Essential Sewing Tools – The Sewing Gauge

I have to thank Liz over at zilredloh for choosing me as the winner of her awesome March Giveaway! Look at all the amazing stuff I won!

March Giveaway goodies from zilredloh!

Guys, that’s a real sewing book from 1957! Can you believe it?! And a belt making kit, and vintage rayon seam binding (I love the stuff!) and vintage buttons!

I also have to thank my sewing gauge, that little inconspicuous but much loved tool that was the subject of discussion in my winning comment (a response to Liz’s question over what sewing tool we wished we had known about when we first started sewing), I said:

“Oh goodness that’s easy, I wish I had invested in a sewing gauge when I first started sewing because my seam allowances were never correct and I ended up with very strange-looking garments and used to get so very frustrated! It’s a good thing I smartened up and got one later!”

Liz suggested I demonstrate how I use my sewing gauge so here it goes, sewing gauge, this one is for you. It is ridiculously easy to use (people who can count with average math skills and a steady hand probably don’t even need it).

Here is how I measure my 3/8″  (1cm) seam allowance, I count three little fractions (marked by small lines at the top). The little blue slider helps position the fabric precisely, use it!

And here’s how to measure a 5/8″ (1.5 cm) seam allowance – count five little lines!

Most patterns call for a 3/8″ or 5/8″ seam allowance.  All you have to do is just count the little lines until they match up with the right fraction of 8. If I’m stitching on slippery fabric (I mean you, chiffon) I just make tiny pen dot marks at the end of my gauge and follow it with my needle (you could use that circle at the top left hand corner to mark your fabric, but people like me get confused because the circle takes up 1/8″ and then I have to add another 1/8″ at the end to even it out – I’m making this sound more complicated than it really is).

I know it might sound unnecessary but I think all beginners need one, it makes the difference in fit and a clean finish for whatever you’re sewing. It’s also ridiculously cheap (unless you want to splurge and buy one designed by those brilliant German and Scandinavian companies). I bought this for 1$ at the local dollar store, and it came with a seam ripper and a needle threader (yay!).

There you have it, the sewing gauge, an essential sewing tool.


Spring Inspiration: Vintage Designer Coat Patterns

Spring is around the corner and that means I need a new spring coat. That also means that I spent a ridiculous amount of time the last couple of days searching for a pattern that I like.

I was looking through Ebay and Etsy listings for a classic a-line(ish) coat sewing pattern, preferably a Vogue Paris Original (just because it’s time I own one of those) something along the lines of  a 1960’s-1970’s Patou, Balmian or Molyneaux (ooh fancy!), and then finally, I came across this total beauty (Vogue 1356) and my heart started racing…

Image from grannigertsattic etsy shop

…until I realized it wasn’t in my size (and then my heart sank because I don’t think I’m ready to grade a coat pattern! and a designer one at that!). It’s very reasonably priced at $7.99 (the next one I found was $18.00, and then $35.00) so if you’d like the original thing check out grannigertsattic shop on Etsy* (disclaimer: I’m not being paid to advertise this, I just thought  it would be nice to give them a shoutout if I’m using their image for my blog).

I dug around the net some more for some closeups to examine the construction:

So what did I do? Well, I thought about “making do” with what I already have (meh…sometimes this is not so fun). I flipped through all my paper and e-patterns hoping to find one that would come reasonably close with some pattern alterations and modifications and guess what guys?! With a little bit of this and a little but of that, the FREE Talea pattern on Burdastyle comes pretty close don’t you think?!

Image courtesy of

All I have to do is omit the shoulder detailing, sleeve cuff and back waist half belt thingey, turn the pockets into side welt pockets and can you believe it?! A free Molyneaux inspired coat! Thank you Burdastyle!

Next: how to make the dress in that pattern (also: the hat, I need it).

But: It’s March now and my Minoru muslin is still sitting there half cut and I didn’t even touch my craftsy BOM quilt blocks for February yet. Why? I’m working on another project of epic proportions (no, no,  not a wedding dress, though that is quite possibly the most epic thing one can sew) that I’ll tell you about soon! I did finish the Colette Crepe dress though (I’m just waiting for nice sunny weather to take pictures of it before I show you).

Happy sewing!