-10 core-style-11 core-style-14
I’ve found this really useful in working out what my core styles are – I knew there would be more than one, but by pinning lots of pictures, you can then spot the trends which then helps you realise what you’re drawn to. I think I need to make myself some pleated trousers – and get more brogues in more colours! I am also falling back in love with cute collars, so that’s good to know!



Designer Inspiration: Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin who was born in 1922 in Italy, worked under Schiaparelli and became head designer for Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier in 1947 and he’s still alive! He launched his own label in 1950 and was interested in geometric shapes, especially bubbles:

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The above dress is obviously one of the more extreme geometric designs, which is great in its way but I like his more minimal designs too, like the heart one below. I’m not normally a huge fan of hearts, but there’s something about the proportions and design of this that I really like.

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When I was first thinking about looking at Pierre Cardin, I of course, thought of him as a 60s designer, but having discovered he started his own house in 1950, then I found these 2 more 50s-style designs. You can already see his interest in structure and shapes.

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I love this dress worn by Mia Farrow! Although its shape is not geometric, the colours obviously are. She seems to have some rather funky tights too.

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I really love these bubbly dungarees! They look a bit boob-squashy but I guess boyish figures were in style in the 60s. I kinda want to make a copy of these! Maybe for SewDots…..

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And talking of dots, I love these totally circular pockets. And I’m always a sucker for mustard yellow!

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He seemed to use cut-outs quite a lot to give the geometric designs he liked. These ones look a bit like Star Trek uniforms to me, especially the orange on in the middle – maybe Cardin was the inspiration for the costumes (or vice versa)?

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I included these ones because glitter.

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I love all three of these dresses, especially the one on the left. Good hats too. Could do without the leering man, though……(It might be Cardin himself, I can’t really tell!)

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I like this monochrome offering and it seems a bit more wearable than some of the others, if the cut-out on the stomach wasn’t actually cut out!

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I quite like the half and half colours on this dress – and the way the navy sneaks onto the green side. Not sure it would be totally office-appropriate though…

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This seems to be one of the less extreme dresses, and I love it! I like the shaping of the placket-type-thing and the I guess quilted shapes on the bottom.

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With this one, I’m just curious how the collar stands up and was made! Not convinced about the colour….or the fabric, it looks almost shiny. I wonder what it is? Anyone know?

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I like how this one combines the cut outs and the structured designs. I kinda want to see a picture of it with the model’s arms down, I bet it looks a bit rubbish! Good boots though.

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Cardin was still designing clothes into the 80s (he’s moved towards designing cars and buildings and things as well as fashion). This bubbly coat seems to be from 1987.

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As with most designers of the 60s, Cardin released sewing patterns based on his designs. I’m not sure about the collar, but I like the shaping on the yoke and the swingy shape of the dress.

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I think this one looks much more interesting in the drawing than the photo – you can’t really see the seam lines in the cream. I’m digging the weird grey 60s hairdo too!

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I really like the shape of the neckline on this one, and clever how they’ve shown it colour blocked as well as all in one fabric.

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I really love this jacket – I may have to search ebay for a copy of this pattern! It might look a bit costumey but I don’t really care.

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You can’t beat a great 60s swing coat! And the collar! I wonder how they get it to stand up….

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Do you like Pierre Cardin or are his designs a bit too costumey do you think? I kind of like how extreme the clothes are, but I probably wouldn’t have the balls to wear most of them without toning them down or making them a bit more modern!







Fashion History – The Early 1960s

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In the 1960s, for the first time, fashion looked to London instead of Paris. Think of Carnaby Street and the Kings Road – there were loads of little boutiques which got new styles in every week, with young people being the main customers, of course. The 1960s saw fashion become an integral part of young people’s identities for the first time, and they had the disposable income to buy all the new fashions – and labels like ‘casual’ and ‘formal’ dressing no longer mattered.

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The early 60s were all about simple lines and clean shapes. The shift dress was king, moving away from the extreme waist definition of the 50s, started by The New Look. Mary Quant was an early queen of the shift, but it was widely adopted, with design details like large pockets and cut outs adding design details which were missing from the shape of the dress.

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Colouring was another way to add design details to the simple shift.

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It was in the 60s that trousers first took off like never before – they had obviously been around in the 20s (wide, pyjama-style) and women like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn wore suits in the 30s and 40s – but the 60s was where they became more main-stream than they’d ever been before. They especially took off when in 1963 Cathy McGowan wore a pair to host the music tv show Ready Steady Go.

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I was slightly struggling to find good photos for this post – there are so many amazing clothes from the 60s and great designers who started in that era that I couldn’t work out how to narrow down my search, so I decided to look up Twiggy, whose style I LOVE! I definitely kinda want these massive earrings! Are they discoballs or baubles!?

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I think this dress could be easily recreated with the Megan Dress from Love At First Stitch. The one above could maybe be made with the Megan too, if I could work out how to do the ties on the front.

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Technology advances meant fabrics became more easy to wear and care for, as polyester was blended with other fibres. This led to the more avant-garde designers using slightly less conventional materials, like paper, plastic and metal. PVC was also invented in the 60s and was available in black and white. Designers also used traditional evening fabrics, such as velvet, lace, and brocade, for daywear.

This is Audrey Hepburn in a Paco Rabanne dress made of I think giant sequins, from the film Two For The Road.

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Andres Courreges was also known for his extreme cut outs and space-age-y use to unconventional fabrics and materials. The 2 white ones are clearly not wearable really, but I still love them! Digging these giant sleeves too!

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In 1960 24-year-old Yves Saint Laurent showed his final collection for Christian Dior, then set off on his own to create a cooler Beat collection including leather suits and knitted caps. With this he signalled the beginning of the end for French Haute Couture. In 1962 he launched his ready to wear label, Rive Gauche.

1960 Yves Saint Laurent, 24 years old, showed final collection for Christian Dior, sent out a cool Beat collection of black leather suits and knitted caps to an astonished and bewildered audience, sounded death knell of haute couture. 1962 invented his ready-to-wear label Rive Gauche. I love the 2 dresses on the left!

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In 1966 YSL launched the first classic tuxedo suit for women, ‘Le Smoking’, which paved the way for androgynous fashion and 80s power suits.

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Catherine Deneuve wore one too.

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This YSL suit is AMAZING! I definitely would love to copy it, even though I may not have anywhere to wear it! Maybe I should make it and then just wear it on a random Wednesday or something.

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Laurent took inspiration from pop art in his designs too, most famously his Mondrian dresses.

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I love the Mondrian dresses, and also the one with the lips below, left.

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Although the ‘youthquake’ meant young people were moving away from more tailored, formal styles, I still love 60s suits, like these 2.

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This evening gown is fairly fab!

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Of course, I couldn’t round up fashion from the early 60s without looking at the amazing sewing patterns available at the time. All the major designers, whose names we still know now, released patterns:

Nina Ricci

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Vogue Paris Original Jeanne Lanvin 2160
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Yves Saint Laurent

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and Pierre Cardin.

Vogue Paris Originals Pierre Cardin 1802(image source)

Don’t forget, of course, Chester Weinberg! I would like to add to my vintage pattern collection with some designer ones.

The big pattern companies were no different, so here’s a little selection of my favourites.

Butterick 5679
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Do you like the 60s? Who’s your favourite designer/ style icon?




Designer Inspiration - Chester Weinberg Style Crush - Jean Seberg Fashion History - 1930s



I have loads more vintage patterns!

I’ve spent the last 2 days sitting on the sofa trawling the internet and watching crappy movies, after finishing a massive project at work. And I’ve been planning what I want to sew, but not actually doing any sewing. I think I’ve now got to the point where I have too many things I want to make, so feel unable to make a decision where to start! I’ve bought several new patterns and I have quite a lot of fabric in my stash which I’m planning to make things out of. The stash might have shrunk this evening, though, as I pre-washed a bunch of things (including 3 metres of liberty fabric I bought at the Spoolettes meet-up) and one of them ran 😦 I had some bright pink stuff (don’t know what it is as my friend gave it to me) and it has stained most of the other things I put in with it. It’s very sad. I’m washing them again and I’m going to go out tomorrow to get some of that dye-removing stuff that I think Dylon make. One of the worst ones now looks like it was always pink, and it had pink flowers on anyway, but I liked it before, so that’s a bit sad.

Anyway, enough lamenting about my possibly ruined fabric (*sob*) and on to my new(ish) load of vintage patterns. Before Christmas (like, way before Christmas) my Aunt emailed me to say her friend was selling a lot of vintage sewing patterns which belonged to a relative. There were 60 patterns in all and I was temped to take all of them, but I have a small flat and The Boyfriend is already quite understanding of my ever-expanding piles and boxes of crafty stuff, so I thought I should not take them all. So I said I would take the pre-1971 (i.e. pre-decimalisation) ones. They look to be mostly bust size 36, so I’ll have to grade them down a bit on the bust (I haven’t looked at the other measurements relative to today’s sizing). Some of them are amazing! I feel I should join Marie’s Vintage Sewing Pattern pledge as I now have quite a stash of them, with the ones I have borrowed from my Grandma.

There are 3 Butterick ones, which might be my favourites (possibly because they’re all styled in blue on the packets):

P1020049There are 6 by the company Style, which I’ve not heard of before. Maybe someone can fill me in it as a brand?

P1020050(the second 3 aren’t as much to my taste)


There is one vogue one which has seen better days!P1020047

The majority of them are Simplicity, and most of them are lovely sixties styles!

P1020059P1020066P1020069P1020062(I especially love these 2 – again styled in blue – and I definitely want to make on of the jacket on the left.)

P1020057P1020055(these last 2 aren’t so much my taste, but the pencil skirt might be a good basic pattern).

There were also 4 kids’ patterns, which seem very twee but might be fun to make up.


And there was a random men’s dressing gown pattern hidden in the pile.P1020079

So I am now the proud owner of way more vintage sewing patterns than I will probably ever sew!

I’m also hoping to get back to writing on here regularly as I still have a loads of posts queued up and I’m going to spend the next 3 days sewing ALL THE THINGS!