1950s | Vintage Sewing

Don’t Let the Pattern Matching Get You Down…

By on May 22, 2017

I can’t say for certain that we have all been there, but I know I’m not the only seamstress to have had a definite plan and then once you actually take a hard look at the fabric you have to work with in more detail, you realize the plan is just not going to happen! Such was the case with this dress, as I had planned originally to cut everything with the print mirrored along the center front, but as soon as I laid the fabric out properly I understood that certainly was not going to work out.

The fabric I used to make this dress had some pretty serious downsides going for it. Firstly it was left over yardage from another project that had been languishing in my stash for years, so the piece I had left was an odd shape to start with. The other issue was more of a problem; though the print was hypothetically perfectly mirrored…it was actually off-set by about half a centimeter. I assume this fabric, being flocked (mimicking cut velvet) , was made by printing down a layer of glue in the areas where the black fibers would be, and then applying the flocking powder and then repeating this process along the center of the yardage, and when they did this it was obviously not perfectly lined up. So my original plan to cut this dress with the mirrored center of the print going down the center front of the dress had to be scrapped, for if I cut it like that it would appear as if I had done a very poor job of it since the fabric itself was off kilter.

It is in moments like these, when you have your pattern pieces strewn around you on the floor trying to figure out how to place and fit them on your fabric, that it is very easy to get too frustrated and give up before you have even truly started. I was tempted to scrap the idea of this project entirely, but instead took a deep breath and the time to look at other options. I decided, after much deliberation, to use the white space between the printed motifs to my advantage and cut the center front bodice pieces with their center in the white areas so when they were sewn together there wouldn’t be a jarring break in the pattern along the seam. Next I had to determine what to do with the skirt, and though I knew no matter what I couldn’t get the print to match along the side seams, to try and find an angle where the print would at least sort of flow. I ended up cutting the skirt pieces diagonally, but not perfectly on bias. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work!

Though this dress was a challenge to cut out, and looks different that I had originally planned, I am happy I persevered and still made it despite the puzzle like conundrum at the start.  Lessons learned, don’t get too attached to your original idea lest it not work out, and two- take your time and consider all the possible solutions when pattern matching. Such lessons came in handy recently when making another dress and matching stripes! If only fabric was always printed perfectly on grain and perfectly matched up, but such is not the world we live in.

I wore the finished dress on a recent trip to Paris and if you would like to see more photos, you can check out a full outfit post over on The Closet Historian.

Thanks for reading, and don’t let the pattern matching get you down! 🙂

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1950s | Coats | Modern Patterns

Faux Fur Trimmed Coat – McCalls 6800

By on March 1, 2017

It’s been so cold here lately, I really wanted a warm, everyday coat with enough room to fit a circle skirt and petticoat underneath. McCalls 6800 was the perfect choice, with its princess seams, full skirt and a hood! The main thing I wanted to add to my version was the faux fur trim. It makes the coat so cosy.

I love full skirts and a coat is no exception. To make the skirt section on this even fuller, I added a couple of inches width to the bottom of each panel. Combined with the faux fur trim around the hem, the skirt section is very full and very swishy.


 The fabric I used was so thick I don’t think my machine could’ve managed a sewn buttonhole. Instead, I opted for 4 bound buttonholes. They’re a pain to make but always look so lovely.

The lining is a bright cerise crepe backed satin. I love how the pink pops against the pale faux fur and dark navy, plus it makes the coat so easy to slide on and off.

I have more details on the making of this on my blog.

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1960s

McCalls 6569: Gold Satin Evening Dress

By on February 11, 2017

This year I made a decision, a decision not be to scared by fabric. For a couple of years now I’ve had some gold satin I brought back from Vegas in my stash and I’ve been so scared to use it having never worked with anything like that. This year it’s my tenth (?!) wedding anniversary and I thought it would make the loveliest dress for our celebratory meal out.

I picked McCalls 6569 for the pattern; a gorgeous sixties evening dress.

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The first thing I did was post in the We Sew Retro Sew & Tell facebook group to ask for tips, it’s one thing I LOVE about the sewing community, you have a wealth of experience and advice online in a group like that and people are only willing to help and wish you luck. So armed with my new found advice I bit the bullet and cracked on. As you may have noticed if you read my blog, I don’t often make muslins of my clothes but as I was working with an unforgiving fabric I thought I probably should get it right the first time, as a seam ripper might not be the best friend it previously had been to me. I measured up, perfect in the bust but 2 inches bigger on the waist and 4 on the hips (not live I’ve had a baby in the last year or anything….). It was going to need a little adjustment.

To read more about the adjustment process and how I sewed my muslin up pop over to my blog.
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So on to the dress….

I spent a whole night cutting out and marking up the pattern pieces (including the adjusted pieces – see my other blog). My, my, what a pain in the arse. It turns out satin is the most slippery material known to man (slight exaggeration, but it did feel like that at the time).

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The following day I sewed the bodice together which went very well but then it was time for the lining. I should say at this point I have never lined anything in my life but as I was sewing with satin I thought it would probably be a good idea just to bit the bullet and do it.

I then spent a long night sewing the lining to the skirt pieces following this, and here was where I made one of my major mistakes. I have no idea how I marked the fabric up wrong but somehow I managed to.

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When it came to the later stage of sewing it together it meant that I had a row of stitching down the back of the skirt next to the centre seam which I then had to unpick.

With a day to go to my anniversary (and after a lengthy trip to the dentist for two fillings) I spent a full day sewing the skirt pieces together. I attached the skirt to the bodice with relative ease and inserted the zip. Mistake number two: I was silly enough to not check that the fabric was taught when I basted the zip in, meaning that when I went to sew it I, again, had a big chuck of stitches to unpick which left a rather messy side zip insertion.

Thankfully it’s a side zip so really no one’s going to see it unless the come up really close to have a look . I finished sewing the lining pieces together at the waist and was quite impressed with how it looked inside out.

At this point I thought I should just leave the hemming to my anniversary and cut my losses before I cried.

So the day of my 10th wedding anniversary (last Friday) I sewed right up to the last minute but I did finally finish my dress with a couple of hours to spare, and I did get all dressed up and we did go out for the first time on our own in seven months. And here I am in my dress!

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Overall I am extremely happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

To see more photos of my mistakes and successes and to read more about it, please have a look at my blog 🙂

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1960s | Coats | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Les Fleurs Swing Dress (Simplicity 6820, 1966)

By on January 31, 2017

I posted my leopard print version of this pattern last week and today I’m back with a dark floral variation–specifically the gorgeous Les Fleurs in navy from Cotton and Steel’s collab with Rifle Paper Company. I lovvvve this fabric, and I wanted to use it with few seam lines, so Simplicity 6820 seemed perfect. I’m wearing it with my pink bow coat made last year from Simplicity reprint 1197–a perfect match!

See more on my blog here!

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1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Leopard Swing Dress (Simplicity 6820, 1966)

By on January 24, 2017

A few months ago I decided I really wanted an easy, floaty dress that would be less structured than the shift or full-skirted dresses that I normally like, and picked up Simplicity 6820 on etsy. It’s a “Jiffy” tent or trapeze dress from 1966 and it is basically a raglan sleeve mumu! It’s the perfect easy pattern for a bold print since it has few seam lines. This is the first of three versions I’ve made since purchasing the pattern, so I think it was a good buy!

Read more on my blog (and see another leopard print garment too!) here.

xo allie

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1930s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1930s Dress Made Using Original Vintage Fabric

By on

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.

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