Sheet Sewing

by Joni on July 2, 2013 · 9 comments

in 1950s,Dresses

This was one of those dresses that went from idea to cutting to finishing all in the same day. My baby sister (she’s 14 and I am … in my thirties) was visiting and we found out that one of the local boutiques was holding a 1950s themed event. I had plenty of things to choose from to wear but Molly needed something too! I used the Simplicity 3815 with V neck adaptation that I did last year – since I had to make this in one day (no time for alterations!) we just had her try on everything in my closet to find what fit! The 3815 is a good choice because it comes together VERY fast – it’s only four main pattern pieces plus two facings. Love it! We delved into my not inconsiderable fabric stash and came up with this vintage sheet to use for the project. The colors are great, and the best thing about those percale sheets is that you almost never need to iron them.

Here is Molly all styled with one of my crinoline petticoats and belt… a must for this style of dress. The one thing we weren’t too happy about were the sleeves, somehow the sleeve/shoulder area was sort of overbearing on her. Once she had the dress on we fiddled around with some pins and came up with a quick and easy fix that Molly is pleased with: a series of pleats along the seamline to rein in the excess material. Which I’m going to have to try on one of my own dresses soon!

It would take somebody pretty special to get me to violate my rule about sewing for others but my sister definitely rates a homemade dress! I think I have successfully recruited her to the Cult of Vintage now…



Lobster Dress

by Joni on June 12, 2013 · 30 comments

in 1940s,Dresses

I fell in love with this Michael Miller lobster print the moment I set eyes on it. I don’t even know why, since I don’t really care for seafood, but it was so obnoxious I had to have it. For the dress I used Vogue 8811 – this was my first Vintage Vogue, in fact it was my first Vogue pattern period!

The pattern came together fairly quickly and easily, even though I decided to make it harder on myself and line the bodice. I did an invisible zipper by hand and made a belt to match, both of which used to scare me silly! I also hand-stitched the hem – and that is a LOT of hem – while I was sitting by the pool for my kids’ swim lessons today. It was fun because people kept asking me what I was making.

I’m so jealous of those of you who show lovely photos of your creations! I don’t have anyone that can photograph me well, don’t have a decent backdrop, and don’t look good in most photos anyway. However, I think you can see what a fun dress this will be. I can’t wait to wear it on our vacation to Florida next month! And now the wheels are turning, I want to make six or seven more of this pattern in more obnoxious novelty prints.


Grapesicle Dress

by Joni on May 12, 2013 · 9 comments

in 1960s,Dresses

So there I was minding my own business when I thought, “Hey! That bright purple stretch cotton shirting in my stash would make a GREAT wiggle dress!”

Of course I had to do it. The Sewing Gods must be obeyed.

I combined two patterns in my stash – I put the bodice from 5808 (dated 1960) on top of the skirt from 5507 (dated 1961). This was a great instant gratification project – about $15 in supplies and a day and a half of labor. Even better, it allowed me to check off one of my resolutions as I’ve been meaning to make a wiggle dress for ages! Of course, what happens when don’t make a muslin is that you discover that the bateau neckline is about an inch too wide on either side… after it’s been faced and understitched. (This is at least the third bateau neckline I’ve had problems with, maybe someday I’ll learn!) Rather than undo all that hard work, I took a couple of pleats on either side of the neckline to rein in the extra material. They coordinate with the double pleats in the skirt so I’m calling it a design element.

The purple color is really hard to photograph – it’s a bit grape-ier in real life. And I am hard to photograph too!

All in all, I’m really glad I made this dress for myself. For one, it was really nice to have a new dress for Mother’s Day! For another, I’m gradually getting over my fear of my giant hips. I was really surprised to learn that I don’t look like Barney the Purple Dinosaur in such a form-fitting dress. Actually, while I used a material with a wee bit of stretch, I didn’t really need to – there is plenty of ease in the hips. Once I get the neckline issues worked out, I actually have some vintage brocade that would make a SMASHING wiggle dress!


After my resolution post yesterday, several of you pointed out that separates might allow me to fit more vintage sewing into my decidedly non-vintage lifestyle. An idea so genius it’s no wonder I didn’t think of it myself. So I hauled out some fabric originally earmarked for dresses (dresses that weren’t going to get sewn or worn any time soon) and whipped up a couple of blouses. I used my go-to blouse pattern, Simplicity 7896 from 1977:

Simply by cutting the collar piece down, View 1 can work for just about any era. (I love the tie-collar version as well, it’s very ModCloth.) I realized after I made them that I should have cut the sleeve caps a bit higher, for a more Forties look, I’ll have to remember that for next time. (And the wide sleeve cuff would have been a no-no during the age of fabric rationing but it’s my favorite kind of sleeve so I kept it in.) This pattern is SO EASY to put together – I made one blouse yesterday and the other one today.

Blouse #1 with Windham ‘Feedsack’ fabric (you can have my novelty quilting prints when you pry them out of my cold, dead hands)


And Blouse #2 made from Kaufman ‘Betty Dear.’

I’ve got enough yardage left over that if I REALLY regret not making dresses, I should be able to make a skirt for a two-piece dress effect. In the meantime, these look GREAT with my thrift-store Forties-style denim trousers!

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