Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wherein I lose my Treasure...

When I wrote to you all months ago that I was going to attempt to post more about my personal life, I had no idea that I would find myself compelled to share with you... this, the most deeply personal and painful thing to ever happen to me.

Ten days ago, my Mama passed away.

And almost as much as I feel the urge to call my sister, or my aunts (whom my mama affectionately referred to as "the treasures"), or my best friend, or my mama herself to find solace in this impossible time, I feel the urge to talk to you, dear readers. I know that my posts can be trite sometimes, really, I blog about stuff, things that no one can take with them in the end, but I feel that regardless, you've all been there for me these last several years. I have come to think of you all as my friends, my circle... my people.

The last month has been the hardest of my life. I feel that I have grown, grown too big, reached my limit, shattered, been pressed down, hardened and remade into another form that better fits the reality that I suddenly find myself in. I arrived in Nebraska 28 years old, wearing sneakers and a t-shirt with a dinosaur on it. I left, so very, very old.
For two weeks after I wrote to you all about leaving to look after my Mama in the hospital, I watched her fade away, withdraw and finally say goodby.

March 9th, our whole family was going to be in Nebraska to celebrate my mother's marriage to her Fiancé, Guy -the man she had waited her whole life for. Instead, she was admitted to the hospital and 9 days after the day she was to become a bride, my family instead came together to lay her to rest. She was only 57.

I find that my brain is incapable of understanding a world in which she is gone. Its seems to want to freeze, like an overburdened computer, when it's asked to process this information that is so counter-intuitive to everything else it knows. So I just give it simple tasks, one thing at a time. I do the dishes, I answer a few emails, I watch Glee in my sweatpants - things that don't ask too much of my poor mind. And then I try again.
I know that this is a process and I'm hoping that by attempting one task at a time that I understand, then someday I'll understand this too. I hope.

Thank you all so much for the warm wishes and prayers that you sent my way after my last post. And thank you for being here for me - you have no idea how dear each of you is to me.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Short blog break.

Hello my lovely readers. Please forgive my blogging silence but I'm going to have to put A Few Threads Loose on the back burner for a week or two. My mother is currently in the hospital fighting liver failure. I'll be with her in Nebraska until she pulls through and there's no knowing how long that might be.
If praying is your thing, we would be very happy for your prayers.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Sew in Love... A Vintage Vanity Does Halter Top Video Tutorials!

Hello lovely readers!
Recently I was delighted to find that the very talented Jennifer of A Vintage Vanity on Youtube has done a full video tutorial series on sewing Depew #1006 - one of my vintage pattern reproductions!

Depew #1006 Halter Top Pattern at

The "So Sew Vintage" series of 5 video posts walks you though printing and taping together the pattern, grading the pattern (if necessary) to another size using the included pattern grading instructions, mocking up a muslin and adjusting the fit, interfacing the final pattern pieces and sewing them together, and adding buttons/ buttonholes to the finished blouse.

Jennifer, a self-proclaimed Geek (geeks unite!) chose to make her halter top out of Dr. Who-themed Tardis fabric, which, in my opinion, is unsurpassed in its epic-ness. 

The posts are very in-depth and so entertainingly presented that a complete beginner would have very little trouble sewing this blouse right up!

If you're not interested in sewing this blouse for yourself, you might want to check out the "A Vintage Vanity" Youtube channel anyways for amazing vintage fashion, DIY, makeup and hair tutorials and vlogging!
You can also follow A Vintage Vanity on Facebook.

If you are interested in giving this pattern a try, below is the complete tutorial set!

Happy sewing!

Part 1: Printing and taping together your pattern.

Tip: every printer is different and occasionally marins might be a hair off. If you find while taping the pattern pages together that the lines aren't matching up perfectly, give the perimiter of the pattern piece itself a little snip to free it from the paper around it. This can make it much easier to line up the pattern lines as necessary.

Part 2: Grading the pattern pieces.

Part 3: Mocking up the sewing pattern for a test fit.

Part 4: Interfacing and sewing the pieces together.

Part 5: Adding buttons and buttonholes - and the big reveal!

A huge thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to put together such a fantastic tutorial series! I can't wait to see the next sewing project you take on!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Favorite 1920's Teddies... and a free sewing pattern!

 The 1920's brought us some truly wonderful fashion revelations, my favorite being the looser fitting dress and less constricting undergarments to accompany them. Lingerie also got so much easier to sew with little to no boning, fewer seams, and simpler designs!

The best part of this, in my opinion, was the advent of the teddy or camiknickers. It could often be sewn from two squares of fabric and was a great way to re-use fabric to make dainty things.

Original 1920's lingerie patterns are nearly impossible to find. In fact, they're practically the holy grail to lingerie pattern collectors like myself. Teddy patterns from the 1920's are the rarest of all. If you do a Google search you'll find hardly any at all. Sad Face.

The Vintage Pattern Wiki has a few though that I thought I would share.

McCall 5124
McCall 3778

McCall 4311
McCall 3741
These beauties are so lovely and when they do rarely crop up, they are often quite expensive (and rightly so!). This makes getting your hands on that 1920's look rather hard and one must often turn to reproduction lines like mine to find something to substitute for an original.

But today, I thought I would skip all that and just give you a free pattern!

This is a digital copy of an insanely easy sewing method for a lovely set of step-in combination teddies from 1926. The pattern for two different versions was originally published for the newspaper column of a "Fashion Expert". This pattern would also make an amazing little neglige for when you need one in a hurry.

I have digitally enhanced the images but the instructions are the exact wordings used by the original designer. The grammar and writing style tells me that the "Fashion Expert" was most likely a French woman writing in English and the way she expresses herself is so charming!

It is not necessary to print this pattern. The "Pattern" given is a very easy to follow set of instructions for cutting and draping a certain measurement of fabric with several drawings and diagrams.
This is a great way to use up some of those vintage scarves hiding in your closet, or a nice length of silk you haven't found a purpose for yet.

Happy Sewing, mes cheris!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekend Eye Candy: Pictorial Review from March of 1927.

Hello lovely readers! I have a busy Sunday ahead of me which includes cleaning my house like a mad woman in anticipation of company, and cheering on my favorite football team during the Super Bowl.
But before I do any of those things, I thought I'd share some awfully pretty things with you.

For your weekend viewing pleasure, I have pictures of Pictorial Review's Printed Patterns booklet, advertising all of the yummy patterns one could acquire in March of 1927.

So without further ado (since I have to go paint my nails blue and orange to show some team spirit) here they are!

I would wear all four of the dresses above in a heartbeat, wouldn't you?

I love the monogrammed blouse up in the right corner above. What a great idea!

And swoon, you know I'm all about the lingerie... but especially, THAT ROBE!

Sigh... a girl just can't have too many 1920's patterns, can she?

Happy weekend,

P.S. If you get a moment, check out our new sponsor Floradora Presents!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sew in Love... McCall 6021

Hello lovely readers! I'm sorry for my blogging absence this month! In Norway a few years ago, I was diagnosed with a permanent and very painful nerve condition... which I recently found out was a misdiagnosis! The real culprit was a childhood injury that had left my ribs completely misaligned for nearly 20 years. The treatment is a weekly excruciating rib adjustment that leaves me tender, tired and completely useless for days. The upside is, I'll only need about 6 months of treatment, as opposed to a lifetime of medication and pain.
So that's my recent crazy...
Today though, I surfaced from my useless stupor to get the mail and to my delight, I found that a much anticipated pattern had arrived for my collection and I just had to share!

McCall 6021 Ladies' and Misses' Set of Underwear from 1929.

I had no idea when I bought it on Ebay if it was even complete. I was thrilled to open the envelope and find that the pattern was still in its factory folds! (a jackpot for us pattern collectors - it means the pattern has never been used, never even been unfolded in the last 90 years!).

But even better than that, nestled inside one of the folds was this!

One of my absolute favorites is the little found objects in patterns and books. Valentines, drawings, pressed flowers and four leaf clovers, and pretty, pretty advertisement cards always make my day!

When I do find things like this, all I can think is, I wish these never expired, and you could go back in time, get your subscription at that stellar price.

But back to the pattern, what do you think of it? I bought it for the bra mostly. The tap pants from that era, while beautiful, are so long they're practically skirts, and not super sexy. However, for costumers and anyone who wants her lingerie for that Gatsby even to be spot on, this is perfect. Should I make a reproduction of it, do you think?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Super-Secret Christmas Robe from 1951

A couple of years ago, I found an amazing vintage Mens' robe pattern on Etsy and fell in love. I snapped it up, ordered some amazing rayon fabric and some ultra-soft micro fleece to line it with. When the pattern arrived  I was so excited... and then somehow I never made it. You know how it is, projects pile up, work gets too busy and then before you know it, it's two years later - no robe.

Vogue 8753

So this year I was determined to sew it for my husband for Christmas, and I was determined that he wouldn't even know I was sewing something for him. In the middle of finals project and a really busy month at Mrs. Depew Vintage I was sewing this robe like a crazy person. And let me tell you, lining rayon with micro fleece is about as easy as getting a puppy to hold still during a cat parade.

I sewed between assignments and studying, before and after work, at midnight while he was working night shifts and every time my husband rode his motorcycle into the driveway I madly dashed to stash everything into my studio closet and delint the threads from my clothes to hide any evidence of my undertaking.

The flat felled seams with the added bulk of a lining fabric, no matter how much I graded, were insanely hard and I ended up hand binding all of my seams inside just to keep everything clean. I was determined to use every skill in my playbook to make this robe the nicest thing my husband ever owned.
2/3 of the sewing was by hand to get everything just right and after about 70 hours of work, it was finished with just one day to spare! I even had time to embroider his initials on the cuff before wrapping it.

The rayon had two beautiful sides to it so I made the cuffs, pockets, sash, carriers and lapels with the lighter, contrasting side.

The black micro fleece lining looks really sharp in contrast to the grey and is so soft and warm that I have to resist stealing the robe for myself every morning when I let the dog out at 6 a.m.

The rayon has just the slightest metallic sheen to it on one side.

Of course it's about 4 sizes too big for Lusty Lulu (love her new name!) but it looks great on the man himself. (I don't make him pose for blog photos, he's shy.)

I also finished the inside with a hilarious "This took Forever" label by Sublime Stitching that makes my day every time I catch a glimpse of it.

And now I'm quite relieved to be done working on this giant project and back to sewing for myself. This week I'm making myself a few bras using this pattern.

How about you? Did you make any of your gifts by hand this year?