As a little girl growing up in Canberra, I still have memories of being shepherded by my mother along a city Street pavement on a hot Summer afternoon and ushered into the relative cool of a dark fabric store full of fabric, notions and patterns. It was an oasis. It was also an exciting look at another world. The doll like wardrobe she made for me in my early years earnt me the affectionate nickname of “the Duchess” amongst her work colleagues and I vividly remember the beautiful paisley and red velvet creations she proudly made on her elna supermatic (the cream of sewing machines at the time).
Sadly so few of those stores exist now, if at all. All that remains are the store stamps that appear on old pattern envelopes. Such as these in my collection. Most of these examples are local… Claridges, Ganters and even David Jones Canberra which used to sell sewing patterns (no longer). Enjoy the pattern fashion illustrations and designs!
Sunday eye candy… From Mabel Erwin’s tome….
…’Practical Dress Design’
What are you working on? With a mile long to make list, this 30s simplicity pattern hit my work table. After some late night cutting I have been progressing it incrementally in tandem with a 1940s house dress by Hollywood.
These two garments are my first two garments to be made on my 1956 Singer 222 ‘Gidget’. You can see Gidget above with my Singer pinking attachment.
Gidget, truth be told had been sitting idly in her box for decades when I purchased her. Beautiful condition, she was ‘jammed’ but thanks to the fabulous video resources by Carmon Henry at April 1930s, I was able to get into the lower bobbin case assembly and remove one tiny faun thread. Oiled, polished and with a slight belt tension adjustment she is perched on our kitchen table with the glamour of a Jaguar.
Having worked with a Singer 221 since February, I confess I find the 222 wonderful to work with, particularly in terms of having more room to navigate for waist and arm hole seams. It is more than worthy of the love accorded to it by collectors and dressmakers alike.
A long time in coming, below is a photo featuring the black out curtains I made earlier this year with my Singer 99- the fabric was so heavy my husband had to help me support its weight as I guided it through the machine for an even feed. But they turned out very well!
“What do you get when you have a Singer 221, a 50 cent remnant of crisp seersucker, a vintage fashion loving mummy and a toddler who loves the paddle pool…?”
Above: Using the gathering foot
Waistband basted to skirt, gathers adjusted….
Pinning the waistband over the gathers
Stitching the waistband
The hem, before being blind stitched by hand. Adjustable hemmer was used for a neat finish on the edges before folding up.
Buttons??? I am leaning towards the blue ducks.
Note: pressing between each step.
Super vintage fabric find, butter soft cotton for some cute tshirts… Anybody else adore this kind of print? Love the colour palette and the imagery. 1 metre scored for a humble dollar!!!! Love.
Here my trusty Singer 221 can be seen working a buttonhole. My little girl loves to climb up on the chair, prop herself behind me with arms about my neck and watch me work . For buttonholes she will sometimes huddle on my knee as the machine works it’s magic.
This sunsuit will be one of my gifts to my little girl who has her second birthday in a few weeks time. The pressure is on to get such projects finished, get the house looking a bit more orderly and plan a suitable morning tea menu for our visitors. And perhaps a few games to make it more ‘party’ like.
If anyone is interested in sewing lace or more accurately, net curtains with the 221, my adjustable hemming fit was awesome, last weekend. I will caveat that by saying I have two adjustable hemming feet, and one foot kept snagging net on the tooth. Painstaking… The other was a breeze. So do test before you go hell for leather.
Love my Singer 221.
Another useful titbit from the UK Women’s Weekly
Dressmaking renovation notes from the
UK Women’s Weekly magazine, September 1949… A clever titbit for the vintage fashionista.
Trying to finish a 1940s gingham day dress, searching for the perfect button. Most of these were thrifted. My little girl loves helping me sort these little goodies. I love pretty old glass and crystal too, wonderful for sewing inspiration.
I finished this ‘cherry delight’ dress last Summer. With daddy’s birthday (cake at home) it’s the perfect time to pull it out! Play time 1940s style!
Note: dress was longer than current styles but I think it was true to era and quite sweet, actually.