Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Fresh Look at Vintage

I thought while we waited for some action on the apron sewcial I would share with you a couple of the vintage projects I've completed this last year. Now I have to preface this by saying that when I look at a vintage pattern it is strictly for the silhouette of the garment. I have no desire to look "vintage" but I do find some of the details in these old patterns intriguing.

The first vintage pattern I completed last year I look forward to wearing again soon since the weather is turning cooler.

knit dress from a 1940 pattern

Now we all know there was no such thing as Lycra back in 1940. In fact the Lutterloh books even show knitting patterns for hand knit garments so I'm pretty sure this dress would not have been made in a knit fabric. My aunt tells me it probably would have been made from a silk fabric of some sort.

This knowledge does not deter me from making up Lutterloh patterns in whatever fabric I like. In this case a rayon /Lycra blend. The weight of my fabric causes the dress to hang differently than the fashion drawing but I'm still pleased with the overall effect of the details. The swing of this dress is fabulous and as a double bonus the stretch of the knit allows me to slip it over my head with no closures of any kind. I'm sure the original intention was to include a side or back zipper but the oldest vintage Lutterlohs don't include those details.

If anyone hasn't seen my full review on you can see it here:

Another vintage Lutterloh pattern that I completed over the Summer is this one from a 1957 book.

I didn't write a review for this one so I'll give you some of the details here.

Initially when I saw this model I thought "That is one slim fitting dress, I'd better draw this pattern with a larger number to give myself a little room to breath." Silly me, I should have realized, just like today, people of the fifties came in all different sizes too. I ended up scrapping the first pattern because, no surprise, it was too big. I have since convinced myself to just trust the system and start with my real measurements.

Just like with the older patterns the 1950s Lutterloh books don't always include every detail you might encounter while constructing this dress. I soon discovered that the big buttons up the front were more of a design detail. Since they stop at the waist there is no way to get this dress on without some additional opening. There is no back seam so that left me with inserting an invisible zipper in the side seam, problem solved.

Now as I said I'm not that concerned with historical accuracy when I use these vintage Lutterloh patterns so I decided to make judicious use of our good friend, Velcro. I knew I wouldn't be using the front pockets in this dress so what you see in my photo are just faux pockets. They are just there to hide the Velcro strip where the ends of my sash are attached. Much more useful in my opinion.

I hope this helps the owners of all those vintage Lutterloh books out there to take a second look at what they might use from these old patterns. The fashion drawings in all the Lutterloh books are merely the conception of the artist.

In fact I have one more dress to share with you that demonstrates this point. It's not vintage but I wanted you to see that the fashion drawings do not always tell the whole story. As the final creator of the garment you need to decide if the pattern will work for your body.

I placed my photo in between the fashion drawing and the pattern pieces because I wanted you to observe them side by side.

I realize I am more well endowed than most pattern companies allow for. I am also a little taller than the average woman they design for. However if you notice where the pocket falls on the drawing and where it actually hits on my dress is not the same. These are the kinds of things we need to take into consideration when deciding the suitability of a pattern before we start.

If I tried to make my dress exactly like the pattern drawing I'd have to squash two more buttons in at the top of the placket but there just isn't room. I did embroider the button holes
but even without the extra space there just wouldn't have been room for two more buttons. I've decided I like it better like this anyway.

My point is, when the fashion is displayed with only a drawing it's not always possible to show every detail that might affect it's wearability for your body. Only you can decide if the silhouette, the ease, or even the fashion era is right for you.


  1. What a fun post! I have one vintage book, and I did notice that there are no closures and no facings so it's kinda nice to choose what and how you want a garment to close!

    The more contemporary one you show is one of the ones I want to make. Yours looks great! I will likely add darts, maybe double (2 on each side, front and back waist) to add some shaping, as that works better for me in that style, but I love the overall style of the dress. I've never seen embroidered buttonholes before. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing all that!

  2. I've just recently acquired some vintage Lutterloh patterns and the dress with the sash is one that I liked. Nice to be able to see one that someone has made - I'm currently searching high and low for examples.