Saturday, 2 November 2013

Vintage Woe

Don't we all get sucked into the nostalgia of vintage patterns. The images, the hairstyles, the patterned fabric, wanting to look a little bit like Joanna Lumley...I have realised I am not a fan of the actual patterns, you know the actual process of making a garment from them.

I finished this Summer WIP today made from some Amy Butler fabric I bought in April when I had a job and a little bit of cash flow. I cut it out so carefully using the fabric pattern dead centre...

I tried to make this dress here but it was way too small, lesson number 1 Vintage patterns are not the same sizing as todays size 12.How did women move their arms? They must have needed to in order to use a twin tub!

Number 2 lesson all the pieces are not always there so I was missing the sleeve piece which would have been my preference and the neck facings so I had to use bias binding.
First version was so tight!!!
Number 3 problem the tissue is so thin and has been folded so many times that my cutting out was not very accurate, I tried ironing the pieces first.
I think I have been spoilt recently with the patterns from Ottobre, they are designed for real woman who eat cake. I can make the patterns out of stronger pattern paper so they are more robust and the people in the pictures are real so it gives you a better idea of what an item will look like.
I am not much of a moaner but it is goodbye to vintage patterns for me for actually making garments, I wouldn't say no to some of the packet covers in frames though. On the plus side that half made, scrunched up tunic dress is now in my summer drawer for next year.
Have you used them? Do you now look like Joanne Lumley in 1967? Do you just get them out and stroke them? Let me know because there is much angst here and someone must be doing a great job of them.
Jo xx


  1. You may have had problems with the pattern but is sure turned out beautifully.

  2. I wonder if modern patterns are like technology - they revise and correct glitches from the past? I think the patterns will make beautiful wall art, but I'd be curious to learn if a new, similar pattern is

  3. I have only sewed with a couple of vintage patterns but I had some trouble with them too. I think your dresses turned out well in spite of the pattern difficulties.

  4. Hi Jo a lovely post - I have something interesting to show you tomorrow, do check out my blog. I think you look very pretty in it anyway. Big hug

  5. I may not know a lot about making garments but lady I think they look fantastic! I just love that first shot of you with the high boots! SO adorable! I wouldn't throw the towel in just yet!!!

  6. Ohh, don't give up just yet! Obviously vintage patterns were made for "real" women too. :)
    As you guessed though, it is the sizes that have changed, not us women; and you have to check the bust, waist and hip "finished" garment measurements of the pattern against a modern size. I used to be a size 12 and nowadays I'm a 10, but my body hasn't changed!

  7. Yeah isn't it so annoying that the vintage patterns are always so much smaller than current ones. I have had this problem in the past and I now know to increase by at least a couple of sizes. Yours turned out beautifully and it looks really lovely on. I love that fabric and have made a cushion from it quite a few years back. Well done on yet another lovely creation! xoxo

  8. I think your dress is sooo cute, and you look adorable in it! I've never sewn anything from a vintage fact my sewing machine and I don't get along very well. I'm better at hand stitching! xo

  9. OMG. I actually had this pattern back in the day. I think we were all, mostly, a lot skinnier then. I always had to make loads of alterations to make the pattern fit me. The size 12 was too big in some areas, oh, how I dream of being a size 12 ;0)
    The finished dress looks great though, don't be too critical of yourself. Have you not considered making a muslin? It can save a lot of heartache and fabric, says Miss Clever Clogs ;0)

  10. Well I actually think you look really great in that dress! You wear it well and it suits you. Yes, I've been warned about the difference in sizes. It appears women didn't eat much cake back in the sixties, they were too busy baking it for their husbands and running around after them perhaps. I haven't tried any kind of proper pattern sewing, new or vintage, so can't really offer any advice, but don't be glum, you look gorgeous! x