Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solving Vintage Issues with Vintage patterns

A few vintage patterns from my website

The vintage market has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade or so. Today there is a vast selection of vintage venues and choices seem endless, however, nothing is perfect and there are situations where shopping for vintage can be illusive and frustrating.

Finding just what you want is fairly easy if you are a perfect smaller size but it can be more of a challenge for those of us with older, plumper or unique proportions. There is less to choose from and unfortunately a lot of larger vintage can be a tad matronly. That's not to say it's impossible to find great stuff in your size, it's just harder and if you have a specific look in mind the hunt becomes even more difficult. On another note some vintage can be fragile and risky to wear. Those diaphanous chiffon's from the 1930s or the beaded flapper dresses from the 20s look fine on a mannequin but the fabrics seldom hold up to anything but the most gentle use...just dancing in them can cause irreversible damage. Then there are those occasions when you need a specific color or yearn for a particular fabric and nothing you see is quite right. These are all great reasons to consider turning to vintage patterns.

Fortunately there are vintage patterns available for every imaginable article of clothing... dresses, suits, coats, lingerie, separates ....even swimsuits and aprons. You can buy vintage fabric and notions (old buttons and metal zippers) to make your garment as authentic as possible and if you are a real purist look for vintage sewing books to study old techniques for clothing construction

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you sew from a vintage pattern. First is the issue of size. Vintage patterns go by really old standards of sizing which bear no resemblance to contemporary sizing. Disregard the size and note the measurements on the pattern then compare them to your own.

If you fall in love with a patten that does not match your measurements do not despair. Most patterns can be graded up or down to the desired size. It does help if you can find a pattern close to what you need. At the end of this blog are a few links to articles with clear grading instructions. You can also pay a better seamstress to grade your pattern for you if you don't feel confident trying it yourself.

Once you have purchased a vintage pattern you may notice that the pattern pieces have no markings on them and very early patterns might not even have much in the way of instruction. The reason for this is that most women were trained at sewing from a very early age and knew how to put a pattern together. If you are concerned about this take a look at the instructions from a similar style, modern pattern. They won't be exactly the same of course but you will get a general idea of the different steps you need to follow.

Tissue patterns are very fragile so I recommend you transfer them to heavy paper before starting. Just smooth out the pattern pieces and pin them to the paper then trace and cut. Before removing the tissue pattern pencil dots in the proper punch holes for grain, you will see these in your instructions. Connect the dots with a ruler to create your grain line this is imperative. Transfer any other marks you might need like fold lines and notches. At this point, grade your pattern for size if necessary.

Next I strongly recommend you sew a quick muslin or mock up of the garment before cutting into your costly fashion fabric, especially if it's vintage and you can't get any more!. You can do all your fitting on the muslin then transfer the alterations to your pattern. You only need to do this once and it can really prevent disaster later on.

If you love authentic vintage but have trouble finding what you desire then consider looking into making your own from vintage patterns. If you are fortunate enough to have a trusted seamstress and can afford to have your clothing made then I say indulge! Either way it will be a fun and rewarding project.

Until my next blog best to you all! Melody

Articles on grading patterns

How to Re size a Pattern

Making Sense of Pattern Grading

Quick Reference for Cut and Spread Pattern Grading

Grade a Bodice to a Larger Size

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Vintage Apron

Vintage aprons on my website

I have a lovely mother-in-law, Gloria, who is a wonderful cook. The minute she enters her kitchen, on goes the apron and when I offer to help she immediately hands me one as well. My own Mom, who is also a culinary wonder, keeps a ready stash of clean aprons under her counter. Until recent years, aprons were as essential in the kitchen as a frying pan. I'm not sure why modern culture has drifted away from their use, they really are quite practical and even fun to wear.

Everyday aprons were usually sturdy and practical, made from cotton or a blend. They had minimal embellishment, but tended to be attractive none the less. The fabric itself was often pretty and colorful. Florals, checks and stripes or solids with contrasting trim and pockets were popular. "Fancy" aprons were more for show. They might be romantic or even a bit saucy. Short flouncy things worn while the hostess served her guests....aprons of sheer chiffon or organza mixed with polished cotton and trimmed with lace, delicate eyelets, lovely cut work and all types of hand embroidery can be found on aprons from the twentieth century. AND lets not forget the barbecue apron made with the fellas in mind. I included a funky 70s version in the collage above....a heavy duty cotton canvas, from the 70s that simply reads THE APRON.

Whether you are looking for vintage aprons to wear or collect thankfully they abound on the market. Mint or barely used aprons are common. Most women had a plentiful supply (they were often given as gifts from "the kids") and duplicates or fancier ones were stored away. Even those who may not gravitate towards wearing vintage fashion seem to get a kick out of old aprons. AND they still make great gifts!!

Have a glorious day!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Sturbridge Vintage Show

Hi all,

What a wonderful show we had in Sturbridge, Ma. yesterday! For those of you who have never been, the Sturbridge Antique Textiles and Vintage Clothing Show is one of the few of it's kind in the country. Three times a year, dealers travel from far and wide to showcase their finest vintage clothing and accessories. You never know what you might see....from Civil war Gowns to 80s designer... 30s chiffons, minis and maxis, sultry gowns and frothy party dresses.... accessories abound as well. Hats, handbags, jewelry and shoes. If you love vintage or just fashion in general it's like visiting the department store of your dreams!!

Baubles and bangles at the show!

...and lets not forget the racks and boxes just brimming with with yesteryear's fabrics and trims, buttons and notions....pure heaven for designers and crafters looking for the unique. There was a large designer turnout, mostly textile people. Without mentioning any names there seemed to be a trend for painterly abstract prints in bold colors, small repetitive prints and interesting geometrics. We will be watching the runways next year to see where this inspiration goes...

Till next time, take care and thanks for reading our blog!