Vintage Simplicity 4525

Inspired by the Vintage Pledge of 2015, I thought I would continue into this year by making up some more of my patterns. It has been stinking hot here recently and I desperately needed to make a new sundress as last year’s ones either don’t fit any more or I’m no longer in longer in love with them or quite the opposite and I’ve worn them to death!

Time for a new dress (it’s always time for a new dress though right?)!!

Searching through my patterns I found this little treasure I’ve been wanting to make for a while, vintage Simplicity 4525 from sometime during the 40s.

S4525 - 1

You will note my copy is for a 32″ bust, which I definitely am not!  To “grade” this, I first tissue fit the pattern i.e. held it up to my body in the mirror. I could see it needed to add extra at the centre and definitely some more at the sides. I ended up cutting the front bodice and yoke 1″ from the fold, with a 2″ seam allowance on the sides. The back I also cut with a 2″ side seam allowance.

S4525 - 3

This method seems to have worked beautifully, the fit pretty good and required only a little tweaking at the side seams for fit.  I didn’t overfit as I wanted the dress to be looser fitting to be a little cooler in our sticky summers.

S4525 - 5

The back buttons are ridiculous! How the heck is anyone supposed to do them up, I certainly am not fancy/rich enough to have a lady’s maid nor am I so flexible to do them myself. I made the buttons functional but also added a side zipper so I could get dressed on my own!

S4525 - 4

You will also note I left off the sash ties.  I did have them on originally, however hubby dearest didn’t like them as you could see the reverse of the fabric which being white stood out. I couldn’t double them over as the seersucker I used for the dress was too stiff.

I love the pockets, they are huge!!  I did debate the addition of rick rack, but felt combined with the polka dots it might all be a bit twee.  I am happy with this decision.

S4525 - 6

I really enjoyed making this dress, it’s so different from sewing a modern pattern. The cover artwork is lovely, the instructions comprehensive and well illustrated and as with almost all vintage patterns there are extra design details which make the garment a bit different.

I’m already thinking about making a navy version with white trim for a nautical look.

PS – this already counts towards my self-imposed pledge to make at least 5 vintage patterns this year (even though the vintage pledge hasn’t been announced for 2016 yet!)

#VintagePledge – mission complete!!

Earlier in the year I pledged to make three vintage garments for the #VintagePledge run by Kestrel Makes & A Stitching Odyssey.  I wasn’t sure I would get them done given I am so easily distracted! However, here is my final vintage garment for 2015, Butterick 5880, a reproduction 1951 pattern.

B5880The bodice is as per the pattern, although I did need to make a couple of alterations. I took it up at the shoulders and had to take some extra fabric out from under the arms – fairly common with a kimono sleeve and large bust combination.

B5880 - 3

Although you can’t see them with this fabric, there two parallel bust darts and no waist darts. I love this little point of difference that you so seldom see on modern patterns.

B5880 - 4

I made this using a cotton sateen after running up a quick muslin to check for sizing. I just adore this print and couldn’t resist purchasing it, I love the vibrant blue against the black background.

B5880 - 5

Construction of the dress was very straightforward. I chose not to line the dress and instead made facings. The sleeves I finished with a narrow hem. (I think next time I would line the dress just to give a more professional finish inside and out)

B5880 - 2

For those familiar with the pattern, you may have noticed I have swapped out the skirt for something more wearable for my every day.  The skirt is from McCalls 6503, one of my favourites, full, but not too much, also not too fabric hungry. Of course I added pockets, because, well, pockets!

I will definitely make this pattern with the intended skirt at some stage. I love the wrap & sash but I see it more as something I might wear to Frocktails or a work function or suchlike.

B5880 - 6

I’ve really enjoyed the Vintage Pledge, it has meant I’ve ended up with a few different styled garments, off trend but in a good way. I like that I have made up patterns using the design features I love but with modern fabrics to make garments I can wear every day without feeling costume-y.

I already have more vintage patterns lined up to make now I’m in the groove! Wheeeee – watch me go!

Did any of you participate in the #vintagepledge?  How did you go?

Canberra Frocktails and Vintage Simplicity

I bought this fabulous cotton sateen fabric at a recent Spotlight sale. I asked my dear darling husband “do these colours suit me?”. “No” he says. So of course I ignored him and bought it anyway (what was he doing in Spotlight anyway??). I just couldn’t resist the vibrant colours with the vintage feel. It just had to be made up into a vintage dress, the only question was which one?!

I settled on Vintage Simplicity 3316 which Wikia says is from late 1950s/early 1960s. I was particularly drawn to the kimono sleeves and the coat (which I have a plan for soon).


I did a muslin of the bodice and it fitted really well and so with no adjustments I cut into my fabulous fabric. I sewed the majority up on the Sewaway weekend in Melbourne, but it was too cold to constantly try it on so I left the finishing for home. I ended up taking 1¼” off the shoulders as I had some fabric pooling under the arms, but apart from that, no adjustments. No FBA!!


Of course this fabulous dress needed a fabulous event and Canberra Frocktails was it! Those girls sure know how to organize a fun shindig! Blimey there was a lot of champagne, so much for the two glasses included, more like 5 or 6. I must have had a dodgy canapé though as I was talking to the porcelain telephone later that night 😉 Oops!



Can you guess who took my photos? The fact I can’t stop laughing might give it away.

3316Oh dear, the pics are getting blurry now – always the sign of a good night!! 😀

raptorPictures taken by the wonderful lady that is Amanda – this girl is so warm and genuine and of course an all round sewing wizard with rad raptor poses! And blimey she can rock a tulle skirt!!

PS – that’s the second of my Vintage Pledge dresses complete – one to go!!

Vintage Pledge – V2876

Hellooooo again!  Soooo…I signed up for the Vintage Pledge..yep it’s out there in the Blogosphere so I’d better do it huh? I have loads of vintage patterns, mostly from the 40s and 50s. I love the artwork and the interesting details not often seen on patterns nowadays. I also have a number of the reproduction vintage patterns and have been meaning to make them for a while now. I thought the pledge might be the motivator I need to actually sew them instead of just stare wistfully at them. I have started small and have pledged to sew three patterns this year.

Vogue 2876

This is the first, Vogue 2876, a vintage reproduction.  The pattern is for knits and wovens apparently, I chose an ITY knit to give a dress in the Leona Edmiston style that I adore.

PSA: This pattern has EIGHTY steps!!  Don’t let this put you off, this is not as complicated as it sounds. A lot of the instructions are super basic and in my case, I felt some were completely unnecessary e.g. I omitted the shoulder pads so that eliminated 7 steps, and I left off the side opening and zip as it neither were required with the knit fabric eliminating a further 16 steps.

Vogue 2876

The insertion of the diamond was the most tricky part as it is done via top-stitching it on rather than a back to back construction approach.

The bodice is also supposed to be attached to the skirt by top-stitching but this was not really possible with the slippery knit fabric. Instead I placed the bodice and skirt back to back and stitched most of it together this way except for the wrap section which I pinned extensively and top-stitched.

Vogue 2876

Changes to the pattern:
– As usual I shortened the bodice, this time by 2″.
– I took the pleats out of the sleeve and made them 3/4 length
– narrowed the shoulders by 1.5″
– 3″ off the length of the skirt

Vogue 2876
Look – faux wrap!


What I like:
– the front diamond and bodice gathering
– love the style
– it’s dressy enough for work
– it feels amazing to wear

What I would change for next time:
– nothing and there will be a next time for sure, I’d love to make it in a plain fabric to show off the details more

PRO TIP – Don’t try to do clever things like play pattern tetris and flip your pattern pieces. Doesn’t work with an asymmetrical pattern if you only flip some, you just may end up with two right fronts – ask me how I know 😦

Vogue 2876

Are you participating in the #vintagepledge? How are you going so far? If I make two of these does it count towards the pledge??

Fall for Cotton: Vintage Shirt-Dress

I have a reasonable size collection of vintage patterns that I seem to admire more than I sew. When I saw that Rochelle and Tasha were holding a Fall for Cotton sewalong and the Monthly Stitch challenge was vintage, well I took the not so subtle hint to make up another of my patterns.

Fall For Cotton

It was definitely difficult to narrow it down but I finally decided on Mail Order Pattern-o-rama 8299, date unknown but has to be 40s I think.  I love me a shirt-dress and really like the button detailing on this one. Plus I already had the fabric and just the right amount of matching buttons in my stash! It was meant to be!

Patt-o-Rama 8299
The sweetheart neckline is cute too

The construction of this was fairly straight forward, although a little unusual by modern standards. The front bodice is sewn together, then the back pieces are sewn together and they are joined at the shoulders. As the back does not have a waist seam, but the front does, it is a little weird to try on at this point at you end up with a back skirt and no front skirt!  I was wanting to check for fit as I had only tissue fitted, I didn’t make a muslin. My cotton fabric was cheap at $2/m so I was treating this as a wearable muslin with my effort towards quality of finish varying depending on the fit! (spoiler alert – I was happy with the fit so it has been finished properly)

Fall For CottonFall For Cotton

The collar was then attached, followed by the front skirt, side seams and then the sleeves. No zip, the button front is functional unlike my previous vintage shirt-dress.

Most times when you read about vintage patterns people say there is no ease so buy your measurements. However, this pattern is a size 35″ pattern and my bust measurement is 37″ and it fitted perfectly with no alterations required.  I only shortened the bodice by about one inch and narrowed the shoulders by about an inch as they were pretty wide and likely designed for shoulder pads.


I felt a little bit “Call the Midwife” looking as I made this but made a few changes to try to stop it looking too nurse-uniform like.  The buttons help a lot I think, they are vintage, embroidered and picked up on a trip to Cairns last year for 10 cents each! If only buttons were this reasonably priced!!


I also played with my machine’s fancy stitching on the hems of the sleeve and skirt.  I knew I didn’t want to hand stitch and I figured if you were going to see the stitching I might as well make it pretty. I know it’s not traditionally vintage, but I don’t mind, I wasn’t going for a completely authentic finish (although I did pink all my seams, mostly because I didn’t have matching thread!).

Fall For Cotton

Sorry, I did the buttonholes on my machine 🙂 I know I could have done them by hand, but to be honest, I didn’t want to! I really don’t like hand-sewing, yep lazy I know, but if my machine does it then why not, and I’m all for efficiency.

I did shorten the skirt by about 5″ to a more wearable modern day length.  I think even “back in the day” I would have had to shorten it too, I am only 5’2″ after all and besides wouldn’t I have had to ration fabric?

BTW – the “pockets” are completely decorative, just flaps!

Fall For Cotton

Pattern – Pattern-o-rama 8299
Fabric – 2.4m of cotton poplin from my stash
Notions –  11 buttons also from my stash (I have one spare in case I lose one!), thread

So that’s my Fall for Cotton/Monthly Stitch dress – what about you?  Did you make something for either of these challenges?  If so, share in the comments below, I would love to see!

Mad Men Challenge – the Trudy Dress

When I saw that Julia Bobbin had announced a second Mad Men Challenge, I was pretty excited.  I missed last years one as it was pre-blogging and before even discovering all the amazing sewing blogs out there!

My only problem was what to make, I love a good Joan dress, but I am not sure the shape would suit me without some serious foundation garments.  Then there is Peggy and Betty who both have some great dresses.  The outfits I considered are on my Pinterest board.  For some reason the character whose outfits I seem to be drawn to most are Trudy’s wonderful and patterned shirtdresses.  I do love me a great shirtdress!

Could she look more stunning? 

I had a pattern in my stash already which perfectly matches this, even down to the welts and cuff turnups.


I didn’t even try to match the fabric with the inspiration as those colours don’t work with my colouring, but instead went with a pretty vintage inspired floral print I bought from last year.  The pattern was in my size but I even did a quick muslin of the bodice to sort out any potential fit issues (I am getting good at doing this muslin business).  I ended up narrowing the shoulders by 2cm and shortening the bodice between the bust and shoulders by about 1.5cm.  The rest of the measurements were perfect, even the waist! Quelle surprise!


I am loving the result and the fit is perfect, plus the fabric has just the tiniest bit of give making it super comfortable as well.  Couldn’t be happier!


The bodice has some cool details like welts on either side, not welt pockets, but who would use that area as a pocket anyway, not sure that I need more bulk in that department!! 

I made a matching belt – can you see it?  It matches almost too well!!


I changed the construction a little as it is supposed to fasten with the front buttons and then you are supposed to cut a vent in the skirt of about 10cm/3″ to help you get in the dress.  That would have resulted in a crazy gap right over my lady bits and way too dangerous for wardrobe malfunctions! Instead I sewed up the waistband without the strange vent and put in an invisible side zipper, much safer!! I also took some of the fullness out of the skirt as I didn’t have enough fabric, it is supposed to have about another metre in width, but I am pretty sure that might swamp me.

Now I just think I need to make a crinoline to go underneath – have you seen Rachel’s tutorial?  Also, storage top tip from Dolly Clackett via Twitter is to roll and bag them, not hang them so they keep their fluffiness.


Thanks for holding the challenge Julia, it was super fun and now I can channel my inner Trudy goddess!!


Sew for Victory Dress Completed

Happy Easter everyone, I hope you have enjoyed a lovely break.  I have spent the time catching up with hubby, enjoying some downtime from work and of course a spot of sewing.

When Rochelle of Lucky Lucille announced this sewalong, I knew I had to participate.  I love patterns from the 40s and 50s, the artwork is always fabulous and the designs have such great details you almost never see on RTW nowadays.

I chose to make a mail order pattern, Marian Martin 9231, it doesn’t have a date on it, nor on the postmark, but the design and detailing all points to somewhere in the late 40s, can anyone assist in an accurate date??


I was lucky enough to source this in my size so I didn’t need to make any alterations aside from shortening the bodice as I am a shorty.


I was drawn to this pattern due to the button detailing that I thought was cute. I also liked the gathering at the top of the yoke on front and back.


It’s a really different silhouette for me, I am not used to the blousing look that was common in the 40s, but I think I like it, and it’s comfortable whilst allowing good arm movement.

The pattern pieces are the usual perforated pieces, but they still have all the markings, darts etc but just marked with holes. Once you get used to them they are actually pretty straightforward to use. The only thing to look out for is the extra pieces that may not be supplied that they ask you to draft up yourself, like belts or facings.

Bound buttonholes

The buttonholes down the front are all bound and as the buttons now cover them completely and the dress has a side zipper, they are completely functionless I just had to show you that I did them!

A close up of some of the design details. 

Vintage invisible zips

Look at these great zips I picked up at a thrift shop recently. I thought that invisible zips were a recent invention, but these are really old, the lady in the store thought they were from around the 40s.  These are so much stronger than the plastic zips, but are super difficult to put in as they have no flexibility at all and the teeth are quite large so an invisible zipper foot doesn’t work.


The pattern gave the option of hooks and eyes or a slide fastener, so in keeping with the times I used the old invisible zipper. I also pinked all the seams, so I feel I really made it keeping true to the times.  The fabric was from my stash so all I bought were the buttons, not bad for make do and mend! I even made shoulder pads!!

Thanks Rochelle for making this a fun sewalong, I loved all the additional information about the 40s she posted.  If you haven’t already, check it out her posts here.

Sneak Peek

Just thought I would share with you a little sneak peek of my Sewing for Victory dress:


So far so good.  It’s a little big across the shoulders so I am working on that. Also it is blousier than current styles of course, so I need to get used to that. This is intended to be a wearable muslin.

Are you participating in this?  If so, how are you going?

PS – so far only three entrants into the Pattern Pyramid Giveway – enter now, your chances are great!!

Vintage Vogue 5557 – Red Sheath Dress

Meet my latest vintage creation, the Vintage Vogue 5557 sheath dress.

I think this can be described as a sheath dress, VintagePatternsWiki describes it as a one piece dress but given the simple lines it is certainly close to a sheath.


I bought this pattern a little while ago as one of many from a local seller who was selling off his mother’s patterns from when she was a seamstress. One of the reasons I was most excited about getting these patterns was that they were all used, showing they were a real part of fashion of the era. This particular pattern is dated to June/July 1963.

Click image for source
When I removed the pattern from the envelope, I could see there were pins in it already from the last time it was used. On measuring the pieces, it was like it was altered for me!  Check out the old pins:
The pieces were all shortened (perfectly) and had been narrowed across the back.  For me these are two of my standard alterations.  The only thing left me to alter was to “grade” it up to my size.  When I say grade, I mean just add a bit to the side seams, after all it didn’t need much altering as most of it had already been done!
The dress has a fake pleat/wrap with fake button closure.  It has bound buttonholes, which are completely wasted as they are covered from view with the buttons that are sewed over the top of them. The buttonholes are real on the very top layer, but underneath there isn’t a hole at all! The dress is actually closed with a side zip.
Other than the fact I love this dress, I also made the whole dress from my stash – so really it was free right??
What did I change?
– Not much actually
– The dress is supposed to have facings, but I am not a fan of how they seldom stay where they should so I fully lined the bodice with a remnant of cotton from a previous project.
– the grading previously mentioned
– I swapped the normal zipper for an invisible zipper
– I cut the belt in two pieces as I didn’t have enough fabric, I also didn’t cut it on the bias
The dress went together pretty well and not much fiddling with the fit was required.  The only big difference with the fit was that the pattern envelope indicates it is more blousey at the bodice, I prefer a little more fitted which is good as that is how it ended up!!
I love vintage instructions, the diagrams are brilliant.
Ok, now for the weird bit.  According to the instructions, the belt doubles as a scarf:
Now I don’t know about you, but there is no way my waist is close to my neck size.  I tried it to see how it would look, but am really not a fan.
Hmmm…where is my neck? Not a good look, and where is my waist?  Not loving it.
Still trying.
Nope I give up, I’m keeping the belt.
I have already worn this to a couple of functions, so another wardrobe winner, and great for the festive season.