Vintage Red

Dedicated to Vintage Pattern Reproduction.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Paper Trail

Posted by Carisa |

Greetings! After completing my 2nd Grade masterpiece (and yes, it is on my fridge, I signed it and everything!), I decided to actually do some r-e-s-e-a-r-c-h on what people use to trace patterns on. I ended up going with the architect paper which I purchased last night and then promptly put it aside to watch a Netflix movie (who can resist Dean Martin? WHO!)

So here's the low down on the paper and such.

Medical Exam Table Paper

Pros:  Easy to find and cheap.
Cons: I believe it only comes in 21” wide and from the exam paper I have seen it’s not as transparent as I would like it. 
Purchase Info:  Can be purchased online or at medical supply stores for pretty cheap, or stolen from your Doctor’s office when no one is looking (I’d wear a large coat if I were you). and sell them.
Comments:  Many people mentioned that they went to their doctor to ask about it. Really? I envision this conversation going something like this: "Hey so while you're down there, how much does a girl need to pay for a roll of this stuff, or does it come free with the service?" I obviously don’t have a close enough relationship to my doctor. It might have something to do with the whole weighing you before you even get into the room stunt, “you weigh xyz“”yeah I need a little less chat and a little more get me (blank) outta this room”. A real chit-chat killer in my opinion.

Regular Tissue Paper

Pros: Cheap Cheap Cheapity Cheap
Cons: Tears really easily
Purchase Info: Pretty much any local Walgreens or grocery store. Online would be a good bet.
Comments:  hahaha, I know I like doing things the hard way, but I’m pretty sure the majority of my hair would be pulled out trying not to tear the paper. And I super like my hair, right where it is.

Pattern Ease (and other similar products like TrueGrid) 

Pros:  You can sew it, press it, and fit using it.  Doesn’t slip around on the fabric when using it to cut. Doesn’t tear.
Cons: The lines are not not always true (so they say). 
Purchase Info: Non-woven tracing material, Can be purchased at fabric stores like and
Comments:  I think the lines would give me a killer headache after a while and I was really never good at coloring inside the lines.

Swedish Tracing Paper

Pros: Similar to Pattern Ease but with no lines. Durable, can be sewn and pined, doesn’t sip on fabric, can be ironed.
Cons:  Pencil doesn’t erase well on it. Predominantly sold online, unless you are blessed to live near a sewing mecca. 
Purchase Info: Birch Street Clothing, NearSea Naturals
Comments: I think I will probably try this at one point, it seems really amazing. And no lines to get in the way!

Non-woven Soil Separator Cloth (Common brand Weed Blocker)

Pros:  Thin and transparent. Can be sewn.
Cons: Difficult when using pencils. Sharpies bleed through. 
Purchase Info: Can be purchased at most home stores in the plumbing (no idea why) or gardening department. Online it can be purchased at Carriff ,
Comments: I don’t like nature really; I mean we have a very good business relationship where we stay out of each others way, while admiring each other from afar, through glass. I don’t think I would really enjoy going into a place full of it….shiver.

Dotted Pattern Paper

Pros: Durable, faint dots won't get in the way as much as a grid
Cons: Can only be found in one store (that I know of) 
Purchase Info: Can be found at Steinlauf and Stoller
Comments: From what I could find on it I think this is pretty much like the architect paper below, but with dots. I only found one seller for it, he is located in New York (link above) and I am not so luck to live near a fabric mecca such as NYC (sniff sniff).

7lb Architect Sketching Paper (Bienfang No. 107 Canary sketching paper is most poplar)

Pros: Is transparent enough to not need bright light for tracing. Very durable. Pens and sharpies do not bleed through. Can be found at most art stores. Comes in various widths.
Cons: I couldn’t find anyone that didn’t like this paper. 
Purchase Info: Can be purchased online at and
Comments: I chose this to start off with and am on my way home to purchase J I’ll have to leave a bit early because the closest place closes at 5 (WHAT a SHAME that I have to leave early, I’m crushed, really I am).  I did find that although everyone talks about Binefang online, all you have to do is ask for 7lb sketching paper and there is a plethora of other brands out there, make sure you ask if it’s on a role though, it is also sold in pads.

Can be found at art stores and such, for about $1 a foot

Pros: Very durable and transparent. Pens won't bleed through.
Cons: Probably the most expensive of all the choices.
Purchase Info: Utrecht, and all sell Vellum. 
Comments: I'm cheap.'nough said.


Pros: Cheap and totally old school
Cons:I think we all know how horribly wrong this could go. Bleeding on fabric and your hands, hard to see markings.
Purchase Info: On your doorstep (or someone else's doorstep, I won't judge). And any supermarket or bookstore.
Comments: Tell me you don't love that picture I 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Second Grade Tracing Project

Posted by Carisa |

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I never followed instructions, I'm pretty sure "I'm sure this will work better" was my motto. And then, as it is now, doesn't really ever work for me the way I think it will, yest I still do it.

You are correct, I made my first attempt at grading! Well, actually, step one, tracing. Apparently I need to go back to 2nd grade.

Experiment #1:
Aim: To accurately transfer a vintage pattern to a new pattern that can be altered without harming the original
Hypothesis (optional): That I am a bitchin' pattern maker and can do this in a day
Equipment: Tracing Paper, Pen, Rulers, Endless amounts of patience
1. Use a tracing paper that you can see through, you can scan or retrace on sturdier paper later
                 Inner Child: Laahame. I say use brown paper, it's A; Cheaper, and B: sturdy and you can use it to make 
                 everything off of! Two birds with one stone.
2. Trace the pattern, carefully, recording all notations on the original pattern. 
                Inner child: Whaaaat! Do you know how long that is going to take! Skip it, you should do a "dry run" and 
                not put the marking in. You can always fill it in later. Dude, I should totally write instructions, move over, 
               give me a crayon. 
Safety/Risks: Possible alcoholism by end of session.
Results: A completely unusable pattern for regrading. No crayons were harmed in this experiment.
Conclusion:  In conclusion I turned my frown upside down and used it to make a muslin cut out. I'm sure my inner child was planning that all along.I vow to never make short cuts again (lie), and will be purchasing tracing paper tout de suite! I did however use it to sew a muslin of the dress, because I was really curious to see what the finished project would look like.

Pictorial Evidence:

Laying out the pattern

The decision to use my useless "pattern" for a greater god, a mock-up of the dress...

A close up of the final muslin. Note to self: get something more fun for fabric. Muslin = utter snooze fest for pictures.

Totally random side note for amusement purposes: 
I often "argue" with my boyfriend about leaving stuff about, such as piles and piles of papers. Therefore, I occasionally get my passive aggressive side on, and take them and make new 'arrangements" out of the piles, totally screwing with his "filing system".
Mean? Yes.
Funny? Yes.
Worth it? Well I thought so, until he got even.
So I was tracing up a storm a few weeks ago and left my sewing table in the living room (which, incidentally, is the best thing I have ever bought in my entire like, sorry Ipod, you have been replaced!). We were having people over and he was complaining about me leaving it in the living room, which I snapped (while cooking the ENTIRE dinner) that he could just move it if he was going to be such a baby. All I heard was a "oh, I see. I'll get right on that" in the tone I used to give to my mom when I was going to be a smart ass about something.

I think a picture will do it justice.



Need I say more? I got served. Touché honey, touché...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The First Pattern...

Posted by Carisa |

I was trying to decide what pattern to start with and thought it would be gut wrenching to pick one out of the many that I have laying about. Then I saw one that I always keep out, kind of for good luck. Let me explain. 

(insert hazy and terribly biased flashback here. Maybe even an 80s starswipe, oh yeah, old school flashback)

 Many many moons ago, ahem, years ago. I was living in Chicago, drowning in retail misery and in a pretty sad little funk. I had graduated from an arts school in Arts Management (insert snort of laughter here for an "Art" school having a management program), and realized, hey, management sucks, a lot. And what sucks more than management? Retail management, oh yeah, soul sucker. So after drowning my sorrows in the bottom of a vodka pineapple (I know right? All I needed was an excessive amount of pink velour and some pom poms with that drink. My prior lameness is duly noted and I am appropriately shammed. I'm sorry if you are offended and over the age of 23) I dusted myself off and decided to change it up a bit, so I move to London to attend school for Costume Design. Well, I won't go into great detail about what happened (we'll save that for another day) but lets just say it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be and there were many "I hate designing all I want to do is sew" comments thrown about.

Upon my first few days I realized that, aside from a few of us, everyone was under 22 (eek). I immediately forged a drinking/whinfest friendship with a lovely British tart (ahem "lady") by the name of Anwen. We were united in our general hatred of designing and our love of sewing. I moved back to the US a year later and we have stayed friends (duh). Last year was my big 3-0 and Anwen sent me a beautiful vintage pattern. I knew the second I looked at it that something special needed to be done with it and it has remained out, flirting about my sewing room nagging me (with a snotty British accent) that "doing something with it" meant picking it up.

So here we are (starswipe back to present, and still seriously biased, day)

Behold my first pattern, for your viewing pleasure! I will be posting in a few days more about my progress. With pictures of course, because let's face it, we don't really read anything unless pictures are involved. Maybe I should do a post where, in-between sentences, I just post random pictures, oh that is SO going to happen…

McCalls 5412 (1960)

Friday, January 15, 2010

101: Intro to Moi

Posted by Carisa |

So, I notice on a lot of sewing blogs, people just do a first post all willy nilly, and I always feel a little let down. Where's the intro? The Setup? The reason you started it in the first place? Now don't get my wrong, I'm not trying to pee in your cheerios for those of you who have blogs that don't do intros (ok well kinda). But I'm A: Nosy and want to know more about you, and B: I don't understand how, on one of the vainest mediums next to Twitter updating (I mean really?), that one would choose not to do a little performance of the (Enter Name Here) Show? You know, get your inner Vanity Smurf on!

So here we go...her's my INTRO (consider your cheerios peed in)

The Carisa Vanity Show (Season 1, Episode 1): I Got Your Cheerios Right Here

When I was 8, my grandmother and mother taught me to sew, in the hopes that learning to put something together, would stop me from dismantling everything in the house  (I mean. as if Barbie neeeeded that car or something, geesh!)

Well it worked, I haven't dismantled a doorknob in years (well I did finally learning how locks work, thus ending my need for scientific experimentation on the subject.) Since then I have dedicated my spare time to sewing, and learning as much about the craft as I can. Oh and being lazy.

So here we are, in Blogland, 20-plus years later (eek), and my new challenge is to take the vintage patterns I have (read: serious pattern collecting problem to the tune that it is quite likely they will find me dead underneath them in the next Lifetime reality show), and create multi-size patterns that everyone can use. I know far to well what it is like to squeal with excitement on viewing a beautiful vintage pattern, only to sigh loudly and curse my enchilada addiction, when I see it doesn't come in my size, or even close to my size (boo).

The catch you ask? The reason you will come back and that I'm blogging instead of working right now? Well, honestly, I haven't graded a pattern before, plus I'm really entertaining, I make myself laugh at least 2 times a day. So if you decide to visit me again, you can follow along with me on this new scientific experiment (um, maybe don't mention to mom, she still has flashbacks and screams when someone says "experiment" à la turrets style. Poor UPS Guy.) Here, on this site, is where I''ll be your free entertainment about my process of learning grading, my mistakes, my triumphs, my inability to sew a single garment without sewing something in upside down or backwards at least once (I mean every friggin' time.), and a host of other useless facts about moi.

Hopefully you will enjoy it, and hopefully someday, you will be able to come here, and squeal with delight when you click on a fabulous vintage pattern and it does, in fact, come in your size. Until then, my sarcasm and pictures will be here for you enjoyment.

So I'll see you around then?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coming Soon...

Posted by Carisa |