A Good Start

Happy December! It seems like a long time since I have been here with a new post for Fifty Dresses. The first thing I want to say, since my forced hiatus from sewing (due to my badly injured left hand), is “Thank You!” to so many of you who gave me encouragement, sent sympathy and healing thoughts, and made me feel like such a valued part of our worldwide fashion sewing community. Your kindnesses meant the world to me at a personally difficult and discouraging time.

Although my heart never left sewing (attested to by the new vintage patterns and a couple of lengths of new fabrics which have somehow found their way to my sewing room over the past weeks!), my hands have finally come back to it as well. While I still have weeks and weeks of “hand therapy” to attend in an effort to restore full use of my left hand, I now can sew at the machine, cut and mark fabric, and even hand sew. Having said that, I wish I had something truly spectacular to show you to prove that point, but alas, I do not. What I can show you is a promise of things to come, things which are now destined to make their appearance in 2017 instead of in November or December of 2016.

I had my heart set on getting this fabric made into a dress to wear during this month of December, even though back in October I still had not settled on a pattern for it.

I purchased this fabric from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. It is a wool/silk blend, similar to fabric in a dress I made last Fall.

I purchased this fabric from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. It is a wool/silk blend, similar to fabric in a dress I made last Fall.

After searching online through many, many vintage patterns, I finally came across this one, an Advance pattern (a small departure from my normal preference for Vogue):

I still need to do a little research on the exact date for this pattern, but it appears to be from the mid-1960s.

I still need to do a little research on the exact date for this pattern, but it appears to be from the mid-1960s.

I could easily see this dress made up in polka dots, with the three-quarter sleeves. I think the back detail with the buttons is so pretty. My muslin is in the process of being completed, and then I will determine if this style looks good on me. I certainly hope so…

Another project I wanted to complete this Fall was a new bathrobe. A while ago I found this vintage Viyella fabric (cotton/wool blend, warm but light-weight, 5¼ yards, 35” wide), and it just spoke “bathrobe” to me.

The paper label is still attached to this length of fabric.

The paper label is still attached to this length of fabric.  Isn’t it lovely that this fabric is washable?

This Vogue pattern seems just about perfect for it, as long as I can match the plaid and still have enough yardage to eke it out. My muslin will tell the story.

I definitely want to make the long version of this robe.

I definitely want to make the long version of this robe. This pattern is from the late 1950s.

But before I can get any further on either of these projects, I have some sewing to do for Christmas gifts. The countdown is on, but I think I have a good start. It is wonderful to be back in my sewing room, which now looks like a cross between a couture atelier and Santa’s workshop, with fabric and wrapping paper and ribbons vying for equal space.  Happy December, indeed!

38 Comments

Filed under Day dresses, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s

38 responses to “A Good Start

  1. Mary Lynn

    Welcome back! So glad to know that you’re on the mend; although physical therapy can feel like a part time job with all the going and coming and heatiing and icing…..It sounds like you’re almost back to “full speed ahead”

    • Thank you, Mary Lynn! Yep, I wish the time I am spending in physical therapy could be in my sewing room instead, but first things first! I am just so glad to be able to hold a needle and thread again!

  2. I’m happy to read that you’re on the mend and able to sew again. How frustrating to have that fabric and not be able to work on it.. I can’t imagine that sewing wouldn’t be a wonderful addition to physical therapy and speed your full recovery.

  3. Karen, I think that cutting and marking is HUGE progress! Wrist and hand breaks can be very tricky. The fact that you are cutting and hand stitching is phenomenal!!! You were really on my mind earlier this week and I was really hoping to see a post soon, and here you are. 😊 Enjoy your Christmas sewing!

  4. So happy that you are better — just in time for the holidays! Can’t wait to see all of the new creations that have been rattling around in your head while you patiently (ha) waited to heal!

  5. I’m glad you’re back! (Take care of yourself and don’t overdo it – even Christmas deadlines are not absolute.) I happen to be reading Wade Laboissionere’s book Blueprints of Fashion 1950s, which lists pattern number sequences for Advance and other major companies. Advance 9511 dates to 1960 — not that it would be any less lovely with a different date — but it’s fun to know. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

    • Thank you so much for letting me know about the date for this pattern. Oh, that was such a classy time for fashion. Thanks so much for your good wishes! Happy and healthy 2017 to you as well.

  6. Oh, you’re back! Hooray! Glad that your healing is coming along so nicely and that you’re able to begin sewing again. You have surely been missed. I do think that Advance pattern has some lovely details and will be perfect for your fabric. Continued good luck with healing and happy holidays to you!

  7. Mary

    Glad you are on the mend. The Viyella will make a gorgeous robe. I can almost feel that beautiful, soft texture just looking at the fabric. Also like the 60s Advance pattern for the dotted dress. Should look great on you. Here’s to continued healing.

  8. Heather Myers

    I’m happy to hear you are back and healthy! And looking forward to your posts as always.

  9. Donna

    So glad you are back and feeling better. Rehab is a slow process but don’t push it, a set back is so discouraging. I love the pattern for the dotted fabric. Please post a picture of the muslin it helps me understand the whole process. And a happy holiday season to everyone!

  10. It must feel wonderful to be back and on the mend!

  11. Marianne

    So happy to hear you are on the mend! Take care!

  12. Deb

    Karen–
    Somehow I missed your October 18 post about your hand injury– I am so sorry to hear about it and hope that you are well on the road to recovery! I’m sure your creative juices have not stopped flowing and that soon you will be back at full steam. We Tuesday Ladies need to meet for breakfast soon…
    Deb

  13. Octavia

    I am so happy to see that you are back to doing what you love. Anything you share will be a blessing to all of us. Happy Holidays!

  14. I am so glad to hear that your hand is on the mend and doing well!

  15. Marguerite

    How wonderful to hear you are on the mend! Thinking about new seeing projects is a sure way to greet 2017. The dress and robe sound like fun projects. I always was a fan of Viyella. I remember how fabric stores always seemed to carry it. Take care and have a wonderful Christmas!

  16. Mery

    I was anxious for Sunday’s 8-week anniversary because by then you’d know if more surgery needed or on the mend. So glad it’s mending. You’ll get there. The robe and dress and fabrics are great. I want to hack vintage Vogue 899 with similar back gathers in a lightweight silk cotton print (stash), but your back-swish-sheath-front will suit you perfectly.

    • Mery

      Last year you sent us the most delightful basket of goodies, gift ideas. Offered in the spirit of a get-well basket is this tip I found very helpful and no professional told me. Have you noticed that reversing hands to save the injured side for high priority tasks (ex, reading paperback held in right hand) your focus and attention span greatly diminish? I did. Crossing my feet made it worse but I kept doing so. If it was so noticeable in bedtime reading, then it surely interfered with daytime activities too. The tip that worked is to place all one’s weight on the ball of one foot, shimmy from there slowly up that side then down the other, then reverse. Do this back and forth a few times, up to 3 sets a day. After a couple of days try taking a few steps forward while shimmying. (I don’t look in the mirror.) This body awareness not only helped focus so I could do more daily tasks with less frustration, but also I didn’t stumble for a year. I know it’s annoying to talk much about one’s own injuries or to push inappropriate advice, so I hope this isn’t annoying. I just figured you need your focus unimpaired this season and that you’re at this phase of recovery. May the fragrance of evergreens and the peace of a crackling fire fill the rest of this get-well basket.

      • Thank you, Mery, for both comments! Hope you are correct about the swishy-backed dress. I love back details on dresses, so I will be disappointed if the completed muslin doesn’t look good!
        Ever since my fall, I have become very aware of any little imbalance in my gait and focus. Maybe shimmying will do me some good! Your ideas are aways welcome!

  17. I have just discovered you, your blog and your readers. Do you think your patterns, fabrics, sense of style and vision of lovely are rare at this place in time? I do and it is thrilling–sort of like visiting a place that reminds me of home. Mery’s advice sounds good.

  18. Hallelujah–I have discovered you, your sewing and your lovely readers. I have such happy memories around sewing real, well-made clothes in the 50’s and 60’s, Vogue and Advanced (I liked Butterick, too). My mother, born 1917, was a home economics teacher and wonderful sewer and teacher. With few artistic outlets and no time for play, I now realize that our sewing provided both. I still love the hand, the swing, the movement, the comfort, the lines, the subtlety of expression. Looking forward to following you. May your healing progress with speed. Mery’s advice makes sense. Let us know if it helps.

  19. Sewing has it all, doesn’t it? It has enriched my life immensely, and it is a joy to share the “chatter” about it with readers such as you. Thank you for following me!

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