Vintage Pledge


After the last year disaster due to my sewing break during summer, I’m convinced to do it better in 2016.

During 2016, I, Elena, pledge to tackle some vintage and reproduction patterns, trying to use fabrics from my stash.

There were two that I wanted to make last year, and I already have the fabric for them.


Last year I made the one on the left, now I will try to make at least one of the other two.

I have some pink merino that I wanted to use for a Lady Skater, but let’s be honest, I never wear dresses in winter, so this B6285 will be a much better use of the fabric:


I’m planning a shirtwaist dress too. I love Maria Denmark’s Edith Blouse so I’ll modify it attaching the Hawthorn skirt to it (the Edith Dress skirt doesn’t convince me). I also have the fabric.


Gerry, each time I see you it breaks my heart :'(

And one or two vintage blouses would also fit in my plans and would get a lot of wear.


And yes, I also have the fabric for them 🙂

Spring for Cotton: Gertie’s Shirtwaist Dress

As very often happens, when I started this dress, I planned in my mind to finish it off in a couple of days to be able to wear it an event we were invited. I’m always such a naive! I also participated in the last “Fall for Cotton” and like that time, this project took me forever. I’ve been on the search for a shirtwaist dress pattern for a very long time. I had Gertie’s first book since it was released, but the shirring made me avoid this pattern until I saw Caroline’s version and she convinced me that I had to give it a try, that this was awesome.

I used some cotton poplin as I’ve already mentioned, which worked beautifully for the collar and it pressed nicely but the skirt feels a bit stiff. I still think that a more saturated color would have worked better.

I made a muslin to be on the safe side, mostly because as I’m petite, I was concerned about the waist placed correctly. Unexpectedly it was, but there was something weird happening with the shoulders. This was totally unexpected, since I’ve made Gertie’s 40s style blouse without alterations, and I was doing a size 4 here too. As I’ve read later, more people found the shoulders on this dress too wide. In my case I chopped off like 1 or 2 cm. As these are puffed sleeves, I didn’t alter the sleeve cup, but maybe I should, since there are some pulling lines over there.

This must be the year of the gathers for me. If you have followed me for a while, you may have realized that I never gather fabric (I have my personal reasons) but I think this is already my third project this year including gathers. I think the poplin doesn’t gather very nicely due to its crispness so next time I’ll go with my gut (as I should have done) and make a more traditional shirtwaist dress. Oh, well, at least I’ve learned something.

As I avoid making machine buttonholes like the plague (my machine never behaves) I made bound buttonholes. And I have to say that they look neat but they take time, steps and more steps, hand sewing and then more time again. They take a lot more work and time than machine buttonholes but at least there were neither tears nor swearing involved.

One of the reasons for which this dress took forever was the amount of hand sewing involved. Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll attach both yokes to the back using the burrito method. I just don’t get why we are required to hand sew the inner yoke: you take more chances at having it laying wrongly and it’s a freaking amount of work. I also like a lot more the armbands on the 40s blouse as opposite to this ones, and one of the reasons may be the hand sewing involved. I’m just very slow and I know from experience that hand sewing can leave you some ugly scars. This is partly why I machine hemmed the dress. I didn’t think this shape would benefit from adding petersham, and I was anyway doing a narrow hem, so to the machine it went. Before hemming it I cut off 4 cm, and I should point out that I raised the pockets by 2.7 cm, but I wouldn’t have hurt to raise them a little more.

And talking about the skirt shape, it feels somehow out of balance. I don’t know whether it is either a problem with this pattern or the fabric I used. It’s like the non-shirred fabric is pushing the pleated fabric at the hem. I think the pleats and shirring may not go very well together, but I could be wrong.

Something that I noticed is that I had to chop 5.5 cm of the facings, since they were longer than the skirt pieces. I don’t remember seeing this mentioned anywhere so it could be that I missed something in the instructions.

I had some purple buttons in my stash, but after checking with other sewcialists on Instagram, I finally purchased mother of pearl buttons, and I think I made the right call. I really like how they look on this fabric.

I went the extra mile and made a fabric-covered belt. I am not sure how belting looks like but this is what I got at my local haberdashery. The instructions are very straightforward and are also included in the book. I purchased a white plastic buckle at another shop and they claimed that they still have many things from the 40s in store. The buckle had a prong but I didn’t want to overcomplicate things even more so I removed it with a pair of pliers.

All in all I’m quite happy with this dress. It may have some flaws but I put quite an effort on it and I’ve learned new to me techniques: shirring, bound buttonholes and fabric-covered belts. I think in every craft you have to try things to really know what you want to make, and now I know that I want to make a shirtwaist dress with no shirring or gathers.

I want to thank Rochelle for organizing this Spring for Cotton and give us the opportunity to try to go beyond our limits and create unique garments.

I’m wearing here my first pair of Rocket Originals and I love these shoes. They are very comfy for not being flat, and they go wonderfully with vintage dresses.

Spring for Cotton plans

After participating in the past Fall for Cotton, I couldn’t stop myself from joining in Spring for Cotton. I’ve recently bought some beautiful cotton fabrics from Stoffamstueck and I was planning on making some vintage inspired dresses, so this came just in the right time.

As I’m planning to make a couple more of vintage reproductions for the Vintage Pledge, I decided to sew Gertie’s shirtwaist dress for this challenge. When I saw this cotton poplin I knew it had to become this dress. Unfortunately it’s a lot more saturated in the pictures in Etsy than in real life and the shipping costs were a killer (even inside Europe). Anyway it’s still a lovely fabric and it’s going to be a wonderful dress.

And you? Are you participating in Spring for Cotton?

Completed: 1947 Tiki Dress

I never expected to participate in the Vintage Pattern Pledge. Sure, it’s a wonderful initiative and I love vintage designs, but my luck buying vintage patterns was not always the best. First, I can’t find them locally, so I have to buy online, and the times I’ve done it the pattern didn’t fit me at all. They were always huge, so for me it was more a gamble than anything. But then I discovered that sells a few vintage reproductions with several sizes in each envelope, so I knew that it was this or nothing. I purchased three patterns, and this B5209 is the first I decided to make.

It’s a beauty, right? I had several possible fabrics to make this, and at first I was not sure about which version to make. View B would be more appropriate for spring but there’s always something that irrationally attracted me from halter dresses, so I made view A. Finally I did something completely unexpected and used a fabric that I purchased more than a year ago by the kilo. It was two one meter and a half pieces, enough for a dress. I haven’t used it before because I usually avoid green (10 years wearing a green uniform makes that to you), but it seems this year I’m learning to wear it again.

As you can see, I have omitted the front and back seams on bodice and skirt pieces. My print is busy and I didn’t think that these seams would add much. And this way I also saved a little bit of fabric.

As you can see I modified the back piece quite a bit. The original shape was not bra friendly at all, and that would have made me leave the dress in the closet forever. I quite like the new shape though. And BTW, I always had a skinny back, but it has broadened a bit since doing pilates and capoeira. It seems huge on this picture. You can see how I modified the back piece in the picture below, and how the original design was meant to be.

I made a size 8, although my measurements corresponded to a size 10. It’s snug but I can breath perfectly. I’m not sure if I’d have liked a loser fit. I had to shorten the straps a create a wedge close to the side to make it fit. Usually one should shorten the midriff piece, but this wouldn’t have worked for me. I must have a weird shape, because I often have to shorten the area between shoulders and bust. The halter needed some “burrito” construction that was not completely clear on the pattern instructions, but it was not difficult to visualize and and make.

With those mods the dress fits perfectly. I had a gaping issue on both sides of the neckline, probably because I stretched the fabric while sewing, but I fixed like I did with my Cambie (original tutorial here), with some twill tape and I have to report that I’m very happy with this fix. No more gaping, yay!

The bodice, according to the instructions, is self lined. This part of the construction reminded me a lot of the Lonsdale Dress. Some design lines are the same, and it’s also self lined. As my fabric was a bit thin, and you could see a bit through the white parts, I decided to line the bodice with some while batiste from my stash. I think it brings out the color making it look much better. I didn’t have enough for the skirt, so I went to the closest haberdashery in search for a similar fabric and came back with the most similar one, a white muslin that was a bit more stiff than my batiste. I gathered skirt and lining together and I think the muslin gives the skirt the right oomph. Here a picture from the dress innards. It looks so neat and pretty. Also, because I’ve used a different fabric for the lining, I have only used 1,5 m for the entire dress, so I have another equal piece left (that I’m already using for something else).

This is my first time working with so much gathers (and my first gathered skirt). I usually avoid them for fear that will make my bottom look bigger (than it already is) and also because somehow I thought they looked kind of messy. I see now that they can look fine when made right, and that is sewing three lines of stitching, being one of them at the seam allowance and the others inside it, then pulling the thread on the right side of the fabric and distribute the gathers evenly. I have learned that I don’t dislike gathers, and I may make them again in the future.

The hem is sewn by hand with some petersham added to give some structure to my soft fabric. It took me a while but totally worth it. The lining is hemmed by machine, nobody sees that.

The zipper, hook and eye are not my best jobs, but they are still decent. Probably I should have stabilized my fabric with some interfacing. And BTW, I loved that this dress doesn’t use any darts or interfacing. Those two steps are often things I don’t enjoy so much and that require a lot of precision.

I’m looking forward to summery weather to be able to wear this dress. Made with a not so loved fabric and a pattern that I didn’t know if it was going to work, I didn’t have very high expectations. But you know? I really love this dress, and it takes so little fabric that you can make as many as you want. I have some black satin that I bought some years ago and I didn’t know what to use it for. I think it would make a lovely dress .

Completed: the skirt that took forever

jenny09I started this skirt more than two months ago. What was going to be a very simple half circle skirt turned into something that almost did not get finished. If you’ve seen the pictures of my garments on my dress form for the last couple of months, you’ve noticed a pink plaid skirt. That’s the one. I got inspired by Call the Midwife, and the yellow skirt that Jenny used to wear on some of her days off. I didn’t want a full circle skirt, and definitely not a very long one, since when garments tend to be too dramatic I’m not prone to wearing them. I wanted something simple and casual (also by nowadays standards). BTW, Andi has also made a skirt inspired on Jenny’s (great minds…), you can check it out here.

I purchased this wool blend and a pink rayon lining and decided to make this half circle skirt. I used again the By Hand London skirt calculator and squeezed this skirt and a thin waistband out of my meter and a half of fabric. I found the wool a bit of a pain to mark since I couldn’t use my favorite air erasable pen since they are the same color. I also have nowadays a yellow Clover Chaco pen that would have been perfect. It doesn’t matter how many tools you have, it’s a universal truth that you always need more.

After I inserted my (bad) hand picked zip, I tried the skirt to see the effect and I considered it needed more oomph, so I decided to try the high praised horsehair braid, and my local shop has it in many beautiful colors. It was not going to be visible, but I wanted to match the skirt, so I got this beautiful pink braid. Isn’t it gorgeous?

After sewing it to the skirt I went running to try it on in front of a mirror, and I was very disappointed. You can see how it looked here. I couldn’t put my finger on what, but it seemed totally wrong. After a long conversation with JudithMegalunostudio and a long web search, I came upon this A Fashionable Stitch article and, as many times, Sunni has often the right answer: Petersham!

I painfully unpicked the horsehair braid. The thread also matched skirt and braid, so it was difficult to see what I was unpicking, sigh! It was a total pain, and then Christmas came close, so I became busy with presents and then I went to visit my family, and I fell progressively out of love with this skirt. When I came back all I wanted to sew were blouses, so you could always witness this skirt on my dress form along with the garment I was busy at the time.

Since this is a winter skirt and will be worn with tights, I decided to line it with pink rayon, as shown in the picture. The worst parts of sewing this skirt were the horsehair braid unpicking, the hand sewn hem (it took two or three episodes of Extant) and the damn buttonhole. It was just one, but I reaffirm myself in using snaps. Unfortunately a snap was not appropriate for this skirt, otherwise I would have just place it on. I tried making the buttonhole on a piece of fabric and it went fine, then made it on the waistband and all the possible horrible things happened. Several times. My machine does 1-step buttonholes and I think it has problems moving thick pieces of fabric, so to succeed here I had to pass a couple of threads through the end of the waistband to pull and help the machine to move the fabric. Pathetic, but the buttonhole is done.

The waistband is sewn by hand on the inside. I just didn’t want to stitch in the ditch and risk my stitches showing on the outside.

The zipper is also not one of my best jobs, but it’s decent and I matched stripes on both sides of the skirt. And I love how it swirls!

Gerry seems to like my brooch. It’s from the talented Desperate Beatnik. I love her jewelry pieces, and they are very carefully made, but what I like most is how well she takes care of her customers. Seriously, I’m amazed at this girl, and this is not a sponsored post or anything like that.

And you, have you made any half or full circle skirts? What are your thoughts about buttonholes? Are they your nemesis too?

I’m joining the Vintage Pattern Pledge for 2015

I enjoyed seeing what others have made last year for the Vintage Pattern Pledge, but I didn’t join due to my limited experience and based on how difficult is to get vintage patterns on this corner of the world. I always die of envy when I read other people’s stories just going to the thrift store or a vintage market and getting a hold of several vintage patterns and many times at a very affordable prices. For me the only option is buying online, with all what it adds to the total cost. I bought a couple of vintage patterns one or two years ago, but I found that stories are true, and the sizing didn’t have to do anything with what I expected. Both things were monstrously large, and I didn’t feel like making the alterations to make them wearable. Maybe at some other point in mi life.

But then, thanks to Andi, I heard of vintage reproductions, and almost by accident I saw that few of those patterns were available through Amazon Spain, so I said to myself, let’s join the Vintage Pattern Pledge this year. These are the patterns I bought. And BTW, one of them is also the one Andi is going to sew!

I’d like to thank Marie and Kerry for organizing this, and giving us the last push to some other chicken sewers like me. So here it goes,

During 2015, I, Elena from Elena Knits, will sew at least one vintage pattern or reproduction.

I know that this goal doesn’t sound very ambitious, but I don’t want to put too much unnecessary pressure on myself. I just want to try how this can go, and if it doesn’t go well, no regrets.

And you? Are you joining this year? Let’s play together.

Completed: Edith Blouse and a headband

Any time I saw any of Heather’s blouses, I wanted to make one for myself. I think I wanted since I saw her first Edith blouse, but I didn’t sit down and sew it until last week. I think I procrastinated for so long because I was not 100% convinced about the rounded edges of the collar. Anyway, I had to make four Gertie’s 40s style blouses to finally sew this Edith blouse. I loved my 40s style blouses, but I also wanted to test this one to be able to compare them. The 40s style blouse is lovely but a tad too short to wear tucked inside skirts. Not that I’m a skirt wearer, but I want to have the option, just in case.

I have good and bad things to say about this pattern. First, the good stuff. This is a blouse and a dress pattern, and it comes in PDF. I hate tracing, so I often go for PDF patterns, which also saves some money. I quite liked that if you’re going to make the blouse, the instructions tell you which pages you have to print. I think it’s a nice detail that saves paper, ink and headaches.  Now, the bad stuff. I often use PDF patterns because I hate tracing, but if the pattern doesn’t come with seam allowances, then that advantage is completely gone. Why, oh, I wonder why some patterns don’t come with seam allowances. The only advantage I see is that you can add your preferred one, but c’mon, I don’t mind sewing with any given seam allowance, and I don’t understand why I need to do some extra work. Does anybody know why this happens?

Something I noticed is that the shoulder angles are not the same for all the sizes. I would expect them to be square angles, so that you get a straight line when sewing back and front. And if it’s not like this, I would at least expect some consistency and have all the same (it was a square angle for the larger sizes). I cut size 36 as it was but when hemming the sleeves I straightened this part, so I guess I would have gone for a square angle here.

Now let’s talk about the collar. I didn’t like the original one, so I made real corners. I used the 40s style blouse as my model, but I think I’ve over done it here, since the final collar looks more 70s than 40s or 50s. Oh, well, I’ll do it better next time. I think it’s also because the collar of the Edith blouse is much larger than Gertie’s blouse. Jo said some time ago that all Gertie’s collars sit weird. I didn’t have issues with my blouses collars, but it’s true that they are not very visible, especially if you have long hair. This was another reason to test this Edith blouse, I wanted to see if the collar felt better than Gertie’s. Well, I can’t decide, since my collar modification was not completely successful.

There’s also the color of the blouse. I think I bought this fabric to make a handbag, but then I let it sit for a while. I quite liked the print and the sewing and spinning motives. I don’t have many yellow tops, so I thought it would be a nice addition to my wardrobe, even if it was going to be a trial. But you know? I’ve discovered that I don’t look good in yellow. I took these pictures the same day I took my Chuck‘s pictures, exactly some minutes before. Somehow I think I look a lot better in the pictures where I’m wearing the Chuck sweater, and I think it’s partly due to the color. My skin is a bit olive green (especially in winter), and I think yellow doesn’t do me any favors. Curiously, Rochelle has also mulled about color this week.

I was going to make a wearable muslin using this cotton quilt I bought some time ago (don’t remember where) but I didn’t want to throw a lot of work just to have a sack on me, so I tested the fit with a very fast muslin. The fit seemed right, so I proceeded to make my blouse. I cut it on Friday, and made the complete blouse on Saturday (that was fast!), just leaving hemming and snaps for Sunday morning.

Something that felt a bit strange about the construction, is that it tells you to interface the under collar instead of the upper collar like other shirts/blouses I made (Archer, Gertie’s). I finally interfaced the upper collar, since doing the opposite wouldn’t have let me sleep at night. The under and upper collar are from the same pattern piece (unlike Gertie’s) but you’re instructed to trim the three outer sides of the under collar to make it sit right. There’s also a back facing that is not included in Gertie’s blouse. When I made Gertie’s blouse for the first time I was puzzled at this and didn’t get why it was like that. Now that I’ve made this blouse I know why. This facing adds some bulk to the upper back and even after sewing tacks to the shoulders, it doesn’t want to sit flat, and lifting it you will see the collar raw edges. Maybe if it was wider it would be better. I don’t know. I think if I make this blouse again, I’ll skip this facing and turn the collar seam allowances to the inside of the collar. I also want to mention that the side facings are a bit on the narrow side, and it seems they want to pop out when wearing the blouse. Another mod for next time.

I love how kimono sleeves look, but I don’t enjoy making them. I remember the disaster on my Portrait blouse, and I didn’t want the same again, so I was careful and methodical this time. I marked some dots with air erasable pen 5/8″ from the edge (my seam allowance) and I made some cuts “almost” until there on the low part of the armscye, where it’s curved. I pressed then that seam allowance to the inside and then trimmed it to approx. 1/4″. I was afraid that it was going to be a mess and it would fray, so I applied some bias binding. As I was not completely sure about this fabric or the final blouse, I didn’t make any self bias binding, so I used premade. I wanted to apply it to that part of the sleeve hem that was turned in, but the curved and sliced part was tricky, so I used a short piece of wash away quilters tape. I used it for the beginning portion, but not for the straight part of the ending curve since it was not necessary. I don’ t know if you can see it on the picture, but there’s the bias, the quilters tape, and then the hem. The other part of the bias goes stitched on top.

Here it’s how it looks when stitching the bias binding.

And this is the end result. I’m not completely happy with the fact that you could see those seam allowances from outside, but sewing the side seam and then applying the bias binding would be even more fiddly, so I can live with it, and I think the result is quite neat. At least a lot better than what I expected before doing it.

I’m sure you noticed the matching headband I’m wearing in the pictures. I wanted to make a headband for a very long time, but I always had more interesting projects in mind and was feeling lazy. I got a rotatory cutter and a mat for Christmas, so I had no excuse this time, and I completed the project in a blink. I loosely followed more or less the instructions here, but cut my stripes 76 cm by 7.5 cm (1/4″ of seam allowance). Then I removed 2 triangles from each side at the last 12 cm. No need to round it here since I slightly rounded when sewing them together.

After trying it, I think I should make it a bit longer and wider next time. I have mixed feelings about it, but I think it’s the damn color yellow again. Well, at least I’ve learned something.

And I leave you here a picture of my last 40s style blouse to compare. I think I prefer the fit of the Edith blouse, and I could try it with Gertie’s sleeves. And fixing the collar, off course. What do you think?


Completed: Another 40s Style Blouse

I promise that this is the last 40s style blouse that I’m making for a while, but I just needed to get it out of my system. I’m going to try a different pattern next time, but even if I don’t, I think I’m ready to attend the next rockabilly festival without fear of not having anything to wear. In fact, it’s nice to dress like this for half an hour on Saturdays just to take the pictures for the blog. I almost feel I’m attending a party!

This time the blouse is made with Japanese cotton, and it’s such an easy fabric and I already know this pattern so well, that I could have the blouse done in two days, but I ran out of interfacing (I had everything except for a front facing) and then I had to wait for new snaps from Snapclic.

After checking red, two shades of green, orange and yellow, I finally went for choral (Koen agreed); and when I was installing the snaps on Saturday morning, I remembered this choral lipstick I barely used. It’s not a color I’m very used to, but it feels very summery.

The tiki bobby pins are from a local shop (Shopper Monster), the necklace from Luxulite, and earrings and brooch from Desperate Beatnik.

Petticoat Resources

One of the things that I would like to make one day is a petticoat. If I haven’t made it before it’s because I don’t think it will get a lot of wear. I spend most of my days at home and I’m not attending a lot of parties right now, but one day it will change and I’ll want my petticoat.


I was searching the Internet and found several free tutorials:

Most instructions call for tulle, but they say that organza, chiffon or special petticoat fabric is better.

And you? Have you made or bought a petticoat? What are your thoughts on the matter?

Completed: Monsters Blouse

One of the things that I’ve missed this year was going to a couple of rockabilly festivals. It’s difficult to attend this kind of events when you have food issues, but as soon as I get better, I’ll definitely go… and wear this blouse.

It’s Gertie’s 40s style blouse again. I purchased the fabric at Plush Addict almost by accident. I was looking for something else but I saw that there were 70 cm left of this Robert Kaufman‘s cotton and I couldn’t let it go. This blouse requires very little fabric, but 70 cm at 110 cm width was cutting it a bit short, so I had to use some black cotton I had in my stash left from my Nemesis Blouse. I used this black cotton for the collar and sleeves. I quite like the result, even though it reminds me of what the waiter at the Lunch Box would wear. No print matching here, since I was lucky to have just enough to make the blouse bodice.

I just love this pattern. It fits out of the envelope like it was designed for me. No mods again on this. I’m working on a third blouse and I’ve already cut a fourth. And you know, I will probably sew a couple more to be ready to rock them during Me Made May and future rockabilly festivals. And the tiki party I want to throw out since some time ago too. I need to build a proper wardrobe 😉

I’m really longing for warmer weather to be able to wear these blouses. It’s just no fun at all covering these with layers of sweaters and coats. Luckily spring usually comes early here and I’ll be ready for it!

I installed snaps again because I like how they look on this blouse and I don’t really need it to be truly vintage. I tried several colors and went for red again.

Have I told you that Gerry gets very nervous about my lipstick? He even tries to bite it and gets a nice colored beak.

And I leave you a song that was part of what I listened to while sewing this blouse: