Archive for October, 2009

We are dismantling the sewing room so that the window replacement can happen next week.  I will be so glad when all this upset is over and I can go back to puttering around in the reassembled sewing room.  I won’t miss having to mop up the condensation on the window sills every winter morning though.  Science has marched on.

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The idea is to find embroidery designs that fill a yoke-shaped pattern piece leaving room for the seam allowances. I look in embroidery design books and at vintage embroidery transfer patterns for inspiration. This time I chose the following transfer book:

IMG_5224I always trace the patterns out of books like this instead of using them as transfers. I just can’t seem to make myself tear pages out of books.

I find designs I like and arrange them on the yoke pattern piece to see how they will fit. I usually trace the yoke pattern piece onto a piece of posterboard so that I can use it as a template to trace around on other sheets of paper to provide blanks for designing. Once I have drawn out half of the embroidery design, I use the light desk to trace off  a mirror image for the other half of the pattern. Here are some designs I came up with this morning:




This shows that you don’t need to be an artist to come up with usable designs, you just have to be able to trace.

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Blue Camisole

My daughter came for a weekend visit and tried on the red camisole. It fit perfectly except that the armholes were a little high, so I altered the pattern, lowering the armholes 1/2 inch. The next camisole is finished:


I have another one of these cut out in a pale blue cotton knit, but I like to take a break when making several of the same pattern, since I get tired of sewing the same thing over again.

I went to the JoAnn sale and picked up some cute flannels.IMG_5222

I like sewing on flannel since it is so easy to manipulate and control. I have a TNT pajama pattern that I use for my younger daughter, but when I got the pattern out, the altered pattern for the pajama pants was missing. Tracing out patterns is not my favorite thing to do, so I spent a little time searching for the pattern in a few other patterns I have recently used for the same daughter, and I actually found it! I need to prewash the fabric but can’t get to the garage to do wash yet because the workmen are still all over the backyard.

My daughter had a good idea while she was here. She wanted to mark the dressmaker dummy so that I would know when necklines were too low or too wide. We were afraid to use permanent marker because it might transfer itself to garments, so we got the bright idea to use black electrical tape to form the outline of straps, neckline and armhole. It looks a little strange on Betty but will be very useful.

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These designs are from a very old book that belonged to my grandmother.  She purchased it in Mexico many years ago, and gave it to me when I was a teenager.


I like the brightness of the colors and the originality of the designs.  Look at those peacocks in the border design below:


My daughter recently returned from a small vacation to LA, and she says she bought some Amy Butler fabric that she wants me to make into tote bags or handbags, so that will be one of my next projects.  Right now I have a bag cut out of Chinese brocade, so that is next in line for the sewing machine.  Of course, I may get distracted and make an apron or two.

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More 1940’s Aprons

Here are a few pictures of aprons from the Aunt Ellen’s Art Needlework catalog:IMG_4747-1


Three aprons for $1.49! I wonder what Linene was.


Mexican motifs seem to have been popular in the 40’s and 50’s.



My grandmother-in-law had several aprons made using the inexpensive hankies you could buy in the dime stores then. It was an easy way to put a splash of color into an otherwise plain apron. It’s too bad that dime stores no longer exist. You could buy all kinds of inexpensive things that are collector items now.

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Red Camisole

My daughter liked the way the tricot camisole fit, so she asked me to make some that would be outerwear. I found a length of red knit in the fabric stack, so I added 1/4″  to the neckline and armhole for a seam allowance and got started. It turned out surprisingly well – here it is on Betty:



The bodice portion was a double layer of fabric in the tricot version, but in this version there is only one layer. I was wondering how to hold down the seam allowance under the bust so tried topstitching. It looks better than I expected. The neckline and armholes are finished with strips of the same knit used as facings and stitched down. The pattern was originally a simple tank top, but I changed it by adding the empire seam and adding gathers under the bust.

Next time I make one of those duct tape dressmaker dummies I will leave off the arms because they make it hard to get garments on and off the dummy. In addition, the arms make it hard to tell where the shoulder width ends for some reason. One thing that has worked out well, though, was the stuffing we put in the dummies: we used old newspapers put through the shredder.

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Camisole Finished

My younger daughter came for a visit and tried on the prototype camisole.  It really fit wonderfully well, so she asked me to make some more not as camisoles but as tops in cotton knits.  Before I could start that project though I had to finish up the camisole.


The hem is a regular hem (baste a small turnunder about 3/16 inch wide, then fold up another 3/8 inch and stitch down with a small zigzag set at 1 for width and 2 for length on my old Elna).  I finished off the neckline and armholes with a shell edging stitched on a small double turnunder.  I trimmed the empire seam with lace to add interest and to hold the seam in place.  The front upper bodice area has a double layer of fabric.IMG_4920

At one of the library book sales this year, I found a copy of a book printed in 1972:  The Feminine Art, Lingerie Sewing by Dolores Krinke.  This is a great book with many illustrations and photos, and is well worth searching for a copy.

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