Monday, February 08, 2016

FO: Salvador Dali Poodle Skirt

I've always loved the imagery of  Salvador Dali, and especially his collaboration with Schiaparelli in 1937 to produce the iconic lobster dress.
It was  actually Gerard Nerval who had the pet lobster, not Dali 
So here's my 1950's nod to Salvador and Schiaparelli!

My inspiration was the traditional felt poodle skirts with a dog on a leash like below.
Original for sale on Etsy at THEGIRLCANTHELPIT

I self-drafted a circle skirt out of stretch cotton sateen as I wanted a firm smooth finish that I could wear here in Australia - felt isn't ideal. The lobster is made from red felt though, and handstitched to the skirt (I also hand stitched his eye).

The chain is gold sequin trim - yep, handstitched that down as well!

Pattern Notes: When sewing a circle skirt - make sure you let it hang for a couple of days before hemming. Parts of the skirt will be on the bias, and it will drop.

I took the skirt (also called Pinchy) on it's first outing to the Sydney Rock and Roll Markets - and somehow managed to co-ordinate with my friend Nina perfectly.

vintage 1940s lobster brooch lucite brooch

And just to prove how much I love lobsters, here's one of my favourite vintage lucite brooches...

Would I make this again?
One lobster circle skirt is enough.... or is it? Maybe a circle skirt with a lot of lobsters dancing around the bottom? 

I think I had better stop now!

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

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