Friday, January 6, 2012

Changing Shapes

In case you were wondering, I haven't done any garment sewing for a few weeks. We had a bloody inter-species riot among the non-humans of the household: The Angry Terrier bit the foot of The Noisy Parrot. The OCD Chihuahua and The Meek Cockatiel disavow any knowledge of the incident. The injured party is quarantined in the sewing room for his safety. There's not much room to move around in there, so I've put off any sewing projects for the time being.

That gives me an opportunity to look through my pattern collection, which is large. I don’t want to specify exactly how large; let’s just say it’s in the hundreds but it hasn’t yet reached the thousands. Why so many? I don’t know. Why do we collect anything?

I do sew some of them, but mostly I enjoy looking at the artwork. Pattern envelopes have provided a near-perfect record of changing fashions - for the everyday woman of average means - since the late 19th century. The hairstyles, accessories, and sometimes odd poses add so much to the flavor of each decade of style reflected in the drawings.

I have a number of patterns from the 1960s, which I think of as a lively, youthful decade, and most of the patterns reflect that. They also reflect the cyclical nature of fashion - from structured, fitted garments to loose, unrestrictive clothes and back again. These patterns come from the time when the tiny waists and huge skirts of the late 40s through 50s were being replaced by A-lines and straight shift dresses.

Like these:

The waists are not fitted, just crimped with a belt

What do we call these? Is it a shift, or a sheath? Or a chemise?

Some fun details

I know from experience that these are not flattering to my pear shape, but the stick-like ladies on the pattern envelopes look just adorable in these dresses.

Here are some two-piece versions

It was probably quite a relief after girdles and long lines to slip into these waistless dresses. Just toss it on and go.

The same silhouette, but fitted at the waist.

Do you remember these dresses? Did your friends and family wear them?



  1. I love those 1960's dresses! I also enjoy wearing them, and have both modern interpretations and vintage originals in my wardrobe. The two tone version on Butterick 3923 is to die for!

    I'm sorry to hear about your animaupheavalel! Poor babies; there must have been a full moon. :-) I hope that everything gets back to normal soon!

    xo, Anita

  2. Great collection of dress patterns. Thanks for sharing.

    Nearly finished a shift/sheath dress. It's been a pain to fit to my body shape - feel a blog post coming on!

  3. Wonderful collection, Katrina! Although I was well alive in the 60's, it was my mother who wore these ladylike dresses. These drawings always make me want to dress up and go out for tea : >