August News from Folkwear

By Molly Hamilton
on August 01, 2017
1 comment

August News from Folkwear

Patterns of the Month (on sale for all of August):

#240 Rosie and Riveter:  Based on the clothing working women wore in the late 1930s and 1940s when they moved to factory jobs during WWII, these clothes were practical and became an iconic style.  Our #240 Rosie the Riveter pattern includes pattern and instructions to make pleated overalls and pants pants, a button up camp shirt, and a crocheted snood (to keep hair in place), and even a knitting pattern for a cardigan sweater. There is so much in this pattern, making it a great deal! 

#243 Rodeo Cowgirl Skirt - Another staple garment, or one to make into a great costume!  This skirt is simple, fun, and versatile. This A-line skirt can be made simply, or embellished profusely. Options for applique, bottom flounce, adding fringe, or embroidery make this pattern interesting and allow you to create your own unique garment.  Great for a dance hall or just a fun everyday skirt!

Plus-sized patterns.  You've asked for them, and Folkwear has been working to provide them.  We now have a list of all our patterns that come in larger sizes on the blog.  I will create a permanent link to this list (and add to it as we grade up patterns) and have it to share whenever needed.  While some of our patterns only go up to size large, I think you will be impressed by how many go up into plus sizes, so I hope this will be helpful!

Visiting England.  I have been in England this past week, visiting family, but also making a point to get to see some great textile, sewing, and fashion locations.  We went to the Fashion Museum in Bath (blog post to come soon), and it was impressive and beautiful.  A definite must-see in the area.  We spent most of our time in Bristol, but also a few days near London, and made it to the Victoria and Albert Museum and Liberty.

More travel this month for Folkwear!!  I am heading to New York City later this month to catch the last days of the Counter-Couture exhibit at the NY Museum of Art and Design.  The exhibit contains a few Folkwear garments, made in the 1970s by fashion artists (and one by co-founder of Folkwear, Alexandra Hart Jacopetti).  I am excited to see them in person, and I am planning to catch a few other fashion museums in the city, as well as take a quick trip to the garment district.

A Fashionable Trip to Bath

By Molly Hamilton
on July 29, 2017

A Fashionable Trip to Bath

On our second day in England, we took a train to Bath to see some sites and visit the Fashion Museum there.  The Romans built the first "baths" here in 74 AD, and the town of Bath grew up around them.  Eventually, by the late 1700s, Bath became a fashionable place to come for the healing waters and to be "seen".   It is still a quaint and beautiful town with great shops and cultural sites.

We headed first to the Fashion Museum. I've heard about this museum for a while - always touted as a "must-see".  And, it really was a gem!  Located in the Assembly Rooms (the place to be in 19th century England), the museum is well set up, small, and beautiful.

Assembly Room ceiling

Two exhibitions were on display at the museum when we were there: A History of Fashion in 100 Objects and Lace in Fashion.  They were well curated and simply impressive.  The 3 children we had with us enjoyed the museum as well.  The exhibitions kept them interested and there were some fun activities (great dress up and some fashion plates to color). 

I found a few garments of interest to Folkwear in the 100 Objects exhibit - either because they were garments that Folkwear has patterns for or because some the details of the garments relate to a Folkwear pattern.  There were also a few garments that I was inspired to learn more about, as possible future Folkwear patterns.

A quilted skirt from the mid-1700s.  Skirt were quilted, just like our 206 Quilted Prairie Skirt, to provide more warmth for the garment.  Quilting provides interest and beauty to the garment while being practical.  I had not realized that quilted skirts had been around for a while!


A frock coat from the 1790s.  This fine English wool coat is well-cut and handsome.  These coats became popular about this time because of its simplicity, which mirrored the popular "back to nature" philosophy of the time.  Some critics derided this fashion because originally a "frock" was a working man's dress, but these had become popular in the upper classes.  Folkwear has a pattern for a frock coat (263 Countryside Frock Coat) but is cut differently than this one.


Traveling suit from the 1910s, specifically, right around the time of WWI.  This would not have been called a suit at the time, since men wore suits and this was obviously for women.  Also, remarkable is the fact that this was the first dress/skirt that was shortened to above the ankle - so became an important (and slightly shocking) garment.  Folkwear's 508 Traveling Suit is very similar to this one.


A Chinese influenced Beach Pyjamas.  These beach pyjamas are made of silk and include Chinese embroidery.  Beach Pyjamas were some of the first pants that women wore, and helped usher in their popularity.  You could make a set like these with our 252 Beach Pyjamas.

 I also loved the Lace in Fashion exhibit, as I admire lace, the history of it, how it is made, its beauty, and how it can be used.  I usually don't have the confidence to use lace in most of my sewing, but I am now inspired to try more. 


This is one garment in the Lace exhibit that related to Folkwear patterns - this cocoon coat had lace overlaid on the upper/collar part of the coat and at the lower sleeves.  It was a beautiful coat and a unique way to use lace in this garment.  Our 503 Poiret Cocoon Coat is very similar.

I am only posting this gown above because I literally fell in love with it. The lace overlay, the colors, the cut, the metallic gems on the sides, the design - I loved it all.  This was my personal favorite, and my heart aches a little when I think of it (see, I really did fall in love with it).

After visiting this wonderful little museum, we headed toward the Roman Bath, but we stopped by a trim store that caught our eye with its colorful window display.  VV Rouleaux was the most interesting and prettiest trim shop I've ever seen.  I bought some braided buttons and some leather fringe trim, but I could have spent lots more time (and money) there!  They have a shop online as well, which I will definitely be returning to. 

Finally, on our way back to the train station, we stopped at a tiny little quilt and sewing store where I found a beautiful striped cotton fabric, so bought a few meters (for what project, I don't know yet). 

So, all in all, our fashionable trip to Bath was quite a success.  I hope to get back again!


Fabric suggestions - #225 Childhood Dreams

By Molly Hamilton
on July 20, 2017

Fabric suggestions - #225 Childhood Dreams

Our #225 Childhood Dreams pattern is on sale for all of July.  This cute dress or nightgown is really a fairly easy garment to sew. And, one of the really fun things about it are all the adorable and beautiful prints out there to make it in.  This garment can be made with cotton lawn, voile, flannel, or even quilting cottons - and there are so many choices.  Even I had a very hard time trying to make any specific suggestions for this post.  Instead, I am going with one fabric in a "collection" or group of fabrics.  Enjoy! And, don't forget to post what your sew on Instagram and Facebook and tag us!  We want to see what you make!

PLEASE NOTE: Fabrics used as examples in blog may go out of stock from store.  If link is invalid for specific product, there may be another fabric from the supplier that you can substitute.  These suggestions are based on fabrics that are in stock at the time the blog post is written!

jess and jean.jpg

A Liberty of London Tana Lawn, of course.  For an heirloom dress of beauty and softness, this is hard to beat.  (this is Jess and Jean from Bolt Neighborhood Fabric Boutique)


Best Tree On The Lot Holiday Lights Quilting Fabric - White

This pattern would also make a perfect Christmas nightgown.  And, Christmas fabrics are now hitting the fabric stores.  This one is at The Fabric Depot.


And, there are many adorable flannel prints (and plaids, which would also be pretty) available (Hart's Fabric has this one in their large collection).  I love the elephants, of course, because of the great memories of Africa!



Mid-Summer Sale - all patterns (and notions) 20% off with sale code!

By Molly Hamilton
on July 15, 2017

Mid-Summer Sale - all patterns (and notions) 20% off with sale code!

We are entering (or already in) the dog days of summer in the eastern US.  It is hot, humid, days are long, and there is lots to do.  Which makes it hard to get into the sewing room sometimes.  So, to help inspire you to do so, we are having a summer sale - 20% off everything until the end of the month!

Use code SUMMER20 at checkout to get 20% off your order!

Fabric Suggestions for 252 Beach Pyjamas

By Molly Hamilton
on July 14, 2017

Fabric Suggestions for 252 Beach Pyjamas


Folkwear's 252 Beach Pyjamas, made of silk, linen, or cotton, often in bright, cubist-inspired prints, were the height of summer and resort fashion in the 1920s and 1930s.  They were worn from the afternoon to the evening as a fashionable summer style.  They generally consisted of wide-legged trousers and a jacket of matching fabric.  Slightly more casual one-piece pyjamas for daytime wear sported decorative collars, bindings, or sashes, and were sometimes worn with a coordinating bolero jacket.  

Our one-piece, sleeveless version features a full shawl collar that wraps in front and falls gracefully over the shoulders in back. The wide palazzo pants give the appearance of a skirt, and a contrasting or self-fabric sash that ties around the waist.  For daytime wear you may want a cool linen or cotton and for evening try a silk or rayon with nice drape.

Suggested fabrics: Light to medium-weight fabrics with soft drape such as rayon, silk, or challis; also crisp, lightweight cotton or linen. Not suitable for fabric with nap, pile, or one-way design.  Attached waist sash is great in contrasting color or pattern of same fabric quality.

Below are some fabric suggestions from some of our favorite fabric stores.  Please note, these suggested fabrics are based on fabrics that are in stock at the time the blog post is written, and may go out of stock from store at some point.  If link is invalid for specific product, look for a similar fabric you can substitute.

Cotton and Steel brand Rayon fabric form Bolt Fabrics.  Ginko leaf shaped multi color print on off white background.  p

I love this abstract leaf shaped rayon print from Bolt Fabric Boutique. This would make a fun and flirty casual summer frock.

Silk crepe de chine fabric photo.  Off white background with pink floral accent print.

Crepe de Chine has such a lovely drape and feel.  I love the breath ability of the silk with the soft texture of the crepe.  The Beach Pyjamas would be perfect of this floral print from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics.

Light weight cotton shirting.  Navy blue cubes on off white background.

This lightweight cotton shirting would work very well for a casual daytime version of the Beach Pyjamas.  Harts Fabrics has several colorways of this fabric in stock at the moment.

We have some beautiful yarn dyed organic linen in stock here at Folkwear (Pictured above from left to right: apricot brandy, pacific blue, and charcoal).  Taker a look at our full fabric offerings here.

Cotton batik fabric with dark background and amber and garnet squares.

This Balinese cotton batik fabric from Vogue Fabrics will be a fun summer print.  The abstract blocks and vibrant color is a modern nod to the cubist-inspired prints of the past.

We hope you enjoy the pattern and would love to see what you do to make it your own!  


Patterns of the Month - July 2017

By Molly Hamilton
on July 12, 2017

Patterns of the Month - July 2017

We have two featured patterns on sale for the whole month of July:  #225 Childhood Dreams and #252 Beach Pyjamas.

#225 Childhood Dreams is a pattern based on the popular gowns ordered by rural women through the Sears-Robuck catalog in the early 1900s.  This garment is perfect as a nightgown or as a day dress.  Two versions can be made for children 2 to 12.  It is an easy garment to make and is really a beautiful gown.  Your girl will love it!

#252 Beach Pyjamas are inspired by the beach pyjamas made popular by the socialites vacationing on the Riviera in the 1920s.  By the 1930s, the fashion had spread worldwide, and was the preferred day "dress" on beaches (when not in a bathing suit).  It can take you right into evening wear, too.  This garment is fun, beautiful, and a perfect garment for parties, weddings and any beach day!

Some July sewing and fashion links of interest

By Molly Hamilton
on July 03, 2017

Some July sewing and fashion links of interest

Current Exhibits:

Articles and websites:
  • Google has created an amazing resource for fashion and textiles: We Wear Culture.  It is full of informative articles on everything from designers to the meaning of fashion to history of fashion.  I particularly like the section called Making of.
  • We are getting ready to do a re-print of our #128 Russian Settler's Dressand I saw this article in We Wear Culture about traditional Russian dress and noticed some similar garments!

Podcasts and videos:

Embroidery and #142 Old Mexico Dress

By Molly Hamilton
on June 22, 2017

Embroidery and #142 Old Mexico Dress

I have to confess, I am not a great embroiderer.  I love some of the modern embroidery I see around now, but usually don't take the time which good embroidery requires - to actually sit and do the handwork.  When I do sit and do the handwork, I love it.  I love the quietness, the simple-ness, of the stitches.  Just enough concentration, creating something slowly, something that is beautiful.  And, it feels like it ties me to the women who have come before me, who spent countless hours creating clothing by hand to be worn and to decorate. 

However, I usually don't have the time or the quiet energy (4 young children, running this company, etc.:-)). I have looked at buying an embroidery machine but was worried that I wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost (anyone know of a cheap but good embroidery machine?).  So, while I do plan embroidery projects (and Folkwear makes is part of my job!), I am a bit slow to take it up or to not rush through it.

I took a small embroidery kit, that I made right before I left, on my trip to Africa.  I planned to work on some of the cross-stitching and embroidery on the Romanian Blouse sleeves.  And, I the samples done while I was there (there is quite a bit of down time between drives on a safari).  See the picture above - I was embroidering outside of my tent in the bush, watching elephants walk by.

But, one of the most iconic embroidered garments that we know of, is the Mexican Dress.  Folkwear's #142 Old Mexico Dress provides a wonderful canvas for beautiful embroidery.  You can see some wonderful examples on our Facebook Group page (Folkwear Patterns Sewing Group).  I also had a couple of links for embroidery, and for this specific pattern, in our last newsletter.  And #142 Old Mexico Dress is on sale until the end of the month!

Below I have links for embroidery resources  and inspiration so you can make great hand or machine embroidered creations.  But, as a warning, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of embroidery resources and information out there, so these are just a couple of sites I thought had some interesting information and inspiration.

I'd love to hear your favorite embroidery resources and tools.  You can respond in the comments here!


Creative Machine Embroidery - A website (and magazine) full of machine embroidery patterns, free and for a cost. 

Cozy Blue Handmade - a local (to us) artists with great modern and whimsical hand embroidery patterns.

Craftsy has some good free information on embroidery techniques.

Antique and traditional embroidery patterns

For non-traditional embroidery, which is really cool and beautiful, check out Rebecca Renquist.  I have her embroidery book and I love it - it was a great way to keep embroidery not intimidating.

Lots of links for embroidery for apparel (more information that you would ever want to know, really).




My trip to Southern Africa

By Molly Hamilton
on June 14, 2017

My trip to Southern Africa


lions lounging

elephant reflection

Saddlebill stork

I got back from my 2 week trip to Southern Africa less than a week ago!  With my mother, and through the company Natural Habitat Adventures, we visited Zambia (Livingston), Botswana (Okavango Delta region in the north), and South Africa (though that was mostly the Jo'burg airport!).  I learned an impressive amount of information about the ecosystems, animals, politics, and culture of the areas we visited.  Our guide was amazing, and the whole experience was wonderful. 

baskets made from recycled bags

making baskets


Textile- and craft-wise, I learned about traditional Botswana basket weaving and dying of fibers, and even got to try weaving part of a basket myself.  The women (and some men) who work at the lodges weave baskets made from grasses and held together by palm fronds.  They dye the fronds with roots, bark, leaves, and fruits of plants that grow in the Delta, and which they gather.  They gather dyes, dye the fronds, and weave the baskets during their off-shifts at the lodges.  Some of the traditional weaving patterns were "tears of the giraffe", "water lily", "flowing water", and "urine trail of the bull"(!).  I also saw so many beautiful wax printed cloths and skirts and dresses when we were in Zambia (not so many once we were in the "bush"/on safari), and I purchased many meters to play with at home. Women wear the cloth tied around their waist for a skirt, or around their backs with a child in it, or on their heads as a type of turban (especially helpful when also carrying baskets or pots on their head).  The cloth was also used in more tailored shirts, jackets, and dresses, and I was inspired to see the colors, patterns, and uses of the fabric. 


It was a life-changing trip and I am still thinking of it often.


Fabric suggestions for the Old Mexico Dress

By Molly Hamilton
on June 09, 2017

Fabric suggestions for the Old Mexico Dress

There are so many great fabrics that can be used to make the #142 Old Mexico Dress and Shirt.  You can make it from plain, one color linen or woven cotton and add your own embroidery to it.  Or, you can make the dress from one, or a combination of, fabric to make a unique and very quick-and-easy dress or shirt.

PLEASE NOTE: Fabrics used as examples in blog may go out of stock from store.  If link is invalid for specific product, there may be another fabric from the supplier that you can substitute.  These suggestions are based on fabrics that are in stock at the time the blog post is written!

Here are fun fabrics from some great stores that would work well for this garment:

  • This embroidered denim chambray from Hart's Fabric is 100% cotton.  $15.99/yard. The boarder is embroidered, making it a great selection for the yoke or bottom edge of the dress or shirt.


    • A beautiful soft white linen would be perfect to add embroidery to, or just use to make a simple summer top.  This one from Hart's Fabric is 100% linen.  $18.99/yard.



        •  Another beautiful embroidered denims from Vogue Fabrics.  100% cotton, lightweight. $18.99/yard.




            • This double gauze (so soft) really pops in this bright golden color. From Bolt Neighborhood Fabric Boutique. 100% cotton. $8/half yard.


            • Essex Yard Dyed Metallic - copper would make a beautiful Old Mexico shirt or dress.  And, would be beautiful with embroidery. From Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabric. 50% linen, 40% cotton, 10% lurex. $11.50/yard.


            • This Durango Dobby in black and white would make an interesting whole garment or you can just use it in the yoke.  100% cotton from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabric.  100% cotton. $15.50/yard.


            Happy sewing!  We'd love to see what you make!  Post to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #folkwear142

            Or, join our Facebook Group, Folkwear Patterns Sewing Group and share your makes there!