1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

My first vintage pattern…

December 1, 2013

Hello, it’s my first post here, and my first try of using vintage pattern too..

Where to start? I needed a dress for a rather formal event.. After a lot of pondering and wasting time researching on pinterest and such, I thought I rather fancied this vintage Vogue Couturier Belinda Bellville dress:


The problem was I couldn’t find it (by that I mean couldn’t buy it for a reasonable price, the cheapest I found was £50+, and it’s not what I’m prepared to pay for a pattern.. )

To recreate this vintage pattern, I found another pattern from the same era, very similar Simplicity 8498:


As you can see the front looks absolutely identical. The view 1 even has a self fabric belt  buttoned in back that is very similar to a band with a bow in Vogue Couturier 2112. And it’s  much cheaper!

I was very excited to try a vintage pattern for the first time… but I’m afraid it was the case that on PatternReview website described as “pattern ok, but didn’t work for me”.  Well, it was a nightmare!

Now, according to my bust measurements, I’m between size 14 and 16. I bought size 16 to be on safer side.. but when I made a muslin for the bodice, there was no room in it for my bust! I couldn’t believe how small it was! (I mean the bodice, not the bust..)

I’m very glad that I made a muslin! I spent 3 days fiddling with it, and in the end there was no line or curve of the pattern that had been left unchanged!

You can read the whole saga of my troubles on my blog, here I will show only the result  🙂


The back was a challenge.. Center back opening from Vogue 2112 just didn’t look good.. I ended up making a V-cut instead..


The fabric is lovely Duchess satin that I bought on Goldhawk road in London. When I was buying it I spotted discounted muslin, and I bought about 3 metres of muslin for making, well, muslin 🙂

It was the first time I made a proper muslin, and, as I said, it was the right decision. I couldn’t believe it, but it really speeds up the process! After all alterations were made on the muslin, it was so nice and easy to sew with actual intended fabric!

My thoughts on the pattern.

As I said, it didn’t work for me.. Maybe my shape is wrong for this particular pattern, or because it’s vintage. I don’t know.. Besides, I’m not sure about those french darts.  Next photo shows: the pointy problem with french darts; the second dart on the bodice that was not intended by the pattern; and that I could’ve done better ironing..


Thanks for looking at my first contribution to this wonderful community (not sure whether there will be more, as this painful experience kind of put me off vintage patterns..)

You can see more photos and info on my blog.

  1. I find that 60’s patterns (especially Mod style patterns) tend to have a *very* shallow bust (cup) area, even if the measurement is the same as your actual bust measurement. They must have thought everyone was shaped like Twiggy!

    The patterns themselves are quite beautiful, bit very architectural; I liken them to origami, as they seem rather ‘stiff’. The photo on the Vogue pattern shows how much body the fabric has and you can see how it’s holding itself away from the models frame… very different than the drapey-ness of your fabric. So it’s not You!! It’s the pattern style of the era and I hope you’ll give vintage patterns another go ’round, tho’ perhaps in another style that you like better.

    Good Job surmounting the pattern hurdles; you look Lovely and think about how much you learned! :^)

    1. Thank you for your encouragement! I actually bought this fabric as it was quite thick and more stiff than recommended by (Vogue) pattern silk satin.. But the original dress is supposed to be lined, and I didn’t line the dress.. Maybe that’s the reason..

      1. My guess is they meant silk duchess satin or peau de soie (like what high-end wedding gowns are made of) rather than silk charmeuse, which is the very fluid and drapey. The lining may also be part of it as there was a thing for lining dresses in the 60s (or interlining, actually) with this really awful papery stuff. It did make skirts *very* stiff. Bras were also of a different shape then and created a somewhat more pointy form for the bust.
        Vintage patterns do take a little getting used to but they can be really lovely to work with once you do. At least that’s how it was for me! lol Perhaps take a step back and try something either with simpler lines or that conforms more to the styles you already know flatter you.
        That back really is beautiful, though!

    2. I have this problem, too, even though I have a proportionally small upper body and am not buxom! I don’t even have broad shoulders. Patterns from this era always cut in around my shoulders and upper back and, yes, the busts are insanely shallow. Bottom line: I always do muslins now, even for really simple dresses. (And some patterns are flat-out badly or bizarrely drafted. I made a 1940’s dress pattern a couple of years ago and ended up taking 7 inches out of the bodice, for a result that still wasn’t anywhere near skin-fitted. That’s way beyond “design ease”; that’s craziness.)

  2. First of all: I hope you enjoyed wearing the dress despite the small issues you mentioned. After all that hard work, it’s really worth it.

    I’ve never sewn with a 1960’s pattern myself but it is surprising to me that any pattern wouldn’t fit the actual bust measurement it’s supposed to be for.
    And about those darts… I don’t know how much experience you’ve got sewing darts in general but all bust darts must be tapered very carefully and gradually and then be pressed with care. Your fabric, unfortunately, is not one which takes pressing very well so that is part of the problem. And then, every bust dart has to point to the apex of the bust. Yours end just a bit too high (if you tried on the muslin wearing a bra, it may not have been visible there but of course, with that open back, you can only wear this dress in one way…).
    Nevertheless, I don’t think anyone who doesn’t sew would notice it.

  3. I think for all your troubles, you’ve done a great job with such a tricky pattern! I personally dislike french darts and change them to regular darts when ever i can, but this pattern is unfortunately stuck with them, and yes, pointy dart syndrome. I agree with Lauriana, a good pressing would help on say cotton fabric, but one thing i often do with other sorts of fabric is instead of sewing the dart straight on, curve the edge of the dart around slightly – see Anna’s post here -http://afewthreadsloose.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/continuing-education-and-changing.html

    And can we just talk about how stupidly priced “designer” patterns are? They were never worth that much when first sold, and its only the pattern not the actual dress. And then there’s always the low price copies, as you’ve found anyway. so silly!

    1. Thanks for your advice on darts!
      And yes, “designer” patterns (especially vintage ones) are ridiculously expensive.. Even very simple ones.. I was told by somebody that designer patterns would have “special” couturier details that you don’t find in mainstream patterns.. I’m tempted to try a couturier pattern, just to see the difference..

  4. Wow, you did an incredible job, what a fabulous dress! I hope this doesn’t discourage you from working with vintage patterns – it looks to be a particularly difficult one to use, with the combination of front seams and darts! The finished dress really looks great and has a fantastic drape.

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