A Treasured Heirlome

Last months theme on “Historical Sew Monthly” was “Heirloom” (yes, I’m a month behind, but plan to soon be back on track).

Since all my older relatives have past away I struggled a bit with this one, but finally came up with something that would work.
But while I finish things up an get proper photographs of my entry, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Heirlooms from my grandmother.

Her binder from the pattern drafting mail class she took in 1964. IMG_7900“Nordisk brevskola” (Nordic mail courses”

When I was a kid me and my siblings used to visit my grandparents every weekend.
My grandmother was such a fun person who loved children and was never to occupied to play with us or show us how to pluck starwberries from their gardens.

She suffered from a stroke when I was about 13 years old, and even though she survived she could no longer play with us, or even make us understand her strange sounds, no longer able to produce any words.
I remember how chocked I was about her sudden change, and my uncomfortable feeling of insecurity and  when she tried to talk to me.
I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t handle it and thous almost stopped coming along to wist her.
A few years later she had yet another stroke, lethal this time, and I remember the emptiness and sorrow I felt, regretting not being there more at the end.

After her death I was given her old sewing patterns, some threads and this particular binder – which I hold dear to my heart.
The thought of her taking the pattern drafting course  slowly learning by finishing one homework/test at the time, is just wonderful.
Since I also know she loved to sew little dresses for me and my sisters – which unfortunately all have now gone to charity.

Anyhow, to late in date for the HSM but a nice piece of Swedish dressmaking history all the same.IMG_7901“Modern pattern drafting”

You’l learn how to properly measure someone.IMG_7902

Drafting the basic pattern templates – Her the dress/bodice/skirt pattern.IMG_7903

Fabric layout’s equally important – in Sweden we call this a “Läggbild”IMG_7905

You also need to know how to alter the pattern pieces, and how to move the darts to your desired location.IMG_7906Interesting to see the way they used to put the darts between the breasts – something almost never used anymore.

Drafting a circular skirt (half circle) for that characteristic 50s look.IMG_7904

And some more challenging stuff like this fabulous jacketIMG_7907

I also love this kimono sleeve draftingIMG_7909

And who can resist the glamorous 1960s full skirted evening gowns IMG_7908Oh la la

IMG_7910My grandmothers “homework” drafting’s.

And at the end of the binder/course she received a diploma – notice the date…IMG_7911

I’m yet to make up one of these patterns, but I definitely will someday – if only to remember my granny.

New patterns

My wove not to purchase so much fabric this year, are going according to plan (I’ve only cheated once (or twice if you count Buckram as fabric)).

What I didn’t take into account was the ever growing temptation to splurge on patterns instead…

Since I mostly make my own pattern (draft or drape) I just recently discovered the allure of already tested, well researched beautiful historical patterns. Who can resist them?

And into the rabbit hole we go…

Lynn McMasters 1850-1860s summer hatIMG_6474

Lynn McMasters 1860s BonnetIMG_6475Yep, I got some serious millinery planed.

Past Patterns mid 19th century staysIMG_6476By now you’d probably guest my next big project…

Truly Victorian 1865 Eliptical Cage CrinolineIMG_6477Yes, 1860s costume (followed by at least two crinoline appropiet events) coming this spring/summer.

Laughing Moon Wrapping front Spencer IMG_6478This wil be the year I make one of these (I hope)

Truly Victorian 1880s Hat Frame IMG_6479

Truly Victorian 1887 Alexandra BodiceIMG_6480Hopefully I can squeeze in (out?) an 1880s bustle outfit as well this summer.

Wearing History Edwardian BlouseIMG_6481

Wearing History 1910s suitIMG_6482

Wearing History 1879 Pompadour Dinner BodiceIMG_6483

Wearing History Smooth Sailing Pants and BlouseSmoothSailingPatternCover(Apparently I forgot to take a picture of this one, so here are one I stole from google)

Another of my recent buys are a drawing/Inspiration book which hopefully will keep all my costuming sketches in order – instead of on random scraps of paper and receipt.IMG_6487


Here I can penn down both my sketches/ideas and fabric recommendation, event dates and what I will need to complete the outfit (shoes, glows, petticoats ect. IMG_6484

IMG_6485I even started on a sewing diary for each costume.

Now it’s back to sewing.

Book Review – Draping Period Costumes

If you been reading my blog, you might have noticed I usaly drape my patterns instead of using the plain pattern drafting techniques.

What you might not now however, are that draping is a skill I’ve learnt les than a year ago.

I’m a trained pattern-maker, and only recently learnt (while working in the theatre ateljere) how to drape a big collar on a dressform to get a nicer shape.

And that was about it.

Until april/may last year, when I decided to try to drape my very first costume piece (The Francaise a la Merteuile). The result was great and I was hooked.

I started to use this metod on most of my costumes, and though it whent pretty good, I ofthen thought about getting a book that would help me take my draping to another level.

And today I will review the first historic draping book I’ve ever found.

Draping Period Costumes – Classical Greek to Victorian by Sharon NobelIMG_6540


A relativly new, step by step book in the art of draping historical patterns, for theatre or costume design.


It contains about 50 patterns for different styles of clothing, from the ancent greek to the busteled Victorians. And about half of them are Mens styles.

IMG_6548Late 17th century gentlemans Coat.

It also contains a chapter on the basic of draping, preparing your dressform and transforming the draped fabric to pattern pieces.

IMG_6543Stuffing the dressform for a bigger size.


I think the chapter on draping basics in the begining of the book are realy good, and worth reading even for an experienced draper/patternmaker.

IMG_6544Fixing up the pattern.

And I LOVE that it include so many gentlemens patterns. Mostly the men only get a very smal amount of space, but this book really pulls of the task of showing the variation in mens fashion and dress.

IMG_6546Man’s Pleated Jerkin.

The composition of the book, starting simple with greek tuniks and then moving forward through history making the garment harder and harder as you go along, are very nice and makes you, towards the end, confident enough to take on any period or style.

I think the step by step instructions for every pattern are great and really easy to follow, even for a beginner.


I used the patten for Decortive Victorian Apron, on my 1880s Evening gown.


And a combination of the two 1840-1850s dress-pattern for my 1840s green dress.



I think that maybe it should be stated on the back cover that the book recuires you to have all your fondation wear already made. I undersand that it would be difficult to drape a corset (or big panniers) on your dressform, but it really could be stated beforhand.


I think it would have been nice to have some reference pictures at the begining of every chapter, to give the reader a better view of the differeent styles that existed in every period. As it is now, the reader is assumed to have very good knowledge in fashion history.

I’m also a bit underwhelmd by the huge amount of greek and roman patterns included in the book. I find it somewhat difficult to se why you would put patterns for 11 ancent garmnents and only 3 (1 ladys and 2 mens) 16th century patterns in the book.


And I do miss some “ordanary peoples” clothing. Not everyone wants to be a princess…

And I do seartenly miss some sleeve patterns. There should at least be one page dedicated to show how to drape a basic sleeve, and then how to alter it to fit different time periods. But the book makes no mentions of sleeves what so ever.

Though the book may be great fo theatrical use, when historic accuracy is conserned every one must make their own research before using this book. I doubt that every piece in the book actually was made in the way described “back in the days”.


Would I recomend it:

This is the best pattern draping book I’ve ever seen (and probably the first one too). It is defenetly a book which belongs in the bookshelf of every historic costumer and modern pattern makers alike.

I only hope there will be a sequel (Edwardian to Today perhaps…).


1880s Evening Gown – Pattern Trouble

I’ve been so busy finishing my opera gown, that there’s been no time to blog about the process – and really, I didn’t want to spoil it and show it of here (in the unlikely case someone at the bal, read this before the big night).

But now the night has past and I can tell you all about my trials and errors in the making of the gown.

As some of you might know I decided to make myself a gow similar to this one, to wear at the “Oskarsbal” late januay.39.384 000239.384_side_CP4

I almost jumped up and down finding the perfect pattern online and decided to buy it, instead of draping/drafting my own, thinking I would save some time and effort.

IMG_4854Truly Victorian 462 had the perfect neck opening, and the train extended from the bodice back piece without a seam. Exactly like my inspiration gown.

So I took my mesurments, and drafted the pattern from the pattern sheets, without any alterantion.

IMG_4851 IMG_4857

I cut and sewed a mock-up, and then I laced myself into the corset, doned the bustle and petticoat and tried it on.

IMG_4859And it was huge!

IMG_4861 IMG_4875

I mean look at that – so increadable large, not even the shoulders fitted, and that sleeve – I could get two arms down that sleeve.

IMG_4862 IMG_4866

What the heck went wrong?

I went back to the pattern, and quickly discovered that I’ve drafted the wrong size (no brainer), following the lines on the wrong side of the intended letter, thous drafting one size to big. And since I’ve wanted to stay true to the pattern, I didn’t think of controling the mesurments before cuting the mock-up (stupid).

But it seems to me there is way to much widht to acomodate only one size. I doubt there is about 30cm in differens between sizes. Ok, I don’t know, but somewhere it went wrong, and the only thing to do is to try to fix it.

Being in a bit of a rush, and not trusting the pattern anymore, I decided not to draft another pattern in the correct size, but to try to adjust the current mock-up to fitt.

I started by pining away 6cm in each side seam, and 4 at center back. I also pinned a 3 cm vertical tuck on the backpiece to acomodate my erect posture.


Then I put it back on. (I’ve been doing all this thinking and pinning still wearing my undergarments).

IMG_4909 IMG_4890


So much better. But still some thing needed to be altered. So I made the front 4cm smaler, took out a bit on the shoulders, and made the neck opening a bit bigger.

I then transfered the alterations to the pattern, moving the mesurments around a bit to get a good spread at the different seams. IMG_4929(Everything outside the lines are to be cut of)

Then I re-cut the mock-up and sewed it up again.


IMG_4937 IMG_4943

Now we talking.

And before I took it of I cut some of the neckline and put on my long opera glowes, just to get a feel for how it would look.IMG_4921

I even tryed to drape the bustle, but I guess it’s easier to do when you’r not wearing it…IMG_4913

All this fiddeling and messing around with the pattern set me back almost a whole day. So with now only 6 days left to the bal it was time to move on to the sewing.

Medieval pattern drafting

This fall/winter I will attend my first medieval event and therefor will need something to wear.

Odly enough I must admit the middle ages never tempted me before. I tought the costumes and styles of the period seamed pretty plain and boring, and I figured I would never have the use of one.

But when the invitation for a Medieval feast arrived from my dancing company I didn’t heasitate. I signed up for both the party, the medieval dance course and the medieval sewing course. If you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to go all in with things like this.

So now it was time to make an medieval outfit – and we only had about 1,5 months to do it. The first challenge was to decide on wich style of dress I was going to make.

medieval4The stylished simple Cotehartie

campbellp393Or the pretty high waisted gown from later in the period.

The sewing group was asked to by the book “The Medieval Tailor Assistant”, (I’ve already read through it), and will treat it as my construction bible for this project.


While still unsure about the dress style, I draped a fitted bodice pattern on my dressform.

IMG_2340I adjusted her size to my mesurments and putt a sports-bra on her.

IMG_2343Following the instructions in the book, I cut and draped two pieces of fabric over the dressform.

IMG_2354Starting with the shoulders, pinning the fabric close to the dressform.

IMG_2355And then the waist.


I did the center back and neck shaping. And then the same at the front.

IMG_2352The front neck needed some big darts to lie nice and flat.

IMG_2357Side view of the front.

IMG_2366Then it was time to mark the armholes.


Cutting the exess fabric from the neck and armhole.

IMG_2378Then I marked the lines with a red marker, making sure not to miss any needels.


IMG_2383And removed it from the dressform. Lying falt on the floor, I traced the dotts to make some nice looking lines.

IMG_2388The vertical darts will be left closed while cutting the toile.

IMG_2391Cut the pieces out, and place the front pieces (and then the back pieces) on top of each other. Adust the lines.

IMG_2395 Trace the pieces to a cotton fabric, and cut the toile.

IMG_2417IMG_2431Make it up and try it on.

Since I draped mine on a dressform and not straight on my body, there was a few adjustments that needed to be done. I took out some width at the center back and also placed a vertical dart at the shoulder blades.

And there you have it – your bodice blocks to make your pattern from.

Now it is time to start with the actual pattern.

Which dress I will make?

You will just have to wait and se…

1913 to late to Titanic – Pattern

When posting about my new 1913s dress on the HSF page, I got lots of positive feedback and many ladies asked for the pattern. So I decided to to share it.


You must keep in mind I’m no commercial patternmaker, and have only so far drafted for my own use (so don’t expect any wonders). But I’m willing to give it a try.

There are several ways to make a pattern, but here I will show you how I drafted mine.

I will show you the basic pattern blocks I used and go through the patterning process step by step. I will also show you the finished pattern-pieces (something I personally find very useful when figuring out other peoples patterns).


I want to begin by saying that it is a pretty easy and straight forward dress to make, and if you have a bit of experience from drafting and sewing you will probably find these instructions redundant.

And if you are quite new at this – it looks harder than it is,  just use logic and take your time to measure everything and just do it one step at a time.

Lets start:

For the basic pattern blocks you will need: A  fitted bodice block, a skirt block and a one-piece sleeve block. You can use what method you find easiest to draw up these basic blocks – I use templets from the swedish book Mönster och konstruktioner för Damkläder (pattern-making for womans wear) by Inger Öhman and Hervor Ersman. You can also draft them from scratch using your own measurments.

001002 Your pieces may look a bit different from mine, but that is nothing to worry about.

Start by measuring the bust, waist and hips of your pattern and make the necessary adjustments to your body measurments. Don’t forget to add some ease (but not too much, since it is a fitted dress).

When the pieces are all measured and altered I like to start with the bodice – leaving the skirt for now.


Start by moving the upper bust dart to the waist dart. Cutting the waist-dart through the middle and closing the upper bust dart at the same time.

Then you can choose either to keep the waist dart as a regular sewn dart, or to take out the waist dart completely by gathering the fullnes at the bust instead. (I use the gathering alternative).

Remove the shoulder dart at the back by reducing the outer shoulder measurment.

And then raise the waist line.

Now your bodice pieces should look something like this.


Now it is time for the collar. It is basically a combination between the “sailor collar” and the “roll collar” but with a twist.

Mark where you want your collar to cross the center front. Add for the buttonstand.

Put the front and back shoulders together and draw the collar.


When I made this pattern, I then made a quick mock-up for the collar to better see the proportions and curves, and to tweak it a bit. If you like you can drape the whole collar on your dressform.


Now it’s time for the sleeves. Cut the sleeve to the desired length (somewhere below the elbow). Measure and draw the cuff, with some extra for the overlapping closure. Mark the back opening.


Next up is the skirt. This is a slim skirt, but you can add as much or as little width to it as you like.

Add the raised waist (which you cut off  the bodice earlier), and make sure the new waist measurments are right by adjusting the darts.

Split the back skirt down the dart, and add some extra width at the bottom. This will make the back skirt into two pattern pieces.

Add a buttonstand at the front, and draw the opening in the lower skirt panel crossing the front line. Add some extra width at the sides.


When you are done with the drafting you should have a fair amount of pattern-pieces.

009The skirt:

Front (cut 2), Back/side (cut 2) and Back (cut 1 on fold).

The rest:010

Bodice front (cut 2), Bodice back (cut 1 on fold), Collar (cut 2 on fold), Facing bodice front (cut 2), Facing bodice back (cut 1 on fold), Facing skirt front (cut 2), Sleeve (cut 2), Sleeve cuff (Cutt 4 or 2 on fold) and Sleeve placket (cutt 4).

I deliberately choosed not to put any numbers or measurments on this guide. Because different people have different taste and body types, so make sure the measurments you use are adapted to your body size and personal preferences.

Always make a mock-up when testing a new pattern. I know it is boring, but you will regret you didn’t when you put lots of work into making a garnment that doesn’t fit right.

The sewing is pretty easy, just make sure to use interfacing in all the necessary places. And don’t neglect cutting down the allowance in the rounded corners of the collar…

Then you should do just fine.


IMG_0578I hope you found this account useful, and I really like to know if there is anything that is unclear or overly complicated.