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.
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