Old fashioned sewing


Tonight I’m sharing a few excerpts from a French vintage sewing book: Initiation à la Couture Familiale (it could translate as “Introduction to home sewing”). It’s actually a series of two books from 1960 and 1961, which were intended as school manuals or for the home sewer which didn’t have the chance to have sewing lessons at school. They were supposed to give girls and young ladies good fundations to sew quality garments. I found them at the Forney library (a specialised library in Paris devoted to craft, fashion, design and such which I adore, lots of interesting books there. Definitely check it out if you live in Paris or nearby!) some time ago. It’s funny to read the foreword now, because we don’t study sewing or any other home related matters in school nowadays, so it seems very dated when really it wasn’t such a long time ago. My mom had sewing lessons at school in the 60s and I didn’t in the 80s. I personnaly think it’s a shame, every boy and girl should learn some basics in sewing, knitting, cooking and such, it would be very useful!

The text I’m showing you here is from the first section of the first book, teaching different kinds of stitches. By the way if you’re able to read French I suggest you read the French version of this article, because it’s a bit more comprehensive. The reason I’m sharing those pages today is because when reading this it struck me as delightfully old-fashioned. About the simple stitch is says that “We no longer stitch by hand, but use a machine”. Who would think it necessary to clarify this nowadays? All the other stitches are explained as hand stitches, and are supposed to be done this way. Including the overcasting stitch. A modern book would explain you to use your machine zigzag stitch or use a serger if you’re lucky enough to have one… They also make a difference between regular clothes and underwear, mentioning when a stich or seam finishing (pictures below) is more adapted to lingerie. I haven’t seen many modern book talking about lingerie stitches or seam finishes, except if they’re devoted to this particular subject. Who wears those fine and fancy petticoats and slips today? A few vintage fashion lovers. I do love slips, I find them very elegant and feminin and useful, and I think they are very pretty objects, but judging from how hard they are to find I guess they are not many of us. And among those, who take the time to sew them?

Those pages are from the section describing the different types of seams. There again most of them are made by hand, and they point those that are useful for lingerie. I also like that cotton fabric isn’t the only or even the main fabric mentionned here. I feel like wools, rayon and silks have a more central place.

That said and old-fashionness put aside, those techniques are still totally appropriate today, whether you want to sew by hand or to adapt them to using a sewing machine.

Lucky finds, October 2015

Hello dear readers! I have many things to share with you. Sewing projects but also several inspirational things, as the past few months were rich with good findings. I have been to a few garage sale the past weeks, which I haven’t done a lot this summer. As you probably already know if you’ve been around for some time I like vintage clothes and old books and magazines. I entered the world of garage sales when we were looking for decor props for our wedding and I got hooked. We don’t have estate sales in France (or at least they’re not the thing they are in the US and there are not as many), so we’re left with garage sales to try and find interesting goodies from the past. Sadly it seems that the tendency here is more for people to throw their old patterns away because they think they won’t be interesting to anyone nowadays, which I find really sad, and which makes finding old sewing patterns a bit of a challenge. When I see the posts on the WeSewRetro Facebook group and other groups for selling vintage patterns, it seems it doesn’t work the same in the US where people seem to find patterns much more easily. But I’m still hoping to be able to find interesting patterns here someday (or talk enough about this around me to the people I know to be able to salvage some from the dumpster ’cause they’ll know some people could be interested). Anyway, back to the subject! I made some good findings last Sunday at two garage sales, and I wanted to share them with you.

As you might have guessed after reading the introduction, I didn’t find any pattern per se, but I did find many sewing related magazines, from different periods of the 20th century. :) At the very start of my first visit I discovered a pile of magazines in front of a booth. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The lady told me that she grabbed almost all the magazines she found in her attic, which belonged to her grandmother, saving just a couple for herself. To other ladies went by while I was quickly browsing through them to decide what to bring home, and I was quite happy to have been there early. In the end I bought almost all of them. ^^; There is a catalog from the Louvre dating from 1935, with a part on clothes but also some housewares, and about ten issues of “Le Petit Echo de la Mode” from 1937 to 1939. Those are fragile, two in particular are a bit damaged. I might do copies or scans of those to keep another “safer” version.

Among those magazines were also two pattern catalogs from 1917-1918 for “Les patrons français Echo”. I didn’t know this pattern brand, I’ll try to look into it. Those went directly into the “I’ll take them” pile without thinking! ^_^

On another booth I found this little book title “Je serai couturière”, which means “I will be a seamstress”. It’s a collecting of sewing advice previously published in the “Modes et Travaux” magazine, grouped together in one booklet to create a sort of sewing reference guide. It was published in 1952 and has 79 pages organized in sections (how to use a pattern, sew sleeves, necklines, closures…).

Then somewhere else I found three issues of that same magazine the book was made from, Modes et Travaux, dating from 1967, 1973 and 1979. Inside you can find some sewing inspiration and knitting and crochet patterns. That’s all for sewing magazines, now let’s see some knitting ones. I don’t knit so I usually skip those, but recently my mom (who used to sew but now mainly knit and crochet) told me that she was disappointed at the modern knitting magazines, that she used to find more interesting things back in the days. So I thought “Hey, I’ll look for things for her!”. Those weren’t very expensive so I guess it’s not a huge loss if she’s not interested in any of those, and I can use then as inspiration maybe. If I knew how to knit, I’d definitely make some projects from those magazines!

There is a Phildar magazine without any date on it, but from the style I’m guessing 70s or 1980-1981 at the latest. I hope she’ll find some things of interest in this one. The other two are much older, so I’m not sure she’ll like them, but they were amongst the pile of fashion magazines from the 1930s and I thought the idea of magazines around knitting patterns + a novel (which the title “Tricot-roman” means) was fun. And then two Phildar devoted to babies clothes. This is not a hint to a big reveal, it’s just that there were some cute clothes inside, they were really cheap and I foresee possible other babies in my mom’s future as beside me my mom has two other children, both younger than me.

And then some materials. First two pieces of lace, one that I intend to cut and use as appliques and the other to sew on the border of a future piece of clothing. Under them you can see a piece of fabric I also got at the garage sale. We call that king of fabric “madras” in French, I don’t know if there’s a special name for that kind of cotton check fabric in English… I love that type of fabric, but didn’t have any in my fabric stash. I fell in love with the colors and considering the crazy amount of yardage I got for the price I paid it was a steal, and I couldn’t let it pass. And now I’m off to think about my next sewing projects. ;p

What I’ve been up to for 7 months

Today I want to share with you my biggest sewing project of 2015. Probably even my biggest project ever so far. This is the reason for my disappearance of the Internet at the beginning of the year, which gave me bad blogging habits (aka not blogging). A project with a lot of work and a good level of stress, but also one that makes you learn and progress, and hugely satisfying.

No, I didn’t build a car. This year I made a wedding dress. And not a wedding dress for myself (I already did that), no, one for someone else! My sister in law, or rather at the time my future sister in law as she was my brother in law’s fiancee.

Almost 9 months between the first talks (when it hadn’t been decided yet that I would work on it) and the wedding day, 1 Burda Style magazine, lots of sketches, talks, 3 visits to Paris fabric district, lots of fabric (5 different types), a Pinterest board, several muslins, 6 try-ons (not sure it’s how you call it… when the person tries the muslin to test the design and fit), travels between the North of France and Paris, countless hours of sewing, a few hours of head scratching, a good deal of paper, 6 band-aids, a serger, a sewing machine and some hand sewing, embroidery, many pictures taken, some emails, some plant-based relaxing pills, mistakes, corrections, not a lot of sleep in the end. And after all this, a lovely day, a beautiful bride,a sense of accomplishment from completing this project, the satisfaction of the bride and groom and their families, a wonderful ceremony, a marriage that I wish very happy. And two sisters in law that got a little closer. I think you can say it was worth the work, don’t you? ;)

It’s funny because it’s only the week after the wedding that I realized how huge it was that she trusted me with this. Granted, she’s not the worried type, but still, she didn’t have any second choice just in case, and she never showed event the slightest bit of fright or worry that I wouldn’t finish on time or that she might not like the result. I accepted the challenge, I would be up to it, she trusted me, and that’s it. Quite nice, he?

Of course I’d love to go into more details on the making of this dress, and I hope I will. But knowing how I tend to write long texts and the current frequency of my posts, I thought I’d start by sharing pictures with no technical info. So that you can see it, and I start writing here again, you know, one step at a time. And maybe in the future I can share more technical stuff about this project. In the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures of this special day. ^^

New page: projects compilation

Just a quick note to let you know about a new page that appeared earlier this year: a yearly overview of my projects. You can find it here : http://anomori.com/blog/?page_id=1601. Each year, towards the end of the year or the beginning of a new one, you see overview posts appear on sewing blogs. I’ve never done it before, but at the beginning of 2015 I felt the urge to do one (even though I noticed fewer of those on the sewing blogs I read ^^; ). I guess with me stopping the sewing lessons I felt the need to look back on the past year and see how it went. I always have the feeling that I’m not sewing that many things, especially compared to some of the bloggers I follow. Since I had never done one of those posts, I had to dig into my archives to find my past projects so that I could compare. And in the end this page listing all the past projects I could remember and find was born!

I will add to it as I post new (or old) projects. It’s fun to see this kind of overview of my past work. Even though it is true that I don’t produce as much as others, I don’t really care about that. But I do care that I don’t produce enough compared to all the list of clothes I imagine in my head. So my goal will be to get better at that: use the fabric I already have (and have projects for) and actually make and finish more projects! This year I’d like to make more clothes in knit fabric, make clothes for my son and start making doll clothes again. I started the year with many projects in mind ! One step at a time, I hope to get closer to achieving them.

What about you? Do you do compilation posts or pages? Do you set goals for the year (or any other period of time) or do you decide on the spot?

Notebook necklace

Hello ! I hope you’re having a great 2015 year so far. I left you with a rather worrying post about my Internet connexion the last time I wrote… I’m happy to say everything went back to normal after a short time. But then life happened (work, lack of spare time, sewing projects, memories to build with my son, a very tired me) and even though I really like this place I couldn’t find spare time for blogging. But I’ve been sewing! And I keep reading blogs through my Feedly app on my phone while commuting (I’m really happy smartphones exist!).

I’m  back with a simple project today. If I want to be able to post articles I’ll have to fight my tendency for very long posts, cause those end up never being done. So here is a Christmas gift I made for a dear friend.

I didn’t make the book/notebook myself, I bought it from the ladies of a bookbinding workshop at a Christmas market. All I did was create a necklace around it. I like simple pieces of jewellry so this necklace reflect that.

I wanted to add something besides the book, and when I found this quill I really liked it. It reminds me of the quills people used to write in past centuries. I spent quite some time moving it from one place to another on the chain to find the arrangement I liked best.

I added a small metal tag near the opening system. I find it’s a nice touch, it adds some interested at the back.

On this picture you can see that it’s a real miniature notebook with pages you can write on. I recycled some tissu paper and a little box to have a nice package. I even printed and glued my logo to the package, on top of the original writing. It was fun. ^_^

I got another book for myself, so a second necklace will be made as soon as I have some more chain and another quill.

No Internet

Just a quick note to let you know that I don’t have access to the Internet at home anymore… We don’t know why, I hope they will find out quickly so that we can get it back! It’s not fun anymore (never was actually, I have some things to do that require using the Internet)… And staying at work after my regular day to use their Internet connection, as I’m doing right now, makes me go home very late and I can’t do it often.

Hope to be back soon, cross your fingers for me! In the meantime, please let me know, do you have plans to make handmade presents for Christmas this year?

Last summer

Finally finding some time to talk about what kept me busy this past summer…

We bought an apartment!

And we had some work to do inside before we could settle in. More than we initially thought, as it wasn’t paint on the walls of the main rooms (dining room and bedrooms), but something that we had to remove before we could paint. So we spent quite some time…


scrapping things off the walls,

smoothing the walls,



and finally, moving in

and unpacking everything.

It’s a huge investment, which is stressful, but the place is great now that we made it our own. And we learned new skills. ;) We wanted to do most of the work before moving in, because of Mr. E., which was stressful and exhausting, but thanks to the very nice people who helped us we managed it! We have wonderful friends and family members. In case you’d like to see the before/after pictures I posted everything on my Flickr account. This past summer we also…

Celebrated Mr E.’s first birthday! As you can see he loved the paper wrapping his gifts. ;) It’s not always easy to have a child, but I love him dearly and I’m really happy to know him.

Improved the apartment. Two words: “Thanks Ikea”.

Spent a one week holiday in the south west of France to see one of my two best friends and my god-daughter, her little girl who was born only three months after our son. They live in the US and were in France to see the family. Mr E. discovered the swimming pool and loved it!

And I colored my hair! ^^ You might have guessed it on the last pictures I posted, or seen it on Facebook. I love it!

In the middle of all this I did manage to start sewing a little bit again at the end of summer. I made a dress for my god-daughter, which I forgot to take pictures of. I’m hoping her mom will send me some so that I can show it here. And I did a little something for two friends’ wedding. I do have picture of this project. The past weeks have been quite busy but I’m slowly working on more toddler clothes at the moment.

Sewn art

This title is a reference to a competition going on at Thread & Needles, a French sewing community (I know, why an English name if it’s a French community? Maybe because the girl who created it was a IT girl? ;p ). This is not my entry for the competition, but an old project that perfectly matched the competition theme. I thought it was a perfect excuse to take new pictures and share it! ;)

This dress was a gift from some of my friends for my 17th birthday. I had no idea at that time that I could learn sewing, but I did love to design and drawn garments. One of my friend’s mother knew how to sew, so there offered to custom make me a dress from one of my drawings. You can guess how happy I was.

The lucky winner was a drawing of a dress inspired by an illustration by Clamp. It’s on the cover of the 2nd Card Captor Sakura art-book. The outfits from this series are really fun and original and I really liked this dress in particular. But since I wasn’t a child anymore and didn’t live in a manga, I had to make some changes.

You can see the resulting dress is longer and simpler. We kept the style of the motifs but simplified them a little bit, as my friend’s mother had to embroider them by hand (I think she wasn’t too happy about it ^^; ). If I were to make it today I wouldn’t choose the same fabric, as it probably has a good deal of synthetic fiber, but it does hang nicely.

This dress was a favorite of mine for a long time, I wore it whenever I wanted to be nicely dresses and feel pretty. I have to admit it had been quite some time since I last wore it though. Putting it back on for the pictures made me want to wear it again. Sadly it’s a little bit tight around the arms now… I might try to let out the seams a bit and see if it solves the problem.


In the French version of this post I talk about two giveaways on a french sewing author’s blog. If you want to read about it head over there.

I also wanted to share that I created a Facebook account! It’s over here. This account is for all things creative and crafty, and since it’s for sharing links and short texts I can post there even if I don’t have time to write blog articles. Part of my posts are about the dolls I collect, but if I have more sewing-related contacts it will encourage me to increase the sewing-related talk. Please give me an excuse to do so! ;)

Giveaway winner

The giveaway is now over. Since all participants commented in French I invite you to read the French version of this post for the winner announcement.

It was fun to read all comments and see what people like and what they would make with those prints. There are definitely some favorites. The winners, with 6 mentions, are “Fleurs d’été”  (the red one having 3 mentions) and “Dot Power” (with 3 mentions of the purple version). Then there are “Ecorce” in purple and “Pois perdus” (3 in blue, 1 in pink) with 4 mentions each. I think the blue “Pois perdus” was the most ordered motif during the jersey sale. Then “Jungle” was mentioned 3 times. And with 2 mentions we have “Indian summer”, “Pétales de cerisier”, “Tulipe”, “Flower power” and “Pois fleuris”. There were also diferent fabrics of the “Arlequin” series. As to what you’d do with them, as could be expected you talked about dresses and skirts, sometimes retro inspired A-line shaped, blouses and tops (the Datura pattern by Deer and Doe being considered by 2 commenters) but also about bags (3 times) or cushions (2 times). And of course you talked a lot about swimsuits, which is not suprising considering the current sale. You seem to like the Soma pattern from Papercut, which was released not long ago and is totally cute, so I definitely understand (did you see Lauren’s versions? You definitely have to!). I’d love to make a swimsuit but it won’t be for this year, I won’t have enough time sadly… If you want to read everyone’s suggestions I suggest you go read the comments directly. As for me, here are the motifs I ordered during the jersey sale, the two on the right to make matching tops for my skirt and the Dot Power in purple just because:

On a more personal note I hope you all had a nice week-end. It was a three days week-end for us here, and I really enjoyed it: we had a sewing party with some friends, it was wonderful! During one and a half day all we did was sew, eat (lots of yummy food) and chat together. There were 5 of us in total, plus my friend’s father since it was at her parents house. It was the first time I did something like this, we had a blast and are totally planning to do it again! As a result I will have a few things to share with you soon. :) Here is a small teaser…