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Vintage Sewing

dress in progress

By on May 30, 2007

My plan is to finish my 60’s dress this upcoming weekend. I still have some adjustments to make, but apart from that it’s just lacking sleeves and a proper hemline. I received lots of help with pinning it to fit by my boyfriend, which impressed me enormously; he’s not much for sewing or knitting or anything and sometimes have a hard time grasping the basics of it (mostly due to lack of interest, I suppose), but I think he’s also quite eager to see this dress finished, so he didn’t mind lending a hand. Or two, in this case.

I realised that I need to take off about and inch and a half over the shoulders to achieve a better fit, but I don’t think it will cause any major problems, so I’m not worried about that. I’ve already been commissioned by two of my friends to make dresses for them, and if I have anything to say about it, there will definitely be a retro style to both of them!

Anyway, here are some photos of what the dress looks like now and how it should fit.

Present state of dress:

How it should fit:

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Vintage Sewing

First post

By on May 29, 2007

Hello, and thank you for allowing me to play dress-ups with you all here on SewRetro. I love seeing all your projects and think you are all very clever and fabulous.

I have long been drawn to vintage clothes, especially those from the 1950s when women were shaped like women, with curves top and bottom, and waists in the right place. That happens to be how I’m shaped and I’ve very much of the philosophy that one should dress to suit yourself regardless of what happens to be in fashion at present, so I leave the smock, sack and shift dresses to those who have the frame to make it work!

I’ve made my own clothes on and off for years but have recently become quite gung-ho about it. I’m also much taller than average and making my own allows me to add extra centimetres to sleeves and torsos and hems – most clothes, whether new or vintage, aren’t long enough for me.

I’ve been hunting for old patterns for some months now. Two problems – one is that they are often very expensive and especially so when I have to order them from overseas. Second is that I think my size happens to be one of the most common so they all get snapped up! I’m hoping that through Sew Retro I’ll meet some people who are happy to swap and loan patterns – reciprocally, of course – allowing us to share the retro good cheer! I’m a pedantic pattern-tracer who hates to cut them which leaves them in good shape for someone else to use. So any 36″ bust folks out there with a pattern stash they’d like to share, let me know – I’m in Melbourne, Australia. Perhaps we could all set up a pattern swap system through this blog? A flickr pool or somesuch? Thoughts for the future.

Enough blather from me – have a look at my blog at livebird.blogdrive.com for bits and pieces, including a jacket-in-progress with this sensational 50s cotton lining:

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Vintage Sewing

Target dress Update

By on May 16, 2007

Thanks everyone for the encouragement!


I decided to re-cut one piece and I like it much better. I now have the left side of the back matched up. I did realize not to match the right side because it would look too strange since both sides are from almost the exact same section of the design.

Now on to the rest of the dress…

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Vintage Sewing

A Sewing Project Finished

By on May 15, 2007

Well I wasn’t going to blog this, as I have a stack of “real” vintage patterns/fabric all waiting to be sewed up, but I have gotten so many retro aimed comments about it I thought why not.

Plus it actually makes me feel like I’ve achieved something this month ….been so busy with exams and manically itching to sew something, it is driving me crazy! So I caved and finished this up at the weekend, its from the Simplicity “it’s so easy” range, and it is … comes together right before your eyes. It ended up a fair bit longer than I thought it would, but I like it and I think it adds to the retro-ness.

Here’s to hoping with my last exam on thursday I will be sewing feverishly before I know it 😀

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Vintage Sewing

Return of the Target dress

By on May 14, 2007

This dress is the one from last year that I wanted to make out of a tablecloth from Target. I chose the pattern (McCall’s 5042) because of the amount of fabric I thought I had. However, the bodice uses princess seams in the front and back and I didn’t realize how much of a problem the print would be for this design.

Here are the pinned front and back of the bodice. I think the front is fine, as there is no way the pattern would match because of the seaming. Unfortunately, the back is not as attractive.

Now, it would be possible to cut out some more pieces for the back with the amount of fabric I have left, but it would still be a gamble. What do you think, is it alright like this or should I try again? Please help me.

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Vintage Sewing

Sew what do you think?

By on May 7, 2007

I bought this dress pattern a while ago.

And I finished the dress also a while ago too. The problem is that I hate making button holes. I don’t have an automatic buttonhole on my sewing machine. Well I finely came up with a solution. Sew the buttons on the front and use snaps to keep the dress close.
It came out pretty good. What do you think?

(The lump is the pocket)

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Vintage Sewing

thank god it’s spring!

By on April 15, 2007

Up here in Ithaca, NY, the weather keeps teasing us. I’ll leave the house one morning bundled up in jeans and sweaters, and find the day so sunny and beautiful I wish I’d worn a skirt and sandals. My thoughts turn to summer clothes, and then within a day or two it starts snowing again.

So, on the eve of another snowstorm (they’re predicting a foot by morning) I present my Yay Spring! dress. I actually cut out the fabric for it during the last few warm days of fall. It’s a shirt dress (Simplicity #4147) made of black cotton(?) with red buttons and red detail stitching. I used a rayon thread for the stitching; it’s very shiny and really stands out. And pockets! I love the pockets. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a dress with useful pockets.

My husband kindly modeled the dress while I took the picture. He’s giving his best fashion model vacant stare. What a good sport!

shirt dress

I love this dress and I expect I’ll make more like it. Unfortunately, while I was trying it on, my dog (the one sleeping so innocently in the photo) stole the pattern and ripped it to shreds! McCall’s patterns were on sale today, so I plan to try McCall’s 5378 for my next shirt dress.

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