My Imaginary Life Through Vintage Pattern Illustrations – Part II

I had the best surprise yesterday! I got a package in the mail and it looked suspiciously sewing-related. Except that I hadn’t ordered anything. What could it be?

Inside were these amazing vintage patterns from my friend F. (Name withheld to protect the innocent from the harsh glare of sewing blog fame). These patterns are so amazing!!! And unexpected. She had been helping her parents move, and found these and thought of me. Yay!

Looks like someone (her mum?) was a big fan of the mod look in the late 60s.

Vintage patterns from the 1960s.
Vintage patterns from the late 1960s.

And beyond the obvious benefit of now being able to sew some really amazing dresses, it also means round two of  My Imaginary Life Through Vintage Pattern Illustrations.

Vogue 1866 Vogue Couturier Design Fabiani - One-Piece Dress
Vogue 1866 Vogue Couturier Design Fabiani – One-Piece Dress

I don’t even know where I’m going in this outfit, but I bet I need a Vespa and a bob haircut to get there. And the hat!

Vogue 1910 Vogue Paris Original Lanvin - Misses One-Piece Dress
Vogue 1910 Vogue Paris Original Lanvin – Misses One-Piece Dress

This dress looks pretty modern. Until you get to the broach, but this might be my safest bet to sew. She’s wearing gloves (and Lanvin), so maybe I get to go to some sort of posh party. The theatre, perhaps.

Vogue 2097 Misses' One-Piece Dress
Vogue 2097 Misses’ One-Piece Dress

Oh yay! Looks like Mr Garment is taking me out to dinner someplace fancy. View A folks! Will there be cocktails^

Vogue 1867 Vogue Couturier Design Federico Forquet - One-Piece Dress
Vogue 1867 Vogue Couturier Design Federico Forquet – One-Piece Dress

Looks like I’m off to some sort of party with Edie Sedgwick, maybe. Or just lunch in Rome? I think this one is my favourite. The dress might need to be just a tad shorter though, no?

Vogue 1985 Vogue Americana Teal Traina - Misses' One-Piece Dress
Vogue 1985 Vogue Americana Teal Traina – Misses’ One-Piece Dress

This one is cute, but I’m not sure if I can pull it off with my figure. I’m not as petite as those 60s models. But it looks like I’m off to the Mad Men steno pool.

Vogue 1985 Vogue Americana Teal Traina - Misses' One-Piece Dress
“Young, fresh, bright and professional!”

On the back it describes the designer’s look as “young, fresh, bright and professional!”. Yup, I’m off to get a job!

Vogue 1854 Vogue Americana James Galanos - One-Piece Dress
Vogue 1854 Vogue Americana James Galanos – One-Piece Dress

Now, with the improbable bowler, I can only be off to a casting session for The Avengers. But hat aside, this dress is the most unique. It has a sort of draped panel that opens on one side in the front (with a pocket) and the opposite side in the back. Very unique!

So thank you very much F. for sending me the patterns, and please thank your mother for me, for her great taste in 1960s patterns and for making you clean out the basement.

So what do you think? What should I sew first? And where can I get those hats?

More Family Patterns

I hope you had a good Easter. Mine was great. This year, the Easter bunny brought me vintage patterns! They are so much more exciting than chocolate and last longer too. Let’s take a look.

Look at all those new patterns!
Look at all those new patterns!

I know! Soooo many patterns.

A little while ago I posted an article on a bunch of patterns that my mother gave me. Well, my husband’s aunt saw the article and thought I might like her old patterns too. So generous!

I can’t show them all, so here are the ones I’m most likely to sew.

The blouse is Style 3351 from 1981. Next is a bias skirt, McCalls 3296, from 2001. Finally Simplicity 7254 from 1975, an apron.

There is a nice blouse (Style 3351) from the early 1980s, but it’s got 1970s styling. There is McCall’s 3296, which is a bias-cut skirt. There is also a fishtail version, but I think I’ll stick with the classic a-line skirt. Another good one is Simplicity 7254, an apron from 1975. I can’t believe I have no apron patterns at all, and yet I am in need of an apron.

This is McCalls 5861, from 1992: jacket, tank dress or top, skirt & pants or shorts.

This is another one that looks nice. McCall’s 5861, from 1992 includes a tank top and dress with Made-For-You A-B-C-D cup sizing. I think it might make a nice summer dress.

Simplicity 7412, from 1976: child’s dress and capelet. A French jumper pattern from Modes et Travaux. Simplicity 1434; ca. 1955/56; boy’s pajamas in two lengths.

But the real gems are in the children’s patterns. Here we have Simplicity 7412, from 1976. Clearly, it’s a first communion dress, but without the capelet (and maybe a bit more length) it’s quite cute. Then there is this French pattern for a jumper by Modes et travaux. And my favourite is the boys pyjamas. They are pull-on with no buttons! My kids are pretty allergic to buttons, and this pattern has a really nice, unique neckline.

Butterick 7602: Quick & Easy boys’ & girls’ sport shirt. Simplicity 1785 Child’s Mandarin Pajamas, robe, and matching doll coat, from the 1950s. Simplicity 4636; ca. 1962; child’s hooded jacket and pants.

And finally, these were the most unusual kids’ patterns. I’m not sure I’ll be sewing them, but the 1950s styling is interesting. First there is   Butterick 7602, a pull-on shirt. I’ve never seen a shirt with this type of neckline. Next is  Simplicity 1785,  a child’s mandarin pyjamas and robe. So 1950s! And finally a ski suit: Simplicity 4636.

A big thank you to both the Easter bunny and my husband’s aunt (name omitted to protect her from the notoriety of sewing blog fame )!

Sewing for Kids in the 1950s

Is this not the cutest hipster utility jacket for toddlers ever? It is a rhetorical question and the answer is “yes!”.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The envelope is a little worn, but the pattern itself is in good condition.

It’s part of the stash of vintage patterns that my mother gave me when she cleaned up her sewing things. But this was not one of her patterns. There’s a bit of writing on the envelope. It says “Effie’s pattern – 1958”. I would recognize my grandmother’s handwriting anywhere. And of course it isn’t her pattern either. Effie is my great-grandmother and this is her pattern.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The back of the envelope is a bit torn.

The pattern is Butterick 6176 in size 2. From the envelope back: “Toddler’s Sunsuit or Overalls and Jacket. (A) This short button-front jacket has long, cuffed sleeves set in raglan style. Makes a suit with these side-buttoned overalls (B). (View C) Make this simple sunsuit: bib-top with button-on straps and briefest bottoms.” Indeed!

How old is this pattern?

If you look for this pattern on the Vintage Patterns Wiki, you’ll see it says it was a pattern from the 1950s. However, I think this pattern was probably released through the 1950s and 1960s.

It’s difficult to date vintage patterns, and I am certainly no expert. Butterick patterns, like this one, don’t always have a date printed on them. You have to make an educated guess. Sometimes you can use the pattern illustration, or certain design elements to date the pattern, but children’s patterns tend to be less fashion-forward than patterns for women’s clothing. Another way to date a pattern is by the pattern envelope style.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: Toddler’s Sunsuit or Overalls and Jacket. (A) This short button-front jacket has long, cuffed sleeves set in raglan style. Makes a suit with these side-buttoned overalls (B). (View C) Make this simple sunsuit: bib-top with button-on straps and briefest bottoms.

This pattern has the classic upper-left square around the Butterick logo that is typical of patterns from the 1950s. You can see the same style logo in this pattern dated 1956. Her copy was probably published in the 1950s. There were a few other patterns with this one, with dates printed on them, that were from the 1930s and 1940s.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The instructions are in great condition.

However, even though the copy of this pattern that my grandmother had was from the 1950s, you can find this pattern with different envelope designs. This probably means that it was published over an extended period of time. It would have to be published in the late 1940s or after, since the pattern is printed and not perforated in all the versions I’ve seen. And it seems to have been published through the 1960’s judging by logo design alone. The price of the pattern varied between 35 and 48 cents, from what I can tell from a quick internet search.

How is it different from modern patterns?

The envelope from my grandmother’s pattern is barely holding together, but the pattern and instructions are in great shape. It looks like only the overalls or sunsuit were actually sewn up. The jacket was carefully cut out though. My great grandmother had eight grandchildren to sew for in the 1950s and 1960s, but I’m curious about who got the overalls.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: Check out all the different layouts. There are layouts for fabric with widths of 35″, 39″ and 54″. Fabric usually now comes in widths of 45″ or 60″.

The first thing I noticed were the cutting layouts. There are layouts for fabric with widths of 35″, 39″ and 54″. Fabric usually now comes in widths of 45″ or 60″.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: I like how they want me to use tailor’s tacks.

I also think it’s cute that the pattern calls for the use of tailor’s tacks or a tracing wheel, a tool “much used by Professionals”. I like the gratuitous capitalization.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The pattern shows how to make corded, blanket-stitched buttonholes. Keep in mind, this is a jacket for a two-year-old.

The pattern also tells you to make corded, blanket-stitched button holes by hand. Ooh la la! Keep in mind that this jacket is in size 2 and will last about a year before the lucky, but admittedly well-dressed recipient grows out of it. “Modern sewing is easy”, it says on the envelope. Un huh. I recently read a blog post that asked if patterns used to be more complicated. In this case, yes.

What else is different? If you look at the pattern illustration, you’ll see that this is a pattern for both boys and girls. If you look at Butterick’s current catalogue, you won’t find any patterns for boys at all, unless you count pyjamas or a layette. McCall’s has only a couple patterns for boys. And if you look at the girls’ patterns on either site, they are all super girly – ruffles, loads of pink, bows and ribbons. Ugghhh.

McCall’s M6385, Vintage Butterick 6176, and Simplicity 2292

About the closest you would come to this pattern is McCall’s M6385 or Simplicity 2292. But look at the styling. It’s sort of like a big billboard ad “You Must Dress Your Girls in Pink.” And of course the boy outfits must be “boy-ed-up” with “boy”-themed appliqué work. Personally, I prefer the little red utility jacket.

I think it’s pretty fun to open up old patterns, but I’m geeky that way. What about you? Have you ever tried a vintage children’s sewing pattern?

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!

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.