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The Story of a Pattern…

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Jennie in the classic shirt dress, holding her baby boy.

In early 2010, while hunting for retro-style dresses that I could wear while nursing my baby daughter, I found a deadstock 1950s shirt dress for sale on eBay. Incredibly, I snagged it for only $25, and it was a perfect fit. I really loved the style with its curved collar, self-cuffed sleeves, and pleated skirt. I’d been telling myself for a couple of years that it was time to branch into 1950s patterns, but I hadn’t been struck with inspiration for a new design until I got and wore that dress. Read more…

Update: Beautiful jewelry for word lovers!

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Elizabeth and Darcy earrings by Liz Turner

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ve already seen a sneak peek of this beautiful jewelry, designed and made by Liz Turner from books that have fallen into disrepair and are destined for the rubbish bin. I love how Liz chooses words that follow a theme or come from classic literature, like the “Elizabeth” and “Mr Darcy” earrings you see at right. She can even find the words of your choice in a dictionary or another volume and custom-make your own special jewelry, including pendants to wear as single pieces Read more…

Update: “She Coloured” Jane Austen Coloring Book Winner!

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She Coloured cover by Amanda Kastner

Amanda has now produced a simply charming coloring book, featuring 25 of Jane Austen’s most famous quotes in whimsical settings with delightful hand-drawn ink illustrations.The 8.5″ x 11″ book is printed on smooth white 65# paper, which is excellent for colored pencils, pens, markers, and even light watercolor washes! To celebrate Amanda’s achievements, I am hosting a giveaway of a copy of “She Coloured,” and I’ve also got a special coupon code you can use in Amanda’s online shop! Read more…

Retro Maternity Style

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Reproduction 1950s maternity smock

When it comes to retro maternity style, I may not be an expert, but I think sheer experience has to count for something! I’ve lived through two decades of maternity wear, beginning with my first pregnancy in 1996, when I was just starting out as a seamstress-for-hire and making lots of Regency gowns. Read more…

A bevy of gorgeous 1930s magazine eBooks!

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Free Magazine Samples

NEW: Four 1930s magazine eBooks! There’s a marvelous antiques shop about 15 miles from our home in South Africa that just brims with treasures. Upstairs is an Aladdin’s Cave of vintage clothing and accessories, and, every now and again, I find a new-to-me magazine or pattern book. Well, I hit the proverbial jackpot this week, as the proprietress had just added a stack of 1930s-1950s magazines with gorgeous full-color covers, detailed seasonal fashion plates, knitting patterns, embroidery instructions and so much more. I scooped up the lot and have been scanning madly so I can share them with you! Read more…

Let’s Make Circle Skirts!

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Circle Skirt with Pockets

As a young teen obsessed with vintage clothing, I dearly wanted a circle skirt. I’d seen them in old magazines and thought the felt ones with appliques like poodles or the Eiffel Tower were just too cute for words. When my grandmother realized how much I loved vintage fashion, she gave me a beautiful ruffled petticoat she had made in the mid-1950s and two felted wool circle skirts she was still wearing as late as the 1970s (she kept her 23″ waist until her death by doing nightly sit-ups on a slant board!). I was 14 at the time, and the clothes were a perfect fit. I was on cloud nine. Read more…

What Makes My Day…

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jordan elisheva

There are some days that opening my in-box leaves me with an especially huge smile on my face. I always love to hear from my customers, but I have a special place in my heart for the youngsters–the ones who discovered their love of sewing early on while using my patterns or while reading through helpful posts on the Message Forum, encouraged by fellow sewists all the way. Read more…

New Checkout Experience!

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Over the years, I’ve had a lot of requests to offer a checkout option other than PayPal, but the alternatives were prohibitively expensive and didn’t have the postage label-printing option that is built into Paypal. Thankfully, the times have changed! I am now very pleased to offer both Stripe and PayPal Express at checkout through Cart66 Cloud. Read more…

Stitching Up the Lilly Rose Pattern

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Lilly Rose Pattern

My friend Lorna McKenzie of The Tailor’s Apprentice asked me in 2011 to review the Lilly Rose pattern she was developing from an original 1940s design. Unfortunately, I had just moved to Kenya and was expecting a new baby at the time, so I never did get around to sewing the dress. But I can’t stand leaving a project undone, so five years later (!!!) I asked Lorna if I could still stitch up the pattern and provide feedback. She graciously sent me a review copy, and I got started! Read more…

It’s Time to Mention Unmentionables!

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Shocking!

Ladies, if you’ve ever struggled with what goes on before you put on your clothes, it’s time to fix that. If you spend the day tugging up bra straps or end the day dying to be released from bra bondage, then, reader, this post is for you. We’re doing a first on my blog: going deep into the confusing world of bra-fitting (and, yes, this will have a historical connection and repercussions for at least one of my patterns!). Read more…