Recreating a vintage dress 1: Inspiration

Because of my interest in drafting sewing patterns from scratch and my love for pretty vintage dresses, it only seems logical that I would try to recreate a dress based on a picture only. This 1963 (according to the Vintage patterns wiki) dress pattern does not look too complicated, but the neckline is very cute. I haven’t decided whether I want a slim or a full skirt, so I guess I’ll tackle the bodice first.

Luckily I also found a photograph of the back of the envelope, which shows the number of different pattern pieces and their shapes. I don’t think this should be an unsurmountable task, but you never know… I hope to start drafting the bodice tonight, so I can make a (small) test version tomorrow.


McCall 7599 – wearable muslin

McCall 7599Behold, version one of McCall’s 7599, a 1940s skirt.This was a perfect candidate for a first vintage pattern, because it corresponded to my measurements almost exactly. The fabric is just something I had lying around for a while. It is a bit greener in reality than it looks in the pictures, which gives somewhat of a christmassy feel – unfortunately. As always, click the photos to get to my flickr page and see them bigger.

Pattern: McCall 7599
Fabric: ca. 2m wool/polyester
Time: ca. 2,5 hours tracing & cutting; 5 hours sewing.

As you can see from the picture below, I have shortened it drastically, as I don’t really wear long skirts. It hits me right at the knee now, which is a lot nicer to wear in spring.

McCall 7599 patternI had some trouble with attaching the waistband to the skirt, because the steam of my iron had stretched the fabric a bit. To fix it, I added two extra little darts at the back of the skirt. It fits beautifully, although I would make the waistband a little bit longer on the next version. It is just a little bit on the the tight side, especially if I want to wear a blouse tucked inside it.

The back (and the pockets – I love skirts with pockets!) is my favourite part of the skirt. The back panels flare out towards the bottom, creating a lovely silhouette. All in all, I am quite satisfied. I started it on a whim because I wanted to start sewing one of my patterns, and I will actually wear this occasionally.

DSC01628I will probably make a second version of this, but maybe without the decorative pocket flaps, because they do scream “look at my hips right here” a little bit. Also, it would probably look even better in fabric with a little more drape.

Up next is an Anne Adams mail order pattern for a summery shirt-dress, but I need to decide on a fabric first. I am leaning towards solid red or mustard with white piping along the yoke, collar and facing. It is a vintage size 14 (bust 32″), but if I compare it to my made-to-measure sloper it should fit my 34″ bust with plenty of room to spare. Perhaps I’ll get started on a muslin now.

Vintage patterns

Vintage patterns

For a long time I have wondered where everyone gets their vintage sewing patterns at not so ridiculous prices, but now I know! I got lucky last week and found 2 sets of 12 sewing patterns at a very good price. Of course I won’t make all of them – there are already 6 patterns for pyjamas or night gowns – but there are plenty of nice ones that I can’t wait to make. Some of my favourites are even exactly in my size!