Downloadable books at Global Grey

The book which I use for custom pattern drafting is based on the method used by French dressmakers in the 1950s.  I am very happy to announce that this sought after book is now available in PDF format at Global Grey.  The URL is:

Global Grey is a labor of love run by Aisha.  Her passion for making out-of-print books available has resulted in this website.  I encourage anyone who downloads a copy of the patternmaking book to give a small donation towards the upkeep of the site.  Aisha runs it on the donations she gets from visitors and then makes up the difference with her own money.  Let’s support her in this effort.  Her work to make out-of-print books available to a new generation is a worthwhile endeavor.

A booklet of 1960s crochet and knitting patterns for hats is also available for download:

If anyone is nostalgic about the fashions teenage dolls wore in the early 1960s I recommend checking out the booklet of outfits for the Tammy doll by Ideal.  The link for this booklet is

To learn more about Aisha and Global Grey, please visit her About page at


A sense of accomplishment with hope for future projects

I am in the midst of a family history project that has grown into a living and breathing entity that calls me back again and again. It’s as if I’m drawn into something bigger than myself which will not be quiet until the story is completed. This is another reason why my Secretary Blouse and Sheath Skirt project has taken so long.

I miss with my heart and soul all my dressmaking projects. They are now part of “Whenever Land” a place where I can focus on them when I’m fully alert and not surrounded by research notes, phone calls and draft documents related to the family history project.

Writing the family history in a book format a struggle for me. It does not flow the way blogging or dressmaking does. When I’m sewing or drafting a pattern the thought process is at a different level. I start with an idea and work towards its realization. Everything flows. There are challenges where I pause, but then the flow resumes.  The same applies to my blogging.

Writing  a book is very hard. I have scattered memories, research findings and a wealth of family stories to piece together. Then I have to figure out what the deeper meaning is. Finally, the way in which the story is told is very important. One has to show the story through the scenes and flow of the narrative. I cannot do that in chapter format. I’m doing something very different called an episodic format. Each ep (episode) is only 2-3 pages long. The idea is to encapsulate a specific point in the history and let the ep tell it on several levels. In a way an ep is like a unit in sewing. You stitch together one or two components to complete a part of the greater garment.  An ep is also like a blog post in that it is self-contained.  It doesn’t have to link to what came before or after.  It is up to the writer and the needs of the larger narrative.  This is what I’m learning about the process.

Today, as a reminder that I can sew and design I’m looking back on the Donna Skirt and Blouse. This was a breakthrough for me because after a long absence from sewing my skills started to come to the fore. Hand made buttonholes, inserting a zipper by hand, hemming a circular skirt. I also challenged myself by creating a blouse with a waistline yoke as described in Claire Schaeffer’s “Couture Sewing Techniques.” I decided to upload these photos taken yesterday to introduce my Twitter followers to what I’m able to do.

I have decided to reclaim my Saturday or Sunday afternoon hours for sewing. The family history is underway and will get time during the weekday early a.m. hours. Writing is a tricky thing. It requires waiting for the voice of inspiration to drop in whereas for me with sewing it is always there.

The Donna Skirt and Blouse was inspired by the everday outfits housewives wore in the 1950s and early 1960s. My inspiration was “The Donna Reed Show.”

Vintage Pattern Envelope and Pattern Sheet Detail: Vogue 1940s bias cut coat

Vogue no. 8262 was available sometime during the 1940s. The design is deceptively simple and looks like a quick and easy project. Once you review the pattern details you might think twice. The coat front and back pieces are cut on the bias and has bound buttonholes, a roll collar and bound pockets. I would have to think twice about making this coat on the bias because the recommended fabrics like wool and silk crepe can be very expensive. As a thought exercise I find the study of this design very useful in considering other ways to achieve the look without the angst bias cut fabric can induce. There is the stretching and sagging that might occur due to mishandling. The coat does not have a lining so that makes it simpler in some ways.

The pattern envelope describes this style as:

“Coat, beach robe or long monk-like hooded house robe. Bias front and back worn hanging free from shoulders, or belted at waist with wide novelty or corded tie belt. Long loose gathered-at-top sleeves. The small shaped c0llar and inset pockets are optional.”

There are no belt loops for the coat which would make using a wide belt impractical if you plan to take the coat on and off throughout the day. I think If I were to attempt to recreate something like this I might cut it on the straight grain using the basic pattern for a tent coat and add more flares to the pattern. Instead of bound pockets I’d make in-seam pockets so that the flow of the flares is not interrupted.

The pattern instruction sheet is very brittle and torn in some places. For this reason I could not scan the entire sheet. I’m posting here the portions about the sleeve stiffener and shoulder pad since these details are helpful for recreating a period look. This coat uses a sleeve stiffener (a/k/a sleeve head) that is sewn into the cap of the sleeve. The shoulder pad is home made using cotton batting and a lining fabric to cover it. The pattern does not specify how many layers of batting to use nor does it give a height for the finished shoulder pad. Since the sleeve head is used I’d think a very thin shoulder pad about 1/8″ to 1/4″ high would be sufficient.

This pattern was a gift my late Mom gave to me. I know that if she were younger when she selected this she would have liked to wear view D as a house coat. The loose style and flowing silhouette would be flattering for any figure type. This simplicity and adaptability of this coat are typical of what my Mom considered a style that can move with you through the years and still work well.

BYW version of the illustration

Pattern alteration instructions

Instructions for making the sleeve head

Instructions for the shoulder pad (note the triangular shape)