1930s Dress Made Using Original Vintage Fabric

1930s ruffles dress front

Every now and again you come across a truly beautiful piece of original vintage fabric. You carefully unfold it, hoping and praying that it’s in good condition. You check it over thoroughly, measure it and finally take the very brave step of washing it. At this point you’re on tenterhooks, will it fall apart the second the water hits it? It survives the wash, it dries well and then you press it, checking thoroughly once again for any holes, tears or marks. And finally, you realise you have one incredible pristine piece of 1930s/1940s fabric that’s long enough to make an entire dress. You, or indeed me at this point, then do one hell of a happy dance!

1930s ruffles dress

As you can imagine, I was terrified to cut into the fabric, but I truly believed that this fabric had found its way to me for a reason. I’m very much someone who believes in buying vintage and using it. Every piece of vintage clothing I buy gets worn, I don’t store things away in a dark cupboard but, rather, enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed. That was how I felt about this fabric. It needed to be made into something and not waste away unloved and unappreciated. And it deserved to be made into something authentic.

1930s dress back

I used an original 1930s sewing pattern and original 1930s sewing techniques from both the pattern and a 1930s dressmaking book. The trimmings, such as the rayon hemming tape, were also vintage. The only modern parts of the dress are the white crepe I used for the yoke section and the metal button blanks for the self-cover buttons. That’s why I call this my brand new almost-vintage dress!

You can see more detail photos and find out more about the fabric, pattern and techniques I used on my blog here.

Beatles Dress – a simplicity reprint

This dress was made using Simplicity 3833 a reprint from the 1960’s.  Its a simple shift dress with some interesting detailing in how it creates the bust darts/fit and with options for top stitching to enhance the features.  I think the dress would look great in block colours like a 60’s mod look but I used a quilting cotton that was part of a Beatles collection – called yellow submarine.

Unfortunately I don’t quite fit the dress at the moment but hopefully this year I will see that zip shut again.  For this reason you see the dress modeled by Mavis my dressform.  The fit of this dress is really flattering.  Unlike some shifts it has enough shaping in the waist to give a real pleasant silhouette without being “clingy”.  I made the short version and I warn that this version is very short, if I were to make again I would use the longer option.

For more details you can visit my blog 🙂

Happy sewing.  My machines are in service now so hopefully I will have some more current projects real soon.

So Retro its Vintage

I am just getting back into blogging and sewing after an extended hiatus and found myself reminiscing on some old projects. Both of which are Victorian in style.

The first is Ageless Patterns #1478 an amazing dress.  I do not recommend Ageless patterns to the weak of heart as it took a lot of fiddling to get it even close to fitting but the end result was totally worth it.

Fabric is a green Taffeta with cream crepe and a stretch lace overlay (nightmare lace).  The entire bodice is flatlined in denim to give extra body.

For more details visit my blog

The Second is a mix of Ageless Patterns and Truly Victorian.  If you are planning on making a vintage look like this I would very much recommend Truly Victorian over Ageless patterns unless you have experience with drafting.  Ageless is still presented in its original dimensions and that means the waist to bust ratio is crazy meant for people who spent a lifetime waist training and squishing their internal organs into places they had no business going.  Truly Victorian on the other had has one of the most amazing fitting systems I have ever seen.  They are easy to use and create the right silhouettes for the period whist accommodating modern requirements.

The brown material is some sort of taffeta burnout fabric and the beige is a duponi silk which was a dream to work with.  The overskirt and underskirt came together very easily and were quite comfortable.  The bodice (which is the ageless pattern) was harder but like the dress above well worth it.

further details here

o///

Chambray Summer Dress

I passed over Butterick’s vintage reprint 6318 dozens of times because I already have similar patterns and I really thought I was just being sucked into the adorable pattern illustrations: 

I mean, that’s just SO CUTE. But I really didn’t need it.

Just kidding, I totally did! This is another super simple pattern thanks to the kimono sleeves. Mine is relaxed fit since I was unfamiliar with Butterick sizing. There’s a lot of extra room in the back especially that I’d take out next time:

I skipped the wrap ties in favor of a simple removable tie belt using the wrong side of the denim, same as I used on the sleeve cuffs.

More details on my blog here!

xo allie

“Orange Flower” Sheer Cotton Dress

Ok, this might not technically be vintage, but it is certainly chock full of retro style.  So I went with the 30’s feel of one of the views and made a great warm weather dress out of a sheer floral cotton.  I used Butterick’s #5951, from year 2013.

I had problems with the fit of this pattern, especially the sleeves, but with the help of an added underarm gusset this dress is a success.  Especially since I squeezed this in with having just under two yards of fabric to work with!

To see and read more please visit my blog’s page for this project here.

Unprinted Precut Vintage Sewing Patterns

My least favorite thing about sewing is cutting out pattern pieces.

Whether it means wrangling enormous sheets of tissue to find the pieces I need or taping and cutting printer paper from PDFs, it’s just a slog for me. (Pssst, speaking of PDFs, we’re putting PDFs up in shop this month if you want to sneak a peek – official announcement to follow once we’re finished.) 

Actually as I was typing this I had a flashback to the last time I tried to turn a spaghetti strap right side out- considering there were bellows of rage and several unladylike gestures thrown to the heavens, cutting out pattern pieces might have to be second least favorite. But anyway, cutting out pieces = zero fun in this house.

So I’m all about unprinted vintage patterns, like this Simplicity pattern from the 1930s. 

I love that they can come straight out of the envelope and onto the fabric, but the marking system of various punched holes can take some adjusting to.

If you haven’t had a chance to sew with many genuine vintage patterns yet, staring down at a big blank piece of tissue can be unnerving, so here’s something you may not know: there was a brief period of time in the early 1940s when Simplicity (and just Simplicity I think…I’ve never seen another brand do this) released patterns that were both precut and printed, like this:

Best of both worlds, right? Well, maybe, maybe not.

The argument for printing patterns instead of precutting them was that printing is more accurate than punching pieces from a giant stack of tissue paper which might shift around as the cut was made. If you’ve ever accidentally sewn something using the wrong seam allowance, you’ve already seen how a tiny deviation can have big results on a finished garment.

If you want to try one of these pre-cut printed patterns, you need to be looking for Simplicity patterns from the early 1940s like these:

Not confident in your pattern envelope dating skills? Here’s a tip – look at the hair styles. If you spend a little time with a cup of coffee scrolling through pinterest (torture, right?) you’ll start to get a feel for the haircuts associated with each period.

You’ll also see on the logo in teeny tiny text it says ‘cut to exact size’ above ‘printed pattern’, like this:

[insert record scratch noise here]

About a week after I confidently asserted that only Simplicity did this, I found another one…this time a 1956 Vogue Pattern. Here it is:

You can see at the bottom of the front of the envelope and on the back flap ‘Vogue’s new printed and perforated patterns’.

Here’s a pattern piece, showing the seam line printed on and notches and perforations precut.