Today I died and went to vintage sewing pattern heaven

I was out running some boring errands today and decided to stop in at one of my favourite vintage clothing stores just to have a look around. They had some vintage fabric and while I was looking at it one of the owners started chatting with me. I mentioned that I love using vintage fabric for the clothes I make and she told me she had a box of vintage sewing patterns in the back if I would like to have a look at them – of course I said yes! I wasn’t really expecting to find much, but that box was an absolute treasure trove and I ended up coming home with five patterns! If I could have afforded it I definitely would have bought more, but I’ll be going back very soon to pick up more!

Most of the patterns were from the 60’s and 70’s (sadly none of those were in my size), but when I reached the bottom of the box, my heart almost stopped as I saw patterns from the 1920’s and 30’s! I’ve never seen patterns this old in my city, nor have I ever been able to buy any online, because they’re usually incredibly expensive. I actually had to restrain myself from scooping them all up because it was an unplanned for expense that I couldn’t entirely justify. I narrowed it down to five patterns, three of which I knew would fit my older sister (the one I’ve been working on Operation Sharon Tate with!), one I thought might fit another one of my sisters (and even if it doesn’t, it was way too incredible to leave behind!) and one that was in my size.

I checked them when I got home to make sure there were no missing pattern pieces and they all appear to be complete (sadly minus an embroidery transfer for the dress that is in my size, but I can always try coming up with a design myself, try to replicate the original, or find something online that would look nice). I also did a bunch of research online to try and date the patterns and was able to come up with some rough estimates (this is one of the resources I used and it was very helpful in dating two Hollywood sewing patterns!).

This pattern roughly dates to about 1935 and the timing of finding it was perfect! My sister is in town and finally got to try on the dresses I’ve been making her – which was such a thrill! Two of the dresses need very minor alterations which I will be doing ASAP, but they look absolutely gorgeous on her and it was one of the proudest moments of my life to see her in them! While she was trying on the dresses we decided that it would be good to make a slip to go with one of them and I was planning on looking for a pattern online, so it was amazing to find this one in her size less than 24 hours later!

This Hollywood pattern (featuring Ann Shirley) roughly dates to 1939 and is for the same sister. I’m going to be bringing her to look through the rest of the patterns as well, because most were actually in her size! It was tough to decide which ones to pick up for her, as they had several incredible dress patterns from around the same time period, but after seeing her in the dresses I’d already made yesterday, I thought that this particular style would look absolutely stunning on her so I made sure to snap it up.

This pattern is one of my favourites and is also for my older sister! It was much harder to date this one but from what little I was able to find out, Chatelaine started making these patterns available in 1928 and late 20’s to early 30’s seems about right from the style of the skirt. If anyone has any information about these patterns or any thoughts on when they could be from, I’d love to hear it, by the way! These skirts are gorgeous and just the kind of thing I’ve been looking for!

Another favourite! The “Belrobe” (or instruction sheet) for this pattern very luckily lists the exact dates that it was patented! August 19th 1919-January 23rd 1923. I’m not sure why two dates were listed, but I hope someone with far more knowledge of vintage patterns will be able to enlighten me. I have another one of my sisters in mind for this pattern and I’m already dreaming of making it – the tough part will be sourcing non-polyester versions of the kinds of fabric the pattern calls for, which can be really tough, at least here in Canada. I’m hoping that with a bit of dedicated hunting I can source some better quality fabric because I refuse to resort to polyester satin again, the destroyer of all my best laid sewing plans, especially for a project as special as this. If anyone knows of possible sources that might ship to Canada, or can give me recommendations on what other types of fabric might be suitable if all else fails and all I can find is polyester, I’d love to hear it!

And the last pattern…

McCall 3442 – this is the one that is sadly missing the embroidery transfer. I love that it came with this piece showing the finished garment! This is the only printed pattern I found today and the instructions are printed directly onto the pattern pieces (aaaaand are pretty much non-existent and of the “slash here”, “gather this edge” variety, but at least that’s something!) and so is the year! According to the date on the pattern pieces, this pattern is from 1921! Technically this is a pattern for a girl and not a woman, but since it would fit me, you’d better believe I plan on making this dress, even if I only wear it around the apartment!

Unfortunately this pattern and the skirt pattern don’t come with direct recommendations for fabric, though in the instructions for stamping the transfer on the back of this pattern, silks and woolens are mentioned, as are “wash materials.” With the skirt there is no indication at all, but I know it definitely needs to be something that can hold those inverted “plaits” well. I think I have some a few vague ideas for fabrics that could work nicely (such as linen for example), but I am in no way an expert when it comes to fabric, so once again, I’d appreciate your suggestions!

I still can’t believe that I actually own these beautiful patterns – or that I found them so close to home and was able to purchase them for an absolute song compared to what they would typically go for online! These are now the oldest original patterns in my collection and I can’t wait to sew them!

Now, time to finally drag myself away from the pretty patterns and go make dinner because I’ve been alternating between staring at these in awe and trying to research them for the last five hours or so!

Operation Sharon Tate part 2/Style 3837

Today I wanted to share the third dress I’ve made as part of Operation Sharon Tate, the ongoing project I’ve been collaborating on with my sister, where I’ve been making her late 1960’s and 1970’s clothing.

This dress is yet another muslin/toile, since my sister lives out of town and needs to try these dresses on and have them properly fitted before I can really dive into the projects for real, but I really like it so far.

I used Style 3837 for this dress, and made view 3:

This pattern is from 1972 and is STUNNING. You can find some truly gorgeous Style patterns from the 1970’s and they’re quickly becoming one of my favourite pattern companies for 1970’s patterns. I only wish they were easier to come by!

Since this dress was being made for my sister, once again I took some progress pictures to send her that I’ll include in this post. Including this one of a very real problem I was dealing with while making this dress:

My cat fell in love with this pattern and dress and I kept finding her snuggling up with the dress and pattern pieces or instructions while I was in the process of making the dress. At every single stage of making it, Cali found a way to rub up against, cuddle, paw and sleep on this dress and otherwise infuse it with her love – and fur. Pins be damned, the wanted this dress!

The first progress photos I sent my sister! You can see from the second photo that the front panels were just ever so slightly off, which drove me a little nuts. I almost took the dress apart to try and align them properly, but decided to wait since I might have to alter the dress anyway. I did better on the back of the dress at least! And in the last picture, I had to show off my very nearly invisible hem to my sister (and now the internet), because it’s one of my favourite sewing techniques and it always makes my day when I can come as close to nailing it as possible.

I used elasticated thread for the sleeves, which took a little trial and error to figure out since it was my first time, but my trusty 1960’s Singer 403A got the job done! It certainly isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty pleased with it. I took some close up photos of the inside and outside of the sleeves, complete with the remnants of Cali’s nightly snugglefest with the dress:

Somehow I didn’t photograph the dress once it was finished, probably because we kept having a lot of gloomy, rainy, flood warning filled days where I couldn’t take pictures, but I did take two photos once the sleeves were on, so close enough!

As you can tell, I still haven’t figured out a good set up for taking photos, but I’m hoping to get to it soon, I’ve just been incredibly busy and haven’t had a chance to think about it properly or set anything up. Sorry about that!

I really love this pattern and I hope I’ll be up to the task of making view 1 soon, which involves a lot of yummy shirring and embroidery! I can’t wait to even make this view again! If you come across this pattern and love 1970’s fashion, snap it up! It is SUCH a fabulous pattern!

My sister can’t come down for a visit soon enough! I’m so excited about her trying these dresses on and then re-making them even better for her – on top of just being excited about seeing her and my niece in general! On pins and needles until the summer…

Scarlett Willow Shop Review!

Full disclosure: I was given these garments as a gift from Scarlett Willow Shop and only paid for shipping. I was not, however, asked or expected to write this review in exchange for these items, I did so because I wanted to and all opinions expressed in this review are my own honest thoughts and impressions.

Full disclosure: I was given these garments as a gift from Scarlett Willow Shop and only paid for shipping. I was not, however, asked or expected to write this review in exchange for these items, I did so because I wanted to and all opinions expressed in this review are my own honest thoughts and impressions.

Awhile ago on my old blog, I wrote a spotlight piece on Scarlett Willow Shop, one of my absolute favourite shops on Etsy. Well, Ashley, the owner of Scarlett Willow, was incredibly sweet and sent me a wonderful thank you package that I wanted to share with all of you!

Ashley sent me two gorgeous vintage tops and I absolutely love them. They were very well packaged and came wrapped individually in tissue paper and it was so exciting to unwrap them.

This first top appears to have been made by a home seamstress (one of my favourite kinds of vintage garments to find!), as there are no tags (or signs of tags being removed), and I really love it. The voluminous, floaty sleeves are amazing and the top fits really well. The top is in amazing condition and I’m really looking forward to sewing skirts (and eventually a pair of bell bottoms!) to pair with it! I think that this top must have been made in the mid to late 1960’s, and I really love the style, it’s so much fun to wear!!

The second top is a lovely 1960’s yellow pussy bow blouse:

This blouse is amazing and I can’t help but smile when I put it on, I love the bright yellow floral print! I’m already mentally planning skirts I can make to go with it and can’t wait to start sourcing the fabric! I love how this blouse feels both classy and fun with the bright colour and print. It has so many wonderful features, such as the button up sleeve cuffs, the pussy bow, the light gathering at the shoulders…this blouse is just gorgeous!

Both tops are in excellent condition and arrived freshly cleaned, which was really nice! Shipping was really fast, even though Scarlett Willow Shop is based in New York, and I’m in Canada, which was fabulous! I can’t wait to start wearing these on a regular basis, I know they’re both definitely going to become major wardrobe staples! They’ll fit perfectly into the 1960’s-1970’s inspired wardrobe I’ve been building and creating for myself.

Thank you so much, Ashley, for these incredible gifts! I feel so honored to have been given them and to have them in my wardrobe!

You can find Scarlett Willow Shop on Etsy and follow them on their fabulous Instagram account!

Zee Vintage Fashion Review

1970’s Pantel Dress

A few weeks ago I bought this incredible 1970’s Pantel maxi dress from Zee Vintage Fashion on Etsy and I absolutely love it! It’s as comfortable as a snuggly nightgown, but absolutely gorgeous!

The dress shipped very quickly, was carefully and beautifully packaged, was exactly as described and Zee was really friendly and wonderful to do business with!

Sadly I wasn’t able to find out anything about this designer/brand, but from the other dresses I’ve been able to find of theirs on Etsy and eBay, I really love their style and will definitely be on the hunt for more!

This dress has some really lovely little features, such as the empire waist with light gathering in the front and back and a neat sleeve technique I’ve never seen before – this extra bit of fabric on the inside of the sleeve head which makes the sleeve puff out even more when worn!

I find this detail fascinating and definitely want to try using this technique in one of my own garments someday!

It also has a self fabric belt that you tie up in a bow in the back of the dress that’s really pretty, and a row of lovely orange buttons down the front:

At 5’3″, this dress is floor length on me, which is perfect for the style. This is the kind of dress that makes you want to run around in the grass barefoot with flowers in your hair and I love it!

And speaking of flowers, the fabric is just gorgeous!

I love everything about this dress and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase from Zee, I’d gladly do business with her again and definitely recommend her shop!

Zee Vintage Fashion is based out of Hamilton, Ontario, and can be found on Etsy.