Search Results for: friday freebie

Friday Freebie: Dress Design Draping and Flat Pattern Making

Edit 13 December, 2013: I was alerted today that the copyright for this book may have been renewed so I have taken down the link. I apologise for the inconvenience but this is a precaution I have to take as I have no wish to violate anyone’s legal rights over this material.

My aim with this book (as with all of my scans) was to make the knowledge available to everyone that needs it, free of charge. I understand that not everyone has access to the kinds of libraries that stock these books and very few people can afford to buy one, so I help where I can. I cannot, however, do so at the cost of someone else’s intellectual property rights. So please don’t write to me with requests. 

I’m leaving the review up as it complies with fair use, and I’ve added a disclaimer just in case.



Title: Dress Design Draping and Flat Pattern Making

Authors: Marion S. Hillhouse and Evelyn A. Mansfield

Published: 1948 copyright not renewed i.e. it’s in the public domain now.

Concerned with matters relating to copyright? Please read this. Cheers.

I began the year with high hopes on learning drafting and grading as ways to complement my sewing skillset, stave off boredom and just learn something new. Lacking the time to do that-I focused instead on processing and uploading this vintage gem.

1940s vintage dress styles with waistline and French dart variation styling

This beautifully illustrated  book on draping not only outlines the actual process for draping on the form, but also goes through the subsequent flat pattern modifications required to develop variations in style and fit.

Fitting draped garments marking gusset and setin gussetMarking the point for a gusset, effect of inserted gusset on final fit.

Pattern drafting alteration princess seamsIncorporating seaming into style-lines on the flat pattern.

Drafting style lines incorporating darts and seamsThe book starts by covering such basics as the effect of fabric type and weight on the drape of finished garments and the effect of print and pattern on style lines. It then takes the reader through padding and setting up a dress form (based off of personalised draped bodice and skirt patterns) and then gets stuck into the actual pattern modifications part.

Use of horizontal stripes in style lines

It then works its way through draping the bodice and skirt portions to create flat patterns which are then refined for silhouette and fit to create a diverse range of  40s styles (more than a few of which resemble 20s/30s garments).

Yoked skirts with drapery

These patterns are also manipulated to achieve effects such as seamed style lines, gathers, drapes and other advanced modifications for the bodice, skirt, sleeves, collars and peplum, creating fabulously feminine variations.

Incorporated gathered drapes into a bodice

Flat pattern modification on the bodice to achieve a gathered bolero effect attached at the centre back collar.

Magyar and kimono sleeves altered for draped style lines

Modifying a kimono sleeved bodice for a yoked front with gathered detail.

Every aspect of the process is covered with copiously illustrated instructions and descriptions both of the adjustments made to the flat pattern, as well as of the appearance of the finished garment.Pattern drafting for vintage collars

Collar a would make a cool snap-on accessory..

Drafting the pattern for a draped suit front and back

The text is precise and concise and the diagrammatic illustrations are pure eye-candy.
Pattern drafting for a dress with gathered bodice and skirt detail

I feel like I’ve seen this little number in one of the episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation Pattern drafting for a dress with draped bodice and skirt detailLike something an heiress would wear on the BBC version of the Poirot Mysteries. For extra deadliness, just add pearls.

Pattern drafting for a draped dress

I quite like this Grecian style. Again, very reminiscent of STtNG.

Pattern drafting for a dress with draped bodice and skirt detailBack in the day when all your sh*t had to be co-ordinated.

Folding excess fabric into draped necklines and style features

Not too sure about the rear view on that second one..

Massive thanks to Dr. B for donating the scratchproof, shatterproof scan glass I used to digitise this tome.

May your conference talks be glitch-free and your publications highly cited.

Previously on Friday Freebies.

A draping-specific Friday Freebie.

Current books on draping.

Disclaimer: All images remain the property of their original owners and are used here for purposes of illustration, discussion and review.

Friday Freebie: Fundamentals of Patternmaking II

Title:Fundamentals of Patternmaking for Women’s Apparel

Book II: Style Patterns

Author: Esther Kaplan Pivnick

Published: Revised 1958, copyright not renewed i.e. it’s in the public domain now.

Concerned with matters relating to copyright? Please read this thoroughly. Cheers.

It’s been a big week and since Esther is already your bestest friend ever no further introductions are necessary (but if you’re new to this blog check out Book I here) so, on to the meat.

Table of contents

Bust dart manipulation

Front bodice bust dart manipulation-the insect antennae version (11) is my favourite

Bust and waist dart manipulation, yokes, princess seams, gathers

Front bodice waist dart manipulation: yokes and insets. No 15 looks like a face-hugger is about to burst out..

Yoked, flared and circle skirts, A-line, with waistband and without.

Manipulating the skirt waist into yokes, pleats gathers and insets

Skirts with gores, pleats and godets.

Manipulating the skirt body and hem with seam pleats and godets


Back bodice and waist styling

Sleeve variations

Sleeve cap and body variations-trying to image what sort of insectile appendage 58 and 59 are sporting instead of hands

Sleeve variations

Sleeve cap and hem variations-71 is so Judge Dredd..

More sleeve variations

Combination sleeves (great for sci-fi and film noire costumes)

Kimono sleeves, combination sleeves, underarm gussets

Combination sleeves with gussets, insets and two-pieces. Lovin’ both the versions for 94-great for robot armour

Two versions of 101 were worn by the victim’s wife in The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim (on the TV version of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries). I meant to take a screen shot but was distracted by the general awesomeness of Poirot et al (Hastings, you loveable imbecile).

Flat, rolled, wrapover and shawl collars

112 and 117 are rockin’ my boat. I’d love to try out 114 just for fun though..

Band collars, raised necklines and cowl necklines

Ah the elegance of the raised neckline, 122 would be perfect on a severe suit jacket (worn by Claire Underwood) over a pencil skirt. By the way, 114 and 121 may look the same, but they’re not. 121 is raised a fair bit above the neck (and would look wonderful in heavy drapey silk)

Two piece sleeves, cuffs, circular ruffled sleeves, front pockets.

Extra sleeve details and grading

And… bup bara bup bup bup, the pièce de résistance: detailed instructions on drafting the dress from the front cover (henceforth known as the shirt-dress of jaunty princess seams and collar poppage).

Draft a vintage shirt-dress with winged collar and princess seamed bodice

Get it.

Previously on Friday Freebies.

Friday Freebie: Fundamentals of Patternmaking

You *can* make this.Title: Fundamentals of Patternmaking for Women’s Apparel

Book 1~Foundation Patterns

Author: Esther Kaplan Pivnick

Published: 1955, copyright not renewed i.e. it’s in the public domain now.

Concerned with matters relating to copyright? Please read this thoroughly. Cheers.

Aand.. straight to the good stuff:Table of Contents

It’s interesting how older drafting books focus on draping as an alternative block-making technique. This isn’t as common today and is a bit of a pity (Lucia Mors de Castro’s book is a welcome exception).

MeasuringTaking measurements

I included the image above for two reasons: measurement P which doesn’t turn up in modern-day pattern drafting books (any experts want to chime in on why?) and the fact that the faceless chick is wearing what looks like a modern-day strapless push-up bra.

I’m also a big fan of measurement lines denoted both on the mannequin as well as on the human figure (in so much as the diagram above represents a human figure).That diagonal measurement That diagonal measurement again on the corresponding blocks this time – not something I’ve noticed  in modern pattern-drafting books. Modifying a block for princess seams Creating a dress block by combining the bodice and skirt blocks and then modifying those for Princess seams. That bit marking grainlines on both pattern pieces should be highlighted in red.. XD Simple draping Achieving the same blocks through simple draping. Not so simple draping. Not so simple draping..Grading PatternsAaand Grading! (the book also includes grading for sleeves and pant blocks because Esther’s instructions are nothing if not comprehensive in the level of detail provided).

Get it.

Esther optimised this special pattern drafting system off one taught to her by her father. I did a bit of a search for Mr. Kaplan but all I could up with was this (somewhat related) book (thanks Internet archive)-how sweet are those convex darts? Perhaps Kaplan was not Ms E’s maiden name..

So what’s in Book 2? Necklines, collars, sleeves and styling of all sorts (mainly late forties, early fifties). The pièce de résistance however, is a chapter with instructions for drafting, styling and fitting the dress on the cover.

Oh yea.

Previously on Friday Freebies.

Friday Freebie: Lingerie Patternmaking and Grading Simplified

Lingerie Patternmaking

Friday Freebie: Lingerie Patternmaking and Grading Simplified: A Manual for the Student and the Worker

By Jack Kirschner

Published in 1950.

Copyright not renewed i.e. it’s in the public domain now.

Lady in a slip

*Gasp* an ankle! Quick toss a blanket over her before someone suffers a paroxysm!

If you are concerned about the copyright status of anything I post, READ THIS before penning angry missives to me (what is this, the Victorian Age?) regarding ‘the nature of copyrightplease read carefully through the information in the following links:

Copyright terms and the public domain.

Global copyright terms.

Searching Google’s online repository of pre-1978 copyright records.

Searching the Copyright Office’s records from 1978-current (database of active copyrights).

Bear in mind that just because someone’s selling a book does not mean that the book is still under copyright/ they own the copyright to the book. Everything in the public domain (i.e. no longer under copyright) can be printed and sold by anyone. Many companies currently sell print copies of expired copyright/ public domain books (just Google print-on-demand – these books are sold on sites like Abebooks, the Book Depository, and by independent suppliers). Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin is one such book. It  has been out of copyright for years- some publishers sell it as is, others add a couple of pages/ a chapter to ‘put the book in context’, copyright the annotated version and sell it. One of the publishers doing the latter is the Centre for Pattern Design (I have been in touch with them about their copyright on Pepin’s book and they only own the copyright on one such contextual version-which means if I come across a scanable version of the original I will scan it and make it available).

I put up these posts because I feel this information should be made freely available to everyone that can make use of it. Modern sewing/ pattern-making books can be prohitively expensive and are generally not as thorough in their treatments of the same topics as their vintage/ antiquarian counterparts.

Books that fall under this category/clause of US copyright law are the only ones I make available:

Public domain

I.e. books which are no longer covered by copyright. If you have proof that this is not the case (for example, documentation or images supporting current copyright details for this version) please do send me a link. I’ve listed the databases I use to check for copyright specifications. If you know of others I would appreciate links to those as well.

If you are concerned that the book in question may be covered by a different copyright in your country, you have two options: look up the copyright status of the book for your country using the ‘Global‘ link above or, don’t download the book. However, if you download it and then send me a shitty email regarding ‘the nature of copyright’ I will banish you to the spam folder of isolation (for being a total hypocrite/ troll. Yes. I analyse metrics. So I know.)

 *sigh* And now for some information about the book. It covers pattern making for Lingerie. From ye olde days (1950 is ye olde) so the styles and techniques used will be fairly different from those in vogue today (due to stylistic changes, technological advances and the availability of materials that only existed in Science Fiction back in the day).

Get it.

More free dressmaking sh*t here [seriously- Millinery and furs too. No I am not sorting it and picking goodies to feature. Some idiot suggested I should run around leaving comments linking all the Friday Freebies to all the blog posts out there mentioning said books. Because, obviously, I have nothing better to do. And Google hasn’t been invented yet. The only reason said idiot wasn’t rewarded with a swift kick to the head is because I don’t (yet) know where it lives].

Previously on Friday Freebies.

Disclaimer: All non-self-generated images remain copyright of their original owners and are used here for purposes of illustration, humour and review. Image of lady in slip from Lingerie Parisienne by Juliette Morel. Featured image depicting measuring for dressmaking from Dress Selection and Design by Marion S. Hillhouse.

Friday Freebie: Precision Draping

Precision Draping by Nelle Weymouth Link

Because who doesn’t want to look like a 1940s babe (apart from me, that is).

My favourite thing about this book is the font on the cover. I’d be over the moon if someone recognised the type (or even better, pointed me to a source for it). Also, the fact that this is a pre-1952 book which hasn’t had its copyright re-issued post-1978, means it’s an orphan work/ in the public domain. Yay.

Having said that, there is a lot of information in here on draping (blouses, dresses, sleeves, neckline variations, gowns, princess seamed garments, suits, you name it). Information which is better suited to testing on a dressmaker’s dummy or a very patient (/comatose) buddy. Much like these two books (reviews coming, I’ve only had them for two years) this is not a book you can ‘play alone’ with.

Bitch, please with the flower arranging. We’re here for the weed. And draping. Also Tupperware(R)**.

It’s almost like.. that yoke exploded and your top sprayed out of it. I think it’s time for your meds..

Dolman sleeves: when your day job involves putting clients in a head-lock.*

All I need now is a long range rifle…

The Forties were just preparation for the Eighties. Even the shoulder pads were working their way up..

Get it. If you’re printing it out, double check the margins, the binding on this beauty was super narrow, necessitating some close cropping.

Other cool freebies in the same vein: Everyday Alterations (you know you need this) Practical Essays on Shirt Cutting (one for the Gents) and Pattern Making. That should set you up for the weekend yea?

That’s right. The scanner’s back. But it only works with my old laptop (that’s heading to someone else soon) and not my current one. And even then, the quality isn’t great (which means no high-res images this time around). Which sucks, and not in a good way either.

Any ideas on improving this situation would be welcome.***

* The book includes instructions on draping sleeves.

** Tupperware was invented 2 years before this book came out. These ladies are on the bleedin’ edge I tell ya.

*** I have a Canon LiDE 210 scanner which was working fine with my decrepit old black Macbook and but which freezes, crashes the software then dies when hooked up to my new Mac Book Pro (OS 10.8.2). I’m assuming it’s a driver/ software malfunction but the latest updates don’t seem to have improved the situation.The old Macbook is heading to a new home and the scanner is a warranty replacement scanner (dammit-it should work the second time around). Any work arounds/ advice would be most appreciated. Also the Canon support twit is ignoring me (what’s the point of point of having a Twitter feed if you don’t interact with customers-I’m never buying a Canon again-there is so much online angst against those idiots and their late/non-functional/ non-existant driver updates).

Previously, on Friday Freebies.

Friday Freebie of Awesomeness

You might want to have a fresh pair of undies ready. Just sayin’.

I was conferred my PhD last week (or fortnight, or thereabouts-which, by the way, is not the reason for the above suggestion, although in a perfect world it would be) so I thought I’d post a really awesome Friday Freebie to celebrate. And the Library kindly delivered Practical Dress Design by Mabel D. Erwin. There are so many reasons why this book is awesome (not the least of which is the fact that its copyright of 1954 has not been renewed, thus putting it in the public domain-yayfreeforall! This sort of thing brings to mind images of Scrooge McDuck doing the backstroke in his swimming pool of money-although in my case it would be pattern magazines and books not dollar notes, and lying on a couch reading instead of swimming, but I digress). Other reasons for this book’s abso-fabulousity:


Propah fitting instructions (yea, but every sewing book has those-waaait for it..)

Pattern-less garments, oh my!

Vinta-riffic collars (feeling light-headed yet?)

I’ve never seen dart manipulation principles explained quite like this. Usually diagrams concerning this topic are instructive but boring (you know what it is I speak of, that circular diagram with bodice-front blocks showing dart manipulation via rotation). Also, some fool (actually, more than just the one fool, as evidenced by the various types of markings) went through this book putting ticks and crosses on the diagrams and colouring in (the f*ck?) some of the diagrams (my total lack of super powers means that instead of enjoying travelling back in time and delivering a swift kick to the head of the offender just prior to said act I’ve had to go through the book erasing sh*t like that so if you do come across it (as evinced in image 2 above). I’m pretty sure I’ve removed every single one of those marks (from the pdf version) but if not I’m sorry, it’s been 3 days and I’m really over it XS.

If you’re printing this out, do a couple of pages at a time to check; the thickness of the spine has caused a lot of variation in the margins post-cropping. Unavoidable, because I don’t have one of these yet.

What she considers ‘basic designs’ and by 4 she means 4 million 24 (pass the smelling salts sister)..

And the gratifying, heady feeling of pure validating awesomeness that overwhelms you when you read sentences like:

Modern methods should free one’s time without sacrifice of professional finish. Who wants to spend two hundred laboratory hours making a padded, taped, interfaced tailored suit that looks like $29.50?  

Exact-a-f*ckingly sister!

Also, you can now make all the acid-trip styles and silhouettes from the covers of vintage patterns that’d otherwise set you back a couple of Gs online. So what’re you waiting for? Get it!

Want more of this sort of thing? The internet archive has gems like Clothing for Women (1919, pdf, Kindle and other versions) and Complete Home Reference of Sewing and Needlework  (which contains Sewing for Everyone by Mary Brook Pickens. 1944 and The Needlework Library, by Elizabeth L. Mathieson, 1949), the latter requires a login but it’s well worth the 3 minutes it takes to register and activate your free account. More recent open source awesomeness that is only tangentially related: Reproductions of model gowns exhibited from 1913 (Model 1 pictured below. Pwaoarrrh I’d wear that. As is.). 

Well I did warn you.

Well, I did warn you. In advance and all.

Previously on Friday Freebies. Featured image: Modes Royale pattern D-15 (which you don’t give a sh*t about because now you can make it. I’m being super awesome today so here’s a clue).

Friday Freebie: Pants!

By Anna Romaniuk and Ellen Knight

Drafting, modifying and fitting pants. In Imperial and Metric. No copyright. ‘nuff said. Get it here.

And if you loved that, this should be of interest too (downloadable pdf link at top left). Thank goodness for open access/ public domain/ do-gooding nerds. I hope to die a millionaire so I can leave my body to Science and everything else to Project Gutenberg (gwah! they have Alice’s Adventures Undergroundwith illustrations). And just for kicks, ye olde men’s pattern drafting.

I had an awesome/ frustrating time colouring up these ladies as Star Trek babes in Acorn then my laptop crashed and I lost everything so you’re just going to have to use your imagination (/recreational drugs) for now.

I managed to get Hillhouse and Manfield’s Dress Design: Draping and Flat Pattern Making via interlibrary loans from at Uni. It’s a beautiful hardback tome which is awesome in terms of the amount of information contained within but unfortunate in that I can’t get the text towards the centre to scan right on my tiny little A4 scanner. Which is a bit of a bummer because it’s an awesome book, totally out of copyright and perfect for sharing (people are selling pdfs on Etsy. I’ve said all I have to say on that so I’m not going to launch into another diatribe here). I am, however interested in the logistics of how these people scanned it-did they use a Google style magic robot or just take the binding apart and shove the pages through a document feeder?)

I spend a lot of time and effort scanning these books so I really hope the information is of use to someone out there. If you end up making something from this, do let me know, I’d love to see how it worked out.

On an aside, I drafted up Enid’s Apron of Delight today (in Imperial measurements, what what!) and I’ll be sewing it up tomorrow so fingers crossed on that.

Previously on Friday Freebies.

Friday Freebie: Make a Coat

Heyyy those are the epaulet sleeves I used for my Patrones robot jacket. I should’ve read this leaflet back then! Harhar.

Another leaflet from the Massachusetts State College. This one’s dated 1946 (with no copyright) and covers everything you need to know about making a coat (awesome if you’re sewing from an international pattern magazine *Patronescoughburdacough* and need detailed instructions from start to finish. You could, of course, use your machine for everything instead of hand sewing the parts it recommends (but not if you enjoy the struggle).

This book takes you step by step, with lovely/ horrific illustrations through tools, linings, interlinings, interfacings, choosing and pre-shrinking fabric, pattern selection and cutting. It covers tailoring techniques, reinforcement, pocket and buttonhole design and sewing, dart placement and finishing touches. Lots of neat-o little details like hand stitching arrow tacks, attaching fur trims and the correct way to line and face a slit/ vent.

The laid back (yet completely aware and on the ball) attitude of the lady in the second illustration reminds me of Lix (Anna Chancellor) from The Hour (season two out soon). Lix is my absolute favourite from the show. Everything about her just is just really cool in an almost manly way (for the times. If you’ve watched the series you know what I’m talking about). She’s usually in straight-cut man-pants and boxy shirt-blouses (often nursing a scotch) lit cigarette dangling casually from the one hand, sharp mind racing with all the up-front questions and dodgy angles the other journos are too slow to catch. Lix is awesome at what she does and totally in control of her life (which I love).

Anyway, the booklet’s here if you want it and if vintage sewing books are your thing, there’s two more here and here. The internet archive is really worth exploring for commons/ copyright expired ancient goodies (I once found a hideously hilarious 50s video on sewing which had been released by one of the big four-it was truly hideous.. made me grateful to have been born when I was..).

Previously on Friday Freebies: Vintage Apron Patterns and Duct-tape dressforms.

Featured image of 40s coat from the Vintage Devotion Etsy shop (copyright the owners of the shop).

Friday Freebie: Vintage Apron Patterns

It was Karen’s Apron sewalong that put me in mind of (yes that’s a real phrase!) aprons and things. I narrowed my choices down to these two patterns on Etsy but could only afford the one (international postage gah!) so I went with the one on the left, McCalls 8818.

Which arrived with bits and pieces missing/ cut off. Which precipitated a message to the etsy seller, which, in turn, resulted in a refund. By which time the pattern on the right, Simplicity 1675 had sold. At which point I gave up on patterns entirely and turned good ole’ Enid Gilchrist.

The creepy doll in the centre… Words fail me.. XD

Ah Enid, too long have I yearned for your delicious (and nutritious) designs from afar (with good reason: Enid’s a non-Metric entity and as a Scientist I have to admit that’s way too far up the wrong side of the tracks for me). Still, I picked up Pinnies ‘n’ Things (off evilbay-for less than the price of the original blighted apron pattern) and am joyfully strewing the bounty behind me like shiny, glitter encrusted LSD tablets- of immortality.
Ladies and gents, I give you the piece de resistance of the PnT collection:

I’m making the one on the left. If I run out of fabric I may have to settle for the one on the right but for the time being, left it is. I mean that’s worth wearing as a house dress all by itself (except it won’t stay on for long hahaha).

Also this:

Which is totally French-maid-alicious.

And this which is real maid-alicious.

Coo-e you can dry the dishes and the baby’s hair! At the same time (and then use the charged up baby to zap the dog and power a table lamp for a couple of seconds from the resulting static).

And there’s this, of which no further shall be said (alright Tinkerbell-but that’s all).

The book also covers variations on the standard 50s hostess apron,

and extras for the kids because nothing’s free in life and they sooner they learn that the better (also coal dust stains are a pain to launder out).

No those aren’t cake mixing tools, she’s just finished a re-enactment of the Cask of Amontillado

And because Enid is a propah lady: Finishing.

Are you joining the apron sewalong? What patterns will you be using? If you’re still looking for inspiration, Jilian’s posted some really cool vintage aprons and vintage apron patterns here. Oh and just in case you were wondering, that apron on the right Simplicity 1675, is just a basic wrap dress with ginormous pockets-totally doable…

Previously on Friday Freebies: Duct Tape Dress Forms.

All images remain copyright of their original owners and are used here for the purposes of illustration and discussion.

Friday Freebie: Gummed Tape Dress Form

I collect vintage sewing and pattern-making books*. I enjoy the quaint old worlde illustrations and outdated terminology and I feel strongly about rescuing vintage sewing ephemera and creating a permanent online repository of it, accessible to everyone to delight in and learn from, without having to suffer through epic ebay battles fuelled by rage (and a steady diet of Pringles and instant noodles because that’s all you can afford when you spend your grocery money on sewing books).

So I’m going to start posting things up here. Obviously I will only be uploading whole scans of items which are out of copyright or partial scans of copyrighted items as illustrative of techniques within what constitutes reasonable fair use.

Starting with this little gem here (pdf download) on making a sticky tape dress form (they’ve described a ‘gummed’ tape version but the technique will work for any kind of sticky tape that doesn’t stretch-because anything that gets stretched while it’s on you will recover back to its original dimensions when it’s off you). 

This little beauty is a sewing pamphlet issued by the Massachusetts State College back in 1943 and has no copyright information that I’m aware of. It is one of a set of disparate manuals relating to sewing that was bequeathed to me two years ago by a sweetheart of a seller on Etsy. Not being into sewing herself and having come across someone who was obviously enthused by the whole idea (me), she spontaneously added the entire set gratis to my order (a financially-debilitating illustrated sewing book from 1923).

I am of the opinion that technical knowledge belongs to everyone and should be made freely available to anyone that’s interested (I’m not talking about synthesising the bubonic plague from scratch here-just sewing techniques and the like). I understand that copyright law exists for a reason (protecting the author/ publishing company’s financial interests) and although I don’t always agree with the reasons behind it, I am a law abiding creature so please don’t contact me with requests to torrent everything I own. I have neither the time nor the inclination to cool my heels in jail at her Majesty’s behest.

That being said, I’m happy to take requests for specific drafting/ sewing techniques. Leave your suggestions in the comments during the week (or shoutout on Twitter) and I’ll try to have something relevant from my collection scanned and posted by Friday. I’m hoping to have some coat-related stuff scanned by next week to co-incide with velosewer’s trench sewalong but all suggestions are welcome.

So if you were interested in drafting that vintage Simplicity 6312 jacket I’d post this coat dress and suggest you draft only the top half of it. I’d also suggest you check out the version up for swap here and see if it’s in your size.


*Strangely Logically enough I don’t actually sew from vintage patterns. I find the excess ease, sizing inconsistencies, mutated silhouettes and massive seam allowances irritating. I have some vintage patterns that I bought in a fit of confusion back when I first started sewing here if you want to swap.

All images remain copyright of their original owners and are used here for purposes of illustration and discussion.

PS: It shits me to tears to see people (and I’m using that term loosely) selling crappy pdfs of copyright-expired vintage ephemera (and often, work that is still under copyright) on etsy (strangely enough, ebay is on the ball with kicking sellers like that in the privates but etsy only allows you to  report copyright violations if you are the original holder of the copyright or their legal representative). So if I find anyone selling anything I post I’ll just have to make do with humiliating pointing and laughing at anyone fool enough to pay for pdfs that are available online for free.


Need I say more? Get it here.

Asides: Thank you for all your awesome comments on Flamboyant (Knipmode 2008, Jacket 6b) your feedback is most appreciated. Some really interesting information materialised  in the comments concerning metal shank buttons (and making them suck less):

Anita uses the u-shaped part of metal hook & eye sets to sew through the shank and suggested removable buttons with bodkins (grommets?) on the back or a removable button strip (this would be totally doable with an invisible zipper).

Vicki Kate suggested using tuxedo snaps and the like. And then posted some action shots of some of her military buttons using Vogue’s  eyelet technique combined with an attachment ring through the back (instead of the mysterious bodkin).

I used the information to do a quick sketch in iDraw on metal-shank-button insertion possibilities. No idea if this diagram makes sense to anyone apart from me (metal shank in bold black, eyelet in red, button back in white, button front in blue).

I also had a conversation with Hannah (“-shank buttons do not go on gracefully”, well said Madame, emphasis mine) at her Tumblog about alternate closures (I’ve been into them ever since I first came across that coat) but I’ve never really made any efforts to track ‘em down because I remembered having those sort of closures on an old school lunchbox and assumed (possibly incorrectly) that they would be easily available (at outdoor/ climbing/ boating equipment stores-i.e. portable winches). Haven’t looked into it but any information on it would be most appreciated.

Update: VickiKate posted some shots of military buttons with attachment rings for easy removability hereThanks VickiKate!

Update (25th September, 2013): Bodkins are available on ebay as Cotter’s pins. Get something heavy duty and you’ll be fine. At worst heavy duty key-chain rings work fine too. No chance of those falling through the fabric XD 

Previously on Friday Freebies.

Disclaimer: All non-self-generated images remain copyrights of their original owners and are used here for purposes of review and illustration (the two images in this post are my own; the featured image is from the Vogue Sewing Book).  

Contact me. Within reason.

I’ve been getting a lot of strange emails lately. I don’t mean requests for used undies or the like. I mean things like*:

  • Give me [something]! [No. Eff off. ]
  • I can’t find something/anything/everything on your blog! Show me where it is/send it to me/tell me how to find it! [There’s a search bar in the top right hand corner. Put your words in there.]
  • Pdfs don’t work for me! Send me everything free on your blog as a Word document. [ಠ_ಠ]
  • Why do I have to download your Friday Freebies? It’s such a pain. Send them to me by email instead. [Die. Now. Please.]
  • Teach me to WordPress! [Use Google. Look up spelling and grammar check while you’re at it].
  • My wife can’t find any Freebies. Send her directions. [Use the m*trtrucking search bar].
  • Where are all teh books? [ಠ_ಠ]
  • I don’t want to have to read the whole post just show me where the book is! [Die slowly from systemic herpes. Please.]
  • That super rare pattern/magazine that sells for $50+ on ebay? I’ll give you $10 for it. That should cover international postage too. So when can you send it? [ಠ_ಠ| ಠ_ಠ| ಠ_ಠ]
  • That thing you’re selling on ebay? Bring it to such and such location and I’ll give you $5 more than your starting price. I think that’s a good compromise. When you can meet me? [Never.]
  • Scan such and such book for me! A variant on this is “Oh such and such book would be so useful for my kids/mum/grandma/school/church. *sigh*. Oh wait! You have a scanner don’t you?” [Yes. And for $40, so can you! Also, the book you want is on ebay now for $6 on a ‘buy now’ listing with free shipping. Would you like a cost-benefit analysis or A/B statistical testing on that decision?]

And my favourite:

  • But I’m not good at Googling. Can’t you just do it? [ಠ_ಠ]

There are no stupid questions. Just people that expect others to Google things for them. To quote the internet:

"I weep for their inevitable and unplanned children."

Actually, I made a handy flow chart instead. Hopefully it’ll help the poor dears deal with the complexities of life on the internet-without having to contact me. Said chart is now above the contact form on my ‘Find Me‘ page. Click to enlarge.

Ask NOT what I can do for you.

All emails fulfilling the ‘go away’ criteria will be banished to the spam folder. Forthwith.

Happily I haven’t been asked to ‘practice my sewing’ by making free clothes for anyone yet.

*My actual email responses are polite and to the point. So please don’t contact me telling me to ‘be nice(r)’. 

More hilarious hideousness here.

The Bra Sewing Survey

I’ve been playing with a couple of commercially available bra sewing patterns. Needless to say I’m unsatisfied with the fit, instructions (or lack thereof) and sizing. So I’ve decided to jump on the drafted bandwagon.

Which brings me to:

The Bra Sewing Survey

I’m collecting data from women interested in bra sewing concerning the following:

  • The size range required
  • The best style to start with
  • General expectations on what constitutes a good bra pattern

Enid Gilchrist 50s pattern drafting book

I’m aware that this is a big ask in terms of time and effort (I need eight measurements in cm taken with a non-stretchable measuring tape) and I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone that completes this survey, with a copy of Basic Fashions for Women and Teenagers by Enid Gilchrist.

This is a vintage (1950s) pattern drafting book with illustrated instructions for making mid-century style skirts, blouses, dresses, suits, coats and accessories.

I’ve featured Enid’s work in one my Friday Freebies here and sewn up one of her styles here.

50s dress styles mid-century

Includes petite-size drafting-because Enid=awesome.

50s skirts styles

But wait, there’s more.

50s nightie patternMake your own Frothy Mess©. Or not. L to R- Enid style vs MadMen Style (there is a Betty-style pattern included)..

Woman in a nightie holding a vaguely phallic object pointing at her face. I wonder if this was the height of ‘sex in advertising’ back in the day. Edit: No. It wasn’t.

Bra-sewing survey here.The Bra Measurement Survey

If you’d like to be a pattern tester for the beta version of the pattern, please leave a comment saying so. If you know anyone interested in bra sewing please share this post with them.

Disclaimer: All non-self generated images under active copyright remain property of their owners and are used here for purposes of discussion and review.
The copyright for the book, ‘Basic Fashions for Women and Teenagers by Enid Gilchrist’ (previously owned by New Idea, Australia) has expired, putting the book in the common domain.

Midori + Meetup Awesomeness

Spent the better part of yesterday (‘course it was the better part!) with Jenny and Emily. Prepare to have your retinas seared by hideous iphone images. But first, here’s the dress I wore:

Chartreuse green double sided silk dress with pockets

Standout moment of the day: walking through Myers department store and being approached by two buff, shirtless, hunks in low waisted jeans.

Hunk 1: Moisturiser?

Me: What, to put on you?

Hunk 1: *pause* -it’s a sample…

Me: Sure, why not (in my defence, it was men’s moisturiser and he did consider my offer).

I believe Emily’s response to Hunk 2’s offer was, ‘Sure. Squirt some on, I’ll rub it in for ya’.  

What was that thing about great minds thinking alike?

Le Terre Sucre NGV Internatioanal

Emily, deconstructing the work of art that was the top tier of our high tea.

The lads were very tolerant given it was 5:40 PM and they’d probably been putting up with cheeky comments for 4-6 hours by then. Oh well, presumably Biotherm paid them for their time and their calendars are now booked solid for the next decade, so all’s well.

Myer window with Dion Lee's Woolmark submissions

Structured wool clothing from Woolmark International’s Australian winner Dion Lee. Images of other finalists’ creations here, my favourites here (that cross-stitched dress..*o0*). Apologies for the lack of hunk shots, I was completely distracted-they should put them in the women’s lingerie section next time.

That top tier was all chocolate, except the bits that were cake

Emily and I had La Terre Sucree High Tea at the NGV tea room (24 hours later my pores are still oozing sugar. Sofi’s lounge next time-I prefer savouries) then browsed Cleggs Fabric store and the Magnation store (they have the September and October 2013 issues of burdastyle andthis issue of La Mia Boutique on the ‘Crafts’ shelf at the moment-jump on it).

Cookie bar/ restaurant Melbourne

We then made our way through Myers department store, got our moisturiser samples (hawhawhaw) and walked to Cookie where we met a fabulous lady in a completely self-drafted wiggle dress (with an awesome zipper in the back) and had dinner and cocktails together.

Handmade awesomeness

Emily’s wearing a skirt from an Oona swap, Jenny’s in a self-drafted wiggle dress. The waiter was so distracted by our hand-made awesomeness he brought us water twice and blurred every photo he took of us. The rest were taken by a helpful waitress.

Damn you feeble iphone camera

Emily and I discussed pattern drafting the last time we met, so Emily brought along some drafting books for me: a Mrs. Stylebook and a vintage drafting textbook she’d used to teach herself drafting. I spent the tram ride home excitedly flipping through the books.
Drafting books

Mrs. Stylebook essentially gives you the directions for turning your personal bodice, skirt and pant blocks into contemporary wearable garments (much like the Pattern Drafting for Dressmaking/ Kamakura-Shobo books used to in the 60s, 70s and 80s). There’s another, similar, magazine called Lady Boutique with more ‘grown up clothes’ but I’ve never seen one of those in Australia.

Here’s a couple of my favourites from the Mrs. Stylebook:


I love both these tunics. The one on the left is such a simple, modern silhouette and the sleeve treatment on it is just elegant. The one on the right should work well as a day shirt/ silk blouse too.

MrsStylebook2008.002MSB often includes designer patterns but I’ve only ever seen them feature Japanese designer patterns before, bit of a surprise to see an Anne Klein number. I really like the shirt dress on the left, it gives the impression of a narrower waist without any physical cinching involved.

I need to check on the copyright status of the other one (low hopes, it’s from 1970) to see if I can scan it for Friday Freebies.

When I got home Carl was in the middle of a whiskey tasting session with one of his programmer friends.

C: What do you mean hunks?

Friend: We’re hunks mate.

Me: Oh good, you’ll need this moisturiser then.

He left it behind. But not before having an interesting discussion with me on making a proper pattern/fabric catalogue app for mobile devices. Coolcoolcool.

Pattern: Patrones 306, dress 23 H&M

H&M Dress in double-sided silk Patrones 306, 23

Fabric: Double sided silk (the wrong side is black)-a birthday gift from Carl (I wore it the day we were in the live audience for Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell show and the audience prepper asked about it. When I said I’d made it from fabric Carl gave me the whole audience went awwwww).

Modifications: I (cold) machine-washed the silk, line-dried it, and pressed it before use. Shortened the pattern 2 cm at the waist and 3 cm at the hem. The armholes are on the bias at centre points so I’d suggest basting through inside the seam lines or bias covering them first. I didn’t, and there was bit of stretching while I sewed so I actually had the take in the shoulders about half a cm front and back (either that or it just has larger sleeve openings than normal). All inner seams finished with a narrow hem presser foot.

Tights from Galstern.

Disclaimer: All non-self generated images remain property of their owners and are used here for purposes of illustration, discussion and review.

I’m on the front page of Burdastyle

theperfectnose on burdastyle ladn

And I’m pretty chuffed about it.

They approached me about it last October, which was a seriously busy time for me (exams and marking at the Uni) so I told them I’d have to take a rain check on it. Anyhoo, it’s here now and it’s made me realise I really need to lift my game with my outfit photos.

Carl just called and guffaw’d about the fact that there are three photos of me up there in RTW. Also that the book I’m scanning for the next Friday Freebie is now officially overdue (on his library card because I am no longer a member of the University Library).

Big thanks to Burdastyle. Full article here.

Sew Grateful Week Giveaway F*ck Yea!

Simplicity Sewing Book (c) 1947It’s Sew Grateful Week over at Debi’s. And since everyone over there is a Forties Freak (among other things) I thought this 1947 copy of the Simplicity Sewing book would be an appropriate giveaway item –  in the spirit of the times*.

This book has all sorts of awesome information (accompanied by gorgeous illustrations from the time) right from what pattern to choose (I had no clue) through  sewing tools, measurements, alterations, fitting, pressing, fabric types, marking, cutting, pinning, basting, handsewing, a whole section of hemming (you know you need this for those bothersome flared hems), pleats, tucks, bindings, pipings, facings, godets, gathering, shirring, ruffles, flounces, buttonholes, buttons, collars, sleeves, cuffs, plackets, shoulder pads (preparation for the eighties), fastenings, closures and separate sections on sewing up coats and menswear. Samples below:

Like you're a curveless mannequin apparently..

-As if you’re a curve-less mannequin, apparently.

Simplicity sewing book Pattern selection

I had no clue until I accidentally bought a vintage teen pattern and it fit, that I should be sewing from Figure 2 not Figure 3.

Sewing styles to flatter your Figure

Back in the days when women had bad points (aside from invisible limbs that is).

Simplicity Sewing Book Colour Theory

Yes yes yes, it has colour pages. About colour. How old-worlde-meta.

Simplicity Sewing Book Buttonholes

If you’re an ancient buttonhole freak (or if ancient buttonholes freak you out) you should totally stop by here and pick up a booklet on doing them the old fashioned way.

Simplicity Sewing Book Buttons

Sweet love of ye olde awesomeness, it covers the metal shanked buttons going through embroidered holes with a Bodkin through the shank thingThis alone elevates it to rarified heights in my eyes.

*Which I like to think of as the spirit of Independence – 1947 was the year India, and many other British colonies shed the colonial yoke (and it’s all been downhill since-according to everyone that was alive at the time).

To enter this giveaway leave a relevant comment mentioning your vintage style preference by decade (if any) and links to any vintage/ vintage inspired makes you’ve posted (on your blog/ facebook/ twitter/ flickr etc). Star Wars costumes count as vintage. If you’re into vintage (and/or antiquarian) sewing and pattern-drafting books check out the ones I’ve uploaded for Friday Freebies.

Giveaway ends Sunday 10 February, 2012 and as always, is is open to all, internationally. Best of luck.

Disclaimer: All non-self-generated images remain copyright of their original owners and are reproduced here for the purposes of illustration, discussion and review. 

Feeling Reflective: A Response

Because the comments section isn’t big enough.

Original post by Dibs here.

I always figured the word blog would sound *less* silly as the years went by

I didn’t sign up for any –alongs this year (that I remember). Mainly because I like to sew on my own terms (it’s a hobby and doing it someone else’s way turns it into a chore). Molly’s eloquent treatise on this phenomenon here.

My general philosophy is:

1. Respect people who say what they think and do what they say: I know exactly one person who espouses this tenet but I like to think everyone aims towards it.

2. Bear in mind that actions speak louder than words: I’d rather just get on with it than spend time and effort detailing how I’m going to get on with it. I have bought exactly one set of work clothes (Made in Australia-no slave labour for me), all the tights I need (made in the EU, no exceptions) and underwear/ swimwear (made in France) in the last 4 years. Everything else has been self made/ pre-owned. I didn’t sign any pledges I just effin’ did it.

I signed up for Marijana‘s Pattern Magic do last year and never ended up making anything. Mostly out of pure lack of awareness-the month ended and the reveal post went up, suddenly reminding me that I’d done nothing but also because I tend to put off things like that till the last minute and this time it resulted in a fail.

So this year when I heard the call of Jungle January, I sewed up a leather tunic  and posted it when I found the time. I didn’t sign up for the stash-bustin’ sewalong because I’ve been stash-bustin’, on my own terms, for almost two years now. I visited fabric shops a grand total of four times last year. The first two times I bought nothing, the third time I bought fabrics and thread for specific projects (which are currently underway) and the fourth time I bought fabric to sew up for others (also in progress at the moment). I use up all sorts of scraps for facings, pocket bags and linings-I don’t need to sign a pledge to be reminded to do this.

Things were better before the Structuring and the Levels

Indie Patterns

I only buy (and sew) patterns designed for my body type. This means no Sewaholic or Collette for me. No By-Hand either (designed for a large derriere? Thanks, but no thanks). I lack the time (and interest) to re-draft things which are suited for other body types just so I can sew (and wear) what everyone else is wearing. I’ve seen far too many posts by sewists with a similar body type to mine, wailing about the hours of alteration and modification required to get Collette patterns to fit. So I’m avoiding that trap with gay abandon.


I blog for myself. I’ve enjoyed documenting successes and disasters and reviewing what I think are books worth sewing/ drafting from. Giveaways and Friday Freebies posts are my way of giving back to the online sewing community. Getting new readers is a bonus and comments from people that bother to read what I’ve posted are a joy but all these are in addition to the enjoyment of blogging.

The blogs I follow have one or more of the following attributes:

  • I can learn something from them.
  • They make beautiful and or unique things that inspire me to do something different (or even do something at all).
  • They entertain me.
  • I find their design aesthetic visually immersive.

I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of feeds lately (in Reader-I rarely follow via WordPress dashboard) because I no longer remember what made me subscribe to said blog in the first place. This is not necessarily a judgement on the blog-it just means that I’ve moved beyond whatever skill level it offered (or that the blog has re-invented itself to suit a different type of reader).

Stay while I recount the crazy TF2 kill I managed yesterday, my friends.

The above is an xkcd homage to the most interesting man in the world (compilation here) mosquitoes refuse to bite him, out of respect.


Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Under Australian law bloggers are held legally liable for the content of comments on their posts, so comments on this blog are moderated (i.e. if someone posts a defamatory/ libellous comment on a blog, the owner of the blog gets sued as well as the commenter*). I understand that submitting a comment and being told it is awaiting approval is not the most satisfying feedback to commenting and I’m actually wondering whether I should just move comments to Twitter. Personally, I feel it’ll free up a lot of my time and attention for other things. While I love relevant and considered comments I do get a lot of questions about issues I’ve already covered in the text/images in my posts and have no interest in rehashing.  Obviously Twitter has its own pros and cons (see below) but I have ways of dealing with that (also I enjoy enraging the occasional Wildebeest).

The converse is also true.

The converse also applies. I.e. Stop not liking the things I like. Wahwahbooboo etc.

 What do you think?

Some interesting and thought-provoking coverage on commenting-related topics such as setting the mallet to ‘kitten’ modelegality, disemvowelling, commenting on opinion sites and the best article I’ve read yet on migrating comments to Twitter. Also, some Science on the psychology underpinning commenting threads.

Thanks to Dibs for initiating this discussion and here’s a cool video on contemporary fabric manufacture in Britain:

via neki desu.

*I haven’t linked to sites that cover this aspect because I am not certified to give that sort of advice. Luckily Google exists.

Disclaimer: All non-self-generated images remain copyright of their original owners and are reproduced here for the purposes of illustration, discussion and humour. All images link to original content. 

Disclaimer 2: This is a bunch of thoughts I had on reading Dibs’ post. I chose the featured image as  representing the tragi-comic-dramady of the lives people lead online. If you feel the urge to explode in righteous (or otherwise) indignation at my opinions please do so in an entertaining fashion in the comments.  


Good news everyone..*

No freebies today because my scanner’s still at the servicing centre. Which is actually a great opportunity to go read my article (on blogging) in the current issue of Sister mag. The same issue also features free patterns for vintage-style duster coats (which I haven’t received any high-res images of, so you’re just going to have to click-through and see for yourselves).

Have an awesome weekend.

*There is a catch to all good news. Explanation here for non-Futurama-fans..

Previously, on Friday Freebies. 

Disclaimer: All images remain copyright of their original owners and are used here for purposes of illustration.

Ticking all the Good boxes

Just wanted to say thank you to all the fine ladies that have been so kind and generous (as humans in the sewing blogosphere seem wont to do).

Thank you, Lynne of American Age Fashion (history of fashion- with pics-go check it out) for gifting this awesome Mary Brookes Picken vintage gem (1939) to the scanning queue.

The Language of Fashion

Thank you Pella of Pattern Pandemonium for this weighty tome (it’s on really nice paper and has every size included) of a pattern that I’ve wanted for as long as it’s been out (Pella also included a detailed set of typed instructions!).

Hot Patterns + Mid-century gent

Olivia Wilde ignoring the heck out of mid-century smoker-gent while Lindsay Lohan 90s Brooke Shields and one of the Olsens snicker.

Patterns from Angela

Thanks also to Angela of Bonne Chance for the above heaping of goodies. I suggested a Burda 20s wedding dress style to Angela and she responded with all that! The Butterick pattern is my favourite and will be great for practicing grading on. I’d like to state at this point that I have never seen/ touched either Hot Patterns or Collette patterns in real life before so this is a pretty big deal.

Last but not least (this list is organised by date with the most recent acquisitions up top, so this last proclamation comes with interest) big thanks to Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes who sent me these fabrics as part of Vicki Kate’s Christmas Swap (here’s what I sent Kat) – big ups to Vicki Kate for organising.

Knit fabrics

There was a postcard which has since become a bookmark and is busy performing that new role somewhere in the house.

The yellow knit has already been cut out (from another gifted pattern no less) and pinned together and is awaiting sewing (the other two are  awaiting winter). A couple of months ago, Kat also sent me the two patterns below and a length of fabric for organising the One Cool thing One Strange thing Swap.

Knit patterns from KatThe one on the left has been cut out and pinned (but not sewn, yet) while the fabric was turned into a garment (last week) and is still awaiting  blog documentation.

Thank you ladies for your generosity and kindness – one of the things I’m focusing on this year is to make sure I sew up gifted and swapped things in good time. I’ve already traced and cut a couple of things from last year so they’ll be up here soon. Coolcoolcool.

The Little Black Dress/ The Party Dress

A Review. 

The little black dress/ The party dressOf these two books. Together. Because I’m a pathbreaker.

It’ll all make sense in a minute.

Both books are written by designer Simon Henry, trained in couture techniques at an early age by his couturier aunt. Both books start out with the history and iconography of the sorts of dresses involved, then segue into the sewing techniques required to create them. Both books are a step by step walkthrough on using the art of moulage, or draping, to develop a personal sloper which is tweaked till it fits and then used to create four different iconic styles.

The Little Black Dress, pattern summaryThe Little Black Dress, garment summary: I know some people wil be in paroxysms over the fitted Chanel-style jacket but I don’t understand why.

The Party Dress: Dresses

The Party Dress, garment summary: Yes that is Merche up there in the purple dress. She may deny it. In which case play along and nod like you believe her.

Also, pink dress chick is not playing pinata with butterflies (as originally assumed)-that’s a butterfly net.

The Party Dress: Midnight

Zero zipper-bumps. I will make this dress. I will also, eventually, smack my scanner against the wall. The latter is likely to occur first.

Because having two copies of the X chromosome means being deliriously susceptible to this sort of wishful thinking insanity:

From Dress Selection and Design by Marion S. Hillhouse

The mentality that keeps ebay in business: every single woman thinking, ‘I could totally carry that off’.

 The image above is not from either of the books being reviewed .*  The ladies are all wearing black dresses though. While oogling a party dress. Totally relevant.

Back to the purple dress though, it will actually work because it will be made to fit and because I’ll omit the train (..probably..not). I also want to make the Greta. Despite the styling below, the actual garment is quite demure and less décolleté-exposing than the average wrap dress.

The Little Black Dress: Greta

The Party Dress: Midnight variation

The above is a variation on Midnight-the purple dress with Merche in it.

The Party Dress: Vintage

This would be awesome to make. Just once. And then sell, so you don’t have to get shitty at the amount of fabric hanging in your closet unused.

The Party Dress: Vintage variation

Very cool variation on the above. Done by draping.

Every technique required for creating and finishing every dress is covered in fairly intricate technical detail in a separate section (which is almost identical in both books). There’s also a detailed how-to for each dress appended to the relevant section.

The Little Black Dress: Sleeve insertion

The icing on the cake? Both Metric and Imperial measurements are included for everything.

Simon is an experienced instructor and the tone of the book reflects this; patient and encouraging, it doesn’t just show you how do something, it tells you why it should be done that way. This is awesome in that a strong critical grasp of the theory behind the techniques is key to applying any new knowledge successfully to other projects. The Little Black Dress is the first pattern making book I bought-I could ill afford it at the time and I remember reading it cover to cover the same day it arrived in the mail. I felt as if someone had given me a magical key to the Vatican’s art storage depot: nothing was impossible and the world was my oyster. However, for that to really be the case you need someone to work with.

The techniques in the book involve draping; unless you’re happy with draping on a mannequin then adjusting the sloper to fit you, you need to have someone else around with the time and patience to follow the book’s directions. On you. So here’s a proposition: is there anyone out there that would like to work through these books with me? We could do something like one day a week and have a flickr group to post up our results. I actually started up a Meetups group last year to facilitate this. A couple of people signed up and never turned up. I got tired of paying the fees to support flakey no-shows and eventually ended it. So it would be awesome to really get on with these techniques (I will be doing this irrespective of whether I find people to play along or not: I have a petite mannequin now and the adjustments needed will be minimal. Anyone that wants to play along online is welcome to do so via their blog/ flickr/ twitter etc).

First intercontinental draping group. Think about it.

Simon also has a similar book out for little girls’ dresses called The Little Best Dress. Limited browse-through here.

Pros: Everything above.

Cons: You need a dress form or a draping buddy to use the techniques in this book (fear not intrepid drapist draper, you can make a duct tape dress form based on this vintage manual and stuff the inside with spray-on insulation foam).

Conclusion: Both of these books are great value for what they are (tools for developing a well-fitting sloper through the use of draping). If you can only get the one, pick whichever one features the most number of wearable garments. As always, check around for pricing, booko is a great place for pricing comparisons (inclusive of shipping costs).

* The image is from Dress Selection and Design by Marion S. Hillhouse. Want it? Show me evidence (before the 7th of December 2012, because it’s due back at the library then) that it’s no longer under copyright and I’ll scan it in and upload it to the internet archive.

Disclaimer: All images remain copyright of their original owners and are used here for purposes of illustration, discussion and review. If you arrived here looking for drapery (or draping for curtains etc check this and this out).

Future Directions

Inside the mending by Aimee Shelton on behanceI’ve been feeling some serious sewing discontent lately (no, I’m not going to make up new words/ afflictions with the word sew in them nor will I be utilising pre-existing made up words with the word sew in them). I’ve had the better part of three weeks to trace, cut and sew everything my little heart desired, and I have traced and cut a lot of stuff but there hasn’t been much sewing. A lot of the stuff on the wait list is stuff that I’ve been really excited about for a while. Seems to me I should be more gungho and just getting on with it. Part of the reason for this malaise is the misplacement of an envelope of over 50 brand new YKK invisible zippers (in all the colours I could ever need-from the land of freedom, French fries and people getting killed/ maimed while shopping).

I don’t want to buy any more zippers but without zippers I can’t finish the garments I’ve sewn up. Existential dilemma.

sewing by Luiza Kwiatkowska

I’ve hunted high and low and it is pissing me off no end (YKK are a b*tch to find here. You end up paying $5 for cheap China crap that miraculously self-disassembles just from being in proximity to an invisible zipper foot). So the routine lately has proceeded thusly: sew up a storm, almost finish a garment, hunt high and low for the zipper bag, clean up a cupboard/ room, give up, start sewing the next thing. Repeat ad infinitum. I hate unfinished stuff just sitting around waiting for that one last little bit to go in.

Sewing by Liza Corbett

The other component of perfect dissatisfaction (I have awesomely high standards, where the f*cketyfrack are my f*cking zippers for f*ck’s sake XS) with sewing at the mo’ is the sheer lack of (eventually surmountable) obstacles. I’m at that point in my skill development where everything just seems-for lack of a better word-easy. There’s no challenge at all, nothing special to attain, and the sheer boredom of more of the same is dispiriting to say the least. So it’s time to up my game.

Which brings me to, Grading and Draping.

The following books will be involved. To varying degrees. Reviews soon. Meanwhile re-read this.


From Left to Right: Concepts of Pattern Grading, Grading Women’s Garments, Patterngrams, Patternmaking in Practice, Draping, The Party Dress, The Little Black Dress.If you can only get one, get Patternmaking in Practice. It has basic draping, pattern drafting, and a couple of makes to practice techniques on. I’ve reviewed another one of Lucia Mors de Castro’s books here.

Obviously there will be some pattern drafting and manipulation involved but I’ve been doing that intermittently (in a somewhat half-hearted, lack-lustre fashion) for a while now. I’ve been using iDraw to vectorise patterns on my Mac Book Pro. Or should I say pattern. Because I’ve only finished the one. The collarless blouse from Pattern Drafting Volume I by Kamakura-Shobo.

Collarless blouse

I’ve picked up a print-out from the copy shop but I haven’t tested it yet (the vector is here if you want to have a play with it-it’s in pdf format so you can open it in iDraw, Sketch, Illustrator or any other Vector program). Wait, I also did the shopping bag from this book (see below, it no longer looks anything like that). There’s a story here (bear with me here, it’s hilarious).

Scanner of hideosity..

Every pattern in this book is like this, on a grid you’re meant to replicate on pattern paper (or directly onto fabric. I recommend the latter) like in the past.

A friend gave me that book two Christmases ago with, “Because I know you like sewing-I’d like that bag please”.

Now.. my normal response is ‘hahaha NO. Never. Speak. Again., but she’s one of those friends that says what she thinks and does what she says (and I respect that) + it’s an easy bag so I went, ‘sure’. And forgot about it.

Set scene: Last Christmas.

“Oh this is awesome thanks. Where’s my bag?”


Have you sewn anything from that book?


Why not! (Not a question. She is a mom. She doesn’t ask questions, she makes statements. Because she already knows the answer).

It has no patterns. It expects you to draw everything. Everything. Also I couldn’t find handles. Also I thought you were kidding.

Draw it. Find them. (Yea we know each other well enough for abbreviated conversations of this sort). I’d love a bag like that (Carl was cracking up. In front of her. Meanwhile her husband was cracking up. Facing the wall.).

6 months later: I found the handles and the insides weren’t sanded down-damn you Etsy (it-sucks-y hahahaha)-you’re just another ebay in hipster clothing, re-selling cheap China crap.

4 months later-er I found a nice pair of unpolished, light wood handles.

2 months later OMG iDraw! Let’s test it with a bag pattern. zOMG it works.

So I should probably get to sewing the bag now..

I might also slot some illustration into my plans by doing fashion drawings to replace the eye-searingly hideous crap in this book (the patterns are cool though).

Stitch House, Shirt and Blouse

By early Americans they mean Neanderthals..

Disclaimer: All images remain copyright of their original owners and are used here for purposes of illustration, review and discussion. Images from Behance link directly to original content and are used under an attribution no derivatives non-commercial license.

Where Are The Men? Everywhere.

A brief response to the post Where Are The Men? by Karen of Did You Make That?

There are plenty of men blogging about fashion and numerous other creative endeavours online.

For example (good) coding can be far more creative than fashion/garment design/sewing because everything ‘wearable’ has been done before (as a species, we humans have existed in our current phenotype for approximately a hundred thousand years now, most of which we’ve spent covering ourselves with something or other) whereas often, writing code involves making something completely new and functional that may never have existed before (like writing a program to stitch together fragments of genomic data in a format that has never existed prior to today).

The same goes for hacking the real world (from Instructables to Ikea hacks to behavioural hacks) most of these (extremely creative) areas are dominated by male writers and bloggers (although no one’s claiming that any of the above are exclusively male domains: here’s a sewing-machine-hack blog by a lady hacker). There are heaps of men in creative fields like photography, advertising, architecture, and industrial, graphic and web design. Responsive web design (which takes into account the fact that the same website may be accessed by mobile, laptop, widescreen computer and tablets and needs to look good and be functional on them all) was invented by a man.

As for fashion blogging, I would suggest to any uninformed person that thinks men are behind in these fora to make a quick visit to I would then remind said person that the whole street-style-fashion-blog sh’bang was initated by the work of one man. I would even go so far as to suggest that the bar for entry into female fashion blogging is now so low as to be non-existant (a point that seems to popup repeatedly, in discussions and comment sections over at IFB, usually in the vein of it’s so hard to break into the industry with all these commoners around, the early adopters had it easy wahwahwah etc).

This is illustrated in particularly spectacular fashion by the look below. It does not appeal to me in the slightest, neither in its construction (which is facile to say the least) nor in its functionality. And it does nothing at all for the wearer (who happens to be a model).

Whereas this, I would jump into in a heart beat. (I’d probably jump on it in a heartbeat but that’s neither relevant to, nor appropriate for the current discussion).

Aside: Think he’s cute? Then this will blow your mind (love, love, love). More (virtual) cradle-robbing Male Fashion eye-candy at Zoli’s blog.

Just so you can check for yourself, here’s a brief snapshot of some of the creative males in my RSS list (in no particular order):

Who  What
Will Smidlein A 15 year-old programmer.
Terminally Incoherent Coding, Sci-Fi reviews, other things of interest to me.
Dan Stiles Artist. Makes awesome gig-posters (yes, he has designs in the Birch Fabrics range).
Tad Carpenter Artist. His style is reminiscent of mid-century children’s books illustration.
Joost De Cock Sartorialist, pattern maker.
Jeffery Diduch Tailor, bespoke garments-maker.
English Cut  Saville row tailoring.

And of course the inimitable Joe and Kyle of itsokaytobesmart and sciencebasedlife respectively.

Now, can we please stop giving airtime to people making discriminatory (and/or incendiary) comments about gender and society and leave the outrage generation to the tabloid bullsh%t machine?*

Extras: Forums for men’s and women’s tailoring here.

Practical Dress Design book update: For those of you that wanted to have a play with the illustrations, here’s some hi-res versions of the same (I scanned all of the full-page plates at 600 dpi, which is the limit for my dinky little desktop scanner).

If you want to link any of the documents or images on this blog please link the post URL and not the document URL. I use Google drive to store all my documents and it doesn’t like direct linking. Anyone using a direct link will be told by Google to request access which I cannot grant because I’ve already made the document publicly available here. Play nice people.

*And Bust magazine-every third Facebook post from those ladies seems to be aimed either at generating fresh outrage, or describing some stale outrage of days gone by..

Also, I still haven’t been able to track down the original article as evidenced by the tweet-eraction below (no, I’m not interested enough to pay for the e-version of the magazine).

Disclaimer: All non-self-generated images remain copyright of their respective owners and are used here for the purposes of illustration, discussion and review. Click on the images for a direct link to the relevant maker’s page (thanks Zoltán, for the use of your images).

Disclaimer 2: This post is basically a bunch of thoughts I had on reading Karen’s post and the blog post that inspired it. I am a humanist (earthling-ist?) and feel that everyone should be treated fairly, equitably and with kindness. I’m pro-equality so please don’t explode in righteous (or otherwise) anger at my opinions. Cheers.


C: Why’re you making aprons all of a sudden? You never use aprons.

Its a sewalong – playing with others-type stuff in the blogosphere.

C: Seems to me panties would be a more useful enterprise re: playing with others.

I agree, but it’s not my sewalong.

C: Panties will bring lots of new readers to your blog.

Not the kind of readers I want thanks. Besides someone’s already running a knickers sewalong.

C: Are they hot?

Can’t say. They’re not modeling the knickers.

C: Oh. *goes back to gaming*

While I was drafting up Enid’s Apron of Delight, I was also working on plan B, vintage Simplicity 5465. I’d first noticed this pattern back in 2009 but never come across a version in my size. A couple of weeks ago I did, so I jumped on it. It arrived sans one of the pattern pieces, I mentioned it to the seller and got on with it (is anyone else feeling like etsy has morphed into the old, dodgy, ebay albeit without the benefit of searchable negative feedback?). This pattern can be worn as intended (smock-tastic!) or as a jumper, tunic or regular dress (I doubt I’ll be making it again though). Which brings me to: the pièce de résistance, Enid’s Apron of Delight.

I drafted up the pattern as described, marked out the included seam allowances and then traced a 1 cm seam allowance over all the pattern edges and cut that out (basically, I drafted Enid’s pattern in Imperial then converted it to Metric because sewing in Imperial is a b*tch without the requisite seam markers/ allowance gauges on your sewing machine).

With a few modifications this would make an awesome summer dress. In fact, it’s perfect to put on for answering the door if you’re caught under-dressed at a moment’s notice.

Awesome, the central fold hasn’t ironed out..

Apron Pattern: Drafted from instructions found in Enid Gilchrist’s Pinnies n’ Things.

Fabric: Secret Garden (Michael Miller Fabrics), Little Things by Sarah Fielke (Lecien) for backing the apron ties.

Modifications: Shortened the skirt by 5 cm and the waist by 1 cm. Shortened neckline seam by 3 cm. This fabric is much lighter and better quality than the Andover one so I didn’t bother lining it.

All edges were turned in or sewed with a narrow hem foot (including the neckline). Facings  were omitted entirely.

Smock Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 5465 (Junior/ teens and misses mini-dress/ smock).

Fabric: Partridge in a Pear Tree by Kim Schaefer (Andover Fabrics Inc.) + mustard polywool (i.e. polyester manufactured on a planet in the vicinity of a solar system with sheep in it.. somewhere..).

Modifications: Relocated the bust darts.

Relocated the pin-tucks (below darts) to suit.

Eliminated the centre back seam (do not wish to lean into button/ button shanks one lumbar puncture is enough to last a lifetime, thanks) and added an inverted pleat instead.

Ruffled the the ‘wings’ very tightly to approximately half their normal length and made them detachable by sewing in snap fastners.

Added sew-in snap fasteners under the shoulder seam and upper arm hole to accommodate the detachable ‘wings’.

Sewed it up fully-lined instead of using facings (quilting fabric is pretty snaggy and has bugger-all drape so a nice smooth lining is essential to avoiding the panty-magnet snag-tastic look).

Used a narrow hem foot for the hem portion.

Big ups to Karen for organising the Apronalong! Thanks to her, I can now answer the door in style.