Plans: Vintage Summer Dresses, 2010

As the massive project of James’ 18th c. suit draws to a close, I have much to think about of where I want to go next.  With the weather beginning to warm up, the choice is clear: summer dresses!

I love dresses in summer.  They are easy to wear, requiring only two choices – which dress and which shoes – rather than the tedious task of matching a skirt to a blouse; they are cool in hot weather; they are easy to dress up or dress down.  And of course, because this is me, they are always dresses made from *vintage* patterns.

I was lucky enough to receive a bag full of vintage patterns from my grandmother.  There are patterns for blouses, skirts, and frocks, ranging from the late 1930s to the later 1950s.  Not a one of them will fit me, but luckily I am able to grade them up a couple sizes (remember sizing this pattern from last summer?).  I also went a little wild at the 70% Vogue Pattern sale a month or so ago, and bought a handful of Vintage Vogue patterns, which I find to be not-so-accurate, but generally quite lovely, so I’ve got one of those on “to do” list as well.

Here are the patterns and the fabrics (which came today!):

A 1940 Simplicity Pattern, and lovely brown floral cotton lawn.  
I plan to resize this pattern to fit me, and to remove
the shoulderpads – who likes shoulderpads!?
A 1950s pattern – no specific date – with some interesting pleating detail.  
Looks a little stodgy in the illustration, but will be 
lovely in this pink floral on white, cotton lawn.  
I plan to resize this pattern, add a zipper in the back 
(in stead of buttons), and probably shorten the skirt.
style pleating in the front.  The photo of this dress in the 
Vogue book looked like it needed some tailoring, so I plan 
to adjust the bodice to fit pretty closely.  The fabric is mint green
cotton lawn, nice and thin and summery.


  • Gloria

    April 16, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    These are lovely! They will make for great summer outfits. I esp. like the second one.

    Also, I changed the location of my blog, so if you could update the link on your sidebar, I'd be much obliged!!

  • Lauren R

    April 16, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Aranel – but summer dresses are so EASY compared to anything costumey you and I do. I consider them a break!

    Gloria- link is updated! By the way, you are the reason I know how to flatline. Thanks a million times over!

    Fin and Other Lauren – I will post my progress! It'll be nice to do some simpler, fresh things after working on James' suit for what seems like AGES!

  • Olympe de la Tour D'Auvergne

    April 16, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    I plan every year to make a ton of vintagey summer dresses, and every year I seem to run out of time. Perhaps this one will be different…

  • Angela

    April 16, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    I love summer dresses, too! I moved from the valley to the coast and all my summer dresses sat in the closet and drawers for two years since I moved. It just isn't that warm on the coast in the Bay Area. But, that is what vintage cashmere sweaters are for, right? 🙂 I bought some pretty vintage fabric at the Vintage Expo in March and plan on at least 3 dresses for the summer. I can't wait for warm weather…it has actually been in the 40's to low 60's all Spring so far and that is very cold for the Bay Area. Sigh.

  • Lauren Stowell

    April 16, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    Angela – I used to live in San Jose as well as Alameda, so I know *just* what you are talking about! Some of the coldest "summer days" I ever spent were in Santa Cruz, lol.

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    April 16, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    Oooo, I've got that last Vogue Vintage pattern too! Not that I'd ever wear it myself, I'm about a size 24 and that's a bit more tweaking than any pattern can handle 😉 But I can't resist the vitnage patterns and have a pie of them. It will look gorgeous on you I'm sure!

  • Abby

    April 17, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    I can't wait to hear how the vintage patterns (like the vogue one) works. I've been eyeing those patterns constantly whenever I'm in Joanns, but I just haven't gotten around to buying one yet. The fabrics look lovely!

    Maybe consider keeping the skirts a bit longer? Louis Vuitton had most of the skirts that way for Fall 2010. Of course, the entire collection was 1950s throwback. 🙂

  • Duchess

    April 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    I don't know which one to work on first! Two require pattern adjustment, and the Vintage Vogue I can just cut out and go for it, but there's a lot of pleatey stuff on that. I'm leaning towards the 1940s one…it's asking to be made first 🙂

    Abby – I like the skirt anywhere between just-below-knee and mid-calf, but sometimes I find the patterns wants the skirts almost at the ankle! 'Course, the longer the skirt the higher the heels to wear with it 🙂 We'll see. I will be sure to post progress updates!

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