My Vintage Weekend

Last weekend was my vintage weekend. On Saturday I stopped by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, which was having a sale of vintage clothes, shoes, and other accessories. This place  occasionally gets vintage goods from its estate services.  The next day I went to the Alameda Flea Market a.k.a. the Alameda Point Antiques Faire (its official name), where hundreds of vendors convene on the first Sunday of the month, selling a huge array of vintage (and not so vintage), upcycled, and funky items, everything from furniture and toys to clothes and jewelry. I’ll write about that fun experience tomorrow.

The Depot is a nonprofit organization loaded with donated art and craft supplies, vintage goods, fabric, furniture, and more, which it sells. Its mission is “to divert waste materials from landfills by collecting and redistributing discarded goods as low-cost supplies for art, education, and social services.”

I looked at the clothes at the Depot but they were either too small or the styles weren’t what I was interested in. But I was thrilled to find some vintage patterns for $1 each. I spent many minutes looking through two small boxes of patterns from the 1950s and 1960s.

Here’s what I bought. All the patterns included the original instructions but I haven’t checked yet to see if any pattern pieces are missing. They patterns are for bust size 30, 32 or 34, smaller than my 36 but I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult to grade up. I’ve only graded up one size when I made a dress from a vintage Vogue pattern.

I might start with the blouse below (Vogue 9961). I’ve been assured by Melizza (@mujerboricua) via Twitter, that it’s “totally doable.” She had a vintage pattern that she graded up from a size 40 bust to 44. She told me that she used the book Fit for Real People as a guide and she kindly offered to lend it to me if I’m ever in the Peninsula.

This Vogue 7034  dress pattern is size 14, which back then, as you can see, meant a 32 bust and a 35 hip. No vanity sizing back then!

1950 Vogue dress pattern
Vogue 7034 dress pattern from 1950

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 1955 coat pattern
Vogue 1544 coat pattern from 1955 (apologies for blurry image!). One of the recommended fabrics is “wool hopsacking,” a loosely woven wool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 1960 blouse pattern
Vogue 9961 blouse pattern from 1960. For this pattern, a size 12 meant a 32 bust, 25 waist, and a 34 hip. This top has a waistband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 5380 dresses - no copyright date listed
Vogue 5380 dresses – no copyright date listed

 

 

Vogue 6419 dress (no date but looks very '60s)
Vogue 6419 dress (no date but looks very ’60s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 7282 dress pattern (no copyright date, 1960s)
This Vogue 7282 dress pattern says “new sizing” on the front. Here a size 12 was 34 bust, 25 1/2 waist and 36 hip. No copyright date but looks ’60s 

 

Vogue dress pattern 5968, 1960s (no date)
Vogue dress pattern 5968. I like the buttons on this dress.

 

I love vintage patterns of the 1950s and ’60s. I’ve also bought some Vogue reissued dress patterns from the 1950s. Have you made any clothes from vintage patterns? Did you have to grade the pattern? How did it turn out?

 

Sandra Betzina’s Sewing Seminar

Garment with sample buttonholes made with fabric
Buttonhole detail

Last February I attended  “Power Sewing Toolbox,” a two-hour sewing seminar taught by Sandra Betzina, Vogue pattern designer and sewing book author. The description certainly caught my eye:

“This 2 hour class is full of tips and techniques the patterns don’t tell you but essential to a quality looking finished product. No longer will you be intimidated by mitered bindings, fringe detailing, classy seam embellishments, welt pockets and buttonholes, neckline bindings for round and V neckline and truly invisible zippers.  In addition, you will learn a technique for lining knit pants, T-shirts in stretch mesh and zippers hidden in pockets. Feel your sewing savvy soar from a C to an A plus as you learn all new tricks of the trade.”

The class took place at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. Britex isn’t really set up to hold classes so space was very limited. The store could squeeze in a few dozen people into folding chairs placed in between the tables of fabric on the first floor. It was a tight fit but we were there for the duration. Not surprisingly the class was nearly all women with the exception of one man who was an aspiring fashion designer. We each received a nice black Britex canvas bag and retractable tape measure for attending the $60 class.

The first floor of Britex is where you’ll find gorgeous (and gorgeously expensive!) wool and silk fabrics – stuff you just love to touch and feel and wish you could afford to buy. (See “Shopping for Fabric” for more on Britex.) We sat next to these fabrics and Sandra stood near one of the tables and  held up her various samples of garments in different stages as she explained her techniques.

The sample clothes she displayed were of her own design from the Vogue pattern line “Today’s Fit.” She also passed various pieces around so that everyone got a chance to look at them up close and see how they were constructed. Here are links to a few patterns: Lovely pleated shirt (V1165), pants with a striking side pleat (V1050), a lined skirt with flattering curing seams (V1082). All of the clothes made from these patterns looked great. And according to Sandra, the instructions are easy to understand and execute. She says she incorporates her sewing techniques in her patterns.

Sandra went over a lot of things very quickly. It was sort of like highlights from her book Power Sewing Toolbox I, which had just been released. She showed us beautiful samples of buttonholes you can create using contrasting fabric – a very nice alternative to consider, especially when you’re making a jacket. She likes to call the fabric around the buttonholes “lips.”

Revising shirt collar pattern so seam is center back

Here’s one cool tip for reducing bulk in shirt collar points: Move the seam from the side to the center back (in red in photo at right).

You can do this with any basic shirt collar. Just take collar pattern and instead of cutting the collar shape on the fold, you trace out one half on the fold and then flip it over. This means that when you sew it together, you don’t have two side seams and corners to trim. Instead you have ONE seam and it’s on the center back.

It took me a little while to understand that so I took a picture of her sample. Hopefully that will make it more clear to you. For a better description, go to her website Power Sewing and subscribe to her tutorials or get a copy of her book Power Sewing Toolbox 1, which covers this technique.

Throughout the seminar, Sandra was promoting her books as well as her Vogue patterns, all of which Britex had on hand for folks to buy. And naturally, when the class took a break, we were encouraged to shop and we got a discount on her books. I went ahead and bought Power Sewing Toolbox 1, which I knew would be a handy reference.

And here are a few additional tips, which I gleaned from my notes. Sandra recommends using:

  • Steam-a-Seam instead of interfacing for plackets
  • Fray Block (instead of Fray Check) because it’s thinner
  • silk thread for buttonholes.
Happy sewing!

Tweed Jacket with “Divine Details”

A few months after I started sewing again, I wanted to make a lined jacket, which I had never done before. I found a great Vogue pattern for a suit called “Divine Details” (V8543). The jacket has princess seams in the back.

Then I found a great fabric – a herringbone tweed remnant for less than $40 at a Britex Fabrics sale in San Francisco. The fourth floor of this store is where you’ll find remnants organized by type – wools, silks, cottons, knits, and so on.

Though the remnants are discounted, many of them are still quite pricey, such as $75 or more for a piece of imported Italian silk. But a couple times a year, Britex has a remnant sale and you get an additional 30 percent or maybe even 50 percent off. A ton of people come to these one-day remnant sales so get there early. (Bay Area readers: Go to Britex’s website to sign up for the store’s newsletter and get notified of sales.)

Back detail

Vogue rated this pattern “average” for sewing difficulty which I thought I could handle. After all, I could sew a straight seam and follow directions, right? And didn’t “average” mean “average sewing ability”?

Well, I just looked up how Vogue defines an “average” sewing rating on its website:

“These patterns are perfect if you have more time to sew, and more experience sewing. Look for challenging designer techniques, tailoring, unique construction details. Expect more fitting and inner construction. Find more variety in fabrics from the stretchiest knits to synthetic leathers and suedes.”

Hmmm. I think if I had read that before I made it, I might have thought I couldn’t make it. However, the instructions were clear and I didn’t run into any problems except when I didn’t pay attention to the interfacing part. This pattern used nylon fusible knit interfacing – which was new to me. It’s been a while since I used any interfacing (for an explanation of interfacing, go here). Fusible knit interfacing is very lightweight.

When I cut out the interfacing for the collar, I immediately steam ironed them to the tweed wool pieces. It was only after I ironed that I noticed that I was supposed to trim the corners in a couple areas to reduce bulk. Whoops. I didn’t have any extra fabric so I had to deal with my mistake. With such lightweight interfacing you’d think it wouldn’t make much of a difference but it did. The collar didn’t quite lay down the way it should have. I ended up tacking down one collar point to (sort of) fix it.

I hate ironing but I ironed every time the directions said to iron. It makes a huge difference in the finished product. So don’t skip it!

Here are a few more photos – just click on an image for a larger view.

Sleeve detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeve detail
Back detail