I love perusing ebay for vintage sewing patterns, and a couple weeks after emerging victorious from a bidding war over a terrific lot of 45 patterns (mostly from the ’60s and ’70s, but some from the ’50s as well) — my package arrived in the mail! I just love the vintage illustrations, the fonts…the yellowed paper and the worn edges of the envelopes. And, of course, I can’t wait to sew one of these! I have my eye on a fab ’70s tunic that looks like something Jane Fonda would have worn in Klute.
I used another free Burda pattern — the “Steffi” — to create this lightweight jacket for spring. The original pattern had a sort of military style collar which didn’t quite look right on me, so I changed that, and I also added these pleated trim sleeves for extra girliness. As you can tell, I love this vintage yellow fabric (I found yards of it at a thrift store over ten years ago!) as I’ve already made a shoulder bag and two mini totes with it.
Photos by Cici Sutjiono
2008 – 2008 R.I.P.
Lest you think my sewing experiences thus far have been all positive, let me introduce you to the garment that was a thorn in my side for a week before I had to finally bid the cursed project adieu.
I hadn’t learned yet how to properly sew on elastic, so one armhole opening was bigger and less stretchy than the other. I also accidentally topstitched one armhole’s edge a different color thread from the other.
But the armholes were the least of my problems. Sure it looks alright from the front. but the back was driving me CRAZY! I messed up when seaming the back yoke to the back, so the gathers were puffing out so much that I looked like I had extra large shoulder blades (see below).
So when my brand new serger arrived at my doorstep mid-project, I thought that I would simultaneously try to learn how to use it whilst fixing the back seams of this top. Big mistake. Behold, if you can stomach it, the result of my hubris:
AAAAAAACK!!!! I have to look away.
Wow, showing this to the world really kills my ego. But, hey, the more mistakes we make, the more we learn.
Alright, so I didn’t really throw it in the bin. I saved it for scrap material.
I am in love with the LulaLouise.com reversible handbag. Get yourself to that site and download the free pattern!
I’ve made these two so far and will probably make a dozen more!
(Photos by Cici Sutjiono)
On Burdastyle.com, this dress (with free pattern available for download) is called the “Anda.” Honestly, a dress can’t be much more simple to make than this. Only two pattern pieces to sew together and an elastic casing set high at the waist does all the shaping. I thought it was a bit plain made with a solid color fabric, so I tried to make it a bit spacey/futuristic by adding that inverted triangle applique to the front — and now it looks a bit Mork from Ork. Haha.
(For those who were born after 1985, find out who Mork is here.)
(Photo by Cici Sutjiono)
I’ve only used one of Wendy Mullin’s sewing patterns (I also have her terrific book, Sew U) and I’m already in love. Her designs are stylish and simple and her instructions are so easy to understand.
As a sewing novice, I thought I might have been in over my head when I began, but I just kept following the steps, which were so intuitive — and the dress turned out pretty well. I bought the fabric from SewzannesFabrics.com who shipped it over at lightning speed!
Buy the dress pattern here. I have four more of her patterns sitting uncut in their envelopes and I can’t wait to try them out.
(Photo by Cici Sutjiono.)
My mother sews and I’ve got two aunts who are professional seamstresses. Seeing them work during my childhood and teen years always made me afraid to give it a try — it looked so frighteningly meticulous. But today, thanks to modern technology giving us computerized machines and free sewing lessons on You Tube, I’ve learned how to make clothing that’s actually wearable. Outside. In public even.
I bought my Brother CS-6000 machine early last month, and to help me learn how to use it, I enrolled in Sew L.A.’s Machine Basics 101 class. It was fantastic, and I highly recommend Sherry’s class to anyone living in the LA area with a desire to learn how to sew. She’s amazingly patient and a terrific teacher. We learned the basics of machine operation and made a simple, unlined tote bag during the 3 hour session, and when I went home, I immediately made two more totes.
I am now a bonafide junkie who scours Burdastyle.com (an online sewing community) on a daily basis for pictures of members’ creations, new patterns and how-tos; searches ebay for vintage fabrics and patterns; spends far too much money on sewing notions…and who just bought a second machine (a serger/overlock).
Photo by Cicilia Sutjiono
So after sewing a couple of totes, I decided to just dive in and make a dress. I downloaded this tunic dress pattern for free from Burdafashion.com and then went to the Goodwill to buy some practice fabric. I figured it would be unwise to spend loads of money on nice fabric when I’m just starting to figure this thing out. What I found was this cute flat bedsheet with an adorable scandavian-style pattern (IKEA perhaps?) — so I bought it and started sewing away.
Here’s what tripped me up the most: the yoke and yoke facings. I ended up with two extra pattern pieces that I didn’t know what to do with! If I was a mechanic putting together an engine, I would have been in big trouble. I didn’t realize that I had to use the yoke facings on the inside of the dress in order to give that area support and so that I wouldn’t have to finish the neck edges. So then I had to teach myself how to do bias binding. Here is when I wished I was under the tutelage of someone who actually knew what they were doing!
Ah well, for all the trouble, it was definitely worth it in the end. Who knew a bedsheet could be so fun to wear?
A few years ago around Christmas, my sister started crocheting these terrific scarves for people as gifts (I love mine!). Now, my sister has a list of friends longer than my arm and both my legs, so she got in way over her head and found herself crocheting into the wee hours of the morning to finish before Christmas Eve. I so do not have the same problem as I can list all of my friends and acquaintances on one side of a folded paper napkin.
Anyway, I always said that one day I’d teach myself to crochet, so a couple months ago, I did. I’m not doing anything fancy (I’d like too soon) but I’m making lots of simple, practical things that I can actually use like handwarmers, neckwarmers, small purses and chunky house socks (my favorite!). No pics of the socks, but I promise to post some soon.
My husband Dane, the excellent listener that he is, remembered me mentioning a couple of times that I’d always wanted to take up painting. I’ve sketched for fun in the past, but I’ve never painted. So this past Christmas, he got me paints, an easel, brushes and some very intimidating blank canvases. I rolled up my sleeves and dove in head first — finishing these paintings (and a few more) in about a week. Haha. Sadly, when other pursuits took hold of me, I put the paints aside. I do plan on picking the brushes up again as I’ve been commissioned by a somewhat twisted friend of mine to do a portrait of Gruss vom Krampus.
Couple with Floating Head and Pedestal (acrylic)
Woman by Moroccan Window (acrylic)
Woman on Dark Red (acrylic)
Monks in Snow (acrylic and newspaper)