Rest – all is well Vintage linen Mini Quilt

Mini quilt - from Vintage Linens Relax all is well

I don’t know about you, but I simply adore vintage linens. I have a piles of white doilies and placemats as well as pretty tea trays and tablecloths.  I love the romantic notion of eating meals on white crisp linen, and have even used pretty napkins – until I saw someone spread the delicate white with tomato sauce!

Inspirational embroidery of gentlework

I came across the delightful embroidery of gentlework on Pinterest and followed the link to her inspirational blog. What bliss! The soulful embroidery made me feel inspired to make a little message of my own. I had felt rather poorly in the last few weeks, and a little burnt out so I decided to make a little wall hanging.

Vintage Linen mini quilt embroidery

I discovered a pack of lace pieces in a bag in a charity shop a few years ago – I snapped them up. Despite having piles of linen I simply cannot bring myself to cut them up but this time someone had already done this for me. The linen was white and fresh, it felt like sacrilege to age it so I left it white. I wrote the words using a blue wash away pen.

Vintage linen mini embroidered quilt

I added a few more embroidered flowers – daisy stitches and button hole rounds. The whole thing was approximately 6 inches wide by 10 inches long.

Hand Embroidery on Vintage linen

I used variegated thread for the word rest, but I could not decide how to do the all is well. I had to re-write it as the writing was too small to embroider effectively.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery

The word ‘is’ ended up lost, so I whipped stitched it. I kept on unpicking and re doing – in the end I decided the pink was too pale.

Mini embroided quilt

I had a lovely piece of scalloped edging which I used to connect the top piece – it was a little different in colour, but I liked the effect. I then quilted it with various stitches using white Perle – I loved the way they created texture without detracting from the coloured embroidery.

Making tassels for edging - mini quilt

I crocheted an edge and decided to add tassels – it gave the quilt a little weight to change better.

Vintage Linen quilt

It is rare that I allow myself to simply play around – but it was enjoyable letting the little quilt evolve. I didn’t like the ‘All is Well’ part. I think next time I will use cotton Perle quite thick rather than embroidery floss.

It has been a soothing exercise, and quite addictive!


Frumpy to flirty…1950’s inspired refashioning


1-before and after1

I adore charity shops there seems no end of inspiration. It might just be my own obstacle, but am fearless to alter items bought secondhand that I would hesitate to alter new!  Thrift store or charity shop seem to bring out my adventurous  side- especially if there are only a few pounds at stake!

Sundress before frontThis dress caught my eye – I knew the style was not right for my body shape but the fabric thrilled me so much I bought it anyway. It is your standard maxi sundress – with a shirred top, you can find lots of dresses like these at the moment, even in charity shops.

Summer sundress fabric

As you can see this fabric is wild! Lots of different colours going on – including different coloured backgrounds. the great thing is that there is no directional design, it all seems to flow freely, which makes pattern cutting easy.

Sundress before

You can see from this picture why this dress style doesn’t work for me – the uni-boob is not a flattering look! My waist has completely disappeared and as this dress falls from my boobs, it has added excess inches around my whole body! As if I need any more inches adding! lol.

Sundress skirt length

Look what happens when I lower the gathering down to the waistline, it already looks a lot more flattering. It is a very generous skirt, there is lots of fabric to play with – and definitely enough to make a top half! While the shirring is a great scale for bodice, it is a little too wide for my waistline- so I shall shorten it and remove the top edge.

Vintage 1950's pattern

My inspiration for this re-fashioning came from a vintage 1950’s pattern –   the gypsy top element to this dress pattern is a delight! When I was growing up in the 1970’s gypsy skirts and tops were everywhere I loved swirling around in my circular skirt – an enduring link with hot summers and gypsy style remains with me today. I love the way the puffy sleeves give a bit of balance to the full skirt in this pattern it emphasises the hourglass shape. It is unashamedly girlie!

New Look top 6277

Given my love of gypsy tops, it won’t surprise you that I had this pattern in my stash! I wanted the bottom left style – intending just the top section to be used for this re-cycling dress. Somewhat less of a square neckline than the 1905’s pattern- but the sleeves would more likely cover dreaded bra straps! (Monster bra straps are a necessity for the larger bust!)

New Look no longer sell this pattern, but there are a couple of similar ones that would work just as well. New look 6892, or New Look 6891.

Take largest pattern piece and measure the overall length  this will determine how much fabric you need to cut off the bottom of the skirt. As mine is a maxi skirt I had plenty of fabric to play with so I ended up with a circle of fabric that was just a little bit longer than my top pattern piece.

The key here, is not to un-pick any seams: as it will reduce your overall available material. I folded the fabric over with a seam running straight at a fold and then cut the bodice piece with  the centre front at the ‘fold’.

My fabric was so wild that the original seams disappeared, even though one old seam ran across one of my sleeves at a corner edge, the material still remained intact. The pattern matching was easy, but I did make sure the pattern pieces went in the direction of the dress, e.g. the top of the pattern piece was at the top edge of the fabric.

Upcycled dress neckline with decorative elastic edge

The main feature of a gypsy top is the gathered edge that is either elasticated or gathered by using a cord. I had this delightful heart shaped lingerie elastic, so gently zig-zagged it on to bring the neckline in.

If you are using any of the patterns listed above, shorten the bodice and back to just below the waistline, then add the dress to the lower bodice edge. The shirred section is now the waistline.

It is just a case of then finishing your hem edge, we are so used to seeing overlocked edges I decided to finish mine in black.


I don’t think this dress is far from the original 1950’s pattern inspiration – more importantly it makes the most of my waist which is more flattering.

As an re-vamping overall I am very pleased with the results – so much so that I am going to scour the local shops for more!








Liberty Prints at the London Museum of Fashion and Textiles


Liberty Artistic Dressing

London Fashion and Textile Museum Liberty Exhibition 2016

There are not many chaps out there who are willing to encourage a fabric obsessive like me but the lovely Mr D asked me if I wanted to visit the Museum of Fashion and Textiles  as he had noticed there was a Liberty exhibition! I leaped at the opportunity! We headed off by train early on a chilly Saturday morning, after a short pleasant journey,   I found myself stepping through the glass doors and bright interior –  a world of Textiles  -Heaven on earth!


The exhibition was organised chronologically: this display of kimonos dates from the early years of Liberty around 1870. The exquisite hand embroidery was simply, divine. The butterflies and iris adorn exquisite silk kimonos and you can see in the bottom left an example of wallpaper that inspired  the kimono decoration.

I was thrilled to be able to get up close to the exhibits eager to feast my eyes on construction,  finishing and techniques used. I am fascinated by design details – and spent a great deal of time noting and photographing in order to create a reference at home. Having recently taken up hand embroidery it was inspiring to see it utilised in high end fashion it tends to go in cycles. The two items above were  examples of the dress reform movement. Women wanted clothing that was more practical, the late Victorian period where the S curve was in Vogue this was revolutionary! The dress on the right had exquisite pleating that simply followed the curves beautifully – a good 60 years before the 1930’s bias cut.

I spent a great deal if time taking in the wonderful construction details of the 1930’s to 1940’s stand. I particularly enjoyed the way the red flower dress was thoughtfully made. The neckline is trimmed with appliquéd flowers, the sleeve cap is full typical of the 1940s and has a lovely velvet ribbon detail running down the centre finished with a little bow. The velvet ribbon detail is repeated at the front placket, and the overall placement of the red/pink flowers is skilfully done.

The 1970’s saw a revival in ‘folk’ costume especially the use of smocking. The whole of the seventies section brought back memories of warm summers wearing gypsy skirts! I the brown  dress,  fabric is entirely shaped using this technique it allows so much movement that you can put the clothing on without the need for zips or darts! The wedding dress reminded me of the 1980s.

Art Nouveau had a revival in the 1960s prompting the use of more romantic folk styles classical empire lines, Victorian Butcher sleeves – updated with modern prints and fabrics. The wonderful detail of the corduroy dress yoke was a delight to my eye!

There were lots of displays of the patterns used and I did not realise Kate Greenaway had designed for Liberty (centre)


It was a wonderful exhibition – I took a lot more pictures that I shall use for reference there were so many examples of different construction techniques and embellishment ideas that I am still buzzing days later. I can’t wait to include them in my sewing.

The Museum of Fashion is just a short walk from London Bridge Station it is a real treat for any lover of textiles or fashion.

1944 – Wedding dress from the D Day Museum Portsmouth

1940's wedding dress

I visited the D Day museum last week and thought I would show you a lovely exhibit; this lovely wedding dress is a good example of clothing that would have been usual for 1940’s women. It would have been home made, either by the bride or someone in the family, and most likely from parachute silk.

Bodice section 1940's wedding dress

It is a simple design with a central panel – it is so nice to be up close to a dress that is not couture (as many on the internet are), for me it is an example of what ordinary women wore – more home spun, in design and technique and therefore more exciting in some ways.

1940s wedding dress with matching bag

You can see the machine stitching on the bodice, the gathers are small however, this dress has a long train and long sleeves, which may indicate it pre-dates clothing rationing. I did not wish to touch the fabric as it was on display – so I could not guess if this was parachute silk or rayon – you can just make out the patterning.

The little bag is such a lovely addition – someone put a lot of love and attention into making the dress for a bride who married in 1944. With the invasion imminent it was tricky to organise a date for the wedding, but this bride managed to do so before her husband went to France.

1940s Wedding dress

The bag and the train have these beautiful little pearl beads – which would have been difficult to get hold of during war time. It does make me wonder if this dress was made before the war and re -modelled – wedding dresses were often lent or borrowed during the war as fabric was rationed and was scarce.

Usually a bride would dye the wedding dress after the wedding so she could get more wear out of it. So while this dress looks very simplistic it is quite a rare find as many dresses would have been re-purposed after the event.

Vintage Womans Weekly Magazine – August 12, 1933

01-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933

Sit yourself down, with a lovely pot of tea and some vintage cups and take a perusal of a Womans Weekly, 1933! Over 80 years ago! It is fascinating to look  at what women were reading about back then-when I spotted this in a charity shop I could not resist it!  I am hungry for  vintage details – because you can look at the styling that was taking place back then in context.

As you can see from the front cover – the magazine came with a knitting pattern – for average to large sizes. This gives us a clue that the magazine was mostly aimed at mothers and grandmothers rather than young women – which is still true of the magazine today.

02-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 1

The inside cover has a advert for another magazine, most likely by the same publishing 04-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 3house – that includes free patterns. The two button suit is very glamorous –   the hat and gloves completes the outfit – no woman would be seen outside the house without them!

The September issue of Home Fashions caters especially for the late holiday folk who want smart styles for last minute frocks and suits for the sea and the country. Free patterns are included for making the most attractive suit and little puffed sleeve blouse. There is a Coupon Pattern for a charming ensemble that consists of an afternoon frock and coatee suitable for patterned silk. Then there is a special supplement of lingerie fashions showing the newest and loveliest designs and including models with the new on-the-cross cut.

Bias cut had only just been introduced and popularised by Vionnet and it is still a wonderful way to create beautiful feminine lingerie.

Notice the pretty blouse peeking out from the jacket top! You can see how sixties fashions were inspired by the 30’s -with this cropped jacket, pillbox hat!

05-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 4

I adore this charming feminine blouse, the lace frilled edging is a lovely detail around the button placket as well as the collar, it looks as if it is flat not gathered or pleated.  Lace would have been mostly cotton as nylon had not been invented.  Note also the fullness of the sleeve – a feature throughout the 1930s.

Both illustrations include a six  gore skirt finishing somewhere between the ankle and the knee.

The silhouette is streamlined, after the 20’s flapper style which hid the waistline and saw women flattening their chests – thirties fashion with the bias cut – creates flowing garments that enhance and accentuate curves.

12-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 11

15-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 14

On a gingham holiday frock the only relief might be a wide, white pique belt. Smartest, if the lines in the weave run down.

This is the opening page of the magazine – the title ‘Weekly Whispers’ is rather quaint, don’t you think? I have to say that even with my glasses I am struggling to read the small text. Oh imagine – it was usual for readers to visit a dressmaker rather than off the peg! Advice in their letters page is just as useful today as it was then.

‘Women are becoming more practical about underclothes, at last’ remarked a very shrewd dressmaker to me the other day. They are awake to the fact that it is just as important for the under the gown to fit well – as it is for the frock itself. There’s logic of course in her remarks, when a dressmaker has provided a good line to a gown it must be very heartbreaking to have it all spoilt by the basics -ill fitting underclothes.

What great advice – given that a lot of these dresses would be cut on the bias, any undergarment bump or bulge would be visible. It is the same today, the muffin top is a pure invention of badly designed underwear. French knickers are ideal under a bias dress – it also flows around the body without cutting in – as you find in the average cotton brief.

Pleated organdie frilling makes this dainty collar and bow. Two double pieces of frilling joined together and gathered up in the middle. A brooch would cover the gathering stitches.

Pleated organdie frilling makes this dainty collar and bow. Two double pieces of frilling joined together and gathered up in the middle. A brooch would cover the gathering stitches.

A friend of mine, who has no maid, has made the prettiest organdie covers for her tea table. When there is a little party, she gets everything ready and then she covers the table with this organdie square. (It is hemstitched and strewn with little flowers in simple embroidery) It looks so pretty and gives such a feeling of freshness to the tea table.

Imagine, not having a maid… poor thing!   Oh how dreamy this dress is! I imagine it to be made of Georgette fabric – that has enough weight to make the most of these lovely lines! Dresses were often ‘updated’ by maids – to give a garment a new lease of life. Here there are instructions for making an organdie bow.(see caption)

Here is a fairytale design for the loveliest luncheon set.

Here is a fairytale design for the loveliest luncheon set. The flowers are worked mainly in Satin stitch and stem stitch. The pattern was available post free from the Woman’s Weekly Transfer department in Oxford St, London.

It seemed that readers engaged in home crafts – here is a lovely pattern for a ‘luncheon set’ – if you were not using a full table cloth – then smaller sets were made of linen – similar to place mats today, even trays were lined with linen cloths – you can usually pick these up in charity shops or antique markets.

An Adventure to make in two colour knitting - Woman's Weekly, August 12 1933

An Adventure to make in two colour knitting – Woman’s Weekly, August 12 1933

The knitting pattern was a front cover feature – and it was why I bought this particular issue among the six available. Notice how close fitting this garment is – very different from knitwear available today.

08-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 7

A friendly little jumper – a thing to be gay the Autumn! Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

The use of the colours works so well – and I adore the collar what a lovely finish. Her hairstyle is classic, you also see it on models of 1950’s. Once again the skirt is a tightly fitting six gore skirt – but as it is white the details are almost lost.

Who would have known it - a vicar is a love interest for dear Norah - complete short story in Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Who would have known it – a vicar is a love interest for dear Norah – complete short story in Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

Short stories are still a feature of the magazine today, the tale of Norah and Peter Cunningham had a hundred readers so stirred up enough to ask for a sequel!

Peter Cunningham was a big manly fellow, sufficiently unlike the orthodox parson for tongues to wag in the village when he had first arrived.

It seemed that Norah and Peter were just beginning to have feelings for one another when a silly girl grabbed all his attention! Poor Norah was left alone with a broken heart – and that is why readers pleaded for more! Thankfully – it turns out that Norah and Peter finally found each other again.

Peter drew her hand through his. ‘ ‘Never mind the fog’ he said. ‘The stars are shining somewhere’ My stars are shining here’ Norah answered. ‘Happy’ he asked. ‘Perfectly, perfectly happy’ she answered. ‘You will always be’ he told her.

Little Bill on his Holiday - Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Little Bill on his Holiday – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

There are a number of little poems scattered throughout the pages, wether or not they were reader’s poems it isn’t made clear. I love the illustrations – similar to Mabel Lucie Attwell who was very popular at the time – she illustrated for the Tattler and the Illustrated London News.

Ponds Advert - Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933. Endorsed by Lady Hindlip.

Ponds Advert – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933. Endorsed by Lady Hindlip.

It seems that celebrity endorsement is not a modern concept, here is a peer of the realm endorsing Ponds Cream. There are a few other adverts in the magazine, some companies are still trading; cutex, harpic, New Zealand Lamb, Robin Starch and Kraft cheese (foil wrapped triangles!)

Kellogs All Bran Advert - Woman's Weekly - August 12, 1933

Kellogs All Bran Advert – Woman’s Weekly – August 12, 1933

Kellogg’s were advertising back then, but some names are lost in the mists of time. Cepos – monthly pain relief for headaches and Neuralgia  (I am not alone!), could be bought ‘without embarassment’ Fennings Children’s Powders and Southalls rubber pants for babies! There is even a Liquid hair remover called Taky way.

Mrs Marryatt gives some very wise advice - Woman's Weekly, 12 August 1933

Mrs Marryatt gives some very wise advice – Woman’s Weekly, 12 August 1933

Mrs Marryatt was giving advice just as she does today! In this article it is suggested that girlfriends ensure they are not dismissive of their beau’s female relatives.

There is one thing which girls often forget when they are rather keen on meeting young men – and that is the value of being friendly and nice to the womenfolk of the men they meet.

Young women are recommended to take a middle road between disinterest and disregarding women in his life but not to ‘over do’ the friendliness either.

A weariness comes in the society of the too demonstrative friends.

19-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 18

What a future wife should own before marriage – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

This wonderful article specifies what a bride should have in her Hope Chest or Bottom Drawer as she approaches her wedding day.

  • 3 pairs of sheets
  • 6 pillow cases
  • 3 bolster cases
  • 1 under blanket
  • 1 counterpane for each bed
  • 1 eiderdown for each bed
  • 3 top blankets
  • 6 bath towels
  • 6 face towels
  • 3 breakfast cloths or sets of mats
  • 6 table napkins
  • 2 roller towels for kitchen
  • a few tray and afternoon cloths
  • 6 dusters
  • 6 tea cloths
  • 3 glass cloths

It is quite a modest list – but entirely made up of textiles in one form or another! Imagine a young girl carefully embroidering her tray cloths – in the hope that she would one day have a home of her own. It is why they are so prolific, and often in good condition – as they would have been reserved for high days and holidays!

Woman's Weekly, August 12, 1933

Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

Food and recipes did not feature very large in this issue – There are a few short paragraphs with sandwich filling suggestions for a picnic. The illustration beside it is delightful – the lady’s hat frames her face, and once again we see full sleeves on her dress. Big florals and geometrics were fashionable in this Art Deco era, and the gentlemen would have worn shirts and jackets. The sandwich filling suggestions are: cream cheese and walnuts, minced ham and cress, cheese and tomato and egg mayonnaise.

26-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 25

The front cover features this dress which is ‘This Week’s Bargain Pattern’ readers had to cut out a coupon (still intact in this issue) and send it to the Woman’s Weekly offices with enough stamps to cover postage (4 1/2d ) there is an alternative address for Australian Readers. The pattern was created especially to give a slimming effect – with the pattern sizing available from 36 up to a 48inch bust and a special version for ‘short women’. 

Front dress pattern 1933 Woman's WeeklyThis week we have thought of our older readers! We have found them a slimming and gracious little dress for printed silk and the pattern can be had in all the large sizes as well as in the average size. A new afternoon frock is a boon for the late Summer days and for the early Autumn, while later on, it looks so pretty under a heavy coat. This design slims the figure very cleverly with the centre seams and the skirt carried in points above the waist. Notice how the bodice itself comes down in a point into the skirt to keep the figure perfectly flat in front. The little vestee and pretty cowl-like collar give softening at the neckline. I suggest you choose a printed silk in any dark colour, and have the collar and cuffs in cream georgette – so much softer than dead white. 

August 12, 1933 dress pattern layout

August 12, 1933 dress pattern layout

Front dress technical drawing

The layout of the pattern and instructions are also included on the page – there is not a lot of detail! However I really enjoyed reading the problem page at the bottom entitled ‘Is this your problem too? – write to the London Girl if you have dress problems – she knows all the answers’

Skirt length was an issue, women needed to feel they were respectable. Ida asked about the correct length of a skirt from the ground as she had just learned to sew. London Girl replied: For streetwear, skirts are now fourteen inches from the ground. Sports clothes and man-tailored costumes are sometimes worn a little shorter. For afternoon occasions ten to twelve inches is correct, and evening dresses should be instep-length or just clear of the ground. 

27-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 26

The remnant frock – Amazing what we can do with our gleanings from the sales. Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

There is something very taking about a plain frock well tailored. The box pleated flounce makes pattern 52,415 distinctly interesting, (and box pleats are so easy to manage!) Perfectly simple – the two piece skirt and plain bodice and a neat cape collar. Short or long sleeves are equally smart. 

12, August 1933, Woman's Weekly

12, August 1933, Woman’s Weekly

FUN – IN A NEW DRESS – The special occasion that needs a special frock. What a harassing problem this is unless one prepares one’s wardrobe with an eye to the future. A long frock, prettily cut, will always come in for the dances and social evenings that are soon to be here again. This design with a dear little cape to hide the low neckline when needs be. The two piece skirt has true circular flounces, and is joined to the bodice at the waistline. 

Double Frill dress, Woman's Weekly 12, August 1933

Double Frill dress, Woman’s Weekly 12, August 1933

It seems that London Girl is promoting the Woman’s Weekly patterns and given that there are four pages of patterns in all – it would suggest that women were making their own clothes.

Two remnant dresses

Two remnant dresses

Notice all the patterns have full sleeves, with bows and or dainty button details. Also the cape adaptation – helped when wearing Sunday Best to church.

13-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 12

Updating coat advice – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

If you have a light summer coat which needs a spot of ‘doing up’ try the effect of very dark revers on it. These light-and-dark contrasts are extremely chic at the moment. 

32-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 31

Best Way Outsize Summer Fashions – Woman’s Weekly, August 12, 1933

That ever-perplexing-problem, ‘What to wear on holiday’ is easily solved if you make your choice from the many attractive designs in Bestway Outsize Summer Fashions. This useful book contains a host of flattering designs especially cut for the larger figure. All easy and smart to wear. There is also a FREE pattern for making this charming frock. 

It seemed that most women had little option but to make their own clothes – and there were many pattern companies to choose from. Sizing difficulties is not a modern phenomenon after all!

24-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 23

Holiday suggestions in the 1930’s Jersey promises fun and gaiety and all possible amusements! 

25-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 24There is a lot of illustration – mostly of young, slim women and dashing young men! Older women are not portrayed in such good light – our poor Matron and Mrs Marryatt are rather stout!

10-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 9More advice – this time childcare from a Matron of a big welfare centre. The letters ask about treating stinging nettles (dock leaves) and dandruff. Rub the skin of the head with a freshly cut lemon before washing her hair with tar shampoo. Massage a mixture of castor oil and eau-du-Cologne onto damp hair at every night. Wash hair once a week. 

29-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 28

I love the way the flowers adorn this gorgeous lady! This is the Beauty Advice section

I am having my first permanent wave shortly, I want to get it in really good condition. What do you advise? -ZITA

Use a good tonic, like Bay Rum and Cantharides. Massage a little into the roots of your hair twice a day. You need not bother to shampoo your hair as the assistant will wash it first. 


Would you mind telling me where I can buy sunbathing oil? CITY GIRL

Most chemists keep sunbathing oil to-day. Several good brands are put up for sale a 1s 6d size.

03-Womans Weekly August 12, 1933 2

I hope you have enjoyed your time travelling tea break!

Enjoy the summer! 

ttfn x

French knickers

satin and silk french knickers
I have been experimenting with French Knicker patterns. There are a number of them available on ebay but I can recommend the Vintage pattern company. 

Vintage pattern instructions

The instructions are very clear, and the pattern is a good quality copy and far more robust than an original pattern.

Vintage pattern copy

You can see from the little circles that the pattern was from the 1940’s these circles indicate where the pattern pieces should meet. Darts, grain line markings all came later and give us much more details than early vintage patterns.

Cut on the bias

The important thing to remember when making lingerie is to cut on the bias, which is 45 degrees from the selvage edge. It is what will make your lingerie cling to you.

light weight fabrics

These were an early experiment and they are cut on the grain, when I wear these it feels as if I am wearing shorts!  French knickers are really just fancy shorts! You can use any short pattern as it is the fabric you use that makes it lingerie rather than outer wear.

The Vintage pattern creates a skirt that you cut along the front and attach a gusset

cut on the bias

Which is far more flattering than shorts and they flow around the body better than short patterns do.


I love the idea of buttons up the sides, but for my initial practise garments I decided to use an elasticated waistband, its kinder to wear as my tummy size alters quite a bit during the course of the day.

Zig Zag Stitch for attaching elastic

Attaching elastic is relatively easy, you have to select a broken zig zag stitch on your sewing machine, the gaps allow the elastic to move. An elasticated needle is essential as it is blunt it finds a way between the elastic threads rather than piercing them.

attaching elastic

I firstly stitch the decorative knicker elastic along the top edge with the frill facing downwards and the right side of my fabric facing. Stretching the elastic slightly as I sew along the waistline.

Top stitching elastic

Once attached I turn the edge over and top stitch – it makes the most of the decorative edging.

Adding lace trimming

Lace trim is easy to add to the bottom edges, simply stitch along the middle of the lace and then re-stitch following the contours of the lace.

French Knickers vintage patternIt is difficult to photograph these – and while they look enormous, when you wear them it is similar to wearing a miniskirt! It looks beautiful – no more muffin tops and elastic cutting into the top of my legs causing bulges! It simply skims my body, flows and caresses my skin with no chafing! No panty lines!

Edge lace enhancement

Try them yourself, using different luxurious fabrics, bows and trims. Once you wear these you will never go back to shop bought briefs!

ttfn x

Talking French – Flattering Lingerie – no more muffin tops!

What a warm lovely summer! I am still plugging away at the vintage elements – will be posting soon, but with the hot weather I thought I would talk Lingerie!
The photograph above illustrates what is frustrating about the underwear widely available – it is just so unflattering! It distorts the model’s rather lovely shape her cheeks are poking out from the bottom, they cut across the widest part of her body in a band -these knickers sabotage your sexiness  no matter what your size. It does make me wonder just what manufacturers are thinking and why we put up with it. It is nigh on impossible to buy anything else, so fortunately being able to sew means I am not restricted to what is available in the shops.
You can buy these from ‘What Katie did
French knickers on the other hand begin at the smallest part – the waist, and follow a woman’s curves gently to finish just at the top of the leg. This makes everyone look beautiful it works with the lines of the female form rather than against them.
You can buy these from ‘What Katie did’
Of course what comes as a shock when you pick up a pair or make your own – is that they seem huge!
Used to these mean strips of fabric, the volumes of lace or satin are a big difference but stick with it.  Once you have something around your natural waistline and not cutting across your hips, you will find your ‘muffin’ top becomes a distant memory.
It feels wonderful to have knickers around the waist again, that you might find you never go back. Make them out of stain or silk, and you have a whole beautiful sensation as it flows round your hips.
They are bliss to wear under a summer dress as they are cool and have no visible panty line. Of course your man will find it irresistible, all that wonderful accessibility will be on his mind!
Available from ‘What Katie Did’
The French knickers here are from What Katie Did, they ship world wide, but they are very easy to make.
You are simply making light, airy shorts which in the warmer weather make summer dresses a pleasure to wear.
Especially if you are a little more generously proportioned as I am.
Last year on holiday the temperatures were very high, I had put on a little weight and was shocked at how my thighs rubbed together and became extremely sore.
French knickers are perfect for solving this problem as the fabric takes the ‘rub’. In addition if you suffer from Thrush or cystitis they really do help prevent these occurring.
I will be sharing my knicker making adventures next time.
afternoon! And the fabric requirements are not big at all.

1930’s Glamour Hollywood Style

Glamour 1930's style

If I had to choose a particular era it would have to be 1930’s. Maybe it is all the wonderful Poirot TV series I have enjoyed over the years where I have learned to love the simplicity of the Art Deco style combined with the beauty of bias cut fashions. Dresses flowed – Vionnet had brought bias cutting into the hands of dressmakers and it lets cloth flow around the body like nothing ever seen before or since.

1930's Hollywood inspired patterns

Women wanted to wear the fashions they saw in the hollywood movies and pattern makers  used hollywood actresses on their patterns. Just look at the fabulous detail of the bodice, with the beautiful corner detail on the back. The bias cut skirt would have followed every contour, so you might have to be rather slim to carry this off.

1930's velvet gown

This beautiful velvet gown shows the enduring feature of 1930’s style, the diamond waist piece. This might not be cut on the bias, the grain line would have most likely run vertically from the top point to the bottom and would have given structure that allows the bias cut pieces of the bodice some element of stability.

1930's dress pattern

In this pattern illustration highlights just how the fabric clings and follows the contours of the body. The side panels at the hips are the diamond shapes that would be running in the opposite direction to the skirt pieces. The bodice looks as if it is cut on the straight of grain, whereas the feminine sleeve would have been semi circular in shape to give those softly floating ripples.

Bathing costumes 1930's

The bathing suits were far kinder to the body than the two piece costumes of today. This style would enhance any woman’s figure, the use of stripes creates an illusion of drawing the figure in – a slimming effect.

pjs 1930s

Imagine how glamours you would feel wearing these pjs around the house? Usually in satin or silk, the fabric would brush softly against your skin. Definitely one up on the Onesie for style.

tea dresses 1930s

Imagine living in a world where you dressed up for tea – these beautiful tea dresses have clean lines but the pattern allows extra fabric in the panels gathered together so as not to interrupt the style, but would have allowed the dress fabric to flow as the woman walked. Notice the top of the sleeves are fairly well fitting, it is not until the 1940’s or late 30’s we see a gathered cap.

1930's style

The beautiful details in this dress are simply delightful – there is so much going on here and yet the lines are simple and would enhance the wearer. I would suggest this is a late 1930’s early 1940’s because of the gathering at the sleeve cap. However the front panel with the pleating is an aspect of the 1930’s. Notice how the smocking has given a lot more ease in the bust area, while the centre panel accentuates the waist.

Simplistic style of 1930's

We are back again to flat sleeve, and the length of this skirt suggests its 1930’s. I like the sailor style collar with the feminine bow. The top is nipped in and enhances the waistline and I adore the button details on the hip.

day dress

I could not help adding this beautiful dress – the way the buttoning flows from one side to the other really does delight my eye.

Bias cutting is not for the faint hearted, it is challenging. Looking at the styles and patterns from the past, I think women must have had superior sewing skills because none of the patterns you buy today have that degree of complexity. However, I am inspired to try.

Up-cycled Jumper to cardigan

jumper upcyle before

This lovely Angora Jumper was needing a little brightening up.

cutting the front

To make this into a cardigan I cut along the midpoint between the rows of stitching.

crocheting the edges

It is important to finish the edges before it began to fray.

A double crochet edge gives a stronger border for

covered buttons on cardigan

Its very easy to cover buttons, just make a circle of fabric bigger than the button

Use running stitch around the edge and then pull together so that the fabric gathers around the back.

Stitch in place.

faux button and popper closures

I use snap fasteners, to close the cardigan it makes it easy to fasten.

Upcycled jumper flowers 3

The stitched corsage is made from more covered buttons

I covered a button using crochet and placed in the middle of a suffolk puff

Upcycled jumper flower buttons

I crocheted a pretty frilled edge round one of the buttons

The rose was a felted button and the leaves were from a wool blanket I felted and dyed.

flower details 6

I hope my daughter enjoys her new vintage style cardigan.

Love Sewing Magazine Ruby Dress Pattern Review




04-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-010


 This ‘Sew Simple’ pattern came with Love Sewing Magazine – called the Ruby Dress

I thought it looked lovely – it is reminiscent of the 1950’s – a very flattering style, good for pear shapes or hourglass because the full skirt covers hips and thighs and focusses attention onto a small waistline which are the assets of a pear and hourglass shape.

07-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-002

There were a couple of adaptations I wanted to make to the pattern:


Replace the centre Zip in the back to a concealed zip in the side seam.

11-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-006I traced off the back pattern piece, using cross and dot paper.

I removed the seam allowance in the centre; because I have narrow shoulders pinched out a dart so that it narrowed the back slightly towards the top.

I drafted a mirror image to create one pattern piece that would not have to be cut on the fold. When you cut on the fold it is easy for the fabric to slip slightly out of grain – this can affect the fit and drape of the dress.

Increase bust allowance for a fuller bust

13-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-008

I am a 34 G bust – so I had to adapt the pattern to allow an extra 2inches at the bust line but 34 is very narrow, so I needed to bring the pattern in at the back and shoulders.

Once again I traced off the front bodice and hit a problem – the bust point was not indicated on the pattern. So I had to find my own bust point – you do this by laying the pattern piece across your body, mark the peak of the bust as a big dot. Then cut out the side dart and move it down so it is pointing at the dot. (I had to move the dart down about 2 inches)

I made a quick toile and found that I could just increase the side seam by 1inch, and move the bottom seam by an 1inch – it would give me that extra room.

10-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-005I also checked the measurement across the back – being narrow shouldered I needed to take another 1/2 inch out of the v at the back. I also skimmed an inch from the shoulder seam so it would finish at my shoulder.

Because of my large bust, I had to pinch out about a 1/2 inch dart at the neckline. I also altered the neckline so that it would sit just on my collarbone using a french curve to round it off.

Even though I am inserting a side zip, I did not need to add any further seam allowances as there would be sufficient room to insert the zip along the side seam.

I drafted new pattern pieces with these changes – these could be used to make more dresses without the need to go over the fitting again.

Lengthen the skirt length

I added approximately 3 inches to the bottom of the skirt, so that it would sit just below the knee instead of just above.

I added a cap sleeve – in keeping with the fifties style.

02-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-001


My Fabric choice

I had two lovely pieces of curtain fabric to work with from a local curtain shop. The spring linen was a remnant of 3 metres for £5. The silky satin lining was a pale green 5 metres £7 which was an absolute bargain.

I wanted to line this dress and the weight of the satin would help the garment flow easily as well as protecting me from the sharpness of the zip. In essence it means you make two dresses, but it feels luxurious to wear.

06-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-017

I believe the finishing of a dress makes a huge difference between the high street – it is what makes dressmaking so wonderful. Most clothing is so cheap that the design details are the way they reduce costs. I aim to sew garments that I could never afford to buy, not just for the customised fit but the small details you get with high end, great pattern matching, bra clips, lining attachments – details you will find in couture houses.

I made the lining dress first so that I was able to check the measurements again – before I worked on my outer fabric.



The challenging areas on this pattern are the neckline and the deep v at the back.

15-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-012

In order to give more stability – after stitching the lining and bodice pieces together I ran some hemming web between the two layers and ironed in place. This created a beautiful crisp finish to the edge and also stabilised the v at the back.

05-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-013

Its a great idea to attach the lining to the zip flap – I used my normal zip foot as it allows you to sew close to the zip edge.

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I loved the pattern of this pretty spring fabric, but the darts at the front of the dress made it look a bit odd, so I appliquéd a couple of flowers over the seam so that it looked better.

14-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-011

I increased the skirt a little to add fullness and my ruffler foot made the regular pleats a doddle.

On reflection, I think I might make the next one more of a circle skirt without pleating.

16-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-014


This pattern was very easy to work with – although I did not follow the making up instructions as I was confident enough to make it myself. However, if you are new to sewing it might be worth either keeping the magazine with the pattern or just the pages where they give you instructions on how to make up, then the two won’t get lost!

I use the resealable freezer bags to store my patterns, its easy to see what they look like but there is also room for my adapted patterns too. (I can never get the pattern back into the envelope).


Vintage Basket Revamp – with Strawberry Drawstrings

I adore charity shops, not only do they suit my budget, but I find they are teeming with things that inspire me.

Take this little lovely basket, I admit now that I have a wicker fetish I simply love them and have many baskets in all shapes and forms. I think it is the tactile nature of them, similar to wood it has a living appeal.

I think this basket harps back to either fifties or forties, the colours seem to be right and someone has taken good care of it so I wanted to re-vamp it in tune with its nature.

I made an inner bag using vintage style Kath Kidstonesque fabric from Fabricland. I love the combination of reds and greens, who says they should never be seen eh?

It makes the basket a little more useful as I can keep my purse in it and not have it on show while I am shopping.

I made the little bow on the side to match my stripy fifties dress I was wearing to Goodwood revival.

This bag has been admired where ever I go, especially the pretty little drawstring strawberries.

I could not resist adding the bobble ribbon round the rim, and the strawberries were fun to do which was a good job because the day I finished it someone’s dog chewed one off! They are hand stitched and it always surprises me how relaxing hand sewing can be. I used some red suiting I had left over and some green felt that I had made from an old blanket. I also filled the strawberries with some rice to give them a little weight. The buttons are from a new range Tilda has brought out they are designed for scrapbooking, but they were perfect for this because they are so tiny!

As with all things the project grew a little, I glue gunned the edge of the liner to the basket to fix it in place otherwise it would constantly sag. I also added lovely velvet ribbon round the handles as I found the handles cut in when the basket was full.

I love it, especially shopping with it it is so pretty.

If you would like to make some strawberries of your own, leave your email address in the comments box and I will send it to you.

Queen of Hearts Vintage Apron

I love all things domestic, I also enjoy wearing clothes that feel good. I was inspired by the fabric when I was sent on a course to London. Near our HQ is a wonderful fabric shop and there was a whole range of lovely heart fabrics in all different sizes. I could imagine it would be the best thing for a fifties inspired apron and bought enough for a project. I don’t go that often and I have always regretted the times I have seen something and not bought it! (That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!)

I admit it is hearty! I researched several vintage designs of aprons and there were many fifties aprons that had heart shaped bib sections.

The problem is that sometimes the bib sections don’t keep their shape so I re-enforced this with some interfacing, in addition I also re-enforced the front of the tie section so it keeps its width and does not fold over as some tend to do.

I wanted some form rosette on the apron and found this lovely pin from the British heart foundation, very apt in our year of the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics!
I love suffolk puffs, (now called yo yo’s thanks to our American cousins) I remember making a child’s toy at school it was a long caterpillar made from these puffs. My mother would not buy new material for it, so I had to cut up an old dress. I don’t think it was finished because it was a very lengthy process, but I am so pleased to see things re-invented and renewed.

I made the tie nice and big, to create a lovely bow on my bottom! It adds to the appeal of femininity, which is what the fifties era personifies.

It is a period where women were able to wear very feminine clothes, together with new materials becoming available so much happened to change the lives of the Brits from the deprivation of war to the optimistic 60’s. I am going on a fashion lecture about this era as it is a particular interest of mine.

The skirt section is a half circle and it feels lovely as it sways around, it reminds me of a gypsy skirt I had in my dressing up box as a child. I think we should all dress up still!

It is one of those things that I can simply slip on and indulge in a little baking imagining I am Doris Day! it makes me feel wonderful, just like a little girl again! Now that can’t be bad can it?

Vintage Napkin Recycling – Needle Case

I simply struggle to resist the little napkins and tablecloths that are on the shelves of charity shops for pennies. They are the refugees of an era where families all sat round the dinner table and ate with napkins and linen table cloths. I am so pleased that the crisp white linen table cloths had long gone as my children could never keep their spaghetti on a plate! How they managed to keep the linen in such white pristine condition with no washing machines shows they had skills way beyond my abilities even with my eco bubble samsung!
I love to find new lives for these poor refugees, and this one is a little needle case. You can gauge how small it is by the size of the stitches. I cut round the appliqué leaving a seam allowance and then used a modern vintage styled fabric that was in keeping, fabricland has lots of different varieties at the moment, all thanks to Kath Kidston. I backed it with the extra stiff iron on interfacing you use to make curtain pelmets it gives the needle book a good solid shape. The button was from my stash, and like everything I remember buying it at one of those craft outlets in Dorset, a small sideline for a potter and so lovely.

Little Vintage Tea Cup Sewing kit

I have a passion for vintage tea cups and when I spotted this one at a local  craft fair I could not resist. This is not just a tea cup: lift the pincushion lid and you will discover a little sewing kit.
The needle case is a needle felted jammy dodger; there is also a reel of cotton and a tiny pair of scissors!
I leave the needles treaded: one with white cotton and one with black ready for the little emergency sewing – the time you want to go out in your favourite dress and the hem has come down, or a button pops off at the last minute, this little sewing kit is ready and waiting.
The little needle felted jammy dodger is easy and fun to do, the tutorial will be on here soon if you fancy making your own.