Thursday, 7 July 2016




I was researching vintage lingerie patterns (another story for another entry) when I stumbled across a 2½ hour pattern on Pinterest. It has been separated from its original citation but looks like a spread from a sewing magazine from the mid-20th century. Anya mentioned free patterns like this briefly in a Sew What? post earlier this year, and here I am, proving her point that “easy” patterns require skills that have become uncommon! As with all two hour patterns, this claim is a lie. But the primary reason the time allotment is a lie is because I am a terrible drafter. If you squint at the image, you can see it’s a single size pattern, and the reader gets to make the necessary adjustments to made it actually fit. This did not happen in my case. 

1950's Beach Set Sewing pattern.
There are three other series if anyone else wants to try! Source

It was supposed to be simple, just put in the darts, fold over the facings, and sew up the top seam. Turns out I over-compensated for most of the measurements, the cat ran through my cutting layout, and I attached the top seam improperly. While the original construction took ~4 hours, it languished in my closet until I asked my mother for help. She nipped and tucked a few places and together, we found a “vintage-inspired” look that is more 60s than the original 50’s but I’ll take it.

Final product in action. Photo by author
If anyone can figure out fix the neckline please tell me. 
Its funny to think that the easiest thing I could have done was call up my grandmother or mother and get her to explain what was I was suppose to the first time I made it. Within their lifetimes, clothing went from a handmade object to a commercial commodity, but the knowledge of garment construction was still useful, both for actually modifying clothes and for identifying quality and flattering clothing. Instead of drawing on their knowledge, I repeated mistakes made decades ago. At least now we have that shared experience.

The second easiest thing I could have done was close the door and kept the cat away from everything.
Yes I am reusing this photo of my cat tearing my pattern pieces.
She also chases my bias tape and sleeps on drafting paper. Photo by author.
In a way, this project helped me see a value in encyclopedic museums; bear with me. Handling and learning from the same activities and objects as my matriarchs opens up a shared experience that deepens the connect we have. Our experiences, even though they don’t intersect, are aligned through sewing, like carded wool. I’m lucky in that sewing is a fairly prominent but specific theme in my family but I see the same thing at the Bata Shoe Museum when I’m volunteering as a docent, especially when I’m working with the education (hands-on/touching) collection. In particular, the Indian padukas (toe knob sandals) on display elicit a particular nostalgic laughter from visitors and stories to children, group members, and/or me about having to wear them as children (and how uncomfortable they are). Turns out padukas and wooden clogs have something in common, as a seniors tour pointed out when an Indian man and a German woman held shoes from their childhoods and both laughed at old discomforts. I wonder what stories we share about being in the shadows of dinosaurs or the beetles of Canada... who wants to go to the ROM?

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