And It All Started With A Collar

A note of thanks to The Vintage Pattern Lending Library for the inspiration to tackle garment patterns from 1912.  To commemorate the centennial of The Titanic tragedy,  The 1912 Project was born.   This endeavor has brought together delighted sewers  from all over the world, and of every skill level willing to share their knowledge and expertise for the good of the group.  It has inspired so much creativity, I am genuinely in awe of their talents.

Ladies Dress #E4016

For my next project challenge I went with Ladies Dress Pattern #4016, released April 7, 1912.  The fun part about this particular pattern is there are no directions, only pattern pieces, and a lovely cut work collar that just drew me in.  It’s been a long time since my embroidery days, but I was thrilled to take a stab at this one.

For the collar I decided to use white ecclesiastical linen and white DMC #20/32m cotton thread.  I am SO pleased with this fabric because unlike apparel linen, it is quite stiff and tightly woven.  When you put a needle through it, it snaps like twill.  The downloaded collar pattern only prints one half of the design, which I then printed again onto tracing paper.  This made the mirror image visible on the back, so taping the two together made a detail of the full collar.  Using a FriXion pen I traced the design on my linen, attached it to my stretcher bars and set to work.

Please note:  I am not an expert regarding white work embroidery.  There is such a broad spectrum of techniques including Hedebo, Aryshire, Richelieu, and Broderie Anglaise, to name a few.  Then within these techniques, there are a variety of subcategories which varied by when and the region where it was made.  I think my version is a combination of a few – mostly Broderie Anglaise, but it is what worked for me.

To begin the scallop edge, I made a knot in my thread and stuck it in my fabric about two scallops away from where I was going to start.  With tiny running stitches in the stitching area, I ran the thread to my starting point.  Working right to left, I started my button hole stitch.  I found it easiest to hold the tail thread up and out of the way with my left thumb, making my stitch through the loop, then pulling the thread taut making a nice ‘bead’ along the edge.  Pardon the lack of a manicure – too much gardening.  I need to get my hands out of the dirt and start sewing!

To finish my threads, I ended with a back stitch then stitched forward inside the open scallop design line with a running stitch until I used up the excess thread.  This gave the scallop a bit of padding, the linen some stability, and hides any threads.  This is after all, a collar and it’s nice to have the underside look as pretty as the top (yes, Toby Barton – I fully agree).

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For the eyelets, I used a DMC #20/28m which is a bit finer than what I used around the scallop edge,  I first ran a running stitch around the circle just inside the line, and then again, running up and down the opposite of my first go around.  For the smaller holes I used an awl to push a hole in the center and began my button hole stitch working right to left, right going inside the hole, and left being the traced circle.   Giving a slight pull at the end of each stitch ensured a nice round eyelet.  For the larger eyelets I cut a cross pattern within the hole, then trimmed the flaps leaving a slight opening.  Following the same method as my smaller eyelets, working from right to left, and inside to out, naturally pulled the excess fabric edge under and encased it in the underside of the buttonhole stitch – I liked the look.

For the larger, teardrop shapes I really wanted to go with the technique that Cassandra Edson used on her collar (oh, so pretty) but since my fabric is a very tight weave, I don’t think I’ll have the eye power to make it work.  I’m probably going to use the same button hole stitch throughout – the jury is still out on that one.  For now I’m going to put my collar aside to start working on the actual dress.  I’ll have to keep you posted.


Filed under Pattern #4016, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

1912 Ladies Skirt #0162

As part of The 1912 Project  with the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, I selected the Ladies Skirt #0162 and I absolutely adore it.  Other than a few modifications for fit, I basically followed the directions as written and am very pleased with the results.

I’ve requested patterns via email/download for 8 1/2 x 11 sheets.  This has worked out well especially when adjusting…  I find it easy to edit as it’s already in pieces.  To accommodate my 29 inch waist, I added 2 inches to the center of both the front and back panels.  I felt this was the best solution as I was planning to narrow the side gores along the hem and didn’t want to fuss with the side dart placement.  The pattern illustration appeared to have a bit of a ‘hobble’ look, so my plan was to decrease each side gore/hem width by 8 inches starting just below the hip line and tapering the pattern to the hem line.

I tried to replicate the soutache trim as the pattern dictated.  I drew the scroll work design on my paper pattern pieces with a black sharpy marker.  I then pinned my fabric on top and used a Frixion pen to draw the design on my fabric.  I’ve been using this pen for fabric with great results.  They are sold at any office supply store, cheaper than ‘sewing’ marking tools, come in a variety of colors, and a warm iron removes the marks when done.  Be sure to test on your fabric first.  Although I’ve never encountered a problem, I’ve heard it doesn’t remove completely from some fabrics.

Soutache Marking

Soutache Marking

My soutache was 1/8 inch wide and I used about 8 yards, or 2 yards per scroll line.  There was a wonderful ‘how to’ article in Treads Magazine for applying soutache, although it was great for smaller details, not for my 2 yard continuous piece.  For my needs I found it easier to pull and twist the cord where needed, then held it in place with my thumbnail until hand stitched down.  I used tiny back stitches along the inside grove of the cord following my lines down the entire motif.   A couple of spots seemed bumpy at close view, but once complete, I pressed it, and voila’….  the little stiff spots molded into a beautiful curve.  The detail took about 3 weeks of evening sewing but I’m absolutely thrilled with the results.

Skirt Soutache

Skirt Soutache Again

Assembling the skirt went as per the directions, and for the sharply defined back pleat I went with the 1/8 inch top stitch option along the edge.  It really did crisp it up nicely.

Pleat Detail

I also changed the opening for the placket by adding a 1 inch binding to the inside portion, and a 1/2 inch binding on the back of the outer portion.  I then added 1 1/2 inch Petersham ribbon for the waistband, turned it to the inside, and stitched it down at the seams.  With the new placket in place, I had a more substantial base to apply the hook and eyes, and finally the decorative buttons.

Skirt Placket

Well, after weeks of staring at my yellow linen with red soutache, I decided to re-visit my Ladies Afternoon Tea Wrap.  I used the fabric for what was supposed to be the belt of my wrap to cover my skirt buttons.  I’m now planning to make a belt for my wrap with some of the yellow linen so I’m off to the beginning of an actual matching outfit.

Skirt Buttons

I don’t make enough buttons to warrant a professional grade button maker so I use the Dritz variety with shank backs.  I find them difficult on the thumbs when trying to actually punch the back place.  I follow the basic directions up until the pusher section – then I place the flat part at the top of a hammer (the black section – I’m sure there’s a name for it) on the pusher and press with that.  It certainly saves your thumbs when making a large amount of buttons, as is the case with this particular skirt.

The Completed Skirt:

Skirt Front

Hook & Eye View

Skirt Back

My apologies for picture placement.  No matter how I configure them, they get wonky all over the page.  There’s definitely a learning curve for this blogging thing.

Now for the review:


The Vintage Pattern Lending Library, Ladies Skirt #0162, May 5, 1912


Pattern was listed as 25 inch waist and those measurements seem to be correct.  I adjusted the pattern for a 29 inch waist, adding 2 inches each to the back and front center panels worked out perfectly.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on pattern envelope?

Yes, but the illustration appeared a bit narrower than the garment pattern pieces.  To get what I perceived as the pictured effect, I narrowed the hemline overall by 16 inches, 8 inches on each side gore panel.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

The pattern/fabric layout diagrams showed the front and back panel placed one direction and the side gores placed the other.  I made my skirt using 100% linen, so while it may not have made a difference, I still opted to place all pieces in the same direction.  My fabric was 54 inches wide so there was no additional fabric needed to adjust for the layout.  If using directional fabric, you will need to plan for this.

The seam detail sounded odd.  I thought it was meant to be a fell seam, but then not quite.  I chose to stitch a regular 3/8 inch seam, pressed the seam allowance to one side, top stitched close to the seam, and finally top stitched another 1/2 inch in.  For the closed side of the front panel I pressed the pieces to make the nice ‘L’ shape, pinned in place, and top stitched it together as above.  This may have been what the directions were calling for all along…

Though not an issue for a more advanced sewer, the back kick pleats were a tad confusing.  I was almost tempted to turn them to the outside by the directions given.  I consider myself an intermediate sewer, but I could see this presenting a problem for a beginner.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

On a scale of 1 to 5 – this is a FIVE – I loved it!  I especially loved the soutache trim detail.  Although it took a long time to complete, it was very rewarding to follow the 1912 illustration.  I had forgotten how relaxing and therapeutic hand work can be.

Fabric Used – Butter yellow 100% linen with red cotton/viscose soutache trim.

Pattern alterations/design changes I made

I needed an additional 4 inches for the waist which I adjusted by adding 2 inches along the entire front and back center pattern pieces.  The hip dart worked out perfectly after the adjustment, but I probably should have added 1 inch to all the pieces as I would have liked the button detail to have been a little closer to center.  I also decreased the side gores at the hemlines by 8 inches each to give the skirt a more ‘hobble’ look.  I’ve apparently been watching entirely too much Downton Abbey (if that’s possible?).

In conclusion, this was a fun pattern and I loved the soutache detail.  I’m not sure I would recommend this to a beginner, but for the intermediate to more advanced sewer, it’s a beautiful skirt.  It was so interesting to see everyone’s take on the soutache trim detail.

Next adventure – A blouse and maybe a re-visit of the Afternoon Tea Wrap to complete the look…


Filed under Ladies Skirt #0162, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

A Corset For The Correct Look

Well, it’s been a while but I HAVE been busy.  Projects are complete but the sitting down to blog seems to hold me up.  Lately, tropical storm Debbie has been having her way with us and I thought this VERY rainy day would be a great time to catch up.

I have made my corset, and although it’s not officially part of the Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1912 Project, it seems to me a vital part of it none the less.  Personally, I feel creating period attire just doesn’t work if you don’t have the correct undergarments.  And although I was tempted to ‘modern up’ some of the designs we are receiving, I really wanted to stay true to the 1912 fit.

For my corset I decided to go with Ageless Patterns #1522/1910 Corset Nouveau (Bust 35.5 – Waist 23.5).

Ageless Corset Pattern

The pattern itself does NOT come with directions to speak of.  Enclosed is the pattern, a one page detail about corset construction (from Harper’s Bazar – September 19, 1897), a one paragraph sewing instruction (two if you count the French version), and a heavily photocopied illustration for some techniques.   This was fine for me as I’ve made period corsets before, but for a beginner, I would recommend ‘The Basics of Corset Building‘ by Linda Sparks as a reference.  Linda is the creator of Farthingales, the ‘go to’ place for corset supplies, classes, and wonderful online tutorials.   I absolutely love her book as it takes a beginner step by step through the building process.  Easy to read, easy to follow, I actually used her book for my first corset and still reference it when I forget a technique.

I traced out my pattern pieces from the original pattern and then adjusted the sizing accordingly for my shape.

Corset Pattern Pieces

Corset Pattern Pieces

On my first muslin I adjusted up too large and realized that I needed close to the original sizing – it seemed to make up bigger than expected.  I should have just left the bust size as is, as I did want to be laced in to a 35.5 inch bust.  I also went with lining my corset, a technique fully detailed in Linda’s book.  For all my fabric, I went with an imported coutil, a bit pricier than domestic, but worth it.  When purchasing coutil, look at the weave of the herringbone design – the tighter the weave, the more durable the coutil.  Yes, I think there is a difference, and yes, this is why a muslin is important.

Corset Outside

Corset Outside

Corset Lining

Corset Lining

Lining a corset is not difficult but is more time consuming than applying bone casings along the inside seams for your stays.  Although I went with lacing tape, usually I insert my own grommets, and cover them with stitching so as not to see the metal.  When I do set grommets, I never use hole cutting tools and always opt to use an awl instead.  The unique thing about using an awl is it pushes the threads apart rather than breaking them, keeping the integrity of the fabric intact.  Again, time consuming, but worth it.  There’s something about the process…. I guess you either love it or dread it.

Well this is my corset – sorry, but for now it’s on a display mannequin so the fit is a bit off:

Corset Front

Corset Front

Corset Back

And this is what I envision myself as looking in my corset:

Kate Winslet

I think what sold me on this particular pattern was the hip sections.  It actually seemed the closest to the one Kate Winslet wore in this scene from the movie ‘Titanic”.  I guess if Kate Winslet can pull this off, so can I (yeah, right…. as I chuckle to myself)!!


Filed under Corset, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

Ribbonwork Flowers

I don’t know if it’s a costuming thing, but I’ve always been fascinated with embellishments.  Last year’s fad had flowers on all sorts of accessories.  Jacket lapels, purses, t-shirts, shoes, nothing seemed quite finished without a flower on it.  And I jumped right in and started making crafty little flowers.  They were cute and easy to make, but of course I had to take it a step further.

In my search, I came across the book ‘Ribbonwork – The Complete Guide’ by Helen Gibb, and I was hooked.  This was better than chocolate… well maybe not quite.


Ribbonwork is not to be confused with ribbon embroidery.  While both are surface embellishments made with ribbon, ribbon embroidery involves actually designing directly on a surface with ribbons.  Ribbonwork uses  a variety of ribbons to make flowers and leaves and then each is arranged and attached on whatever surface you choose.  Following Helen’s easy to understand guidelines I was able to work through many lovely creations.

Then, at one of my ASG meetings, a gal showed up with a gorgeous bloom that she made at a shop called ‘The Ribbonry’ in Ohio.  Well, I had to have one of these.  There was much discussion about the kits and how a few thought them pricey, but I felt they were reasonable considering silk ribbons are not cheap.  I took the plunge and purchased The Bohemian Poppy Kit in Vermilion for skill level (1) beginner, a plus for me.


I LOVE my flower!  It measures approximately 6 x 6, a fairly nice size.  There’s a pin on the back so it can go wherever, but I think I’m saving it for my 1912 hat.  We’ll see…..


Filed under 1912 Hat Challenge, Crafts, The 1912 Project

Edwardian Underthings – Folkwear #203

Well with all the 1912 sewing inspiration, I decided I needed to make the proper undergarments to wear under all the fabulous fashion patterns yet to arrive.  I had Folkwear Pattern #203 in my stash so I set to work with additional fabric that I purchased when making the Princess Slip.  The fabric is a soft, white, 100% cotton lawn that was just dreamy to work with, and it now makes a perfect ‘trousseau’ set.  I decided to make the camisole and open drawers, omitting the petticoat.

Folkwear #203

Folkwear #203

I don’t know how period correct it is, but it looks absolutely adorable.  I made little tucks and used the same lace beading and blue ribbon for the neckline to match the slip.  The pattern directions actually called for insertion lace, but I only had about 5 inches left after my slip was complete, so….  tucks it is.


Next up… the corset.  Just waiting on a few more stays.

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Filed under Folkwear Patterns, The 1912 Project

Ladies Afternoon Wrap (aka) Is Est Quis Is Est

It is what it is!

For my first official challenge with The Vintage Pattern Lending Library, 1912 Project, I received the Ladies Afternoon Wrap #0291, originally released February 4, 1912.

Ladies Wrap Pattern #291

This is an absolutely gorgeous pattern that I may attempt to tackle with a different fabric, but for now, my version will just have to be my muslin.  I should start at the beginning….

I had on hand a red and gold (cheap) brocade that I purchased when I was working on a local production of “The King and I”.  By local, I mean no budget and I volunteer…   It’s a pretty color with an interesting design, wonderfully drapey, and the reverse side of the fabric would be fabulous for the arm detailing and belt.  I decided not to line mine and after cutting out the pieces (do not follow the cutting directions on pattern) I went to work.  The pattern is straight forward and easy to follow, but remember I said MY fabric was cheap, so every easy task was made difficult from this point on.

I made the darts in the main pieces where marked, but I opted not to cut them open in the back as my fabric was already starting to fray like crazy.  Yes, I did all the tricks you’re supposed to do to prevent this but my fabric just refused to cooperate.  I just pressed the darts to one side and it worked fine.  Next, the sleeve detailing.  Oh won’t it be pretty with the gold reverse print against the red?  But now that it’s going together, the reverse is looking really orange, so on to plan B, rip it out and go with the red fabric on red.  Still looks pretty but boy is it fraying.  I’m starting to get discouraged.

Reverse Fabric

Reverse Fabric

I stitched the back seam then stood back and admired how I matched the print (ooh and aah), is this going to work after all?  The collar went together like a dream and the drapey effect is perfect.  Cool, this IS going to work!  Now on to the edges…   I swear the edges were the bane of my existence for a week.  I probably over thought it all, but I like the inside of my garments to look as nice as the outside.  Starting at the front (big mistake) I first tried to roll a small hem by hand but didn’t like the way it was looking.  Ripped it out.  Then I made a bias strip from left-over fabric and attached it to the outside ends bringing it to the inside (think of binding a quilt edge), but it was looking too heavy. Ripped it out.  The fraying at this point has me in tears and on my first drink.  I found some gold trim in my stash and decided to attach it to the inside edge (as close as possible because I’m slowly losing my fabric and why did I start with the front?!) and brought it toward the outside to make a hem.  I thought the gold would be a nice touch…   it’s not, but it’s on.  My front panels are now 2 inches narrower than they’re supposed to be –  I’m really not liking this anymore.  I will NEVER wear this, I’m not wasting my tassels…. My new mantra ‘This is my muslin, this is my muslin’.  On to the second drink.

Wrap Front

Wrap Front

The back went much better.  I used the same gold trim but attached it to the outside edge and brought it to the inside and stitched it (like hem tape) and I was rather pleased with the results.  And, no, it’s not because of the second drink.

Wrap Back

Wrap Back

My pattern review is as follows:

Pattern Description/Sizing

Vintage Pattern Lending Library, Ladies Afternoon Wrap #0291, Size 32 inch Bust

Did it look like the photo/drawing on pattern envelope?

It actually did…  although I had problems with my choice of fabric, any issues were my own and not the fault of the pattern.  It draped beautifully.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Once I got past the initial incorrect pattern layout, yes.  The collar section, once sewn, said to attach to neck edge but did not specify to right or wrong side.  I opted the right side because I then applied trim/edging along outside and turned the seam allowance and trim to the inside.  Is this correct?  Not so sure but it worked for my method.  Also, I felt the sleeve edge directions were a bit strange, but it worked out to be one of those details that you just follow blindly and ‘aha-light bulb’ it all works.

What did I particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

On a scale of 1-5, I would give this pattern a FIVE – I loved the drape, and depending upon belt and tassel options, it can be made to suit formal attire or dress up a pair of jeans for a night out.  It’s deceivingly versatile.

Fabric used – don’t go there…

Pattern alterations/design changes.

Although I am a larger bust than the 32′ stated in the pattern, the dart placement worked out fine for me.  Very forgivable design.  The only adjustment I made was to elongate the front and back sections by about 2 inches.

Would I recommend this to others?

Absolutely!  Especially for someone wanting a simply elegant piece to dress up an outfit, or a wonderful canvas for an ‘art to wear’ project.  I think with a bit more clarification regarding some directions, this can be a great beginner pattern.

In conclusion – Would I sew this again…. yes, but definitely with a different fabric.  Taking a cue from Tim Gunn, I WILL make it work (at a later date).  I’m actually having such a blast with all of this, missteps and all!  Thank you, Janyce and Kim.


Filed under E0291_WRAP, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

I Love My Princess Slip!

Now on to Part II of my Princess Slip #E0336, from The Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

Well it took a bit longer than expected but I am absolutely pleased with the results.  After reworking the front bodice to accommodate the lace insertion techniques (Thank you Martha Pullen), I was ready to work on the rest of my slip.  I needed to add a bit to the back to match the addition on the front so I added a scant 1/4 inch to each upper portion seam allowance, extending to about 1/2 inch at the waist, and left the hip measurement as is.   I basically followed the directions for sewing the back together, although after attaching front to back at the shoulder seams, I opted to put the lace trim on the sleeve BEFORE I stitched the side seams together.  This enabled me to do a very narrow french seam along the sides so the cut ends of the lace are secured inside.  I finished the neckline edge with lace and ribbon so the top can be adjusted as needed, and a few buttons up the back, Yippee…

Slip Front Bodice

Next up – the flounce.

I cut the fabric as directed and stitched a narrow hem along the bottom.  Next I cut off about 3 inches of the bottom and applied insertion lace between the two pieces.  For the pleating I actually marked the bottom and top of the strip at regular intervals and folded each pleat over and basted in place.  Then, as suggested by Theresa , I starched, and pressed, and starched some more (Thank you Theresa..  it really benefited from the extra starch).  Once I was sure it would stay where I wanted, I applied insertion lace along the upper pleated portion and then attached the whole thing to the hem of the slip – well la-de-da, it really looks like a slip now.

Slip Hem with Insertion Lace

Slip Hem with Insertion Lace

My pleating isn’t nearly as trim as the pattern illustration, but then again, I’m not nearly as trim as the pattern illustration…







The Vintage Pattern Lending Library, Ladies Princess Slip #E0336, March 24, 1912


Pattern was listed as 36 inch bust.  The measurements seem to be correct, although I adjusted the pattern to suit my shape.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on pattern envelope?

Yes, in regard to the main body of the slip, the pattern is dead on.  The directions for the flounce called for 3 strips – 9 inches wide by 36 3/4.  I think to get the pictured effect of all the tiny accordion pleats, a bit more fabric could have been used.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, although I didn’t follow them for applying the insertion lace.  To sew a seam, add insertion, then rip out the seam, and then sew under the raw edges seemed a bit too time consuming.  It may be the most authentic/period correct way to go about it but I used a machine method as described in my previous post.  I would also have liked to see more thorough directions for the back closure.  Not an issue for a more advanced sewer, but it may present a problem with a novice.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

On a scale of 1 to 5 – this is a FIVE – I loved it!  I especially loved the fact that with a bit of imagination, it was so easy to modernize.

Fabric Used – White Cotton Lawn

Pattern alterations/design changes I made

I needed to adjust the pattern to accommodate my larger frame, and I added sets of tucks along the upper bust.

In conclusion, this was a fun pattern and I adore the fact that a few in our talented group went with a shorter, wearable dress version.  I would recommend this to a sewer of any skill level.  For the more advanced, it’s a great pattern to perfect some skills and for a novice, a wonderful canvas to learn with.

Next adventure – The Afternoon Tea Wrap, and hopefully, a hat for Kim.


Filed under E0336_SLIP, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library