Happy weekend everyone. I’m laid in bed feeling sorry for myself as I write this. I have a cold with a painful cough and am distracting myself with blog reading and Web surfing! So I thought I’d write a post about the Dress Like Your Grandma challenge hosted by Tanya of blog Mrs Hughes than ran this past month.
This is a vintage sewing challenge where family history can inspire your wardrobe. You take a photo of your grandma (or your granddad, great-grandma, mum, auntie, someone else’s grandma – you get the idea!) and re-create an outfit or piece that they are wearing using vintage or reproduction patterns. It isn’t a competition but a way to challenge yourself with a special project!
My Grandma, was called Euphemia Gertrude Thomas (nee Nutt). She lived with my Grandad in a little village called North Ferriby in Hull. This picture is from one of my Grandparents regular trips to the coast – we think Scarborough. They always liked to dress up for a trip to the coast and walk the promenade. I love this photo so much. Look how committed to each other they look. Perfectly in sync.
To recreate the dress I used Vogue 9127 and rose print polycotton from Birmingham Rag Market. I used poppers instead of buttons at the front and kept the dress a little shorter. I added red shoes (my Grandma wore red shoes on her first date with my Grandad) and curled my hair for a similar look without chopping it all off. Sadly I couldn’t make it to the coast in time for a photo.
I ran out of material for the sleeves as this dress is fabric hungry and couldn’t source more which was disappointing. I also wish I’d made a front fastening belt like my grandma is wearing but I’m generally pretty happy with the result!
To see my previous version of this dress see this post.
My grandma was also an avid dressmaker and probably made her dress from the photo. The sad thing is I only found this out at her funeral. For most of my life she had severe alzheimers and she was here until her early 90s. It was so bad she couldn’t talk to anyone coherently or make sense of the world so I didn’t really know about her wonderful skills when I started sewing. I knew she had a sewing box but assumed it was for mending and small projects. However I did inherit her hand crank machine that my Dad discovered in the loft. Plus a pair of pinking shears with her name tag on them which my mum had been using but Grandma used to take to a social sewing session at her Church. These two items are a great way to feel she’s helping me sew and like I know something real about her. Decades apart we’ve followed the same actions; cutting fabric, stitching darts, sewing on buttons and even pinking seams with the same shears.
For years I’ve wanted to make a replica of this dress for The Vintage Pledge but could never find the perfect sewing pattern or fabric. I think I came close in the end though. My poor friends (including Marie, founder of the pledge) got dragged around so many fabric shops to find this material. They were really supportive in finding the right rose design so thank you ladies!
This was a really great challenge to help feel connected with my Grandma so thank you Tanya so much for giving me the push I needed. On my next free weekend I might try and head out to Scarborough for a photo on the promenade just like this one. Wish me luck!
Wow I can’t believe my turn on the Vintage Sew-along blogger tour has come around. I hope you like what I have to share. (Sadly I’m back to taking my own pictures. Sorry about that. And the weather was awful so I had to take the pics inside. Extra sorry about that.)
So I became very interested when I saw V9000. It made me think about my version of V1044, probably because of the grown on sleeves. It went on the shortlist (thinking, well surely I’ll be swayed into making one of the other patterns) but I kept coming back to that lovely flat collar and full panelled skirt.
In all honesty I don’t think fully buttoned shirts suit me. I have a very short neck and when I’ve tried them before I just feel claustrophobic. So I thought a high buttoned FLAT collar could be the answer.
As you can tell I rounded the pattern pieces using a French curve and trimmed some height of the rest of the collar (probably too much) to create something a little reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s outfit here. I wanted to go for classic black and white but resisted for a pop of colour.
The panelled skirt is great for narrow fabrics while still achieving that full skirted effect and comes together so easily.
In terms of sizing the bodice is a size 8 at the shoulders a 10 around the body and a 14 around the waist. I didn’t adjust the length of the bodice or skirt amazingly. As a shorty I normally reduce the length of skirts as a rule but I really like the length of this dress. It fits fantastically when I wear the right bra – aka not the one from these pics. Isn’t it amazing how much of a difference that makes!
This John Kaldor microfibre is medium weight, glossy and a bit stretchy (like cotton sateen) with the drape of polyester. This print is called Ursula in burgundy and the fabric is from Sew Essential, priced £10.56 per metre.
The fabric print is large and abstract enough to avoid print matching. I think it looks like a papercut in a way. Or a hamsa tattoo?
Then I used plain black polyester from my stash for the collar and the self covered buttons, with a red invisible zip and red thread (almost all of my habby supplies were from Sew Essential in fact). I used some bias binding from my stash to hem the skirt.
Is it just me that overlooked how many awesome John Kaldor prints they have? OMG – I’m going back for some of those other floral and painterly prints. And it’s nice to pick up everything you need for a project in one place.
SO would you make this dress? Or have any of the other patterns from the BVSA Edit caught your fancy? I’d love to know.
Please take a look at the Edit on the Vintage Sewalong site because a proportion of proceeds from the pattern sales are going to a fantastic charity, The Eve Appeal as the work they’re doing into gynaecological cancer detection, education and prevention will surely resonate with the predominantly female sewing community.
Keep looking out for Sew-along posts because there are a lot of talented bloggers still to come and I can’t wait to see their makes. Here’s my moody shot to finish hehehe.
Sewing and wearing vintage-inspired clothing is something I love to do. I often find these patterns have more interesting construction details and work well in both vintage look and modern fabrics.
When I heard the line up for McCall’s Big Vintage Sew-along I was really excited. There are so many excellent patterns in there. If you haven’t checked out the full edit head to this foldline summary or see the site www.vintagesewing.co.uk. There are 20 patterns in total, from the 1930s through to the 1960s plus a couple of Gertie’s 50/60s inspired patterns (they’re understandably year-less but stylistically probably just dip into the 60s).
Over the coming months you’ll see versions of all the patterns cropping up online thanks to the BV Sew-along blogger tour, this will keep the inspiration bubbling and hopefully help you get started.
If you just can’t wait to clock eyes on some vintage dresses, I’m here to help. I realised I’d already sewn four of the patterns from the edit! So take a look at my round up and let me know if you’re tempted to make any of the patterns yourself. I’ve included notes on things to watch out for and as getting the size right with vintage patterns is so important, detailed what size this 5ft4 lady with a 36” bust and 41” hip chose. Right, now you know how bootylicious I am, let’s get started!
(Warning: The pictures in this post were assisted by a professional make up artist and photographer who I coerced into making everything look nice but have not been airbrushed as proof by my sock lines hahaha)
When I saw the line art for this dress I knew it had to be mine. I MEAN SWOOOOON! And I can honestly say this dress makes me very proud. I used a berry crepe fabric I bought in Walthamstow market last year and made self covered buttons. I used a coordinating zip and seam binding. I’m not going to fib, this isn’t an easy dress as there are a couple of areas where you really need to focus. The construction is 90% done by pressing under seam allowance and then topstitching the panels together. That much topstitching NEEDS a special foot or you’re going to go insane, unpicking and redoing. The other area to focus on is the pockets at the top of those swan head darts. This is where I had to read the instructions 4 or 5 times. After all my hard work I preferred them basted shut! Go figure.
1. I cut two sizes down from my measurements to make a close fitting shirtdress rather than coat dress. This is predominantly a size 6 graded to a 14 at the hip.
2. The skirt was shorted 12cm. I probably should have just shortened by 8cm but too late now.
3. It took three toiles to adjust for my small bust and narrow shoulders, a slight swayback, plus to practice the pockets!
4. My crepe was very light and the dress is unlined so I’d recommend more of a triple crepe or cotton instead.
5. GET A TOP-STITCHING FOOT (I used my stitch in the ditch foot with a right hand needle position).
A tea dress can be a wonderful addition to your wardrobe because it easily works for day time and occasions if done right. I liked the effect of B5209 when done in a print even though you lose the beautiful seam lines a little. This dress I’m definitely going to make another plain version. Here I used a Liberty tana lawn from Minerva Crafts (they have some left in multiple colours), white lining with a secret purple side seam zip. With so many intersecting seams, the instructions cleverly direct you to not sew to the end of each seam, but stop and backstitch where each intersection will sit. This allows you to fit each piece together accurately to get the beautiful star at the centre front.
1. The bodice is self lined but I added lining to the skirt to be tights-friendly.
2. There is a BEAUTIFUL underrepresented lip shape curve at the back neckline that is very eye catching when your hair is worn up.
3. A print will help disguise any slightly off alignment seams if you’re feeling the pressure to be accurate but an air erasable fine line marker is invaluable to this pattern.
4. I sewed a 6 around the shoulders and chest but blended out to around a 14 in the ribs and waist I also reduced the gathering on the bust by about 4cm by using the markings for size 6. Finally I lowered the bodice 1cm.
This pattern is so lovely because it’s modest but interesting and has a surprise dip in the back. After two years in my wardrobe is comes out for weddings, parties, dinners out, work meetings and events, and once, a trip to the ballet! In a complete disregard for the pattern directions I used a viscose from Minerva Crafts. This makes the gathers at the shoulders very pretty, and the skirt extra swishy, but makes the back facing roll out occasionally. This dress is constructed using a partial front and partial facing to create the wrap effect in the upper chest.
1. I had to do a major hollow chest adjustment and full tummy adjustment, plus make the pattern a little more petite.
2. The outer fabric and facing is joined together BEFORE the shoulder seams are sewn, it’s suspicious but trust me, it leads to a neat finish.
3. While viscose is lovely, I’d definitely suggest something less fluid.
4. If you check out my blog there’s a tutorial for making a coordinating belt which is great to finish the look.
OOH this one, I’m excited even introducing it. This pattern is great fun to wear as the bodice is flattering, the front cut out and scoop back are both eye catching, and the circle skirt is amazingly big! I used a 60”-wide Liberty carline poplin, which isn’t as nice quality as tana lawn but has a good weight and the print is so lovely, the fabric base doesn’t matter as much. I used a soft cotton lawn as the bodice lining, hemmed with bias binding and installed a lapped zipper.
1. This is an great pattern for a beginner as it’s easy to fit and construct, especially if made in a cotton poplin which handles well, is often the standard 60”-wide and comes in so many prints.
2. Bias tape is an excellent way to hem a circle skirt as it stretches to fit the curves. 99% of the time I machine hem circle skirts as life’s too short to sit and hand sew such a large area.
3. Wouldn’t this look good with a bow made from rouleaux loops!
So if you enjoyed all this vintage craziness from me, look out for my BVSA post on the the 15th!
Phew, what a project. This is Vintage Vogue 1044, an original 1956–1957 pattern.
I started off thinking of this as a shirtdress, but that seems flippant.
It’s a mid-length dress with a pleated button-front bodice, and has a front and back yoke that extends into grown on sleeves. The skirt is gathered, but also designed with a snap closing in front and inverted pleats.
Everything came together when Kath shared a photo of this pattern on her instagram account. You could have bowled me over when she offered to send me her copy. I had been searching for a very long time for a copy in my size and it was like a dream come true when the post turned up from Australia.
I chose this dress for my Vintage Pattern Pledge as a challenge to myself, to prove I could handle a complex pattern that used vintage techniques. And I think I’ve been pretty successful with it!
The pattern suggests Crepe, Shantung, Batiste or Taffeta but I picked this wine coloured Linen as I knew it would be well suited for the pleated bodice while still having enough drape for the skirt. Plus the colour is lush! Covering buttons for the bodice just seemed like the right choice too. Plus there was Gutermann thread in a perfect colour match.
Taking time and effort with this pattern was very important to me. I made three muslins of the bodice to correct fit and practice the complicated placket instructions.
During a bout of internet research I found some brilliant tips for this dress: I changed the order of some of the steps (e.g. sewing my darts after my pleats and stay stitching my corners before assembling the yoke). I also reinforced the sharp corners where the yoke joined the bodice with squares of silk instead of the suggested seam binding.
The yoke facing is entirely hand-stitched and so was the epic hem (I added some lace trim to the hem for a sweet touch). The visible seams are pinked which gave me the chance to use my Grandma’s pinking shears she used when we sewed as a younger woman.
I was very respectful of the pattern up to a certain point but I just couldn’t get along with the snap front skirt. It gaped and didn’t hang right, and to be honest seemed rather unnecessary. I instead recut a standard skirt and unpicked the right side-seam to hand-sew an invisible zipper.
It’s a shame, but I had to up the exposure on the camera to show the details, the colour is a beautiful rich red. I feel so elegant in this dress. And I’m even happier that the dress matches a pair of shoes I already own, yippee!
I think the only thing I wish I’d done was add pockets. Maybe next time?