Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sew Chic Pattern Giveaway? YES!

Share Your Sew Chic Makes with Us!
Maybe you've been coveting Ginseng or itching to get your hands on Southern Belle. How about picking your favorite Sew Chic pattern and having it delivered to your mailbox? Free.

If that sounds good, read on.

I share with you my second takes and pattern variations, but I'm not the only one with good ideas. I am inspired by what others are creating too. Many of you do write to me and share photos, but I know there are more out there than I know about. We all want to see: what have done with your Sew Chic designs? How did you make it yours? Some indie designers give patterns away prior to publicity and reviews, so why not do that for everyone? If you've had a good experience, you'll naturally want to tell others. Right?

My friend Monica wearing Tia.
This is how it works: Make up your pattern, then make your experience available to the public between now and December 31, 2015. This means post the process or your finished piece on Facebook or your blog. Maybe you prefer Pinterest or Instagram. Whatever gets it out there works! 

Give me permission to share your experiences (along with where to find them), let me know which Sew Chic pattern you want, and it's yours.

I am super excited to see what you have all done! And don't forget that I have lots of posts for resizing and how to make many other adjustments. Remember my Fantasia Dress Variation?

This giveaway lasts only through the end of this year, but as soon as you send me your links, your pattern preference, and mailing address, we will send out your new pattern to thank you for your effort. Only one offer per address please.

Thanks for supporting Vintage!

Happy Sewing and SHARING!,

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nicholas Ungar: Vintage Treasure Hunt

A Fabulous Vintage Find

Design by Nicholas Ungar
Whenever I have the chance I like to browse estate sales and vintage shops in hopes of adding to my collection of vintage apparel. I love the thrill of the hunt, hoping that amidst all the thrift-store fluff I'll come across something unique and lovely. And once I find my treasure, it's as much or more fun to examine it for clues to its history.

Such was the case on a trip up the Oregon Coast, where I found this dress and jacket with a Nicholas Ungar store label.  
Nicholas Ungar Label was a popular store out of Portland Oregon

This couture vintage dress and jacket dating from the 1950s was created from a demure jade shantung silk and is full of intricate details and novelties. This outfit was likely worn for-day time excursions or less formal evening soirees. It has quite a lot of hand stitching (the definition of couture) but whether it was made specifically for the customer or not, it's hard to say. Nicholas Ungar was a store in Portland Oregon, and was successful enough to be purchased by Nordstroms in the 1960s.

Nicholas Ungar design comes with a matching jacket

As was common, the seam finish is pinked on most edges and the metal zipper, or "slide fastener" as it was once called, is typical of clothing manufactured before the mid-'60s.

Pinked Seams

The wide seam at the waist perhaps means that the store provided for some alteration there, and here you can see the waist stay made from rayon hem tape sewn into the seam. A waist stay was typical of higher quality as is used to keep the waist seam from stretching out, thus keeping the silhouette as trim as possible.

Waist Stay

One thing that surprised me was that the dress wasn't fully lined. Generally you'd find a dress of this caliber lined completely, but here you can see where facings were used. Nice wide ones at that.

Inside Facings

Two metal zippers were used (too early for plastic), one short back zipper and the other at the side. Side zippers were so common that the zipper design was made exclusively for this use and includes a stop at both the top and the bottom. Today we improvise using a zipper with a top opening.

side zipper

The detail on this neckline is the real show stopper on this dress. Long bias tubes pressed flat were used to create the intricate scallop design. They were hand shaped, tucked into place, and stitched together. Faggoting stitched in a star pattern helps to hold and decorate the open areas.

Beautiful faggoting at neckline

Here's a view from the inside. To duplicate a detail like this, home sewists would baste the garment to several layers of newspaper to stabilize it. With everything basted in place, the tubing was added, shaping as they go, then stitched in place. Heavy thread could then be strung between each side of the openings to create the star pattern we call faggoting.

Hand Stitched Inside

The bound buttonholes are also sometimes called "welt" buttonholes because they are made nearly the same as a welt pocket, only smaller. The photo below shows the wrong side of the button hole and how they've hand stitched the facing to the welt.

Bound Buttonholes

There is a 3" hem, hand sewn with hem tape. With a fabric as fine as silk, every lump and bump shows. Using hem tape avoids the thickness of multiple folds. (Hem tape is also a great for bulkier fabrics for the same reason.)


I don't know much about this store designer. Do you?

Two more Nicholas Ungar designs.

I'm sorry this dress doesn't fit me "as is" but it fits perfectly into my small but special vintage clothing collection. What have you found in your searches for vintage fashion?

Have a great sewing day!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Introducing "Pongo" for Simplicity #1061

I'm sorry to make you wait...

It's been really hard for me too. I am so excited for the debut of my new design created exclusively for Simplicity, and then named, numbered, and known by them as  #1061. My patterns are normally given a name, usually an association to the development of the design. for example, "Tia" is dedicated to my aunt who gave me the fabric that inspired the style (anyone know espaƱol?). 

Pongo from Gowns by Laura
Pongo from Gowns by Laura
Some of you will remember "Pongo" from my "Gowns by Laura" page. Designed several years ago, this dress with an asymmetrical skirt was a favorite in the many fashion shows I participated in. The classic style is still a favorite. 

Designed exclusively for Simplicity, #1061 is a charming jacket and dress duo with a swingy skirt and the same bodice and trims as the original. Paired with the so-cute bolero jacket, I think this fashion remodel is an across-the-board hit. 

Simplicity #1061
Sew Chic design for Simplicity

Wearing this dress, everyone will look like a knockout, don't you think? It's got a tailored look with a cut on sleeve and a slightly dropped waist that adds definition while minimizing less-than-taut tummies. Plus, the flared skirt almost guarantees comfort and style. If the lack of sleeves on this photo scares you off, don't let it. For most people, the shoulder will be wide enough to call a cap sleeve. If not, my sew along will cure that! (KEEP reading;-)
Pongo dress
Warm days or cool nights, add the jacket and you are dressed up for a summer wedding or ready for a cool night out on the town.  The three quarter lined bolero short jacket is quick to sew and easy to fit too, with just enough coverage and doesn't cover up important style details!. Match the jacket to the dress for a monochromatic look or bring the eye up to your face by choosing a contrasting color/fabric. There are two jacket versions, either with, or without a collar. Dress variations let you decide whether to include trim at the neckline and hem. 

The pattern recommends broadcloth, chintz, dupioni, shantung, faille, gingham, pique, sateen, and taffeta and cotton or linen types. Of course there are many many appropriate fabrics in between. The biggest difficulty is finding the right print! Light to medium-weight limp or crisp fabrics will maximize skirt movement, and don't forget you need that petticoat for structure!
As of this writing, the pattern is not yet available for purchase.

What IS available is the SIGN UP for the sew along! To kick start our alliance, I will be hosting  a sew along, to be delivered to your inbox once a week starting July 8. I ALSO have in my hand a copy of this Simplicity PATTERN to give away to ONE LUCKY WINNER. If you sign up for the sew along now, you'll also be entering yourself into the giveaway too. At random, one NAME will chosen from this sign up list and announced on the RELEASE DATE for this pattern, JUNE 12. The sew along will begin on July 8, which gives you a few weeks to buy the pattern and gather your supplies. Sign up here:

It's less than a week! Look for #1061 online and in stores wherever Simplicity Patterns are sold. I'd love to hear what you think of my newest release and can't wait to see how your Pongo turns out! 

Have a wonderful sewing day!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Interview with Creators of the Monthly Stitch

How is your indie dress project coming?!

 I just had to ask, because it's now June -- Indie Pattern Month -- is off and running! By now you must have decided which contests you are entering. I had the opportunity to chat with Kat and Mel, popular bloggers from The Monthly Stitch (over there in New Zealand!), the inventors of the "Sewing Indie" month, and got the inside scoop on their passion and how it all came to be. These gals really have it together and are doing wonderful things for our sewing world. To really appreciate the people behind the project, I wanted to know more, and I'm sure you do too!


What's Indie Pattern Month all about? 
It's about our slight obsession with indie designs!  It's a month-long celebration during which we showcase and interview various designers to get some behind-the-scene glimpses, make indie patterns, talk about indie patterns, and run sewing contests to encourage everyone to get involved and sew with - you guessed it! - indie patterns.

This (2015) is the third year that Indie Pattern Month has been run, and it's the biggest one yet. Just like last year, it's held over on The Monthly Stitch a place where everyone can join in, whether or not they have a blog. (

How did it start?
We think sewing challenges are fun! A few years ago, we started to run them on our own blogs -- The Curious Kiwi ( and Modern Vintage Cupcakes ( We ran challenges around themes, around designers, around labels. They continued to get bigger, and bigger. And then, the biggest one yet -- we ran the first Indie Pattern Month in June 2013 ( holding interviews with designers on both of our blogs and encouraging people to share their indie makes to a communal Pinterest board ( . We had a lot of people give us feedback on how much they liked it, so decided to make it an annual event!
A little Mad Men inspiration.
Why indie patterns?
We seriously love sewing. And we love that there are more and more options coming out for people to use and make -- new labels starting up, new designs coming out all the time with fresh and innovative thinking. It's so much fun to see what other people come up with and there's a lot of talent out there in the sewing world!

Indie Pattern Month is about supporting that talent because we love to see new businesses grow and flourish.

How do you run Indie Pattern Month?
Well, to be honest, with a heck of a lot of hard work! We both work full time as well, and this is just one of our many hobbies.

We start planning for Indie Pattern Month about 5 months ahead of time, brainstorming how it'll be run and how we can improve on the previous year, what competitions to hold, and which designers we'd like to get involved as sponsors.

There are always heaps of designers we'd love to invite to sponsor, but we don't want to overwhelm people, so we carefully select which ones we invite to take part, aiming to get a mix of different styles, sizes of company, age of company, and requests from people for designers they'd particularly love to have involved. We really try to make sure there's something for everyone!

We ask designers who get involved to donate a prize for a sewing contest -- that way, it becomes a two-way deal with the Monthly Stitch community. They get some more publicity and hopefully more people find out about their label and designs, and the community gets something back in terms of a prize they can win.
One of my own favorites Fifth Avenue.
For the contests, we choose winners based on a mix of judges scores and community vote. We're very careful to make sure they don't just become popularity contests, but at the same time we want the community to get involved in choosing which creations they like the best. This combination worked well last year, and we've refined it even more this year. Our fellow editor Juliet, from The Crazy Gypsy Chronicles ( is one of the judges, and we also invite Penny, the owner of the online store Dresses & Me ( to help us judge.

What do you get out of Indie Pattern Month?
We get the joy that comes with building an online sewing community. We do it (and run The Monthly Stitch as well) for the love of sewing.

What's The Monthly Stitch? And how did that come about?
A few years ago, there was a blog called The Sew Weekly. Kat largely got into blogging because of that - she followed along with almost all of the sewing challenges for three years, and made friends in the Sew Weekly community.

Then The Sew Weekly suddenly vanished. It left a big hole in the blogging world and we decided to do something about that by creating a space where everyone could join in, sew along with a theme, share their creations, and feel part of a community.

We work hard to make sure The Monthly Stitch is an open and friendly space. We try to avoid the problems other communal blogs have dealt with and we set up a Facebook group  ( where Monthly Stitch contributors and followers can converse, talk about sewing, ask questions, and share ideas.

Our first challenge was capes (! We had 38 people participate and those numbers have grown every month since. 

Do you sew many indie patterns yourself?
Gosh, yes! We sew heaps of them from pretty much every indie label. And we have plans to sew lots more this month. All the indie patterns! All the time!
Thank you, Kat and Mel for sharing this "behind the scenes" view, and for your wonderful contribution to the sewing world. 
If you've been hesitant to enter a contest or even try a new pattern, this is a great way to jump in! I can't sign off without reminding you that we are sponsoring and that you have the chance to win prizes from Sew Chic Patterns and all the wonderful sponsors you see on this badge. I'm excited to see it!...what will you make?

May you have a Wonderful Sewing Day!