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

The McCall’s Sew For Fun Series

/ 442+

McCall’s 4376, ©1974

I listed this pattern the other day in the Etsy shop. I’d never seen this series before. It’s called the Sew for Fun series, and the patterns came out in 1974 and early 1975. The styles are the cute boho/cottagecore patterns so popular in the time. This one features a maxi dress with Gunne Sax vibes. It can be made in the shorter mini length as well.

Note: I had a pair of clogs exactly like the ones in the photo.

The patterns featured mainly dresses and tops, are were made in both Miss and Misses’ sizes, with different pattern numbers for each. There are at least two that are unisex: one is a top and the other is for a swimsuit/swim trunks. But the funny thing is those little extra patterns.

This particular one features a stuffed mouse, because every cottagecore girl of the seventies wanted a stuffed mouse, right? I thought at first that it was a pincushion, which obviously any sewist could use. And a young beginning sewist might be pleased to create her own personalized mouse pincushion, right? Only it’s not. It’s a stuffed animal, which seems a little odd paired with the cute dress. But it gets weirder.

McCalls 4416, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki

Some of these patterns are paired with hats or purses, which makes sense to me. Hats were big in this era, and everyone can use a sun hat. Purses are also a no-brainer. But there are also odd items like garment bags, a wind breaker (for sitting on at the beach, not the jacket), and even a tent. Each of them has a little sewing lesson with it, which is great, but the projects they include are so weird. Like the wind breaker one. If you want to teach someone to make a casing, have them make a pair of elastic waist shorts. But I don’t make those decisions.

McCalls 4429, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki

I wonder who came up with these little extras, cause they just seem so odd. I get that they were trying to make sewing fun, especially for the Miss crowd, but somehow I am not sure that they thought it all the way thru. It’s one of the more random ideas put out by the sewing pattern companies.

McCalls 4428, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki
sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Gown of the Year

As the fashion industry began to hit its stride after World War II, new fashions began to be seen. Dior’s New Look, of course, was one. Dresses began to be made with voluminous amounts of fabric that weren’t allowed during wartime rationing. In New York, a contest for “Gown of the Year” was held.

14 designers were asked to submit their designs, and they were worn by socialites at the ball. The jury was all men (!), and included Basil Rathbone, Richard Aldrick (a producer), and singer Morton Downey. The winner? Jean Desses, who had not only never been to the US before, but had never exhibited a dress here.

The ball gowns were worth a total of $7650 and were designed by Sophie, Jo Copeland, Christian Dior (New York), Henri Bendel, Ceil Chapman, Mme. Garnett, Desses, Carrie Munn, Lilly Dache (who I didn’t realize designed dresses, as she was known for hats), Oleg Cassini, Charles James, Omar Kiam, Nettie Rosenstein, and Adrian. Shown here (designers as listed above, from left to right).

The winning gown, with Msr. Desses on the right.:

Photo: Life Magazine.

The Christian Dior, New York dress, constructed 80 yards of lace and tulle just in the skirt:

Photo: Life Magazine

The Carrie Munn design. Is that skirt quilted?

Photo: Life Magazine.

The (fantastic) Adrian dress:

Photo: Life Magazine.

No word on the criteria for design or judging, other than it needed to be considered as Gown of the Year. I don’t know if they continued this contest yearly, or if it was just to jumpstart the fashion industry, but I’d love to see something like this today. I doubt we’d see it, as designing for a contest is probably too cost prohibitive for today’s fashion houses, but it sure would be interesting to see. With some female judges this time, please?

sewing, sewing patterns

A Lesson in Patience

Simplicity 4709

This is what one would call a lesson in patience. This unique pillows take a lot of work. View 1 (blue) is constructed of 165 petals, cut from 3 different shades of 2 inch wide blanket binding. View 2 (white) is also 165 petals, but is made from net or tulle — the thought of that much netting makes my blood run cold. View 3 (pink) is probably the most palatable one for my patience level, with 12 rows of 5/8″ wide lace edging.

Thankfully, the backs of these are plain, though perhaps some saint would make both sides the same. That person would not be me. What about you? Do you have the patience for this?

sewing

I Have Questions.

McCalls 6592, ©1962

I love this little blue robe. I’d trim it in eyelet, because I just love eyelet. That being said, the shorter version is cute too, isn’t it?

My first question is about the pocket placement. It seems high, especially on the blue one. I think that the way it’s cut means that they need to be placed high, but doesn’t it look a bit wonky?

My other question is, what the heck is that girl pouring? Purple Kool-Aid? Was it a Netflix and chill day, or was she giving Sissy Kool-Aid for breakfast? Is it some weird science experiment? I need to know.

1910s

What Do You Think of This 1914 Blouse?

I came across this whilst trying to date another pattern for collar, cuffs and vests from the same time period. I find it fascinating.

May Manton 8462, 1914.

I thought at first that the “vest” is a different garment, but it’s not. It’s attached, and only gives a vest effect. A faux-vest, if you will. I like it in theory, and it’s interesting to look at, especially with the contrasting fabrics, but I think in reality it wouldn’t lay right when you sit, and would probably bunch up at the waist. What do you think?

Description in the ad: “Here is a blouse which shows distinctly new features. It is quite simple and severe enough to be made of linen or pique and is well adapted to the various tub silks and to combinations of materials. Since the washable silks launder quite as well as cotton and linen, it is easy to combine them and the combination is extremely handsome. In the illustration, striped tub silk is made with vest, collar and cuffs of pique but in the back view, white linen is combined with colored. The long plain sleeves are exceedingly fashionable but, in spite of that fact, many women prefer the shorter length and these can be cut off as shown in the back view. There is just fullness enough in the blouse to be becoming while the plain stitched vest gives a tailored finish.”

I have so many questions. First, combining linen and silk when laundering would be a nightmare, yes? Add colors and whites together and how in the world did they make this happen? What kind of laundry wizardry was involved here?

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Fabulous Friday: So Pretty

Simplicity 3444.

I came across this pattern this week and just sighed. It’s so softly feminine. What a pretty look for both a wedding dress and a going away dress, back in the day. I imagine it in a soft gray, kind of like it’s shown in the long length, and maybe a pale blue in the shorter version. I can’t stop staring at it.

I question the lace on the collar and pockets in View 1. I think it’s a bridge too far. I questioned the pockets as well, until someone pointed out that it would hold a hankie. I suspect however, that as my mother would say, “they are just for show.” I think that with where they hit on the hip, anything you’d put in them would fall out. Skip the extra lace and the pockets, and get yourself a cute little bag to carry. It’s all you need. This type of dress doesn’t need the extra embellishments.

Am I right? Click here to purchase.

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

Fabulous Friday: Happy 4th of July

McCall’s 3142

Do you have plans for the holiday weekend? We don’t, as usual, but that’s fine with me. Our neighbors will be shooting off fireworks way too late in the evening and driving our dogs crazy, but the weather is supposed to be nice so we will enjoy the outdoors during the day and hide with the dogs huddling in fear at night at all the booming around us.

So in honor of the holiday, I wanted to show you this flippy little sailor dress, which is perfect for the holiday weekend. The sleeves and skirt are flared, so it’s perfect for most shapes, and it’s quick to make too. Click here to buy.

Have a great weekend and stay safe with the explosives, please.

sewing patterns

One of Those Days

Sew Knit N Stretch 209

Yesterday was just one of those days. I usually use Sunday afternoons to do administrative stuff on the website, like update my records, add and delete links from the wiki, and tedious not-fun stuff like that. I think I sat in my office chair for four hours straight, just working on it. Ugh.

When I finally took a break, hubby asked me to drive him up to Walgreens. He’s currently not allowed to drive, because his defibrillator gave him a huge zap last week, and that takes away driving privileges for three months. I told him fine, as long as he went to my mom’s house with me afterward. Contrary to a lot of guys, he loves my mom, though they rib each other a LOT. Off we went to Walgreens. Halfway there (about a mile), I noticed that my battery light was on in the car. I’ve never seen it come on, but I’ve also never replaced the battery in the nine years I’ve had it, so I figured it was probably ready to be replaced. It was, because when I put the car into reverse to leave, it promptly died. As in that dreaded clickclickclickclickclick of death that you get when the battery is truly dead. Ugh.

Called my son. He was out of town with his girlfriend. Called our bestie. No answer. Texted one of our friends, no answer. No Uber in our town. So I resorted to the Buy Nothing group for our town on Facebook. If you’ve never participated, it’s great. You can offer stuff up to give away, request stuff, ask to borrow something or services, all kinds of things, but there can be no mention of money. Everything is totally free. So, for the first time ever, I posted a request to see if someone could rescue us, and man, did she come through! Showed up five minutes later, with her MECHANIC husband. They jumped us, he gave us some suggestions, and we got his card. All for free. And they were great people. Off we drove to Auto Zone, where we were waited on by a guy who I’m pretty sure was a robot, because he had the most flat affect of anyone I’ve ever seen, and he simply would not engage in any type of conversation. Their tester was broke, so I just paid for a battery, which Mr. Robot installed for me. (Husband had gone in to talk to them originally, and I sat in the very roughly idling car, which promptly died after a few minutes. That battery was DEAD dead.)

Well, the battery light is still on, so I’m thinking now that it’s probably the alternator, which sucks because yeah, more money. Ugh. But we do have a backup car so I’ll be driving that till I can get the main car looked at. Never did get my husband over to my mom’s, but I unwound with her by doing a new puzzle. If you’ve never bought a puzzle from Puzzle Warehouse, do. We found that it really helps with my widowed, elderly mom’s anxiety and it’s fun too. When I order from them, I get the puzzle the next day! They have excellent customer service too. And no, I do not get a kickback from them for this. I just really like the company and what they have to offer.

This was definitely a day to put a bag over my head and hide, so of course I thought of this amazing Sew-Knit-N-Stretch pattern from the 60s. It’s perfect for those days where you just don’t want to interact, or when you want people to stare, or when you want to impersonate a Japanese beetle in your tree. I’ve truly never seen anything like it before, though I did have a gorgeous makeup cape at one point. If you love this, and you want to help a girl out with an alternator, you can purchase it in my shop here.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Fabulous Friday: the slip

Simplicity 1466, 1934.

For your viewing pleasure: Simplicity 1466, from 1934, for floor length women’s slips. Slips are a thing of the past for most ladies, and it’s a shame. I could identify a vintage slip by feel, because the nylon of those days is so much nicer than the icky stuff of today. Make it in silk and it’s the thing that dreams are made of. And look at that wide lace hem! ::sigh::

This pattern would work well as a slip of course, but it’s not too far of a reach for it to become a nightgown or even an evening gown slip dress, especially when paired with the right lace shawl. It’d be gorgeous in the peach color of the day, over a candlelit steak dinner. Am I right?

Now for sale in the shop, in bust size 34.

Have a lovely weekend,

Lisa

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

The Answer Dress

Simplicity 2390, 1957.

I came across this pattern, soon to be listed in the shop, and was intrigued by the fact that they call it an “Answer Dress.” What now would be known as a Little Black Dress was known as the Answer Dress in the late 50s.

The term Answer Dress was used for a few patterns in 1957-1959. Simplicity used it as a marketing term for “an ensemble that fills every dawn to dark need in a woman’s wardrobe.” They also marketed Answer Dresses for girls as well. These styles could be worn at work or for shopping, but could also be dressed up for cocktail parties. Some could be used as jumpers as well, which increased options even more.

How could you use this today? It’s perfect for someone who travels a lot, especially if you have to travel for work and need a dress that will take you from work to a more formal function. Add to it that these patterns are listed as “simple to make” and it’s a great idea for expanding your wardrobe easily. (Disclaimer: “simple to make” in the 50s is not necessarily the same as an easy pattern nowadays.)

These dresses have simple lines and can be dressed up or down according to your needs. They are a perfect idea for a capsule wardrobe, for those of you working on simplifying life. And yes, dresses can simplify your life! You can totally change these looks with accessories or shoes, or if you wear it as a jumper or not. Need more information on making a capsule wardrobe? Check out Project 333, by one of my favorite bloggers, Courtney Carver. She teaches you how to create a capsule wardrobe from only 33 items that you change up quarterly. I love this idea, especially since for the past year, I’ve probably only worn about a dozen different garments, because we are securely entrenched in quarantine. Post quarantine, perhaps it’ll be something more stylish than sweats and leggings, but there’s more time for that later on, post COVID.

Meantime, check out these patterns for cute Answer Dresses, and consider adding them to your wardrobe.

Simplicity 2444, 1958. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki
Simplicity 3130, 1959. Girls’ Answer Dress that grows. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki
Simplicity 2466, 1958.

I LOVE this one! There are so many options to choose from here. Plus, of course I’m always drawn to red, so that may help to explain why I am nuts for this one.

Which one would you make? Do you know of another pattern that would work for an Answer Dress but wasn’t marketed as such? Drop it in the comments and let me know.

Have a great day,

Lisa

Links may be for affiliates, where I get a small amount of compensation from purchases.