Sunday 25 December 2022

Season's greetings

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that amid dental appointments, out-of-town hospital appointments, and all the general rush of this time of year, I did still manage to get some sewing done on Vogue 8388. The bad news is that I didn't get enough done for a blog post. So instead, here’s Maud looking very festive.

I won't get much done with this set-up

I'll be back next week with a more sensible post. In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!

Sunday 18 December 2022

Vogue 8388 - part 1

From bad to worse. Even more issues this week, many connected to the severe cold snap we've had here in the UK, have reduced my sewing time to practically nil. On top of that, for various reasons, I was unable to go to the dinner after all. Sigh. At least I hadn't rushed to make a new dress.

After all this, I decided that I just wanted a silly, no-pressure-if-it-goes-wrong, project to perk me up a bit. Step forward Vogue 8388.

I posted about this the other week, and its general ridiculousness just stuck in my mind. Plus, I had a suspicion that I had some 'suitable' fabric in my stash.

Indeed yes, I did

I have absolutely no idea how, or why, I acquired this. Possibly it was part of a mixed lot of sewing stuff which I bought at an auction. Either way, the design and colours look quite 1972 to me. It's like a thick georgette, so far more drapey than the taffeta used in the Vogue Pattern Book examples.

The huuuge collar of view A was a bit much, even for me, so I decided to embrace the silliness and go with view C.

Frilled to bits

But before I could cut it out, there were alterations to consider. I needed to make the bodice both wider and shorter. The instructions on the pattern are to lengthen or shorten pieces 1 and 2 just above the waistline.

The pattern pieces

However, I would need to shorten the pattern so much that this would make the sleeves start pretty much at the waist. And because I sometimes have to narrow the shoulders on patterns these days, I didn't want to include all the extra width in the bodice pieces, either. So instead I made some of the changes on the main part of the bodice, and some where the sleeve fits into it. This meant that I had to alter the sleeve as well, but hopefully it will improve the overall look.

The narrowing at the top of the sleeve was tapered away to nothing lower down, because I wanted to keep the glorious seventies fullness at the cuff.

Blue lines - widening, red lines - shortening

It’s now all cut out and ready to go. I’ve got another busy week coming up, but hopefully I’ll manage to squeeze in a little sewing time somewhere.

Sunday 11 December 2022


Family issues have taken up a lot of what was meant to be my sewing time this week, to the extent that there's no chance of my completing my evening bag in time for the fancy dinner. I have a much simpler Plan B, but it's nowhere near advanced enough to make a blog post. So instead . . .

My latest acquisition

Vintage machine-wise, I've always been a Singer Girl, so with this I feel as though I've crossed over to the dark side! It all started ages ago, when I spotted this machine on an auction website.

It was all the fault of this picture

I had never seen blue and green decals before; most designs I've come across are gold, with occasional hints of reds, oranges or yellows. Courtesy of this webpage, I discovered that it was actually one of the many machines which Jones made under other names for various retailers, and that 'Kildare' was the brand name for Wm Whiteley Ltd in London.

Clearly, I am a sucker for a pretty decal - it's what first drew me to Deltic Elsie. So when I spotted a familiar image in the catalogue of my local auction house, of course I had to go to the viewing to take a look. I know almost nothing about shuttle machines but. . . everything moved, the shuttle was there (the one thing which I do know is crucial), the machine appeared to be in good condition, there were no dodgy electrics to consider and, well, one thing led to another!

The all-important shuttle

The case is different from either Singer bentwood cases or the more rectangular 'coffin tops'. The finish on both it and the machine base is in a poor state - when I peeled off the lot number sticker, the varnish underneath came away with it. I may end up sanding all the wood down and redoing it. On the plus side, the key is there, and the lock works.

Looking rather battered

The back of the machine is as ornate as the front.

More decals

I'm not sure how much it has been used. It is dusty/grubby on the outside, but there's no accumulation of fluff or grot inside. When I lifted the machine up, I found a pristine underside.

Well cleaned or barely oiled? I can't decide

I also found the instruction manual in the space under the machine. It appears to be dated September 1935, which fits in with the information I could find about the decals and serial number on this website.

'9/35' just visible at the bottom right

Looking though the instructions I discovered that Emilie (at some point, I will write a post about how my machines got their names) possesses a feature which none of my other vintage machines have, not even Mum's 1952 99K - reverse stitching!


She also still has all the feet which came as standard and, importantly, a couple of spare bobbins.

Feet for hemming, binding, braiding and quilting

There are also a couple of packets of needles, condition not yet checked. Pretty much the only thing which I know about vintage Jones machines is that they don't take what are now 'standard' needles i.e. 15x1. Instead, they take 128x1, which aren't readily available. Fortunately, I have discovered that Helen Howes sells them, and in a variety of sizes as well.

There isn't the wealth of information about the Jones CS that there is about Singer 66s and 99s, so cleaning and restoring Emilie is definitely going to be a voyage of discovery!

Sunday 4 December 2022

The lampshade bag - part 1, the design

Yes, it's happened again.

Detail from the Great Tapestry of Scotland

For once, there is actually some justification for an entirely new project, other than my usual, "I just fancy doing it". I'm going to a fancy dinner in a couple of weeks - so fancy that the dress code is 'black tie'. Ooh er.

Reader, I do not inhabit that sort of world. This will be, at most, the second black tie event I have attended in my entire life. (I was a friend's 'plus one' at a formal dinner when we were students, but that was so long ago that I can't now remember just how formal said dinner was.) A quick google has revealed that for women, 'black tie' equates to 'long dress'. I don't possess any modern long dresses and, given that on current form I won't need one again for another 35 years, I don't intend to make one. So instead, I'm going to wear the one long dress I do have, my faux-Fortuny Delphos.

The one problem with this plan is that I don't have a suitable evening bag. My sunray bag is completely wrong and my wedding bag, while definitely a good match for the dress, is just too small - it dates, obviously, from a time when I could rely on Mr Tulip taking care of paraphenalia. So a new, appropriate, bag is needed.

Because I possess a brain which carefully stores useless information while gleefully discarding why-I-went-upstairs in the time it takes me to get upstairs, I remembered that as well as clothes and textiles, Mariano Fortuny also designed light fittings. This seemed like a good starting point for a possible bag design. If I had the time, I would love to make something based on this shape.

Silk Fortuny lamps on sale in Venice

But I don't, so instead I'm using these as my inspiration.

More Fortuny lamps - painted silk and wooden frames

As ever, I began by considering what I would have in the bag - glasses, phone, keys etc. I had this small carboard box to hand, and discovered that it was just the right size to hold everything.

My starting point

Using the dimensions of the diamond I'd drawn on the box, I tried to sketch out the overall design.

Attempting the design in two dimensions (and failing)

I realised however that this would simply replicate the box shape, which wasn't what I wanted. It was only when I drew the base onto the box that I could see what I needed to change.

The corners need to be 'cut off'

I really struggle to visualise size and capacity, so the only thing to do was make a mock-up, as I would with dressmaking. I rescued an old cereal packet from the recycling drawer, and set to work on my 'toile'.

Showing the lower part of the structure from two different angles

I added further large triangles at the top to complete the bag shape, and then smaller ones to make the 'lid'.

The completed 'bag'

The basic structure will be made from the same very sturdy pelmet interfacing as I used for the sunray bag. The next step is to cut out the pieces, and cover them with plain cotton. I can then start thinking about the outer layer.