Simplicity 6550 – Vintage Blouses

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands in front of a wooden bench and concrete wall. They have their hands in their pockets, on a slight angle to the camera. They are wearing a brown and white polkadot blouse and black culottes with suspender straps.

Hello friends! After the incredible success I had with my first attempt at a proper pattern hack, I was looking forward to testing even more wintery makes that would be appropriate for the chilly weather. I was keen to try all sorts of new heavier weight fabrics and see if I couldn’t create some more vintage inspired, seasonal clothing. However, my laptop took a not entirely unexpected turn over one weekend and simply refused to hold a charge. This meant a lot of hasty backing up onto an external hard drive while I still could, and the generosity of a friend’s brother in sharing his store discount to help me afford a new machine. As someone who rarely buys brand new this all was a bit exciting, but also meant I had to seriously rethink all my immediate sewing plans for the next while due to the budget change. Enter Simplicity 6550. 

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Butterick 9779, Shorts and Pattern Hacking

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands in front of a wooden bench and concrete wall. They have their fists raised and one leg kicked back - mid dance-move. They are wearing a white and brown striped shirt and highwaisted, green corduroy shorts.

If someone had tried to tell me this time last year that I would not only be making shorts that fit perfectly, and from a vintage pattern; but that I would also be pattern hacking to make pants and overalls! Well, I don’t think I would have believed them. But despite that I have now completed some of my most successful makes to date, and it all begins with my purchase of the circa 1960s pattern, Butterick 9779. It was a somewhat risky purchase for me, being a little bit pricer and coming from an overseas seller – my last experience of which had been truly terrible. However, I worried over nothing! The seller was lovely, the pattern arrived in a brilliant condition – albeit with a slightly wonky waistband from people accidentally trimming bits off. Over the course of one virtual craft evening with a friend I very gently ironed out the pattern pieces for the medium size and got to tracing and copying the markings into more modern versions.  

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Butterick B5748 – A reprint of a vintage dress pattern!

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands on an angle to the camera in front of a wooden bench and concrete wall. They are wearing a deep pink dress with a pink sunflower pattern and have one hand in a pocket.

Hello friends! I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am to be sharing this particular post! In all the time I have been focusing quite seriously on developing my skills in sewing, I had never once successfully made a dress. I think, similar to how pants and shorts are now my Everest, dresses were a fitting challenge I didn’t quite have the skills to unravel at the time. But having acquired two large pieces of fabric from a community stall event prior to all the shutdowns which simply told me they had to be made into dresses, I knew it was time to confront this challenge again. So when I stumbled over someone selling Butterick B5748, I knew this was going to be the pattern I would sink my teeth into. It’s a gorgeous reprint of a 1960’s pattern, with updated instructions and multiple sizes – which worked very well for me. 

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Simplicity 2151 – Pussybow Blouse Shirts

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands in front of a wooden bench and concrete wall. They are wearing a blue and green plaid shirt, with puffy sleeves and a pussybow blouse necktie. They are also wearing blue jeans, and are holding the ends of the tie.

Hello friends. One thing that gives me a lot of comfort at the moment is following along with other people’s sewing and seeing what other projects we’re all working through. It’s inspired me to continue working through my own growing pile of secondhand patterns, seeing what I can create with the fabric I have on hand and how creative I can be with the scraps. It’s a chance to flex my creative muscles. I do have a few bits and pieces in mind, and have already begun investigating the possibility of making my own bias binding from odd pieces – leaving the fabric from some old sheets as pocket lining and things like that. But first on my list was this gorgeous blouse pattern, Simplicity 2151,  in combination with this secondhand fabric I’d had for about two months or so. 

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McCall’s M6436 – Collared Shirts!

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands in front of a wooden bench and concrete wall. They are wearing a blue floral button-up shirt with a band collar, and blue jeans. They have one hand on their hip.

It’s no secret that I love button-up, collared blouses. My regular work wardrobe is comprised almost exclusively of collared shirts, cardigans, sweaters to be mixed and matched with black slacks. It allows me to sneak a bit of 50’s and 60’s style into my professional wardrobe, which pleases me to no end. So I am always on the lookout for more collared blouses when I am out hunting for secondhand goodies, and have gotten quite lucky over time in finding a few in very good condition. My current wardrobe is in fact comprised entirely of secondhand and me-made blouses now, which I consider quite an achievement. However, there is still something I am lacking. And that is the truest of staple blouses, the white collared blouse.

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Pattern Drafting – Peasant Blouse

Nell, a Caucasian person, sits on a wooden bench in front of a concrete wall. They are wearing a floral peasant blouse and black highwaisted pants.

As much as I love living Australia, being so far from some of the largest viable sources of secondhand fabric and patterns does mean learning to sew can get very expensive. For a lot of people I often hear that it’s prohibitively expensive, especially as very few stores allow payment plans for purchasing machines and tools. So it seemed natural to me that at some point I would need to learn how to do some pattern drafting in order to make the things that I couldn’t find a pattern for. And what better place to start than with my Holy Grail vintage item, the classic peasant blouse.

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Simple Sew Lottie Blouse

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands facing the camera in front of a wooden bench and concrete wall. They have their arms in the air and one leg raised. They are wearing a sleeveless shirt with a white and blue square pattern and a pussybow necktie, and black jeans.

Hold onto your hats Theydies and Gentlethem, because I am about to tell you something shocking. What I want to tell you is that it’s normal to fail. As scandalous as that might sound, I believe that it doesn’t matter how old we get or how experienced we are, we will always make mistakes. And I don’t say that in a completely negative way either. Certainly failure is disappointing, mistakes are frustrating, and wouldn’t it be great if things worked perfectly all the time? Well, sure. But how good does it feel to come out the other side of a series of failures with one precious success? How much do we learn from when things go wrong, versus when there’s not a single bump in the road? How connected do we feel to others when they share their mistakes? Personally, I love those stories. So let me share the story of the many failures that led to the amazing success of the Lottie Blouse.

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McCall’s 2560 – Vintage PJs!

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands side on to the camera in front of a low cabinet full of homewares. They are wearing a white t-shirt, and striped pyjama shorts, and a knee brace. They have their hands on their hips.

It’s no secret that I love button-down shirts, the kind where the collar fastens with a button to get that close-to-the-neck fit. This is because I also love adding little things to an outfit, like a necktie, bow-tie or ribbon in order to create a bit of interest, and these require button-down shirts. However, it hadn’t occurred to me to extend this interest to sleepwear. I was in the habit of getting PJs secondhand, in particular getting full sets where I could. I love a matching set! However, the trend for modern PJs in terms of bottoms seemed to be either 3/4 length, or the shortest of shorts. Neither of which are great for me in the middle of summer.

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McCall’s 9900 – Vintage, paneled skirts at their finest!

Nell, a Caucasian person, bends over the side of a cabinet full of various homewares with a book in hand. They are wearing a blue and white gingham skirt, a white top, and a white hairbow.

This skirt pattern is, without a doubt, the pattern that cemented my interest in sewing vintage. My wardrobe largely consists of items that are vintage inspired to some degree, as well as menswear inspired. But I had been hesitant to sew dresses and skirts, as I thought I wouldn’t get much wear out of them. 

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The Ogden Cami – Good for hot weather days!

Nell, a Caucasian person, stands in front of a blue couch with a colourful cushion. They have both fists lightly closed and resting on their hips. They are wearing black highwaisted pants, and a golden coloured camisole top.

I think it’s safe to say that at some point in many sewer’s journeys, we can become addicted to Indie Patterns. For those who haven’t yet taken the plunge, these are patterns made by independent designers, separate to the big name sewing companies like McCall’s, Vogue, etc. Indie Patterns also tend to be the most common things I see people making on social media, which I now realise helps to drive up the desire to own and make them yourself.

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