Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Just discovered Dolan Geiman, a Chicago-based artist. Loving the Americana collage. You can buy his stuff here.


Stumbled upon this great blog, Design is Mine.

Back to school on Thursday.... This is what I need:

Wiksten Pattern

Jenny Gordy of Wikstenmade is such a prolific maker, designer, blogger, all-round cool person. Her creations are such good quality and really stylish. She also uses stunning fabrics. She has had great success with her clothing line- which always sells out- and is now making a limited run of sewing patterns. I have managed to pre-order one... yay! Do the same here.

Monday, 30 August 2010

How to adapt the Port Elizabeth pattern: Advanced

Once you feel confident, or have had a go at the basic and intermediate styles, you could move onto these designs.

This pattern adaptation for a gathered neckline uses the 'slash and spread' method. Evenly mark vertical lines through the pattern, 'slash' down the lines and (keeping the bottom edges together) evenly 'spread' the pieces. Stick your new pattern down onto a backing paper. You will need to smooth the neck and hemlines (in green). You could reverse this method and make a flared hem/ trapeze/ swing top instead.

If you want to add buttons at the shoulders, you will need to add a facing to get the best finish. You will need to add a button stand (1/2 inch either side of the shoulder line) first. Then use the front and back patterns to draft a facing pattern onto, as diagram. This is really easy to construct: Stitch up the sides of the top and the sides of the facing; pin the front facing to the front top and the back facing to the back top (right sides together); stitch all the way around the armholes, shoulders and necklines; clip corners and curved seams; turn inside-out and press; edge stitch if necessary. Consider whether to put the buttons on the back or front, mark on, make buttonholes and attach buttons.

How to adapt the Port Elizabeth pattern: Basic to Intermediate

I have finally got around to drawing some ideas out for adapting the very simple Port Elizabeth sewing pattern, available on BurdaStyle. I hope the diagrams are helpful; please contact me if you would like any help or want to know how to adapt the pattern another way.

☞ Please remember this pattern has no seam allowance. You must adapt your pattern and then add seam allowance afterwards on every edge a seam will be ie side seams, shoulders, armholes, neckline, hemline and centre front if you have a seam here.

One of the simplest ways of personalising this pattern is to alter the neck or hemline. You can change the neckline to a scoop, V or square shape; you could add a V-shape or shirt style hem. You could shape the neckline and finish the edge with visible bias binding or draft a facing (I can add a diagram if you are interested).

A simple addition is a Patch pocket or an Apron style pocket, as below. Use the front pattern piece to draw a pocket pattern, as the diagram.

When you start to feel confident about pattern adaptation, you could start to cut the pattern into more panels and add a yoke. You will need to cut the bottom half of the bodice off and extend the bottom section as much as you would like it gathered into the top section. It is important to remember that 'what goes up, must come down' ie side seams and shoulder seams etc must be equal. On the diagram a=b and c=d.

Something simple to achieve that changes the look entirely, is to add a button stand. The centre front (or centre back) line becomes the central position for your buttons and buttonholes. Therefore, you need to add 1/2 inch either side of this (your button stand). You must then add a 1 inch facing and then add your seam allowance on every edge. This is simple to make: once cut, press along the seam allowance and facing lines and neatly tuck under. Stitch just under 1 inch from the edge on the right side to secure the layers together. Mark on buttonhole placement and add buttonholes and then buttons. Finish neckline with bias-binding.

Calling all Port Elizabeth Sewists!

I have set up a photo pool on Flickr, as suggested by Cecili. Please add photos of your creations here. I have added the photos posted on blogs and will include links to your blogs- hope you don't mind. I can remove them if you do.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Custom Dress #2

I decided to trial this in fabric, as the drapes work so much better than in paper. This is the bodice section. I still think it comes too low, so will raise the mid-section under the arm.

The mid-section needed yo be cut on the bias to create better folds, so I cut this on the stand.
This shows how I have raised the midsection:
The original design has folds on the shoulder, so I have added extra fabric here to create this effect.

This is what the pattern looks like flat:

Custom Dress

I am so excited to be making a custom dress for a lovely lady in the States. Here are the first set of pattern drafting pics. I really want to get cracking on this quickly. I'm looking for a lightweight wool or wool-type synthetic mix (suiting material), so if anyone can recommend something, please let me know.

This is the dress I am basing it on- beautiful draping with a retro feel. I have marked on bust, waist and hip lines to give me an idea of where to split the basic block I have drafted for her.

This is the bodice section- I will cut this in fabric today and see how it works, as paper doesn't give a true representation of the drapes.

This is the mid-section. I have included photos of how to 'slash and spread', for those of you interested in pattern adaptation. I have marked on where I want the extra fabric (across the whole panel) and the spread it evenly, sticking it down onto a paper backing (see next photo).

This is how it is looking currently. It will look much better in fabric. I think the mid-section may need raising a little and the bodice section shortening, to reflect the design better.

Thoughts and suggestions greatly appreciated!

Cecili's Port Elizabeth

This is Cecili's PE top and I think t looks great! I have followed her blog for a while and am so thrilled that she has used my pattern! I can't believe the popularity of this pattern; I just keep finding versions of it. Cecili talks about adaptation ideas and I had planned to do a post on how to adapt the pattern to personalise it. What do you think?

Friday, 27 August 2010

Pennsylvania Purchases

✂ Fabric, Fabric, Fabric! Wow, what an amazing array of fabric shops in Pennsylvania! This is a selection of the purchases I made out there.

Checks and Seersuckers from JoAnn

Repro feedsack fabrics from Intercourse (Zooks)

Vintage-look fabrics from Strasburg

More vintage-look fabrics from Intercourse (Zooks)

Thrifted Ikat and patchwork square (Pennsylvania Dutch Country)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Another Port Elizabeth by Emily

This girl is lovely and her blog is really arty and interesting. She has made a great combo in this photo- using the PE pattern for the top.

Pennsylvania trip #2

Street art, Reading Terminal Station and somewhere I should live!
We took a day trip to Cape May- stunning Victorian architecture and beautiful colours.

Mum and Daughter Trip to Pennsylvania

What a wonderful state! I've just returned from a week in PA with my mum. We had an amazing time. The weather was stunning and so were the sights... and the shops!!!

Day trip to West Virginia:
Lancaster County: such a beautiful place. I could happily live here. It's such a tranquil, friendly place. Bought so much fabric, which'll probably end up being part of my stash, rather than ever being used...
Lancaster Quilt museum and some Amish boys. The bright, striped quilt is from the 1890s, unbelievably. The wedding band quilt is made from feedsack fabrics, of which I bought loads of repros...
Philly: the Liberty Bell, George, the Love sculpture and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Arrived. Shopped. Ate. Up at 4am. Drove a mahoosive car. Ready to shop again. Ready to eat again.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Resizing vintage patterns

One way of quickly altering/ resizing a vintage pattern, without accurate grading, is to slash and spread. This vintage size 18 pattern is the equivalent of today's size 14 dimensions (UK).

For a modern size 10 woman, this pattern would need to be graded down 2 sizes. There is approximately 9/10cm (3.5/4 inches) difference to remove from the pattern. Rather than taking this from just the side seams, which simply doesn't work, you can use the 'slash and spread' method. Mark three, even, vertical lines on the front and back patterns, trying to avoid the darts, and cut or 'slash' into four pieces (I would trace the pattern and work on this, rather than the original). Mark the pattern pieces 1-8, so you don't get them muddled up (see image below). Then divide the excess, which needs to be removed from the pattern, by the number of vertical edges and side seams (15, as the front is cut on the fold)= 6mm. This may seem confusing, but if you were to 'spread' the pieces below out, you would create 2 edges per slash.

6mm is the amount you need to remove from each vertical edge and each side seam. I would mark a line 6mm from each vertical edge and then pin the pattern pieces back together using these new lines. Ensure you remove 6mm from each side seam too. You will need to smooth off the shoulder, neck and armhole lines, as below.

*Check the bust and waist measurements are larger than your own (there should be approx 3" extra on the bust and 1" on the hips, although this top is supposed to be close fitting). Measure the bust line on the front and back, add them together and double (a pattern is equivalent to half your body). Repeat for the waist line. If they are smaller than your measurements, email me!

*I recommend making a toile/ muslin of the pattern first to ensure it fits. This way you can adapt the pattern further by fitting it to your unique shape.

This method can be used for enlarging patterns too. You would slash and spread in the same way as above, but you would need to stick the pieces onto a sheet of paper in order to 'spread' the pattern and thus enlarge.

Another Port Elizabeth!

Just stumbled upon another Port Elizabeth made by Elena. Looks great!


I forgot to add this stunning dress to my list of findings yesterday: it is a vintage-inspired, silk dress by Toast. It was such a bargain; I dread to think what it cost new. I am seriously debating whether or not to sell it. I'm in love with it, but have no place to where it :( ... Someone take me to a ball...!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Broadening horizons...

So, years ago I collected costume. Then I sold most of it, because I thought it was wasteful to keep it in an attic where it was hardly ever looked at. I thought it should belong to people who wore/ looked at it more than me (and I wanted the cash!). Since starting up my business venture (still very much in its infancy, I'm afraid to say), I have researched the vintage fashion industry in more depth and discovered that it is absolutely vast! I knew it was big, but not mahoosive! I don't see why I can't diversify my Etsy shop to include vintage clothing and sewing patterns. Plus, this will bring traffic to my store (hopefully), encouraging people to take a look at my handmade sewing patterns.

Here's what I found today to list:

Two 1970s, cotton, shirtwaist dresses

1948 Needlecraft book
Flying Suit Pattern
Funky, 1960s coat pattern