Friday Favorites

a bit of this month's pattern buying spree (let's say it's in honor of #vintagepledge, shall we?)

packing handmades for next week's bachelorette party--and a sneak peek of my vintage pledge dress (will be posted over on kestrel makes on the 27th)

loving the silly updates from the Harry Potter Alliance as i run the 50 mile Road to Hogwarts challenge (for a great cause, y'all!)

I'm working all weekend (the worst part of being a librarian) but I still hope to sneak in a bit of sewing! I used up about three yards of small cuts and leftover scraps this past week making little things: a couple of tops and a romper (which I can't wait to share with y'all!) and then ordered a bunch more patterns... I'm feeling inspired! I think it's all down to it being #vpjuly, officially my new favorite month of the year. 

Speaking of #vintagepledge, there's still time to join me in for the vintage dress-along over on the Bernina blog (intro post here, week 2, week 3), I'll be posting my dress here next Tuesday and I know you'll love it! There's also room for more in the vintage #SocialSew! If you're stumped for what to make, don't forget to check the inspo post as well for that vintage pattern eye candy...

What are you planning for this weekend? Sewing? Travel? Sleeping in?


ps: have a wonderful weekend! thanks so much for reading this little blog :)

allie J.

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Inspiration: the Vintage Social Sew

In celebration of Vintage Pledge month hosted by Kestrel Makes and A Stitching Odyssey, this month's Social Sew theme is Vintage! Y'all know I love to sew vintage patterns--especially 60s Simplicity Patterns--and this year I'm lucky enough to be participating in the blog tour. If you read this blog but somehow haven't heard of the Vintage Pledge, you can click on the link to Marie's blog, A Stitching Odyssey, for a full explanation of the project, but in brief: anyone who wants to can make a pledge to sew a particular number or type of vintage patterns--last year I pledged to complete my wedding dress (which ended up winning the dress category!), but went a little crazy and made a ton of vintage. This year, our gracious hosts have invited me to participate in the festivities, and I'm very excited that my project for this month's Vintage Social Sew will be not here at allie J., but over on Kestrel Makes... you'll have to wait and see what it will be! 

I'm tagging along, spreading the vintage love just in case you needed that extra little bit of motivation. For the Vintage Pledge proper, only true vintage and reproduction patterns (like the Simplicity Vintage line--check out my interview on this topic here) count, but for the Social Sew, anything that is vintage or retro-inspired can count as your entry. 
Remember, my main goal is designing the Social Sew link-up was to make the theme narrow enough that someone unsure of what to make next could find some guidance, but broad enough that someone with sewing plans could find a way to make their pieces fit. If you're a bit stumped on what to make for this month's theme let me suggest...

A Shirtdress. Easily dressed up or down, you can style this classic either modern preppy or ultra-vintage. For a mid-century silhouette, pick one with a full skirt. How cute would 6042 on the left be in a great border print? If you prefer a slimmer cut, pick up a sixties popover pattern! 

Patterns: Simplicity 6042 (c. 1965) has classic styling with a center back pleat and a choice of skirts, either full or a-line. Simplicity 3085 (c. 1959) also has a choice of shirts, either full or slim, but a little bit of interest with that button arrangement and sweet collar. I totally love Simplicity 4985 (c. 1963)--it's unusual and would look super modern and chic with that concealed zipper(!) placket. Imagine it in a menswear shirting!

A super-feminine frock. When many of us think vintage, we think of the form fitting dresses of the golden age of Hollywood, the fit-and-flare dresses of the 50s, or the plunging necklines and slinky wrap dresses of the 1970s, so why not go wild and make something that is 100% feminine--whatever that means to you.

Patterns: I've had the absolutely stunning McCalls 4870 (c. 1959) pinned for ages; I love the slightly off the shoulder sleeves and optional hi-low hem.  Simplicity 6459 (c. 1966) has three neckline variations that range from preppy (ruffled v-neck) to classic (that sexy-secretary tie) to twee (scalloped collar AND applied bow). I actually own Vogue 7810 (c. 1970s) and I'm just waiting to find that perfect fabric. I like the floor length tunic over pants but I also really like the mini & skirt combo... decisions!

(ps i would absolutely die for a copy of this gorgeous valentino pattern in a 32 bust... is that not most gorgeous thing you've ever seen? and that hair!)


A summery top. Off-the-shoulder ruffles and crop tops are so on-trend! The ruffle is straight out of the 70s, and there are patterns to prove it. This isn't the first time crop tops have been in style, either: there are tons of 50s and 60s patterns for short little overblouses to be worn high-waisted pants and skirts, and it is well documented that I love this look. Even if you aren't into showing your stomach, a crop top paired with something high-waisted can be a flattering and comfortable silhouette (and if you really aren't into showing your stomach, you can check out my tutorial on how to fake a crop top--you can do this using a crop top pattern).

Patterns: Simplicity 6242 (c. 1965) has two slightly different shapes of cropped top for more or less coverage (ps this pattern linked is a 40 bust, get after it, ladies!). Simplicity 6412 (c. 1974) has just about every variation on a gather or ruffle available--you could make a whole wardrobe of variations from this one pattern. By far the most elegant of the summer tops, McCalls 9423 has a halter neck and would look great dressed up and tucked into a matching skirt (um, silk faille please) or dressed down with skinny pants and a belt at the waist.

 If you haven't already, make sure to sign up for the Vintage Pledge, and use the hashtag #vintagepledge on your vintage makes--and dont forget to link them up for the Social Sew here!! Although the patterns I've picked out here are mostly 50s and 60s, simply due to personal preference, Patterns from the Past has a huge collection of vintage patterns of all eras--I can't get enough of these dress patterns dating back to the 1920s, but maybe you're more of a jumpsuit/romper type girl, or you couldn't get enough of last month's Sun Dressing challenge and want to dive deep into vintage swimwearI'm looking forward to seeing what y'all make! Do you have a go-to era for patterns you know flatter and inspire you? Or are you an equal opportunity vintage lover?

Thank you to Patterns from the Past for sponsoring this post. 
Be sure to take a look at their large collection of vintage patterns from all eras!

ps: pattern not the right size? you can grade it up or down a few sizes using Melly Sews' tutorial: part one & part two

allie J.

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Bernina + Allie J. Vintage Dress-Along!

sneak peek!

Happy Vintage Pledge Month, y'all!! Living in hot and humid North Carolina, July is generally not my preferred time of year, but having Vintage Pledging activities this July is certainly cheering up my month! I have three things going on that I couldn't be more excited about: the Vintage Social Sew, a guest post coming up on Kestral Makes in honor of #VintagePledge, and finally, as part of my Bernina Ambassador duties, I'm very pleased to be hosting a Dress-Along on the Bernina blog, WeAllSew.

What is a Dress-Along? Well, since it's vintage, I knew that we wouldn't all be able to sew the same pattern. Instead, I'd like to invite you to join me in sewing a vintage dress of your choice! Here's the schedule:

July 12: Bodice Construction
July 19: Skirt, Zipper, and Finishing Touches
July 26: Dress Reveal! + Share your Dresses

I'll be walking you through as I construct my dress--Simplicity 4475, a "Simple to Make" raglan-sleeved dress from the 1960s--but your construction may be different than mine. That's the beauty of vintage, isn't it? Creating something totally unique!

I'd like to encourage all my readers to play along: at the end of the month, anyone who participates will have a dress that will go perfectly in the Vintage Social Sew and you can knock a pattern off your vintage pledge list! (Not to mention, you'll have a new dress...) The final week, I'll be posting pictures of my completed dress, and I'd love for y'all to link to your dresses--just drop a link to a blog or instagram post in the WeAllSew comments of that final post and don't forget to link them up in the Social Sew as well!

What do you think? Will you be joining in and sewing a new vintage dress? I'd love to see your ideas! Comment here or over on the Dress-Along post and let me know if you'll be playing along!


ps: i've started on my dress (as seen above) and Simplicity was right when they called it "easy to sew"--i love the raglan sleeves, they're so simple!

allie J.

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An Interview with Simplicity's Deborah Kreiling


some of my retro simplicity makes:

I'm very excited about today's post, y'all. As you may have noticed, I'm a Simplicity fangirl--I love their patterns, especially their retro rereleases (not to mention the amazing vintage patterns available online)! A while back I emailed Simplicity out of the blue to ask about their Vintage Collection, their re-released archival patterns, and they directed me to Deborah Kreiling, Simplicity's Design Development Director. I had so many questions for her, and she graciously agreed to do a little interview, which I provide in full here. Thank you so much, Deborah!
What inspired Simplicity Patterns to start a vintage line?
About ten or twelve years ago we started seeing an upturn in the interest in sewing garments with more fit and more dressmaker details- constructed garments with embellishments and an overall higher level of sewing skills represented. This need not only translated into the regular Simplicity pattern collections, including adding collections like Amazing Fit, licensed designer collections like Cynthia Rowley and Project Runway, but also gave us an opportunity to reach into the archives and start regularly adding Vintage looks to the catalog. There has been a positive response with each new design and now it is part of the makeup  of each new group of patterns.
How do you find and select the vintage patterns for re-release? Are they patterns that were popular during their original run, or patterns you feel best suit today's look? Do you have an archive to pull from, or are you on etsy and ebay like the rest of us?
The selection process for the Vintage designs is the same as the process we use to select for the overall pattern lines. We look at the current trends that need to be covered and look at our vintage designs to see where they will fit best in terms of merchandise.  We of course would love to just add and add, but we have limits.
We do pull many from our archives and the archives of our staff and family! Many of us have worked here for quite some time and have good collections. When our printing plant closed in Niles, Michigan a number of years ago, we were able to pack up a good selection of the original patterns and those are where we go first. The Vintage patterns are all so lovely, but we always have to make sure we a hitting the blend of the vintage look and the modern trend, otherwise we could end up with a lot of “costume” looks. It is also good to know that we do recognize that seamstresses are always on the lookout for the types of details and techniques used in the past and we try to incorporate as many of those when we are selecting which patterns to input.  And yes, we also comb through what is out there on ebay and etsy.

Your line seems to have more of the 60s patterns that I love, and even some 70s selections. Is this a deliberate choice or is it because it is easier to track down these patterns?
We really try to cover all the decades and cover the looks and the vintage details that are so much in demand. The first patterns we added were actually from the 1940’s and 1950’s. The vintage section in the catalog now has over 65 designs in it, including fashion for Miss and Women, Children and Babies, Doll clothes, Accessories, Crafts and Aprons, that spans from the 1920’s through the 1970’s.  I guess soon the 1980’s will be called vintage!
How much of the rereleased pattern is straight from the original, and how much of it is changed? I.e. the fit block, the details, the instructions, etc. What informs Simplicity's decisions to make these changes?
How much we modify the vintage pattern really depends on the size and condition of the pattern that we are using, as well as the construction methods used.  For the sizing issue, the standard body measurements used for sizing in the 1920’s , then the 1930’s and up to 1967, were not the same all the time.  The patterns from the 1940’s have a size 14 with a 32” bust, which makes it close to our current size 10. So each pattern brings its own needs- the older patterns that are “perforated patterns”- the ones that do not have any printing on them are little more challenging to use. Our process includes digitizing the pattern pieces into our pattern making system and making a muslin garment to look at first. This is how we see what needs to be altered to either fit current standard measurements, or even be sewn with modern tools. We make every effort to keep as close to the original pattern as possible. For instance many of the older patterns will not have pattern pieces for cutting bias facings, or belts, or facings. We add these pieces for the end user to have an easier time at home cutting and sewing the garments. In addition openings were often closed with small snaps sewn to an inside placket made from a fabric remnant, and we will add a zipper instead. And of course the patterns from the 1940’s have a lot of room built into the shoulders for those very large shoulder pads that were popular then. We make every effort to stay true to the appropriate fashion trends and looks of the  decades .
There is some frustration in the sewing community regarding the sizing of modern patterns, including re-released vintage patterns--that the size dictated by body measurements contains excessive ease that is not reflected on the envelope model. For example, my 34" bust would put me in a size 12, but I regularly make either an 8 or a 10 to achieve a fit similar to the envelope. I do wear a size 12 in Simplicity Patterns from the 60s, however! Can you explain the sizing used and how it has changed from the original pattern sizing? Do you have any tips on selecting the correct size for a vintage fit?
This is a big and tricky question. First, the patterns out there in the “universe” that are the truly vintage patterns were created using a completely different set of sizing standards. Added to the fact that women’s body shapes and the style and use of undergarments was different, makes the fit silhouettes very different than they are in current fashion. We have also discovered that sizing was not always consistent year after year, and the range of sizes offered was often only three or four sizes per pattern design.  Subsequently, in 1967 the government set the standard body measurements for the pattern industry, and those standard body measurements are actually still in use today. You can read more on this in Joy Spanabel Emery’s book, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Published by Bloomsbury). You will find patterns produced in 1967 say “new sizing” and this was to make sure the home sewer new they were made to a new set of measurement standards. We will find a pattern from 1935 marked as a size 14 and a pattern from 1950 marked also a size 14, but they really are not the same size. This in itself creates challenges.  We use the Vintage pattern envelope for our envelope and catalog page for the re-released patterns and often add a photograph. The overall fit of the design will remain as the original design, but we may have tweaked some things in order to comply with our measurements. As far as what you are calling excessive ease, this is a matter of personal taste versus sizing. It is important to know that on any design, new or vintage, we have minimum standards for wearing ease and then the “design” ease is what the designer wants for each design. I could write volumes alone on that subject. My best suggestion for fit and sizing is know your body and know your measurements. We print the finished garment measurements for key areas on pattern envelopes and pattern pieces. Use your tape measure to check shoulder widths, waist lengths, circumferences of legs and sleeves, etc.  on the pattern tissue and your body. No two people are exactly the same size. Sewing your own clothing allows the fine tuning of fit, but everyone has to take the time to prepare before cutting into fabric.

Do you find that consumers are more likely to purchase the more complex or the simpler designs from the vintage line? Is this purchasing behavior different from Simplicity's main line of patterns? In your experience, are the people sewing Simplicity Vintage sewing for special occasions? for costuming? for everyday wear? reenactment? etc.
The Vintage patterns span the level of sewing that mirrors the span in the traditional pattern collections. We view our catalog as many different shops where everyone can find sewing projects that they can accomplish. Whether it is a simple Jiffy 1960’s Dress, or a more complex Designer Suit Dress from the 1940’s, the home sewer buys a cross section of these designs in the same way she purchase designs from the rest of the collections. Yes, I am sure some newer sewists will gravitate toward those Jiffy patterns, as they gravitate to our one piece pajama pants patterns. We try very hard to cover as many looks and sewing levels as possible. By looking at the overall success of the Vintage Collection in general, I cannot say that one decade or style of garment is better than another. This is a good thing. People are sewing Vintage for all the same reasons and needs as traditional fashion- day wear and special occasion included.
When you mention reenactment, now you are talking about Historical Patterns versus Vintage. Simplicity has always had a great selection of Historical Costumes that I am quite sure are used for reenactments, among other costume related events. And now of course with the tremendous trend of Comic Cons and cosplay, we are certainly servicing those needs on a regular basis.

Many people who sew your Vintage line also sew original vintage Simplicity patterns--do you consider what is hard to get in true vintage when selecting your patterns, like patterns for accessories, swimsuits, designer garments, or older eras?
The choices for the Vintage input are based on a variety of factors. Of course the availability of the original pattern is key. We have a large collection of the catalogs that we can choose the designs from and then try to locate the pattern through the sources. We also do respond to consumer requests, as in the famous Three Armhole Dress that we just put into the line this past spring. We follow trends in ready to wear and see what details and silhouettes are pulling from retro or vintage fashion and we look for patterns that reflect those as well. We recently added a 1950’s Swim dress to the line- bathing suits were a completely different type of garment then.
Plus size patterns can be very difficult for vintage sewing enthusiasts to track down--has Simplicity considered expanding the Vintage line to include larger sizes?
The sizing of original Vintage designs is very limited overall. Patterns were all single size precut patterns for many years, so the number of sizes that a pattern was produced in was limited to about 4 to 6 sizes. The difference then though was that there was also size ranges then that are no longer inexistence… Half sizes, Junior-Miss, Teenage were some. And “Plus” sizes were not really called out – the range for the larger figure was 18 or 20, maybe a 22. We do now add plus to some of the Vintage patterns. We develop the Women’s plus master pattern based on the design we are producing for the Miss Size range, in the same manner that we do for our Plus patterns in the regular line. We have quite a few that have the Plus size range grouping in them, and are continuing to build those selections. We are also looking at some of the Vintage designs to be offered in the Plus range exclusively.  
We have developed a rather broad selection of children’s vintage patterns to add to this group, sized from infant through Girl’s sizes up to size 14. The choice here is often based on more special occasion or a novelty look from the time, versus everyday wear. It has to be a reason to sew, especially for children since they grow out of their clothing quickly.
Which is your favorite of the rereleased patterns? Do you have a favorite era or style?
Well since I am child of the 60’s and 70’s, and the saying is if you wore it then you can’t wear it now, I would have to go with the 1950’s and some of the early 1960’s mod dresses.  When we first did this beautiful swing jacket from the 1950’s ten years ago I made about three different versions- one is still in my closet today. There is also a 1960’s dress, 3833 still in the catalog that we put in about 8 years ago, that is still available and I made a few different versions of and I am thinking of making it for this season again.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
I want to inspire people to sew. I have worked at Simplicity for over thirty five years.  I have been part of this process for a very long time. I come to work every day still with the desire to make sure that we produce great designs that can be sewn successfully at home. I am thrilled to be part of this process and this team and I am so happy to see a growing audience for sewing patterns. I do sew most of my own clothes as well.
Happy Sewing!

I hope y'all enjoyed the interview, and thank you again to Deborah Kreiling and to everyone at Simplicity Patterns!


ps: don't forget--vintage rereleases such as these can totally count toward your #vintagepledge! ;)

allie J.

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Social Sew #4: Vintage

Hello, Social Sewing beauties! and welcome back. Without further ado--

July's theme is Vintage!

If you haven't heard, it's #VintagePledge month!! The best month of the year, perhaps. I have a lot going on all over the place this month (more details Monday) but I couldn't help but celebrate vintage on this little space I've carved out online and make this month's theme vintage. I left my pledge pretty open, but I want to sew a few dress patterns I have been waiting for the right fabric for--the pledge encompasses both vintage patterns and vintage re-releases (for example, the Simplicity Vintage line you can buy at Joann or Spotlight or wherever) and I have a couple of each stashed away for this year. This month, though, I have my pattern and my fabric all picked out and I'm excited to start sewing... what about you? What's your vintage pledge?  Did you pledge to sew a certain number or type of vintage pattern/s this year? Are you a veteran vintage lover or will you be dipping your toes in the pool for the first time?

The link up will be open from the 1st of the month (at about 8 am est) and will close the last day of the month. 

Some rules: 
1. This is for adult apparel sewing, so no kids clothes or home decorating (unless specified otherwise in the theme).
2. Newly blogged garments, please: the things you add to the link up should be made in the month the link up is for. Remember, the theme and the link up are there to inspire you to create something new! 
3.  Please click on the logo above to download it, and put it either in the post you are linking up, or in your sidebar. I'd also appreciate you linking to the Social Sew--the more people who discover it, the more participation we'll have, the more inspiration! Thanks, y'all.

Upcoming themes:
July (this month) | Vintage
August: TBD
September: TBD
October: TBD! :)

ps: yayyyy vintage! where my 60s girls at?

allie J.

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Sun Dressing Social Sew Round Up!

Hello! Thank you to all of our participants in the Social Sew this month. Your Sun Dressing items really impressed me with their creativity and sheer variety, so thank you so much for linking up! Also, I want to thank you for introducing yourselves through this medium--I've been finding new bloggers to follow every time, which I absolutely love. I hope you have also been exploring the other people who link up their projects, as there is some amazing work to be seen!

Rachel at the Wild Stitch is in this month's spotlight--I love the colors and the relaxed fit of her Seamwork Catarina midi. She's in Canada but it looks like the Caribbean with that gorgeous aqua water and perfect summer dress!

I also lovvvve Sara Jolie's lemon print retro dress! Beautiful inside and out.

The Kninja made a great chambray set--y'all know how I feel about matching sets!--that looks very cool, literally and figuratively.

My mom Diana made a lovely Deer & Doe Datura with Liberty fabric--I'm biased but... it's really great. (Don't forget you can link up instagram posts as well!)

Melissa over at Mahlica Designs made a very practical pair of black linen City Gym shorts--that's a free pattern, y'all!

Another lovely off-the-shoulder dress in summer white from Lassemista... I had not seen this pattern but Liliana makes it look so good!

German-language blog (with English translations) The Little Cave made some practical shorts using a styleArc pattern. I've not used StyleArc but I have seen a lot of nice makes using their patterns, so I'll have to take a look!

Kirsten's Dress Bakery baked a lovely summer dress in a sweet print... that used to be a sheet! (As far as I could tell from google translate--this is another German-language blog. Germans, how did you find me? I'm so curious!)

Poison Betty is a great name for Lori's poison bottle-print retro romper. The fit on this is spot on! (Also, Frivolous at Last is a good name for a blog.)

Amy of Sews & Bows made a breezy top and a pretty blousy shirtdress (her first one)--I think it would be equally cute as a nice swim cover-up.

Almost a Hippy Alexa made a pencil-print birthday Belladone! Happy Birthday, Alexa!

Carmen from SeeCarmenSew attached the top of Colette's Peony to the skirt of Named's Vanamo and ended up with a cute and versatile dress! Nice hacking.

Amanda (Sew Haligonian) made a great version of the new Charleston dress from Hey June--she has a little tweaking planned for the next one but then she'll have a perfect tried and true dress pattern.

The Motley Spool DIY'ed a dual-layered tank top from anthropologie using some super-smart pattern hacking!

Finally, there's nothing better than a handmade swimsuit, and we have a few amazing ones this month...

Tonya (SewSoPetite) made an adorable pink gingham bikini using the new release from Closet Case files, Sophie, and Lauren (Lady Sewalot) took the same pattern in a totally different direction with a cool black print number.

Hoopes Park Studios made a smokin' black two-piece number that looks super chic.

Thanks again to everyone who participated. Up next, July is vintage month!! As y'all know, I lovvvve vintage (especially 60s) so I can't wait to see what you all make... The July link up will go live tomorrow.

If you are a previous Social Sew participant and I can find your email on your blog, I'll be sending you a survey about the Social Sew. I think it has been going pretty well but I'd love to hear what you think! If you have a suggestion, let me know (regardless if you have participated--I'd like to hear why you haven't participated if you haven't, too).


ps: there's still time to sneak in--if you add a creation to the link up today, i'll add you in to our round up above ;)

allie J.

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dual-layer lace crop top (+ tutorial!)

skirt | top: Simplicity 3480 | shoes (similar, similar and under $100!) | clutch 
fabric c/o Fabric Wholesale Direct ($5 off $35 with code weloveallie)

When I made my tuck-in crop top, I was inspired by the design of a 60s pattern with the same detail--a deep pleat at the waist that gives the impression of a crop top but still allows you to tuck your top in. Here's a different way to accomplish this effect! Although my original tutorial uses less fabric and is perfect for light to medium weight fabric, if you have a thicker fabric that would be too bulky to tuck in neatly, or if you have a sheer or see-through material (like this gorgeous lace) and you want some more coverage, this dual-layered top might be a better choice. I made this top by cutting two layers (crop top-length in the guipure lace and longer length in the cotton voile) and sewing the sides seams of each layer separately, then basting them together through the armscye and neckline, treating them as the same. For a full walkthrough, I wrote a tutorial--it's over on the Fabric Wholesale Direct blog! And don't forget--if you want to order this lace (or lining), there's $5 off any $35 purchase with code weloveallie!

What do you think--do you prefer the two layer version or the pleat version--or do you go in for a true, midriff-baring crop top?


ps: this skirt is one of my most-worn pieces--i really ought to make a new one (possibly in a nicer fabric?).

allie J.

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