Friday, September 09, 2016

FO: the Ultimate Leopard Dress (from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book)

Hi guys!

The Dykes on Bikes Ball is rapidly approaching, and this year I thought I'd make something a little bit different to wear...

I'm calling it my Ultimate Leopard Dress - you can't get much more ultimate than silver lurex leopard print!

The pattern is from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book - based off the Faux Sarong Dress.

There is one major difference - a removable 1950's Kikepa Stole! I've always wanted a dress with a stole.

Fabric: The silver fabric is from Lincraft, and I'm sorry to say I'll never use it again - it was terrible to sew with and the slightest pressure on the seams show due it's loose weave. I've had to double stitch the zipper in to add some extra reinforcement.
The lining is plain black broadcloth.

On the upside, the pattern only took two muslins to get it fitting correctly and was very easy to put together. I didn't experience any of the sizing weirdness some of the blogosphere has been talking about (luckily).

gerties sarong dress faux sarong ultimate dress book 1950s lurex stole kikepa

The amazing thing about this dress - it actually STAYS UP! I have never, ever, ever worn a strapless dress that stays up (I need tonnes of support).
The secret is two kinds of metal boning - spiral steel (left) and spring steel (right).

Get the pre-cut spring steel if you can, it's a lot easier. Spiral doesn't matter so much.
Spring steel is solid metal boning that you would find in proper waist-shaping corsets.
I used four pieces (one in each side seam, and one in each side-back seam) and it makes a huge amount of difference. The other seams have the spiral steel boning as per Gertie's pattern.

I buy my corset supplies from A Rare Notion, but you can also buy it from Metro Fabrics in Sydney.

And I know how much you like to see inside, so here she is (fully lined in cotton broadcloth). You can see the press studs I added to make the stole removable and the waist-stay.


  • Cut the sweetheart a bit deeper (I think I would go deeper again as I like more drama)
  • Did a sway back adjustment on the skirt
  • Added an inch of length to the skirt - next time add more as I like my dresses longer
  • I pleated my waist swag instead of gathering it like the pattern - my fabric was too bulky.

I can't wait to wear this dress! I'm not sure how I'll go rockabilly dancing in it (or bending over), but I feel really glamorous in it. I'll definitely use the pattern again, it's a great base for other ideas and design elements.

gerties faux sarong dress 1950s lurex pollys shoes

Thanks for reading, and see you soon! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Free Vintage Knitting Pattern Booklet - Twin-Prufe Series 144 (c. 1950s)

And here's Anna's final patternbook from her mother's collection - Twin-Prufe Series 144,

free knitting pattern patterns 1950s twinprufe twin prufe booklet scan

I've previously shared a pattern from this booklet (Spring Magic, wow back in 2010), and can attest to it's fabulousness. I believe it comes from the early 1950s.

The booklet is filled with airy knits, perfect for Spring and lace lovers.

All of the styles are to fit a 32-34 inch bust, with instructions for a 36 inch.

I hope you enjoy these patterns (and Anna's hard work), and the complete booklet is available as a PDF here at this link.
(please note I have put a light watermark on them, only to stop people re-selling Anna's copies)

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Free Vintage Knitting Pattern Booklet - Busy Fingers Vol 1, c. 1950s

Here's Anna's second booklet, Busy Fingers Vol 1. Unfortunately I haven't been able to date this one but it's definitely in the 1950s sometime.

The booklet is full of fun little things, such as hats, gloves, lace and jumpers.

I really love this amazing lace shawl - it has a sleeve on one end! Crazy!

I hope you enjoy these patterns (and Anna's hard work), and the complete booklet is available as a PDF here at this link.
(please note I have put a light watermark on them, only to stop people re-selling Anna's copies)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Free Vintage Knitting Pattern Booklet - SunGlo Series 92 (circa 1947)

Hello lovelies!
A gorgeous reader named Anna was kind enough to share some whole scanned booklets from her mother's collection for me to list here for you. I'll be putting the other two up over the new few days.

The first one is Sun-Glo Series 92, dated to 1947 according to this advertisement on Trove.

free vintage knitting patterns repro 1940s sunglo 92 booklet

All of the styles are to fit a 32-34 inch bust, with instructions for a 36 inch.

I especially like the sleeves on this one below

I hope you enjoy these patterns (and Anna's hard work), and the complete booklet is available as a PDF here at this link.
(please note I have put a light watermark on them, only to stop people re-selling Anna's copies)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

FO: Bleeding heart sweater top (Gable review)

A few weeks ago Jennifer from Jennifer Lauren handmade asked if I'd like to try out her latest pattern Gable - a 1950's inspired slash neck top.

I'm really enjoying sewing with knit fabrics at the moment, and love slash neck tops so I immediately said yes. But you know I can't make anything plain, so here's my novelty version!

bleeding heart sweater vintage 1940s loretta young repro modern novelty

My inspiration was taken from Loretta Young's bleeding heart sweater, c. early 1940s.

bleeding heart sweater vintage 1940s loretta young repro modern

But back to Gable.
The pattern itself was a cinch to put together (it only had three pieces) and Jennifer's hints for sewing with stretch knits are really useful. I like her assumption that most people wouldn't be using sergers (although she does talk about them) as they're very uncommon down here in Australia.

I choose a 16 bust, graded out to 18 waist and 20 hip - and it fits perfect. Not too tight, not too loose - Jennifer indicates how much ease is in the pattern which is really helpful when deciding what size to choose.

For sleeves I picked View 3 (without the added long cuff), but ended shortening them to elbow length.

I personally love PDF patterns - you can draw all over them without fear, and save money on postage etc by printing at home. Jennifer's are beautifully drawn, and I found them to be 100% accurate to the notches etc.

The fabric was quality stretch cotton jersey (the good stuff) from Spotlight.

I literally whipped this up in a morning, and spent the same evening sewing the heart appliques to the front.

Would I use this pattern again? Most definitely!
I love quick and easy patterns that turn out exactly how they're shown on the pattern envelope!

bleeding heart sweater vintage 1940s loretta young repro modern gable review

As for the appliques, they are made from acrylic felt and hand-stitched very carefully to the top. I used some gold thread for detail on the arrow as well.

bleeding heart sweater vintage 1940s loretta young repro modern
Excuse the cat hair, it's a constant battle

My tips for sewing felt appliques to stretch fabrics:

  • pin them into place while your garment is on (I pinned mine on while I was wearing it)
  • if you're using wool or viscose felt, make sure you prewash it or it might shrink

I also made the skirt too! It's from a 1950's suit pattern, but I used stretch double knit (ponte de roma) to get a figure hugging fit.

Long Live the Knits!
And thanks Jennifer for letting me try out your latest pattern, I love it!


  • Shoes: Miss L Fire Rosita
  • Bakelite: Various
  • Hat: Viva Las Vegas 2016
  • Glasses: Modcloth

Thursday, August 04, 2016

FO: Joanie Sheath Dress (Butterick 9465, c. 1960)

When I think of Mad Men, my mind always runs to Joan and her dresses from early in the season.

I'm not normally a fan of early sixties style, but I have to admit that stretchy sheath dresses are a great way to keep the vintage vibe going at work. 

Enter in Butterick 9465 - circa 1960s. It came with a bundle of other patterns, and I always kept it aside as the drawing really spoke to me.

butterick 9465 1960s dress

I really love batwing sleeves, and there's just something elegant but casual about this dress.

butterick 9465 1950s mad men 1960s curvy redhead vintage style wiggle sheath dress miss l fire mildred

My version is match from thick and stretchy double knit - forgiving and washable, perfect for work!

two metres of double knit jersey (ponte roma from Lincraft).

As well as being easy to sew, it doesnt take a lot of fabric which is a win in my books.

I cheated a bit with this one, and didn't make a muslin first (shock! horror!) as the fabric was fairly forgiving. The only thing I was concerned about was how tight the skirt was so I wrapped the fabric around my hips first, matching the finished size, to make sure it would fit there.

A matching belt from an old belt kit finishes it off!

Only one mod, and that was to remove the tucks on the front of the skirt and turn them into darts. I don't like the effect tucks give when you have a bit of a tummy.

Would I make it again? 
Yes, I'm pretty sure I would if I found some more nice double knit somewhere. It's definitely an easy to make dress that looks perfectly retro.

Outfit details
Dress - me made
Shoes - Miss L Fire Mildred
Monogram brooch and gold earrings - Etsy
1950s charm bracelet - Viva Las Vegas

And finally, I have to share what I found in an op-shop (thrift store) on the weekend - a 1950's beach hat!

It folds flat for travelling, and has cute green raffia trim around the edges - bring on summer!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Curvy Month Pattern 10: Embroidered jacket, Vogue 1949

**oops due to technical difficulties I havent been able to post the last pattern! Sorry!**

Sadly, Curvy Month is down to it's last curvy-sized knitting pattern and I've hopefully saved a beauty for last.

This pattern for a knitted and embroidered jacket come from Vogue Knitting No. 34 (c. 1949), and would look beautiful on so many body shapes.

1950s 1940s knitting pattern swing coat free

The jacket is a wide swing coat design, with cuffed sleeves and classy collar. The red squares are embroidered on afterwards. Like all Vogue knitting patterns there is an emphasis on quality finishing - including facing the edges in wide ribbon.

To fit: 34-36, 37-39 and 40-42 inch busts
Yarn: fingering/light fingering weight
Needles: 3.25mm

I hope you enjoyed Curvy Month for 2016!
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