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Just when I resolved not to buy any more patterns, I discovered Vogue 2925 on Amanda’s blog and found the jacket of my dreams:

Very petite (read: tiny and shapeless) women know how hard it is to find a suit jacket that doesn’t make you look like you’re a kid trying on mommy’s clothes. I have decided that this is exactly the jacket I need. But, it’s out of print. So, I could buy the out of print copy from Vogue, or, I could use this as an opportunity to reduce my pattern stash, and maybe help you reduce yours if you happen to have this pattern lying around and know that you’re never going to get around to sewing it.

Here are some treats I pulled out of my overflowing Sterlite container. I will give you, oh, let’s say any 3 of these in exchange for Vogue 2925 in size A (6-8-10) (please not the other sizes because I already have to grade down to a 4.) Heck, even if you’ve already cut and used the skirt or the top and just have the jacket pattern intact, I’ll happily take that! All the following patterns are complete and uncut except for the one vintage one noted. There’s nothing wrong with them except that I know I won’t ever get around to making them.

First up, the current and very popular V1117 Michael Kors dress in size AAX (4-6-8-10.) This dress was part of his lovely Fall 2008 collection. Somehow I ended up with two copies of this pattern:

This lovely Maggy London knit dress with ruched waist and drapey neckline. This is Butterick 5078, now out of print. It comes in size BB (8-10-12-14):

If you’re ready for some summer sewing, this is New Look 6242 in size A (6-16!) which has patterns for halter dresses, a halter top, and an easy skirt, I believe also out of print:

From Simplicity’s Threads magazine collection, this is a versatile short jacket with lots of collar and sleeve variations. This is Simplicity 4256 in size H5 (6-8-10-12-14), now out of print:

Another versatile pattern, McCall’s 4930 size BB (8-10-12-14) from the Palmer/Pletsch Classic Fit collection. This includes patterns for a jacket, dress with cap sleeves and godets, and pants. I believe this is also out of print:

The very popular Vogue Easy Options 8280, which is a clone of the Roland Mouret Galaxy Dress. This is in size AX (4-6-8):

And now for some vintage treats. First, a reissued pattern from 1960, Butterick 6582, which includes patterns for a sheath and full-skirted variation with cute ruched shoulders. This pattern comes in sizes 6-8-10:

Then a bona fide vintage pattern- no date on this one, but judging by the artwork, I’d say it’s probably from the mid to late 50s. Simplicity 2438 is a pattern for some cute sailor blouses with various options for collars, sleeves, and waist details, vintage size 11, with a 31.5 inch bust. The envelope is torn along one side, and some of the pieces have been cut, but the pattern is complete:

And finally, a vintage dress pattern with various options for collars and skirts. Again, no date on this one, but it looks early 1960s. Simplicity 4232 in vintage size 11 with a 31.5″ bust. This pattern is complete and mostly uncut (I see a few pieces that have been cut, but most of the pattern is still in factory folds.)

So, fellow stashers and seamstresses, if you have a copy of Vogue 2925 in sizes 6-8-10 that you just know you’re never going to get around to sewing (or even just the uncut jacket pattern!), and you would like THREE of the patterns above, let me know by leaving a comment or mailing me at selfishseamstress[at]gmail[dot]com! You’ll be making a Selfish Seamstress very very happy.

I’ve been reading about everyone’s new favorite patterns from the spring collections of the Big 4 pattern companies, and have generally been doing a good job convincing myself that I DO NOT need any more new patterns, cute as they may be. But then I received an email from Schnittvision saying that all of their pattern collections are on sale for 25% off. And now my resolve is weakening quickly.

For those of you who are not yet familiar with Schnittvision, it’s custom pattern heaven on earth. Collections of wonderfully wearable patterns that are classic but still body conscious and chic. Each DVD is a complete wardrobe in itself with between a dozen and two dozen patterns, each with coats, jackets, skirts, dresses, blouses, pants, and tops.  You put in your body measurements, and out comes a custom-fitted pattern. Considering that a single custom pattern from Burda can cost 40 Euros, the Schnittvision DVDs are a bargain at about 15-30 Euros apiece, and now 25% off!

So now I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t need any of these lovelies from volume 5 “New Classics”, volume 6 “Casual Classics”, and volume 7 “Neo Chic”, all perfectly sized for my own peculiar measurements:


Seriously, you could be your own custom J.Crew with these DVDs. I already own the spectacular Volume 1 “New Basics”, and have sewn multiple garments from it, all of which have come out great in terms of sizing. I adapted the classic double breasted coat pattern to make my leopard trench and blue velvet coats back when I first started sewing, and I didn’t even make muslins because I didn’t even know what a muslin was at the time. And check out the fit, even on my strange munchkin figure!

So.  Beautiful modern classics, great custom fit, a whole wardrobe of patterns on a DVD for about 25 Euros, plus a 25% discount on top of that until January 16th.  What’s the catch? Well, they’re only in German. And not just the sewing instructions, but the instructions for how to use the software and do the printing and input your measurements and fit preferences too. So if you want a Schnittvision DVD (or seven), you’d better brush up on your Deutsch or have a proficient friend who’s willing to help you out. (No, the Selfish Seamstress is not volunteering to help. The Selfish Seamstress does not help. The very word disgusts her.)

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), the language doesn’t pose a problem for me. The bigger problem is that I DON’T NEED ANY MORE PATTERNS.  I just have to keep telling myself that. Covet.

The Selfish Seamstress loves a good sleeveless turtleneck. Is it just me or is a sleeveless turtleneck the ultimate sexy-but-elegant-and-still-casual garment?  And especially a black sleeveless turtleneck.  I’ve always got one in my wardrobe somewhere, and I don’t think I’ve been without one since college. I love the Burda 10.2005 cowl sweater I made recently, but I I decided I wanted one with more cowling around the neck and less spread around the shoulders, so I whipped up this quick one:

 [Ok, those of you have been following along know that I put myself on a S.W.A.G. diet and swore no new sewing for myself until all the S.W.A.G. projects were done.  Well, I guess that lasted all of about a week.  But really, if it weren’t for S.W.A.G. this wouldn’t have even happened. Basically, I sewed myself the teal cowl, which led me to decide that sewing some cowls for my sisters would be a good idea.  And then I sewed the green one and I liked it so much I decided that I should make a sleeveless one for myself from the remnants, but after I drafted the pattern I found I didn’t have enough fabric to make it out of the green sweater knit, so I used some leftover black double knit from the English Tutor dress, and…. well, at least I busted through some remnants and reduced the stash right?  Oh, just let me rationalize. It took less than an hour to make anyway.]

The Minimalist Cowl pattern is available for free PDF download in size XS/S.  The top is about as easy and basic as you can get with just 3 pattern pieces.  Instant sexy for you.

You may recall that the last thing I did before closing my laptop prior to takeoff as I set off on my trip to Switzerland was to post a question about where to go to find good sewing stuff here. As it turns out, I managed to make a new acquisition before even landing at my destination.  This, my dear readers, is surely a trait of a very skilled Selfish Seamstress- the ability to sniff out the slightest opportunity to add to her stash.  How does one do this?  Simple.  The answer is “stopover in Frankfurt.” Oh yes, I had just a slim 55 minutes in which to go through a ridiculously congested excuse for a line at passport control, navigate miles and miles of airport corridor made ten times more convoluted because of construction, and go through security yet again with both body scanning and bag searching despite the fact that I didn’t have a crochet hook this time.  Even so, I managed to snag the November issue of La Mia Boutique:


 LMB is a bit of a dangerous magazine for me because it’s a hard one to find, and often I mistake the joy of discovering it with enthusiasm for the actual content. In actually I’ve only ever made or wanted to make one garment from LMB. But when I’m in Europe where one can actually find sewing magazines if one knows where and when to look, I tend to get a little bit crazy and buy them without considering whether I’d really make anything from them, simply because when I stumble upon an issue, it feels like such a rare treat. Ugh.  (Last time I was here, I even bought an issue of Ottobre. Why?? I know I never want to make anything from Ottobre.)

I did succumb to LMB (but to give some much-craved credit to my self control, I held back on Rebecca, Verena, Diana, and Burda), and there are one or two nice basics I think I might like to make:


Sorry for the bad pictures.  The first garment is the fitted white shirt with big French cuffs (not the trouser/wrestling singlet combo), and the second is a cute coat with big pockets and topstitching.  Here are the technical drawings so you can see better:    








Nothing super interesting, but I’ve been wanting a fitted basic shirt pattern, and I think coat would look cute in cream cashmere with a belt. And that’s probably it for me and this issue.  But I do have one question about the magazine.  Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to do the model’s hair and lipstick like this???



My Burda Modemagazin subscription (I still can’t quite bring myself to call it Burda Style- too confusing) has run out. This wasn’t a breakup, like the one I recently had from Patrones (and am starting to regret after seeing some recent photos.)  The October Burda issue was the last one I received. I was going to renew, and then I looked at the stuff in the November issue, and decided there wasn’t anything in it that I wanted so sew, so I figured best to put it off another month.  Now the December preview is out (on the German website at least) and I have to say…. hrrm.

There are 13 photos in all, of which one is kids’ clothing, two are plus sizes, one is men’s clothing, and two are, errr… let’s just call it holiday craft. So really only 7 items in the preview that could possibly apply to me, the only person who matters in my sewing world.  So, let’s have a look.

Let’s see.  We’ve got this, which I assume is about the dress, which I can’t parse from this photo:


The caption says “Christmas is standing right in front of the door.  December Preview.”

Then there’s a skirt which looks to be a basic cut done in a spectacular fabric.  Not bad, but not the sort of pattern I’d get excited to sew:


A collection of stuff made out of fleece that you can probably get for cheaper at Old Navy (there’s nothing wrong with these garments, but just not stuff I want to make during the few precious hours I find for sewing):


More super skinny pants for runway models with runway model legs:


And then some utter craziness:


Lastly a dress that I believe would be termed a “scroll-down fug” by the ladies at Go Fug Yourself.  The drapey top is not bad (though I am getting tired of the one-shoulder thing), but didn’t we see the last of that janky Forever 21 style diagonal hem back in 1999?  


So, in short, going by this preview, I guess I might be waiting another month to renew my subscription.  I’ll decide for sure when the full preview comes out in a couple of weeks.

And oh yeah, by the way, does anyone else think that Burda World of Style Moden needs to pull out of the crafting arena?  Honestly, what would Martha say if she saw these??


What are these?  Holiday tags for your family’s brown bag lunches?  Ritualistic stick and candle arrangements for your very own Homestyle Amateur Wiccan Christmas? One gets the feeling that these ideas came to fruition about 15 minutes before the scheduled photo shoot and the intern had forgotten to re-stock the craft supply closet :)

I finally managed to sneak in a few hours of sewing tonight, and got started on the muslin for Simplicity 2374:


Sorry the picture is kind of grainy.  It’s an indoor flash photo. So far the muslin is going pretty well.  I cut the pattern in a size 4 and it seems to be fitting well without alteration, other than a couple inches off the skirt.  The back seam isn’t sewn yet (you can see the vent flapping at the back of the skirt.) There’s a little more ease under the arms than I’d want if I were going to leave this sleeveless, but I’m planning on drafting a slim half sleeve (maybe there will be time tomorrow) so I’ll probably need the ease.

This is just a muslin and I’m still tweaking the collar draft, but I think it’s pretty close. The fabric is a knit of the most vile polyester ever in a very brilliant shade of emerald green (richer and more saturated than in the photo.)  I got a huge piece of it at a thrift shop some months ago because I love the color, but it’s pretty nasty stuff.  Despite washing, it has that gramma’s closet smell. It feels like it could be related to the stuff they use to upholster airplane seats. It doesn’t wrinkle but it seriously resists ironing.  I had to use the wool setting with lots of steam to get the seam allowances to open flat.  But other than that it’s super easy to cut and sew.  I do like the color quite a lot and I think I may turn this muslin into something wearable once I’m done with fitting.

For the final version, I’ll be using a soft black double knit and some white ponte de roma for a contrast collar and cuffs to make a version inspired by this L’Wren Scott dress:


It’s nice to have a few hours to sew again, and really nice to make a muslin and find that it doesn’t need any edits! I’m guessing the sleeve drafting will be a little fussier, but that’s a problem for another day.

Just as I was making some good progress depleting my stash, a new shipment of stash-to-be shows up. And that means more rambling about sewing to you guys, instead of actually sewing! I received a couple of basics, but they’re not so photogenic in their unsewn state so they won’t be making an appearance in this entry.  I would, however, like to introduce you to 3.5 yards of cotton and silk blend poplin in the perfect shade of teal blue:


I don’t think your monitor can properly convey the luxurious, jealousy-inducing qualities of this fabric.  Trust me, if you were here now, we’d be tugging at both ends of it, screaming very unladylike things at each other.  It’s not shiny like charmeuse, although it looks shiny in the photo. Instead it’s glowy like a sandwashed silk but without the dusty haze.  It doesn’t reflect light; it gives off light.  Well, not really but it sure looks like it.  And the color is intense without being bright- my favorite kind of color to wear.

I had the poplin earmarked for Simplicity 2497, the lovely Cynthia Rowley pattern above. And then when I saw the fabric, I had a pang of doubt.  Not because it isn’t a wonderful match for the pattern, but rather because the pattern is just so trendy.  The cinched paper bag silhouette, the frothy ruffle on the neck, it’s all very this moment.  But this is long-term-relationship, wear-it-for-years fabric. So I pondered, should I make a more classic dress from it?  Perhaps a slim shirt with sharp collar and French cuffs to be paired with wool trousers for work?  And so I agonized- go with a classic design that would maximize my time with this lovely fabric, or bite the bullet and make a cute dress for now? And then it dawned on me, like a bolt of selfish lightning: MAKE THE DRESS AND BUY MORE OF THE FABRIC. Sometimes the Selfish Seamstress surprises even herself with her cleverness and problem-solving skills.

(Ok, fine, since you’re looking at me with those envious eyes, I’ll tell you. The fabric is from, but don’t buy it all up or I will cut you.  It won’t be the first time that the Selfish Seamstress has resorted to violence where fabric is involved.)

And next up, the Vera Wang brocade that I mentioned in a recent post:


Well, it certainly is intense and exudes vintage luxury. It has a satiny face and when I pleat it in my hands, it’s simply decadent.  It does also, as some readers commented, bear a strong resemblance to curtains.  But the kind of curtains that would make me think, “Ooh, those curtains would make a pretty dress.”  I’m still pondering the Vogue 1117 Michael Kors pattern for it, but the stiffness of the fabric (like a heavy taffeta) is also making me think I should opt for something with a little bit more architecture to the skirt. 

Anyway, that’s what turned up here at Chez Selfish yesterday. If you’re feeling sick with envy, I can’t blame you. The best way to get over it is to acquire some pretty things yourself and then start a blog so you can brag about them to other people. Such is the way of the truly Selfish Seamstress.

There’s a bit of a rivalry going on in my closet. I can’t help it- I love knee-length dresses from Burda Modemagazin, I love grey wool menswear fabrics, and I love a sharp detail on a bodice. Consider these two dresses I made, the first from the 10.2007 issue of Burda, the the second from the 10.2009 issue of Burda. Both have pleated bodices with the pleats stitched flat through the hip and then released, and I chose to render both in heather grey wool, the first in flannel, and the second in a substantial suiting.

Burda 10.2007 dress 105 in wool flannel…



And Burda 10.2009 dress 119 in wool suiting:



The thing is, it’s not like i just forgot I had the first one when I made the second one. In fact, when I wanted to make the second one, I thought long and hard about using a different color.  But it was just calling out for grey, and if I had made it instead in maroon, black, cream, navy, olive, etc., I just couldn’t see myself wanting to wear it that much. Anyway, what do you think?

prlogo1It’s no secret that I have a vintage pattern addiction. While I have only been sewing properly (meaning real clothing and at least attempting to use correct technique as opposed to little crafty projects) since 2007, I’ve been collecting vintage patterns, mostly 1950s formalwear, for much longer. (In her younger days, the Selfish Seamstress always assumed that when she grew up, she would become Grace Kelly. Surprisingly it didn’t happen, but she seems to have amassed quite a stack of patterns for Grace’s wardrobe under that mistaken assumption.)

Yesterday I happened upon this rather fascinating website called Pattern Rescue, which seeks to preserve and restore vintage patterns. And better still, they want to help you get access to the patterns you want, all for free. (I think this is what is referred to as ‘altruism,’ a concept I can’t quite get my head around.)

Among the free services provided by Pattern Rescue are:

Really, what a great idea is that? I haven’t used any of their services so I can’t vouch for how well it all works, but it’s quite a wonderful concept.

Fortunately all of the patterns in the Selfish Seamstress’s collection are complete, but she might dig through her big box of vintage treasures to see if there are any she doesn’t need anymore and send them over. But obviously just to free up space for more patterns that I want. All selfish, all the time!



Get your own.

There are two possible ways of interpreting the title of this blog entry.  The first way is something like this:

    YOU: Hey, I like your Audrey-inspired dress!

    THE SELFISH SEAMSTRESS:  Thanks!  Because I’m so generous, I’ve posted the pattern so that you can make your own Audrey-inspired dress!

The second way to interpret it is something like this:

    YOU: I like your Audrey-inspired dress.  Can you make one for me?

    THE SELFISH SEAMSTRESS: Are you insane?? Do you think I have nothing better to do than sew for you?  Whatever.  Make your own (damn) Audrey-inspired dress! 

I’ll leave you to guess which meaning The Selfish Seamstress intends. (Hint: Generosity is a concept entirely foreign to the Selfish Seamstress.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, check out the downloads page. I’ve posted the (free) pattern for my Audrey Hepburn/Givenchy-inspired little black dress!  It’s only in my size for the time being, which corresponds roughly to a petite Burda size 32. The pattern is pretty basic, but there aren’t any  instructions yet, so I’d recommend this for the sewer with some experience in assembling a dress with lining.

If you make one, let me know- I want to see!  It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Selfish Seamstress just loves to be flattered.

Another goodie in my recent sewing CARE package from Khai was McCall 5523:


I’ve been wanting this concept of skirt since seeing the movie Charlie Wilson’s War about a year ago or so.  If you’re in the mood for a good movie, I don’t recommend it.  However, if you are in the mood for a good skirt, there is one excellent skirt in the movie.  It doesn’t have that big a role.  It makes a couple of brief appearances on a character named “Jailbait.”  Yes, that is what they call her.  She’s one of Tom Hanks’s sexy secretaries. The skirt is a slim grey pencil skirt with a graceful flared panel in the back. It covers everything but it’s still hot. I can’t find a picture of her in the skirt online, sorry!

Here’s how mine is going so far:













First, the good points:

  • I salvaged this lovely plaid wool flannel fabric from a dress I never finished and was never going to finish because I messed up the plaid matching on it. (The fabric doesn’t look so good because of the flash photograph, but trust me, it’s nice. It has no sheen to it at all.) So, the fabric didn’t go to waste, and that’s one less guilt-inducing half-finished project lying around.
  • I’d say the plaid matching is going pretty well this time around! I figured out a new trick for doing perfectly symmetrical plaid matching.  You might already know it, but it’s new to me.

Now, the bad. When I say I’ve been wanting this “concept” of skirt, I guess what I mean is that McCall 5525 View A just isn’t turning out the way I wish it would. McCall 5523 View A isn’t really a slim pencil skirt with a flared back. It’s more of a boxy skirt with  flared back.  More dowdy librarian than sexy secretary. The Selfish Seamstress has no patience for dowdy. I’m going to try to reshape it to give it a little more come-hither.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.


I’ve added a downloads page to The Selfish Seamstress.  That means free patterns for you! Right now it’s just the Coffee Date Dress patterns, which I’ve already posted on BurdaStyle, but keep your eyes peeled for more in the future.

Now, before anyone chides me for being unselfish (*shudder*) with my patterns, I should explain that there is nothing unselfish about it at all.  The Selfish Seamstress needs her ego fed regularly and amply, and nothing is more satisfying than knowing that you covet what I wear.  So, download!  Print!  Sew! Then report back to me.

It seems that just about every sewing blogger and her mom has gone gaga over this Michael Kors dress from his Fall 2008 collection, and I am no exception.  Styled in rich menswear fabrics, or the most ladylike of floral prints, the dress is a prime example of sophisticated va-va-voom:


And of course, the exciting thing for those of us who are in possession of a pocketful of sewing skills is that this dress is available as a pattern in the form of Vogue 1117:


Hrmm.  To be honest, I really don’t like how the dress looks on the Vogue envelope. If not for the fact that I’ve seen the dress in other incarnations, I doubt I’d have looked twice at the pattern. What is going on here?  Granted, the model for the Vogue dress does not have a willowy runway model figure, but her figure is lovely nonetheless. I’ve seen the dress photographed on actress Kristin Davis, who is probably closer in size and shape to the envelope model than to the runway model, and it looks lovely on her as well.  Could it be that the model’s boyish haircut is not working with the dress? Is it because the dress isn’t shown with a belt? Or is it that the draft of the Vogue pattern is somehow more conservative?  I hope it’s not that, because I ordered it anyway. I’m counting on the belt to be the solution.

So, onto another question.  It was my first instinct to get a tweed or other such menswear fabric and make this as a dress for work.  But I’m realizing that I am in possession of a whole lot of classy little knee-length dresses for work, both purchased and made.  And then I discovered this Vera Wang Lavender Label floral brocade from


What do you think?  I found some pictures of the actual Vera Wang Lavender Label dress for which this fabric was used, and the fabric really begs to be pleated and ruched. In that sense, the fabric might be a good fit for that pattern. But I’m still not sure… given that the Vogue pattern looks considerably less “fierce” than the Michael Kors original, and given that I’m not very va-va-voom anatomically to start with, will this floral frock look frumpy and grammy-ish (no offense to grammies!), or will it look sophisticated?  

In other words, will it be Mad Men floral dress:


or Queen mum floral dress?


What’s your advice?  Yay or nay on the print with the Vogue 1117 pattern?

I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but all of a sudden I’ve developed an obsession with envelope patterns.  Whereas before I was content to draft my own patterns or wait patiently for by Burda or Patrones magazines to arrive for painstaking tracing, in the last month or two I’ve become quite fixated on envelope patterns.  Yes, they’re convenient, but there must be more to it than that– convenience has never really been that much of a motivation for me when sewing.  Is it just me, or are envelope patterns becoming chic in a way that they haven’t been for the last few decades?

A few examples for your consideration, which my dear friend Khai was kind enough to pick up for me at the most recent Hancock’s sale:

Simplicity 2724
Simplicity 2497

Lovely, no? I drooled over these for quite a while, and now they have finally arrived, in a padded mailer full of joy.  The Cynthia Rowley on the right is quite popular right now; I’ve ordered some teal silk and cotton blend poplin for it.  The Project Runway on the left has a lot of appealing options, but I’m most taken with the leftmost pink taffeta rendition.  Pink taffeta is not my thing though.  I’m thinking navy cotton lawn, which would make it nice for work with a belt and sweater jacket.

Another recent acquisition (also a Simplicity Project Runway pattern) is this:

Simplicity 2473

My plan is to use the slim version and draft a fitted sleeve, contrast collar, and cuff to create a dress inspired by L’Wren Scott’s headmistress dress, as worn here by Nicole Kidman:


I’m going to need to put a leash on it soon because the discrepancy between the number of patterns I have waiting to be sewn and the amount of free time I actually have for sewing is getting a bit ridiculous.  

And anyway, I need to finish up my dress for Pattern Review’s Little Black Dress contest first.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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