Vintage Sewing

Valentines Dress

January 30, 2013

I have committed myself to sewing a dress every week for the entire year of 2013.  This is my first one (I just started my blog today).  It is an Anne Adams pattern from 1971.  

I also re-constructed an old turtle neck sweater into a cardigan.

I would have loved to have modeled this for you…but it’s too small.  The pattern said it was a size 12, but I think it’s more like an 8 or 10.  So if you are interested…there’s more info on my blog.

Happy Sewing!



  1. Hi there,

    What a great project, my goodness, you’ll have 52 dresses! Are you new to vintage and retro patterns?

    One of the key things to keep in mind from the start is that the sizing has changed overtime, for the most part, vintage patterns are, generally, two sizes smaller than our modern sizing system (but even that varies, over the years). I’m a NZ12, and I work with vintage size 14/16 patterns, and that’s using mostly 1950s/1960s patterns. What works for me is taking my measurements first and comparing them with my body measurements (which should be on the back of the pattern envelope or on the instruction sheet). Also, I take the pattern pieces out and hold them against my body (not quite so scientific, but I get the idea!).

    Do you check the fabric recommendations? I’m more careful now about which fabrics I chose, and have as it can make a big difference to the look or fit of a garment.

    But congratulations on your first dress for your sewing project, I’ll look out for your next creation 🙂

  2. Measure yourself and always buy patterns by measurement, not numerical size. Patterns are not as vanity-sized as ready-to-wear. A pattern size 12 from the late-1950’s on up is about an 8-10 in ready-wear; in the mid-1950’s it was a 14, and before the early 1950’s was a 16. I wear a 16 (with extra hip width added) in 1940’s patterns but a 12 now, and my one pair of jeans is a commercial size 8.

    If you’re interested, if it’s only one size off and the pattern doesn’t appear to be too complex, this would be a good chance to practice resizing patterns. Then you can buy just about any size you can find and still make it fit.

  3. I wear a 2/4 in modern ready-to-wear clothes. With patterns from the 1930s and 40s I wear a pattern size 16, and a 12/14 in patterns from the 50s and 60s. If I’m buying modern sewing patterns I usually wear a 10/12. I know you’ve had lots of sizing advice already, but I figured I’d toss in my two cents as well. Congrats on your first dress (and good luck with your goal)!

  4. Ditto about the sizing.

    Responding to your blog, I think you’re absolutely right that a pattern with interesting seaming and stitching details is best in a solid. Looking at the illustration, this style of dress is meant to be rendered in something fairly weighty and smooth. In the ’70s they probably expected you to use a fabric with a lot of polyester in it, but nowadays I’d choose a crisp bottom-weight fabric like a heavy cotton twill or pique, perhaps a corduroy or even a colored denim. Or a medium-weight wool would be gorgeous, and then the dress could do double duty as a jumper.

    All that said, I’m amazed at how quickly you knocked this out and you did a great job on the details. Also, I can see why you fell in love with this fabric! It probably would have been perfect for a ’50s shirtwaist dress or a ’30s apron, just to name a couple of possibilities.

  5. I agree on sizing with the other ladies above. ALWAYS go by measurements, not high street clothing size. Home sewing and off the peg ready to wear clothing are two very different worlds. Vintage patterns and modern ones are again very different.
    Your project sound exiting. Good luck!!
    The dress and cardi combo is great. Love the little button detail.

  6. Wow, what an ambitious project idea! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
    Everyone has given you superb sizing advice, I’ll just add flat pattern measuring can be another good way to see how much you may need to scale a pattern up. Some designs have more wearing ease than others.

  7. It is adorable! Thanks for addressing the issue of fabric choice. I just recently started garment sewing and this is one of the top issues for me. Looking forward to following your work this year!

  8. You might want to sew a practice dress from the old pattern…use an old sheet…read the inches on the hip measurements…it will not take long to “get it”. CAnnot wait to see what you will do next.

    Matilda’s girl

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