Galaxy bowling shirt from a vintage Style pattern

So this was a ridiculous and fun project.

bowling shirt front

I made it for the Spoolettes bowling trip, which was an extremely good night out involving bowling, karaoke, large pizzas, and ice-cream cocktails. The shirt was a last minute panic effort on the Thursday and Friday night before the big event.

Luckily I managed to make it entirely from materials I already had. I rummaged around in my messy pattern stash to discover this gem from the Paul Knight shop in Stevenage (not bought by me, you’ll be surprised to hear). From the styling I’m guessing it’s late 70s/early 80s.

photo 2

At some point in the long journey from Stevenage to Hackney, the pattern pieces had come unmoored from the instructions, so I had to wing it.

My main problem was that I’d never made this kind of collar, and I had no idea what it was even called. Eventually I found a good tutorial from the much-missed ‘pattern scissors cloth’ blog after extensive googling.

Is it a rolled collar? A blazer collar? Any ideas?

Either way it is magnificently massive, in a 70s kind of way.

shirt close-up

This pattern also featured something I’d never seen before, a tiny dart in the front. I think this supposed to help you fold back the lapels, although mine were actually folded in front of the dart. If you can shed any light on this I’d be intrigued to hear more.

photo 1

The fabric is a kid’s duvet cover from Tescos, already used by several sewists including Katie and Emily. You can see it here online, although it’s been sold out for a while.

I bought it a long time ago but it’s not the most lovely fabric in the world, to be honest. It’s thin but stiff and feels quite cardboardy. But it’s perfect for a space bowling shirt. The burnt orange contrast stuff was a remnant I got in a fabric sample sale, it’s slightly sueded and I think it suits the massive collar.

shirt back

Here’s a cool thing I discovered when making this shirt. While reading the manual for probably the second time in 8 years, I found out that my Bernina can sew pre-programmed letters. They’re straight stitch so it’s not technically embroidery, but its pretty awesome anyway.

Obviously I chose to embroider ‘COSMIC BOWL’ on to my shirt.

cosmic bowl

I didn’t get any good photos on the night as I was chatting too much, but you can see some great ones on triumphant winner Sally’s blog Charity Shop Chic here, Sew Dixie Lou here, Diary of a Chain Stitcher here, Nicole Needles here, and My Oh Sew Vintage Life here.

Will I ever wear this again? To be honest, my bowling skills don’t really justify a specialised shirt for the activity. But I’m sure it will see the light of day at some point. And if I ever want to open up a 50s space-themed diner, I already have my own uniform!


Sew Over It winners and dream patterns from Miss Betty’s Attic

Thanks to everyone who entered the Sew Over It Giveaway! I have the winners here – drumroll please….

Sew Over It Giveaway winnersKat, Jana, and Liz A, you have all won a shiny new Sew Over It pattern! Check your inboxes for details.

Thank you for all the entries, it was certainly enlightening reading about everybody’s dream pattern. I particularly liked all the requests for a pattern that fits right out of the envelope. I dream about this too, but sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen in this world (maybe in the next one, where we’ll also get assistance from good-looking angels to cut out our patterns and hand-sew our hems).

Sorry for the delay in posting this giveaway. As a consolation prize, please accept the news that Miss Betty’s Attic, one of the best vintage pattern sellers on Etsy, is currently giving a 50% discount on all her stock. I have a horrible feeling this means she’s shutting up shop, so take advantage while you can!

Here are my dream pattern picks:

Gorgeous 1940s dress pattern with built-in boob pockets!
Gorgeous 1940s dress pattern with built-in boob pockets! Those ladies are giving somebody serious side-eye.
I know it's a bit Star Trek esque (down to the strange communicator brooch) but that's why I love it.
I know it’s a bit Star Trek (down to the strange communicator brooch) but that’s why I love it
Man tailored 50s jacket
‘Man-tailored’ boxy 50s jacket – I would buy this in a heartbeat if it wasn’t a size 30

Here’s the link to Miss Betty’s Attic – the code for 50% off is ‘TAKE50’

Brand new shirt – from a vintage Maudella pattern (again)

I’ve made another Maudella pattern! I just can’t stop. I’m a Maudella machine.

maudella shirt 5

It’s a 70s shirt pattern that I’ve posted about before, I couldn’t resist buying it from Ebay, although I wouldn’t exactly describe my lifestyle as ‘ship and shore’, whatever that means. It includes a pattern for a rather excellent pair of 70s bellbottoms which I may make at some stage.

Photo nicked from Ebay seller as I couldn't find the envelope in my sewing room
Photo nicked from Ebay seller as I couldn’t find the envelope in my sewing room

I really liked the yokes on this pattern, and the pocket placement on the front. I can let you into a little secret though – the pockets are completely non-functional.

maudella shirt closeup

The pattern has you sew two pointy rectangles right sides together, turn them right side out, fold over the top point and topstitch the whole thing down. Does that make any sense at all? Anyway they look neat, and I never use shirt pockets anyway.

I spent a lot of time working on the shoulder and bodice fit of this pattern, but somehow forgot to account for my gorilla arms so the sleeves are too short. I mostly wear them rolled up anyway.

shirt done up

The collar has a pointy finish to the band, which you can see when it’s buttoned up to the top. I know it’s trendy but I feel like I’m suffocating when I wear shirts like this. Maybe I have a particularly thick neck (must be all that weightlifting I do).

Here’s the back, with a lovely matching pointy yoke.

maudella shirt 2

This shirt was almost entirely brought to you by Wonder Tape. If you haven’t used this, it’s a thin double-sided sticky tape that dissolves in the wash, and which you can sew through without gumming up your needle.

photo (3)

This stuff has transformed my sewing career. It’s a brilliant cheating aid for lazy people who can’t be bothered to pin and baste, like myself. I used it to stick down the yokes and pockets before topstitching them, as well as securing the button placket facing before stitching in the ditch.

The fabric is a fine dotted swiss, part of my Peter Jensen sample sale haul. Yeah, I’m still working through it! I’ve still got a metre and a half left. Not sure what to do with it. Suggestions welcome! I don’t think I need two beige shirts….

maudella shirt 6

Vintage Maudella dress in coffee coloured polka dot crepe

Well what do you know – it’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK and the sun actually came out! And having the Monday off means I have a bit of extra time to catch up with blogging.

I’ve got so many new things to show you, but our internet at home has been broken, which has made it a bit tricky. Anyway, I’ve managed to get online now, so fingers crossed it holds out until I finish this post.

This is a new dress I made for a wedding last weekend in Scotland. It POURED with rain but it was a lovely day, and everyone was safely indoors (except for the poor bagpiper standing outside the hotel, who had huge streams of water running from his cape.)


I won this crepe fabric in a giveaway run by the lovely Rehanon. I think the coffee colour makes enormous polka-dots look quite sophisticated, and it was gorgeous to sew with.

The pattern has the same shoulder treatment as the Colette Ceylon, but it’s actually a vintage Maudella pattern which I won on Ebay for 99p! You’ve seen it before, but here’s the envelope again, just cos I love it:

maudella dress front

I’d definitely make this again – it’s pretty quick to put together, and the shoulder yokes are so cute! I did two things that really made a difference. I bought posh interfacing from the English Couture Company, which made the usual stuff I sew with look like old cardboard in comparison. And I worked very hard on adjusting this dress around the shoulders, so the sleeves aren’t sliding off for once.

Unfortunately tissue-fitting didn’t show me that the centre front neck was far too big. It looks okay, but I’m going to rip out the facing and bring that front seam in a bit. I’m loathe to start making muslins for everything, so I’ll just chalk it up to experience.

dress bodice on hanger

I probably should have lined this dress, but I didn’t have the time or the fabric, so I took the cheater’s option. That’s buying a slip from M&S to go underneath. Specifically, this one.

I heartily recommend doing this. A lot of vintage dresses aren’t lined and were designed to be worn with a matching slip, so there’s a precedent! I kept thinking ‘well I could make my own slip….’ but then I came to my senses and realised I sew for fun, and that would not be fun.

I also added belt loops using this easy-peasy Colette patterns tutorial, and felt very smug about it too (although one broke halfway through the night, boo. I was dancing quite a lot).

dress belt loop
Belt Loop Action!

So, in conclusion, hooray for Maudella patterns! As well as this dress and this skirt, I’ve made another piece of clothing from this English pattern company in May, which I will post about soon (she said unconvincingly).

Here’s another photo just to prove that I can smile in pictures:


Mustard and navy stripes – Burda Feb 2013

So, I am obviously ripping off channelling Zoe with my latest sewing efforts. She has just posted a rather delicious outfit with exactly the same colour scheme as this one.

In my defence, I did sew this skirt about 4 months ago, but winter has thwarted my photo taking efforts.

Honestly, how do other bloggers do it? All these smiling outdoor photos. I reckon I spend a maximum of 2 hours outside per week at the moment. Most of that is spent bundled up in an enormous coat, hat, gloves, and scarf, walking briskly from bus stop to house/office, so photo taking is minimal. (My vitamin D levels are also very minimal at this point.)

skirt and top
This pleated skirt is made from a vintage pattern and sewn from the huge Peter Jensen haul that I’m still working through.

I’m not convinced about this pattern & fabric together. It’s a lovely colour but an odd weight – doesn’t pleat well, just crumples like old paper instead. After seeing these photos I’m tempted to remove the pleats and turn it into an A-line. It looks so sad and droopy.

I used some lovely wooden buttons, actually sent to me by Zoe (told you I was stalking her). The pocket flaps are fake, which I normally hate, but they’re so cute and 70s I couldn’t resist adding them.
skirt 3
The top is from Burda February 2013. Melissa made a great version here.

You may notice my, ahem, design detail of an extra stripe down the front. All I can say is, if you’re running short of fabric, double check which pattern piece is the front and which is the back BEFORE cutting.

There’s no use in feeling smug about how well you’ve matched up the stripes on the back, if that smugness gives way to a sinking realisation that yes, that’s actually the front piece you’ve cut in half and sewed back together.

Ah well, I think my solution basically works. I just cut out a single stripe and top-stitched it over the join. And it meant I could make this top out of just one metre of striped jersey from Tissu Fabrics.
skirt and top 2
Incidentally, Collins Wonder Tape is the best thing ever for stripe-matching on slippery jersey. Just stick the pieces together and sew away! I bought a roll a year and a half ago in the US, and I’ll be stocking up when it runs out (it’s also amazing for zips, hems, and blind top-stitching facings).
In other news, I have GIANT HANDS.

I might also be going slightly crazy from lack of sunlight. Please send cod liver oil tablets, and/or a 2-week Caribbean holiday.

Maudella patterns from the 60s and 70s

Fun fact of the day: Did you know that New Look patterns actually started out as Maudella, a British company? It was set up in 1937 in Yorkshire. Now owned by Simplicity, of course. I’ve never sewn a New Look pattern, but I love Maudella.

maudella new look

You can still find super-old Maudella patterns on Ebay, but my favourites are from the 60s/70s era. They mostly put out simple separates and dresses, and they’re so go-ahead, so peppy, so Helen Gurley Brown-era Cosmopolitan reader.

I’ve got two in my collection. Firstly this sweetheart dress with puffed sleeves, which I got for 99p on Ebay. 70s patterns are still going cheap at the moment, but I think more people are looking for them.

Will the same thing ever happen to those 80s monstrosities all over Etsy, I wonder? Who will rehabilitate the immense puffed sleeve?
maudella dress front

This pattern may actually be from the late 60s, not 70s at all. I love the dolly shoes. Clarks are doing a similar vintage style at the moment that I’m coveting.

My other Maudella find is this one, which Kerrie kindly sent me. This is a hard-working pattern: you get a double-darted pencil skirt for weekdays in the typing pool, and a long floral a-line number for relaxing in at the weekend, crocheting a new afghan perhaps. The woman on the left has some extreme pointy nails going on.

maudella skirt

Maudella patterns don’t pop up that much on Ebay and Etsy.  I’m kind of in love with this ‘Ship n Shore Leave’ beauty that’s currently available.


These people don’t seem to belong to the same pattern, with Ms. Flower Power on the right, a homage to Chairman Mao at the back, and God-knows-what on the left. Funky chef’s uniform?

The illustrations are nearly always great on Maudella envelopes. I’ll leave you with this beauty, which is rather risque for a vintage pattern. Check out the lady in pink at the bottom, going for some tan-line-free sunbathing…


Vintage patterns from Miss Betty’s Attic

Well, it’s been a bit quiet here lately. I have been doing some sewing but generally I’ve either been doing temp work or applying for jobs, fun activities I’m sure you’ll agree, but possibly not the most exciting of blog topics.

There were a couple of things I wanted to highlight:

And the last and most important thing:

Yes, that’s 20% off vintage pattern heaven, the shop where most of my disposable income goes.

The discount code is SPRINGY20, which Kestrel Finds and Makes has kindly arranged as part of her birthday celebrations, so hop over there and say thanks!

I have my eye on a couple of patterns, which I’m not going to post in case one of you buys them, but here are some of my other favourites:

This ‘Cleopatra meets a dental hygienist on the Starship Enterprise’ mash-up is rather special.

Pattern by Miss Betty's Attic

This next one is SO 60s. I wouldn’t wear it to any festivals, in case you are mistaken for a large teepee by any wandering hippies who will then form an acoustic guitar circle beneath your ample fabric shelter.

Aptly named tent dress by Miss Betty's Attic

This one is very Annie Hall, and actually looks like a super nice jacket pattern.

Pattern by Miss Betty's Attic

Do you have any favourite Etsy vintage pattern sellers?

Trend prediction for 2012: Unnecessary skirts

I’ve been slowing down my vintage pattern buying lately. When I do buy it’s exclusively online – old patterns in London vintage shops are usually hideously marked up, and when you’re used to Etsy prices, forking out a tenner for an 70s dungarees pattern stings a bit.

(reminds me of a late 60s/early 70s shift dress I saw at a fair in East London.Extremely ‘distressed’, unlined, and made from polyester. The price? £75, because, as the woman solemnly said to me “This is a very, very rare piece. It’s actually from the 1960s. It’s old!”. Er, thanks love. I’ll stick to online vintage shopping then)

Anyway, I had to break both of my self-imposed rules to buy Blackmore So-Easy 9422, because I’ve never seen a British-made sewing pattern for sale before.

Blackmore 9422 vintage sewing pattern

It’s a very simple shift dress, but I love the slim overskirt which buckles up at the front, or can be held casually over the arm if you… I don’t know, get too hot? Where would you wear an overskirt, anyway? I guess it would be handy for the Railway Children/runaway train situation recently discussed on this blog.

Some super chic accessorising going on as well. A flicky bouffant, long white gloves, pointy stilettoes, AND chunky jewellery? Nice.

I did a bit of online sleuthing on Blackmore, which was set up in 1845 by 8 siblings, who sound extremely interesting to say the least. 4 of them were deaf, one was a chemist, one managed a dress-shop, one was a ‘Professor of Shorthand’, and one was a mannequin for a fashion house (anticipating the work of Tom Cruise by over 100 years)

Anyway, it looks like my pattern is from the late 50s, as that’s when Blackmore were bought by the Associated British Paper Patterns Limited, the name written on the back of the envelope.

The tissue is marked with holes rather than printed on, and the instruction sheet is rather short and sweet. I assume that the phrase ‘Turnings are allowed on this pattern’ means that the hem allowance is included?

It’s a shame that there isn’t a home-grown British pattern industry operating at the moment. Even all the awesome new start-ups seem to be across the pond (Colette patterns, Sewaholic, etc).

I did find a few more Blackmore patterns on Etsy – click on the picture to see the listing.

Demonic Pippi Longstocking in a tweed cape, anyone? No?

Vintage Blackmore Cape Pattern from vintageblondedesign on Etsy
Vintage Blackmore Cape Pattern from vintageblondedesign on Etsy

This voluminous nightgown is actually rather sweet (and suitable for newspaper reading, apparently)

Vintage Nightdress Pattern from TheBrightonEmporium on Etsy

Shirtdress patterns are two a penny, but I really like the inverted pleat on this one (more redheads as well – are they related to the evil cape-wearing child, perhaps?)

Shirtwaister dress from kt3 on Etsy
Shirtwaister dress from kt3 on Etsy

That’s about it really, there’s doesn’t seem to be that many of these patterns out there.

Have you heard of Blackmore before? Do you know of any British sewing companies? And most importantly, would you wear a buckled-on overskirt, and if so, in what situation would you remove it?

Friday crafty, arty and sewing links

Here’s some interesting new things I’ve found on the internet this week (actually most of them are from last week, as that’s when I intended to publish this before forgetting all about it, so it’s basically some lazy, stale and re-heated content. Sorry about that.)

Vintage 1950s / 60s dress pattern - Vogue Special Design 4259 - Bust 34
Image source: glassoffashion

  • Nice to see an Etsy pattern seller based in the UK. I was eyeing up the pattern above in her shop for a while and I’m SO glad that somebody else bought it, honest. I know the cowl neck would never sit right and that I’d be fiddling with the back wrap all the time, and I can’t afford it anyway, and really I know it would be happier with someone else, someone far better at sewing that I could ever be (*breaks down in sobs*)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Autumn sewing: blouses and shirts

A/W11 Blouses
This is my first Polyvore set! I know I’m approximately 5 years too late for the Polyvore party, but it’s great, isn’t it? Saves lots of time messing around in Photoshop.
One of my A/W11 sewing resolution is to make more shirts/blouses, and there are lots around at the moment for inspiration. I’ve picked out some favourites above in a nice Autumnal colour palette. Luckily this is all fantasy shopping, as they range in price from ‘cheap as chips’, to three times more than my sewing machine cost’

I find it frustrating shopping for blouses on the high-street, as they never fit properly and they’re normally made with 100% polyester so cheap you trail a shower of static sparks whenever you move. But they’re pretty rewarding to sew; they don’t take much fabric and there’s lots to customise. It’s probably wise to avoid using too many ruffles, ribbons, and bows, in case you evoke the Grayson Perry effect, but in general you can mess around with them however you like.

I am planning on sewing one with a flat/Peter Pan collar, which is apparently big this season. The Peter Pan collar’s been around for a while – Carole Lombard was putting her name to them in the 1930s:

Carole Lombard 1930s blouse pattern
Image source: Etsy seller iandrummondvintage

They were perched on top of these AMAZING sunray darts in the 1940s (I want this pattern so much! If you are a 30 bust you must buy it)

Vintage 40s Blouse Pattern Vogue 6226 Size 12 Bust 30
Image source: Etsy seller lisaanne1960

And they went very modern in the 60s. Loving the bowl haircut on the left.

1960s Peter Pan collar mod version
Image source: Etsy seller HeyChica

I think it’s best to draw a veil over what happened to the poor Peter Pan collar in the 80s.

My plan is to use the Built By Wendy shirt pattern from the first Sew U book and add a drafted flat collar. I’ve also pre-ordered the brilliant new Jasmine pattern from Colette Patterns. I’ve been looking for something like it for ages – it reminds me a lot of the Topshop blouse which is bottom right in the collage above, but it’s bias cut so you don’t even have to sew any buttonholes. Bonus.
Do you have any favourite blouse/shirt patterns? What’s the difference between a blouse and shirt anyway?

Miu Miu and the 1940s

I bought the September issue of Vogue this week, just so I’d have something to read on the train.  I buy less and less fashion mags these days. Feel a bit reluctant to fork over a fiver for a publication that is 90 per cent ads, especially when most of the ads are dull as dishwater. The only one that really stood out to me was this one, Hailee Steinfeld looking like Lauren Bacall in Miu Miu.

I know there’s been some controversy over whether she’s too young to model for the label (she’s only 14), and it does seem absurd considering how much the clothes cost, but I just love this photo. The look on her face is perfect, and the blouse, hair-do, and eyebrows make her the spitting image of a mini-Lauren.

Hailee Steinfeld in Miu Miu

It also totally reminds me of the passage in By Myself  (best celebrity autobiography OF ALL TIME) where Bacall describes her wedding in a little house out in the country – she makes an entrance down a flight of stairs and is shaking so much when she sees Bogart she can hardly speak. She was only 20 when she got married, just 6 years older than Hailee.

Lauren Bacall wearing blouses

Here’s the outfit Hailee’s wearing, as seen on the catwalk. The Miu Miu AW 2011 collection is amazing, it’s totally 1940s. I love this blouse with huge sleeves, a high neck and a yoke.

Lots of similar patterns on Etsy:

40s Butterick 4659 Blouse with Jabot or Collar, Yoke and Pleat, Size 16 Bust 34I love version C, using stripes in both directions

40s Butterick 3976 Blouse with Smart Yoke High Neckline Puff Sleeves Size 16 Bust 34Perfect Bacall-esque waves on this pattern illustration.

Vintage 40s Blouse Pattern Vogue 5418 Size 16 Bust 34This one’s a bit more Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday

I can’t see the huge sleeves on these coming back into high-street stores – they require a lot of fabric so are more expensive to produce than short sleeved versions. They do look great tucked into the pencil skirts which everyone’s supposed to be wearing this winter (again according to Vogue).

I have a length of original 40s/50s crepe I bought on a stall in Spitalfields market which I want to use to make a shirt dress a bit like these blouses. Then I just need to work out how to roll my hair like the Miu Miu models…

Even more vintage sewing patterns

Here are some more old patterns that I’ve picked up via ebay, etsy, and from overpriced vintage markets throughout London. I have a lot of these 60s style patterns that desperately call from the envelope ‘Easy!’ or ‘Jiffy!’ or ‘Only 3 pieces!!’ They don’t have as many interesting design details as the 40s or 50s patterns, and generally take less fabric, have less pieces, and are easier to sew. Empire line waists feature heavily, as do a-line skirts. I like them though, they are neat and simple and cute.

This is a nice raglan sleeved 3-pattern piece dress, but I haven’t made it yet – I’m worried it could look a little bit sack-like. I love the polka-dot bandana on the blue and red lady. Very kicky. The bell sleeves are fun.


Simplicity 6730


This is another super-cute pattern which I don’t think I’ll ever make due to similar potato sack issues. It’s described as a ‘three-armhole dress’ which seems anatomically confusing.


Simplicity 8080


The back of the envelope makes it a bit clearer – it’s one huge pattern piece plus facings. ‘SIMPLE-TO-SEW’! it says hopefully.



Okay, so this is definitely a 70s pattern, as shown by the post-decimalisation price of 35p, but isn’t it fabulous? I like the insouciant hands-on-hips pose of the lady in lilac. It’s hard to look that cheerful while wearing a vaguely ethnic embroidered wizard bathrobe.


This poor pattern has been battered around but it’s quite Mary Quant, no? There is much to admire about it, including the description of the redhead’s outfit as a ‘pant-dress’, the lady on the left who plays for the world’s most stylish women’s football team, and the yellow tunic + flares + waist scarf ensemble. This is allegedly a pattern for knits but I am tempted to try and make it up in stretch cotton.

Here’s another beauty, which looks more early 60s to me, although I could be wrong? I bought it from a vintage haberdashery stall at Spitalfields market which is always there on Thursdays. They have loads of trimmings, buttons, and old magazines, and I once bought a length of 1940s printed crepe for a tenner. Unfortunately I don’t work near the market any more so I haven’t been along to check out the stock for ages.


And finally I think this is my favourite cover illustration because of the amazing hair-dos, shoe (singular) and jewellery, and the lovely yellow brocade on the left. Where can I get some fabric like that? You can see I haven’t looked after poor Style 1930 very well despite my love, and have tried to tape up the poor lady on the left (not only is she decapitated, she also has no legs below the knee)


Style 1930

Now to do a bit more etsy searching…