1910s | 1920s | 1950s | Pattern Drafting

Free Vintage Patterns and Vintage Sewing Books

By on February 10, 2015

Looking for something to read on the bus? Check out these free vintage dressmaking books, including a pattern drafting system from the 1950s that looks rather nifty.

If you’re not familiar with how the pattern drafting systems work, it’s like having small pattern guides (think of the pattern piece schematics on the back of your sewing pattern envelope) that you scale up to your individual measurements using a specially marked ruler or measuring tape. In the Dressmaking at Home book here, you’ll find the details for the ruler on page 7.

Edit: these might look a little quirky on mobile. If you’re having trouble, jump on an actual computer.

Dressmaking at Home (pattern drafting system from the 1950s)

The New Dressmaker by Butterick Patterns (1921)

The American System of Dressmaking (early 1900s)

 

Home Dressmaking and the Art of Good Dressing

A note about copyright: I didn’t make any of these documents available on Scribd and Scribd’s terms of use specifically prohibit the upload of works for which you do not hold the copyright. I haven’t dug down far enough into the murky world of copyright infringement to be able to say if these works are infringing or not, so I’m taking Scribd at their word that these works are not infringing anyone’s copyright. Copyright holders can file a takedown notice on Scribd here.

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1910s | 1920s | Blouses | Downton Abbey Inspired

Downton Abbey inspired blouse

By on December 24, 2014

Recently, I re-watched season two of Downton Abbey and for the first time, the clothes really appealed to me. Especially some of the blouses looked like they would still be nice to wear now.

I have some vintage pattern magazines in my collection which date as far back as 1918 so I started looking for options. In those magazines, there are plenty of pictures of lovely designs and readers could order the patterns for those… Just some of the designs (about one in each size) were included on a tracing sheet.

jurk_topI finally found these dresses in an issue of Gracieuse magazine from 1922. The middle one is more or less in my size (and so loose fitting I didn’t worry about that) and, more importantly, has the design I was after. So, I used the pattern pieces for the dress bodice to create this blouse.

blouse3It was a bit difficult to find a way to wear it. The blouse is very comfortable and I like it, but most of the bottoms in my wardrobe are more 1950’s in style and really didn’t work with it. I like the look with these trousers though. Not really period accurate but it doesn’t look ‘off’ either.

blouse voor 2With this blouse, I’ve also completed my goal of five items from actual vintage patterns for my Vintage Pattern Pledge.

As usual, you can read more about it on my blog.

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1920s

Trying out for the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties….

By on November 5, 2014

1926I love all the images of bathing beauties from the 1920’s – so I thought I might have a go at sewing one with a pattern from 1926.

I haven’t had much experience in sewing with knit or stretch fabric, but I thought I could manage with this piece of really heavy ink-navy t-shirt cotton – it really didn’t have much stretch at all thankfully (just rolled a lot at the edges until they were over-locked).  The contrast fabric was a lighter knit fabric with a faux-animal skin print.

The skirt is really twirly – it makes a full circle when laid out:

1926

Not sure how it will go when fully wet, the fabric already makes the bathing suit quite heavy…but then, I daresay most of the Sennet Beauties didn’t really go for a swim either. Even the bloomers are pretty substantial!

19261926

 

 

 

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1920s

1919-20 Madeleine Vionnet Handkerchief Dress (Japanese Bunka Book pattern #3)

By on September 18, 2014

vionnet3-19I’m back with another Vionnet dress! This time it is pattern #3 from the Japanese Bunka Book, but actually has quite the presence already online as I found an existing tutorial here. The dress is from around 1919-1920 and is made of four squarish pieces of fabric which give you four “flaps” (or jabots I think is the official term) on each side of your body, a deep V neck on the front and back, twisted shoulder straps, and a sash to tie it all together.

vionnet3-30These post it notes should give you a clearer idea about this dress’ construction as it is a bit difficult to explain. The creases represent the side seams and the mini diamond in the front represents the “ripple” that forms from each flap on each side.

vionnet3-11A photo of the real dress opened up – does the paper model make more sense now?

vionnet3-15The beautiful thing about this dess is that although it is 1 pattern, 1 dress, it has a ton of different ways of wearing it. You can do a drop waist, an empire waist, a full front, a full back, a voluminous version, a halter neck version, etc…  In this particular version I made all the flaps point toward the back to create a ton of ripples and more volume in the back. It’s a really simple dress to sew as there are 6 seams total (4 sides, 2 shoulder) BUT it is not so fun to hem as you have 4 giant squares. This was a muslin so I did a shoddy job of hemming, but for a real version I would need to be a master of the narrow hem since both the wrong sides and right sides of the fabric are featured in this dress.

vionnet3-23 I’ve written more about the different variations and construction technique for the dress on my blog here, as well as more photographs if you interested: http://cathywu.com/journal/kalali/2014/09/18/vionnet-dress-pattern-3-1919-1920-handkerchief-dress/

 

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1920s | 1930s

Drafting for Fall&Winter!

By on September 17, 2014

 

It seems, when you design and construct your own entire wardrobes four times a year, that the seasons just creep too fast upon you. So many ideas, so many things to make and do and never enough time is the old way of saying things. Am I in this sphere of plight all on my own? Surely not. I hear it enough.

Anyhow, enough with my prattle….

This season is sleeves for me and I’ve drafted two thus far. I saw a beautiful wedding sleeve (photographed in green) in Bellas catalogue from late 1920s the other day and I just had to have it.  I couldn’t afford the catalogue at that moment so I had to keep it in my minds eye painfully until I got home from the antique shop to sketch it out (that will be the last time I forget my sketch pad believe you me). Luckily it wasn’t the only time I’ve seen the sleeve and there’s a similar one being used in wedding fashions of today. It’s basically just a long sleeve unraveled like apple peels and slashed and spread for gathers. The pattern looks like a snake children make in kindergarten.

Drafted fairly quickly I was really pleased with myself that I used too many notches because they were well needed to sew the sleeve precisely.  Here is the muslin for it…

photo 3 (1) Plenty of threads and wrinkles!

I didn’t get enough of sleeve drafting so I did another in a popular fashion of 1932. Since sleeves are big this season I got creative  about where the “bigness” was going to be. On the first one it was fuller all around, on the blue muslin the amplitude was on the lower half towards the wrist. Almost as if the wrists had wings. This sleeve is fully lined but not necessary with the facing I also drafted along with it.  Here it is…

photo 2 (2)    This sleeve was too much fun as well!

Here are both of the sleeves on the mid cowl I drafted to test them out.

photo 1 (1)

There are a few things I would fix on the green muslin but I am really rather pleased with them both.  And as I am 6 months along there are plenty of things I can make for the sleeves to go on so I may wear them in the winter when the baby is here and I’ve gone back to normal.

Well, that’s all from me for now, do take care!

To boot, you can find more on my site!     www.1930slife.blogspot.com

 

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1920s | Dresses

The 1929’s dress

By on August 3, 2014

So, in the end I picked this design to sew for the 1920’s portion of my Vintage Pattern Pledge.

To make it a bit more wearable in 2014, I made it in black crepe.

I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern although I didn’t completely follow the (very limited) instructions. I made the neckline a bit more stable and cleanly finished than suggested.

When I first sewed top and skirt together, it looked like this. Which looks like a 1920’s silhouette but not like the drawing at all.

I ended up making a large pleat at the back which gave me a look much closer to that in the image. I’m still wondering if this is something they just didn’t in the instructions (which again, are really limited, just a few lines for pattern tracing, cutting and sewing) assuming the reader would understand or if it just illustrates my complete lack of understanding of 1920’s fashion…

Anyway, I love the dress as it is now and I’m sure I’ll enjoy wearing it.

More about it, including more pictures, on my blog

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1920s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Speakeasy Dress

By on May 3, 2014
My outfit including my wool coat with fluffy fox fur collar and a fake bob which took more effort than the dress.

I recently went to a prohibition night at the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney, Australia. They had turned the museum into a speakeasy with heaps of fun activities, music and performances. Of course they encouraged 1920’s and 30’s dress and so I “whipped up” (because it’s that easy) a flapper dress. I found a gorgeous light satin in green and bought the longest black fringing I could find. I used a 1970’s (Simplicity 8750) bias slip pattern but left out the main darts to have that loose silhouette and added two rows of fringing on the bottom.


I also tied the Best Dressed competition so I’m very happy.

 
I had forgotten how fantastic bias cut is to wear and am very tempted to make more bias cut garments. I’m hoping to have a few more photos on my Instagram: http://instagram.com/sharpscissors from the night soon.

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