And There Went March.

March was not home to much sewing at Fifty Dresses this year.  The reasons were manifold, but suffice it to say, my loved ones and I weathered through the storm. Now sweet April is here, adorned in grace and gentleness and goodness, like a balm to our collective souls.  April is filled with promise.  

And I have given April much to make promises about!  I may have not been able to sew throughout most of March, but that did not prevent me from looking at fabric, patterns, buttons, books, and fashionable inspirations.  Despite my best intentions of not succumbing to new fabric purchases, my discipline failed me and I found two silk fabrics at Britex which I decided were too special to pass by.  They are so different from each other, but each one appeals to certain design penchants I have finally admitted are my weakness.  One is for geometric and linear prints:

This is a silk crepe de chine, blouse weight.

The second penchant is for whimsical, scattered florals, in multi-color.  This one is especially appealing to me as it also has polka dots in its motif.  Polka dots are especially difficult for me to resist.  

This is a silk twill, dress or blouse weight. I’m not sure what I will make with this yet. If I thought I would have occasion to wear a hostess skirt, that would be it, but …. it is all still to be determined.

By this point I have an extensive collection of vintage patterns, so it is rare when I find one which fills a gap for me.  But such was the case with this purchase of a Vogue Paris Original by Pierre Balmain.  I had not come across this pattern before, and I believe it was rightly advertised as “rare.”  

I wanted this pattern for the jacket.  The neckline is lovely with its small, rolled collar, and the lines in the jacket appear to be very flattering.  The corded front edges are an interesting design feature which will require the right weight fabric to be finished correctly, I think.  And the four buttons certainly have a prominent position for a jacket not meant to be buttoned!  I will relish finding buttons for this project.  

As with most of my vintage patterns, where I am never quite satisfied until I am able to assign a copyright/production date to them, such was the case with this pattern.   Being a Designer pattern made it easier to narrow my search through my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines.  Also, at this point I have developed a “decade” sense for styles, so I instinctively started with the mid-1960s.  Bingo – the second issue from the mid ‘60s through which I looked featured this pattern.  It was included in an article “Just Arrived – 33 Great Imports” in the October/November 1965 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine.

I like this image of the pattern (on the far right) as I believe it shows the lines of the jacket in a more flattering way than on the pattern envelope.

What made it especially rewarding for me was that my pink Dior coat pattern is included in the same feature.  It must have been a good year.  

The caption for my pink coat pattern, top and center in the same feature of “33 Great Imports”, reads: “DIOR: The ensemble to wear all year – a dirndled dress and a coat that’s shaped high and narrow.”

Pink was on my mind (well, truth be told, pink is always on my mind) during the waning days of March as I zeroed in on making “birthday” dresses for my granddaughters.  (Time and looming dates have a wonderful way of getting me back on the sewing track.)  And yes, they are pink.  However, they are also under wraps – and wrapping paper – to be opened by the birthday girls next week.

Hopefully April will not hurry away, as these months are wont to do.  There are promises to keep and there is more sewing to happen at Fifty Dresses.    


Filed under Mid-Century style, Polka dots, silk, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

22 responses to “And There Went March.

  1. PatB

    Very interesting post. Love the vintage patterns. Your pink coat is beautiful and elegant. Perfect for spring.

  2. I love this Balmain dress & jacket. I am pretty sure I remember making it (well, my mom making it for me) in 1965-1966. Ivory boucle-like wool — in a fairly light weight; but stiff enough to work with the jacket. I do think I went on to make a few dresses with this pattern as well. Both lightweight wool. I do have an Etsy shop selling vintage patterns and in all my scoutingI have never come across this pattern. So, yes, it might be “rare!” Have fun with it all. Excited to see your finished product!

    • It was so fun to read your comment. Good for your mother for using Vogue patterns! I think the dress is lovely, but it is probably not a style I would make for myself right now…

  3. Mery

    Oh, I am happy this pattern found a home with you. I always thought Balmain’s rolled open collars are the best ever. I remember a similar but even more open one on a dressy coat or cloak shown with a ball gown. I thought I’d reach my pinnacle of fashion with a day coat or jacket with a Balmain neckline/collar like this new one you bought, plus the evening one which I’d repeat as a summer robe. Yet I never bought one of those patterns in time. That’s ok. I can just look at yours.

    That is a fabulous issue. Several that are as good as it gets when made up well, and you certainly are doing them justice.

    I’m still Gaga about your pink coat ensemble.

    May your April spill over with enough blessings to make up for March.

    • Weren’t those “imports” in the mid-1960s quite wonderful? We are so lucky that we can still find these exquisite patterns. And yes, I know that Balmain gown and evening coat you remember! Happy April, Happy Spring to you, Mery.

  4. Just my era! Did you know that its easy to date any pre-1970 patterns by using the Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA)? It’s a free archive of over 60,000 patterns located at the University of Rhode Island. Vogue 1532 is here: You do have to create a login, but there are no strings attached. Many, many pattern companies are listed and searchable. If I don’t find my exact pattern, I can still date it from the numbers of other patterns in the series.

    • Thank you so much for this link, Susan. I did know about this site, but for some reason, rarely use it. Perhaps I just like the opportunity to browse through my old Vogue Pattern Book Magazines? But, yes, it is helpful and a fabulous resource!

  5. Susan Kelley

    So glad to know you save those old back issues. I was very disappointed when they stopped publishing. The substitute mag just doesn’t do it for me.
    I loved getting one of their designer patterns because of the label that came with it. Wish I had saved those too.But never seemed to think that far ahead. Best sewing wishes for April. I am trying to get ready to so some myself.

    • The labels were the icing on the cake, weren’t they? I still occasionally find patterns with the labels included, and I actually saved quite a few from the 1970s! Hope your April is filled with happy sewing, and thank you for your comment!

  6. Very flattering coat. Your fabrics are lovely and I’m looking forward to seeing what you create with them.

  7. Carol in Texas

    It is good to know oneself, if even later in life! At 82 I am still finding out things about myself, or admitting to them as you admit to your penchant for geometrics and certain florals in your fabrics. I look at the price on those vintage patterns of yours and think, ‘how could that ever be?’ But we married in 1960 and I spent $10 dollars a week at the grocery store…..that was all we could afford!… I guess a $3 pattern would have been a luxury. I so enjoy your blog entries. I will look forward to seeing the little girls’ dresses and your future creations.

    • I remember passing up many patterns in the 1960s and 1970s because they were just too expensive for me at that time in my life. Yes, $3 was a big price for a pattern back then! I loved reading your comment – thank you!

  8. It’s always a delight and joy to see another story about your sewing adventures. What is also interesting is that within 45 minutes of receiving your email with this current post the latest Britex Team email landed in my inbox about their latest and greatest items for purchase. I was in sewing heaven. What has never ceased to impress me is your enthusiasm and your ability to share your passion for fashion and the creative outlet that sewing provides you and your selflessness in sharing your escapes with scissors, needles and fabrics. Your skill with the English language is on par with your sewing skills. I told my sewing coach (if she read this blog post then she will read this) that I want to sew like Karen!

    • Such a lovely comment, Peggy – thank you! It is so fun to look through fabric sites online, isn’t it? i jut wish I could look without being tempted! (But what fun would that be?)

  9. I love both the jacket and the dress! The pink print fabric speaks to me as well, love the colors and the design! I can’t wait to see the birthday dresses. 🥰

    • The more I look at that floral silk, the more I’m so glad I purchased it! Just have to figure out what to do with it…
      I made the girls matching dresses one more time – it’s just so fun to see them together in them. And so far they seem to like them as well. We will see how much longer that lasts.

  10. marguerite armstrong

    Always such fun to read your posts! Those Vogue Designer patterns were so wonderful. Remember spending hours perusing the counter catalogs? Like many here have mentioned, the price was high back then. The other companies were more affordable. I used to love the “mod” designers that had many designs in the Butterick line.
    Your enthusiasm is contagious and helpful to me when I need a push!
    Yes, how lucky to have your granddaughters still able to wear the matching dresses. A true blessing.
    I marvel at the lovely work you do for them.

  11. Pingback: And There Went March. — fiftydresses | By the Mighty Mumford

  12. Love that Balmain! I have never seen it either. Hope things start looking up for you!

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