Tag Archives: Vintage pattern

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

Advertisements

Summer dreaming….

When I was browsing the Minerva Crafts website a while ago, my eye got caught by this fabric. Believe it or not, it’s a Liberty lawn! One that isn’t super floral!! I’ve always wanted to try sewing with a Liberty fabric – it’s not something you tend to come across over here in New Zealand, and after reading so many posts by overseas bloggers who rave about it, my curiousity was well and truly piqued. But sadly, I’m just not that into busy floral prints, and most of the designs, while lovely on others, weren’t “me”.

Until this one. Ain’t it fantastic?!? It’s called “Hidden Floral” – yep, there are flowers in it, but they’re all hidden in the print. Pinks and greens and blues and oranges, what a fantastic riot of colour, while at the same time appearing almost subdued. (Not too sure how that works, but hey.)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So thanks to Minerva, who enabled my Liberty curiousity to be fulfilled. 😉

When I spotted this print, I knew exactly what I wanted to make it into as well. I’ve had this vintage 1950’s halter neck dress pattern in my stash for a while, waiting to be made up. It features a button-front, side zip, and dramatically pointed collar. As well as pockets. And oh my gosh, what epic pockets they are! Check out the hugeness of them!! And the pocket flaps!!! They’re pockets perfectly designed for swanning around on a summers day, concealing all manner of lip balms and cell phones and entire blocks of chocolate where no kids can see you’re carrying candy and sneakily eating it when their backs are turned. (Not that I do that. Ever. *ahem*)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern is Butterick 5949, from around 1951. As stated on the back, it’s a “Halter Necked Day or Evening Dress. (A) The tailored look in a quick & easy evening or at-home gown. Halter neck, bare back bodice buttons down the front, has a perky collar. The full, dirndlish skirt flaunts two huge patch pockets. (B) Day length version.”

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyways – this fabric, that pattern. Perfect!

(Or maybe not perfect – in hindsight, a lawn is probably a little bit too lightweight for a halter neck dress like this. Although anything much heavier would result in a rather bulky waist, with the semi-circle skirt that is then gathered in…. Hmmm…. Perhaps a poplin? No matter, lawn it was, and as lawn it shall be worn!)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern needed a few modifications. First up, it’s a couple of sizes too small, at a 32″ bust. So I got my tracing game on, and made the following changes before cutting out the final fabric:

  • Graded up to a size 36″ bust / 42″ waist
  • Did a 1″ SBA (small bust adjustment) (so 1/2″ on the half bodice, to bring it to a total of 1″)
  • Lowered dart points
  • Lengthened the bodice by 3cm (possibly too long in hindsight, but I’ll get to that soon)
  • Narrowed the skirt a bit so it fit on the width of the fabric
  • Removed the side zipper and instead extended the front button placket (I have dreams of one day getting back to pre-baby-size, so all dresses are currently made in a way that side seams are easy to take in at some mythical point in the future)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Changes made, and dress cut out, I got to sewing.

And let me just tell you – this Liberty lawn was all it was rumoured to be. Absolutely delicious to sew with – light and airy, presses well, doesn’t crease easily (except when you want it to), and holds it’s shape nicely while being sewn up. Gorgeous. *mini swoon*

The pattern, well, it’s a classic 1950’s pattern. Unprinted pattern pieces (they’re marked with punched holes instead, which are interpreted by a key. Which I find pretty easy to work with actually – it’s super easy to mark things with tailors chalk when there are conveninetly cut holes already in the pattern tissue!). And the usual sparse instructions. The instructions for the collar/neck facing confused me a little, so I just ignored them and did things my own way. 😉

The way the collar is shaped on this is very pretty – it’s narrow at the back, and swoops into a strong point in the front.

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made a few changes as I went through the sewing fun as well, as follows:

  • Stitched the side seams last to make it easy to adjust them in the future
  • Put interfacing onto the self-facing of the front bodice, rather than directly onto the front bodice itself (it looks a bit softer that way)
  • Added extra button holes below the waist to compensate for having removed the side zip, and then stitched the remainder of the placket closed from the last button to the hem
  • Understitched the neck facing
  • Got lazy and didn’t slip-sitch the opening that the pocket was turned through closed. The pocket got top-stitched onto the skirt anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t make a difference

I finished the inside seams and the hem with pink Hug Snug rayon seam binding. Those little bursts of colour on the inside of garments just make me happy, it’s true. 🙂

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Annoyingly enough, despite doing a quick-and-dirty muslin (the joy of using fabric for tracing onto – these days I just sew up my tracings of the pattern pieces as a muslin and then unpick them again to get the pattern back. So fast! So easy!), and trying the dress on a few times during construction, once it was finished I realised I needed to adjust the side seams. By quite a lot.

11cm, to be precise. Grading down to nothing at the waist.

Heck knows how that happened. Because that puts them back at a size 32″ bust, which I most certainly am not, and never have been. Oh well, such is life! Although with an adjustment that big on a halter neck, it does mess around with the curve of the neckline under the arm – somewhat annoying. But not insurmountable, so after a fair bit of unpicking and cutting and restitching, I now have a halter dress, all ready to wear this summer!

Yay, summer!!!

(Now, where are you, summer?!? Hurry up already!!)

Looks rather ideal for lounging around eating ice cream in, don’t you think? 😉

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Summary / Details:
Pattern used: Butterick 5949 from around 1951
Fabric: Hidden Floral Liberty lawn, from Minerva Crafts (sadly now sold out, so I can’t link you to it)
Changes made: Lots! All listed above
What I’d change next time: Take in the side seams by 11cm in total (so 2.75cm at front and back side seams on the pattern) before cutting out the fabric; possibly raise the waistline by 1cm. I’m not 100% sure about this yet – the volume of the skirt pulls the waist down a bit lower than it should be, but I also have pretty much no waist definition at all at the moment (thanks, little babies. Yeah.), so it may be in part due to that. Will revisit in a few months. Hopefully.
Would I make it again? Hopefully! I’m loving this pattern, and especially those pockets and the as-described “perky” collar! Love the idea of the evening dress length – such a fascinating combination – a semi-structured halter neck with huge pockets as an evening maxi. Must be done, sometime soon….

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So saying though, I’m not 100% sold on the fit of this on me just yet. Not sure how much of that is the softness of the lawn with this style, how much is that the fit just isn’t right, and how much of it is that my body is still changing size and shape quite a lot post-pregnancies. The littliest guy is finally starting to sleep a bit better (only getting woken up about 3 times a night now – a massive improvement!!) so I’m feeling hugely better as far as sleep deprivation goes – fingers crossed I start feeling healthier soon too, and all those crazy changes settle down. Either way, I’ll see how I’m feeling about the fit of this in another couple of months. 🙂

Big thanks to my lil’ sis’, who took these photos at the rugby field near her house. We saw ducks with ducklings (ducklings!! So cute!!!), the Little Guy ran around pretending to chase off robots (as one does when one is three), and one of the groundskeepers came over to ask what on earth we were doing and make jokes about being on New Zealand’s Next Top Model. Yep.

ducklings