Thursday, June 30, 2011

the dress i made... part 2

So, continuing from my previous post, after an entire weekend of sewing, I finally finished the dress!

1940s 2-Piece Dress
I absolutely adore this dress! Unfortunately it's a little big for me, but oh well :)  I did learn a few more things from the experience.

When using a vintage pattern ALWAYS CHECK THE PIECES BEFORE YOU START.  I thought this pattern had all of the pieces when I purchased all of my fabric.  It states that there are 13 pattern pieces, and there WERE 13 pattern pieces, but one of them turned out to not belong to this pattern.  I was missing the puffed sleeve.  Luckily I had another Advance Pattern in my collection from the same era which did have a puffed sleeve, and seems to have been apparently identical (phew).

I also was amazed by how well taken care of this pattern was and how great of condition it was in (till my dog tore a couple of pattern corners off by running across my floor  *sigh*).  It makes me think of how people really took care of things back then.

This was a super fun project, I can't wait for the next!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the dress i made... part 1

In my previous introductory post, I mentioned that I had finally made a dress from a vintage 1940s pattern that I have had in my collection for years.  Here is a photograph of the pattern which I made and the finished piece followed by a discussion of the difficulties of the process.

Photo of the pattern and the material used
I absolutely loved this pattern and chose a beautiful green, blue and yellow striped seersucker fabric for the dress. The pattern was pretty vague on fabric choices, listing only pique, gingham, striped linen or cotton and printed cotton, silk or rayon as the suggested materials.

There is a list of "suggested notions" which include "buttons for bodice, 2 spools of thread, and a slide fastener or zipper."  I looked at the picture on the package.  Um, I can't quite figure out how buttons are only suggested on the garment, as they appeared to be a REQUIREMENT (excepting those who required easy access).

Additionally, the pattern has NO DESCRIPTION on the back, like I'm so used to seeing on modern patterns.  I actually purchased all my fabric and notions wondering why the pattern didn't tell how much yardage to get for the contrast fabric at the waist.  As it was to turn out when I read the instruction sheet, I was wrong for not assuming they didn't sell "belly dresses" in the 1940s.

I laid out all of my fabric in order to lay out the unprinted pattern pieces and hit obstacle Number 1:

Ahhh Precious Twister... either I let him in or he'll bang & scratch on the door till I go insane
I got all the pieces laid out with no problem (excepting the above), and surprisingly found that I actually like these unprinted pieces better than the modern printed ones.

Pattern pieces with instructions
They actually have holes where all markings need to be transferred to the fabric!  You just grab your fabric pen and put it in the middle of the hole to the fabric.  I swear, when I use a modern pattern and try to transfer the markings they go all over the place as I stick pens through life the piece up and down, and etc.  This was the best invention ever!  Why the heck aren't they like this anymore?

The instructions on the other hand... omg.  I actually came up with the perfect comparison.  Remember the woman who sued McDonald's for spilling coffee on herself, won, and now they have to mark that "coffee is hot" on all their cups, and we were all like "DUH! Who doesn't know that?"  Okay, this was like that, but in reverse.  Because I imagine that everyone in the 40s would read these and go, "Okay, got it.  No problem."  I, on the other hand, looked at a lot of the steps and thought a big question mark over the head, "HUH?"  Now I know why modern patterns have 4 pages of instructions versus 3/4 of a page like this.  For instance:

Step 2: ...make bound buttonholes...
Step 8: fold over about 4 inches of fabric then... finish bound buttonholes.

Lesson:  They didn't have a "one-step buttonhole" on their machines back then.  Ugh.  And buttonholes on seersucker? Kinda tough to rip out. :)

Part 2 with the final dress tomorrow!


I absolutely love to sew and have a passion for collecting vintage patterns and other sewing memorabilia.  At the moment I have probably thousands of vintage patterns which I have collected over the past 10+ years, my favorites among them being from the 40s and 50s, and my prized possessions being the earliest ones, from the 20s.

In addition to this, I have old pattern catalogs, sewing dolls, books, and etc.  I can sit and just look through boxes of patterns for hours, like a little boy with his baseball cards.  

Though I have a day job, I have spent a bulk of my spare time in the past 10+ years designing and doing costumes/wardrobe for local film and local theatre.  I have loved every second of it, yet I always have spent so much time making things for other people and have always wanted to start sewing more for me.  For years now I have been saying that I was going to start making things from those patterns, and this week, I finally did.  I have never enjoyed making something so much in my life and I have decided not to stop.

I am starting this blog as I continue to design and sew again to talk about vintage patterns & vintage fashion, fashion and pattern design, general sewing and anything else that might peak my interest!  I look forward to this journey.

I live in Cincinnati with my wonderful husband, two step-minions, one very large dog, one very small dog, 7 chickens, three fish tanks, and a very mean cat.

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