Sunday, 27 August 2017

Vintage Lingerie: My Sewcialists' Tribute in a Book Review plus How to Scale Up the Patterns and a Me-Made 1930's Girdle

Are you a Sewcialist? No matter what your answer is to that question it's been a whole lot of fun looking at the wonderful garments made by everyone taking part in August's Tribute Month. I really enjoyed the "Inspiration Post" series that ran in July and how those have panned out into some great garments. Lots of new-to-me sewing bloggers with such a wealth of talent.  

I am absolutely snowed under with work, even on this Bank Holiday weekend (which is why I am procrastinating writing a blog post) and just don't know just how much sewing I will be getting done any time soon so I am going to dedicate this book review as my Sewcialists'' Tribute to Elaine over at The Demented Fairy who makes the most bonkers, wonderful Steampunk-inspired costumes and "muggle" clothes. Honestly, I would kill for half this woman's wardrobe. 

It was her recent post on lingerie that got me thinking, so with my best multi-tasking hat on I will be reviewing Jill Salen's wonderful book, "Vintage Lingerie", sharing the resource that enabled me to scale-up the patterns to a wearable size and showing a couple of me-made girdles drafted from the pattern for a 1932 girdle in this book in a tribute to her "smalls"-making skills. 

This book, Jill Salen's "Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques", and her corset one, are my go-to books if I want to sew some lingerie. 

The contents are in the format of an introduction followed by projects laid out as gorgeous colour photos of the garments which are culled from her own collection or from museums. The book ends with some very useful techniques.

There are 27 different projects in the book which makes this a very good buy even if you only make 2-3 of them as it is a wonderful resource.

Along with the photos are descriptions and a little history of the garments written in an informal, entertaining style. 

Each garment comes with  a double-page layout of the pattern drawn to a scale at either 1 square: 1 inch or 2:1 and require scaling up to the required size before use. 

This is the tricky part and will take a bit of patience, a decent ruler, french curves and a lot of swearing pattern paper. I drafted up the 1932 girdle pattern above to a modern size 8 using the measurements outlined in "Metric Pattern Cutting" by Winifred Aldrich as I was fitting models but you can use your own stats just as easily. 

I used the method of enlarging based on percentages that is found over at the Foundation Revealed website. The link can be found here. Seriously, this is probably the most useful thing that you will ever learn if you need to scale up these kind of patterns. This technique could probably be used to size-up just about anything. I really must have a go with a "proper" sewing pattern.
 Definitely, owe the author, Cathy Hay an eternal debt of gratitude for writing this guide.

The two things that are massively important: grain lines and balance points. Very handily marked on the patterns so remember to transfer them over. It will make a massive difference to the success of your garments. 

Also, boring I know but you will need to make a toile, unless you are very brave and trust your drafting (or very lucky and fit into the original garment measurements).

So how did my attempts turn out? I think pretty well. I loved sewing these girdles. They are made of an outer fabric of silk duping flatlined to corset coutil and lined in my trademark quilting cotton colourful linings.

I still haven't finished these girdles as they need their suspenders on the bottom so could be considered UFO's.  I also have no idea where to buy the little hooks and eyes that are stamped through the front of the girdles so the bottoms still need some sort of closure above where the suspenders are. I could have used eyelets but they might be a bit of a faff to get on and off then.  A longer busk would have been very unfortunate when you sat down.... ooft!

I do love the lines. They look much better on. If they look a bit collapsed in the rear on my dress form this is because they need a rounded bum to fill them out. These girdles would give you an fantastic shape and would look ace lengthened into a corset dress. No idea how comfy they would be wearing them all day but shaped like that who would care?

So have you taken part in Tribute Month? Do you admire someone's sewing skills or (bonkers) pattern choices? Do you like historical sewing?

Hope that life isn't totally pants, lovelies! (groan)

N.B. Just for the sake of clarity I don't own the pics from the book. I bought it with my own money and would gladly recommend anyone with a passion for vintage lingerie to do the same. I also made my girdles a couple of years ago...... but hey who is counting?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Antique Notions, Fab Fabrics and a Button Bonanza

Two posts in one week? I must be feeling a little strange. Actually there is a lot going on at the moment in real life that I can't share yet so I have not really had much time to blog, although I do keep up with a) shopping for all things sewing-related and b) reading all your blogs. 

This is a quick post just to share some of the the goodies that I have managed to score in the charity shops of late. Not the vintage homewares, just the sewing stuff.  I have been adding to my mid-century tableware collection but you are here for the sewing stuff, right?

Even though they have the Scottish heroine, Flora MacDonald on the front this packet of needles was made in England sometime between the late 1880 and 1909 by Abel Morrall Ltd., in the Clive Works, Redditch. There is a really interesting short post on the company here

The vintage buttons include loads of Bakelite and Art Deco beauties. I honestly have been buying them every week now and now have a button box to rival my Mum.  I feel a bit off potentially using such old buttons on new clothes though. Do you ever use stuff as old as they are in your sewing?

I have also picked up some fab fabrics, including a few 2-3 metre lengths of hand blocked silk and batiks. They have all been hand-washed and dried but not ironed so are a bit crinkly.

I also found some wonderful 70's (???) needlecord (the black and russet one). It's not a lot, less than 1 metre, but will be enough for the front of waistcoat. I have a gorgeous 70's St Michael velvet maxi skirt in almost the same design. Just wish that I could still fit into it!

Sprogzilla has got herself a very nice BF. This makes me feel really old. His folks are really lovely and gave me some gorgeous flowers from their farm. Aren't they glorious? They cheered me up no end.

Anyway, No matter where you are this week or what you are doing I am sending you a wish for peace and happiness. Too much sadness and conflict in the world at the moment.

So do you collect vintage sewing notions? A button-a-holic? Would you use your treasures or keep them for posterity? 

Until next time,
K Xx

Sunday, 20 August 2017

What's the Secret of the Black (Magic) Box? Singer Vintage Sewing Machine Feet and How to Use Them

Hello, Lovelies! Well it ain't chocolates but something far more interesting indeed to us sewing ladies.

I tend to go to the local charity shops on a Saturday. As I seem to be the only vintage-loving, sewing lady "in the village" there is usually something interesting to be bagged and added to the pile of sewing stuff I don't have time to use. Last weekend I was back home in Scotland so when I went in yesterday the lady behind the counter mentioned that she had something that hadn't sold last week but she had thought of me and if I was interested I could have it half-price.  Intrigued I was handed a black box and my heart leapt.

The box itself has seen better days but when opened is lined in the most gorgeous purple velvet and contained a whole load of feet for a Singer sewing machine. Being a vintage Singer owner these feet will come in really handy - if I ever work out how to use them that is! So in no particular order here goes*:

* Just to be clear I only knew what half of these feet were for. I had to look up the others on the absolutely wonderful website of Helen Howes which is a wealth of info if ever there was one. I love the Internet. 

Foot 1

This is an adjustable hemming foot. I don't think that anyone else made these but there are a couple of useful YouTube videos on how to use them. This is one. Seams really useful to me.  Oh, I am so punny. :)

Foot 2

Apparently, this is an under braiding foot in which the braid is attached to the right side of the material but is sewn from the wrong side. Who knew? I think that this one will come in really handy. YouTube tutorial here.

Foot 3

 I actually knew what this was! It is very like my modern bias binding foot. The binding needs to be quite small to go though this but it would be great for finishing raw edges before hemming and for Hong Kong finishing. YouTube here.

Foot 4

Knew this one too. No, it's not some sort of S&M plaything, it is a ruffler,  a 5 + 1 apparently, one that pleats on all stitches or every 5th (didn't know that though). This will be very useful.  You tube (for modern feet but they are very similar) here.

Foot 5

Haha! This is not a toy aeroplane, this is a Singer tuck marker foot. I knew this one too! I have absolutely no idea how to use it though so will be avidly watching YouTube to find out how to make tucks on things (should I ever have a burning need to).

So do you own a vintage sewing machine? Do you have a lot of feet with it? Do you ever use them, or even know what they are for? What are your favourite sewing resources?

Plus, I have a whole load more charity shop booty to share with you soon. 

Laters, Lovelies.
K Xx

P.S. None of the videos are mine so a HUGE thanks to the people who share their sewing knowledge with us through websites and YouTube.  This is yet another reason why the Internet is so great.