1930s | 1940s | Modern Patterns | Pants / Trousers | Vintage Sewing

Smooth Sailing Trousers – My First Pair of Pants!

By on May 31, 2015

After going through a phase of sewing nothing but knit dresses and T-shirts, I’m back with a very vintage-style garment! This is my first pair of pants, made from the Smooth Sailing Trousers pattern from Wearing History. Since I became interested in vintage styles, I’ve always loved 30’s/40’s style wide-leg trousers, and this pattern was exactly what I was looking for! It’s hard to see because the fabric is black, but there are pleats at the front, darts at the back, a side zipper, and optional cuffs, belt loop and belt. I made the version without cuffs, but with the belt loops. I skipped the belt, though, because I have a couple black belts already!

I cut a size 12 for the muslin and graded to a 14 at the hips, but ended up sizing up for a little more ease at the waist. I tweaked the fit a little though by keeping the darts, pleats and crotch curve from the size 12. I also shortened the pieces by 2″.

I used a bamboo rayon (not sure what to call it exactly) with nice drape, but it ended up being really shifty and stretchy on the bias after I washed it – it was originally very crisp and linen-like. It probably wasn’t ideal for these pants, because they’ve really stretched out and need re-hemming (possibly some other alterations too…).

The pattern is very simple to construct, perfect for someone new to making pants. The hardest part was working with the fabric! If they hadn’t stretched out so much, I would have been very happy with how they turned out. Right now, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with them, but I’ve made anther pair and I can definitely say that I love the pattern and the style!

For more photos and construction details, check out my blog! I also wrote a detailed review of the pattern as a guest post on Sew Sweetness, if you want to know more about the pattern itself!

Oh, and I also made the blouse I’m wearing in these photos. It’s the Sewaholic Pendrell, made from a muumuu that I bought at a thrift store! Thanks for reading!

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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

A 1950’s Grad Dress from Vogue S-4727

By on July 18, 2014

For my high school graduation, I made my dress from Vogue S-4727, a vintage pattern from 1956. It may look familiar – I posted my wearable muslin for this dress here back in March!

I used turquoise silk dupioni, which wasn’t as challenging to sew with as I expected! The pattern itself was far more challenging than working with the fabric was. I underlined parts of it with silk organza to reinforce the seams, and it had underarm gussets and a very awkward zipper insertion. I spent a lot of time hand basting!

I ended up putting in an invisible zipper, which I would usually avoid, but the lapped one on my wearable muslin didn’t look very good because of the way the zipper curves into the godet. Because I don’t trust invisible zippers, I put in a waist stay to support it. I hemmed the skirt by hand with horsehair braid, which I love!  I wore it with two crinolines (a bigger, itchier one with a subtler, softer one underneath), both of which were vintage from my aunt. She wore one of them to her high school graduation in 1960!

My shoes are vintage that I bought at a thrift store. I love them! They’re all leather, made in Italy, and have a really gorgeous cutout detail on them. I borrowed the purse from my mom, and the pearl earrings and necklace once belonged to my grandma. I did my own makeup, although I didn’t do much. I did a bit of a cat-eye and wore some super subtle false eyelashes and my favourite lipstick.

My hairdresser did my hair and nails – hair is one thing that I can’t do myself! I loved my hairdo, so it was worth it to get it done (although it was quite a challenge to get my dress over my head without wrecking it!).

It was such a fun day, and I was so happy with my dress! For more construction details and photos, check out my blog post!

If you want to read about other steps in sewing this dress, I wrote posts on choosing a pattern, my two muslins, and my wearable muslin.

Thanks for reading!

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Dresses | Modern Patterns

A 60’s-Style Moneta Dress

By on July 2, 2014

Since participating in Me-Made-May, my sewing focus has shifted to wearable, comfortable clothing with a vintage vibe, rather than the full-on vintage look that I absolutely love, but rarely wear. In the past couple weeks, I’ve made three knit Moneta dresses, and I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that it’s my new favourite dress pattern!

This is my second version of this dress, and I modified it to look like a knit version of this 60’s dress:

To do this, I raised the neckline to a boatneck, moved the gathers to the side of the skirt only, and lengthened the skirt. In retrospect, I should have made the back neckline into a V-neck, and widened the shoulders a little, to match the 60’s dress. Maybe next time!

I used a floral viscose jersey, and lined the bodice with and off-white bamboo jersey. I’m reasonably happy with the fit, although the armholes are a little big and the bodice is still a little long (I shortened it 1 1/4″ for this version). I hemmed it with a stretch blind hem, rather than the recommended twin needle, and I think that it turned out quite well!

Overall, though, I’m really happy with it! I’ve worn it lots as a casual day dress, and I also wore it to my high school graduation ceremony, under the ridiculous gown that you have to wear. For more details and photos, see my blog post, and for even more photos, see my flickr. If you’re interested, you can see my first Moneta dress here, a simple green one with a tie collar.

Thanks for reading!

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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

My First Vintage Pattern… and Some Advice Needed!

By on March 22, 2014

This dress was actually intended as a wearable muslin (after two non-wearable muslins) for a dress I’m making for my high school graduation, but I’m quite happy with how it turned out!

The pattern is Vogue S-4727 from 1956, which I borrowed from a friend who has the most amazing vintage pattern collection. I sized it down using a photocopier (you can see my post on that here), and I was surprised to find that it fit me perfectly with very minor alterations!

Since there’s lots in the pattern that I’d never done before (underarm gussets, godets, a zipper inserted into a godet, hemming such a full skirt), I wanted to make a wearable muslin. That way, I would have a better idea how it was put together when I make the real thing (in a gorgeous turquoise silk dupioni).

Here’s where I need your advice! I’m not happy at all with my zipper or my hem, and I need to figure out better ways to do both.

The zipper starts in the side seam, then curves into the godet, but where it curves, the lap puckers and flips forward! I think I would have the same problem with a centered zipper, so I’m considering an invisible one, but I don’t really trust invisible zippers after having many of them break (once before I even finished the dress). Help!

Also, this skirt is full because of the godets, but is as full as a circle skirt. Before now, I had never hemmed a circle skirt, and I’m not really happy with the hem on this. It looks fine in the photos because I had just ironed it, but after a while it doesn’t hang very nicely. I would like to do the hem by hand when I make my grad dress, but I don’t really know the best way to do it. I’m considering using horsehair braid, just for fun, but any suggestions would be appreciated!

For more pictures, and for more construction details (including my problems with the zipper and hem), see my blog post.

Also, if you’re interested in following my progress on my grad dress, I’ll be doing a series of posts on the construction at my blog, Adventures of a Young Seamstress. Thanks for reading!

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Modern Patterns | Swimwear / Sunwear

A Bombshell Swimsuit… in January

By on January 11, 2014

So, I finally finished my bombshell swimsuit, just in time for the middle of winter! I know, the timing seems ridiculous, but I actually wear a bathing suit way more in the winter than in the summer, since we have a hot tub and I really don’t care much for swimming. It was my first time sewing a bathing suit and although it’s far from perfect, I absolutely love it!

I made View A in this adorable watermelon-print fabric from The Fabric Fairy, which I ordered online (the irony is that I don’t actually like eating watermelon…). I won’t say much about the pattern because it’s all been said already! It’s fantastic – so flattering and retro-looking.

That being said, I did have some problems with the fit, but they were my fault rather than the pattern’s. I managed to improvise a “quick fix” that probably ended up taking more time than ripping it out and starting over, but the fit is good now. The inside is a bit of a mess, which would usually bug me, but not this time because, um, I MADE A SWIMSUIT.

For more photos and construction details, see my blog post. Thanks for reading!

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1940s | Dresses | Modern Patterns

A Wintery Ceylon Dress

By on November 5, 2013

Hello again! It’s been a while since my first post here, but I’ve been busy sewing and I just finished something that I think is vintage-looking enough that I can post it here… the Colette Ceylon dress! I was looking for a genuine 1940’s pattern to make, but didn’t find what I was looking for so I figured that a 40’s-style modern pattern would have to do.

I made this up in a a lightweight wool that I bought at a local discount fabric store. It’s 100% wool, so it’s quite warm, and aside from fraying like mad, was lovely to work with.

I had to size down the pattern, but other than that I made very few changes – just adjusting the shoulders and the shape of the back yoke.

I tired lots of new techniques, such as covered buttons and buttonholes (in retrospect, it might have been a better idea to start with a button-down blouse rather than a project that required 16 buttons and buttonholes, but this seemed like a good idea at the time. Ah well, it all worked out nicely in the end).

In case you’re wondering, the actual colour is somewhere in between the colour in the pictures of me wearing it and the flat picture. It’s not quite as dark as it looks in the photos of me wearing it, but it’s not quite as purple as the flat photo.

I’m really happy with how this dress turned out. For more details, including the facepalm-worthy story of why I have one too many buttonholes, have a look at the full post on my blog. Thanks for reading!

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Dresses | Modern Patterns

(Another) Cambie Dress

By on August 30, 2013

I really thought this was worth sharing, even though I know the Cambie Dress has been made so many times you all are probably sick of seeing it!

This is my first post on We Sew Retro, although I’ve been following it for a while now. I recently started a blog of my own, and I’d really appreciate it if you checked it out here. It’s work in progress, but I think it’s coming along nicely!

This is the second Cambie Dress I’ve made, and I love both of them! It’s a great pattern – view B is vintage-y without being over the top!

I’m calling this my “duvet dress” because I made it out of an old duvet cover, purchased at the thrift store for $6.99! I have no idea how old it is. For anyone with more experience working with vintage fabrics than I do, I would love some help dating it! Not that it really matters; I love it no matter how old it is. It’s 100% cotton, which I wouldn’t have believed before I found the tag. It’s so soft and drapey that I could have sworn it had some rayon in it! The tag also said that it was made in Canada, which (in my mind, anyways) means it’s not very recent.

It was wonderful to work with! It was about 84 inches wide, which means I got the entire dress and a self-lined bodice out of only 1.5 metres! As for the skirt lining, I decided on Bemberg rayon lining, which I love the feel of. Although if I use it again, I would figure out a better way to finish the seams. I tried serging the edges, my go-to finishing technique, but the fabric puckered horribly, and looked really messy. Ironing didn’t help at all! I tried a couple different methods and in the end I just did a couple rows of straight stitching. It doesn’t look as nice as serging, but at least it’s on the inside. (If anyone has any tips on how to finish Bemberg lining, they would be much appreciated!)

The construction went pretty smoothly, other than my problems with the lining. I made a muslin for my first dress so there were very few fitting problems. The waistband did end up a little bit big, because I had to add a little onto the pattern piece and I think I overcompensated. I could have fixed it, but because I did a hand-picked zipper, that would have involved ripping out and redoing lots of hand-stitching.

I also decided to understich the sweetheart neckline, which was probably a mistake. At first, it made it sit much more smoothly, keeping the lining to the inside, but once I put the straps in, it gaped oddly. I think the understiching might have just stretched it out a little. I fixed the problem by sewing another line of stitching in between the seam and the understiching and easing it in slightly. It’s not very pretty on the inside, but it will do.

I added on 2″ to the skirt length so I could take a more generous hem, which, in my opinion, looks nicer. I sewed it by hand and I’m quite pleased with the result.

The shape of the skirt it a little subtler than my first version because of the drape of the fabric, so most of these pictures are shown with a crinoline.

I wanted to keep this short and sweet, so if you’d like to read more, head on over to my blog post here.

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