petticoats: yay or nay?

"vintage" photos c/o iPhone camera

I by no means consider myself a true vintage blogger. There are so many ladies out there who are dedicated to their look--pin curls every day, bullet bras, the whole thing. I sew from vintage patterns, yes, but my interpretation are never that strict. I play around with decades and styles and mix and match and generally play around. That's why I've chosen "modern midcentury" as my little motto rather than the other way around (I felt pretty clever for coming up with it).

That said, I did just indulge my more vintage side and buy a petticoat! I don't consider this to be a particularly practical or everyday purchase, but its so fun to flounce around in and I felt super glamorous wearing it (and only a little bit silly). I wore it out to dinner this weekend--my amazing coworkers got Alex and I a giftcard to this great ramen shop for a wedding present, so we stopped in for dinner. Luckily it was raining out and there was no wait, because the ramen chef at the counter said usually it would have been at least an hour! Afterwards we went to the Atomic Fern, a new bar that I was hoping would be sort of retro, based on the name? It was not, but they had lots of good euro games to play while you drank (and a Doctor Who poster) so I was happy!


I also tried out a new hair style to go with my more-vintage-than-usual look. It's sort of, but not really, a victory roll.

Anyway, what do you think about petticoats? Do they make an outfit too costumey? Is costumey a bad thing? Would you wear one?


ps: i did a bunch of "research" (reading blogs) before deciding to go with the petticoat i chose. i don't have anything to compare it to really, but i'm pleased with my purchase--it's poofy but not toooo poofy, and it's not scratchy at all.

allie J.


bias silk vintage half slip

simplicity 4218 | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

It seems like everyone in the sewing world is loving lingerie right now. It's a movement! I find it interesting to watch these trends--remember a couple years ago when everyone was making "cake"? And I think "capsule" or super-organized wardrobe planning sewing started last year and is still sort of popular, but no where near as popular as bra-making. Almost every day there's bras all over my bloglovin' feed!

simplicity 4218 | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I'm not quite ready to start making bras (stretch fabrics scare me) but a slip? I can manage that.

simplicity 4218 | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

This is Simplicity 4218, a lingerie collection from the late 50s or early 60s. The pattern's Vintage Patterns Wiki site has an interesting note, saying "Instructions indicate a Copyright date of 1958, although the pattern number would indicate a 1960s issue or re-issue." Hmm.

You may recognize the fabric I used from my last post--it's left over silk/cotton from my wedding dress!

simplicity 4218 | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I'm currently working on the full slip as well, and both have sort of weird finishing. I've been going along with it in some places (this exposed elastic waistband) and ignoring it in others (topstitching just doesn't look good on a silk full slip!). I think for a slip, this is a fine method, but not the most lovely I've ever seen. I wouldn't dare try and unpick all those triple zig zag stitches, but if I made this again, I would just make a little casing with some more bias I think.

simplicity 4218 | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

The interiors are french seamed (not called for in the instructions, but nice). Even with french seams, this was a very quick project. The hardest part, I thought, was cutting out the bias silk/cotton (I think it's 65% silk/45% cotton). I used lots of pins and my roller cutter, and it only took me a few hours start to finish, and I think I will get a lot of wear out of it--I'm always reaching for slips to wear under my full skirts and this is my first handmade one!

Do you wear slips? I find it very difficult to find practical slips that aren't shapewear! Half slips are a little more common, but especially for full slips, everything is either Victoria's Secret-style (i.e. not actually to wear under clothes) or shapewear, and if you find anything that isn't one of those, it's polyester and very ugly and utilitarian. I suppose that's why we sew!


ps:  I mentioned I'm working on the full slip--you'll see it soon on the Sewcialists blog, I'm guest blogging during their lingerie month. If you don't follow them, you should--it's a great way to discover new bloggers!

allie J.


my handmade vintage wedding dress


I watched a lot of Say Yes to the Dress with my roommates in college--a lot--and so many of those Say Yes girls cried and laughed and argued and, in the end, came home with a white strapless dress.

I didn't want a white strapless dress. (If you are into white and strapless, that's cool. Some of my best friends are wore white strapless dresses. They looked beautiful.)


I didn't want polyester. No thank you. Silk and cotton, please.

I wanted pink, and not wedding-dress-blush-pink, that taupe-y mauve-y pink seen in abundance here, but pink! Pale pink, but pink pink!

And I wanted sleeves! I wanted lace sleeves that didn't have seams all over them, seen in abundance here (especially at the armscye, like, wtf armscye seams).

Negotiable: as many bows as possible.


I got what I wanted (and all the bows, too) #spoiled #blessed #imworthit


In case it looks like this post is just a great way to show off my impeccable wedding style (it totally is) here are some sewing details!

me thinking about how I didn't put a hook and eye and should have put the bows in different positions, maybe?
I knew I wanted to make my dress, and I poked around on etsy, mostly for inspiration--I was fully intending on hacking together a few patterns to create my dream dress--but Simplicity 5343 was basically everything I had been looking for, so I said "yes!" to my dress (pattern)! I didn't even really look at any other dresses or patterns. It was just so perfect.

I made about 5 bodice muslins and then called in the professional help, booking a block of time with Brooks Ann Camper. I'm super lucky to live about 30 minutes from her studio, and she helped me to make some construction decisions and perfect the fit on the bodice of my dress.


Honestly, the changes we made to the pattern were minimal:
- lowered bust darts about 1/2 " (crazy 60s darts!)
- took in the sides about 1/4"
- added boning to bodice side seams
- extended & curved back darts

Bonus: now I have a perfectly-fitting basic bodice to use for every sundress ever.

I picked up a thin cotton in a matching pale pink from Mulberry Silks and Fine Fabrics (my local nice fabric store) and underlined the silk/cotton fashion fabric by hand. Then I used the clean-finish bodice lining technique to get a nice finish on the interior and exterior of the bodice. I hand stitched in boning on the side seams. Bodice: done.

A photo posted by @alliemass on

For the skirt, I underlined with silk organza to give it a lot of body. I didn't line it, since I wasn't sure how hot it would be, and I wanted to stay comfortable. Those pleats are crazy, by the way. You can't tell on the finished dress, but they were very complicated.


I used horsehair braid on the hem to give the skirt some volume. I loved the shape it turned out!

For the jacket construction, see this post, but pretend everything is white, not black. The only changes between the two were that I shortened the white one about 1 1/2" and that I used other bits of the same lace as the edging up the back and around the white neckline--I couldn't find a white lace trim to match! I like the effect though. I actually think the black one is slightly better--the lace is a little different and it was easier to work with, in my opinion. I hated making the white version just as much as the first one, for what it's worth.


My mom made my veil--it's just two GIANT rectangles of tulle gathered onto a comb. I changed out of my veil for the reception, instead putting a giant bow on top of my head. My mom also made the belt. We used belting, something neither of us had done before.


My family! See my beautiful mom's beautiful dress? In addition to helping me with my dress, she also made her own! It's Simplicity 2444 in white and navy silk. So talented, isn't she?

possibly my favorite photo.
Any other seamstresses make their own wedding dresses? I've looked at a lot of handmade wedding dresses, but I'm sure I've missed some! Would you make yours??

dress: Simplicity 5343, 1963 | shoes: salvatore ferragamo | lace: G Street Fabrics, unavailable online, similar here | fabric: silk/cotton from B & J Fabric, color discontinued, similar here

all photography this post by Meg Runion Studios


ps: i'm not the only one to use simplicity 5343 to make my wedding dress! The Blue Seamstress used the short version for her wedding dress (with a pink sash), and there are several others that have used bits and pieces of it!

allie J.


another crop top...?


I bet you weren't planning on seeing Simplicity 3480 again so quickly! You may remember (or, maybe, you are a new reader and/or a goldfish, in that case, welcome) that last week I used this pattern with a gorgeous nani IRO print and made a little playset out of this crop top and high waisted shorts. Today I'm dialing it back a bit with the sleeveless version in solid red. Crop tops!

...did I fool you??!?!?


It's not a crop top at all!

I stumbled across McCall's 4933 on the vintage pattern wiki or on etsy, I can't remember. While the only one I found was sold, I thought it was such an interesting design!


It may not look that special, but it's the only one of it's kind I've been able to find: it's not an overblouse, but (according to the pattern envelope) a "Tuck-in blouse with look of short overblouse."

Since this pattern was sold and I couldn't find another similar one, I used my own crop top pattern, and straightened out the sides so that it is just a little box. I based my modifications on the little pattern diagram on the back of the pattern, which you can see here (the sold pattern on etsy). The pattern pieces are fairly straight and lengthened significantly to allow a large tuck that mimics a hem.


I was worried it would make it much too boxy, but it turned out alright. I think that the original pattern (McCall's 4933 I mean) has a liiiittle bit of shaping, but not much. It's a pull over style, after all.


Here you can see the tuck a bit better. You can also see that I just pinked the bottom. Actually, I still didn't add enough length on the bottom and didn't want to lose any! Also,  I don't really wear all that much red (more of a pink girl), so this is really more of a test garment. Next time, I will make it longer--even unhemmed, this one can ride up out of my waistband. Since it is so simple, it still takes less than a yard, but it does seem like quite a bit of fabric since so much of it is hidden away! I suppose you could use a lining fabric, if you were really tight on fabric.

The short, cropped overblouse with a high waisted skirt or cigarette pants is such a classic 50s/60s silhouette, and I love that someone half a century ago thought, "I want to look like that but also be able to bend over." Right with you, girl. I am so there with you.

Have you ever seen a "tuck-in overblouse" pattern like this? I hadn't! And actually, you would never even know based on the front illustrations, which I find surprising. Even in these simplest designs, there's so many interesting little details.


ps: this would be a great way to wear a "crop top" to work if you work in a casual office! that is my plan :)

allie J.


#vintagepledge mid-point

The acquisition of a puppy has slowed my sewing output, so today I'm checking in with progress on my Vintage Pledge!

Last year, I participated in Marie's Vintage Pledge, deciding to sew up five different vintage patterns. I even had them all picked out! I planned on making two pajama patterns (one for me and one for my man), a blouse, my Weekender Wardrobe pattern (one pattern consisting of a top, jacket, dress, skirt, pants, and shorts), and, of course, my wedding dress.

my weekend wardrobe--love those ladies!
Why I thought I could do all that, I have no idea.

I failed miserably, with a final tally of one unfinished pajama top (for me), an ill-fitting blouse, part of my Weekender Wardrobe (I managed the shorts, skirt, and pants before abandoning the project entirely, oops), and some parts of a muslin of a future wedding dress. So, let's say about 1 out of 5 if we lump all the partially-completed projects together?

This year, I pledged something I had to knew I  could finish: my wedding dress. (I finished it, fyi.)

But, what do you know, without the guilt of an unfinished Very Important Project lurking around, it's much easier to sew for fun! I've been sewing up a (relative) storm!

In fact, I would have completed my last year's pledge easily at the rate I'm going now, having sewn up the six vintage patterns you see here already (with successful results, even), and with 6 more months still to go!

Here's the tally so far:
McCall's 7704, from 1965: January Sunshine skirt
Simplicity 6220, from 1965: a wedding guest dress
Simplicity 4888, from ca. 1963: a couple of blouses
Simplicity 3480, from ca. 1960s: my nani IRO set top
Simplicity 5299, from ca. 1960s: my nani IRO set shorts
of course, my wedding dress (still forthcoming)!

And on my cutting table? Simplicity 4513, another overblouse/crop top pattern from ca. early 1960s, Simplicity 4218, a slip/lingerie pattern from 1962... 

and hopefully Simplicity 5040, a shirtwaist dress pattern from 1963.

If you can't tell, I really do love the 60s Simplicity patterns. Simplicity is my jam. No Vogue for this girl, apparently--I know what I like and I like simple and basic.

How is your Vintage Pledge going, if you are participating (you should!)? Do you tend to stick with one brand/era of patterns, or do you hop all over the place?


ps: all pictures via the Vintage Pattern Wikia--this website is so great, fyi 

allie J.


nani IRO vintage set

nani IRO

It's nani IRO month at Miss Matatabi! And it's vintage month at allie J! (...it's always vintage month here.) And fresh from Me Made May, I was thinking about my lack of summery "going out" clothes. And thus, a nani IRO vintage playset-type outfit was born.

This fabric is my first nani IRO acquisition, and as many of us US/Euro sewers do, I acquired it via Miss Matatabi. I have nothing but kind words for both the fabric and the shop. Thank you to Naomi Ito for designing such beautiful prints, and thank you to Frances(?) Matatabi(??) for the lovely quick shipping.

nani IRO

The top is Simplicity 3480. It fits really well--this is straight out of the packet, as far as fit. I did change the closure, though. It's drafted for buttons, but I changed it to a separating lapped zipper (handpicked on the lapped side). Protip: put the zipper pull side of the zipper on the lapped side, unlike me. I put the lap on the wrong side for the zipper, basically. The zipper is shorter than the length of the back so it's finished with a hook and eye and a nice bow that snaps on. Details!

On the inside, the top has all hand-sewn facings, which you can't see at all since it's double gauze! I decided to line the shorts and use my machine hemstitch for durability on both counts.

nani IRO

The shorts are the same as you saw here, but an inch longer. Much better! These also really fit well out of the packet. I also made a little slim skirt out of the bit I had left over, but you see too many boring skirts here already, besides...

what's that in my hand? Is that a dog leash??!!?!

nani IRO

This post also brought to you by a new addition to my family: Wooster the dog. Named after P.G. Wodehouse's lovable but "mentally negligible" Bertram Wilberforce Wooster (of Jeeves and Wooster), Alex says he is sure to make me internet famous. I expect my following to explode and my comments section to be absolutely slammed by this evening. He's already exceeded his namesake in cleverness although he isn't quite so well spoken and we can't get him to say "oh, rather!" or even "I say, old chap!" Then again, he's just a puppy, so he may just need more training :)


ps: want to get your significant other to take blog photos of you without complaint? get a small goldendoodle puppy to guest star.

allie J.


work in progress: nani IRO top, shorts, and skirt


I'm currently working to remedy the sad lack of "going out" clothing I noticed during Me Made May this year by sewing some cool crop tops! I got this great (actually, great doesn't even cover it) nani IRO double gauze and I'm making view 1 of Simplicity 3480 with the sleeves. I'll also be making a matching slim-ish skirt and the shorts from Simplicity 5299 (made previously here). I added a lazy inch onto the bottom of the shorts because damn those things are short! I obviously haven't started sewing those at all, but my top is practically complete--just need to finish the sleeves. 

I posted about it over there, but if you don't follow me on facebook, June is nani IRO month over at Miss Matatabi (her etsy store is where I got this gorgeous fabric). There's a huge giveaway and guest bloggers all month. I'm not guest blogging unfortunately but I'll be sewing my own little outfit and there is lots of inspiration over on the Miss Matatabi blog if you're feeling blah, so head over!  


ps: i said before that I would be doing work in progress posts on wednesdays (trading with what I wore posts) but this is the first one--welcome!

allie J.