a Vintage Los Angeles Lifestyle and Fashion Blog


Here it is three weeks after the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival and I haven’t said a word about my sewing and the patterns I used, other than the fact that I sewed my garments.  Wow, how enlightening.  For those of you seamstresses who were wondering, below is an absolutely fascinating (I jest, it’s pretty mundane) account of my summer of sewing in preparation for this lovely weekend.

I had a few vintage gowns, so I didn’t have to start the entire wardrobe from scratch, but I did have a lot to build.  I started with the eggshell-colored jacket I wanted to make to go with a vintage brown dress I already owned.

Lady by Choice vintage 30s jacket pattern

Other than grading the pattern up, I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, which is a vintage Advance 2175 from Ebay.  I was very lucky, as there was no mention in the description that the pattern was incomplete.  Of course, I didn’t realize this until a year later when I went to actually sew the jacket.  Fortunately, the jacket pieces I needed were there.  I sewed the jacket on the right.  It went together very easily, other than my first experiment in bound buttonholes.  They actually went pretty smoothly and I got on a roll towards the end, but the experimenting and practicing before I jumped in to cut my fashion fabric took awhile.  I still have problems getting even “lips”, even when I baste in place before sewing.

Once the jacket had been tackled, I figured pants would be the next trickiest.  I wanted a fuller-legged pant, almost palazzo-style but not as full, and had no luck finding a vintage pattern I liked.  I decided to go with a modern pant with some modifications.  Sorry the photo is a seated one, but I just realized when doing this post I didn’t have any of me in the pants standing up.

New Look’s 6919 had the fullness I needed (for reference, for those with Heyday trousers, they are wider at the bottom than those), but the waistband didn’t go as high as I wanted.  So while I didn’t have to grade the pants larger, as I could buy the size I needed, I did have to extend the waist of the pattern upwards.  I fitted a muslin to make sure the curved waistband of the original pattern would work with my now higher rise – fortunately there were no problems there.  Instead of having the side lapped zipper extend all the way up to the top of the waistband, I let it terminate at the base of the waistband.  I extended the waistband sides a little to lap and used two large vintage buttons I had to close the waist.  I also lined the pants, which the pattern doesn’t account for.  Now that I have a muslin, I’ll be able to whip these up whenever I want.   I think they will come in handy for fall.  You could alternately try Wearing History’s ‘30s trouser pattern, but they didn’t carry my size and I wasn’t sure the leg width would be as full as I wanted.  This was easier and quicker for me and worked well.

I wanted a new dress for Sunday morning, so I used the 1933 Dress with Cowl Sleeve (called Ladies Paris Frock on the pattern envelope) from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.  No grading needed.  I loved the cowl sleeve.  I also loved that you could adjust the waist a little because the ties that come from the front of the dress allow you to adjust the sizing smaller a little – it allows for weight fluctuations.  The pattern went together smoothly, though the directions assumed you knew a lot of sewing terms.  No directions for some instructions, so if you were new to sewing, you could be left floundering a little.

Vintage 30s dress pattern Lady by Choice Simplicity
The raw purple silk I used for the fabric of the dress made tying the bow tie lumpy, so I looped the ties and let them drape down the front like a skinny jabot.  I just pinned them down with a ‘30s brooch. Next time I wouldn’t face the ties, just face the part that makes up the collar, so the ties had more drape and bend.
I won’t show a picture of my pajamas for the pajama party, as there are none with just the pink pajamas showing, only those with my black satin robe on top.  To craft my pajama top, I used the top of Simplicity 3401, another vintage purchase from Ebay, and attached a peplum I crafted to the bottom of the waistband instead of a skirt.  I then made wide trousers with a drawstring closure.
For my ball gown, I really liked two patterns from the Vintage Fashion Library – I liked the top of DuBarry 1082B (called 1930 Plunging Back Ring Collar Gown on the website), but thought the skirt was too plain.  I liked the skirt of Simplicity 2091 (called 1930s Sleeveless Surplice Front Dress & Jacket 2091 on the website)  so with seam line modifications as I was grading the patterns, the two patterns became one. Vintage 30s dress pattern Lady by Choice Simplicity DuBarry

I did not like the neckband/backstrap pattern from the DuBarry, as it was a straight band that wouldn’t lay flat against the collarbone and curve down the back as the pattern drawing illustrates.  As patterned, it would leave a rippled and warped top of the band as straight sewn lines don’t curve!  You’d have to coax a lot of curve in an unsewn edge with lots of steam to get the curve you need and then sew your seam, so I just recut a curved neck band that would lie flat and curve back over my shoulder blades.  Much better!

So I wouldn’t let a perfectly good bodice pattern go to waste, I used the top of the Simplicity evening gown pattern, added a wide band at the bottom that extended to long ties, and it became the blue polka-dotted wrap top in the photo above referencing the trousers.  As you can tell, I rarely make a pattern as shown – I like to make it mine and mix and match.

There were some other little odds and ends I sewed, mainly slips for sheer gowns, but I didn’t figure that was worth a pattern review.

And there you have it.  My sewing adventures from the summer.  I know I’m saying it now, and will likely be saying it next summer as I’m working on last minute projects for next year’s festival, but NEVER AGAIN will I spend my summer shackled to my sewing machine.  I liked what I made, but honestly, was it worth my entire summer?


6 comments so far.


  1. Lily says:

    I picked up a pattern for trousers from Decades of Style when their booth was at Costume College this past summer. I cannot wait to put a pair together, but haven't found the right fabric just yet.

    I'm almost finished with one blouse I'm sewing for my fall clothes. Isn't that awful? It's now autumn and I haven't even finished the first thing I started?!

  2. You are a very tallented seamstress! Loved them all! Makes me wish I could sew. I have to find modern pieces and add "vintage style nods" to them to achieve the look I want…and even then not always a home run in my book….but as close as I can get…loved seeing your style.

  3. admin says:

    Ruby: Thank you!

  4. Believe me, you looked incredible ALL weekend. You are SO talented and beautiful, lady!

  5. admin says:

    Jill: Aw, shucks! Knowing I'd meet you, I had to step up my game!

  6. Anonymous says:

    LOVE THE DRESS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!! you look so beautiful in it.
    I am just trying to decide whether to sew that pattern or this one: http://www.agelesspatterns.com/images/DOS3301.jpg
    in a dark sea teal green velvet!

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