Category Archives: 1970s

A symphony of seventies swans

(Not that origami swans can really make much noise, but it’s getting to be past my bedtime and I like the alliteration. 😉

So…..

You may recall (if you read it) that I mentioned one of my plans for this year is to use some of my vintage machines to make garments using patterns from the same era as the machine. This is a plan that’s been sifting around in my mind for a good couple of years now. And every so often, someone suggests it to me as well – which has pretty much solidified it in my mind as something that I really should do. 😉

And now, here it is – the very first garment in that series!

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

To start of with, I made a 1970’s pattern, using a 1970’s machine. An Elna Lotus ZZ, in fact. This machine used to be (still is?) my mothers – I believe it was her first machine, given as a 21st birthday present. (Mum – feel free to correct me if I have the facts wrong, please?!)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This is also the machine that I learnt to sew on, and spent many happy hours when I was a child, making dolls clothes and scrunchie hair ties. (Remember those? Tubes of fabric with elastic threaded through so when you sewed the ends together the fabric all ‘scrunched’ up. I had a lot of them – there was a definite scrunchie-making phase when I was in primary school.)

So with all that history, it seemed only fitting that this was the machine that started off the Vintage Patterns With Vintage Machines series, don’t you think? 😉

I’m going to break this into two posts – one on the pattern and garment, and the other on the machine. Today, we’re having a look at the pattern and garment.

The pattern I choose for this was Butterick 6617 – a princess-seamed dress with collar and zippered front from the 1970’s (year unknown). It’s a pretty classic 1970’s pattern – huge collar, optional massive patch pockets, no waist seam, and a zip down the front. It was also pretty perfect for my lifestyle a year ago, which is when I cut it out (whoops!). (And here’s where I give a big shout-out to The Monthly Stitch, and the UFO challenge for February, without which this project may still be languishing, not a stitch yet sewn, waiting for me to finally get around to making the bias binding for the trim. Thanks, Monthly Stitch challenge, for making me get my act together!)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I decided to make the sleeveless variation, without patch pockets or belt. In large part because I didn’t have enough fabric for pockets, belt or sleeves. 😉

Like all 1970’s patterns that I’ve worked with before, this one was a breeze. Clear pattern markings, the instructions were fine, and the sizing was pretty accurate. Not a lot to say about it, really!

I used an invisible zip for the centre front (the instructions have you choose between either a dress zip or an invisible zip). Which, due to the fabric qualities, didn’t end up quite as invisible as it should have, sadly….

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Actually, let’s speak about the fabric for a moment. (And yes, I’m jumping all over the place with this one. It’s late, I’m typing stream-of-consciousness, too bad.) Firstly – isn’t this a great print?!? Origami swans! With orange outlines!! On a bright blue background!!! It caught my eye and came home with me one day when I ducked into Spotlight for something innocent (probably some interfacing or the like). Those of you in Australasia will be familiar with the Spotlight Phenomenon – the customer service and queues in those stores are always so bad that you often end up queuing for half an hour just to buy half a metre of interfacing. And that’s once you’ve found the dratted stuff, since the stores are a mess and everything seems to get reorganised all the time (I use the word ‘organised’ in there very loosely) and the staff don’t often know where anything is. If you can even find a staff member to ask. Anyway, with all that frustration and annoyance and waiting, it ends up feeling that you have to make the most of the time you’ve wasted there. Which means – Buy More Fabric!!! After all, can’t spend an hour looking for then purchasing interfacing and not get something fun out of it too, right? (Are you familiar with this phenomenem, or is it just me and my poor impulse control around fabric fabric fabric?)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So yes, this fabric was one of those purchases. Spotted in the pile next to the counter, waiting to be put back on the shelf. It had origami swans on it. I was annoyed. So I bought it.

Which I really shouldn’t have done, as it’s a terrible poor quality polyester that only cost $4/m (which in NZ is Very Cheap Fabric when full price) and there are already fade lines from creases on it even though it’s only been worn once. But – origami swans! It’ll be a short-lived dress (environmental guilt) but it’ll be a fun one while it lasts.

The orange on the other hand is just a nice, lightweight cotton poplin. Bought to contrast with the swans once I had paired fabric with pattern.

I decided to highlight the front princess seams with flat piping – partially to bring out the orange a bit more, and partially because to get this dress out of the fabric I had, I had to cut the side front pieces with the swans swimming in the other direction, so the flat piping is a break for swimming as well. 😉

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

You may notice one key difference between my dress and the pattern. The collar. My one is about 1/3rd the size of the one on the pattern. I did start off with the one on the pattern – that didn’t really go so well…..

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

See? Yeah. Just a bit too much orange going on there! And I had no more of the swans fabric. So, turning to some sewing buddies for help, I went with their idea of cutting it down to about 1/3rd of the original width. Which I reckon works a lot better.

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Not a lot to say about this pattern really – the neckline and armholes are finished with facings. Everything went together smoothly. The armholes are a bit too constricting on me so I’m going to go and make them a little bit deeper at some point.

With the exception of the overlocking, the blind machine hem, and the invisible zip, this was all constructed using the Elna Lotus ZZ. (It didn’t have the feet for the invisible zip, nor the stitch for the blind hemming, so I jumpted back onto my trusty Elna 2004-SP for those parts.)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Wore this to work on Monday and got quite a few comments. I am rather fond of it, cheap fabric and all that it may be. And it was really nice to be stitching it up on the lovely Lotus machine! 🙂

Stay tuned for more about that Lotus. It’s a beauty, and deserves a post all to itself.

And one other thing – although I enjoyed making this pattern, and love the final garment, it’s not one I see myself making again. (Too many patterns, not enough time!). So, here’s a little giveaway to find it a new and loving home!

If you’d like to go into the draw to win my copy of Butterick 6617, let me know in the comments (please make sure I have an easy way to contact you if you win!) and I’ll draw a winner on Friday 18 March. The pattern is a size 14 – bust size 36″, waist 27″, hip 38″.

Yay! Swans!! 🙂

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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Mulled Wine vintage slip

I’m a huge fan of dresses – nearly every day you’ll find me in a dress and a cardigan. And in winter, I’ll be matching that outfit with tights and boots. But as anyone who wears dresses or skirts with winter-weight tights knows, they tend to cling to one another. And if you’re anything like me, that means constantly tugging skirts back into place throughout the day. So frustrating!

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to make a slip for wearing under dresses. And that has now happened! Yay!! (This is my December creation for the Minerva Bloggers Network.)

I wasn’t sure what type of fabric would be best for this, so I emailed Vicki at Minerva and asked for her help. I described what I was wanting, and she pointed me immediately in the direction of this knit. So many pretty colours!! I spent a while debating between the light blue and the burgundy, before finally settling on the burgundy.

And then I went in search of matching lace trim. I found two – a white and burgundy one for the neckline, and a shiny burgundy one for the hem. Perfect!

The pattern I used is a vintage one from 1979, for a knit “princess line slip”. The pattern company is “Sew-Easy” – not one I’ve encountered before, so it was a fun experience using it for the first time! It’s interesting how the words we use to describe things change subtly over time. Check out this line of the instructions for example: “From the right side, ditch stitch in the furrow of the seam.”

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This slip came together super easily – despite how lightweight and slippery this knit is, it was surprisingly easy to work with! (Except for a few patches, where my sewing machine didn’t like how delicate it is. Whoops! It managed in the end though without too many issues, and I think a brand-new fine point needle will fix even those issues next time.My overlocker/serger loved it, though.)

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern is a simple princess lined slip – cut in a low v at the front, and a low scoop at the back neckline. The front neckline is edged in lace, and the fabric is then cut away behind it, so the lace is directly against your skin.

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The back neckline and armholes are edged in a very narrow self-fabric binding, which is stretched on to ensure the slip stays in place nicely when being worn. (This does means you get a little bit of fabric bunching around the shoulder straps when it’s not on a person, but it makes for a lovely fit when it’s filled out properly!)

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I finished off the hem with a gorgeous burgundy shiny and lightweight lace. It was a border lace, and plain on the top half, so rather than following the patterns directions to stitch directly on the fabric then trim the fabric away, I simply overlocked the two together, to give a solid border.

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The fit is pretty good. The neckline is a good height (low enough to not show easily under dresses, while still being high enough to be comfortable to wear). The fit along the front of is nice and smooth – not too tight, not too loose. The lower back area could do with being taken in a couple of inches to make it sit closer, so I’ll make that adjustment for the next one I make. (And yes, there will be another one!)

Sad to say, you’re not getting photos of me modelling this one – it’s just a bit too sheer and I know too many people in “real life” who read this! (Which is a fact that still amazes and embarrasses me!) So instead, photos on a mannequin. With wind, because I live in Wellington, and it is pretty much windy here every moment of every day.

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I love my new slip – it’s exactly what I was looking for to wear under dresses! I can see a few more of these in my future, in a range of pretty colours. 😉

Cupcake toddler dress (just like mum used to make)

Ready to see a little bit of cuteness?

Check it out. It’s a dress for a one year old. Made in a lemon yellow poplin. With pink pockets and cupcakes!!!

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(And just for the record – I originally bought this fabric for me. And still intend to make a me-sized dress out of it. Because – yellow! Cupcakes!!)

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyways, this little cupcake-covered cutie was a gift for my friend’s daughters first birthday.

I made it using Simplicity 7591 – a top, jumper and overalls pattern from 1976.

Simplicity 7591

(Pattern image from the Vintage Patterns Wiki – my copy is in size 1 instead.)

Fun fact – my mother originally bought this pattern. And used it. A lot. She made me things, my brothers things, and my sister things. (Or maybe lil’ sis’ just got the hand-me-downs since she would have had newer patterns to use for her? Not sure….) So it’s a very well-loved pattern – apparantly it was one of mum’s go-to patterns for us kids.

I like knowing that I’ve used a pattern that I grew up wearing. It gives a nice feeling of continuation, don’t you think?

It also ties in well with my Vintage Pattern Pledge (which is basically to just use a bunch of vintage patterns from my stash this year. Sad that it’s taken me this long to use the first one! Although there’s a blog post about a second vintage pattern make coming up soon, yes indeed….)

I made the jumper view – a cute little A-line style with a zip in the centre front, patch pockets, and straps that button at the front. It’s a little hard to tell in the photo, but the buttons are burgundy red.

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The inside is finished with facings. And in this case, also a little label, just because.

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Wish I’d thought of making a cupcake to photograph with it. Mmmm… cupcakes….

It’s a wrap! (A retro wrap, even)

One thing I’ve been missing a lot this year is sewing from vintage patterns. I got a couple of vintage makes in before the baby bump got too big for those fitted-waist 1940’s and 1950’s styles, and I did have plans for a couple of vintage maternity patterns, but due to lack of energy and running out of time, I never quite got them made up. (Which I’m still a little sad about – now I’ll never know what it’s like to wear one of those 1950’s maternity skirts with the cut-out in front for the bump! Anyone ever tried wearing one and want to let me know if it’s as uncomfortable as it looks??)

Well, my body is still changing too much to bother making any fitted styles just yet, but I dug out a 1970’s wrap skirt pattern to get my vintage fix with (and make something that feels a bit more ‘me’ to wear than the transition-sized skirts I dug out at the local op shop).

Meet my newest creation – a floral wrap skirt!

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I got this pattern a couple of years back – the curved yoke and pockets really appealed to me, and I’ve been meaning to make it ever since. Now it’s finally had it’s day, yay! 🙂 The pattern is Simplicity 7311 from 1975. It includes both the wrap skirt and a matching blouse, plus a transfer for the embroidery seen on view 2 (the cream one).

Simplicity 7311

The fabric came from Fabric-a-brac – it’s a vintage lightweight cotton, lovely to work with, and I thought the brown floral matched the era of the pattern quite nicely. 😉 I used some pale peach toned narrow scalloped edge lace for trim around the yoke and pockets, sewing it so that just the scallops peek out (kinda like rounded ric-rac. My original idea was actually to use ric-rac, but, well, I couldn’t find my box of ric-rac. Clearly, I have too much stuff in my sewing space. #firstworldproblems) I think the colour of this lace works better than white ric-rac would have anyway, so it must have been meant to be. Hah!

(Hmm, guess I was standing crooked for this photo. The skirt does sit straight, I promise!)

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern came together nice and easily. (But then, it is just a wrap skirt, so I would have been somewhat horrified if there were any complexities involved!) The yoke, back waist band and ties are all sewn on, then a matching set made and attached as a facing, before being slip-stitched down on the inside. Which means you get a nice, clean finish on the curved front yoke.

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Look! Wearing heels! (It’s been a while, haha!)

I was a good little stitcher for once and actually did slip-stitch the facing down. (Confession time – I’m pretty lazy with hand stitching and usually try to come up with a work around. Like top stitching. Yes, I know – horrible habit of mine, and one I’m consciously making the effort to kick!) It took me a good week to get that all stitched down (the little baby doesn’t tend to sleep during the day aside from cat naps most days, so finding moments can be somewhat tricky!), but I’m really happy with the end result so I’m glad I took the time.

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Inside waistband facing

I did get a bit lazy with the pockets though. They’re made by sewing two pocket pieces together, right sides together, then turning through a gap and slip stitching the gap closed. Which makes for a wonderfully neat and tidy pocket piece. Except that you then need to attach it to the skirt. The pattern instructions call for the pockets to be slip-stitched on. Yeah. Well. I don’t trust the quality of my hand stitching enough for that. Plus, I’ll be using these pockets a lot, so they need to be attached pretty firmly. Plus, that’s one heck of a lot of slip-stitching. So, yeah. I got lazy and top stitched them on instead, which I’m refusing to feel guilty about. (I also put a line of top stitching along the pocket opening, so they matched all the way around.)

They’re fantastically deep and large pockets and have already been extremely useful! (Bet you can’t even tell I have my cell phone in one of them in these photos, right? 😉 )

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I love these pockets

The back of the skirt is super simple – just a straight waistband that extends into the ties, and straight seams. The instructions call for a simple fold-under-twice-and-stitch-down edge on both the back edges and the hem. There’s a gap in the waist band at one side seam, for one of the ties to pass through, and it’s designed so you wrap them around to the front and tie them over the yoke.

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

One thing I’d do differently next time is extend the width of the back skirt pieces – the cross over portion isn’t quite big enough for the very windy city I live in, so I’ll be wearing a slip under this for those sure-to-happy wardrobe malfunctions due to errant gusts. (Admittedly, they would normally cross over a bit more – I made this up in my “normal” size, rather than my current size, since I still have a lot of baby bump weight to loose and I want to be able to wear this in the future, rather than just as a transition piece. But even taking that into consideration, they don’t cross over quite enough for my liking/feelings of wardrobe safety.

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Aside from the wind risk factor, though, I’m loving this skirt! It’s comfy, has big pockets, and is gonna last in my wardrobe for quite a while. So an all-round win, really. 🙂

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(The Little Man was running back and forth between my lovely photographer and I, hence the ‘hey there!’ arms)

It got it’s first outing on Christmas Day. We were at my partner’s parents house for lunch and the afternoon, and these photos were taken in their gorgeous garden. (Naturally, there was a photo bomber as well.) So any wrinkles (and chocolate finger marks left by the Little Man) can be excused from the car trip there. 😉

Retro Wrap Skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Little Man photo bomb (naturally)