Monday, January 18, 2016

Free Knitting Pattern: Shirtwaist Dress from Vogue's 23rd Knitting Book (1940s)

I love knitted dresses so much - can you imagine the amount of time is must have taken to knit one? It takes me at least three months to make a jumper, I think a dress would be beyond my patience.

free vintage knitting pattern vogue 1940s red dress

This lovely burgundy shirtwaist dress comes from Vogue's 23rd Knitting Book - probably early-mid 1940s. It looks ever so stylish with the match hat and belt too!

The pattern is to fit a 34" bust and26" waist.
Requires fingering weight yarn on 3.25mm and 2.75mm needles.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One green bottle dress - my last project for 2015! (Pauline 51212 c. 1940s)

Happy holidays everyone! I hope you're keeping well.

Unfortunately my new job is eating up my spare time (meaning not much time time left for knitting and sewing) but I'm still beavering away - just more slowly.

My fingers were really itching to have a crack at one more outfit before 2015 finished... So let me introduce Pauline 51212!

This dress is the bee's knees!
It has so many details that I adore in 1940's patterns: gathers, shirring, bell sleeves and why have one button when you can have twelve?

plus size vintage 1940s sewing pattern cotton jersey 40s

Can I let you in on a little secret? This dress isn't a woven or even a rayon knit - it's cotton tshirt jersey from the Spotlight clearance section!

bakelite lucite brooch carved 1940s bamboo handbag rockabilly vintage sewing

I know!
I was directly inspired by the dress American Duchess made in cotton jersey (she has some great tips too), it's not really all that different from wool, silk or rayon jersey which was pretty common during the 1930s and 1940s.

miss l fire betty white review

I did modify the pattern a little bit, including:

  • Doing a Full Bust Adjustment and then easing the side dart back into the gathered fullness above the bust.
  • Adding width to the hips and waist
  • Adding width to the bicep (yep, even with stretch fabric they had tiny arms back then)
  • Interfacing under the buttons
  • Adding small shoulder pads
  • Turning the extra fullness from the sleeve heads into gathers
The best bit - no seam finishing or zips needed!

I haven't sewn knits for at least 10 years so this was a learning curve. I did remember to use a ball-point machine needle though!

I didn't bother with fancy woolly thread - but I did use a narrow faintly zig-zagged stitch on all the seams that would have stress. This will let the seams give a little bit but not snap. I double-stitched the waist as this would have the most stress.

The shirring across the stomach was my only drama - it kept coming loose and I had restitch it a couple of times with more anchor stitches.

The buttons and buckle are all vintage celluloid from my stash.

As for the pattern itself - well, the instructions were minimal (no seam allowance either but that's standard for Pauline Reliable Patterns). I pretty much just made it up as I went along and it came together quite easily.

The great thing about this was how forgiving the fabric is - you can easily take it in here or there, mess around it with and everything is ok. 

Would I make this again? I'm pretty sure I would - but with short sleeves. I'm not sure I'm a bell-sleeve kind of person.

Well, I hope you had an excellent 2015 and I'll see you shortly in 2016!
Much love, 

  • Shoes - Miss L Fire Betty (these go with everything!)
  • Vintage bamboo bag - eBay
  • Bakelite jewellery - Etsy
  • Carved lucite bird brooch - present from Jakk
  • Lipstick - Kat Von D 'Countess'

Saturday, December 19, 2015

FO: Beyond the Sea - 1950's novelty dress (Weigel's 1593)

If you're on Instagram, you might have seen me alluding to a seahorse dress I was making - well, it's finally finished!

 miss l fire luella vintage shoes wicker handbag 1950s 1960s novelty dress applique seahorse ocean sea fish border skirt

I was going to an end of year Christmas Party with a sea-theme and realised I had nothing to wear. Great reason to make something!

The pattern is Weigel's 1593 - an Australian pattern, I'm thinking early-mid 1950s?

The dress is made in stretch cotton sateen - not my favourite fabric, but I needed something with body to make the skirt sit properly. I didn't want to wear a petticoat as we'd be dancing and it's very hot with more layers.

The skirt is more of a 3/4 circle than a full circle - it even has cute little gathers for some interest.

The only mods I made were:

  • to remove the buttons down the front (cut on a fold), 
  • do a Full Bust Adjustment
  • add some width to the waist
  • lengthen the straps by about 1/3 of a inch.
I made the Xmas hair flower too!
But the main amount of time was on those darn seahorses - they took forever! I used the seahorse template from a free knitting pattern I posted last month - the Novelty Seahorse Jacket.

They're cut from felt, and hand-stitched around the hem (ten in all). They have diamantes for eyes, and the bubbles are large sequins with pearls in the centre. I repeated the bubbles on the bust for symmetry.

To get the bubble lines the same every time, I used a template to repeat the shape for each seahorse.

Would I make this again?
The dress itself was very easy, so perhaps. I do have plans for a similar skirt involving lobsters. LOBSTERS.
But I need to recover from this dress first.


  • Hairflower - made by me, Xmas flower from Spotlight
  • Shoes - Miss L Fire Luella
  • Pearl jewellery - my Nan's
  • 1960's wicker bag - found at a market.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A lace paneled cardigan, c. 1950s (Twinprufe Spring Lace Knitting Book 167)

Even though it's starting to heat up down here in the Southern Hemisphere, it doesnt mean you have to stop knitting.

At least, it didn't stop them 50 years ago~!
Twinprufe put out a series of Spring Knits, and this little cardigan looks adorable - even if it's knitted in a not-so-Spring-friendly wool.
At least it's a light fingering weight.

free vintage knitting patterns 1950s cardigan twinprufe spring subversive femme

The cardigan has some great lace panels down the body and sleeve, plus the button band and sleeves are hemmed - no stretching or ribbing to worry about.

To fit: 32-34-36 inch busts
Yarn: Light Fingering weight (3ply)
Needles: 2.75mm and 2mm (ouch)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Free Knitting Pattern: 1940's Novelty Seahorse Jacket (Home Budget 1948)

I can't get over how amazing this cardigan-jacket is!

free vintage knitting patterns 1940s cardigan australian cotton sweater home budget 1948 donna reed

Seahorses with sequin bubbles coming out of their mouths!

I would wear this everyday until it fell apart. The details are fabulous:
- wavy edge trim
- strong 1940's shoulders
- nipped waist

The lovely cover model is Donna Reed, and I love their colour combination of pale pink with green felt seahorses.

Australian Home Budget was very similar to Women's Weekly and this pattern is from May 1948.

To Fit: 34 and 36 inch busts
Yarn: Astor Duchess (fingering weight cotton)
Needles: 3.25mm or 3.75mm

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Free Pattern: Pagliacci Jumper in two sizes, Patons Knitting Book No. 274 (c. 1950s)

Hi guys!

I just realised I hadn't shared a pattern with you in ages - my apologies.

My fingers have been itching for some textured knits lately, and this jumper from Patons No.274 looks deliciously textured!

free vintage knitting pattern 1950s 1940s cable jumper sweater

Even better, it's sized for 32-33 inch busts and 35-36 inch busts.
Options for long sleeves are also included.

I hope you enjoy it!

Needles: 3.25mm and 2.75mm
Yarn: Fingering weight

Monday, October 26, 2015

Camperdown Cruise 2015

Another Cruise over, and once again we had a ball (thanks Arthur!).

This year we were lucky enough to share a house in Camperdown with some friends - which means shenanigans of course!

Bruce and Mel are dance teachers (SwingOut Sydney) which also meant I got to inflict my beginner dance moves (as a lead) on them and not worry too much.

We didn't do much site-seeing this year (only a quick shopping trip to Warrnambool) but no visit to Camperdown is complete without a drive to the top of Mount Leura to see the view across the shire.

We got there just as the weather turned and it was freezing and blowing a gale!

But of course, everyone comes for the bands and music...

And my treasures that I found this year?
How about this little piece of Australiana - a crocheted koala bottle holder, complete with little claws!

I didn't find as much as last year - my favourite dealers weren't here for some reason - but I did get some amazing finds from the two op-shops (thrift stores) in town.

Remix shoes, an atomic bamboo fruit basket, straw tiki lamp (for my bedroom), vintage fabric and zips, and heaps of sewing patterns.

My favourite finds do have to be the fabric - a 1940s burgundy rayon crepe, and a 1950s atomic polished cotton (5m and 6m lengths, crazy!). On the way home we stopped into Colac and I found the Sunbeam bias binding too, still in their packets.

I hope you crazy cats had a great weekend too!

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