Buttercup yellow and polka dots… a Canberra weekend

ImageThis is all that could be  seen of Canberra from the usually spectacular Red Hill Lookout this morning…. only the Aussie flag on top of Parliament House peeked from above the veil of Winter Fog that kept the Capital covered! The flag is quite large and was a couple of kilometres away. In a different direction, Black Mountain tower also looked quite picturesque… we were hoping to take a long awaited balloon flight, however the fog meant that we couldn’t launch…. maybe next weekend?!Image

In dressmaking land, I have selected a rather happy yellow polka dot print for my Couture Dress (as per the Susan Khalje Craftsy course)… I am underlining the voile with silk cotton batiste, which is still quite sheer. I thread traced the seam lines in silk thread and then began the slow process of basting the dress together in a darker thread…Image


Thread tracing, Muslins and the DIVINE Vogue Pattern Book of April May 1949


I won’t pretend I am not excited to finally have found a copy of Vogue Pattern Book, April May 1949. This was a very special issue… it featured the very first Vogue Paris Original Models from Paris by the likes of Griffe, Schiaparelli, Paquin… (See the fabulooous dress by Piguet below). Additionally, the photographs from the adverts and regular Vogue fashions are DIVINE (see images above and below… I particularly love the colour palette used in the Robert Holand advertisement above…) These old pattern books can be difficult to find and my own collection is not complete but slowly growing. I absolutely love the images and designs.


In that busy thing called “Life” Little Prince has been crawling EVERYWHERE and has been doing some more teething… anyone with a bub knows that teething can mean mayhem… for us it meant a week of 3am and 4am starts when LP didn’t just want to be awake, he wanted to play. Last weekend we were totally exhausted by 10am each day! This has impacted on my energy to do much else, though I have somehow managed to (1) make a dress for my sweet five year old niece’s birthday using a newly acquired bias binding maker (love it) and (2) trace and thread trace a couple of muslins including a dress for Susan Khalje’s Little Black Dress course in August… Vogue Paris Original Model 1292 by Jacques Heim 1955, which I think will look fabulous in black taffeta.


In the spirit of improving my skills I have also been trying to track down the series of Claire Shaeffer patterns that have been produced over the last 10 years… still no luck with the bias cut dress… but have managed to find a few.

What have you been sewing?!?!?!


Inspired by Vintage… and the value of a mood board

Yes, its been a few days since I posted. Reason being, I also signed up for Susan Khalje’s Craftsy course “The Couture Dress” which I have been thoroughly enjoying in any spare moment when not occupied with Little Prince. I have watched all the classes and started the initial steps of pinning, tracing and cutting the muslin, followed by thread tracing and then more pinning and machine basting. For the Couture Dress, I have opted with one of the simple “options”, a very nice sheath dress produced by Vogue, V8766. Its not vintage but has a vintage look depending on how its made up… for that reason, I am choosing it for my pattern of the day. 😀

Today I did my first fitting. I  have so enjoyed the process and have in tandem been thinking about using some of the techniques from the Threads Insider online videos (on fitting, specifically but they have another one called Industry Insider which addresses some of the specific fitting issues that apply to me). So at some point- hopefully in the near future- I will remove some of the basting, alter the pattern slightly, repin, baste and refit.

Um… what this means is we are eating sandwiches for dinner. Poor hubby. I say “poor” because he made the sandwiches last night! Ha!

I have also been thinking about coats and love the Burberry version featured above… Delicious colours…. buttonhole twist (Belding Corticelli silk). The Burberry jacket was featured in a copy of 2008 Harper’s Bazaar (UK)…

I have been thinking about putting together a mood board for inspiration. Does anyone else use this when they go through the “thinking” process?

Alas, time to go make those sandwiches. I am sure we have peanut butter somewhere…?!?!?! How are your sewing adventures going?

Charmeuse for lining… it has arrived!

Love the colour, gorgeous beneath a black fashion fabric…!

The charmeuse for my Little Black Dress lining has arrived. Hurrah!
Newsflash for all the sewing enthusiasts out there… craftsy has a sale ending midnight 2 July for some of their online courses including Susan Khalje’s The Couture Dress, which I have now started watching… and its awesome! So hurry if you want to take advantage of the deal (its about $20 with the deal… google “Summer sale” and “craftsy” and the link to access the special deal should come up…) I am totally absorbed watching Susan’s dress get put together and will re-watch when I put my own together to understand the process best.

Today’s pattern of the day is actually a knitting pattern for a very 1950s twin set… strike a pose! I love all of these types of fashion photographs which were so contrived and yet so charming!

Strike a pose!

Sunday musings… black taffeta, fitting the Summer dress and Vogue 2561

I remain somewhat perplexed as to how its possible to spend the entire weekend cleaning and yet by Sunday afternoon the house appears to be in disarray. How is this possible?!?!? I guess houses are things we live in and prone, therefore to the “lived in” look. Ha! I think I had better get used to it, though part of me still mentally exists in a house-must-be-spotless pre-baby state of mind.

I have been thinking constantly of the Black Dress course, have been reading whatever preparatory articles (and books such as Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques) I can find and have been focused on ensuring I have the right tools and equipment. I have decent dressmaking shears but having read about the pitfalls of organza and charmeuse I have also invested in a pair of micro-serrated scissors which apparently grip the fabric as they cut, preventing unnecessary movement. We shall see! But I am quickly turning my thoughts to selecting a pattern with the least seams! Ha! Seriously, I noticed that the dress Susan Khalje chose to demonstrate the process in a Threads article was quite simple. This would appear to be a wise path for a first timer in charmeuse and the underlining process.

I also managed to pick up a french curve today (along with the required calico for the muslin) after we had done the grocery shop for the week… what a glorious little ruler that is… it will no doubt be a wonderful friend to me when I initiate the process of grading. The more I read about working with charmeuse and organza the more nervous I get! However, it will be a great opportunity to learn and I am pleased to say the BLACK TAFFETA has been ordered. Let me tell you, that stuff goes for a Kings ransom! Lima beans for dinner for me!

In my last post, I mentioned that I was using THREADS INSIDER for fitting advice. I tried on the Summer dress of late and there were (having watched some of the videos) some immediately obvious fitting issues. This appeared to be mostly at the arm. The sleeve join seems to drop off the edge of the shoulder creating what seems to be a massive armscye. I have thought about including a bust dart to remove some of the excess fabric without creating an issue of wearing ease, but I am beginning to think that the best way to rectify would be a dart at the shoulder to “lift” the sleeve. In hindsight I think this problem could definitely have been avoided had I made a toile and redrawn this part of the pattern. The good news is, I think my knowledge of dressmaking is growing! Hurrah!

Separately,  am eagerly awaiting a shipment of stuff from the US. these are goodies I have bought on eBay over the last month or so that I am having shipped over in one go by a shipping company. Many ebay sellers don’t sell to Australia, but often the vintage notions I love aren’t available here. In the photo below is a sturdy tracing wheel which is far superior to the yucky plastic one I bought at the store. I am very much looking forward to: a vintage bias tape maker, a pattern tacker (these aren’t produced anymore but were used to accurately mark patterns on fabric in the process of marking), a TRAUM dressmakers gauge (fabulous for measuring such things as scallop lengths), a button gauge and a fashion ruler used to true arm and neck lines when grading a pattern. Oh, a and a really cool hem gauge. What more could a vintage notions and pattern junkie want????

What tools do you use most? What do you love? Do you have any vintage or unusual dressmaking tool that your couldn’t dressmake without? Would love to hear (not that I need anymore stuff, really…)!!!

Todays pattern of the day is an out of print reproduction pattern produced by Vogue, originally released in the early 1950s, VINTAGE VOGUE 2561. I particularly like the dress which has a lined, fitted bodice. There are a few blogs out there showcasing this one- check pattern review if you’re interested to know how it looks made up…

Reaady, steady… TRACE!

Hope everyone out there has had a marvellous Sunday. Happy sewing all!