My new series – My new sewing machine!

For quite some time I have had a little idea working in my mind. I mentioned it very shortly in my post about my new old Bernina 730, but I wanted to be prepared for the series to start before I really announce it. But finally here it comes.

As I have said in the above-mentioned post, I love old sewing machines. I love to imagine how the previous owners worked with them, what dresses were created on them, how the rooms they stood in looked like and so on. My Singer Featherweight had a little handwritten note attached to the sewing table with some old adhesive tape, I was so sad when the mechanic who maintained it last year removed it without even asking me.

Now, my idea: I don’t want to leave it at speculating what could have been back then, but try to re-imagine the original environment of my sewing machines as accurately as I can.


First step would be to narrow down the manufacturing date, the older the machine, the more difficult this will be, I fear. Next step is to find information about this time period. How would the world look like, which people were famous, are there important dates in history connected to it? What did the first owner possibly wear, what was eaten at lunchtime, how much did she (or he) pay for the sewing machine. And, third step: What would be sewn on it when it was new? What pattern styles were popular, what fabric would have been considered modern, what could have been the first project made with the new helper.

I plan to make a little series, including the ideas above, featuring each one of my machines. I don’t plan to make it a regular feature, but will post it whenever a project matches.
If you own a more or less old machine yourself and want to participate, I would love it! Please feel free to use the icon above and link back to my blog. There are no period restrictions, I am equally open for late 19th century creations or early 1990ies projects.
You can include whatever you want. Dates, facts, photos, recipes, everything you consider helpful to create an image of the time given. But you will have to include a sewing project and it has to be made on the sewing machine presented! Yes, this is the mean part. Feel free to create a breathtaking art-nouveau-gown, but create it only on your period machine, no serger, no zig-zag-stitching, no computer-backed embroidery, you get it ;-)

So, are you with me?

And if someone is interested: This cute but hilarious image above I cut from a sewing machine add found in the Burda-issue of march 1956. I just love how she hugs this presumably quite heavy machine.  The add is for Frigor-Sewing machines, a brand I had never heard of before. It seems as if they produced radios and things like that until 1952, then went bankrupt. From 1953 what seems to be the same enterprise, produced sewing machines. I found Hague (Netherlands) and Munich (Germany) as production sites, but one machine on ebay had a plague saying “licensed in Switzerland, produced in France”.  My otherwise always helpful book on old sewing machines can’t add any more information and even the world wide web proofed not fruitful at all.

The machines have a very distinct, “atomic” 50ies style and are very reasonable priced if you want to buy them today, something around 50€ if you find one. Back in the 50ies this was in fact a comparably expensive machine. The add from 1956 names a price of 712 Mark, this equals nearly 1700€ today! But it seems to have had some fun features, too. It was already able to sew straight and zig-zag, to darn, to make buttonholes and attach buttons and even had some decorative stitches. But the best thing, look at the upper picture on the left:You didn’t have to change the needle as we know it today but, to prevent confusion on how it should be placed, you could just throw the needle into a little hole on the top and it fell into the right position all by itself, magic!

I hope you will like this little series and I would love if someone decides to join me. Stay curious for the first post, see you soon,




Sweater makeover inspirations

Despite some warmer days in between snow and frozen rain, the northern hemisphere can’t deny that we will have to face another few weeks of cold and wintery weather, although we grew tired of our pullovers and wool scarfs and the other stuff our winter wardrobe consists of. Maybe one of the sweaters even caught a little hole or stain during the Christmas dinner, but buying a new one feels like asking the winter winds to stay even longer, what is the last thing we want.
Below a page to help us out of this misery. Wether we grew tired of the old sweaters or are just bored because the grey outside seems not to have changed since the middle ages and we need something to brighten our day as long as the sun is on holiday. Or if we need to cover a little accident on an otherwise perfectly loved garment ;-)

This page I found in the “Marie Claire”-issue from november 8th 1941, a french fashion magazine that is still published today (though they don’t include DIY-ideas anymore, maybe because this category has its own spin-off today, the “Marie Claire idees”) - Marie Claire, Nov. 8th 1941
click to enlarge

(clockwise from the upper left)

The rays:
Add ribbons or strips of felt to the sweater, make large stitches with buttonhole- or embroidery thread to attach them (the original advise is to use cord, but I imagine this being a little too thick to work with. And when you use felt keep in mind that the felt is either washable or that you won’t be able to wash the pullover anymore).

The monogram:
Cut sleeves, shoulders and the letters of your monogram from old socks with a tartan pattern or use a piece of jersey fabric in a contrasting colour for this, attach to the sweater as shown (no advice, but I love the idea of giving old patterned socks a second life).

The riser/inset
Use an old piece of knitting, a jersey fabric leftover or some wool to turn into an inset, add a white collar.

The diagonals:
Crochet a cord to attach to the sweater as shown. Put the pullover on to pin the cord in place before sewing it (to use a crocheted cord is not a bad idea considering the pullover to stretch when worn. Elastic lace could maybe serve as an alternative. If you want to use ribbon, try first if it really works when worn).

The little bows:
Arrange little bows made from narrow ribbon in different colours on the front of the sweater and sew in place (isn’t it too cute?).


I hope you like the ideas, let me know if you try one of them,
see you soon, love,


Black and Blue remodeled

When my father visited me back in october, he asked if we could visit the local antiques shop together. I hadn’t been there for months or even more than a year because the last visits there had been quite unsuccessful and it was quite far from our old flat. Now, from our new home it is less than ten minutes by foot.

And whilst my father didn’t find anything this time, I found something, to be exact two things. The better preserved one I am showing you today, when the second one will be ready to be presented I don’t know, could take some time, so you need to be patient.

This dress hung on a coat rack next to a 60ies ladies suit that didn’t appeal to me at all. But this one did. I would date it around 1940. It has been reworked, it seems as if someone re-used the black silk from an older garment, some seams are oddly placed and you still find remnants of previous ones. The skirt as well as the front part is made from black silk satin, the upper part of the bodice and the sleeves are made from blue silk satin, overlaid with black lace. Small parts like the collar and the cuffs are worked in black silk crêpe.


There is no label to be found and judging from the seams and the fact that an older garment was re-used I assume that this dress was homesewn. The front and the belt as well as the cuffs close with press buttons.


Unfortunately the silk crêpe of the collar has discoloured, maybe caused by light. I plan to hand-wash it with ivy leaves, which can not only be used as a mild detergent, but also helps dark colours to refresh (that’s why you shouldn’t wash light colours with it, it doesn’t only refresh, it obviously kind of dyes), I hope this will help a little.


Only on the way home I realized it had a large tear on the right side of the skirt, beforehand I had thought it was, apart from the collar, in wearable condition. To fix this I arranged a scrap of silk-organza on my embroidery hoop, pinned the tear onto it and darned it with silk thread, which I had splitted in three very thin strands beforehand.

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Please note, this is very important for me: I am not a conservator, I have never learnt how to conserve and repair old and antique textiles. This is NOT how you should conserve an antique dress, the main premise of museums today is that a manipulation should be reversible. The darning above surely doesn’t accord to any museum practice. I bought this dress and planned to wear it, that’s why I did what I did, not to make anything according to museum standard!


Here you see the outside and the inside of the top part.


A close-up of the skirt. You see the traces of the old seams and that the hem used to be folded on a slightly different position. Below some thread remnants I removed from the old seams. The brown parts are the ones that were exposed to light, the black parts stuck in the fabric, this is what light does to textiles!


I really managed to take not a single photo were the tear is really visible. You can maybe make it out in the one below, it sits at half height.




Unfortunately the sleeves are a bit on the small side, I really have to keep my shoulders pulled up to wear them as long as this. If I should ever really wear it (I maybe won’t dare at all, it is quite delicate), I will maybe try to roll them up on the inside and wear them as 3/4-sleeves, so I won’t have to change them.

dress: antique shop – shoes: Bally/flea market

Side note: The shoes look pretty authentic, but date in fact from the 1970ies. I know for sure because the seller had bought them for herself back then. It was the Bonnie&Clyde-Great Gatsby-mania and the revival of 30ies-fashion that made shoes like this so very popular and close to the original 30ies ones. I own another very similar pair from the 70ies and they are not only very comfortable, but it is also a relief to know that they are not that old and delicate as they look. Oh, and they are cheaper, too ;-)

See you soon, love


Just the tiniest little present for Christmas

This post was inspired by one little Christmas present I got last year, but shows in fact much more than this.

Already some years ago I got fascinated in tatting. This crafting technique became popular in the 19th century and derived from a pastime of ladies in the 18th century: To show off their gracile hands and wrists women knotted cords in a special kind of way, using shuttles to do so. The results must have been long cords but only very few objects decorated with these have survived (I found this pair of baby shoes in the V&A-collection, though I am not entirely sure if this was really done with a shuttle. In any case it is not, as the description says, tatting, if you look closely you’ll see that the cords are only arranged in a loop pattern, the rings are not connected to each other as they would if they were tatted). The shuttles were comparably large (appr. 15cm long) and richly decorated (see this or this). Maybe you know the portrait of young Marie Antoinette holding such a shuttle.

In the 19th century this technique was developed further, the shuttles became smaller and a variety of knots was invented, now enabling to produce loops and rings connected to each other and in doing so, a new kind of lace-making was established. Depending on the complexity of the pattern and the forms used, one or two shuttles are needed as well as a small hook, for example a crochet hook.

I have never been good in learning one thing really well because I am too soon distracted by some other thing I want to learn. For that reason my only finished tatting project has up to now been my last finished one, that was in 2012:

very simple tatted lace, made with one shuttle

But of course that doesn’t prevent me from still wanting to learn it properly and from buying tatting-related things.

Let’s start with the most basic and indispensable one, the shuttle. Still today tatting shuttles can be found in haberdashery shops, for example from Prym. These are made from plastic and comparably light. I started with them and they are ok. But as soon as I had found an old one I switched to this one. These are often made from horn, are heavier and therefore can be dropped more easily through the loops, additionally I have the feeling they are even smoother than the plastic ones. Others can be made from Ivory, tortoiseshell or bone.
I found the two shuttles below in the middle on a flea market (paying 1CHF) and an antique fair (paying 3CHF)- Both have a little chip but function perfectly. So if you plan to start tatting you should stop at the market stalls with the untidy and jampacked boxes of small things, maybe you are lucky, too. The light one is presumably horn, the dark one could also be some kind of early plastic, I am not sure about this.

my two standard horn shuttles in the middle (the project on them has been in this state since early 2013), the modern plastic shuttles on the right
my two standard shuttles in the middle (the project on them has been in this state since early 2013), the modern plastic shuttles on the right

On the left you see two more shuttles. The one with the plaid pattern is made from metal, the paint seems to be something like laquer or enamel. Unfortunately it is pretty damaged and the paint chips easily so I can’t use it anymore. The horn one on the far right I already showed once after my trip to London in 2013, I found it on Camden Market (post doesn’t exist anymore). It has inlays made from metal and mother of pearl. With something around 20-30£ it wasn’t cheap, but I found some online afterwards being sold for three-figure sums, so it seems to have been a good deal after all.

Already quite some time ago I found a small cardboard box on a flea market in Bern, filled with tatting material. Unfortunately the seller wasn’t present and I was asked to wait. Because I had promised my already very tired boyfriend to leave instantly I was forced to leave it behind but I was lucky and re-discovered it some months later and bought it.

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As you see there is also a lot of other stuff inside.

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I love this piece of black velvet with all the samples sewn onto it. Maybe I should frame it? What you can easily see is the distinct effect of tatting, loops and rings with tiny picots.

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Two other shuttles, horn or tortoiseshell, and a tiny little glass dog that has absolutely nothing to do with tatting :-)

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In the back you see a pretty clever box made from fabric-covered cardboard. In front of it lies a tatting pin (that thing with the ring and the chain), some lace and well, I guess you know scissors and a crochet hook.


These fork-like things are meant for hairpin lace, a completely different technique, but not less interesting. In the lower right you see an old postcard from Wila, a small town of less than 2000 souls somewere in the canton of Zurich.
Well, and if anyone could tell me what that cylindrical thing in the middle is, I would be very grateful :-)
The pale part can be moved freely around the middle axis.

Well, you might ask “Where is the bespoken present?”. It’s here:

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An early 20th century box for a tatting pin as seen above. I was able to have a quick look inside to see that it actually came filled before my boyfriend snapped it away and refused to give it back to me, but paid the seller and had me wait one long month until Christmas to see it again. And when I was finally able to unpack it, I was quite surprised. Not one, but two pins, at least one of them never used. The other one is a bit rusty but I can’t say if this comes from having been used or from aging.

to give you an idea of the size I put a standard crocket hook beside it.

And the fun bit to finish: I have no idea how these are used. Yes, of course, they serve the same purpose as does a crochet needle, which is mentioned in a lot of tutorials you find. And I know one illustration that shows how it is held: the pin like a crochet hook and the ring slid on one of your fingers. And then? I assume the ring enables you to drop the pin when it isn’t needed without entirely losing it. But I imagine the pin would tangle with the thread and the dangling shuttle when it is hanging on the chain freely.
I searched Google, I searched Bing, I browsed the Antique Pattern Library, but I couldn’t find a single image of how to use it, the only image I found online shows the pin alone (here on page 5, the aforementioned illustration with the pin held is  printed in a modern book on tatting, so I can’t show it).

Is anybody of you experienced in tatting and has ever worked with such a pin?
If not I will just try to use it someday, maybe it will work better than I can imagine now, who knows?
So much for today, love


A confession…or maybe…ahem, three?

First I want to thank you all for your comments on my 2014-round-up and your advise on how I should cope with my concerns.
Yes, you are completely right, this is my blog and I should show here what I want. But I still like the setting of this blog as it is. In the end I have come to a conclusion, consisting of mainly three changes:

– I won’t participate in this year’s Historical Sew Monthly (it has changed to only half the challenges for 2015).  If something I make coincidentally fits a challenge I will maybe post it in the facebook-group, but on the blog it will appear as a project without any greater connection to the HSM. Participating in this project means that you are willing to participate in as many challenges as possible. As I can’t say I want this to be my aim for this year, I would consider it weird to post accidentally fitting projects as challenge entries.

– in the future I want to be less strict with what I show here. If I make something with a modern pattern that I consider suitable for the blog, I will show it. Short, I want to be less strict to myself. First product of this change of mind you can see further below.

– I still won’t include modern looking patterns, I would like to keep the historic/retro touch of this blog. But I can’t deny that I love some modern styles, too and so I want to be able to give in and sew something completely different when I want to. At the same time I want to push myself a little, try new styles and materials, I just like a good challenge.
Therefore I joined the monthly stitch collective. As with the HSF you face monthly challenges, but these aren’t limited to historical styles and you have a group-blog for all participants instead of a link-up (Oh, and you are free to join as many challenges as you like).
I am sure you will see some projects published both here and on the MSC-blog, but other projects will be shown on just one of the two.  My most recent post on the MSC-blog will be linked below the MSC-button on the right and I will inform you about them on my facebook-page. Like this I am able to show you my modern sewing projects as well, without changing this blog’s  focus.

I hope these changes will help me find a balance between historic and modern sewing and I hope you are ok with them.

Now, let’s come to the confessions mentioned in the title. First, I cut my hair and this already in late november. The photos I posted in december were all made only days before this. The better part is still long and brown, but on a day off alone in our flat I apparently stood in front of the mirror too long and cut myself a fringe. I had considered this already for some time but always convinced myself, that long hair without a fringe is more versatile (and it is!). Well, this particular morning reason lost and enthusiasm took control.
I am still not sure wether I want to keep it or will already start to let it grow longer again.

Second and third confession are very closely connected to each other: I have to much fabric, that’s for sure. I don’t want to buy any new fabric, at least that’s what I keep telling myself. But when I went to Ikea a couple of days before Christmas I somehow ended up in the fabric section…oops. You see where this is going ;-)
Amongst all the bolts lay a leftover of white lace with polka dots, 1,5m to be exact. And before I had even realized what happened it lay in my basket. But only because I had a very clear idea in mind and indeed, I managed to realize this idea before Christmas eve. This is the third confession because this makes it a 2014 project and I didn’t include it in the round-up. The main reason for this is, that I didn’t know wether I should show it or not. But, as said above, I decided to be less strict with myself and because I wanted to show it, I just do now :-) Skirt IV

My idea was a very simple half-circle-skirt with a layer of lace on top. As fabric to go underneath I chose a magenta-coloured microsuede I bought already years ago. I loved the pattern on it, but soon considered it to be “too much” and so it lay in my stash for a very long time (very long in this case means at least seven years, though I can’t tell exactly).
Some years ago I turned some of it into a wrap-dress (Burda easy fashion spring/summer 2006), using the shiny back as the main fabric and the patterned right side only for accents. Skirt II

For the skirt I proceeded similarly, the lace is facing the shiny side (making a very slippery slip indispensable because the patterned side is …well…sueded)) while the waistband shows the patterned, right side of the fabric.
I treated both layers (lace and fabric) as one and only hemmed them seperately. For the underskirt I used white bias binding, what  is my favourite hemming method for round hems. When the skirt was done and had hung for one day on my dress form I cut the lace’s hem , leaving it a little bit longer than the fabric underneath.
The skirt closes with a zipper and a hook in the centre back. Skirt I

Well, and that’s all I suppose. The waistband is stiffened with fusible interfacing. I didn’t calculate how it works with other sizes, but the cutout in the middle of the half-circle was enough to make a 2cm-wide waistband from it, of course with a seam in the middle. But if you don’t have any more fabric, 70/75cm (depending on the width of your fabric, 140cm or 150cm) is enough to make this skirt in a small size.  Please consider that the length of the skirt depends on your waist circumference, the larger this is, the slimmer is the ring that forms your skirt and thus higher is the final hem. Skirt III
pullover: Lyon flea market – skirt: ette – underskirt: ette, (used to be a curtain) –  stockings: ars vivendi – shoes: limelight – hairbow: ette (pattern: Der Bazar 1872)

As you may have imagined, this whole idea, spontaneous lace-buy and quick execution before Christmas was an attempt to substitute the not finished Christmas dress. Funny enough, even though I finished the skirt I didn’t wear it on Christmas Eve, as was planned, but the next day when we visited some friends.
Today I can tell you I finally finished the Christmas dress yesterday, now I only need some time to make some good photos with it.

I wish you a lovely sunday!


A new one in the team

Every now and then I write about the little helpers without all the sewing projects I post here wouldn’t be possible. They do have their own tag and once in a while they even get a post all for themselves (some of these posts were deleted when my blog moved to the new url a year ago, at the moment there is only one post left online).

I am talking about my sewing machines. Whereas many bloggers sew after historical patterns most of them use more or less modern sewing machines and don’t talk about them a great deal. But antique mechanics fascinates me and despite the lack of space I can’t help allowing another machine to join my “collection” every now and then. Apart from having to be somehow interesting to me they do have to work. Apart from 1,5 exceptions all my machines can still sew and are still, more or less often, in use (1,5 because one is actually working but the wire needs to be replaced and without this being done I don’t dare to use it, the other may even be working but I never tried, it is even older than the other and I want my father to check the wires and change the plug before I try).

The age of my machines ranges from the early 1900s to the late 1960ies. The oldest two are handwheel-operated and not very handy to work with, these are the ones I use least. The two I use most are my 1948 Singer Featherweight and my foot pedal-operated Pfaff 30 from 1932.

Today I want to show you the newest addition to the family, but there is a little story behind. Last year in Spring my father and I were browsing ebay for fun, searching for special sewing machines and children’s ones (my father collects the latter). This all went via telephone and emails because we live 700km apart. Amongst all the other fun and/or interesting links he sent me the auction link to a General Electric Sewhandy. As it turned out, this model was copied by Singer with the well-known Featherweight.


As you can imagine this was an auction on (I can’t imagine finding the GE on german ebay). My father knew he would fly to the US later that year so he won the auction and had it send to a friend of his. We already were a little confused when the link with the tracking number said something about a 40 pounds-package (the GE-machine was supposed to weight 12 pounds). But my father didn’t want to cause any extra work and decided to wait until he got to the United States himself in the summer, we couldn’t think of anything really going wrong.


Well…it did. When he finally came to open the package he did not find, as expected, a cute 30ies green GE sewing machine, but a massive beige 60ies Bernina. Bummer!

All attempts to contact the seller were ineffective and so he had to decide what to do with it. The GE would have fitted into his suitcase, the Bernina definitely was a piece of luggage on its own and the airline asked a ridiculously high price for it. But my father didn’t have the heart to dump it. So many accessories came with it, the manual, the case, everything was there and in pretty good condition and the machine itself was working.


On the spur of the moment he removed the needle, put all loose parts and his intended hand luggage in his suitcase and headed to the security check with the Bernina to board with him. Technically a small sewing machine as hand luggage shouldn’t be a problem, still it is advised to inform the security personnel beforehand because it is a rather unusual object to take with you. Well he didn’t have the time to do so and this machine was everything but small. And being 40 pounds it was just a tiny bit heavier than the 16 pounds allowed for hand luggage.

my right hand isn't even capable of holding the camera properly
my right hand isn’t even capable of holding the camera properly, please excuse the blurryness.

Well…it worked! Back in Germany he bought a power transformer to make it work with the 230 V  voltage here in Europe and when my brother came to help us with the move to our new apartment, he brought the Bernina with him.

My dear, welcome home!


It is a Bernina 730, a very strong and reliable machine built from 1963-1982, mine is the record variant. According to the serial number it was built in 1969.


What makes the 730 special is the then new knee lift. This is not, as with other machines I own, used instead of the foot pedal, but serves as a third hand to lift the sewing foot. Until today this system is available for most Bernina machines.


And another thing makes this machine special: To sew decorative stitches it was long necessary to insert little discs into a certain slot. The shape of the disc determined the stitch. That meant that you were able to use a vast variety of stitches, but that you had to store all discs in a separate box. The 730 has a dizzying mechanic inside that makes it possible to chose from a set of decorative stitches without changing any discs at all.

no wonder this country is also famous for its clockworks
no wonder this country is also famous for its clockworks

I already sewed a little bit with it and it really works great. I even sew knits and it feels ok (I hate sewing knits, but I need to reduce my storage)! What I haven’t tried out yet is how the decorative stitches look but I see no reason why they shouldn’t work.


And because all these machines get far too little attention on this blog (and maybe on others, too), I plan to introduce a little series related to them so stay curious!


See you soon, love,



2014 – Project-rundown

Now as the year is coming to an end and my bloglovin-feed fills with reviews of the year, I feel a light pressure to write mine ;-)

2014 has been a year of many changes for me personally. For the first time in my life I have been able to work in the profession I studied, I progressed in my side job, I found a phd project and I was happily able to move again and feel so much better in the new apartment now.
It has also been the year of some disappointments, a great loss and much insecurity, so nothing to be called a good year after all.
The HSF pushed my sewing output and made me try new techniques and work with antique patterns a lot, I learned very very much in the past 12 months. I am still not sure wether to participate next year again or not. Yes, I do produce more than without, but I am sure I would produce other things. I already see how the limitation of this blog to historical patterns and styles makes me hesitate to sew with modern patterns because I always fear I can’t show you enough of the things I’ve done. The challenges add their bit to this and often I don’t sew what I would like to, but what fits into the challenge and/or my blog. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t like the stuff I make and show here, but some other projects that I am eager to try I have to put off to reach the goals I set myself. On the other hand I like a good challenge and matching a project I planned anyway with a challenge or a historical pattern has its advantages as well.

Blogwise spoken this little website moved to its very own new webspace in early 2014, I learned how to create proper watermarks and wrote 42 posts in total.
I made many new friends in the blogging world and discovered so many lovely blogs and people all around the world, XOXO to all of you!

One thing that fell behind a little this year is cooking. I did occasionally try some antique recipes, but not on a large scale. This may have to do with the flat we used to live in until August. All this long ways to and from work cost me too much energy to cook in the evening, my consumption of Pizza and store-bought Pesto increased significantly. This changed when we moved, but as you can imagine we had to settle first. Additionally I had stored my cook books in a place hard to reach and completely out of sight. I re-organized them only days ago and hopefully this will get me back on track.

Now, lets see what I made this year we call 2014 (the photos link back to the posts):

The first HSF-Challenge. A re-modelled nightshirt that completely fell apart only weeks after I made it. The fabric really was too brittle.

The 2nd challenge, my 1872 sewing-supplies-box. Maybe one of the most time-consuming projects of the year. Still serves me very well with keeping my English-Quilt-supplies together. And because we are just talking about it:

the lower part
The third out of five parts for the quilt was finished. But there is still so much to do…

Another HSF-challenge and my first attempt to work with a Lutterloh-Pattern, black cotton slip dress from 1941. Still being worn, but not very often.

I was very happy to finally finish this coat in march. Despite all the doubts I had I still wear it quite often.

My contribution to the Fall for Cotton-Sew Along. One of my favourite summer dresses, I suppose.

The last minute “Tops&Toes”-challenge-entry, cotton stockings, fake-embroidered with golden fabric paint. Unfortunately most of the paint didn’t survive the first wash, never worn again since then.

Another Lutterloh-project, this time from 1955/6, a replacement for my much loved black-half-circle-skirt. Still one of my wardrobe staples.

A kind of liberty bodice from 1905/6, made for the Black&White-HSF-challenge. Still worn occasionally as an undershirt.

One of this year’s larger projects, my late 19th century ballerina dress, made for the HSF-Art-challenge after a painting by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse. Has been in the closet since I made the photos for this post in june.

My Bette-Davis-dress after a Hollywood-Pattern from 1934. Because it is quite extravagant I don’t wear it really often, but I still like it very much.

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The Homage-to-Schiaparelli-Shirt. Didn’t like the result at all and the fit was far from being perfect, so this is long gone.

Vintage-Vogue-Pattern 2859. The blouse had been on the UFO-pile all the year and I finally finished it in August. Sadly I didn’t like it at all so I didn’t keep it.

My Jackie-O.-dress I sewed at a late-night-shopping-Event in Bern. I really like the subtleness of it and wore it this autumn until it got too cold.

The Yellow-HSF-challenge-entry, a 1940-dress. Though I had to learn that the fabric is a little see-through, I still like it for being a quite simple dress that doesn’t need to be ironed.

Another HSF-project, this time for the “Poetry in Motion”-challenge. I still like this black 1915-skirt, but it seems as if the fabric was of rather poor quality, after the first wash it had grey marks and looks like an old jeans now (hooray for quality fabrics at this point). But I will try to dye it so I can wear it again.

A 1872-hairbow for challenge #19. Never worn, always feel like a gift wrapping when trying. Don’t know if I will keep it because I don’t plan to make a matching 1870ies dress in the near future (or ever. The problem not being the 1870ies, but the colours).

Yeah, my I think favourite project of 2014, the 1945-Darth-Vader-Cape. Still in love with it, at the moment it is unfortunately too cold to wear it.

In full glory
The short trip into french silk-history and my first adventure in upholstery. Still love it, still in use.

Not really a project, but at least I altered it and turned it into something wearable for me.

Not counting this last dress and the quilt this makes 18 projects, 11 of them for the HSF. This means that I did not reach my goal of doing half of the 24 challenges but that I at least doubled the number of projects compared to last year.

I broadened the time span of my projects, from the early 1900s to the 1960ies. Still I would like to dive a little deeper into history and finally start larger projects from the 18th or 19th century, not only accessories. At the moment I am very much in love with the early 20th century as well and you have seen quite a few projects from this period in the past year already.
Well, as we are already talking about the first quarter of the past century and before someone asks: The Christmas dress is almost done. Unfortunately it is just another example of how completely unable I am to chose fabrics according to a pattern. You will see the result of this in a couple of days.

What else are my plans for 2015? I have a couple of projects that should get finished, others still wait to get started. I have no idea what the new year will bring me and how much time I will have to sew or to blog, so I shouldn’t make too many plans for this.
After the holiday-season is over I would hope to get back to my twice-a-week-blogging-schedule, though I already see how time-consuming this is after having done so only a few weeks.

I wish you all the best for 2015, thank you all for your time, your words, your support, for being in my life, see you next year!

love, ette


Last minute crafting ideas

Well, what should I say? I didn’t finish the Christmas dress.
I am not far from doing it, so I am still positive (though not entirely sure) to wear it for Christmas Eve.
The last weeks have simply been too much. I am not at all content with the posts I wrote during this sew-along, inexpressive photos of fraying half-assembled whatevers are exactly the sort of thing I did not want to show anymore, they are nothing I am happy to share, neither are they interesting to look at, I assume.
Maybe challenges where you show only completely finished garments are more my kind of thing. So I am not sure if I should join a sew-along anytime soon again.
To throw me even further back I spent half the night awake with stomachache and shivering. As you can imagine that leaves me a bit off today.

Only very short what I have done on the dress, in case you are still curious: The dress itself is done. The belt is ready to be attached to it as are the collar and the jabot. I still have to add the closure (hidden press buttons), stiffen, assemble and attach the cuffs and cut the velvet border for the hem.

Now while I try to recover and clean this mess that is supposed to be a Christmassy-decorated flat, I will leave you with a scan of some Christmas motifs I found in the December 12th 1925 issue of my “Schweizerische Unterhaltungsblätter”.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

I won’t translate the text, but will only paraphrase it:

These are supposed to be Christmassy-looking nativity set animals and comets that can be realized in a variety of techniques.
The easiest way would be to cut them from eg. paper and glue them together to use as table decoration or for a door frame. Very quick as well would be to do this as appliqué in felt or cloth. To use as cushion cover, book sleeves and the like you can also make them, very modern, from cut leather. And of course simple painting them is quickly done and highly effective as well.
The wreath is meant to be copied as a complete circle and can be used for doilies and similar things, but also for leather, wood painting or embroidered items.
The bookmark [I suppose they mean the motif on the far right] is made from sheepskin and very solid, it can easily be cut with scissors. You can deepen the lines by dampening the leather with cold water and retrace them with a pointy object, a needle or something similar. An alternative would be to burn the lines.

I think the motifs look very special and unexpectedly abstract, nothing I would connect with old fashioned christmas decoration.

See you soon, and if I won’t manage to post in the next two days,

Merry Christmas to you all!

Love, ette

How to combine colours – table from 1924

I found this interesting table in a 1924 Dressmaking book. Actually the “Women’s Institute Library of Dressmaking” consists of multiple books, but I only own Volume 2 which covers “Harmony in dress – Beautiful clothes, corsets and dress foundations, silhouettes, colors, fabrics, good taste in dress, millinery and accessories, the dressmaker and tailor shop, european shops”.

This table gives you hints on how to combine different colours in street and evening wear, arranged according to wether they can be used as a second major colour, for accents or only in small doses as trimming. I wouldn’t agree with all the given advises from my modern point of view, but it is very interesting to see what colour combinations were modern and considered interesting  90 years ago. And it can provide help when choosing fabrics and colour combinations to recreate a garment as correctly as possible.

click on the image to see it in full size
click on the image to see it in full size


See you soon, love


Somebody found my sewing-mojo?

No?…Well, was worth a try…

This week’s or better yesterday’s agenda:

Oah, jetzt aber schnell!
Nur noch der Saum!
Ich könnte hier nochmal nachbessern
Ich bin fertig, zeige aber noch nichts
Ich bin ein Streber und nähe jetzt noch ein Tüdeldü für meine drei Weihnachtskleider

Ohoh, I should hurry!
Only the hem left!

I could  retouch this and that
I’m done but won’t show
I’m way ahead and will add some accessory to my three dresses

my motto could be summarized with the first line only, I am far from being finished…

I am stuck! In many ways.
First, time is working against me. I have to work a lot (christmas + bookshop, well, you get it), I had a conference last week, went to the last lecture before christmas, had to discuss a lot of things with my professor and am working on my PHD-project. When I come home all I wish for is a glass of wine and Downton Abbey in the Blu-Ray-player.

Second, this project is so…demanding, claiming. Not that is is overly difficult, in fact it is fairly easy. And cutting large rectangles isn’t a challenge, even in plaid. But I hate all this concentrating on lines and patterns and grain when the pattern pieces are so simple. It feels like a lot of boring work. To pair things I don’t like (=all this tripple checking for matching lines) with a boring pattern doesn’t seem to have been a good idea. I am sure it will get better when i have finished the basic seams and can finally add the velvet but all this pressing and pleating and cutting and blaaahhh…it’s just not mine….
Still I am determined to finish this project. Not only because I still like the concept and want to sew a 20ies dress,also because I hate to be defeated by something as simple as that.

Third, there are things I would love to sew at the moment, other things. I had a wonderful idea for the HSF-challenge that is due today, it wouldn’t be much work either. And I planned to make my boyfriend something for christmas, I did this every year earlier in our relationship but somehow in the last couple of years I fell off.
But the plaid dress is clouding these projects and vice versa.

Now, enough complaining. What have I done?
I cut the skirt and pleated it. Admittedly that wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be. Modern patterns usually have two marked lines, one marks the fold, the other the place where the fold will lie. These pattern pieces only had one line. Now was I supposed to make knife pleats? And with two lines close to each other that where visible as two pleats in the image? Should I make box pleats, inverted or standard? And how deep? And I had to consider this before cutting, because my pattern repeat had to be followed as well and the pleat depth adjusted to it.
In the end I made inverted box pleats on the side seams, one standard box pleat in the centre front and something that could be defined as a very wide box pleat with narrow walls or simply as two knife pleats facing the sides in the back. All pleats perfectly match the pattern, at least this was a success.

the pleat in the centre front
the pleat in the centre front
inverted box pleat at the side and one of the pleats in the back
inverted box pleat at the side and one of the pleats in the back

As you might remember, I removed 8cm circumference from the paper pattern because the size was too large for me. When I had finished pleating I had to realize it was still very very large, I think the hip circumference was something like 107cm (I didn’t measure beforehand because I always want to see how the original pattern was meant to look like before I adjust it). Yes, 20ies fashion is supposed to be non-fitted, but it isn’t supposed to be that wide. The magic of this fashion lies in how it hugs the figure without really touching it. So the dress shouldn’t be much wider at the hip as the hip itself, otherwise it would of course look baggy. As a consequence I doubled the depth of the rear parts of the box pleats on the sides, removing 11cm circumference (and before you ask, yes, 96cm is still more than my hip circumference. But first the skirt is going to be gathered at the waist seam a little and second I don’t want to stretch it too far, it should be snug as little as baggy). To stick with the pattern I could only increase the depth of one half of the box pleats at the side. So now they are not only asymmetric (the rear half is deeper than the one in the front, maybe I will at least sew close the excess to make it fall better) but they also shifted from slightly behind the sides to right at the sides. I am not content with this by now but can’t think of anything to change it. If the skirt will still be too large I plan to add a seam in the centre back. Like this I can remove only one pattern repeat (=5,5cm circumference, the pleats are always mirrored on the other side, so I always have to remove 11cm) and the side pleats will at least shift a little towards the back, too.

The top is in progress. I made a mistake when cutting the front parts so the pattern doesn’t match the way it should at the shoulder seams, but I think I am able to ignore that. More annoying is the fact, that the diagonal darts in the shoulder seams look like rubbish. Not because I did something wrong, it just looks weird with the plaid. Well, my hair is long, hopefully it will cover it or maybe it won’t look too bad when worn, we’ll see. At least the side seams look good and the whole thing is remotely resembling a dress.

the front. You see the weird darts?
the front. You see the weird darts?
the side seam. At least this went well and the fit seems to be ok.
the side seam. At least this went well and the fit seems to be ok.

Now I am facing the difficult decision to wether use this evening to finish the button band in the centre front or to spend it in front of the tv watching Downton Abbey as I have done already the previous nights. I’m afraid one of these alternatives is far more tempting than the other….

that's how it looks now. Not very elegant but it could be worse I suppose.
that’s how it looks now. Not very elegant but it could be worse I suppose.

Auf deutsch:

So richtig komme ich nicht voran. Die Falten im Rock sind gelegt und sehen schön aus, auch wenn das Schnittmuster mehr als kryptisch war, was die Verteilung derselben angeht. Allerdings war der fertig gefaltete Umfang weit davon entfernt mir zu passen, weshalb ich die Faltentiefe teilweise anpassen musste. Jetzt ist es zwar immer noch nicht ganz passend, aber zum einen soll es am Bund etwas engehalten werden und zweitens, sollte es gar nicht passen nehm ich was in der hinteren Mitte raus und setze dort eine Naht, denn die Falten kann ich ja immer nur passend mit dem Rapport verschieben. Das Oberteil ist vom Sitz her ok, allerdings sehen diese schrägen Abnäher recht merkwürdig in dem Karomuster aus. Aber das kann ich einfach nicht ändern, also bleibt es so. Der aktuelle Stand ist weder interessant noch elegant aber ich hoffe einfach, dass was nicht ist noch werden kann, auch wenn mir nicht mehr viel Zeit bis nächsten Sonntag bleibt und die Motivation zu wünschen übrig lässt.

So much for today, see you soon, love