Monday, February 6, 2017

Is Vintage Going Out of Style? and other thoughts on the latest pattern collections . . .

I have not been all that excited about the latest pattern collections.  The last two releases for Vogue have not included any Vintage Vogue designs, McCalls did not add to their Archive Collection, and after last year's Simplicity catalog mostly filled with vintage reproductions, the new catalog does not include a single one.  

And what happened to the finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern envelopes?  This issue was improved a couple of years ago, but with the newer releases they are only including not especially helpful measurements like back to waist length.  One step forward, two steps back.  

Butterick, it would seem, has not given up on their Retro line, so I am going to start there.
Butterick 6454 is a vintage reproduction dress from the 1950s.  This prom dress has something between a shelf and petal bust.  Most vintage patterns with these details go for a lot of money, so I think that this was a smart choice for Butterick to reproduce one.  I love the basque waist at the front, but that detail does not continue through to the back bodice, which is a disappointment.  From the back, this dress is really basic and rather boring.  And the polyester satin is not doing the dress sample any favors; the bodice is supposed to be boned, but it sure doesn't look that way.  Step away from The Casa Collection fabric . . . it is evil and must be destroyed.

Butterick 6454

Gertie has a new design.  I like the dress, although why anyone sewing a garment for themselves would need adjustable straps is beyond me.  If the whole lingerie strap thing from the 90s is returning, then I am not very excited.  I just think it looks sloppy.  The dress itself is pretty basic, but it is cute.  Once the fit is perfected, I could see this pattern being used as the basis for a lot of really lovely dress variations.
There are two other Butterick vintage reproductions in this catalog - both include multiple apron designs, one for adults, and one for dolls.  I would have hoped to see both the full size and doll sized pattern in a single envelope.  Since the designs are identical, they could have saved space in the envelope with one set of directions, and surely doll sized patterns do not take up very much room.  I am also not thrilled that they updated the illustrations; they are retro themed, but definitely not original and some of the charm is lost (this is one of my main gripes with the Archive Collection for McCalls - no illustrations).

Butterick 6467

Moving on to Vogue . . .

Let’s just say that I am very miffed that a fabulously complex vintage design has not been included, but Vogue did manage to make room in the catalog for a rectangular scarf.  Say what?!  For $27.50, those better be some amazing directions.  I am still shaking my head over this one . . . 
I do like the over-sized drop shoulder sleeves on Vogue 9239, but the rest of the design is rather ordinary.  It is one of those multi cup size patterns, which I know people really like.  And those sleeves are calling my name.  The sample on the model is not very appealing, but I am putting that down to the fabric choice and the fit.

Vogue 9239

I am slightly intrigued by the off the shoulder design of Vogue 9238, but the garment on the model is very awkward.  Perhaps it is the fabric choice, and something with more drape would look better?  Not sure if I am willing to take the chance on this particular dress.
Vogue 1536 definitely grabbed my attention.  But I wonder how much of my attraction to this design has to do with the color?  The dress is just a simple princess seamed sheath, so nothing new there.  The jacket has an interesting treatment from the back, but I could easily reproduce that by adjusting the back of any cropped jacket.  So upon closer inspection, I am not that impressed.  But at least it's not a bloody rectangle with fringe!
This formal Bellville Sassoon gown is really striking.  I will probably grab that at the next pattern sale, but if I am going to make a gown, I tend to go for something vintage.  I would definitely like to have a look at the instructions on how that bodice goes together, though.

Vogue 1533

The Lialia design is also tempting.  I doubt I would ever make it up, but that neckline is gorgeous (it can be worn as a caplet or hood).

Vogue 1531

McCalls has never been my favorite brand, but I do wish that the Archive Collection would release another design or two.  And now that I am a bit less intimidated by knit fabrics, there are a couple of dresses that I may add to the pattern stash.  The cross over design is interesting on McCalls 7538
McCalls 7535 is another one of those patterns that supposedly works for knits and woven - I wonder which is it actually drafted for?  Having had issues with this Vogue design that claims the same, I am skeptical.  This particular design does have some nice touches, like Dior darts and an open back option.  But the styling on this one came directly from 1994.  Yikes!
The cut of McCalls 7531 is extremely basic, but if it fits decently, there are a lot of possibilities there.
Continuing the knit theme, I believe I will grab this Mimi G maxi dress for Simplicity.  I like those style lines, and I love the look of the black and white version.  Now I just need to find some great mid-weight knits.  And whether or not I continue to sew knit pieces has yet to be seen.  Most of the knit fabrics I come across that are not 100% polyester are too lightweight for dresses.

There is something I really like about this dress as well.  It's probably those sleeves.  But I am not sure I need to add this one to my stash because there must be something similar in my pattern collection.

The Dottie Angel pattern caught my eye because of the hooded jacket.  Would I ever really make it?  Probably not, but it does make me want to quilt something!

So I guess there are quite a few things here to inspire me.  Now if only the rain would stop, I might feel motivated to actually complete a project . . .  At the moment all I want to do is sip tea, knit, and snuggle with my pup.


  1. I don't think Vintage is going out of style because designers certainly haven't stopped getting inspiration from past decades and historical eras. What constitutes vintage is ever changing (as time marches on). Simplicity did a big vintage (and vintage-inspired) release one or two catalogs ago.

  2. I think the fifties vintage vibe has run it's course. I think Gertie's offering is a sign of that. To me it just looks like a summer dress, nothing particularly vintage other than the fabric choice. The straps? I would replace them with something more solid. Like you said, a bit nineties. I do like several of the McCall's offerings, particularly the wrap dress. I really like Vogue 9238 and think it would be great fun to play with using stripes or more geometric fabric.

  3. Vogue 1537 coat grabbed me. Reminiscent of Simplicity styles and definitely 50's styling with 3/4 length sleeves. I'd prefer welt pockets though.

  4. Well, I'm a bit ashamed to admit I'm such a follower, but I seem to follow vintage trends strongly and unconsciously, and I have no interest in sewing the 40s-50s designs I loved so much five years ago. I especially have no interest in sewing a cute apron. Now I'm into the 70s, along with everyone else :) My real secret goal is to make a prairie wedding dress style...

  5. 1533 reminds me of a similar dress that I purchased for the instructions. I have a lot of patterns courtesy of Joanns sales that I bought just to read, and I just donated a fat bag of them to clean house. 1531 makes me think you could pull the 'front' hood over your face in case of pepper spray or tear gas at the May Day march. Practical! I should make some for my sons.
    I would argue the Gertie strap is to go with the visible bra straps of most of the wearers. Perhaps you could sew on extras in contrasting colors.

    And now I'm going off to yell at those damn kids to get off my lawn. GOD this makes me feel very old.....because I sewed prairie wedding dresses for the first weddings of too many friends? That too.

  6. I think the Gertie dress is a very similar of a a popular vintage reproduction dress. I'm actually quite excited for this - the dress online retails for $150 and I'm excited to add this bodice to my arsenal. I mean, I guess I could have drafted something, but buying a pattern is so much easier!

  7. Great post! Love the simplicity 8292 dress! The sleeves really are super cool!