Friday, April 20, 2012

Shaping Vintage Textiles

Constructing clothing from vintage linens is sewing in reverse. Instead of starting with a pattern and cutting whole cloth, here you drape with pieces and parts and try to make a cohesive whole. I try to honor the beauty of the original textiles and handmade laces that I use. But I also want my garments to have shape which means darts. Here is a way to work a bust dart into a print and maintain the pattern. You can also use a similar technique on laces.

I position the vintage laces and linen, a Stevens Linens Calendar Towel, so the print lies on the body the way I want.  

I can see the gape on the side where a dart needs to be.

I fold up the end of the dart and see that it will end in the bird nest, so I cut around that design element.  

Here you can see where it will be stitched down in a new location.

Here is the finished hand stitched dart.

Of course I had to do the same thing on the other side, this time cutting around a cherub's head.

I used a combination of invisible stitches, embroidery stitches, and even darning to blend the new dart into the design. Here you can see some darning in process, as I weave the needle back and forth to strengthen the fabric.

Both darts were worked completely by hand and the effect is just what I wanted: soft shaping on the front and no interruption in the pattern.
Adjustable snapping shoulder straps and side ties, and other fun features complete this summery blouse which you can see at left, (in photos taken before pressing, sorry) and the  Finished Blouse Here.


  1. WOW, amazing job and awesome directions. Really beautiful Jeanine.

    1. Thanks FloDo! I'm really glad you liked it and found the directions clear.