My Vintage Life: The Essex Secret Vintage Fair

Happy Saturday!

I hope that you’re all having a fab weekend so far! I’ve spent my Saturday morning at the amazing Secret Vintage Fair in Colchester. Only a 15 minute walk from where I live, I was obviously extremely excited to pay a visit and see what the fair had to offer. I wasn’t disappointed. There were a whole range of vintage and vintage-inspired items – clothes, books, Christmas decorations. Clearly, I was in heaven.

I also found just about the greatest coat of all time. I’ve been debating what to do about the whole coat situation for a while now. All of my coats are hand-my-downs, a bit rat-eared, and not really fitting with my vintage-inspired wardrobe. Now that I’m sewing my own clothes, I’ve been on the look out for a coat to match (I’m not yet brave enough to even think about tailoring my own coat). Pocket Watch and Petticoats is an amazing shop, based in Ipswich, that sells vintage reproduction clothing. I’d come across them before at a vintage market, where I lucked on a gorgeous leather jacket. Lucky as I am, I found them again this morning at the Secret Vintage Fair and purchased the new love of my life…

Coat

It is just beautiful. Plus, it has this amazing faux-fur and lace neck cuff.

Coat2

When I saw it, I melted. And fortunately, I have a very understanding fiancé!

Other key vintage purchases included some Homemaker magazines from the 1960s. I love love love trawling through these for insights into life ‘in them days’ and any tips on dressmaking (from the pre-digital sewing machine era).

Homemaker

We also found these cute-as-a-button miniature stockings, made from vintage fabric, by Laura Love (best name ever) of 13 Stitches (she also runs a teddy hospital, which is just the most adorable thing ever). The stockings will be going on the mantlepiece later today in celebration of the fact that it is ALMOST DECEMBER.

Stockings

A successful Saturday in anyone’s book. Now time for tea and a rummage through my magazines!

Have a fantastic day!

New Project: The Joan Dress

Hello darlings!

After the success of the Belle Curve dress, I’ve been in a good sewing groove. With a few excellent patterns to choose from, I finally settled on Sew Over It’s fabulous Joan dress – a 1950s mad-men inspired dress.

Joan Dress Pattern

I decided to invest in some good quality fabric for this project so went online and got myself some gorgeous red crepe. I’m already about halfway through the make and it’s sewing up like a total dream. I’ve never worked with crepe and I’ll definitely be working with it again (although hopefully at a more reasonable price than I paid for this batch).

Part of the ease of sewing this up has been the amazing instructions provided with the pattern. Obviously, I’m only a few projects into my sewing passion, but I’ve yet to work with a pattern that is so detailed and clear. Fortunately, I also have a couple more patterns from Sew Over It, which I’ll be working on in a while!

Joan Dress Pattern2

I’ll be back soon with photos of the finished project!

As a side note, I highly recommend paying a visit to your local WHSmith (or wherever, obviously) and picking up a copy of the one-off magazine, Sew Vintage. My fiancé stumbled across it last week and I am so in love. Plus it came with two fantastic vintage repro patterns! Definitely grab a copy if you love vintage-inspired stitching.

Mag Patterns

Laura x

The Belle Curve Dress

Happy Friday, sweetpeas!

As promised, I’m returning with some pictures of my finished Belle Curve dress – pattern by Decades of Style. This is BY FAR the most beautiful thing I’ve made, totally a consequence of the stunning design.

Full dress

I am beyond in love with this pattern. Despite my fear of the 36 darts, it came out quite quickly and was strangely satisfying. The darts are the most unique feature of the dress but, as well as looking great, they create a beautiful figure-hugging shape. This dress sits perfectly on my hips and I found that it achieves a fabulous hourglass shape really effortlessly.

Dress Side

I made this up in a green chiffon-poly that I bought super cheap from Walthamstow market. Since my plan is to wear this as my Christmas day dress, I thought that the forest green would work as a beautiful colour! I also thought that the shimmer to the fabric would give it that gorgeous 1940s feel.

The only change I made was to the back by introducing a V-shape to the neckline. Partly this was because I felt that it would step up the glamour factor, but it also eliminated a bit of bagginess in the upper part of the back. Basically, it streamlined the shape.

Dress Back2

There is nothing that I don’t adore about this dress. It is the most accurate 1940s-inspired pattern that I’ve found to date and it just has that WOW factor. I’ll be making this up again, without a doubt! Head on over to Decades of Style for this and a lot more fabulous patterns!

Laura x

If You Like It, Put A Label On It

Hello, my darlings!

A little while ago, I got a lovely email from Anka, who works with the label-making company, Nominette.* She offered me a chance to design my own clothing labels, as a way to get a bit of an insight into the process. Now, I am by no means computer-literate. Simply seeing the effort that goes in to creating and posting on Sew for Victory would show you that it’s rarely without incident. But thankfully, this was wonderfully simple!

Nominette Label

And here’s how the final product came out. I am super happy! The logo was made with a little help from my lovely fiance, but really was as simple as deciding what I wanted it to say and choosing the font. Once uploaded to Nominette, I got the chance to play around with the colours – both those of the taffeta label and the logo itself. I wanted to go for a vintage feel, since vintage is typically the direction of my makes – so I ended up choosing a beige label, with dark brown thread for the logo. It came out exactly how I wanted.

The labels came this morning, so needless to say I have spent most of the evening sewing them on to my handmade clothes. Every one that I put on feels like a little affirmation of the effort that went into making the garment. And it gives it that professional touch.

So, if you’re looking to add a little something to your clothes – either for yourself or as a reminder to those lucky recipients of your homemade gifts – definitely head on over to Nominette!

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*I was provided with a set of self-designed labels in exchange for an honest review of the product.

Walthamstow Market: A Fabric Lover’s Paradise!

Happy Monday, my lovelies!

I’ve had a fantastic weekend of sewing. My Belle Curve dress is almost finished and it is easily the most gorgeous thing I’ve made so far. I can’t wait to share it with you later this week!

Before I get round to that, I wanted to share some details about my recent fabric shopping trip to Walthamstow market! After joining The Fold Line (a fantastic online sewing community), I managed to connect with an amazing group of fellow 20-something sewers. With a few of us in easy distance of London, I thought that a meet-up was in order! Last weekend, 5 of us got together in Walthamstow for a trip to this totally fabric-oriented market.

Walthamstow Group

The first tip – alluded to in the ‘drowned rat’ look that I’m sporting here – is to try and pick a day when it doesn’t pour with rain. Although there are a large number of shops lining both sides of the market, all stalls are open-air. We got totally drenched moving from stall-to-stall. It was completely worth it – but, if you have some flexibility in planning a fabric shopping trip, try to pick a day without rain. Otherwise, make sure to take some waterproof bags for all of that fabric!

The market itself is so well laid out. Most of the stalls are fabric sellers, so it isn’t hard to know where you’re going. Just be sure to keep an eye on the shops on both sides of the street. There are some amazing (and cheap) fabric stores, with plenty of selection. One of the great things about the fabrics on offer is that there are a huge number of choices from all over the world. Lots of Indian and African inspired fabrics – making this a perfect destination if you want a to try something a little bolder than run-of-the-mill cottons and patterning.

Be sure to take plenty of money with you – you’ll need it. The fabrics are extremely reasonably priced (averaging about £3 per metre), but you’ll find that the cheap prices simply encourage you to buy a LOT. My haul was quite impressive and I think the group collectively agreed that we would need to avoid fabric purchasing for a while.

Fabric Haul

So if you are within a good distance of London – or are paying a special visit – I would definitely suggest stopping at Walthamstow. I tried to search out a stall map to link to here – but no such luck. For more information on the market (hours, area maps etc), Walthamstow Council has a great guide on their website.

Hopefully it won’t be long until we arrange our next meet-up and investigate some more fabric hot-spots around London. If you fancy joining us on our next outing, send me an email – sewforvictoryblog@gmail.com – and I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.

I’ll be back later this week with some pics of my 1940s-inspired dress. Have a fabulous Monday!

Laura x

A Trip to the 1940s: The Belle Curve Dress

Hello sweeties!

After a sewing-filled weekend, I am officially in the midst of my next project. A meet-up with some fellow twenty-something sewers (which I’ll be writing about in more detail soon) not only inspired serious sewing productivity, but also introduced me to the perfect fabric for my new dress.

Enter Decades of Style’s Belle Curve dress:

Pattern

A fabulous 1940s-inspired pattern, this beautiful dress features a curved back piece, darted all the way around to give it its shape. 36 darts in all! It is a serious time investment but I figure I will be a true dart expert come the end of this one. And the finished product promises to be a fantastically unique piece, well worth the effort.

In order to combat the darts – which are attached as separate dart templates – I took the advice of the pattern and got out my tracing wheel and carbon paper. Not only did this make the process far easier, but the yellow carbon paper meant that the dart tracings stuck out fantastically well on my fabric:

Dart tracing

I’ve decided to make this up in a gorgeous shimmery forest green, which will hopefully give me a dress that looks true to the 1940s style. This evening I started the process of sewing up the darts, using a spare 30 minutes to crack on. There’s still a LOT more to do, but the curved back is starting to take shape:

Darts

I’m SO excited about this project and really can’t wait to get it finished – although with 36 darts, it may be a little while! I want to take this back to the US as my official ‘Christmas dress’ (all going to plan) so I have a little while to work on it, and hopefully squeeze in another project before I fly off!

I’ll be back later in the week with more details about my trip to Walthamstow market – featuring some tips and highlights for anyone planning their own excursion. In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Laura x

Beignet Skirt – The Finished Product!

Hello darlings!

Well the day has finally arrived. At long last, my Beignet skirt is finished! Hooray! I love love love the look of this pattern.

Beignet Finised

Paired with the vintage blouse! My first fully hand-made outfit!

It’s taken me a while to finish the skirt, mostly because I was determined to avoid cutting corners. I fell hard in love with my lining fabric and wanted to make sure that it was put to best use! Since this skirt is only my fourth sewing project, I’m obviously still learning a whole lot of skills. This pattern got me lining, fitting pockets, and finally learning what twill tape is actually for. So not only do I adore the skirt for how comfortable it is, but I’m also super proud of the various new abilities that I’ve developed while making it.

Beignet Pockets

I literally dream of this lining. And I love that it’s like a hidden secret bonus!

There’s absolutely no question about whether or not I’d make this skirt again. As time consuming as the process was, the pattern was perfectly clear and detailed. And I had no problem with the sizing (which I had to grade out on my hips – they would be called ‘child bearing’ if we went back a few decades).

So yay! One more project down. Tomorrow I’m off to Walthamstow market for fabric shopping with a bunch of fabulous twenty-something sewers (including the fantastic Rhiannon whose blog is LIFE), ready to purchase fabric for my next pattern. Details to come!

Beignet Finished2

In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!

Laura x

Beignet Skirt: Beating the Curve!

Hello sweet-peas!

After a truly hectic week, I finally managed to get a good amount of sewing done on Sunday. In fact, I spent pretty much the whole day working on my Beignet skirt. Given that I spent a whole day on it, I should probably be further along than I am. I was a bit surprised at my slow progress, but when I actually broke down my time, it looked something like this:

(1) Trying to stop my sewing machine from freaking out, then realising that the lack of stitches was because my bobbin was out of thread.

(2) Staring wistfully at my lining fabric.

(3) Staring into space.

(4) Actual sewing.

This said, I somehow managed to get my lining constructed and am now at a point where I pretty much just have to put the lining and shell together, then hem! The lining proved to be a tricky piece of work, mostly because it involved attaching a convex curve (the lining) to a concave curve (the facing). It ended up turning out ok, after a whole lot of tugging, pulling, and easing:

Beignet lining

I followed the pattern really strictly in terms of fitting the lining and facing together, mostly because I knew that it would be tough working on a curve. Had I not, I think I would’ve had a ridiculously difficult time of it. It was a bit of an arduous process – involving cutting the seam allowance down to 1/4 inch around both, then notching and clipping the curves, and hand basting together:

Beignet lining curve

In the end, I actually gave up on the hand basting because it was taking ages. And it ended up looking good anyway. But, if you’re giving this pattern a go, I wouldn’t suggest trying to scrimp on time spent cutting the hem and clipping/notching.

I’m pretty happy with how it’s come out, particularly with my choice of lining. Hopefully my next post will be a finished picture of the skirt – which I want to get done in preparation for my next project. Details to come!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo of my heart-flutteringly adorable peek-a-boo pockets!

Beignet Pockets

Laura x