Vintage sheets, friends and frocks, oh my!

I am very lucky to have lovely friends who are not only infinitely more gorgeous than me*, but also let me sew for them. As someone who is mainly housebound, I don’t have the opportunity to dress up for special occasions. To be able to sew for people who will get out and about in fancy clothes is incredibly cathartic, as it indulges my whim to sew special garments which I know will get good wear (unlike my formal clothes, which sit unloved in my wardrobe). It is also a helpful mental coping tool, as it forces my mind out of my situation, in which I feel trapped, and into the outside world.

A fit and flare dress on a mannequin, in a vintage floral print.

I began with Simplicity 1419. From the Lisette for Simplicity line, it is my basic workhorse pattern for a fitted bodice. All Lisette patterns are really well-drafted with sweet design features, and this dress is no different. I modified it slightly by lowering the neckline, which was originally designed to be quite close to the neck for a Peter Pan collar. Rather than bothering with the pleated skirt pattern (which is actually lovely!), I just gathered a two rectangles of fabric, adding inseam pockets. Pockets are not optional!**

This fabulous floral fabric is a vintage sheet I picked up from Salvo’s – sometimes it’s all ripped clothes and disappointment, but once in a while I really score. The neckline and armholes were finished with a bias facing. This dress is for Alyce, a journalism tutor – we engage in a skill trade, whereby I help her with craft, and she proofs my writing. Win win!

The Sewaholic Cambie dress on a mannequin, in a vintage floral print.

Alyce also received a Sewaholic Cambie dress, made again from a vintage sheet. The bodice is lined with a lightweight sheet – I usually steer clear of linings, as they are too much like hard work, and can be too warm for an Aussie climate. But the angled curves on the Cambie really call for a bodice lining.

A woman wearing the Sewaholic Cambie dress in a vintage floral print. She is holding a pot of flowers.

Like the Cambie I made for myself, I used a printed PDF pattern for the bodice, with a plain gathered skirt. The skirt for view B is actually gathered rectangles, but the panels are unequal, forcing the seams to the front. I don’t really see the point in printing god-knows how many pages for a pattern I can draw on the fabric myself. Alyce and I are about the same height, ie, Amazonian, so it was nice to be able to use my measurements to provide her with a dress that is actually long enough – a rare treat for the tall lady!

A fit and flare dress in a Wonder Woman print, on a mannquin

Next is another Simplicity 1419, this time for Bec. Bec is a pin up queen, so it is great fun to make her frothy dresses. This is in a Wonder Woman fabric from Spotlight that I nabbed in a buy one, get one free sale. Again, the skirt is a gathered rectangle with pockets. I used a neckline facing which seems a mistake in retrospect – it keeps flipping out. Note that the colour in the Instagram snap below is much more accurate.

I’ve made a couple of dresses for Bec in the past, one of which I’ll quickly share with you – the first is Simplicity 1609, a shift dress reprint. It is chock-full of darts, but they do have the desired effect of shaping the dress so it skims over your curves. That’s if you get through them all without falling asleep! Again, the fabric is a vintage sheet with bias facings.

A mock up of a fashion magazine featuring a woman wearing a shift dress in a vintage floral print
Casually struttin’ the catwalk at Madame Tussaud’s

S1609 is another workhorse pattern which seems to flatter everyone who wears it. I’d make it for myself if I wasn’t in a deep and committed relationship with Burda Shift Dress 09/2012 #107.

So that’s it! I do have a few more pieces to share, but they are more intricate and deserve their own post. Til next time!

* I know – sounds impossible. But it’s true!

** This is basically my life motto, followed closely by “nobody ever suspects the butterfly.”

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

11 thoughts on “Vintage sheets, friends and frocks, oh my!”

  1. All of those are beautiful. I really always love your fabric choices and I’m totally into flared skirts and fitted bodices. So nice of you, to provide your friends woth dresses. Especially the tall ones, I too know hkw hard it is to find fitting garments when you are tall. Good thing you sew!

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    1. That’s right! Especially in Australia, we don’t have many shops catering to different sizes like I know they do in America and the UK. There are some lovely retro style brands but their sizing is so tiny you basically flash your knickers if you’re taller than average, so it’s good to be able to sew to people’s sizes.

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    1. Thank you! I’ve sewn with sheets right from the start as they are so cheap it doesn’t matter if I stuff up. Fabric can be upwards of $20/m here so it is nice to be able to complete a project for under $10. They also make excellent fabric for muslins.

      My only caveat is that sheets tend to be slightly stiffer than the stuff you’d buy by the metre so it might not drape as well. This doesn’t really faze me but it might bother some.

      Liked by 1 person

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