1960s

Using vintage patterns and upcycled vintage fabrics

By on September 4, 2014

I have sewn and made things all my life. I have also always been a terrible hoarder. Along with vintage clothing, I have been collecting pieces of vintage fabric since my teens, mostly attracted by the prints and colours of the early 1960s.

A few years ago, I started making children’s clothes from pieces too small for anything else. I found two vintage children’s patterns that would just squeeze a dress out of a piece of fabric barely bigger than a cushion cover. My favourite arty, abstract prints of the late ‘50s and very early ‘60s made for something quite different from the small, cute prints usually associated with childrenswear.

Infant dress made from upcycled vintage curtain fabric.
Infant dress made from upcycled vintage curtain fabric.

Having used up most of my stock of just-about-big-enough pieces of fabric, I allowed myself to start buying fabric again. I have a real fondness for the large scale prints of mid-century furnishing fabrics and if I can find a curtain (I never cut up a pair) with enough usable fabric left after the sun damage to the edges and any paint has been cut off (old curtains were often used as dust sheets for decorating), this can make an adult-sized dress.

For the winter trees print dress shown below, I particularly enjoyed playing with the contrast of skeletal winter trees with a sleeveless summer dress. But there was also the fact that there was so much damaged fabric there was not enough left for the sleeves!

Dress made from an upcycled curtain.
Dress made from an upcycled curtain.

I started collecting vintage patterns purely for the illustrations on the envelopes. I used to display these in frames, but luckily I saved all the pattern pieces. It’s not only patterns – I sew on my Nanna’s old sewing machine, a “Diplomat“ from 1963 (even though I have a brand new machine, still in its box, unopened, under my bed…)

Jersey Dress Pattern

I am finding that as my friends’ parents get older, boxes of fabric from hoarding mothers and grandmothers are coming my way. One of my friends has given me several large boxes of clothes her mother never got around to mending and garments she cut out and never made. In one box alone there were five red and white gingham school dresses to fit a girl of approximately 7 years old – and my friend is now 50!

The huge advantage of using deadstock (old but unused) fabric over salvaged fabric is that it will almost always have been stored away from the light, so there is no fading or wastage. Lots of these fabrics are of much better quality than you would easily find nowadays, particularly the linens and wools. The downside is that, if you make to order, you can’t always have exactly what you’re looking for – you have to wait until the right thing comes along and some colours are not as common as they are nowadays. However, if you like the typical colours of a particular period, dyes are different now and the shades are quite unlike the ones in modern fabrics.

 

It’s not only the patterns and fabric I’m giving a new lease of life to – as well as using my Diplomat when I secretly have a modern sewing machine stored under the bed, never having taken it out of its box – I also use vintage threads, zips and buttons. I often see free-standing wooden sewing boxes at fleamarkets and boot fairs. Nine times out of ten these are still full of threads, notions and equipment. I started buying bagfuls of this stuff when I was making the children’s dresses and getting through a very large amount of bias binding and I’m still working my way though all the threads, hooks and eyes and zips.

My nanna's sewing machin – a pleasure to use.
My nanna’s sewing machine – a pleasure to use.

My real weakness is buttons: I have jar after jar of sorted, colour-coded vintage buttons and have to try and stop myself buying more whenever I see them. Recently I bought a very large tin with an enamelled design of a Chinese dragon and when I got it home found that it was full to the brim with sets of beautiful buttons already sorted and bundled.

Seven carrier bags of fabric arrived from somebody’s mother’s hoard a couple of weeks ago, so I had plenty of fabric to choose from! This wool jersey was great for an early 1960s column dress, but the fabric was too bulky for the bow that trims the “empire band” across the bust in the pattern.

JerseyDress72

 

I was very lucky to find a deadstock bolt of this leaf print crisp linen in a junk shop – I just have to remember not to sit on the chair (salvaged, naturally!) I upholstered with the same fabric when I wear it!

Dress made using a late 1960s patterns and leftover deadstock curtain fabric.
Dress made using a late 1960s patterns and leftover deadstock curtain fabric.

 

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Vintage Sewing

Accidental Field Of Poppies

By on September 13, 2013

In a bid to get my hands on GENUINE vintage fabric, not looky likey pretend vintage-esque I have been trawling the internet and charity shops like a secret stash stalker! Uh Ha! Yep …. You know what I mean, saw you in there as well while I was a snooping!

Anyways, I digress (not much new there then) internet has yeilded two curtains from different places on different days but both arrived yesterday, apart from being utterly lush I must be attracted to poppies right now, purely accidental and I had forgotton about the bright red 70’s door curtain so when I saw it I really did squeal with delight.

My business head in prep for the Vintage Fair in November is saying beautiful cushion covers, very saleable as Christmas gift BUT the eldest daughter (because everything I buy must be for her or her sister even though hey are 23 and 19!)….. Oh Mumma, can you make me a 50’s skirt in that fabric it’s wicked!

Dilemma, it is wicked, it would look great as a 50’s skirt BUT it wont’t earn me any money!!!!! What is a mother to do?

CUSHIONS …. Make some money ~ let her sink herself up to her neck in charity shop offerings and find her own fabric! Do hope I have your support in my bullish position dear reader?

The other poppies has a maker name so am set to research as I can’t quite place the era but they have he feel and look of 40’s or even earlier.

I plan to share my makes with you once
1. Decisions made
2. Grappled fabric away from daughter
3. Husband fed and watered to avoid unwanted interludes
4. Found an extra hour in the day

Welcome any ideas, comments, suggestions for makes etc. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read. Have a great day.

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Made from Curtains | Vintage Sewing

Portobello Curtains Blouse

By on May 8, 2012

Good afternoon.  Just wanted to stop by and show off my new blouse made from a pair of vintage curtains.  I bought the curtains from Portobello Road Market in London, along with the vintage buttons which are a perfect match.  The pattern is a modern one (Megan Nielsen’s Banksia blouse) but definitely has a vintage look to it.

The fit could be better, but that’s my own fault for not making a muslin first.  For a first attempt at this pattern, I’m more than happy.  It’s not a particularly fitted style, so on me  it looks best tucked in.  It seems to look good with a high waisted skirt and I’m planning to wear it with some 1940’s high waisted trousers soon too.  Not a bad result from a a pair of old curtains!

More photos and construction details can be found on my blog, Handmade Jane.  Thanks for reading! x

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1950s | 1960s | Dresses

pushing daisies dress

By on November 11, 2011

if you are making things that go on this blog, and you haven’t watched pushing daises, you are doing something wrong. anna friel’s character chuck has the GREATEST wardrobe EVER! its all very very 1950’s and 1960’s vintage, right on down to her underwear! i watched the entire series on netflix a while back and fell head over heels in love with this dress

isn’t that amazing? ugh, i needed it. i needed it bad. i had that photo saved on my computer since i saw the episode… but i haven’t had the right amount of fabric to make it until now. (everything i make is from recycled, salvaged or vintage fabrics and linens so yardage isn’t always what i hope for) last week my momma bought me a set of curtains and they became this beast:

i can hear the heavenly “aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” every time i look at it

i am NEVER taking this off! it was a pretty tough dress to make. figuring out how to put in the zipper without taking away from the bubble skirts volume was a little tricky, but i figured it out. i also was able to add in pockets! woop! woop!

to make this i used simplicity 3430 for the top and simplicity 7995 for the bottom, and drafted the bubble myself. i had to make mine a little less big and dramatic than the original, because i do not have killer long legs. i have litte short ones and am not nearly as tall. argggggh. however– i think my fabric is cooler! sorta. at least for fall it is!

just LOOK at that texture!

in all, i think this is the best thing i have ever made. i love it! im wearing it to a wedding tonight, so hopefully i will have good photos in it later on! more on my blog like always!
xoxo,
christine

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