At this particular sale there were boxes of linens, vintage embroidered napkins and other nifty items that I have to refrain from purchasing, but among these were boxes of fabric. Sometimes the fabric is weird 70's polyester but I have found gorgeous Pendleton wools or silk dupioni hiding among the oddities. I decided to take two whole boxes of fabric, as it was starting to rain and everything was getting soggy. Total price tag $ 10. At home I tipped the boxes onto the wood floor and examined my purchase. A charcoal Harris wool tweed, corduroy in kelly green and a snowflake print, lots of cottons and other stuff I have yet to identify, with plenty of turquoise - my favorite color. There was a wrinkled paper bag with some cotton fabric, and as I opened it seemed I was opening a window into the past. Here is what I found.
It is a completely cut out dress, the pattern is Simplicity 4228, dated 1953. Every piece is there, including all the leftover fabric. For some reason this really touched me, to pick up a project that someone had begun, and for whatever reason folded it up, put it away and never worked on. You can see there are two buttons, they were the only ones in the bag so I guess the sewer was making her selection. I have decided to name this seamstress Margaret, as she needs a name. I will never find out who cut out this dress or any other part of her sewing story, just gleaning what I can from the box of fabric, but I want to give her an identity.
Here is a closeup of the pattern envelope. I like those double darts on the bodice, and the shaped collar and sleeve on the red version.
The fabric is a really nice weight cotton, unbelievable lucky that even though it is white, the color is perfect, no spots or stains. Here you can see how Margaret cut the very full skirt piece on the fold - something I do all the time, cheat a little bit on the seam allowance and let it hang off the fold line if it wider than the fabric. Cut out with pinking shears, no serger needed for Margaret.
My only criticism is of this project is the fact that the small dressmaking pins left here for many, many years have rusted a bit, so in some places I really had to tug to get them out. Thankfully most were pinned in the seam allowances, and those that were not for the most part didn't leave spots. The only two really unacceptable spots were in the facings, right where they would show with an open collar, but Margaret helpfully included the fabric remnant so I could cut out new facings.
I just finished putting in my tailor's tacks, and then noticed that she had drawn all the markings, dots, notches and dart lines, on the wrong side of the fabric with light pencil. I am not sure I approve of the method, but I appreciate that she was a pattern marker - just like me.
Very nice, Margaret.
I spent part of yesterday afternoon sewing up this dress, it is a lot of fun to just pick up a dress and sew it together as is, with no adjustments for fit, which is something I rarely do.
Later this week I will post the finished dress - and then what? Margaret's dress needs to find a good home, so I will have to think about that.
Until then, my first vintage pattern (despite the fact that I have purchased several on Etsy, as yet untouched).
For new readers, here is a link to the next post, Vintage Treasure where you least expect it, Part 2, for photos and details of the finished dress.
5/19/11 If you are arriving here from The Sew Weekly, welcome and thanks for reading.
Here is a new post about another vintage project I just completed. Officially a Fan of Vintage
Finally a garden photo - something blooming around here, but it will be few and far between for a while. Cherry red camellia flowers to match Margaret's red butterfly print.
Happy sewing, Beth