28 June 2010

Awesomeness! The Simplicity Sewing Book

I love my vintage patterns, I do.  Among the gems on my vintage book shelf are The Singer Sewing Book and this one, the Simplicity Sewing Book.  It's a great reference for all things vintage pattern related including (very usefully) sizing, fitting and period clothing features such as collars and sleeves, as well as reference for hair and make-up and just for its vintageness - a reflection on history.

Even the front cover is thrilling, the beautiful housewife in her stripy apron bestowing her sewing know-how on to the next generation (who looks far too old to be her daughter!).

Then an encouraging foreword on making us "look our prettiest"

Look at the stapling in the side.  Now the real coup for vintage pattern junkies, a measuring and fitting guide from the same era.  For more excellent advice on choosing vintage pattern sizes go to Gertie's blog here.

Now, I hope you find that useful!  Here's some more tips for you...

I notice two things, firstly the ridiculously tiny waists and secondly that last dress is the same as the too-old-to-be-her-daughter girl is wearing on the front cover.  Now for more tips, don't forget your colour, presenting the grandmas of Colour Me Beautiful...


Aren't they a freaky looking bunch?! Here's another useful page for you.  I thought novelty fabric was something that snowmen or easter bunnies printed on it.  Apparently in 1953, this was novelty fabric:

I'm creating a page on my blog especially for this book and will be adding some more sections (collars, sleeves, etc) that you might find of interest.  Isn't it lovely :-)  I'll leave you with this:


  1. Wow! this is great! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Glad you like too :-) I have the Singer book as well but that really is about techniques for the sewing machine, this one is so much more useful.

  3. I can't wait to see more from this book. That is fantastic!

  4. Thank you :-) I will continue to add more as I get opportunity. If there is anything specific anyone would like to read please ask and if it's there I'll post it up. I'll have to add in a few more of the adverts and miscellany too of course :-)

  5. Molly! Thanks for the info about sew retro...I will be cutting out the walk away pattern sometimes today...and scanning the vintage bra pattern. This post inspired me... I love love love your scans.

    Thanks for the blog encouragement. =0)

  6. I keep trying to make clothes and failing...my mum says I should follow a simplicity pattern... Does that book translate the sewing jargon?

  7. Hello Lady D!

    This book takes the jargon used in patterns and shows you the technique with drawings and photos, so good in that way, also for vintage patterns which use techniques or terminology no longer common. There is a modern version of this book but I hear the Vogue one is really good.

    My favourite sewing book is Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, which is my bible - I always refer to it when starting new projects. My copy is a 70s or 80s edition (and can usually be found in charity shops cheaply) but the new edition gets very good reviews.

    I've just been reading Dummy's Guide to Sewing which I think is a good book to read once you've had a go at sewing as it teaches you what not to do but you can't just dip in like the RD book nor does it have clear diagrams and oddly doesn't appear to have a section on seam types (basic need to know).

    The problem with trying to sew from a pattern is that even the easiest patterns often assume sewing knowledge. Luckily the internet is a great source of techniques, google it and someone in the sewing Blogosphere will have written a tutorial for it. Good blogs to follow are Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing, Casie's Elegant Musings, Collette Pattern's blog and Sewaholic aka Tasia. Between them I think they have everything covered!

    Good luck with your clothes making, don't be afraid to make mistakes, try new ideas and stock up on cheap bedsheets for practice fabric! Let us know how you get on!