Monday, 30 November 2020

Style 2833

After the complexity of October's Autumn Roses dress and hat, I fancied a simple project this month. Style 2833, made up from a craft cotton remnant from my stash, seemed to fit the bill.

Another 1979 Style pattern

The fact that I am posting about the completed dress on a Monday rather than a Sunday, and on the very last day of the month would suggest that it wasn't that simple after all. Actually it was; it just took me ages to get round to starting - I seemed to have a bit of a sewing slump.

The pattern called for 2.8m of 115cm wide fabric, without nap. My fabric had a barely noticeable directional print, but there was 3m of it, so I was sure it would be fine. When I actually took the fabric out to make a start, however, I discovered two things. One: it was only 110cm wide, and 3cm of that was unprinted selvedges. Two: the last 50cm had a printing error - which may of course explain why it was a remnant!

The printing error (middle and right) shows more on the wrong side of the fabric

So, it was back to pattern tetris yet again. The fault was that the fabric had been printed with too much dye rather than too little, so I reasoned that if necessary, I could always cut the pocket bags and yoke facing from the misprinted part. In fact, I managed to cut all the pieces from the section that was printed correctly, and with everything running in the right direction. Win!

There were a few things which were odd about the pattern. First of all, the ongoing interfacing question. There is interfacing in the cuffs but, as with Style 2630, no interfacing in the yoke. Meanwhile, Style 2912, which has a similar stand neckline to this dress, does use interfacing. I decided to compromise and use a very fine iron-on interfacing for both cuffs and yoke. The angled darts on the sleeve head are unlike anything I've seen in a pattern, but I did like the end result.

The sleeve head darts

Because the yoke is shaped round the neck, it is in two parts with a seam along the shoulder. Although the instructions didn't call for it, I decided to hand stitch the yoke and facing together 'in the ditch' along this seam, to stop the seam allowances from bunching up.

The completed yoke, shoulder seam and sleeve

As with Style 2912, I can get my hands through the cuffs without unbuttoning them, so I cheated and just sewed the buttons on through both layers of cuff.

Cuff cheat!

The one thing I haven't done yet is the neck fastening. The pattern calls for a small button and loop just below the yoke, but this looks a bit meagre to me. For the photographs I used a brooch, and liked the effect. I think that either some sort of clasp or frog fasten would work, or I will reinforce the neck facings to that I can just use the brooch all the time.

The unfinished front

I like the finished dress, but it is undeniably one of the most, if not the most, late-70s/early-80s dresses I have ever made. So inspired by the Style Pattern Book I decided to ham it up a bit in the photos with appropriate hair – all curls and combs!

80s hair - go big or go home!

It's got pockets!

My careful cutting out means that only 2.5m are taken off the stashometer, and I know for a fact that the year's total is going to look less rosy shortly - full confession coming soon!

Looking good - but about to take a turn for the worse

Sunday, 29 November 2020

It's that time again . . .


The time when I realise that it's the last Sunday of the month, and I've got an almost-but-not-completely-finished dress for the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month. Proper post about my November dress coming tomorrow - hopefully the weather might even improve enough to get some decent pictures!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Bestway patterns - again

Thanks to a particularly long-lasting migraine and other health issues, I have done absolutely no sewing this week. So today's post is mostly a 'pretty pictures' one.

I recently acquired this eight-page "Special Fashion Supplement". There is no indication of what it is a supplement to, but as the address for orders is "21, Whitefriars St., London, E.C.4", it was obviously an Amalgamated Press publication. My guess is that it was Good Needlework because, according to the (very) small print on page seven, this monthly magazine carried a "full list of London and provincial paper pattern agents" in every issue. There is no date anywhere, but summer is mentioned several times. Although the styles have a 1940s look, it must have been before clothes rationing was introduced as there are no references to coupons.

The 'bargain pattern' has several different views

Some clues to the date appear on page two. The Amalgamated Press had clearly done a deal with Advance Patterns, and four of their patterns were listed in the supplement. Judging from the entries on the Commercial Pattern Archive, these patterns were issued in either 1938 or 1939.

Page 2 - Advance patterns

The fourth Advance pattern

Bestway patterns were in the 11,000 to 12,000 range in February 1938, and 16,402 is the highest number in this supplement so, even allowing for the huge number of patterns which Bestway produced, I'm tending towards 1939.

Pages 4 and 5 - the Advance pattern is star of the show

The international cachet of the Advance patterns had its price. Most of the Bestway patterns featured cost 1/- (£3.39 today), and the 'bargain pattern' on the front page was just 4½d (£1.27), while the Advance patterns cost 1/6 (£5.08). But, as the supplement points out, these patterns are from "AMERICA".

All of the patterns have a main illustration plus a line drawing of the back view, and smaller drawings of any other views. There is also some indication of the yardage required, although I can't work out which size this relates to.

Pages 2 and 3 - lots of different views

Most of the dresses are fitted but 16,319 is loose-fitting and shaped with a belt. Described as "Blessedly easy to make", I wonder if it was maternity wear in disguise, or just a simple pattern for beginners?

16,319 is on the right, with a sketch of the unbelted version

Some of the descriptions give an idea of the age range the dress is intended for, with phrases such as "young look" and "youthful charm". My particular favourite might not pass advertising standards today: apparently you will "acquire slenderness" in the dress on the left - not just the appearance of slenderness, but the real thing!

Vertical lines make the pounds just drop away!

Meanwhile pattern 15,900 has "ageless charm" and is "particularly becoming to a mature figure".

15,900 is second from the left

An entire double-page spread is devoted to patterns for "Larger Figures". While the models are drawn to look vaguely older, there is not a wrinkle on any of them.

Pages 6 and 7

Most Bestway patterns were available in 32, 34,36, 38 and 40-inch bust sizes, while matrons' patterns were in 36, 38, 40, 44 and 48-inch busts (so if you were a 42 or 46-inch bust, you had to be good at altering patterns). 15,809, described as "for all ages in all sizes" was also available in 32 and 34-inch sizes. Unlike those on earlier pages, none of these patterns come with any collar or sleeve variations.

Patterns in matrons' sizes only

Some of these patterns were also offered in shorter versions. 15,374 was one of them, but for 44-inch bust only. 15,876 and 16,343 were available in 32, 34,36, 38, 40 and 44-inch bust sizes "for figures 4 inches shorter than average". As it is only in this section that shorter patterns are mentioned, this may have been an early attempt at what would eventually become half-sizes.

Patterns with size and height variations

The back page is devoted to separates, and the sole advertisement. Sparva Fabrics was one of the many British textiles firms which closed in the 1970s - at some point I will get round to a blog post about some of them.

Page 8

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Style Pattern Book

I’ve written quite a lot on this blog about Vogue Pattern Book (later renamed Vogue Patterns) magazine, but until recently Style Pattern Book had completely passed me by. Which is odd, really, because in my time using and collecting Style patterns there has been no shortage of hints about its existence.

Pattern envelopes from 1970, 1976, 1978 and 1982

It crops up on instruction sheets, too.

Instruction sheet for Style 2833, 1979

I assume that Style Pattern Book was launched in 1970, as there is no reference to it on a 1969 pattern in my collection. However, the copy I have acquired is the Autumn/Winter 1979/80 issue, so ties in nicely with my interest in all things related to 1979 Style patterns.

Late 1970s Style goodness

Style Pattern Book came out three times a year; Spring, Summer and Autumn/Winter. It cost £0.50 per issue (for context, the 1979 Style pattern I'm currently making up cost £1.35) but a two-year subscription was available for £2 - a saving of £1. This issue consists of 80 pages, plus covers.

Vogue Patterns, as it was called by 1979, came out six times a year. The Autumn 1979 and Winter 1979 issues, which cover the same period as the Style publication, cost £0.75 each and contain 96 and 86 pages respectively. Both issues include a voucher giving the reader 50% off one Vogue pattern of their choice. Vogue patterns at the time cost from £1.10 to £4.95, so if you wanted one from the upper end of the price range, it was worth buying the magazine just for the voucher.

Vogue Patterns, from the same period

A two-year subscription to Vogue Patterns cost £10.75, £1.75 more than 12 issues of the magazine. On the plus side, subscribers also received three 50% off pattern vouchers. Neither the Style subscription nor the magazine itself offered any discounts on patterns.

The biggest difference that I can see between the publications, however, is one of tone. Vogue Patterns is styled very much as a magazine. There are a number of advertisements, many full or double page. Most are sewing-related, but there are also some for hair colour, underwear and, incongruously to modern eyes, cigarettes. There are also articles on dressmaking, and a couple of short non-sewing features. All of the patterns shown, 76 in the Autumn issue and 71 in the Winter issue, are arranged into features and have been photographed on a model especially for the feature.

Vogue Patterns feature on dress patterns

Style Pattern Book is more straightforwardly promotional material, with much less effort and cost involved in its production. It contains far fewer advertisements, all of which relate to dressmaking. The only feature is a two-page spread on fabrics for children's clothes, made up using patterns which appear elsewhere in the issue.

Style Pattern Book feature on autumn fabrics

The layout of the rest of the magazine is similar to a counter catalogue, with a few pages of photographs and then patterns organised into sections.

Large photographs on the first two pages

Contents and cover details, no editorial

Unlike Vogue Patterns, few of the adult photographs seem to have been taken just for the magazine. Most of them appear on the pattern envelope as well. (I don't have enough of the children's and teen patterns to comment on them.)

A page of the magazine, and the matching pattern envelope

A photograph taken just for the magazine?

For a lot of the 93 patterns featured, however, the artwork has obviously just been taken directly from the counter catalogue. From my point of view this is great, as it has provided details of a number of new-to-me 1979 patterns, but I'm struggling to see why many people would pay for information they could get by going into their local fabric shop (far more numerous in those days) and looking at the counter catalogue for free.

Many of the pages look like this

Clearly other people felt the same. By 1982 Style Pattern Book had dropped to two issues a year, and was being heavily promoted on pattern instruction sheets.

Style 3631 instruction sheet, 1982

The prospect of browsing at leisure in the comfort of your home doesn't seem to have been enough to save it, however, as there is no reference to it on this envelope flap from the next year.

Style 4086, 1983

I may not have noticed it at the time, but now that I'm finally aware of its existence, I will definitely be looking out for other issues of Style Pattern Book.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Autumn roses dress - part 2

Not only have I completed my October dress for the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month, but I've even got pictures of me wearing it somewhere other than my own home! Woot! I also have several thank-yous to make.

Not my usual backdrop

Finishing the placket was easy if boring (so many fasteners to sew on), but when it came to the hem, I realised that I had cut the skirt a little shorter than I would like. I think that I must have lengthened it for the second CC41 dress, but forgot to make a note on the pattern pieces - tsk, tsk. Fortunately, I remembered that Susan Young had recently posted this article about different hem finishes on her blog, one of which involved using bias binding. The binding is attached to the raw edge of the skirt - I did this by machine - and then turned up and sewn in place like a normal hem.

The next problem was finding suitable binding. The binding I had used on the sleeves was quite stiff. This was fine on a sleeve opening, but too rigid for a hem. In another triumph of memory (I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I can remember sewing conversations from ages back!), I recalled Juliana of Urban Simplicity explaining that modern binding tends to have some synthetic fibres in it, which makes it stiff, whereas vintage bindings are pure cotton and softer. Sure enough, in my stash I found this beautifully flexible grey vintage binding which was ideal for the job. So, a big thank you to Susan and Juliana for their advice. I ended up with a perfectly hanging hem, which only required a small seam allowance.

The completed hem

I wanted to photograph the dress being worn with the 'matching' hat, ideally with a backdrop of autumnal trees, so enlisted the help of my friend D. Unfortunately, by the time we got a day when it stopped raining for long enough for us to go out, most of the leaves were on the ground rather than the trees!

With autumn leaves, just not on the trees

We went out quite early, and while the autumn colour might not have been quite as I wanted, we did get some misty autumn light on the canal.

Misty morning shot

Despite the use of two hatpins and multiple hairpins, the 'tilt' hat tilted rather more than I had intended - but this did produce some good pictures of the flowers.

Hat close-up

I must admit, I was quite nervous about enlisting photography help. I typically take a lot of photographs in order to get the handful which appear on this blog, and I was worried that D would get bored. Happily for me, however, he threw himself into it - suggesting backdrops and poses and never once hinting that surely I must have enough pictures by now. I put a lot of work into this ensemble, and really wanted better pictures of it than my usual back yard shots, so a huge thank you goes to him for his input. (He may come to regret this enthusiasm, when he finds himself called upon to photograph future projects!)

This was my favourite photo of the day

I bought this patterned crepe ages ago with the intention of making a 1940s dress from it, and finally doing so made another dent in the stash.

30 metres in credit!

The fabric was also one of my #UseNine2020 choices and realistically, it’s going to be the last one I use this year. The remaining four are very much spring/summer fabrics. My November dress is going to be another stash make, but in a winter-weight cotton - hopefully this time I will complete it in the month.

At least I used more than half of my fabrics

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Autumn Roses dress - part 1

I think that it's safe to say that estimating is not my strong suit. Yet again, I have reached the end of a month with that month's contribution to the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month incomplete.

To be fair, there have been a number of changes of plan through the week. The fabric is one of my UseNine2020 choices, and the intention was to make it up using this pattern.

Plan A - Advance 2229, 1939

Unfortunately, it is missing the collar and sleeve pieces. However, a few weeks ago I spotted another 1939 pattern for sale which had a similar sleeve, so I snapped it up.

Plan B - Du Barry sleeves on an Advance dress

I redrafted the bodice of the Advance pattern, shortening it and using the armscye of the Du Barry pattern pieces. I also slightly redrafted the skirt, as the centre back piece bears no resemblance to the actual shape of my behind!

Comparing sleeve pieces, and the 'never going to work' skirt

The fabric was a remnant which I bought some years ago because I liked the retro print. Stupidly, I hadn't checked it before I started this project, and when I finally unfolded it I discovered that it was far smaller than I remembered. There was no way that even I was going to be able to squeeze this dress out of the fabric I had.

The main problem was the full, flared skirt, which just eats yardage. So, I decided to abandon the idea of a dress with buttons all the way down and instead have a buttoned bodice, a straight skirt, and a side placket. For this I turned to my tried and trusted CC41 dress pattern. Even this didn't fit on the cloth available, so further economies were needed. The bodice front has a self facing, which makes it very wide, and therefore difficult to fit on the material with other pieces (the fabric is an odd 133cm/52½" wide), so I split that into separate bodice and facing pieces. This was far less wasteful of fabric.

Finally, there was the issue of the missing collar. I wasn't keen on the plain round neckline, but nor did I have enough spare material for a collar adapted from the Du Barry pattern. Then I noticed the tiny illustration at the bottom left of the pattern envelope.

Neckline solution

This was View 3, with a shaped neckline, and it was perfect. Finding it on the pattern was another matter, though. Most of the unprinted patterns which I have used before have had a clear key and/or diagram in the instructions, explaining what all the perforations mean. The Advance pattern did not, it was up to the maker to decipher them. The Du Barry pattern was the same.

Bodice front piece, with lots of perforations

(This is why I would recommend that anyone wanting to try using a true vintage pattern, rather than a reissue or a vintage-style pattern such as Gertie's, starts off with one from the Big Five - Butterick, McCall's, Simplicity, Style or Vogue. The information may not be presented in the same way as on modern patterns, but it is all there somewhere. I consider myself a fairly experienced dressmaker, but I found this pattern taxing.)

I don't know whether it was my poor drafting, but after all that the end result barely shows the curved shaping at all (I tucked some white fabric underneath to show the shape more clearly). It might be more visible in a plainer fabric. I do like the little notched effect, though.

The finished neckline

Then there were the sleeves. I've never made anything with the structured, darted, style of sleeve head before, and hadn't realised that it involved quite so many darts. Plus, there were a further three to shape the sleeve at the elbow. For someone whose pet dressmaking peeve is transferring pattern markings, this was torture!

My Darts Hell

I also made a mistake with the sleeve openings. The raw edges are finished with binding, and this should have been attached in such a way as to create an underlap so that the sleeve edges meet when the sleeve is closed. I just turned the raw edges under and bound them, so the sleeve has to overlap slightly to be closed. Fortunately I have both thin wrists, and teeny tiny vintage snaps to minimise the overlap!

Sleeve opening

So this catalogue of quirks and changes is my excuse for why it is now November and I do not have an October dress. However, now there are 'just' the snaps on the placket and the hem to do, so hopefully I will have a completed dress to photograph soon.