1940s | Mail Order Patterns | Vintage Sewing

mail order maid of honour

By on March 18, 2013

Greetings vintage enamoured kindreds,
I was well pleased to (literally) stumble upon this most excellent blog and after a short perusal was grinning broadly. Knowing there is a significant community of vintage sewing addicts is a wonderful discovery.

This being my first post, perhaps I ought give a description of myself:
I’m a fervent DIY type who makes as much of everything as reasonably and physically possible; my interests belong to a couple of generations ago (I’ve long felt that being born into this one was somewhat of an unfortunate mistake) – I knit obsessively in the winter months, sew during the rest of the year. My grandmother taught me the necessary basics of deciphering patterns in grade 10 and from that point hence, fabric stores have become dangerous places. I have always loved vintage styles, but for more practical reasons vintage sewing patterns provide sizes I can actually wear.
I strive to live simply but happily on 1.3 acres in a 128 year old farmhouse with my mathematician husband where I make lots of mess making various creations, vegetable gardening, preserving, root cellaring, obsessively learning about and carrying out home improvements, and trying not to feel guilty about my two rounds of education leaving me unemployed.
Like many others out there, I catalogue my creative adventures through a blog: jurisdiction of nifty.

This particular project was an important and interesting one – my greatest friend got married last summer in a vintage themed style. I was tingling with anticipation to find a suitable dress pattern and eventually came across this promising specimen. It was the first time I’d seen or used a mail order pattern ( Sue Burnett – 8299 )  and though the instructions were incredibly thin, managed to make it through.

it begins

Though vintage sizing usually works out well for me with minimal customizing, this pattern required judicious taking in of seams and the addition of darts in order to make it fit.

front darts
thinning the front

It took several tries to get these back darts sorted – much basting and hand sewing.

basting back darts
creating back darts...

I had to fashion shoulder pads at the last minute as well as the shoulders were too droopy.

I made a back buckled belt, shortened the skirt length by about half and in the end was pleased with how the dress turned out:

finished back
the back
front detail
yoke detail
front view

I look forward to sharing future endeavours as sewing season approaches!
Thanks for existing We Sew Retro (:

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1930s | Dating Patterns | Mail Order Patterns

1930s Mail Order Pattern

By on January 4, 2013

Hi all! I just got back from my favorite fabric and pattern dive. I almost squeeled when I saw this pattern. It was marked as a 1940s vintage pattern but I shake my fist at that. It’s 30s if its a day. Anyway, it’s for a 30 inch bust which usually fits me so I bought it anyway for a whopping $0.95. I got it home to measure it and found it to be completely pullover. Even the shirt! No zips, snaps, and the buttons on the blouse are cosmetic. The pattern was also in undisturbed factory folds and in pristine condition. Once everything was all measured the jumper has a completed 37.5″ bust and a 30.75″ waist. The blouse has a completed 36.5″ bust. That’s quite a bit of ease for a 30″ bust pattern. I cannot wait to make it, I may have to lengthen the jumper top a bit but I think everything will fit swimmingly.

Also, I was hoping someone had some insight into which company manufactured this pattern. There is no date, no names etc. and it appears to have two pattern numbers. Maybe one is a coordinating adult pattern? I did find this picture to validate my tentative date right here on the site. Any help would be great! Thanks!

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Dresses | Mail Order Patterns | Vintage Sewing

Unprinted Roses

By on October 25, 2012

Sometimes there is a perfect marriage of pattern and fabric. That’s what happened with this little gem. I only got to wear it a few times before the weather got too chilly.

This was a great learning experience for me. Since the fabric was almost sheer I did my first underlining. I treated the two skirt layers as one but I did the bodice wrong sides together so the darts were supporting each other.

Supporting Darts

I kept the facings but did no interfacing since there were three layers of fabric. It seemed to work well that way.

The first alteration I made to the pattern was to do Gertie’s handy waist alteration. It works wonderfully well, when you remember to do it. I forgot on the overlap piece. Thankfully it is the under layer since there was no fabric left to recut the piece.

This is why you trace!!

I also added bias binding I cut down as a piping along the scallops. So great but learned a LOT there. I need to mark my stitching line much more accurately so the piping is uniform the whole way across.

The second adjustment I made was to insert a zipper in the side seam instead of having buttons all the way down the side. I really wanted to showcase these mother of pearl buttons I picked up on our family trip back East and there were only three. Note to self, put in horizontal buttonholes to prevent sliding. Apparently this only bothers me.

I hand stitched the hem to the lining so there is no hem line showing on the front. Because of the underlining the skirt hangs beautifully with great body. To finish it off I decided to make a belt from a vintage kit I had. When I finally figured it out we decided we liked the floaty bow better. I especially like how it adds to the back.

I really like this dress and am looking forward to next summer when it can get more wear. The kimono sleeves look great but I don’t like how they feel under a sweater so this will only be a warm weather dress.

My hat goes off to people who Model for a living. I was falling off this rock.


To read more about my experience working with an unprinted pattern check out my blog.


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1940s | Dresses | Mail Order Patterns

Milwaukee Sentinel #9329

By on August 24, 2012

I finally finished up this great little dress. It’s a mail order pattern from the mid to late 40s. The fabric is a soft and silky cotton from my newly inherited monster stash. I had just enough to eek out this dress. The only thing I ended up changing was to shorten the hem by a few inches and to eliminate the sleeve facings. I just did a narrow hem instead. The pattern wanted me to face the split sleeve (so four facings!) then invisibly tack them down then top stitch the side. Um, nope.

I love the dress. If I make it again I would take the bodice sides in just a bit. I find it to be a tad blousey for my taste. The pleat in the skirt front is almost invisible but if I had used a thicker cotton it would be seen. I love the belt too, the buttons function and tie in well with the bodice. The buttons are vintage and I’m pretty sure bakelite from my stash. The best part about the dress is clearly the pockets! I had piped them in white but it looked funny. How can piping look weird? I ripped it out and it looks so much better. This dress is a great casual addition to my wardrobe and I think very typical of the type of dress that would have been popular at time it was published. More on my blog of course….

On a total side note, I have started getting grumpy with the way cotton dresses stick to cotton undies. Now I know why silky undies are so popular.

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1950s | Dresses | Mail Order Patterns | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

Why won’t you just fit?!! And other tales of pattern grading woes

By on June 14, 2012

I don’t grade patterns as a general rule. If I can just add a bit to the side or take in a bit at a center I won’t mess with it much. That being said I really love this pattern. Love. Unfortunately it’s a size small and it’s yoked so I have no idea how to do it. I only need 3 measly extra inches to make it fit. I measured all the pieces and there is only 1/2 ease at the waist and 3 at the bust. That puts the pattern at a 33 bust and 26 waist. I want it to be around a 29 waist total with ease and 34/35 inch bust total with ease. So, here we go…. I need some ideas as to which option seems best:

Plan A-

Bodice front: slash at yellow line, insert 3/4 inch. Slash at green line running into yellow line, insert 1 inch lengthwise.

Bodice back: slash at each red line inserting 1 inch for length and 3/4 inch for width.

Plan B- all pink lines

Bodice front: and 3/4 inch to the center fronts including the back neck collar seam.

Bodice back: add 3/4 inch to CB

Inherently I like option B because it’s simple and fast. Will it work? Maybe. Option A sounds more technical and makes me think it would work too, maybe. The tricky part is that the yoke is top stitched so I don’t want to mess with taking anything off the seam allowances for the turned under bits bc then it will effect the arm hole. So there it is, in all it’s confusing glory. Either way I’ll make a muslin; drudgingly.

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1960s | Dresses | Mail Order Patterns

Mail order 4566…

By on March 22, 2012

I wanted to share my latest dress with you…

This is another easy to put together, beautifully fitting, all round fabulous, mail order dress from the 1960s.  I am in love with these patterns – size 14 1/2 – totally stress free!  I used op shop vintage 36 inch wide fabric – cotton blend I think – and wore it with my vintage pink and maroon hat.  There were no issues with the sewing, and it was completed in a few hours.  I made it especially to wear to Bendigo for the Grace Kelly exhibition.  I wanted to channel Grace’s style, and love getting really dressed up for an outing…like the good old days 🙂  I was going to wear beaded gloves, however it was over 30 degrees C – far too hot for gloves!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend 🙂

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1940s | Dresses | Mail Order Patterns

I Want Candy!

By on March 7, 2012

Greetings! My first post on the new site is my most recently completed project: a 1940s Mail Order pattern.

It was very simple to put together, I only really glanced at the instructions and it was finished in a weekend. It did take me a bit to figure out the bodice piece though – it’s only one piece and a very odd shape.

I’ve been looking for a dress I can wear all day, ever day and I think this one could be it!

More details on my blog: http://anewballofstring.blogspot.com.au/



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