Shirt meets Burda’s approval!

I love looking at Burda Member Best of’s at the end of every month . . .  and even more so when I saw Mr Ooobop’s shirt in at number 3!

Member project best of september 2012

Vintage western shirt #2… the flowery kind

Flowery vintage western shirtAs promised, here is the finished shirt. It is a revisit to the same shirt I made for Mr Ooobop! almost a year ago. On first inspection I thought it must be 70s, given the flappy collars and slim fit. But one reader clocked the hairstyles on the pattern envelope and said it was probably more 1980s. Either way, its another vintage make that has been a valuable learning curve and keeps the old chap happy at the same time… double whammy!

Butterick 5007

I made some brave adjustments to the pattern this time. (Well, brave for me, that is!) Namely to the chest, shoulders and sleeve length. Of course there is a knock on effect for each change, given the many different pieces to this pattern, so I had to keep on my toes!

I have said it before, and I am very conscious of blowing Mr. Ooobop’s trumpet, but he is very good at knowing what fabric suits and especially good at choosing buttons. Check these out…

yellow buttons with black outline

They are little chunky white buttons with a yellow fill and a black outline. They are indeed a trifle camouflaged here but I can’t imagine any other button being better on this shirt. I have mastered buttonholes, which is a good thing seeing as there were 13 of the damned things to make, but I did get a bit over confident and had to unpick two of them because they weren’t perfectly centred in the placket. I really don’t want to be doing that on a regular basis. Took as much time to unpick 2 buttonholes as it did to sew 13 of them AND hand sew on all of the buttons!

I couldn’t resist adding a couple of new features to this one. I underlined the collar, the collar stand and the under flaps of the pockets in a plain red cotton…

collar cuffs and pockets with red contrast lining… and I added some bias trim to the curved shirt hem. Mostly because Mr. Ooobop! wanted to preserve the length. It was an obvious solution but I think it makes for a lovely finish too, highlighting the shirt-tails!

bound hem

I am really happy with the fit on this one.

vintage western shirt back

Mr Oobop! got a fair few comments when he turned up at his last gig.

Mr Ooobop playing double bass

The finishing on this shirt – all the topstitching and flat felled seams –  was the time consuming bit. but imagine how long it took me to match that rose on the shoulder?! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge 😉 )

matching up the pattern on the shoulderSpecial thanks to George, Tom and Cat of The Redfords for the fabulous photography.

A sneak peek at Mr Ooobop’s new shirt

flowery western shirt

Sorry for my lack of garment posts of late… I appear to have been sucked into a herbaceous night garden!

Here is a sneak preview of Mr Ooobop’s new shirt. I feel naughty for not waiting ’til it’s finished but there is an issue of buttons and therefore, buttonholes. Mr Ooobop! is very particular about his buttons and ‘these things take time’ apparently. Well, not as long as this blooming shirt I hope!

Any hows, will fill you in with the details and hope to present you with a modelled shirt image real soon. What delights were laid upon your sewing table this weekend?

Audrey’s collection.

Audreys pattern collection

Audreys pattern collection . . . just over 100!

Last week I had a wonderful message sent via Facebook, from my old neighbour who I haven’t caught up with in such a long time. She asked if I might be interested in a box of old sewing patterns that  a friend of hers was otherwise going to get rid of. Interested was an understatement of course.

So fast forward to last night when I had a wonderful visit from Andrew. He pulled up outside in a 1967 Rover, like something out of the Sweeny! He looked so retro in his fur-collared leather jacket and his half-tinted 70s shades, a man after my own heart for sure, and I tried to be everso polite not to react too hastily about the giant box of patterns on the back seat! It was very difficult though. I really wasn’t expecting him to bring that many! I couldn’t possibly let him drive straight off straight away. I had to ask him in for a cuppa to thank him at the very least.

I’m so glad I did! We got on like a house on fire and talked non-stop ’til the small hours of Sunday morning! He explained how his mother had sadly passed away earlier in the year and how he and his siblings were only just recently able to start sorting through her things.

I’m especially glad I got to know what Andrew’s mother was like. I would so love to have met Audrey. She sounded like an an amazing lady. Creative, innovative, kind, charitable, a master of all things frugal and a damned fine sport! She never stopped creating and making and tending to her garden and all the while looking after everyone else before herself, so it seemed. She never complained and never wanted to impose her illness on anyone. She was a very strong and determined lady but sadly lost the fight to a dreadful illness. Andrew showed me a photo of her taken not long before she died and I could not believe how youthful and beautiful she looked. I don’t think her image will ever leave my mind. I will think of her every time I make a dress from her collection and I certainly will treasure these patterns forever.

So thank you to Jo, my lovely thoughtful neighbour. Thank you to Andrew for being such wonderful company and for coming so out of your way to make the delivery and thank you most of all to Audrey who, though we have never met, will be such a huge inspiration to me and my future sewing projects. I am one very grateful and very lucky lady!

pants the cat sneaks in

Pants, the cat, says thank you too!

B5007 The finished shirt!

B5007 mens shirt

B5007 mens shirt as worn by Mr Ooobop!

Wow! What a marathon! This shirt is surely the most time-consuming project I have ever worked on but boy has it taught me a thing or two. The first thing is clearly, never give Mr Ooobop the opportunity to model 70s clothing. He takes it far too seriously. I promise he doesn’t ‘slug-balance’ on a regular basis . . . but nonetheless it is a worry that he wears it so well! He was just rushing off to his next gig with The Redfords so for a rushed 5 minute shoot he was a very obliging mannequin and I must not complain.

B5007 mens shirt

B5007 mens shirt, so seriously modelled by Mr Ooobop!

If you haven’t read the previous posts, (post 1 and post 2) this shirt was inspired by some beautiful 1970s Laura Ashley fabric I found in an Oxfam shop. I had in mind a little vintage dress but Mr Ooobop! had a firm suggestion of a slim fit 70s shirt with a big collar. I think he has a really good eye for design but I wouldn’t want to inflate that ego any!

B5007 mens shirt as modelled by a very happy Mr Ooobop

B5007 mens shirt as modelled by Lemmy. . . Ooops I mean Mr Ooobop!

The pattern itself was in good order and had very clear and concise instructions. Every seam and edge was double top-stitched so I took it really slowly, given that each stitch was going to be on display! It seemed like it was going to take forever. Well it took me about 10 hours in total over a period of a month, stealing an hour here and there between work and children and either side of a holiday.

There were no instructions on how to finish the inside seams and I didn’t think it was quite right to have an open seam running down each side so I applied a flat felled seam (the kind you get on the outside of jeans) but to the inside. It was a bit tricky especially with all the underarm seam layers but it was worth it to keep it neat and also to form a strong seam. Very necessary methinks for such a slim fit shirt. And it was in keeping with the double row of top stitching.

Given that this was the first time I have ever attempted a man’s shirt, I am very happy. I wasn’t confident at all that it would work out. There are flaws, for sure. The collar stand for instance was a real test of my patience. I had to sew it on, remove it, readjust seams to fit, sew it back on, remove it, resposition it and sew it back on at least 3 times! It is still about 2mm out.

I thought the shaped yokes might prove problematical but actually that bit was dead easy. Again, I just took it real slow. I think because it was cut on the cross it helped to ease it into position on the fronts and back.

The buttonholes, all said, wern’t too tricky. I made sure I tested them out on some scrap fabric first. I have a buttonhole foot attachment that involves placing the button in the back section to create the correct size for automated button hole stitches. It works fine but I find it creates a button hole slightly too large so after removing the button from the guage,  I close it down a notch to make sure its slightly smaller. I forgot to ‘reset’ the stitch on one of the button holes and it kept stitching beyond the ‘stopper’. New pet hate: unpicking button hole stitches!!

I have the facility to sew on buttons with the same foot attachment but my mum assures me it never does it properly. So the little niggling mum voice in my head made me sew each one of those ‘darling’ little pearly buttons on by hand!

The things I would change about it:

  • I would definitely make the sleeves an inch or so longer
  • I would overlock the inside yoke edges before seaming
  • I would take care to measure across the back and get a better fit across the shoulders.
  • I would not sew so late into the evening (when I make most mistakes!)

I would definitely use this pattern again with a different fabric. Perhaps experiment with a contrasting collar stand or cuffs… or yoke! But I have to say, I am now contemplating a very tiny project that isn’t quite so labour-intensive and doesn’t involve sewing on quite so many buttons!

What has been your most testing project to date?

Butterick 5007: Men’s vintage western shirt – progress update.

Butterick 5007: The collar is on . . .

Butterick 5007: The collar is on . . .

I did hope to get further than this, given the lovely long bank holiday weekend. But I was pleasantly distracted by 3 lovely days out instead! A birthday barbecue on Saturday, lunch with friends on Sunday and a day out at my mother-in-laws allotment today.

But I am so not going to rush this shirt. I am determined to make a good job of it. I had such a eureka moment when I found the fabric – 7 metres of a 1970s vintage Laura Ashley loveliness – and I knew it was destined for something special. Mr Ooobop decided its fate and although I was a bit unsure at first he was not wrong with his vision. I am really happy at how it is coming along.

  Butterick 5007: The button bands are on... awaiting the button holes!

Butterick 5007: The button bands are on... awaiting the button holes!

I used tailors tacks this time. I usually trace off or mark the darts and positional points with tailors chalk because its quicker but I remembered my mum teaching me how to do this when I was very young and it felt right to apply them on a 70s pattern!

Why use tailors tacks?

  • It helps to accurately mark both layers of the fabric in exact positions.
  • It eliminates the need for a tailors chalk, if you don’t have one to hand, or if it doesn’t show up on the fabric or if you simply don’t want to run the risk of permanently marking your fabric.

How to make tailors tacks

This may not be the conventional way, but this is how my mother taught me:

Thread your needle with a contrasting colour thread and match the two ends to make a double length of thread. With the pattern still pinned to the fabric after cutting, pass the needle through one of the circle marks, leaving a tail of about an inch behind. Bring it back through the other side, through the same circle mark, leaving a loop of about an inch behind. Repeat once more, remembering not to pull tightly and then cut your thread from the needle.

Continue to do this on all circle marks where necessary. Snip the loops of the tacks to leave little tufts of thread.

tailors tacks

tailors' tacks

Unpin the pattern from the fabric and gently pull over the tacks so the tacks remain on the fabric.

tailors' tacks after the paper pattern is removed

tailors' tacks after the paper pattern is removed

Then, when you are ready to use your fabric piece, carefully separate the layers and snip the tacks in the middle to leave tacks on each side.

snip the tacks between the layers of fabric

snip the tacks between the layers of fabric

Et voilà! An incredibly old fashioned but nevertheless effective method of fabric marking.

This is a first time man’s shirt for me and I am enjoying the learning curve. The instructions and little diagrams are really clear and I love how neatly it is all coming together with the topstitching and all!

I’m a bit worried about creating all the button holes but the first two have worked out fine on the pocket flaps, though I did hold my breath as I was doing them!

  Butterick 5007: The pockets are topstitched in position and the first buttonholes in place!

Butterick 5007: The pockets are topstitched in position and the first buttonholes in place!

Next stage is the sleeves and side seams, the hem and the dreaded button holes but I fear further progress on this shirt will have to be delayed just a little bit more, while I magic the bucket of golden plums into jam, the tray load of blackberries, raspberries and elderberries into bramble jelly and the giant marrow into chutney.

I am so excited by this time of year and I love the glow that my daughter and I have acquired after spending a glorious day in the outside, sampling the goodies as we picked . . .physalis, cob-nuts, fresh peas, cucumbers, baby carrots, apples and tomatoes.

Here are some of the fruits of our labours!

beetroot, apples, golden plums, marrow, cob-nuts, marrow, dahlia.. and funny carrot

beetroot, apples, golden plums, marrow, cob-nuts, marrow, dahlia.. and funny carrot

Too many distractions, too little time… story of my life!

Butterick 5007: Men’s vintage western shirt.

Butterick 5007

Butterick 5007: Men's shirt

I’m assuming this shirt is 70’s. I can’t see any reference to the print date on the sleeve or instructions but either way it has been approved by Mr Ooobop! I bought a selection of vintage shirt patterns as the request was for a ‘fitted shirt with a large collar’. You see, from the moment I brought home that lovely vintage Laura Ashley fabric from Oxfam, he had proper plans….!

I love how the transfer patterns are both still in the pack and unused. Mr Ooobop! politely refused the inclusion of the flowers and suggested I might like to use them for a project of mine instead!

These were the other two patterns I bought from Etsy:

Simplicity 6693

Simplicity 6693

Somplicity 7698

Somplicity 7698

Now I have to say, I have never attempted a shirt before, let alone a man’s shirt so this is going to be an adventure. I feel a bit sad that I’m not going to progress very far before I go away but I have managed to steal 2 hours this week. 1 hour to patch together the pattern pieces, press them flat and cut them out and 1 hour to press the fabric, lay out and cut the pieces. My mum advised not to cut the pattern and the fabric at the same time as it would blunt the scissors over a period of time. Fortunately this is a one-size pattern so I can cut around it (with my paper scissors) otherwise I would be tracing off the right size and cutting that one out. It seems so far that I don’t have to make any adjustments so we will see.

shirt pattern pieces cut out

shirt pattern pieces cut out

I must have had a moment of bravery because I am using the chosen fabric for a ‘first time make’. I suppose, in my mind it was a very cheap buy from a charity shop so I’m hoping it will be a wearable toile. Mr Ooobop! already has another fabric lined up for the next one in any case!

One thing to look out for when you use reclaimed or vintage fabric buys, is to check over the fabric thoroughly. I spotted this little frayed hole just in time so that I could place the pattern pieces around it.

hole in fabric

hole in fabric

Well I am off to finish up some work and then pack for my little trip to Jersey. I’m not sure I will have too many fabric or vintage shopping experiences to write home about… I think there are only two fabric shops on the whole of the island! Have a wonderful weekend all and I look forward to catching up with your adventures when I get back.

Vintage Festival, Southbank 2011

vintage festival cake

Vintage festival cake!

So here we are . . . better late than never!

Last Sunday I attended the wonderful Vintage Festival on London’s Southbank. The Festival is the brainchild of Designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway, original founders of Red or Dead. I have to say that I did spot Wayne walking around the fringes of one of the fashion shows but I wasn’t brave enough to approach him for a photo. He seemed to go unnoticed for the most part but I wish I had plucked up courage at least to have congratulated him on such a fabulous event. So here is a photo I have ‘borrowed’ from the V&A!

Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway.

Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway

It is unlikely that this ‘party’ captured the same spirit as the original Festival of Britain, which was hosted in 1951 as a post war celebration to promote a feeling of recovery and progress in in Britain, but there was indeed an amazing vibe of creative appreciation and social interaction. All things art, music and fashion wrapped up in 6 floors of the Southbank Centre surrounded by sprawling vintage market stalls, nostalgic fairground rides and side shows.

I have since found out that the original Festival of Britain was in itself a celebration of the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition But going forward . . . !

We set off at midday after I gave up a whole morning of trying to convince my 7 year old daughter and fiancé to dress up a little for the occasion. 7 year old girls, if you ever have the pleasure, would normally jump at the chance but I have one who is far too contrary and managed to convince me that Tweety Pie t-shirt was from the ‘olden days’. Mr Ooobop had plans on going ’80s metal’ but that somehow jarred a little with my plans on 50’s day dress!

Me and Daniel en route to the festival

Me and Daniel en route to the festival

On arrival we were met with an amazing village of vintage stalls. Free to Joe public. Packed with all things nostalgic, retro and vintage. Lots of people dressed appropriately which in turn had lots of people smiling. Not least of all Mr Ooobop who was already  incredibly distracted by the sea of seamed stockings!

Cherry hats and lingerie

Cherry hats and lingerie

Vintage hats

Vintage hats

There were not as many stalls with fabric and notions as I expected but that was probably a good thing as the tickets weren’t cheap and a day of drinking and eating was going to cost a pretty penny!



We stopped off at the little pop up tea house which was a hit with Samaria. The simple pleasures of 2 lumps or 3 (of sugar) brought immense joy to one who was already beginning to flag under the sun and the annoyance of two parents who were behaving like pigs in muck!

Samaria loves a tea scene

Samaria loves a tea party!

We could have spent all day here, honestly. It was like a treasure trove. But we ditched the temptation to head into the Southbank Centre instead. The festival covered all things vintage 1920’s to 1980’s (although I would personally consider  60’s to 80’s to be more retro than vintage!) The main feature on the first floor was Hot Shots night club. A gorgeously lit dance floor with the most amazing girl band I have ever seen, The Bombshellettes. They were so glamourous as were the people dressed 40’s on the dance floor.

Torch club

The Torch Club

The fabulous Bombshelettes

The fabulous Bombshelettes

ladies on the dance floor

Ladies on the dance floor

Beautiful dresses

Beautiful dresses everywhere you looked!

We supped G&Ts whilst watching the dance lessons and quaffed more than our fair share of Haagen Dazs ice-cream served by 50’s ‘cigarette girls’.

haagen dazs girls

The Haagen Dazs girls

Art was everywhere. Gorgeous photography and a mini Peter Blake Exhibition. The contrast in music styles between rooms was quite incredible. From the glamourous and charming 40’s we swanned past a Pearly King and Queen at the doors of an 80’s disco to get to the Balcony of 70’s soul and then down to the Cotton Club for a proper timewarp and some amazing jiving.

70s soul on the balcony!

70s soul on the balcony!

70s balcony with seams

On the 70s balcony with obligatory seams!

On route of course I couldn’t be in too much of a hurry to leave the craft room. A display of handmade dresses lured me into a long chat with a lovely teacher from Fashion Antidote, a fashion school in East London, a crochet class was in action and a there was place where you could sew your own souvenir vintage bunting. There was an art school too where you could learn printing techniques and sketching. I so wish I was more brave at taking photos of strangers. It really was a wonderful place.

Fashion Antidote

Fashion Antidote

Making souvenir bunting

Making souvenir bunting

It was difficult to cover all aspects of the day. I think we skimmed the surface of most of the events but when I go next time (and I absolutely will go again at the drop of a vintage hat!) I will be sure to spend more time in each area if it means missing out on some. I guess we were a bit too excited. General ‘people-watching’ was definitely the order of the day. In every direction there were stunningly dressed ladies, holding themselves in a way that oozed glamour, but probably because underneath those amazing dresses they were ‘trussed up’ in lingerie, corsetry and suspenders that forced them into straight lines! Im telling you, even with what little effort I made, I have never spent so long in the bathroom to go out for the day. Those ladies of the 50s must have had time on their hands or got up really early in the morning!

We did hop back out to the markets to buy some cool shades but also I was feeling a bit bad that Samaria was duly tagging along. So luckily for her there were some vintage fair ground attractions too!

Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter

The Carousel

The Carousel . . . those Victorians were very clever

One last stop before we left led us to the Pink Bus. A fabulous art installation by artists Victoria Brook and Caroline Fletcher. It is quite literally a pink bus filled with all things nostalgic and retro, cherished, saved and rescued from a landfill. Samaria loved sitting in here and you’d have to sit in there for a very long time to see everything!

Pink bus

Pink bus

Pink bus front end!

Pink bus front end!

Pink Bus back end

Pink Bus back end!

And even on our way back home, the vintage theme continued on the green. How absolutely delightful and British! Roll on next year!

A vintage picnic

A vintage picnic

Fabric Dilemmas

I have another new found addiction in the form of fabric shopping. It has got out of control over the last few months. And clearly my shopping time outweighs my sewing time!

I blame the number of charity shops on my way to work and in my way of a lunch time visit to the super market!

I am blessed to be living a stones throw away from fabric heaven in the Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush Market , but nothing outweighs that eureka moment when you spot 5 metres of eyelet cotton for £3 or a pretty vintage sheet for £2 in a charity shop. Of course there is that do-goody factor when you buy from these places but I also like the self-centred fact that you can make a toile for the equivalent of 50p a metre and if it turns out good you have an amazing dress for around £2!

You really have to check over the fabric properly first, before you leave the shop. It might be £2 for a reason. It could have a small tear, which you could possibly work around or a massive horrid stain slap bang in the middle!

The last two dresses I have made (70s dress in blue and vintage sheet dress) are from remnants bought in Oxfam shops. Come to think of it so are my Danielle dress and my floral mini skirt.

But here is a small selection of some other remnants that I have accumulated. I have an idea for what some of them might be good for but any suggestions for the others would be most welcome.

This mono print lightweight cotton might lend itself to a tea dress…

flowers and dots lightweight cotton fabric

Black, white and grey, lightweight cotton. 4 metres.

The shiny metalic stretch material below is a really interesting one. But only 1 metre. So it might make a mini a-line skirt like my plaid wool version.

Stretch metalic fabric with wave design. 1 metre. £1.50.

stretch metalic fabric with wave design. 1 metre. £1.50.

The orangy, pinky, peachy flower print below is a lightweight furnishing fabric that kind of yells 60’s a-line mini dress to me.

orange flower furnishing fabric

Orange flower lightweight furnishing fabric. 3 metres. £4.99

Theres a pattern for a lovely little girls dress in one of my burda magazines that would be perfect in this pink and brown flower print…

pink and brown flower design cotton

pink and brown flower design cotton print. 2 metres. £2.50.

And you should have been there to hear my squeals when I spotted this beauty…. 7 metres of vintage Laura Ashley fabric. Its 100% cotton and presumably a lightweight curtain fabric but it feels like linen and Mr Ooobop has firm plans to be sporting a 70s fitted shirt from this in the very near future. I’m a bit hesitant, only because I haven’t attempted one yet. But hey…. if it goes wrong I will have a good few metres to spare!

Laura Ashley 1970s linen

Laura Ashley 1970s linen-like fabric. 100% cotton. 7 metres £10!

I have a thing about turquoise. Maybe its because it is my birthstone. Maybe because it simply is an amazing eye catching colour. Not sure if this is vintage fabric or not but the print will lend itself nicely to a vintage shift dress of some description I’m sure.

Turquoise black and grey cotton print.

Turquoise black and grey cotton print.

And finally…. if I haven’t yet bored the pants off of you. My piece de resistance!!!! I love this retro shoe print. Turquoise background colour an’ all! This is firmly earmarked as a 1950s dress with a shirt buttoned top.

retro shoe cotton print fabric

retro shoe cotton print fabric

The downside to having such a stash is that however big it is, am I compromising the intended garment by limiting my choices of material? Sometimes the dress screams a certain fabric and although I would like nothing more than to cherry pick the exact colour and fabric in mind from my local ‘heavenly strip of fabric shops’, I feel a duty to employ my precious finds.

I decided that I had to use 2 charity shop finds before I purchased any more new fabric. But that didn’t really work this week. I got a bit excited at allowing myself a legitimate shopping trip and I bought 5 lots of new fabric.

Best I get sewing!

ooobop! 70s dress in blue

ooobop 70s dress blue

ooobop! 70s dress blue: McCalls 2399

Well today was a wash out and so short of giving my new dress an outing in the park for some sunny outside photos, I used the meagre amount of sunlight that peeked through my kitchen window instead. Hence the dark ‘moody’ shots!

This is my first attempt at a vintage pattern – McCalls Pattern 2399 – and it was definitely worth doing the toile! Originally, I had chopped off 6 inches from the hem – as per pattern instructions – and this made a horrid sausage shape. For this version, I took 5 inches up from between the waist and the hem and allowed a hem of 2 inches et voilà… the A-shape remained!

This is the first time I have included a side zipper too. Well second time, including the toile! And I have to say I’m a fan, not only because they seem easier and neater to put in but I dont have to dislocate my arm to do a back zipper all the way up!

I took my time over the collars, grading the seams, clipping and pressing and it paid off to get really smooth curves.

And you may have noticed, I decided to ditch the sleeves (from the toile). Mr Ooobop not-so-kindly remarked that I looked like an inmate from Prisoner Cell Block H! Such a charmer! He insists he was referring to the colour of the fabric but it kind of put me off the sleeves anyhow!

70s dress blue

70s dress blue

I am determined to get the stash pile busted somewhat and so I have begun with this cotton print which I picked up from Oxfam for £4. For that price and from the experience I have gained making this dress, I am a very happy bunny!