Two collars are better than one. Obviously.

Simplicity 5962

From our friends at Lanetz Living (and sent in by Ursula — thank you!) this lovely dress.

It is (as you can see) adorable; it is also (as you can see) a B32. For some reason (and this seems silly to us today, where tweens and their moms wear the same candy-colored velour sweatsuits) the girlier fashions of yesteryear are confined to the smaller sizes. I may be an actual matron, and I may be, in fact, matronly, but damn, I reserve my right to wear Peter Pan collars until death separates me from them.

Another thing I love about this pattern is the notes on the envelope. I have a couple of dozen high-Mod 1960s suit patterns I bought at an estate sale a few years ago. It was right after my son was born and it was one of my very early solo outings, which filled me with both exhilaration ("I am OUT IN THE WORLD AGAIN!") and terror ("IS MY PRECIOUS CHILD OKAY?"). In a rush to get home and nurse, and in a spirit of pure greed, I offered the salerunners $25 for the entire box of patterns, without even going through them, and they said "SOLD." It was pure chance that there was anything in there at all that I liked, but it turned out to be a treasure trove. (It was full of Vogue Designers!) The woman had been a professional seamstress, and all her pattern envelopes were annotated. "Take 1/2 in. from side seams." "For Mrs. Kotalski." "Narrow shoulders — taper 1/4 to seam." All done in what I assume was golf pencil, from the crabbedness of the handwriting.

I write little sewing notes to myself, too, but I write directly on the tissue paper, because by the time I get the pieces out of the envelope and pinned, I will have forgotten what I wrote on the envelope. "ADD 1/2 in. WAIST/SHORTEN BODICE 1 in." are my most frequent annotations, sadly. "SHORTEN SKIRT 2 in." is another — most vintage skirts are longer than I like mine to hit. "Don't forget waist stay!" also shows up from time to time. I have one favorite pocket pattern piece that I add to those poor dresses that are congenitally pocketless, and since it lives on my bulletin board, I also mark skirt pieces "ADD USU POCKET" and that reminds me I need to retrieve the pocket and cut it out with the rest of the garment.

Occasionally I find a vintage pattern that has been altered exactly as I would alter it, right down to shortening the skirt, and I have a flash of fondness for the original owner. How much I would have liked her! I think, conflating, just a for a moment, physiogonomy and taste with personality.

0 thoughts on “Two collars are better than one. Obviously.

  1. i would love to talk about vintage dresses with you. i had forgotten that the sizes were so much smaller than the ones are there a size differential chart for patterns like this?


  2. Always happy to talk vintage! I’m not sure if there is a chart. I just always check the bust measurement. By now, I can usually tell from the era whether I’m a 16, 18, 15 1/2, whatever … of course, if something’s really spectacular, I buy it regardless of size, since someday I will start grading up all the too-small stunners I’ve accumulated.


  3. i did some checking around and it looks as if an 18 is today’s size 12 (which is my size), so that’s one issue resolved. now i have to get the machine out of storage and teach myself again how to sew (it’s been a while) …what do you think of j. peterman’s clothes? they do a lot of reproductions or vintage-influenced stuff.


  4. I saw a J. Peterman catalog a couple weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to troll through it for DAD material … I used to drool over it in high school (when most of it would have been too old for me) but I’m wondering if, now that I’m the right demographic, I’m still too SHORT. Everything always seemed to be for very tall women …


  5. i buy a lot of things from peterman (on sale!). i’m close to 5’9″, though. i still think you could find a nice outfit or two, however.


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