1950s | Dresses

Happy 40th Birthday to me!

By on May 9, 2014

If it’s May, then it’s my birthday!  If it’s my birthday, then it’s time for the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival!

This year was a little extra special – it is my 40th birthday!  (My mother feels she’s too young to have a 40 year old child, but I reminded her that at 63, she’s still young, especially in spirit!)

The Burlesque Festival did not disappoint and neither did this popular pattern!

I used Butterick 4790, the reproduction pattern for the walk-away dress.  I had my heart set on a specific fabric, but couldn’t find the yardage I needed, at a price that was reasonable, that I could get my hands on in time.  Boo!

While I was sulking, I found a delightfully kitschy zombie print at http://www.canadiannationalfabric.com/ .  Not exactly what I wanted, but a fun 2nd place.

THEN, I stumbled upon http://www.hawthornethreads.com/ and found exactly what I wanted, for the price I wanted and shipping was reasonable and fast!   Michael Miller’s Atomic in Turquoise!

Love both choices, but my heart called for turquoise!

Full disclosure:  I made this dress for my friend a couple of years ago and already knew what kind of alterations I would need for myself.  The neckline on this dress isn’t as scooped as it looks in the picture, so I went ahead and dropped the neck about an inch and half.  I have narrow shoulders, so I narrowed the shoulders by half an inch.  I purposely made this dress a size smaller, as I planned to wear a waist cincher.  I’m also 5’2″, so I brought up the hem by two inches.  Instead of a button and loop to close the back, I used elastic tabs and snaps – much more comfortable! I also used two inch horsehair braid for the hem of the full skirt.  It’s worth the extra time!

I had heard the complaints about the skirt flying up, so I decided to wear a vintage slip, and lucky for me, I had one in coral that matched the fabric!

Oh la la la!

I was rushing around and didn’t get very many post-able pictures, but here’s one that shows the full length view.  I was stopped a couple of times and asked where I purchased my dress!  I was also asked if I was one of the performers.  Those ladies are always so pulled together and elegant, I was pleased to be mistaken for one of them!

Awkward blocking the stairs pose in the theatre.

Here’s an extra picture of me and my friend being silly before the rest of the girls showed up!  Happy 40th to me!

Cheeky selfie!

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Vintage Sewing

Ridiculous? YES. Comfortable? Oh, yes!

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A couple of months ago, I found myself in between projects and I wanted something quick to sew to cleanse the sewing palette.

I went digging through my out of control collection of vintage patterns and found this Advance 8816 in size 16 I picked up last year from Etsy.

How adorable is this pattern?

I scrounged around my fabric stash and found something that would be suitable for a pair of cute pyjamas.  What I found was ridiculous, but perfect.

Pretty underthings.

Why not make a pair of pyjamas out of a lightweight cotton with lingerie printed on it?  I was sold.  I didn’t QUITE have enough for the pant view, so I had to make the shorts and use white broadcloth for unseen facings.  I also realized too late that I didn’t have enough cotton bias tape for the shorts, so I made do with rayon bias tape for them.  Sometimes you just have to compromise on a spur of the moment project!

The top is a little more involved than I would have originally thought, but I love the sheer ridiculousness of the finished product.  The shorts were straight-forward and easy-peasy.

My dress form doesn’t have “legs” so the shorts look awkward on her, but check out the top!!!

Ridiculously cute I say!

After some discussion with my friend, it’s agreed that I should make this again in a sheer, flimsy fabric.  She suggested mauve fabric with bubblegum pink satin piping.  Pastels aren’t my thing, but I like the idea. To be continued?…







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1950s | Mens | Shirts | Vintage Sewing

Plaid for Christmas

By on January 4, 2014

I’ve been busy the last couple months with sewing that wasn’t vintage.  There were a couple of zombie events where I needed to make a Pride and Prejudice costume and a steampunk-ish costume.  Then I needed to make three Santa themed costumes.

I digress, this post isn’t about those projects.

A bit of back story – my husband spends pretty much 99% of his days in shorts, tank top and button down shirts.  EVEN WHEN IT SNOWS.  It use to be T-shirts, but as he’s the owner of his own tech company, I finally talked him into wearing shirts with buttons.

Quite a few months ago I posted about a box of retro patterns I was gifted by a friend and her family.  It was filled with patterns from the 50s-70s for men, women and kids.  This project is a button down shirt from that box of patterns.

Simplicity 5029 - View 3

I showed the hubby a couple of different patterns and he chose the pattern above, view 3 (short sleeves).

The hubby is a big fan of orange and plaid and I managed to find plaid shirting for $4/m.  I pre-washed and matched the stripes before cutting.  I know a lot of people find matching plaid intimidating, but a shirt project is a good place to start.  You don’t necessarily need to match every seam – it’s up to you.

I decide to cut the front pocket, the collar and back yoke on the bias to give the shirt some visual interest.  This patterns had the ease in the back dealt with slight gathering instead of pleats.  For a casual shirt, I think this is a great idea, but would still use pleats if I was making the dress shirts.

Back yoke.


Close up of front details.

One of the little details this shirt has that I love is the notched sleeve.  Simple detail, but a really nice touch.

Notched sleeve detail.
My hubby LOVES his new shirt, but he’s too shy to model it for us, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  My petite mannequin doesn’t quite fill out this shirt adequately enough to stand in for my 6’2″, 195lb hubby, but she’ll have to do.
The finished shirt on my female mannequin.
Until next time – keep your machines purring along!
xo girliefrank



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1960s | Children | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Gumdrop 60s

By on June 16, 2013

I’m in the midst of making my Pride and Prejudice and Zombies costume, but as much as I’m enjoying it, there is a whole lot of cream going on with the dress.  I decided to whip up a colourful little dress for my friend’s wee girl.

If you have read my previous posts, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to receive a box of 68 vintage patterns for my birthday from a friend’s mum.  This little dress is the first pattern used from that amazing gift.

Butterick 4246 with the pink linen found in the envelope.

I used this Butterick 4246, View B – Sleeveless A-line dress with large bow detail in back.  When I opened up the envelope, I found the pink linen and a pink zipper tucked inside.  I was told by the gifter, that her family member remembers the pink dress!

Gum drop quilting cotton from my stash.

I found just enough of this quilting cotton to make the dress in my stash.  I love how colourful and cheerful this fabric is.  I like to use quilting fabrics for kids clothes.  They usually hold up pretty good to wash and wear and they’re easy to work with.

I’m addicted to using Hug Snug – even in kids clothes.  If I had just over-locked the seams, the dress would have been whipped up in an afternoon, BUT as I said – I’m addicted.

Here are pictures of the finished product:

Simple front.
Back of dress with the sublime bow.
Finished seams with Hug Snug.

Now, back to the zombie dress with me!

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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Safari Summer

By on June 1, 2013

Hello all!

Just when I thought I was making some serious dents in testing out my vintage patterns, this happens:

Happy Birthday to me indeed!

My friend’s mother found out I like to sew with vintage patterns and for my recent birthday, she sent me a box of patterns that belonged to an auntie that sewed all the time.  There was one knitting pattern (which I passed along to Laura Mae over at Lilacs & Lace – LOVE HER!!!) and 67 sewing patterns.  They included mens, womens, teens and kids from the 50s to the 80s.  SCORE!

But I digress…

This post is about a cute little pattern I’m pretty sure I picked up from momspatterns.com.  (She has some great stuff – go check her out.)  Simplicity 3471.

Simplicity 3471

View 1 and 2 are the same dress with different styling.  With both you can make the adorable bolero jacket and then either use extra fabric to make a matching belt, or the pattern comes with instructions for a cummerbund belt.  I wanted a really casual  summer dress and opted for no jacket.  I may make the cummerbund at a later date in the same contrasting fabric I used for the facings.

Elephants, giraffes, warthogs and lady lions!

I found this fabric at a local fabric store last year.  A friend of mine gave me a gift card for my birthday and of course I used it to buy fabric!  This is a basic quilting cotton.  The background is a mottled mixture of dark coral and light salmon with aubergine vines and animals.  From far away the colour combination caught my eye and when I got closer the whimsy of the print made me just want it that much more!  Perfect for a casual summer dress to walk the dog, run errands or sit on a patio.

The bodice for this pattern was the most cone shaped of any 50s pattern I’ve used to date.  I needed to reshape the horizontal darts and reshape and lengthen the vertical darts.  It’s still not perfect, but at least the bust points don’t sit an inch out from my actual bust point any more!

The zipper insertion was new to me.  It called for a slash in the skirt piece, a facing sewn and turned and then a lapped zipper put in.  For the most part, I prefer using invisible zippers whenever I can –  I just prefer the clean look of no “flaps” to a lapped zipper.  The skirt of this dress is quite full so I decided  it wouldn’t be a big deal to just slash the skirt all the way to the hem, bind the edges and insert an invisible zip.

Now that I’ve made the bust adjustments, this dress could easily be made in a day.  Here is the finished dress:

Sweet little sundress.

(That is my wee little house guest, Diefenbaker the elderly Jack Russell, photo-bombing the picture.)

My mother was taken with the bias work I was doing on my seams and she thought the inside deserved a picture as well, so here it is:

Contrast facing and Hug Snug finishing.

I should be starting on my “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” dress next, but in that box of patterns above is that cute girls red dress with head scarf that may need my attention first…

Keep an eye out for what comes next!


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1950s | 1960s | Burlesque / Pinup | Dresses | Hats | Vintage Sewing

Simplicity 3445 – Birthday Burlesque

By on May 6, 2013

If it’s early May, there are two things those around me can count on:

1. I’ve tormented them for the last month with a countdown to my birthday (39 this year) and…

2. The Vancouver International Burlesque Festival (8 this year) is going on.

I love Vancouver’s burlesque scene.  There are some AMAZING, creative, sassy women working hard. This is why for the last four years I have attended at least one of the three showcase nights for my birthday.

Now usually I prefer to make something colourful, but my husband gave me a bespoke hat for my birthday gift and so I chose to make a 1959 Simplicity 3445, View B for my night out IN BLACK.  How very simply basic of me!

Thank you to momspatterns.com for always having what I need!

One thing I love about buying vintage patterns is the items you sometimes find tucked in the pattern envelopes.  I found a full page from The Los Angeles Times showing a dress similar to View 2, made in jersey for $11.98!  What a treat!

Newspaper from Feb. 21, 1960 with the newly married Mrs. Larry Cessna McVey.
"Star in no-iron Arnel jersey white as the Milky Way"

This pattern was really quite simple to put together and I used some black crepe I found in my stash.  I did a muslin to ensure that I didn’t have to do any major alterations.  The only alteration I had to do was to shorten the dress by 20cm (8″), but being 155cm (5’2″), I’m use to shortening everything!   I had given myself a week to work on the dress, but unfortunately I caught a head cold early in the week. Boo.  Needless to say, I am VERY lucky that this was a straight-forward pattern.  I managed to finish it up in about 12 hours over two days.

Full length picture of finished dress.

I really love the simple details of this dress.  I was worried that the waist gathers would add a paunch where no lady wants a paunch to be seen, but they are really very flattering.  The pleated sleeves are wonderful!  I really would like to make a bright, eye-popping version of this dress, that’s how much I love this dress.

Close up of waist gathers.
Subtle, but gorgeous sleeve pleats.

I don’t have a full body shot of the finished look yet, but I will post one once I have one!  Hopefully you can accept a head shot of the finished look.  I love my bespoke beaver felt percher with antique veil.  My necklace was also a gift – a design from the early 60s.  I wore seamed fishnet stockings and peep toe satin heels with bows at the heels.  We’ve had beautiful weather in Vancouver this week, but the nights still get a little chilly, so I finished the look with a rabbit capelet.

Head shot of the finished look!

I had a fabulous time celebrating my birthday with friends and the girls AND boys of burlesque.  The highlight of the night for me was when Judith Stein, Canadian Legend of Burlesque (in her 60s and STILL putting on a fantastic show!) stopped me after the show and complimented me on my look!  Meep!

EDIT:  An ALMOST full length picture of the finished look.  Picture by Pin-up Perfection Photography.

The final look outside the Vogue Theatre. Picture by Pin-up Perfection Photography.

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1970s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Vogue 7658

By on January 4, 2013

Hello all!

It’s been awhile.  I’ve been sewing, but I keep forgetting to take pictures of my projects.  It’s one of my goals for the coming year – document my projects a little better and MAYBE start my own blog.  I’ll keep you posted.

This little project came about because my every day clothing is a little more casual these days now that I’m retired.  I found this 1970s Vogue 7658 on Mom’s Patterns (Jen is awesome – go check out her site if you love vintage patterns) and knew I needed to have it.  I’m from Vancouver and if you didn’t know, we get a lot of rain – mists to downpour – so it’s always nice to have something with a hood in case you get caught in the rain.

The artwork on this pattern is a little misleading.  The pattern pieces have a length that looks like it would hit well below the knee on a woman of average height.  I’m 5’2″ and it came mid-calf!  Needless to say I shortened the pattern pieces by about 5″ so my finished garment would hit just above the knee.  I also made the decision to line the hood so I could add some colour.

The pattern suggested “soft or crisp fabrics such as double crepe, jersey, pique, light and medium weight wool, silk surah, synthetic mixtures”.  I decided on a heather grey jersey in a medium weight and lined the hood with a simple cotton in a blue bubble print.

The garment has six pieces plus the one I drafted for the hood lining.  This jersey weight was fantastic to work with and didn’t need me to finish the raw edges, but I have a serger, so I finished them anyway.

Machine sewing the zipper in wasn’t achieving the look I wanted, so using a double strand of thread, I hand stitched the zipper in using a simple back stitch.  I like how it turned out!

I own a couple belts, but decided to use some of the leftover fabric to make a self tie and I think that it gives it the casual look I was looking for.  I plan on wearing this hoodie dress often – either as a dress with tights or as an over-sized tunic with leggings.


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