1970s | Blouses | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Autumnal Green (Simplicity 5204, Simplicity 7880 and Simplicity 8611)

By on September 24, 2018


My most recent outfit is all homemade out of 1970s sewing patterns: the skirt (Simplicity 7880) and blouse (Simplicity 8611) both in a size 8, and the vest (Simplicity 5204) in a teen-sized 11/12.  If you want to see more photos and read more details about my sewing process and thrifted accessories, please visit the blog that I share with my sewing husband: Mr and Mrs Rat.

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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Feather-Print Sheet Dress (Butterick 5708)

By on November 20, 2013

Hi fellow retro sewists! Melissa here. This is dress that I made over a year ago and photographed this past summer. I’m finally posting it even though it’s totally inappropriate for Fall/Winter (except maybe for you Aussies and Kiwis!). Here’s my version of Butterick B5708.

I decided to change the pattern a bit and use the circle skirt from Butterick 5748 instead of the original gathered skirt. The fabric I used is from a vintage sheet I found at a thrift store and since it’s white, I lined the dress, including the skirt. The top is meant to be convertible and the pattern envelope shows several ways to wear the ties. To me though, they’ve been difficult to tie and a little uncomfortable and I wish I had modified the top so that they sit higher on my shoulders!

Thanks for checking out my dress! Have any of you made Butterick B5708?

For more pictures and info, here’s my post on my blog, Mint Green Sewing Machine.


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1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Dress I have messed up)))

By on June 18, 2013

Hey ya’ll))))

Here’s my sad-funny story about a dress. This one was made this February. Some years ago Mom gave me a huge ammount of old fabric. My guess is it was made in USSR, because it smells mad feels exactly like red pioneer scarf I used to wear at school (yep, I’m old enough to have been a part of Soviet pioneer organization – something like boy/girl -scouts. I guess I got in last couple of bunches of pioneers because 2 years after that organization stopped existing). Anyways, she gave it to me ’cause she didn’t know where to use it and it only looked good enough for curtains or something on that kind.

When I fell in love with vintage I immediately saw this fabric turning into a dress in my mind. So, again, I have dratfted the pattern based on a Soviet sewing book published in mid 5o’s.

The funny/sad part happened at the photoshoot. I have spilled wine on my dress and when I washed it all the colours got messed up. I surely loved the dress, but didn’t get too upset. I thought I would make a couple of new ones instead))).


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1950s | Skirts

Decades of Style 1950’s Multi-Grain Skirt

By on February 14, 2013

I started sewing this skirt several years ago after purchasing the pattern from the Decades of Style web site. They have reproduction vintage/retro patterns, although they don’t seem to have this pattern for sale any longer. I bought some gorgeous black and white charmeuse striped fabric and thought it would be a terrific statement look with this pattern.

Unfortunately, I ran into difficulty with the zipper instructions in the pattern but was able to solve that issue, sewing the zipper the way I know how.  I am definitely not satisfied with the zipper though and that will have to be fixed. When I was sewing the skirt a few years ago, I thought my most challenging issue was matching the stripes on the back seam with my slippery charmeuse fabric, especially since the back seam lies on the bias. I experimented with a walking foot for my old Bernina to help keep the fabric from slipping and I managed to get the chevron effect I was looking for, even though the stripes didn’t match perfectly.


Then, my lack of sewing skills ground me to a halt and my wife, not being much better, couldn’t help me out.  I followed directions for the front and back pleats (at least I think I did 🙂 ) but ran into lots of issues. I couldn’t figure out how to transfer all of the pattern markings for the pleats to the fabric properly. I tried tailor tacking but the thread came out in several places when I removed the pattern. Then I tried marking with chalk and ended up with the markings on the wrong side of the fabric but the pleats and creases were on the right side of the fabric so I had trouble using the chalk markings as a guide for the pleats. I finally used pins in a few cases to help and finally creased and pressed the pleats and basted them. After sewing the waistband, and was ready to join the skirt to the waistband, I was dismayed to find that the notches and circles between the waistband and the skirt didn’t line up – quite a ways off! I figured that I had messed up the pleating so I re-pleated front and back pleats and still things didn’t line up. I even went back to the pattern and tried to measure distances between notches and circles to see if the pattern itself was mis-marked and I finally just gave up and set the project aside (for over 3 years!).

About 3 weeks ago my wife said she wanted to do some sewing (another American Girl doll dress for our grand-daughter) and it’s so much fun to sew at the same time, especially since we have multiple sewing machines and a large sewing room. So I was looking through my stash of fabrics and my vintage/retro patterns, trying to decide on a project and decided to finish this 50’s striped skirt one way or another. At first, I tried re-pleating again but soon gave up and decided that instead of pleating, I would simply gather the skirt. It wouldn’t have the same wow factor with the narrow, front vertical stripes in the front pleated section and it would have more bulk at the waist if it was gathered, but it would have to do. I ditched the pattern waistband and substituted one of my own, gathered in place of pleating in places on the skirt and finished the hem on the serger with a narrow rolled hem, although I did get a bit of a lettuce effect on the hem in places because of the fabric content and how it draped.


It looks ok, but some day I am going to be at a fabric store and there will be this gorgeous striped fabric and I know I won’t be able to resist trying to sew this skirt the way it was intended with the fullness pleated in at the waist instead of gathered!

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Christmas Is Coming!

By on December 18, 2011

I didn’t wait until the very last minute, I promise. I actually finished these a few weeks ago but am a very lax blogger! My girls and I of course needed new holiday dresses – they have grown, and I have acquired a crinoline petticoat. 😉 I had gobs and gobs of Sheri Berry 12 Joys of Christmas fabric that I acquired on the cheap after last Christmas. Retro holiday themed prints = my ONE weakness.

First up was mine:

I really used the pattern more as a suggestion than as a hard and fast rule. (That is a trend with me, as you’ll soon learn.) For one, the kimono sleeves don’t work with my GIANTNOVELTYPRINT, and for two, the full pleated skirt uses a ton of fabric and is really best suited to home dec width material. I drafted in set-in sleeves, switched the skirt for a simple dirndl-style, and voila.

I am very pleased with it, as you can see. 😉

Next up were my daughters’ dresses.




This time I got the brilliant idea that I should just re-invent the wheel and make them as a  blouse/skirt combo instead of a one-piece dress. This way I can just switch out the skirts for different seasons (I may or may not already have some Kaufman Appleville for spring) and save myself a bit of trouble. I’m not sure if this really saved me any effort, since I had to re-draft a lot of the pieces! The blouses are Kaufman Pimatex, and the skirt waistbands are black cotton velveteen since a girl’s holiday dress without velveteen is a travesty. I also made my younger daughter’s blouse with an attached petticoat since she doesn’t have a poofy slip (older daughter has a nice vintage one which I fortunately found at the Goodwill and saved myself some trouble). Rambling aside, here are my cuties:

Now we are all ready for the holidays!

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