Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The London Kimono Vintage Tourist Scarf Refashion Project


The London Kimono jacket by Karen Vallerius


The London Kimono - A Vintage Tourist Scarf Refashion Sewing Project


Once I had worked on my pattern drafting for the upcycled scarf kimono jacket (more about designing the jacket here), I set to making up some more designs and repurposing some more of my vintage scarf collection.

I always LOVE vintage tourist scarves and keep an eye out for them on my vintage shopping trips.

I have several in my collection - from London, the Loire Valley, the Netherlands to name just a few - and I think that using them in garments is a great way to display their wonderful colours and artwork.

The London Kimono jacket by Karen Vallerius

Many vintage souvenir scarves date from the 1950s when scarf wearing was at its peak and overseas travel was booming for tourists for the first time.

More vintage scarves


The London Kimono jacket by Karen Vallerius

I love picking out toning scarves in colourways and designs to complement the "showcase" scarf which I select to use on the back of the kimono jacket, the canvas I guess.  Here I chose a 60s mod inspired floral in soft shades of pewter, rust, taupe and silver grey for the front.  The sleeves were cut from a slubby abstract floral in rust, grey and buttermilk on the front and rust toned paisley on the reverse.  The neckline was finished with a chocolate colour satin bias binding.

Tricks and tips for sewing vintage scarves


I have to admit that it is very difficult to sew vintage scarves.  They slip and slide at all stages of the sewing project, from cutting out right through to stitching together.  It is tempting to think, "Oh, that would be so easy to make!", but the reality is that you need a lot of patience when putting these together.

Cutting out


When cutting out I use weights (improvised!) to hold the scarves in place.  It is important to consider pattern placement before cutting and I take some time to decide where to cut the pieces.  If the scarf edges are in good condition particularly if they are hand rolled, I try to incorporate them into the edges of the garment as I like to make use of the manufacturing history of the scarf.  Also, you will often find that vintage scarves have small areas of damage, maybe small holes, as they were frequently worn with a brooch or scarf clip.  Fortunately these flaws are usually on the edges or corners so you can avoid them by careful placement of your pattern pieces.

Making up


Now that I have an overlocker this helps enormously when making upcycled scarf garments.  There is simply no way to achieve a good seam finish with an ordinary domestic sewing machine.

My construction process is:

1. Stitch sleeve fronts to front pieces and sleeve backs to back piece.
2. Stitch shoulder seams.
3. Stitch side seams.
4. Stitch hem.
5. Overlock neckline and front jacket edges if necessary before attaching satin bias binding.

Even though I have made several jackets now, not to mention numerous other scarf fashion garments, it is so easy for the scarves to slip while sewing together so always double check your seams are secure and that none of the scarves have slipped and therefore not been caught into the stitches before you proceed to the next stage of the garment.  It is easier to rectify problems before you start on the next part of the sewing process.

Press seams open as you stitch them to improve the final drape of the garment.

The London Kimono jacket by Karen Vallerius

Future kimono projects


As much as I love these kimono jackets and am really pleased with how the design has turned out, I want to try a kimono with a peplum next.  Watch this space!




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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Back in the days when all frocks were handmade

vintage dress by karen vallerius

OK, maybe I don't remember the days when the above pink & ivory dress was stitched (I think this one dates from the 40s!) BUT the next green summer frock in a funky green toned floral was probably made in the 1960s.

vintage dress by karen vallerius

During the 60s I stitched mainly toys and dolls' clothes, starting garment making when I went to grammar school at age 11.  I always chuckle when I see sewing patterns I used at school in the 70s under the vintage sewing pattern listings.

Huge destash currently underway in the sewing room as I am preparing stock for the vintage fair at Stamford Arts Centre next Saturday 27th May 2017.

Stamford Vintage Fair 27 May 2017

I don't know why (I have been "doing" vintage for many years now!) but I am always surprised when I find all the treasures and textiles in my stockpile.

Hope to see you there, starts at 11am until 4pm.


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Monday, 8 May 2017

Vintage Scarf Refashion #2 - Traditional Kimono Jacket

vintage scarf kimono jacket by karen vallerius

Ta da!, another vintage scarf refashion project completed!  So pleased with my traditional Japanese inspired kimono jacket.  Of course, vintage scarves are one of my passions - I love their colours and designs, fascinated by how each one can epitomise a specific vintage era, like a fashion timecapsule.  I have a huge stash of them (no surprise there then!), some in pristine condition - saved for best and never worn? - and some worn and loved with maybe small areas of damage or pinholes on the edges.

Vintage Scarves and link to the Bias Cut Vintage Scarf Top Tutorial


Today we mainly wear longer scarves, even infinity scarves, so I am always thinking of ways to refashion beautiful scarves from my hoard.  I drape and pin them on my mannequin and work out how to cut them so I can stitch them into upcycled garments.  Indeed, one of my most popular blog posts is my Bias Cut Vintage Scarf Top tutorial here.

vintage scarf bias top tutorial by karen vallerius

The Great British Vintage Scarf Kimono


Now, I have made a kimono in the past as part of my entry to a sewing competition.  I stitched several scarves together and cut out the neckline from one of them.  The sleeves were made from half of a square scarf attached to the main body of the garment.  The obi sash had rouleau loops cut from a long bias scarf to wrap round and fasten in front.  More on this project here.

vintage scarf full length kimono and obi sash by karen vallerius


New Design Detail for the Vintage Scarf Kimono Jacket


vintage scarf kimono jacket by karen vallerius

I changed the design of this kimono jacket by cutting a dropped shoulder line into the front and back pieces rather than simply attaching the sleeves onto the straight scarf edge.  I used a beautiful vintage 50s pictorial heavy satin scarf with a still life design of a bowl of richly coloured fruit on the back; I cut the sleeve pieces from two toning long 1970s scarves; and the front was made from a vintage 50s satin paisley scarf.

To complete the kimono I finished the front edges and neckline with a satin bias binding in deep blue. I love the way that the different designs and colours complement each other and give an eclectic feel to the kimono jacket.  This would be great worn with jeans or shorts to a festival; for the oldies amongst us would also look fab with wide velvet trousers for evening wear.


vintage scarf kimono jacket by karen vallerius

satin bound edges vintage scarf kimono jacket by karen vallerius



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