So I may have mentioned at some point that I inherited a large chunk of my mother-in-law’s old sewing stash; in particular, after her divorce, the stuff I got had ended up in my father-in-law’s storage. When he liquidated that storage a few years ago, it came to light, and I nabbed it. Mother-in-law didn’t seem too interested in having any of it back (I checked)… so I inherited a few fabric remnants, a fair selection of thread, some random notions, and a bunch of old patterns.
Most of the patterns date to my MIL’s sewing heyday, which was the 80s (Most are also kids or babies patterns). I’m not quite willing to grant the 80s vintage status yet… but there are a couple that are even older, and yesterday my younger daughter asked me to sew one up for her. It’s labelled as Butterick 4918. This is not the Butterick 4918 that turns up on my internet searches, which are a 1952 evening gown or a 1980s cowgirl shirt. It’s an A-line short dress with short puff sleeves and optional shorts (although the shorts portion of the pattern seems to have evaporated). From the hairstyles on the drawing I’d say late 60s; the price on the envelope is 60 cents (70 Canadian). The pattern is a kids size four, which I am hoping will fit my rather pint-sized not-quite-seven year old (I know, but the coat I made her from the rather less vintage McCall’s 3374 was also a size 4, and it’s too big. And the chest measurement looks right, which is probably more important… worst case scenario, it’s too small and we give the dress to my 3-year old niece. And then I have to figure out how to grade the pattern up for my kids).
Now, I’m not a huge fan of vintage patterns. I was scoping out some late-60s ones at my grandmother’s this spring and let them be. My basic problems are as follows: I’m not a big fan of fashions of the 60s, 70s, or 80s, and I don’t have a figure the 40s and 50s patterns would flatter (at least without major corsetry). It’s possible that I could do something nice with a drop-waisted 20s frock, but… well, unlikely. And even less likely that such a pattern is ever going to cross my path. As I mentioned above, I asked my grandma about old patterns lying around (nobody has moved out of that house since 1918… the new generations just keep on moving in), and she dug up a few, but all dating to roughly late 60s (And a little off-size, although probably close enough if I were really into making any of them). But for making them for my kids… well, I’ll give it a try. And I have to say, working off a one-size pattern is quite the treat. The seam lines are all marked; so is the direction of stitching. There’s the occasional diagram of which foot to use, not to mention an illustration of the zipper, and more match-points than you can shake a stick at. A lot of it is wasted on me (I am trying to get better at transferring pattern markings to my fabric, but I’m still pretty lazy. I need to get one of those markers that disappears in water, because otherwise I’m too tempted to use regular markers, which has had occasional disastrous effects in the past.) but I still appreciate having it there. I didn’t read the instructions, either, before I started construction, which I probably should have just for the appreciation of well-illustrated, thorough instructions. Ah, well. Also, the seam allowances are massive: 6/8″, or a full 2 cm.
I made one slight alteration—I lined the pattern. Mostly because the fabric my daughter chose (from that same MIL stash, actually) is really soft and drapey, and the illustrations suggest a fabric with more body. Also,
I like lining things. This was my first zipper installation in a while (and my first on my new machine, and my first in a lined garment), so that was fun. It is not a perfect zipper, especially right at the top (I suspect some errors in my methodology… but it’s not bad (for me), and it’s nicely sandwiched between the two layers. Probably I would have benefited from reading the instructions more carefully (or any instructions)… but what’s done is done.
I dared to machine blind-hem both the lining and the shell separately. It’s my first machine blind-hem. Definitely not perfect (I could have done better by hand) but reasonable. I did a better job of easing the extra width in the lining than I thought I might on machine, so that at least was a triumph. Other triumphs include not having the lining peak out particularly at the neckline, and managing to catchstitch the lining around the sleeves (which I didn’t line) without having the outside end up totally puckered.
The original puff sleeve didn’t have an opening on the cuff, and I was a little concerned about my daughter being able to get her arm through, so I added some detailing to the back of the sleeve copied from my JJ blouse.
I won’t have enough length for an overlap, so I’ll do some kind of loop on one side and a little button on the other. Probably I should have embedded the edges of the loop in the cuff when I sewed it, but I’m not that organized.
All in all, a cute and surprisingly timeless little dress. Will update with photos of kid in dress (or news of a size disaster) when she gets home from school.
Edit: Kid in dress.
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