Out of the Eighties Top

By on March 20, 2012

Pattern: McCall’s 4632 (1989)

I created this top using McCall’s 4632 from 1989. Originally the pattern was to be sold in my Etsy shop but that view F in the bottom left hand corner looked attractive. I was thinking of making it in a fabric with more drape but I’m trying to sew out of my stash. Therefore, I located just enough of this cream/oyster twill to try it out. The fabric (which must be old, I can’t remember what I made with the rest) is pretty luxurious with a smooth hand and a slight sheen.

The style is loose, basically a square but the gathered shoulders add interest. It reminds me of a lot of the simple shells I’ve been seeing around from independant designers. It was extremely easy to make and I especially liked the fact that the yoked area on the front is actually overhang from the back pattern piece. I was thinking I could use that detail on many more projects so why not work off of this pattern piece than make my own from scratch.

Since the pattern was created in the late eighties it was designed for 1/2″ shoulder pads for that big shoulder look; therefore, I had to remove some length from the armholes and quite a bit of width at the sides. I ended up taking two inches off the length and two inches from EACH side, so four inches off of the width. I will be using this pattern again with a more suitable fabric, like crepe de chine or voile. It could also make a really cute dress.

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Vintage Sewing

Butterick 2564 – Vintage Overblouse

By on January 12, 2011

I saw this pattern in the Stitches & Loops store and just had to have it. I imagined owning the entire suit and being just as chic and professional as the model. Well, I now have one of the three items concluded. This little top is what was described back then as an overblouse. It could also be worn over a sleeveless dress to expand wearing options. More elegant versions in satin or crepe would be worn over evening gowns.

What I loved about this design and that of the jacket is that the darts mimic each other on the pieces. I also found in construction of this top that the shoulder darts and french dart on the side add flattering shaping to the top.

For the top, I used a lovely drapey red cotton twill that I’m also using for the Colette PatternsOolong dress. I then added four white 1-inch pearlized buttons from my late mother’s button stash.

For the jacket and skirt, my dream would be to find a salt and pepper boucle with maybe a hint of another color running through it. But for boucle, that means I have a bit of a weight until they are in season again. Never mind, I have plenty to wear this red shirt with right now.

For a complete pattern review, click here.

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1930s | Dresses

1930’s Career Gal Wardrobe

By on June 17, 2010
After writing about the Orry-Kelly designed fashions in the 1333 movie Baby Face with my gal Barbara Stanwyck, I decided to search the Internet for home sewing patterns that may have been cribbed from character Lily Power’s fabulous movie costumes. These are just some of the pretties that I found.

Check my blog for screen shots of the costumes that may have inspired these patterns.

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1930s | Hats

From the Reel Screen to Real Life

By on June 4, 2010

A while ago, I wrote about the green silk dress from the movie Atonement and how it was created. Well, Gemma commented here and on my personal blog that her wedding dress was inspired by that movie costume and that she had pictures. So, of course I emailed her to send those pictures to me. After I saw them I knew I wanted to ask her some questions on why that dress and how. Here are some gorgeous pictures of her completed dress and please enjoy the rest of her answers on my blog.

I’m Gemma McCrory from Belfast, Northern Ireland but now living in London, England. Any spare time that I have I love to shop! Depending on my mood I either like trawling through vintage shops and warehouses or searching on the high street for vintage styled pieces. I am not very good with my hands so am a bit hopeless at actually making my own, but what I am good at is finding vintage patterns and emailing them to my sister-in-law in Belfast to make for me. It was Marie, my sister-in-law and 1940s fanatic, who actually alerted me to Lsaspacey’s post about my wedding dress.

Were you influenced by the movie Atonement in choosing your dress or was it a coincidence?
I watched Atonement and hated the movie but instantly fell in love with the dress, when my husband proposed I knew that I had to get that dress made. Being 6 feet tall I knew that any ‘off-the-peg’ dresses just would not do. Also being a lover of 1920s/30s clothing, the dress ticked all the boxes!

How did you find your dressmaker or did a family member/friend make it for you?
My dress maker was the wonderful Lucia Silver based in London. Believe it or not I just googled “1920 wedding dress maker” and up she popped! She has an amazing studio in Notting Hill which is dripping with vintage gowns, clothing and jewellery, as soon as I walked in I knew that she was the one for me. There was a hand made flapper dress hanging in every panel in the bay windows- stunning! When I arrived Lucia was just as excited as me when she saw the pictures I had brought with me as she was just about to start designing a dress similar- so I guess I was the guinea pig. She now uses the dress (a.k.a the goddess dress) on the main page of her web site, The State of Grace.

Did they use that same Vogue pattern to make it or did they copy the dress from pictures? How many tries (muslins) were made before the final dress?
No, they made the dress from a block which they drew my measurements on. From this they were able to make one toile then finito! Experts!

What fabric is your dress made out of? It moved so beautifully in the wind.
It is made from pearl crepe-back silk satin bought from Morocco.

Did you buy or make the fascinator/headdress?
The hatlette was also made by the same team it is made from the same fabric as the dress with hand stitched silver seams. The feathers and veil were also hand attached. Lucia also made some vintage single drop rhinestone and pearl earrings which she gave me as a gift.

The happy couple!

Join me in wishing the McCrorys the best in their life together and thank you, Gemma for sharing your story!

Images: property of Gemma McCrory, Focus Features Films, State of Grace

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Butterick 4948 jumper, c.1970

By on May 27, 2010

I haven’t made anything from a vintage pattern for awhile. Well, let’s say I haven’t finished one in a while.

However, I have now, Butterick 4948. I picked up this little 1970’s gem some time ago, in part because it reminded me of these modern Sabyasachi Spring 2007 designs.

Also, I was in love with the pattern picture where it is worn over the striped turtleneck. I sure love me some striped tees, too bad you can’t find good multicolored stripe knits in the fabric stores, not even online. If you know of any, please let me know.

From the beginning I knew I was going to make this in corduroy, though my first choice was orange or red. However, I never found one I liked and I preferred to feel the fabric before buying so I found myself at Jo-Ann’s. They had a great red called Jester Red and this purple called Blackberry. Since I’ve been on a purple kick lately, I decided on the Blackberry in a 16 wale. It’s extremely soft, you could make pillows out of it.

The only change I made to the design is with the collar. The original had a flared curved line to it and I altered it to a straight line. Otherwise, I made no other design changes and besides widening the hips a bit (not really needed, as it turned out) I made the dress without any fitting alterations. I think I could even get by with a smaller size in the body but the bodice would have to be the same as I can barely get it over my head as it is. You can read my pattern review here.
So what do you think, does it scream 1970 to you?

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1920s | 1930s

The Atonement Dress

By on May 25, 2010

I just wrote about this on my blog, but thought that the Sew Retro readers might be interested in this too.

Jacqueline Durran’s design

I’m sure everyone who has seen the movie Atonement has already oohed and ahhed about Cecilia Tallis’ (Keira Knightly) green silk dress, designed by Jacqueline Durran. Well, I just saw the film for the first time.

However, over a year ago, I was reading through the archives of The Costumer’s Guide (a fabulous site on film costuming) and read about the dress. The page on the dress includes detailed closeups of the dress after it was placed on display and anything else you might want to know about the choice of that particular shade of green to any details on Cee’s other costumes is there or a link is provided to other sources. One of those links was to a great post on the creation and maintenance of the many dresses used in the film at Sunday Couture. It detailed how delicate the original dresses were because of their laser cut detail work.

The dress is fabulous and there have been many copies sold and some patterns made resembling it, the closest would be Vogue 7365, still being sold today. Eva Dress and the Vintage Pattern Lending Library also offer one with a similar feel but not as drop-dead sexy or exposed; Eva Dress 5941 or Z5941.

A New York Post interview about the dress.

Images: The Costumer’s Guide, Vogue Patterns, Eva Dress

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What Goes Around…

By on February 21, 2010

Over 15 years ago I made a brown wool crepe dress from a Style pattern that I truly wish I hadn’t thrown out. It was lovely and I did a great job with it; if I say so myself ;). Unfortunately, it just looked ridiculous on. When I made the dress, I had really miscalculated on the size and I was swimming in the dress. One thing about the design that didn’t help at all was that it required huge shoulder pads. Imagine this: huge linebacker shoulders and then a sack (a heavy wool sack!) of a dress swimming on a then-tiny girl. However, because I loved the design and was proud of my work on it, that dress has been with me ever since. Even though it was only worn once or twice.

Last year, I decided to try it on along with a few of my older vintage pieces. While none of the ones I actually used to wear could even be zipped up (or get past my hips!), this one FIT!!! Yes, and it fit like it was always supposed to. Amazing. Fifteen pounds heavier and with my bust, waist, and hip measurements all three inches larger…it now fits. See for yourself:

Forgive me, the dress had not been pressed when I took these pictures.

Notice the interest at the neckline with the pull-through tie detail, the dolman sleeves that become narrower towards the wrists, and the trumpet shaped bias skirt. There was definitely a 1930s influence in the design of this dress.

P.S. Does anyone know what Style pattern this was? It’s from the early 1990s and I would love to find it again or at least get the pattern image and number for my Patterns Lost Flickr archive. Thanks!

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