I love it when sewing stars align. Like when Minerva sends a call out to promote their new fabric ranges, and the ideal fabric screams to be made up from my go-to 60s shirtdress pattern during a month when one of my favourite annual Instagram challenges inspires me to dust off those vintage pattern boxes.
Well those flames spelled out the obvious, to me. A retro Rockabilly shirtdress.
The pattern is vintage Simplicity 6772 from 1966. And a perfect project for sewing up in between busy work shifts. I’ve sewn it up twice before – in dogtooth and in blue – and that gave me confidence to forego any toiling though I did make a few fitting adjustments, namely extending the bodice length by quarter of an inch and lowering the bust and top points of the waist darts. There are 12 darts to this dress: 4 diamond waist darts on the front, 4 on the back, 2 bust darts and 2 shoulder darts which seems very excessive but actually this is very commonplace to vintage patterns and all the better for shaping.
The fabric is a Robert Kaufman cotton poplin which I received as part of the Minerva Ambassador programme. I’ve used poplin only once before, for my self-drafted sundress but cannot fault the quality. It is such a lovely genuine medium weight, imho – not too light and not too heavy. The weave is such that it’s an absolute joy to hand finish the hems – so easy to pick up a single thread for a catch-stitch and it presses so effortlessly too.
Another advantage is that it doesn’t crease as easily as regular shirting cotton. Prior to taking these shots I’d been walking around in this dress and sitting down for a couple of hours and it still looked pretty neat.
My dresses usually get shorter as the months get colder but this time I opted for a to-the-knee rather than an above-the-knee hemline for a change. The actual pattern suggestion is quite a bit longer but I think I’ve hit the sweet spot. And the little kick pleat at the back looks more sensible when it’s longer in any case.
In order to keep that kick pleat nice and flat and in position, I stitched it down with with a few catch-stitches inside. I think you can tell how much I enjoyed hand stitching this fabric!
It’s amazing how a quality fabric can make so much difference to the whole sewing experience. For instance, pressing as I’ve mentioned before but also for turning nice sharp points on the collar sections and the corners of the front facings. Setting in the sleeves was a breeze, too.
I decided the buttons had to be plain. I’ve exhausted my stash of black buttons and so I robbed some off a previous dress that won’t get any wear over the next six months at least, on account of it being too summery. So I have plenty of time to replace them!
It was fun to take this dress out for it’s maiden stroll around Soho and stop for a coffee in Bar Italia. I used to hang out here a lot in my clubbing days. A pit stop after dancing the night away when you weren’t quite ready to go home – a quality hit of caffeine and always someone interesting to yabber away to. Some things never change!
Until I found the pattern for this I didn’t even realise there was such a thing let alone that I wanted one so much! On Googling ‘clutch cape’ one is presented with all manner of cape styles accessorised with a clutch bag but only one or two images of a vintage pattern oh and one fox fur version for a snip at $1,285.00! I can only assume it came into being and then disappeared from the world of fashion in a puff of smoke through lack of demand.
Well of course, that makes me love it even more!
The idea is that you can rest your hands in the naturally forming pockets where the shawl collar meets the hem. It is also the only way of holding it on in gusty weather as there is no other system of closure. But even without such gusts it does sit in place quite nicely due to the shaping of the shoulders.
There’s not much choice to be had in the Goldhawk Road faux fur range at the moment. I am assured that it arrives in October. But I don’t have patience of saints and I settled on this textured black fur fabric at £14.99/m. It only takes 1.25 yds but I bought 1.25m to be on the safe side and it was plenty enough. I like the pattern of the texture and it is actually quite silky for being faux.
There’s some dart shaping on the fronts and back piece which you wont be able to see of course. And there is interfacing sewn into the collar to give a little structure. And so that if I want to look like a wicked stepmother it will stand up and stay up!
Youngest daughter tried to halt plans by saying it was plain weird and even Mr O made noises about me looking like Basil Brush. But they know full well that those kind of comments just roll off my feathered back!
There is very little to construct and therefore it was very simple to make up, however I had to re-read the instructions to make sure I hadn’t missed anything re the lining insertion. The lining consists of the front and back pieces sewn in the same way; sewn together at the hemline, with right sides facing and then, having pressed the seam allowance all round, hand-stitched to the cape. Of course the problem that caused was that the lining was visible at the hemline. It needs to be shorter.
So, given my ever growing annoyance for things I’ve not done properly, I dutifully unpicked it (which is no mean feat if you’ve ever stitched lining to fur with small stitches!) and chopped off the seam allowance from the hemline and reattached. I could have gone half an inch more to be on the safe side but that seems to have done the trick.
It’s perfect for days like today, deceivingly sunny with a sneaky chill in the air. I haven’t begun any autumnal sewing yet and my polka dot Flora dress most certainly would not have got an outing today with bare shoulders. And it wouldn’t look out of place with an evening gown or ‘casualled’ down with a pair of jeans if that’s what takes your fancy.
In an effort to find a location with no gawping passers-by, these photos were taken down the side of Shepherds Bush Empire. I knew this building was quite old, built in 1903 in fact, but didn’t know that of all the acts performed there, Charlie Chaplin was one of them!
I was just saying to Mr O how sewing and blogging and photography has changed how we have taken notice of our surroundings. There is so much history to be had, right on our very doorstep!
Yesterday was a very, very happy mail day. There I was, beavering away like a goodun, working from home, though at just about tipping point from the bloody noisy builders banging about next door, when not one, but two substantial thuds landed on the front door mat. My fuse was half blown and I was about to yell at the usual runaway estate agent delivery boy, when I remembered what could possibly be in those two packages.
Package number one:
This is the second batch of cards I’ve ordered from Moo. The third if you count the ones I ordered for Mr O. The first ooobop ones were way before I’d decided on my identity and so I’d ordered the cute little mini ones. But they’ve since run out. I secretly wanted them to run out when these fabulous new square formats were introduced to the range. My logo sits so perfectly in the middle and there’s plenty nuff room on the reverse to add details plus another image. Plus, they properly match my garment labels too!
If you’ve never used Moo before I wholly recommend them for a fabulous service and great quality. There’s even a real person on the end of the phone if you need any help. Though the process is a very simple step-by-step online operation.
I’m not being paid to big them up, by the way. I properly love them! And if you fancy some of your own there’s link here you can use which gives you 10% off your first order:
And I get rewarded in ‘moolah’ if you place an order. And so do you once you’ve placed your order and recommended a friend.
I don’t make any money from my sewing but I do make lots of friends. Like for instance I got chatting to a lovely lady the other day on the bus who was knitting with some fabulous yarn that looked like pencil shavings! I couldn’t resist asking her about it and within seconds we were chatting all things sewing and knitting. She had run out of cards but luckily I managed to dig out the last remaining dog-eared one from my bag just before she had to get off at her stop. It was then that I realised how useful they are and how I must get some new ones. I’m never quick or dexterous enough to tap in a new contact on my phone in a hurry. I come over all fingers and thumbs, so these are perfect!
And so what could possibly be as exciting in the next package?
Package number two:
I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to get a copy of this film. I don’t even know anyone else who’s ever heard of this film: The Yellow Rolls Royce! Anyone? Anywhere? The last time I watched this film was nearly four decades ago so I was hoping my love for it wasn’t a romantically distorted view! How could it be. Check out the all star cast: Shirley MacLaine, Omar Sharif, Ingrid Bergman, Rex Harrison, Jeanne Moreau, George C. Scott, Alain Delon, with surprise appearances from Art Carney, Joyce Grenfell and Lance Percival!
So why does this news belong on my sewing blog (besides the fact that I love watching an old movie while I sew)? Well. As I watched, and I indeed loved, I remembered exactly why I truly loved it so so much. Not just because I absolutely fell head over heels for Alain Delon at a very illegal age, I also totally fell in love with Shirley MacLaine and her wardrobe. She was a gangsters moll. ‘Fidanzata’ to George C. Scotts character of Paolo Maltese. And even at that age I wanted her clothes, her hair, her make up: tight wiggle skirts and dresses, stripy halter tops, swing skirts and chiffon scarves. Black, white and red, candy pink with black trim, polka dots, chiffon and fur. Pretty sure they were faux!! And there was me thinking it was all about Alain. Ha! I’m going to watch it again and again until I’ve clocked every item in her wardrobe and then make them all!
I just adore all the black buttons down the back of that pink dress. Mine would be red of course! And if you click the source for the image below you will get a little clip of the movie so you can see where I’m coming from!
I could just watch this film over and over. In fact I just watched that clip 3 times! This will now be my favourite movie to sew by.
Do you watch movies while you sew? What are your besties?
Good afternoon lovely readers. I trust you are having a lovely weekend. I love the peace and quiet of a Sunday afternoon. It’s especially quiet today since Mr O and both children are all out. Best blogging time I thought, but eeek, no photographer! So please excuse the awkward poses to the remote snaps! It’s hard to summon up the enthusiasm when there’s no one bossing you around.
This is the first draft of Simplicity 6772. A lovely fitted sheath dress with front button closing and notched collar. Or a shirt-dress to the layperson!
I made version 3, with short sleeves, which buttons all the way down. And I used a £2.50/metre suiting fabric from Dave/Danielle the Drapers in Shepherds Bush Market. I did stop to ponder who might make such a crazy suit in gingham but images of capri trousers and cropped jackets a la Doris Day quickly sprung to mind, very nearly usurping the plans for this dress.
I love Dave the Draper fabric for test garments. I don’t think you can actually buy cheaper and even though the content and quality is an unknown, its always good enough. And generally speaking I end up with something wearable, in this case…. for a fiver!
That said, I will be making some adjustments to the next one, which incidentally is already cut out! Namely: taking some of the ease out of the sleeves. They are practically puffed sleeves and it certainly didn’t warn me of that on the packet front. They are also a weird length. I made twice the suggested hem allowance, and turned them up! I’ll also be shaving a centimetre off each shoulder before I sew them in.
I did some proper grading on this pattern using the cut and spread method. A little added to the bodice, moreso added to the waist and hip with the side seams blended together. I remembered to add the extra to the collar and the sleeves, though I probably should have left the sleeves alone to avoid the puff!
Given that it’s suiting fabric it didn’t need a lining. I just overlocked the seams. Suiting is a joy to hem, especially on this kind of check. It’s so easy to pick a couple of threads and the stitches just disappear. It’s presses so easily too. It’s a wool blend of sorts. And I have totally gotten over my snobbery of synthetic/blended fabric, since it doesn’t need much ironing and doesn’t tend to crease when you’ve been sat down at an office desk all day.
I love a shirt-dress but have only made two before. The 1940s Shoe Dress and The Shirt Dress Revisited. Both from the same pattern, both with full skirts. I like how this one is more understated though. Would be completely utilitarian in a khaki! It certainly feels more worky than the other two. To be honest, I’m lucky enough to work in a creative environment where almost anything goes (as is often apparent!).
I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have a suitable set of red buttons but it was quite refreshing to be persuaded with blue ones. I toyed with green and checked ones but the winners were some gorgeous vintage buttons kindly inherited from my friend Nigel’s, aunt.
There are a whopping twelve darts going on in this dress! Four long diamond ones in the front, four of the same in the back; two shoulder darts and two bust darts. And its all these ‘lovely’ darts that create the great shape to this dress. The back especially. And I love that little kick pleat. So glad I didn’t exchange it for a slit.
It would be crazy at this point not to mention the shoes. A more than happy find on my way back from work in the sale at Office. They are of course my favourite Lola Ramona shoes. These ones having pale green polka dots, a cream bow and purple heels. The thing I love most about these shoes is that they don’t go with anything but yet they look good with everything!!
I’ll be off now. The plan is to return shortly with a revised version of this shirt-dress. But you know what happens when you make plans. Well, when I make them, anyway!
It’s been an eventful few days. Asides from the usual back to back workload, there was Holly Johnson on Thursday, Fleetwood Mac on Friday and a whole sunny day with the children at Pools on the Park in Richmond on Saturday.
I was therefore a little jaded last night. Like a hologram, in fact. a pink frazzled sleepy hologram! I wanted to sew. But the pattern I wanted to sew, typically wasn’t in my size, let alone relative to my proportions. I knew it needed some grading and it pained me to think I had to put some effort in before I could just sit and sew. I made another cup of tea. Did the washing up. Put a laundry load on. Flicked through Facebook. Made another cup of tea. I certainly could have graded and cut out the damned thing instead of doing all that, and by that time it was 9.30pm.
So I got cross with myself and my refusal to do what I’d arranged with myself to do. And set about it. The punishment being that if I fannied around anymore and didn’t put my mind to what was needed to be done I’d just lose more sleep-time. And I was tired, I can tell you!
So with the infamous Nike strapline loud and clear in my head, two back-to-back episodes of Eastenders lined up on iplayer, I got tracing and marking and cutting like a good’un. The bodice needed one set of grading, the skirt section another. And the darts needed redrawing and repositioning. I don’t know that I’ve ever employed the cut-and-spread method of grading so properly before. I’ve thought about doing it but it always seems like so much work. It really isn’t! No more winging it with adding a bit here and a bit there on the side seams!
It’s a shirt dress by the way. Simplicity 6772 from the 1960s. I’m making version 3, the blue one on the right. Not my usual style of shirt-waist dress like the ones I made previously: the 1940s shirt dress and the shirt dress revisited, but a more casual, straight like shirt dress that buttons all the way down. I will skip those bound buttonholes though. The fabric is a suiting fabric, a lightweight wool-blend, confirmed by a burn test that revealed a crumbly kind of ash, signifying more poly than wool! So it doesn’t deserve such couture details. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!
It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve done the hockey run, put another wash-load on, seen my daughter off to the Park Club and had lunch with my son. Mr O is on his way to a wedding gig and I kid you not, I just actually heard a pin drop!
So now the pieces are cut out, darts marked and pinned and I’m now about to embark on the part I love the most. And fingers crossed, will be so pleased that I bothered to grade those pattern pieces. If it does work out good I will no longer have to miss out on those fabulous vintage pattern bids for being the wrong size.
I won’t tempt fate. In fact I won’t waffle on any more as I now have a couple of hours of very valuable sewing time on my hands. Just have to avoid the distraction of the sun. Repeat. Just have to avoid the distraction of the sun!!
I have just added the following two lovely patterns to my Vintage Pattern Collection page and while at it, couldn’t resist a shout out to the fantabulous Pretty Grievances. I would imagine she hasn’t slipped under your radar but just on the off chance, there you will find some of the most entertaining posts out there! Wednesday Wearables is my most favourite. I’m so glad to have been Twittering at the right time and place when the lovely Anne announced she was having a clear out. I actually was hopping up and down on my seat and mentally pointing at the sky shouting ‘me, me!’, when this little beauty popped up:
I don’t think I’d change a thing about this dress. Rather inclined to keep it in blue, too!
As if that wasn’t treat time enough, this Brucey bonus was inside too. I’m assuming 1960s, Just going by the hairstyles. I do love a shirt dress.
And gingham is certainly the way forward with this one. Let’s hope I win Didyoumakethat‘s pink silk taffeta at her Great British Sewing Bee giveaway!! 😉 But get in there quick. You need to enter before 19th April!
So, thank you Anne. I am truly grateful and planning on stealing some sewing real soon xxx
I thought you might like a look in more detail at that Ebay haul I won in July.
Their arrival was a little ungainly to say the least. Not damaged in any way but clearly hurriedly bundled and tied up in… a Morrison’s bag. Not that there’s anything wrong with Morrison’s. But I did have a moment of OMG have I just bought a sack full of rubbish?! Surely these antique patterns deserved a carriage with a little more style!
I gingerly untied the knotted handles. Actually that’s a lie. I completely tore the bag apart because I couldn’t wait a minute more. Was a bit whiffy to say the least! But I can totally forgive the smell, the packaging and the wait.
I think I am still gobsmacked.
For starters, almost all of them are my bust size which means the only alterations will be to the waist and hip. So much less faffing. Even the few that are too small will be worth the adjustments. And I tell no lies when I say that each and every one was a doozy. Most of them unused and uncut.
The first little beauty that caught my eye was this cut out cover of Home Notes. A delight in itself but what was the chance of the patterns for these beauties being inside?
Every little lovely chance. I had guessed 1940s by the styling but in fact this unused and perfectly preserved pattern is nicely dated October 7th 1939:
Love the bit about: “Other sizes… obtainable FREE on application”. Can you imagine that happening nowadays?
I can’t find dates on most of the patterns but all are truly vintage and very beautiful. This is the first I’ve heard of Economy Design patterns. And I feel pretty damned lucky to have landed these lovelies:
Next up is a more familiar name, Simplicity. These stylish little numbers have all their pieces in tact, despite the damage to the envelopes. In fact the one on the right had some very interesting accompanying material!
Whoever Mrs Poole was – the name on most of the mail order pattern envelopes – she was a lady of very fine taste with impeccable organisational skills. In the envelope with Simplicity 8488 (above right) there was this cutting:
Great to see these vintage patterns in ‘real life’ photos. And it makes me love the ensemble even more! Also inside the envelope (from Readers Digest) was each copied piece of the pattern, traced and labelled with precision onto a 1960s edition of the Daily Express. This is one of the reasons that all these patterns are in such great condition and seemingly unused. Mrs Poole has dutifully copied them and kept the originals factory folded. This has given me a fine source of entertainment too, reading all the snippets of the papers. This one quite topical: “Billie Holmes, 24 year old Hull engineer, won the first Olympic cycling road race trial yesterday – by ONE inch. And this victory, over 96 miles near Chesham, Buckinghamshire, strengthens his claim for Rome spot……”
Thank you Mrs P.
Leach Way Patterns is a new one on me too. Any one heard of these? The dress pattern was still in it’s original mail order envelope which is date stamped 1949, so I might be inclined to date the coat and the suit around that time too. Needless to say, all three in perfect condition.
Weldons is a name I recognise. I have a couple in my collection already and I love how they are always so incredibly stylish and yet a little bit quirky.
Now I am assuming ‘Womans Day’ was a womans magazine and this was a supplement… correct me if I’m wrong:
But even better still, than this cheeky little gift book, the blouses featured on the cover and in centre spread are an exclusive Norman Hartnell pattern and all the appropriate pieces are present and correct in this gorgeous little pattern envelope:
I love this 40s (?) McCalls suit. It is so reminiscent of the suits my grandma used to wear:
And who could resist running up a few slips and bloomers for under their vintage dresses?
Woman’s Realm was defo one of my mum’s reads. So these conjure up a bit of nostalgia. I love the first dress. It’s numbered WR.1. I wonder if that is the first ever dress pattern issued by Woman’s Realm? The middle one is far too small for me in any case but the wedding dress with a few adjustments, I’m sure would be really flattering. I do like an empire waistline.
Here’s a classy Dior number from Woman’s Journal:
There’s a couple of other great coat patterns too. One from Odhams and the other from Woman’s Own magazine. I am thinking of making a coat. Just thinking, for now!!
I think Mrs P was too as there were various cuttings of coat images too:
It’s amazing that all the pieces seem to be present for these Du Barry patterns. Whatever their pattern envelopes were made of they certainly disintegrate in a big brittlesome way. But look how Mrs P (I presume) has lovingly recreated the image herself. Don’t you just love the sharpness of these suits and frocks?
I do like a shirtwaist dress and was delighted to find this one from Woman’s Weekly in the bundle. Woman’s Weekly was another of my mum’s reads. I distinctly remember the pink header and the elongated type on the cover:
Here’s a smart little dress suit from The People. One day, one day!:
There was one little girls pattern included in the bundle. I would love my youngest daughter to wear little vintage dresses but I think there is some chance and no chance of that ever happening 🙁
Most of the other patterns were from Woman magazine. Another of the larger format mags if I rightly remember. And what a fine selection we have here:
And imagine how excited I got when this one jumped out at me:
With all supporting cuttings once again:
I love the collar and the buttoned hip pockets. Not to mention the self covered buttons all the ways down, ooo… and the self covered belt. How amazing would that be?!
I am soooo making that Hardy Amies number!
And this wrap dress from Woman looks so much more inspirational in the mag too:
And, if ever I am going to make a pair of ‘Trews’, it is going to be this pair! I love that they are called ‘trews’. I thought that was a term only used and made up by my mum!
Apart from the masses of cuttings that I still have to sift through – believe me, there are stacks of pattern pieces cut out from really old newspapers – the above are without edits, the most amazing collection of patterns ever. Not one duff one among them. Well…. there was this strange one…
…which has to win the prize of most random pattern ever!!
I know, I know, I know… I have enough patterns to sink a battleship. Well that’s what I’m contantly being told. But it’s not strictly true, is it? I would need quite a few more, actually, to really make that happen! Plus, I haven’t bought any in aaaages!
Truth is, I really (honestly) didn’t have many cool blouse and top patterns. But now I have!!
I’m hoping these vintage top patterns will transform into a lovely collection of go-to tops for those panic mornings when I’ve come flying out the shower to find an outfit in 5 minutes for work! They all call for polka dots, stripes and gingham and I will find it hard to go outside of those boxes but will have fun trying!
Oh and this little 40s dress was just waiting to be ‘saved’ by me. Would have been plain rude not to!
1940s dress styles are fast becoming my favourite and my best! I love how fitting they are without being too saucy! I have only made this one to date but it happens to be the most comfortable and flattering dress and always gets lovely compliments. I am currently working on another version in a solid colour and I am also reminded how simple the pattern is too, thank goodness!
What is your favourite era for patterns? Or do you prefer modern ones?
I saw the pattern for this top in the May issue of Burda Style (2012) and it made the project list, even usurping the more ‘urgent’ projects! The back as you can see is fabulously buttoned all the way down which I love but have you ever tried buttoning yourself up back to front? I have got better with practice though, and I reckon I could give Houdini a run for his money now!
The fabric suggestion was for embroidered batiste. I didn’t have any of that to hand but knew the fabric had to be a little bit interesting to make the front not look so boring! I have a heap load of this white eyelet stuff in my stash. I thought it was cotton but when I did the burn test it proved not! I still thought it would be better dyed. I always feel a bit prim and proper in white! This is the result of using black dye on a not so totally natural white fabric…
I quite like how it turned out. The dye coverage is uneven, probably only colouring the small amount natural fibre content to get this linen look. And the embroidered detail, which I knew was synthetic, unsurprisingly remained white.
I went up a size from my usual, (given the few extra pounds that have decended upon me recently) but to be honest I probably needn’t have done. The style is very boxy even though it has front and bust darts. But it is very cool to wear, perfect for what appears to be our summer (not holding my breath) and perfect for teaming with pencil skirts for work.
So apart from taking it a size smaller the only other alteration I would make is to the neckline. The instructions were to sew the bias binding 1cm past the seamline. This struck me as a bit weird as it would have been easier not to have added a seam allowance in the first place, surely? Anyhows I sewed the bias binding ON the seamline…. afterall isn’t that what a seamline is for? It turned out ok, much like a vintage jewel neckline but I am going to try omitting the seam allowance next time, just to give a little more room to breathe!
This pattern is one of Audrey’s collection which I singled out immediately as a great skirt to dress up or down. I’m assuming it’s 1960s but certainly a classic and timeless style in my book! It has been waiting patiently in line to be made and completely jumped the project queue when I remembered the amazing buttons that Mr Ooobop! found for me in Portobello Market.
I didn’t want anything more complicated than black for the skirt and so I set out for a metre of cotton sateen. It has a little bit of stretch in it which makes for a comfy fit. But it is a bit of a collector of cat fluff I’ve since discovered!
The instructions didn’t call for a lining and so I didn’t make one. But that was clearly a bad move. It sticks horribly to my tights and rides up when I’m walking so I am either going to have to go back and line it at a later date or get me a slip! My mum would think this highly amusing as I did my very best to avoid wearing one when I was younger… tantrums and all!
I shortened it by 5 inches which seems to be usual for me when it comes to a vintage patterns. That said, it is still below my knee, a conscious decision, to keep it a vintage length but I’m more used to shorter length skirts and this length takes a bit of getting used to. I will have to wear it with heels so it doesn’t look to ‘grannyish’!
I wasn’t too sure how to measure off the pattern to check for any adjustments needed but given the button wrap around detail, the position of the buttons can be moved to add or take away an inch or two. I must learn to sew buttons on with my machine. This was the only tedious part but other than that I managed to whip it up in a couple of hours. I do regret not binding the hem or the seams. I think it would look much nicer. But I did sew the hem by hand. It would have been sacrilegious to machine hem in any case!
I have worn the skirt to work already and got some lovely comments. But I really must decide on lining/slip before I wear it again. Just don’t tell my mum!