3/4 Circle Skirt with Vintage Fabric

I’ve had this vintage fabric for a while, four yards of a poly blend. It’s very light and airy and I love the colors. I bought it at an antique flea market about 2 years ago. Obviously fabric like this I made sure I would make something that I would get a lot of wear out of. I initially wanted a full circle skirt but in order to save precious yardage I opted for a 3/4 circle skirt, using only about 2 yards.

I flat lined the skirt in a fun purple and Hong Kong finished the one and only seam. I hemmed it all up with navy blue purchased binding giving the skirt a bit of flare. An invisible zip completes this perfect summer skirt.

3/4 circle skirt

Kinda love this skirt

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Vintage Pattern Review – Advanced 4826

For as much as I love vintage sewing, I’m even surprised that I only recently attended my first ‘costume’/historical ball.  It’s held  twice a year; once in summer and again in the winter. I bought my tickets back in January and that was about the time I started thinking about what I was going to make. I think I bought about 20 yards of different fabric and changed my mind on about as many patterns. Finally, I settled on one. Here’s some historical details.



The ball took place in 1947 and Tiki was the theme. I’m sure you are all aware that Dior’s New Look hit the scene in February of the same year. This was Dior’s first collection and it was hailed as no less than revolutionary. With the nipped in waists, voluminous skirts and ultra feminine (sexy) look, Dior’s New Look was a sigh of relief from the military, boxy looks that were dominate during the war.

Dior's New Look 1948

Dior’s New Look 1948

Post war patterns

My pattern is from 1948. A couple things to note. 1) Today there are 52 fashion cycles a year. We have a new fashion (RTW) cycle every week, if you can believe that. During the 1940s and 50s there were two fashion cycles. Basically one for warm weather and one for cold. This was for both RTW and high fashion. Same thing with sewing patterns. Commercial sewing pattern manufacturers didn’t have new patterns coming out every week or every month.

Dior’s New Look is typified by the full skirts with a crazy amount of yardage. Rationing was over and what better way to celebrate than with a 7 yard skirt! My skirt is not that full and the entire outfit including the jacket was less than 3 yards. When you look at vintage patterns circa 1940-1945 you’ll notice a defining look. Many skirts hit right at the knee, with a boxy look to jackets, shoulder pads (military influence). After the war, an explosion of fuller, softer skirts going well past the knee were the new fashion.


Shortly after the war, when you look through catalogs and magazines you’ll notice bright primary colors dominate.

Blues, reds, yellows, big bold beautiful color hits the stores.  During the war you’ll notice that military tones take the lead with tans, browns, greens and navy blues and softer hues. Floral patterns were popular after the war years as were gingham, bright red cherry, apple prints and so on.

house and garden 1948

House & Garden magazine September 1948

I had a heck of a time picking fabric. I tried to go ultra historic and find fabric from the 1940s or 50s with no luck. I couldn’t find enough yardage or the colors and print just didn’t do anything for me.

Total I purchased 12 yards of different fabric, finally setting my eyes on this golden yellow cotton print from JoAnn’s and for 5.99 a yard! I snatched it all up (about 4 1/2 yards) and 44″ wide. I like this yellow, it’s one of my favorites.

Canary yellow doesn’t go with my complexion, this suited me very nicely. I also like the print, it seems a nod to an eastern/Asian influence which was becoming popular in the US after the war.

gold fabric 1940 ball


Tiki culture shouldn’t be confused with Tiki or Polynesian fine art, the two are different. Tiki culture is American art form started around the 1930’s with it’s height of popularity in the 1950s. After the war, men stationed in the South Pacific brought back tales and items from their time spent in this exotic locale and it just moved into a movement of sorts influencing music, food & drinks, architecture and more.  If you want to sample some fine Tiki inspired music you must check out Martin Denny and Yma Sumac.


The construction of the dress was straight forward. However, these older patterns don’t include pattern pieces for facings. And in the guide-sheet there’s barely mention that you need to cut out a bias strip on your own. I’m so accustomed to having every little detail spelled out for me in the pattern sheet. Back then, home sewers just knew what to do. I lined the dress with a grey poly, that had a weight and feel similar to China silk.

I was warned on Facebook by Katrina Walker that using silk or a poly would be very sticky in a high heat situation, but I didn’t listen. Plus, I was really sick of buying fabric for this thing. Just make it work! I didn’t have time to make the belt or the capelet. I’ll definitely make the belt, but not the capelet. A little to matchy matchy for me. Also, I think next time I would take more care on placement of the straps and their width to match my bra straps.

To get into the dress I do need a bit of wiggling and maneuvering. I’m not sure what I did, but it does not come off or on easily.


The shoes. These were about all I had that could even closely resemble the time period. The terrain was really rocky and uneven in some places and walking in the dark was insane in 3 inch wedges.Accessories 1940s ball

The purse is an Enid Collins box purse. I have two. This one, for as small as it is can hold  a lot. Enid Collins purses and bags were popular in the 1950-1970’s.

Jewelry is a gold and silver cuff bracelets.

The gold one is from my mom, the silver is from my mother-in-law.  I had a velvet brown and green piano shawl as a wrap. And, some diamond drop earrings to wrap it all up.

All in all it was a really fun time, I enjoyed working with the vintage pattern immensely and it gave me a bit of insight in to making a ballgown. Although on a much smaller scale. I would love to do the winter ball  this coming December. Stay tuned!






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Great piece from La Maison Dior on the New Look.

Finished McCalls 7253

Finished my McCalls 7253 skirt awhile back. Finally wore it at a my mom’s birthday dinner. Gotta say I love it! Love the box pleats, love the fabric I picked out from Colorado Fabrics, love it all. Certainly a keeper.

A  few things: Continue reading

Style 2708: My Moby Dick Of A Dress

The dress represents for me my overall madness for sewing. Madness in a good way and sometimes in a “black heart I stab at thee” madness. That kind of craziness that comes over you and you drive yourself mad trying to figure it out and you’re just stuck in this endless insanity. Usually I have the good sense to bail, but this one, ah, she was different….

2708 Jill caseI bought this pattern back in the 90’s and have always been a big fan of the shirt waist dress. Very popular in the 40’s and 50’s and every other year or so we see it back in various styles. Michael Kors had something along these lines for Spring 2015. All very lady like and really, hands down my favorite look. I think the style of dress is dress at it’s best.

If you like to look through vintage sewing patterns from the 40’s you’ll see this style in many incarnations, some housework casual others lunch with the ladies chic. There are hundreds of patterns new and old that have a similar look. But, for whatever reason I HAD to have this one work. There are a few I have worked on with varying results but always longed for my white whale of a dress: Style 2708. Continue reading

Zip and Clip Bag – A Perfect Bag for a Night Out


I’ve been looking for a pattern for a small hipster or cross-body bag that could securely hold my phone, a credit card, some cash and maybe something else like a camera or some ladies’ accoutrements, shall we say. Most hipster or cross-body bags I’ve seen have been too big or without many secure pockets, but this Zip & Clip bag I found on Craftsy is just perfect! The pattern is by Lisa Amundsen whose website is aroundthebobbin.com. Continue reading

Crimson and Clover Train Cases


My quest for structured bags continues! This week I made Sara Larson’s Crimson and Clover Train Cases. This cute pattern comes in 3 sizes. I made a medium and a small bag, omitting the interior pockets. Continue reading

Carolyn Pajamas and Shoddy JoAnn’s Flannel

Early this January, Heather of Closet Case Files sent out her latest pattern to a group of pattern testers along with a fabulous description of how she wanted to make a pajama pattern she could wear working from home and feel like a sophisticated business woman, or something you could make in silk and look like Katharine Hepburn… I mean, look:

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas

The pant + long sleeve view required 6 yards in my size for a 45″ wide fabric (most silks and flannels) which I just didn’t have in my stash, so I went to JoAnn’s with visions of fancy business lady pajamas dancing in my mind… and somewhere I went off track a bit…

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - CollageI mean, let’s be serious, there aren’t many sophisticated fabrics in the flannel section, so I just went totally goofy in the other direction with some kind of video game print. I’m not sure how I feel about them… I liked the pants when I tried them on by themselves, and the same for the shirt, but together… Instead of Katharine Hepburn I look like David Bowie’s chubby little sister at summer camp. Oh well!

I’ll start with a review of the pattern – loved it! I admit there are a lot of pajama patterns out there (and I have quite a few of them) but none of them quite check all the boxes for me. These have a slimmer fit (none of that unisex nonsense), cuffs, a notched collar, and POCKETS (a must!).

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Pockets

The piping instructions are great. A long time ago I tried to add piping around a sleeve and followed some crappy instructions on a blog that had you overlap the piping into the seam which turned out terrible and bulky and I never wanted to do piping again. These instructions give you the proper method (butting the piping ends together and overlapping the bias tape to cover the split) and it turned out great. The piping instructions for the notched collar also made something that looks difficult really easy.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Notched collar with piping

I appreciated that the method for attaching the stand-less collar eliminated the need for a back neck facing. I hate having a back neck facing on a normal garment because it always gets bunched up and I’m sure it would be 10 times worse in pajamas when you’re sleeping. If you take a look at the photo below, you can see how the front facing stops at the should line and then the collar just encloses the raw edges of the back.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Inside view of collar and front facing

The hem has a nice flattering curve to it. The instructions tell you to turn twice and stitch – I’ve been doing a bias binding on curved hems in tightly woven fabrics, but I found that on this loosely woven flannel the turn and stitch method worked just fine.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Inside view of hem and front facing

One of my favorite things about this pattern is that it does NOT have a long baggy crotch length like many pajama patterns. I’ll submit a tiny photo for proof…

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Back view

Now that I’ve established that the pattern is GREAT, let me talk about the TERRIBLE qualities of this flannel I bought from JoAnn’s. First off, when I ripped it to find the grainline, I discovered that the crossgrain was really warped. (Take a look at that top edge in the photo below!) I was back at JoAnn’s yesterday and looked at some of the other flannels and they ALL have this nasty warping problem, I think from being loosely woven but wrapped around a bolt tightly. I could not shift it to get the grainline orthogonal so I just cut it as it wanted to lie.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Warped grain on JoAnns flannel fabric

I wore the pants for two days before I took these photos and I could not believe how much they stretched. After an hour of wear they were baggy all over. When I washed them they snugged back up to the same width again… but they SHRUNK two inches in length! (I didn’t want to point it out in the full photos, but they look like flood pants now. They were hemmed to the floor.) And yes, I pre-washed the fabric in hot water and high heat in my dryer before sewing these. The second wash was in cold water and low heat in the dryer, and that’s what caused the two inch shrinkage!

In addition, I can really tell the difference in pilling between the pants (washed twice) and the top (prewashed once). I imagine after a few more washes they’ll either be shedding lint everywhere or shrunk down to child size.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Pilled JoAnns Flannel Fabric

The pajamas weren’t hard to sew, but they were a little time consuming with having to sew two pieces and add the piping. So, it’s really disappointing to have them ruined by bad fabric. I didn’t want to spend $60 on silk and have the test version not fit, but considering they fit great (I just shortened the pant legs and sleeves because I’m only 5’2″) I’m wishing I would have opted for a nicer fabric to match the time I put into them. Next time…

If you’re interested in the pattern, you can get them in the Closet Case Files shop here.