Sunday, 25 November 2018

Vogue Young Fashionables

I'm busy with a sewing project at present, but it's top secret, so I can't post about it - yet. So instead here's a short post about something which came up in my studies this week - Vogue Young Fashionables patterns.

The Young Fashionables line was introduced in 1956. Initally they were sold only to schools as an aid for sewing lessons. Two years later however they appeared in the main pattern catalogue. By this stage they had their own logo, and were sold in larger envelopes, similar to those used for Vogue Paris Originals and Vogue Couturier patterns.*

The original Vogue Young Fashionables logo

By 1961 however Young Fashionables patterns were in standard size envelopes with the usual Vogue logo, and just the image of a sew-in ribbon to distinguish them.

Vogue 5230, 1961

Vogue 5597, 1962

Vogue 6166, 1964

Vogue 6277, 1964

I'm not sure if the patterns actually had a 'Young Fashionables' sew-in label from the beginning, but clearly they were available by 1965. In line with the labels for other Vouge pattern lines it did not come as standard with the pattern; it had to be requested when you bought the pattern.

Vogue 6504, 1965

Vogue 6879, 1966

It's hard to see what distinguishes these patterns: most of them do not look noticably trendier or more suitable to younger wearers than other Vogue patterns of the same period. Nor do they seem obviously simpler to make, in line with the original idea of these being patterns to use while learning to sew. The name does always make me smile however, as I am neither young nor remotely fashionable, but would happily make up most of the Young Fashionables patterns in my collection!

* - Information from Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s by Wade Laboissonniere.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

#VintagePledge - Style 2912

Making this up was an odd mix. On the one hand it was very straightforward: the pattern dates from 1979, the year after I started making clothes on my own in earnest, so the style of illustrations and instructions etc, were entirely familiar. On the other hand a couple of the techniques used were new to me.

I always pre-wash my fabrics, and when I was ironing this one I noticed a couple of small tears in it. Nothing major, but I did have to alter the cutting layout to work around them.

I tacked around the holes to make sure that I didn't miss them

Because the stand neckine is a separate section of the dress, it was far easier to do than on other patterns I've used where it is part of the bodice front. Here it was just sewn onto the main part of the dress, then the two sections flipped inwards, and attached to the dress along the bottom. Then a facing was added to enclose all the raw edges.

The collar section pinned in place

The sleeves were slightly odd in that the opening had a facing rather than a placket and cuff.

The sleeves and facings

Once the facing was sewn on, a small dart was stitched above the sleeve opening, and the two ends of the facing joined over that.

The sleeve dart

None of this was difficult, just different from the techniques I'm used to. It was all just a case of following the instructions. The rest was easy. Kerry of Kestrel Makes is a fan of 1970s patterns and on this evidence I can see why: there's a lot to like. No waist seams requiring complicated pattern shortening. Pockets as standard (yesssssss!). No zip. I had some Liberty buttons which I had bought for another project and not used, and which turned out to perfectly match the colour of the small roses on the fabric. I dispensed with the rouleau loops for the buttons as I felt that my fabric was a bit too thick for them, and made buttonhole-stitch loops instead.

I absolutely love the end result. It helps that the fabric feels right for the period, both in terms of colour and pattern. I also managed to find a belt which is an absurdly good colour match.

The finished article

I can't help wondering why I love this dress so much. Yes, it's practical, and the sort of unfussy style that I like, but I think there's more to it. It's back to the theory that you will always like the styles you wore when you were 17. I was 15 when this pattern came out, not 17, but at some level it takes me back to a time when life didn't involve such tiresome things as tax returns and clearing leaves out of guttering!

My attempts to style the look in true 1979 fashion were scuppered by the fact that 'American Tan' tights have gone the way of Vesta curries and the test card (mourned by no-one, I imagine), but I did at least pin my hair back with combs and attempt to coax my fringe into a more period-appropriate flick.

Aiming for the 1979 look

I can see more 1970s patterns featuring in my future makes.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Patterns of Fashion 5 - a short review

I'll confess, it's so long since I pre-ordered this that I'd forgotten about it! Which was good in a way, because it meant that when the postman arrived on Thursday with a packet I was completely mystified - and then thrilled when I opened it.


For readers who aren't into historical costuming, let me explain. Janet Arnold was a costume historian who wrote a number of books, probably the best known being the first two volumes of Patterns of Fashion. These books look at a number of women's costumes, usually dresses, held in English collections (I use the word 'English' rather than 'British' deliberately) during the period 1660-1940. For each costume there are line drawings of front and back views, and often a drawing of the interior, showing construction details. There is also a detailed diagram of all the pieces, drawn to scale on a grid, enabling the dress to be recreated. The Costume Society runs an annual competition for the best recreation: you can see the most recent winners here.

This very basic explanation really doesn't do Arnold's scholarship justice. My copies of Patterns of Fashion 1 and 2 are over 30 years old, and I've spent many happy hours dooling over them.

Janet Arnold died in 1998, leaving a large amount of unpublished research. Volume four, which like volume three covers the period c1540-1660, was published in 2008, with contributions from other authors. Volume five is published by The School of Historial Dress (details here), and moves away from clothing, and instead looks at bodies, stays, hoops and rumps from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Like volume four, the book makes lavish use of colour. (The first three volumes, reflecting the period when they were first written, are in black and white.) As well as period illustrations of different styles of dress, there are colour photographs of individual garments. There are detailed explanations of terminology, and of the materials used historically, along with suggestions for modern equivalents. X-ray photographs are also used to show the position of stiffening materials within the bodies and stays.

Terminology of stays

Traditional stiffening materials

Colour is also used in the scale diagrams, which makes details such as the different layers involved in construction of stays easier to understand.

Part of one of the diagram pages

Amid all this (welcome) colour, there is still room for Arnold's illustrations. Seeing new drawings in the familiar style is like receiving a postcard from an old friend.

Court stays and petticoat, c1660-70

At 160 pages, there is a wealth of information packed in here. I will leave people who know more about the period to comment on how useful the book is from a practical point of view, but it is certainly a welcome addition to my costuming library. Thanks to American Duchess for alerting me to the fact that it was coming out.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

#VintagePledge - into the 1970s

Way back in January, in my plans for this year's pledge, I wrote that it was time to drag myself away from the 1940s and 50s styles I love, and explore the period 1960-1989. I made a start with Butterick 4384 (1967), but I must admit that my next plan is a bit of a cheat.

The late 1970s (and early 1980s where I grew up, it was not at the cutting edge of fashion!) saw a revival of 1940s looks. Hair appeared in rolls, or pinned up with clips or combs. Skirts got straighter, and shoulder pads made an appearance: not the gigantic, have-to-go-through-doors-sideways ones of the later 1980s, just a more defined shoulder.

sort-of rolled hair and Vogue 1718 by Bill Blass, 1977

Another rolled 'do' in the centre, and padded shoulders - Style 2890, 1979

Hair comb and Vogue 1725 by Jean Muir, 1977

Modern hair but 1940s-style dresses - Style 2861, 1979

The pattern I'm going to make is also from 1979, Style 2912. Unlike 2861 it has no fitting at the waist, relying on a belt for shaping.

More hair swept up on view 3

It is also an early version of multi-size patterns, combining sizes 12 and 14. I'm a size 14, but the pattern has been cut to a 12. However because it is printed with both cutting and sewing lines, it was easy to just add the seam allowance to the larger sewing lines, and trace off the correct size.

Front, showing the dual lines and notches

I am making view 1, the long-sleeved version, and I managed to find a cotton remnant in a reasonably period appropriate colour and print. Style was my favourite brand, and I made up lots of their patterns in the late seventies and into the 1980s; just seeing that logo on the top of the envelope brings back lots of memories. So I'm looking forward to making this one - it will be a real blast from the past!