Although I’ve worked in theatre for years, I’ve recently started acting – and when you do community theatre, you are often asked to scrounge up your own costumes for shows. Especially when the director knows that you are a costume designer professionally. So when my husband and I were cast in a local production of ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, I got busy!
Although we’re setting the play in the later 40’s, this 1943 Vintage Vogue pattern really jumped out at me as being perfect for the character of ‘Shellhammer’ – a Macy’s department store employee. I THOUGHT I was going to have to do a lot of drafting the pattern up (based on the size chart on the back of the pattern), and since the pattern is out of print I couldn’t just go out and buy the next set of sizes. But knowing that there’s a lot of ease in these things, I decided to just cut the largest size and do a toile, to see what happened.
Glad I did the toile – because the dress ended up actually almost fitting perfectly, straight out of the box (so to speak). I had to take in the shoulders a touch (I always have to), nip in the waist (my waist to hip ratio is above average), and raise the bodice seams a touch – but otherwise, perfect.
I’ve been VERY pleased with the pattern – it’s not an easy one, but the directions are excellent. If you follow step by step, and do exactly what they tell you to do (even if you’re scratching your head while you do it), it all falls into place beautifully. I decided to under stitch the bodice detailing rather than topstitching it – but that’s the only thing that changed. Lots of vintage sewing techniques – pattern pieces topstitched on top of other pieces. It’s more like building a dress than sewing it together!
Done in a lovely tweedy brown wool.
More photos in my blog, here!
With the year almost over, I’ve decided to try and stick to my Vintage Pattern Sewing Pledge after all. I’ve just completed this dress, which means I’m halfway (to five…).
I made this dress using this design from the summer 1965 issue of the Frohne system. This was a German system of ‘enlarge to size’ patterns which was also sold here in the Netherlands. I’m showing it in this post.
Considering the obvious risks of such a system, I’m not at all disappointed with the result. I did make a muslin and lower the bust darts as a result.
The dress is one of those 1960’s designs which sits between the fitted, highly feminine shapes of the 1950’s and the quintessential waistless 1960’s mini’s. It’s a new shape for me and although it won’t make me forget the 1950’s, I like it.
There more about it here
The holidays are upon us, and that means it’s time for party dress sewing! The wiggle dress that was so popular in the 1950s and 60s makes for a superb va-va voom party dress, and with the right fabric, perfect for this time of year. The pattern for this one is from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, and the fabric is a silk brocade from Britex in San Francisco.
The dress has princess seams on the front bodice, and a side dart to provide extra shaping. The sleeves are kimono in style, so there are also underarm gussets. A necessity if you want to be able to move your arms while you wiggle! There’s also a vent at the back to allow extra movement. I love the deep V in the back especially.
I feel like such a movie star in this dress! I think it’s such a testament to how wonderful sewing is. I would have never considered wearing something like this until I started sewing. But when you can make it to measure just right for your figure, it’s comfortable and glamorous!
You can see more details on fit and construction on my blog. Happy holiday sewing to you all!
If you’ve ever found a handwritten note or scrap of fabric inside a vintage pattern and been transported back in time to visions of the original dressmaker, I think the following story is going to resonate with you…
These beautiful sketches were designed by ‘lady tailor’ Hedy Strnad in 1930s Czechoslovakia.
The designs were sent to a cousin in America in the hopes Hedy’s talent would secure her a dressmaking job and therefore a visa, allowing her and her husband to escape their Nazi-occupied homeland. Tragically, the plan failed – the Strnads perished in the Holocaust after being interned in a concentration camp.
Amazingly, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee was able to use the information from just one letter to uncover Hedy’s forgotten history, rescuing her work from obscurity to create the Stitching History from the Holocaust exhibit.
In a poignant tribute to Hedy’s talent, the costume shop of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater was able to translate her sketches into finished garments using period fabrics and techniques.
Now the museum is hoping to create patterns from Hedy’s designs so her work can take on a new life and lasting legacy. Can you help?
If you’d like to be involved in the project, please get in touch with the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or share this post with any friends who might be interested.
To learn more about Hedy, the dresses and the exhibition, here’s a fascinating PBS Special that includes lots of detail on how the dresses were created.
Powerful stuff. Imagine how wonderful it would be to get Hedy’s designs into patterns so they could be sewn and worn worldwide – please share this information with anyone who might be able to help the museum bring this dream into reality!
Hope you’re enjoying your pre-christmas period
This summer I made me a light dress from a pattern I find perfectly simple and classy
It’s from a 1950s butterick pattern. It’s package is very used and I can’t read th number .
If you want more pictures and details, feel free to visit my blog
Thanks for reading!
Ahhh…. nothing like spending a hot Aussie Xmas in a comfortable cotton dress!
The fabric is an adorable vintage christmas border print, with ‘Merry Christmas’ in different languages written across the white background – and candles across the border.
I hoped there would be enough for a dress, and after a frantic search through my collection I found Simplicity 1212 – pinafore dresses from 1944.
Photo from Vintagesewingpattern wiki
Did I mention pockets?
The only major changes I made to the pattern was to cut the back pieces on the fold instead of have a button back – I didn’t have a lot of fabric to work with and needed to save as much as I could! I faced everything with white lawn to reduce the fabric requirement too – the dress took roughly 3m of fabric in the end.
If you’d like to read about it in more detail, there’s a post on my blog…
Thanks for letting me share!