Sunday, 10 July 2016

Pattern possibilities

When I was telling my friend A about my upcoming studies, she asked if there was going to be a practical element; would I be making up some vintage patterns as part of my Masters? That's not part of my current plan, but when I was working on the Secret Sewing Project (details coming soon) I was aware that some of the pattern instructions were very different from what I'd expect from a modern, Big-4 pattern. This got me thinking that it might be interesting to make up a selection of patterns from different periods in the twentieth century and see what, if anything, has changed over the years.

So more as eye candy for now than a definite project, here are some possibilities.

The choice wasn't hard to narrow down here, as I currently only own two 1920s patterns. There is no date on them (a common theme throughout my vintage pattern collection), but they both make reference to a 1923 patent, so must be later than that.

Sensible separates . .

. . . and a luxurious evening coat

I've got a bit more choice here.

The 1930s was probably the high point of unrealistic pattern envelope illustration, so these drawings need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

No-one is that shape

I can't imagine ever wearing this outside the privacy of my own back garden, but it would be fun to make!

The onesie, Art Deco style!

Until recently I'd never come across Du Barry patterns, but all of the ones I've seen so far I've really liked. This would involve a lot of redrafting to make it my size, but I think would be worth the effort.

The frilled edge is too apron-y for me, but I like the plain version

I know there was a war on, but this is a truly minimalist pattern, lacking even facings. I'm intrigued as to how it would actually make up.

Just four pattern pieces?


From no facings to what are very probably the Facings From Hell. One day, when I am feeling supremely calm, I want to have a go at this.

Looks like an ordinary blouse, but wait . . .

Just look at those pattern pieces.

Yes, I am slightly insane. Why do you ask?

I cannot lie, I'm a sucker for 1950s sheath dresses. The way the curve of the bodice edge carries on into the left pocket really makes this dress for me.

The perfect curve

Also Vogue, but far simpler. I'm not keen on the stripes, but I love the black and white version.

Sunglasses practically a requirement

Equally simple-looking is this archetypal 1960s dress with interesting back detail.

Realistically, I'm not sure if this shape would do me any favours

And we're into what are for me the 'Style Years'. The latter part of the 1970s was when I started making my own clothes. Style patterns were far and away my favourites, and I used them a lot. And then I threw most of them out in a clearout - sigh.

Wraparound skirt in three lengths

Late 1970s does 1940s revival

There is a whole separate post to be written about my enduring, if slightly guilty, love of some 1980s fashions (please note the word 'some').

This pattern is undated, but various online vendors are selling it as a 1980s pattern. I bought it from George Henry Lee (now sadly renamed John Lewis) in Liverpool, but never made it up.

Better late than never

I cannot be clear enough on this point. I may have worn dresses like this in the 1980s but I never, ever had hair like this! I'm not even sure if it's physically possible without poking your finger in a socket.

Nice dress, shame about the hair

I only own one pattern from the 1990s. Having just googled '1990s dress patterns', I think I know why. I absolutely loved the dress I made from this pattern, though, and it's a strong favourite to make again.

One of my favourite makes ever


  1. My mother made up Style 3815, it was a nice dress, but she rarely wore it. This was before she worked out she preferred separates. The bottom one looks familiar though I don't remember having it myself, I think it's very similar in artwork to one of the New Look patterns I made up during the earlier part of that era.

    1. As is probably obvious from my choices, I'm firmly a 'dresses' girl rather than separates.

  2. Oh, what a fabulous collection of patterns and so much to say. Firstly, that 1920s coat!! I would really love to make that up in a stunning silk printed velvet.
    With the 1930s patterns, I actually find they sew up to look very much like the illustrations, at least all the ones I've done so far have. Also, I would so wear those beach pyjamas. I love the yoke on the one with the puff sleeves but for me ruffles win every time. I have to say I'm rather envious that you have an original beach pyjama pattern, they really are quite rare.
    Lastly, facings weren't very common pre-1950s. Instead the seam allowance was turned over and hidden beneath something like rayon tape. I actually love this way of finishing the edges, it's so much easier. My 1930s sewing book actually only mentions facings if they're added to the outside of the garment, like the beach pyjamas with the yoke.

    1. Thanks Cate. With the exception of Vogue 9546, all of the vintage patterns I've made up so far have been 1950s onwards, so I've not come across that method of finishing. That's precisely the sort of change I'd hope to come across by making up patterns from different decades.

  3. The patterns look lovely on the packaging, but my god that 50s top one has so many pieces, it's crazy! I love the 40s dress one though. I'm not too sure about the 1930s flouncy pattern though, that is a definite one to just wear at home! XxxX

    1. I am soooo tempted to make those 1930s beach pyjamas, just to see how they turn out!