Sewing a vintage shirt dress!

I have been meaning to write about this dress since I re-started the blog! But life and stuff got in the way, as it does. This is one of my favorite shirt dress patterns – mostly because it only has one button and my machine hates it when I try to do buttonholes. So I try to avoid them. But I do love the look and practicality of a good shirt dress!

Butterick 9299

I decided to omit the waistline tabs; they’re unnecessary (and it meant more buttonholes), and I had to take in the waistline as it’s a vintage pattern and only has the one size included. I just eliminated the seam allowance on the waist to take it in and hoped for the best! Luckily it ended up fitting perfectly.

There are some differences in the way vintage patterns gave instructions, and we now know that there are easier and less confusing methods to use.

Getting the skirt pleats correct took forever since I had taken in the side seams of the bodice. Look at all that pinning!

That was all the hard part; the rest was fairly straightforward. To get an authentic vintage look, I used seam tape for the hem.

Lastly, I really wanted to do an authentic vintage belt. I have all these old belt making kits, but I was missing the stick-on part for the size I wanted. I tried to improvise, but it didn’t work out. I just ended up doing an extra long tie-on belt.

Despite the issues, the fit is great and I love the end result! The fabric is a vintage plaid lightweight cotton I picked up at a garage sale. I think the dress is pretty true vintage and something that would’ve been made by a home seamstress in the 1950’s!

Next week: a Betty Draper replica dress made from a tablecloth!

100 year old sewing patterns- the oldest ones I own

My mom recently came to visit, and she’d been hanging onto these patterns for me for a while; she found them while cleaning out a relatives belongings and knew she had to save them from the trash. I hate to think about how much of our sewing history gets thrown out because people don’t know these patterns might be valuable to some or they think no one wants them!

Now that I had my hands on them, I could start doing some research on the dates and details of these lovely “frocks for Women and Misses”.

“New Butterick Pattern including New Deltor” states the cover. We know that Butterick patterns are still around, and they were first created by Ebenezer Butterick in 1863. “New Deltor” simply means that written instructions were included. There’s more to the name and story behind it but a Google search can give you more information.

Explanation of “New Deltor” in image, which also states that the New Deltor was patented in 1921.

I was very curious of the actual dates these patterns came out. About a year ago, when my mom sent me pictures of the cover, I had asked my “Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds” facebook group, and they had guessed late 1920’s/ early 1930’s. Luckily when I (very gingerly) opened the patterns, there were some dates inside, and they dated the patterns even earlier than we thought!

“patented in the United States August 19, 1919, January 23, 1923”. I’m sure an expert pattern/sewing historian could tell me why there are 2 dates listed. Both patterns had these dates, and I am only assuming these are the dates these dresses are from.

Looking at the details of the pattern provided some other interesting differences in the way patterns were labeled:

Back of one of the envelopes. I guess the capelet on 2988 was called a “Bertha” .

The instructions were numbered with Roman numerals. These details are just fascinating to me.

Aside from the actual origin and details of Butterick patterns, the history of how the pattern actually made it into my mother’s hands is quite interesting. There was a store in St. Mary, MO (about an hour outside of St. Louis, and where my mother is from) called Rozier’s Mercantile.

And we know if came from there because we have the actual mailing envelope!! How cool is that?! “Messrs. Jules Rozier & Sons Mdse. Co.”
A picture my mom sent me of Rozier’s Mercantile, St. Mary MO

There is still a Roziers store in Perryville, MO, about a 20 minute drive from the original store, but the location this pattern came from is no longer there.

We can’t seem to figure out who in our family owned the patterns – the cousin who had them, neither her nor her mother sewed, and there aren’t any indications that I can see that they were ever used. I guess it was just fate that they ended up in my appreciative hands!!

All in all, it’s been a fun and fascinating trip through the history of these patterns and the trip they made to me! I never thought I would own patterns this old and they are in amazing shape for being 100 years old!

The inside illustrations are just beautiful.

Using what I have – a Plan for the year!

It seems I am constantly rotating my vintage wardrobe: buying new things, feeling guilty about buying new things, going through my closet and thinking “what do I REALLY need?” (hint: I don’t “need” any of it ha!), and finally selling some things to make room. Recently I was looking at a vintage dress for sale and thought “I have a vintage pattern that would work for that! Why do I need to buy it”? Well, I’m going to dust off my vintage patterns and fabrics and get to work! What’s the point of having all these fabulous items if I’m not going to use them?

I’m determined to work through what I have with the fantastic library of vintage patterns I already have (of course I wouldn’t pass up a good opportunity to buy more! In fact, I just bought some of the above fabrics yesterday. Oops. ) Below I’ll go through some projects I have in mind for the year plus the inspirations behind them. No surprise, some of those inspirations come from Mad Men. The clothing on that show is SO GOOD. This will also be something I can come back and reference if I’m feeling uninspired or don’t know what my next project will be. So, here goes!

I got this amazing cotton pique floral border print from a Facebook seller. It was too unique to pass up! I thought it would look good as a Butterick 6453 dress with a white top, a la Megan Draper’s “Maria Von Trapp” outfit from the Tomorrowland episode.
Here’s this one again!! Since this has been in the pile the longest, it is definitely going to be my next project when I finish the shirtdress I’m currently working on (which will be the subject of my next post!)

I’d really like to use my smaller fabric pieces to make more of these vintage Butterick tops, which I noticed Betty wearing similar on the “Long Weekend” episode.

Now for some non-Mad Men inspiration! I LOVE blue florals, and I have quite a collection of vintage and modern- way too many for them to be hiding in a drawer. While perusing Vixen by Micheline Pitt’s website, this one caught my eye! I don’t have many fitted dresses, so it would be a nice addition to my closet.
I wear aprons just about every day, and would love to make one with multiple pockets!! Also good for small yardages.
Probably easiest are simple shift dresses with these groovy 60’s fabrics! The orange is a polyester knit, which isn’t my comfort zone, but with a simple pattern it shouldn’t be too bad.
And lastly, a high necked, darted bodice, back zip dress. It looks simple BUT I’ll have to grade this one up because vintage patterns were not multi-sized like the one’s we have today. This one is a 30″ bust. Uh, no.

I think I definitely have a start on my plan for the year! It sure beats spending two hours trying to think of my next project, which is my usual plan. I enjoyed having a challenge with the Liz dress, and I’m excited about these projects because working with mostly vintage patterns is more of a challenge than working with modern patterns. The pattern companies expected that every woman knew how to sew therefore there weren’t extremely detailed instructions, some of the techniques they used are different (in my next post I’ll show some of those differences and how I completely disregard them and do things my own way), and as I pointed out above, the patterns came in one size only and sometimes need to be graded up or down.

If you’ve read this far, thanks! I’m pleased that so far I’ve kept the blogging going 2 weeks in a row, and stuck to my Sunday morning blogging pledge. Maybe I’ve given you some inspiration for your next project! I’m excited to dive back into those buckets of vintage patterns that have been hiding under my sewing table.