Monday, June 30, 2014

Featured Seller - Mantua Maker

by Mary Beth, RetroMonkeys

Churchill hard at work
I’m Deb Salisbury of MantuaMakerPatterns. I now live in Central Texas with my cat Churchill, but I grew up in Northern California. A world of difference in landscape and attitude!
As a child, I loved to make clothing for my sister’s dolls. I wasn’t interested in the dolls themselves, except to make them on occasion, but the clothing was fun to design and create. The hems were ragged and the stitching looked like Frankenstein’s nightmare. At age ten, I was quite proud of them.

Me in a Renaissance Corset
and Farthingale in  Australia
In 1986, my boyfriend took me to a Science Fiction and Fantasy Masquerade, and I was blown away by the costumes. For eleven months I dreamed of them, and in the last month I made my own for the next masquerade. I’ve been hooked ever since. In 1992, I expanded into historical costumes, and discovered a deep love for historical clothing. I started researching and discovered very few historical patterns. So I decided to make my own.

Victorian Corset Pattern
I create sewing patterns for historical clothing from the skin out – underwear, corsets, skirts, and bodices. Even bathing suits and wrappers. It seems important to me that we remember how clothes used to be made, especially because clothing has changed so much, from the cloth to the styles we choose.

Victorian Corset,
Corset Cover, and

I opened The Mantua-Maker Patterns in 1993 
as a catalogue business with one wholesale 
account and the occasional retail sale.
It’s a good thing I had a day job! Twenty years later, 
the Mantua-Maker has forty six patterns, four pamphlets, 
and three books on historical clothing and fabrics:

Elephant's Breath & London Smoke: Colour in History (published by Five Rivers Chapmanry) 

(available on

After joining Etsy, I discovered the PatternPatter Team and vintage patterns. A whole new world for me – who knew other people loved those patterns hidden at the back of my closet? I’m not expert on vintage clothing, but I enjoy hanging out with the lovely people in this team.

Walking Skirt Pattern
My inspiration
My Walking Skirt! 

You can find me at:

Thank you for sharing this post with me. Please feel free to use the following coupon code for 15% off with any Etsy purchase $10 or greater: PPFEATURED

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Focus On: Swimsuits

By Sherri, sewbettyanddot

You're going to Hawaii...what are you packing? A swimsuit? A bathing suit? A swimming suit? No matter what you call it, swimwear as we know it has evolved over a relatively short period of time. For centuries, anyone going into the water went in nude (though there is actually artwork from ancient Sicily showing women doing some sort of sport, and they're wearing what looks remarkably like a modern bikini).

It would be centuries before women were seen in anything approaching a "bathing costume" (rumor has it that before the nineteenth century our forebears didn't go near water much, even for cleanliness purposes, let alone recreational ones; even when bathing, women often wore their thin shifts while in the water). While therapeutic spas (such as Bath in England) became popular in Europe in the eighteenth century, it wasn't until the mid-1800s that people began to enjoy recreational swimming (usually in the ocean). "Bathing machines" protected women's privacy: they were essentially little huts that were pulled into the water by horses, allowing ladies to enjoy the water without being seen. Bathing costumes were full-length tunic-like garments usually made of wool and worn with bloomers, a garment made popular by Amelia Bloomer, a suffrage and temperance activist (who knew?). As you might expect, wet wool didn't lend itself to an enjoyable swimming experience!

In 1907 Australian swimmer and actress Annette Kellerman caused a stir in Boston when she wore a form-fitting suit--like a unitard--and she was promptly arrested for indecency (fun fact: Esther Williams portrayed her in the 1952 film Million Dollar Mermaid).
Annette Kellerman in the form-fitting swimsuit that led to her arrest for indecency in 1907. (photo: Library of Congress via Wikipedia)
After that, women's swimsuits began to expose more flesh. Suits were made of knitted wool (a bit stretchy when wet!): in fact, Jantzen, Cole of California, and Catalina, big names in American swimwear, began life as knitting mills. In the 1930s, Lastex (a fabric that included elastic threads in the weave) was invented and used for swimsuits AND girdles, and the bathing suit was changed forever.  

The French also changed swimwear for good when, in 1946, designer Louis Reard presented the somewhat risque "Bikini" (named after the Bikini Atoll, site of the first nuclear test); it was modeled by an exotic dancer from the Casino de Paris because no fashion model would be seen in it. (Jacques Heim actually showed a version of the bikini he called the "Atome" earlier in 1946).

Sources: Wikipedia,, Vintage Fashion Guild

Today women have a wealth of choices when it comes to swimwear, from the skimpiest bikini to more modest maillots and the hybrid tankini. We've come a long way, baby!

Now let's look at some lovely vintage swimsuit patterns from members of the Pattern Patter team!

Top row (left to right): Victorian bathing suit: MantuaMakerPatterns

Boy shorts? A monokini? Shirred one-piece or bandeau bikini? Which swimsuit floats YOUR boat? Tell us in the comments!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sewing through the Cinema~How to Marry a Millionaire~

by Amy ~ViennasGrace 

          Get your tissues ready, no not that kind of tissue silly, this isn't a tear jerker. I'm searching sewing patterns modern and vintage to find the looks featured in classic films. Although it might not be possible to duplicate the exact look, I'll show you how to easily mimic the feeling of the style. Soon you'll see that a silver screen wardrobe is only a pattern away.


    Is a 1953 Romantic Comedy about 3 women, who each set out to marry a millionaire. In the end, all marry for love.



Betty Grable as Loco Dempsey; 

Marilyn Monroe as Pola Debevoise;                     

Lauren Bacall as Schatze Page.

   Watch the Original Trailer

    The film was a fashion extravaganza. 20th Century Fox cast three fabulous, fashionable actresses. Their characters were not only hunting for millionaires, they were playing the roles of fashion models! The costume designer for this movie was the close friend of Marilyn Monroe, William Travilla, under the direction of Charles LeMaire. From time to time Vintage Spadea Patterns designed by LeMaire become available through members of the Pattern Patter Team on Etsy. 
Two bombshell outfits received the majority of the media attention after the movie release, an evening gown and a bathing suit, both worn by Marilyn Monroe.

Butterick 3129                         McCall's 6569                                     Simplicity 1374

The clothing in this film is 1950s fashion at its best. The style elements that really stand out are, great hats, billowing bishop sleeves, mermaid skirted gowns, hip swags, unique necklines, wing collars, cowl boatnecks, (say that 5x fast) just so many wonderful design features! Here are just a few of the wardrobe highlights from How to Marry a Millionaire.

                            Betty Grable in a Mermaid Gown                                

                                                        DejaVuPatterns              PatternsFromthePast                    
                                                       Simplicity 8425                Vogue8190            

The Glamorous Trio, Betty and Marilyn showing an accent on the hips.

                                                     ErikawithaK Vogue 4831                   FriskyScissors Advance 4454

Smart dressed Marilyn Monroe, in her light gold tone blouse and classic beret.

                                                              patternshop Advance 7768                                                               DesignRewindFashions Vogue 9462 


 We should all lounge in such style, great view, and great vintage fashion.

paneenjerez Simplicity 3632
                                                           retromonkeys Vogue 3536        omasbricabrac Simplicity 1510               

I love Lauren in her bouffant sleeves, what glorious sleeves. Kind of makes you rethink a peter pan collar blouse and a jumper, nothing matronly or school girl here!

FancyWork Simplicity 1085                                                         Stitchingbynumbers Simplicity 2390

Egyptian styling influence shows up throughout the film. 

                                                       anne8865 Butterick 4129          marcellassewing McCall's 4116


The photo below is from a scene in the movie at Mr. Antione's Fashion House, a private fashion show just for Mr. Brookman, played by Cameron Mitchell.

Most of the ensembles had fun names: Lft to Rt. Double Frozen Daiquiris~Trouble in the Afternoon~Diamonds are a Girl's Best friend~Hard Hearted Hannah~Lookie, Lookie, Lookie~N/A~Good Afternoon Sweetheart~N/A

How can you get all this style into your closet? I told you, pull out your tissues! Pattern tissue that is, go sew it girl! Below is a Pattern Patter Team Treasury inspired by the lovely fashions in 
How to Marry a Millionaire.
View this treasury on Etsy

Friday, June 13, 2014

Necklines - Part II

by Mary Beth, RetroMonkeys

Last month's neckline post covered five fairly basic necklines. Refer back to Part I HERE This month I cover five more neckline choices.

First is the Boatneck. or Bateau neckline. This is a great choice for active wear as well as for dresses. This style has a slight crescent shape and elongated cut to the shoulders creating a very slight drape. It was made popular by such icons as Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. 

Left to Right:

Butterick 6799        Modes Royale 1769        McCall's 5937               Butterick 6623   Simplicity 9485
by RetroMonkeys         by DeniseCraft                          by RebeccasVintageSalon     by Sydcam          by FindCraftyPatterns

The next neckline is the Florentine. The Florentine is basically a Square neckline.It extends from the shoulder straight across the front and/or the back . It can be square or be rounded just slightly. 
The Florentine style originated during the Italian Renaissance which began in the 14th century and extended into the 16th century. Many examples of this neckline can be seen in gowns of this era. 

                               Advance 5786                Butterick 9015               Mail Order 9088
                              by RomasMaison             by BessieandMaive       by FinickyPatternShop

The Horseshoe neckline is a modified U neckline. The Horseshoe widens at the base and sits closer to the neck. The flare at the base can be very slight. Popular in the 1940's on jumpers and weskits. 

               McCall 8262                                    Vogue 6555                                  Advance 5807
              by PatternShop                                 by CraftyPaneen                      

Next is Sabrina. It's basically a Boatneck or Bateau but named after Audrey Hepburn's movie character Sabrina (1954)  She wore a black dress with a bateau neckline with shoulder ties. She, as usual, looked stunning. 

           Simplicity 1191                                   McCall's 6632                                McCall's 4109
     by VintageSewingSuite                         by  PattysPastTimes                             by Sandritocat

The last one, for this post, is the Keyhole neckline. A split neckline with the top drawn back in to form an opening. The opening is traditionally teardrop shape but anything goes. The Keyhole has endured over the years but was most popular in the 1940's. 

              McCall's 3695                    Advance 4466                Simplicity 6431            Simplicity 1738
            by RetroMonkeys                 by FancyWork              by ViennasGrace          by PengyPatterns   

By Mary Beth

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review A History of the Paper Pattern Industry

A Book Review: A History of the Paper Pattern Industry
by Joy Spanabel Emery

    Joy Spanabel Emery’s new book; AHistory of the Paper Pattern Industry,The home dressmaking revolution is a must-have resource for anyone interested in the history of not only sewing patterns but fashion as well. The book is organized chronologically beginning with the oldest surviving book on tailoring published in Spain in 1580, and ending with the modern patterns up to the year 2010. With 200 well placed illustrations (125 color, 75 black and white), the book progresses smoothly through the centuries and decades. 

Each chapter covers a period in history and the events that influenced the styles produced by the pattern companies. The section that was the most interesting to me covered the restrictions on fabric usage during the war effort of the 1940’s.  

   I found the book to be very interesting and enjoyable.  As a bonus, she has included 9 sewing patterns with instructions that can be scaled for use. Remember that the instructions are minimal for older patterns and these are not the exception!