I’m excited to share my first finished Vintage Pledge outfit with you today! I made a dress and coat combo for my niece and nephew’s Christening last weekend.
I made it with this pattern which I borrowed from my Grandma.
I liked the idea of the dress and coat being made from exactly the same fabric, like the blue combo pattern illustration, but I had some green and white stripey fabric left over from my wedding Elisalex and a bunch of green cotton drill in my stash and decided to stash bust instead of ordering new fabric – I would have needed about 6 metres for both the dress and the coat and I’m a bit poor at the moment!
This was my first time sewing with an unprinted pattern and it was definitely confusing until I realised the pieces are numbered with numbers punched in holes. I laid out all the pattern pieces on my floor and it looked like this (this wasn’t all of the pieces!):
There were LOADS of pattern pieces! This is because there was the dress, the coat and the coat lining, which needs totally different pieces than the coat shell. Since making my Spring for Cotton dress from another of my Grandma’s patterns I was on the lookout for her having shortened the pattern pieces. This was fairly obvious – she had cut about 4 inches off the coat pieces (but not the dress, so she must not have made the dress) – I know it was 4 inches because one of the offcuts was in the envelope. It was also obvious she had shortened it because she cut off the piece numbers! Luckily there was a guide on the instructions, so I could work out which piece was which. I added 2 inches back onto the length at the cutting out stage (but then later shortened the dress and coat!).
The pattern was really (at least) a size too big – it’s a 34 bust but I’m a 32. Most of the rest of the women in my family have large boobs, but not me! I thought it would be fine as it’s not a super tight/ fitted style. I think if I made it again – I still like the idea of a totally matching coat and dress – I would take the dress in a little across the chest/under the arms and across the back.
Definitely some pooling in my lower back! I would also do something about the shoulders as I feel a little like an American footballer!
The dress is made from some green (obvs!) cotton drill I’d had in my stash for a couple of years. It was maybe a bit stiff for the dress, but it turned out okay. The only problem I had was getting the neckline to sit nicely – it looks fine off and when I ironed it, but then when I put it on it puckers slightly in a couple of places.
Before I put the zip in (a black invisible one I had in my stash – this was definitely a stash-busting make!) I tried it on and it looked rather like a hospital gown! I think it was the scrubs shade of green and the shape without the back seam sewn/ zipped up that made it look particularly bad!
The dress has a couple of tiny pockets in the centre front seams, which are cute but really too small to put anything in – they’re definitely too small for a phone, but I guess the pattern was designed before mobile phones!
The sleeves have facings instead of hems, which I catch stitched in place.
The dress had not been shortened by my Grandma, and I had to take 16cm off the hem in total – 13cm + 1.5cm twice seam allowance, which I catch-stitched in place.
Now onto the coat, which I seem not to have taken many photos of, sorry!
It was a really well drafted pattern, everything lined up perfectly, which was rather pleasing. I was very careful when cutting it out as I juuust had enough fabric, so maybe that contributed too? If you’ve made up a vintage pattern, have you found the drafting is particularly good?
The thing I found less good about this vintage pattern was the sparse (to say the least!) instructions. I’ve read this before so I think this is common for vintage patterns, as sewers at the time did know how to do stuff without needing to be told in the instructions. Thank god I’d done welt pockets before, on my Freemantle coat refashion, or I would have been very confused!
The major thing I learned was that I should have traced off all the markings when I cut out the coat, but I didn’t really know which markings I needed – the pattern had holes to mark the stitching line, as well as darts and marks for the pocket placement. If I’d traced them all, I probably still wouldn’t have know which ones I needed! So I kept the pattern next to me and got out the pieces as I needed to find markings. If I make this again, I will know which markings to trace! There is a key on the instructions for which sequence of holes means which thing, but until I was faced with the fabric, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me I’m afraid.
The coat should have had buttons (and a collar), but I decided I quite like the streamlined look of it without. It does mean it maybe looks a little big. Maybe I’ll add buttons now I’m not sewing to a deadline. I’m hoping this will still be a wearable coat on warm Spring days.
I like the swingy shape of the back (though I should have ironed it before I took these pictures!). It does look too wide for me across the shoulders and shoulder blades – this might be because it’s meant to overlap at the front when it’s done up. Or it might be the same issue I have with the dress, i.e. it’s a size (or two) too big.
I was going to hand stitch the lining in place as the instructions said, but I used Grainline’s tutorial for bagging out a lining (again) instead and did it by machine. Next time I sew a vintage pattern, I’m going to construct it as the instructions say, to make it more authentic.
Because the coat was a bit big, and definitely too long, despite the fact that I had already shortened it by 2 inches (from adding 2 inches back on from the 4 inches my Grandma had already cut off). It looked like it was waaay too big for me and not mean to be that shape. I decided to shorten the sleeves as well as the length, to make it look a bit more flattering. I measured to take off 13.5cm from the sleeves – 12cm + 1.5cm seam allowance. I trimmed them and then stitched them on my machine. I had to take 21cm off the length of the coat – this also made it the same length as the dress, which was pleasing. I cut 12cm off the lining at the hem and 13.5 cm off the shell – the shell was longer than the lining to allow for the facing at the bottom, and I left 6cm extra on the shell to allow for a 3cm fold up. The 6cm plus 1.5cm seam allowance plus the 13.5cm is the 21cm total I had to take off, of that makes sense!
Although I had to do a bit of maths to figure out the hem attaching the lining to the coat, once I’d worked out which pattern pieces were which, this was actually not too difficult a sew. Probably because I just sewed it straight out of the envelope and didn’t make any changes – I feel like fitting is the most fiddly and difficult part of sewing sometimes. I’m definitely less scared to tackle other vintage patterns, including unmarked ones, to complete my Vintage Pledge. I might make a muslin next time, though, to get the fit better! Have you made anything from a vintage pattern? How did you find the sparse instructions?
Nice work. I have a couple of 1960s coat patterns in my stash which I’ve been putting off using as I’m always too lazy to make a muslin and the idea of cutting into lots of expensive wool for a winter coat always seemed to risky. Maybe I should go down your route and make a spring coat for my first version.
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