sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion, Vintage Kids

The Peter Pan Dress

Standard Pattern 2023, 1906.

I recently came across the term “Peter Pan Dress” in a 1906 magazine, and wondered what it was so of course I did some research. It was a popular style of the time, of course brought on by the publishing of the Peter Pan stories. The first installment was published in 1902, with further installments in 1904, 1906 and 1911.

Peter Pan Dress, 1907.

The Peter Pan dresses debuted in 1906, and were were made from gingham, lawn, linen or henrietta (a fine, twilled light wool). They were considered to be “outing outfits”, to be worn for play outside. The dresses purchased in shops were made for ages 2 to sixteen. The older girls’ styles (known as “misses’) were usually done as suits, while the younger styles were done as dresses. The dresses generally featured a lowered or dropped waist, pleated skirt, and cuffed sleeves. They usually had some type of emblem embroidered on the collar — often a nautically themed one such as anchors. They sold for $2.75 to $7.50.

By 1912, advertisements are seen for Ladies’ Peter Pan dresses, perfect for “the dressy garment for the office girl or shop girls,” and made in women’s sizes up to 40. These dresses were made from serge or silk.

The style seems to have died by 1913, when mentions are made only of the Peter Pan collar, which continues today.

Peter Pan Dress, 1906.
1950s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Advance Imports

Advance Import 105, circa 1954. Photo: Merete Hvalshagen 

I cam across this pattern on Pinterest today and was fascinated. Advance Import patterns are hard to find. It’s difficult to use the word “rare” for anything that is mass produced, so let’s say they were limited editions, so not many still exist today. I’ve had a number of them over the years, but never two copies of the same pattern. They aren’t easy to find, and there are collectors who covet them fiecely. They are always fashion-forward and couture styles, like this one.

It’s always been presumed that the Advance Import line was created to do line-by-line copies of designer garments, likely out of Paris, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with the actual designer’s name on it. I’ve often said that one day in my spare time (that I don’t have), I will sit down and try to match pattern to designer, but of course I haven’t done that yet. I’m not even sure how many Advance Import designs were created. If there are more like this with the designer’s name on it, it’ll make the job easier.

I also can’t find much about Emanuel of Spain, though he made some awfully fetching suits like this one. Isn’t it pretty?

sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

I Feel Pretty

Pictorial Review 7837, circa 1935

It’s 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) here today, and we’re supposed to get three inches of snow tomorrow, but such is life in Indiana. That being said, spring is definitely coming, and there’s no more beautiful sight to see than beautiful spring fashions.

This gown is Pictorial Review 7837. It’s from 1935, I believe, and so pretty. It’s made for those gorgeous spring chiffons, taffetas and organdies, and I see it in a pastel. The cover is damaged a bit, so this is a photo of the back. I feel like it could easily pass for a prom or bridesmaid’s dress today. Even the illustration looks a bit modern – see her haircut? Make it with the peplum and it looks distinctly different than without.

My prom dress was a Gunne Sax knock-off but if I had it to do over, if I couldn’t afford the real Gunne, I’d go for something like this. The fun thing is that it not only is an early printed pattern, but it also includes a sheet that explains how to alter the pattern before cutting the fabric. Very modern, yes?

Now available in the Etsy shop.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion, Vintage Kids

It’s All In The Details

McCall 7319, Circa 1933

Look at the mastery of details here, in not only the garment, but the illustration itself. This pattern shows why the 1930s were so spectacular. That little twisted belt effect at the waist. Those cowl sleeves on the middle version. Even the little detail on the puff sleeve is a simple but perfect detail to make this dress special.

You won’t see dresses like this in Target. The cost of putting those details in is prohibitive in today’s disposable, fast-fashion society, and it’s a shame. This dress would take a child from Easter, to springtime tea, to summer weddings, and straight into Christmas (though you might have to size up. Kids grow, after all).

Add the details of the illustration, and I’m really in love. The little shoes. The slouchy socks. This era of McCalls patterns are the ones that, if I were having babies today, I would frame and put on a nursery wall. They are just so delicately beautiful. What do you think?

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

I Need This in My Life

Vogue 8551, circa 1973.

I listed this pattern in the shop the other day. I’ve had it before, and it always screams out to me that I need it. Badly. That one on the left is gorgeous. That ribbon trim just slays.

It’s an interesting pattern that isn’t difficult to make. The sides have shirring to help create a waistline, and the shoulders don’t have a seam — they are just part of the fabric that is draped to create a sleeve. Very clever. It’s not even described as a caftan. It’s described as a robe. It reminds me in some ways of one of my favorite movie costumes: Katherine’ Hepburn’s robe in Philadelphia Story. It was designed by Adrian, and I love it, primarily because of the sleeves and the draping. Look at the clever way the waist and the back are done.

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::sigh:: Glorious. I, like Balenciaga, have a real thing about interesting sleeves. But can you just imagine gliding into the kitchen in the morning, wearing either of these robes? Yes, of course they would fall into my oatmeal or I’d spill my beverage down the front of me, but I’d look wonderful before all that happened.

1910s, embroidery, sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion, Vintage Kids

Trainer Corsets, 1913

Ferris Corsets, 1913.

I came across this ad for Ferris Corsets in a 1913 newspaper, and it stopped me in my tracks. It reminds me of this scene in Titanic, where Rose realizes how trapped she is in a proper life (the sound is terrible, but it’s the visual that matters).

I’ve never forgotten that scene, in part because the costumes are so beautiful, and also because you don’t generally see children’s costumes in period dramas like you do adults. The biggest reason it stuck with me, however, is because it shows just how young girls were when this staunch, rigid training started. And yes, training corsets were a part of it. Women didn’t just start wearing corsets one day — they wore training ones to get them used to them as children.

I can imagine it would’ve helped me tremendously to wear a corset as a child, because my posture is absolutely abysmal — likely the worst you might ever encounter. I slouch like no other. But I can’t imagine playing as a child while wearing a corset. Granted, these are training corsets, so they aren’t tight laced, but still. And boys had no equivalent. They likely didn’t have the same level of training either, for what is proper, because girls had to learn stitchery and the like from an early age as well. Look at this beautiful sampler in redwork, done by a child at an “orphan house” in 1886. It’s lovely, but the fact that she was an orphan makes me so sad. What did her future become?

Photo: Kate Strasdin, Instagram.

It’s simply lovely. Girls learned such intricate skills at such an early age. I hope that we never lose these artists, but I fear that we are, especially since Home Ec doesn’t really exist much anymore. That’s why I love sewing patterns so much. I love being a part of keeping the needle arts alive.

I’m rambling, I know, but we’re having a huge snowstorm and perhaps it is making me think harder — I love winter so much. The snow makes me feel alive in a way nothing else does. But I’ll say this: I won’t be shovelling snow in a corset!

1950s fashion, designers, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Friday Fun Stuff

Butterick 6655, 1950s.

I came across this pattern in my stash yesterday and thought “wow, what a cute dress.” Except, it’s not. It’s an apron and a coverall. Very stylish, isn’t it? It does a back wrap, then comes around and buttons in the front. I’m not sure that those huge triangular pockets would be helpful, because everything would fall out of them, but isn’t this a chic look?

The coverall is designed to wear over your frock whilst you clean, so your day dress stays fresh. It’s basically designed in the same vein as a Claire McCardell popover dress, which was meant for the same task. The earliest ones came with a matching potholder, and the popover was a staple in Claire McCardell collections.

Photo Credit: Michaelzee.com

Claire McCardell is one of my favorites, because she basically birthed American sportswear. She created comfortable fashion that was also stylish. Her use of plaids was also really beautiful. Not red carpet glam stuff, most of it, but comfortable day wear. She died at 52 of cancer, which was far, far too young. I would’ve loved to see what she would’ve done had she lived longer.

I came across this interview with Claire’s brother, which I found super interesting. Given the fact that she skiied so much, and that she was on the first board of Sports Illustrated, I always thought she must’ve been a talented athlete. Not so. Who’da thunk?

Enjoy your weekend.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Today’s Flight of Ideas

Here’s a stream of consciousness from me, given the events of the past two weeks.

We have a baby! Complicated delivery and a NICU stay, but mom and baby are home and doing great. If you want to see how it went with the big sisters when he got home, check out this video. Prepare yourself, it is the cutest thing you might ever see. And yes, his face is VERY bruised. He came out upside down.

I’m recovering from my third COVID shot. Since I have lymphoma, I have to get three full shots instead of just a booster, plus I got my flu shot at the same time. Historically, vaccines have knocked me down for several days since lymphoma came to visit, but my first two COVID vaccines did nothing. I also didn’t develop antibodies, because of my cancer treatment. Now that I’m done with treatment, it could be that the reason I’ve had a fever for three days is because it’s working, or it could just be a reaction to the flu shot. Please do not use this as a reason not to be vaccinated. I don’t have a fever today, but still feel like I’ve been run over. It’ll get better.

Here’s my favorite playlist. It’s a wonderful list made by the creator of the My Octopus Teacher score which, if I haven’t mentioned it before, is absolutely phenomenal. It’s my go-to relaxation music.

Vogue S-4866, 1948.

And this pattern. I told it this week, but just realized how much the lady in the front looks like my mom when she was young. Make the hair auburn and it could be her. She is still beautiful at 88. She would’ve been 15 in 1948.

That’s all for now. More later, when I’m feeling better.

1950s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Still Waiting

Simplicity 3464. ©3464

Still no baby. Lots of contractions that my daughter ignores, but no baby yet. I’m convinced she will be in denial until he’s born on their family room floor, with the 3 year old and 18 month old sisters cheering her on. I suppose it’s just as well that he hasn’t hatched yet, as he still has no name. They can’t come to an agreement on a name, so it’ll be interesting to see what he ends up with. My daughter suggested Dawson — her husband hates it, and her 3 year old heard it as Dolphin (her current passion), so I just call him Baby Dolphin. If you have suggestions for an Irish or Scottish name, drop it in the comments. Their last name starts with an O, so that can complicate things a bit. I suggested Christian this week, but apparently my daughter knew a guy in college named Christian who was a raging alcoholic, so I’m not going to make any other suggestions.

Meantime, I came across this pattern in my stash. It’ll be listed in the shop soon, so I stole the picture from the Vintage Pattern Wiki. I think it’s wonderful. I’m not a fan of the tight maternity clothes these days, though I’m not sure my daughter even owns any maternity clothes. Being an archaeologist, she lives in leggings and sweatshirts, so I think she just guys a larger size than usual. I know she doesn’t wear the typical maternity stuff, which I am thankful for.

When I was having babies (wow, that makes me sound old), I wore smock tops. The eighties and nineties still welcomed them, and I thought they were comfortable. My shorts didn’t have the panel on them, but were super comfortable with an elastic waistband. They were so comfortable, in fact, that my ex husband would wear them when I turned my back. You wouldn’t have known they were maternity to look at them, so it wasn’t as weird as it sounds, though yeah, he was weird anyway.

But look at this suit. I’m not convinced about buttons on the back of the skirt, because it always looks so uncomfortable. Pretty, but uncomfortable. But at least it appears that the buttons stop before the derriere, so at least you’re not sitting on them. The top is what is so special though. That wider Peter Pan collar and those amazing cuffs — I die. I also like wide sleeves and generally push up long sleeves because I hate things being tight, so I think that helps this style to appeal to me. They suggest novelty braid at the collar and cuffs, but I’d do it in velvet or velveteen. The blue they show is gorgeous, but I think I’d like it in navy as well.

And those gloves complete the look so beautifully. It’s my goal that, before I die, I will own a pair of Cornelia James gloves. They are SO expensive and I might have to keep them under glass, but I covet them so much. I don’t see any that would work they way I’d wear them with this, but I’m putting this out there in case Santa wants to know what I want. I’d get a pair of dove gray with the lighter blue, or taupe to wear with the navy. But then again, I guess it doesn’t matter what I think, as my baby days are long gone, thank heavens.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

“Help”, She Cries Out Plaintively

McCall’s 8876. ©1967.

I was listing this maternity pattern in the Etsy shop yesterday, whilst I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. You see, I have a daughter who is pregnant. As in, VERY pregnant, and at that stage where she is ready to go any day (due the end of November-ish) and is miserable. As in, TOTALLY miserable.

I will preface this by saying how very, very much I love my daughter. I love her to pieces, actually. She is the middle child and only daughter, and she is a huge piece of my heart. But my Lord, does that girl make me insane at times. To be honest, she always has, and she knows it, because she didn’t sleep thru the night until she was almost four, never napped, and spent a lot of time screaming, all the way into teenagerhood and beyond. She is beautiful and brilliant, and the best mommy ever (we can’t figure it out, given her hatred of literally everyone for years. We are sure her husband is the one to credit for calming her down), but my gosh does she lose her mind when she is pregnant.

She hates the medical community so much. Never trusts them. Hates going to the doctor and generally feels that the medical community is ignorant. Remember, I have forty years of experience as a nurse, and her father was a nurse as well, so it’s not like she wasn’t surrounded by it growing up. I’m not sure why she hates the medical community so much, except for the fact that she had three sets of tubes in her ears in childhood, so literally every time she saw a doctor she had an ear infection and they were hurting her. She also hates medical insurance (which, to be fair, most Americans do, because it’s terrible here), and her insurance is terrible. When she had her second baby, her bill was hundreds of dollars more than her first one, despite the fact that she was in the hospital a day less, so this doesn’t help her argument about how useless insurance is. I know, without it she’d really be lost, but if we have insurance, we expect stuff to be paid, when in reality the scam that is American healthcare means that insurance companies exist in order to find ways not to cover you.

So yesterday, when she’d been without sleep and was exhausted, I suggested that perhaps the contractions she has been having are, in fact, early labor. She hadn’t timed them so she didn’t know, and thought maybe she’d call the doctor. I told her they’d just send her to the hospital to be checked, which she didn’t want to do, because she’d get billed hundreds of dollars unless they kept her, and she was sure they wouldn’t. So she called the doctor, and they told her “just what I knew they would tell me” – probably because it was exactly what her mother the OB nurse had already said. She of course refused to go in, so she timed her contractions instead. I asked how far apart they were. “They’re not regular.” I asked again, how far apart? “They’re not regular.” ::sigh:: “What is the longest interval you have gone between contractions?” “Eleven minutes. Three minutes. Six minutes. Two minutes.” So, I told her, she could be in early labor. Then I got eleventy thousand reasons why she’s not in labor. I offered to bring the girls home with me so she could rest. No, she’d be fine, she said.

Three hours after I got home, she texted and said she was six minutes apart, and to keep my phone nearby in case I needed to come get the girls. Dear Lord in heaven, why can’t she listen to me? Why? Because the last baby she had, she was admitted to the hospital at 11:30pm, and because she was admitted half an hour before midnight, insurance counted it as a full day and she had to go home a day earlier than she should have had to. Yes, I know this makes no sense because she hates the healthcare community, but once she’s at the hospital, she wants every minute she’s entitled to, so she is not going to go the hospital until after midnight. I’m telling you, I do not drink enough for this.

So today she is contracting but not as much. Still in denial that it’s early labor or that she will have the baby before mid-month at least, even though she was told she could go anytime last week at her appointment. Her labors are fast, but darned if she will go to the hospital until the last minute, so I’m convinced that she is destined to have the baby in the middle of the living room floor at this point, because no matter when he decides to appear, she is not going in until she is 100 percent positive that they will keep her.

I swear she has lost her mind. Meantime, she’s not sleeping and is terribly uncomfortable and is in denial that she can go into labor because she wants her husband to be off work for Thanksgiving, and he only has two weeks off after the baby is born. She is all. over. the. place.

So dear Lord, save me from the pregnant daughter and PLEASE let her go into labor soon, because I can’t deal with this level of crazy on top of caring for my mom and my husband.

Pattern available in the Etsy shop here.