Vintage Sewing

The Curse of the Missing Instructions

April 5, 2012

Daily visitor and admirer/ occasional commenter/ first time poster… I’ve been smoked out of hiding to ask for your advice!

I was thrilled when this pattern arrived yesterday and quickly tucked into the envelope only to discover all the pattern pieces accounted for but no instructions! Typical, as I’d bought the pattern almost for its instructions alone – I have another shirtwaist pattern with a similar front placket also missing its instructions and I’d figured this might serve for both. Seems I’m going to have to work it out for myself after all… or not if you can help me out!

The seller was v. apologetic and dealt with it brilliantly, but… still no instructions. And the pattern pieces are of the unprinted variety with only holes small and large, triangles, etc. I’ve sewn with unprinted pattern pieces before, but never without the accompanying instructions to hold my hand every step of the way!

I’m OK with how to go about the shirt part and welt pockets, but I’m more hesitant with the lower bit of the front placket and back of the skirt. Re. the skirt, it’s described as a 3-piece skirt, and since the front is 2 pieces, that means the back will be one piece cut on the fold. It has a ‘released inverted pleat’ which appears to be sewn halfway down then released. My question is, what do you do with the fabric inside the pleat up top (where it isn’t released) – would you trim it all off and just open it like a big dart? My worry is that if I don’t trim, it might add bulk where I don’t want it and interfere with the actual darts either side of it, but I’m not quite sure how to go about it.

As for the front placket, it’s in two pieces (one piece for the bodice, another for the skirt; I feel one piece all the way down would look neater, but maybe there’s a reason for the two pieces I don’t know about). Anyhow, should these both be cut x2 or on the fold? I’m not sure how you attach the placket at the bottom (the pointy bit) and although I could find plenty about sewing plackets on the interweb, I couldn’t find anything about pointy-ended ones that don’t go all the way down…

I have checked the vintage pattern wiki et al. but couldn’t find any other mention of this pattern, so any advice would be most welcome, thank you!

  1. If it were me I would not cut the interior pleat . Just iron it flat, it won’t add bulk. If you are worried about it flopping around you could tack it into place. I’m not sure about the placket, it has been my experiance they are top stitched so don’t cut it on the fold. Just sew it and turn it inside out. That may be why it’s in two pieces, so it’s easier to turn? I think if you cut it as one piece it wouldn’t hurt as long it is a uniform width all the way down. It’s hard to tell from the picture. I have a dress with a pointy placket, I could email you a few pics of the directions if you like.

  2. I’ve never seen a trimmed pleat. If it’s a bulky fabric you could trim down the darts (like a big bust dart). Unless you’re making this out of a winter weight wool or something it’s probably not going to be bulky at all. Inverted pleats like this can be tacked down – at the bottom of the stitching where the pleat opens up. I see a lot of decorative-functional tacks at the top of pleats in old movies.
    I think the placket comes in two parts because this is a dress with a waist seam. You know where you make the bodice and the skirt then sew the two together for the waist seam. If the plackets are independently applied then they get the attached at the waist at that time. I think the rationale here is that so many full skirted dresses were always worn with a belt that covers the waist seam. I can’t really visualize how to apply a one piece placket to this dress unless you basted the front opening closed and did the placket after the waist seam.
    I can’t tell from the picture if they are wearing belts. If they aren’t then perhaps I’m wrong about a waist seam and it’s actually more like a skirt waist, a waistband, like a faux two-piece outfit. In which case you’d really have to do a bodice placket and a skirt placket.
    By the way I think you could cut two of each length of placket rather than cut it on the fold. I think generally only certain pieces are cut on the fold – usually the center line of the garment – bodice and skirt pieces and associated facings. A long piece like a placket cut on the fold will either mean you have to have a really long piece of yardage or cut it last on a length that you’ve made a new fold on. Just doesn’t seem plausible.
    You could get an item with a similar placket detail from the thrift store and rip the seams out. Reverse engineering can teach at lot. However most shirt dresses I see have princess seaming rather than waistline. Polo shirts have plackets that stop halfway down. And there’s pocket styles with angled corners. So you’d do the same procedure for applying the placket as though it were square across the bottom, but use the folding/mitering techniques that you’d use for a pointed pocket. Sounds fiddly.
    Good luck and let us know how it went.

  3. I have a 1930s skirt pattern with the same pleat detail on the back, you fold and press it flat against the skirt. In that pattern the top of the pleat from the waistband down a few inches was top-stitched which held the pleat in place. You could use a whip stitch on the inside for a similar, invisible effect.

    Its worth posting a plea on the Vintage Patterns Wiki pattern page for the instructions, I did this for another pattern and a reader saw it and very kindly scanned and emailed me the instructions a few months later.

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