Hand Knitted Vintage Underwear

In the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, there is a scene where Sir Galahad The Pure, is making his way through a deep forest in the middle of a thunderstorm and sees a grail-shaped beacon atop Castle Anthrax. Banging on the door with his armored glove, he is welcomed into the castle by a woman named Zoot. She tells him the castle is only populated by women. Zoot: (leading Sir Galahad upstairs) “Oh… I’m afraid our life must seem very dull and quiet compared to yours. We are but 8 score young blondes and brunettes… all between 16 and 19-and-a-half… cut off in this castle with no one to protect us! Oh… it is a lonely life. Bathing… dressing… undressing… knitting exciting underwear….”

Today’s knitted underwear is more novelty rather than functional. Practical, hand knitted under-things were more common in the first half of the 20th century.  I suppose a woman needed knitted undies in the winter months for extra warmth. Especially during WWII when everyone needed to conserve heating fuel for the war effort.

KB3-28uw 1948

This set is from the late 1930s and has some pretty accents. I can’t tell if they are some sort of beads or eyelet holes.Lavenda 934 late 1930s

I’m not sure this crocheted brasserie could offer any support.Bestway 889

The all-in-one seems to have been a popular item, judging by the many patterns available in that era. How did a woman get into it? Did she step in from the top? And how did she go to the loo? I haven’t read this pattern, but maybe it has a vintage version of a snap crotch?Bestway 694This is an interesting knitted brassiere with a kind of spiral design on the bra cups. The  coordinating panties certainly brings the term “granny panties” to new heights. There’s a matching camisole too.bra pantiesThe knickers for this set are so decidedly UN-sexy that the woman here wouldn’t even have to say, “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.”
Bestway 288

Here’s a pattern from the late 1920s very much reflecting the straight up and down twenties silhouette ideal.

Scotchwool 4 1920sThis gal looks like she’s about to playfully spank someone with back of her hand mirror.Birswear Mella

Well, if you have got to wear a onesie, this is one of the cuter ones.Copley 1174I would willingly knit a camisole if it were designed to be outerwear, but vintage knitted undies will probably never make it into my queue on Ravelry.

Cat Lady Sewing Challenge – the planning stage

Erin Fosmire of Miss Crayola Creepy blog fame is hosting a fun Cat Lady Sewing Challenge for all us crazy cat ladies (and gents I’m sure). The only parameter is to use a cat themed fabric and the deadline is the end of October, so there’s plenty of time.crazy cat lady

I’m thinking that a kitty themed print would work well with a vintage or retro styled dress. I went surfing around the web and found some fun kitty prints on Spoonflower and Fabric.com. I think the cat print will look best on a sundress and manage to not look too silly. Since I am of mature years, I can’t carry off over-the-top cutsey anymore without looking like a total nutter!

Cat Lady Sewing ChallengeI superimposed Advance 4826 (from the late 1940s) over some kitty print samples. I really like the atomic cat print, number four in the line up, or the hot pink Noir Meow one next to it.

This “Paw Prints Luv My Kitty” print in lavender would look very sweet.Cat swatch dOr this black and white print with black contrasting bands could look a little more sophisticated.Cat swatch cI always love shades of aqua and sea foam green, as they are one of my colors, according to “Color Me Beautiful”, although this print starts to verge on the juvenile. It would probably make a super cute little girl’s dress. Or a really fun apron.Cat swatch 1Then there’s this print in earthy shades of yellows and browns.Cat swatch 2I was wanting another vintage style challenge, but Lucky Lucille is putting off Fall For Cotton until next March. So although this sewing challenge isn’t vintage oriented per se, I’m going to give it a retro twist.





Breathless on Masterpiece Mystery

Oh boy! A stylish new period-piece series on Masterpiece Mystery! The year is 1961 and the brilliant Dr. Otto Powell (harboring a dark secret) trapped in a loveless marriage to Elizabeth, develops an attraction to lovely Nurse Angela.  I just streamed the first two episodes on PBS.org. As usual, Masterpiece nails the setting, clothes and feel of the early 1960s, especially the women’s dresses and the men’s haircuts. 

Cast of Breathless

Cast of Breathless

The unhappy couple, Otto and Elizabeth.

Dr. and Mrs. Otto someti

Dr. and Mrs. Otto Powell

Love those retro style dresses!

Breathless 10

Nurse Angela’s sister, Jean, pictured seated below in the red dress, is the scheming tart who tricks Dr. Truscott into marrying her to escape her unhappy home and father. And so because she’s the bad girl, the actress Zoe Boyle, gets to wear some of the prettiest, sexy dresses on the show.

Breathless 2

Love triangle number one: Dr. Otto, wife Elizabeth and Nurse Angela. Breathless 8

 The love triangle number two between Jean, her new husband Dr. Richard Truscott, and his old flame Margaret. I just love the red satin cheongsam Jean wears in the first episode!

Breathless 6

Breathless 11

In episode 2, Air Hostesses of 1961.

Breathless 7

A show worth watching for all lovers of vintage and retro style!

Mexican Stripes Gym Bag

This fun little project is Butterick 5054. It offers 2 different styles of backpacks and Mp3 Player cover. I made view C/D because I just dig the teardrop shape.

Mex stripe gym bag a

Views C and D have different styles of outside pockets but since I wanted LOTS of pockets, I used them both on one backpack. This fabric is a very heavy, Mexican style cotton stripe I got from Fabrics That Go, a really cool interior fabrics store in Tucson, AZ. I was just visiting there in the beginning of August and my mom, who also sews, took me around to all her favorite fabric stores.

Mex stripe gym bag b

This is now my new, favorite gym bag. It is just the right size to take a small towel, weight lifting gloves, water bottle and other small necessities, and with enough pockets on the outside to hold my keys, sunglasses, and cell phone. I used 4 zippers on this bag, so you’ve got to be comfortable inserting zippers. I made a few changes by elongating the outside pocket on the gusset by an inch so it would hold my sunglasses. It was supposed to be used for an MP3 player, but I wanted my sunglasses to be more protected rather than just hanging by the loop like shown in the photo on the pattern envelope.

Mex stripe gym bag e

The lining is just a mishmash of leftover fabrics from other projects. I added an extra elasticized pocket in the interior, and I used the instructions from the book, A Bag For All Reasons by Lisa Lam, to add an additional zippered interior pocket.

Mex stripe gym bag d

I wish I would have read the instructions for the exterior pockets more carefully. They aren’t the clearest I’ve ever read. I botched it slightly, but they still came out fine. I did not have any hardware buckles on hand, so the strap is just sewn directly into the gusset and isn’t adjustable, which is okay by me. I varied from the pattern just a little by making the zippered gusset for the main compartment with two strips of fabric instead of a single piece. This way I was able to get some extra length from the zipper; I needed it to open wider for easier digging around in the main compartment.

Mex stripe gym bag c

This is one of those projects where a crafter could get really creative and have a lot of fun with fabrics. I’ll be making another one soon.



Alexander Henry’s “Las Senoritas” Mexican Calendar Girl Shirt.


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My husband digs his Mexican Calendar Girl party shirt, made with McCall’s 6044!mex shirt sm

Tom’s chest measures 42in/106cm, so I made the size Large, which resulted in a roomy shirt. The 100% cotton fabric is once again Alexander Henrys “Las Senoritas”, which I just LOVE!!! I have more of this rockin’ fabric and plan to make a rockabilly looking dress for myself. Tom prefers Hawaiian style shirt for parties because they are comfy, loose – so he won’t get too hot, and come in wild prints. He requested that I find a pattern that has the separate collar and collar stand. He doesn’t like how shirts with the all-in-one-piece collar and collar band combo sit on his neck. He won’t even buy ready-to-wear with that type of collar. An example of this collar-and-band-in-one technique is Simplicity’s 5581:Simp 5581

This one-piece collar-plus-band also results in wide facings down the shirt front, which my husband also finds objectionable. I used the Simplicity shirt pattern only once and now I just save it for the hat and cargo shorts.

On McCall’s 6044 pattern I made a couple of modifications. I straightened the curved-in side seams because he is not nineteen years old and has a regular middle-aged man’s figure. And to make it easier to match the fabric print on the button band, I added the button band pattern piece to the shirt’s front pattern piece, overlapping and lining up the stitching lines, so I could cut it out in one. This simple fold over button band made it WAY easier to match up the fabric print.

My husband felt the sleeves were just a tad short when compared to ready-to-wear shirts of the same style, so the next time I use the McCall’s pattern I will add an inch to the sleeve length. I also felt the pockets were placed an tad too high on the chest, so I will be lowering their placement by 1/2 and inch.Beeytjam 16My dress is Vogue Easy Options 8555, which I used for my 2012 Halloween Ginger Costume. The fabric is another of Alexander Henry’s wicked cool prints called “Corazones Hearts”.AH Corazones Hearts

Las Senoritas Calendar Girl Shirt – Take Two – picky details


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My husband really likes the Mexican Calendar Girl shirt I sewed for my painting instructor and asked me asked me to sew him one too. There’s a party we’re going to this weekend and this was the perfect excuse for me to rev up my sewing machine. I just finished up last night with two days to spare, so I’m going to sew a new dress for myself to wear to the party too. Nothing gets me going like an imminent deadline! Like the first Calendar Girl shirt, I used McCall’s 6044, but this time View A. My husband requested short sleeves and a straight, Hawaiian Shirt style hem. I’ll post more photos with him modeling his shirt next week. In the meantime, here are a couple of picky details.

I matched the print’s pattern in the pockets and the shirt’s button front. It takes more time and more fabric to match the print, but the results are so worth it! And I’m pleasantly surprised by how many men notice that level of detail.Las senoritas 3Las senoritas 1

And this may be really, really picky, but I didn’t notice I had stitched the button band’s topstitching line (the line on the right) at a 2.2 setting (Janome’s 14 sts per inch/ 6 sts per cm) and the line on the left is 2.6 (11 sts per inch/ 4.2 sts per cm). That might seem insignificant but it looked amateurish or “made with loving hands at home.” Las senoritas 2

So I ripped it out and re-sewed the topstitching at 2.6. Much better! That may seem overkill, but even from a few feet away, the difference could be seen, even if it was only a subconscious niggling feeling. I’m glad I took the 10 minutes it took to re-do it. I want it to look as professional as possible since my husband will probably brag how I sewed his “party shirt”.


McCall’s 6044

Gertie’s Slip – Butterick 6031 Finished

I just finished attaching the hem lace to my Butterick 6031 slip and now I have a custom, sexy red slip. This is a great pattern to work with and if you can figure out a good size, you can end up with a nice form fitting lingerie slip. I find the Butterick sizes run a bit large. What is very convenient though is that several bust cup sizes are included in the pattern so I didn’t have to do a FBA. I do not sew many knits so I followed along with Gertie’s online step-by-step slip sew along. Very helpful were her suggestions for zigzag stitch width and length for the different seams. And although Gertie’s instructional blog posts were spread out over a few weeks, really, this slip can be cut out and sewn in an evening.Gertie Slip 1

Looking at the photos online I realize I should have given it a light pressing for the camera.  I varied from the construction techniques by not  trimming away the fabric from behind the lace at the upper bust edge to eliminate the need for the 1/8″ elastic strip to be sewn to the back of the lace. Doing this also added some durability to the neckline. I also chose to forego the little bow trim and the center front. I don’t like the way bows and rosettes create lumps under my clothes.Gertie Slip 2

I found all the red stretch laces and red picot elastic at Sew Sassy Fabrics. At the hemline, I eliminated the slit detail. The hem edge has enough width that I didn’t need the “walking slit”, plus I hemmed this up at a mini length and the slit would have sliced right up to my panties.Gertie Slip 3

I am so glad Sew Sassy carries different colors of the picot edged elastic. The picots peeking up along the back edge give it a professional looking finish.Gertie Slip 4

According to the measurements on the pattern envelope, I should have cut a size 16, but I cut a size 14 because I measured the pattern itself and it is still a tad large. Those darn big 4 pattern companies seem to run large typically and add unnecessary amounts of ease. I got Gertie’s slip kit in Lavender from her Etsy online shop so I’m thinking I’ll cut this next one at a size 12 for a “negative ease” so the fit will be absolutely form fitting.

Butterick 6031

My Grandmothers’ hairstyles

Sorry theses photos are small. They are scans of cameo locket photos. This is my paternal grandmother Marie in 1930. She had sisters who did the complicated fingerwave hairstyles for each other. It helped that they all had naturally curly hair, and all were strawberry blonds. I wonder if those are bakelite beads around her neck?










My maternal grandmother Erlinda in 1941. She was fond of victory rolls and liked to try different configurations. She worked to help put her brothers through college before they both went into the Army-Air Corps in WWII. I love the delicate hand tinting of the photograph.

Erlinda Bautista










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