western yoke mod tutorial

After many requests for a tutorial on how I added western details to the Archer shirt pattern (like I did on this shirt: here), I decided to do my best to walk you through it! A few disclaimers before we get started: I am not a professional pattern drafter by any means, so this method of mine is not necessarily the “right” way, but you did ask for “my” way so that’s what this is. Also, this is not a sponsored post or anything like that (I just really super love this pattern!). And lastly, I have Jen’s expressed permission to post these me-made illustrations that closely resemble her original pattern. Okay let’s do this!

The pattern I’m using as a base (my favorite shirt pattern!): The Archer by Jen at Grainline Studio

Supplies you’ll need to start:
1.) The Archer shirt pattern
2.) Some form of tracing paper (my favorite is Pellon 830)
3.) Something to write with (maybe two colors to help you distinguish lines)
4.) A straight ruler
5.) A curved styling design ruler (or a dinner plate to help you trace a curve)
6.) Your sewing machine and all that jazz…



Step One: Since we’re adding our own extended yoke to the back, we want to retrace the back pattern piece and the original yoke piece as one continuous piece. To do this, mark the 1/2″ seam allowance at the top of the back piece and the bottom of the yoke piece, then overlap them. This will negate the seam allowance and make sure you’re not adding any extra length to your new back pattern piece.

NOTE: If you’re working with View A, you’ll want to remove the excess width that forms the yoke pleat (if not, the new pointed yoke will come down over top of this pleat which looks a little funny). However, if you remove that excess pleat width all the way down, you will lose a significant amount of width at the hip! This worked in my favor as far as fit goes, but if you need extra ease in the hip you’ll need to sew Version B or make an adjustment towards the bottom of your new back piece on A.



Step Two: Now that you have your new back pattern piece traced we can start altering the yoke. I start by tracing the entire original yoke piece except for the bottom edge. To make the western style point, I extended the fold line by 1 and 5/8ths inches (this measurement can be altered to suit personal preference, but will include your 1/2″ seam allowance). Next, find the shoulder notch closest to the neckline and draw a line parallel to the fold until you intersect the original bottom edge of the yoke piece. Now we’re going to start shaping the curve to connect those two points. Using the curved edge of a styling design ruler (a round dinner plate works great too!) draw a short, smooth line from that established point on the right (illustrated above with the teal dotted line) down towards our new point on the left at the fold. Now, draw another short smooth line from the extended point on the left, up towards the curve you just made on the right. There will be a chunk in the middle that’s still open and unconnected at this point. You can sketch in the rest of this curve free-hand, or keep using your curved ruler with short smooth strokes until you have a nice smooth slope. There should be no obvious seam between the original yoke and your new yoke tracing. No need to re-add the seam allowance, it’s already there.



Step Three: If your first attempt was a little messy, re-trace your new yoke piece with the smoothest curve and without the original yoke lines, as shown above. Make sure you’re transferring all the original pattern markings and notches to your new western yoke piece. Yay! Your new back yoke piece is done! If you’re not interested in the front yoke pieces, you can skip to step six.



Step Four: To draft the front yoke pieces there are a few pattern markings on the front pattern piece that will help you. Lay a piece of tracing paper on top of the front pattern piece and start tracing the outside edge around the shoulder, neckline, and armhole. Also identify the grainline, the pocket placement line, the armhole notch, and the line where the button band folds over (all illustrated in teal above).



Step Five: The sizing/shape of these front yoke pieces can be varied to personal preference, but if you like the size of mine (shown in a recent post), this is what I did – Find the notch at the armhole and draw a small line 1/4th of an inch above it. Then draw a line (parallel to the pocket placement line) from this line you just marked, over to the grainline. Next, find the line that marks the fold of the button band and make a new mark 5/8ths of an inch to the right of it. Connect this point with the grainline at the line you just drew (shown above with the solid lines). Now that the general shape of your front yoke is established, you can add your 1/2″ seam allowance to your pattern piece (shown with the dotted line above). When you cut out this new piece, leave a bit of over hang at the seam allowance on the bottom, then fold that seam allowance up and cut off the excess so it’s even with the neckline and armhole. If you don’t do this, your seam allowance wont end flush with your pattern piece when you fold the allowance under to topstitch (think about what happens when you try to press a dart the wrong way. You need a little sticky-outty bit to keep things squared up along the neckline and armhole).

NOTE: I forgot this in the illustration, but your new grainline is parallel to the line that angles up toward the neck.

Now for the sewing!


Step Six: Using a long basting stitch, sew 1/2″ from the edge of your yoke piece to mark your seam allowance (I have the yoke shown over top of my back piece in the photo but they are not connected at this point).


Step Seven: Using that line of basting stitches as a guide, press your seam allowance towards the wrong side of the yoke piece.


Step Eight: Snip a few notches into the seam allowance (not all the way to the fold!) to help the fabric press flat along that curved edge.


Step Nine: Press your yoke piece again on the right side to ensure everything is nice and flat, and your curves look smooth and even. Then line up the yoke along the shoulders, neckline, and armholes matching notches and other markings. Pin the yoke down on the back piece (Generally I prefer to use as few pins as possible, but use as many as you feel you need).


Step Ten: Using a regular stitch length, topstitch very close to the edge of your yoke to conceal your seam allowances and secure your new western style yoke piece to the back pattern piece. Follow the rest of the Archer instructions to sew the shoulder seams. Use this same method for your front yoke pieces and follow the rest of the Archer pattern as instructed.

Ta-dah! Now you know how to make a fancy western style alteration to your Archer shirt!

I’ll be debuting the rest of this shirt soon so stay tuned ;)


p.s. The fabrics shown here are Clay Sundot from the Arizona fabric collection, and Robert Kaufman 4.5oz denim. I bought both from Hawthorne Threads.

how to sew a shirt hem with bias tape

I have a new tutorial on the Craftsy blog that I wanted to share here as well in case you missed it. As I mentioned previously, this is my new favorite method for hemming button-up shirts with curved hems. You can use this technique to hem any type of garment but it’s especially helpful on curved/inverted hem lines, like on a button-up. Not only is this method easier in my opinion, but I get a much cleaner finish on the bottom of my shirts than I do when I try to hem them the traditional way. Maybe you’ll get better results with this method, too!

Click here to see the full tutorial.


Have you used this method before? Do you find it easier like I do?


*Disclaimer – Unlike here on Lucky Lucille where you read 100% my own voice and content, my Craftsy posts are submitted to an editor. The editor titles my posts and will sometimes edit my copy and post format. Just something to keep in mind as you read. It’s still 98% me though!

vintage inspired kimono sleeve shirt tutorial

I’ve been waiting patiently to share this tutorial with you and now I can! Spoiler alert: there’s a full sewing tutorial for this pattern over on the Craftsy blog if you wanna skip to the good stuff, but I wanted to post a few more finished photos here too.


This vintage inspired kimono sleeve top is a super easy make and is so comfortable to wear! I think I’ll be living in these shirts come summer time. I’m very happy with the fit of this pattern, but I found the instructions to be a little confusing and there is some errata with the pieces. But fear not! I went through all that fine print in my tutorial, and I still  made a beautiful shirt despite the minor pattern mistakes.


I used a cotton voile that had been living in my stash for years because I was scared to use it (pffft! Silly!). I was so pleasantly surprised to learn how easy cotton voile was for me to sew with!! I didn’t find it overly slippery/fiddly to cut or handle (I use a rotary cutter on a mat so that might aid in the ease of cutting), and sewing with it was a breeze. The weave still feels sturdy like a cotton should, and it presses very well with an iron, but has just enough drape for a woven tee like this one! It’s lightweight and buttery to the touch. Awesome stuff.


I think cotton voile is my new favorite fabric! It’s a cotton, it comes in fun prints, it has just enough drape, and it’s available from all the quilting cotton companies I know and love (I currently have my eye fixed on this collection!). Lately I’ve been loving vintage influenced projects paired with modern prints. So fun!


This was my first experience with Salme patterns. The overall finished product and reasonable price allows me to overlook the few instructions and pattern errata I got slipped up on. They have tons of cute styles so I may give them another try in the future.

If you’d like to make a shirt like this, which you should because they’re ridiculously comfortable to wear and quick to make, check out my tutorial over on the Craftsy blog!



quick tips for assembling pdf patterns

For Archer Appreciation Month, I decided to share a few tips that make it easier to put together print-at-home PDF sewing patterns. There are many advantages to using PDF patterns: they’re instant (for all your whimsical sewing urges), you don’t have to leave your home to buy them (fellow hermits rejoice!), they’re more durable, and they usually cost less than the packaged versions. I think the only thing that causes people to shy away from them is the stigma that they’re a major pain to assemble, and a waste of resources.


First and foremost:

  • If you have a rotary cutting system at home already, then you should definitely be using it for cutting out your PDF patterns! Rather than throwing away my rotary blades when they get too dull for fabric, I save them for cutting paper. Investing in a separate rotary handle specifically for paper will give you more life out of your blades in the long run. You’re essentially giving each single blade a dual purpose, and therefore, a double shelf life.
  • In an effort to save paper, I never print out the sewing instructions that accompany each PDF pattern, I just look at them on my laptop instead.
  • Make sure you print your test square first before anything else (page 15 on the Archer pattern)! There’s nothing worse than printing all 37 pages of your PDF and then realizing the scale is too big or too small. Once I printed my test square and checked to make sure it was exactly 3 x 3 inches, then I went ahead and printed the rest of my pattern.


You can also save paper by printing only the view you intend to sew. Some companies offer each pattern variation separately, and some you’ll have to look at the pattern layout and decide which pages you want to print. For example, if you were printing a dress pattern, and you know you want it to be sleeveless, then don’t print the pages that include the sleeves! It’s a bit more hassle to print pages 1-16, 27-35, 38, 42 (you get the idea), but it’s worth it to me if I’m saving some paper.

I haven’t decided if I want to sew View A or View B yet, so I printed both Archer variations.


Leave your pages in sequential order and lay out your pieces in assembly line style for faster construction. Technically you do not need to cut out all four sides of each page. I stack three sheets together and cut only the right and bottom edges. By doing this, I can still overlap and connect the matching triangles, but I’m only doing half the work. There were a few pages I had to cut out individually because the paper fed through my printer at a funny angle, but for the most part I can cut 3 or 4 pages stacked on top of each other and everything still lines up (you can hold your stacked pages up to the light before you cut to make sure).

In the photo below, you can see this method in action.


Tape the pattern together as you cut out the pages so you don’t lose any or get them shuffled up. By cutting and taping in the order the pages were printed, everything will go together with ease. You won’t have to worry about finding piece 2D in a sea of paper, it will just conveniently come after 2C.


I use minimal tape initially until I can tell where I need to cut the actual pattern pieces. For example: I don’t need to put a piece of tape on the alignment triangles if they end up being in a space that’s not actually holding my pattern piece together when it’s cut out. Instead, I make sure I have tape holding two pieces together along the cutting lines in my specific size. This way I’m not wasting a lot of tape.

Another thing to consider (and this is actually good advice for working with any kind of pattern) is how much time you need to cut out and assemble your pattern completely, in one sitting. If you get started and then need to put it aside half way through, things are bound to get lost (or subjected to abuse by cats. Trust me, I speak from experience). Eliminate extra frustration by giving yourself ample time, and space for that matter, to prepare your patterns.

Hopefully these quick tips will help make your PDF pattern assembly a little less daunting!

Do you have any tips to add to the list?




how to sew a 1940s collar

Many seamstresses shy away from sewing collared shirts and dresses because the instructions can be pretty daunting to look at on paper. The good thing about 1940’s collars, like the one on this DuBarry Jumper Dress from 1943, is you usually don’t have to sew the dreaded collar stand. But even the lack of stand can still prove scary for some, so I’m here to walk you through the easiest collar you’ll ever sew. (At least I find this method to be easiest!)

This particular DuBarry pattern instructs you to simply “make a bias facing” for the back neck, but in my tutorial I’ll walk you through what that actually entails. You’ll find that this method leaves barely any actual collar sewing because you’re really just sewing the facings over top of your collar piece. You’ll see…


(*notes: This method only works with a shirt or dress pattern that has the front facings built into the bodice/shirt pattern piece. The directions have corresponding photos beneath each step.)

I highly recommend tracing your vintage patterns before working with them! You can learn how to do that in this tutorial.

Step One: Create a back neck facing to match your front bodice facings. Use a piece of tracing paper, a scrap piece of pattern tissue, or just trace the new facing directly onto a scrap piece of fabric. Your back neck facing will be cut on the fold at the center back, and sewn to the front facing at the shoulder. It is important to make sure your facings are the same width at the shoulder seam. It is also important to make sure your back neck facing mirrors your back bodice piece at the neckline. In the photo below, I have a scrap piece of tracing paper placed over top of my pattern pieces.


Step Two: Once you have your facing piece, cut it out on the bias fold. The bias cut will make it easier to sew your facing to the neckline, but it’s not critical to cut this way if you’re trying to conserve fabric. A regular cut on the fold will work just fine.


Step Three: With right sides together, sew your collar along all sides except for the neckline. Then, flip your collar to the outside, press, and topstitch. Baste the neckline edges closed. This is your finished collar. Next, find the center of your collar by folding it in half and making a small mark on the neckline edge. Do the same on your back bodice piece as shown below.


Step Four: Pin and baste your finished collar to the bodice, matching center backs. The side of your collar that you want facing down on your finished garment, should be facing down when you sew. Ease the collar as you baste to make sure your bodice is not getting bunched under the collar.


Step Five: With right sides together, sew your back neck facing to the front facing at the shoulder seam. Do this for both the left and right sides of your bodice fronts, making sure your back facing does not twist in the process.


Step Six: Press open your facings at the shoulder seams and lay out your bodice so you can see what you’re working with. The right side of your pressed seams (on both the bodice and facings) should be up, as well as the top side of your collar.  The wrong side of your pressed open seams should be down on the table, leaving a full circle that will become your finished neckline. So far so good? Almost done! (The dashed lines in the photo below show what you’ve sewn so far.)


Step Seven: Find the center of your back neck facing and back bodice/collar piece again. Bring the right side of your back neck facing down onto the top side of your collar/right side of your back bodice piece. By doing this, the full circle shape in step six will become a half circle. Check to make sure your front facings line up (right sides together) to form your lapel points.


Step Eight: Pin and stitch from one lapel point, across the collar, and to the other lapel point. (Step Seven, when pinned correctly, will look like the photo below.) Ease as you stitch the facings down through the collar and bodice pieces, checking to make sure your bodice fabric isn’t getting pinched under the collar as you sew.


Step Nine: Check to make sure you’ve sewn your facings down correctly. Then clip your seam allowances, turn your front lapel corners, and press your back neck facing down onto the back bodice piece.


Step 10: Inspect your work! Check to make sure everything looks good from the inside. The raw edge of your collar should be concealed under the back neck facing. The raw edges of your bodice shoulder seams and facing shoulder seams should be together. Does yours look like this? Yes? Excellent! (You can tack, or invisibly stitch, your back facing to the bodice if you find it doesn’t like to stay down.)


Now turn your shirt/dress bodice right side out and inspect again. Looks good to me!


You did it! Now you can sew a 1940’s collar in just 10 steps.


I’ll debut my completed DuBarry dress when I announce the winner of the Vintage4me2 giveaway! Make sure you enter before midnight on the 28th, and take advantage of that 26% off coupon before it expires!

Let me know if this tutorial was helpful for you.


photography tips for sewing bloggers – part two


My last round up of photography tips sparked some great questions and brought up some great points. I realize the majority of you are going to be on your own for photos, shooting solo with what you have on hand, and that’s perfectly okay! I actually don’t own a remote for my camera, and we just bought a tripod recently but have yet to use it for photos. So what do you do when you only have a camera? Or even just a camera phone? You learn to make the best with what you have!

Right now Wil and I shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3 (the lens on it is stock). The Rebel is an awesome camera for those looking to upgrade from a point and shoot, but aren’t ready for full manual settings. After we sat down and watched David Butler’s QuiltCon lecture though we decided we need to upgrade to a 7D at some point. Hey, if it’s good enough for Amy Butler it’s just good! If you’re looking for great classes to get better with photography, I highly recommend the ones on Craftsy. No I’m not just saying that because I’m affiliated with them, and no I’m not just saying that because I want brownie points in the Craftsy Blogger Awards. I bought Caro’s “Shoot It” class on my own dime and thought it was worth every penny, even though it’s more geared towards knitwear photography. Wil and I learned a lot from that one class.

I’ve also been adding photography links to my For Bloggers Pinterest board to give you more help, but here are some more tips of my own…


The most important thing to remember, besides just have fun, is you are still learning! I don’t know any bloggers who have a professional, personal photographer (though I’m sure there are some out there) so every time you pick up your camera you’re going to be learning something through trial and error. It’s important to learn from those trials and errors and strive to get a little better with each photo you take. No one is perfect! With every ten photos I share on my blog, you can bet your bottom dollar there were over a hundred rubbish photos that got deleted. Strive for personal progress in your abilities and stop obsessing over “perfect” shots. I’m pretty sure it’s been proven by science that “perfect” doesn’t actually exist in anything.



I shot this sewing project 100% on my own and yes it was a pain in the butt compared to shooting with help, but I’m still proud of the outcome. Especially considering I literally had my camera strapped to a stack of paint cans in lieu of a tripod. I used the timer setting to take 10 rapid fire shots after a ten second countdown. I focused in on the floor lamp and trunk before setting the timer and running into the shot. Then I tried around 3 different poses for each burst of ten shots, hoping that at least one would turn out well. I shot almost 400 photos (which sounds ridiculous but adds up quickly when shooting in bursts of ten!) in one afternoon. Trust me, it’s doable!



This tip goes hand in hand with sharing your creative process as I mentioned in the last post. Documenting the steps it takes to actually construct your garment is important for telling your story, but it also makes great “filler” content. Filler content (in this case) refers to the bits and pieces that helps paint the picture of your blog post. When you take photos of the little things, it really gives your posts an extra point of interest. Not to mention, filler photos are a great way to make up for the fact that you just spent 3 hours on your hair, hoping to get those perfect photos of you in your new dress, and you only have ONE good shot to show for it. Just one amazing outfit photo is all you really need when you have some great little detail shots to sprinkle in. It’s hard to try and photograph yourself. It’s not hard to photograph things in your sewing room.


As far as location, all you need is one little corner in one little room to have a great set of photos. Scoot some furniture around, dress a corner of your sewing space, and learn to crop your photos. I shoot outside my home in 95% of my posts because my living space truly isn’t that cool (I have 5 cats, I can’t have nice things). You don’t need to have a trendy living room, or a sprawling landscaped yard. You just need one camera frame.


If you read this post, I bet you never would have guessed that the photos were taken in a cemetery! Like I said: you don’t need a giant room in the house, or acres and acres of land in order to take good photos. You just need to frame yourself up and crop the rest out!



Because, yes, your stupid cat and adorably pathetic dog are still blog worthy ;)

It’s easy to avoid sharing content because you think it’s not good enough, but again, nothing out there is perfect! Concentrate on your own progress, your own growth, and your own story. Yes you should be focusing on quality posts over quantity. But! When everything else goes wrong, a super cute, slightly blurry photo of your cat sitting on a sewing project that’s destined to remain unfinished is still your story and it’s still worth sharing!

So what are you waiting for?


*UPDATE – I won! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who voted!! xoxo*

(Alright, this is my last official cry for help. We’re closing the gap but I’m still in second!)
As you probably know, William and I have been nominated in the Craftsy Blogger Awards for Best Photography in Sewing and I think we deserve to win! If you found this post at all inspiring or helpful, please consider voting for us! The polls close at 1PM (MT) on October 28th. Click this link and scroll down to the second ballot box titled: Sewing – Best Photography. Click the vote button under the Lucky Lucille logo (all other options will dim), then enter your email address, and click the button to submit your choice (make sure the box is checked to vote in this poll!). If you have voted correctly, you will see a light blue image with a boys face that says “thanks for voting!”. You will also see the voting percentages. The winner is determined by number of votes, but only one vote allowed per person.

Thank you to everyone who’s voted so far. You’re amazing and I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!


photography tips For sewing bloggers

In light of being nominated for the Craftsy Blogger Awards, I thought it would be appropriate to explain how William and I take photos for Lucky Lucille. After all, it is an award for best photography on a sewing blog that we’re hoping to win! Before you say “hey wait a minute, she doesn’t even take all her own photos”, let me explain that I still plan, direct, edit, and blog my photos. Yes, Wil does a fantastic job of capturing my vision, taking direction, and pushing that button, but it’s still a team effort to do what we do.


Why do I care so much about photographing my sewing projects? Well, long story short: I got bored and frustrated with trying to take photos all by myself with no tripod and no remote. I also got bored with my sewing and with my blog when I only took photos in my sewing room or back yard. I wanted photos that told a story and had some depth. I knew my blog would never remain interesting to others if I couldn’t even keep my own interest with the content I was sharing. So I set out to change that and asked Wil to help me. I still shoot my own tutorials and garment construction photos, but any shot with me in it, Wil gets the credit for.


Basically, this is how we work: I sew a garment that I want to share. Wil and I drive around and find a location either on a whim, or based on some kind of plan for the shoot. I give Wil some ideas as to the theme or general feeling I want to convey with what I’ve made. I also tell him what “must have” shots I need in regard to garment details. Then I let him do his thing for a few minutes to warm up and check lighting. We both review those few warm up shots together and discuss what we like and don’t like. If I’m really having a hard time explaining the shot I’m looking for, I’ll actually have Wil stand in my place so I can take the shot I want and he can recreate it. About 100-400 shots later (yes we take that many photos for every shoot!), we’ll go home and I’ll start selecting and editing the photos I want to share here. Wil actually doesn’t get to see any of his shots until they’re live on Lucky Lucille, so he gets to see the story for the first time along with you!

So what does that all look like in practice? Well let’s break it down in photo form!

First I think about what story I want to tell with my photos. With my 1942 Sears reproduction outfit I wanted to portray a WWII farm girl, but sometimes garments don’t need a story as much as they just need to convey a feeling. For example: did we capture the brisk warmth of Autumn in this shoot? If you can feel the location through the photos, then we did our job. Think about your location and consider props to help you capture the story.



Wil usually does a great job of capturing my visions for the shoot, but sometimes I just don’t do a great job of explaining myself. So I’ll have him stand in my place, and I’ll take the shot so he can see exactly what I want! Obviously, taking blog photos with your significant other is totally different than shooting professionally! In a professional setting I wouldn’t be modeling and directing, and I would trust my photographer to capture what they envision as the best shots. But in this case, yeah, I’m going to ask Wil to stand in for me so I can show him how I want to look in my own photo.



When I use the term “edit” I mean downloading all 100-400 photos into my computer and weeding out the good shots from the bad shots. Bad shots are any photos that are blurry, have light that’s too dark or too blown out to fix, or shots where I’m blinking or making a stupid face (which is usually A LOT of shots haha!). After the bad shots are deleted, I go through a second time and pick the shots that really speak to me. The “speak to me” shots have depth, movement, focus (both literally and subjectively), and mood. I try to pick at least 10 to 15 “speak to me” shots to then import into Photoshop for further editing. Now, Photoshop gets a bad reputation because people tend to equate it with airbrushed faces and making people look 25 years younger. (First of all, I do not airbrush my face, and if I looked 25 years younger I would be a fetus.) Let me show you how I use Photoshop and then you can judge me accordingly…


By amping up the brightness, I have turned this decent shot into a “Wow!” shot. These are the photos that Wil gets compliments for, and yes he 100% deserves them, but again, it truly is a team effort.

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of free photo editing tools and action filters you can use to help enhance your photos (utilize Google search!). You can also try Photoshop for free to get your feet wet before making the investment.


Another thing that’s important for sewing/craft bloggers is to take photos of your creative process. It helps you create more content for your blog by breaking your projects down in pieces, and your readers will really enjoy taking that start-to-finish journey with you.



Wil and I are not professional photographers. We’ve scoured the internet for tutorials and online classes to help us get better and we laugh at our failures along the way. Which brings me to my next tip:


When you take blogging really seriously, it’s easy to get all worked up about photos. I’m totally guilty of being a brat when the lighting isn’t right or I can’t seem to find the good side of my face. But at the end of the day, taking photos should be fun! Especially when you’re shooting with someone you care about. You’re at an advantage when someone you feel comfortable with is behind the lens, so relax and enjoy it! We definitely do.

(read Photography Tips – Part Two!)


*UPDATE – I won! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who voted!! xoxo*

So with that said, William and I have been nominated in the Craftsy Blogger Awards for Best Photography in Sewing, and I think we deserve to win. If you found this post at all inspiring or helpful, please consider voting for us! The polls close at 1PM (MT) on October 28th. Click this link and scroll down to the second ballot box titled: Sewing – Best Photography. Click the vote button under the Lucky Lucille logo (all other options will dim), then enter your email address, and click the button to submit your choice (make sure the box is checked to vote in this poll!). If you have voted correctly, you will see a light blue image with a boys face that says “thanks for voting!”. You will also see the voting percentages. The winner is determined by number of votes, but only one vote allowed per person.

I don’t typically get caught up in awards and competitions, but it’s such an incredible honor for Wil and I to be nominated for our efforts and we really want to win!

We need your help.


p.s. We shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3 in case you’re wondering.



Using Non Printed Vintage Patterns – The Basics


One thing that may intimidate people from using 1940’s patterns is the fact that many of them are “un-printed” or blank. This means that you won’t find any markings on the tissue like you do on modern sewing patterns. This lack of information is a little startling at first glance, but soon you’ll see that they’re really no different from a modern pattern.


The first thing you need to do is check the contents of your pattern to make sure you have all of the pieces. Non printed patterns only come in one size per envelope, so the pattern will look as if it’s been cut out already.


Carefully take everything out of the pattern envelope and cross reference your non-printed pieces with the pattern layout diagram found on the back of your envelope, or on the instructions (or both). You’ll be looking for a perforated letter to help you identify each piece.


Now you can really see what I mean by the startling lack of information printed on the pattern pieces!


You want to get the pattern pieces as flat as safely possible so you can accurately trace them onto your pattern tracing paper, and also so you can see what your pieces actually are. It will be hard to decipher a skirt front from the back until you can see the shape and the letter of each piece. You can use a dry iron on a medium setting to help flatten everything out. If the pattern tissue starts to curl or change color, your iron is too hot. It might take a few passes of slightly increasing temperature to get them flat. Remember to be careful and take your time. Some of my 40’s patterns are “dead stock”, meaning they’ve never been opened. That’s 70+ years of folds to iron out!


When your pieces are all ironed flat it will be much easier to tell what’s what. You can see pieces “B” and “M” shown above. By referring to the diagram on the back, you know that piece B is the Bodice Back, and piece M is the Short Sleeve.

This next step is very important if you want to preserve the life of your vintage patterns. From a historical standpoint, some of my vintage patterns are 70-80 years old, and it’s important to me to preserve them as an actual piece of history. From a sewing standpoint, if you plan to make alterations of any kind, you won’t want to cut or mark on any original pattern pieces (this is true for both modern and vintage patterns). For example, if you cut into your original pattern to make a full bust adjustment, it’s nearly impossible to un-tape and revert your changes if you decide that FBA didn’t solve your fitting issue. It doesn’t take much time to trace your patterns and it’s a good habit to get into.


There are many different kinds of papers you can use to trace patterns, but my favorite is Pellon 830 “Tracing Cloth”. This is my favorite to use because you can fold it up, and just as easily iron it out. If I had a dollar for every time I caught my cat sleeping on my traced pattern pieces, I would have a lot of dollars. No problem though, a lint roller and an iron erases all evidence of sleeping felines. You can find Pellon 830 at any Jo-Ann Fabric store, or most other quilt shops, and it is very inexpensive. You’ll want to buy at least as much yardage as your pattern suggests for fabric, but I usually buy 6 yards at a time or a whole bolt when I can. It’s good stuff to stock up on!


Usually when tracing my patterns I’ll lay down a bunch of pattern pieces at once and sort of trace in bulk with one big piece of tracing cloth. For this demonstration I’m just using one small piece of tracing cloth and one pattern piece at a time, and that’s okay too. Pay attention to the directional layout of your pieces as indicated on the envelope, especially if you only need to cut one of your fabric. You want to make sure that all the pieces are going the right way. For example: if you have a wrap dress with a diagonal bodice front, you want to make sure the front overlapping piece is going in the correct direction and the facing matches, or you’ll get lost as you work through the sewing instructions (I’ve done this many times with installing zippers on the wrong side and it tends to make your life harder). Sometimes the perforated letters to identify the pieces are backwards or upside down, and that can be misleading when you lay your pattern down to trace it. So don’t go by the direction of the letter, go by the pattern diagram.

You’ll need a few things to get started. I’m tracing on top of my rotary cutting mat because it’s dark and that makes it easier to see the pattern outline through the tracing cloth, but any flat surface will do. You’ll need something to write with like a pen or pencil (markers work well too, just be careful the ink doesn’t bleed through onto your original pattern!), and a ruler. I use a clear quilting ruler with a grid, and a design ruler to help with curved edges. Having some kind of pattern weight is also helpful to prevent your tracing paper from sliding around. I use an antique mini iron as a weight now, but before I just used my phone, a mug, or any other random things I could find.


Tracing cloth does not have a grain or anything like that, so it doesn’t matter which way you lay it down on top of your pattern. I start by making small marks around all the corners so I can quickly line everything back up if something shifts, and then I trace the straight edges of the pattern.


Next, I trace all the curved edges. Having these fancy looking rulers is not a necessity, so don’t think you need to go out and buy them specifically for pattern tracing, but as you get more serious about sewing and pattern making you’ll find they’re a nice thing to have laying around.


After tracing the basic shape, go back through and trace all of your markings. All of the perforated dots and notches mean something, so it’s important to transfer them.

You may be wondering what all of those little dots mean. Well look to your pattern diagram and they’ll start to make sense.


There will be a series of larger and smaller dots, as well as notches. The notches, like on modern patterns, help you identify the front and back of pieces and also help you line everything up correctly. On this particular pattern, the larger dots found in the middle of the pattern mark your “straight of material” (or straight of grain) and pieces to be cut on the fold. The smaller dots on this pattern mark center front, seam allowances, fabric tucks, and other general placement. On other patterns, those dots will signify darts, gathering, and things like that. Is this all starting to make a bit more sense? Here’s another step to really make things look a bit more familiar for modern times:


You’ll notice that I’ve drawn the arrowed line, to signify that I need to cut the Bodice Back on the fold, instead of tracing the three large dots as shown on the original piece. I’ve also written some other information as far as what the pattern is, what the size is, and some other things that we’re used to seeing on modern sewing patterns. Now I would say this pattern looks pretty “normal”, wouldn’t you?

I will go more in depth on working with vintage darts and other vintage sewing techniques in a later post, but I hope this has been helpful for you to get started with sewing from 1940’s patterns!


Guest Post: Tasha’s Fancy Pockets!

Hi everyone, I’m Tasha from By gum, by golly! I’m thrilled to be guest posting for Rochelle while she’s on her WWII reenactment adventure. I thought I’d talk about a little project I did recently that could easily fit into the “make do and mend” wartime spirit. It’s not a tutorial exactly, but I’ll explain how I did it in case you’d like to try it, too!

Now I don’t know about you, but I adore patch pockets on vintage dresses and skirts. They are such a fun element that you see on so many 40s and 50s day dresses. I’m always inspired by the drawings of them that I see on my vintage pattern envelopes!


They’re a great way to use up scrap trim or even scrap fabric for contrasting or lined pockets, too. Adorned with lace, flaps, piping, ruffles or buttons… the possibilities are endless!


This got me to thinking: why not create pocket inserts that could be changed out depending on your outfit? A solid pocket could have a patterned insert and vice versa. The possibilities are limited only by what scraps you have laying around. And thus I came up with patch pockets with snap-off inserts! Believe it or not I hatched the idea almost a year ago, but it too me until this month to try it out.


It was pretty easy to do, too, it just took a bit of planning and preparation. Here’s how I did it.

I started sewing the skirt first. When the front skirt pieces were assembled, I played around with tissue paper and a pencil until I created a pocket shape I liked, taking into consideration the seam allowances so the pocket didn’t end up too big to fit on one of the gores, as it was a 6-gore skirt. (If you do this with a lapped side zipper, be smarter than I was and make sure you’re clear of the zipper overlap, too.)


Then I created a tissue piece for the insert, making sure that it would fit just inside the patch pocket opening, not including the seam allowances on either piece. To test that out, I just folded in the seam allowances on the pieces to check the fit. I sewed muslins for both to make sure everything lined up, since I wasn’t positive that it would work out like my brain thought it would. Fortunately, my brain was right.


For the muslin pocket piece, I sewed along the seam allowance and left the angled side open. When I turned it right side out to press, I folded the raw edges of the angled side in and top stitched it closed. I did the same for the pocket insert, except I just used my serger on the open edge since it would be inside my pocket. If you don’t have a serger, you could just fold the edges in and topstitch the same as for the pocket. (You can see the open end on the muslin pocket insert above, I didn’t actually serge the muslin since I was just testing fit.)

When I was confident it would work out in my fashion fabric, I cut a piece of my fabric and a piece of facing fabric out of muslin, and then reversed the pattern piece for the opposite pocket. I used vintage fabric for the skirt so I didn’t want to waste any on the inside, hence the muslin. For the pocket insert I just used two pieces of my contrasting fabric.

The lined pieces were necessarily because of the snaps holding it all together! I didn’t want the opening and closing of the snaps to cause more stress on the fabric than needed, nor did I want my stitches on the snaps to show through. Below you can see the two finished insert pieces, the inside of one pocket and the outside of one pocket.


All that was left at that point was sewing on the patch pockets, marking and making a buttonhole on the inserts and sewing a button to the pockets.

It’s hard to photograph the inside of a pocket, but you can see how it all goes together:


The insert fits just inside the pocket:


And the finished pocket and insert looks like this:

The inserts really adds a little something special to the skirt, don’t you think? While I didn’t make them specifically to match this vintage-inspired pink elephants sweater that I designed and knit a few years ago, I think it’s pretty much a perfect combination.


The beauty of the pocket inserts is anytime I’d like, I can make another set with fabric scraps to match a different outfit, or I can just wear the skirt without them. It has the ability to turn a potentially limited wardrobe piece into something more versatile.


I think a wartime sewist would be proud of this clever trick to extend an outfit!


Thanks ever so much to Rochelle for letting me guest post! I really hope you’ve enjoyed this project. Let me know if you try it out!


Tasha, thank you SO much for sharing your brilliant little pocket mod with us! p.s. If you’re not following Tasha’s blog already, you’re seriously missing out! Tasha is not only an extremely talented seamstress, but her knitting will blow your mind. Please stop by and tell her how awesome she is ;)


A Super Easy Way to Trace and Sew Darts

I previously shared some tips on my method for darts (here and here), but I wanted to repost it so it’s easier to refer back to! Darts are really essential for a great fitting garment, but the traditional way of tracing and sewing them can be really intimidating. For YEARS I was limiting myself to dart-free dresses because I was scared of them. Silly right?!

Fret not, fellow sewists! I have an easy alternative for you that’s more accurate and practically pin-free. It’s not too good to be true, I promise ;)

Step One:
I prefer to trace my patterns, but you can cut into your printed ones as well. Simply cut one slit up the dart and then fold across the other line to open it up. You don’t want to cut out the entire dart because you still need to be able to trace that outward V shape onto your fabric. Make sure your cut and folded lines are as accurate as you can make them. (The method also works for diamond shaped darts! You can cut out those entirely.)

Step Two:
Next you’ll want to use a sharpened chalk pencil, washable pen, or fabric marking pen of some kind. A sharp tip is key to get a nice straight dark line.  You can use a ruler to help you do this, but make sure your traced line doesn’t stray out from your dart opening. Be sure your pattern is still lined up correctly with your cut fabric, and that you’re tracing on the WRONG side of your fabric.

When you take your pattern away, you should have something like this:

Step Three:
With right sides together, fold your fabric so the two lines you just drew are lined up. This will be a little tricky since you won’t be able to see the line on the bottom side. Just concentrate on lining up the lines at the start of the dart for right now. Pinch the point where you think they’re matched, then gently bend the fabric down to see if you’ve got it. Make small adjustments, and keep bending the fabric down to check. When you have your two lines matched, use your finger nails to press a crease in the dart fold to help you hold that place.

**editor’s note: you can also draw a little line on the right side of your fabric in the seam allowance to mark where the dart starts. That takes the guess work out of trying to match up the two lines blindly!**
Drop your needle down at the start of the dart to hold those two lines together while you adjust the bottom.

Step Four:
To adjust the bottom of the dart so the lines continue to match all the way down, rearrange the fold until the apex of the dart falls directly on it. You shouldn’t be able to see the top or bottom line roll over the fold of the dart.
Once you have that point adjusted correctly, you can use a pin to make sure you don’t lose it! It’s really important to keep the point aligned as you start sewing down the dart. It shouldn’t move with the pin, but it’s still good to check as you sew. Now both your marked dart lines should be all matched up and ready to sew!

Step Five:
Remember to back stitch at the start of the dart, then follow your traced line as best you can down to the end. DO NOT back stitch at the end! Instead just keep sewing until your line and fabric ends, then just pull out some extra thread so you can hand tie the end of your dart.
Take your two ends of thread and tie 3-4 knots at the end of your dart. (Be careful not to take out the last stitch as you separate the threads to tie them.)

Step Six:
Inspect your work! The thread on the top side of your dart should be pretty much perfectly aligned with your traced line, but flip your fabric over and see how close the back lines up. As you can see above, my stitch line is just a tad bit off the traced line, but it’s close enough to be acceptable. If your thread is obviously not lined up with your traced line, you might want to rip it out and try again, this time take a little more care with trying to match up your traced lines before you start sewing.

Step Seven:
Press your darts nice and flat. It helps to gently tug one side of the fabric as you press your iron into the dart in the same direction. Flip your fabric over to the right side and press the darts again. Make sure there is no folding or bunching over the seam of your dart from the front. Use the narrow end of your ironing board to help you with pressing the points.
The bottom of your darts should line up directly with the bottom of your fabric to form a continuous line. (The bottom darts look warped in my photo since I’ve stretched the fabric out flat, but the bust darts look correct.)

Well there ya have it! Darts made easy!