Vintage Sewing at Punga Road Studio…
The second visit.
Just over a month ago I started out on a Vintage Sewing Collaboration with Elsie Cox, the vintage sewing specialist at the newly established Punga Road Studio in Whenuapai, Auckland. Punga Road Studio offers a range of workshops, from corset making and millinery to vintage sewing, the tutors are skilled and the space is relaxing and peaceful. Sounds perfect right?
I’m documenting the process and my experience of working with Elise, so you all can have a bit of a taster, get inspired and sign up for your own vintage dressmaking workshop!
We decided on an elegant 1953 McCall’s pattern and some beautiful vintage floral fabric, both from my stash. We faced some challenges, with very limited fabric we could not afford to make any errors. Elise took my measurements, we talked notions, best fit, lining options, binding and finishing details.
There we are looking over a booklet you get when you sign up for a Vintage Sewing Workshop, it is a copy of a vintage sewing manual. I have a couple of vintage sewing books and magazines that I refer to, they are really helpful when it comes to using vintage sewing techniques and construction details.
Also, if you work with vintage patterns, you might come across recommended fabrics that are unavailable in fabric stores, or maybe like me, fabrics you have never even heard of… exciting as it is to try and track down a contemporary alternative – or put a name to some vintage fabrics you have in your stash – it can put a bit of a spanner in the works, a good old vintage sewing book can shed some light on the mystery (that and the illustrations are delicious!).
Back to the project….
Elsie and I spent some time working with pattern lay up on our first meeting, taking a gamble, that with a little bit of creative manoeuvring, we could make it work. I let Elsie take the pattern and fabric away, so she could play around some more, cutting the toile which we would use for fitting, and to find the best lay up. We made fit adjustments to the calico pieces, this was time consuming, but worth putting the time into, as it will speed up the finished construction and reduce the chance of making an error.
The dress pattern I chose uses underarm gussets, something I have wanted to learn about, so it was great to get a hands on understanding of the function they perform and finding the best placement for them. That perfect fit is what we want! I think I love underarm gussets already, I see they would solve some fit issues I have with a couple of unfinished dresses in my work stash. Excellent.
Working with the toile allowed us to refine the fit based on my measurements, it also meant we could economise further with the pattern pieces and limited fabric. We defined the skirt and sleeve length which gave us more flexibility with the lay up. There is a real art to this process, and it is so valuable.
In the lead up to the weekend, Elsie sourced the notions and came back to me with some lining options. I went for a cotton silk in a perfectly coordinating blue.
We are having fabric buttons made, along with a self belt, we are using green bias binding for piping along the neck line, it’s all going to look lovely! These are the samples that looked the most promising, I went for the sold fabric option on the left.
A last minute pause before cutting! Scissors in hand, did we fit everything in?? There is no going back now!
Once the dress pieces were cut, onto the lining.
MUCH quicker to work out the lay when you have plenty of fabric to work with.
Of course, we did talk about other projects we’d love to do…when you find someone else who’s hooked on vintage sewing and patterns, you have to get them all out.
Just a few of Elise’s gorgeous patterns!
Vintage blouse anyone? These are the best I’ve seen in a while.
Or a suit? YES PLEASE!
Next time we’ll work on the finished dress, I’ll bring along my big box of happiness, patterns and other project ideas, including my suit patterns, I don’t want the sewing to end.
More next week!