Saturday, 29 October 2016

My First Vintage Pattern Make

I love vintage but had never sewn a truly vintage pattern before!  I bought this one on eBay, actually rather cheaply and was keen to try it!

My first lovely surprise was when I realised that it was all perfectly cut out!!  Result!!!

Then I realised that a size 12 wasn't really a size 12 by my standards- so some upsizing was required. I decided I needed to add 1.5cm to all the seams on the width, but keeping the length the same.   I had this beautiful Liberty snowdrop print that my mum bought me that I wanted to use -it has a bit of a vintage vibe and I think it will be a perfect winter shirt dress!  As usual with Tana Lawn though I plan to line the skirt as it is a bit lightweight.   This sew was a long one by my standards- weeks long!!!!  Mainly because I made quite some errors on the way that I needed to correct (grrrrrr).

First up was cutting out.  I thought I had TONNES of fabric, but wow that skirt needs a lot of fabric- and wanting the pattern to all be at least facing the right way etc - meant I needed a lot.  The only thing which really puzzled me was the skirt that is a circle type - in 2 parts, joining centre front & back. So if the pattern is the right way up at the front, its on its side on the back - but what else can I do?!

I was getting on just fine, until I did the waistband.  Well it was a good 8cm from meeting in the middle!! Even though I d already made it 4cm bigger than the pattern.... I had enough fabric for a second one... JUST.  Luckily the bodice fitted fine- it has gathered fabric pretty much on all sides so I could just gather it slightly less than the pattern intended.   Oh and I made it doubly complicated by putting in some piping.  Sewing piping along with gathered fabric and a lining is not fun (its only the second time I did piping so clearly I need some practice.  I didn't get it perfectly even, I re-did some sections but decided this was good enough.

Then the fun started.  I couldn't for the life of me work out the instructions for part of the front centre bands (where the buttons go).  Having made 2 previous shirt dresses, I just relied on instinct.  And I don't know what happened but the top side ended up about 4cm smaller than the other side.  They started off identical and   I have NO IDEA what I did wrong!!   I didn't have enough fabric to re-do it so I had to unpick, cut it off straight and patch it with another piece.   I had to pass on the v bottom, and just sewed it straight.  I was worried I had re-worked the fabric too much so I sewed through a square (like on denim) to re-enforce it. The join & the square bottom is on the pic below:

And then I sewed a button hole in the wrong place.  ggrrrrrr.   Unpicking a button hole in this fabric was not fun - I was really worried that I would put a hole through it, but I did manage it.  Lucky the fabric is so patterned as it doesn't show (I wouldn't have gotten away with it on a plain fabric.)

I then had fun & games with the hem.  How on earth do you end up with a straight hem with so much fabric ?  I never have an issue getting a hem straight when there isn't much fabric but  with such full fabric I had an issue.  I got it looking even on the hanger, but then it was totally off when I put it on....   I got it ok in the end & finished with bias tape, but there must be a method for this - tips please?   Last time I did a full skirt I made no changes to the length so  I just took it up equally all the way round.  

I'm making this sound like a disaster.... it isn't .  I actually adore it!!  But it took a lot of effort and I learnt some new stuff too.  I really like some of the details on this dress- the front buttons, the waistband that sits just above the hips, the full skirt and all the gathered sections on the bodice- its super comfortable but really quite elegant- well by my standards!!  Here are a few pics


  1. Your dress looks amazing! I love the piping. Circular skirts are notoriously difficult to hem. Because part is on the bias it will drop more there. I believe it's best to hang them for a week before hemming them....but I'm not usually that patient! They tolerate a nice narrow hem which can be done on your sewing machine. I love your blog and I'm so inspired by the short time that you have been sewing and yet your garments look so professional. Thanks for sharing.

    1. thanks for your lovely comment- i m not sure I would have the patience to wait a week on a hem!!!

  2. Such a cute 70s pattern! :) And you've chosen a really lovely fabric for it!