1950s | 1960s | Dresses | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

Cloud Dress – Hand Dyed and Printed

By on June 2, 2013


Hi all!

I wanted to share another sewing project I made a while back. This one is more early 60’s style, though perhaps the print is slightly unusual. Yes,  I went nuts and made my own stamps to print fabric! The effect is more watercolor-esque, perhaps I should have screen printed instead. Either way, I think it came out fairly well. I call this one “The Cloud Dress“.


This is another entirely self-drafted pattern that I somehow whipped up in about 2 hours.  Although I had some minor difficulties with the zipper (yet again!), I’m still in love with it.


Testing stamps on scrap fabric.

Also:  I was wondering if anyone had advice on this front, since I trust everyone on here (even only after my 2nd post!) I want to start my selling designs either on Etsy or in a boutique, but I am lost in a few places. I’m mostly confused about production (for a small line only) and pattern sizing. I’m teaching myself to grade patterns and I also have a design internship, but I feel like the design internship is really eating up my time/affecting any momentum I’m gaining with my design work. I work full time so it’s hard to keep that going, plus the internship, occasional custom orders, plus maintaining my potential line. I’m also supposed to be learning pattern grading at my internship, but have yet to touch on it.  Do I just hire a seamstress to produce most of the line after I make patterns and cut the fabric? Make it myself? How do most people do it?

Any ideas would be appreciated! Thanks so much!

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1950s | Dresses | Mildly Insane Photo | Modern Patterns | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

1950s Picnics and Parties Dress

By on May 30, 2013

I swooned when I saw this dress over at ButchWax Vintage – it’s divine! It would be perfect for weddings, parties and picnics – every occasion, but such a tiny waist!












I knew I needed to make my own (modest) version if I was to ever sleep at night. So, here goes….

1950s Gingham Dress

I used the Billie Jean Pattern, from Blue Ginger Doll – and drafted my own collar to suit.

The Billie Jean pattern comes together really easily, and i’m fairly sure i’d use it again as the base for other dresses. The size 16 ended up being the best size for me at a 39.5″ bust (it’s meant to have zero ease, but I found that too tight for this style).

I can’t wait to wear this dancing! (and excuse the headless photos, it’s way too early in the morning).

More details, as always, on the blog

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1950s | Dresses | Pattern Sizing

Year End Summary

By on December 31, 2012

First I just want to say thank you to everyone on here! I have been so inspired by seeing everyone’s projects and enjoyed getting to contribute to this lovely community! I can’t wait to see what happens next year!

I wanted to start the new year with a clean slate so figured I should get my last vintage dress posted on here! This was actually the first full vintage dress I made and I wore it all summer! It just took that long to get pictures of it!

The moment I saw this pattern I loved it. Pleats are my favorite and that lovely red… who doesn’t want to make that dress?!?!

I decided to use a gorgeous coral cotton I picked up last February that has been mourning quietly on the shelf that it was not a dress yet.

I did a tissue fitting and things came out ok so I didn’t take in the bodice at all even though it read a size too big. Whoops. When I finished the dress and put it on, the neckline did need reduced. Can you spot my clever fix? On the other hand the waist fit perfectly with just enough ease. Next time I will just take a pleat out of the neckline and it should fit perfectly. The skirt had to be reduced to half the volume the pattern called for since I did not have enough fabric and wasn’t going to wear a petticoat with it.

In honor of sewing thoughtfully, the slow clothing movement or whatever it’s called, I added a couple special additions so it would be more wearable for me personally. I added pockets. Special pockets for my insulin pump! A hole in the inside allows me to thread my pump through so it is always accessible. I much prefer this to where it usually gets stashed when I wear dresses. This added a little extra time to the making since I had to remember how to do hidden pockets and finish the raw edges differently.

I also added the lingerie straps since I usually have kids crawling all over me and I hate showing off my undergarments in church. 😀 Or any public place for that matter.

I finished it by hand picking the lapped zipper topstitching for an invisible finish.

It came together very quickly even with the adjustments I made and the construction was super easy. I am delighted with it and can’t wait to make up another version in a solid or more subtle print so the neckline pleating will really stand out.

Well that’s it for me this year! Hope everyone has a great time celebrating! Happy New Year!

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1960s | Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

Polka Dot Dress

By on December 11, 2012

Hi all! I’m finally finished with my semester at school, so I celebrated by sewing myself a dress. I decided to go with a maternity pattern because I wanted something empire waisted. I chose to make the dress in the middle of the picture. (McCall’s 6576 C. 1962)

I needed to resize the pattern since it is designed for pregnant women. After looking at the pieces I decided I wasn’t going to like the dress, even resized.

I ended up whipping out my pattern blocks and just designed something based off of the picture. I ended up adding four darts at the front of the bodice and two darts on the back of the bodice. I also made the dress zipper-less because I just wanted something that I can easily throw on. I also decided to go with a boat neck and a somewhat low back.

Here’s my final product!

For more pictures, check out my blog!

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1950s | Dresses | Mad Men Inspired | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

Two 1958 Sheath Dresses: Advance 8617

By on September 26, 2012


View 1, Advance 8617, from 1958 – I made this dress first. It has gussets in the sleeves.

Here are two sheath dresses I made from a vintage 1958 pattern, Advance 8617. The yellow “tropical dress” has kimono sleeves and the fitting is more relaxed in general, and I think it is better for it. The blue dress has gussets in the sleeves and a more fitted bodice. The original 1958 pattern was much too big and I re-sized it to my size. My weight has shifted slightly since cutting the pattern, so the fit was longer perfect, a good learning experience for the next dress.  (Don’t wait 8 months between cutting and sewing!)  I ended up taking in the bodice side seams a little and lengthening the darts slightly.

Advance 8617_view3_1958_vintage_sewing_pattern
View 3, Advance 8617 from 1958 – my “tropical dress.” I made this dress second. The kimono sleeves give it a more relaxed fit. Notice that the waist falls in the right place in this version.

What I found in the test run with this pattern: This dress is best in a very lightweight cloth with good drape, especially silk, chiffon or rayon.  The pattern is more roomy than expected, leaving space to take it in or let it out later.

The inspiration was Joan’s dress from the accordion scene in Season 3, Episode 3 of Mad Men, see photo below.  But obviously I am not shaped like Joan, and few people are.

Tropical dress – I imagine myself wearing this dress lounging on a warm and breezy veranda sipping hibiscus cooler.  Since I’d be lounging, who needs a belt?!  So I set aside the belt hardware and I did not make the self-fabric belt.  But maybe I will make it later.  What do you think?

Blue dress – I like the shorter sleeves and the more fitted upper body, but the extra time to do the gussets was not really worth it.  Short cap sleeves or very short kimono sleeves might look just as nice and save a lot of time.

To see much more technical detail on alteration and fitting issues, please go to WesternSpinster.com


Advance 8617_view_3_1958_vintage_sewing_pattern
View 3, Advance 8617, from 1958 – my “tropical dress.” I made this dress second. The kimono sleeves give it a more relaxed fit. Nessa has the best expression in this photo! She looks skeptical.
View 1, Advance 8617, from 1958 – I made this dress first. It has gussets in the sleeves and a more fitted bodice. This blue cloth is a more retro look, but the yellow West African print was probably around in 1958.






















Joan’s accordion scene in Season 3, Episode 3 of Mad Men.
Advance 8617 vintage sewing pattern from 1958. The very stylized illustration make it look like Joan's dress, but the actual dress is a bit different. Also notice that the sleeves in this illustration look much shorter than in the complete dresses. I did not change the sleeves for these dresses.

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1950s | Dresses | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

Advance 5971, a “wearable muslin”!

By on September 20, 2012

Hello again!  I finally have pictures of the Advance dress that I was complaining about so bitterly a few months ago.  Here’s the pattern envelope again:

And here’s my version!

Since the pattern I have is (nominally) a little too small for me, I wanted to do a muslin first.  On the other hand, if it happened to fit, I wanted to be able to wear it.  So, I made up the bodice out of leftover fabric from one of my first circle skirts and added a little length to the lower edge of everything so that if it ended up being the right size-ish, I could just tuck it in to the waistband of the skirt and pretend it was a dress.

As it turns out, the bodice DOES fit, which is a bit surprising since it lists the bust measurement as 29″ on the envelope!  Either a gremlin switched out pattern pieces or this pattern has a heck of a lot of ease.  Of course, I’m not big-busted by any stretch of the imagination, but with a gently-padded bullet bra, my measurements come in a lot closer to 34″ or 35″, and this top wasn’t THAT snug.

I ended up extending the zipper placket all the way up to the bottom corner of the underarm gusset, as I felt like the snugness of the top made it a bit difficult to put on.  Once it’s zipped, it’s just fine… but wiggling into it is a trick.  It does pull a little across the bust/upper back, but I’m pretty happy with it anyway.  Speaking of gussets…

I think I managed some pretty successful First Gussets Ever.  I really love how much more range of motion they give… I will be on the lookout for more gusset-sleeved patterns in the future.

General sum-up?  I really love the finished result, even though I hated some parts of the construction process.  I’ll definitely wear it again, and I might even consider making a full dress with this pattern… although it may need a few small sizing tweaks.  I’ve got a few more (less over-exposed) pictures of it styled on my blog here, as well.



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