THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 17, 2008

Vintage Bonanza – Part 2

Filed under: Patterns,Vintage Sewing — phyllisc @ 6:53 am

These patterns bring us up to the 1970’s; my grandmother was born in 1903 and still sewed into the 1980’s but I think she didn’t bother with patterns after the 70’s.  She was in her 80’s herself at that point and just stuck with a few tried and true styles. So here we have…

Parade – Mid 60’s

Patterns were sold via local newspapers well into the 70’s and this is an example.  This reminds me of Simplicity’s recent 60’s reissue, but I think this Parade style is more flattering and most women could wear this.  I love the neckline.

Marian Martin 9169 – Mid 60’s

A simple but attractive wrap dress.  I like the two button closure and the one off-side pocket.  I think Marian Martin patterns were also sold through newspapers.

Marian Martin 9166 – Late 60’s or early 70’s ?

I’m having a hard time dating this style; it may well be the same year as the above Marian Martin given the pattern numbers are so close. I’m kind of on the fence right now about this and I’m not sure I’ll keep it.  I like the collar and big buttons down the front, but the seaming on the skirt – not so sure.  Might be okay in a dark fabric though.  One cool thing:  this is a “half size”, the old way that patterns were sized for petites.  By the late 80’s this sizing standard had been dropped entirely by pattern companies.

McCall’s 3818 – 1973

Its a Halston – what more can I say? This has all of the refined details of his sportswear; body skimming but still fitted at the shoulder, waist and hips, a very narrow waistband and a flat front on the  pants.  I should really scan the instructions and show you the technical drawing because the back of the shirt jacket has a lot of interest.  It has a back yoke and jean jacket with princess seams from the armsyce to the hem.  Lots of topstitching on the jacket and the pants.  Recommended fabrics: wool, synthetic double knit (so 70’s), linen, garbardine, cotton broadcloth and (naturally) –  Ultrasuede!



April 26, 2008

Vintage Bonanza – Part 1

Filed under: Fashion,Vintage Sewing — phyllisc @ 8:37 am

My mother came for a visit last week, and she brought two suitcases of patterns that belonged to my grandmother Della Vestcyk.  What a treasure trove!  Most of them will end up on Ebay, although I did keep a handful.  So for the next few days I’ll share with you the ones I kept, and when my mother begins to  list them on Ebay I’ll make an announcement here on Sewing Divas.  All of them are in bust sizes 34-36-38. 

The collection spans the 1930’s to the 70’s and in addition to the Big 4 there are several smaller pattern companies, some I’ve seen before like Marian Martin and Parade, and others I’ve never heard of, such as Modes Royale and The Book of Fashion. 

Modes Royale No. 438 – 1947

This style was my mother’s high school graduation gown. Modes Royale appears to have been a semi-custom pattern company, and notice the price on the envelope is $2.00 – a huge sum of money for a pattern when most of them were only $.25 apiece.  The envelope is really large, about the size of today’s Vogue Designer patterns.  I doubt I’ll ever sew this one, but I had to have it because it was made for my mother, by my grandmother.

Simplicity 2617 – Early 1950’s

I really love both of these; the details are so different.  The one on the left is just about my ideal summer dress, I think it would look great in seersucker or madras plaid, and the style on the right would look great in red or pumpkin wool crepe for the fall and winter.

The Book of Fashion No. 2817 – Early 1950’s

This jacket reminds me of Vogue 7908, a modern Claire Shaeffer pattern.  The side hip buttons are very cool and the jacket and blouse version would also look great and very modern with wide leg pants.

Vogue 6995 – 1950

This one has a copyright date, which is missing from most of the collection.  I love this so much I’m tempted to see if Vogue would be interested in adding it to the Vintage Vogue collection.  This is one of those styles that is timeless and universally flattering to just about everyone.  In addition to being a lovely summer dress, the bodice could also be made in white and the skirt in black for a faux skirt & blouse look.  Add the jacket in the same fabric as the skirt and you have a very Chanel-like look from her 1953 comeback collection.

March 30, 2008

The Lost Acessory

Filed under: Accessories,Fashion,Musings,Vintage Sewing — phyllisc @ 7:07 pm



Georgene’s post made me think of them, because I adore that cute little trilby on the right.  When I was younger, I loved nothing more than playing with my grandmother’s collection of hats on a rainy afternoon, and every time I see a vintage pattern I long for the chance to wear one. 

What happened to our relationship with hats?

My theory as to why woman no longer wear them boils down to this:  we no longer wear hairstyles that accommodate a hat, that is, a style smooth at the back of the head with curls around the face.  Bangs do not work with hats (ask me how I know this.) These days our hairstyle is our “head ornament” and I think our increasingly casual lives jsut don’t give us that many opportunities to wear them, and so we don’t know how to wear them anymore.  These days when I see a woman in a hat she is just SO selfconscious and aware of what’s on her head.  It reminds of me seeing my Episcopal dad in a Yarmulke at my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah.

So where can we wear hats these days? Well…

Church. Our African-American sisters in particular really know  how to rock this and I salute them for keeping the flame burning, but for the most part hats at church are a thing of the past where I live.

The Kentucky Derby.  Not an event I’m likely to attend in the near future.

Weddings.  Well, many of them are evening events now, and hats are kind of a daytime thing if you ask me.

Meeting Queen Elizabeth or the Pope.  Same as the Kentucky Derby.

Not a long list.  Plus, a hat is meant to seen, and since most of us drive everywhere, where would we wear hats on a daily basis?  The mall?  Costco? I can’t envision it.


Great hats do exist….. like here….and here…and here.  First Lady of France Carla Bruni needs to work on her hat wardrobe a bit; it’s hard to believe she looks more matronly than the Queen, who is twice her age and still wore a better hat.  Carla should be channeling Jackie Kennedy.

Maybe when my daughters get married I’ll have a chance to wear one.  Hopefully they will have day weddings.


March 16, 2008

Vintage Trenchcoat

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Georgene,Project Runway,Vintage Sewing — georgene @ 1:55 pm

front.jpgMy dear daughter’s high school is holding another fashion show this year. The kids are big fans of Project Runway. This is the 3rd year they are putting it on, and fundraising with the proceeds. Since DD was away at Oxbow in the Fall, she didn’t get started until January. She was told that there had to be minimum 8 outfits to participate, not 3 like she did last year. Panicked, we decided that the only way to get thru the project was to use commercial patterns, as last year all of her patterns were created for each of her 3 garments. Since her sewing skills are limited I promised to be her samplemaker when I could. I promised myself not to influence. It’s her designs and fabric choices, I have just been expediting. It’s been crazy since January as we try to move forward on her 8 ensembles.
We combed the pattern boxes to try to match her sketches to existing patterns, and shopped the stash for 97% of the fabrics she picked. Other than buying a few buttons and trims, she managed to find everything in the studio here. That’s the advantage of having a stash the size of Rhode Island. As she told her designing friends at school “My mom collects fabric like other people collect action figures”.
The show is next week, but I thought you might like a preview of one of the styles. It’s based on this pattern from 1935.
Check out the backback.jpg We didnt use the exact pattern, as the center of the back pattern had been cut away. The fabric is older than DD, an ignoble poly taffeta that loves to pucker. I have to say that I have never attempted to make anything like it. A high peaked double breasted lapel? Never! But it did come out OK, and I credit the excellent though sparse instruction included in the pattern.
I will post pics from the show after next week. We are all excited to see how it all comes together, with elbow gloves and a big hat off of eBay and belts and jewelry from local thrift shops. Here’s the envelope back for your delectation.

February 21, 2008

Separated at Birth

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fashion,Vintage Sewing — phyllisc @ 8:58 am

Our good friend from Barcelona, Paco Peralta, sent me this photo of the Balenciaga dress that inspired my vintage cashmere coat.

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