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Monday, 21 November 2016
A couple vintage finds
Topic: Retro Rules!

A few weeks ago I went to a Vintage Clothing show and sale and got a couple things. I've already posted pictures of the skirt and dress. There were also a few vintage fashion and style books -ones that outlined rules for "correct dress for all occasions" and clothing etiquette and other crap. paging through these books of arcane dressing rules makes me happy the 1960's social upheavals happened and rendered these books irrelevant. There were a few knitting books and a few vintage sewing patterns. There were the usual culprits: the Simplicity Jiffy caftan and the Simplicity Jiffy dress and sleeveless coat were well represented and a couple unusual ones that are hard to find. I got the unusual items and ended up with three patterns and one book.

Nothing says 1980's like the TV show Dynasty; and nothing says 1980's excess like the clothes worn on the show. This is a pattern from a line made by the show's costume designer. The patterns were based on some of the costumes worn by the two leading ladies, evil Joan Collins and nice Linda Evens.  This is a nice Linda Evens dress and it exemplifies every 1980's excess: the excessive draping everywhere, the excessive emphasis on the shoulders (and yes, the pattern has instructions for making shoulder pads) and the excessive bat wing sleeves. There's a cowl in the back for the times you want your dress to have a hood.

The suggested fabrics are polyester jersey and "Qiana" registered trademark of some chemical company. Qiana is a type of micro-denier nylon that was notorious for producing static electricity. I was in a fashion show where we wore these dresses and as we passed on the runway our dresses would cling to each other and few produced sparks and snap, crackle pop noises. The long dress takes nearly 5 yards if fabric. The short dress takes three and a half.

This dress could be made modern by sewing up the sides of the bodice and getting rid of the dolman batwing thing and made sleeveless. The shoulder pads would need to be eliminated to make it modern. It would still look 80's -but more of a revival rather than out of date.

From the era of "Mad Men" comes this dress. It's a transitional style -very late 1950's very early 1960's. I think the model on the envelope looks like Betty Draper -I can see her wearing this for one of her swanky dinner parties.  The title "instand dress" is something I have seen only once before. What it means is that you unfold the pattern tissue paper, place the whole sheet on your fabric and then cut the paper and fabric at the same time. No complex laying out. The instructions also say to trace all pattern markings using a wheel and dressmaker's carbon paper before cutting. It's only "instant" once and it requires you to find the correct width fabric. It only worked on 36 inch wide fabric. The dress itself is very simple to sew and comes with a reccomended pattern to purchase of you want a crinoline petticoat to wear underneath.

This dress would require nothing to make it work today -other than omitting the crinoline. And the wrist gloves. 

 There's something glamorous and elegant about the ladies on the Vogue patterns. You just KNOW they are going to a chic dining place or visiting some other elegantly dressed and coiffed ladies in a chic and elegantly appointed apartment in the city. A dress like this would have been categorized as "afternoon formal" which is why it is pictured with long gloves. This pattern came with a woven cloth "vogue special design" label -and it's still in the envelope but turned yellow from the acid in the papers. This one comes with a pattern for "skirt stiffening interlining" meaning a layer of netting between the lining and the skirt. The one-shoulder draped bodice is bias cut and the pieced skirt has six pattern pieces. It takes over 7 yards of 36 inch wide fabric. You lay out one full width layer of fabric, cut it at the halfway length, lay the second layer over the first, right sides together.The instruction page is three sheets, which is unusual for a pattern of the era. Back then you got one sheet and minimal instructions.

This style would work today in the long version only. The bodice could be made with a re-embroidered lace overlay and lots of sparkling bling added. A large glitzed up motif added to the shoulder with the drapery would be perfect. The dress would look classically elegant and not dated at all. The short dress is too much for daytime but could work for semi formal or as a bridesmaid or wedding guest dress. 

You can't knit a dress in a day, I don't care what the book cover says. These are all knitted with extra large 15 and 20 mm needles and anywhere from four to eight strands of yarn used together. They call the needles "jumbo Jet" needles. These dresses are -um -how to word it nicely? Um -Hideous? yeah, let's be honest. They are hideous and unlike the sewing patterns could never be made modern or worn as dresses. A couple could be turned into cozy warm sweaters for wearing in the winter with leggings, but only after a bit of shortening in length. There's a couple mens' sweaters that are not hideous.  I think the nicest pattern in the whole book is this hockey sweater for guys and boys"

There's a reciept from Coles on Yonge Street Toronto in it. The book was 45¢, 49 with tax. The binding is tight, there's no cracks in the spine and it appears as if the book was never opened again after purchased. The reciet had been there so long that it turned several pages yellow. 

As nice as vintage patterns are they don't always work in modern times. Some can be modified, and a few the basic shapes don't change through the decades as much as accessories change, while some are so tied to looks and the social pressures the era that they can't be updated. And a few -like sleeveless mini dresses made for summer out of cashmere and wool neven made sense even back in their era. 

Posted by lincatz at 10:51 AM EST
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