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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Costume Archives #1 - Victorian Inspired Peplum Jackets


Linen peplum jacket upcycled by Karen Vallerius

The Costume Archives


Any fellow stitch bloggers will no doubt find themselves with literally thousands of photos of their projects on laptops and tablets, saved on various drives and cloud storage facilities.  I have been having a major clear up of all my photos and decided to create a series of archives focusing on various garments to showcase some of my upcycling pedigree!

Victorian Inspired Peplum Jackets


Denim peplum jacket upcycled by Karen Vallerius

Et voila!  About 18 months ago I created several Victorian inspired peplum jackets.  At first I tried to inset the peplum panels into cuts into the jacket but found that was very tricky to do.  So I proceeded to cut the jackets at the waistline - maybe adding an insert of fabric as in the black denim jacket above - then constructing the peplum before stitching it back onto the jacket.

Half Belts to Improve Fit & Flare


Linen peplum jacket upcycled by Karen Vallerius

As I was aiming for a Victorian inspired silhouette, I stitched half belts onto the back so that the jacket could be tied to adjust the fit.  Also these give a more Victorian / Steampunk vibe to the garment and add some colour.

Skirt into Peplum Refashion


Victoriana peplum jacket upcycled by Karen Vallerius

For the most part, I used pieces cut from skirts to create the peplum panels.  Either plain when inserting the panels into a patterned jacket (as for this striped jacket above), or patterned when I was refashioning a plain jacket.

Victoriana two piece upcycled by Karen Vallerius

This grey and red striped jacket and matching Victorian style skirt was made from a 1980s two piece.  I added faux braiding details to the front to give the jacket some extra style.  Below a fashion illustration from a Victorian fashion journal which provided inspiration.




Monday, 20 March 2017

Summer Blues 80s Tie Top

80s tie top by Karen Vallerius

This year I really MUST stitch my way through at least some of the 12 crates of vintage textiles in my sewing room!  I have already made a start on the vintage embroidered linens (here in my earlier post), and now it is time to turn to the vintage cottons.


I have used this vintage 1984 sewing pattern - Style 4303 - as a basis for self drafted patterns before. This time however I used the pattern "as is" and stitched view 3, top left.  I used some of my blue toned vintage cottons for this:

80s tie top by Karen Vallerius

- a navy paisley cotton reworked from a vintage 60s day dress;
- a bright madras influenced cotton check from an 80s mod style man's shirt; and
- a gorgeous piece of unused vintage 70s dress cotton in teal and biscuit

80s tie top by Karen Vallerius

I love this boxy 80s shape, you can see it is cut without darts for shaping but the tie waist enables it to be adjusted to fit.  Just perfect with summer jeans or crops.

80s tie top by Karen Vallerius


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Pretty Patchworks fashioned from Vintage Embroidered Linens

vintage sewing room by karen vallerius

First, a confession .... not only do I have a huge Victorian housemaid's cabinet full of crafting & sewing supplies in my sewing room ....
vintage sewing room by karen vallerius
... but I also have 12 crates of vintage textiles stored for future projects shown above!

Now, if you look at the 3rd shelf down and the second of the storage boxes in the stack of three, well that is the one containing vintage linen embroidered and lace edged tablecloths, tray cloths and various little doiley mats.  I have finally started to use some of these textiles and have been making some patchwork panels to stitch into summer camisoles.

vintage linen patchwork by karen vallerius

vintage linen patchwork by karen vallerius

vintage linen patchwork by karen vallerius

The camisoles are currently being "assembled" - photos coming soon.

Karen x

Monday, 13 February 2017

Busy working on a new project

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Working hard on launching a new project, hopefully next month!


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Vintage Scarf Top - PDF Tutorial now available for download

vintage scarf top by karen vallerius

Ta da!  Drumroll!  Very happy to present the first PDF worksheet in my range of Easy Sewing Projects - my Vintage Scarf Top!  This has been my most popular blog post by far so I have created a pdf worksheet with instructions and picture directions so that you can make your own.  (Click on the link here to take you to the worksheet).



I was thrilled to be contacted by the charming deputy editor of Dressmaker magazine who had seen this blog post and wanted to feature the scarf top in the January 2017 edition of the magazine in a feature on Second Hand Sews.  This is a lovely magazine with heaps of sewing features and includes some lovely patterns each month, a great way to build up your sewing pattern library.


Friday, 13 January 2017

More Tiny Teddies

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

Hello Again

Do you remember this little guy from my earlier post?

Well, he now has some little treasured teddy pals.

I am really pleased with how this little design worked out.  I wanted to give the applique motifs a bit of depth so stitched the sleepsuits over a layer of felt to give a bit of depth, adding a bit of extra wadding for the tummy.  And then I put some stuffing into the heads, almost like old fashioned stumpwork.

I love how - even though I am stitching the design the same way - each little teddy has his own expression and character!

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius

tiny teddy by Karen Vallerius


Thursday, 5 January 2017

New Year Resolution & Supersized Tiny Teddy


Applique experiment


My tiny felt teddy experiment from an earlier post (details here) was a bit TOO tiny, only approx. 3 inches high, and I decided to fatten him up a bit for the future.  I also wanted to experiment using the template for applique work and as I love it when applique has been lightly stuffed to give a more tactile quality (reminiscent of stumpwork I guess), he got a little light padding.  So this first stitch attempt on the left shows the teddy with a more cuddly body which has been stitched over a light wadding as well as felt scraps.

I cut a small notch into the rounded head shape which gave more depth to the head, and I cut a similar little muzzle for him (see photo below showing before & after body shapes for detail).  Rather than stitch his ears flat on the backing fabric, I decided to stitch them on like you would for a toy so that they stand up!  He also wears a tiny collar on his sleepsuit and has French knot buttons.  The backing fabric is a really fine polycotton which is very soft.

You might be interested to see the original tiny doll I stitched when I first designed this template, she can be found here.


So how does the New Year Resolution come into this?


I love stitching, I love designing, I love experimenting, especially with upcycled sewing projects. But there is only so much stitched stuff I can store in the house without there being no room left for me, hubby and small dog.  I often donate items, especially vintage style garments, to the wonderful Sue Ryder Vintage & Retro shop in Peterborough (where I volunteered as a seamstress for several months).

But I wanted another outlet for my creativity.  I had heard of some charity projects who stitch for various overseas aid causes but in general they only want one type of item and I love trying out different ideas and techniques.  Then I found the wonderful charity Loving Hands (link here) who coordinate the sourcing and distribution of knitted, crocheted and stitched items for a whole host of charities, many of which are in the UK.  

I registered on the website and am busy stitching.

And the New Year Resolution?  To stitch at least one item a week for a good cause, which will be either Sue Ryder or Loving Hands.

It is nice to make a Resolution I will be able to keep!!