Treasure Trove

No vitriol today. It’s sunny outside but not too hot, I have a day off from work and a clean house. For the next several days I’m all alone. I won’t have anyone to cook for, no one to talk to, and I’ll probably sneak into my little girl’s room later tonight to breathe her scent. The upside, of course, is that I’m free to sew when I’m not working. Huzzah.

A Lovely Friend of mine recently visited family in New Zealand. She returned with a big box full of patterns leftover from her mother, grandmother, and I suspect her great-grandmother. A few of my favorites:

Australian Home Journal pattern, no date. My guess is early 1950’s, perhaps late 40’s. I should say late 40’s if this were an American or British pattern. Remember at the time, the world was bigger. Fashions traveled by paper and fabric, not bits and bytes, and New Zealand is far from everywhere. The bodice, especially the gathered upper bodice, reminds me of wartime fashion, but the skirt is decadently post-war. As is the case with so many old patterns, the envelope is in tatters, but the pattern is gorgeously pliable. Bust 34- Fab. I’m one FBA away from a new dress pattern.
I’ve never heard of Wiegel’s, but I think they’re just charming. From the demure lady in grey to the vintage slide fastener advertisement, I’m smitten. Look at the sweet notched bateau neckline, see the full pleated skirt, and raptures, the kimono sleeves. Sweet, elegant, womanly. I like Lovely Friend’s mother. I can swing the 32 bust if I do a massive FBA. I have a 33″ high bust, so I usually buy size 14 (32 bust) or 16(34 bust) vintage and alter for my 38″ full bust. For full skirts, I don’t have to alter below the bust for my size.

Another mid-fifties (probably…) boutique pattern. Paulette, how delightful. I can’t say what I like most about this pattern: another notched bateau, more cut-on sleeves (in two lengths, 3/4 is my favorite), and a full skirt with inverted box pleats. Heaven, I’m in heaven. I’d love to make it up in a devastating emerald green just like the pattern envelope, maybe for the Christmas party season. Hmm… If I didn’t already love the skirt so much, I’d be tempted to put the bodice on a peg-topped wiggle skirt. In shiny, whispering black silk and oversize pearls. Fierce. And forget the lace trim.

Another Paulette, this time an asymmetrical skirt. I actually have some black linen, pre-washed four times, on grain, pressed, and I think it must be made up into this skirt. Right now. As soon as I finish the buttonholes on the Disaster Gray Linen shirt. Perhaps with some vibrant contrast top-stitching. Most of my skirts are black, heck most of my clothes are black but a girl can always use another black linen skirt, especially an asymmetrical one with a huge patch pocket. I’ll line it with some nude or pink batiste (batiste breathes better in this climate, very nice in my skirts) and trim the lining with lace.

The oldest of the lot, a 1919 “Ladies’ One-Piece Dressing Sack” from Butterick. I’ve never touched a pattern this old, let alone sewn from one. I think I’ll trace this off, maybe make it up. I might scan the Deltor inside, I can’t believe it is all in such good order.

“A versatile dress with curved yoke and draped neckline detail. Gracefully gored skirt. (A) Coat Dress with below-elbow sleeves. (B) Buttons extend only to waist. Short Sleeves. (C) Coat dress with long sleeves.” Another Butterick, this one with no discernible date. Why should Butterick put a date on something from 1919, but not in the late 40’s, early 50’s?

When I first sorted the patterns, I put this in the “not my size” pile. Ages ago, after learning to grade up (and down) vintage patterns, I decided I would never again do it unless the pattern was something special. The more I look at this one, the more I think I may grade it up. Listen to this- “Misses’ one-piece dress with two skirts, detachable collar: Styled with a low neckline outlined with a large collar, this fashion may feature the slim or full skirted silhouette. Upper edge of center front band is pointed and extends above the neck edge, views 1 and 2. A bow accents the belt of View 1. In view 2 a contrasting detachable collar is worn over dress collar. Sleeveless View 3 has a full skirt made of double inverted pleats.” (Emphasis mine) This pattern is worth grading, in my book. I’d love to see what it looks like without the collar, but I have to say I’m a sucker for most of the design details this dress manages to encompass : Pleated, tapered skirt; big box-pleated skirt, tiny bows that manage to look refined rather than infantile, big collar, wide neckline, and unexpected closures.

I could keep posting all day, there’s such a wealth of goodies here, but I want to go alter some patterns!


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