THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 23, 2010

Apron, Vintage Style Customized

cross posted at The Stitchery by Mary Beth

I love strong color and I love to cook. My kitchen is full of primary colors: yellow, orange, red, green and blue. Yellow and orange are the main colors.

The dining area is attached and there the colors are more muted into pastel shades but dark blue, bottle green and red glass makes it’s presence known against a proper unbleached Irish linen table cloth and white china.

Life's Treasures

The yellow orange theme kitchen theme is based upon a wallpaper border I put up a while ago. it’s a variation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with lovely colors and navy background.

sunflowersKitchen Colors

The kitchen is a place of activity and high energy and when I cook I am working as quickly as possible. I cook in batches so dinners can be frozen ahead of time. I make most things from scratch, depending on how much time I have. And, well, things do go flying! The other day, after splattering cherry juice down the front of me, I wished for an apron, one with a bib on top.

I’ve never made one (that I can remember). I have aprons but they are all inherited from Mothers and Grandmothers; you know, the full skirted half apron, that, on me, makes me look “like a potato sack with a string around it” as Ma used to say.

I wanted fullness, like the sense of fullness and abundance that a kitchen should exude. I wanted “feminine, and fun, but serious fun”. I am not a cute cook. I get dirty. It’s more fun that way 🙂

I had yellow/orange cross dyed linen in the stash and some navy so the challenge was to make a full apron with as much covering on top as well as the traditional full skirt in a way that would be more flattering to my short, full body than the outline of a lampshade on two legs. Oh horrors, that is such a bad look on me! So, what did I have on hand????

Ah, the easily disastrous pattern, View D of an old McCall’s 2947:

View D McCall's 2947

Here is the result:

front Back

But I noticed the shoulder “wings” were trying to slip down my arms

Shoulder Straps Slipping Off

and that would drive me nuts. So to make sure I would want to wear this apron I made a shoulder stay Stay

that would make sure I could tolerate wearing my new kitchen “tool”. It’s set across the back of the top of the shoulders so it’s easy to get over my head without having to button and unbutton.

Full Back Front Full
I’m moving quickly when I am cooking so I’ve got to be able to throw this on without hesitation. I think it will work well, now.

The second issue for me in this basic design is the fullness of the skirt. I need no extra fullness in the tummy or at the sides. Taking a cue from the spacing of the gathers in the Anna Sui pattern I made earlier

I made an inverted pleat across the belly of the apron, allowed gathers over the pockets, smoothed the fabric at the side seams and put maximum fullness at the back. Can you see the spacing?

Spacing of Gathers

Here’s the side seam and back

Side and Back Gathers

Here’s the front inverted pleat, top stitched down on each side of the fold. This apron will not be ironed so things must be anchored and stay put. The most I’ll do is to try to smooth out those shoulder ruffles with a quick tug as the apron comes out of the dryer. Maybe.

Inverted Pleat

The peaked front of the waist band was a design detail that insisted on being part of the apron. Seriously, it demanded to be included to counteract all the straight lines of the color blocking. It made me work late.

I drew the curves and stitched them on the waistband, then pulled out the stitches and ironed the shape into the interfaced fabric. Then I could easily applique the shape onto the bib. I like it.

I’m relieved: it cute but not “cute”, decorated but not “decorated”. Hope I remember to put it on before the disasters happen!

Kitchen work

Happy Sewing and Happy Cooking

July 27, 2009

First Fitting, Vintage Sheath

Filed under: Dressmaking,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Georgene,sewing,Vintage Sewing — georgene @ 12:02 am

The first fitting of the vintage Vogue sheath dress went as well as could be expected, I guess. I like to fit with both sleeves, so I asked for help. Thanks to Jennifer and Rose for giving me a hand with it.
sleeve fitting
The right sleeve was pinned in with the seam allowance of the sleeve folded inwards, and the armscye on the body adjusted from the pattern. You can see my left side the sleeve is pinned up the way it was cut (right side on your screen)– it looks too wide at the shoulder and cross chest, really falling off the shoulder. On the next test garment I will work out the new armhole.
– It may be less of a radical adjustment than this fitting indicates. I won’t really know until I can look at the actual bodice and sleeve pattern on the table. I think the sleeve fits well, I don’t want to increase the bicep… I just have to work on the armhole on the dress side.

I had cut the muslin bigger along the side seams, but not nearly enough for the waist and high hip – I will have to add at least ¾” on for a total of 3” (gulp!)
The bust darts need to be dropped down about 1 ½” – 2” – both at the side dart, and at the bust point of the French darts. I will drop all 3, and lower the waist point as well. There has been a major change in the undergarments one would wear since the 1950’s. I am not just ready for a long line girdle or waist cincher other than for a costume.

The 3 little elbow darts on the sleeve are not in the right place for me. – I will have to raise them higher, so that the center one falls at the blue line marked. Since I have a lot of turn back for the cuff at the hem, I will probably just fold out the excess above the elbow all the way across.
elbow dart
I think I am going to like the dress length, but will peg it at the hem. You can see the difference in these 2 photos – on the right photo I am holding the skirt in as if it were pegged. Without that, it looks almost A-line as it is originally cut.

not pegged pegged

June 25, 2009

Vintage Vogue: Sheath Dress Pattern

pattern face

I feel certain that I acquired this sheath pattern on EBay, probably in a lot with a few other ‘larger’ size 18 [ note that the bust is 36” with a 39” hip] no doubt thinking that it would be easier to adapt to my larger measurements than most EBay vintage patterns. I know that it came in a batch with several patterns, the same size from the same era, probably from an estate sale where well-meaning relatives have no idea what treasure lies in these old patterns. This one is from 1956.

I love the darts, not just one huge side bust dart, but also the double French darts on the front and back. This gives ample opportunity for fitting. When I traced off the pattern, I added a bit at the side seams as well as the sleeve underarm. I curved out a bit more at the bust, but with all these darts, I can surely find a way to redistribute the necessary ease in a flattering way, all without princess seams.

The long sleeve has 3 darts at the elbow, and there is ease at the back shoulder, without resorting to a dart. The finesse in this simple dress pattern is heart-warming.
pattern obverse
View A is the epitome of the simple stylish sheath with the addition of a wrap. I would kill for the accessories – long gloves, a small pocketbook, and the kitten heels, too. Note the notch slit at the center-back neck for a little intrigue at the neckline.

View B is long sleeve with a button-out contrast dickey at the neckline, for a modest daytime look. The marvelous notch-collar stole has buttons that give it the effect of a jacket.

You can see the pattern pieces clearly on the ‘Identification chart’ included with the instructions.


I have cut my muslin and put together the dress. I am looking for a fitting buddy to help me pin in the sleeves. Looking at it with both sleeves on for fitting will be important for the over all fit. One sleeve will not give the true picture.

I’ll take pictures and report back soon [hopefully]. I have the soft micro polyester crepe that wears like iron and never wrinkles already lined up for the first piece [bought a 25 yard bolt from Kashi at Metro Fabrics in NYC about 3 years ago – this stuff never goes out of style, and is the best for travel.]

SB2I also want point out the length of this dress – pegged and below the knee. It reminds me of the Sandra Bullock posters from her latest movie “The Proposal”. Love that longer length! SB1

November 4, 2008

Cool tools!

Filed under: Gigi,Machines,Tools,Vintage Sewing — Gigi @ 9:03 pm

I was so bummed out when I saw the super-fantastic Bernina invisible zipper foot #35 wasn’t made in a version to fit my Bernina 1530. 😦 I have a really nice, all-metal invisible zipper foot for my industrial machine and wanted something similar. Up until now, I have been using (and been perfectly satisfied with) the 3-groove pintuck foot to install invisible zips. Still, I was complaining to my friend Greg about how unfair it was that Bernina doesn’t support the older machines. Then he got that Aha! look on his face and wondered aloud if the only difference between the classic feet and the Artista/Activa feet was the shank. I immediately called my friend Sharon (who works at a Bernina dealership) and asked her to bring me the foot in question. We popped off the shank and replaced it with the shank from an old #0 foot I found laying around the shop and there you go – an invisible zipper foot for my 1530! I just love it when a plan comes together. 🙂


While rummaging through my friend’s shop lately I’ve found some really, really interesting things. Many, many buttonholers, for one. To be honest, I’ve never had any interest in buttonholers because my machine makes really nice ones. Then, I started playing around with them. Now I own three! This first one is a low-shank buttonholer for use on a straight stitch machine. It actually moves the fabric back and forth – so cool! And check out the awesome buttonholes I made on a scrap of rayon jersey! And, yes, you can adjust the distance between the beads.


I stitched the buttonhole on the left once and the one on the right twice. You can stitch around up to three times.


Then Greg thought I might prefer the Singer Professional (for zigzag machines) instead so I tried it and bought two: one low-shank (vertical needle if you are looking on Ebay) for my Singer Genie, Pfaff or my Bernina (using the low-shank adaptor) and a slant version for the Singer 600-series machine which I’m going to keep set up just to make buttonholes. The Singer Professional even has templates for bound buttonholes and a beautiful eyelet. Seriously, these are so inexpensive everyone should have one even if for nothing more than a good keyhole buttonhole!


Now I can’t wait to try the industrial buttonholer that Greg gave me for my Singer 20U!

Speaking of the Genie, I bought another one recently. I sold mine a few years ago and have always regretted it so I’m happy she’s back. Boy, this one sews like a dream and, at about 11 lbs., is the perfect little machine to toss in the car and much less precious than my Featherweight! This is model 354 (which has one more stitch than the original 353) from 1974.



Lastly, as I may have mentioned, I have been helping my friend sell some old inventory on Ebay. His father opened the shop in 1967 and I don’t think anyone has ever gotten rid of anything so the walls are closing in on us!

We found some really amazing vintage feet and attachments as we were going through boxes, one of which was this wonderful Singer one-thread embroidery attachment (#26538) from the 1920s. Specialty thread, cord or yarn is fed into the attachment and twisted around as the machine stitches the cord down. It’s really incredible. I did a little research and found that the last one sold on Ebay for $169 (!). He said that if I sold two of them for that much he’d gift me the third attachment. Well, he wasn’t joking because, despite my objections, this little gem is now tucked away in my sewing room. I’ll use it to embellish something as soon as I get a chance. How lucky am I?


There you go, I don’t post for months and then you can’t shut me up!

June 2, 2008

YSL Vogue Paris Original patterns

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fashion,Patterns,Vintage Sewing — Els @ 8:42 pm

Yves St Laurent made it possible for many woman to wear a real “designer garment”. Vogue published a lot of his designs which were made for those who could not afford a couture garment.

His influence in fashion where he made fashion into an art form is immense and will always be remembered as one of the greatest designers.

I found a lot Vogue Paris Original patterns surfing the Internet, most are for sale , some were already sold. Also Butterick and McCall made a pattern inspired by the Mondrian day dress from the sixties.

 Yves St Laurent patterns found via and


 “1949 – Paris Original pattern line began. Paris Originals are very “fashion forward,”  

   and are very popular. Vogue was the only company licensed to produce the couturier patterns , with the most popular ones being the French designers,  especially Yves St Laurent and Givenchy (think Jackie and Audrey!). They specifically contracted with 8 famous French Couturiers including Schiaparelli, Paquin, Balmain, Fath, Molyneux, Lanvin and Heim to provide a couture pattern service. However these were often difficult for the average home sewer – they contain tons of pieces and    many women took classes just to learn how to sew these glamorous styles”.

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