Monthly Archives: March 2012

How To: Draft a missing pattern piece

A couple of weeks ago, a reader asked how I’d drafted the missing pieces for Vogue 9996 (1960) as mentioned in a previous post (actually, that post is Part 3 of 3). Rather than answer in the comments, I thought it would be easier to write a new post, and then I immediately put it off. What better time than a gorgeous, warm, sunny Saturday (when I should be sewing or packing for my upcoming trip) to hang out in my basement office and finally get around to writing said post?

First off, this “how to” is along the lines of Do As I Say, and Not As I Do. What I say is: this method has a certain level of inaccuracy. If you’re a Seamstress, just stop reading right now. You will possibly break out in hives and/or start crying. Besides, you already know how to draft a pattern. If, however, you are “merely” Someone Who Sews, and have a scanner and printer, and are caught in a bind with a half-finished garment, and are okay with taking shortcuts marked with signs such as BRIDGE OUT, and are maybe using a forgiving fabric, AND don’t need the finished item to fit like a tailor-made glove, then read on.

NOTE: If you’re missing nothing but a facing piece, stop right here. You can recreate the facing simply by tracing the piece it is the facing for, but make it only about 2″ deep. Now carry on with your sewing. If you don’t understand what this means, skip ahead to the TEST below.

Okay, here’s the quick-and-dirty trick for quickly recreating a missing pattern piece using very little math and no actual drafting: There should be an index of the included pattern pieces, printed on your instruction sheet(s). It looks something like this:

That there index is typically drawn to scale. Which means that you can measure a full-size pattern piece that you do have against its representation in the index and find out how much that drawing has been scaled down. (If you don’t have an index, you can do this same trick with the cutting layout. If you don’t have a cutting layout either, you should really consider using a different pattern.) Using the above as an example, let’s say you have everything but piece #2, the bodice back.

TEST: if you couldn’t tell that piece #2 is the Bodice Back from looking at the above index, this entire technique may be a bit overwhelming for you. Stop here and sew a couple of garments from complete patterns to get some practice in before you start taking confusing shortcuts like this.

Okay, so let’s take a pattern piece for the skirt, and measure the longest edge. Let’s pretend it’s 30 inches long (I’m not measuring the actual pattern pieces in this example, so don’t think you can cheat and make this particular dress from using these instructions). On the index, that corresponding edge is 1.625″ long. You wind up with an equasion that looks like:

1.625 * X = 30

…wherein X is your mystery number. Insert some 8th grade algebra here to deduce that you need to multiply the index drawing by 18.5 to make it life-size (If 1.625 * X = 30, divide both sides by 1.625 to solve for X). If you double-check the math, you’ll discover that 1.625 * 18.5 is actually 30.0625 but I warned you that this method was a teensy bit inaccurate. Besides, you’ll likely err that small of a difference when you cut out the fabric.

Okay, now let’s measure piece #2 on the index. The waist length on the index drawing is exactly .5″ long. Multiply by 18.5 to determine that it should be 9.25″ long. Scan in your missing piece from the index, adjust it in the computer program of your choice until it’s “life size” based on your math, and print it out full size. After a bit of taping if you had to tile it together, you have your missing pattern piece! It will be missing helpful marks such as grain line and darts, but you’re an advanced enough sewer to be able to figure out those bits. You should test out your new piece by pinning all of the pattern pieces together before you cut any fabric. If the piece you made seems way off, either your math is bad or the index for your pattern isn’t drawn to scale. Try again with the cutting guide instead of the index. If it’s still way off, well, at least this method wasn’t a huge investment of your time. Try scouring PatternRescue for your missing piece.



Filed under fashion, sewing

If there are no more phone booths, where will Clark Kent change into his Superman duds?

Bell Telephone introduces Airtight Outdoor Telephone Booths, scanned from The American Home, October, 1954. Click image to enlargify.

Bell Telephone: Reminding you that someone, somewhere, would enjoy hearing your voice today.

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Filed under advertising, nostalgia, vintage

Rubbermaid, 1954

This one is posted by special request for a couple of my Instagram chums. The ad is scanned from the October, 1954 issue of The American Home. Click image to biggerize.

Rubbermaid ad, 1954

For anyone interested, I used an inflation calculator to figure out what “just $13.73” is worth in 2011 dollars. It comes in at a shocking $115.59!

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Filed under advertising, kitchen, nostalgia, vintage

New New New (and slightly less-new)

Hi, I’m Troy McClure and you may remember me from such educational films as… no, wait, that’s not right.

But I am Tiddleywink (Design, Vintage) and Winkorama Vintage Sewing. Happy to fulfill your vintage clothing, vintage sewing, and freelance print production dreams. Not necessarily in that order.

As of today, I’m also Tiddleywink Retro. It’s not really a big deal, just a little shop for the misfits: the items of clothing, etc. which don’t qualify for my Etsy shop because they’re not truly vintage, but are too nice and/or expensive to simply toss in the donation pile. Trust me, there’s plenty in the donation pile already. These are things that I either bought for myself but never wore, or bought as vintage for the shop only to find upon close inspection that they’re not as “vintage” as may have been advertised. And so here is where those items will be posted, hoping for new homes. The listing prices will be set at whatever I paid for each item; no more, no less. No markup. No profit. No sales. No discounts.

Tiddleywink Retro. It looks an awful lot like this.

Due to the nature of the store contents, I hope I won’t be updating it very often. But, you know, things happen. Maybe a dealer missed a dead-giveaway label hidden in a side seam. Maybe a dress I bought online is a few inches shorter than I’d hoped. Maybe I ordered two pairs of identical shoes planning to return whichever pair didn’t fit, only to have the store go out of business before I could send a pair back. Um, you know, for instance. Hypothetically. (Yeah, that once happened.)

So stroll around, take a look, tell your friends. Buy stuff that deserves to be worn, rather than hanging in a dark closet with no foreseeable future.

You can get to all of the above links, and more, from this one swell page:

Swell, innit? Click to visit.

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Filed under collections, day job, design, fashion, jewelry, life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage


EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you for (likely) clicking through on a Pinterest link! As I write this (at the close of 2015), the below post is now four years old and the site has been abandoned relocated for nearly two of those. I invite you to join me instead at the Shoes & Pie blog section of The photos (including the one with the actual recipe you came here for) even load properly over there.


Cake, I love cake, rahhhlly I do.

I’m also picky about cake. That is to say; even shitty supermarket cake is still CAKE, but I swoon over GOOD cake. The kind of cake I grew up with, which was sweet but not cloying, dense but not heavy, and frosted with REAL buttercream. Made with copious amounts of butter.

For someone who likes to cook, and who is so picky about what makes a good cake, you’d think that I’d be baking cakes all of the time. And you’d be wrong. I bake a lousy cake. I blame a certain lack of patience, and the altitude. I was a much better baker at sea level, and try as sporadically as I do, I’ve had a tough time properly adapting recipes to 5,000 feet.

My cakes are so consistently bad that when I decided to bake my own birthday cake last summer, I ran out at the last minute and bought a back-up cake in case mine didn’t turn out. And mine didn’t turn out. The flaws with my cakes can apparently be attributed to over-mixing, so for my next cake I was going to be excessively attentive to how long I mixed the batter.

My regular readers know that I collect vintage cookbooks, and one of my recent acquisitions is a 1957 copy of Mile-High Cakes, put out by Colorado State University. Hey, rather than adapt a sea-level recipe to altitude, why not start with a recipe that was developed here in the first place? And so: let’s bake a cake!

Mile-High Cakes, 1957

I read the intro of the book, where the chemistry of ingredients is discussed. I grease and parchment-line my pans. I read through the recipe three times. I measure out all of my ingredients precisely. And then: I set up my kitchen timer, so I can time my mixing.

High-altitude recipe

Following instructions to a T, I mix that batter for far longer than I have mixed any batter ever before. A combined 12 minutes?! I cringe when I think about what all of this mixing is doing to my historically over-mixed batter. But I am determined to follow every instruction as written. Will it be dry? Crumbly? Will it tunnel? Fall? All of the above? I whip up a quick meringue frosting because I don’t want to waste perfectly good butter on this potential disaster.

Cake. Cake that is real cake.

Over-mixed? Nope. It’s the best cake I’ve made yet. It turns out I’ve been UNDER-mixing my batter all this time. Thank you, ladies of the Home Economics Section, Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. I could hug you. And/or bake you a cake.


Filed under diner pie, food, kitchen, vintage