1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1950’s Cocktail Dress Revival

By on February 15, 2017

I hit a sewing bump 2 months ago. I lost all motivation to keep sewing. I stopped even trying to find a project to inspire me and then last week as I was cleaning out my closet I stumbled upon this 1950’s cocktail dress that I bought to fix up over a year ago. My fears of fixing it had sent it to the back of my closet where it had been forgotten.

It was riddled with holes. I started picking it apart piece by piece. This also allowed me to create a pattern out of the dress for future creations!

I created a lace overlay for all of the pieces, basted it on and then re-assembled the whole dress.

Once it was re-assembled I found I had created my dream cocktail dress out of what was once something I had at the bottom of the repair pile.

You can read more about this save over on my blog. In the meantime, I will be busy tackling that repair pile in hopes of finding another gem!

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1950s | 1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Blue Jacquard 1950’s Dress

By on February 6, 2017

I imagine many people here on We Sew Retro are big fans of Gretchen Hirsche’s wonderful fabric designs for Fabric Traditions available at Joanns, and I have seen so many lovely things made from her fabrics around the community! I recently picked up a few yards of the blue jacquard from one of Gertie’s fall fabric collections in the red tag area of Joanns (always check out the red tag area, is it usually full of dated sad decorator fabrics? Well, yes. Are there occasional hidden gems? Also yes!). I decided the shining sapphire blue jacquard would make a perfect 1950’s style wiggle dress and got started right away!

It was really important for this dress to make sure the raw edges of each seam were finished in some way since I knew I didn’t want to bother with a lining. Also with most jacquards and brocades I like to finish the edges no matter what as they seem to looove to fray apart the moment they are cut! So the first thing I did after cutting out this dress was overlock all of the edges with my serger. The bodice is a simple “kimono” sleeve style which is super simple to make up (just 6 darts total and the side seams) as you don’t have to fiddle with setting in proper sleeves as they are cut into the design. I totally recommend this style of bodice for those who have trouble with sleeves! The neckline was finished with a self fabric facing that I tacked down with tiny thread tacks to help it stay smooth. With a center back zipper and hand sewn hem finished, it was ready to wear! Too bad I didn’t make this number in time for New Years Eve as it would make a perfect holiday party dress! Next year perhaps 🙂

For more photos visit the full outfit post over on The Closet Historian!

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1960s | Coats | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Les Fleurs Swing Dress (Simplicity 6820, 1966)

By on January 31, 2017

I posted my leopard print version of this pattern last week and today I’m back with a dark floral variation–specifically the gorgeous Les Fleurs in navy from Cotton and Steel’s collab with Rifle Paper Company. I lovvvve this fabric, and I wanted to use it with few seam lines, so Simplicity 6820 seemed perfect. I’m wearing it with my pink bow coat made last year from Simplicity reprint 1197–a perfect match!

See more on my blog here!

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1970s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Prairie-palooza: Simplicity 9778 (1971), Butterick 4888 (1977 or 1978), and McCall’s 4872 (1975)

By on January 27, 2017

Three-fer!

This project started out as Simplicity 9778, a Mother Hubbard-type dress from 1971.  It’s cute, but you sort of suspect it will work out less well in reality than in theory:

I have a weakness for these prairie dresses with yokes.  #dontjudge

But I found some hideous-slash-amazing Concord print in dull green with brown/purple flowers on eBay, and some awesome deadstock buttons in a weird raisin color, and got to work.

I knew when I got to the collar that I was making a mistake.  The band collar is drafted–well, “drafted”–as a straight strip of cloth.  It’s not contoured toward the front of the neck the way a band collar should be.  Seamsters, take note: If you make this pattern, IGNORE THE COLLAR.  Draft your own or borrow from another pattern whose designer wasn’t so lazy.

Predictably, it sat around my neck like a section of pipe.  This looks a lot better and far less amateurish in the picture than it did in real life.  Plus, it was uncomfortable.

It looked cute with a belt, though:

But that didn’t help the collar.  It also turns out that this pattern, obviously, is basically a nightgown:

Even with the belt, it tends to shift forward as you walk so all that fabric ends up bunched around your stomach.  I sewed six tucks into the back waist, which helped a lot, but . . . eh, I still wasn’t wearing it that much, which made me sad because I loved, loved, loved the fabric.

Patiences pays off: Surfing eBay netted me another yard, so I decided that I would try to salvage the skirt (well, lower half) and sleeves from the baggy dress and attach them to a new bodice.

Butterick 4888 is from 1977 or 1978 and I want us all to take a moment to contemplate the phenomenon of the wedding gown or bridesmaid dress that comes with an apron.

With an apron, people.

That woman is wearing an apron to her wedding.

However, it’s still a cute pattern and, since I wasn’t planning to make the sash, I was pretty sure that 1 yard + scavenged pieces from the old bodice = just about enough to scrape together a new bodice.

I hate long back zippers so I altered it to button up the front (I had to put a placket in the skirt) and made the facings out of scrap from another dress to save on the “good” fabric (this is the waist seam, finished in bias, with the front facing tacked over it):

I cheated on the sizing.  I’m usually a 12/bust 34 + slight FBA + added width across the upper back + added bodice length + lowered bust.  My 4888 was already a 14/bust 36 so I experimented with just taking in the shoulders and leaving the back width and bust measurement alone (although I still lowered the bust point and lengthened the bodice a little).  This time, at least, it worked.  I might still do a very, very, tiny FBA the next time because I added more of a front facing than was intended so it takes a little more room.

I actually got some brown/purple solid to make an apron to wear with this.  I have no idea where I will wear it with an apron, but whatever (this is the old bodice with the yoke).

As a side note: If anyone is into loose prairied dresses with yokes, try McCall’s 4872 (1975)–it’s similar to 9772 but the bodice is trimmer and the skirt/lower half is more flared, and it’s more flattering and less bunchy around the waist.

Sorry, you can’t really see it in a black dress, but it worked a lot better than 9778:

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1940s | 1950s | Burlesque / Pinup | Dresses | Modern Patterns

Tilly and the Buttons – Cleo Dungaree Dress – Button-up Pattern Hack!

By on January 25, 2017

Hi pinups! I’m so excited about this make, I couldn’t wait to share it with you, so I bumped it right to the top of my blog post queue! Lets get into it… I recently made a button up skirt and combined with my Pinterest sewing inspiration board and a girl in working in my local H&M, I was inspired to make my own button up dungaree dress, using the Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Pinafore & Dungaree dress Sewing Pattern as the base…

Sewing Summary: 
 
Fabric: Lightweight Stretch Denim
Sewing time: This would make a great weekend project. I made mine in a day, including the pattern hacking and taking progress photos.
Modifications: See my full post for my pattern hack!
Fit: Exactly what I wanted.
Difficulty: Nice and simple.
Watch out for: A tidy front facing and neat top stitching will make all the difference to the final look. Take your time.
Make Again?: Yes!

For my full review, step by step pattern hack guide & images, check out my blog The Crafty Pinup.

Thank you!
xo

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1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Leopard Swing Dress (Simplicity 6820, 1966)

By on January 24, 2017

A few months ago I decided I really wanted an easy, floaty dress that would be less structured than the shift or full-skirted dresses that I normally like, and picked up Simplicity 6820 on etsy. It’s a “Jiffy” tent or trapeze dress from 1966 and it is basically a raglan sleeve mumu! It’s the perfect easy pattern for a bold print since it has few seam lines. This is the first of three versions I’ve made since purchasing the pattern, so I think it was a good buy!

Read more on my blog (and see another leopard print garment too!) here.

xo allie

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