1960s | Dresses

Butterick 8587

By on October 9, 2013

Here’s my latest version of probably my favourite dress pattern, Butterick 8587. It’s from the late 50s/early 60s.

It’s made from a linen mystery mix fabric, and the buttons are from Turkey! The buttons took forever to find, you’d think it would be relatively simple to find buttons for  a black dress.

The skirt has been shortened by about 5 inches, and I added 1.5 inches to the bodice length. In the future, I will only add 1 inch.

I overlocked all the insides, as per my 1940s dress. I really like being able to use my overlocker for vintage dresses. It feels sneaky, in a good way.

More information on my blog, if you fancy.

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1940s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

McCalls 5229

By on September 1, 2013

My first daliance into 1940s wartime patterns.


This pattern has a reminder of the Civilian Clothing restrictions on the front, but also has a reminder inside of the present conditions as a reason for an unprinted pattern. I don’t mind unprinted patterns, but I understand why they might be a little daunting for a beginner seamstress. When you’ve got diagrams and clear instructions it’s reasonably easy to figure out, but I guess a little time consuming.


Anyway, the dress. (The photos aren’t great as my camera seemed to struggle with all the red.) It’s made from a cotton/linen blend with a nice texture to it. There was a lot more ease than I was expecting.  With hindsight, I should have taken in the seams at the front and back skirt gores. The sleeves are shortened by around two inches.

I also interfaced the collar, which the pattern didn’t mention or call for. I’m happy that I didn’t interface the bodice edge as it allows the bodice to be a little blousey. Otherwise it may have been a little too stiff.


The dress has lapped seams, which were quite nice to do. I topstitched them using regular thread, and a stitch on my machine that does three straight stitches side by side. Not sure if this has an official name or not. It makes for a more prominent stitch line. The buttons are also vintage from my collection, I’ve been waiting to use them for a long time.


Also, bound buttonholes, and thread belt loops using this tutorial from Oliver + S. This is so easy to do, and so much more delicate than big fabric belt loops. The dress fastens with snaps down the side too.


The insides are all overlocked. The fabric frayed quite easily, so this seemed like the safest and quickest measure. It’s not period-specific but I may as well take advantage of what sort of seam finishes can be done now. There was something nice about mixing an old pattern with new techniques. Does anyone else use modern techniques to finish vintage dresses, or is it better to stick with tradition?


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EvaDress 1930s Evening Gown

By on August 12, 2013

I made this dress to wear at a friend’s wedding, an English summer garden wedding to be precise. It felt a bit odd to be making an evening dress, but I think the print is summery enough to avoid it looking like an evening gown. I didn’t mean for it to look so similar to the pattern illustration, but I couldn’t find the fabric I wanted so opted for this similar colourway.

It’s made from polyester chiffon, and the skirt tape detail and sash are made form silk satin. I’m not keen on the shininess of polyester satin. I also made a cotton satin slip to wear underneath, using the pattern but adapting the bodice and using bias tape for straps.

For the closure, the pattern recommended hook and eye tape. Unfortunately I didn’t have any and couldn’t get hold of any in time, so I had to make do with extra fabric and hooks and eyes. With hindsight, I should have used snaps, as they kept popping open. Luckily the sash saved me from indecent exposures.


Because I was in a bit of a rush, I used my overlocker to finish all edges, overlocking the insides and using the rolled hem function for, well, hemming. I was really pleased with how this worked out. Not the perfect vintage finish a dress like this should have, but there was something unusually satisfying with using modern techniques for finishing a vintage dress.

Next time (I’m hoping to adapt this pattern into a knee length dress) I’m going to aim for a better, more professional finish.



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