1940s | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

One Old Book and Two New Tops

July 8, 2014
The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Dressmaking


The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Dressmaking

The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Dressmaking dates from 1940, and contains pages and pages of information about pattern drawing and adjusting.  This was the first book I turned to when I decided to make myself two new tops for the summer. First I followed the instructions for drafting a bodice pattern, made up a toile in calico, and then had to make serious adjustments and start again.

Once I was happy with the fit I made a top in batik which I had been lucky enough to find in a charity shop.


Batik Summer Top

Here is my daughter modelling the batik top for me.  We are close enough in size for her to model clothes I have made for myself.  The top was very easy to make – essentially it is from a basic bodice pattern, neckline and armholes adjusted for a cool summery look, with darts tapering the cut slightly to the waist, and a box pleated frill added at the bottom.

Having made this top and being satisfied with the fit and style, I then made a second version in high quality cotton.


Oakshott Herringbone Cotton Summer Top

Here is the blue version in a herringbone cotton.  The cotton is a medium weight shirting with a beautiful soft feel.  This blue cotton has a much more vintage look to it than the batik, and it called for dark navy buttons and a decorative ribbon to trim to give it a detailed finished effect.

These tops are lovely and cool to wear, and quick and easy to make.  I hope they give plenty of inspiration for everyone who is busy revamping their summer wardrobe.  For lots more information and photos of the book and the two tops, just follow the three links to the three separate posts in my blog.




  1. Lovely shirts, even though the first one really looks more 70ies than 40ies, but for a testrun very wearable.
    Love the second version more, the contrasting seams add a great detail!
    And I think I own the same book, only a post-war edition, they swapped the lovely photo you show for some ladies in shorter 40ies dresses mending next to their sewing machines, a shame.

    1. Thank you Ette.
      The 70s were my student days, when I wore the 70s clothes combined with real 1940s stuff which cost next to nothing then. I had some lovely 1940s jackets, which cost about £4 each, and which I wore until they fell apart. Wish I still had them.

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