Weihnachtskleid <-> A Christmas dress

Yes, it’s been a while….First problem I have is that our roof is being renewed, it must have been three weeks now since the last weekday without hammering  sounds from above. Hope they will finish soon. And two weeks ago the men up there made a terrible mistake by underestimating the Swiss November rain which led to a massive water shower from above…half past five in the morning in our bedroom! You can easily imagine me being awake quite quickly, though I am usually not a morning person. ;-)
And by the end of this unfateful week we left home a few days, not only to flee the noise, but to visit our family and friends in Germany. The rest of last week passed in a wink, as usual when its your well-earned vacancy. Yesterday I had my very first lecture in university, I mean, me giving a lecture. Only half an hour, the rest was  done by my professor, but it still felt very cool. Maybe a university career could be an alternative to the museum-job I always dreamed of?

Anyway. What’s new in my sewing world? I finished last HSF-challenge, but it took me until this morning that found all photos related to this project, so please give me some days to get it all done (it’s not that big a deal, though).

But already a couple of days ago an annual sew-along was anounced, for the fourth year in a row, the  Weihnachtskleid (=Christmas dress)-Sew Along. After I saw the amazing dress Beswingtes Fräulein had sewn for last year’s sew along I was eager to participate this year.

First official post was due last sunday, so as always I am a bit late. But I am positive to get better, for sure!

This weeks agenda (because it is hosted by german blogs the tasks are as well. I tried to translate it):

Ich bin 1a vorbereitet und habe schon alles zusammengesucht
Weihnachten ? Ist nicht noch Sommer ?
Ich such nach Inspiration und guck mal, was die anderen machen
Schnitt da aber kein Stoff oder andersrum ?
Kleine Rückblende : mein Weihnachtskleid 2013/2012/2011

I am very well prepared, all supplies are gathered
Christmas,  isn’t it still summer?

Searching for some inspiration, let’s see what the others are planning
Got a pattern but no fabric, or the other way ’round?
Flashback: my Christmas dress 2013/2012/2011

Well, in this case some things came together:
1st: This year’s christmas will be very quiet. We will stay at home and won’t be able to visit our families in Germany. So no big party, nothing glamorous, no big festive attire needed. But something elegant yet comfortable is desired, Christmas in pajamas doesn’t feel right.

2nd: Maybe some of you remember the 1920ies pattern sheet I found in an embroidery book I bought earlier this year. Somehow the wish to sew something from this period grew stronger and stronger in the last weeks, so why not finally do it?

3rd: I love plaid. But I am also horrified to sew it. Already a couple of years ago I bought two lovely plaid fabrics for a steal (synthetics, that’s why they were that cheap I suppose). One, a light green one, remains untouched until today. The other, pink one was the fabric I used for my very first plaid project back in 2009. It was a desaster, but here, to amuse you:

Photo is even worse than the fabric placement...
Photo is even worse than the fabric placement…

A high-waist skirt made after a 1950ies pattern, one of the first vintage patterns I ever worked with. Unfortunately, although it was quite well sewn, the plaid made the pleats appear dropping, as if I hadn’t paid attention to keep them in place. I wore this skirt maybe twice before it had to leave my wardrobe forever.

4th: As I said, I love plaid and  this post of a friend of mine made me think of this vast yardage of unknown terrain in my stash AND made me want to wear plaid immediately.

Now, when I finally found a pattern meant to be used with plaid fabric on this very 20ies pattern sheet everything just popped into place and the plan was set.

My pattern:


As you see, it asks for trimmings in a solid colour and the fabric looks more like a woven lozenge pattern than a  plaid. This makes me wonder if I could use my fabric on the bias.  This was actually pretty common in the 20ies and bias-cut skirts are available still today. But I fear that the upper dress-part would look weird. Maybe I will cut this straight and only the skirt diagonally?
And the pleats will give me the very same issues I had with the Bette-Davis-dress. This time I want to pay attention to the depth of the pleats so the pattern will match at the edges.
The pattern is too large for me, so this will not only be my first attempt with a 20ies pattern, I will also have to resize it, fingers crossed!

Here are the fabrics I am planning to use:

left: light pink cotton velvet, right: light pink and brown plaid (poly-something)
left: light pink cotton velvet, right: light pink and brown plaid (poly-something)

You might remember this pink velvet, it is the same I used for my ballerina-fancy dress.

The velvet is comparably thin, but I still fear it could bulk at the hem with all the pleats. That’s why I plan to make a false hem, facing the velvet with a thin lining fabric or a silk leftover:

two lining leftovers in pink and champagne and a little bit of white silk

I don’t know which of them I will use, most likely the champagne one, but maybe there is too little of it left to use it for all the facings (I don’t want to use them only at the hem, but also for all the other velvet details, belt, cuffs and collar)

And the lining:

the light one is not as champagne coloured as the other, but darker and has a pinkish shade
the light one is not as champagne coloured as the other, but darker and has a pinkish shade

Maybe green because I like contrast where nobody can see it, maybe the other one because it is as least remotely pink, though it is impossible to photograph.

So far, I hope you are with me?

See you soon, love,


Some projects should remain unfinished…

Somehow I like sewing and working with fabric more than working with yarn, knitting or chrocheting. Funny thing is, I do crochet from time to time, always smaller projects and I do like it. I like to embroider, too. So maybe it is not because I don’t like it, but that I do it too occasionally to fall in love with.

All I can say is that passion hasn’t struck me yet, I hardly know how to knit and I don’t see me learning it properly in the near future.

In consequence this means that the majority of tutorials in my antique crafting (not sewing) magazines remain cryptic to me, as an estimated 95% are knitting tutorials.

To find a chrocheting project that is not toddler-sized or toddler-related is quite hard, if I recollect correctly I counted two or three projects in a whole stack of magazines. So my choice was quite limited.
in the end I went for the one I liked best, though I can’t say it intrigued me.

pattern consists only of double crochet and front post double crochet, so quite simple actually.

To make this cardigan you are asked to enlarge the pattern scheme on the top left to its original size and chrochet after this drawing so that it fits the pattern, decreasing and increasing as needed. Sounded as if I could handle that.
Because it was measured to fit a size 46 (way too large for me) I altered it quite heavily. And maybe I exagerated a little with the waist circumference and the waist-hip-ratio, you’ll see later.

In hindsight I should have foreseen that this project was doomed. First, the only wool I had enough of (I didn’t want to buy new wool for this test run) was a structured cotton-viscose-wool in white and bright green. This meant I had to make stripes because otherwise it wouldn’t suffice. A white and green striped jacket, I mean…seriously?

Second, the cover. Sorry, but this baby freaks me out (relieving it isn’t staring at me and points its gorgon-eyes at someone else). And this naked doll plunging upside down beside it, oh dear…evil.

Frauen-Fleiss (=women’s diligence), issue 7 (march), volume 1942/3

And the last hint, I felt it very early. May I quote myself, this is what I wrote about this project as early as ten months ago:

Mh, and there is this hilarious crocheted pullover, I am not sure I even want to complete.

Well, what should I say. I kept on working on it until a couple of months ago. Now in the new flat I stumbled over it and put it on my dress form.

DSC_0002 (2)wm

ummm…any questions left? Hilarious hits it, doesn’t it? Or would awkward be a better word for this?

DSC_0001 (2)wm
Is it only me who finds this bookshelf-backround distrackting? I should search for another photo-location…
Oh, but I have been searching for this cat-shaped timer for weeks. Hooray for distracting backgrounds!

Here you see what I meant with a too sharp waist-hip-ratio. First it looks odd with the ridges and second it seems to be too large at the hips, the hem is dropping quite poorly on the sides (not to mention that this is in no way a 40ies waistline).

DSC_0003 (2)wm


The shoulderseams are very (read too) narrow stretching the armhole into a very pointy shape on the shoulder and the sleeves aren’t even started off with.

So this is the biggest appearance this dissipation of (admittedly ugly) yarn has ever had and will ever get. Because I have come to the conclusion it would be the best to simply throw it away.

And to draw at least something positive from this project, I searched for better tutorials in this Frauen-Fleiss-issue to share with you.
First, a cute idea for children, a bowling game made from waste. The pins on the left are made from empty cleaning powder packages, today you could use the ones from Pringles eg. (at least here in Europe the vast majority of cleaning products is liquid and doesn’t come in cardboard tubes anymore). The pins on the lower left are made of empty thread spools. A shame these wooden spools aren’t that common anymore, they look great as pins.
What I find most interesting is how the balls are made. One is an old stocking filled with wadding or sawdust and completey covered with large buttonhole stitched to stabilize it. The other one is made by covering a little rock with wet and scrunched up newspapers. Smooth the surface and let it dry in the bright sunlight. Afterwards cover it with yarn as the drawing shows. This sounds as it could be a pretty heavy and painful ball, depending on the rock’s size and how hard you scrunch the paper.

click to see full size

And the second one, handbags to fit your suit or coat, made from leftover fabric. Though I always thought the handbag doesn’t have to match the coat, but the shoes :-P

click to see full size

So much for today, hope the next crocheting project will be more successful,


(s)It(h) is getting colder

Though I do of course sew other things as well as do and love other things besides sewing, I decided at one point to limit this blog to textile history and sewing projects made after historical patterns. Like this I hope to give my blog a clear silhouette, knowing well that this also means I can only show you a part of my personality.

HSF challenge #20 (“Alternative Universe”) now enables me to show a passion of mine that hasn’t been mentioned on this blog. First you should know, I am a little nerd. I love science and technical history and I always put my two cents in whenever I know something about biology or astronomy (oftentimes embarassing half-knowledge, I fear). Influenced by my boyfriend I love old and new Video games and can name a frightening number of Marvel or DC heroes.

I am however not a big fan of science fiction though I have some favourites. I had a phase watching a lot of Doctor Who (though this might have been caused by David Tennant, I haven’t watched a single Matt Smith episode, I’m afraid). I love the Stargate movie (and hate the series) but have never watched a single Enterprise-movie (only the first J.J.Abrams Star Trek-film and I may have a look at the second, it is said that B. Cumberbatch is brilliant in this one ;-) ).

But, BUT, I love, love, love, adore….Star Wars. Don’t ask why. My father doesn’t like it, he couldn’t even remember having watched the old movies before Episode 1 hit the cinemas.
It seems as if I watched them pretty early. I can remember me, being maybe 10 or 12 years of age,  pacing through our flat in black leggings and long sleeved shirt, using a black shirt from my father’s wardrobe as a cape, my chest adorned with a sheet of paper, on it the poor attempts of a little girl’s crayons to copy Darth Vader’s control panel. Of course I had no helmet because I couldn’t think of anything to improvise it with.

At this point it should be clear that my choice of what to sew for this challenge was set, it had to be something from the Star Wars-Universe. In hindsight I could have chosen any pattern I wanted because it is common knowledge that Star Wars is set

a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

so any recreation of a costume from these movies would have been historical.

Pattern: Burda august 2013, altered
Year: a long time ago

But no, just kidding, I followed the rules and picked a historical pattern for this challenge, too.

Because especially American readers are used to single pattern sheets, this is what an european 40ies pattern sheet looks like. Somewhere in there the pattern I used is hidden.
Because especially American readers are used to single patterns: this is what an european 40ies pattern sheet looks like. Somewhere in there the pattern I used is hidden.

As most Star Wars-enthusiasts I love the old movies, dislike Episode I, despise Episode II and consider Episode III as the at least best acceptable of the three. But because the book about the old Star Wars costumes is only published at the end of the month I had to work with the one I had, the book about the costumes in Episodes I to III: Dressing a Galaxy.

While some of the senat’s members wore beautifully Belle Epoque-inspired robes, I knew I wouldn’t have neither time nor fabric to copy these.
Then I saw the costume photos of Christoper Lee’s charakter, Count Dooku:

He wears a long brown cape, lined with satin in a lighter shade of brown.

The cape consists of a front, a back and side parts, so it has modeled shoulders and something like a sleeve cap.

The shoulders are decorated with parallel lines of topstitching.

Yes, that was the inspiration I needed! I had planned to do a cape anyway, so why not make a suble Star Wars-inspired one.

Maybe another reason that made me pick this costume without any reluctance was a sewing pattern in a women’s magazine I had found only one week earlier on a flea market.

Because I don't own the magazine I only have the drawing (the pattern sheet included the patterns of two magazine issues)
Because I don’t own the magazine I only have the drawing (the pattern sheet includes the patterns of two magazine issues and I bought it with the other)

A cape pattern for a fur cape from January 1945. See? Front, back, side parts, sleeve cap, all I need. And the striped pattern of the fur gave me the rest to consider this pattern absolutely perfect.
I did not want to make a mid-calf-length cape, this would have been a little too much super-hero-attitude for everyday-wear, so the length was perfect, too.
I love the five small darts on the shoulders. They add something harsh and uniform-like to it.
Because it was a little too large for me (made for 92cm bust circumference) I pinned it to my sewing mannequin and cut away all the excess. Additionally, I reduced the collar to a narrow band collar.

my not-so-professional method to adjust the pattern to my size
my not-so-professional method to adjust the pattern to my size
the adjusted pattern with the new collar line (compare to the drawing above)
the adjusted pattern with the new collar line (compare to the drawing above)

Whilst searching for fabric in my stash I had to realize that I 1) would never wear a brown cape as much as a black one and 2) that I did not have any matching brown fabric I could use for it. And as I already stated, Episode II really isn’t my favourite film neither is Count Dooku my favourite character. Maybe you might already have noticed, despite my long brown hair my first poor attempts in cosplaying did not aim at representing Princess Leia, but Darth Vader. At this point I should confess: I am drawn to evil characters. I am a Vader-, Snape, Lecter-girl, that’s what I am. Sorry, Rebel Alliance, sorry Harry and friends, sorry Clarice.

So when I unearthed a (what I thought was) black gabardine and a Sith-light-saber-red silk-satin, my choice was clear. To make it a cape to wear in cold autumn weather, I decided to add a layer of wool fleece, connecting this to the silk to create a custom-quilted warm lining.


Now some of you may ask ‘wool fleece, never have seen something like that?’. Well, in a fabric or haberdashery store, I have neither. But I came across this in…a garden centre! Pure wool fleece, made to cover your plants to protect them in winter. Because of this, the wool is of a comparably poor quality and quite dirty (many seeds and dry plants in it), but I considered it to be very interesting and presumably warmer than a polyester fleece of comparable thickness.

the sheep say "we tuck your plants in"
the sheep say “we tuck your plants in”

To avoid shifting I hand-quilted the silk onto the wool fleece before putting together the lining. I cut away the darts and seam allowances so it wouldn’t be too thick at the seams.

inside out
inside out the other way round
inside out the other way round

Sewing the pieces together was really easy. First you close the shoulder seams, then you insert the side pieces. Before I added these I tested if it fit me and was strongly reminded of Luke’s black outfit.
I hand-stitched the seam connecting the outer and the inner fabric as I did the hems (I hemmed them both seperately.
The side seams as well as the front edges are top-stitched with the sewing machine.

my shoulders are formed differently than my dress form's ones, that's why they wrinkle
my shoulders are formed differently than my dress form’s ones, that’s why they wrinkle

As I said, I thought the gabardine to be black. In some moments I doubted so I held it near a black fabric ‘yeah, it’s black’, held it near a dark-blue fabric ‘yes, that’s really black’ and went on. Only when I wanted to wear the cape with a black dress I finally had to realize: it is a very, very dark blue (or maybe a blue-ish black?)
A little side note: This means I still have not a single piece of black outerwear. My wintercoats and -jackets are orange, brown, grey, dark-grey, dark-blue and now, another dark blue member. Seems like a good excuse to sew a coat, doesn’t it? ;-)

You may remember the topstitched shoulders on Christopher Lee’s costume. Well, the pattern I used was slightly more fitted and thus needed shoulder darts. These are much longer than the topstitching of the costume is. First I planned to make the topstitching anyway, using the dart as the given length. But while working I had to observe the dart changing from a straight seam to a very slightly curved line. Because I feared this would look odd with straight top-stitching, I decided not to add any top-stitching at all.

But there still are two small imperial features.
First I had to decide what closure to chose. Count Dooku’s cape closes with a silver chain and a decorative clasp on both ends. This was too extrvagant in my opinion to go with this cape as an everyday-garment, so I turned once again to my favourite villain: Darth Vader’s coat closes with a simple black chain and I happened to have a very similar still in my stash. Without the helmet it looked weird to place it too close around the neck, so I made the ends lie with the shoulder darts. To one end a tiny hook was added to close it with the matching eye on the shoulder seam.

side part darts and chain-closure
side part darts and chain-closure

The second feature: Well, I told you I quilted the lining. While I used radial lines on the side parts and the lower back, I thought the shoulder region could use something more impressive and topic-related:


What is left to say? I love this cape. First because it is my Darth-Vader-Star-Wars-cape from now on (the assistant of my Professor called it a ‘veritable Dracula-cape’, I can life with this, too) and because I had wanted a cape to wear this autumn. Double-win!

There is only one little downer: The wool fibres keep pricking through both fabrics. I don’t mind that much on the inside (it’s not scratchy, though of course it impairs the effect of the imperial coat-of-arms-quilting), but the outside is looking horribly messy, as if I cuddled a white Persian cat only seconds ago. Anybody experienced something like this and can tell me how to at least reduce this?

Without further ado, here it is, my “what-would a Sith-lady wear when going for a walk on Endor”-cape:

“Do I have to? I hate woods!”
“Look at this mud! I really would prefer the death star’s grey steel and concrete…”
“You want me to show…?”
“Please, let’s restart, I can do it better!”
“…like this!” *swoosh*
“Another photo? This is getting boring and cold.”
“What should be interesting about the back?”
“Oh, shut up, don’t make me laugh, that completely destroys my authority. If…only…this…stu…pid…chain…would…argh!”
“To ask me to undress in front of the camera is either brave or very very stupid. Don’t underestimate the power of the force, my dear!”
But as I know what you want to see, I am willing to forgive. This is the quilting you are looking for”

The Challenge: #20 Alternative universe

Fabric: dark blue gabardine (55% wool, 45% polyester), red silk satin

Pattern: from “Meyers Schweizer Frauen- und Modeblatt”, issue 4 (january) 1945

Year: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away

Notions: wool fleece, fusible interfacing for the collar, red and black thread, a short piece of black metal chain, a piar of hooks and eyes

How historically accurate is it?  The pattern is authentic, though I doubt it would be suitable for a fabric like this, normally all the darts would have been hidden because of the fur. For the Star Wars universe it would be too short, but maybe as a travelling cloak?

Hours to complete:  lots, maybe 10?

First worn: Tuesday, 21st Octobre

Total cost: I don’t know for sure but comparably expensive. The wool fleece cost 20CHF, the silk 10-15 CHF and the gabardine maybe a little more. So something around 50-60CHF, though I already had the two fabrics in my stash.

red dress: 2nd hand/h&m – grey wool dress: 2nd hand – belt: mum’s – shoes: 2nd hand/Hush Puppies – cape: ette/Meyer pattern – suede gloves: antique store – sunglasses: Bijoux Brigitte


I hope you like it.

Wish you a lovely weekend and may the force be with you,


Frills and lace and challenge #19

Third challenge in a row, I am optimistic to really meet my goal of doing half of this year’s challenges :-D

The theme for this fortnight’s challenge was “HSF Inspiration”. So basically you could do anything, as long as it had been inspired by some project previously made for the HSF. I started from the back and began looking at the old HSF-photos of 2013, so at the projects I hadn’t seen before, because I didn’t participate last year (I am not sure if you have to be a member of the group, but here is the link to the fb-albums).

What finally caught me was a little hairbow Natalie had made for the Accessorize-Challenge. I remembered that there was a whole page of victorian hairbow tutorials in one of my Bazar-issues. I had discovered them when working on my box for sewing machine supplies back in January.

After having checked what I had in stock concerning lace and ribbons I decided to try this design:


I was able to use a leftover from a long forgotton project, a wide, mat bias binding in a pale lavender. I paired this with a matching rose satin ribbon and black bobbin lace. The tutorial had asked for black lace and velvet ribbon and green grosgrain ribbon, but neither did I have these colours nor did I want it to be that dark.


Because my satin ribbon was so narrow I doubled it, a third bow would have crossed the line to a gift-wrapping-effect :-)


I roughly followed the instructions of the tutorial, but my main focus was the picture: The whole thing is based on a circle (the tutorial says half circle, I completely overlooked this), the original of buckram, mine is grey felt. A part of the rim gets covered with pleated ribbon (I cut the bias binding in half) and a layer of lace on top. Now the long piece of lace is attached, as you see it is doubled and sewn together at the straight edges. I had to iron and wrinkle the lace to make it lie flat at the end, I am sure with a tulle lace as shown in the original drawing this was much less bulky. To completely cover the felt I added a rest of the lace to the whole thing. On top of it all I placed the bow I had formed out of the two different ribbons. The lace and the ribbon might be a tiny bit shorter as the tutorial asks for, but first this is all I had left of the bias binding and second I didn’t want to make it too extravagant, so I can maybe wear it without full 1870ies attire.


If you would like to make your own, I tried to translate the istructions for you:

To make this bow arrange a 76cm length of 6,5cm wide green grosgrain ribbon on one end into narrow box pleats of 1cm width each until you end up with 11cm of pleated ribbon. Sew this folded part of the ribbon onto a half circle cut out of buckram (3,5cm diametre), 1cm away from the outer rim.This is covered as the image shows with 5cm of pleated black lace. Now add a length of two laces that you connected at the straight edges, ruffles the last part of it so it forms a half circle. The final length of the lace should be 20cm. Additionally ad a 40cm piece of the green grosgrain ribbon, a 10 and 6cm loop of the same ribbon as well as a small loop and a folded knot of black velvet ribbon. The latter covers all ends and seams of the other loops.


The rest of the satin ribbon I used as a loop on the bottom side to attach it to the head with bobby pins.

The Challenge: #19 HSF Inspiration

Fabric: a small circle of grey polyester felt

Pattern: tutorial without a pattern found in “Der Bazar. Illustrirte Damen=Zeitung, Nr. 21, June 3rd 1872

Year: 1872

Notions: black and lavender thread, rose satin ribbon, lavender bias binding (both synthetic fibres), black bobbin lace (maybe cotton or linen).

How historically accurate is it?  Not too much. I roughly followed the instructions, I made everything by hand and the result looks remotely like the image in the tutorial. But I used modern, artificial fibres instead of silk ribbons.

Hours to complete:  1-1,5

First worn: not worn yet.

Total cost:  Felt and bias binding were leftovers from other projects, the ribbon had been in my stock for years, I assume it cost around 0.50-0.80 €/m. The lace was bought either at a flea market or a charity shop, can’t remember when or how I bought it, I assume I found it in a sewing basket or bag of laces I bought. All in total not more than 1-2€.

Hope you like it, love



Me-Made-Mittwoch or: What I wore today

Usually there are two things that make it impossible for me to participate in the Me-Made-Mittwoch (= me made Wednesday, like me made may, but once a week): first,I forget it and only remember it took place when I read my blog feed the following morning. Second, even if I remember it I am not content with my outfit or do not wear anything selfmade that day.
Miraculously today was a day were both premises met, so welcome to the first pure outfit post in months!


Some readers may recognize the skirt, my version of a 1955/6-Lutterloh-Pattern.


The shirt was sewn after a Burda-Pattern (issue 2/2010) and I already made it in july 2012. There were a few holes in the sleeves’ seams I fixed a few days ago, so this feels nearly like a new garment. :-)


Yes, I was in a really good mood, although I had just come home from work. And no, I didn’t wear these shoes for work, but they look so much better than the burgundy loafers I wore during the day.

shirt: ette/Burda – skirt: ette/Lutterloh – tights: Fogal, high heels: 2nd hand (Secondo Berne)/Christian Louboutin, 40s watch: flea market, ring: heirloom from my grandaunt

I wish you a nice evening, love


And half October like a thousand years…

You know, one thing is to find time to participate in the HSF-challenges, the other thing is to find a matching project.

Challenge #18 was “poetry in motion – bring to life a garment inspired by a song or poem.“.
This really gave me a hard time. I know many poems but not a single one that could inspire a garment came to my mind. And the ones I could think of were all pre-raffaelite medieval-themed ones, but I really didn’t want to sew a medieval dress, I already have one and never wear it, no use for a second.

After having consulted all my (english) books containing poetry I still had no concrete garment to put my finger on, but two poems that left me with some inspiration. The first got dismissed because I couldn’t find neither a matching pattern nor had I a matching fabric (R. Aldington – In the tube). So I was left with

Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp

Those of you who know it might wonder how this might serve as an inspiration for a garment.
The poem was written in late 1915 and tells about the horrors of war the author experienced himself in Flanders after having joined the British Army in August of the same year.
In a little London-Poems-Anthology I found an excerpt of this quite long poem, part VI, the last part. It describes how a crowd of women dressed in black waits for the soldiers at Charing Cross station, not knowing that their beloved are long since dead. Though they do not know there is no hope left in their faces, who appear as dead as the ones of their dear ones.

A great crowd, all black that hardly whispers aloud.
Surely, that is a dead woman – a dead mother!
She has a dead face;
She is dressed in black;

And there is another and another and another…
And little children, all in black,
All with dead faces, waiting in all the waiting-places,

In the dark of the night.
This is Charing Cross; it is past one of the clock;
There is very little light.

There is so much pain.

This black crowd with no hopes left, waiting in the gloom of the station at night created a very clear image in my head. The poem when read aloud has a very impressive rhythm that makes it appear even more vivid to me (I experience very similar effects when reading Paul Celan’s “Die Todesfuge”, maybe some german speaking readers might know the poem).

I can clearly see all that women facing the bare tracks, waiting. They have stood there too often to expect a train and still refuse to stop coming there. They face hunger, the salary of the beloved soldier is missing, they fear to think of the coming winter. The mothers miss their sons, still virtually children. The wives fear the loss of their Sweethearts and have long ceased to answer the whining questions of their children, missing their fathers.

I imagine them dressed in long, droopy robes with no colour, shine or elegance left. Maybe some still haven’t given up hope and have bought a new suit to welcome the homecomer, some may have to work hard to survive and come straight from their masters or in simple clothes they wore to clean the house or harvest some apples.


Therefore I searched for simple patterns with only few elegant touches and no decoration, something like this, imagine it in black cotton or wool, not ironed and without these laughing faces and elegant postures. This was the picture I had in mind.
In the end I went for a pattern from “The Ladies’ Tailor” from 1915, printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes” (fig. 50, for those who own it).  Because I ran out of time I only made the skirt and not the matching jacket. The skirt is very tight fitted around the waist and the hips, below the hips it is wide and ruffled. I did not copy the Waugh pattern, but constructed a broad, corset-like shaped waistband on my dress form. A little calculating and dedusting of my geometry skills helped me to construct the ruffled, slightly  flared lower part of the skirt.


The waistband consists of one layer of thick upholstery cotton tabby-weave, covered with the skirt-fabric, a black cotton twill with little stretch.

It is closed with a row of star-shaped buttons in the back. Not historical, I know. But when it was nearly finished and I first wore it, it reminded me of my black, goth teen years and I remembered that I had long wanted to sew a long black all-purpose-skirt. Very unexpectedly, there it was! And because I had used these black star-buttons on so many of my goth garments it seemed to be only appropriate to use the last ones I had for this skirt.

This is also the reason why I made it slightly longer as 1915-fashion would have been. Historically correct it would end just above the ankles. But I really liked the almost floor length look when first trying it, I couldn’t help but make only a narrow hem to leave it as long as possible.


The Challenge: #18 Poetry in motion

The Poem: Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp (esp. part VI This is Charing Cross)

Fabric: black cotton twill with a little stretch, waistband doubled with heavy grey upholstery cotton

Pattern: self-drafted after “The Ladies’ Tailor” 1915 as printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”

Year:  1915

Notions: black thread, eight plastic buttons.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is close to the original, cotton twill is at least possible for the time. I am sure the construction would have been done differently, with boning and stiff horse hair interlacing instead of upholstery fabric. Buttons aren’t historical at all, nor is the closure itself. A hidden row of hooks and eyes would have been more likely.

Hours to complete: The waistband needed a lot of basting stitches, the buttonholes are handsewn. And the construction of the pattern took a little time. Maybe 5h in total.

First worn: not yet/for photos

Total cost: Fabric was a gift from a friend of my mother’s, lining upholstery fabric a gift from my uncle. Buttons were 25ct each, so 2€ in total, without the thread.


blouse: mavi - shawl: from my grandma; laced boots: flea market (used to be skates)
blouse: mavi – shawl: from my grandma; laced boots: flea market (used to be skates)

See you soon, love,



Sources: All information about the author and the poem as well as the excerpts from the latter I drew from:
Adolf Barth (publ.): London Poems, Stuttgart 2001 (first publ. in 1988), pages 53f and78f

things I would never have done without Leimomi part 3

It’s been more than three months I last uploaded a HSF-project, oh dear.

After all the messy times I had this summer I was very keen to join the challenges again.
A little summary: I planned to make at least half of the challenges when I started to join. The last project I finished was my #10-ballerina-outfit, my fifth finished project, so I was right on track. Now we are already close to challenge #18 and I my counter is still at five projects. I need to do all coming challenges but one to eventually reach my goal of at least 12 completed challenges, puh…
In fact I did try to make something for #13 “Under 10$” but it became evident in a very early state that it was completely unwearable and so it never made it to the finish line.

Challenge #17 was “Yellow” and I am a few days late, I know, but please, I am so proud having at least finished it, so don’t let it rain on my parade, would you ;-)

Now you have to know, yellow really isn’t a colour I like. I own very few yellow garments, somehow they never appealed me. Additionally, my boyfriend works at an international furniture-selling enterprise using the blue and yellow colours of the swedish flag as their trademark, so naturally he doesn’t fancy yellow after closing time.

Therefore the title. I am not sure if I would have made that project without the challenge, this applies as well to the aforementioned ballet-costume and the 19th-century-fabric-box, this explains the “part 3″ :-D

The search for some yelllow fabric in my stash wasn’t very fruitful. I found a small piece of mustard-coloured cotton-velvet (too small to make a garment of it), an equally small amount of white cotton printed with yellow flowers and two metres of a light yellow polyester fabric I bought on sale when one of my favourite fabric shops closed. Don’t ask me why, normally I tend to ignore artificial fibres and yellow coloured fabrics.

The fabric has a little stretch and is quite solid so I thought it could become a nice dress for  the approaching autumn days.I picked a dress from the march 1940 issue of “Beyers Mode für Alle”, one of the magazines I bought in Gotha last year.


The pattern itself came together quite quickly. A 88cm bust tends always to be a little on the large side for me, but the waist was fine and so I changed nothing and started cutting (as you see, the bust is ruffled, no use measuring this, if you ask me). I skipped the pockets because I couldn’t see the use of two very narrow pockets getting bulky right between my legs, there are few easier ways to ruin a dress.

Drawing of the pattern pieces. I used the upper, long sleeve
Drawing of the pattern pieces. I used the upper, long sleeve

Only during my sewing some problems began to show up. First, the construction of the shoulders hadn’t been thought through. The shoulder seams lie behind the highest point of the shoulders. That itself is not a problem, but the front part was ruffled and so the sleeve tended to fall off the shoulder in the front. In total the shoulders were slightly on the large side. So what I did was I attached a wide grosgrain ribbon to the shoulder seam, the ends connected to the sleeve cap and the collar. The ribbon itself was 2cm shorter than the non ruffled back, so I gathered the back part a little at the same time, making the shoulders fit better (besides the size being on the upper end of what fits me, the stretch of the fabric and its weight added to this dropping effect. So the ribbon prevents the fabric to stretch as well).

left: the dropping sleeve, middle: the improved version, right: a look at the ribbon
left: the dropping sleeve, middle: the improved version, right: a look at the ribbon

The centre front is far far away from the front edges. This makes the right front edge disappear below the collar and, if you don’t want your buttons to be far away from the edge, it places the buttons off-centre unless they are gigantic. Unfortunately I realized it too late, after I had already finished the two front edges. To solve this I attached the buttons and press fasteners on the right front edge, but only the lowest two counter parts of the press fasteners I sewed as far from the centre as the pattern had wanted them to be. The topmost one I placed as far away from the left edge as the button was from the right one (what means much closer to the edge), the two buttons in the middle I placed accordingly (additionally it looked so very severe with the collar’s edges touching).


Third issue was the very blousy fit. I have no before-photo, but I removed a total 14cm underbust-circumference to make the dress fitting as it is now, before the whole bodice part fit very loosely. Another 6cm circumference was removed at bust-height and the upper sleeves.


The sleeves are puffed and have a dart in the lower half. If I wear long sleeves I want them to be a little more on the long than on the short side. So I decided to keep the length, though it caused a few wrinkles when letting the arms drop. Because the dart was very narrow it was impossible to close it completely. I left the 7cm open and added buttons and press fasteners as well, not at the hem, but 3cm above. Like this the sleeve can slide down a tiny bit more and wrinkles less but is still as long as I like it to be.

yes, a ding at the zipper, I see this. But because it will be worn when it is colder I hope enough underskirts will fix it. If not I can still change this.

A flaw you wouldn’t have noticed but I see at a first glance: the collar! Do you see that slightly darker colour? That’s because my interfacing is green. Wouldn’t have thought it could shine through, but obviously it does.


The length is a little short for 1940, I know. But the dress is so high-necked and well behaved, I thought it needed this length to look less severe.



The Challenge: #17 Yellow

Fabric: light yellow synthetic fabric

Pattern: magazineBeyers Mode für alle”, march 1940

Year: 1940

Notions: various cream and yellow threads (got rid of three different small spools^^); interfacing for the collar, grosgrain ribbon to stabilize the shoulder seams and a narrower one for the waist seam; seven burgundy buttons and different coloured press fasteners, short zipper for the side seam, fusible interfacing

How historically accurate is it? I fear the material of the fabric isn’t authentic, nor is the length of the dress and the interfacing. The pattern and the changes I made are accurate, the buttons and the zipper are old, though not that old, but both plausible for the time (plastic buttons and coloured metal zipper).

Hours to complete:  Maybe 6-8. Sewing itself went quite fast, but all those adjustments and the handsewing (zipper, buttons, hem, shoulder stabilization) took their time.

First worn:  for the photos today, still too warm outside to wear it all day long

Total cost: I know I bought the fabric not long ago, but I have no idea what I paid for it.I assume not more than 10CHF/m, otherwise it wouldn’t have been appealing to me. All notions enlisted came from my stash and were bought with haberdashery convolutes, so different to tell. Only the interfacing was bought new, I think I paid 2€/m.

dress: Beyer/made by me – belt: mango – handbag: flea market – shoes: cube

Though I said yellow is not my favourite colour, I am really happy with the result and looking forward to wear it a lot as soon as it gets colder. :-)

See you soon, love


Lavender O.

Well, I promised a report on my SIAB-night, the Sew-In-A-Bookshop-night ;-)

To understand what will happen next, a short explanation: Normally this bookshop, as most shops in Berne, closes at 7pm, on thursdays the majority of the city is opened until 9pm, that thursday was Ladies Night, takes place only once a year, shops closed at 11pm.

We installed my table with sewing machine, a little decoration and the book I was presenting at around 6pm. And until 7.30 everything was fine, lots of people in the shop, many curious clients asking what I was doing and so on.

Then it became a little quiet, still some people were passing by, maybe because I sat right next to the doors through which you can leave directly into the railway station. Some stopped and looked interested, I chatted a little, about my sewing, about the book, about whatever they wanted. It was sad it was comparably quiet, I had really hoped for a roaring night.
Only few were interested in the sewing, even less in the book. Most only gazed at the sewing machine and noted that her grannies had machines like this or asked if it was already electric.

At 9pm we had to close the doors to the station (contract conditions) and the last two hours were very quiet, because I sat literally at a dead end. The sentence I had to repeat most often in the last two hours was “No, sorry, exit closed, please use the main exit on the ground floor”. Every now and then somebody spotted me from the far end of the shop and screamed something like “oh, mum, look there” *teenage daughter with mum approaching*staring*smiling*leaving*.

At least this left me plenty of time to sew and I really nearly finished, only the zipper and the hem were missing.

That's how it looked. You will recognize my Bette Davis Dress.
That’s how it looked. You will recognize my Bette Davis Dress I chose to wear that evening.

To conclude, I assume a couple of things went wrong,making it less successful than we all had hoped it to be.

First, the event itself wasn’t promoted enough, neither the presenter nor the bookshop succeeded in making people aware that this night was to be meant as an event. A friend who lives in the city of Bern told me she wouldn’t have known of this Ladies Night without me (and this true friend stayed with me the whole five hours and made the long hours past 9pm appear much shorter as they could have been). So I fear the whole event hasn’t grown big enough yet to attract large crowds of clients and ladies, strolling through the shops on high heels buying lace underwear whilst drinking prosecco (we wouldn’t discuss this cliché here, would we? :-) ) The few clients who came were not what I would call the target audience of Retro sewing, in contrast, most knew the sewing machine or the dresses in the book from their own childhood or youth (one middle ages woman was gleaming with joy when spotting Farrah Fawcett in the book. Not because she liked the dress, but “Charlies Angels”) and had no interest in buying such a book.

Second, I chose the wrong approach. Promoting a book that is all about how cool, modern and timeless vintage and retro sewing is, well, you can’t properly do this when sewing in full 30ies attire, looking as if you stepped right out of a time capsule. The group of people interested in the latter one is even smaller than the few people interested in retro sewing. So a more Gertie-like approach with a stunning bombshell dress or a cool modern looking 60ies style would have been more convincing.

On the far right you see the book I sewed from.
On the far right you see the book I sewed from.

Which leads me to this night’s project. Because I was a little scared this would all end up in a catastrophe I chose a really simple design from the book without too many tricky details to pay attention to (well, I had hoped to chat a lot more with clients than I had the chance. Did I mention I did not sell a single book?).

Lets talk about the book for a second (I bought this copy already when it was published in German some time ago, this review isn’t sponsored by anybody. I just think when talking about a pattern in it, I can as well give you a short summary and my opinion on the book itself). The book Famous frocks, in German Stilikonen, presents ten women of the 20th century which are connected to a special and distinct style of dress and became iconic for the fashion of their time (the Link to the German version allows you to have a look inside, just klick the “Im Buch blättern” button left of the cover). It starts in the 1930ies with Bette Davis (now you know why I bought it ;-) ), the 40ies are represented by Rita Hayworth. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic 7-year-itch dress is included as well as Audrey Hepburns little black one from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Jackie Kennedy and Twiggy complete this 50ies/60ies group. The younger dresses are inspired by Diana Ross, Farrah Fawcett and Stevie Nicks (the only pattern I had realized from the book until now, you saw it in my Sicily-Post). The last and most recent one is Madonna’s corsage-and-petticoat-style. Each woman is accompanied by one dress pattern, that was inspired by her style. So you won’t find an exact reproduction of an Audrey-Dress in this book, rather the authors took what they considered the distinct features and lines of a style and translated it into a pattern. This makes a total of 10 different patterns, all of them come in a closer-to-the-original-version and a more modern variation.

The only photos in this book show the icons that inspired the patterns, the patterns themselves are only shown in drawings, a technical and a fashion illustration for each version.

All patterns are included in their original size, but because the sheets are printed from both sides, you have to copy the cut pieces. Sizes go from XS (79cm-62cm-88cm) to L (94cm-77cm-103cm) (so really not a wide range, in my opinion, you will see later that XS is already too small for me).
The instructions are very detailed with many drawings, so even beginners could cope with the simpler ones, as long as they know the basic sewing vocabulary.

To conclude: patterns are easy to work with, good instructions, nice layout. Unfortunately size range is very limited and the dresses are only inspired by historical patterns, some stay pretty close but some don’t (don’t expect to sew a 30ies gown with this book, what you get is a knee-length bias-cut dress, for example). The patterns are modern, not based on historical ones, at least that is my impression and I didn’t find a hint that they used actual contemporary patterns for this book.

So much about the book. The pattern I chose was the, who would have guessed after the title ;-) , Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The classic variant comes with a very high and stiff neckline I don’t like that much, so I chose to sew the modern version with a slightly lower neckline and pockets. Pockets not because I needed them (well, I do need pockets, but I try to avoid dresses with them because I tend to bury my hands in them and stand quite crooked), but because I feared to finish early without them.


As already mentioned, I chose to cut size XS, stupidly enough looking only at the waist- but not at the bust-circumference. Because I had no chance to try it on in the shop I only realized it was too small when I had inserted the zipper the next day and wore it for the first time.


Fortunately, the pattern included 1.6cm seam allowance, so I shifted the side seams of the bodice as far as I could, approximately 1cm. These additional 4cm were what it took to fit, thankfully. It still fits quite snug, you see the pockets are slightly gaping, but it is ok, considering that I already had given up hope because it seemed to be so very much too small.


I don’t like  the fit in the back, but I don’t quite know how to get rid of these wrinkles. I tried to pin in different ways (normally I would remove some fabric from the waist seam in such a case), but still more wrinkles show each time. Now I will leave it like that, it is not that bad when standing upright, at least I’am trying to convince myself about this.


As a fabric I chose a lavender-coloured cotton (or viscose, I am not sure) from my stash. Facings and pockets I made from a gingham of the same colour, printed with little flowers. A leftover I had bought years ago, I used it to make headbands from it and sold them via Internet. It wasn’t that successful, so I quit and went back to work as a shop assistant to finance my studies^^


The matching bias binding was an old unfolded one that had lurked in my stash for a very long time, I must have bought it once with a sewing basket or something similar. It was quite narrow and, as I said, unfolded and I always considered it being too narrow to work with it properly. But then I saw the bias binding foot in The Sewing Machine Attachment Book, asking for 24mm wide, unfolded bias binding. That was exactly the size I had. It worked really well, only the very sharp curves around the armholes caused some difficulties.
But this explains a lot: When sewing machines do not come with these feet anymore, no-one will buy unfolded, 24mm-width bias binding in consequence. Or, vice versa, if you can only buy pre-folded bias binding, why should a machine include a bias binding foot? I don’t know what happened, I only know that such a foot is not to be found with modern machines anymore and that unfolded bias binding has become quite rare, I assume a connection :-)

Rhinestone-Pendant: a gift – shoes: antique/Amuse Brocante, Berne – fragrance: 4711 Acqua Colonia Lavender & Thyme

The upper bust darts end a little too high, maybe this was meant to be a really historic pattern after all and I should have worn it with period appropriate undergarments? Or maybe they just don’t fit my bust and I should adjust them ;-).

See you soon, love


I – wanna sew’n’craft all ni-i-ight…

…and party every day….well, kind of ;-)

I am eager to announce you something a little different, something huge for me:

Next Thursday, September 11th, Bern City is hosting a Ladies night. Many shops in Berne will be open until 11pm and most of them do offer special discounts, events and similar things.

And I will participate! I will be sewing with my little Singer Featherweight in the Thalia-Bookshop inside the Loeb department store. If you happen to be in Berne, I would love to meet you!I keep it a secret what I will sew and I can’t predict if I will be able to finish it, but be sure, it’s a classic, a pattern from the book Famous Frocks (well, the german edition).

I would love to see some of you!

love, ette

not quite convincing…

As promised, here is the only project I was able to finish in the past weeks (aside from some curtains for our staircase and the bathroom).
I bought the pattern, Vogue 2859,  already quite some time ago on sale, a 30ies set, consisting of a dress, a coat and a wrap blouse. When the HSF-challenge “#3 Pink” was coming closer I decided to realize the blouse in a pink, floating fabric I once had bought for my prom dress, but not used entirely (like the black fabric I used to complain about). After I had cut the pattern and the fabric something very unexpected and  devastating happened in out family and I was neither in the mood nor had I time to sew.  So I never completed the challenge, but was very amused (well, as amused as I was able to be back then) that some other participant had had the same idea: Black tulip made the exact same pattern from a very similar fabric.

But even this wasn’t enough to get me back on track, so the pattern pieces lay cut in my stash until I decided to get rid of this project before moving, because I was already suspicious if I would really like it and feared to never finish it. So close before moving into our new apartment I was able to fool myself, prohibiting me to start something new and so, forcing me to face this project.

The pattern is quite tricky. The pattern pieces do look very unfamiliar and you really have to stay concentrated not to make any mistakes. But after you have sewn the few large parts together  it comes together comparably quick.


A thing I did not like was the instruction to hem the ties, in my opinion you will always see the hemmed inside and never the right one, Murphy’s law. So I doubled them and turned them over instead.


Please note that the pattern is very short, as it is to be expected from a 30ies design. It is meant to be worn with the dress underneath, so at the moment it just sits on my sewing mannequin, waiting for me to buy or make a simple black dress to go with it (a problem I face with a beautiful antique 30ies blouse I own as well, I would so love to wear it but own nothing to pair it with).


But maybe this will never happen, because there are some other features I am not quite confident with: I don’t like that you see the seam of the scarf. My fabric is quite shiny so it is even more evident than in other versions I saw. A different fabric could help, but I am sure as long as I can see it, it will never be ok to me. If I am going to make this blouse again I will have to find an alternative to this way of sewing the scarf. But I would have to anyway, because the other thing I am not happy with, is that it sits too tight for my taste. I am very sensitive when it comes to clothing sitting close to my throat and this blouse is just too close to feel comfortable for me. So maybe it will never make its way into my wardrobe.

I am going to announce you something really exiting (at least for me) soon and it is connected with some new projects!
So see you soon, love,