More vintage, more embellishment, and a confession

Happy New Year! In my wrap-up of sewing and knitting in 2014, I mentioned that I had a few ideas floating around in my head for this year. And while wanting to keep it very low-key, two things keep surfacing in my brain: more vintage, more embellishment. So here I am to chat about it. And you get an added confession, to boot!

More vintage

Last year, I had fun knitting and sewing a lot of vintage-inspired things, but I didn’t create many things from actual vintage patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I love both—using original vintage sewing and knitting patterns, and using my imagination and skills to create vintage-inspired pieces from modern patterns. As it happened, I did more of the latter last year, and had fun doing so! I find a lot of pleasure in taking something modern and tweaking it to give it a vintage look. In fairness, a couple of the patterns I fell in love with last year did that work for me: Gertie’s Butterick B5895 retro capri pattern, and the Muse Patterns Jenna cardi. But that’s a process I really enjoy. It’s fun, and sometimes a bit of a challenge, too. And apparently I was in the mood to do that a lot!

vintage patterns

But that being said, it was still a little surprising to me how little I sewed or knit from vintage patterns last year. After all, I never participated in Marie‘s wonderful Vintage Pledge last year (have you seen the Pinterest board of finished projects from everyone?!), because I felt like sewing from vintage patterns is what I usually do. But it was almost like a subtle curse to myself! Because I totally didn’t do it that much last year, after all.

mccalls 3853

So this year, I plan to sew and knit more from vintage patterns again. I’ll still tinker with modern knitwear and sewing patterns of course, because I’m not placing unrealistic limits on myself, and it’s something I like doing. But I definitely want to get back to creating more from original patterns this year.

ski pullover in progress

More embellishment

I’m in the mood to do some embellishment on my projects! Embroidery, felt appliqué, piping… fun little and not-so-little bits like that. Embellishing can be a difficult line for me to walk, since I often like to wear things that are relatively unfussy (so I’m already wondered if there’s a way to do felt appliqué but have it be machine-washable?). But I still think there’s ways I can incorporate more embellishment in my sewing, and I want to try to play with that more this year!

Trousers with shaped front pockets. Or maybe some appliqué or embroidery on them. An embroidered and appliquéd tourist jacket (that’s a biggie that I’ve wanted to do for over a year!). A circle skirt with appliqué. Rick rack on a neckline. Contrasting hand worked buttonholes. Maybe even adding appliqué or some adornment to a knitting project (like trim on another vintage bolero). And I have no idea why, but I really want to do flat piping on something.

vintage sewing patterns

While it doesn’t fall under the category of ’embellishing’, I’m including my plans to sew a hooded vintage swing coat, too, since that’s one of the first big plans I have for this year. I’m thinking that if I can work it out, I want to do the hood lining in something like faux fur or (and probably easier to deal with) a cozy fleece (maybe even a black minky fleece if it’s a black coat?). So that’s… embellishy… right? Right.

The confession

I don’t actually want an entire me-made wardrobe. There. I’ve said it out loud and I can’t take it back. I’ve thought about posting this part for weeks, and finally I’m biting the bullet and just doing it.

I really slowed down buying vintage when I felt I was at a pretty content place in my wardrobe a couple or more years back. But as both my tastes and my size have shifted slightly over the years, I’ve found myself with a lot less actual vintage or repro and retro pieces that fit or make me happy in my closet, which has been frustrating. And it was something I just kind of ignored for a long time as my sewing output ramped up. It eventually became easier to make something that fit than worry about the things that didn’t, so that’s what I did. But I have a lot of skirts, dresses and trousers that are just flat out too big or no longer my style, except for a few pieces I bought last year.

vintage skirts skirts I found antiquing in St. Louis last year that do fit, yippee!

I also have some pieces I’ve owned for so many years and have worn so often that they just bore me to tears at this point. I don’t want to have all the ill-fitting pieces taken in, because I’m sure as soon as I do, I’ll gain a few pounds and then crap, I’ll be in the reverse position. But I at least need to clean out the pieces that are no longer to my taste (including me-made ones) and start fresh!

So one of my other goals this year is to build back up my closet. I want it in a place where I feel happy with what’s in it, along with the balance of me-made and vintage/repro/retro pieces. Right now it’s skewed way to the me-made department and it feels pretty awesome to be able to even say that, I admit! But it’s not actually proportionally the way I want things, as weird as that may be for some of you reading this. Which is why I feel like this is a dirty confession to the online sewing community. But it was more an accident of getting increasingly more adept at sewing things I liked and that fit me better (a thrill in its own right!), combined with not being able to nor wanting to wear a lot of what I already owned. I feel really empowered being able to sew my own clothing. Me-made is amazing. But I also still adore vintage and enjoy fun and staple repro and retro pieces, too. And all of those things need their own special places in my closet!

I haven’t felt renewed to really hunt for vintage or shop for clothes in a long time, and that’s certainly putting a smile on my face! I’m excited to challenge myself with more vintage sewing and knitting projects, and that excites me, too. And I’m also thrilled that I can now say I have a few good tried-and-true patterns that I can whip out when I just want an easier project. Because there will be plenty of times I need that, too!

Overall I think it should be a fun year for me in terms of my wardrobe and project planning. I feel energized about all the things I love and my head is spinning with fun outfit ideas! Everything I’ve talked about in this post is giving me a lot of inspiration, so I’m going to jot down some ideas before I forget about them, and start to think about where I can fill in gaps, and how.

How about you—any plans you’re particularly excited about this year (sewing, knitting, or otherwise)? Have you seen or tried any fabulous ways to embellish a craft project? I can’t wait to explore the possibilities and learn some new things. Bring it on!

Filed: Knitting, Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

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Golly, 45 Comments!

  • I am so excited for you!! I can tell how inspired you are about sewing and knitting right now, which I know you had struggled with the past few months. It’s funny how you can come to terms with just one simple thing and that’s all it takes to get back in the game full force, so to speak. I can’t wait to see your first projects of the new year 🙂

    p.s. I want copies of those pictures of us with Alphonso 😉 😉

    xo

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  • This sounds like a great plan! It’s much easier to make things that are vintage-y than to find vintage that fits perfectly (especially once you get to a certain skill level), so it totally makes sense that you have more me-made things. I like to make the basics that are hard to find in my size, then fill in with really fantastic vintage pieces I’m willing to drop money on!

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    • The basics aren’t always the most fun things to sew, but I need to fill in with them, too. I’m trying to think of ways to make some of them feel less dull! 🙂

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  • i love vintage styling, but don’t wear it all that much. My vintage plan for this year is to create some irish crochet pieces, using traditional methods.

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  • I love that Simplicity shirt pattern, and I’m excited to see all of your vintage makes.

    I totally understand not wanting to have an all me-made wardrobe, especially when it comes to vintage. There are so many beautiful things out there and ideas that never occurred to me, and sometimes it’s fun to recreate them, but it’s also kind of magical to have the original. And then there are times when I find an amazing vintage piece at the thrift store and feel like I’m rescuing it so it can be properly loved, cared for, and appreciated.

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    • Thanks, Andi! I actually make that Simplicity shirt in December, so once I get a chance I’ll be posting photos of it. 🙂

      And I completely relate about me-made vs. vintage. I sometimes find myself looking at a special vintage piece (say, online), and thinking “I could create something like that!” but honestly, sometimes I just really want the real thing! I don’t want to try and re-create it all. I love how special vintage pieces can be.

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  • I am so with you Tasha! I haven’t been buying a lot of vintage clothing lately either bc I cannot find anything that I love in my size. Everything is smaller and it has nothing to do with weight bc of my body shape I will never fit into a size 20 waist anything. And alas I do not know how to sew nor can’t I fit learning how to into my lifestyle at the moment. I wish I could connect with a seamstress here in NY so I can have late 50’s/early 60’s styled dresses to my liking. That would be like a dream come true right there! I cannot wait to see the adjustments you make!!! And Happy New Year!! xox

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  • I’ve always wanted to be a better sewer? sewist? person who sews… but it wasn’t until I became more serious about my style (vintage-modern we’ll call it) and – even with patience and the internet – not being able to find very many vintage items that fit, being on the larger side, or finding items in my size that just weren’t my style/what I needed, that I turned more to sewing. Add in a few comfort and fitting issues and it seemed sewing was really my only option to fill in some pieces.

    But I love your confession and can relate. I don’t run a blog but when people find out I sew they seem a little disappointed when the item I’m wearing is not me-made. I buy RTW, especially knits or stretch materials – a territory I’m hoping to tackle but probably wont completely replace the convenience of picking up a good quality t-shirt now and again. I can crochet but knitting is just something I can’t fall in love with no matter how hard I try so RTW sweaters are a must for me – and being a fairly recent transplant to Chicago from Southern California, I needed a few to fill that huge gap in my wardrobe.

    I’m ok with all that mixing in my closet. My sewing skills not being near to yours (I’d call myself advanced beginner), and my weight occasionally fluctuating faster than I can sew, I’m ok with relying on RTW. I think even if my skills improved to super-duper-advanced-person who sews, I’d still use RTW and vintage. While I understand and desire not to contribute to fast fashion, I think RTW (ethical when possible) and second hand will always have a place in my wardrobe if it fills a need.

    P.S. Thanks for the tip on the sewing machine place. They did a great job cleaning up the ole Bernina.

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    • I’m so glad it worked out! I still need to take my vintage machine there to get it in working condition. I like the way you described how you feel about balancing things in your closet. Makes a lot of sense!

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  • You have fun with your vintage and repro shopping and don’t feel the least bit guilty! You’ve made a lot of amazing things and that’s something to be proud of, but it’s cool to miss the hunt.

    I don’t have any resolutions or any big goals for the year other than, you know, find a job, but I do want to try to make at least one outfit for Viva. Mind you, I’m a beginning seamstress (at the very beginning) so it’ll be a challenge, but I think I can pull of a top and skirt playsuit.

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  • I definitely know what you mean about not wanting all me mades. I treated myself to some repro this year and it’s been great. Personally, I want to do more costume sewing this year so my wardrobe growth will need to be more purchased rather than me made.

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  • Nothing but respect for people that do have a wardrobe full of things that they’ve made, but I think even the best home sewer should have some stuff that they’ve purchased. There’s always going to be something really special or unusual that is either easier, more cost effective, or just better to buy than it is to create.
    But creating a touring jacket from scratch? That would be incredible. I say you should go for it!
    Since you mentioned St. Louis, are there any stores in particular that you would recommend there? I’m going to be there for a wedding in a couple of weeks, and I’m always hitting up vintage shops when I travel.

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  • Miss Nathalie Vintage January 5, 2015 at 7:34pm

    I found the best way to clean out my closet is to sell my items on Ebay they sell faster then on etsy. Have a great time on your vintage hunt.
    It would be so much fun to see a haul on all the adorable goodies you find and recommend stores/online shops too.

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  • Miss Nathalie Vintage January 5, 2015 at 7:54pm

    As I got older my weight changed a lot and I was sad that I could not fit into my all of my vintage outfits any more. Since I needed a new wardrobe quickly and did not want to brake the bank and still dress vintage. I found my saving grace when I got a random clothing catalog for the mature women. While flipping through the pages I noticed the clothing is vintage/classic styled inspired. I gave them a go and absolutely adore the online shop the clothing is well made and last a long time with out having to repair any thing, I was scared at first when buying repo/classic style I was afraid I would not be able to keep up my vintage style.

    When people look at my clothing they just automatically think I am wearing vintage when I am not, that was a huge load off of my mind. I adore my now repo clothing mixed in with my 100% vintage items.

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  • Now, I must find that pattern. Simplicity 3266.

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  • I am looking forward to reading your blog all this year! It sounds exciting.
    We are all constantly evolving and so our tastes change. I used self made piping quite a bit last year and loved it but I’m also very interested in your other embellishment ideas.
    I keep telling myself to concentrate on making more plain clothes as I have lots of patterned things that don’t ‘go’ with much.
    I love your green and cream jumper you’re knitting. It looks fabulous!

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    • I agree about the plain clothes too, it’s something I need to force myself to work on finding or sewing, but it’s not nearly as fun ad patterns. But I have several things I can rarely wear for lack of a solid matching separate. Maybe if I pep it up with a bit of embroidery or something it’ll make them feel less dull! 😉

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  • I never had the aim to have a complete me-made wardrobe. Some things I simply don’t want to sew, others I just fall in love with in a shop and buy them, vintage or not. I don’t want to force myself to leave things I like in the shop only to reproduce them at home. When I am content with the price and love what I see, why make myself unhappy with not buying it.
    To work more with embellishments is one of my goals for this year, too. Somehow I always knock something together and play around a lot with accessories. But I really want to try some embroidered or somehow embellished dresses or skirts, it just looks different and is unfortunately nearly lost nowadays (maybe except for printed shirts^^).
    To your felt-question: I once found washable felt on a sewing fair. And well, machine-washable it was, but the colour bled terribly and ruined all the fabric nearby (happily it was only a pillowcase and nothing complicated). I don’t know if the bleeding would cease after some time, I have never tried since. If it would you could definitely use it for skirt appliqué, though I fear it won’t last forever, after all it is only felt. What if you used some coat-fabric-scraps instead?
    ~ette

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    • Does sound like an interesting thing to try! I’ll have to explore options. I agree embellishing clothing isn’t something you see a lot nowadays, but several of my vintage patterns even came with embroidery transfer designs for them!

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  • My plan is to complete 12 knitting projects in 2015, as I was dreadful in 2014 and only managed three. While I can’t sew, I’m working on strategic knitting and shopping to improve my weekend wardrobe, as spending two days out of every seven wearing things that I feel unattractive in simply because the clothes are clean and fit really isn’t on!

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    • Sounds like a great plan! It’s really hard and can take a lot of effort to get your wardrobe in shape. I’ve had many times in the last when I’ve wondering why in the hell am I wearing X, Y or Z that I don’t even really like. You have good goals for the year!

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  • Totally relate to your confession. Doesn’t it feel good to get that out? For the longest time I thought I wanted a full me made closet but in reality it’s just not meant for me, not to mention I’d be sewing until the end of time to make it happen. I love to shop! I am more conscious now of what I buy and I love a good thrift. Something so fulfilling about finding that diamond in the rough! Can’t wait to see what you come up with this year. Looking forward to all that embellishing!

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    • It DOES feel good and I know you can relate too! It’s a great feeling to realize I can make things….but I don’t have to want to make it all. And you’re right about finding a diamond in the rough thrifting, I’m looking forward to doing more of that again!

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  • Not a dirty confession at all! Every sewer is on their own journey and while some want an entirely me-made wardrobe, others don’t, and that’s okay!

    If you want some ric rac – I have TONS from my #thewaysewingusedtobe instagram series. Feel free to email me if you want some. Happy to send it your way.

    Maddie964@aol.com

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  • Just to let you know but I have Simplicity 3266 and it makes up beautifully. I would absolutely kill to get a pattern for a Mexican Tourist Jacket but they are like gold dust. You really have to make yourself some of these beautiful things although I fully understand how busy you must be with your knitting which, by the way, is always fabulous!

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    • I actually made up the Simplicity blouse in December, I love it, other than the pain in the ass that the collar was to construct!

      The tourist jacket pattern was a lucky break on Etsy last year, I know they can be super pricey and hard to find! I may need to grade it down a bit but it’s worth it!

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  • I like your confession 😉 I’m always changing my goals with how I want my closet stocked going from vintage to repro to homemade and then most loving one vintage repro brand over another than changing that again. At the end of the day though I love looking at my closet 😀 Looking forward to seeing your new finds and new makes in 2015!

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  • Certainly not a I love wearing me-made and I love opening my closet knowing that it’s full of things I made and much of which I love. But there are some things that I don’t know how to do or just don’t want to do. I’m not a knitter but I love cardigans. Nor am I thrilled at the idea of cranking out t-shirts and underwear.
    And let’s face it, the vast majority of commercially available fabrics can’t compete with the quality and diversity you will find in vintage and modern RTW (I sorely miss NYC and Philly for fabric shopping). Everything in moderation, including moderation. Vintage cardigan, me-made dress, modern shoes, all “me”.
    I’m just so HAPPY you are still excited about making, about vintage and about sharing your adventures with us in your blog. I love reading your stuff and getting inspired to dig deeper and try new things!

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    • Thanks, Sarah! Sounds like you know what you like doing and what you don’t. And I think that’s a perfectly fine balance! Now that I can sew with knits I’m not afraid to do a t-shirt or two, but I have absolutely zippo desire to sew underthings, for example. 🙂

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  • I totally understand about not wanting to wear me-made exclusively. Sometimes it’s worth it to let someone else do the work for once. 😉 I always look forward to your posts even if I don’t comment…
    Keep up the cuteness! 😀 But, don’t burn yourself out either.

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    • Totally worth it! I once bought a handmade garment from someone and when she found out I sewed she asked why was I buying it. I had to say that truthfully I just didn’t want to make it. lol

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  • All of this sounds marvelous! One must always do what feels best for them! And I honestly can’t wait to see you bring those vintage patterns to life! I must admit I am insanely jealous of your Mexican Tourist jacket pattern! That is SO hard to find! And often pricey!

    I also look forward to all of your future vintage treasures as you share them with us!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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    • Thanks, Janey! The jacket pattern was a great find, and even though it was more than I usually am wiling to pay for vintage patterns (I think it was about $18) I know that’s kind of a steal given that they don’t pop up often! The crazy thing is I want to try and do an entirely different type of embroidery and appliqué on it, so it may take me forever to design and make. Here’s hoping I start this year! 😉

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  • Secretly, i feel the same way! 🙂
    It feels so naughty saying that you don’t want a totally own-sewn wardrobe, but there’s just a ‘je ne sais quoi’ that real vintage clothing has….

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  • Thank you SO much for the shout out Tasha and i do hope you join in with #vintagepledge this year…I’m such a huge fan of yours and your vintage sense of style! I also love your plans to embellish and/ore personalise your handmades! I think that extra bit of time really pays off and it’s something that i should think about a bit more in my sewing. I also admire your confession and passion for ‘real’ vintage! I wish I knew how to shop vinatge if that makes sense…I’m just a little clueless when I go into vintage shops! But I too don’t want an entirely handmade wardrobe, because truth be told, I still like some RTW stuff. Yep, I’ve put this out publicly and I’m not even sorry! haha!

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  • You have such exciting plans for the year, I will enjoy seeing what you make. I don’t think that you should worry about saying you don’t want a totally self made wardrobe, you should wear what makes you happy. It is such a thrill finding that great vintage item. I want to knit more for me than others this year and perhaps improve my basic sewing too.

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  • Tasha,
    As I’ve said before: I come to this blog to get inspired. And, if I learn to be at least a bit like you (in sewing – you are like Yoda!).. it’ll be a great thing.

    Marija

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  • Tasha,
    I totally understand what you mean about not wanting a fully “me-made” wardrobe. While a fully “me-made” wardrobe would be quite an accomplishment, we’d be limiting ourselves to experience other clothes. Clothes that we’d never think about making, or are made in ways we would have never thought. I love buying a dress and seeing out it was made, especially vintage clothes.
    Buy purchasing store bought clothes I think we are actually helping build our sewing skills and appreciating the quality and design of others.

    Overall, great post and good luck on your sewing goals for the year. I have a few similar goals I posted about just today on my blog. Here’s 2015 and good sewing!

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  • Tasha, I totally agree with you and I cannot wait to see your projects with embellishments! Since late 2014 I been looking forward to learn how to make some appliqués on my knittings and been looking to some embroidery transfers for blouses. I think some simple embellishments just look so special on some basic pieces, and I hope I can learn some techniques… and looking sooo forward to see some on your wonderful blog!

    Happy 2015 dear Tasha! 🙂

    Beta x

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