Hello friends! It’s well into Autumn here now. The leaves are changing into glorious shades of red, gold and brown, and the dark is coming on a lot sooner. With that comes the kind of cold that makes me long for casseroles, soup, doonas and cosy sweaters and socks. So it also seemed like a fitting time to work on a new genre of patterns, using fabric that I’m not all that familiar with – like The Enid Sweater, by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. I purchased the PDF pattern on Etsy as I was intrigued by the promise of a simple construction method, and a vintage look with the V-neck collar. I had some secondhand fleece on hand, and some matching ribbing also purchased secondhand, so it seemed serendipitous.
Hello friends! It’s true that I am excited about each pattern of the month and can’t wait to share what I’ve learned while making them, but this particular pattern holds special meaning for me. I have a love of all things overall, romper, jumpsuit and playsuit – which I think comes as no surprise, and it’s been on my sewing bucket list for quite a long time now that I wanted to make some vintage playsuits which would be tailored to me. No cramped crotch, no awkward tightness about the thighs, and I would make them in fabric which doesn’t bother the skin! But patterns of even roughly my size range were either thin on the ground, or would cost so much it honestly wasn’t within my budget to buy them. This was where the miraculous find of McCall’s 3616, a circa 1956 bathing suit pattern, in PDF format by The Vintage Sewing Pattern Company came to my rescue! I purchased it on their Etsy website, after first checking there was some kind of scale marker to help me keep printing accurate.
Hello friends! The New Year is a time for change and fresh opportunities. From what I’ve seen a lot of other sewists are using this time to set new sewing goals, or pick their patterns for the months to come. I’m doing something similar by continuing the theme of pattern of the month, but adding in a seasonal flavour whereby I’ll be picking holes in my wardrobe each season and sewing for those! And since it’s now so hot and I’m disinclined to pull on a button-up blouse, I knew I had to make some basic T-shirts. I managed to find some stretch fabric on sale and once again sat down to learn more about this kind of sewing, using the the Anything but Basic Tee pattern.
I had originally intended for my pattern of the month to be another exploration of bottoms, with a view to making some overalls for summer. In particular I was very keen on giving the Jenny Overalls, by Closest Core Patterns, another go. I had first tried the pattern quite awhile ago before I truly understood how to grade and tweak and fit trousers, and at the time attempted a record number of muslins before giving up. I tried the pattern once again, and – after so many alterations it was no longer particularly recognisable compared to the original, I still couldn’t quite get the fit I wanted. I decided that rather than settle for something not quite as good as my previous makes, I would finally allow this pattern to be removed from my stash and attempt something else.
Let it be known that I am now a convert to the wonders of stretch fabric! I had honestly avoided stretch fabric in the past as learning the ins and outs of certain fabrics isn’t at all intuitive for me, and I thought it would be best to attend some online classes on the topic first before I dove in. But at the time I first started working on this pattern, I had been thinking quite a lot about the gaps in my wardrobe, and how to continue this passion for sewing without making things for the sake of simply having something to make. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I didn’t have a lot of winter tops, despite the fact that I live somewhere with long-lasting cold seasons. So after researching patterns for vintage inspired stretch fabric tops, I at last settled on a PDF version of the Gable Top, by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, which had a plethora of positive reviews.
Hello friends! After the incredible success I had with my first attempt at a proper pattern hack, I was looking forward to testing even more wintery makes that would be appropriate for the chilly weather. I was keen to try all sorts of new heavier weight fabrics and see if I couldn’t create some more vintage inspired, seasonal clothing. However, my laptop took a not entirely unexpected turn over one weekend and simply refused to hold a charge. This meant a lot of hasty backing up onto an external hard drive while I still could, and the generosity of a friend’s brother in sharing his store discount to help me afford a new machine. As someone who rarely buys brand new this all was a bit exciting, but also meant I had to seriously rethink all my immediate sewing plans for the next while due to the budget change. Enter Simplicity 6550.
Hello friends. One thing that gives me a lot of comfort at the moment is following along with other people’s sewing and seeing what other projects we’re all working through. It’s inspired me to continue working through my own growing pile of secondhand patterns, seeing what I can create with the fabric I have on hand and how creative I can be with the scraps. It’s a chance to flex my creative muscles. I do have a few bits and pieces in mind, and have already begun investigating the possibility of making my own bias binding from odd pieces – leaving the fabric from some old sheets as pocket lining and things like that. But first on my list was this gorgeous blouse pattern, Simplicity 2151, in combination with this secondhand fabric I’d had for about two months or so.
It’s no secret that I love button-up, collared blouses. My regular work wardrobe is comprised almost exclusively of collared shirts, cardigans, sweaters to be mixed and matched with black slacks. It allows me to sneak a bit of 50’s and 60’s style into my professional wardrobe, which pleases me to no end. So I am always on the lookout for more collared blouses when I am out hunting for secondhand goodies, and have gotten quite lucky over time in finding a few in very good condition. My current wardrobe is in fact comprised entirely of secondhand and me-made blouses now, which I consider quite an achievement. However, there is still something I am lacking. And that is the truest of staple blouses, the white collared blouse.
As much as I love living Australia, being so far from some of the largest viable sources of secondhand fabric and patterns does mean learning to sew can get very expensive. For a lot of people I often hear that it’s prohibitively expensive, especially as very few stores allow payment plans for purchasing machines and tools. So it seemed natural to me that at some point I would need to learn how to do some pattern drafting in order to make the things that I couldn’t find a pattern for. And what better place to start than with my Holy Grail vintage item, the classic peasant blouse.
Hold onto your hats Theydies and Gentlethem, because I am about to tell you something shocking. What I want to tell you is that it’s normal to fail. As scandalous as that might sound, I believe that it doesn’t matter how old we get or how experienced we are, we will always make mistakes. And I don’t say that in a completely negative way either. Certainly failure is disappointing, mistakes are frustrating, and wouldn’t it be great if things worked perfectly all the time? Well, sure. But how good does it feel to come out the other side of a series of failures with one precious success? How much do we learn from when things go wrong, versus when there’s not a single bump in the road? How connected do we feel to others when they share their mistakes? Personally, I love those stories. So let me share the story of the many failures that led to the amazing success of the Lottie Blouse.