Working with Vintage Patterns
Pattern in action
To take you step-by-step through some of the common techniques that show up in vintage patterns, we chose this stunning Butterick Starred Pattern 5156, A Katharine Hepburn Frock, designed in 1933. This design was modeled after an actual garment worn by Katharine Hepburn in the film Christopher Strong.
Get in and out with placket closures-In the early 20th century, garment closures, designed to allow for ease in taking a garment on and off, were predominantly made of buttons, snaps, and hooks. Although the zipper was developed by the early 1930s, it didn't become widely available to home sewers until after World War II.
|Here's how to install a continuous lap placket closure, as seen in the Butterick Starred Pattern 5156 (above):|
|1. Stitch the left side seam leaving an opening between markings for the placket. Press the stitched section of the side seam open. Clip to the stitching through the seam allowances at each end of the opening. Cut a strip of self or lighter weight fabric on grain. In this case, the strip is 2-1/8 inch wide and 1 inch longer than two times the opening length.
2. With right sides together, stitch the strip to the unfinished opening edges, making sure to position the strip ends at the bottom of the opening.
3. Wrap the raw edge over the seam, turn in the edge and ends, and hand-stitch to the garment opening.
4. Close the middle of the opening (generally at the natural waistline) with a hook and bar and the remainder of the opening with snaps.
Add a gusset for range of motion-A gusset is a design element located at the underarm of a garment that enables the wearer to completely move her arm.
|Here's how to apply a gusset at the underam of a kimono-sleeve-style jacket, as seen in the Butterick Starred Pattern 5156 (above):|
|1. After stitching the side seam of the bodice and the underarm sleeve seam, slash the inner points at the underarm to about 3 inches into the garment to create the gusset opening. Then, overcast the edges.
2. Turn under the gusset opening edges along the marks and baste. Baste the edges of the gusset to the opening matching the perforated marks.
3. Edge stitch around the gusset, trim the seam allowances to 3/8 inch, and overcast.
Go for old-school hems and facings-These hemming and facing techniques crop up in many vintage pattern instructions. Here's how to put them to work in your garment:
|Bias facing. Bias facings provide a narrow finish to neck or armhole edges. To create a bias facing, cut a bias strip about 1-1/2 inches wide and, with right sides together, sew one edge to the garment opening. Make slashes in the curved edges so the material doesn't pull. Turn the strip to the inside so the facing strip doesn't show on the outside, then turn under the raw edge of the strip and whipstitch on the strip edge, catching the garment occasionally.|
|Rayon seam binding tape. Seam binding tape and rayon seam tape were used to finish the raw edges of hems on sleeves, jackets, trousers, and skirts before there were serging machines.||
The tape is lapped over the raw edge, and machine-stitched along the top edge of the hem. The hem is then turned up, pressed, and hand-stitched through the tape to the garment.
Magazine extra: a key to vintage pattern perforations.
Alexandra Reynolds owns the vintage pattern Web site EvaDress.com, which sells original and reproduction vintage patterns.
Model photos: Jack Deutsch: hair and makeup: Christy McCabe using tarte cosmetics; stylist: Jessica Saal. Process photos, except where noted: Scott Phillips.