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Vionnet (Kirke) sewing tips?

Ckbklady | Posted in General Discussion on

Holy Husqvarna!

My DH has surprised me today for our anniversary with a copy of MADELEINE VIONNET by Betty Kirke. I am salivating. He wanted to bring it on our weekend vacation trip, but he wasn’t confident about the trunk space in our teeny convertible. I am so touched that he thought to get me a SEWING present.

Has anyone sewn from this amazing book? Please tell me your stories, because I have a length of grape purple silk velvet I’ve had for years that MUST become a Vionnet reproduction.

🙂 Mary

(Grinning, both about Madame and about 10 wonderful years of marriage)

Oh, and PS – I got him a great new planer that he wanted after reading the review in Fine Woodworking. For us, work is just something that interferes with our Taunton Hobby Life. Retirement, here we come!


  1. jatman | | #1

    Hey Ckbklady!  That is SO COOL!  I remember a discussion here about that book and someone else trying to recreate patterns from the scaled down ones in the book - I think if you do a search of Vionnet you should be able to find it.

    Happy Anniversary!

    JT (laughing about your work comment!)



  2. solosmocker | | #2

    You two are truly soul mates. What a wonderful gift! I am sure you will enjoy it to the fullest.

  3. fabricholic | | #3

    How thoughtful of both of you. Here is to you, wishing you many more happy years together.Marcy

  4. Cathie | | #4

    What a lovely husband you have! (And you are very thoughtful too). I adore M.V., and thought you would be VERY interested in a Vionnet challenge that Kathleen F. had some time ago, at her Fashion Incubator blog. She is a super talented pattern maker, and has fabulous articles, and also people's reponses. You must check her out! Happy sewing. Happy anniversary.

    1. Ckbklady | | #5

      Thank you for your kind words. He's a keeper, that's for sure, and not just because he's a Fine Woodworking/Homebuilding freak.

      Can you post a link to the Vionnet challenge? I would love to check it out, yes!

      Thanks so much!

      :) Mary

      1. Cathie | | #6

        Dear Mary, here you go. Hubby found it for me (I have a real keeper, too). I was fairly frustrated, trying to figure out where it was. Kathleen is a pattern making genius, and lots more in her amazing archives. (Also she has a book you can get). Happy creating!!!!! Cathie!!!!!



        1. Josefly | | #7

          This is a super link; thank you so much for posting it. I just had a chance to look briefly at that page and linked to her bio. Very interesting. I'd love to find out more about Madame Vionnet, too. The blocks shown on this site are fascinating, and because I can hardly make any sense of them, I feel like a complete novice. Then when I look closer, I get that wonderful aha! feeling. Brilliant!

        2. Ckbklady | | #8

          Oooh, lovely! Thank you - that looks like a great read and super inspiration!

          :) Mary

  5. Memmy | | #9

    I have that book too and have sat and tried to work out how to draft out these patterns . There is no grid reference and so its hard to work out where to start. I think Betty is being rather cruel giving us this wonderful book and then making it impossible to make them up!! I COULD BR MISSING SOMETHING so if I am let me know!

    1. Ckbklady | | #10


      They're not too bad if you fiddle with them first. I traced  a couple of the patterns unenlarged onto parchment paper and fiddled with them until I could see how they go together, then drew little arrows on the patterns showing how to do it a second time. It's not so tricky - no more so than some of the Issey Miyakes (which I love for the added bonus of the puzzle-solving). Now I have to work up the nerve to cut up some really nice silks for them.

      :) Mary

      1. Memmy | | #11

        Yes I can actually see how they go togther its just the size. How do you get them anywhere near your  size. I guess if you enlarge it you could then use algebra to work out the other lengths proportionately??

        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #12

          Have not seen the book, but I have enlarged pieces by the graph paper method (some patterns are quarter scale)

          Trace the small pattern on to 1/4 inch graph paper. Now draw what you see onto 1 inch grid paper.  If you started with a quarter size pattern, it is now full size (but maybe not 'your' size!)

          Happy tracing,


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