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Information and tutorials for folks interested in antique Italian lacework, nouveau fashion, sewing techniques and much much more!

Category Archive: Sewing Techniques

How to make a Vintage Frock without Sewing

‘Specially for those of us who have a stupendous fabric stash, a festive shindig to attend, and little time, The Great Drapo shows us how to construct a vintage frock without a lick of sewing…or even any straight pins! The Great Drapo, AKA Alphonse Bergé and an ex-London window display designer appeared as the Great Drapo for millions of visitors to the New York World’s Fair. You can read more about him in this LIFE Magazine article circa August 1940. We adore the last gown; an elegant, one-shouldered bridal gown for any last minute city hall shotgun wedding!

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Hand-Sewn Victorian Welted Pockets

Andrew from the sewing blog Victorian Tailoring loves making things; He says, “Two years ago I started making historical clothing for my wedding – I made a Victorian suit and top hat for myself, and I made my wife’s Victorian dress and top hat.” He is hooked on the meticulous and meditative process of sewing garments by hand, and provided this tutorial on sewing welted pockets. This is the method most often after 1850, and set out in The Victorian Tailor by Jason Maclochlainn, available on the 3rd floor at Britex Fabrics. It took Andrew four hours to complete his first welted pocket…unfortunately; we aren’t privy to his accompanied colorful language, although we’re sure that it was appropriately Victorian! Arrah now!!

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How to Shorten a Metal Zipper

Rachel from Nest Full of Eggs found herself in a metal zipper quandary while sewing her son’s yellow pants, but successfully shortened two metal zippers from the top, and then made this tutorial to show you how to do the same! We love the completed project; the zippered pockets, glorious quantities of yellow, and her son’s nonchalant attitude are inspiring. (photo taken in the Guthrie Theater ‘Yellow Room’ 9th floor in downtown Minneapolis)

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How to Draft a Peplum

Put a peplum on it! Peplums have been worn for centuries; the word originates from the ancient Greek garment, the peplos. We’re partial to wearing them in conjunction with elbow length gloves, elegant chapeaus, dramatically glamorous vintage suits, cobblestones, and Paris river walkways. BurdaStye has a detailed tutorial on drafting and adding a peplum to a garment…now all we need is Paris!

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Winter Coat Sew-Along!

The superbly multi-faceted Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing: A Modern Homage to Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing [Published 1952] is hosting another coat sew-along! Join her and her online sewing community as they learn the intricacies of constructing a winter coat. The pattern for the sew-along is vintage-inspired (and designed by Gertie herself!) Butterick 5824 – a glamorous shawl-collared, double-breasted number. Britex carries everything you’ll need for this project, including luscious coatings, sublime linings, snazzy buttons, and Butterick patterns. We’d love to make it in this spicy Dijon wool coating – perfect for a visit to the upcoming Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance exhibit at the De Young Museum.

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How to Sew with a Double Needle

Expert seamstress, educator, and blogger Nancy Zieman shares some tips for working with double needles. She points out that double needles are great for decorative stitching, hemming, and heirloom sewing. We’re particularly enamored with using this stitch to accentuate hemlines, cuffs, and other edges with a contrasting thread color. Of course, you can buy luscious silk top-stitching thread and double needles at Britex Fabrics.

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Tips on Pretreating Wool Crepe Fabric

Just in time to take advantage of our current online midweight wool sale, Carolyn, the talented seamstress from the sewing blog Diary of a Sewing Fanatic wrote a wonderful series of tips on pretreating wool crepe fabric. She mentions four methods, and writes in detail on the forth; the London shrink method, dry-cleaning, washing and drying, and her practically patented steam the heck out of it method. Although dry cleaning is the easiest method, it is expensive. If you choose to take your wool into your own hands, we recommend trying it out on a small price of test wool first.

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Boned Waistband by Amy

We can’t resist writing more about the collaboration between Britex Fabrics, BurdaStyle and Amy; Amy’s meticulous work on her skirt’s waistband is what tipped us over the top! Her tailoring makes our heart beat quickly, and we sigh. Jenny is modest, and talks about her technique with scientific precision, “A structured waistband is not an essential part of the pattern, but I think it adds a lot of elegance to this high-waisted skirt. Marina von Koenig, BurdaStyle’s expert in all things couture, recently wrote about her experiences making a structured waistband for a high-waisted skirt. What I’ve done here is very similar. My waistband is essentially a sandwich of Rigilene, a plastic boning found in many sewing shops. The bottom layer of the sandwich, the facing, is made up of a layer of the fashion fabric, a layer of silk organza, and a layer of horsehair canvas – all quilted together. On top of this layer are silk organza channels into which the Rigilene strips are threaded. The top layer of the sandwich, which becomes the outside of the waistband, is made up of a layer of the fashion fabric and a layer of cotton flannel interfacing. The flannel helps give the waistband a smooth look from the exterior. The two halves are stitched together along the top and then the seams are graded and understitched so that everything looks lovely and stays put.”

Posted: Hand-Made with Britex Materials, Made by You, Sewing, Sewing Techniques
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Armhole Fitting Tips

Have you ever used a commercial pattern and been frustrated by unwieldy armhole fit; a too loose fit can cause the entire bodice to fit badly. Marina of the couture sewing blog, Frabjous: Couture presents some tips on armhole depth. She says, “I wanted to focus on sleeve fitting, and the correct armhole shape and size is very important.” For additional instruction, Marina recommends this article from Threads magazine by Sarah. My personal armhole fitting tip has been to use a modified princess seam with the front bodice. This works wonders in closing armhole gape when fitting waistcoats; the bodice will be cut in two pieces…a front piece and a side panel. The fitting seam starts at the lower armhole and ends at the hem, approximately 6” from the side seam. This modified princess seam corrects unseemly gaping and ensures a smooth fit.

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A Dior Dart Constructed

Sherry from the Australian blog Pattern Scissors Cloth describes a Dior dart, and includes a step-by-step tutorial on creating this flattering couture detail. A Dior dart is a short bust dart that extends from a bodice side front panel seam, often occurs in fitted tops and dresses from the sixties, and we hope is making a much needed comeback!

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