Tips for sewing Vintage Sewing Patterns

So we just wrapped up our Fashion Lab Vintage Dresses class this past month. We had such a blast teaching it and people had such a great time making all the vintage dress, we’ll be offering it again right away on Wednesday nights on September. All four of the styles of dress (no matter which era they were from) were completely fashionable in today’s standards and it was so fun to see how sewing patterns have changed since way back in the day.

In the class we learn how to make four different vintage dress styles based on the actual sewing patterns from the 1950’s, 1960’s & 1970’s. There were certain things that rang true each week, no matter what we were making.  I wanted to share with you three major tips for using vintage sewing patterns to make garments.

1. Vintage pattern pieces are VERY fragile. In order to make them a little safer to copy and cut your fabric from them, before each class I would reinforce them. Usually this meant using packaging tape to tape the actual paper patterns onto interfacing and reinforce in the spots that needed it. I suppose if you have a fancy laminating machine that would work too. But I don’t have one of those, so the tape worked for me. And actually by sewing it to a light weight interfacing, it made it sturdy, but also malleable enough to make it easy to cut the smaller sizes by folding the edges under.

2. Sizing can be tough! Vintage dress patterns came in only one size and the sizing is completley different from today’s sizing standards depending on when the pattern came out. I found that it was easiest to make a version of the dress we were doing that week in the size that was stated on the package and then determine (based on today’s sizing standards) what size it is in today’s sizing. Or if you wanted to get a bit more technical about it, determine how big the waist, hip & bust measurements are for the size of the pattern and scale out (or in for the skinny minnies) based on how much bigger you need it to be. Or as we found in the class, when in doubt, make it too big and size it down to fit your measurements by adding darts and pleats.


3. Yardage Recommendations on the package of the pattern are different for older patterns. One the envelop you will find yardage recommendations that may be confusing.  The reason is that back in day, fabric came in narrower widths then they are today. It was commonplace to find fabric widths measuring 36″ & 39″. Now most fabric widths are 45, 55 or 60″ wide

I hope this helps! I know it helped us in the class a ton.

You’ll see that most pattern companies that are still around today have re-issued patterns based on their vintage styles from years ago. This will have taken care of many of the above issues. But isn’t it more fun to not be afraid to tackle the genuine vintage patterns that you find at your neighbors garage sale, or that your grandmother has had in her attic since you were a baby! Happy Sewing!

We’ll be doing the kid version of this in class on Saturday

I just found this adorable and super simple felt slipper project (well, I might be billing them as “flip flops”) on the Purl Bee Blog. Not only are they completely adorable, there is not a lot of sewing involved, making them a perfect activity for the 5-7 year old craft class we do at the studio on Saturday mornings.

This class has been going great so far. This past Saturday class they decided they had graduated beyond the blue plastic needles they had been struggling to sew with. They’re a great idea, but they don’t really make for good sewing, unless you are using fabric that is woven super loosely and this can make sewing very frustrating for someone any age.

This week they all decided they were ready to try the real metal needles (super fat ones, with barely any point on them, of course) to do their hand sewing. I was soooo proud.

With this coming weeks flip-flop project, I foresee them sewing all kinds of buttons and silk flowers and even fabric scraps onto them. Oooooh this is going to be fun class!

The Black Skirt Challenge

Not too long ago, we had our latest Fashion Lab Meetup.




Our group got together in Hoboken at the Clinton Social, so we could get some food and drinks while we admire each others projects. 

The challenge was this: We all met about a month ago for part one of our meetup. This was the sew-along portion of the meeting where we all brought black fabric to sew a black a-line skirt together! Pretty simple, but super fun sewing with a group, as always! 
At the end of the meetup, everyone exchanged one yard of fabric of your choice. People brough their one yard of cotton trade fabric wrapped up so you couldn’t tell what the print was. We all ended up with someone elses fabric to take home and embellish our black skirt with.


I have to say I was more than impressed with the results! 

Here are some photos from the event:

Laura rocked her skirt out with some adorable little ruffly flowers on the bottom right hand side. She was complaining about her awful fabric that she had to work with (okay, yes, it did have musical notes on it) but I think she used it in a way that was perfect to make her 
black skirt even more special

Andrea did this cool trim on the end of her skirt. You can quite see all the detail here, but the end was kind of folded and the edge of the fabric was left unfinished. Very cool!

This photo is horrible, but lauren did a similar thing with her fabric, as she added a cool border to the bottom edge of the skirt.

I was impressed with Kathy’s design as she not only made all these really cool flowers for the skirt, she treated them all with a special potion of elmers glue and water to make them super stiff! Really added an awesome 3-D effect!

And the piece de resistence was from Roslyn! She turned her simple black skirt into a complete ensemble! She used the red fabric (from the trade to create a top that had this amazing corset back. Extra point go to her because she wore exactly this outfit to work that day! Be sure to check out her photos below to really see the workmanship that went into this project!

Vintage Dress Lab – Vote on Which Dresses you want to see as part of the class

We are trying to nail down our summer class schedule and we need YOUR help on deciding which projects to make part of the class.
We’re very excited to hold our first “Vintage Dress Lab” sewing class this July! The problem is there are too many great vintage dress designs we’d love to be a part of the class. 
Can you help us and vote on your favorite dress designs out of the following 10 choices! We’re looking to find out your top 4 choices. 
Please Use the comment section to voice your opinion. Tell us the names of your 4 favorite vintage dress designs.
Okay here goes. 
And the nominees are:

1. “Twiggy” – Sixties Inspired, Multi-Paneled Dress

Could be made with long, short or no sleeves. Cute little collar is an option as well.

2. “Dynasty” – Late 1960’s/ Early 1970’s Maxi

Could be made with funky collar or not.

3. “Flower Child” – Late 1960’s/ Early 1970’s inspired faux wrap with Empire Waist

Long or short, long sleeve, short sleeve or no sleeve always an option.

4. “Diamonds are a girls best friend” – 50’s/60’s shift with funky diamond detail.

Long or short, long sleeve, short sleeve or no sleeves.

5. “Go-go Scort”


Fabulous neck detail, the longer version is straight-up dress, the short version, you can add some shorts into the pattern.

6. “Radio Hour” – 40’s/50’s Dress

Cinched waist with divine neck collar detail.

7. “Ladies who Lunch” – Full skirted with the fabulous neck & chest tie detail


8. “C’est La Vie” – Simple 60’s Shift with Peter Pan Collar.
















9. “Mrs. Cleaver” – V-neck, Belted Waist















10. “Waist not, Want Not” – Strapless & Belted hi-waist dress


Option for sleeveless or tie straps

Wear your Sewing Projects to the Art & Music Fest on Sunday

Come out for the Hoboken Art & Music Festival on Sunday May 2nd dressed in your favorite duds YOU MADE YOURSELF!

Come visit our booth (in front of Cold Stone Creamery on Washington Street) wearing something you made at an M Avery Designs Sewing Class and get coupons for sewing class discounts.

For each article of clothing and/or accessory you wear (up to 3) to our booth on Sunday you will receive a coupon that can be used towards any of the classes we teach at the studio

These coupons will be able to be used in one of three ways:

-Take $5 off ANY 2 Hour Workshop (Priced $25-$45)

-Take $20 off ANY Four Week Class (Priced at $149)

-Take $45 off ANY Fashion Lab Beginner Sewing Boot Camp (Priced at $299)

(Please note, more than one coupon cannot be used together on any class!)

Wear your Sewing Projects to the Art & Music Fest on Sunday

Come out for the Hoboken Art & Music Festival on Sunday May 2nd dressed in your favorite duds YOU MADE YOURSELF!

Come visit our booth (in front of Cold Stone Creamery on Washington Street) wearing something you made at an M Avery Designs Sewing Class and get coupons for sewing class discounts.

For each article of clothing and/or accessory you wear (up to 3) to our booth on Sunday you will receive a coupon that can be used towards any of the classes we teach at the studio

These coupons will be able to be used in one of three ways:

-Take $5 off ANY 2 Hour Workshop (Priced $25-$45)

-Take $20 off ANY Four Week Class (Priced at $149)

-Take $45 off ANY Fashion Lab Beginner Sewing Boot Camp (Priced at $299)

(Please note, more than one coupon cannot be used together on any class!)

Turn A Mens Dress Shirt Into A Skirt

So we have just created a great new class here all about “Green” sewing!  In this four week class you get to create clothing and accessories made from things you already have in your closet. One of the best things about the class is that you don’t really need to buy any supplies! For example those old T-Shirts you have been keeping in the back of your closet for a while can be made into a cute T-Shirt shrug.   The first Green Sewing four week class starts on April 7th.

So I was looking for some more fun “green” projects to share and saw these instructions for a skirt.  Craftstylish shows you how to turn a mens dress shirt into a belted skirt.  The instructions are pretty easy to follow and the finished skirt looks really cute.

*Project by Christine Haynes at CraftStylish
 

What you’ll need:

  • One men’s dress shirt with a straight hem, wide enough to be gathered at your waist, long enough from the armpit to the hem for the skirt
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Pins
  • 1/2-inch elastic about 30 inches long
  • Large safety pin

1. Lay your shirt down, folded in half lengthwise. Following a ruler, cut straight across the shirt, from under the armpit to the buttons. This bottom piece is your skirt.

2. Using other pieces from the shirt, cut two waistband pieces, about 5 inches tall by the width of your hips. Cutting from the rest of the shirt, cut pieces to combine together to make two belt straps. These pieces should be 5 inches tall by as wide as you can get.

3. Combine the belt pieces to form two strips that are roughly 24 inches long by 5 inches tall. Press the seams flat where they were connected. Fold one strip in half with right sides together and sew, forming a long tube. Stitch one end closed and repeat on the other strip. Turn the tubes right side out and press flat.

4. Lay out one waistband piece face up. Lay the two belt pieces on top of the waistband piece, on each of the two short ends, about an inch from the bottom. Lay the other waistband piece on top of the first one, matching sides. Pin the two short ends together, including the belt pieces. Stitch each side, capturing the belt in the side seam. Fold the waistband in half, wrong sides together, and press flat.

5. Baste the top of the skirt and gather to fit the width of the waistband. Pin the waistband to the skirt, right sides facing and with the belt pieces toward the front of the skirt, with the raw edge of the waistband lining up with the top raw edge of the skirt. Stitch together, being careful not to sew the belt pieces into the seam. Leave a 1-inch opening in the seam when connecting the waistband to the skirt.

6. Cut a piece of 1/2-inch elastic to a comfortable width for your waist, plus 1 inch for overlapping. Pin a large safety pin to the elastic and feed into the waistband casing. Once you’ve gone all the way around, pull the pin out the hole and overlap the two ends of elastic about 1/2 inch. Zigzag-stitch them together and release into the waistband. Stitch the hole closed in the skirt.

7. Press all your seams crisp, and slip on the skirt. Tie the belt pieces in front and go!

Make your Own Snuggie

A student of mine found this great “Snuggie” Tutorial online. It’s been so cold here lately, I thought we have to make this!

So – we are going to be making the Snuggie in our next Meetup/Burda Style Sew Along on Wednesday. There are spots available for this meetup, if you would like to attend, here are the details:
http://www.meetup.com/fashionlab/calendar/12236329/

Please note: This is not a sewing lesson. I ask that you have some sewing experience before attending the Meetup/Burday Style SewAlongs.

And if you can’t make it, but are interested in making it at home, here is the great How-to Lauren found (thanks Lauren!):

The Snuglet
A comfy, cozy, easy-to-make fleece blanket
that lets you keep your arms free
without sacrificing warmth!

a project by Welmoed Sisson
welmoed@sissonfamily.com
www.sissonfamily.com/Sewingroom

You will need:
3 yards polar fleece, 60” wide

Cutting
Cut 24” off one short end of the fleece and set it aside; this
piece will become the sleeves (fig. 1)
Fold the fleece in half longways.

Mark location of the armholes. (fig. 2) The armholes will be ovals
approximately 9” high and 6” wide. (fig. 3)

Sleeves
For the sleeves: take the 24” piece and cut in half to yield
two pieces, each 24” by 30”. Fold in half to make a tube
12” x 30”. Sew or serge the long edge. Finish one end of
the tube as desired to form a cuff.
Check sleeve for length; they’re supposed to be loose-
fitting but if you have very short arms you may want to
take a few inches off.
Pin the sleeve into the armhole, making sure to keep the
sleeve seam at the bottom of the armhole. Sew or serge.
Repeat for other sleeve.

Finishing
Since fleece doesn’t ravel, you have many options for
finishing the edges. You can:
• leave the edge plain
• Trim the edge with a decorative rotary cutter (such as a
scalloped or pinked edge)
• Fringe the edge
• Band with a strip of lycra
• Fold over and topstitch for a quick self-banding

You’re finished! Just slip your arms into the sleeves and
relax; you can stay warm all the way up to your chin and
still be able to use your hands!

Today Project of the Day – Sewing a Zipper into a Dress


The Fashion Lab Dress Lab starts this evening and I am very excited to be teaching this class! We will be working on the pattern for the dress to the left. It’s a fairly straightforward pattern, but the two challenging aspects of it will be learning how to do darts & zippers.

I found a great series of videos on Youtube demonstrating a super easy way to insert a zipper into a dress. Take a look here to check it out.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

People get really bogged down in the thought of inserting a zipper while sewing anything. It’s really not difficult at all if you take your time and use a zipper foot. I think this video from Expert Village does a really good job of showing you just how easy it really is.