Tag Archive: Vintage Reproductions

Another Muslin for a Special Project

I was recently contacted by Organic Cotton Plus about reviewing some of their fabric.To be honest, I have had my eyes on this hemp/silk blend fabric for some time.  It’s pretty luscious, right?!  The color is a little more blue tone…

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Simplicity and a Vintage Set of Sleeves

Simplicity has done it again with their latest pattern collection.  It would seem that they really are listening to their customers.  And to prove it, we finally have a vintage multi-sleeve pattern!  How fabulous is this?!?  Definit…

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Simplicity has gone vintage reproduction crazy.

Well, I missed the last Simplicity catalog release in July during my blogging hiatus, and then they go and release another in August – and there are lots of vintage offerings in both.I will begin with my favorite.  I adore the style lines on this …

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A Matched Set

On this first day of Spring, the weather took a bit of a backward turn, and last week’s gorgeous sunshine was replaced with gray skies and rain.  Boo.

This skirt was what I pulled out of the closet this morning to brave the wet weather, along with a sweater, a pair of pumps, and some red lipstick.  It was a bit of armor, if you will, to face the week.  

The first outing for this skirt, however, was back in December.  It has taken me this long to get through the photos, and there are quite a few other finished garments that I would like to get around to posting at some point!

This daisy print was originally destined to be something else entirely, but I have managed to make a cropped jacket, a full skirt, and a pencil skirt from the yardage.  So, all in all, I am going to call this a success!

These three pieces have become staples in my wardrobe.  They are in heavy rotation from season to season, and I think they will continue to be for many years.

I love the opportunity to go all out with an outfit, including a hat and gloves, but I am also finding it very helpful having more and more separates in my closet.

Now I just need to make friends with solid colored fabrics so more of those separates will work with each other.

But I am not sure I will ever be able to resist a textured floral textile, and I am not sure I want to!

Jacket:  Made by me, Vogue 9082
Skirt:  Made by me, McCall 2698
Shoes:  Royal Vintage “Marilyn
Hat:  Made by me
Necklace:  Grandmother’s (borrowed from Mom)
Earrings & Brooch:  Grandmother’s
Gloves:  Vintage

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Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo leaves are not a traditional Christmas choice, but this dress turned out to be the perfect holiday frock.  I rather like the unexpected print in a traditional color scheme on this beautiful cotton sateen.

Since finishing the dress on December 12th, I have already worn it three times.  That is almost unheard of for me as I tend to go for a bit more variety in my outfit choices in any given month.  I guess you could say I am quite pleased with the way this project turned out!

The dress is also incredibly easy to wear!

I was not entirely sure that the bloused bodice was going to work for me, but with the help of a wide belt, I really like the look.

The bell shaped skirt is also becoming one of my favorite silhouettes. 

When I stitched up this petticoat a couple of years back, I had no idea how much wear I would get out of it.  It was made specifically for this dress, and at the time, really did not work with anything else in my closet.  Two years later, I have added two other dress designs to my wardrobe that work perfectly with this petticoat.   

And there is a good chance that there will be more 1960s style dresses in my future!  I think I  would even love a solid colored version of this design, provided I can find the right fabric.  What is it about solid colors that I find so off putting when it comes to textiles!?!

Dress & Belt:  Made by me, BurdaStyle 7179 & Vogue 8193
Petticoat:  Made by me, Vogue 4203
Shoes:  Royal Vintage “Marilyn
Necklace:  Mom’s
Ring: Grandfather’s class ring

[Disclosure:  The fabric for this project was received in exchange for two yards of fabric from Organic Cotton Plus, but the opinions written here are my own.]

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Red and Green, Cotton Sateen

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus with an offer to try two yards of one of their fabrics.  What I was expecting to find on their site was a lot of solid colored fabrics.

Well, it turns out, there are also a lot of really lovely prints to be found there.  After perusing the website, I had it narrowed down to four choices.  My final decision had a lot to do with the fact that this ginkgo print cotton sateen is 110” wide!  I figured I could squeeze a dress out of two yards of fabric with that much width to help me along.

Once I had chosen the fabric, I decided that I wanted to make a shirtwaist dress, so I pulled out BurdaStyle 7179.  I have been wanting to try this design for some time, and I thought it would work nicely in a cotton sateen, provided that I could fit all the pieces on two yards of fabric.

To give myself another challenge, I decided that I wanted to graft the sleeves of Vogue 8193 on the BurdaStyle bodice – sleeves that eat up a massive amount of fabric.

Since I was not exactly sure how the combo would turn out, a muslin was in order.

That went quite well, so I cut into my cotton sateen.  This fabric is really, really lovely.  The red dye did bleed quite a bit on the first wash, and the silvery white ginkgo leaves picked up a bit of a rose hue from the water, but I actually like the way it turned out.

I used leftover cotton scraps as a sew-in interfacing.

And I even used up a few fusible interfacing scraps while working on my bound buttonholes.

I really never get tired of making these!

I have tried making friends with machine made buttonholes, but so far, we just don’t trust one another.

So for now, I am going to stick with the old fashioned technique.  It has served me well, and I don’t plan on abandoning it anytime soon.

And, of course, I had to sneak a bit of rayon seam binding in there for good measure.

About half way through this dress, I had a terrible feeling that I made a mistake pairing the fabric to the silhouette.  I stepped away from the project for a while, and spent my creative hours working on my knitting.

At some point, I got sick of looking at the partially completed pieces on my sewing table, and finally finished the darn thing.

Turns out, I love it!

I am also beginning to like these covered button kits with the mold.  In the past, I have had some bad luck – particularly with the tiny sizes.  This time around, I added a drop of glue (gasp!) to the back piece before sticking the two pieces together which seems to have worked very well.  I think that these buttons have a slightly smoother edge than the version with the teeth that snap into place.

I am not a complete convert yet, but I will be giving these another try at some point.

And as luck would have it, the perfect buckle was stashed away, which was the perfect finishing touch for this dress!

[Disclosure:  The fabric for this project was sent to me by Organic Cotton Plus, but the opinions written here are my own.]

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Birds of a Feather

Sometimes a simple project is just what you need – and this dress definitely qualifies.

Of course it helps when you love the print you are working with (there are moments when simple becomes downright boring).  And I did want to match up the print as much as possible, so the cutting and sewing did require a bit of thought.

But this project was basically a breeze from start to finish.  The most irritating thing was gathering the skirt – not my favorite thing to do, but hardly something worth complaining about, right?!

Because I did not want those birds looking catawampus on the waist ties, I had to cut them on the crossgrain.  For this particular fabric, there was quite a bit of give on the crossgrain, which was going to be an issue.  Also, the pattern is drafted as a single layer, and the reverse of this print does not look great.  To solve both problems, I cut a duplicate layer of each tie on the grainline, and stitched the pair right sides together, trimmed, and pulled them right sides out before securing them in the side seams of the bodice.

This dress has turned out to be a real favorite.  The silhouette is so easy to wear, I think I may have to make myself another at some point.  I really love the striped version on the pattern envelope, so I will definitely keep my eyes open for a suitable striped fabric option.

Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 6318
Shoes:  Remix Vintage “Babydoll

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Falling Behind

This blog has definitely been neglected as of late.  I can’t say exactly why – I suppose it is mostly because I am just not as motivated to turn on the computer these days.  I have been fairly productive with my creative pursuits, though.  

Which means I have a huge backlog of photos to get through, and plenty more finished projects to photograph.

This quilting cotton was purchased at JoAnn Fabrics at the same time I picked up the poppy print for this skirt and this dress.  I love both of the designs, and this particular cotton fabric just gets better and better the more it is laundered.  I cut right into the poppy print, but the birds were tucked away, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.  

When I decided that I really wanted to find an appropriate pattern for this fabric, Butterick 6318 was not the first one that came to mind.  And technically, I did not have enough yardage – but I was not about to let that stop me.

And I am really glad I went for it, because I love this dress!  It has had a lot of wear this year.  It may be rather simple, but sometimes that is just what is needed.

This garment has been washed, pressed, and tucked away in the closet for now, at least until Spring arrives.  But I am so glad I finally gave these birdies a chance to sing!

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Simplicity Goes Vintage

After the release of the last Simplicity pattern catalog back in August, I had a feeling that there would be few, if any, vintage reproductions this time around.  Boy, was I wrong!

I am not sure what is going on over there, but someone is clearly a fan of vintage, which is making me very happy!  Now if only they would fix that darn website (if you were wondering, an Instagram post from Pattern Review is what alerted me to the new designs).

Choosing a favorite is difficult, but I think I am going to say Simplicity 8248.  I love that Simplicity is reaching further back in the archives and including some 1930s options.  There are so many wonderful choices from that era, and this is a wonderful example.

This 1960s reproduction brings up a few questions for me.  If you look at that original vintage envelope, you will notice that the design is labeled “Designer Fashion.”

So it would seem that Simplicity is not barred from reproducing designer patterns when McCalls continues to say that they are.  I have never really noticed the “Designer Fashion” pattern line from Simplicity.  It appears that most of them are from the 1960s and 70s, which may explain why I was unaware of the category since I tend to obsess more over the earlier fashion decades.  

After a bit of internet “research,” it turns out that I actually have one of these patterns in my stash and I did not realize it was a designer copy.  What I want to know is what is in the bonus “Designer Touch leaflet” included in the pattern that you can see mentioned in fine print.  How wonderful would it be if the reproductions include some of that information!?  Alas, my 1974 Designer Fashion pattern does not mention a leaflet, nor does it include one.  Do you think they included special sewing techniques, or perhaps styling tips?  

Adding to the mystery is that this design looks suspiciously like a 1969 Vogue Couturier pattern from Frederico Forquet.  Looks pretty similar, right?  The Simplicity Designer Fashions make no mention of the actual designer, although I think this particular one may very well be Forquet.  Perhaps the fact that no name is mentioned is what makes it possible to reproduce them?  But how about that photograph that they have included on the pattern envelope?  Enquiring minds want to know!  

I wish the Vintage Vogue line could find a work around for this issue, because there are certainly quite a few patterns I would love to get my hands on (Schiaparelli, Grès, Balmain, Patou, and Heim just to name a few)!

Moving on . . . this 1930s outfit will definitely be on my to-do list, provided I can find a suitable fabric choice.  Look at the buckle on that red and white dress, though!  And the hat with the red accent – well done, Simplicity.  I am going to give them a pass on the shoes because the rest of this is so very wonderful.

I do like the look of the illustrated version of Simplicity 8249, although the example was obviously made for a significantly shorter individual than the model.  Look at where the darts sit, and the hand on her waist looks over an inch lower than the waist seam – someone forgot that length can be just as important as width when it comes to fitting, which is a shame, because I think she is an excellent model choice for the vintage looks.  

On the plus side, I have been complaining about lack of details and the overall “simplicity” of the vintage reproduction designs, but this time around, I am very pleased with the options!  Those lovely tulip sleeves and those diagonal gathered sections are beautiful!  But again with the shoes . . . just Photoshop it in later if you have to.

The same sizing issue is happening with the skirt and bolero pattern.  The model’s version is much too small.  It looks like she might have fairly broad shoulders, so hopefully the pattern is not drafted in such a way that it does not match the original illustration which covers more of the bust area and fits more like a jacket.  Most of the Simplicity vintage reproductions I have worked with have been significantly shorter than an original vintage pattern would be – this does not seem to be the case here, so hopefully they are giving us a more true draft of the original.

At least they gave this poor girl one garment that fits properly.  This dress with collar and cuffs is adorable!  The dropped shoulder lines are not something that I have tried before; I wonder if this could easily look like a fitting mistake.  But this design may be inching its way to the top spot for me.  I am going to have to go digging in the stash for an appropriate length of wool.  And again, it looks like this dress hemline has not been shortened!

This 1950s design with the redingote is also one of my top choices.  Look beyond the polyester chiffon, and there are some great style lines happening.  Simplicity really is making an effort to make the samples look like the original illustrations.  Some are more successful than others, but I do like the way it pulls the cover art together.  I am curious about those contrast panels in the red illustration.  They are probably just applied lace which is then gathered, but I wonder if there are separate pattern pieces involved.

The Pre-Raphaelite obsessed high school girl in me would be all over the full length version of Simplicity 8256, but I am not sure this is my cup of tea these days.  It does remind me that I have a dress with hand made crocheted trim languishing in a bag somewhere that looks a bit similar to the short version.  I think I cut the lining out wrong and got frustrated and ditched the thing.  I wonder what I did with that project . . . because I haven’t come across it in YEARS!

This Cynthia Rowley design has a similar feel, although more simplified.  I think large part of why I am drawn to this is those fabulous shoes.

Sew Chic has another adorable design added to the Simplicity catalog with a definite vintage flair.  I love that asymmetrical button closure.

There is another 1960s simple Jiffy shift option (it seems like there is at least one in every catalog), which think I will pass on, but how about this jumpsuit for one of you out there blessed with long legs!  There is something about that blue illustrated version that I keep coming back to – it’s probably the fact that I always wanted to be six feet tall.  That ain’t gonna happen, so I think I need to keep away from this design. 

And now I feel like I have posted the entire catalog.  Well, not quite, but there is certainly an abundance of great designs being offered.  Thank you for that, Simplicity.  But I still think you should do something about that website.  Or maybe it’s not necessary because no one buys patterns directly from simplicity.com?  I know I will certainly be paying a visit to JoAnn Fabrics the next time there is a sale!
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Pink & Red Roses

I am horribly behind on posting new projects.  Although you would not know it by looking at this blog, I have been very productive in the sewing room for the last couple of months.

This dress was actually finished back in May, which is also when these photos were taken.  I guess you could say I am having a lot more fun sewing than going through photos.

This is my second version of Vogue 1043.  I love that dress!  So much so, in fact, that I decided to take another stab at the pattern.

Just for fun, I decided to use a drapey rayon from Gertie’s recent fabric collection.  I knew the skirt would look great, but I was not sure how the bodice would work without a fair amount of structure.  The neckline openings are faced . . . but would it be enough?

The answer is yes, and no.  The design definitely lends itself to a textile with more stability than a lightweight rayon.  However, I think this works.

I did have to add a snap to keep the surplice front from pulling open.  This is not an issue on the cotton version of the dress, so I am blaming this entirely on my fabric choice.

The pointed neckline also wants to flop forward.  I cannot help but think that a pair of collar stays might solve the problem.  But am I going to stitch in a channel for a stay?  Probably not.  This is not a tailored garment by any stretch of the imagination, and I am not that concerned with the problem.

And the dress is incredibly comfortable, so that is something!

I really do love the print.  I love it so much that I purchased the blue colorway and may have already made something with it.

And just like my other version of this particular Vintage Vogue pattern, this dress has already been worn a number of times.  So I am going to call this a success!
Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 1043
Jacket:  Made by me, “Spearmint” by Lolita Patterns
Shoes:  Remix “Babydoll

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"What you up to with Miss Ellen’s portieres?"

Scarlett: You’re gonna make me a new dress.  
Mammy: Not with Miss Ellen’s portieres. Not while I got breath in my body.
Scarlett [grabbing the curtains and tears them down]: Great balls of fire! They’re my portieres now. I’m going to Atlanta for that three hundred dollars and I’ve got to go looking like a queen. 
Mammy: Who’s goin’ to Atlanta wit’ you? 
Scarlett: I’m going alone. 
Mammy: That’s what you think. I’se goin’ to Atlanta with you. With you and that new dress. 
Scarlett: Mammy, darling….
Mammy: No use to try to sweet talk me, Miss Scarlett. I’se known you since I put the first pair of diapers on you. I said I’m goin’ to Atlanta with you and goin’ I is.
Last year I travelled to Pennsylvania with my Mom to help empty out and sell a family condo.  In the basement, there was a bedspread, four curtain panels, and a valence made from this fabric that once belonged to my Grandmother.  I am not sure if she made the set herself, or if her sister did.  The fabric was too heavy and bulky to fit in a suitcase, but I expressed interest in the textile and it was eventually mailed to California.

My initial idea was to make a tea length circle skirt, but this was before I had actually looked at the yardage that was available.  The valence was quite discolored and very narrow.  The four curtains were in pretty good condition, although three of them had a few stains and/or imperfections that needed to be avoided.  And the bedspread was very worn at the corners, although the ruffle was in usable condition.  That meant that a circle skirt was out of the question.  

I started pulling out patterns because I wanted to do something with this fabric that would keep it from heading back into storage for another decade or more.  About the same time, while rifling through my closet, I came across this dress.  I really love the design, and had wanted to make the full skirted version ever since the pattern was released.

The four skirt panels fit perfectly on the four curtain panels while also managing to avoid all the flawed bits of fabric!  That left me with a bodice and collar to fit on the bedspread, and I felt like that just might work.

Then I had to deconstruct everything.  To be honest, I was not looking forward to this step.  I really try to avoid a seam ripper whenever possible!  

Turns out, the fabric is in great shape, but the thread did not fare so well over the years.  A tiny snip at one end of a seamline and the thing tore right apart.  I would have been rather upset if I had intended to use the bedroom set for its original purpose, but in this instance, it was a fantastic time saver!

And now I have a new dress, made entirely from stashed items.  It may not be as fancy as Scarlett’s amazing creation made from some green velvet drapes, but I am very pleased with my results.

Now that is my idea of repurposing!!

Dress & Belt:  Made by me, Butterick 5747
Headband:  Made by me
Petticoat:  Made by me, Vogue 4203
Shoes:  Remix “Babydoll
Gloves:  Vintage
Necklace:  Made by me
Purse:  Harvey’s Seatbelt Bags

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A Pink Hat

This is what comes of leftover yardage.A matching suit set!I have been wearing this vintage outfit a lot lately, and wanted to add another cropped jacket to my wardrobe.  This is the result.I love this combination, and may have to make another at …

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Black & White

With the leftover fabric from this skirt I decided to make a matching top.  The idea of a suit set was very appealing – the only issue was which jacket pattern to use.I fell in love with the jacket included with Vogue 9082 as soon as I saw it.&nbs…

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Black & White

With the leftover fabric from this skirt I decided to make a matching top.  The idea of a suit set was very appealing – the only issue was which jacket pattern to use.I fell in love with the jacket included with Vogue 9082 as soon as I saw it.&nbs…

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My Kind of Separates

Last year, I found an amazing black and white floral brocade online at Elliott Berman.  I love textured fabrics, and this one was too hard to resist.The listing has disappeared, but I believe it is a cotton/poly blend.  Which reminds me …

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The Seventies

I cannot believe I am making (and loving) a design from the 1970s.

What can I say – I love this pattern. 

What I do not like is the required yardage.  This one is a real fabric hog.

Should I ever come across ten yards of suitable fabric, I will definitely make up the full length version.  Or maybe I should swap out another skirt.

I did shorten the skirt by a few inches, partly to save some fabric, and partly because as drafted it hits the leg in a bit of an awkward spot (it is considerably longer than the illustrations on the envelope would suggest).

I would love to see the original vintage pattern directions for the sleeve.  This reproduction uses the sleeve seam as an opening, which places the button and loop closure inside the wrist.  That is not the standard closure for any sleeve I have ever come across, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the reprint has been dumbed down and a dart or placket has been eliminated.

But other than that, I really do love the dress.  It is just that I have learned so much about garment construction from vintage directions, and I wish that information was included with these designs – when I suspect it is not, I get cranky.

What would make me feel a whole lot better is finding ten yards of fabric to make myself another version!

Dress:  Made by me, Simplicity 8013
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Holiday Patterns

It feels like I have not posted here in months, but I am slowly getting back in the swing of things.  I have not touched a sewing machine in almost three weeks (which feels bizarre), but there has been some knitting and hand sewing.  One of t…

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Multiples of Three

Last month I met up with Mari while she was in the Bay Area and she generously sent me home with this lovely cotton.  Thank you, Mari!  My first thought was that this was a batik wax resist print.  Upon closer inspection, I found a few l…

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Summertime Cotton

This summer I have rediscovered my love of cotton (I am beginning to feel like one of those silly “fabric of our lives” commercials).  Sure, I have been wearing some of my rayon dresses, but most days I am drawn to the cotton clothing in my closet…

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Fall McCalls

It feels like these pattern releases are coming more and more often, and fewer and fewer are knocking my socks off – which is probably a good thing.

McCalls 7259
I love that the vintage reproductions are branching out from the standard mid-century silhouettes – the cape on this coat is wonderful!  But in reality, the garment is probably not very practical for my life.  

McCalls 7259
This 1920s dress I made has been worn once.  One of the main reasons is that I feel like I am wearing a costume.  (And yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds considering the rest of my closet.)  

McCalls 7250
In theory, I love the idea of a wardrobe full of easy-to-wear flapper frocks, but these particular designs do not look to be very flattering for the wide of hip.  And this blouse is a real fabric hog, although I would not mind getting my hands on some of that cut velvet . . . yummy!  Perhaps I need to find a design with some asymmetrical detailing.

McCalls 7250
I really like something about McCall 7243 – if I ever get over my fear of sewing with knits, I may have to try this one.  It is difficult for me to resist a fabulous collar treatment.

McCalls 7243

And speaking of knits, I am also drawn to this Tracy Reese Plenty design.  But what on earth is the model trying to tell us? 
McCalls 7244
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From Gown to Day Dress

I love a great collar!So as soon as I saw Butterick 6022 I knew I had to make my own version.And when I saw this cotton batiste I knew what my next Britex guest blogger project would be!The fabric is quite sheer, so I underlined it with a cotton v…

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New Butterick Patterns

The Fall Butterick Pattern Catalog is here.Butterick 6266I have actually made a version of Butterick 6266 – mine just happens to be a New Style mail order pattern.   This must have been an extremely  popular design, becaus…

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They just don’t make them like they used to.

So now that I have professed my love for the most recent Vintage Vogue designs, I am curious as to how accurate they really are in contrast to the originals.

Eva Dress recently authored a post showing, in detail, alterations that were made to one of Vogue’s reproduction patterns, Vogue 2962.  This is a bit disconcerting as they supposedly use original pattern tissue to draft these re-issues.  I know the instructions are changed significantly, but moving zipper openings and changing style lines really do not fall into the category of re-sizing for a current fit standard.

A Vintage Vogue reproduction
with some fairly significant changes made to the original.
About one year ago, I requested that McCall Company do exactly what she has done – show us a point by point comparison of the original versus the reproduction.  What about a blog article with an explanation why they make the changes they do?  They were kind enough to respond, but the answers were not very helpful, in my opinion.  I was definitely looking for more clarity!
Here is part of my email along with their responses marked in purple:

To get to the really important stuff, I (and quite a few others from the conversations I have had) are very interested to know what kind of re-sizing goes on with the vintage reproductions.  I have worked with quite a few original vintage patterns, and the only real fit differences I have noticed is skirt lengths are generally longer, bust darts extend further toward the bust apex than is popular in a contemporary silhouette (most people no longer wear bullet bras, obviously!), and armholes are often smaller.  Would you give us examples of specific fit/design changes that are being made to these patterns? 

All sizing on our patterns is by the current standards. The standards have been in place since “modern” sewing. While we utilize the markings and specific pattern pieces for the Vintage designs, they are graded as we grade all our patterns.

[But what does that really mean?  How have those standards changed . . . ? ]

A Butterick pattern from the mid-1950s sizing chart is 34-28-37.  The current sizing chart is 34-26.5-36.  So, in fact, vintage sizing is more generous than the current standard which is probably unexpected for most people.  

As mentioned above, our industry standards have been in place for years and we gear our sizing around them. The caption of each pattern will indicate if it is close fitting, semi fitted, loose fitting, etc. The finished garment measurements are also on the patterns.

Everyone complains about the amount of ease built into the contemporary designs produced, but in my experience, the finished measurements of a Retro Butterick size 12/Bust 34 end up being quite similar to a vintage 1950s Butterick, size 16/Bust 34 – but that probably has something to do with the fact that I use an upper bust measurement in place of a full bust measurement.  If, in fact, you measure in at a 26.5” waist, the extra 2”+ ease given on the retro line seem rather excessive for a fitted waist.  What is the standard amount of ease drafted into a “fitted” design? 

It is up to the individual designer of each brand how much ease is in a pattern. There is no standard amount.

[What designer?  Do they mean the individual who re-drafts the design?]

I would love to have one of the current Vintage Vogue design offerings “deconstructed” for us, i.e. this was the original size, the finished tissue measurements were x,y,z and they ended up as a,b,c on the reproduction.  Vogue 8974, for instance, looks to be fitted through the bust and waist – but how do the finished measurements compare with the original? 

Again, we use the pattern pieces from the original Vogue Pattern, but grade in current sizes. It is really not practical and could be confusing to list what the pieces were vs what they are. However, that is a great idea for a Vogue Patterns Magazine article and I will pass that along to our editor.

[Clearly I do not mean they should list this on each individual pattern, but one or two specific examples might be nice.]

And how about the instructions? How significant are the changes made to the vintage pattern instructions. I can understand adding bias strip pattern pieces to a repro design where the original would have a few sentences about cutting your own, but how many other changes are being made, short of substituting words for clarity like slide fastener for zipper and press studs for snaps? 

Like the sizing, we reference the original instruction sheet if it is available but use our modern methods.

[I am still not sure why these changes are really necessary.  I have learned so much from vintage pattern sheets, I think it is a disservice to ignore some of the older techniques.  I am pleased to see that Vogue 9127 includes a side snap extension in addition to a size zipper.  Some of the Vintage Vogues from ten or so years ago had these details included, and I am please to see they are coming back.]

Are details being dumbed down for a contemporary audience that may not have grown up with a needle in hand?  Are gathers substituted for pleats, zippers for plackets? 

Each brand designer decides what details they would like on their designs. Designs are coded as Very Easy, Easy and up to Difficult depended upon the details. We try and provide a full range of designs and difficulty to appeal to many customers.

We have an extensive archives of catalogs beginning in 1863 for Butterick and later for McCalls and Vogue. For Butterick and McCalls, we research the catalogs and choose designs. For Vogue, we search our own stash and borrow from others actual patterns to work from.

[If they are working from actual patterns, why are significant alterations being made to style lines?  And why do they mention “designers” when they are dealing with a physical pattern and pattern instructions?]

Are there any trends as far as commercial success goes?  Which decades sell better than others?  

We know our consumers love the 50’s but we have a range of patterns from all the brands back to 1912 up to the 60’s.


Hopefully the recent success of this Archive Collection pattern makes it clear that many of us vintage aficionados are looking for more challenges and new decades of style to discover.

Clearly this design did not use the 16″ invisible zipper required by McCall 7154.  Are hook & eyes and snap plackets really so terrible they must be eliminated from the contemporary home sewing lexicon?

The McCall Company’s standard answer seems to be that they “resize to fit our current sizing”  – but that does not explain moving a zipper opening, raising the back of a garment, or straightening out a curved seamline.  Why would they make those alterations?

Now we have actual proof from Xandra that McCalls is doing more than re-sizing to fit the current size chart (whatever that pat answer means), and are making significant alterations to the original pattern tissue with their Vintage Vogue line.

I will continue to use these patterns, but I do find it strange that McCalls has clearly stated that Vintage Vogue (unlike The Archive Collection and Butterick Retro patterns) use original pattern tissue to recreate their patterns.  Then why all the changes?
So I am renewing my appeal for more transparency.  I hope that in the near future we actually get a point by point run down of one of these designs and all of the alterations, for better or worse.  If I had my druthers, it would also include a list of instructional changes that were made and why.  Inquiring minds want to know!  
Are you a purist when it comes to vintage patterns, or do you like using the reproductions?  For myself, I like both, but I know some people feel strongly one way or the other.  What are your feelings on the subject?
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Fall Patterns from Vogue

More new sewing patterns were released into the wild this afternoon.  And while not every option appeals to me, I have to say that The Fall Vogue Pattern Collection includes quite a few intriguing designs along with the standar…

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Mellow Yellow

This dress was a test . . . I had a design idea and thought Simplicity 1197 might be a good starting point to create it.In my mind, I decided I wanted to make my trial run in a mint green fabric.  I never found exactly what I was looking for, but …

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New Patterns from McCall & Simplicity

McCalls and Simplicity Patterns have released their latest collections, including a few designs that I may have to add to my collection.  Or perhaps I should get to work on the stacks of patterns I wanted to make last summer . . . but there are never enough hours in the day!

McCalls 7190
This late 1940s/early 1950s silhouette has always looked slightly awkward to me – too long for a peplum, but too short for a dress (although many current designers would probably disagree with me on that).  It is one of those transitional designs that feels slightly off.     

McCalls 7190
I feel the same way about 1830s and 1890s dresses – they are about to become something fabulous, but the proportions are a bit ungainly for the moment.  Simplicity has a pattern in a similar style which I own.  I pull it out every once in a while, but always end up putting it back. 

McCalls 7190
I also think that this style has a tendency to shorten the body.  This particular pattern does have some nice details, though – the top-stitching and neckline may be enough to tempt me to try it out.

McCalls 7190
When I see it styled with those pants (not included with the pattern – that was naughty, McCalls), I am reminded of I Love Lucy, so perhaps the look will grow on me.

McCalls 7184
The other Archive Collection pattern is this blouse and jumper outfit for children and adults which happens to look incredibly similar to Simplicity 1075.   
McCalls 7184
I love the blouse, but am not sure what to think of the jumper.  This looks to me like a teen pattern from the 1950s . . . except for the addition of the tiny version.  Maybe this was designed for sisters instead of mother and daughter?
McCalls 7187 is a contemporary design, but has a 1960s mod feel to it with definite possibilities.

McCalls 7187
And I do love something about this wrap dress – possibly because it reminds me of a simplified version of a Donna Karan design.  But that front slit could prove to be problematic.  The full-skirted version is pretty cute, too.

McCalls 7185
These Jiffy patterns must be popular for Simplicity, because they continue to be released . . . but you probably know where I am going with this . . . I want complicated, not simple two piece garments.

Laura Nash has a new line for Simplicity with a vintage feel.  I do like a dropped-waist, so this one may end up coming home with me.  I wish the same could be said about those red shoes!
So, nothing earth shattering, in my opinion, but a few nice additions to the catalogs.  What do you think?
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Les Chapeaux

Every once in a while I give myself a challenge:  complete a project using items currently stashed away in the sewing room, no exceptions.  Looking at the amount of sewing stuff in that room, it should be easy.  And yet, there always seems to be something missing . . . the proper zipper, the right sized buttons, interfacing, etc.  But this time I was determined to find a project that would work.

I go through phases with my hair.  For years, I would incorporate a ribbon into my up-dos.  Then I went through a flower phase.  And a few years ago, I wore small hats and fascinators all the time.  A hat is an excellent way to use up smaller scraps of fabric, which made it an excellent candidate for my challenge.  
My time would probably be better spend cleaning up in the sewing room – but a new project is so much more interesting!  And I have been meaning to try this pattern for years.

So out came some leftover blue velvet (previously used to make a belt and another hat), green rayon satin from this dress, and white satin remnants from this blouse.

I was unable to find a sufficient amount of black cotton to underline the velvet, which explains the odd choice of red.  Because remember, there are no new purchases allowed for this project!
A roll of buckram was found, and the bead box was pulled out and rummaged through to find suitable wire for the rim.
The most irritating part of the project was working with the wire – I really need more practice with how to handle it.
There is a whole lot of hand sewing involved, some of which was enjoyable, some not quite as pleasant.  (Stitching through multiple layers of buckram, cotton, and velvet . . . not so much . . . but the rayon satin is heaven.)
The most wonderful part of the process, of course, is the decoration.  Which means I accomplished my goal – a new hat from old supplies!  And a reminder to pull out my hat boxes more often! 
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Watercolor Impressions

Here is my latest Britex project!

My first idea for the beautiful floral fabric was nixed when I could not get my hands on a new Vogue pattern.  (My local JoAnn Fabrics has been especially bad about stocking patterns for the last year or so . . . ggrrrr.)  So I had to scramble a bit and come up with an alternative.

This Butterick vintage reproduction is one I have made up before.  I had enough cut yardage to work with, and the print worked with the style as well which made it an obvious choice. 

The fabric is quite sheer, almost gauze-like.  My first though was to make myself a slip as an extra layer.  
But I also wanted this to be an easy to wear summer dress, and some days I just do not want to wear another layer.  The obvious solution was to underline it with a lightweight cotton batiste.

I did make a couple of alterations from the first dress.

As with most patterns, I initially added ¾” to the torso length.  This turned out to be just a bit too much.  This time around, I only added ½” which might not seem like much of an alteration, but it really does make a difference.

This design has a side zipper.  The instructions only include a diagram of the zipper for the second view (a halter neck).  On the first dress, I went on my merry way, confident that I had constructed quite a few 1940s side zip dresses and stitched the upper inch of the left side seam closed before inserting my zipper.  Well, that dress requires a bit of squirming to get in and out of it.  This time around, I decided the sleeved version needed to open from the top edge to hip, just like the halter version.  And it worked like a charm!
I feel like a complete goof for not figuring that out the first time around . . . but now I know why I felt compelled to make myself another version . . . there was a lesson to be learned!

Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 5209
Earrings:  Gift
Shoes:  Banana Republic
[The fabric for this dress was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]

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Anyone need a napkin?

This blouse is my first foray into McCall’s Archive Collection.  And I know some people think that neck-tie designs have a tendency to look like you are wearing a napkin . . . but I love them!  I suppose slurping tomato soup might present some problems while wearing this particular blouse, but I can work around that.

The description of this pattern includes the phrase “loose-fitting.”  
It may have something to do with my fabric choice (not very drapey) or perhaps the underbust seamline, but I was unable to get the garment on my collapsible shoulder dress form (which is smaller than me).  This was rather distressing.  Thankfully, I can get it on my own body without any issue.  Strangely enough, the sleeves are a bit loose, which may be a first for me.  
But that is what a muslin is for!

I wonder how popular these Archive patterns are since there are no new designs included in the latest catalog release.  What do you think of the newest reproduction collection?

I think McCalls made a mistake not including the original illustrations.  Perhaps they are trying to appeal to a wider audience (although the model photos on the envelope are clearly styled with a retro flair), but the vintage drawing are so pretty . . . why not use them?
Has anyone come across the original 1933 pattern?  I have not been able to find the original online.

But in any event, I am very pleased with the way my wearable muslin turned out, and I definitely plan on making this again.  And in the interest of more readily available 1930s blouse designs, I hope the Archive Collection continues.

Blouse:  Made by me, McCalls 7053
Skirt:  Made by me, McCalls 2698
Shoes:  Oh Deer
Brooch:  Monet
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Something Simple

In desperate need of a quick and easy project after this dress and this outfit, I pulled out McCalls 7053.And I had the perfect fabric for a wearable muslin – just over two yards of a striped fabric I picked up during a fabric swap.No underlining, clos…

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