Monthly Archives: May 2010

Vintage Jacket Patterns

As if I didn’t have enough patterns already, right? I like to look at vintage patterns for inspiration as they often have special little details that you don’t see on modern patterns.

At first glance, this Vogue Young Fashionables (how cute is that?) is just a nice, basic jacket. The Etsy seller only showed a photo of the front of the envelope but when I read “center back pleat and back belt” in the description I had to hit the Add To Cart button! If the seller had included a back photo it probably wouldn’t have ended up in the clearance section.


Two of my favorite details, an inverted pleat and a back belt!


I couldn’t resist this one from McCall’s either. I love the front and back Princess seams and all of the little details. I do want to alter the mandarin collar so that it stands a little farther away from the neck, though.


Check out the wonderful seaming on this vintage Nina Ricci.



Last, but not least, I want to thank you all for your wonderful comments about my jackets! You’re all so nice. 🙂

Parting shots: Two weeks ago, Bryan and I were sitting on the couch and he turned to me and said “either I’ve had one too many beers or there are two Winnies in your backyard”. Sure enough, my neighbor’s kitten (whom I’ve now nicknamed “Mini Winnie”) was visiting!

She was back again yesterday morning and stayed long enough for me to get my camera. The one with the collar is my Winnie. She will be 13 this year and is such a petite little girl. It’s so funny to see her interact with a strange cat since the only other cats she knows are the ones that live with her.





Filed under Kitties, McCall's, Vogue, Year of the Jacket

White Pique Jacket

Well, you knew I wouldn’t be able to resist copying LindsayT’s white pique jacket! The moment I saw it I realized what a useful and versatile item it would be. This is the perfect little jacket to dress up a simple dress or even jeans and a tank top.

By all rights, this jacket should be lined or underlined. But it is so blistering hot here and this fabric is already pretty beefy so I couldn’t imagine adding another layer to it. Instead, I finished all the seams with a Hong Kong binding.


My friend Sharon (aka Sewinsiren) gave me two bags of silver hardware a couple of weeks ago so I used them here. I’ve been looking at a lot of jacket patterns from the ’60s lately and somehow I’ve incorporated a little bit of Mod into this version! This is actually my 2nd front. I didn’t like the way the pockets looked on the original darted front so I redrafted it with Princess seams and recut (luckily, I had enough fabric leftover!).




Filed under Simplicity, Year of the Jacket

Binder comparisons

I was asked about binding tight curves by Shisomama, who is attempting to bind baby bibs with a plate binder. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible!) to bind tight curves with this type of binding attachment. As you can see here, the binding enters the attachment at about a 45 degree angle and is then straightened out well before it gets under the needle. This type of binder is best for straight or slightly curved work.


Then we have the right-angle binder which works very well on tight curves and rounded corners. The fabric enters the binder at a 90 degree angle and does not straighten out until just before it goes under the needle. This type of binder is attached to a commercial needle plate (which fits most single-needle machines). It also requires a special feeder and foot. This particular set came with a standard binding foot (on the left) and a compensating foot (right).




Filed under Attachments

Hong Kong Finish – Part II

Linda posed the following question about the HK tutorial:

“Thanks Gigi for the tutorial, when you bind both seams together like this , I used to see it done separate, is it your choice of SA or is there a standard . Looking at your red jacket in Part 3, the close up of hood ,you must bind close to your SA I don’t see a trace of it and are your SA about 3/8″ they are just beautiful.”

On the hood seam (as well as the side, sleeve and underarm seams) I used a binding. I used a 1 1/4″ binding plate as I did in this POST. The binding is finished on both sides. It is bulkier but also more durable. Here’s a closeup of the hood seam:


When I am binding a seam allowance together, it is usually because it’s curved (as in a Princess seam or this hood seam) so I like the SAS to be as narrow as possible – usually around 3/8″.

The hems, facings and shoulder seams were finished with the Hong Kong finish. Here’s a shot of the shoulder seams which were sewn before the SAS were finished.


These seam allowances are not trimmed.


Filed under Tutorials, Year of the Jacket

Hong Kong Finish Tutorial

Since some of you have asked I thought I’d put up a quickie how-to. The HK finish is one of the easiest “couture” finishes you will ever learn. It looks like a million bucks but even a beginning sewist can master it.

First, cut true bias strips using a rotary cutter. I generally cut my strips 1.25″ to 1.5″ wide, depending on the fabric. Unless you have long seams or a full hem to finish (or are short on fabric), it’s not usually necessary to piece your strips.

Place your bias strip RS together with your seam allowance or hem edge and stitch. You can use a 1/4″ foot for this but you can also use the edge of a straight stitch foot as I’m doing here. Press the strip away from the seam. Confession: A lot of times I simply finger-press because I’m too lazy to get up and go to the iron.



Wrap the strip around the raw edge of the seam allowance and stitch in the well of the seam (i.e. “stitch in the ditch”). If you can’t quite stay in the well of the seam, it’s perfectly okay to stitch on the binding itself or on the seam allowance.


Trim away any excess fabric from the underside using trimmers or applique shears.


Voila, you are done! It’s so simple yet gives the inside of your garments a beautiful high-end look.


As an aside, I’d love to hear from anyone who has made Silhouettes Barbara’s Trench, which I am considering. Likes? Dislikes? Comparisons to other patterns?



Filed under Tutorials, Year of the Jacket

Simplicity 7715 – Final!

I’m really happy with the way this turned out. It’s been awhile since I worked with a vintage pattern and I really enjoyed it. If I were to make this pattern again the one thing I’d do differently is sew the darts on the outside of the hood so that they aren’t so visible when the hood is worn down (since that’s the way I’ll be wearing it most often).

I ended up using silver cord ends (the type that you glue on) and skipped the cord locks altogether. Instead of making eyelets in the hood casing, I used size 00 grommets in silver.


I finished the hems and facings with a Hong Kong finish. All of the seams are bound for durability. I have to say I like the inside of the jacket as much as I do the outside!


Verdict: this is a really nice pattern that I would definitely make again (although not anytime in the near future since I don’t need two jackets like this).

Next up will be a quickie white pique jacket while I search for just the right cotton print to line my HP Wrapture Jacket.


Filed under Simplicity, Year of the Jacket

Simplicity 7715 – Part III

Last night I attached the hood and installed the zipper. I always buy my zips long since they can always be shortened. On a molded plastic separator the teeth can easily be cut off with a small diagonal cutter. When the teeth are metal they must be pulled off (I use a pair of needlenose pliers). Once that was done, I added new top stops.


I attached the facings this morning so all I have left are the sleeves, side seams and bottom casing. I had thought about shortening this but when I tried it on yesterday I found this longer length perfect for over a swimsuit yet still short enough that I don’t look like I forgot my pants when I’m wearing shorts.


I should have continued the zipper tape all the way into the neckline seam allowance. Honestly, I don’t know what in the world I was thinking! I think I’m so used to installing exposed zips that I was on auto-pilot. It would be way too much work to fix it and I don’t think it’s worth the effort for a casual throw-on jacket. We all make mistakes!



Filed under Simplicity, Year of the Jacket

Simplicity 7715 – Part II

I spent a lot of time out in the back yard this weekend and so didn’t get much sewing done. I’m in the process of a complete backyard overhaul and am trying to get as much accomplished while it’s still bearable to work outside.

Last night I constructed the jacket hood. I bound the hood seam (using my 1 1/4″ plate binder) and used a Hong Kong finish on the casing edge. I had a yard of white-on-white striped English shirting in my stash which adds a little interest to the inside of the jacket.


I also completed the pockets. Ordinarily, I would have reduced the seam allowances here to 1/4″ for better accuracy but I didn’t want to cut into the pattern in any way and was too lazy to trace off a copy. Instead, I made two photocopies of the pattern, sprayed the back with a tiny bit of KK-3000 and used this as my stitching template. Since the pockets are a focal point, I wanted the shape to be perfect.


I also attached the snaps since it’s easier to do that before the pockets are sewn to the fronts.


Since this is a functioning snap (even though there’s no need for it to be), I’ll be able to open out the pocket for topstitching onto the fronts.



Filed under Simplicity, Year of the Jacket

Simplicity 7715 – Part I

I spent some time this morning gathering up the supplies I need for my hooded jacket. I found some beautiful red cotton twill (from Spechler-Vogel – just gorgeous!) in my stash. It’s weighty enough for the jacket but lightweight enough for summer. I’ll also use a nice 2-way separator and white snaps on the pocket. I’m undecided whether to use white cord locks (definitely not these – they look a little off-white – but I have others) and ends or silver, we’ll see. These fantastic matte plastic snaps are from Snap Source. When they first started they had a wonderful selection of parallel-spring snaps (now they only sell prong-style, I believe) and, of course, I have a good supply of them.


When I opened the pattern up last night I was surprised to see that it was printed in two colors. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that before. There are two garments in this pattern (jacket and pants) and the instructions are printed on one page. I think there was a lot less hand-holding back in 1976! Now to decide whether I’ll trace it off or cut it…


I also finished up another robe this morning. I bought this beautiful, sheer cotton on Ebay quite a few years ago with the intention of making a robe. It’s unusual for me to choose a print like this but you can see from the photo below that the fabric is quite sheer so a wild print provides a little modesty. Besides, sometimes it’s fun to use something different for loungewear!



Notice that I matched the print on the pockets so that they disappear. I also added bands to the sleeves for a little more interest.


I still have a little over 2 yards of this fabric left so I think I’ll make PJ pants. You can never have too many pairs!


Filed under Kwik-Sew, Simplicity, Year of the Jacket

Kwik-Sew 3177

I’ll be starting a beginning sewing series at Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics next month. My first class is a kimono robe so I spent a couple of hours this morning making the sample.



This is a Kwik-Sew Kwik-Start pattern, #3177. It was super easy and quick to make up – a great confidence builder for a beginner. The fabric I used is a beautiful cotton batik with Chinese characters on it. Now that I’m done with this I’m headed back to my sewing room to cut out another one that I can wear right now. My silk broadcloth robe has been washed so much for so long that the entire upper back split a couple of weeks ago. :-O


Filed under Kwik-Sew