The Weekender Wardrobe 1950s to Today

Before we start sewing, a little on wardrobe or "weekender" patterns:  these patterns include not just variations on one outfit (so, a dress with slim or full skirt and a jacket with long or elbow-length sleeves), but a bunch of different, coordinating pieces  meant to be mixed and matched into various outfits, say, over a weekend vacation.

The earliest "true" wardrobe pattern I could find on etsy was from 1956*. Based on my limited research, I suspect that coordinating wardrobes, and therefore wardrobe patterns, became increasingly popular in the 1950s as women began to wear more and more sportswear like shorts and pants, rather than dresses. Charlotte of Tuppence Ha'penny has some great scans of ready to wear weekend wardrobes from 1950-53, available from Sears. This pattern, like many of the 50s wardrobe patterns, has a casual vacation look:

Simplicity 1590, 1956
Sarai over at Colette Patterns posted a Summer Packing Made Easy tutorial of sorts back in august, and I think the fifties patterns have this sort of feel--you could make each piece from the pattern, throw it in your suitcase, and jet off somewhere warm. Sarai suggests you mix and match neutrals, but the lady above seems to have chosen red!

There are a TON of them from the 60s (making me very happy). This one advertises that it is "Four-part Mix 'n Match Wardrobe... the Scrambled Look." The patterns, while still casual, become more everyday wear, with pattern illustrations showing ladies' looks ranging from Laura Petrie-at-home to officewear.

Butterick 3585

Butterick 2704
All the color-coordination is adorable, don't you think? It almost makes you want to wear only red plaid or yellow and pink floral coordinates forever, right? No?

In the seventies, we see a lot of similar skirt/dress/top/pants/jacket combos, with the added bonus being that wardrobe patterns were also expanded to men, which yielded AMAZING results:

thank goodness for simplicity 7943 
One perk of these mix and match wardrobe patterns (besides having that trendy "Scrambled Look," duh) is that you get a TON of pattern pieces for basically the same price as one pattern. Most of the ones I found on etsy are $8-$15, and you get 5-ish basic items (shorts/pants, jacket, skirt, top, dress). Of course, the items are simple--a basic shift, a boxy jacket--and without a lot of fancy design elements. But I think most of us are able to take these basics and run wild.

Plus, I find it quite vexing as it sometimes seems you expected to pay a great deal for a pattern with "variations" like version a: trim and pockets, version b: trim only, version c: pockets only, a la Simplicity 1776.

Unfortunately, I believe that after the lofty heights of The Go Everywhere 70s Man the quality of these patterns, like general big-4 quality, has been compromised in the more recent decades, leaving with pretty dull offerings in the 1990s and today.

McCall's 6535, 1993
Still with the pink florals, minus all the detail. Also I do not believe you could make all these items in 4 hours even though they are mostly shapeless.

Simplicity has their wardrobe patterns under "Sportswear" on their website. Side note: Vintage Fashion Guild (about which I know nothing) points out that historically, "Simplicity patterns were known for their ease of sewing. These vintage patterns are glimpses into the clothes [...] worn by everyday American women. As such, they are vital statements of vintage fashion as worn by most Americans." Both of my wardrobe patterns are Simplicity, as are many of the similar 60s era patterns on etsy, which seems to make sense--they are mostly simple to sew and very practical! This modern one, from their Sew Stylish collection, is pretty cute:
Simplicity 1699
This one not so much:
Simplicity 1809

miss allie

* I did find this Woman's Day pattern from the 1940s. I can't determine whether it is the seller or the pattern itself that is calling it a "One Pattern Wardrobe." I would consider this pattern "dress variations" rather than a wardrobe, but perhaps variations on a few dresses would be what a woman's wardrobe mainly consisted of in the 1940s. I am much less knowledgeable in 40s-era fashions than many of our retro-sewing friends, so perhaps they can shed some light here?

Woman's Day 3099 on etsy

Weekender Wardrobe (Join me!)

As I have recently taken to staring into my closet before work and wishing my options were more vintage-inspired, I have recently purchased some patterns. My first challenge is to make myself a perfect pair of Laura Petrie Pants (more on this shortly). The pants I have selected is part of a "weekender" pattern, with a top ("overblouse"), shift dress, a-line skirt, pants, and jacket:

Simplicity 7087, 1967
I actually also purchased this one as well, so now I have two full weekends of clothing options (I guess): 

Simplicity 5299
With my two new patterns and increased pants making ability, I have decided to challenge myself to make ALL the wardrobe items from my weekender patterns! I think the patterns above will help me fill holes in my wardrobe, just as originally intended. How color-coordinated I will be remains to be seen, but as someone who aspires to a vaguely-retro 1960s-ish daily look but most often defaults to jeans, I do think these mix and match separates are quite practical!

So here are my questions for you: 
Do you have holes in your wardrobe?
Do you have irrational sewing fears, like pants?
Do you need to start prepping for Me Made May 2014 (ahhh!!)?
Do you LOVE color coordination?
Would you like to join me in completing a weekender?

If you answered YES to the above questions and have in your possession (or your etsy favorites) a weekender pattern, I would love for you to join me in becoming a Weekender Warrior of sorts and sewing a whole weekender!

We all know there are a ton of sewing challenges every year. For this reason, I intend for this one to be very casual. This is not a sewalong--pick whatever weekender you like and sew at your own pace.

  • Pick your weekender or wardrobe pattern, vintage or modern
  • add the forthcoming button to your page
  • complete the pieces of your wardrobe pattern at your leisure
  • add the aforementioned forthcoming button to your posts when blogging weekender items
  • go on a weekend vacation looking fantastic in your new wardrobe, perhaps?

Although there is no deadline, I'd like to finish mine before Me-Made May 2014 for practicality's sake. I will be sharing my Weekender makes tagged "Weekender Wardrobe" and compiling them as a new page. I might also be posting on related topics-- I have a history of weekenders coming up. Anyone else who finishes their weekender will receive a small prize. Prize to be determined!

Let me know in the comments if you would like to participate--I'd love to see your makes!

miss allie

Navy Kimono Sleeved Dress (Simplicity 1795)

Today's dress is Simplicity 1795, a kimono-sleeved party dress from 1956 (and available on etsy if you want one too). I made this a while ago and wore it to a sorority formal:

sewing blogger tip: blogging is easy when you just use
 weird facebook photos from 2008 to display your creations
Hello, 2008 me! Hello, barely visible dress!

It was one of the first dresses I made all by myself, and I wasn't really thinking about rewearability...this was back when the terms cake and frosting only applied to baked goods. It is navy poly satin and loooong (for me) and altogether too fancy for me to wear very often.  It has languished in my closet ever since. UNTIL NOW.

looking at these pictures i really like this dress

"What shall I wear to my graduate program holiday party?" I thought. I briefly considered wearing something totally different than what I wore last year (a navy blue dress) and decided against it. Navy blue it is!

spins! i wish i had a crinoline/were brave enough to wear it in public.

Good news: this dress still fits and hasn't fallen apart despite the total lack of finishing. Plus, it requires no ironing since it is made out of plastic. Inside peek!

zig zag hem finish aww yeah

I find the inside of this dress endearing. This is what a garment looks like when you just follow the instructions and don't try to "improve" it. Pinked seams! Zig zags! How retro! Is 2008 retro?

For my rewearing, I didn't alter it at all.  I paired it with a sash in the fabric that we originally bought for it rather than the silk j. crew sash I wore the first time (the lighter blue that you can sort of see). Aaaaand actually I lied when I said I made it by myself up there I guess, because I know my mom made the sash, at least. I have no memory of finishing that much poly chiffon. Also, a note on this pattern: the cummerbund seemed impossibly tiny. That's why I ended up with this gathered sash rather than a real cummerbund. 

Has anyone else made Simplicity 1795? It is a very easy make with the kimono sleeves, and its a very classic shape. Did you run into the same cummerbund issue, or did I misread my pattern pieces?

what has miss allie been up to?

Hello! I am back from my extended thesis-writing hiatus. I read a lot of books and typed a lot of words and didn't do a whole lot of sewing.

Some things I did sew:

I turned a sheet into something that really still resembles a sheet:

if you are thinking"wow, what nice sleeves" know that there is no elastic there
i literally just put hair elastics around my wrists
if you are thinking, "wow, nice face" i am trying to look spooky okay
this is me looking embarrassed to be wearing a sheet in public
not at a toga party and like a month before halloween

This was for a banned books costume party. I will purchase a burda online pattern* for anyone who can recognize the character I am dressed as! Bonus internet points for the book and author!

*seriously I will. I will spend up to $10 and email you the crazy print-and-tape pattern of your choice. I think this is possible. This contest is not open to my mom, sorry mom.
Update! Ashley at Craft Sanctuary guessed correctly that I am the girl from The Green Ribbon, by Alvin Schwartz, whose book "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" was the MOST banned book 1990-1999!

and I made two complete costumes easy dirdl skirts for Halloween week at work: one out of Nancy Drew print quilting cotton for a sort of meta, 1940s-ish Nancy Drew, 

And one in grey flannel (technically I made this ages ago, from the bottom half of this dress/saga), which I paired with some stuff I already had in my closet for a rawther good Eloise costume. 

i also got a legitimate compliment on my outfit
from someone who didn't know i was in a costume

I also pulled out my Angelina Ballerina tutu/tail and ears from last year's Halloween party . I would wear this every day.

So there you have it! I have been sewing, but only costumes. Any guesses who I am dressed as wrapped up in my sheet?

I have another post planned(!!), so keep your eyes on your feed readers!

miss allie

Liberty Laurel

so I made another laurel, what are you going to do about it?
Lacy Laurel, Lilly Laurel, Liberty Laurel... I love my laurel pattern, it fits so nicely out of the packet and it is so easy.
Introducing my dress form.

I don't know if this is actually liberty print, but it looks like it, and it's a very nice fabric.

One great thing about making simple patterns like the laurel is that they are SO easy to finish nicely that I might even get around to doing it. In this case, I was cheating by just zig-zagging all my raw edges and calling it "vintage" finishing. I decided that I should put some effort into it and unpicked everything and did french seamed sides and waist, and even used some stashed double fold bias tape around my self-drafted all in one facing.

look at that coordinating piping!!

You may have noticed that these pictures are of a significantly higher quality than usually grace the virtual pages of my blog. Alex got my a cool camera for my birthday! I'm a terrible photographer, but I took the above photos (except for the one of me), which I think are passable. 

One cool trick it has is to recognize when people are smiling and take a picture automatically. This seems like an interesting feature, but how useful it will be for my Very Serious Fashion Blogger Photoshoots is doubtful :) Testing it yesterday I discovered that Sony's idea of a smile includes such gems as this:


And a cute face so you that this post has at least one attractive picture of me on it.

It takes nice black and white, yes? This one has weird pink spots because you can set it to pick out a single color but my pants aren't quite red enough, I guess.


p.s. I've been listening to the podcasts over at, which I suggest you do as well if you consider the 60s your decade. They specialize in rare 60s songs from around the world, and there's some gems!

Simple Elastic Waist Skirt

Chevron Skirt

aka what I will be living in this summer.

Prepare for this blog to get reeeeal redundant--I'm so in love with the Laurel that I think you'll be seeing a few more variation of that pattern soon! I've also perfected my "pattern" for making these super-easy, super-comfy, super-adorbs cotton skirts. Check it out:

Chevron Skirt

Um, liiike sooooo cute. I picked up this chevron (its Moda's Half Moon Modern) at the quilt shop, the nearest fabric store to my house (no judging). One great thing about these skirts is that if your pattern runs perpendicular to your selvedge, you can make a skirt in just about a half a yard if your hips are less than the width of the fabric-- just buy as many inches of fabric as you want your skirt to be long, plus your elastic casing and hem. I bought all that they had left (2 yards), so I got a discount! I made another identical skirt and still have about a yard left.

My main source of pride with these is that they look equally beautiful on the inside:

Chevron Skirt
ooh ahh!
No raw edges to be seen.

I'm making a WHOLE BUNCH of these in different prints and colors--in addition to the ones I plan on wearing like crazy this summer, I'm also selling them as part of my fundraising for the American Cancer Society. I promise I won't spam you all too badly--if you're interested in what I'm up to, you can click on the "Generals Against Cancer" tab at the top of the page. If not, don't worry. We'll will be back to regularly scheduled "all retro shifts, all the time" posting starting... now!


Retro Bow Blouse

I made a thing!
It is the same, but different, as another thing I made! I used the Simplicity 2154 blouse pattern in a size 8 after making a teeny tiny one in a 6 (omg it was so tiny) and an extra-big one in a 10. This one was juuuust riiight.

You can tell its been a while since I took these pictures because of the grey, grey background that is now green green green!And if I fiddle with the settings, it almost looks like it was daytime when I roped my boyfriend into taking these photos!

I made it as written, with no alterations to the pattern or instructions. I LOVE the bow (duh) and I think it looks really cute with high waisted skirts.

Fabric: white swiss dot (actually from switzerland, apparently, its from the fancy fabric store because all the other "swiss dot" i found was like 60% poly with little velvet glued on dots wtf)
Pattern: Simplicity 2154
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: size zipper
Time to complete: not long.
First worn: for pictures! and I have worn this once during MMM13--there will be an update on that soon!
Wear again? Yes, with all my skirts omg
Total price: $3.99 for the zip, leftover fabric from a sorbetto (currently MIA?) and a liiiittle extra fabric from my mom! 


Colette Laurel & Mad Men Challenge #2

I am so excited to be a part of this year's Mad Men Challenge! I really want to make every dress on the show, but I decided to turn, once again, to my favorite outfit photo featuring Cynthia, Megan, and Trudy:

Last time you saw my take on Cynthia's notched hemline shift, this time, I was inspired to use some fabric from my stash (a gift from my mother) and Colette's new Laurel pattern to recreate(-ish) Megan's psychedelic swirly print dress. (I'll have to make Trudy's some time so I can have the complete set.) This was a great stash buster, pattern tester, and Mad Men challenge fulfiller all at once!   Megan often wears these slightly insane prints, which were coming into style.The one in my photo above is more paisley. Here's another sceenshot of it:

This one is more "tribal"-looking:

"oui maman, et madame francis est au lit car elle est si gros" excuse my poor high school french its been awhile

Here's one that is very Laurel-y:

with a bias bound neckline, half sleeves, and everything!

 And here is my version:

featuring vaguely retro hairdo and eye makeup
Look how cute! You know how I'm searching for my ideal shift pattern? Well, after sewing both the dress and the top from this pattern, I may have found it. I love the Laurel.

its pretty short! perfect for zou bisou-ing? :)


The only thing I will change next time is to face or bias face the neckline--I think the exterior bias binding is a little distracting. Also, it will have to be longer to be workplace appropriate :)

The sleeve ruffle variation sort of gets lost in the busy print, but its there! I'd like to make this sleeve variation again, but in a contrast fabric, maybe?If I do, I'll make the ruffle bigger and the sleeve cap ease smaller--it is definitely a puffed sleeve and I'm not sure if that is intended in the pattern or not :(

Next up: another Mad Men dress! No surprise there. I ordered some fabric to make Betty's famous "meeting with Mr Francis" dress, and while it didn't arrive in time for the challenge, I'm really excited to cut into it!

Many thanks to Julia for organizing!


p.s. Sorry this is a somewhat boring post, it's finals week...

Me Made May is coming.


I've just realized that Me Made May 2013 is practically here! I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to pushing myself to wear as much Me Made clothing as possible. Right now, though, that is looking extremely challenging--I have enough Me Made clothing to wear for a week, easily, but not for a month, unless I want to emulate the Brown Dress Project (which I can't find the original site for?). I'd like to do some preparatory sewing

I'm not aiming for me-made superstardom like our host, Zoe (who even makes her own "pants" which is amazing) but I would like to wear 1 me-made item every day, and that will be enough of a challenge. This blog post mayyyyy (get it?) be boring for those of you who aren't rabid planners like me, but anyone who is embarking on their first Me Made May with me might find this planning post of use? Maybe?

I currently have some spring-appropriate items that are wearable and complete:
3 skirts: floral, harlequin, grey Cynthia Rowley
3 shifts: green, pink, Megan Draper Laurel
3 full-skirted dresses: forthcoming green sprouts, pink linen floral, gothic toile
4 tops: forthcoming swiss dot bow, swiss dot sorbetto, eyelet laurel shell, black and white
and maybe some other things I've forgotten.

Things that need some help, but are mostly complete:
Blue seersucker peplum: re-work zipper/gaping
Sorbetto: Ironing Dread
Floral linen shift: I don't even know what to do about the zipper.

6 dresses will get me pretty far--a dress is, basically, a whole outfit. I could focus on separates, because that is what I currently wear on typical days (full disclosure: jeans and a tee), but I'm also going to use this month of me mades to boost my style a little bit. I want to wear dresses, and conveniently, I also want to make them. Good idea, yeah? So...

Things I want to make  before/during Me Made May:
2 Laurels(?!) from stash fabric: one in eyelet, one in Lilly print?
2 full skirted dresses (likely 2444) one in a pretty blue floral (stash), one in...??
2 Laurel shells.
Perhaps a Betty Draper dress for the Mad Men Challenge, to go with my Mad Men Laurel (wait and see! edit: here it is!).
When is the Great Gatsby coming out? I'm maybe making a dress for that?
and maybe, if I get my stuff together, a pair of trousers from Gertie's separates pattern, to go with all those Laurel shells.

That is a LOT of sewing, so I doubt it will all be done in the next two months. If I did finish everything on the list, I'd have almost the 31 items I'd need if I wanted to wear a different me made item every day of the month!

In conclusion:
11 dresses is a lot of dresses. I like that.
Stash-busting will be happening.
UFOs beware! Me Made May is coming.


A Lacy Laurel

While I think the reaction in the sewing blog world has been less than enthusiastic about Colette's new pattern, the Laurel shift, I was thrilled. In hindsight, I probably should have been less excited about this pattern, given my many issues with the Sorbetto, but I jumped on the Laurel as another try at perfecting my essential shift pattern while supporting an indie designer. And, somewhat surprisingly... it fits!

I'm saving my dress reveal for Julia Bobbin's second Mad Men Challenge (I'm In! and making Several Items! by the way), but today I have a lacy version of V. 4, the top. Version 4 is a blouse (basically just the dress lopped off at top length) with elbow-ish length sleeves and no zip, which is great. It has two pattern pieces along with darts front and back, so it was really easy to whip this up in a little over an hour. My dress is made in a slightly stretchy fabric (cotton sateen-y?) so I was concerned this top would be a little snug, but it fit perfectly. This is a size zero, by the way.

Taken at Videri Chocolate Factory!


I made mine a breezy summer shell in a 100% cotton eyelet picked up for 30% off at Joann's. It is unlined--in the photos I'm wearing a tan tank top underneath. I left the sleeves off, since I'll almost always be wearing this with a cardigan, as I do with all of my clothing, and sleeves seemed like more trouble that they're worth, especially since I couldn't get them to ease nicely in my dress--and then couldn't determine whether or not they are actually intended to have a slight puff!

interior finish--ignore those threads and look and my nice french seams!

Laurel lace top
rolled neck hem!
I french seamed the sides. Instead of finishing the neckline with double fold bias tape, I did a quick rolled hem. I treated the sleeves the same way. It was easier than I thought it would be and cut down on time. It looks nice inside and out!

dramatic angle brought to you by a tall boyfriend
I lengthened it by 2 inches, since my first sorbetto looked like a crop top, and I had to add about a million inches to my second. It seems like it would have been a reasonable length left alone, though, and I'm 5'7". I cut on average an inch off in my trimming of the bottom lace. I'm not convinced I like my lace "edging," and I have a little wiggle room, so I still may go back and hem it straight. What do you think?

One issue I had with the pattern is that for the top version, they omit the zipper, but neglected to eliminate the back seam. I did this myself in approximately 1 minute, but it seems like an oversight. Another is that it would be really simple to give instructions on leaving it sleeveless. I understand a lot of people don't need instructions for that, but it would have been nice to include for beginners, especially since this is a super easy pattern labeled right for them!

Overall, this is an expensive pattern for what it is, but I'm finding it well worth the purchase price: it seems to fit me very well right out of the packet, and I think I will make it many times over!

Fabric: slightly less than 1 yard cotton eyelet
Pattern: Laurel from Colette
Year: 2013
Notions: none
Time to complete: 1.5 hours
First worn:
Wear again?
Make again?
Cost: fabric for $13 and pattern for $18 but I've already made it twice, so... $23?

I have three more yards of this eyelet left--you'll be seeing it again :)


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