Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Name the Dress Form Contest Winner!

Well it took the judges and I a bit longer than expected to deliberate! We loved the many names that you clever readers came up with but only one could win. The choices were so good that even the judges couldn't land on the same one! In the end I took the top 6, tossed them in a bowl and picked one at random. So, the new girl has a name! Meet Lusty Lulu!
Which means that our gift certificate winner is Emily! Emily also happens to write a great vintage-style blog, well worth checking out!
(Emily, I'll shoot you an email to work out the details.)

A special thanks goes to our guest judges: Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage Blog, Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons and my best friend, Becky!

In other news, a few days ago I finished my last final for the classes I was taking at my local community college. Boy, was it a relief! I loved the classes, my professor was brilliant, and my classmates were hilarious (ever seen the show Community? Spot on.) but I was exhausted from too much work, puppy, super-secret Christmas sewing (he doesn't even know I've been sewing anything!) and homework.

I especially loved my Fashion Illustration course. I went from basically drawing stick figures to a pretty decent grasp of the industry standard "10 head (tall) fashion figure".
For my final project I drew illustrations of my corset and long line bra from the Ohhh La La Pin-up Sew-Along and while they're not perfect, I had so much fun creating them in Photoshop!

If you have some free time next month, try a class at your local community college and learn something new! It's a blast!
I'll share more of the super-secret sewing project after Christmas so I don't let any cats out of bags but right now, I'm off to walk a German Shepherd pup who is sick of chilling calmly in my studio all day.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Name the Dress Form Contest!

Happy December, lovely readers! I'm happy to say that I finally saved enough money to get a professional dress form. She arrived in the mail a few days ago, and ever since, I've been looking at her and all I can think is, "What the hell is your name, lady?"

The new girl. So far her hobbies include being banged on by a wrench during assembly and getting cat fur all over her while I wasn't looking. (How!? She's hanging up!)

Growing up in my mom's antique store we had a bevy of different dress forms about and most of them had names. They were often in a shocking state of undress and a tradition of giving them racy names stuck. I have been giving my own dress forms (and other inanimate objects like cars, vacuum cleaners, computers and curling irons) slightly inappropriate names ever since... (thanks, mom.)

You've met "Slut Jane the second" (the descendant of a particularly naughty-looking lingerie dress form my mother named a few decades ago) and "Boobs McGee" (my bullet bra form from the 50's) already and it's time to name the new girl. Preferably something equally inappropriate so she'll fit in with the rest of the girls.

So I know from reading your comments and emails that you're a clever and often hilarious bunch and I would love your help naming the new girl!

For the next two weeks you can leave a comment with your name idea on this post and I, and a panel of judges will choose a winner.
Our lovely guest judges include two of the coolest sewing bloggers I know; the talented and hilarious Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage Blog and the witty and clever Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons! Our third judge will be my best friend Becky, who is basically one of the funniest people I have ever met (and also the most talented artist I've ever seen!).

The person who submits the name we choose wins something too, a $30 gift certificate to Mrs. Depew Vintage!

The rules: I don't mind dirty words in your comments but others might, so keep that in mind. Also, the name can't be too inappropriate... I do have to blog about it after all!

I'll be announcing the winner on December 19th so submissions are welcome until then!

Best of luck!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Modes et Travaux... What was in style for November 1937?

Happy holiday week, my dear readers! I have a whole week off from classes thanks to Thanksgiving break (for which I am eternally grateful) and I'm using that time to catch up on Mrs. Depew Vintage projects and  a few blog posts!

Modes et Travaux no. 430 from November, 1937.

Today for you I have something that just made me swoon. A glimpse of Modes et Travaux from November of 1937. (Pronounced "mode eh travoh" for my English speaking friends).

So what was so in demand for exactly 76 years ago? Yards and yards of lace!

"Lace for small or big evenings!"
Can you believe that there were sewing patterns on offer at the time? One could simply pop down to the corner newsstand, pick up a gorgeous fashion magazine, and then for a mere 13 frances, one could order the perfect evening gown pattern to make in time for a Chirstmas gala. If that wasn't easy enough, you could even order the lace or fabric featured from the same magazine!

Wouldn't it be great if Vogue offered a similar service?!

These gorgeous dresses made my brain go all sorts of happy places which led me to a point where Madeleine Vionnet tickled my memory. After a bit of searching, I remembered where I had seen it:

Madeleine Vionnet gown - Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I often browse the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website for goodies like this.

Madeleine Vionnet gown - Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This gown is from 1939 but it first perfectly with the fashion spread above, don't you think?
Anyways, I'm off to put a few pies in the oven in anticipation of having my oven occupied tomorrow.

Have a happy week!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Paper Patterns Sitting on my Shelf of Awesome.

Boy have I been busy, my dear readers! Between two college classes (why, oh why did I think two at once would be a good idea?) running Mrs. Depew Vintage, and le pup needing full time watching, I've been seriously overwhelmed! I dropped everything yesterday to go get a massage and today, I'm sore but also a bit recharged again. When I haven't been chasing after Butters (le pup has been renamed... it's a long story), doing homework, or taking care of the house (so much pet fur to stay on top of...) I have been busy folding patterns!

I thought that I was going to hate it but there's something so satisfying about breaking a large piece of paper down into exact fractions so that they fit perfectly in their little envelopes... over and over again... I'm such a sucker for repetitive work.

I have started with my most popular patterns, most often requested by those with no printer at home, and so without further ado, here they are!

Depew #1003 available at Mrs. Depew Vintage.
Depew #2013 available at Mrs. Depew Vintage.
Depew 2012 available at Mrs. Depew Vintage.

Currently they sit in a place of honor right under "Boobs" McGee, my 1950's bullet bra model.

My "Shelf of Awesome".

Next up in paper patterns will be the 1950's Style Bathing Suit pattern (Depew #1001) and the ever popular 1950's Style Beach Bustier (Depew #1018)... if I can ever find the time to finish them!

I was so excited about how reasonable printing costs were in comparison to what I paid in Norway! It means that I can offer reprints of my other paper patterns for lower prices. Huzzah!

This has been a big project and I'm so relieved to have it finished for the time being. But enough about me!
How about you? Have you been working on any of your own big projects lately?
And when you're finished, how do you usually reward yourself? With a massage? New clothes? Shoes? More fabric?

Happy sewing,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Adventures in Sewing... Part 6

Hello lovely readers! I hope you're all having a greet weekend so far. I've been spending a lot of time attacking those last few moving boxes that just seem to linger for months without magically emptying themselves as one hopes.

And in one of those recalcitrant receptacles I found another McCall Style News booklet from May of 1948. The booklet is full of lovely illustrations of 1940's fashion and much to my delight, also has an installment of Adventures in Sewing!

This one very helpfully goes into detail about basting necklines and waistlines to keep the fabric from becoming misshapen while handling.

Now if you're as horribly blind as I am (in fact, I'm just a hair away from being legally blind without my contacts!) there is a close-up of this lesson at the very bottom.

But about that dress! The layers, the color, the silhouette! I want one! The pattern in the illustration is McCall 7258. I have to say, I much prefer it in red to the muted versions they ended up using on the pattern envelope:

Image courtesy of Pretty Pattern Shop on Etsy

But seriously, ooh la la! I'm going to have to keep an eye open for a copy closer to my size (I'm lazy and prefer not to grade patterns unless my life depends on it or someone offers me chocolate as incentive).

On another note, we have another new sponsor on A Few Threads Loose this week. In fact, it's one of my favorite pattern shops on Etsy so I know you'll like it too! If you're in a pattern hunting mood, I definitely recommend you check out She'll Make You Flip on Etsy.

Image courtesy of She'll Make You Flip on Etsy.

And until December 31st, A Few Threads Loose readers get an exclusive discount! Just use coupon code, "THREADS20" at checkout for a generous 20% discount.

I'm already seriously eying a handful, including this awesome beauty:

I have a thing for scallops. - McCall 8735 from She'll Make You Flip.

Sadly there will be no sewing for me this weekend... just grocery shopping and more homework. My assignment is drafting a front and back bodice with flanges. I have also assigned myself the task of finding some examples of flanges that aren't horribly hideous. I think I might fail that one :)

So without further ado, your sewing lesson courtesy of Marian Corey and McCall Style News!

A close-up for those as blind as myself.

Friday, October 25, 2013

More Simplicity S-Series Patterns!

Hello lovely readers. Before I get started on some serious homework this weekend, I wanted to show you what I have in my sewing room right now!

As most of you know, I collect a particular line of vintage sewing patterns created by Simplicity in the 1930's, which I call the S-Series. There were maybe 23 different patterns made in this line (I'm still trying to place the exact year and number) and as of today, I now have 20 of them, including the two loveliest that I've been looking for the longest!
Below are Simplicity S605 and S612, two of the most beautiful sewing patterns I have ever seen.

Sadly both are missing a couple of pieces so I'm still hunting for complete copies...

I want to extend a very warm thank you to those of you who have emailed me to let me know about patterns up for sale that I might not have seen yet. I owe most of my success in finding these patterns to you, my dear readers!

I owe my particular success in finding the above to two different Etsy pattern sellers who were kind enough to contact me and offer me incredibly fair prices for their patterns. It's pretty common knowledge how badly I wanted these patterns and neither of them took advantage of my weekness so thank you!
These pattern sellers are Amy of Vienna's Grace and Mary Beth of Retro Monkeys. Both of these ladies have incredibly beautiful vintage patterns in very reasonable prices so I recommend checking them out if you're in a pattern buying mood.

I also added two others to my collection, Simplicity S619: a darling baby romper pattern, and S609; a beautiful nightgown pattern with pretty gathering details at the bodice.

So what's the plan? What am I going to do with these lovely patterns once I have them all? Why, sew them, of course! Granted I'll have to find some small children to dress in the few children's patterns included with this line... but I'll worry about that later...

For now, I have homework which involves me drafting half a dozen bodice patterns in various princess seam variations and since it's going to take for bloody ever, I must get to it.

Happy weekend!

Update: Repoductions of the following S-series patterns are now available in print and download at MrsDepew.com!
Just click on the links...
S605 Camiknickers
S612 Lingerie Set
S617 Pajamas

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Introducing a new Depew and a Sponsor Shout-out!

Hello lovely readers!
I wanted to tell you why it's been quiet the last few days on A Few Threads  Loose. After recovering from the flu last week, my husband and I were reading the morning paper over coffee when we noticed an ad for German Shepherd puppies. Puppies! We've been wanting one for quite a while now and we've finally settled enough into our new home to seriously consider it. Minutes later we were in the car (enthusiastic much?) and on our way to nearby Salinas where we met and fell in love with a great little pup!
My dear readers, I present Butters "Spaghetti Pants" Depew!

Please pardon the pile of boxes. Some things are just safer in boxes than they are laying around my yet-to-be organized studio.
Butters is 2 months old and runs around my house like a fully grown shark (mouth wide open, teeth at the ready) with floppy legs and too-big paws.

Within hours of bringing him home he was playing very enthusiastically with Vinny-the-cat, and within 2 days they became best buds, practically inseparable. When Butters goes to bed in his kennel, we have to pry the cat out so he's not stuck in there all night!

Best buds, playing 'bop the puppy'.
So naturally anyone who has brought home a new puppy or new baby knows that I haven't been sleeping that much, or getting much homework done, or even been working on any new projects... My days have mostly been composed of giving Butters constant attention when he's awake, either feeding him, making sure he's chewing on previously approved items, or letting him out every hour for potty breaks. When he sleeps, I either sleep with him (I'm pretty run down), catch up on cleaning, or work on the homework that's been piling up. But we're getting better this week, sleeping a bit longer and almost set in the potty training department (thank goodness!).

But enough about the giant bags under my eyes and the chew marks in my slippers, I also wanted to introduce you to a new sponsor!

Meet Phonograph Fashions! Kate, the talented proprietress of this great little custom made clothing shop, finds her inspiration in the styles of the early 20th century to create a wonderful 1920's-esque line of clothing.
In her about page, Kate says:

"Some of my designs are taken from the pages of antique sewing books, and some are based on illustrations or old photographs. Every garment is created entirely by me and is usually one-of-a-kind."
So what has Kate been inspired to make lately? How about lovely blouses in gorgeous colors that practically channel Daisy Buchanan...

1920's Inspired Blouse - Image courtesy of Phonograph fashions.
Or better yet, a dress that could be worn to the next Gatsby party, make the perfect 1920's flapper costume, or be worn to the office...

1920's Inspired Lace Dress - Image courtesy of Phonograph fashions.
Sigh... most of you know I have a soft spot for the 1920's so I congratulate Kate on making some gorgeous garments for those of us who either cant sew, or are much too busy chasing after puppies to try...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Make your Own... Rachel McAdams' Notebook Bathing Suit

Every once in a while, I get emails asking if I have any sewing patterns that would make a bathing suit like the one worn by Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. For those of you not familiar with the movie, it is cinematic perfection, and so are the clothes!

I always have the same answer  (YES!) and I finally decided that I would put together a post to share with you as well, in case you decide you'd like to look this 1940's beach chic too!

The bathing suit in question is this lovely but modest two-piece number below in rich red with a basket weave print at the top:

And her fella isn't too bad either...

And yes, I do have the perfect bathing suit pattern for it. It was so close that I went ahead and re-did the graphics to match!

Depew #1002 Bathing Suit Pattern

The bathing suit comes in both one and two piece versions with a shorts lining underneath.
Right now the pattern is only available in a 36" bust, but it also comes with a free copy of my pattern grading e-book so that you can easily re-size it if you need to.

But what about fabrics? Many 1940's bathing suits called for rayon jersey (Lycra not being around yet) and fabric.com has a pretty good selection to get a close copy, including their stretch rayon jersey knit in red.

But what about the print? You might have better luck shopping for fabric on Etsy. Here are a few great prints:

Vintage polyester print.
Dahlia cotton print.
Chevron Moda Print.
And last but not least, if you want to be decked out from head to toe, there's even a turban pattern that you can make from leftover scraps!

Depew #1014 Turban Pattern
Now if only I could get my husband to dress like Ryan Gosling did in the movie...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Adventures in Sewing... Part 5

Some of you might remember that I have a rather large collection of vintage sewing pattern flyers from companies like Butterick, Simplicity, McCall's and Vogue. They are great sources of information, good for researching patterns and styles from all sorts of eras.
Among my collection are several McCall Style News Booklets, some of which I have digitized in my Etsy shop. My favorite part about these is that in the late 1940's, many of them included little snippet articles with great sewing tips.

These little articles were usually a one page feature called "Adventures in Sewing" by Marian Corey, author of the 1951 "McCall's Complete Book of Dressmaking".

When I first started A Few Threads Loose, I shared a few of these in a series of posts and today I have finally found another to share!

 Today's Adventures in Dressmaking lesson comes from McCall Style News from June, 1948.

The lesson in question shows you how to face and stabilize scallops. This is a handy thing to know how to do and can be used for scallop hems, scallop trim closures, and other uniquely shaped facings.
Here is a close-up:

The dress being mentioned is McCall 7294, worn by the lovely lady in the middle of the picture below. Should you ever be lucky enough to find this pattern, you'll have a hand tutorial for the hardest part!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Continuing Education... and changing everything I knew about darts!

Hello lovely readers. Things are starting to settle down here a bit. We're 2/3 unpacked and my studio has a semblance of order (it's all an illusion) and so with a few quiet moments to spare, I thought I'd share what I've been up to.

With our return to the U.S. from Norway, all sorts of possibilities opened up. Should I look for a job now or continue with Mrs. Depew Vintage? Should I go back to school? Take a yoga class or learn Kung fu? Should I dye my hair pink? All of these ideas have been rolling around in my head for the last 6 months, even before we started packing. Some were put on the back burner for now... the Monterey area is nearly as expensive as Norway was and maintaining pink hair would be pricey... but I did settle on a few important things.

I love my job. I love running Mrs. Depew Vintage more than anything else I've ever tried, so it follows that I should continue to do what I love! But what next? I'm a huge fan of continuing one's education, in any way one can afford or find time for. I decided to take 2 days each week off from work and take some classes at my local college in the Fashion Design department. Right now I'm taking Fashion Illustration (very useful so far, as I can't draw to save my life) and Pattern Design. Granted, I know how to draft a pretty good pattern already, but I never studied it formally and would like to add some industry expertise to my skill set. So far, it's challenging and so much fun.

My professor has a great range of experience and so far has been a fount of useful sewing tips. One of which I simply had to share with you all the second I tried it!

My whole sewing career I have been sewing darts the wrong way! I followed my sewing books and blog tutorials when I first learned darts, and as everyone knows (or seems to) you sew a bust dart from the outside to a perfect point. And it always bothered my that there was a slight point at the bust apex. Whose boobs are that pointy?
Certainly not mine! So to fix this and get an incredibly smooth finish to your dart, simply change your stitching angle, just at the very tip of the dart, and slightly curve away from the dart tip as you sew.

Just a dart sewn into a scrap of muslin... notice the slight curve away from the dart tip. Pardon my battle scarred cutting mat.

The dart pressed open to reveal a very smooth bust dart, curving instead of pointing.
 Remember, this should only be done for bust darts. Any darts, say on your bodice back, won't need this.
I know it's a bit geeky, but hell, I'm a sewing blogger so I can totally be excited about learning a new way to sew darts better!

How about you? Have you ever taken any courses that you consider continuing your education (but not necessarily working towards a degree)? Have you enjoyed taking Italian for no reason, or perhaps a bread-making class?

Happy sewing,