March 11, 2019

Recent Vintage Clothing Adventures

There's always something new and interesting when repairing vintage clothes for Rare Jule Vintage! I'm sharing some highlights of the last few months of creative repairing.  From buttons (of course there will be buttons!) to darning to alteration to a fun accessory. 

1.  Buttons.  These self-covered buttons have a neat twist.  See that little white dot in the center?  That is actually the thread that stitches the buttons to the garment!  There aren't any shanks, just thread.  I've never seen this button design before.  I think that little white blip adds a bunch to the fun of the striped fabric.

2.  More buttons.  This black fur coat has a brown fur at collar and cuffs, so either color button would be appropriate.  And I always love the opportunity to sort through my button collection!  I pulled all the larger black and brown buttons I had with at least 4 in the stack.  Which would you choose?  Read down to the end of this post for the reveal of which buttons Julia picked.


3.  Fur.  Well, I am not a furrier by any means.  Google has taught me a few techniques though, and fur repair has been added to that list.  I did a lot of reading before working on two 1940s fox fur capes, one of which is in the photo up at the top of this post, and several newer coats as well.  (I especially liked How to Repair Vintage Fur Yourself.)

The technique I adopted was:  Open up a nearby lining seam or edge.  It's impossible to work from the front without continually catching the fur in the repair stitching

Once inside, I used a few pieces of masking tape to hold the edges of the slits in place.  I whipstitched the tears shut.  I used a leather needle, which has a sharp triangular end.  These needles cut the leather rather than try to push through it, and actually keep it from tearing further. 

Turns out, there's a bunch of potential for open seams in fur coats.  They are constructed from many, many, many tiny pieces.  Here's a very interesting pattern inside the scalloped hem of the cape. 

Various articles told me to look out for leather that was thin or dry and prone to tearing through while being stitched.  That was the case in several of these places.  The recommended remedy is to glue a piece of leather over the areas to support the weak spots (still working on the inside, of course).

Not having bits of thin leather on hand, I took a hint from some places inside these capes that had a seam binding glued along the seams.  I decided to use grosgrain ribbon for width and sturdiness.  I used the rules for gluing porous materials:  first, spread glue on both the leather and the ribbon, let it dry, and then use more glue for the actual attachment.  After that, the final step is to stitch the lining closed again. 

4.  Darning.  My darning is getting better and better, following the instructions in my new/used book, "Mend It!" by Maureen Goldsworthy.  (I'd seen the book highly recommended by menders on Instagram.  It's out of print, but sometimes shows up at affordable prices on used book sites.  Sometimes it's hugely expensive.  I just checked and checked and finally snagged one I could afford.)

The lovely striped taffeta, two-piece dress - pictured at the top of the post - had sprouted a couple of tiny slits.  I put a piece of black cotton on the inside, and darned from the outside. 


The dress was also missing some of the velvet covered buttons that hold the deep hem in place.  A bit of fun and unusual styling, by the way!  I had recently bought some mostly silk velvet for an art quilt project, and took some of that to my fabric store and had a few replacement buttons made.

5.  Alteration.  I needed to add 1 1/4" to the waistband of a skirt to fit the current owner (Julia herself!).  I opened up a side seam in the waistband.  I cut my extender fabric - wide enough to fold in half and have seam allowances at the bottom edges, and long enough to tuck into the waistband.  I also added a little piece of interfacing for the support all waistbands need.  I opened up the super dense gathers enough to fill the extra length.  And then stitched on the extension.  I must admit to being rather proud of the smooth finished look.
6.  On this fluffball of a muff (llama fur perhaps?), the fur is in good shape, but the lining was totally shredded.  I unstitched the lining around either end, and pulled out a sad and sorry looking mess of shreds.  But that gave me what I needed - the long seam and the end circles together gave me the dimensions I needed to make a new lining.  I used silk from an old blouse that I've already used for some crazy quilt patching, cut a rectangle to those dimensions plus seam allowances, sewed the long seam, folded in the round ends, and finally hand-stitched the new lining to the fur.  Ta-da! 


Note that this muff comes complete with a wrist ring and connector.  Very chic indeed.

And now....the button choice reveal.......

Button choice:  Surprise!  Julia decided to walk right out of the proverbial box.  We looked further through my stash, and she picked these white and rhinestone bauble buttons (that's my terminology, nothing official).  What fun, right?



  1. Bravo Ann! Wonderful tales of mending and repairing these treasures of days gone by. Now I have to look at my family fur coats and see how they are doing. Thanks again for your inspirational post!

    1. Oooops. I keep missing comments that come in...

      I know there are proper fur storage guidelines, just like the proper quilt storage guidelines, but I haven't researched into them. My guess is the problems arise from the skins drying out.

      I have learned so many new techniques because Julia keeps handing me so many kinds of broken clothing! Hand-rolled hems, swing-tacks, mending lace, and now furs. The list keeps getting longer. ;-)