Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Genuinely Old

Just a little while ago I left a smart comment on Prttynpnk and was rewarded for my efforts with THIS.... One piece dress. Slim skirt joins the bloused bodice at the waist-line. Left side front buttoned closing above released pleat. Oval neckline, below elbow or short kimono sleeves. Self tied or novelty belt.
A genuine Vogue vintage dress pattern! I have never made a genuinely vintage pattern before, only reprints so I was super excited to see inside the envelope.

 The instructions are amazing - look how Vogue wrote the construction details in 1959

Each pattern piece is explicitly diagrammed so you can see exactly what goes where

And when I opened out the tissue - look what I found - 

The previous owner has shortened the bodice and the pins remain in place. I wonder how many times she made it?
We can also tell a little about her too - she made version B as the pattern is cut out only to the short sleeve; so perhaps a summer/spring dress?
Anne, from Prttynpnk, was so considerate in choosing this pattern for me - she knows what I like! It's Vogue, straight skirt, kimono sleeves and size 14.  DH hates the styles of the 1950s and '60s so it'll be a wonderful opportunity to annoy him too. Everything is just right!

On checking the measurements however, a size 14 in 1959 is not a size 14 in 2012. In 1959 I would have had a 34" bust, 26" waist and 36" hip - this is me when I was about 17! So I shall have to hone my skills in grading patterns (up) to make this one fit. I'll need about 4" all round!

It's not a quick and easy make either I'm thinking - asymmetrical, so each front piece is cut only once and you have to watch which way the fabric is up; 6 bound button holes, plus a bound pocket piece and as I'll more than likely make an autumn/winter weight dress - full lining as well.

Fabric suggestions include wool crepe, tweed and even linen and another fabric called Barathea. I'd never heard of Barathea so went researching:

Barathea, is a soft fabric, with a hopsack twill weave giving a surface that is lightly pebbled or ribbed.The yarns used cover various combinations of wool, silk and cotton.Worsted barathea (made with a smooth wool yarn) is often used for evening coats,such as dress coats and dinner jackets, in black and midnight blue. Silk barathea, either all silk, or using cotton weft and silken warp, is widely used in the necktie industry. [FROM WIKIPEDIA]

I also found this on BurdaStyle:

Polyester is for push-overs. When you want respect, you wear barathea.
Regularly appearing at such well-heeled places as West Point, English Court, Westminster Abbey and black tie events everywhere for the last 200 years or so, barathea began its illustrious career as a powerhouse fabric in the men’s formalwear world. Commonly found in black or blue-black, barathea’s soft, smooth, springy hand makes for one classy evening coat.
Though its typically associated with menswear, barathea is a perfectly acceptable choice for women’s coats and wintertime dresses. The 1950’s afforded two silhouette choices for women: you could opt to look like a big poufy flower from the waist down (a la Dior’s New Look) or you could choose to wiggle around in a pencil skirt, sometimes revealing more hourglass than you intended. Barathea was too heavy for most New Look dresses, but it was just right for pencil-skirted sheath (a.k.a “wiggle”) dresses. Because of its association with powerful, important men, barathea was paired with long sleeves and a double-breasted cut to confer a much-needed air of respectability to those clingy, revealing wiggle dresses.

It seems that nowadays, barathea is used mainly for armed forces dress uniforms and the occasional men's evening suit
Unfortunately, I'll have to buy some fabric to make this dress - shame, I hear you all cry! But imagine if I could get my hands on some genuine barathea - then I really would have a genuine vintage wiggle dress. Any suggestions anyone? I bet it's really expensive.

Thanks Anne. Heartfelt gratitude - I'm really looking forward to tackling this one. Ruth X



  1. How interesting! The instructions look really good. Perhaps better than today's?
    I'd never heard of Barathea before either. I wonder where you could find it.

    1. I'll let you know whether they are better than today's - but v.interesting to see the different production methods.

  2. Wow, those instructions are amazing! I look forward to seeing your completed dress. :)

  3. Well the pattern is a snapshot of the styles they were wearing in the year I was born - god I feel old. I love the pattern and can definitely see you in this. As for Barathea - never heard of it before.

    1. I did think that the title of this post would put people off - it wasn't meant to - I was born not long after!

  4. Ruth I just found this stockist and they have an ebay site.

    My Fabric Place - an online fabric warehouse

    Company Overview
    The Fabric Place, established in 1969, is one of the leading fabric stores in England.
    We cater for shops, designers, dancing schools, theatrical and reenactment groups, garment manufacturers, curtain makers and caravan and boat renovators.
    Visit our shop in Nottingham, and view 500,000m of fabrics under one roof.
    We stock: Acrylic, Barathea, Blind Fabric, Boucle, Brocade, Burn-Out, Calico, Canvas, Chambray, Cheesecloth, Chenille, Heringbone, Chiffon, Chintz, Christmas Fabrics, Corduroy, Cotton, Crafts, Crepe, Crepe de Chine, Curtain, Damask, Denim, Doubleknit, Dupion, Dress Fabrics, Dress Net, Drill, Duchess Satin, Felt, Flannel, Fleece, Flock, Gabardine, Georgette, Gingham, Imitation Fur, Habutai, Hessian, dogtooth, Jacquard, Jersey, Lace, Lame, Lawn, Leather, Linen, Lycra, Melton, Muslin, Organza, Ottoman, Plisse, Polyester, Quilting, Sateen, Satin, Satin-back Crepe, Seersucker, Sequin, Shantung, Sheer, and much more
    Visit our eBay store:

  5. Yay! It arrived! I'm so glad. I've noticed several of my husbands grandmothers patterns have been used and 'edited' but so carefully and thoughtfully that I can't bear to take her pins out until I have to- it just seems like a little timecapsule. picture her when her husband was stationed overseas wearing it to a luncheon or something in Singapore or Germany. Glad you like- it said 'Ruth' louder than the others did.

  6. Wow! provenance on an a pattern. Thank you I love it. I'll try to do a good job.

  7. Wow, thanks for posting this. I had never heard of barathea either, but now I may have to check that stockist (on this side of the Atlantic too, yay!) because in the photos it looks gorgeously textured (my weakness...). Will you make version A with the lovely collar? Whichever one you make it will look great because that is indeed your shape. Can't wait to see it!

    1. I'm searching for suitable fabrics at this minute Lucia.

  8. AlaskapsychJuly 19, 2012

    What a treasure!

  9. Im no expert, but I believe you just made an excellent point. You certainly fully understand what youre speaking about, and I can truly get behind that.
    Wedding Dresses