Finer details with 50s Butterick 5325

It hasn’t escaped my notice that many vintage sewing patterns from the late 1940s were full of small, finer details… lots of gathers, shirrs and darts in unusual places. I can’t help but wonder whether the technical elements of some of these patterns were more than a talking point by the wearer, but also a testament to their own skills at dressmaking (which most women in those days were acquainted). A simple style, whilst attractive might have seemed too plain and “easy”. I wonder if more detailed dresses were a symbol of status. Either you were talented or you had a talented dressmaker (and had the money to pay for one)?

Butterick 5325 from about 1950 is a lovely example of small, “finer” details, shirred accents at the shoulders and more shirring as a decorative feature at one hip.

Finer details

So very “Joan”… McCalls 6517 (1962)

This is a fabulous 1960s dress pattern… the style oozes the confidence and poise of Joan’s character in Mad Men. I have actually started cutting this one in a beige and cream houndstooth which actually transforms the look a little, but I love the way it is portrayed in this illustration in emerald green.

Its been a busy week in Babyville. I started back at the gym this week which is wonderful, I usually prefer to run at the gym because its easier to push myself when I know how far I have already run and for exactly how long… you can always say to yourself, “just one more 30 second sprint”… you can slow it down, and then hit another interval… Anyway, I have missed having my own headspace and really swimming or the gym has always done that for me… you are on your own time, doing something good for yourself. Its good to have the freedom to exercise again. I have found in the last six months that people’s understanding of what your body goes through, with a c-section, is pretty limited. It takes time to heal, whilst pretty common it is a major surgery. In theory, you’re not supposed to be running or doing anything high impact before then… Being patient has been hard and I have had to put the baby before my vanity. I wouldn’t blink at that small, temporary sacrifice.

I am finding when my hour at the gym is done, I am all the more happy to see Little Prince. He enjoys his grandmother’s company while I am gone. It always looks like he has grown whilst we are parted. I think I would go so far as to say, it makes the experience of motherhood so much “sharper” and beautiful when we are reunited.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow” That was Shakespeare. I guess it begins with these brief hours.

Friday Night Lights with Vogue Couturier 186

Vogue Couturier 186, a slim coat with a notched collar

When I first stumbled upon Vogue Couturier 186, a slim coat with a notched collar (requiring hair canvas and muslin, for anyone who likes tailoring), I wasn’t totally sure I liked it. But it is a good simple coat pattern, I thought, especially given I am only beginning my adventures in the world of tailoring. I love the way I discovered it in Vogue Pattern Book (August-September 1959) as part of a feature on football weekend fashions… but I always prefer to see a made up version of a garment before reaching a decision about whether I like it or not. The chosen fabric gives it a somewhat Burberry flavour that appeals. An easy one to see the Betty Drapers of the world sporting, (excuse the pun)! And a definite show stopper in red tartan…

An appropriate pattern given that the State of Origin (rugby league) was on television last night. I didn’t watch it (uh… hello) but my hubby went and joined the boys for hotdogs and beer. Light beer, he tells me (wink).


Swinging with Vintage Vogue v8728

Todays pattern was featured on the cover of a treasured Vogue Pattern Book,  April-May 1946. The pattern was reproduced by VOGUE as V8728 (currently available). I must admit, I was initially wary of reproduction patterns… how could they be as good as the real deal? But at the end of the day, if it means you get to access a dress pattern otherwise lost, who cares? This dress style is particularly pretty and I think translates very well for modern use. The polka dots never went out of style, in my book!

A night in Hollywood…

Today’s dress pattern is a 1940’s (?) dress pattern by Hollywood, 1247- a nightgown with a two piece bias skirt and gathered top which I think could also be used to make quite a siren-sultry evening dress. Perfect to wear with little more than a favourite scent, (Fracas? Chanel No 5)?

A night in Hollywood… I like the version on the far left, the best…

A Summer dress for all seasons…! And admiring Vogue 391

Well, it makes perfect sense to me to make a Summer dress in the Autumn! Clearly part of my brain is on North American time and in denial about the bitterly cold Canberra weather which is well and truly yet to come. But I have been surprised at how quickly this dress has been coming together. The sewing hasn’t been too difficult but with a few new things to learn or practice to make it interesting, primarily: 1)more corner seams, 2) set in sleeves, 3) ease at the elbow of the sleeves, 4) gathers at bust. I love it so much so far, I am thinking I want to make it again immediately!

My first attempt at adding “ease” to anything! Here is the ease added to the elbow at the sleeve. I found this exercise quite difficult actually and used the pin method adopted in Marian Corey’s 50s Dressmaking book… how does anyone achieve this without tiny ruches or heaven forbid pleats?!?! Pray, tell, please!

I have opted for the longer sleeves because the fabric is so deliciously light and airy and I like the idea of protecting my arms from the scathing Aussie sun and the millions of freckles that want to appear each year (and do).

The gathers at the bust drew me to this pattern… I think gathers as a feauture on a bodice are so pretty, feminine and olde worlde!

As with my other recent sewing endeavours, this has primarily been a late-at-night-when-baby-and-husband-sleep project. It gives me a wonderful break from the joys of Babyville and I actually find sitting at the machine quite meditative. Its funny how the past comes back to me while I sew, I remember old conversations, people from the past, adventures and places and tidbits… it is a little bit like dreaming.

Todays pattern is fifties… Vogue 391… forever fifties! I don’t have it but gleened the designed in the February March 1950 edition of Vogue Pattern Book.

Mega romantic… mega drama!

February March 1950


Creative spaces and musings on vintage “Fall fashion”

I was feeling rather inspired by DressesandMe’s recent post about sewing spaces and decided to tidy up my sewing area. (Though I have nothing so cute as her turtle tape measure)! Its really a creative space because I keep my knitting needles and other craft stuff there. On the weekend hubby hung a print by Manet over the stairwell which made me feel the area is less a nook and more a proper room. I picked the print up for $10 at a thrift shop and it was love at first sight. A little bit of Olde Worlde Paris to look at whilst I sew at night (and someone to “keep me company”)!

My dear friend. Elna. Yes, the limited space does require shuffling a few things when I sew.

I love putting things in pretty boxes… I have lots of boxes like this!

Today’s pattern of the day is 1950s VOGUE SPECIAL DESIGN 4693. I really love the wrapped front on this double breasted dress…. the buttons would certainly give the new buttonhole maker a workout!

Wonderful in wool for Autumn weather

I also had some pattern books arrive today (yay). This image is from Fall Winter 1958, Butterick Pattern Book… love the look and the colours!

Features Butterick pattern 8735… love the colour!


Mothers day with Christian Dior

Silk thread arranged in a chocolate box… aren’t the greenish blue colours just the prettiest? Very little fabric in my stash to match unfortunately…

This weekend was a lazy weekend… if you don’t count a few chores like laundry! But I awoke on my first Mother’s day to be greeted by smiles and hugs, a cute gurgle from Little Prince and a hot cup of coffee. Really can’t complain about that.

I spent a bit of time organising some of my notions, including my chocolate box full of silk thread… what is it about colours that are just so delicious to look at? The chocolate box is appropriate! I find an array of colour inspiring, sort of like a slab of blank paper makes me want to draw or write, pretty thread or fabric makes me want to sew, sew, sew!

I love creating in its many forms.

Today’s  pattern is Vogue Paris Original 1185, a 1950s Dior. The model in the illustration reminds me of the character played by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Funny Face.

A ray of light with Dior

Oh, Federico! High Glamour…

Okay, my window to blog today is limited. Little Prince is in his circular play station. There is no SWAT team to save him from boredom… just SWAT MAMA! (AKA me).

I started doing the seams on my plaid dress the night before last… I am talking 11.30pm-2am (again, think shrinking windows of time)! I must say I love the look of seam binding and found a great tutorial at the Colette Patterns website, using some vintage seam binding I ordered from the US. I did a bit of the contrast thing which looks so cute in my opinion, though my skills at applying it leave much to be desired! I seemed to get neater as I went along (excuse the pun). I am thinking that seam binding should be used as the garment is assembled, not when its close to completion… this means that I have to do a bit of hand sewing to make the “ends” of each seam neat, particularly where they meet. Necessary for the plaid dress because the woven fabric is very prone to unravelling (a new discovery also)!

Call me crazy, but last night I also started cutting Vogue 7993… yes several dresses going at once… but its the only way its going to happen. When I pressed the pattern, prior to cutting, I found a scrap of fabric from the previous dressmakers project. I thought it was interesting we had chosen such similar fabrics. Mine is 60s-70s voile which feels like air beneath the shears… heavenly to work with!

A shred in time… the smaller scrap was found in the dress pattern, the larger scrap is from the fabric I am working with.

Today’s pattern is Vogue Couturier Design 1552… high glamour. I love the ruffle on the cape which gives this simple outfit a touch of sophistication. Yum.

Oh, Federico!

Vogue 7993… gather round for a cuppa…

Of late I have been discovering the joys of making baby food. Or should I say, the perils? Its not too hard, but one does have to think about a baby “menu” plan. I imagine it would be boring eating the same old thing every other meal!

I have put together a collection on my catalogue of patterns on BENTO (like a playlist). “Immediate future” includes Vogue 7993… I really want to make this one for next Spring (September in Australia). The gathers look so pretty on the bodice, a very flattering style. It would be wonderful to have a few hours and have a mega cutting session where I can cut three or four patterns at the same time. The time consuming part afterwards would be transferring all the markings, but it might be the only way to make a few dresses incrementally without taking years, with a little one in tow.

Well, Little Prince beckons. Where is my cup of tea?!?!?

Vogue 7993, love the gathers at the bust. The illustration on the bottom left is the feature in Vogue Pattern Book, February- March 1955… love my pattern books! Really give the designs context.