Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Vintage a la mode

This was not a suit of two halves:

Vintage Vogue 2476 – original from 1949
now OOP


  • Muslin mock-up
  • 18 pattern pieces (cut twice)
  • 10 weeks of (intermittent) hard labour
  • 2.5 m fabric
  • 2.5 m organza
  • 2m lining
  • 1.5m canvas interfacing
  • 3m cotton tape
  • 1m twill tape
  • 600m navy thread
  • 300m tacking (basting) thread
  • 4 steel buttons 
  • 3 hand sewing needles
  • wax
  • 6 pints water (steam pressing)
  • Bleeding fingers
  • Frustration – Ennui – Perseverance

  • 1.7m fabric
  • 1.7m lining
  • 4 pattern pieces (cut twice)
  • 200m navy thread
  • 1 zip
  • Length of interfacing
  • 2.5 m twill tape
  • 3 hours – cutting out, sewing, trying on and pressing
Notice the difference?
The pattern says advanced and most definitely this applies to the jacket, but the skirt is tres facile!

The jacket as was last seen but with shoulder pads and sleeve heads attached.

Say goodbye to all that hard work and say hello to 

vintage a la mode……

 The lining of the skirt can just be seen here as I straighten the seam on my 1940s stockings – it matches the jacket.

But look, I can move in this fitted jacket! I can bend and stretch and sit without too many puckers or wrinkles.

It is a jacket that buttons high up so no blouse is required underneath, just a lovely 1940 style silk camisole (if I had one).

And the shoes…. These are almost as old as the pattern that I’ve forgotten where they came from. I call them my “cartoon shoes” ’cause they remind me of a female cartoon character’s footwear. Anyway, they’re navy, so match the suit and I noticed the other day in a movie that two-tone court shoes were popular in the 1940-50s – so quite in keeping with the era, I think.

Oh, there are wrinkles on the sides of the jacket where there shouldn’t be, I machined the skirt hem instead of slip stitching, the points on the lapels are not sharp (in fact they don’t resemble the pattern at all), my bound button holes do not deserve a close up, etc, etc, etc…. but boy! do I feel a million dollars in this suit. It is comfortable, smart and most importantly – FINISHED.

Problem is – what do I do now?

Thanks for reading. Ruth



Chanel No 1

When I brought Doris home, patched her up and gave her the honoured position in the sewing room, I thought I had been transported to an atelier in the Rue Cambon. So one of the first projects just had to be a Chanel suit – what else?

I read every blog at the time on Chanel construction techniques and bought the Claire B. Schaeffer books on couture sewing – read cover to cover and back again.

Fearless, and completely innocent I went straight for the shell fabric – no mucking about with toiles (muslins) for me. The pattern was Claire Schaeffer’s own couture jacket, which sadly is completely out of print – not even available from the Vogue web page, so I’ll have to take great care with mine.

So this gallant premiere main proceeded undaunted – removed the stand-up collar, skipped most of the facings and interfacings for a genuine Chanel look of round neck line and edge to edge lining.

The fabric came from a local fabric shop and I thought at the time that it sort of looked Chanelish – being wool and checked and sort of tweedish.

Construction  went pretty well considering I hadn’t a clue. As usual, choosing suitable buttons was beyond me so I opted for the covered version.

The trim was made from lengths of the fabric, sewn over on one edge to stop fraying and then I sat for weeks deliberately fraying the other side, then sat for another few weeks sewing the stuff on by hand.

I’d bought plenty of fabric to allow for mistakes and ended up having enough to make a matching skirt. Pattern for this is forgotten but it’s just a straight, below knee (keeping Coco in mind) side zipper skirt.

I think the suit looks more like country English librarian than Parisian chic, so I rarely wear the two together. The jacket is really comfy and goes well with jeans or plain dark brown wide-legged trousers (pants). The skirt is usually worn with a short slim-fitting dark brown suede jacket and dark brown boots.

The sleeves are three piece, with vents.
Handworked buttonholes and covered
buttons that are virtually invisible.
The trim goes all the way around the vent and all the pockets.

For a complete contrast, I made a blouse from the same fabric as the lining – as did Chanel.

Those of you who care about these sorts of things will notice that the ‘black’ side of the blouse matches the ‘black’ side of the lining on the left and white on white on the right hand side. That was pure fluke by the way!  The button holes on the inside were bound in this same fabric.

I went a bit anal on the blouse.
On the right is the side seam and I matched up the flowers from front to back – sad…….

Did the whole quilting thing with the lining and of course the famous brass chain for weight. I must admit this really does make a difference to the hang of the jacket, though it weights a tonne when you’re carrying it.

I had to do a few other things which I can’t really remember now how I did them but I had to edge the hem and the inside neck line with a bias strip because I wasn’t following the exact pattern instructions.

Oh, and as I cannot leave a scrap of fabric untouched, the remainder of the blouse fabric became a scarf that ties in a bow at the neck to complete the prim and proper look.

Thanks for reading. Ruth