That 50s Dress With The Collar {Vintage Anne Adams 2056)

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Another irresistible choice from my rather large box (es) of gifted patterns. Oh how I love these old mail order patterns. Ordered from the newspaper and posted out to you in your size. I have 5 or 6 of these, all with a handwritten address on the front.

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This one was a relatively quick sew, all over in a couple of hours. Like all old patterns, this one assumes you know how to sew so the instructions are vague at best. But it’s not a big deal, it’s quite an easy pattern (no collar stand!) and I changed the skirt to a basic gathered one which makes it even easier. I know from past experience that those narrower skirts aren’t my jam.

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I added interfacing to the collar and facing pieces because that’s just what you do. The instructions didn’t mention it, but I’m not sure if that’s because sewists back then just knew too or it wasn’t a thing. When was interfacing even invented? Before that I’m sure collars etc had something in them (different fabric, maybe?).

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Fabric is Birch Organic Maritime which was purchased locally from East Coast Fabrics.  This is it here if you’re keen for an online source. Funny it’s listed as very light weight because I feel like it’s a bit heavier than other quilting cottons I’ve used.

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Was it a success? Well, not really. There are multiple fit issues and some weird drag lines. Part of it I was blaming on the fabric, but I have used quilting cottons for shirt dresses without a problem in the past, so I don’t know for sure.  The most obvious problem in the bust darts are suuuuper high. Also the bodice is a bit short so it’s sitting higher on my waist than usual. That’s a very strange problem for me as I’m quite short, so I generally have to shorten my bodices. The bodice has tucks too and I think maybe I’m just not used to the shape of them, I prefer darts. I do like the shape of that neckline and collar though. Plus mega angled pockets.

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It feels simultaneously too big and too small in different places. So weird.  All in all, not the greatest but I’ve definitely made worse. I generally wear belts with most of my dresses, so that helps. I found a narrower one this morning which works better than the wide one in the images. If I don’t end up wearing it, I’ll save the skirt and add a waistband. If nothing else, Sid enjoyed his walk and the photos look pretty.

High five, buddy.

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That 70s Dress With The Frills {Vintage Simplicity 6396}

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Remember those boxes of vintage patterns I was gifted? This dress has been sitting close to the surface of my MUST MAKE pile ever since they made their way into my home and heart. Isn’t it fun? I love the way it wraps around the bodice. And we all know I do love a good wrap. This one has a zip in the back, so doesn’t have any adjustment for food babies – it’s just a cool design feature. Actually there’s a number of different wrap variations in the 70s patterns I was given, they were getting creative back then. So there will be more. Oh yes.

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I grabbed this leopard print chiffon (? I think) from the bargain table at Spotlight recently for the grand sum of $5/m – specifically with this dress in mind. I couldn’t remember exactly how much was required so bought 4 metres. As it turns out, I was slightly short on the bottom ruffle, but being a toile it’s not a big deal. I know, me making toiles again, who am I? But being such a fabric hungry dress, I didn’t want to waste 4+ metres on something that didn’t fit.

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It looks like the bottom hem is so wonky hanging there, but I swear it’s not.

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Obviously I made view without any changes (besides being one panel short on the bottom ruffle). Because it’s such a sheet fabric, I lined with cotton lawn – but not the full length. So I guess that’s a change too. You construct the dress bodice as you’d imagine, then the collar with frills gets added.

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As you can see, my copy is for a 36″ bust. I do not have a 36″ bust, mine is more like 40 – 41″. Once again, I added 1.5cm to the side seams and hoped for the best. In the end I had to remove that because it was too big, especially around the back. So I could have just made it straight off the pattern without any adjustments. Again proving that vintage patterns have a heap of ease. And this is a dress that really has to be quite fitted, the ties don’t have any tightening effect on the back.

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I did have this one in mind as another option for the wedding we’re off to in November, completely disregarding the fact that I get irrationally annoyed by most things halterneck. Especially when I have a camera hanging off my neck too. Halterneck bras and swimmers are a hard no, but dresses seem to annoy me too. I don’t get the same headaches, but I feel mildly uncomfortable.

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I’d put up with it if I was totally in love with the dress, but the Sew House Seven Tea House dress is still the front runner (and I ordered some amaaaaaazing pink silk for another one today) so this one can be a back a plan if required. It’s still pretty cool. And I can wear it for a few hours if we have something a little bit fancier than normal to go to.

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I’m glad I made it. I love how different it is, yet in a way still quite modern. Vintage patterns are funny like that. Take away the hairstyles, shoes and prints and you’ve got something that can be worn today without screaming “OMG LOOK HOW 70S I AM!’

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I even did as I was told and did some hand stitching. I must admit, it does look a heap better that if I’d machined it.

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I think a lot of the time with these old patterns, I just sew them simply because I want to. And I do truly learn something every time, so it’s worth it.

Palm Springs {Butterick 6285 + Circle Skirt}

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I like variety. I like change. It’s the reason I change my hair colour all the time, I’ll experiment with a new recipe every week and sew from new patterns quite often.

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Basically I have no loyalty (unless you count coffee and my hairdresser, because I’ll never stray from them).

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I also have no loyalty to a particular era of fashion. I will jump through those decades backwards and forwards all week. Sometimes it’s 70s tops and skinny jeans, sometimes it’s a perfect 60s swing coat and sometimes it’s a boxy 80s dress and Dr Martens. Some days I’m firmly planted in 2017 in leggings and a band t shirt. The silhouettes of the 50s are home to me though. That’s the era my favourite dress pattern in the world comes from – the one that started my business. And I do love me a circle skirt. That shit is timeless.

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I don’t even have a proper pattern for this one. It’s the skirt pieces from one of my dress patterns and a waistband from another. I add pockets and a petti and I’m good to go. I know you want to know the details, but they aren’t all that helpful this time around!

Circle skirt: cobbled together from a couple of different patterns, side seam pockets added.

Top: Butterick 6285 (it’s a knit wrap top and I made it a while back. It pre dates the blog actually).

Skirt fabric: From a tiny local shop that mostly does alterations and sells upholstery fabric. This lucky score is sateen and 150cm wide, making it ideal for big circle skirt pieces.

Petti: Hell Bunny.

Shoes: Swedish Funkis.

Pin: Colette Patterns.

Sunnies: Le Specs.

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Circle skirts are a great project for beginner sewists because they go together pretty quickly and easily. You’ll need to learn how to insert a zip, but after that you’re basically invincible. I added buttons to this version, but you can take the zip all the way through the waistband instead.

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I have two hot tips though:

  • Let that sucker hang, unhemmed for 24 hours. Because the skirt is cut on the bias, it can stretch over time. Hang and then trim if you need to.
  • The hem is never ending and a bastard because you’re trying to tuck a wider piece of fabric into a narrower one. You’ll get puckers and may even cry. I either overlock the raw edge and fold it over twice to create a super narrow hem or I use bias binding. I don’t pin for either method.

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Today I swished into the bank and around the local grocery shop like this. Tomorrow I’ll be slouching around in jeans and a jumper no doubt. But how good is it that we have the choice?

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Killer Bees {Simplicity 8085}

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I sat on the fence about this pattern for ages.

Pros: vintage reissue, cute as heck, very wearable.

Cons: No sleeves, fabric hungry, not a huge fan of the look of binding.

The decision was made after I popped into Spotlight earlier this week, three Simplicity patterns for $12. I had 5. This made it through as the 6th.

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Pattern: Simplicity 8085 from Spotlight (such a horrendous website, can’t even find the pattern on it).

Fabric: Purchased a while back from East Coast Fabrics (another very rubbish website, excellent store, bloody lovely staff).

Pearl buttons and double fold bias tape were op shop finds a while ago.

(Side note: how freaking awesome is double fold bias tape?! I’ve only ever used single before. It’s eleventy billion times easier to get a nice even finish with double fold).

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When I got home, I opened her up to check out the size of those skirt pieces. MASSIVE. I thought with the centre seam they’d be smaller pieces (and I’d cut 4 rather than 2). Nup. Centre front seam yes, side seams no. Oh. Let’s change that then, shall we?

 

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(Disclaimer: this is my quick and dirty method. It’s probably technically wrong, but I don’t care because it worked).

First I traced off my front and back bodice pieces, then pinned the darts in place (as they would be sewn). I lined up the bodice pieces with the skirt pieces, overlapping the bodice pieces at the side seams. I then marked where the bodice side seam was on the skirt (you can see by my marking that this involved a bit of fiddling around, you have to curve those flat bodice pieces around to match the skirt). Then I marked the seam allowance either side and traced out my new front and back skirt pieces. It made them much easier to fit on the fabric and I was able to eliminate the centre front skirt seam by placing it on the fold instead. Hooray!

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Side seams mean side seam pockets! Didn’t iron them. Forgive me. When I googled other makes of this dress, I didn’t like the look of the patch pockets (sorry guys). You can also see the horsehair braid I added to the hem for a bit of a kick.

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Pearl buttons instead of snaps because pearl buttons. And they match the bee’s wings.

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Sleeves! I added sleeves. Literally the sleeves from the Emery Dress with zero changes. Probably shouldn’t work, but they do. Isn’t sewing magic?

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Let’s talk about the fit. I obviously made the short version because I already have a fair few dresses in the longer length and I wanted to be stingy with the fabric. I made the size 16, but cut the length at the size 22. The horsehair braid means the hem is pretty narrow, much like it would be if you use binding, which I was contemplating doing, but didn’t have enough.

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I feel like the fit is pretty decent, especially without a FBA, but it does gape a bit in the back if I don’t do the waist ties up as tight as they can go. And even then, after wearing for a while, they sort of loosen a bit and I can feel the breeze down my back. If I pull it up at the shoulder seams, everything seems to fit a bit better, so that’s something to consider for my next one. I could take some length off the lower back pieces, but I’d have to re draw the wrap part higher because it is very close to the back band of my bra right now. Maybe a little snap there would help, but it won’t help with the gaping. Still very wearable though but I can see it becoming more of a beach dress for summer.

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Still not convinced about that binding. I think next time I might fold it to the inside. Or use matching. But who can be bothered making all that binding? Not me. I’m not that dedicated.

I’ve been really mean and kept the image of the back until the very end. Because it’s that part that’s the rock star of this dress, right? Here she is!

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