I can’t believe I’m messing up on crafty Friday already and have no completed or in progress crafts to show you. Part of it is that I’m away from my computer so I can’t get to my photos. Also, my project last weekend was a bit of a “fail.”
I decided to make a dress from a vintage dress pattern. Maybe I watch too much Mad Men, but those mid-century fashions are so gorgeous yet simple. I’ve collected a few ’50s and ’60s patterns but this weekend was my first effort at putting one together. The dress went together very nicely, but it was far too small so I got frustrated and took it all apart.
Here’s some lessons learned on working with vintage patterns. First they are all sized – something I didn’t know when buying my first one. Many (most? all?) modern patterns tell you wear to cut if you are a size 4 or a size 8 or a size 14, but the old ones just came in one size, so it’s important to get the right one unless you want to be troubled with resizing. Most of them have measurements on the back.
Second, the sizes mean nothing to the modern person. For example, my “vintage” size is about 10 sizes bigger than what I wear at, say, the Gap.
Finally, even if you “match” the measurements, it’s a good idea to baste your seams (so you can undo them easily if necessary) or even make a muslin. I’m quite convinced women were proportioned differently back then. Or maybe they just wore giant bras and very restrictive undergarments, I don’t know. All I know is that I tried to make the dress according to my measurements, but it was still itty-bitty on me. I was grateful that I used very inexpensive fabric, which I’ll eventually recycle into something else.
And my last note is that vintage patterns assume a lot of knowledge which the modern brand-new seamstress may not know. For example you’ll be plugging along it was say “Do x, y, z” and you’ll do x, y and z and then realise the rest of the sentence was “Do x, y, z having done a, b and c.”
I will make the pattern again and will show it off when I do. But I have a few other projects I’m keen to work on too.
It was still a lot of fun – that crinkly aged paper, cut by some person long ago, the adorable drawings on the pattern envelope. As always I learned a lot. I want to grab some kids vintage patterns too – maybe a ’70s dress or set of overalls. That would be fun.