Tag Archives: Vintage Sewing Patterns

Possibly my #MonetaParty Dress

This was going to definitely be my #monetaparty dress but I’m currently half way through another one which I like more, so that one may end up being my official entry for the competition/party. This one was probably more of a wearable toile!

But it does have pockets! This is my face when I have a dress with pockets!


After asking on instagram, the consensus was to use this fabric which is navy with white flecks, instead of some teal stuff I also had in my stash – which I’m glad about now, because I think that will make a better Christine Haynes Marianne dress.


I made the size xs and did have to take it in a little under the arms. I think because it’s quite a thin, drapey knit, it looked a bit saggy!


I also sewed the waist seam with a 2cm seam allowance and not the 3/8″ that pattern says, because I felt it just sat slightly too low to be flattering. I have an H&M rtw dress that is a similar style to the Moneta, but without pockets and with a v-neck, and the waist seam is really quite high, so I was aiming for that, though it still isn’t quite the same.


I do like the fabric, but when it’s stretched it goes white, the colour it is in the wrong side. The bodice therefore looks like it’s stretched too much, because the tiniest bit of stretch makes it look too stretched, because of the white showing through. I am wearing it with a navy vest underneath, which you can’t see, because it’s not really see-through, it just looks like it is, if that makes sense?


Luckily without changing anything except the underarm seam, the xs size fits me snuggly across the back, which is the place I usually have issues with fit.


The main issue with this dress, and what makes it a wearable toile, is that I messed up the neckline. I sewed it with a twin needle, but it didn’t quite catch the whole hem so I thought I could sew it again, overlapping one row of stitching so I ended up with 3, but that didn’t quite work. So I unpicked all the rows, and sewed it again. But by then the neck was stretched out and doesn’t look great. I wonder if I could rescue it a little with a neckband, but I’m not sure I like the dress enough to go to the extra effort.


I decided to try full outfits that I’ll wear when wearing this dress, and I think it looks good with mustard yellow, with a cardigan done up (to hide the terrible neckline!).


Even with the cardigan undone, it distracts from how wide the neck sits on my shoulders. And I’m sure people wouldn’t notice the neckline too badly if I don’t point it out!


I also really like it with my Colette Astoria – it sits just at the right place to hit the waist seam. It looks like it could be a top and skirt. This is how I wore it to hang out with Sarah from Like Sew Amazing today to have a irl #monetaparty, where I sewed most of my second Moneta, which is looking more promising, as long as I don’t mess up the neckline again!


I couldn’t resist showing you this outtake from my photoshoot, where The Boyfriend came out of the room which is behind the doors I use as my backdrop! You can’t see him, but I like the photo my camera, which was on a timer, took of me!









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!







Designer Inspiration: Mary Quant

My latest designer inspiration is Mary Quant – I thought I’d continue the 60s theme from my last fashion history post as I love it so! I also love her famous Vidal Sassoon haircut. Should I copy it do you think?

Mary Quant Hairstyle - Vidal Sassoon

Born in London in 1934, Mary Quant opened her first boutique (they always seems to be called boutiques and not shops!), Bazaar, in 1955 on the King’s Road in Chelsea. It was from the very beginning that the mini skirt idea started to take off – this is something new to me, I always thought this was definitively a 60s phenomenon! The jury is out about who actually invented the mini skirt (which includes very short dresses) – it could have been Quant, it could have been Andres Courreges, or John Bates. She herself said “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.'”1 What is true is that Mary Quant named it, after her favourite car – The Mini (obvs).


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Quant is also credited (by some) with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that were so often worn with the new shorter skirts and dresses. It could have been Balenciaga who showed harlequin tights in 1962. It basically seems like several people were having similar ideas in fashion at the same time – but Mary Quant seems to have been the one associated with inventing/ popularising the most innovations.

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Another of these innovations was hot pants. Here is Quant and Grace Coddington (of Creative Director of US Vogue and giant red hair fame – she used to be a model, and she features quite a bit in The September Issue, which I would recommend) modelling hot pants underneath dresses – I assume this was a thing?!

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“Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s/60s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.””2

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After opening a second Bazaar store in 1957, Quant started to design more and more of the items she was selling, instead of merely ordering them in. “For a while in the late 1950s and very early 1960s, Quant was one of only two London-based high-end designers consistently offering youthful clothes for young people. The other was Kiki Byrne, who opened her boutique on the King’s Road in direct competition with Quant.”3

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From the 70s onwards, she moved away from designing clothes and concentrated on homeware and cosmetics – which she says are a part of fashion. According to her Wikipedia article, she claims to have invented the duvet – though a quick google tells me that Terence Conran was the first person to sell the modern duvet, or continental quilt, in Britain, having got the idea from Sweden.

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She was particularly known for monochrome colour-blocking.

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She also seemed to have embraced bright colours, like these dresses, in orange, mustard and red. I particularly like the mustard one, and I like the contrast collar, cuffs, hem and pocket on this one.

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Like so many designers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, Mary¬† Quant produced sewing patterns – I think it’s so cool how they all accepted people wanted to copy their styles so made patterns. I guess it probably wasn’t the same people who would buy the clothes and would make the clothes.

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I like the pose in the photos of this one!

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Not sure about this one to be honest!

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I like this one with the high collar and the pleated skirt. Not sure how flattering it would be on me – the drawing looks better than the photo.

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In 1966 she was made an OBE and in 2015 she was made a Dame. Not bad for someone who never studied fashion! Although she moved away from fashion design, for me – and I’m sure for many other people – the thing I will most associate her with is her mod designs of the 60s. I’m definitely going to look out for any of her patterns so I can recreate some of her looks!




Fashion History - Early 1960s Designer Inspiration - Chester Weinberg Style Crush - Jean Seberg



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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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?




Designer Inspiration - Chester Weinberg Style Crush - Jean Seberg Fashion History - 1930s



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!


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.


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.

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.


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?




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