Fifties repro fabric – an unlikely source

If you are in the market for reproduction fifties style fabric, perhaps a source you haven’t considered is right under your nose – your local quilting shop.

Admittedly, I live pretty close to one of the best in Australia’s: Material Obsession, at Drummoyne.  Their selection is mouthwatering.

Here are a few things I spotted in there recently that I thought might work for fifties style garments.  I didn’t take any notes about the fabrics, all I can say is get in there fast as they sell out fast and not always reordered, so the lovely lady who helped me could tell me.

I was extremely lucky to find the scarlet print with the bows was still in stock – I have been dreaming about it since the last time I visited – months ago.   I think it will be perfect in a blouse like Butterick 4985.

If you are in Sydney’s Western Suburbs I recommend Fred the Needle – I haven’t visited them in their new location in Dural – but their Penrith store was fabulous.

If you have a good one one near you – I would love to hear about it.

Also if you have tried sewing garments with quilting fabric and how that went.  Thanks.

It’s the second week of the school holidays and I just heard the little guy say, as he tumbled around the living room “I can feel my brain moving” – had better go.

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Friday Fabric Find – Delft Tile Fabric

Another trip to the dentist with the big boy today so we visited two op shops out of our neighbourhood.  He doesn’t mind visiting an op shop and he found two pairs of All Stars (sneakers) and one pair of Vans – nice!

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I got some patterns which I shall show you on another day – but how do you like this?  I think its very Fifties – because of its hand painted look.  The subject matter pictures what I assume are supposed to be Delft Ceramics – which are white and blue – but look lovely in the grey tones.

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There is a subtle tile pattern in the teal background – can you see it?  I will have to make it up into a little top and see if my Tiler husband gets the joke!

It was a bit of a bargain 90 cms wide (definitely vintage) 1.5m in length for $6.50!

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The fabric is cotton but has a lovely sheen to it – because it’s a sateen weave.  You can feel the difference when you run your fingers over from top to bottom (it’s smoother) and across (more rough).

Still not much sewing going on around here – ok none!  It’s still T-shirt weather in Sydney – the mornings are cooler but the afternoons still in the high twenties – it’s lovely actually.

Fifties Fabric

The big boy had to have an adult tooth removed – it was weakened by Asthma drugs as a baby and was never going to be any good – no matter what we did to it.  He was a little anxious on the chair and started to hyperventilate (just like I did as a kid).  The retail therapy improved his mood – like mother like son!

Hope you get some sewing done this weekend!

Licorice Allsorts – Trace off your favourite T-shirt Tutorial

Striped T-Shirt, Black Doll, Offering Bowl, Licorice All-sorts, Fifites Puzzle
This picture shows some of what’s in my head. A frustrated desire to sew, what I am actually doing (selling vintage wares on eBay) and what’s coming up – a trip to Bali in a while.

Do you like this cute T-shirt I got on sale at Target recently?

I like its licorice allsorts stripes but the best thing about is the cut.

The body is cut like a singlet – with a small folded cap sleeve inserted – it has a very flattering effect for ladies with large arms!

I am going to attempt to replicate this design.

If you have a favourite t-shirt that is the perfect cut for you I recommend taking a pattern off it – usually simple even for a beginner pattern maker – just lay it flat and trace around. The front is usually lower than the back. Then add seam allowances.

One I had two layers at the front so finishing the neck edge was not a problem as you sewed the neckline first then cut nicks into the seam area, then turn it through and attach the back at the shoulders and the sides. Sing out if you need visual help and I will put something together.

Or you but that binding elastic stuff – which makes finishing raw edges fun.

Or did you know that knit fabrics (generally) don’t fray! You could just leave the edges raw! Too easy

I have been feeling so guilty about not blogging recently but my real job has been very busy with trips to Newcastle several times, new store opening set ups, getting the kids settled in with their new teachers and my eldest is off on his first camp next week – much anticipation about that! Mark has been away in Wollongong this week so that is big and adds pressure. And I was helping organize a school event – which meant lots of meetings – emails – phone calls and then supervision of the jumping castle for hours on Friday night. The kids loved it though.

I have also been listing lots of vintage goodies on eBay (might do a blog post about that). We are off on our first ever trip to Singapore and Bali with Mark’s sister and her family soon and I am trying to make some spending money. I am dreaming about lots of dinners out, the kids swimming all day and reading books – doesn’t that sound like bliss? Oh and I have a tonne of fabric that I want to get made in to clothes – I know it’s cheating but I think its a brilliant way to bust my stash!

The “Baz and Catherine” Flapper Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Cotton Foulard from Spotlight $40

Pattern: 5700 from an unknown company 50 cents

Year: Circa 1980’s

Notions: Art deco glass diamante buttons from the stash.

Time to complete: 4 hours

First worn:  For the photos

Wear Again?:  Saving it for Bali, Indonesia

I wasn’t going to bother taking part in the Sew Weekly’s Gatsby week for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my idea of Gatsby fashion is skewed more 20’s than the 30’s frocks Mena and her friends wear to the Gatsby Weekend.  I feel I know almost nothing about 1930’s fashion except for bias cut satin evening gowns, and there is no way I am going there!

Secondly, there is nothing less flattering that a drop gathered waist on a woman with heavy hips and thighs.

However,  the Sew Weekly contributors’ efforts for Gatsby Week were so inspiring that I thought I’d have a crack at it!  Also, a few months ago, scenes from The Great Gatsby movie were shot at St Patricks Seminary in Manly  – half an hour away from my house in Sydney – what an opportunity!  With a house full of international guests – I was keen to work in a little photo shoot to a spot of sightseeing with coffee!  The stars aligned, I found cloche hat, and I even managed to get my hair bobbed in time for the photos!

The Seminary can be seen early on in the trailer, with its ivy covered walls, it has undergone a dramatic transformation into a castle in post production!

I was thinking of buying the famous 1920’s One-Hour Flapper Dress but I am too stingy to pay for what is a very simple pattern!  So a few weeks ago I was pleased to find this very ugly-looking 80’s dress.  I thought it would probably work – when you have been patternmaking and sewing for years, you develop the skill of being able to see how the pattern pieces go together and what they will look like.  Beginner sewers – take heart, this takes time.  This patterns wins the prize goes for worst pattern illustration ever.  I saw that there were no shoulder pads to give that exaggerated shoulder line and I knew it wouldn’t sit like that, or do I just have broad shoulders!?  I eliminated the centre front button placket and cut it in one piece.

I extended the sleeves, following the angle they were on, and sewed just to the end of my shoulders.   All the edges and hems were sewn with rolled hems.  I wanted a floaty sleeve, with an open top arm seam.  We are going to Bali next year.  The Balinese are unimpressed by the display of armpits – I hope this dress will be acceptable – light  floaty and no visible underarm! I finished them with a pair of little art deco glass diamante buttons from the stash.

A trick for minimizing the hippage, I recommend is to give it a good press, with the focus on the gathers.  I wanted them to sit flat – rather than billowing out – adding volume where none was welcome.

This fabric was wonderful to sew – it is a very fine twill weave – perhaps a foulard.  I realize that the fabric is more 50’s in feel than any other era- but that is my thing isn’t it!

My dad took the photos for this shoot.  We were up against it.  It was windy again and the camera’s display is broken – so he really couldn’t see a thing – He did pretty well though and was very patient to take 250 photos!!  Mum was great  at directing the photo shoot.  Thanks Mum and Dad!

I am sure you know that Australian Film Maker Baz Luhrmann, Director, and his wife Catherine Martin, Production Designer, are creative collaborators in this movie.  Baz with his amazing vision and kooky musical inspiration and Catherine with her incredible attention to detail – I salute you.

The “Weigh the Anchor ” Shirt and Bandana

I have written about my family’s affinity for the sea before but I haven’t worn anchors since I wore big plastic earrings with neon yellow mesh ankle socks one Christmas Day in the 1980’s.  My Dad’s diver mates gave such a hard time that day, about the anchors, that I doubt if I ever wore them again.

I found this shirt in a local oppy for $11 .  It had a couple of tiny red paint dots on the front which probably explains why it appears to be unworn genuine 1970’s vintage. Score!
The Bandana fabric I also picked up for $1.  It a polyester/cotton.  Heavy on the polyester – unwearable in my opinion – but OK for a headscarf for a bit!

After I washed it, Mum helped me to pin out darts in the back. I did the front ones and pinned in the side seams – making the shape more feminine. The rule of darts and fitting is that you take out the same amount on either side so they are even.

I did two little embroidery polka dots to cover up the paint marks. I changed the buttons to these fabulous anchor buttons I picked up in NZ.

It was a nice easy up-cycle. I recommend asking your Mum, or a friend to help with pinning out your back darts – it’s so much easier than trying to do this yourself!

I am wearing the “Cats Meow” Jeans that I made back in May for 40’s Week.  I have worn these a lot.

My Mum has been staying for a 5 weeks (Dad and my brother a week) helping me out but last Saturday we waved them all on their way, my parents touring up to Queensland and my brother back to Scotland for work as a diver in the North Sea. Its been lovely having all my family around – weigh the anchor!
Thanks to my brother Gav, for taking the photos at Balmoral Beach (not far from where Mark and I got married by the Rotunda there) – it was quite windy that afternoon and crowded as you can see.  I tried to disappear behind a palm tree and not attract too much attention!

The Facts
Pattern: None

Year: 1970’s

Notions: Anchor Buttons

Time to complete: 3 hours or less

First worn: To Balmoral Beach for the photos

Wear again: Maybe?

Total price: $15

Lighthouses and old movies

I have been trying desperately to keep up with Sew Weekly challenges lately – and failing!

I have made a blouse for the Olympics Week – and a skirt which still needs a zip inserted for the “Yellow Week”. But I am overwhelmed by the thought of doing yet another solo photo shoot or using my mannequin, again!

Truth is, I am a little distracted by thoughts of the Fifties Fair – coming up on 26th August.

Here is a little peek at the fabric I am using:

What do you think? It’s a different colourway of Mena’s Lighthousey “Dark Nautical” Fabric! It was on Ebay and I negotiated the price down and ended up getting 5 metres for about $50 including postage – bargain right?!  I love its depiction of a New England Fishing Village.  Maybe one day I will travel there?

I love a black background, and a splash of red.

I am attempting a dress with a bolero.

Bodice under construction, Lighthouse on strap – Back view

I like to watch old movies while I sew – they keep me company. This week I watched “The Seven Year Itch” – which is really funny – if you havent seen it. Also appropriate to mark the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s passing. And “All About Eve” – a fascinating portrayal of selfish ambition!

I really have a lot of sewing to do – I will try to put some more progress shots on: Instagram under: quiet_vintage_sewing – I hope you don’t become as addicted to this ap as I have!!

The “Magpies and Blue Skies” Skirt

During the middle of my photo shoot – i.e. me with camera set on self-timer and using a chair on the trampoline as a tripod, a magpie broke into my house. My youngest son was panicking and screaming as it flapped about trying to get out – I opened a latch on a window and shoved the glass, but the window was stuck so I broke the glass and knocked over a vase of flowers!   He made such mess pooing (the bird not my son) from one end of the house to the other, on the carpet, on a book, on clean washing!  Argghh I could have wrung his neck!  Luckily I didn’t cut myself and there was no serious damage.

So I am not smiling in these photo – I am fuming!

I bet you are fuming too because, guess what – I have made this boring skirt three times!

Oh yes, and it’s even a UFO so all I had to do was take off the too small waist band and re-attach because its taken me making this skirt three times to work out what my waist measurement is!

We are careering towards the end of the kids second term and we are tired! I work three days during school hours and there are speeches for 6 year olds (ridiculous right??) and projects for 9 year olds. The laundry is piling up around the place and its been wet all week so it is taking over our living spaces!  Oh yes and my husband is at work for the twelfth day straight!  First world problems right?!

Being grateful helps me when I am whining so here goes; I have a garden where Birds of Paradise are in  flower, the Sydney sky was blue for the first time in days, for the photos, my camera has a self-timer and this skirt is finally finished.

I really like that print. It is the exact colour palette of one of my Dads 1960’s Hawaiian shirts that I used to wear when I was a teenager. It was a remnant so I didn’t have enough to make a dress and I wasn’t even able to piece together a top, despite quite a bit of time spend trying – which is probably why I abandoned this for 6 months – hours of sewing getting me nowhere is incredibly off-putting.

I might get some laces for some platform shoes from the scraps – we’ll see.

If I were going on a lovely tropical holiday or a Tiki Party  – this is the kind of thing I’d like to wear.  Dreams are free!

Oh and I found a tripod at an op shop for $12 this week – score!

The Facts
Fabric: 3m Cotton Lycra Sateen at $12.99 per metre
Pattern: Skirt from McCalls 9400 – without pleat/underlay
Year: 1950’s
Notions: Zip, Button, Waistband interfacing
Time to complete: 4 hours includes unpicking
First worn: For the photos
Wear again? Yes, a lot I think
Total Cost: $39

My Favourite Dress

I have had a huge week at work this week so have been too tired to sew.  Last week my lovely parents were here from NZ so we did things like go whale watching!  It was lots of fun but we didn’t see any sadly!

So I thought I share with you my favourite dress that I made to wear to the 50’s Fair back in 2009.

Photo: Gavin Blair, Hair by James at Sterling Hair

I used my now favourite Cotton/Lycra Sateen fabrics from Spotlight or Lincraft.  These fabrics are perfect for this type of dress as they you can achieve a good fit and still breathe – or eat comfortably!

I posted it on Sew Weekly for the Royal Wedding Hat challenge of 2011 – one of Mark’s and my first photo shoots – at night – inside – dress looks passable – facial expression rather strange.

I think it is my favourite pattern ever because it is easy to sew and and it fitted me without too much effort on my part!

Originally I made a mock up in black wool (what was I thinking!  Must finish that and perhaps put long sleeves in for Winter! I Definately still had baby brain I think, even though said baby was aged aged four at that time!).

Made it again in black and white cross hatch print- a la Prada Autumn 2010.  Adey has a picture on her blog of the inspirational dress – it’s the one with the bare midriff.  I agree with her comments!

I am wearing it with a petticoat or two underneath in the above photo!

Wore that to the “I love Vintage fair” to meet Kesenya of Alice Jeans and Brooke  of Brooke Orchard Photography, for the first time. Note excited groupie expression!

This dress is perfect for pear shapes is fitted to the waist, it skims over childbearing hips and accentuates a lack of bust with the bathered bosum section.  The bias binding is nice and the extended sleeves are flattering to 40+ year old mummy arms.

A very simliar looking contemporary pattern is  Vogue 8728 – which is suggested for knit fabrics.  I haven’t tried it.

I feel like a million bucks in this dress.  Everyone should have at least one dress that makes them feel like that don’t you think?

The “Cat’s Meow” Jeans

I am much more au fait with the 50’s as you probably know, but I have been wanting this  pair of high-waisted 40’s jeans for ages.  This week over at the Sew Weekly – its 40’s week.    I had some fun with 40’s slang in my post this week.

Mena and Debbie  have used this pattern, those broads know their stuff.  Wow, this pair of pants just flew together! I cut them out and started sewing – 20 minutes later I was trying them on! Hooray! Of course it took another 5 hours or so, to finish them properly.

They were a little gapey at the waist so I took them in at the centre back then had to move the darts over, to the middle of the back pieces, as they looked weird, too close together, after the alteration.  The waist band was too small – had to remake that.  Not sure what went wrong there!

They have a little bit of what we used to call in my student days “hungry bum” the centre back seam dissapears up your backside a little – I can’t remember what to do about this – lose weight?!!  It needs a full bottom adjustment.  If I had made a toile I would have been forced to deal with this problem – C’est la vie!

These jeans are the cat’s meow! They make your gams look really long!  And totally hide your muffin top!

I added 1cm to the outside leg tapering out from hip level to a full 1cm at the hem. However I think this was a mistake. Now that I have worn them a couple of times I feel like they are a little too full in the leg – the silhouette is not that flattering.

I also added a huge hem to finish with approx 7cm cuffs – as I noticed these was a feature of some 40’s jeans in my research. I wish I had noticed that they often just left the raw selvage at the sides, that would have looked keen. But I cut mine in the middle of the fabric so I had to finish them properly.  I am not sure if I will keep this feature – I would love your opinion on whether to keep them or not.

I used a metal zip because they are very heavy weight denim. I sew with an industrial sewing machine which is great for this kind of thing. I think I dug out my leather needles and used them to attach the waistband and top stitch it. There was quite a lot of “hand wheeling” going on but I broke lots of needles sewing through the bulk.

Thank you to my lovely friend Penny for sparing me one of  her precious Bakelite buttons.   She is my local vintage cohort.

I know I will wear these a lot and I definitely want to make more – I highly recommend this simple pattern, it’s swell.

All the photos on this post were taken by my dad Malcolm Blair – he is in Sydney for his birthday this week – we went out for a Yum Cha lunch before the photos (that explains the creases in the jeans) thanks Dad – wonderful job.  Time to scram and make birthday cake.

The Facts
Fabric: Stretch Denim approx. $15/m
Pattern: Simplicity 3668
Year: 1940’s
Notions: Metal zip for jeans, 4 machine needles, 1 bakelite art deco button exchanged for one childs plastic Samurai sword!
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: May 2012 – Dad’s Birthday Lunch
Wear again? Try and stop me
Total Cost: $45

Excuse the typo

Do you like Typo?  I find their vintage aesthetic and have-to-have stationery items irresistable.

The swearing and rude jokey things I can do without.

But I could not do with out these babies – feast your eyes!

A yummier neoprene (wetsuit material) laptop sleeve I have never seen. Those images have just walked right of a pattern envelope – and are gorgeous – there’s even a red polka dot dress – yum!

Maybe I would have been more into diving (like the men of my family) if the wetsuits were more interesting!

Gorgeous notepad for scribbling down ideas for blog - featuring bunting - I adore that stuff!

Laser Cut Antique Sewing Machine - now on display in the Sewing Room of course!

A great place for presents, not just for girls, their cool typographic items will do for the men in your life too. But it’s Mothers Day coming up soon so get something cool for your Mum or Nana this year!