1950s | 1960s | Dresses | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

Cherries and trouble

September 2, 2014


Hello again! I’m here to show you another dress that I’ve recently finished. It’s actually my fourth dress ever and I love it to bits. It’s my best sew up until now. It’s lined, the seams are straight, the side zipper is hand picked beautifully, the hem is even and the shape of the skirt is lovely –and I’m really proud of that last effort because it was of my own design.


Buuut, of course there were trouble along the way and even though I sized down the pattern to better fit my bust, it is still too big. I have no idea how that happened because I’ve been fitting it and checking if everything works well on my manneqin all the time and I was pleased with the result but when everything was finished, well… the bodice is too large on me in the bust area! In the second photo you can see the ugly tucks that I made to help it just a little.

Does anyone here have experience with old German patterns? Is there a lot of ease given in them? I keep having the same problem time and time again with these patterns and they are what I mainly use so… well, I’d really appreciate any suggestions.

You can see more photos of this dress on my blog, come take a look!

  1. Beautiful work and lovely fabric, I love the style too. My guess is that your mannequin is probably not a very copy of you! I would also suggest that you choose your pattern size from your high bust. You look curvy (like me) and for this body type if you use your high bust measurement (around your upper chest under your arms) you are likely to have a better starting point for adjusting your pattern to fit you. If you are scaling down a larger pattern size in this way you probably need to be more extreme in how much you reduce it down. This will probably result in a pattern that is too small for your full bust, so you will need to also do a Full Bust Adjustment to your patterns – there are many tutorials to help you around that, they don’t take very long and I am sure you will get to do them very easily. Good luck.

  2. Wow, a beautiful dress. What a perfect fabric choice and you look so beautiful! (side-note: love your bookshelves).
    And to answer your question about patterns: I come from Germany (currently living in Switzerland), so I do sew with these patterns a lot. And in general, yes, vintage patterns always tend to be a little too large for me, too, but I am a very tiny person. So I can’t help you as well as the first comment did, but if you do have any questions concerning terms or similar (you aren’t from Germany, are you?), feel free to ask me, maybe I can help anyway.
    love, ette

    1. Hello, Ette and thank you! It’s lovely of you to follow me on bloglovin, too! I’ve returned the favour :).

      I’m actually from Poland but I tend to go to German ebay from time to time, to look for those little gems of German sewing press. They can be pricey! But totally worth every penny. I’ll probably have to learn to alter the patterns, though, as it’s the third dress I’ve sewn from vintage Pramo and they all had the bust issue.

      I’ll make sure to turn to you if I find something too hard to understand for my almost extinct knowledge of German. I’ve been ok up until now but you never know! Thank you so much for your kind offer to help!

  3. Someone told me it is up to the underwear women wore back then. Think of bullet-bras, corsets, etc. That required more space in some regions, possibly this is the reason for more ease? I only once used an old German pattern, and I had the same problem.

    1. Wow, I never would have thought about that but it does make sense. That’s a nice idea, actually, I love knowing about stuff like that. We don’t consider corsets, girdles and all that as items of daily wear in our modern times but they were the reality of just a few decades ago. I find it fascinating.

  4. I also think it looks like you might need to do a smaller starting size with a full bust adjustment (FBA). It looks like the extra fabric is between the arm hole and the bust point and that’s exactly what happened to me every time before I figured out that I needed to do a full bust adjustment. Also, you may find the back neckline is gaping. Most patterns are drafted for a B cup so if you’re not, they won’t fit properly. This is a nice tutorial for an FBA: http://christinehaynes.blogspot.com/2013/11/emery-dress-sew-along-how-to-do-full.html

    1. Wow, that’s really helpful! I’ve always thought I wouldn’t need an FBA because it’s suited for large bosoms and mine is really quite humble but I’ll check it out because I might have the wrong idea. I guess my problem is also rounded back and shoulderblades which makes figuring everything out even more complicated. But I’ll get to the bottom of it!

      Thanks for all your tips!

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