1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | Aprons | Children | Dresses | Jumpers / Pinafores | Kids | Vintage Sewing

One piece at a time Christmas dresses

By on January 8, 2013

I named this past year’s Christmas dresses after the Johnny Cash song because they’re frankenpatterned from three vintage patterns each.  The collar and cuffs are done with Victorian fagoting stitching, the pinafores are thirties for the bigger one and forties for the smaller one, the bodice and skirts and collars are fifties dresses, and the sleeves are late sixties-early seventies.



The red and white ribbons are bias cut, hand-dyed silk and a sort of a nod to candy canes.  🙂 I also inserted entredeux into both the bodices and the pinafore skirts and the dresses underneath have beading lace on both the skirts and bodices.  Gracie requested a Christmas dress that wasn’t “itchy” and didn’t have puffed sleeves and had a twirly skirt, so this was my answer.



Once again, I used CRIN in the hem, and had a crinoline to go underneath to make the skirt nice and full.  I learned that you need to use a size 70 needle because the 80s and 90s can lead to hitting parts of the CRIN and runs in it.



The pinafore or as Gracie calls it the “fancy apron dress” is made so that with a slip, it can be worn as a separate dress when the weather gets warmer.  It’s hemline is also finished with CRIN.    I made matching bows from silk satin ribbon, which I really don’t recommend because they were so limp!  (Plain old polyester grosgrain has much more body and stiffness!)


Grace claimed that she’d rather wear baby sister Nicole’s dress because it was cuter!  (And here I thought I’d gone to great lengths to make them matching dresses!)  I’m afraid I don’t have pictures of the girls wearing them because all of the more affordable portrait studios have moved out of town, so we gave Sears a try and only came out with one portrait, which was a Christmas present to Mommy and Daddy.


The fabric is red with gold stars, but aside from the color, it’s a non-Christmas Christmas print.  I’m hoping they’ll get more wear out of them that way.


Nikki’s bow is on a headband because she’s rocking the baby mullet right now and doesn’t have enough hair in front to hold a bow yet.  I’m starting to look for vintage boy patterns now, ’cause they’re getting a baby brother, but since I know it’ll be a year to 18 months before he’ll fit into toddler 6 months patterns, I’m just not in a hurry!  More on this project on my blog, Granny Lane Sewing.

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1950s | Children | Dresses | Jumpers / Pinafores | Kids | Vintage Sewing

Two for one twirl!

By on September 16, 2012

Grace has been asking for an “apron dress” since last August.  I’m not certain this was what she had in mind, but I loved the idea of two dresses for the price of one, and since her track record for actually wearing pinafore dresses is dismal, I thought it would be a good idea to make something that could be a dress all by itself!  Enter Simplicity 1703.  The information I’ve found says that it’s 1953, though I’d just say early fifties from the envelope style and the illustrations.  I obtained the fabric for this last year–it’s Moda’s Girlie Girl and I was extra careful to match the stripes!  (The colors are more vibrant in real life.)  I made the pinafore in a bright turquoise cotton/poly batiste.

Gracie’s initial reaction was, “But Aunt Laura, it’s not pink!”  I pointed out that there was plenty of pink in the print, and that I’d already made her two pink dresses!  She allowed herself to be talked around to my point of view.  (Besides, with her coloring, she looks fabulous in blues!)  Pictures are a bit hard because all she wanted to do was twirl.  She’s wearing a single crinoline half slip I made last year underneath.





That’s baby sister Nikki behind her.  Because Nikki is so little, (we’re just barely getting into size 6 months even though she’s 16 months old) she hasn’t gotten a vintage dress yet, though that’s going to change soon!


I’ve made my standard changes here.  The neck has had the seam allowance cut off, and this one was lengthened to a bit below her knee.  It’s pretty much tea length here!  I also slimmed down the darts to give her a bit more room. 


I’m afraid that these are the only non-blurry pictures I managed to get of Grace in this one.  She wasn’t into holding still long enough for them, or even holding still long enough to let me button everything!  I love the sash on the pinafore, and the fact that it doubles as a sundress.


There’s also some room to move the buttons on this one so that if she gets a little bigger in the next few months (and she’s measuring in between sizes now)  she should be able to wear it.  We love this pattern so much that because kids patterns are fairly easy to come by that I’m now looking for it in a 4!


More on my blog.

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1950s | Children | Dresses | Jackets | Kids | Vintage Sewing

Summer sundress for Grace

By on August 20, 2012

To be honest, all of Grace’s dresses lately have been vintage, and this one is no exception. I found this pattern–Simplicity 1149–last winter and had to have it.  I’ve been on a scallop kick lately, you see, and the idea of a scalloped sundress was appealing.  My copy of this is a size three, and the only adjustment I really had to make to the dress itself was for length.  Instead of lengthening it, though, I simply added a band of coordinating fabric that matched my ties and sash.


  I also used the same fabric for the pockets.  In retrospect, I wish I’d moved them down a little from the original placement marks because they’re a little high for Gracie to actually use comfortably.


The scallops on this pattern were interesting–instead of giving you separate pattern pieces the way a modern pattern would, the scallops were printed on the regular pieces and the instructions told you to sew through the pattern paper and then trim off the excess fabric.  ( I apologize for the wrinkles–I didn’t manage to iron this one before it was sent home.  Ironing with a fifteen-month-old baby whose mission in life is to get her hands on the iron is hard!)


I didn’t follow those instructions because I preferred to keep the pattern intact!
Instead, I transferred the markings to the wrong side of the fabric.  I made a cross between view 1 and 3 and I also sort of made the jacket to go with it–I widened the neckline and left off the collar.



  I knew Grace wouldn’t wear it with the collar, but she was perfectly happy with it not having one.  In fact, she ran off with it before I’d finished sewing it together and wouldn’t give it back!



It was a necessary thing to make, though.  While it’ll stay hot here until late October at the earliest, it tends to get chilly in air conditioned buildings so she’ll want the little bit of extra cover!  It fits her pretty well, too, with a bit of growth room since I slimmed down the darts!  I was a little worried about them because the Tangled dress I made back in May for her birthday was hard to zip, and vintage patterns fit closer to the body than modern ones.




Unfortunately, her crinoline slip got left at home, so we didn’t get the full skirt effect of the pattern envelope, but Grace loves her new pink dress!  I got tons of hugs and kisses for this one because, according to Gracie, it was just what she wanted, down to the shiny ribbons!  (Grace is my niece, and her mom and dad loved it, too!)


More on my blog.

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1980s | Children | Dresses | Kids | Vintage Sewing

Grace’s first day of school dress

By on August 18, 2012

Grace’s first day of school was a few weeks ago, and, of course, I had to make her a new dress to start school in.  I had this pattern picked out a long time ago–  McCalls 8859 from 1983.  I made my standard changes to the pattern by cutting off the seam allowance around the neck and lengthening it to knee length.  It ended up a little longer than that, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s fine, because now there’s some growth room!  Gracie requested a “pink Pooh dress”, so this fabric was my only option.


  I made bows to match, too.  🙂 Grace is pleased as punch about being big enough for school and has been proclaiming how she’s a “Big-big kid now!”  Instead of the appliques, I tracked down vintage 90s Classic Pooh buttons and made simple “frogs” from pink cording.




Grace loves her dress, and it fits pretty well.  🙂








It’s a little surreal that I made a dress for Bit that my mom could have made for me! The piping is whipstitch piping I had in my stash from a grab bag I bought a while ago.






The pleats were different on this one–they have underlays in them, making the pleats a little different than average.  The buttons are actually Gracie’s favorite part!



I think the only improvement I could have made was to add pockets.


More on my blog.







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1950s | Children | Dresses | Embroidery | Kids | Vintage Sewing

I’m so excited!

By on March 5, 2012

Okay, okay, before I say exactly why I’m over the moon, I ought to give background information.  When my oldest niece, Bit, was approaching her second Halloween, my SIL asked me to make her a Foofa costume.  I did it, using a vintage 70s pattern as the base, because it was an A-line dress with a flower petal collar.  After Halloween, I entered it into the Simplicity contest for that year, eventually winning a pattern for my trouble:

It’s Simplicity 2392, and I was in love with it from the first time I saw it.  Vintage reprints like this one were actually my first forays into vintage patterns.  But, alas, Bit had grown out of infant sizes, so it was carefully put away for the next little girl.


Last year, I stumbled over the original pattern that Simplicity 2392 is a reprint of.  It’s Simplicity 4053.  (And unfortunately not on the pattern wiki yet.) I promptly ordered it, because it was even  just the right size, and I gleefully thought that since my SIL was due to have another little girl, I could, joy of joys, dress them alike!  But to my disappointment, the seller I bought it from made a mistake, and I got another pattern in its place, and they were out of the country and couldn’t correct it.  Since the replacement pattern was one I’d been drooling over, anyway, I kept it and put the matching pattern away.



But last week, I found another copy of the vintage one!  I snapped it up, and it got here yesterday!  And to my absolute wonder, it’s the right size for Bit now, so she and baby sister Boo can once again wear matching sister dresses!   So sometime this spring or summer (my materials are all currently in storage right now) we’ll have two little girls in vintage and vintage-ish embroidered dresses!

The vintage pattern will, of course, need a bit of altering–widening the neck a bit and lengthening it by 10 inches, and I’ll have to do complete measurements on Boo to make sure it’s knee length, but cuteness- ho!

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1950s | 1970s | 1980s | Children | Kids | Lingerie | Modern Patterns | Rompers / Playsuits | Vintage Sewing

50s toddler/baby undies!

By on January 21, 2012

I’m making matching heirloom dresses for my nieces–one is eight months and the other is three years old.  🙂 When those are done, I’ll probably post about them here, because that particular pattern has been in print for about 30 years!  Anyway, the volume of the skirt really needed some poof under it, and a full slip because the affordable entredeux I found is about 1/4″ wide and thus, see-through.  (Entredeux is supposed to be 1/16″ or 1/32 wide, but that stuff is $6 a yard, and each dress wanted 10 yards!)  So I hunted through my pattern collection, and came up with Simplicity 3296.

This was my starting point, complete with what my mother dubbed the “does this make my butt look big” rhumba panties.  I made views 2-4, plus a full crinoline slip from Simplicity 8429 (with a few tweaks) for added fluff.  All of these were done in a size 3, and lengthened so that they end an inch shorter that then 27 inch dress they go under.  (The three-year-old is tall for her age!)  The biggest challenge here was making a matching set for little sister when one single pattern didn’t exist to do it!


  This is all of them together.  The panties and the top slip are poly/cotton batiste, while the half slip and the crinoline slip are made from poly organza to keep away the itchies!  I also inserted a knit inner gusset into the panties so that they’d be functional, sort of like a poofier, rufflier version of RTW.  I sewed jingle bells into all the slips (which the three-year-old loves!) just for fun.


I found a RTW crinoline slip, but since I know where to get organza for around $3/yard, there was no way I’d spend $30 on a RTW slip that I could make (and have a prettier one) for less money.  (Ebay can be a wonderful resource for both plain fabric and lace!)  I added an extra skirt to both the crinoline slip and the half slip, fully lined and changed the crinoline bodice so that it buttons at the shoulders instead of zipping up the back.  From previous experience, (the pumpkin dress I made in November) I knew that the bottom middle panel was the exact same length as the middle middle panel, so I lengthened it a bit for a better tier.


Both of these also have jingle bells sewn into them, and the half-slip has a bow at what I decided was the front, and a ribbon loop in the back.  The combo of the three slips makes for a wide, fluffy skirt, which will be great under the heirloom dress, and fantastic under the 50s dresses I’ll be making for spring and summer!  She’s in love with the undies, even the panties, and pleased as punch at the idea of wearing them.





I cheated a bit on the panties, because there was supposed to be ruffles cut from the same fabric as the panties, and then edged in lace.  I think the ruffles might’ve been more dramatic if I’d done that, but I went for lace that I didn’t have to hem first!


For the baby’s set, I used the modern Simplicity 2291, a modified pinafore from Simplicity 9784 for the slip, McCalls 6349 for the panties, and one vintage pattern– Simplicity 5956.


The only real difference in appearance is the lack of darting in the top slip.

I’m happy with the way these turned out, and they should make the skirts on the dresses look really good!


More on my blog!

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1970s | Children | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

The pumpkin dress!

By on October 27, 2011

Bit asked for a “pumpkin dress” followed by an “Aunt Laura will you make it for me?”  so I cast around and found a pumpkin print that wasn’t Halloween, and a pattern that I’d bought with the intention of using it to sew a petticoat to go under her Christmas dress.  It’s Simplicity 8429, from 1978!  Because it’s starting to get cold here, I did the long sleeved version.  And after it was done, I added bows in various places to provide a focal point on the very busy pattern!


  More on my blog.

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