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Bomber Jacket Update: Who Needs Two Sleeves Anyway?

My bomber jacket in progress. No need to correct your screen: there is only one sleeve.

I’ve ambitiously taken on a sewing project to sew myself a lightweight spring / summer bomber jacket. If you’re following my blog, you may have heard already about this escapade. You can read about the project launch here if you’re curious and reading this blog for the first time!

As already stated, I’m an intermediate level sewer at best. And jackets turn out to be tricky, especially when making modifications. It’s the first time I’ve ever tackled a sewing project of this scale. I used this Burdastyle pattern as my base. As an aside, any fur you may or may not see in the following pictures is courtesy of my cat Ben, who kindly slept on my project.

Zipper goes up.

Zipper goes down.

I had to face my zipper fear early on in the project to make the pockets. And thanks to the helpful tutorial I found (and linked to in my other post about the project), I would say it went fairly well overall with minimal trauma. I also decided to change the jacket from asymmetrical to symmetrical since it was a better fit for me. I’m making size 44 which is the maximum size available on the pattern. So yes, count them – that’s three entire zippers! Not bad for someone with a zipper phobia. I think the pockets make the jacket so far and make it feel more bomber-ish.

Hood goes up.

Hood goes down.

There’s lots of shaping, darts and top-stitching on this jacket, which has kept me busy. I also attached a hood, my other major modification. I like the hood, although I’m not entirely sure about the attaching part. I might need to revisit this.

And, amusingly, I’ve only attached one sleeve so far. I will get to attaching the second sleeve. I do have two arms after all. Doing the set-in sleeve business does take a bit of patience and wrangling. It’s very easy to pucker the fabric during the seam sewing for the sleeve, I discovered, so there were a couple of fixes. I did try on the one attached sleeve and it’s a tight fit for my bicep. Must be those muscles, ha. In hindsight, I probably I could have used a larger size, which the pattern unfortunately didn’t have.

Nice hood. Now about that other sleeve…

What’s left? The other sleeve, obviously. And the fun pink polka dot lining too. I’m debating whether to change the cuff closure as well, from a button called for in the pattern to a zipper for a more bomber look. Yes, I also have a fear of making buttonholes! But I can face that down if need be. What do you think?

x Rena

PS –  After this, I think my next project will be a sleeveless dress, ha!

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50s Sewing Pattern Inspiration

50s dress pattern with full or slim skirt options. Available from TheVintageDesignShop.

I simply love vintage patterns. I especially love the vintage fashion illustration of 50s dress fashions. I’m going to share a few patterns for you to consider trying out! I have some really great patterns in the shop – on sale too I might add.  And I’ll also a couple modern patterns to consider below. I still need to finish my spring jacket (so close!)  so I’m cut off from any new projects for the time being.

50s vintage princess dress pattern. Available from TheVintageDesignShop.

50s sheath dress pattern. Available from TheVintageDesignShop.

50s princess dress pattern. Available from TheVintageDesignShop.

50s dress or separates pattern. Available from TheVintageDesignShop.

If you’d like to try a modern pattern with a retro style, there are some fine choices out there. Here’s a couple of my favourites by Vogue (they’re also having a sale, too):

Lovely 50s full skirted dress pattern. Available from Vogue Patterns.

Vogue evening gown. Available from Vogue Patterns.

Happy sewing!

x Rena

Corset Making

Model wears a King and Company corset.

I admit I’ve never made a corset before, but I’m very excited to try one day soon. I’m truly fascinated by lingerie. I would make all my underthings if I could. If I’m not careful, that might be a new goal. Better reign myself in!

If you fancy yourself a corsetmaker, or are keen to give it a go for the first time, there are some brilliant patterns and tutorials out there. I had a great deal of fun following up the Art of Corsetry blog post today chasing up patterns and tutorials. A great book available about corsetmaking is The Basics of Corset Building: A Handbook For Beginners. Pair this with Couture Sewing Techniques and you’re guaranteed to have a great time and learn a thing or two.

Vintage cloth tape measure.

The very first place to start with making your corset is by taking your measurements. This way, you will know what is the right size pattern for you to purchase, or, for the particularly ambitious, so that you can draft your very own custom corset pattern.

Celine Underbust Corset by King and Company on Etsy.

Mantua Maker late Victorian corset pattern available from voguefabricstore.

Arguably the safer place to start is with a purchased pattern, particularly for the rookie corsetmaker. My advice is to go with the specialist corset patterns rather than the big sewing pattern companies, who make corsets as part of costumes. A few great companies to check out are King and Company, Laughing Moon, Past Patterns and Ralph Pink.

Corset pieces.

There are also great tutorials out there if you want to make a corset from scratch and custom made to fit your body. I will say it helps to have a bit of sewing experience under your belt before tackling this approach. But if you’re determined, why not? I was never one to do things the ‘easy’ way either. Here’s an underbust corset tutorial from Katafalk and another from Leena’s.

If you’re really keen, there is a great series of corsetry video tutorials from Ralph Pink, I believe nine in all.  His videos have fantastic, detailed information to use with his free (yes, I said free) corset patterns. Ralph Pink’s website smacks of awesomeness, so I recommend you check it out sometime.

Rye and Ginger’s steampunk corset kit.

If you want to get on with the corsetmaking quickly with minimum fuss, there are kits already prepared with all the fabric and notions you will need. Farthingale’s has a corset kit ready for a Laughing Moon corset pattern. Rye and Ginger have kits made for their own underbust corset patterns with fabric pieces even pre-cut for you if you don’t want to mess about with tissue and too much measuring.

Glorious peach-pink coutil fabric from bettylabamba on Etsy.

Do you want to know a secret? The secret to creating a fabulous corset is using coutil fabric. It is a special cotton fabric, often with a herringbone pattern – it’s very durable and does not stretch. You can most easily find this from corsetmaking suppliers online. Then there is the matter of boning. Purists will argue that steel stays are the only way to go, although I’d say that plastic boning is surely fine for your first time out.

Spiral steel bones for your corset.

White metal spring steel bones.

A bit of burlesque inspiration before you begin to fashion your corset…

What Katie Did burlesque corsets.

Alice in Wonderland burlesque corset byolgaitaly.

Have you ever made a corset? How did it turn out?

x Rena

Vintage Victorian Steampunk Fashion

Steampunk style.

The Victorians had it going on in fashion and science – and the Steampunk trend is a nod to their prowess. The peak of the Victorian times is debatedly the Crystal Palace Great Exhibition back in 1851 in London, England displaying the most cutting edge innovations in science and technology arising from the Industrial Revoloution. The Victorians were true innovators in science in their day. Did you know that I’m a scientist too? And I also have a love of Victorians and Steampunk.  The Steampunk movement pays homage to the Victorian love of mechanical workings, Victorian fashion, and a twist of future-inspired fantasy.

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The original Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London.

As you’re probably starting to realize by now, I have an eclectic fashion sense. I admire the Steampunk movement for its rock and roll approach to interpreting what Victorian fashion would look like in the future. Steampunk fashion is nothing if not playful and also tinged with romance, something which I confess to being a bit of a sucker for.

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Steampunk dress available from melaniegail.

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Steampunk dress available from KMKdesignsllc.

Let’s not forget the Steampunk men’s apparel either!

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Steampunk men’s vest by KMKdesignsllc.

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Steampunk tuxedo available from MacheteNSons.

Genuine Victorian clothes are difficult to come by these days, although not impossible if you keep a keen eye on the internets. Here’s a couple of beautiful things for you to consider.

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Gorgeous Victorian jacket from dakotasvintage.

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Victorian walking dress from PomPomClothing.

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Elegant Victorian Dress from stairwaytovintage.

If you’re handy around a sewing machine, there are some excellent patterns to try out to get that Victorian Steampunk look you’re after. Why not consider:

Misses Steampunk dress, Simplicity 2207.

Or if you’re a knitter, you can always put your needles toward making your own Victorian cape based on an 1850s knitting pattern.

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Victorian knitted cape, pattern available from knittydebbie.

Vintage Bullet Bras and Bloomers: Admire, Sew and Even Knit

Those vintage babes had some impressive bras and underthings. Their unmentionables are what gave their outfits such polished, structured looks. I can’t get over the bullet bras. Breasts were pointy back in the olden days.

You can even get her as a mousepad!

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Undergarments for knitting by fab40s!

With a bit of hunting, you can still occasionally find corsets and girdles to get that 50s silhouette with your vintage dresses.

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Vintage 50s pin up corset available from oldgoldvintage on Etsy.

If you’re into sewing, there are some fabulous patterns to get that look or vintage feel.

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40s bra pattern, one of several, available  from mrsdepew on Etsy.

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Gorgeous Colette Patterns Madeleine Bloomers available as a free tutorial.

And for even more fun, there’s this adorable bloomers pattern by Colette Patterns. I confess I made a pair myself, and I might need to make another very soon!

x Rena

Hello Project Runway? Behind Most Jackets Lies a Zipper (or Three) in Wait

My new Burda pattern before all the taping began. If you look carefully, you can find instructions in Russian.

I need a spring jacket in a desperate way. People are starting to give me that peculiar sort of stare lately as I stubbornly continue to wear my beloved black heavy wool DKNY coat day in and day out. 18 C you say? No problem! I’m usually cold anyway, I’m quick to assure you. But even I am starting to admit that we’re halfway through spring with the dawning of May. And I may, reluctantly, soon have to admit defeat.

The quest for a spring jacket is no ordinary thing. It needs to be the jacket, the go-to statement jacket, casually cool and elegant and topping everything from perfectly broken in jeans to classic vintage dresses. It’s a commitment. And I have a knack for finding jackets that I would absolutely love… starting from $300. Ha.

Seeing as my budget isn’t about to burst forth in blossom anytime soon like the cherry trees in Vancouver these days, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Sure, you’d think that someone like me with a shop like TheVintageDesignShop selling vintage patterns has the prowess of a lioness around a sewing machine, but think twice my friends. I can generously allow that at best I’m an intermediate-level sewer. I can do the basics, but I’ve been reluctant to go to that next level… until now.

have to have that spring jacket. I can see it now perfectly in my mind’s eye: bomber style in a black as night cotton twill with a visible asymmetrical silver zipper on the front, two zipper pockets, and an over-sized collar and/or hood. Preferably with hood. Oh yes. I can practically taste it.

So, with some determination I scoured the internet for suitable patterns. Vogue 8600 was a contender. But those Rick Owens bomber jackets kept haunting me. I continued to hunt. Eventually, I found a Burda pattern that with a couple of modifications should do the trick. It was either that or sketch a jacket from scratch, which even with my idealism I thought twice about, considering I’ve never made a jacket before.

I settled on the Burda pattern with a couple of modifications. Did I mention that the mods are the collar and two zipper pockets? And may I point out that this brings the total number of zippers in this jacket to three? And… I have a fear of zippers. Sure, I can tackle them on pillowcases, but front and centre on what is going to be the go-to jacket? Oh boy, have I bit off something to chew. I headed off to the fabric store with great optimism and scouted out some finds, including a fantastic fuchsia polka dot cotton that will serve as the jacket lining (though not for the hood, if I get that far).

My new fabrics and notions for the spring jacket. Note zippers in question to right. My concession to spring is the fuchsia fabric lining.

The Burda pattern in question, looking deceptively straight forward.

The very first step, after cutting out the pattern pieces which I will get to tomorrow, is tackling the zipper pockets. I suspect I will spend no small amount of time staring at this bomber jacket zipper tutorial.Nothing like facing fear down straight in the face. Sometimes, we just need to suffer for our art or take risks in fashion.

x Rena