1940s | Buttons

McCall 6717, draped shoulder blouse c.1940s

By on March 24, 2013

Hi guys!

I recently completed McCall 6717 – who doesnt love a pretty 1940’s blouse? I’m trying to focus on the gaps in my wardrobe, and vintage clothing that I can wear to work is a must.









 My version uses viscose georgette, and it only took 1.25m of fabric (great stashbuster). The pattern is so similar to Gertie’s Tie Neck Blouse, that I modded both patterns together because the Gertie’s fit is really good.











 This pattern was really easy, and if I was to make it again I think i’d use fabric with a bit more body as some of the drape is lost in the softness of the georgette.










 The best part of the pattern is the minimal re-sizing I needed to do, to get a 36″ bust pattern to fit my 40″ bust.  A full list of mods are on my blog :).



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1960s | Blouses | Buttons | Shirts | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

McCalls 7385, more bows, mint and red outfit

By on January 28, 2013

Hi my name is Bea and I am addicted to bow blouses, oops!! I’m not sorry though as they are just too much fun to make and most of all wear. So I made another one. This time I used a vintage pattern, McCalls 7385 view B, mint green poly cotton and red buttons.

The fit is looser than my previous blouses but I really like it. Especially in combination with the red skirt. I was inspired by a picture on Pinterest and had to create and outfit based on it.

I also made a 1960s inspired buttoned A-line skirt from a red cotton drill and big vintage buttons to go with it.

I hope you likey! More details and pictures here


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1980s | Buttons | Skirts

Simplicity 5454: The London Fog Skirt

By on January 16, 2013

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve posted. Wow. In truth, this is the first vintage pattern I’ve sewn in quite a while. How odd is it to call a 1980s pattern “vintage”?!

Since I last posted, I moved back to my native New York (I was in Virginia last we spoke). These photos were taken on a particularly foggy afternoon.

Pattern: Simplicity 5454 Wrap Skirt (1982)
Size: 12
Fabric: Cotton/Linen Canvas by Echino (2.5 yards from Sew L.A.)
Notions: 4 gold flower buttons (from the Pasadena Flea Market)

I chose Simplicity 5454, a pattern from 1982 that I thrifted in North Carolina a year and a half ago. It’s a skirt that wraps in the back. I love that the skirt has pockets – in all these photos I’m actually holding my cell phone and my keys in each pocket!

The skirt was easy to make, and it includes darts for shaping at the front and back. I ended up shortening the skirt 4″ so it hit just above the knee rather than at mid-calf. The back edge and skirt hem are finished by creating mitered corners with a machine stitch finish. I usually hand sew my hems, but, dare I say, I like this finish!

I had exactly four of these buttons! When I lived in L.A. I had visited the HUGE Pasadena Flea Market every so often, and these were my first sewing-related purchase. Ah, fond memories. They were at a table watched over by an elderly lady who had a ton of random things for sale.

A view of the pockets. This is leftover fabric from my first skirt ever in 2009! I’m glad you can see the fabric (a Japanese print called “Tiny Flowers”) because I think it’s just really sweet and my other skirt is pre-blog. Doesn’t this skirt just scream springtime? A little early, but at the rate I sew I’ll be thankful it’s done now.

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1950s | Buttons | Dresses | Embroidery | Vintage Sewing

Thanksgiving 50s Style

By on November 26, 2012

I hope all of you in the States had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend! I did! Now, I’m not too excited about Christmas stuff out and about around Halloween, but I do start to get in the mood around Thanksgiving and I did rock a Christmas vibe this year for turkey day!

I used Butterick 8078 to make up this pattern. I found this great 50s looking Christmas quilting fabric at JoAnn Fabrics last year so I snapped some up. (And I think I may have spied it there this year too!)

The pattern.


The white top felt a bit blah so I added a bit of red embroidery to spice it up. And I used a thrifted vintage belt kit to make the matching belt.

And what full skirted 50s dress would be complete without a crinoline? (Which is also me-made!) Want to see more of this dress? It’s on my blog too!

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1940s | 1950s | Buttons | Embroidery | Shirts | Vintage Sewing

‘Rocking’ up a 1940s shirt pattern

By on August 21, 2012

Hi, How you all doing ?

I have just completed a shirt for my husband, I’ve got to say he is NOT into vintage in any way

and has had to learn that I will always dress the way I do 🙂

But as he is coming with me to Twinwood at the weekend I said I would make him a 1940s shirt !!

he was ok with it as long as it was in Zebra print !! …lol , yes I know , random but he is still hankering after his 80’s zebra print spandex leggings…

Anyway let’s get that picture out of our minds and I’ll show you how it turned out.

this was the pattern I used Advance 3968

The fabric is pure cotton , the print I got of Etsy from the States and the black was a pure cotton shirting i got here in England,

I had three goes at that until I found one that didn’t run in the wash!!

All went well until I went to put the collar on and it was 1/2″ short , the previous owner had made it smaller and I didn’t check …( silly)

it came up a little short oneside …It would have been too much hassle to take off, so I put a button loop by the collar and pretended it was meant to be 1/2″ bigger on that side :).

I also used ‘run and fell’ seams through out instead of the interesting version the instructions gave. I.E.  fold a 1/4″ over to the right side on one piece and a 1/4″ over to the wrong side for the second piece , layon top of each other butting seam allowances and baste then top stitch!! too long winded for me

I put the front iorn on interfacing on in the way I saw in a post on here (right side together, trim, turn and press to wrong side …perfect neat finish , thanks )

I also put little vents in at the side hips and finished with mitered corners and a pocket with hubbie’s name on …


The pocket had to go he didn’t like it !! but I found some great buttons agin on etsy but this time fro Malaysia and he loves those so on the went last night and the shirt is ready for the weekend…shame it’s going to rain 🙂

I am pleased with the result, and best of all he likes it 🙂

Things I would do differently next time  … I got a bit carried away I didn’t notice the obvious pattern repeat ..doh!

I would use a thinner shirt fabric, difficult to get in Zebra 🙂

I will check my pattern pieces very carefully .

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And the winner is….

By on July 27, 2012

Congratulations to the winner of our vintage button giveaway….

…..kittysdrawings! Looks like all that finger crossing worked! Check your inbox for an email from me.

If you didn’t win, fear not: Marin is offering a 15% discount on any buttons for our readers. To claim the discount, just write WeSewRetro in the message to seller field at checkout and she’ll refund 15% of the price of any buttons on the order.  Better run over there to grab your favorites before someone else snaps them up! (Note that Vintage Necessities stocks all manner of wondrous things, but our discount code applies just to the buttons).

The discount is valid until August 27th.

If all this talk of vintage buttons has given you button fever, the National Button Society is having their annual button convention this August 4-11 in Portland, Oregon. Marin from Vintage Necessities will be there and would love to meet you. Drop her a line via her etsy store if you’re planning to attend.

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Buttons | Giveaway

GIVEAWAY: $40 of Vintage Buttons from Vintage Necessities

By on July 19, 2012

850 of you who are fans of our Facebook page already know (thanks to my poorly composed iphone pics) about my recent pattern-hunting roadtrips around southern Indiana and Illinois, where I picked up some awesome vintage buttons still on their original cards.

I could sum up everything I know about buttons with the phrase “Ooh, I love them. Can I have some more please?” so I asked veritable button-expert (buttspert? no…that won’t do) Marin from Vintage Necessities to give me the lowdown.

Marin has been collecting buttons for over a decade and is a member of the National Button Society (where I imagine they congregate at an abandoned pool to swim laughing through enormous piles of buttons like Scrooge McDuck).

She’s also tremendously nice and an amazing resource if you want to find out a bit more about certain buttons you own or need help tracking down a particular kind of button. You can contact Marian via email ( vintagenecessitiesATcomcast.net) or via her etsy shop.

Now it’s over to Marin to learn a little more about my buttons. Stay tuned at the end for an opportunity to win $40 worth of buttons from Marin’s shop!

Katherine, you have found an interesting selection of buttons from the 1930s and 1940’s. During the war, many buttons were made of plastic. Metal was not readily available for such a frivolous use. This was also they heyday of fun celluloid and Bakelite buttons. Many patriotic themes as well as red, white, and blue buttons were sold.

Did you know that many Bakelite buttons that are now black and butterscotch were originally blue and white but have “aged”? Luckily, the red still retains its magnificent color. Many other colors of Bakelite buttons and jewelry originally were different colors than we see today.

These appear to be celluloid. How nice to have a date on the card! Celluloid is one of the oldest man made plastics. Buttons circa 1880 can be found in this material, although with a very different look:

Victorian Celluloid Buttons
Victorian Celluloid Buttons from Marin's Shop

Buckles and jewelry were also manufactured using celluloid:

Art Deco Buckles from Marin's shop
Art Deco Buckles from Marin's shop

Millions of celluloid buttons have been made, many of them in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Celluloid is very flammable. Think celluloid film reels that melted while showing a movie! It’s one of my favorite materials as so many whimsical buttons were produced in a variety of designs and techniques.

These lovelies are not actually buttons, but trim, known as “montees”. They were made to decorate garments. It’s not surprising these were made in Czecho-Slovokia. Czechoslovakia has long been known for its magnificent work both in jewelry and buttons. They have also been a supplier of rhinestones, so both the glass base and the rhinestones were produced there

Most Art Deco glass buttons were made in Czechoslovakia. Later, many glass buttons were manufactured in Germany. Here is an example of typical vintage Czech glass buttons:

Art Deco Glass Buttons
Art Deco Glass Buttons from Marin's Shop

Awesome, thanks Marin! Now let’s have a giveaway!

Here’s a chance to get your hands on some truly gorgeous vintage buttons with $40 to spend on buttons in Marin’s shop, Vintage Necessities!

To enter, head over to Vintage Necessities on Etsy and find the cutest buttons. Pop back over here and leave me a comment letting me know which ones you want most and why.

The winner will be chosen on Friday, July 27th to win $40 worth of buttons from Vintage Necessities. That’s a whole lot of buttons…my button jar is exceedingly jealous!

Good luck, and happy button hunting!


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