1940s, 1945, haslam, haslam drafting system, haslam system of dresscutting, pants, sewing, slacks, trousers, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage sewing, vintage style

Haslam System of Dresscutting: Part 1 – Getting Started and Resources

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in draft-at-home systems and mostly intrigued with the Haslam System of Dresscutting. Each and every time I go into a vintage store or thrift shop, I’m always on the outlook for books.

A few years ago, I bought the ruler, foundation document and a booklet with patterns, with the plan to try to figure out how the Haslam system works. After reading through the documentation, I knew I was going to need to see a tutorial of some sort to figure out how it all worked… yet, I couldn’t find any. Recently, I have found a couple YouTube channels and a blog that has made efforts to explain how to use the system, but I feel that there is still information missing and this is why I’ve decided to create a four part series.

The four part series will include steps to use the system, resources and the sewing project I’ve chosen. Hopefully, it will help those also interested. If there is anything you think is missing from the series, please let me know.

Over the next four weeks, I will be posting one series part each week. This is the first one!

Once I am done this blog series, I will do an additional post for a blouse sew-a-long we will be hosting in our Discord Community.

Enjoy!

What is Haslam System of Dresscutting

The Haslam System of Dresscutting is a draft-at-home system, that allows you to create your own sewing patterns using you own body measurements. You can also use the pattern to create different sizes as well as tailor the pattern to fit your body type. This is achieved by creating a sloper and pattern pieces. The system was devised by Miss Grace Haslam and was an original home business that eventually has Miss Haslam travelling all over the country teaching her method of dressmaking.

Here is an article about Miss Haslam and her Dresscutting System. https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/10772216.history-of-the-haslam-sewing-system/

What you will need to get started

Template and Foundation Tools

Where to buy patterns

Resources

Blogs

YouTube

Atelier Limonova has a few videos on her Haslam System journey. I’ve been following along, you should too!

Nora Murrell is also going on a Haslam System journey on YouTube.

I haven’t had a chance to watch these videos yet, but this is Leoneza Nica’s journey.

Facebook

Haslam Support Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/2350029785241188

In part 2 we will talk about how to draft your sloper and pattern pieces using the tools I’ve talked about above. If you aren’t already, please follow me on Instagram as I will be providing mini updates there as well.

1940s, 1945, pants, sewing, slacks, trousers, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage sewing, vintage style

Spring Dress Sew-a-long Step by Step

Now that we are deep into Spring, I thought it was time to share the dress I made for the Spring Dress Sew-a-long we are hosting over in our Killer Kitsch Discord Community. Please join us! Our sew-a-longs have no end date and we are doing several a year, plus, it’s a great group of sewists and knitters.

I decided last year that I am going to move away from my base colours of blacks/reds and have made a grand effort to keep up with that decision. Though red will continue to creep into my new makes and occasionally black for skirts and trouser, I am trying to add as much colour as I can. This year I’ve been leaning more towards greens, blues and yellows, however, I’m really feeling the need to get more pink and orange in there too (the colour orange will appear in an upcoming blog post). A few neutrals will get thrown into the mix here and there as well. I’m also trying to boost up my Tiki themed selections, more to come on that!

I was struggling on what to make for my Spring dress and decided to go with a tried and true pattern, that I not only love, but is incredibly flattering for this curvy girl. That pattern is the Butterick B6543. This was my 5th version of the pattern. I do adore this pattern, but after making five of them, I’ve definitely come up with a list of things I would change about it. The next rendition will be a self-drafted pattern along the same lines.

One of these days, I am going to start filming my makes, but for now I have created a photo essay of the steps I took to create my most recent version.

Note: I don’t have these steps included for this dress, but whenever I make a new garment, I always make a toile (aka mock-up/muslin). Trust me, you will save yourself heartbreak later.

Sewing prep-work:

* Pre-wash your fabric.
* Iron your fabric.
* Organize all of your tools.

Pre-washing and ironing your fabric is incredibly important. Please don’t skip this step. You might think that you are saving time by skipping these steps, but trust me, if you don’t do these steps, your pattern pieces may not all come out the right size AND when you do wash the garment it might shrink or become misshapen. No one wants that.

The pattern pieces:

Lay out your fabric on a flat surface and then lay out your pieces according to the instructions. This is especially important for new sewists. Most of us hate wasting fabric, and once you’ve made a few garments, you might get more comfortable with going freestyle, but in the beginning follow the directions that come with the pattern.

In the pros side of going freestyle, I only had 3 meters of fabric and the pattern requires a little more than 4 meters. I was able to fit it all in and still do a 3 panel gathered skirt.

Do your markings:

I always double check that I have clipped where I’m supposed to and marked up my dots, darts and any extra markings needed. I have a variety of colours of tailors chalk and sheets of tracing paper. (I do find that some fabrics don’t agree with tracing paper and I will need to go over the lines with the chalk)

Iron on interfacing/finishing seams:

This might be out of order for some, but it is how I personally like to do it. Next I iron on the interfacing to the pieces (or baste them if the pattern requires) that require it and serge all of my seams. Some patterns will tell you to serge or seam finish last. Unless it is dire to the structure of the garment or a large piece of the seam allowance needs to be removed, I serge before I sew the pieces together.

Pin, sew and press your darts:

I do this for the front and back pieces at the same time. If you are more comfortable using the order in the pattern, please do. As you get more comfortable sewing, you may choose to do all the darts at the same time.

ALWAYS iron your darts in the direction that pattern instructions say.

Tip: If you don’t own a tailor’s ham (I no longer do, it go lost in my last move), just roll up a towel. It works just as well.

Sew your bodice pieces together!

For this pattern, there are 3 front pieces. The instructions tell you stay stitch on two of the pieces. Do not skip this step. It helps you line all three pieces up and prevents puckers.

Once you have sewn the front pieces together, press your seams.

Next sew the back pieces to the front pieces and iron those seams!

Facing pieces and attaching the straps:

Sew the facings together in the same order that you did the main bodice pieces. Also make sure to iron those seams!

The instructions for this pattern have really clear instructions on how to sew on a strap with an adjustable slider. If you don’t want to use that method, you can also sew on tie straps (I have on all of these dresses). To do so, cut out and sew up 4 long straps.

Follow the steps in the instructions on how to attach the straps. I add a second pin to each strap about 3 inches down to ensure they stay straight for when I sew them in. The pattern also asks you to baste them in place. Don’t skip this step!

Now it’s time to sew the facing to the bodice!

Don’t forget to clip those curves! Clipping the curves helps to ensure everything lays properly. I also under-stitch facings to ensure they don’t roll out during wearing.

Now you have a finished bodice!

Next up, prepare your skirt of choice:

The pattern gives you an option of a pencil skirt or a gathered skirt. I generally love a very full gathered skirt, but have also make this with a circle skirt.

Add the skirt to bodice and insert the zipper:

I say add the zipper style you are most comfortable with. (this is why I don’t have photos of the zipper installation). If you are just learning how to sew, go with what the pattern says.

Some are camp lapped zipper, some are camp invisible zipper. I’m the latter. I love a good invisible zip. Here is the tutorial I use. https://byhandlondon.com/blogs/by-hand-london/11628353-inserting-an-invisible-zipper-the-definitive-tutorial (By Hand London has lots of great tutorials)

Hemming:

This depends on the type of skirt you add. For a gathered skirt, I hem before I sew the skirt to the bodice. If you have cut your skirt on the bias (circle skirt and some pencil skirts) then let the dress hang for a few days before you hem. You might need to even out the hem.

Tip: If you want to add a bit of weight to your skirt, so it doesn’t blow up as much in the wind, add hem tap.

The finished dress!

Ain’t she pretty! The inspriation for why I started making the B6453 pattern, is due to my obsession with the character Audrey’s wardrobe from the 1960s Little Shop of Horrors. I’ve made the checked version and one day soon am going to make the red version!

1940s, 1945, pants, sewing, slacks, trousers, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage sewing, vintage style

Two New Vintage/Vintage Reproduction Sew-a-longs!

We are adding two new sew-a-longs to our Discord Community!!! Details are below. (you can join the Killer Kitsch Discord Community by clicking here!)

Starting May 1st – Vintage Spring Dresses!!!

Starting June 1st Vintage Playsuits!!!

As with all of our sew-a-longs in our Discord Community, you don’t have to start the SAL on the first of the month as the SALs will be open-ended after they begin. We will have separate sections/folders within the community so you won’t get lost!

The SALs are vintage/vintage reproduction. Though you don’t necessarily need to use a vintage pattern, the finished garment must look as if it belongs to an era that is (1970s and earlier).

If you post photos of your garments from the sew-a-long, please tag @killerkitsch13. I would love to repost them on my Instagram.

1930s, 1940s, 1945, 1950s, blouses, pants, sewing, slacks, trousers, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage sewing, vintage style

Killer Kitsch Blouse-a-long!

2021 has definitely become the year of blouses and trousers for me. I’m focused and determined to fill my closet with them. I have plenty of dresses and skirts, but not enough blouses and at this point a wearable toile for trousers. I’m on a mission, oh yes I am!

Along with blouses for myself, I am also working on men’s shirts. This is two-fold. #1 is to make shirts for my husband. #2 is top secret for right now, however, you will hear details soonish. I’m still working on it!

As I often do, I will run an a-long to help keep me motivated. We currently have a blouse-a-long and a trouser-a-long running in our new(ish) Killer Kitsch Discord Community. If you want to join us, click here for the invite. We decided to start a Discord Community so that anyone who wants to participate can join. We were holding them on Facebook, but many people no longer have Facebook, never had Facebook or they rarely log-on (I, myself am also moving away from Facebook and will eventually be archiving the groups over there). I know many didn’t join in because of this. The Discord Community is so much easier to access and makes running a-longs easier!

Now back to blouses! The blouse I am working on is a 1930s reproduction blouse. As with all patterns, I had to grade up, especially in the hip/tummy area. As I lose weight, I will eventually need to do less grading. (with the exception of vintage patterns, I will also need to grade those)

I want to start by saying, that blouses aren’t as scary as they seem. In fact, they are pretty damn easy to make. Yes… there are usually many more pieces and steps, but in all honesty, they go together quite quickly. You just need to be patient with yourself. One tip I HIGHLY recommend is even before you cut out the material, 1. do a toile (muslin/mock-up) AND 2. read the instructions through a few times. That way, no surprises when you cut into your fabric!

I tend to sew and knit within three decades (1930s/40s/50s) and will be doing the same with my blouse journey. My first blouse is (as mentioned above) a 1930s reproduction pattern. Upcoming blog posts will be about the ones that I make from the other decades, as well as the men’s shirts I will be making. I plan on making the blouses in a variety of fabrics. These are the two I’m making at the moment.

How long did it take me to sew it? I don’t have a firm time as I tend to break it up and sew in stages. I used to try to do it all in one day and I’ve learned that doesn’t work for me. After hours of working on one piece, I do (as most will) get tired and when I get tired…. I make mistakes! By sewing it all in stages, I also find it more enjoyable. Below are the stages.

  1. (*toile/final project) Read through pattern. Review layout suggestions for pattern pieces. *Trace out pattern.

2. (toile/final project) Cut out all toile or final material and place everything, including notions in a zip lock bag.

3. (toile/final project) Sew day. Depending on how many steps, I may break this into two days. For this blouse I’m currently working on, I sewed everything up to the buttonholes.

4. (final project) Finish off buttonholes and hand-stitch, plus any other finishing.

I hope those steps helped. Here is a few photos of before and after the buttonholes.

All said, I’m really please with how the first blouse came out. I will definitely be making many more of this one. After I sew the red one (and possibly a third) I will be moving onto the 1940s. I may even have a few more 1940s trouser toiles done by then as well.

1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, knitting, knitting community, vintage knitting, vintage reproduction

The Miss Bow Collection launch and a CONTEST!

Exciting NEWS! Not only does Killer Kitsch Designs have a new collection, but we are also having a contest and it’s in collaboration with Heather Babcock, the author of the novel Filthy Sugar! You can win both a copy of the novel and the one of a kind beret & scarf set inspired by the main character Wanda Wiggles!

The new collection is called The Miss Bow Collection and is inspired by Clara Bow! Clara was both a Silent Film and Pre-code movie star! She is famously known to wear berets in many of her photos and movies! When I came up with the theme for the collection, I knew Filthy Sugar had to be part of the contest! Filthy Sugar is the debut novel of the incredibly talented and sassy Heather Babcock! 

Here is a blurb about the novel!

“Set in the mid-1930s, Filthy Sugar tells the story of Wanda Whittle, a nineteen-year-old dreamer who models fur coats in an uptown department store, but who lives in a crowded rooming house with her hard-working widowed mother and shrewd older sister, Evelyn, in the “slums” behind the city’s marketplace; a world where ‘death is always close but life is stubborn’. After a chance encounter with the proprietor of the Apple Bottom Burlesque Theatre, Wanda is thrust into a world of glitter and grit.”

Wanna know how to win the Wanda Wiggles set AND a copy of Filthy Sugar, head over to the @killerkitsch13 Instagram account!

1950s, 1960s, cardigan, filthy sugar, handknit cardigan, heather babcock, killer kitsch designs, knitting, knitting community, rockabilly, small business, toronto author, toronto business, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage knitting, vintage knitting patterns, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage style, wanda wiggles

The Miss Bow Collection!

Introducing the Miss Bow Collection, inspired by that sassy beret wearing Clara Bow! Clara Bow was an actress of the pre-code and silent film era and known for her very sexy style. Clara was also a huge fan of berets and ascot style scarves! This is why The Miss Bow Collection is named after her. 

Both the beret and ascot scarf are hand knit from original 1930s patterns and are made from the softest 100% acrylic yarn. 


The collection is on sale in our Etsy Store. I will add the link for each colour below.

Colour:
Miss Bow in Cherry Red with Blush Pink flowers
Miss Bow in Teal with Raven Black flowers SOLD OUT
Miss Bow in Blush Pink with Cherry Red flowers SOLD OUT

Size (beret): The beret fits most average sized heads.

Size (scarf): From keyhole to keyhole is approximately 14” unstretched. Because of the way the scarf is knit, it will have a good amount of allowance for stretching.

We are also having a giveaway to help celebrate the launch of this new collection! All the details are over on Instagram and our Killer Kitsch account!

1950s, 1960s, cardigan, filthy sugar, handknit cardigan, heather babcock, killer kitsch designs, knitting, knitting community, rockabilly, small business, toronto author, toronto business, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage knitting, vintage knitting patterns, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage style, wanda wiggles

The Nicest Bad Girl Cropped Cardigan

I now have two versions of The Nicest Bad Girl Cropped Cardigan for sale in my Etsy store! I will have a few more colour combinations coming, but I wanted to get these ones up now, as they will be perfect for your Valentine’s outfit!

The Nicest Bad Girl Cropped Cardigan name was inspired by my friend Heather aka Blue Suede Sue (you will find her over on Instagram) and the nicest bad girls from the b-movies of the 1950s. These nice bad girls could be sweet as pie, but you sure wouldn’t want to make them mad! This cardigan is handknit by me, from an original 1950s pattern. 

The Nicest Bad Girl Cropped Cardigan is made from the softest 100% acrylic yarn. The fit of this cardigan is cropped (sitting at your waist) and the overall body is a looser fit. The sleeves are ¾ in length so you can show off your lucite bracelets. 

Click on below to go directly to your cardigan of choice!
Cherry Red with pink flowers!
Blush Pink with red flowers!

1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, cardigan, knit-a-long, knitting, knitting community, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage knitting, vintage knitting patterns, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage style

All The Cardigans!

Recently, I took an inventory of all of my hand knits. Rather than knit everything I see, I decided it might be a good idea to fill wardrobe holes. You see, the cubbies I use for my knits is bursting and I need to be a lot more selective about what I make. There are two types of garments I am lacking at the moment, summer tops and cardigans. Since winter is approaching, I thought I would get a head start adding some warm, cozy cardigans to the knits.

All of the cardigans I am knitting, have been inspired by some very lovely and talented knitters I follow on Instagram. Thank you Bex, Erica, Amanda and Suzanne! I have finished one of four I plan on making. All will be fairy quick knits since they will be in worsted weight yarn and I’m choosing colours I don’t currently have. Yes! You heard that right, they won’t be black or burgundy… though… one might be red, but a brighter red!

Oh and if you want to join in we are doing a vintage cardigan knit-a-long over in our Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/killerkitschvintagewips

As I mentioned above, I have finished one of the cardigans. Please check out the slide show below. It was a super easy knit, with one exception… the lace instructions were confusing. I read them several times, wrote them out a bunch of different ways, tried knitting them over and over and they came out wrong! I’m an experienced knitter and have knit lace before. I’m especially experienced at knitting vintage patterns and was super frustrated that I couldn’t figure out the lace part. Rather than toss the cardigan aside, I decided to do a cable pattern in the panel instead. I noticed that Suzanne (please click here to follow her Instagram account and see her version) had made a version and her lace came out perfect. I reached out to her and she had the exact same issues I did, however, she persevered and figured out the lace pattern. She has since shared it with me, so I am going to attempt the cardigan again with the lace.

In the end, I really love this pattern. The fit is amazing, it is an easy knit and it’s fast. The next one will be with lace and will likely be a gift. Eventually, I will make a second one for me.

One of my hurrah’s while knitting the Bestway A2900 was, I decided to learn how to make yarn covered buttons! They look complicated, but trust me, they are super easy! Click here for the link to the tutorial I followed.

This isn’t the best photo. This blue is hard to get a picture of. I was using worsted yarn, so it isn’t as defined as if I’d used fingering weight.

The next knit on my list is the Style 110, it’s from Botany Handknit Fashions vol. 10, circa 1957. This is another knit that was inspired by Bex Huland. (click here to follow her on Instagram and see her version) The other knit she inspired was the Denise blouse. She is also my inspiration to FINALLY make trousers!

The Botany cardigan is also in a very fast knit. Bex finished hers in 2 weeks. I’m going to be making mine in purple and instead of adding a floral trim, I’m going to attempt little black bats or if I do decide to go with flowers, they will be either a darker purple or black. There will be an updated blog post when I complete it.

I’ve been wanting to make the Nautical Topper for a really long time. I first saw it when Amanda (click here for her Instagram) knit it as a commission, but it wasn’t until I saw that Erica (click here for her Instagram) had started it and said how fast and easy it was, did I decide to add it to my WIPs list. I’m considering a few different colour combinations, likely in autumn colours rather than the red, blue and white.

I have a lot of knitting on my plate. I will squeeze the cardigans in between Yule knitting. I’m about 50% done my current WIPs for that, but am likely throwing in that cardigan I mentioned. However… I live in Ontario and winter is loooooong! I have plenty of time.

1940s, 1945, pants, sewing, slacks, trousers, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage sewing, vintage style

1940s Trousers And The Journey To Get The Right Fit: Toile #2, the wearable version

How much fiddling can a sewist fiddle… before she LOSES HER MIND! I have come to realize that I’m someone who visualizes how something should look in her head and when the thing I’m making doesn’t look exactly like it… I will fiddle with it, until I’m ready to scream. This has been the last two weeks of my trouser adventure. Why, oh why do I do this to myself. I know I’m not alone here. Raise your hand. Come on! Gett’em up!

I raised the waist. I put it back to where it was. I raised the waist. I put it back to where it was. Then I finally talked myself into leaving it where the pattern has it sitting. Why? I’m hight waisted and realized if I put the waist where my current waist is… it will not be flattering. I’m on a weight loss journey and as I do, my waistline will also lower.

I found the pant legs to be way too wide for me. I took 2″ out of the bottom and tapered them up to the knee.

The pattern I chose for this journey is a 1945 Trouser Set B, that I found on Etsy from Eva Dress. I purchased the PDF version of the pattern. The pattern is originally by Vogue (9016), (“Easy to Make”) ‘Slacks with built-up or regulation waist line and choice of long or below-knee length. As the pattern suggests the pattern is incredibly easy to make, how ever you will need to make fit adjustments for the modern figure. I know I have to.

Then…. after more fiddling I was finally happy with the toile. A happy outcome, was I’d lost more weight and the I had to take the toile in. Now happy with it, I cut out the pants. I wasn’t able to make them right away and would wait a week to sew them. Then sew day came…. and I’d clearly lost a few more pounds in the week I waited… because they were slightly too big. I took another inch out to the waist and 2 inches out of the hips and reduced the width of the legs even more.

For the next rendition of these trousers, I am going to use the original pattern. I had to size up from it and now thing the original size will fit me now.

Am I 100% happy with the trousers? Not yet. I’m going to be trying several different styles over the next few months to see what works. It’s my goal to get the perfect fit for the body I have. The next one I am working on is the Loretta shorts. I’m modifying them to be pants. Stay tuned. They will be next.

1940s, 1945, pants, sewing, slacks, trousers, vintage, Vintage Community, vintage life, vintage pattern, vintage reproduction, vintage sewing, vintage style

1940s Trousers And The Journey To Get The Right Fit: Toile #1

Trousers, Pants, Slacks or what ever you wish to call them, have been my nemesis in my later adult years. I haven’t owned a pair in 10+ years and to be honest I swore I was never going to own a pair again. As per my previous post, there are a lot of things I hate about modern pants, including the fit and how short the rise is. I’m a high waisted, curvy girl! That just isn’t going to do. As I have with all of my current wardrobe, it I want it to fit, I have to make it myself. So why have I changed my mind? A few reasons.

  1. I live in Canada and winters get hella cold here. COLD! FREEZING! WINDCHILL! I usually wear thick tights under my dresses and skirts, but the wind still gets up there.
  2. I love the way 1930s/1940s/1950s pants look.
  3. Vintage trousers fit. The waist is where is SHOULD be. I will always need to to resize them, because I don’t have a 26″ waist or 40″ hips, but with all vintage patterns I’ve redrafted, the fit is always spot on, when I do.
  4. I follow quite a few curvy ladies on Instagram who have made their own trousers and they are rocking them! One of the ladies is Bex Huland! She looks incredible in the 1940s trousers she made and it has inspired me!

The pattern I chose for this journey is a 1945 Trouser Set B, that I found on Etsy from Eva Dress. I purchased the PDF version of the pattern. The pattern is originally by Vogue (9016), (“Easy to Make”) ‘Slacks with built-up or regulation waist line and choice of long or below-knee length. As the pattern suggests the pattern is incredibly easy to make, how ever you will need to make fit adjustments for the modern figure. I know I have to.

So, where do we start? With a toile. We always start with a toile. Every thing I sew I make one. I wish I could just sew straight from the original pattern, but that will never happen. Plus, I have some pretty sweet fabric for my first pair of trousers and there is no way in hell, I’m cutting into it until I get the fit right.

Toile #1

There will eventually be more pictures of me wearing toiles. At the moment I have no way of taking those photos.

There are going to be a few toiles, so be prepared! This first one was ok. When I redrafted it, I almost got the measurements right. I was off, ever so slightly. When I did the sit test, I found them a little snug across the front. I don’t want it baggy either, but if I have to sit for a long time, I would like it a bit looser. Also, it will be a bit more flattering on the tummy area. A few other things I need to change is the rise needs to be at least 1 to 2″ higher, I don’t like the side snaps and the legs from the knees down are way too wide. I also hate the front darts. They aren’t flattering and draw too much attention to my belly.

After making several notes, I decided to search Instagram to see who else may have made these trousers and I remembered that Bex had made a similar pair (hers are 1940s). I looked at a few of her posts and voila, she had the exact same fit issues/change ideas I did AND added a back zipper. The back zipper solved the side button issue! With her trousers, she did add pockets. For now I am going to concentrate on fit. At some point down the road, I will work on adding pocket.

Bex also has a couple blog posts about the trousers she made (here) and (here), as well as how she removed the front darts. Please check them out!

I’m going to be doing a separate blog post for each toile I make and a blog post for the finished pair (with actual photos of me wearing them). These next several months are going to be about trousers. I will be trying out different patterns and styles and working on the perfect fit for all! Oh did I mention, I’m also going to be making shorts… that’s going to be a whole other set of blog posts! I hope you will come along for the journey!