1960s Flapper Girl

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This is a real meeting of decades. A 1920s flapper print and a vintage 1960s pattern. 1967, to be exact. Sometimes, you just have to sew as the spirit moves you.

The fabric is a silk/cotton mix from The Man Outside Sainsburys, bought for £5 a metre. It’s really lovely. A fellow customer and I gleefully compared notes on what we’d make with this fabric. ‘Dare I sew a dress?’ she asked. Absolutely!

I bought two metres. In the meantime, a friend had gifted me some vintage patterns. Then, I had one of those nights. You know the kind. Eyes ping open at 4am:

Angel: Just lie here. Even if you don’t go back to sleep, stay here. If you get up now you’ll mess your body clock up for the next 48 hours.

Devil: Or you could get up and sew…

Can you guess who won?

It was one of those wild-eyed, dressing-gown clad sewing sessions. Very spontaneous. My dog watched me from the sofa, judgement deep in her eyes. You’re going to regret this. 

I didn’t really deserve for this project to work. Which makes me immensely glad that it did.

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This pattern is so deeply and emblematically 1960s. I love it! Short skirt, fitted with eight darts at the waist (four front, four back), boat neckline. Of course, the danger point is fitting with such a simple silhouette. Did I mention that the instructions were long lost? I was going to have to wing it.

Fortunately I know my own body by now. Lowered the bust darts by 1.5 inches, added some extra at the seams, cut smaller at the upper chest.

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It’s always fascinating to open a pattern that someone else has used. This one was full of pins and the dart sections were cut out. Have you ever seen this before?

Also – warning! – as well as the lack of instructions, I discovered that pieces from a different pattern had been shoved into this envelope. Check the pattern numbers, when working with a pre-cut vintage pattern.

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I’m currently wearing this layered with a 1960s crop cardigan and the two sit together perfectly. I think I’ve just found my go-to autumn make!

Do you ever sew in the wee, small hours? Any tips of your own for working with vintage patterns?

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39 Responses to 1960s Flapper Girl

  1. Sara-Lu says:

    It is absolutely gorgeous!!

  2. Jeanette says:

    I agree with Sara-Lu. It’s gorgeous!

  3. Alice says:

    I’ve actually cut the darts out of patterns before! I hate marking them through the pattern tissue, so I thought cutting them out would make it easier. It did, but it also really destabilized the pattern. Not recommended.

  4. felicia says:

    Gorgeous. I love the fabric, and the simple pattern is perfect for it.

  5. stitchedupsam says:

    Oh this is fabulous. I really need some of that fabric. I almost had a midnight sewing session the other night, only I decided I wouldn’t risk disturbing my husband with the sewing machine.

  6. Cherry says:

    I love this dress. Your ‘vintage’ patterns bring startlingly to mind dresses I made then that I had forgotten completely! How our brains work. I wouldn’t sew in those wide awake moments as I would screw up but happy to see you don’t!

  7. Reblogged this on vintagethrifter51.com and commented:
    Beautiful dress! Love the fabric and print.

  8. fabrickated says:

    You always look sensational in red. And as for sewing at funny times – I really suffer with insomnia and always find it easier to get up and do something useful rather than lying there getting cross. I pay for it the next day. This afternoon I nearly nodded off in a noisy, violent version of Macbeth at The Globe.

  9. Nice job – looks really good on you!

  10. I full on love this fabric! It looks so bright and modern. I often wake in the night thinking about my makes… 😊 it helps to sleep on sewing dilemmas too I find!

  11. norma says:

    Lovely!
    I sewed at 5 a.m. for weeks until the puppy was grown. I missed it for a while – now I’m glad of the sleep

  12. I am a sucker for the variations in 1960’s vintage dress patterns. I have so many. The gathered skirt thing from the 50’s is not for me so shift styles work well with my short body. I always seem to get a pattern from 1967,68,69 even when I don’t check the date it must just be my thing. Your dress looks amazing and really wearable. Here’s to sewing at wild hours of the morning! Jo x

  13. susew says:

    Great dress. I’ve had darts more or less be cut out by my notched marking wheel when. I don’t sew late at night but I’ve certainly looked through my pattern magazines or trolled sewing websites and blogs when I have an insomnia night.

  14. Melody A. says:

    what a fantastic dress, and the silhouette is perfect for that fabric !!! and you look smashing in it!!

  15. Lynsey says:

    Super dress, the stylish shift dress is always a winner in my book, the fabric is lovely too. I’m pretty rubbish in the morning, it takes a while for the caffeine to get my mojo kickstarted

  16. Highball Emy says:

    What a lovely shape that dress is on you! I often cut my darts out in patterns – makes it way easier to mark them on the fabric.

  17. judybushey43 says:

    Lovely dress. It looks great on you.

  18. bellecitadel says:

    Fabulous colour and the perfect foil. It’s super!

  19. kmom14 says:

    Super cute dress. Working with used patterns you pick up can be a challenge, some have extra pieces from a different pattern, or might be missing a piece and you have to improvise. Also on older vintage patterns, the sizing is a lot smaller and many times have to add to the seam allowances or cut apart to make into a larger size or both.

  20. Ann Watts says:

    I love it! Why is it that the man outside sainsburys had nothing like this on the 2 occasions I have managed to get there???? Will just have to try again! Like the 60s dress pattern too

  21. Siobhan S says:

    That fabric! What a stunner.

  22. Twilight says:

    I have always thought that the 1920s and the 1960s have a lot in common. I think you just proved it! I don’t really sew at odd times, but I do often use vintage patterns… Checking actual measurements even though the pattern is a well-known make, is a good tip. I’ve often ended up with the wrong size because I assumed the vintage patterns are the same as modern patterns.

  23. Hilary says:

    Absolutely love that fabric!! And it works a treat in that pattern. Hurrah for the “midnight moments” of inspiration. Hx

  24. Gail says:

    A wise decision to use a simple 60s shift pattern for such a totally fabulous print. Love the results.

  25. Sarah says:

    What a great make! Love the silhouette.

    I find myself sewing late into the night more often than in the wee hours… But it does happen!

  26. Sue says:

    ..it’s that “I must try it on” on that keeps me going late at night, then I can stop unless of course it is not quite right, then I have to keep on going until it is. Lovely dress! – the fabric and pattern go really well together. Where is the man outside Sainsbury’s??

  27. I never see in the middle of the night but I frequently have dreams about working on a project before I start it…..taking myself through each step, a rehearsal, if you will!

  28. Miki says:

    I am curious what the effects of the darts was on the print, I can’t tell from the pictures. In the photo there seem to be no darts at all. Any close ups?

  29. I love the fabric, but I really love the neckline on this!

  30. Claire says:

    I love your dress! Such a simple shape is very flattering and red is fab on you. I don’t get up and sew in the middle of the night – I think I would disturb my partner. But I very frequently lie awake planning a current project or future ones. Lots of planning has been done when I should be sleeping…

  31. esewing says:

    Fab print , looks great on you , very impressed you made this in the wee small hours ! I don’t tend to get the machine humming over night but have spent many a wakeful night pattern cutting , cutting out or knitting – why waste time awake not creating something ?

  32. Katie M says:

    This I love. It is such wonderful fabric, and a gorgeous style for you. So flattering and stylish.

  33. Kathy Lynch says:

    Fabulous make, Karen! It REALLY suits you! I don’t sew in the early hours but I have often dreamt I was sewing my current work in progress. Sometimes those dreams are so vivid that, next morning, I’m almost surprised to see I’m not as far advanced as I thought I was! Crazy woman. Hehe

  34. I like cutting the darts out on pdf patterns or any others that are on a sturdier paper, but I only do fisheye darts on tissue–it’s just too fragile!

  35. Alex says:

    When is the man outside sainsburys there? I went on a Saturday and I couldnt find him 😦

  36. Skydreamer says:

    You are such an inspiration ❤ beautiful work ❤

  37. gobagese1 says:

    I like the print that you have chosen !! Amazing job!!!

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