Happy weekend everyone. I’m laid in bed feeling sorry for myself as I write this. I have a cold with a painful cough and am distracting myself with blog reading and Web surfing! So I thought I’d write a post about the Dress Like Your Grandma challenge hosted by Tanya of blog Mrs Hughes than ran this past month.
This is a vintage sewing challenge where family history can inspire your wardrobe. You take a photo of your grandma (or your granddad, great-grandma, mum, auntie, someone else’s grandma – you get the idea!) and re-create an outfit or piece that they are wearing using vintage or reproduction patterns. It isn’t a competition but a way to challenge yourself with a special project!
My Grandma, was called Euphemia Gertrude Thomas (nee Nutt). She lived with my Grandad in a little village called North Ferriby in Hull. This picture is from one of my Grandparents regular trips to the coast – we think Scarborough. They always liked to dress up for a trip to the coast and walk the promenade. I love this photo so much. Look how committed to each other they look. Perfectly in sync.
To recreate the dress I used Vogue 9127 and rose print polycotton from Birmingham Rag Market. I used poppers instead of buttons at the front and kept the dress a little shorter. I added red shoes (my Grandma wore red shoes on her first date with my Grandad) and curled my hair for a similar look without chopping it all off. Sadly I couldn’t make it to the coast in time for a photo.
I ran out of material for the sleeves as this dress is fabric hungry and couldn’t source more which was disappointing. I also wish I’d made a front fastening belt like my grandma is wearing but I’m generally pretty happy with the result!
To see my previous version of this dress see this post.
My grandma was also an avid dressmaker and probably made her dress from the photo. The sad thing is I only found this out at her funeral. For most of my life she had severe alzheimers and she was here until her early 90s. It was so bad she couldn’t talk to anyone coherently or make sense of the world so I didn’t really know about her wonderful skills when I started sewing. I knew she had a sewing box but assumed it was for mending and small projects. However I did inherit her hand crank machine that my Dad discovered in the loft. Plus a pair of pinking shears with her name tag on them which my mum had been using but Grandma used to take to a social sewing session at her Church. These two items are a great way to feel she’s helping me sew and like I know something real about her. Decades apart we’ve followed the same actions; cutting fabric, stitching darts, sewing on buttons and even pinking seams with the same shears.
For years I’ve wanted to make a replica of this dress for The Vintage Pledge but could never find the perfect sewing pattern or fabric. I think I came close in the end though. My poor friends (including Marie, founder of the pledge) got dragged around so many fabric shops to find this material. They were really supportive in finding the right rose design so thank you ladies!
This was a really great challenge to help feel connected with my Grandma so thank you Tanya so much for giving me the push I needed. On my next free weekend I might try and head out to Scarborough for a photo on the promenade just like this one. Wish me luck!
Hurrah! I’m happy to share my finished peacoat.
This is Vogue 7666, a vintage 70s jacket, trouser and skirt pattern that I got in a random bundle of patterns for £1.50 at a car boot sale.
The coat was sewn over several weeks. As always, I made a toile because I didn’t trust the pattern to fit out the packet. I used an old curtain and turns out I needed to adjust the princess seams, armholes and sleeve length. I am pretty happy with the adjustments but might have taken too much out of the hips and could have made the princess seams a little snugger.
The outer jacket is made from a burgundy wool with tiny flecks of black and gold that are hard to see in the photos. It was £6 per metre from B&M Fabrics at Leeds market. The lining is black silk from a car boot sale too funnily enough. A woman was selling off her mother’s fabric stash and sold my mum a 2m piece for £1.50 which she gifted to me. A burn test proved it was actually silk. Lastly I have faceted burgundy buttons from Totally Buttons which were pretty expensive but really make the jacket for me so I don’t care.
The jacket has some cool instructions for tailoring which made me happy. Each piece is underlining and the fronts, upper back and collar are reinforced with hair canvas. I pad stitched all the canvas and installed twill tape along the fold lines of the collar.
The kicker is that while you can add bound buttonholes to the jacket you can only do it down one side. I would have much rather put bound buttonholes down both to make it truly double breasted but the facing doesn’t stretch far enough over. The lined vent is a nice touch and my home made shoulder padding worked a treat.
What’s left to say! The jacket feels lovely and warm and I finished it just in time for the snow that’s threatening to land.
I do wish the weather was better for photos. Makes me a bit sad to make a jacket I’m so proud of but can’t get good pics of it because of the lame weather.
One thing I want to flag up if you didn’t know, is that this is the same pattern as Lauren’s ace plaid version which you can see here.
And here’s a bonus cat photo of Chewie blocking my view of the instructions.
Colour blocking doesn’t seem to be fading in popularity. It definitely isn’t in my house.
I’ve been waiting to sew this cute little vintage pattern since I gleefully picked it up at a sewing meet-up/ swap. A May Minerva Blogger make seemed like a good opportunity!
There are three really good variations in this pattern but I was smitten with the inset variation seen in yellow.
This was a pretty simple make but I think it looks really effective. I used two colours of 56 inch wide plain viscose.
The back and outer front bodice are made from the navy blue and the inset from the purple, which is actually a really pretty violet colour.
I have to say the navy feels wonderful. I know they should be exactly the same handle in slightly different colours but the navy has a slightly softer hand. It’s also lovely and cool the way viscose should be.
As you can see these sleeves look different to the pattern. Because it’s quite loose fit in the bodice I felt a bit boxy in the grown on sleeves as well, so I removed them and added a fluttery cap sleeve. I even lined the sleeves in purple so every now and then they show a peek of colour.
And because the team at Minerva are so good they included the perfect colour match in gütermann thread for me to use – colour 718 matches the violet and colour 387 matches the navy. Perfect!
So this is the story of my new jacket.
We’ve had a bit of a rocky time getting to completion but we made it out the other side.
Meet Style 2563, a vintage jacket and skirt suit pattern dated at 1969. The cover art is misleading – three women on the envelope, but no variations in the pattern pieces, just additional cutting layouts for plaid fabric.
I picked this up at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year as there is a regular stall holder with giant plastic tubs full of vintage patterns and I usually spend half an hour combing through it hoping for buried treasure in my size. A quick muslin confirmed it was a pretty good fit and only needed a few tweaks!
The outer fabric is a textured wool from Barry’s Fabrics. I picked it up at SewBrum with the cheeky discount that had been arranged for us — thanks Charlotte! There was a fault running parallel to the selvedge about 30 cm along so I was actually given a further discount. Making this something like £9 a metre.
The lining fabric was an eBay find! The seller had called it “stilletoes” print by mistake so it’s good I stumbled onto it. Such pretty colours! It’s a lovely satin that probably isn’t silk (even though she calls it that) but feels as nice either way.
Aaah those buttons. These were the most expensive part of the jacket. Can you believe there were £3 each!? But since the other supplies were a steal, and wool covered buttons were ruled out, I wanted buttons I’d love and would LAST.
So here’s my two pence about this jacket.
- It’s too short. I lengthened it a lot and it’s still just a bit too short. Very frustrating. I get that it’s supposed to be worn with a dress or skirt but at its actual length your belly button would show.
- The princess seams on this jacket are a bit crap looking. If you’re going to draft a princess seamed back and a two piece sleeve, the princess seam should curve to the armscye not the shoulder and connect to the sleeve seam.
- There isn’t any allowance for the roll of the collar so the outer seam doesn’t roll under nicely. I did what I could with it but this is the best I could manage.
- Why no pockets? Shouldn’t every good jacket have pockets? I really should have added some so it’s partially my fault. Some cute welt pockets would have been nice, possibly even with a little pocket flap, right?
So there we go! A new jacket with a few problems but still pretty cute. I’ll definitely get a lot of wear out of it.
The only thing I can’t decide on is what colour this jacket is. I even got some paint sample cards from B&Q and it sort of falls in between their Teal and Emerald. Help me out here, what colour do you think it is?