Time Travel in a Pattern File

In the past week I did some wandering through part of the pattern stash accumulated by my mother. She sewed most of her life and  worked for a number of years in a small independent fabric store in Inverness, FL, now long closed.

Of course she has many, many uncut patterns, and most are from the 1990’s, not my favorite fashion years. There were some patterns I found interesting and maybe even usable.

Take these pajamas.


The copyright in the left corner shows 1995.


There’s only so much you can do with classic pajamas, the shirts are shorter now and a styles are trimmer overall, but doesn’t one of the guys in the illustration look like Ryan Reynolds? Was he around in 1995?

Nightgowns for women were a craft?


Is that because in 1994 crafting was popular and sewing wasn’t?


Or because of the hair accessory included in the pattern? I heard scrunches were making a comeback. Views A and B are a little pajama party meets square dancing, but views C and D could be made today and look current.

A basic t-shirt in 1992 had shoulder pads. The power t-shirt, for when the occasion calls for a more casual look than the power suit.


And now that the high waisted pants are back, will shoulder pads follow?


Oh look, a romper.


The New Look patterns do not have copyright dates, but this screams 90’s. You could hide a small child in those sleeves. Rompers will forever remind me of junior high gym suits, but the fuller cut of the bottom could be more flattering than more recent versions.

Another New Look pattern, and this one could be selling right now.


How cute is that red dress?

My favorite find from my stroll down pattern memory lane was a little older than the rest. My mother still had a pattern I used in 1975.


I made it in red and wore it to a Valentines Day dance in college. I loved how  the skirt moved. It  may be a little mother of the bride looking, but in such a classic style, who would think it’s nearly 40 years old.

I was hoping to find more Vogue designer gems in my mother’s stash, I know she had the original Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern, because I remember making it in a red and white Maybe it didn’t survive the move from Michigan to Florida. Now it’s time to downsize again, as she will be moving to assisted living in a few weeks and an estate sale is in the future. Hopefully central Florida has some sewing fans who love 90’s fashion,


Sometimes You Find the Fabric, Sometimes the Fabric Finds You.

Decorating and organizing the sewing room has been a slow process and may never really be done, but a new chair was a must. My back was suffering from using an worn out office chair, left behind by one of my kids.  After polling some of my fellow Ready to Wear Fasters, and checking out their recommendations, I bought the TORBJÖRN desk chair from Ikea.


It fits my short legs and supports my back, but that print on the seat cushion didn’t quite match the decor of the sewing room. Of course the previous chair didn’t either, it was actually ugly as well as uncomfortable. I also picked up an additional cushion for those marathon sewing sessions.


The shape of the chair made for an easy slipcover project, allowing for comfort and color coordination. Not being sure what I wanted, I aimlessly search the various online fabric stores and settled on this.


The color and proportion seem just a little off, so it occupied various spots in the room while I mulled it over – for 3 months. Maybe that should have been a clue it was not the right fabric, I couldn’t commit.

Last week the right fabric found me. A coworker asked if I would be interested in some toile. I said yes, thinking I could always pass it on to someone else. When she brought it in the next day, I knew it would be perfect for the chair.


Ta da. Can you tell it’s the same chair?


The piping is made from a coordinating fabric I found on the JoAnn clearance shelf.


Now it’s cute and girlie and fits the room. Amazing how fast you can get something done when you have the right fabric.

The First Dress of Fall

Labor Day weekend is considered the unofficial end of summer and  the 3 day weekend was hot, muggy and rainy, perfect sewing weather.  Exchanging ideas and sharing projects with all the lovely ladies involved with the Ready to Wear Fast has been motivation to get a jump on fall sewing.

When I bought this piece of fabric at Textile Fabrics in Nashville I was thinking sheath.


It’s a poly blend and a little stiff, with a slightly rough texture, even after washing. With a little creative piecing in the skirt, and using my favorite Frankenpattern bodice, there was enough fabric for a fit and flair dress.


The bodice combines the neckline of Vogue 8849 with the lower bodice of Vogue 8766. It may be the 4th or 5th time I’ve used this bodice combination. The sleeve used is from 8849.

For fall sewing, my mantra is New Techniques, Special Details. The new technique to try for this project was stay stitching the neck line with organza selvage. Getting necklines to lay flat has been a problem for me. Some techniques I have tried include using fusable stay tape, making the neck  facing slightly smaller,  being really careful with stay stitching and of course, always understitching , but I was still seeing a slight roll. The organza idea was something I saw other sewer/bloggers doing, sorry I don’t recall the specific posts. I really should write those things down, so credit can be given.


After stitching on the organza I decided to make a slight change the neckline and added some fusable stay tape where it would need to be clipped.


I thought the organza would be too stiff for turning the curve and this fabric frayed like crazy.


The neck line seems to be laying flat, without rolling and has a nice crisp edge. The curved corners became the special details. Since it is a big print, the details needed to be subtle.  I also added the curved corners to the sleeves and pockets.


The skirt was self drafted and the pockets are a result of being a little shy on fabric and needing to piece side panels. I’d love to hear other creative solutions for not having quite enough fabric.


I suspect only my fellow sewers would recognize the creative problem solving.


The rain let up long enough to snap a few photos, but the hot muggy air and tights are not the best combination.


It may be a few weeks before this dress goes to work. This is the earliest I have ever started sewing for fall, it usually takes a cold snap to motivate me. Thank you to all for the boost. Happy National Sewing Month.

Back to School Season, or Another Excuse to Make New Clothes

Since I work in education, back to school season still means a fresh start and a new year.  My kids are grown, so instead of  searching for new markers, crayons, notebooks and backpacks, I’m trying to match up fabrics and patterns and plan fun fall sewing. This is even better than a big box of colorful new markers.


Is fall just about everyone’s favorite fashion season?  It must be the publishers of fashion magazines very favorite season.

photo (6)

With almost 8 months completed on the Ready to Wear Fast, shopping for this fall is focused on fabric (and maybe some shoes). Although some stash busting might be a good idea, a few purchases are always a source of inspiration. My stash is sorted by fabric type, with most pieces on hangers.


Some of the bulkier wool pieces are folded on a bookshelf. I have a weakness for wool. Sigh.


Recent purchases have me excited to put away the summer brights and start working on the deep tones of fall. I’m really liking burgundy this fall.


The floral print, grey boucle and the ivory wool are all from Textile Fabrics in Nashville. It’s so nice of my son to move to a city with a good fabric store. It almost makes up for having him so far away, not quite, but almost.


I’m thinking cardigan jackets, either TNT Vogue 7975 or one of the Claire Shaeffer patterns. Anyone try 8991 yet?


The burgundy floral print is a poly blend.


I bought it thinking sheath, but indecision has crept in and maybe it will end up as a fit and flair dress.


The black knit with an embossed pattern is from the wonderful bolt end rack at Haberman Fabrics.


It’s a heavy weight, maybe enough for a fall coat. There seems to be an abundance of coat patterns in my stash, these are a few favorites.


Also from Haberman Fabrics is the burgundy knit and the lace for a Pinterest inspired dress.


It’s a skirt and top here, but I’ll do it as a dress with a 3/4 sleeve.


Maybe this will be a good starting point.


Planning for summer sewing helped me set some goals and stick to them. I’m hoping to do it with fall and winter too. I signed up for the Inside Vogue Patterns Coatmaking Techniques course, hoping to get past some sewing insecurities and start using more of the wool and coat pattern stashes.  Maybe some sew-a-longs or challenges will help. If anyone hears of any opportunities, please let me know. Enjoy the rest of the summer and here’s to fall.

The Woodward Dream Cruise Dress

This cruise has nothing to do with water. It’s 16 miles of Woodward Avenue, one million people and over 40 thousand vehicles. The cruising is done in cars at the 20th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise

pink car dc

This unique celebration was the first exposure to American culture for our newly arrived International students, most coming to Detroit to study transportation design at the college where I work as an Academic Adviser.  We had a group of 20 MFA and BFA students from Korea, China, India, Germany and Australia  – who had no idea what they were in for.

Of course I had to honor the event with a dress, Vogue’s vintage reissue of 8789, from 1957, view A.

vogue 8789

I tried to locate a border print, but didn’t find anything inspiring. After coming across a blue and white seersucker with pink  embroidered cherries, I used pink petersham ribbon to make my own border print.


I happened to find a belt kit at Textile Fabrics while visiting my son in Nashville months ago and this was the perfect time to try it out.


Making the belt was much easier than I expected. The belt backing is a firm plastic, which concerned me for topstitching, but it was a breeze, with no skipped stitches.  It came with silver eyelets, but I used the white which came with the pliers I bought years ago.

The buckle uses a double sided adhesive sheet to adhere the fabric to the buckle. It went on smoothly, with the back popping right on. I want to track down more of these kits, if anyone has a source.


I lined the entire dress with white cotton, which gave the bodice some body and should help eliminate too much stretching from the bias cut. To give the skirt some 1957 fullness, I added gathered tulle to the skirt lining, with a little pink surprise.


It was a fun day at the cruise

isso dream cruise

The hat is a purchase and is made from a UVA protective fabric and matched the ribbon perfectly, pure luck.

random people at dream cruisemascot at dream cruise

My boss kept taking my picture with random people on the street, the young couple was as sweet as can be.

chevy dc

Love the aqua interior.

crop of dream cruise

So many fabulous cars

photo (12)

50 years of Mustangs.

photo (13)

Back to the Future.

ornge car dc

Hopefully our students will start the year with lots of inspiration and don’t think all Americans are crazy.


The Waning Days of Honeysuckle

The blooms of the honeysuckle vine are fading, a melancholy sign of summer coming end. Although I’m looking forward to fall sewing, with wools and tweeds and deep earthy colors, I’m still sewing summer.

I bought 4 dress patterns from Vogue Patterns in the spring and sewed all four, no purchases languishing in the stash this year. My honeysuckle dress is V8972, a Vogue Easy Option. Love the custom fit cup sizes included.


Maybe not the best choice for someone short and curvy, but having seen some similar RTW dresses (just looking fellow RTW Fasters, no buying) I was drawn in by the waist detail.

The fabric was purchased for the project from Haberman Fabrics. I was looking for something in orange, but found the honeysuckle cotton matelassé. Could this work and not look like I recycled my bedspread? At least it washes really well.


Since this dress has so many pieces and seams, there is plenty of opportunity to tweak the fit. I used the petite markings in the waistband for my muslin, then took off some length in the bodice too. Using a size 12, I graded most of the bodice and upper waist band to a 10.

Cutting out the dress and lining can take some time, there are a lot of pieces, but it sews up surprisingly fast, even with the top stitching. Having prepared three bobbins, I used up two and most of the third. For the lining I used an orangey red Bemberg rayon.


There were a lot more blooms on the vine just a week ago, looks like summer may be fading fast.


The last blooms.


I’d like another month of summer please.


My regular in front of the closet shot.


Skirt back with the hemline slit.


Waist detail.


I’ll wear it to the office this coming week, when our new students start arriving for orientation, another sign of the fading summer. Anyone else winding down the summer sewing?


Ode to Bias Cut Collar II – Frankenpattern Edition

The term “Frankenpattern” pops up in many sewing blogs and it’s so appropriate.  We take parts from different sources and literally stitch them together. Hopefully we get the desired result and don’t scare anyone along the way.

My borderline obsession with the bias cut collar continued with a reversed collarish tie, using a combination of Vogue 8998 and a TNT Vogue 8413.

vogue 8998_frontv8413 (1)

The collar is from 8998, but lengthened and turned backwards and the skirt is from 8413. The bodice is a combination of the two, creating new pattern pieces by laying 8998 over 8413 to get the right shape and length.


The fabric was a piece in my stash of forgotten origin and content, but likely a rayon blend. It washed well, and I was careful with the iron.

I will admit to sort of winging it on the length of the collar/tie, making one side longer than other to make sure the ends were different lengths when ties


It makes for a good basic work dress, comfortable and professional looking. Sort of a good stuck-at-the-desk-all-day look.


I think I have played out the bias cut collar, at least for the time being. I have a couple more summer dresses in the works and my head is full of ideas for fall. If I could just get away from my desk.