Recent Vintage Sewing: Fetish and Finland

While I definitely just make things, I more often than not sew for events. Last year I was invited to a fetish night to see a friend perform. The days where I had a closet full of club wear have long gone so I struggled to figure out what to wear. I decided to sew a dress of black lace and pleather from my go to vintage pattern, Simplicity 1577 from 1956. I figured the mix of materials and the vintage styling would work in a “Mummy, I’ve been naughty” sort of way. IMG_0309I got most of the dress done. I just needed to sew the collar and the hems. But scheduling conspired and I ended up not attending nor finishing the dress.

Another similar event came up again recently and I was again asked to attend. Knowing that I was very close to having something to wear and also up for a nightlife adventure, I said yes and finished this dress. FullSizeRenderI love how it turned out. Just the right amount of class and the right amount of sass. I coordinated with a vintage hat I got in Las Vegas and shoes from TaoBao.IMG_3845I was also super happy with how my makeup turned out. I went for a colorful but soft look versus the more expected heavy goth with red lipstick. My eyeliner matched my hair.IMG_3859My date, Ms. Megan Maude, opted to make a companion piece to my dress so we had kind of a good / evil, yin / yang thing going on. We looked pretty damn fabulous I have to say.IMG_3857

The other vintage dress I’ve completed recently was made for a tiki-themed wedding. I was on the fence about sewing something. While I didn’t exactly have anything tropical, I definitely have other very good dresses in my closet that would have fit the bill. Then I saw the crazy fabric that Megan was using for her new dress. It has tropical leaves, birds and…tigers. Well, honestly, I got jealous. I wanted a new dress too.

I pulled out my tropical and atomic stash fabrics but nothing was really speaking to me. But then I remembered that I had this:IMG_4200I really have no idea how old this fabric is. It’s super polyester and I got it for a song. My original thought for it was a jumpsuit. Sure, it’s not tropical but one of the grooms is a Tom of Finland fan. I mean, yeah, these sailors are way more, eh, restrained than Tom’s but it still seemed like a match to me.

IMG_3933In keeping with the vibe of the fabric, I made a suitably disco, maxi dress complete with flutter sleeves from the 70s era McCalls 5337. Since I already knew I had something to wear to the wedding and because I was not overly emotionally attached to my fabric, I just dove in without making a test dress. Not that I really left myself the time to do that anyway!

IMG_3928The dress turned out just fine and was frankly too big. I had a suspicion that it might be but with the cling factor and drape of this polyester I didn’t want to take any chances on it being snug. I omitted the zipper. I just didn’t need it. I think my serger tension was set a little too tight but it turned out OK. The flutter sleeves really make this dress. I just know I might need to tweak a little for any future makes.

IMG_3925The wedding was a lovely intimate backyard affair on a warm and sunny April 1st. The photographer, also a friend of mine, arrived a little too early due to a miscommunication. Seeing no other guests he had a sudden fear that this was an epic April fool! But it wasn’t. It was actually an homage. The grandparents of one of the grooms were also married on April 1st. Sweetness!


A funny thing about that vintage Simplicity pattern

A common complaint about Big 4 repro patterns is that while they use the original pattern illustrations, the patterns themselves are often noticeably altered from their original release. This creates, at the very least, confusion when the finished garment ends up not looking like what was supposedly on offer.

Here’s a little discovery — not just repros that have this problem!

You may remember my last post about my adventures with Simplicity 3010 from 1959.


I pulled this pattern out last year intending to make a dress for Halloween. I found a really fun bat motif lace at Joann. I thought it would be super fun as an overlay. It was too late though. Halloween came and went and the lace went into the stash.

The illustration for View 1 is clearly drawn strapless with a lace overlay. But, as I discovered when I actually made this pattern, there are no pieces or instructions to actually make the dress as illustrated. There is a mention of using net or marquisette (The Dreamstress explains marquisette here) for the facings if you choose to make the dress from lace but that’s it. There is nothing about lining the bodice in the manner illustrated or attaching an overlay skirt. The fact that View 1 is shown without pockets probably has to do with it being impractical for a dress overlay. I suppose perhaps it was assumed that a 1959 sewist would just know how to get this done? I can’t see that a 1959 lady was going to wear a lace dress without a lining. It boggles a bit.

I have my own ideas on how I would recreate that illustration. I’d flatline the lace before putting in the darts. I wouldn’t make it strapless either so I could wear a regular bra. It’s a really cute drawing but it doesn’t make sense. The architecture to support a strapless style bodice isn’t present in the pattern. Tsk tsk Simplicity!

1920s Lace Cloche Hat

I finally finished my 1920s Lace Cloche that I started at Costume College in a workshop with Lynn McMasters. 20141002-013338-5618877.jpg
I used 3 different pieces of vintage lace. The cloche is formed by pining the lace in a spiral on a padded styrofoam head. It’s pretty much required to be a hand sewn hat but you can use the machine for a couple of tiny bits. Completing the cloche was time consuming and a bit fiddly but not especially difficult. I sewed a lot of it while sitting on the floor in my kitchen as my husband cooked dinner.

I’m not completely convinced that the cloche is the right hat style for me. I think my asymmetrical bob might a little too short for it. Even so, I’m interested in trying the hat pattern again with ribbon instead of lace. My original version might need a little lace flower or something as a decoration on the side. Or maybe a button or three to add a little contrast color. I’m generally pleased though on how it all turned out.


Working on the cloche at Costume College. Image courtesy of Lynn McMasters.

Want to give it a go? Buy the pattern HERE