Wardrobe Architect Week 2: Defining a Core Style

 

Here I am back for the second week of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect. This week it’s about trying to work out what our core style is, building on what we found out about ourselves in week 1.

There is another worksheet, with some questions, which again I’ll cover here.

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy,
poised, powerful, etc)?
Comfortable, the right temperature, unique (but not standing out too much), and correctly dressed for the occasion – I hate feeling way under- or over-dressed.
When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the
feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?
uncomfortable, not like me, feel like people are judging me for wearing the wrong thing (though, of course, they’re almost certainly not!).
Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?
Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin and Lupita Nyong’o. Interestingly they all have short hair! I like how Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin both have a slightly vintage vibe, but also look cool and fashion forward – and I think they can both pull off multiple kinds of look. And Lupita Nyong’o always looks chic and cool and her clothes fit perfectly. I also like all the bold colours she wears and the interesting silhouettes she pulls off.
What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?
I often feel like I want to look like a rock star, but I just don’t think I could pull of a leather jacket! I also love the masculine/ androgynous look of someone like Tilda Swinton, but I feel being only 5’3″ that I couldn’t really pull that off! I also go through phases of really liking 40s style clothes and the lindy hop style, but I think it’s the wrong era for me.
After answering these questions, you come up with some words from your answers from last week, then narrow it down to 3-5 words. Mine are:
Cool
Comfortable
Confident
Vintage
With these words in my mind, I made a new pinterest board to pin photos of outfits I like (which is the last stage of this week’s exercise).  You can find all the image sources on pinterest. It seems that the pictures I pinned fit into a few different categories.
1. Casual outfits with trousers (most pleated) and slouchy shapes on the top.
core-style-1 core-style-2 core-style-3 core-style-16 core-style-20

2. Modern and vintage outfits with interesting style lines

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3. Shift dresses, tops and coats with 60s vibes, particularly with collars and stripes.
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4. More modern-looking boxy tops, with interesting prints on the fabric.
core-style-15 core-style-17 Then I have a few photos that don’t really go together or into the categories above. They’re a mixture of vintage and modern styles, but they are all quite loose silhouettes.
core-style-5 core-style-6 core-style-10 core-style-11 core-style-14
I’ve found this really useful in working out what my core styles are – I knew there would be more than one, but by pinning lots of pictures, you can then spot the trends which then helps you realise what you’re drawn to. I think I need to make myself some pleated trousers – and get more brogues in more colours! I am also falling back in love with cute collars, so that’s good to know!

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Style Crush: Mia Farrow

My style crush for today is Mia Farrow – and specifically Mia Farrow from the 60s. She was definitely one person who had a classic 60s crop (alongside Jean Seberg) and she looks cool smoking a black cigarette!

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Mia Farrow first came to prominence as an actress in the American soap Peyton Place. She then became really famous by marrying Frank Sinatra (though the marriage only lasted a couple of years. They married in 1966 and she wore a really cute suit! Her hair is a little too short for my taste, though! Also creepy fact: she was 21, he was 51!

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I included this photo mostly for the cute dog, though the coat is nice too. Even though I’ve no idea what colour it is.

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Speaking of cute coats…..I think I might have to make a coat in this style. Does anyone know of any patterns for double-breasted 60s coats? Maybe I need to look through my vintage pattern collection? I think I’m rediscovering my love of 60s collars. I think this photo looks really modern too, with the boots.

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Following her fame from her marriage to Frank Sinatra, Farrow then starred in Rosemary’s Baby which was her first leading role and garnered critical success. IT was while she was filming Rosemary’s Baby that Sinatra filed for divorce because the filing had overrun and so she didn’t turn up to film a role in one of Sinatra’s films.

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I like the flowery shift dress above. And the white tights – white tights definitely seem to be a 60s staple, I think I need to get some. And the turtleneck, below, is also quite 60s. Maybe I need to get the Papercut Rise and Fall turtleneck pattern? Unless you know of any other patterns?

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I slightly love this crazy furred dress! Not sure I could pull it off….though I like the matching tights/shoes combo.

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I love these 2 coats! Stripes and amazing roll collars, 3/4 length sleeves and big buttons! Amazing! I think I prefer the pink one, but that might be because it’s a better photo.

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Farrow may be best known these days for her relationship with Woody Allen, starring in 13 of his 14 movies between 1979 and 1992. And then, of course, the controversy of Allen leaving her for her adopted daughter (who she adopted with her previous husband, Andre Previn).

But back to fashion…..it seems a little weird to be looking at pretty dresses while also talking about someone’s personal life. But, to be flippant, I do love this blue sequined dress. I love all the colours on it, and the pink coat really sets it off. Those pastel blues and pinks seem to be popular colours of the 60s.

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I put this photo in mostly because sequined garters matching a sequined top!

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This is another photo which is making me want to sew everything with a contrasting collar. I love the yoke detail and the buttons down the front of this dress….

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And also this playsuit. I thought these were the same garment for a while, but the playsuit has turnups which don’t seem to be there above, and the collar looks a bit more pointy in the dress above.

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I really like Mia Farrow in the Woody Allen films I’ve seen and I love her 60s pixie crop – which she cut herself! There was a photoshoot stunt set up for Vidal Sassoon to cut her hair, but she had already cut it short herself! But it was surprisingly difficult to find many photos – particularly in colour – of her outfits from the 60s (my favourite era!). I guess fame was different then and there probably weren’t as many red carpets and parties and awards shows – and the photos there were may not have made it online yet. I don’t know, but I do love her style.

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Designer Inspiration: Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin who was born in 1922 in Italy, worked under Schiaparelli and became head designer for Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier in 1947 and he’s still alive! He launched his own label in 1950 and was interested in geometric shapes, especially bubbles:

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The above dress is obviously one of the more extreme geometric designs, which is great in its way but I like his more minimal designs too, like the heart one below. I’m not normally a huge fan of hearts, but there’s something about the proportions and design of this that I really like.

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When I was first thinking about looking at Pierre Cardin, I of course, thought of him as a 60s designer, but having discovered he started his own house in 1950, then I found these 2 more 50s-style designs. You can already see his interest in structure and shapes.

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I love this dress worn by Mia Farrow! Although its shape is not geometric, the colours obviously are. She seems to have some rather funky tights too.

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I really love these bubbly dungarees! They look a bit boob-squashy but I guess boyish figures were in style in the 60s. I kinda want to make a copy of these! Maybe for SewDots…..

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And talking of dots, I love these totally circular pockets. And I’m always a sucker for mustard yellow!

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He seemed to use cut-outs quite a lot to give the geometric designs he liked. These ones look a bit like Star Trek uniforms to me, especially the orange on in the middle – maybe Cardin was the inspiration for the costumes (or vice versa)?

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I included these ones because glitter.

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I love all three of these dresses, especially the one on the left. Good hats too. Could do without the leering man, though……(It might be Cardin himself, I can’t really tell!)

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I like this monochrome offering and it seems a bit more wearable than some of the others, if the cut-out on the stomach wasn’t actually cut out!

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I quite like the half and half colours on this dress – and the way the navy sneaks onto the green side. Not sure it would be totally office-appropriate though…

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This seems to be one of the less extreme dresses, and I love it! I like the shaping of the placket-type-thing and the I guess quilted shapes on the bottom.

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With this one, I’m just curious how the collar stands up and was made! Not convinced about the colour….or the fabric, it looks almost shiny. I wonder what it is? Anyone know?

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I like how this one combines the cut outs and the structured designs. I kinda want to see a picture of it with the model’s arms down, I bet it looks a bit rubbish! Good boots though.

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Cardin was still designing clothes into the 80s (he’s moved towards designing cars and buildings and things as well as fashion). This bubbly coat seems to be from 1987.

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As with most designers of the 60s, Cardin released sewing patterns based on his designs. I’m not sure about the collar, but I like the shaping on the yoke and the swingy shape of the dress.

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I think this one looks much more interesting in the drawing than the photo – you can’t really see the seam lines in the cream. I’m digging the weird grey 60s hairdo too!

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I really like the shape of the neckline on this one, and clever how they’ve shown it colour blocked as well as all in one fabric.

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I really love this jacket – I may have to search ebay for a copy of this pattern! It might look a bit costumey but I don’t really care.

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You can’t beat a great 60s swing coat! And the collar! I wonder how they get it to stand up….

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Do you like Pierre Cardin or are his designs a bit too costumey do you think? I kind of like how extreme the clothes are, but I probably wouldn’t have the balls to wear most of them without toning them down or making them a bit more modern!

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Fashion History – The Early 1960s

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In the 1960s, for the first time, fashion looked to London instead of Paris. Think of Carnaby Street and the Kings Road – there were loads of little boutiques which got new styles in every week, with young people being the main customers, of course. The 1960s saw fashion become an integral part of young people’s identities for the first time, and they had the disposable income to buy all the new fashions – and labels like ‘casual’ and ‘formal’ dressing no longer mattered.

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The early 60s were all about simple lines and clean shapes. The shift dress was king, moving away from the extreme waist definition of the 50s, started by The New Look. Mary Quant was an early queen of the shift, but it was widely adopted, with design details like large pockets and cut outs adding design details which were missing from the shape of the dress.

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Colouring was another way to add design details to the simple shift.

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It was in the 60s that trousers first took off like never before – they had obviously been around in the 20s (wide, pyjama-style) and women like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn wore suits in the 30s and 40s – but the 60s was where they became more main-stream than they’d ever been before. They especially took off when in 1963 Cathy McGowan wore a pair to host the music tv show Ready Steady Go.

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I was slightly struggling to find good photos for this post – there are so many amazing clothes from the 60s and great designers who started in that era that I couldn’t work out how to narrow down my search, so I decided to look up Twiggy, whose style I LOVE! I definitely kinda want these massive earrings! Are they discoballs or baubles!?

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I think this dress could be easily recreated with the Megan Dress from Love At First Stitch. The one above could maybe be made with the Megan too, if I could work out how to do the ties on the front.

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Technology advances meant fabrics became more easy to wear and care for, as polyester was blended with other fibres. This led to the more avant-garde designers using slightly less conventional materials, like paper, plastic and metal. PVC was also invented in the 60s and was available in black and white. Designers also used traditional evening fabrics, such as velvet, lace, and brocade, for daywear.

This is Audrey Hepburn in a Paco Rabanne dress made of I think giant sequins, from the film Two For The Road.

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Andres Courreges was also known for his extreme cut outs and space-age-y use to unconventional fabrics and materials. The 2 white ones are clearly not wearable really, but I still love them! Digging these giant sleeves too!

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In 1960 24-year-old Yves Saint Laurent showed his final collection for Christian Dior, then set off on his own to create a cooler Beat collection including leather suits and knitted caps. With this he signalled the beginning of the end for French Haute Couture. In 1962 he launched his ready to wear label, Rive Gauche.

1960 Yves Saint Laurent, 24 years old, showed final collection for Christian Dior, sent out a cool Beat collection of black leather suits and knitted caps to an astonished and bewildered audience, sounded death knell of haute couture. 1962 invented his ready-to-wear label Rive Gauche. I love the 2 dresses on the left!

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In 1966 YSL launched the first classic tuxedo suit for women, ‘Le Smoking’, which paved the way for androgynous fashion and 80s power suits.

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Catherine Deneuve wore one too.

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This YSL suit is AMAZING! I definitely would love to copy it, even though I may not have anywhere to wear it! Maybe I should make it and then just wear it on a random Wednesday or something.

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Laurent took inspiration from pop art in his designs too, most famously his Mondrian dresses.

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I love the Mondrian dresses, and also the one with the lips below, left.

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Although the ‘youthquake’ meant young people were moving away from more tailored, formal styles, I still love 60s suits, like these 2.

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This evening gown is fairly fab!

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Of course, I couldn’t round up fashion from the early 60s without looking at the amazing sewing patterns available at the time. All the major designers, whose names we still know now, released patterns:

Nina Ricci

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Lanvin

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Yves Saint Laurent

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and Pierre Cardin.

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Don’t forget, of course, Chester Weinberg! I would like to add to my vintage pattern collection with some designer ones.

The big pattern companies were no different, so here’s a little selection of my favourites.

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Do you like the 60s? Who’s your favourite designer/ style icon?

 

 

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My first finished Vintage Pledge – 1960s Coat and Dress

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.

Ta da!

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I made it with this pattern which I borrowed from my Grandma.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI 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!):

Christening-Outfit-1There 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.

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Definitely some pooling in my lower back! I would also do something about the shoulders as I feel a little like an American footballer!

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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.

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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!

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The sleeves have facings instead of hems, which I catch stitched in place.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Christening-Outfit-5I 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.

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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!

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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?

 

 

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