I’m back this week with my first vintage pattern make and I’m super excited to finally share it because vintage is where I feel most comfortable. I’ve always appreciated the craftsmanship and detail in the design styles of by gone eras, so to be able to combine my love of clothing and new found love of sewing with my appreciation of vintage is a pleasure.
When it comes to clothing, I tend to feel most comfortable in tailored and feminine styles, so the 1950s and early 60s are where it’s at for me. Thanks to platforms like Etsy and eBay, we’re now able to access patterns from these eras like never before. With a click of a button we can purchase a pattern documenting an authentic historical design from anywhere between the 1920s through the 1990s (sometimes even earlier). As a nostalgia geek, who can’t responsibly fill my closet with true vintage pieces (pricey), I’m left to collected vintage patterns and make the styles on my own. Sewing vintage gives me the best of both worlds, the satisfaction of building a handmade wardrobe in styles that suit my tastes.
I plan to make vintage one of the main focuses here, so stay tuned for more. In the mean time, keep reading for my review of this 1950s Advance blouse pattern.
I’ve always struggled to find modern clothing that makes me feel like myself. I would chalk this up to being born in the wrong decade, style wise, but I’m realizing it’s a combination of nostalgia and the lack of options. While I do agree we have more options than ever before, the focus of the fashion industry is mass production. Each piece that goes into production is made with a brand’s bottom line in mind — will it fit many body shapes and move quickly off of shelves? Theses styles aren’t necessarily made with the consumer or style in mind. In the US, you can walk into any shop and find 5 versions of the same blouse all cut in faux chiffon or crepe in a boxy shape with an uneven hem line (and a $40 price tag). Purchasing doesn’t make me feel like I’m making a style choice, but settling for the best of lousy options.
I didn’t start to understand this until recently. After years of frustration over the lack of structure, cheap material, and high prices, I’m just beginning to understand that it’s not me, it’s the industry.
With mass production, the world has been missing out on craftsmanship and detail. How relieving is it that a term like “slow-fashion” is in the social consciousness at all? We’ve only just begun to see a resurgence of hand made, quality pieces and it’s actually exciting.
For me, vintage sewing seems to provide endless options. I can hone in on my style — 50s-60s — have a bit of say in the fabric selection, as well as determine the price I’m willing to pay for fabric, and reuse patterns.
The design details of pieces from this era are exactly what I’m looking for. Blouses have darts in the all the right places to provide structure on the female form, come with nice collars, and a touch of pleating. The pencil skirts are sleek and often have a bunch of options for buttons and pockets. And pieces are usually conservative; I don’t have to worry about low neck lines or short hems lines that run the risk of revealing my goods for the world to see. I’m very much so into female liberation, but I’ve not yet hoped onto that bandwagon.
This era of clothing seems to fit the body of a woman in the way I want my clothes to fit. I understand that could be seen as pouring salt into the wounds of women from this era. It’s no secret that this era was overwhelmingly oppressive to women with it’s strict guidelines on what it meant to look like a woman but vintage lovers would argue wearing this style is not about embracing old norms of female oppression, but reclaiming this look as a symbol of power and feminine strength. We get to chose. We dress our bodies. Our bodies are beautiful and we will play up our feminine features because it makes us feel good.
This blouse from Advance was definitely a challenge for a beginner like me. Not only does it have a collar, cuff, and pleated sleeves, it also includes interfacing of the front facing (seen below). For a more advanced sewist, this may not be that big of an issue but for some reason this really threw me off and it took two muslin versions to get it right. I didn’t realize that I’d have to cut a piece of interfacing in the shape of the facing that I’d eventually fold over. I stared at this diagram for days and eventually figured out the section below that appears in grey was the piece of interfacing cut in that exact shape and ironed onto the middle of the blouse front. Now that I look at it I’m like “yeah duh, it literally says interfacing” but I’ve noticed things aren’t always as blatant the first time around. But now I know and can’t wait to try it again.
In the image below of the muslin version you can see the facing (not to be confused with interfacing) that gave me so much trouble. The interfacing is behind this facing, not ironed onto the facing itself but to the wrong side of the blouse front. This facing rubs up against the interfaced portion. Confusing, I know.
After figuring it out, I really did appreciate this method. I enjoy working with interfacing. Used here and in the collar and cuffs, it gives the garment a hearty feel.
Below you can see details of the cuff and the front and back princess pleats. I love the pleats — they provide structure and pull the look close to the body for a more tailored look than modern blouses.
Along with the collar, the cuff was a good test of my skills. Working in tight corners with precision was fun and I can’t wait to get more practice here.
I hope this encourages you to pick up your first (or next) vintage pattern. If you do buy vintage be sure to take care of it! Check out my last post about tracing patterns for some tips on how to preserve these little treasures.
Enjoy the vintage hunting!