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!


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1950s | Children | Dresses

Salvaged dress completed!

By on September 13, 2012

The mouse disease dress is completed! I suppose I should have shown you the pattern on my previous post, so you’d know why it was so important to me to salvage it.

Cute, isn’t it? The material is actually a vintage bed sheet from a thrift store – I love sewing with bed sheets, especially poly-cotton percale because it makes a dress you rarely have to iron! This one had a muslin-type weave, which makes for an interesting texture. I actually salvaged all of the bits I used for this dress – lining material cut from a length of muslin I used to use as photo backdrops, and vintage buttons from another dress of mine that sadly got irreversibly stained.

I let Betsy choose the style she wanted – she chose no collar, no waist sash, and a bow at the neckline. Since I dispensed with the collar I decided to line the bodice instead of facing – I’d have sleeve facings to contend with as well as the neckline, and kimono sleeve facings never lay right in my experience (unless you tack them down by hand – who wants to do that?) Lining it was incredibly quick and easy – I’ll always do it that way in the future.

I think B. was right on with her embellishment choices. It looks similar to the one on the pattern envelope, but it’s a bit less twee and a bit more sophisticated – not that there’s anything wrong with dainty little collars, but she’s nine-and-a-half and wants to look mature! As it is, this looks like something I’d make for myself, if maybe in a different print.

She’s even got the ‘vintage-pattern-haughty-lady pose’ down pat – the girl just needs an invisible chair or something to lean on. 😉 I am so proud!

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

More sweet baby clothes from Simplicity 1443

By on August 21, 2012

I posted the sunsuits I made from this pattern a while back.  It’s been too long since I made a new vintage style, but this week I finally put together this little pinafore dress.

I love the little cap sleeves.  It took me quite a few tries to figure out how to bind the edges.  Worth it in the end, as shown below.  I adjusted this pattern so it has an adjustable neckline.  It is a layette item and will fit at least as small as 3 months, if not younger.  I tried it on a six month baby and then just for fun on the three year old sister.  It was really cute on both.  As the child grows the neckline expands and the dress becomes a top to wear with shorts.  So sweet!

I’m not really sure about the back ties.  The original calls for bias tape.  I do not like the ribbon that is currently sold, but I liked the lighter weight of it.  I ended up with these self fabric ties, something like the bias called for, but wider.  Not sure how I will do the next one.

And finally, another boy sunsuit.






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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!)


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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.


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1950s | Children | Dresses | Jumpers / Pinafores

1950s girls’ pinafore

By on July 26, 2012

Yesterday I finished up this quick and easy pinafore for the little one. The pattern comes from a 1954 issue of Pins and Needles magazine, and I used a polycotton woven check fabric. The pattern uses a contrast fabric for the upper skirt and bib sections, but I chose to cut these on the bias instead to make use of the check design.

It fastens up the back with buttons, though I only made the waistband button functional. The straps cross at the back and button onto the waistband. I used vintage yellow buttons with a tiny flower detail to pick out the yellow in the fabric.

Back button detail:

I’ve shared the pattern on my blog too if anyone else want to make it, complete with elephant applique template.

1950s Embroidered Pinafore pattern


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