Monday, February 27, 2012

Inspiration: Sweet on Sweater Dresses

Sweet on Sweater Dresses

I need another sewing project in my queue like I need more fabric in my underwear drawer (which is where the stash has started to creep). But I can't stop thinking about simple comfy sweater dresses lately, and I have this lovely plum sweater knit (which I got for $12/yard from Fashion Fabrics Club but SUPPOSEDLY was originally $40/yard) just lying around taunting me...

After collecting these images, I started seeing sweater dresses everywhere--I was especially taken with this lovely 1930s sweater dress refashion from This Old Life and her collection of inspiration images like this one:

I also loved this Anthropologie-knockoff sweater dress tutorial by un petit design...

And there are tons of gorgeous vintage sweater dresses on Etsy. I've been pinning them like mad, but as I write this Pinterest is down and I can't embed any of the images here. Boo!

Unlikely I'll get to this project before the weather makes it impractical, but wanted to share my obsession anyway. I keep debating whether I'd like a version with a big cuddly cowl-neck, or a split neckline, or deep V/scarf neckline...

So: have you ever sewed with sweater knit? As a knitter it just boggles my mind that a sweater that could take me MONTHS to knit could be magically whipped up in an evening or three...

P.S. Is it gauche/rude/stealikng or totally OK to put Pinterest pins of items sewn by other bloggers in inspiration posts, if they link back to the original posts? I wasn't sure, so just linked to them here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mad Men Sketch + Bias Slip Woes

Mad Men Sewing Challenge Sketch: Joan Dress

Is it just me, or do I look a bit goofy in 60s hair? I think I'll skip that when I photograph my completed challenge.

So here's the sketch. I'm not sure what I think--I'm not as in love with the drawing as I expected to be, but I think it's the hair and the fact that I couldn't figure out how the dress would work on my narrow shoulders--which is why I didn't draw in the brooch. Maybe I need to convert it from the set-in sleeve of the pattern to the kimono sleeve of the real Joan dress?

And I'm still frustrated in my dickey fabric search. As you can see above, I got some random cheap poly chiffon that sorta works--but Joan just strikes me as a genuine silk charmeuse kind of woman.

On another note... Thank you all again for the kind comments on my corduroy trousers! I'm sad to say that although they started out perfectly fitted they've continued to grow with wear and are now at least an inch or more too loose even in the elastic waistband. I'll see if they shrink up decently in the wash--if not, I'll take them in. Either way, they still fit better than all my other pants. So there, pants!

But that's what sewing's all about, right? Always something new to learn.

For example, tonight I learned I hate sewing on the bias. Or cutting silk on the bias anyway. I wanted to make some silk half and full slips to wear under unlined skirts or dresses:

Mad Men Sewing Challenge Sketch 2: Under Options

I attempted cutting out the simple rectangular pieces of my bias half-slip pattern (from Karen Morris's Sewing Lingerie That Fits) tonight while half-watching a sci-fi movie with my husband, and as the pieces slipped and slid all over the place, I was led to several deep questions:

  • How is it that so many of you watch television/movies while sewing? I pretty much missed the whole thing since I wanted to focus on not slicing off my fingers.
  • I know full slips are usually on the bias, but why would a half-slip need to be on the bias? Will all my suffering be worth it?
  • Do you think anyone will notice that the two rectangles I attempted to cut out look like parallelograms that have been chewed on by Cookie Monster? I swear those things would NOT square up, even with the help of the helpful woven-in dots on the fabric and a veritable army of rulers and T-squares.
  • I've never worn a half slip, but since they're all bunchy and gathered around the waist--is that going to show under my super-tight Joan dress? But conversely, would the full Ruby Slip--which has something of an A-line skirt--look weird/visible under a pencil-skirted dress? I'm curious--I've only ever owned slips of the unbreathable nylon variety.

And yes, a few of you pointed out that my croquis is now a bit larger than I am, since I drew her before an unintentional random weight loss (my food/movement habits haven't changed, so I believe it's due to my toddler nursing a lot during a recent growth spurt)... but I was too much in a rush to redraw her just for this.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trouser Triumph!

Trouser Triumph

I wanted trousers, I made trousers, I wore trousers. TROUSERS!

These might look like ordinary trousers, but they contain a veritable universe of pain, suffering, hard-won sewing experience--and eventual triumph! Also: polka-dot pockets:

Pocket interior

And a hidden elastic waistband:

Hidden elastic waistband shows when at rest

They're the first proper pants I've made (not counting pajama pants, pull-on pants and baby pants) and I'm not embarrassed to say that I started these over a month ago, because they are now the most comfortable, best-fitting pair of pants I own, and I will wear them INTO THE GROUND.

I took my time, made a muslin, read lots of reference materials, did lots of basting, and ripped out and redid anything that wasn't quite right. And as I wore them today at work I had this nagging sensation that they were too good to be true, and that my magic pants would somehow turn into a pumpkin (or rip up the rear)... but no. They're real, and they're mine! Phew!

Inspiration: I had three main inspirations:

  1. 1940s-style natural-waisted wide-legged trousers with creased legs...
  2. Maternity pants and toddler pants with hidden elastic. So comfortable!
  3. Burning hatred of all RTW pants. If they fit in my hips, they sag at my waist and rear. If they fit in the morning, somehow by the evening they are huge and sagging or super-tight. And they are always the first thing to stop fitting with even the slightest weight change. GRRRRR.

The sketch:

Stripes + Wales trouser outfit sketch


Why is photographing clothes so HARD? I tried this morning, back when they were perfectly snug and pressed, but even super-lightened these pictures are a bust:

Trouser Triumph

Trouser Triumph

So I ended up snapping some cold and windy self-timer portraits in a park at lunchtime to get proper color, but by then they were a bit wrinkly:

Trouser Triumph

Trouser Triumph

Trouser Triumph

The pattern: Out-of-print Vogue Elements 9745 from the stash, a slightly below-the waist wide-legged trouser with contour waistband, fly front (no shield) and center back seam, with optional cuffs and carriers (which I skipped--I don't do belts on below-waist pants).

Vogue 9745 Pants

Pattern Sizing: The original envelope included sizes 6-22. I cut a 14, which should have been SLIGHTLY too small in the waist (I have a 28.5" waist, 38" hips)... but I ended up taking in 2 inches on the hips and 1 inch on the waist, plus adding elastic to the whole waistband to pull it in another inch or more.

This was partly due to my fashion fabric, partly to me randomly losing a few pounds (my toddler has been nursing a LOT lately--growth spurt and all that). And although my pants fit perfectly in the a.m., they did start to sag and bag a little by the end of the workday.

Were the instructions easy to follow? There was just one sheet of simple-looking illustrated instructions, but since I had never made real trousers before, they might as well have been in alien cryptoglyphs. So I relied heavily on step-by-step photo instructions from the Easy Guide to Sewing Pants and Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Overall I love it, but I realized after assembling the fly front that it's backwards--it faces the same way as the fly fronts on traditional men's pants, but most women's pants have it the other way.


  • Trousers: Soft navy corduroy from the stash. I found it really tricky to cut in layers--it kept sticking to itself, so one leg came out longer than the other and I had to recut in single layers.
  • Pockets and inner waistband: polka dot quilting scraps by Denyse Schmidt from the stash.
Notions: A 7" Coats & Clark zipper from Jo-Ann's (probably should have gone for something classier in retrospect), rayon seam binding, 1 1/2" wide elastic.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

  • I lengthened the legs by an inch or so, to a 32" inseam.
  • Took the hips in by 2 inches, and the waist by 1 inch. I did this after basting the fashion fabric pants together, standing in front of a mirror and pinning out the excess at the side seams:

    Pinning out excess fabric at the hips
  • Replaced the standard interfaced waistband with a hidden elastic waistband, following instructions from Power Sewing. The elastic is zig-zagged to the seam allowance of the waistband so it doesn't turn inside the casing. I didn't want them to LOOK like elastic-waist pants, so I kept the back darts. The elastic only pulls in the waistband slightly--maybe an inch or two all around--much as a belt would.
  • Used rayon seam binding for the lower edge of the inner waistband, creating a little "curtain" as I've seen in most of my RTW pants/skirts:

    Trouser interior

Every part of the process was painful--I swear 90 percent of my time on these was spent poring over instructional photos, second-guessing myself, trying on the muslin and fashion fabric version repeatedly, squinting at the mirror, pinching the fabric here in there, sobbing, what have you... as opposed to actually sewing. It reminded me of the time I took a road trip around Southwest France, got lost every five minutes due to all the roundabouts, had to ask for directions in my rusty French--and eventually got there.

Because it all worked out and I have a feeling that my next pair of these will be smooth(er) sailing! Please don't tell me otherwise.

References Used:

  • Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing
  • The Easy Guide to Sewing Pants
  • Pants for Real People
  • David Page Coffin's Making Trousers for Men and Women


Room for improvement:

  • Next time I may try a version in a lighter color with elastic only in the back (and petersham in the front), and some fun top-stitching.
  • They should probably be a little snugger around the belly in the front.
  • Maybe I'll try a wider contour waistband that goes all the way up to my natural waist.
  • I'll use a better zipper, this one is a bit flimsy.
  • But the main area I need to improve in is SPEED.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes and yes. After all this work, I'm hoping these will become a TNT pattern!

Wear to:Work. Weekend. Playground with my daughter. EVERYWHERE!

Conclusion: I made trousers and I am happy. And here they are at the end of the workday, a bit looser and saggier and wrinklier, but still AWESOME:

Trousers at Work...

Good night all! May all your sewing projects go smoother than this one, but with just as happy results!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mad Men Challenge: I'm In! (With a Joan Dress. And a Bow.)

A royal blue figure-hugging V-neck Joan dress with cuffs? And a bow? Oh, yes, please.

Please don't laugh. I know full well I've posted only one finished object this year, but I SWEAR I have been sewing like a madwoman and will soon be assaulting you with a mountain of finished object awesomeness. Including my wide-legged trousers, which now fit PERFECTLY but just need a proper hemming and pressing. And even something made out of polar fleece (but don't get too concerned now--it was for a costume for a comedy sketch video).

But let's get back to the magnificence that is Joan, shall we? I was so excited to read about Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge, because a Joanie dress has been on my epic to-sew list for EONS now. I actually missed the entire last season (I blame my awesome toddler for being way more fun than watching even a really excellent show) but no matter. Also: I used to work on Madison Avenue! (In marketing design, not advertising, but still).

I did spend AGES on What Would Joan Wear? combing through all of her perfectly-fitting and brightly colored curve-adoring dresses, but in the end I kept coming back to this one.

I rewatched the episode on Netflix Instant Watch and took a lot of screen shots, and I'm fairly sure that it's a dickey dress (an item of which I was unaware until I started pattern hunting for one) with a faux-blouse underneath.

Here's the "dickey dress" 1960s pattern I picked up on Etsy (on its way to me now!), McCall's 5737--no bow, and no collar, but it has the right shape and the detachable dickey and cuffs--I can alter the other details to my liking:

Source: via Mikhaela on Pinterest

And although I'm guessing that the original Joan fabric was probably a lightweight wool crepe, I've already picked up fabric, too--a gorgeous soft stretchy but stable blue wool Christian Dior doubleknit, on sale at Paron's for less than $16/yard. I got a bit over 2 yards, which might be a squeeze, but I'll make it happen:

Christian Dior blue wool doubleknit

I'm still working on the blouse fabric--I'm struggling to find a silk charmeuse with an even vaguely similar or 60s-appropriate print. Except this awesome printed silk remnant on the Denver Fabrics site, but they are only selling it as one big 8 1/2 yard piece, and I need like, 1/2 a yard:

I'm also making a modified Ruby Slip to wear under it, in blue silk charmeuse.

Sketch soon!

So: are you in? What dress are you making? SO EXCITING.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sew Grateful Project: Crazy for Color Blocking Wool Jersey Skirt


I love this skirt so much you'd never guess it sent me into fits of serger-thread-unpicking crying and rage!

Yesterday morning I was ready to cry, but by the evening I was ready to dance. The "quick and easy" knit skirt I had turned to as a break from my troubled trousers and daunting vintage dress was turning into a disaster--the skirt was too short, the waist was too tight, and despite my best interfacing and stabilizing efforts the rippled top-stitching around the elastic casing looked like it'd been done in a drunken Etch-a-Sketch contest:

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt in progress

But after a lovely and relaxing lunchtime knitting group session at work, a happy idea came to me--why not just slice off the waistband casing altogether, and replace it with a gigantic soft black elastic waistband? It just so happened that I had recently thrifted a way-too-short skirt with just such a waistband:

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt in progress

Instantly the clouds lifted, birds sang, and all was right with the world! A quick bit of waistband transplant surgery and rolled hemming later, and... I had a skirt! I wore it to work today and couldn't help but blurting out "I made this!" at random moments (though I got quite a few unsolicited compliments as well). Know the feeling?


Sew Grateful week is technically over, but my main inspiration was my grandmother Melba, who taught me how to serge and inspired me to take my sewing to the next level. Grandmommy could whip up complicated lined suits and fancy silk bridal gowns... but as a busy working mother of four she LOVED shortcuts, knits and quick, easy patterns. Not to mention bright colors:

Melba in a simple orange knit dress, with newborn Mikhaela, 1980. Recognize that color?

Kwik Sew patterns were her favorite, mostly because they were printed on sturdy white paper. And when she died in 2004 (see my tribute cartoon here), she left me her Kenmore serger and a number of her uncut Kwik Sew patterns, including this one.

Also: I'd been meaning to try colorblocking for a while now, and this eight-gored skirt seemed like a perfect opportunity, since the pattern is otherwise a bit boring.

Crazy for Colorblocking

The sketch: This is a good illustration of how helpful a digital croquis can be!

8-Gored Skirt 7 Colorblocked Ways

The pattern: Kwik Sew 2771, a so-simple-it's-embarrassing 8-gore knit skirt with elastic waistband. It's literally just one pattern piece. How I nearly screwed it up so badly I have no idea!

More photos:

Side view, featuring my photo shoot assistant:

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt

Back view, sort of:

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt

Pattern Description:

Skirt with eight gores. Yeah, that's it! It's practically a maternity skirt it's so basic (and with the waistband treatment I went with tugged up to empire height or down below the belly it could totally be one someday).

Pattern Sizing:

XS-XL. I made the medium based on my measurements--but with jersey this tissue-thin, I should have made the XL (or even larger) and gathered the extra fabric. It's a bit skimpy as is. And I found the recommended elastic width for my waist size to be uncomfortably tight.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, but awesomer and colorblockier.

Were the instructions easy to follow? There are like, three steps. So, yes. Except I still managed to serge some seams together on the outside (SOOO much unpicking) and I found the elastic-insertion method--sewing the elastic together and THEN topstitching the casing over it--to be ridiculous and finicky.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

It's simple and fun--you really can't go wrong.

Fabric Used: Wool wool wool--I love wool, and I've always wanted to own a wool jersey skirt!

Except I didn't have the cash to buy the real thing in four colors. So this is just super-lightweight wool/poly-blend jersey from Fashion Fabrics Club--about 1 1/2 yards total at $7.50/yard. The descriptions and fiber content of these four colors would lead you to believe these are all the same exact thing, but buyer beware! They all feel totally different--the navy is super-soft and super-tissue-thin and sheer. The royal blue is lovely and smooth, though you can definitely tell it's half-polyester. The teal and seafoam are full of little white hairs poking out all over the place--my husband was convinced they had been sat on by an army of cats:

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt in progress Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt in progress

The takeaway here: when an online fabric description says "blouse weight"--don't just hope it's a lie because you are too cheap to buy real proper weight fancy wool jersey.

Construction notes:

  • I was too lazy to change my serger thread, so the inner seams are done in light yellow thread. Which kind of shows through the thin fabric. OOOPS.
  • I was going to do a twin-needle hem (for a nice weighted hang) with the help of a little stabilizer and/or interfacing, but after my struggle with the waistband, I just did a rolled hem in black thread and wooly nylon, which goes nicely with the soft black elastic waistband.


  • First time using wool jersey--well, woolish jersey anyway.
  • It is wearable.
  • It is colorful.
  • I'm loving the waistband--feels like a nice soft belt. A lot of people mistook this for a dress today, what with the coordinating knit top (from Target, in case you care).

Room for improvement?:

  • This would be more awesome in every way in a heavier 100% wool jersey.
  • Or I could try and recut a fuller version or add some extra gores to this one... but I'm so unlikely to do that.
  • I had serious static cling problems all day--this skirt and my tights just LOVED each other. Any tips to avoid that?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I definitely recommend it, but I don't think I need more than one of these.

Conclusion: My grandmother Melba would have loved this skirt. And my daughter Z is really lucky to have three wonderful and doting great grandmothers, but it really makes me sad that Melba never got to meet her.

Bonus Valentine's Day photos: When I got home from work, this was waiting for me:


Although I loved the flowers, my favorite element was the little paper toy "I LOVE YOU" robot my husband had assembled during Z's naptime (free printable pattern here):


We had a lovely dinner for three--Masheka and I had sushi and wine and little Z had chicken and green beans.

Good night, all!

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sew Grateful Giveaway Winner(s)! Plus: Project Progress (or Lack Thereof)

Giveaway Winner 1

OK, first the good news! We have a Sew Grateful vintage pattern giveaway winner... or two! Yes, I cheated--I was only going to give away one lot out of the seven, but after getting 73 fabulous comments, I was feeling extra grateful.

First prize: Our first lucky vintage giveaway winner was commenter #4...

...who hails from Canada and goes by the screen name dotted lines. Ms. Lines wins a lot of five vintage 1970s and 1980s mail-order dress and separates patterns from the "A Life in Mail Order Patterns" collection in bust sizes 39-42, including the one at the top of this post and these four lovelies:


She commented:

Oh, this is awesome! I love Mail Order 8250, especially the sleeveless version! I'd make it up in a soft bamboo jersey (without the zip!) for PJs, and possibly a nice linen (again, without that centre front zip) for any warm and sunny days that we might get this year. That the set is more my size range is an absolute bonus.

Random arbitrary maternity prize: Two commenters entered to win a lot of three adorable vintage smock-style maternity dress, top and skirt patterns, one from the 1950s and the others from the 1960s, in bust sizes 32 or 34:


So I arbitrarily decided to award a second giveaway prize. Why? Because I love babies. Do I need another reason? Babies! BABIES. BABIES!

The winner was the second maternity pattern commenter, Ginnie, who blogs at Underneath the Willows. Ginnie commented:

Goodness, what a gracious giveaway! As I found out just before Christmas that I'm expecting bundle #3, I could sure use some patterns that could translate to maternity wear. That vintage Butterick 3832 [Mikhaela note: I assume she means Butterick 3826 in bust size 32] would be perfect! I'm in love with the dress version and in something with a bit of stretch, it would be exactly what I need to get a jump on my already growing mid-section! :)

Congratulations dotted lines and Ginnie! I'll be contacting both of you later for your mailing addresses.

Finally, on a less cheerful note... ... I've been exeperiencing some serious sewing setbacks lately and it's really bumming me out. I was actually (well, not quite but ALMOST) crying last night as I attempted to carefully seam-rip out MILES of rippled wavy unprofessional looking stitching from the waistband of my color blocked Sew Grateful skirt... all while trying not to tear holes in the thin delicate wool jersey.

8-Gored Skirt 7 Colorblocked Ways

This project was supposed to be a nice quick win, an easy break from my troubled trousers and their too-large waistband I still need to attach. After all, it is an elastic-waist knit skirt WITH ONE PATTERN PIECE (repeated eight times). And I generally pride myself on my professional-looking clean-finished knit projects with lovely smooth twin-needle hems... It should have been a one-hour project.

Except that in the last two years I somehow forgot how to thread and adjust tension on my serger properly and had to relearn. And somehow I was so sleep-deprived I serged some seams on the outside and had to unpick them. And somehow no amount of delicate knit interfacing or seam guides or careful pressing will make the waistband casing top-stitching come out right--it's either wavy, too far from the elastic, or on the elastic itself...

Oh, and the elastic waistband feels SLIGHTLY tighter than I like and the skirt will be about an inch too short once I hem it. AND the fabric is super-thin and will require some kind of slip to wear. SO MUCH FOR EASY.

Seriously. You all are sewing up amazing tailored wool coats and fancy boned bodice dresses and here I am STRUGGLING with a one-hour knit skirt. I really do feel like crying in shame. I hope the good vibes from this giveaway will help me get my sewing mojo back!

So tell me--what embarrassing sewing mistakes have you made lately? The sillier the better, please....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sew Grateful Guest Reflection: "Surrounded by Sewing"

Above: A lovely doll my mother made when she was learning to sew in the early 1960s. "She’s lost her face and is a little sad-looking but notice the fancy hairstyle and the gathers on the sleeves and bodice. She used to have a petticoat and pantaloons but they are gone now."

How much are you loving Sew Grateful week? A big thank you to all my long-time and new readers who entered my first giveaway--it's so much fun to read your plans for what you might do with your winning vintage pattern!

Tomorrow I'll be sharing the story of how my beloved grandmother Melba taught me how to sew in a bittersweet week bookended by a road trip to a Mississippi funeral and a scary ambulance ride to a small Georgia hospital. And this weekend I hope to share my finished Sew Grateful sewing project.

In the meantime, here is a guest post from my amazing mom Beryl Reid about how HER grandmother taught HER how to sew. (Along the lines of this family tradition, I think my mom will have to teach little Z how to sew!)

"I grew up surrounded by women who sewed. My grandmother Drue was my first sewing teacher. I was living with her in Corinth, Mississippi in the summer of 1960 (I was about eight years old). There was, of course, a sewing room in the house, with an amazing pedal driven sewing machine.

"Me (in school photo) the year I learned to sew... in Corinth, Mississippi."

I had been sewing “by hand” for a long time, for as long as my memory goes back. I had just finished making a doll that wasn’t really for playing with... it was a Civil War era doll that reflected my obsession with history. I wanted to make a really detailed and authentic period costume for the doll.

"This is a photo of us kids, sitting on one of the rag rugs my grandmother made at the house in Corinth. I'm on the far left."

My grandmother decided I should learn to use the sewing machine for the doll’s costume. She sat with me for days, making sure I knew how to thread the machine and run it. Her method of teaching was gentle, but “hands off”. She let me make all my own mistakes and knew that getting me started was all that was needed. There was no “hovering” or nagging or recriminations... at all!

"This is a picture of my sister Melinda, my cousin Pam and my brother Michael... my grandmother Drue made all these clothes."

Most of the time I was left alone with the machine, my imagination and time to figure out what to do on my own. She might suggest some techniques... especially the gathering of the skirts and pantaloons. She would show me, then leave the room. Often, she would be in the next room, working on one of her own projects.

Every woman I knew in my family and extended family did some kind of home sewing or “making.” Drue had grown up in the rural South, the wife of a sharecropper—and in that culture, you often couldn’t buy something nice to wear, but you could make it yourself. She loved to make clothes, quilts and rag rugs... it was a legitimate creative pleasure for her and the women of my family. Both of her daughters (including my mother) had learned the same outlook and were both skilled at sewing, knitting and the art of “making it yourself.”

"Drue (center, between my sister Becky and grandfather Garland) sets up a quilting frame in preparation for a quilting bee."

By the time I returned to my mother and father after that summer, I knew how to sew. I had to re-learn it a bit when I started using my mother’s electric Singer, but that didn’t take too long. My mother Melba didn’t have to teach me. She added a few practical tips to my outlook on sewing, mostly of the time-saving sort:

  • She scorned the use of pins... a few upside coffee cups on the pattern were enough.
  • She also didn’t really believe in chalk or marking... a dart should be memorized and just done.

Speed was important to my mother. She worked full time as a book keeper when I was growing up, so sewing was done after a long day and was often because she wanted a new outfit for herself or me and my siblings—it was a practical activity. She did love to dress up (she inherited this from her mother!). They looked like models from a magazine to me and I admired them as gorgeous, stylish and capable women.

By the time I was eleven, I had progressed to making my own dresses for school. I remember one dress, it was a turquoise blue “mini” dress (remember this was the time of the “British Invasion” and skirts were inching up!) it was sleeveless and had a large double ruffle around a scoop neck, almost like a big necklace or flower lei. I can’t tell you how proud I was to wear it to school!"

——Beryl Reid (aka Mikhaela's mom)

Four (sewing) generations:Beryl, Melba (holding Mikhaela) and Drue in the early 1980s.

I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of my mom's ruffled blue mini dress, or of any of Drue's beautiful quilts (my mom thinks there might be one in her attic but she couldn't find it)... but here's a bonus photo of me as a baby in an outfit my mom sewed for me--I love the sweet purple rick rack!

So tell me, dear readers--do you have any family sewing traditions?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sew Grateful: Vintage Pattern Giveaway Overload!

Du Barry 5415

Giveaway Option #1: Du Barry 5415 vintage coat or topper pattern, 1942

Sew Grateful week is in full swing over at My Happy Sewing Place, AND I just hit over 150 blog followers, so I'm super excited to host my first ever Polka Dot Overload giveaway!

In typical Mikhaela fashion I could not pick just one pattern to give away--and since I'm doing a vintage pattern giveaway, I wanted to have a range of bust size options. So here are a variety of patterns I've collected that aren't quite moi, but deserve a loving sewing home.

So, the rules:

  • To qualify for the giveaway, please leave a comment here by Sunday Feb. 12, midnight EST telling me which pattern is your favorite, and either (a) what type of fabric you would make it with (color? material? etc.) or (b) what occasion you would wear it for. Please don't enter just to resell on Etsy or eBay--obviously I have no way to check that, but I would just love to think you'll actually sew with one of these!
  • There will be one giveaway winner. (The rest of these lots will go on eBay, as I don't have time these days for Etsy).
  • Some of these are lots--if you win the giveaway and pick one of them, you get the whole lot!
  • Out of qualifying answers, I will pick a random winner.
  • Please make sure to include your email address or other contact info when you post your comment (it should be visible to me only, I think).
  • I'll ship to anyone, anywhere, but please give me a few weeks of leeway before you start worrying about your pattern(s)--things are a big squeezed over here timewise!
  • Due to the sheer number of patterns involved here, I did not have time to check to make sure all pattern pieces are present for all patterns. If you choose a lot, hopefully most of them will be intact! If you choose a single pattern, I'll check the pieces before I send--if any key ones are missing, I can give you backup options.

And the options (I have links to back views or more details on the Vintage Pattern Wikia for some of these):

  1. Vintage Du Barry 5415 coat or topper pattern, 1942, size 16, bust size 34 (photo above). Love those Du Barry crayon colored illustrations!
  2. Vintage Simplicity 3431 dress with full skirt, early 1960s, size 16, bust size 36. Check out the sheer sleeves in the main view (and here's the back view):

    Vintage Simplicity 3431 Dress with full skirt
  3. Lot of three adorable vintage smock-style maternity dress, top and skirt patterns, one from the 1950s and the others from the 1960s. Bust sizes 32 or 34. (Here's more info on Butterick 7395):

  4. Lot of six vintage patterns from the 1960s or 1970, in bust sizes 37-40. I really wish these were closer to my high bust size, especially Simplicity 3722 (double bows!). And isn't Style 2876 (love that bodice seaming) very Star Wars--whereas Butterick 6329 is a bit more Star Trek? Also includes a half-size sloper pattern...

  5. Lot of six vintage patterns from the 1960s or 70s, in bust sizes 32-34. Yes, I know there are seven pictured... but then I realized I just LOVE everything about Simplicity 6577 (the orange/plaid combo! eek!) and it's only one size too small in the waist/hips. So (sew?) sorry!

  6. Lot of two vintage 1960s mail-order dress patterns (see detailed blog post about this collection "A Life in Mail Order Patterns") in bust sizes 34 and 35, Patt-O-Rama 8356 and Mail Order 8359.

  7. Lot of five vintage 1970s and 1980s mail-order dress and separates patterns from same collection (see detailed blog post about this collection "A Life in Mail Order Patterns") in bust sizes 39-42, including Mail Order 4785, Mail Order 8250 and Mail Order 9441 (my favorite! Love the polka dot bow-neck dress!).



Phew! That's it, folks. Good luck to all of you, and while I don't want to put on any pressure, I would just be incredibly delighted if the winner eventually made up their winning pattern ... maybe in time for next year's Sew Grateful week?

P.S. Later this week, I'm also planning to do a Sew Grateful tribute to my grandmother Melba, who taught me to sew (and left me her beloved serger and money for a sewing machine). I'm also hoping to do a project post about my Sew Grateful colorblocked skirt from a pattern she left me--if my fabric arrives in time.