1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

The New 1958 Dress Pattern by Sense & Sensibility Patterns!

By on October 20, 2012

Hello, Ladies!

I am very excited to share this pattern review of the brand new 1958 Party Dress Pattern by Sense & Sensibility Patterns!  If you have been into historical costuming at all, you are undoubtedly very familiar with S&S Patterns’ phenomenal Regency & Edwardian designs.  And even if you are strictly a retro dress fan, you have most certainly come across their famous 1940s Swing Dress pattern that was launched to pattern stardom through Casey’s Swing Dress Sew-Along!  So with such a history of producing excellent patterns, you can be pretty sure that any future pattern they release is sure to make waves in the sewing community.  And that’s exactly what is happening!  When designer Jennie Chancey held a poll for the next pattern era in 2010, the 1950s won hands down. : )  I was quite excited since I’ve always found the S&S designs so wonderful to work with! (And there’s nothing that gets me more ecstatic than a new 1950s dress pattern!)

But I was even more excited when I found out that I got to sew and model the dresses for her website!  Test-sewing the pattern was a new experience for me, since I usually look at the samples that other sewers have made, pinpoint the areas that seem to need more fitting help, then make those adjustments in my own sewing project so that hopefully my finished dress avoids the pitfalls that other sewers have run into.  In this case I had basically no pictures to go off of, so I thought to myself that I would have to be way more careful than normal to make sure the pattern fit perfectly.  But my jitters were groundless!  There absolutely were no fitting alterations, which really blew me away since I usually have to take in about four inches at the waist when working with a Butterick reproduction 50s pattern!

My measurements are exactly a pattern size 12 (size 6 in storebought sizes), so other than having slightly narrow shoulders I really should have all patterns fit me perfectly.  But I’ve found, as I’m sure you have, too, that most 1950s reproduction patterns don’t automatically give you that hourglass 1950s silhouette!  It takes wearing a corset/girdle, adjusting the above bust area, taking in the waistline, and wearing a big pouffy crinoline to look even remotely like a 1950s pattern cover.  Not so in this case!  I was really blown away by how perfectly and smoothly the bodice fit me as soon as I tried it on – the vertical darts in front and back are so flattering, and the bodice ends an inch or so above the natural waistline so the gathered skirt completely hides the “tummy” area!

This first dress was made with a white and pink polka dotted cotton, and trimmed with a ruched cumberband belt as the instructions suggest.  I made it with the round neckline in back and with the gathered skirt option.  Other alternatives would be using the more elegant low “v” neck in back, or pleating the skirt rather than gathering it like I did in the dress below.

Here we see the same dress pattern, but with no ruched belt over the bodice.  I tied a simple red ribbon around the waist and trimmed the neckline and sleeves with rickrack for a very “Oklahoma!” feel to it!

This dress gives you more of an opportunity to see how smoothly the bodice fits.  I was struck by how comfortable the kimono sleeves fit, as well!  Usually kimono sleeves can bunch up under the arms and add too much bulk, but not so in this case!  I love how the added width in the sleeves and upper bodice make the waist look smaller in comparison, and lend an hourglass look to most any figure.  (By the way, I was not wearing a corset or any sort of shaper with these dresses – this is just exactly how the dress looks over a modern figure.)

I think I prefer the gathered skirt over the pleated option, but both styles are very cute.  The two dresses I’ve shown are obviously quite casual, but you can make stunning party dresses or evening gowns by using a longer version of the skirt.  I got to make two sumptuous evening versions as well, which I will be detailing in the near future.

Lest I forget to mention, this pattern is perfect for beginners!  I was struck by how simple the construction was, and by what incredible detail Jennie Chancey put into the instructions.  If you have never sewn a dress before, you cannot afford to be without this pattern!  And if you are a seasoned vintage pattern enthusiast, you will adore it!  It is really the quintessential 1950s dress pattern, as I doubt that any other design on the market is quite as versatile and gives you as many options.

To read more about these dresses you can visit my blog post, and be sure to pop over to the new pattern itself at Sense & Sensibility!

Have a wonderful, rainy Saturday. : )

Happy sewing,



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The Glittery Brown “Gertie” Coat

By on September 6, 2012

Hi Ladies!

Is everyone as excited as I am about the new line of designs that Gertie has produced for Butterick?  When I got the email about Butterick’s new fall collection (or more particularly about the “Gertie” patterns), I just about went berzerk!

You see, I had been saving this gorgeous piece of gold glitter-speckled brown wool for a 1950s coat, and I was waiting for the right pattern to come along.  Up till now all the retro coat patterns have not had that super-flattering 1950s silhouette which the 50s dresses are famous for, so I just couldn’t believe that such a lovely pattern was on the market.

There was one slight drawback, though.  I was going on vacation very shortly, and I still had one dress to hem and another one to construct before I left the country on Friday night.  But I wanted soooo badly to get the first version sewn/first pattern review up, so when the pattern arrived Friday afternoon I buckled down to work and got it whipped out (3 hours flat) just in time to pack my suitcase!

I did have to hem it in the hotel room (I rarely travel without sewing supplies!), but the lovely city of Victoria, B.C. made a wonderful backdrop for the coat even late at night.


And as for the pattern itself – I loved it!  This design eliminates a lot of seams by having kimono sleeves (bodice and sleeve combined in one pattern), and a one piece bodice front/shawl collar.  The collar is constructed in a classic vintage fashion, and does take a little bit of time to get just right but is well worth the effort!  I’m very glad I had already worked with this sort of collar when I sewed the Sense & Sensibility Swing Blouse pattern for the Fourth of July, and you might want to practice on that design if you’ve never sewn a combined bodice/collar piece before.

The skirt is a gored circle skirt style, and I chose to finish the double-breasted front with four buttons rather than two like the pattern calls for.

I absolutely love wearing this coat (I think it’s a fabulous way to get a 1950s look in colder weather!), and you can read much more about it on my blog post here. 

Happy sewing!


Edelweiss Patterns

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1940s | 1950s | Vintage Sewing

When did Vintage Reproduction Patterns Start?

By on July 18, 2012

Well, there’s a first time for everything, right?  With all the posts I’ve written here I haven’t yet been asking for help, but this is an exception!

You see, after my recent foray into buying vintage patterns for sale on Ebay, I received some purchases in the mail that truly surprised me – there was a Vintage Vogue 1940s dress pattern that was published in 1998!!  I had absolutely no idea that Vintage Vogue designs had been around so long!  I had always assumed they started in my teenage years (within the last decade), but this one I just bought would have come out when I was eight years old!


This pattern, published in 1998, sold for $25 way back then!


I know that all the major pattern companies have sold poodle skirt/semi-1950s patterns in their costume section since I was a little girl, but when did actual vintage reproductions start?  Was there really any interest in it before 2006?  (That seems to be the year when Butterick and Vogue began reproducing them in earnest.)

In addition, RockabillyKitten just wrote a post involving Simplicity 3748, which I had never seen before but promptly purchased on Etsy.  I’ve had all the vintage designs memorized for the last five years or so, but did Simplicity have repro patterns before that?

Too many questions, I know, but I’m so curious to find out!  I’m only in my early twenties, so I would greatly appreciate the knowledge of seamstresses who have been around longer than I have!


Thanks a lot!


Edelweiss Patterns Blog

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1940s | Vintage Sewing

Happy Fourth of July!

By on July 4, 2012

Hello All!

Hooray for the red, white, and blue!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Fourth of July!  I wanted to share pictures of my recent creations for this holiday, sewn with some vintage designs from the 1940s.

I sewed a red silk blouse from one of my favorite patterns, the Romantic Blouse Pattern from www.sensibility.com .   I looooove the hourglass sort of darts/pleats, which are so much easier to put in than regular darts and are charmingly vintage!  I’ve seen lots of vintage blouses and dresses that have similar tucks, and they add so much style to the look.

The vintage tucks/pleats are just divine!

This collar is brilliantly put together, as the pattern has the collar be an extension of the actual blouse front itself.  It comes together so quickly, and I love how I only had to use three pieces – front, back, and sleeve!  (Well, okay, there’s also a facing, but in general this comes together so much faster than a typical blouse.)

As for the slacks, this pattern worked so well that I don’t think I’ll ever buy another pair of pants!!  I usually have a very hard time finding pants that fit the way I like, because I am, how shall we say, short!  On top of that, I can’t stand those front closing pants, because the zipper and button closure add so much bulk to the waist – a shirt can fit me just fine in the waist, for example, but as soon as I pull on a pair of pants underneath it looks like I have much more of a stomach than I actually do!  So frustrating!!

So these pants made from Simplicity 3688 were a God-send!  They have a side closure, a very flattering waistband at the natural waistline, slenderizing pleats down the front and back, and wide legs that are so forgiving in the hip area!  You can’t see the waistband in these photos since I have the blouse untucked, but believe me when I say that the pants are sooo flattering to wear.  Somehow those skinny-leg pants of today, or those awful legging things that make even the skinniest girl look portly, are so unbecoming…  I don’t understand why clothing stores can’t design slacks for women that actually make them look better, not worse!

At any rate, I love these Hollywood style 1940s pants, and I’m sure you will find them helpful, too!  I highly recommend the blouse pattern for vintage enthusiasts as well, and now I’m off to go get ready for my church’s Fourth of July bash tonight!  You can read a much more in-depth review of the pants and blouse on my blog, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Happy sewing!



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Vintage Sewing

Airplanes & High Heels

By on June 24, 2012

Hello Ladies!

Isn't this a perfectly gorgeous pattern?


You might not recognize me if I’m not wearing a 1950s dress, but I did indeed break away from that era and sew something from the 1940s!  Have many of you seen the new design that Simplicity released recently?  It’s a knee-length dress with 3/4 length sleeves, a princess seamed front panel, and lots of gorgeous ruching and pleating in the waist and hips.   Since I LOVE VINTAGE PATTERNS (!) I ordered the pattern right away, in hopes that I could sew the “inaugural” version of it for my blog.  And I think I succeeded!  (I’ll admit that option A is a bit dowdy with that tight neckline, but option B is quite flattering.)

Wish I had lived back in the "good old days"!

Within 24 hours of the pattern arriving at my house, I was at an antique flight musuem getting pictures taken of the new dress!  This pattern has lots of details for requiring such a small amount of fabric, and is remarkably comfortable to wear.

A classic WWII sort of setting!

It has the prettiest panel down the bodice front which could transfer beautifully over to a formal gown from the 40s as well.   I’m almost thinking you could chop off the entire bodice pattern at the waist, pair it with a long, 40s evening skirt pattern, and maybe add some flutter sleeves for a really lovely wedding dress.  The dress comes together so fast, and is finished with a neckline facing so you don’t have to line the whole thing.

The material itself was ideal for the project, and was a black silk charmeuse with red roses and golden brown leaves scattered across.  I know that black is not a color I’m supposed to wear since I have warm coloring, but I made an exception for this project. : )

And the planes were fabulous!  I love old airplanes almost as much as I love old dresses… well, no that’s not true, but at least I like them quite a bit!  I tried to be authentic by only posing with aircraft that were built between 1939 and 1949.

Last but not least, I was very excited to find a vintage hairdo that I can pull off.  My hair curls very easily, but uncurls easier still!  So I’ve finally discovered that if I do pin curls and leave the bobby pins in place, the hair can’t uncurl even if it wants to!

So that’s just a few of the numerous pictures I have over on my vintage dress blog, and I’d love to hear what you think of the new pattern!

Happy sewing!




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1950s | 1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

The Lavender Dreams Dress

By on May 6, 2012

Hello Ladies!

I love this party dress! I feel like going to a ball in it.

With how much sewing I’ve done this year, it seems hard to believe that I had not yet sewn one single 1950s dress until now!  The 1950s quickly became my favorite “wearable” era last summer when I discovered the fun of making Butterick’s “walkaway dress”, so you can be sure I snatched up a copy of Butterick’s new vintage design which looks similar on the pattern covers. (B5708)

In actuality, there are hardly any similarities between B4790 and this design I used, such as wraparound closure vs. side zipper, circle skirt vs. gathered rectangular skirt, no darts vs. darts, etc.   However, that vintage silhouette is still similar in both dresses, and while the pattern I used is technically a 1960 design, I think it’s close enough to the 1950s to still call it that!

While the pattern doesn't call for an overlay, I added one over the top and have it split down the center.

So now for the fabric!  I used a lavender matte satin which had a lovely sheen to it, and I had a lot of fun embellishing the bodice with Swarovski crystals and sheer ribbon.
The overlay is very unique in that is has three rows of machine embroidered scallops towards the bottom, and it has lots of lovely faux sequins.

If I use this pattern again I would definitely use something lighter weight, because the bodice is a little too firm with two thick layers of matte satin.  Personally I think the shoulder ties would probably be more suited to a sundress sort of fabric, but I still loved the way the dress turned out!


Lavender is my favorite color!

I sincerely wish that we could all go back to wearing dresses like those! The world would at least be a prettier place if every woman was all dressed up, but I suppose it’s just wishful thinking on my part.  Can you imagine what it would be like to walk down the street and see everyone dressed up like you see in the classic Hollywood films from the 30s and 40s?  Ricky Ricardo always wore a suit and tie on “I Love Lucy”, and more often than not Lucy herself wore a 1950s shirtwaist dress or blouse with circle skirt.  Nowadays we buy jeans with holes in them and frayed edges (I cannot claim to be innocent in this matter, and it’s very rarely that I actually dress up like this!).


Every dress looks better with a vintage hat!

Nevertheless, I always love wearing my 1950s dresses, and this one was a lot of fun to have photographed! You can see lots more pictures on my blog, where I whittled down the 168 photographs of this dress to just a couple dozen. : )

Happy sewing!


Edelweiss Patterns


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1930s | 1940s | Dresses | Hats | Vintage Sewing

In Your Easter Bonnet, With All the Frills Upon It

By on April 9, 2012

Hello Ladies!


Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!  (and Passover – I celebrate both!)  In celebration of this wonderful holiday when all vintage ladies used to purchase or make a completely new outfit, I decided to recreate a springy dress from one of my favorite movies of Hollywood’s Golden Era.  The film is A Man Called Peter and the stunning actress who inspired this project was Jean Peters herself.

The dress in particular which I deemed most suitable for the occasion was a tailored but still feminine 1940s dress.  Actually, in was supposed to be set in 1936, though the bodice looks like 1940 and the skirt makes it looks like it’s 1950s!  Whatever the case, I made up the pattern as I went along and managed to finish the dress on Saturday afternoon.

As you’ll see in the photos, there are nine wide tucks across the upper bodice with an invisible hook and eye closure down the front.  The Peter Pan collar and turn-back cuffs are made from heavily interfaced silk shantung, and the rest of the dress was constructed from combed cotton.

Since I am on the shorter side of things, I didn’t feel that this was the most flattering dress on me in comparison with full skirt silhouettes, and the horizontal lines definitely make the wearer look a bit chunkier (which is certainly not what I’m going for!).

Nevertheless, I was so excited to wear this dress, and I completed the effect by carrying a beaded vintage purse, wearing four-inch heels and a 1930s hat, and rolling my hair up into pin curls.  It was so fun!


Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and you can see more pictures on my blog.


Happy sewing!



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