Tag Archives: Decades of Style patterns

Meet a friend of Nancy’s: Janet from Decades of Style

With Halloween around the corner, we are spending a lot of time thinking about costumes. There are so many ways to do costumes, from fanciful and fantastic to historic, and we love them all!

In preparation for this exciting holiday, we decided it would be fun to interview a friend of Nancy’s whose work is great for daily wear and costuming alike! She is a whiz with vintage patterns – and makes it easy for the rest of us to work with them, too.

Without further ado, we present Janet from Decades of Style Pattern Company.NSB - meet Janet headerWho are you?
I’m Janet, from Decades of Style Pattern Company. My official title, according to my business card, is ‘Person’.

What is your business?
We make vintage sewing pattern reproductions for the modern sewer, offering patterns from the 1920s through the 1950s, with a couple styles from the decades before and after.

NSB - DoS offerings

We do a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ associated with sewing from vintage patterns. We translate vintage yardage requirements to work with modern fabric widths. We also grade all our pattern styles to fit nine different sizes (from a 30” bust up to 46”). Decades patterns are also friendlier to work with than actual vintage patterns and they are available in sizes that are reasonable! So many vintage patterns are only available in that mystifying 30” or 32” bust size. I had outgrown that size by the age of 13! We make vintage styles available for the 99% of the population that is larger than a size 0. That’s actually the mission statement of the company.

NSB - DoS vintage sizes

Actual vintage patterns from Janet’s collection. Lots of 30″ and 32″ bust sizes.

How did you get started?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in antique or vintage clothing. It is a lifelong interest that has turned into a life. Even though I was interested in wearing vintage clothes when I was younger, I didn’t really have any access to purchasing them. Apart from a few 1950s suits that were castoffs from my fancy grandmother’s closet, I didn’t get to wear actual vintage clothing until I left home and could shop in vintage clothing stores. It was a brutal awakening to see that only a tiny fraction of the inventory would fit me.

I realized if I wanted to wear vintage style clothing, I would have to make it myself. Annoyingly enough, most vintage clothing patterns that have survived the last 50-plus years are only available in ridiculously tiny sizes. In order to make those styles for myself, I had to grade the patterns and I knew I could not be the only one who wanted them. Decades of Style is an extension of the grading process.

How long have you been acquainted with Nancy’s?
Nancy’s has carried Decades of Style patterns since 2012. It seems like the pattern line is a very good match for the store.  It’s an honor to be a part of Nancy’s and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the ladies there.

NSB - DoS patterns on display

Decades of Style patterns on display in Nancy’s.

What is your most recently released product or completed project?
In the summer of 2014, we launched a micro-line of patterns called Decades Everyday. The aesthetic of these patterns lean toward 1960s styling but they still feel modern. The patterns are designed for those who are newer to sewing, though the patterns are great for more skilled sewists who just want a quick make. They are easy to sew and you can pretty much make them in a day. We released our second pattern – the ‘Given a Chance’ dress – in May 2015 and are now working on the next pattern for this line.

NSB - DoS Decades Everyday

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
This question is practically impossible to answer! If I must have a favorite pattern, I would say the E.S.P. Dress from Decades Everyday. Even though I totally adore the more elaborate patterns in our catalog, I cannot deny the appeal and relatively instant gratification of whipping up a pretty dress in an afternoon. And really, depending on the fabric you use, the result can be quite sophisticated.

NSB - DoS ESP fabric details

This E.S.P. was made with a lovely embroidered border linen.

I probably have more E.S.P. dresses in my wardrobe than any other pattern in the catalog, so it must be my favorite! And if I’m being completely honest, I have quite a few pieces of fabric lined up with this pattern in mind.

NSB - DoS ESP dress

Another E.S.P. dress made in a unique fabric! This time, an ikat is fussy cute to meet in the center front and center back of the bodice. Rickrack at the hemline is a particularly charming touch.

I also love this pattern because I think it is an accessible project for a greater number of sewists out there. There are so many people who have only started to sew in the last few years. It is important for us to keep them in mind as much as the more advanced sewers.

What is next?
PDF patterns. Yup; it’s happening. We just decided it was time to join the 21st century on this one so we’ve been developing this project all year. We’ll keep you posted via Instagram and Facebook on when that launches. It should be coming up very soon.

NSB - DoS pdf patterns

Thanks so much, Janet! We are very excited about your venture into PDF patterns and can’t wait for the next Decades Everyday pattern!

For more glimpses into the world of vintage pattern making, including completed customer projects and in-progress photos, follow Decades of Style on Facebook and Instagram!

All photographs in this post are courtesy of Decades of Style and may not be used without express permission.

Rolling down my stockings and rouging my knees – part 4

Welcome back for the final installment of making my 1920s costume! I am very excited to share details about preparing the last part of my ensemble – my shoes – and to reveal my costume in its entirety!

NSB - 1920s costume header pt 4

One of the easiest and most fun components of my roaring twenties costume was the shoes. While the other components of my ensemble – my dress, headpiece, and purse – have a definite ‘costume’ feel to them, I knew I wanted my shoes to still translate into my regular wardrobe. I began researching 1920s evening shoes and found some amazing inspiration!

These incredible shoes have a place to hold a small lipstick on the heel! source

The 1920s were an interesting time for women’s footwear, because hemlines were suddenly short enough that shoes were always visible. As a result, every component of a shoe was fair game for embellishment, including the heel!

After drooling over all the incredible designs, I knew I wanted to add rhinestones to my heels! I searched for the right pair of shoes: something with a modest heel of an appropriate shape (the heel needed to be 2.5” or less and not too conical) and a Mary Jane or T-strap. Luckily for me, vintage-influenced styles are produced every season, so I knew it wouldn’t be impossible to find a good pair of shoes that met these criteria.

I found several pairs of shoes that were really fun, in bright colors like tangerine and citron, or with spectator styling. Unfortunately, these were either too tall or out of my price range, so I kept looking. I’m so glad I did, because I found just the right pair of shoes!

I love the Mary Jane styling with the sweet cut-outs and the solid shape of the heel. source

Once I had the shoes in hand, I planned out a simple-but-effective design for rhinestones on my heels. I began by making a template of my heel using white printer paper.

NSB - 1920s-style heels make a template

I sketched an outline, inspired by the shape of actual twenties heels.

NSB - 1920s-style heels sketch design

From there I created my motif and marked rhinestone placement.

NSB - 1920s-style heels create layout

I made holes in my template using an awl (a very thick needle, like a tapestry needle, would also work for this) and marked where my rhinestones should go using a white colored pencil.

NSB - 1920s-style heels rhinestone template

Then, I applied the rhinestones to one of the heels…

NSB - 1920s-style heels one shoe done

…and repeated on the second! I totally love how they turned out!

NSB - 1920s-style heels finished

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on the final reveal!

NSB - jessica's hazel's frock

I feel like this costume really needs a sound track! Let’s enjoy the Charleston!

NSB - jessica's hazel's frock side

“Charleston! Charleston!”

NSB - jessica's hazel's frock back

I love the view from the back, showing off the jaunty neck scarf and flashing my new heels.

Thanks so much for joining me through this whole process! It was incredibly fun to dream up and make this costume, and even better to share it!

If you have any feedback, questions, or ideas for what you’d like to see in the future, let me know in the comments below!

Rolling down my stockings and rouging my knees – part 1

Jessica here! Welcome to our newest multi-post series, where I talk all about creating a 1920s costume and accessories. I am excited to share with you all the details and planning that went into making a fabulous ensemble for my friend’s Roaring ‘20s themed birthday bash! NSB - 1920s costume header pt 1 As a plus size woman, I knew that it might be difficult to find a 1920s costume off the rack. Because I love costumes and making fun ensembles, I figured I might as well make something fabulous for this party!

Today I will go over pattern and fabric selection and share a lot of the beautiful inspiration I found. The 1920s: such a fabulous era for gorgeous clothing, accessories, and details!

After receiving the party invitation, I started looking at possible patterns. I don’t have the ‘ideal’ twenties figure and I’ve never really worn drop waist silhouettes, so I looked for a style that I would be comfortable in, that could accommodate my full hips and, hopefully, be flattering. I primarily searched the independent historical pattern lines we carry at Nancy’s, Folkwear and Decades of Style, and found some great options.

NSB - Folkwear 1920s patterns

Folkwear patterns, clockwise from top left: #237 Tango Dress, #214 1927 Tea Frock, #264 Monte Carlo Dress, #261 Paris Promenade Dress

NSB - Decades of Style 1920s patterns

Decades of Style patterns, clockwise from top left: #2502 1925 Zig Zag Dress, #2501 1925 Fringe Front Dress, #2003 1920s Hazel’s Frock, #2004 1920s Tier-rific Ensemble

From there, I looked at pattern sizing and styling. Unfortunately, the Folkwear pattern I loved most, the Tango Dress, does not run large enough for me, and I wasn’t as interested in their other silhouettes for this particular occasion. Looking at all the options from Decades of Style, I was most interested in the 1920s Hazel’s Frock and the 1925 Zig Zag Dress. After reviewing the construction details and finished measurements, I landed on (drum roll, please)…

Decades of Style 1920s Hazels Frock

Hazel’s Frock!

Once I knew what I was going to make, I had to select fabrics! This is my favorite part of any sewing project and choosing fabric for this costume was no exception! At this point, I turned to Pinterest for the never-ending visual inspiration it offers. I’m going to share a few of my very favorite 1920s dresses I found there, but know there are so many other incredible examples.

After gathering ideas for materials and colors, I set out looking for my fabrics. I did a quick search through my own stash and found a potential candidate for the main body of the dress. When I couldn’t find a suitable coordinate for the neck and hem scarves, I browsed the special occasion section at Nancy’s and came up with several new, fantastic combinations.

NSB - harlequin print combo

Purple/black/white harlequin print silk chiffon featuring silver & gold lamé with metallic print poly chiffon for the scarves

NSB - art deco print combo

Art Deco print on silk/cotton with silk/metallic organza for the scarves

NSB - chevron raschel knit combo

Black & gold raschel chevron knit with sparkly poly organza for the scarves

NSB - multi color novelty print combo

Multi-colored novelty print silk crêpe-de-chine with three coordinating silks for the scarves

And then I saw it: the perfect fabric. It was vibrant and fun! Sheer and opaque! It sparkled! And best of all: it was already embellished, so most of the work had been done for me! I wouldn’t even have to hem it!

Realizing the addition of scarves around the hemline would detract from the incredible embellishment, I decided I would make only the neck scarf from the original pattern, using a simple black poly organza, similar to the basecloth.

Because I chose a sheer fabric for my dress, I elected to make a coordinating slip to wear under. I used the fabulous Intimacies pattern from Folkwear, which includes a bias cut slip or teddy, tap pants, and camisole, all perfect foundations for 1920s and ‘30s style clothing. For fabric, I selected our rayon/acetate blend satin faille, which has a great hand and works incredibly well on the bias.Folkwear Intimacies pattern cover I had help fitting the dress pattern from our excellent sewing instructor, Jacque Goldsmith. (side note: Did you know Jacque offers 15 minutes of free advice on the first Thursday of every month? It’s perfect for quickly fitting a muslin!) We moved the french dart up about an inch and added fish-eye darts to the back, to help reduce bulk and better fit my shape.

From there, construction of both the dress and slip was straightforward. The majority of my efforts were spent removing sequins and appliqués from seam allowances and the darts and hand sewing them back in after the construction was complete. I am so pleased with how this dress turned out!

NSB - Hazels Frock front

Dress front

NSB - Hazels Frock back

Dress back – I love the elegance and simplicity of the neck scarf. I cleverly hid my back darts under two of the appliqués.

Join me for the next installment as I make a 1920s headpiece to coordinate with my dress! I have a lot more inspiration to share. And stay tuned for the full, final look; it’s the cat’s pyjamas!

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: Jessica

Today we are introducing a new series, wherein you get to know a staff member at Nancy’s Sewing Basket! Though these posts will be interspersed with other content, we will follow the same format for each ‘get to know’. As your main NSB blogger I’d like to go first 🙂

NSB - jessica headerWho are you?
Hi! My name is Jessica. You may recognize me from my post on the E.S.P. Dress!

How long have you worked at Nancy’s?
I have worked at Nancy’s for a collective 5 years. I started here when I was a junior in college, left about two years after graduating, and returned in 2014.

How long have you been sewing?
I officially learned to sew a little over 18 years ago!

Do you have a special focus?
At present I mostly make modern quilts, but will always have a special place in my heart for making clothes.

What was your first sewing project?
My first sewing project was a pair of pinstriped pants. I was 11 and had desperately wanted a pair for what felt like ages. When I couldn’t find any in the ready-to-wear market, my mother suggested teaching me to make my own pair. It was pretty advanced for a first sewing project, but I learned a lot and took to sewing fairly intuitively.

What is your most recently completed project?
In my quilting, I completed a queen size quilt for some friends that recently bought a house.

NSB - jessica most recent quilt

In garment construction, I most recently completed a blouse and skirt using patterns from Decades of Style.

NSB - jessica most recent clothes

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
My most memorable sewing project is probably the costume I made for my high school mascot when I was 16. It was not as popular as I had hoped, but I loved how it turned out and was so proud of it. Sadly, I do not have a picture to share!

My most favorite clothing project was making my sister’s wedding dress and skirts for the seven bridal attendants.

NSB - Jessica favorite garment project

I think my most favorite quilting project to date is the modified log cabin quilt I made from plaid and solid wools.

NSB - jessica favorite quilt project

What project is next?
Right now, I am working on a dress and accessories for a 1920s Great Gatsby themed party, which are going to be awesome. [edit: Check out our blog series about this costume here!]
I am also making a modern color-wheel quilt using the fabulous Kona cotton solids we carry at Nancy’s! [edit: See the finished color-wheel quilt here!]

What do you love most about Nancy’s?
I love so much about Nancy’s: the creativity that flows through the store is incredibly inspiring. Working with individual customers on finding just the right fabric, ribbon, or button is always a fun exercise, especially when the results are better than anticipated! There is a lot of opportunity to share my own expertise and even more opportunity to learn from my coworkers! Nancy’s is so special to me because I work with some of the most wonderfully talented and supportive individuals I’ve ever known.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the inaugural ‘get to know’! Any questions for Jessica? Leave them in the comments!

Photographs in this post are courtesy of Nancy’s Sewing Basket employee Jessica, except photograph of bridal party, which is copyright Stadler Studio Photography.

1927 Cloud Cape from Decades of Style – part 3

cloud cape header - pt 3We’ve made it to part three: our finished 1927 Cloud Cape! This has been a fun little journey and we are excited to share this beautiful garment with you. Because we’ve written about this cape along the way (part 1 and part 2), we’re going to let the images do most of the talking! And so, without further ado, we present our 1927 Cloud Cape (pattern from Decades of Style):

NSB finished cloud cape front view

We have styled our Cloud Cape over red silk charmeuse gown, made from a vintage Vogue pattern.

From the front, you can see there is so much to love about this cape!

NSB finished cloud cape collar

The full, cloud-like collar is complemented by a double-face silk satin ribbon closure.

NSB finished cloud cape side view

Peeking through the window in the background is another Decades of Style pattern friend: the 1925 Zig Zag Dress!

The side view shows all the incredible details: the collar, the ruching through the shoulders, and the handmade flowers, leaves, and vines.

NSB finished cloud cape hem detail

A detail view of the exquisite handmade flowers, leaves, and vines, punctuated by vintage jet beads.

All techniques used to create these striking trims are taught by Candace Kling, who will be returning to teach at Nancy’s Sewing Basket in October 2015 (details to be published soon). For more information about materials used, please look at parts one and two of this series.

NSB finished cloud cape back view

Vines scroll along the hem from the cape front to the back. For ease of wear, cabochons blossom sparingly.

Even the back is gorgeous!

Thanks so much for joining us! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this cape as much as we’ve enjoyed making it and sharing the process!

1927 Cloud Cape from Decades of Style – part 2

cloud cape pt 2 header

Today’s post is picture heavy! I’m excited to walk you through our Cloud Cape ‘trimmings workshop’ and to look at some key construction details. When we left off last post, we were building trimmings out of fabrics, using techniques taught by Candace Kling, including cabochon roses, buds, blossoms, and leaves.

Piles of petals! Made of silk organza, acetate rayon satin faille, and silk taffeta, these petals will be artfully arranged to create exquisite cabochon roses.

Piles of petals! Made of silk organza, acetate rayon satin faille, and silk taffeta, these petals will be artfully arranged to create exquisite cabochon roses.

Leaves and buds line up on crinoline awaiting separation. Once cut apart, the crinoline serves as an invisible foundation for attachment.

Leaves and buds line up on crinoline awaiting separation. Once cut apart, the crinoline serves as an invisible foundation for attachment.

workshop beads and leaves

Vintage jet beads in a variety of sizes will be used to highlight the organic forms created by vines and flowers. Additional leaves made of peau de soie (bottom right) will be appliqued along the vines.

Leaves and flowers are cut from their crinoline foundations so they can be arranged on our Cloud Cape!

Leaves and flowers are cut from their crinoline foundations so they can be arranged on our Cloud Cape!

We begin playing with layout. Our vines will scroll from the collar down the front and around the hemline. Cabochons, buds, and additional blossoms will 'grow' from the bottom center front out.

We begin playing with layout. Our vines will scroll from the collar down the front and around the hemline. Cabochons, buds, and additional blossoms will ‘grow’ from the bottom center front out.

Once we like the look of our layout, we move to the cape itself, finessing the arrangement to best suit the shape of the garment.

Once we like the look of our layout, we move to the cape itself, finessing the arrangement to best suit the shape of the garment.

Now that our trimmings are well underway, it’s time to look at the construction of this beautiful vintage cape! Two of the more exquisite details on this cape are the shirring around the shoulders and the incredible collar, and we wanted to highlight a few methods we used in creating our own sample.

First up: the shirring! This pattern uses an era-appropriate construction technique for creating shirring, by using unwaxed dental floss to create rows of gathers. To ensure we were hitting the key marks of the pattern, we created thread markers on the cut pattern pieces:

Make thread markers by hand sewing through the dots.

Make thread markers by hand sewing through the dots, leaving extra ease between each point.

Once all thread markers are in place, cut between the dots.

Once all thread markers are in place, cut between the dots.

You should have sizable thread tails on each dot.

You should have sizable thread tails on each dot.

Begin slowly lifting the pattern piece off your cut fabric, ensuring your markers don't come out.

Begin slowly lifting the pattern piece off your cut fabric, ensuring your markers don’t come out.

Et voila! Each dot is marked and easy to see!

Et voila! Each dot is marked and easy to see!

From there, we added the floss and zig zag stitched over it, then began to gather the fabric following the shirring guide.

Matching our thread marks to the shirring guide, we pull the dental floss to create gathers.

Matching our thread marks to the shirring guide, we pull the dental floss to create gathers.

Ultimately, we find that it is easier to shape the cape on a three dimensional form, so we move to our dress form to finalize our gathers. Once we are happy with the look of the shirring, we tack in place using a washed wool crepe underlining.

Tacking the shirring to the underlining helps prevent shifting.

Tacking the shirring to the underlining helps prevent the gathers from shifting too far during wear.

Once this step is complete, it is important to admire your handiwork!

I love this sumptuous texture!

I love this sumptuous texture!

Beautiful shirring that creates lovely shaping.

Beautiful shirring that creates lovely shaping.

Next up: the collar! The construction of this lovely collar is fairly simple, like a tube with several channels  for cording.

Collar laid flat; these channels provide additional texture in the finished garment.

Collar laid flat; these channels provide additional texture in the finished garment.

In order to give the collar a bit more body, we opted to use plastic coated electrical wire, which can be molded to maintain a specific shape.

The collar begins to take shape.

The collar begins to take shape.

We opt to fill the channels with electrical wire for additional body.

We opt to fill the channels with electrical wire for additional body.

From here, we will finalize the embellishments and complete construction!

Join us next post for a look at our finished 1927 Cloud Cape!

1927 Cloud Cape from Decades of Style – part 1

IMG_1757_crop We are excitedly anticipating the arrival of the 2015 Sewing & Stitchery Expo, which takes place this month, February 26 through March 1, at the Washington State Fair and Events Center. It’s the largest sewing expo in the nation and Nancy’s is proud to have participated for more than 30 years! This year, in addition to taking a large selection of our fabrics to the expo, Nancy’s will be featuring several pattern styles from one of our favorite independent companies, Decades of Style. Follow along with us as we make up their fabulous 1927 Cloud Cape pattern.

1920s appropriate fabric- and ribbon-work flowers, as taught by Candace Kling

Cabochons: 1920s appropriate fabric- and ribbon-work flowers, as taught by Candace Kling. Photo courtesy of Candace Kling.

Inspired by the original era of this style, we will make this cape in panne velvet and embellish with fabric- and ribbon-work using techniques learned from Candace Kling. Candace will be back at Nancy’s this fall to teach more of her fabulous classes!

cloud cape fabrics used

L-R: viscose panne velvet, poly chiffon with metallic silver print, silk crepe-de-chine, rayon/acetate satin, silk taffeta, silk organza

Our final fabric selections are a black viscose panne velvet for the body, lining in black silk crepe-de-chine, and trimmings in a variety of black luxury fabrics,  including a high-sheen rayon/acetate satin, silk taffeta, silk organza, and a polyester chiffon with silver metallic print.

Circles and bias cut strips: the building blocks of our cabochons and vines!

Circles and bias cut strips: the building blocks of our cabochons and vines!

We begin by cutting our trimming fabrics. Cabochons will be made with alternating layers of satin, organza, and taffeta. Vines will be made from our metallic printed chiffon. Leaves will be made from satin and taffeta ribbons: some vintage, some made from strips of our fabrics. Flower centers and buds will be made from remaining velvet.

Using a nifty vintage tool, we turn our bias tubing right side out

Using a nifty tool, we turn our bias tubing right side out

Making vines, L-R: sewn bias tubes, turning right side out, finished tube

Making vines, L-R: sewn bias tubes, turning right side out, finished tube

For the vines, we use our metallic chiffon,  creating bias tubes sewn in varying widths. For subtle sparkle, we opt to sew the tube “wrong” sides together, so all metallic is to the inside.

building leaves and cabochons on crinoline

Building trims on crinoline will allow us to move and arrange individual flowers when deciding on placement for our final look.

After preparing our fabrics for the cabochons and our ribbon leaves, we begin building them out on black crinoline. This means a lot of arranging, pinning, and rearranging. Once we like the look of our flowers, we will tack in place by hand. Join us for part 2 to see our completed trimmings. We will also look at the basic construction of our 1927 Cloud Cape!