Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I always heard that expression when I was growing up and it made me happy because my hands – and feet – easily get cold. In my last post, you saw my cape. And if you own a cape, you know how impractical it is. Especially for someone like me who struggles to keep my hands warm. At first I was going to make arm warmers to wear with my regular gloves, but they take too long to knit. Then I thought, why don’t I just make my own gloves?

I already have a pretty large collection of vintage gloves because I used to wear them regularly. I love the way gloves look with an outfit – so elegant. And I have them in all lengths, colors and fabrics, except the length and color I needed for my cape.

(By the way, if you’re at all interested in vintage glove lengths and etiquette, do yourself a favor and head over to this post at Chronically Vintage.)

So I dug out Vogue Pattern 8608. I swear I have no memory of buying this pattern, but I’ve always had an interest in glovemaking so it kinda makes sense. Even though I purge my bookcase periodically, I have two books I kept over the years:  “You Can Make Your Own Gloves” by Edith Hummel and “Make Your Own Gloves” by Gwen Emlyn-Jones. Maybe I’m psychic and I knew that I would need them in 2016.

More likely, I just didn’t want to give up the dream of hand-making supple lambskin gloves at a villa in Italy. Or something like that.

Since this is an area completely new to me, I decided to make the first few versions from old t-shirts. The first one was much too tight and the fingers were too short. But in the process, I learned how gloves are constructed, so I consider it a win.

For the second pair, I made a couple of modifications: 1. I didn’t put in the elastic on the back of the hands; and 2. I extended them to opera length.

Please forgive the weird angle. I was holding the camera with one hand while trying to take a picture with the other and it was a lot more difficult than it sounds.

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My feed dogs decided to eat one of the fingers and the tips are wonky, but the fit is much better. I’ll make one or two more scrap gloves before I use my fabric. And yes, I actually have lambskin and I’m going to use it to make a pair, but I’ll probably sew them by hand so I’ll have more control over those tiny bits.

Anyway, I want to be more transparent about my process, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of my projects in their early state, even when they’re not pretty. Isabel Toledo, one of my favorite designers, wrote “Learn to love your ugly ducklings. Your creative mistakes contain the seeds of your future successes, so do not discard them.” I probably won’t keep the first one, but as crazy as it looks, this glove definitely has a place in my heart.

Anyway, I’m going to keep working at my glovemaking so I can start working on that kidskin pair sooner rather than later. So, are you planning to take on any new challenges this year?


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More Bound Buttonholes

I tried. I really did. I wanted to make my life easier by making regular buttonholes, but I just couldn’t do it. I knew that I’d regret taking the shortcut because that’s not the way I sew. Besides, this blog is about techniques that take a little longer, but are worth the effort because they elevate the garment.

Once I committed to the bound buttonholes, my next task was to find tutorials and start practicing on scraps until I was comfortable. I used tutorials from Colette Patterns and Gertie to get me back on track. I ended up using a hybrid between the two methods. In my last post, I mentioned that I forgot to apply the interfacing so I reopened the jacket and adding the interfacing you see in the pictures below.

Since my jacket is white, I was reluctant to use any wax tracing paper. I wasn’t even willing to risk chalk residue so I decided on thread tracing. The two vertical tracks mark the width of the buttonhole. I decided to make the buttonhole 1/4″ high, so each “lip” is 1/8″ high. The horizontal thread is the center of the buttonhole.

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Using Colette Patterns template method, I cut a piece of fabric about 3″ x 4″ then traced a 1/4″ template onto the center. I then folded the fabric in half and pressed it so that the center of the template was in the fold. (In other words, there was 1/8″ above the fold and 1/8″ below). Then I aligned the folded edge with the horizontal thread line.


My hand sewing fell apart at the top left corner, but after I machine stitched around the thread tracing and pulled the fabric to the wrong side of the jacket, it looked like a decent square.


I tugged at it a bit so that you don’t see that extra fabric on the sides of the square, then I created the lips and did the final stitching.

So now the capelet’s done. I had to give it a good hand washing because it was dingy from being handled. Now all it needs is a good press and I’ll add pics of the finished project in a later post.

Next up: the gingham bralette top. I thought this pattern (View C) would look cute with my new white capelet and a white pencil skirt. I’m going to lengthen it by a few inches so that I only have an inch or two of skin showing between my top and the skirt’s waistband. I have a red/white gingham on my table right now, but I’m seriously considering going back for the black/white one too.


The high-waisted skirt will be from M5590 which is OOP, but it’s a pretty fabulous pattern.


But the skirt will be AFTER I spend some time with my French Jacket. The weather has been pretty chilly here (except for 1 or 2 days that went into the high 50s) so I’ve been putting it off as I don’t see myself going outside in just a jacket any time soon. Yeah I know the same thing could be said for the capelet, but that was supposed to be a quickie project remember?

So, what’s on your sewing table? I’m curious about other people’s spring sewing projects.


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My Precious

I want to introduce you to my new precious. I’ve wanted this book for well over a year, but I was waiting for it to get to a reasonable price. (The word “reasonable” is relative when it comes to out-of-print books though.)

Bridal Couture

I can’t even remember the first time I heard about it, but I think it was when Gertie mentioned how helpful it was to her. That’s when I knew I had to have a copy. I’m fascinated by garment construction and there are few things I love more than well-fitting clothes so I moseyed over to Amazon to buy a copy and was promptly stopped in my tracks by the prices.  That’s when it became my mission to find a cheaper copy. Now of course I could’ve bought the book on CD from Susan Khalje’s site for $39+ S&H, but I wanted, no I NEEDED, to have the book in my hands. I couldn’t find a copy locally for love or money until about a month ago when there it was on Amazon for $50 and I almost fainted from joy.

Now I haven’s spent that much money on a book since grad school, but I just had to have it. After a few days of going back and forth, I finally hit the “Checkout” button. The book was published in 1997, so there are some, ahem, interesting gowns such as this:


BUT, there’s so much useful information in this book and great diagrams like this:


that it’s worth every penny!  FYI, this book is mostly about specialty construction techniques for bridal and evening wear, but the techniques can be adapted to everyday sewing if you want to take your garments to the next level. As books go, this one is right up there with my copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Techniques which I refer to regularly so I’m really happy I bought it.