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


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