My Imaginary Life Through Vintage Pattern Illustrations

My mother recently cleaned up all her patterns and gave me all the ones she wasn’t going to sew again. I am so psyched about all the retro things these new patterns say I can now do.

I can attend a 1960’s cocktail party.

Simplicity 7129
Simplicity 7129 Jiffy – Juniors Simple to Sew Jiffy Dress: The A-line dress with back zipper and collar has slightly lowered round neckline in front tapering to “V” neckline in back. V 1 has short set-in sleeves. Sleeveless V 2 has tie collar.

I can go to the beach. (I am totally making view A, by the way.)

Style 2442
Style 2442; ©1969; Misses’ Beach Robe in Two Lengths, Bikini and Skirt: The beachrobe with stand collar has front zip fastening. View A has long set-in sleeves. View B shorter length is sleeveless. The lined bikini has top with tie front fastening, inside bust shapes and elastic casing at back lower edge. The pants have waist darts and back zip fastening. The A-line skirt has side zip fastening, self fabric carriers and cord tie.

I can go to various mod-themed events.

McCall's 2438
McCall’s 2438; ©1970; Misses’ Dress in Three Versions. Dress has concealed left front zipper closing. Dress may have buttoned collar. View C has button trimmed, tab pocket.

Me having dinner out with the Mr. (Is this Yé-yé?)

Simplicity 8181
Simplicity 8181; ©1969; Simple-To-Sew Misses’ Jiffy Dress: The dress with back zipper and lowered round neckline has slightly dropped shoulders and optional tie belt. V. 1 has long, set-in sleeves. V. 2 is sleeveless.

I just don’t know here. Fabulousness just can’t be limited to time and place sometimes. Love that collar! I must make that red cape. I just need to decide between a zipper or leather buckles.

Simplicity 7866
Simplicity 7866; ©1968; Misses’ Cape in Two Length, Skirt and Pants: The top-stitched, long or short lined cape with collar and openings for arms in front seams may be made with either front zipper closing or with leather tab and buckle trim. The A-line skirt without waistband has buttoned trimmed lined yoke and side zipper. The pants without waistband have side zipper.

Hello Studio 54!

Simplicity 7383
Simplicity 7383. The sleeveless dress with flared skirt stitched to bodice at normal waistline has back zipper, flared cape type collar, bias bound low round neckline and self fabric tie belt. V. 1 with contrasting collar is regular length. V. 2 is floor length.

I can also be Mary Tyler Moore.

Style 4744
Style 4744; copyright 1974; Dress with centre back seam has collar, front zipper, set-in sleeves and top-stitched trim. View 1 and 2 have front inverted pleat. View 1 and 3 have purchased belt. V1 has long sleeves gathered into buttoned cuffs. V2 and 3 have short sleeves. V3 has patch pockets.

Or Rhoda.

Simplicity 5247
Simplicity 5247; ©1972; Shirt-Jacket and Pants in Misses’ and Half-Sizes: The shirt-jacket with long or short sleeves has front button closing, yoke, notched collar, patch pockets, set-in sleeves, slits in side seams, and optional top-stitching and purchased belt. The pants with back zipper have waistband and optional purchased belt.

And I can do whatever Jerry Hall was doing in the late 1970s.

Vogue 7098
Vogue 7098 Misses’ blouse. Loose-fitting, slightly below-hip length blouse (may be worn in or out) with back tucked into one pice self-lined yoke. Has round neckline, pin tucks on front inset, front-buttoned band closing, with turn-back cuffs.

Oh, and best yet, I get to be married to Steve McQueen!

Vogue 9308
Vogue 9308 Loose-fitting, slightly shaped double breasted coat (tailored) in mid-knee or finger-tip length has self fabric or imitation fur collar on partial band and lapels. Upper welt pockets and lower pockets have flaps. Three-piece detachable belt with loop. Full-length sleeves have tab and button trim and purchased knitted wrist cuffs attached to lining. Flat imitation fur lining for coat body and sateen quilting for sleeve lining. Topstitch trim.

Seriously, these patterns are amazing. And there are more! I can’t wait to sew some of these up! Thanks Mum!

The Big List of Online Canadian Fabric, Pattern and Notion Stores

The Big List of Online Canadian Fabric Shops

Finding Canadian companies that sell fabric online can be tough.

True, you can always shop at one of the US online shops, but it’s just not as easy. Some don’t ship to Canada. Sometimes the shipping prices are outrageous. Even when the shop sends out the fabric the same day, it can be stalled at customs for ages. Then there is the exchange rate to contend with.

I’m much happier supporting a Canadian business, knowing that my order will arrive quickly, and knowing exactly how much it will cost me.

Here is a list of Canadian companies that sell quilting or apparel fabric, patterns, and notions. I haven’t tried them all, so I can’t vouch for them. If you know of any others or have had a good experience with any, please leave a comment or get in touch.

This list was last updated on March 29, 2023. Shops are generally listed geographically from east to west.




Specialty Services

Pattern Companies

For Independent apparel, bag, toy and quilt sewing patterns, please visit our:
Big List of Independent Canadian Sewing Pattern Companies

Modern Quilting Fabric
These online shops have predominantly quilting cottons in modern prints and solids.

Traditional Quilting Fabric
These online shops have primarily quilting cottons in traditional prints.

Apparel Fabric
These online shops stock various fabrics intended for apparel.

Specialty Fabric
These online shops stock specialty fabrics, mostly for apparel sewing.

Apparel Patterns & Notions
These online shops sell notions or patterns, primarily for apparel sewing.

Quilting Patterns & Notions
These online shops sell quilting notions or patterns.

Bag Patterns & Notions
These online shops sell supplies for making bags.

Doll-Making Patterns & Supplies
These online shops sell supplies for making dolls.

Longarm Quilting Services
A list of longarm quilters, organizedby province.

Pattern Grading and Sample-Making Services
A list of companies offering pattern grading services for apparel sewing patterns.

Is your business missing? If you are located in Canada, and sell fabric, notions or patterns online get in touch. Thanks!

The Big List of Online Canadian Fabric Shops

A New Old Coat

I’m so excited. Look what is on the way to my house!

This is Simplicity 5928, the pattern for a princess coat from 1973.

From the Vintage Patterns wiki: “The top-stitched, lined coat with princess seaming has front button closing, collar, pockets concealed in side front seams, long set-in sleeves and optional belt in back.”

Simplicity 5928
Simplicity 5928 A princess coat from 1973.

One of the biggest side effects of organizing my pattern collection is a voracious need for even more patterns. Sadly, I am not independently wealthy. I cannot buy all the patterns I want.

But, I am getting new patterns. New old patterns. My mum is cleaning up the house and I asked for any old patterns that she wasn’t going to use again. We looked at them together over Skype, and this is one of the ones on the way.

It isn’t exactly my size, so we’ll see if I can work with the pattern. Now what colour fabric should I buy…

Sew for Victory : My Grandma’s Wedding Dress

Sew For Victory! A 40s Sewalong
Sew For Victory! A 40s Sewalong. February 4 – March 31, 2013.

This week, Rochelle, from Lucky Lucille launched Sew For Victory! A 40s Sewalong. So exciting!

I really wanted to participate, but the 1940s are difficult for me. I love the art deco styles from the 1920s and 1930s. I like the mod styles of the 1960s. I appreciate that the styles from the 1950s flatter my figure. But I’m much less familiar with the 1940s fashion-wise.

Then it occurred to me that I have a real piece of 1940s clothing in my possession – my grandmother’s wedding dress. A few years ago, when my grandmother died, the dress came to live at my house. I had put it away and I hadn’t taken a really good look at it since.

So for the sew along, my plan is to remake my grandmother’s wedding dress.

My Grandparents in the 1940s

In the late 1930s in Vancouver my grandmother finished nursing school and began work as a psychiatric nurse. She and her friend bought a car, and throughout the 1940’s went on a number of road trips. She often told me the story of how on a trip to the states, she and her sister had stocked up on silk stockings, luxuries that were not available in Canada during wartime. She had to hide the stockings in the sleeves of her clothing to get them across the border.

In 1941, the car needed repairs, and my grandfather was referred for the job. My grandfather was a truck mechanic. During the war, he worked for Shell Oil assembling tanker trucks. Since his job was considered essential to the war effort, he wasn’t drafted.

My grandparents started dating in 1942, and on July 14, 1945, my grandparents were married. My grandmother wore a green wedding dress. When asked why she chose the colour green she stated simply that there were shortages during the war.

Canada in the 1940s

Canada joined the war effort in 1939. Conscription was ordered in 1944. Even though the population of Canada was only 11,000,000 in 1938, over 1,000,000 Canadians served in the war.  More than 40,000 did not come home.

At home, rationing began in 1942 and didn’t end until 1947, two years after the war ended. Clothing was rationed using a ticket system. Silk importation ended in 1941. Nylon was difficult to find as well.

My GrandMother’s Wedding Dress

My grandmother’s dress, is actually a suit. There is a 3-panel, A-line skirt that hits just below the knee. There is also a fitted jacket with 3/4 length sleeves, that buttons up the front.

The first thing you notice is the colour. It’s so green!

My grandmother's wedding dress
The skirt from my grandmother’s wedding dress. If you look closely you can see there are three panels, and it is an A-line skirt.

my grandmother's wedding dress
The jacket of my grandmother’s wedding dress. It is so green! And so sheer!

There have you gotten over the colour yet? No? Take another look.

my grandmother's wedding dress
This is the back of the jacket. You can see the princess seams.

Once you see past the colour, the dress design is pretty interesting.

The Skirt

The skirt is a simple three-panel A-line skirt. It looks like there are more panels in the back, but in fact, the dressmaker simply did inverted pin tucks to make it appear as if there were more pieces of fabric. The waistband is reinforced with grosgrain ribbon and there is a rather industrial-looking zipper and a hook and eye closure. The seams are not quite even and are just finished with pinking shears. The hem is hand-stitched and the hem has been repaired. Although the skirt is sheer, there is no lining.

The waistband is lined with grosgrain ribbon.
The waistband is lined with grosgrain ribbon.

The zipper is not an invisible zipper.
The zipper is not an invisible zipper.

The zipper is quite heavy for the fabric.
The zipper is quite heavy for the fabric.

The Jacket

The jacket has 3/4 length sleeves that are a little wider at the bottom. There are shoulder pads (factory-made) that fit into the caps of the sleeves. The back of the jacket uses princess seams. The front has a gathered, faux yoke at the top. At the waist there are triangular insets that allow for a second set of gathers. There is a row of clear plastic shank buttons that close with button loops up the front of the jacket. The jacket has a facing of synthetic fabric that is hand-stitched in place. It is also unlined. I think it’s about a 36 bust, so maybe, a size 18 in vintage sizes, and maybe a 10 today.

There are shoulder pads to help keep the sleeves puffed and they are attached with seams.
There are shoulder pads to help keep the sleeves puffed and they are attached with seams.

The sleeves are a little wider at the bottom.
The sleeves are a little wider at the bottom.

The dress is gathered in a faux yoke.
The dress is gathered in a faux yoke.

There are buttons at the front. I think they were originally clear. They might be a two-piece buttons that were glued together, and the glue appears to be discoloured.
There are buttons at the front. I think they were originally clear. They might be two-piece buttons that were glued together. The glue appears to be discoloured.

A close-up of the triangular panels at the waist.
A close-up of the triangular panels at the waist.

This is a better view of the jacket front where you can see the two areas that were gathered across the bodice.
This is a better view of the jacket front where you can see the two areas that were gathered across the bodice.

 Who Made the Dress?

The dress is clearly hand-made. This isn’t a factory dress or a department store dress and there are no tags at all. At first I thought my grandmother made the dress. However, family lore says she bought it in Vancouver. It must have been from a local dress-maker. It’s made well with good techniques (ribbon in the waistband, etc.), but shortcuts have been taken. For example, the inner jacket facing is made of several pieces of fabric.

The hand-sewn hem.
The hand-sewn hem.

The shoulder pads.
The shoulder pads.

The facing is made of two pieces of fabric.

The Fabric

The fabric is really quite sheer and very musty. I was tempted to hand wash it, but I did a fibre burn test on a small piece of fabric from behind the zipper. The fabric disappeared into grey ash. And then I took another tiny piece from the seam and hand-washed it and it shrank like crazy. I’m pretty sure this is rayon crepe. So I can’t hand wash it. Good thing I checked! It irons quite well though.

The Sew-along Challenge

The more I looked at the dress, the more I thought the dress itself would have been nicer if it just weren’t so green.  I figure, if I use a fabric without a floral pattern, and choose something a little prettier I might end up with clothing I would actually wear. Blue maybe? Black? In a sheer fabric? But lined, definitely lined. So yes, I’m going to try to remake the suit in a better colour.

What pattern to use?

This part is tricky, and I could use some help.

The skirt is almost exactly the same as Simplicity 3688. You can’t really tell from the photo, but the technical drawing does show a three-panel skirt. It’s such a simple design that I could probably just use any a-line skirt pattern. It wouldn’t even have to be a vintage pattern.

The jacket is another story. It’s is a little like the Vogue 8767 jacket. It’s even more similar to the blouse in Simplicity 3688. There is also the jacket in Vogue 1072. The part that is the most difficult to find, even in the vintage patterns I’ve seen, is the triangular insets at the jacket waist. If I can’t find anything else, I’ll probably use the Vogue 8767, but I’m hopeful that I can come up with something better.

Have you seen any patterns that more closely match the dress? Let me know in the comments.

My First Quilt – The Pink Rails Quilt

Isn’t it pretty? Since this blog is brand new I thought I’d post an older project that I couldn’t share before, because I had nowhere to post it. My first quilt!

Pink Rails Quilt

I made this baby quilt as part of a class at Montreal’s Emeline & Annabelle sewing lounge (now closed). It is about 36×36 inches.

This is a simple strip quilt made using only four fabrics on the front and a fifth on the back. I hand stitched the binding, but since then have switched to machine stitching bindings. It’s just so much easier.

Pink Rails Quilt

I have been sewing for ages, but had never made a quilt before this one. I thought a class would be a good way to get started. And I wanted a good excuse to get out of the house and spend some time with grown ups who also like to sew.  I was correct on both counts. Emeline & Annabelle also used to offer “Block of the Month” classes which were great for beginners.

Pink Rails Quilt

I made this quilt in the fall of 2011. I didn’t have anyone to give it to when I made it, but my last baby arrived the following summer. So I was making it for a very special someone, I just didn’t know it at the time.

Pink Rails Quilt
Pink Rails Quilt – My very first quilt

Sadly, Emeline & Annabelle’s sewing lounge closed this past fall, so I can’t go back and take another class. However, there is now a modern quilt guild in Montreal. The Montreal Modern Quilt Guild is a local chapter of the larger Modern Quilt Guild. There are monthly meetings and sew-ins. I went to my very first one last month. So much fun! You can see a picture of the January sew-in on the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild website. I’m the one way in the back, with the stroller 😉 .

Pink Rails Quilt

Quilt block: Rail Fence

Size: 36 by 36 inches

Loulouthi Framed in Shadow by Anna Maria Horner
Joel Dewberry’s Heirloom collection, Blockade Blossom in Garnet
Joel Dewberry’s Heirloom collection, Blockade Blossom in Blush
Joel Dewberry’s Aviary 2 Lodge Lattice in Lilac
“Grand Bazaar” collection by Patty Young produced by Michael Miller, Spade in Charcoal
Organic bamboo quilt batting

Capes. Yea or Nay?

BurdaStyle has just published a collection of 11 patterns in a style they call “Fifties Revival”. There are two cute suits, some dresses and a trench coat. And then a cape.

// Checked Cape sewing pattern 08/2011 #112

I especially like the concealed buttons. And I love the length. It’s long enough to keep you warm, but not so long that you can’t wear it with casual clothes like jeans. I even like the fabric choice. It looks like wool bouclé, which always seems to end up in Chanel jackets and nothing else. Overall, I think this looks like a really great pattern.

But I’m hesitant. Do I need a cape? I haven’t seen many around. Of course here in Montreal it is currently far to cold to wear capes. Maybe they will start popping up in spring? Maybe I should stick with a coat?

I was also incredible inspired by Renee of Miss Celie’s Pants and her beautiful purple cape, which you can see on her website. She used the Vogue 8776 cape pattern.

What do you think? Capes. Yea or nay?

Stash Busting Sew-Along

Have you ever wanted to take a peak into someone else’s fabric stash? Well here are a few photos of what’s in mine.

Ever since my last baby was born I’ve been enviously reading about all of the exciting sew-alongs that people have been organizing. I’ve been dying to participate, but a new baby sure cuts down the time available for that sort of thing. Until now!

Stashbusting Sewalong

EmSewCrazy of Tumbleweeds in the Wind and Cindy of Cation Designs started a new sew-along aimed at reducing your fabric stash. Here’s the schedule.

  1. January: Itty Bits!
  2. February: The Love Challenge.
  3. March: Impending Seasonal Change.
  4. April: The Vibrant Color Challenge.
  5. May: The Knit Challenge.
  6. June: Containment!

I only have a small stash, just one box, but I do want to use it up, so here’s my pledge:

“I, Shannon, commit to using 4 pieces of stash fabric in 2013.” 

It’s not a lot, but I want to keep my sewing fun.

And what exactly is in my stash, you ask? I got everything out and measured it. It’s so much easier to deal with,now that it is organized. Some of my stash is going to be pretty easy to sew up. I have about 1.3m of denim, a bit of quilting cotton that will make a dress for one of the kids, some brown corduroy.

Green Dot
Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy quilting cotton Flower and Dot, in green (under 1m).  This one has been in my stash for just a couple of months.

Synthetic Baby Silk.
Synthetic baby silk (4.5m) in black with a pink and white floral pattern. This has been in my stash for at least five years. I had planned to make a dress with it.

But some things are a bit trickier to use up: some super stretchy red cotton that was meant for maternity wear a couple of pregnancies ago, about 1.5m of navy stretch velour, 1.5m of super plush faux fur in a jaguar colour scheme. If you have any suggestions for that faux fur, leave them in the comments.

Jaguar Faux Fur
Jaguar faux fur (1.5m) left over from Halloween costumes from a couple of years ago. This has been in my stash since 2010.

Blue stretch velour
Blue stretch velour (1.5m) left over from another Halloween costume. This has been in my stash for about ten years.

And the award for longest time spent in the stash goes to a 1.8m piece of 100 per cent pure silk. It’s a very pink shade of red and incredibly difficult to photograph. My late father brought it back for me on a trip to China in the 1980s. As you can see, it still has the price tag on it. He paid 160 Hong Kong dollars for this piece, which converts to about $20 CDN. In today’s prices, that would be about $40 CDN. It’s a great piece of fabric, but I’m more of a signal red fan. What do you think? Should it become a blouse? Or a super luxurious lining for a coat? Suggestions welcome.

Red Silk
A piece of red silk (1.8m) that my late father brought back from a trip to China in the 1980s. The price tag is still on it.