Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Officially a Fan of Vintage

Officially a fan of vintage. . .that was my comment after finishing a very special project.  I have been looking forward to doing this post for a few weeks and now I have all the photos ready. Here is a little peek.

Vinrage for Nancy1

Vintage dress front full1

I was contacted via my Etsy shop by Nancy, a blog reader who read my post about the Vintage Treasure dress, which is pictured at right. 

This dress and the posts about it have generated more comments than anything I have done so far on the blog,  my conclusion being that sewing clothes is such a personal activity, and something done by so many generations that we all relate to sewers from prior eras.  I think we can imagine their struggles, perhaps during wartime when cloth was in short supply or know what it was like to make a dress for a very special occasion, associate it with happy memories and then possibly hand it down to someone else in the family.

Nancy asked if I would sew an outfit from a vintage pattern for her.  The most interesting part to me is that she is in high school - so there are fans of vintage at all ages!  I was intrigued and consequently I may do more of these in the future.  

Here is the pattern that she chose.  I reminds me of an outfit worn in old black and white movies of the 40's with snappy dialogue, missed connections and switched identities that get resolved in the end with smiles and a song.
Vintage pattern for N
She chose the fabric pictured in the first photo, floral for the top and skirt, and the solid blue for the detachable collar.  Yes this pattern is a tiny size - I had to do some adjustments, but not much for this slender 16 year old.  The fabric came from one of my estate sale finds, I can't recall which one but I think the same where I found the red and white dress. 

This is the first time I have used an Advance sewing pattern.  Looking at the Vintage Pattern wiki I find that Advance sewing patterns were sold exclusively at J.C. Penney department stores from 1933 to 1966.  Of course in those days department stores actually had many departments, and you could get things like fabric and patterns as well as clothes.   I recall going with my grandmother to the flagship store of the Emporium, on Market St. in downtown San Francisco where she worked in accounting and thus had the wonderful employee discount.  The Emporium lasted for 99 years until 1995 when it was swallowed up by Macy's.  As a very indulged granddaughter it was a treat to go downtown with her and be introduced to her work friends, shop til we dropped (beginning of my clothing obsession) and then have lunch in a cafe.   There are so many great stores that are no more, perhaps I am being overly nostalgic but at that time you could go to various cities and find different stores, carrying different merchandise instead of the chain store world we find ourselves in now.

Back to sewing;  in my second Vintage Treasure Dress post, I briefly mentioned a method for finishing facings by sewing the fusible interfacing and flipping then pressing  (say that 3 times fast ! )
That tip also generated a lot of links - I am really happy to have found that tip which I believe I read in Threads magazine.  So here are some more details of this method.

First, cut out fusible interfacing for your facing pieces.   Pin with RIGHT sides together along the edge of the facing that is not sewn to the garment edge.  At this point, you will have the glue side up and be sewing on that.  Illustrated below, facing on left is pinned and ready to sew.   Facing on right is sewn and the seam just sewn is trimmed,  I trim down to about 1/4".
Vintage for N facings

Next flip facng and pin just the seam edge,  see photo below.  I then press ONLY the edge where the pins are,  to get that edge to be sealed and the interfacing to lay nice and flat.

Vintage 2piece facings4 copy
You can see that the other edge of the interfacing is a bit sloppy and hangs over the edge of the facing - at this point it is not fused down so I trim it off neatly - mostly so I don't fuse interfacing all over the ironing board cover (which is getting a cooked appearance and needs to be replaced - I even bought the silvery fabric but have yet to actually make the cover).

Lastly, now that it is neatly trimmed, I finish pressing the rest of the fusible and then admire my lovely clean edges.  This little technique has given me more satisfaction that almost anything I have learned in the past few years.  So happy when I see that nice inside finish, and so easy.

Vintage for N facings2

More tomorrow on this project.  In the meantime, to match those pretty pink flowers in the fabric, my best spring flowers in matching pink.  Some candy stripe tulips that the gopher didn't get - because they were in a big pot and not in the ground.   

pink stripe tulips


  1. It was nice to read about your shopping memories with your grandmother. I have similar memories, being taken out for high tea in the city with my Granny...
    Good luck with your vintage dress! The fabric is very pretty. Nancy is a lucky girl :)

  2. I love the fabric choices and the style of the dress. What a fun project!