Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book Basic Bodice Fitting

Cover Photo

It’s live and it’s on the Sew Against the Grain YouTube.  Enjoy!


Dagger Through the Heart


This photograph was taken by Nina Leen for a 1947 edition of Life Magazine.  The model is wearing what looks like knit wear with a heart pieced by a jeweled dagger.  I recreated this dagger through the heart imagery on a dress.

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I used the princess seam bodice and pencil skirt from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book to make the dress out of a black stretch twill.  I am 100% team kick pleat (no skirt vents here) so I modified the standard pencil skirt pattern below to add a pleat.


The heart, dagger, and blood drops are made from felt which I cut out and hand sewed onto the dress.  I also added beading to the hilt of the dagger.

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Interested in making your own heart through the dagger applique?  You’re in luck!  My super talented boyfriend made a pattern of the heart, dagger, and blood drops based on Nina Leen’s original photograph.  You can download the pattern below.


Simplicity 1544

I made a tailored man’s shirt! 

I used Simplicity 1544 to make this plaid beauty. This is my second time making this pattern and the fit is so much better after making some adjustments. I made a size 38 in the shoulders and graded to a size 40 for the waist. This pattern uses the burrito method to finish the yoke (which is my favorite new technique!) and I shortened the sleeves. 

The fabric I used was a lovely cotton shirting from Joann’s. The fabric is lightweight and was an absolute delight to sew with! Using a plaid fabric was a pattern matching challenge, but allowed room for some neat pattern placements. The pocket, button band, collar stand, and yoke (look at that yoke!!) are all cut on the bias.  

I used pearl snaps instead of buttons…I may never sew another button hole again! I used a pair of Dritz snap pliers that made the whole process easy-peasy. The shirt is constructed with flat felled seams and looks as neat inside as it does outside. 

I made this shirt as my boyfriend’s birthday gift and it seems like it’s a hit 😊. 

Stork Scissors

I have been tossing around the idea of getting a sewing related tattoo for the last year or so.  I obviously love tattoos and thought it was about time to commemorate my love of sewing.  I quickly settled on a scissor tattoo.  I recently bought a pair of small stork scissors as an impulse item while in the check out line out of a locally owned fabric store.  Stork scissors are a common sewing tool and I thought they looked neat enough to have applied to my skin perminantly.

In preparation for the tattoo I did some research into the history of stork scissors.  Where did the imagery come from? One of the best pieces of historical documentation of stork scissors come from the Smithsonion. They have a pair of stork scissors in their collection that was originally part of a midwife’s kit from 1920.



There is quite a bit of support for the idea that turn of the century midwives used stork scissors to clamp or cut the umbilical cord during a delivery.  The midwives may have practiced embroidery or hand sewing  while waiting for labor to begin and stork scissors became entwined with fiber arts.  Either way, stork scissors are a beautiful addition to any sewing toolkit.

Here are some beautiful examples of old stork scissors:





Me Made May 2017: Week 4

May 23: Dress inspired by a top worn by Desiree in American Horror Story: Freak Show. The pattern is based on the Wiggle Dress in Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. With lace appliqué on the bodice, exposed zipper, and worn with BareTraps Sanata sandals. 

May 24: Simplicity 2154 blouse made out of a mystery fabric (I’m 99% sure it’s rayon). Worn with a RTW pencil skirt and an Erstwilder dachshund brooch. 

May 25: Portrait Blouse made out of leaf print cotton Swiss dot. Worn with Serene Island Szippy sandals and one of my favorite Austrian rhinestones brooches.

sewingagainstthegrainMay 27: Me Made May AND Phoenix Comicon! Dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book (basic bodice, gathered dirndl, and petal sleeve) and Simplicity 1544 men’s shirt. Star Trek TNG fabric from Joann Fabrics.

Me Made May 2017: Week 3

May 15: Simplicity 1590. A reissued blouse pattern from the 1940s. Made of navy blue cherry blossom cotton. 

May 18: Fireworks Dress! Boatneck bodice and side pleated skirt from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. In a firework print cotton from Joann. Worn with Bamboo Scorpio wedges.

May 20: Another Portrait Blouse(!) from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. This one in navy blue star print cotton. I adjusted the pattern to overlap and close with buttons at the shoulder seams.