1950s | Children | Kids | Sewing Machines | Vintage Sewing

Little Betty

By on November 5, 2012

Little Betty toy sewing machine

I bought this adorable “Little Betty” toy 50s sewing machine on ebay this week, because for $25,I couldn’t resist it!

After playing with it for a bit, I was able to thread the top of the machine, and by cranking the handle, I got some sort of “sewing” happening. (Yes, it has a proper needle, and the foot raises and lowers like a “real one). Only problem is, it looks like something has to be done underneath, in lieu of a bobbin arrangement, and this is the part I can’t work out. No instructions came with the machine, and it is made in Britain.

top side of work








I know, it’s actually just an ornament for my sewing room, but it’s bugging me!

I’m wondering if anyone else has come across one of these, and knows how to thread it?

underside of work

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1960s | Children | Coats | Kids

Butterick 9955: A Little Winter Coat

By on October 23, 2012

This is the coat I have made for my daughter in time for the colder weather. It is made from Butterick 9955, a late 50s/ early 60s pattern, and a thick wool blend tartan fabric.

I gave her free choice for the lining, and this is what she went with, a cotton print with flowers and butterflies. It clashes like crazy, but she loves it. I added a brushed cotton interlining, sewn as one layer with the lining fabric, for extra warmth.


I did bound buttonholes, and made the collar in cotton velvet. It also has a detachable hood, which buttons on below the collar, though I have yet to add the buttons. The hem is all hand sewn. First I finished the edge of the tartan layer in bias tape, which I slip stitched down. I then catch-stitched the lining hem onto the outer hem, between the layers.

More details of the construction can be found here and here.

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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!


More on my blog.

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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!)


More on my blog.

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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.


More on my blog.







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