Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vintage Pattern Project - Simplicity Pattern 4298

This post is a bit of catch up and covers new work. I created a dress using Simplicity Pattern 4298, from 1962. I created a muslin first as this was my first dress project. I practiced the tough parts: the interfacing, skirt gathers, and putting together the bodice and the skirt. The skirt and bodice on the muslin version didn't match up, so I was really careful with working with the better fabric. I got great fabric from Peapod Fabrics on 18th Ave. at Irving in San Francisco.

The dress took me forever. I was petrified of doing something wrong and messing up the fabric, but finally, finally, I got it done except for the zipper.

I just couldn't get the damn thing in correctly. So wanting to stop the torture, I took the dress and zipper to my friendly neighborhood tailor/dry cleaning place, and they put the zipper in for $15. What a life saver! I thought I was going to have a melt down (I tried 5 times, I really tried).

Despite the pretty fabric and a pretty good job on the construction, the dress just looked, well, frumpy. So just last weekend, I got confident enough to try a bit of tailoring. I asked advice of a few friends, then experimented with the muslin version and came up with the solution to enlarge and extend the existing darts in the waist/back. It worked pretty great and with a much improved fit around the waist, it looks much more flattering I think. With that success, I had the confidence to try my first belt. It came out alright, it wasn't hard at all, except the end point of the belt (that goes through the buckle).

The directions here are so fabulously vague. Step 1, turn fabric over pointed end as shown, baste. Then voila! Somehow, through some mysterious steps, you get the perfect end point of the last illustration. Amazing!

So, I folded over, as per the directions....
And then what? I fold it back over and do what with all the extra fabric and how do I shape it into that perfect arrow shape. Sigh.So then I just tried something different. I realize now that part of sewing is the confidence to play around and not follow the directions word-for-word. For some reason that's really hard for me...but getting easier. I then tried to find a good vintage plastic belt buckle. I went to the fabric store in my area and then to my favorite vintage store La Rosa Vintage, but alas they didn't have exactly what I wanted (but I bought a couple gorgeous buckles for future use). Then I went to the thrift store and bought an ugly belt for $2.49; it had a pretty good shaped metal buckle. I was hoping I could figure out how to cover it. For some reason the belt buckle kits that come in two pieces, add fabric and snap the pieces together, no longer exists anywhere. I searched a long time on the web. Anyway, I tried a bunch of different methods and finally hit on a plan.

After much trial and error, I got it!! Hooray!!!!!

The untailored version, sans belt...

Then a bit of tailoring and a belt...

And the final product!! Oh, why do I have to go to work?! I want to start a new project!!!! Ack!


  1. I found your blog through Sew Retro. I am a beginner sewer as well, and have a ridiculously hard time with pattern directions. It's almost enough to make you quit. If I wasn't determined to make my own clothes, I would have quit by now. ;)

    I love your dress. You did a great job!

  2. Absolutely wonderful! I have what must be the later version of this pattern (mine is 1964) I'm not too hot with zips so I put buttons up the back of mine (cheating I know!!!). I love the fabric & it really does look great. And those shoes!! Oh!!

    I'm not too good at follwing instructions, I keep them by me just in case, and for things I've not done before, but on the whole I make it up as I go along...I've not had any major disasters yet and it makes it easier as the instructions don't always make sense to me!!!

    I was looking ta your 'to do list' in your first post, I recommend the 1940s overalls pattern by Evadress for a pair of trousers. It's a great versatile pattern - I've made a pair of overalls, a pair of trousers & a playsuit from it already AND it's simple (and not a zip in sight!)

    Keep upthe good work, I can't wait to see what you make next :D

  3. So glad to hear that pattern directions are often hard to understand! I had to get a certain level of confidence before trying to just forge ahead despite confusion, but for the most part I still rely heavily on directions, at least for which part is sewn in what order. I have a pattern now (must post) that doesn't have step-by-step instructions, so I am cutting out pieces of the pattern in muslin and experimenting. Thanks again for both your comments and is REALLY great to know there's others working hard to get better and better out there!

  4. Oh yes! Just have fun with it! You can always unpick afterwards if it doesn't work out right... :D I think that's the most important thing, just to enjoy yourself. I love seeing things coming together, I am totally addicted to collecting vintage patterns and am slowly working my way through making each one at least once.

    Everyon started somewhere and since I have been sewing more regularly recently I've noticed an improvement in my abilities so it's all good :D

  5. Too cute! And I love the shoes! *swoon*

  6. I probably read, reread, read aloud, read to my fiance, check the internet, call my mom, THEN proceed to experiment at least once per pattern. It's not's them. In all honesty, a lot of our troubles come from being self taught, working with patterns that were designed for people who learned to sew in junior high. My mom started sewing when she was in girl scouts in the early 1950s and sewed all of her clothes when she was in HS (her mom passed away when she was only 13, and as the youngest kid/only one left at home with a poor single dad, this was the only way she was guaranteed clothes). She thinks it's a shame that these days sewing classes in school are a frowned upon elective, and the most advanced thing they make is a pair of flannel pajama pants with two pattern pieces. She said that she never would have learned things like gathering and set in sleeves and zippers had she not been instructed from a very young age and then forced to do it every time she needed a new dress or pair of pants or whatever.

    I only recently starting doing muslins first. My first projects involved very cheap fabric. When I look at them now I think "no way could I wear these" but they were good learning experiences.

    Great job at tailoring - I find all patterns usually are a shapeless sack on me until I start adding darts and things. I am finally getting the hang of properly resizing patterns and adjusting design elements on the pattern paper before I actually sew. It makes things a lot easier when you can look at an existing pattern and already know that you will need to add darts or reshape the waistline or whatever.
    Keep up the good work!

  7. I think it looks great. The fabric is just right. And the belt adds a nice touch. I found some of those belt kits on Ebay. Lots of vintage dresses show them.

  8. What a beautiful dress! Bravo!!! I want to make a belt now!

  9. That is the most adorable dress! It looks great on you, too. I do regret that I have absolutely no aptitude for sewing and no patience whatsoever for trying to learn at this point in my life. Bravo to you for digging in and going for it!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous!

  11. Your dress makes me want to go sew, right now!

  12. I found you via SewRetro, and had to click on more because THAT BELT! THAT BEAUTIFUL BELT! You did a lovely job covering the repurposed buckle. Now I have an idea of how to go about making belts when I can't find those belt kits (and I can NEVER find those belt kits).