Each year in April there is a flea market in the old city of Berne. Not only the people living there are selling the stuff they found in the attic, but also many of the shops. This year a tailor sold many fabrics he didn’t use anymore and also scraps that were left from custom orders for next to nothing (if you commission something tailor-made, you of course need to pay the fabric used. To prove that the fabric you bought was really used for your commission, the tailor will give you all the scraps together with the finished garment. As most of the clients don’t need them, they don’t take them with them).
I resisted and didn’t even look at the bolts of fabric, but had a quick glance at the scraps bin. What I took with me was some grey merino wool fabric and burgundy virgin wool fabric, both in amazing quality and I think I remember paying something like CHF 5 for the two. It wasn’t enough left of them to make complete garments out of it, but I combined the two and turned most of the grey merino wool into a skirt with burgundy accents. The skirt had been on my want-to-sew-list for a while, it is a pattern from Burda Magazine 9/2010 and still available for download (as it is a modern pattern I won’t go deeper into it).
To use the last bits of the grey dream that calls itself merino fabric (it is amazing to sew with it!) I went through some of my magazines and found some tutorials for boxy handbags. I always connected these casket-like, solid handbags with 1950s fashion, but obviously they started getting popular in the late 40s. In fact, they are presented as a novelty in a crafting magazine from May 1948, from which I took the tutorial for this purse.
Besides the two fabrics this handbag contains the remnants of a deep-frozen food cardboard package for the bottom, a chocolate box for the top frame and the lid and some stabiliser in the bag’s body, not the worst reincarnation if you lived as a chocolate box, don’t you think?
Jedes Jahr im April lädt die Berner Altstadt zum grossen Altstadt-Flohmarkt. Neben den Bewohnern beteiligen sich auch viele der ansässigen Geschäfte und verkaufen, was sich im Keller so findet. In diesem Jahr war unter anderem ein Schneider dabei, der zum einen seinen Stoffvorrat etwas dezimierte und ballenweise Stoffe anbot, aber ebenfalls Reste von Kundenbestellungen verkaufte (Wenn man etwas beim Schneider bestellt, bezahlt man auch den verwendeten Stoff. Um dem Kunden gegenüber transparent zu bleiben, übergeben Schneider mit dem fertigen Kleidungsstück auch die Reste. Die meisten Kunden wollen diese aber nicht und lassen sie doch da.).
Ich blieb standhaft und würdigte die Stoffballen keines Blickes, warf aber doch einen kurzen Blick in die Restekiste und kaufte ein Bündel grauer Merino-Reste sowie dunkelrote Schurwolle. Beides sehr gute, sehr feine und sicher einmal sehr teure Stoffe für zusammen etwa 5 Franken (genau weiss ich es nicht mehr). Es war jeweils zu wenig für ein ganzes Kleidungsstück, aber aus der Merino-Wolle bekam ich mit ein paar roten Akzenten die Jupe aus der September-Burda von 2010 genäht, ein Projekt, das schon länger auf meiner Liste stand (Der Schnitt ist weiterhin als Download erhältlich. Da es ein moderner Schnitt ist, werde ich zur Jupe nicht ins Detail gehen).
Um auch die Reste dieses grauen Traums von einem Stoff zu verbrauchen (wenn sich doch alle Stoffe so nähen liessen…), suchte ich nach einem kleinen Projekt und stiess auf eine ganze Gruppe von kastenförmigen Handtaschen in einer Handarbeitszeitschrift. Bisher hatte ich die immer mit den 1950er Jahren in Verbindung gebracht, aber sie scheinen bereits etwas früher aufgekommen zu sein. Im Mai 1948 werden sie jedenfalls in dem Handarbeitsheft, aus welchem ich die Anleitung habe, als Neuheit präsentiert.
Also wagte ich mich an eines der Modelle und bin mit dem Resultat sehr zufrieden. Neben den Stoffen und Garn verbergen sich in dieser Tasche eine Kartonverpackung von tiefgekühltem Backkäse, eine Pralinenschachtel und etwas steife Stickunterlage. Also ein nettes Projekt, um den Altpapierstapel zu reduzieren :-D.
A few weeks ago, Klara showed how she styled her summer dresses in winter. And last week, a colleague asked me if I could wear the dress I had made at the public sewing in the bookshop in september, she hadn’t been there and had never seen me wearing it since.
These two things alligned and when I had to work last wednesday, the outfit was quickly chosen. Irony of fate? Said collegue had her day off…
A black shirt seemed too simple, additionally I only have purple shoes with heels, unsuitable for work. Black shirt, tights and shoes? Booooring.
Alternatively, I went with different shades of purple and violet and used black accesoires to calm it down a little. I love this outfit very much and am sure to wear it regularly in the future (it is always so great to find new ways to wear the old garments 🙂 )
Vor ein paar Wochen zeigte Klara, wie sie ihre Sommerkleider auch im Winter trägt. Und letzte Woche bat mich eine Kollegin, doch einmal das Kleid anzuziehen, welches ich letzten September bei einem kleinen Näh-Event im Buchladen genäht hatte, damals war sie nicht da und hatte es seitdem auch immer wieder verpasst.
Diese beiden Dinge kamen also zusammen und so war mein Arbeitsoutfit letzten Mittwoch schnell gefunden. Ironie des Schicksals dass besagte Kollegin frei hatte…
Ein schwarzes Shirt darunter schien mir zu einfach, zudem habe ich zwar lila Schuhe, aber nur mit Absatz und daher ungeeignet zum Arbeiten. Shirt, Strumpfhose und Schuhe in Schwarz? Laaangweilig. Also entschied ich mich für verschiedene Lila-Töne und schwarze Accessoires, um das ganze doch wenigstens etwas zu erden. Ich mag diese Kombination sehr gerne und werde sich in Zukunft sicher öfters tragen (ich liebe es, neue Alternativen für alte Kleider zu haben 🙂 )
Und weil der Post damals nur auf englisch war: Der Schnitt ist aus dem Buch “Stilikonen“, das Jackie O.-Kleid in der modernisierten Variante (tieferer Ausschnitt, die klassische hat einen hohen, stehenden Ausschnitt). Was ihr seht ist eine mir viel zu kleine Grösse XS mit maximal herausgelassenen Seitennähten. Immerhin kann ich es inzwischen tragen, auch wenn die Taschen immer noch aufspringen. Die Schnitte fallen wirklich klein aus, also schaut auf die Masstabelle.
Wenn auch von letzter Woche, so ist es doch ein Mittwochs-Outfit und darf damit hoffentlich beim Me-Made-Mittwoch mitspielen.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 ;-).
Due to my years I worked as a shop assistant in a fabric and haberdashery shop, I own a large number of patterns, most of them I never turned into garments.
Now, when Seamstress Erin promoted her Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong on Wesewretro.com a few weeks ago, I decided to join almost immediately. I only owned one Bow Neck blouse, a store bought black one, but every time I wear it, I get many compliments and I love how the bow adds the final bit to the otherwise standard blouse outfit (you can see me wearing it in this old post).
So, why not sew a second one for my wardrobe? I was lazy that day and though I discovered some beautiful patterns in my 1940ies Lutterloh-Book I went for one of the neclected patterns that only needed to be cut out. Once known as Burda 7777 but gone out of print years ago, it is now available again as a download pattern.
I already feared the result before having started. I mean, pussy bow, puffed sleeves, very blousy cut? This is too cute to look reasonable, especially when being a too short, too young looking women like me anyway.
But better to try the pattern to throw it away afterwards than to store it for another five years without ever daring to throw it away (“but maybe it would be pretty in the end?”).
Well, maybe there was a chance to make it look good, I like the two plain coloured variants in the links above, they look as if I could wear them.
Now, I moved very recently and was shocked by the amounts of fabric I keep in my cupboard, some I haven’t seen in years. So I decided to actively reduce this masses. Choosing one of the few plain coloured fabrics in this collection would have been wiser consindering the cut, but instead I went for a striped viscose farbric I have had for years, I don’t even know anymore where I bought it.
Well…yes…all I can think of is a walking candy cane…
Maybe I should talk about the blouse first, before lamenting what problems I have with it.
Sewing went without any problems, a straight forward size 36 with no alterations.
Because it would have been too busy using the stripey fabric for the bows (and because I didn’t have enough fabric), I made the bows on the collar and the sleeves from white batiste.
The pattern asks for two open darts on each front side. As you can see I didn’t turn the fabric around to mirror the pattern on the two front parts. I have to admit that I completely forgot it while cutting, but the fabric wouldn’t have been enough anyway. So I can blame it on having too little fabric.
The sleeves are cut in one part with the bodice parts, so there is no seam at the shoulders. The sleeves are pleated double before the ends of these pleats are hidden in another pleat, sitting orthogonally to the others. This gives the effect of a sewn on sleeve, but it is in fact only a few centimetres long.
And no, I didn’t manage to match the pattern on the other shoulder seam 😉
Because the width of the fabric wouldn’t have been enough to place all three cut parts side by side, I had to omit the facings (which were included in the front pattern part as well) and make them seperately, using again the white batiste.
Because the pattern is already that busy I decided to take advantage of the three layers of the facing and went for an invisible closure using press fasteners.
Oh yes, much too much. I can easily imagine myself selling popcorn in an early 20th century circus, strolling around the streets of Bioshock Infinite’s Columbia or acting as a female stand-in for Bert singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” next to Mary Poppins.
And it is not even fit for every-day-use! I already managed to tear the fabric during an attemp to catch my cat (only a tiny bit, I can fix it).
(if you wonder why my feet look a little bizarre in the photos: in the old flat, we had a laminate floor, now we have real parquet floor and I have to be careful not to leave marks with my heels, so I am standing on tiptoe)
Ok, seriuosly: Maybe I will wear it with jeans or a very simple jeans skirt, but still it won’t become a wardrobe favourite of mine, it is way to cute, girly, bizarre, whatever.
But the bottom line is: I tried the pattern, I reduced my fabric storage by one, I participated in a lovely SewAlong and I have a new blouse, so what?