Vintage + Vintage

I was really pleased with the style and fit of my grey denim twill version of this re-issued vintage pattern from the 1960s so had always had planned to use it again. Apologies for a second post about it so soon after the first but the new version is quite different.

When I spotted this piece of vintage fabric on The Eternal Maker’s de-stash I ignored my decision to forego fabric purchases in May. It was my only deviation from my no new fabric commitment.  As I’ve previously reported, when I picked up my purchase from Anna she told me her grandmother had made a dress for her aunt from the fabric in the 60s and this piece was what was left over.  Anna had also altered and worn the original dress herself many years later.

It’s not a style of fabric I would normally choose but I’m a sucker for vintage fabric and even more so when I know the story behind it.   I realised after I posted this photo originally that the left hand image shows the reverse of the fabric.   Apparently it’s a common practice to use the ‘wrong’ side of fabric with Hawaiian prints and my sister has a beautiful chaise upholstered using the reverse of a Sanderson fabric.  I was tempted to try it out but in the end, after much standing in front of the mirror swapping from one side to the other, I decided to stick with the ‘right’ one.

A 60s pattern paired with a 60s fabric. Hopefully a perfect combination! I have so many things on my summer sewing list but I went ahead regardless.  I made no changes this time other than not make a mess of the bottom of the invisible zip and have to unpick it three times!  I also didn’t bother finishing the neck facing with bias binding as I only had some scratchy black binding to hand.  Pattern matching across the back wasn’t possible as due to insufficient fabric but I do have a small amount left that I’m tempted to make some ruffled cuffs with.  I may go back and do that at some point.

I wore the top to the theatre on Friday night to see Tennessee Williams’ “Sweet Bird of Youth”.  I wasn’t quite in line with the fashions of the era as the play was written in 1959 but not too far off!  I usually make ‘orphan’ skirts but to be honest this is a bit of an orphan top.  The only thing I had to go with it was some black trousers.  I rather fancy a pink skirt if I can find fabric in the right colour.

I hope I’ve done this fabric justice – I wonder if anyone in the 60s paired this fabric with this pattern?

NEWS FLASH!  Don’t forget that this Wednesday, 14 June, sees the first meeting of the new Chichester sewing group.  Click here for more details.


Simplicity 1364

I finished this top a while ago but when I posted a photo of it on IG as part of #mmm17 I realised I’d never blogged about it.  I think it’s worth a mention.

This is a re-issue of a 1960s pattern which I bought after seeing the version @lois.h posted on IG.  I was planning to  make a top to go with my Christmas skirt but never got around to it.  In my quest for the perfect top pattern I decided give it a try with some pale grey denim twill from Fabworks.  It was only £5 a metre but I’ve noticed that it is now sold out which is a shame.  I was worried it would crease badly but even after wearing the top to work all day it looked fine.

The pattern has long side seam darts which didn’t need adjusting and a lovely neckline (I’ve explained before about my preference for a high neckline!).  I would say that it’s not quite the same neckline as the illustration, I was expecting it to be more like the Gable Top, but I’m fine with the way it turned out.

The only adjustment I made was to the sleeves which were, as always, too long.  There’s a elbow dart which had to be moved to make sure it was level with my elbow.  It’s a pretty quick and easy sew and a definite wardrobe staple.

My version isn’t quite as fitted as the cover illustration and I may add a bit more shaping at the waist next time.  I’m hoping it will also work tucked into a skirt.  It has a long invisible zip at the back which I have to admit was unpicked a couple of times.  The zips previously stocked by C & H Fabrics are apparently no longer available and I’m not so happy with the alternative they now sell.  I think the one I used in the end came from Ditto and it’s fine – but there is a teeny mess at the bottom as a result of the unpicking.  I’ve not photographed it because I’m gradually learning to ignore it!    I edged the facing with bias binding because I like the neat finish it gives.

I’ve seen a lovely sleeveless version of this top by Sew DIY in black and white gingham which would be perfect for the summer – if and when it arrives!

I also have this lovely vintage fabric I bought from Anna at The Eternal Maker.  Her grandmother made a dress for her aunt from it in the late 60s and I have what was left over!  Might be a perfect match with this 60s pattern!

Hawaiian Vintage

This post is particularly relevant as it is Makers for Fashion Revolution Week, a campaign which asks the question “Who made my clothes?”  Whilst I make most of mine it has set me off thinking more about where the fabric I buy has come from.  I am sometimes guilty of succumbing to the temptation to buy lovely new fabric without too much thought about how or where it was made.

However, I do also buy secondhand fabric and we spend a LOT of time in Chichester’s charity shops, usually doing a trawl of most of them on a Saturday.  Our favourite, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Retro & Vintage shop at Eastgate Square.

Over several recent visits I’d noticed a folded piece of fabric tied with string and labelled “?1960s vintage fabric”.  I picked it up more than once but the colours weren’t really what I would normally pick so back on the shelf it went.  I eventually decided that at £6 I might as well just buy it!   There turned out to be three large pieces – I’ve not measured them but there is at least enough for a dress and a skirt.

On further inspection I spotted the wording on the selvedge and did some research.

I discovered that a Conrad Von Hamm moved to Hawaii from Germany in 1890 at the age of 20 where he worked for a successful local businessman named Alexander Young.  He later married the boss’s daughter and he and his father-in-law set up the Von Hamm-Young Corp.

After his father-in-law’s death in 1910 Conrad took over and expanded the business and as well as selling machinery and automobiles he began to produce fabric under the name THC Hawaiian Textiles.  Apparently any fabrics with a VHY tag is from the 1950s – 60s, THC means that it was produced in the 1960s-70s so the shop label was correct.

Here’s the fabric in all its glory.  I’ve no idea what type of fabric it is.  When I visit Ditto Fabrics at the weekend I will ask for an expert opinion.

The design has started to grow on me since I posted the image on Instagram and had several positive comments!  I think I might try making a dress using Simplicity 1609 as this is a re-issued 60s pattern.  I’ve already made a bedsheet toile.

I would dispute the term Jiffy in relation to this pattern as there are a lot of darts to sew – neck, bust, back and seam – but miraculously the bodice is a perfect fit so no changes needed there.  I cut the 10 but did need to reduce my seam allowance slightly at the waist for breathing room.  Yes, I have put a zip into the toile – Mr Jane Makes is wonderful in many ways but not so hot on pinning someone into a toile to check the fit!  I’ve since waited a week to walk off a large Easter egg and it is still OK fit-wise!

There is a front seam too but after a conversation with @vintage_charity (who has made this dress up several times) I think I may eliminate the seam allowance and cut it on the fold to avoid the need for pattern matching on the front.


Congratulations to Rosie from DIY Couture for exceeding her fundraising target for RNIB’s Wear Dots Raise Lots campaign.  For those of you who didn’t noticed the profusion of spots on IG recently, Rosie set her own challenge for sewists to make something dotty, donate to the campaign and post a picture on social media during October.

I hadn’t even thought about taking part but, as previously mentioned, I bought this fabric from The Eternal Maker on my day out with Vintage Rock Chick.  Gold spots and stags heads for a party skirt!  I already had the sparkly gold zip but had never before found the right project to use it on.


I’d had Simplicity 1109 for a while and thought it might work.  A quick bedsheet toile later and I realised that I really loved this pattern.

I made a size 12 toile but sized down to a 10 for the final version.  The advantage of this pattern is that you really only need to toile the waistband and, if that works, the rest should be fine.  However, I toiled the whole thing to (a) see exactly how the pleats worked and (b) practice the exposed zip insertion.  The pleats are actually pretty straightforward as long as you mark them up carefully to make sure you know which direction you’re pleating in.  I did have a dimwitted moment when I thought I’d cut the waistband incorrectly until I realised I was trying to match up the side seam of the waistband with the side seam of the skirt section.   Once you’ve made the pleats the original side seam is no longer at the side – which is why there are notches to match up!  Concentrate Jane!

Onto the final version.  Early on I realised the fabric was not wide enough to accommodate the considerable width of the front section of the skirt.  There was going to be a Plan B with another fabric but I REALLY wanted to use those gold spots.  A couple of helpful people on IG suggested hiding a join in a pleat and that’s what I did.

I cut out the two back pieces then cut the remaining fabric into two strips and carefully pattern matched them (as carefully as I ever pattern match anything).  Rather than cut the fabric on the fold, I traced out a duplicate pattern piece and joined them together so that I could move the whole front section around on the fabric to so that the join hit just the right point of a pleat to ensure it was hidden as well as it could be.

I’d been pretty gung-ho with a marker pen when I was making the toile to show when the pleats went but I was obviously more cautious with the real thing.  I used lots of tailor tacks and bits of post-it note instead.  Once you join the front and the back pieces together you are left with a fairly substantial piece of fabric to attach to the waistband!

I decided to add a lining to make sure I achieved maximum fullness from this skirt.  I’d set my heart on a purple swishy lining fabric but couldn’t find anything locally. I had to go up to London last week and it so happened I had a few minutes to spare before my work appointment so I went one stop in the ‘wrong’ direction on the tube to Sloane Square and found exactly what I wanted in Peter Jones for £3 a metre.

I cut the lining fabric to exactly the same size as the skirt but rather than pleat the top I gathered it and attached it to the waistband facing which worked OK.  My only slight reservation is that I should have cut the lining slightly longer, particularly as I ended up using a smaller hem on the skirt than I’d originally intended so there’s more of a gap between the bottom of the lining and the hem of the skirt than I would have liked but who is going to notice!

I’ve tried what I would call a semi-exposed zip before and not liked it but this one is completely exposed and given its very sparkly nature it really needed to be on show.  I think it was a success.  The only thing I did differently from the pattern instruction was to hand stitch the bottom of the zip before flipping it up because my machine wasn’t happy sewing past the rather chunky zip stop.  I used a gold thread to stitch the zip which worked well.  Thank goodness I didn’t need to unpick it because the stitches disappeared into the zip completely!  A tip for using metallic thread on the sewing machine – which may be obvious but wasn’t to me straightaway – use a plain thread for the bobbin.  My first attempt resulted in split thread and machine unhappiness.

I then got completely carried away with the whole metallic theme and bought gold bias binding to finish the hem!  It was quite stiff which has had the effect of making the skirt really swirly and “sticky-outy” which is exactly what I wanted!  I also used the metallic thread to hand sew the bias binding to the main fabric.  Another tip – go very slowly when hand sewing with this thread, it snarls up/splits very easily.

I love this skirt.  I don’t know what else to say other than that I can really recommend this pattern, I think it would work with all sorts of fabrics.  I’m planning a denim one too.  Or maybe another sparkly one.


Toil(e)ing Away

Sorry about the title, it came to me while I was cleaning my teeth and just wouldn’t go away!

Having said in a previous post that I rarely buy magazines I then remembered I had bought another one a while back, tempted by three free Simplicity patterns.

One of them was this jacket which I thought would be a good starter pattern as I’ve never made a jacket before and I am somehow more nervous of starting the Morris blazer now that I’ve read through the sew-along with Grainline than I was before!


There are two versions of the jacket, one plain and the other made up of several separate bands on the front and back to create a striped effect. I think you can guess which option I went for, the likelihood of me managing to get all the stripes to match up across the front was just too remote. The version I picked just has one band along the bottom of the jacket and the sleeve. I particularly like this design because I have short arms and these bracelet length sleeves are just normal length on me!

I decided on this occasion to make a toile to get a really good fit. The pattern goes up to a size 14  and I thought the model on the packet looked a bit ‘trussed up’.  That wasn’t a look I wanted so I cut the largest size so I could work down from that.

Everything went together very easily. I don’t recall ever having set in a sleeve before and as this was just to establish the right fit I didn’t go to town on easing them in particularly carefully.  The toile certainly doesn’t bear close inspection but I got the general idea and I’ve now watched a tutorial on YouTube (I know, I should have watched that first!).

I really like the sleeve and hem bands and there is an opportunity here for some colour blocking or fabric combinations.

The jacket is lined in the main fabric, turned through the armhole and then the lined sleeves are then inserted. That sounds really straightforward when you type it but I’ve yet to decipher the instructions and I think I’ll need more than an on-line tutorial to get me through the real thing.  I may need one of you to come round to my house to help.

Back to fit. A size 14 is too big! I don’t know why I thought it would be OK because I’ve only just made up a Cynthia Rowley design and there is more than enough room in the size 10.

Jane's VersionTo make sure I could judge the front opening of the jacket I sewed under a ⅝ hem and the front overlaps quite a bit which it isn’t supposed to, although I’m not planning to include the hook and eye fastening at the front as I would never do it up.  The shoulders are also a touch too wide (although they do appear quite wide in the pattern photo).   I’m going to go for a 12 so that there is still room to move.  I think I will take the sleeves in slightly as the part that comes close to my wrist is really designed to be located around the forearm so is a bit too flappy.  As I’m always getting caught up on door handles it would be advisable to reduce that flappiness.

I was then on a toile roll so decided to trace off the tulip skirt pattern previously mentioned which was free with Simply Sewing Magazine. I did this in a bit of a rush and the pieces got a bit messy with Sharpie ink smudges all over. After I’d cut them out I got rather confused with the front pattern piece which is so much wider at the top than the bottom because of the large pleats to create the tulip shape. I’m not entirely convinced about this shape for me but hopefully the toile will decide me one way or the other.

Yes, I’ve spotted the fly which landed on the table just as I was taking this photograph! Our conservatory is an insect graveyard at this time of year due to the oven-like temperatures reached during the day. Pattern cutting activities have to be restricted to very first thing in the morning or later in the evening to avoid heatstroke.

I hope I’m not the only one to find it almost impossible to trace off the right lines in circumstances like the one on the right above!

Fabric shopping tomorrow as I’m sure I don’t have anything suitable for either of these garments …….

Too Bright for Comfort!

So far I’ve stuck with my Me-Made-May pledge.  I’m not planning to photograph every outfit (and certainly not me wearing them!) but I will mention the highlights and the less successful ones.

I was very happy in the newly repurposed top with the patch pockets mentioned in a previous post and ended up wearing this on Saturday and Sunday which was rather lazy.   It is very comfortable despite the slightly too-tight sleeves which I think are a result of me forgetting halfway through making it that the seam allowance on Hot Patterns is only ⅜ rather than ⅝.


Yesterday was a different story. The sun came out so I decided to pair the new bright green Coco with a floral skirt (Simplicity 2655). Far too much colour all in one go for me and I couldn’t wait to get home and change. This Coco top has not been an entirely happy make. The fabric is a very ‘springy’ jersey which kept curling up at the edges and I don’t really like the feel of it. I had decided to omit the side slits which was a mistake and it just wasn’t the right length. Despite the horrors of unpicking the microscopic stretch stitch that my machine produces I decided to take the plunge so the top is now shorter with side splits (tricky having already trimmed the seams). I think it will be OK in future without the floral accompaniment!

I am playing it safer today with an old favourite from Simplicity 2192. I love this shape and the fabric is a stretch shirting (not suggested on the list of recommended fabrics) which is really comfortable. I did try making it in white linen but somehow it resembled something a dentist might wear so that went to the charity shop!

I showed this next top in its unfinished state in my last post and it was completed on Saturday.   Another unpicking session took place, this time on the sleeves due to less than straight stitching, which resulted in a tiny hole. I was going to try and repair it but in the end I just chopped off the sleeve hem and started again and in fact the new sleeve length is better.  It does look a bit boring on the hanger but I’m looking forward to wearing it because the fabric is so lovely and soft.

 Grey Top Finished

My skirt today is another old favourite (Simplicity 2343 minus the frilly edge to the pockets) which is showing signs of wear so last night I cut out a new version. I don’t normally wash fabric before I use it but I wanted to be sure this denim from Clothspot didn’t shrink or fade too much.  It was fine, just not quite as crisp as it was originally.

I had an unplanned visit to West Dean at the weekend. W, my partner, went out on his bike while I was visiting my parents and decided to implement his Fort Knox security measures on the front door. I had swapped bags and failed to transfer all the necessary keys and was therefore locked out! We agreed that I would drive up to meet him and this gave me the opportunity to visit the Visual Arts students’ selling exhibition to help fund their Summer Show. They were only taking cash so I was restricted to one purchase which was this lovely image by Cathy Griffiths. There was also some beautiful jewellery by Julia Tauber from the Metals Conservation Department.

Finally, one more Morsbag given away and one more made. I’d like to try and finish three more tonight as I have an ideal opportunity to give away four tomorrow which would take my total to 14 given away and only six more to make.