Monday, December 31, 2012

Fashion from January 1951: Afternoon Dresses with Flair

Let's check out two more advanced patterns from McCall and January 1951. These two afternoon dresses are easy to make and add becoming style to your wardrobe. Ruffles or gathers combined with slim flared style - not to mention an optional flirty drape at the hip! Yumm.

McCall 8352

Every so easy to make. No sleeve bother. If you want long sleeves, you know how simple it is to add them to these drop-shoulder lines. Figure B has such sleeves, pushed up to three-quarter length. The shirred yokes look so pretty you will be delighted with them, and you will discover that they are vastly becoming. Consider plain heavy sheers and prints. Sizes 12-20, 40, 42. 50 cents.

 McCall 8343

"The new diamond neckline" - Because this wide neckline starts out close to the neck, it is becoming to most people. That line is easy to wear. The lower edges are softened by the frills which are cut in one with the fronts, faced and merely flopped over. So simple, yet it has the professionally-made look because of this construction. Good for plain crepe, good for a print. Sizes 12-20, 40-42. 75 cents.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Before and After Hit Parade - 1960s Mad Men Sheath is Superb

The Seamstress: Elisabeth
The Pattern: McCall's 5507- Misses' Dress and Jacket

The Result: I am overdue to report on this great pattern, a classic slim sheath and cropped jacket straight from 1960 and the Mad Men era. In 2011, Elisabeth sewed this as part of a self-challenge to sew a vintage pattern per month. " It did not work out as I thought, but all in all I did sew 13 vintage garments (but not one each month)."

I think Elisabeth does an amazing job in her choice of pattern, fabric, accessories, staging backdrop for her photos, and how she poses for all of her vintage sewing creations. She is a fabulous model! Check out her vintage challenge on her blog and on Flickr. Be sure to check her blog regularly for her adventures in sewing and just having fun with life: Sewing Fairytales.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fashion from January 1951: Around-the-Clock Delicious Fashion

All day and evening too - it's round-the-clock fashion from January 1951 and McCall! And these lovely sundresses with jackets have superb style. Gosh, I wish had these gorgeous patterns!

 McCall 8345

The sleeveless topless dress with its own jacket is in for another big season. The dress that can go anywhere at all with propriety as long as one keeps the jacket on. The dress - jacketless - that can be a short evening gown or a bare-top sports dress, depending only on the fabric used. Fitted heart-shape bodice, 4-panel flared skirt, simple bolero. Sizes 12-20. 50 cents.
 McCall 8346

This around-the-clock ensemble is an investment, paying dividends in good looks. You can wear it for daytime, for afternoon and, without the jacket, for evening. In the south, it is both a street costume and a play dress. Note the jacket - cape-like. Note the dress - buttoned over at the side, with soft pleats centered at the back. Sizes 12-20. $1.00.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fashion from January 1951: A Buttoned Dress and an All-purpose Suit Dress

It's a youthful, buttoned dress and an all-purpose suit-dress from a January 1951 McCall booklet of designer patterns!

McCall 8340

It's the neckline and the gathers in the skirt that give this dress a youthful effect. If you disapprove of the buttoned collar, you can exchange it for a tie collar. This is one design where you can have a high neck and a plunging neckline at the same time. No sleeves, short sleeves, or long sleeves that can be pushed up. Sizes 10-20. 35 cents.

McCall 8342

It's very versatile, this slim dress with the air of a suit. And you can make it up to take care of various needs. What would you like? A wool day timer? An unlined wool suit? Make view B. A dressy five-o'clock costume? Make it of faille or bengalaine, all one fabric. A two-piecer to take south? Make view A in shangtung. Sizes 12-20. 65 cents.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Five O'Clockers" - Fine Cocktail Dresses from 1951

These evening dresses have designer quality - a redingote dress with slip dress and the perfect dress for important engagements. Check out these wonderful cocktail or "after 5" dresses from 1951 and McCall. I include the original sizes available and the original price of the pattern.

McCall 8344

The garment under the redingote dress is called a "slip" but that is a misnomer. If you make it of an important fabric - metal cloth or a beautiful print on good heavy crepe - it can be used alone as a short dinner dress. The redingote fastens only at the waistline. Its neckline is waist deep, shawl collared.  Sizes 12-20, 40-46 $1.00

McCall 8350

Very Big Date! Charming neckline, swooping down in a graceful heartline. Long wasted and bustle-y at the back, and a pannier peplum hat is just the thing for snake hips. A slim-as-a-pin dress viewed from the front, but in back it has that pretty walk-away flare. Crushed short sleeves and other sleeve types. Sizes 12-20. 85 cents.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New's Years Evening Gowns from 1951

McCall's Patterns published a fabulous booklet of "advanced" or designer patterns, dated January 1951. Included are New Year's evening gowns, and "Five O'Clockers", Florida-California clothes, Around-the-Clock ensembles for North and South, and the New Sheath Slimness, the Asymmetric Line, and the "Beautiful Open Necks". Patterns range in price from 50 cents to a dollar, which was double or more the typical price of a pattern at that time.

All this week I'll post the images from this booklet, in anticipation of the new year. :D Here is the cover dress, pattern 8341 (sizes 12-20, 40-42) 75 cents.

With an enticement so gorgeous on the cover, let's move on to the New Year's evening gowns!

For Many Enchanting Evenings


Charming "breath-taker". Soft and billowy. A wedged-out neck that's very wide, very deep. Collar-revers with winged magic, derived so simply from bias-cut pieces interfaced and eased on. A basque bodice, smoothly fitted in contrast with the seven gathered panels of luscious skirt fulness. Unlimited fabric potentialities, including velvet, organdy, taffeta, and metal cloth. Pattern No. 8353 Sizes 9-17. 75 cents.

Lace Gown, Taffeta Slip

Dress and slip are attached so only one set of straps is required. The binding along the U decolletage and "bust ruffle" is a bias fold which runs on into shoulder straps - a smart touch. And it would be smart of you to stitch narrow tape inside the straps to keep them from stretching. Extremely wide skirt, with a detachable tie-on peplum. Sizes 12-20. $1.00.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In Search of Style - 1940s Camisole - An Understudy of Undergarments

Let's look at lingerie from the 1940s!

In search of a cute camisole, a seamstress in the late 1940s took this wonderful 3-page clipping about camisoles, petticoats, and other undergarments from a magazine and slipped it into a pattern for camisoles.

The first image shows a lacy camisole with a ruffle at the waistline and a separate deeply ruffled petticoat:

The 2nd page pictures a pert rayon plaid petticoat with a pretty ruffle, along with a drawing of a lightly boned bra (can you imagine?!) and a matching "waistliner" (corset).

The 3rd page illustrates a camisole and separate petticoat in embroidered eyelet. Equally interesting are the other lingerie items featured - a "revolutionary" bra with seamless molded cups, a very long line bra, and a "waistlet" (corset).

And here is the pattern, McCall 1423 from 1948, which seems to me to be a near-perfect match on all counts! :)

Here is a closer look at the camisoles in the clippings for easier comparison with the pattern.

So delicate and feminine!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Scraps from the Past: Dainty Cotton in 1960s Maternity Dress

This scrap from the past is a lovely baby blue cotton print, tucked into an adorable maternity dress from Vogue. Is springtime almost here?.... :)

It is so cute, I don't think you need to be pregnant to look cute in this high-waisted, sunny dress.

Monday, December 10, 2012

1949 Short Hair-Dos - It's a Sweep!

If you ever want to wear your hair so it matches your late 40s wardrobe, here are 4 wonderful styles from 1949! Each image illustrates a different style for short hair, designed by Guillaume of Paris and featured in the March 1949 edition of McCall's Magazine. Guillaume of Paris "has dressed the hair of smart women here and abroad", the article states.

This swirled bang hair-do is combed down from the crown, then sides are brushed up for a heart-shaped frame.

Elfin curls for a casual style. Hair is combed back, waved across the forehead from ear-to-ear. Very short back ends are brushed straight up to crown.

A side part starts this hair-do. Brush sleek waves behind ears, then roll ends back and under. Comb back hair forward to meet side sections and tuck ends in.

A triangle cut, with back hair cut in layers to form a point at nape of neck. Sides continuing V-line are brushed forward, end in a front halo.

The article does a fine job describing how to comb the hair, and includes some details about how the hair is cut. But I only wish there were more information about how to get those fabulous waves! Did they use a curling iron? I know they existed in that era, because I have my mother's from the 1940s. :) Did they use rags or pins to tie the hair into curls? Sigh. I guess it will take some research. But in the meantime, enjoy these cute 'dos!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vintage Newsprint - 1930s Child's Pattern Piece with Humor

Seamstresses often made adjustments to their patterns, making new pattern pieces from butcher paper or even more frequently, newspaper. Patterns cut from newspaper often were from the want ads, the society pages, and sometimes even the comics pages or the front page. Frequently they include advertisements for clothing or grocery store sales. It's always fun to see the latest gossip, food prices, and news of the day in these bits of vintage newspapers.

This pattern from 1939 is a little cutie-pie outfit of frock & bolero and had a hand-made pattern piece (probably a cuff) cut from newspaper.


Here is the piece, which included a one-panel comic of "Flapper Fanny", a comic of the 1920s and 1930s:

It is difficult to date this cartoon, although there is a date notation in the lower right hand corner "11-20". Between my research on Wikipedia and the YesterYear Once More blog (note the great fashion paperdoll & dresses from the 1920s and 1930s!), it looks most likely to be from November 20, 1939.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Scraps from the Past: 1940s Silky Pink Lingerie

And it's another scrap from the past! Tucked in a lovely 1940s pattern from McCall was this scrap of facing:

The fabric is a lovely pink with a hint of peach, and appears to be rayon, rather than silk.

And here is the pattern, a gorgeous fitted slip in day or evening length, with an empire waistline and a marvelous decollete sweetheart neckline. The slip hugs the bodice so well that it has a side zipper closing.

The pattern is annotated with the original seamstress's design changes to the neckline. She seems to have preferred a sweetheart neckline in both back and front, rather than just in front, and higher than the original neckline.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday Sale Blitz!

Wheeeee, it's time for a shopping spree! Who doesn't love a sale? My shop,  Midvale Cottage, as a member of the Etsy Pattern Patter Team, is participating in the team's Cyber Monday sale starting midnight tonight! I'm offering a discount of 20% off your entire order! Just use the coupon code: CMBLITZ. My sale will be running to the end of Friday, November 30th.

Be sure to visit the team's many wonderful shops for discounts in vintage sewing patterns, as well as fabric, sewing notions and fabulous fashions. Check out the team's blog for a list of participating Etsy shops. Note that different shops may have different coupon codes and discounts.

You can find Pattern Patter sellers here: Pattern Patter Team Members 

Here is a sneak preview of some new items coming to my shop this week:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scraps from the Past: 1960s A-line Sheath in Dainty Cotton Print

This 1968 A-line sheath with empire waistline is so charming - a popular style that flattered every figure. :)

Tucked inside was this bias strip of deep navy blue and tiny white floral print cotton:
The original seamstress sewed view A (on the far left) - can you picture it? It looks like summer to me. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

In Search of Style: 1940s Blouse with Peplum Charm!

Tucked in a pattern from the war years was this clipping of a very happy model wearing a beautiful formal blouse with a pert gathered peplum:

Here is the pattern, Advance 3909 from 1943, with models looking equally happy in blouse with peplum and flared swing skirt.

Let's compare! Both blouses have:
  • lightly fitted bodice
  • cap sleeves
  • shaped neckline
  • gathered peplum
  • self-fabric belt
The neckline is not identical, and the pattern has a front buttoned closing, otherwise, nice match! Don't you think? :D

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Buying vintage patterns online - Midvale Cottage is a favorite!

Midvale Cottage a favorite? It's not my own opinion! :D

Imagine my surprise and delight when I was contacted the other day by Vanessa of VanessaLovesVintage on Etsy, who wrote a blog post on buying vintage patterns online - the good and the bad. :) Thank you, Vanessa!

Happily, she listed my Etsy shop, Midvale Cottage, in her list of favourite sellers. I am so thrilled to receive such a public endorsement. Coming from a buyer of many vintage patterns, this is really an honor.

I do try very hard to ship patterns in as best a condition that is possible. I am methodical and meticulous in my processes, to the extent that any person can be. I do all the things she mentions - the careful counting, noting the condition of the pieces, repairing with archival mending tissue. I ship with care too - always in an archival plastic sleeve and stiff cardboard for protection. If a pattern is especially fragile, I will add bubble wrap. If the destination is especially soggy (there are some in Australia!), I can ship in a plastic envelope rather than paper.

And on those rare occasions when I do goof up (not too many in my 4 years on Etsy, thank heavens), I bend over backwards to correct my mistake so the customer does not suffer. :)

If you ever have any suggestions on how I can improve my customer service, please feel free to pass them on to me. And be sure to visit Vanessa's Etsy shop and her Twinkle Sparkle Shine blog for vintage sewing and crafts inspiration!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

History of Sewing - 1950s Vintage Pattern Sizes and Body Types

1950s Pattern Sizing

In this, my third post on vintage pattern sizing, it's time to examine the 1950s. The decade starts out looking much like the 1940s, but in the middle of the decade, things will change!

In the early and mid 1950s, pattern sizes remain consistent with sizes in the late 1940s. Categories remain the same: Women (or Ladies), Miss, Junior (or Junior Miss), Teens, Girls, Children, Infants, Boys, Men. And sizes remain the same for these categories. The Half-Size is still a relatively "new thing" but makes gains during this decade.

Misses and women's sizes run in even sizes from 10 to 46, and a size 16 is still a bust 34, waist 28, hip 37. Teen and junior sizes run in odd sizes, from 9 through 19. The junior figure is defined as a shorter-waisted figure than the miss, as well as slighter in other respects.

Pattern sizes from McCall's Complete Book of Dressmaking 1951

 An early 1950s Junior pattern from McCall's

A Note about the Half Size

The junior figure is not to be confused with the half size figure. Half sizes are defined as figures that are shorter than regular size figures, and are usually slightly larger at the waistline and hip line. Half-size gals had the option to either buy a half-size pattern or purchase a regular pattern and alter it, using the directions in the following image.


Sizes Change in the Mid 1950s!

In the mid-to-late 1950s pattern sizes begin to change, apparently in response to size changes issued by the US Bureau of Standards. I have read various sources on the Internet that place the date of this change variously in 1957 or 1958, but when I view the patterns themselves (and their copyright dates), I see the change starting to occur as early as 1955 and definitely implemented by 1957. Regardless of the precise date, the effect of the change has hips at only 2 inches (5cm) larger than the bust. Bust 34 is now a size 14 instead of size 16. The waist drops 2 inches and the hips shrink one inch. Here is a comparison:

 1930s-1955 1955+
Size 16
Size 14
Bust 34
Bust 34
Waist 28
Waist 26 
Hip 37 
Hip 36

Body Types

From Vogue Sewing Book 1958, you can see the familiar body types that we know from the 1940s: Junior Miss, Teen, Miss, and Women:

The Vogue Sewing Book 1958, like sewing books of all eras, provides instructions on how to measure yourself.

 Pattern Sizes

But now note the new sizing!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keeping Warm in Great Style with Vintage Coats

As winter approaches here in the Northern Hemisphere, my thoughts turn to overcoats and especially the beauty of vintage coats. Some of my favorite styles are from the 1940s and 1950s. Wonderful tailored details make me simply drool. :D  Swing backs, trapeze silhouettes, deep cuffs, chic collar treatments, and more - enjoy this review of coats, long and short, for women and girls, from the 1940s and 1950s.

Misses 1940s

Girls 1940s


Misses 1950s



Girls 1950s