Butterick 5893 + Velvet = Awesome Pants

I’ve wanted to make a pair of velvet pants for a while and have seen gorgeous inspiration around the web.

Earlier I made a faux wrap dress in a stretch burn out velvet that went really well. This is my first time working with a more traditional velvet. Being a newbie to the temperaments of velvet, I read Katherine Tilton’s recent McCall’s post on working with velvet and relied heavily on her expertise. I also found this great blog Historical Sewing additional tips and I read the BurdaStyle Ebook (which also has patterns) for even more! Know your frenemy!

For my first time with this kind of velvet I decided to purchase the less expensive kind (JoAnn’s). The purple velvet is a polyester content which is easier to sew with than the much more expensive silk and rayon types. First thing I did was throw it in the wash even though the bolt instructions said Dry Clean Only. Turned out fine.


I think the best advice came from Tilton’s blog post. She swears by using a spray adhesive on the seam allowance. All through out the construction I would try different tips to see what worked best. I used Sulky KK 2000.

I used Butterick 5893 pant pattern with modifications. I used a single layer cut out for the pants which was time consuming. I did a double layer for the pockets. As long as I pinned them  a lot, I didn’t have any problem with shifting on a double layer. Marking was difficult. Chalk didn’t show up that well. I just pinned into the fabric where the notches are. I deliberately used a pattern that had very few details. The polyester velvet did shift a lot during sewing. I have a Pfaff sewing machine and the IDT worked well but using the spray adhesive was even better as you can see from the photos.


Some of the in and out seams are weird and it almost seems like the fabric is off grain or something. I think it’s not noticeable, but kinda bugs me if I think about it too much.

One special note the pockets are really deep!

The pattern normally would have taken me about 3 hours from start to finish. Using velvet it took approximately 8-10 hours, this includes testing the fabric on my machine, experimenting and confusion on the pockets, ripping out etc. etc.. The cost of the velvet and silk thread was $34.68. The pattern I’m sure I got for $1.99.

Jumping for joy!

Butterick 5893

And, that’s a wrap! I love my velvet pants and think I’ll enjoy wearing them for a long time!


Pattern Review: McCalls 7513 Close Fitting Jacket with Peplum

I’ve been wanting to make a jacket for fall 2016 and McCalls 7513 was the one.
Front 7513 mccalls

This pattern is a wearable muslin. The fabric is from an American Sewing Guild Denver fabric sale last year. It’s a wool blend of something, very nubby. I lined it with two different shades of silk from my stash.

The pattern sews up very well. However there are a few things you might want to be aware of.

First is the sleeves. I cut a size 8 for the bodice tapering to a 10 at the waist. I have noodle-y arms that are on the skinny side. I was surprised at how close fitting almost ‘tight’ the sleeves are. If you have more toned arms you might want to do some measurements or a quick muslin of the sleeves before cutting into your fashion fabric. The jacket itself is close fitting, I don’t think I’ll be able to fit a long sleeved T-shirt under it, at least comfortably.

The pattern calls for a lining of the bodice portion so it’s good to pick an appropriate lining fabric. I lined it with a chartruse green silk I had in my stash. Instead of trying to insert silk charmeuse sleeves I simply created a pleat at the top and I think it looks nice.
Lining 7513

Another aspect of the pattern that I liked was the very high armholes. In so many patterns the armscye is ginormous. Not here, the higher position gave better range of motion, but not as much as I’d like. If I raised my arms up over my head I’d probably rip out somewhere.
McCalls 7513

The adjustment I would do on the next one is a narrow chest adjustment. I usually require one, but for some reason I didn’t do it here. I added in a little padding at the shoulder to compensate.

The instructions did not have a lining for the peplum, so I put one in. I would think if you choose one of the alternate views, the ones with the waterfall hem, you would want to line that. I didn’t have enough silk to line both the bodice and the peplum. Fortunately, I had more green in my stash but it is of a slightly different hue. But it works. I also have enough of the rust wool tweed to make a skirt. I hope to get that done before spring time. I will have my first me made suit.

All in all I like the pattern, it was really easy to sew up, the sleeves went in really easy. I had no trouble with this pattern. I would, and will sew this up again!


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!






More Reading

Great piece from La Maison Dior on the New Look.

McCalls 6794 – The Battle For Victory: A Review

Ever have those sewing projects where nothing seems to go right? This pattern was super easy and the problems were not with the pattern but rather the universe (or me).

Mccalls 6794

Looks sweet and innocent.

  • First I cut out the correct view on the front and the wrong view on the back. I fixed it by cutting away at the back view and then piecing together a portion in order to make it all work.
  • Neck opening was too small had to make an adjustment.

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

McCalls Sewing Pattern 7131 – Warning: Culottes Ahead!

Ah, culottes. AKA gauchos, knee breeches, skorts or my favorite, bifurcated skirt. Whatever name you call them there are few garments that cause such passionate debate. There are two camps, those that love ’em and those that don’t.

McCalls 7131

McCalls 7131

Continue reading

Simplicity 1810 Completed

I made this dress over the weekend. It is similar to Vogue 8645 I made last year. This is a very easy pattern to sew.

Simplicity 1810 Jill Case Denver Sews Here are the changes I made to the pattern.

  •  I lengthed it by about four inches. I cut out the size XS.
  • I did not use the facing pieces but instead put in bias binding along the neck line. I made matching bias binding for the arm holes.
  • The arm holes seemed unusually high for me so I dropped them by about 1/2″.
  • I did not sew on the ties, but made one in the chartruse in the photo and then I also made a matching belt too.
  • I like the option of not having the ties attached.
  • I used a silky from JoAnn Fabrics.
  • It has the great fortune to make my bust look bigger. Win all around.

Swing or tent dresses are always popular in summer, it’s like wearing a slip. The next time I make this I most likely will put in pockets.

1810 (1)