Vintage pattern design contest

Sometimes I cruise the online homesewing world; they tend to be an optimistic cheery lot who manage to share projects and compete in contests. I enjoy their camaraderie. So I thought we could do something fun, albeit from a different perspective. Homesewers have contests sewing up the same pattern so I thought we could each design the same pattern from a sketch. Then we’d walk through sewing it up and photograph it for giggles. Game?

This is the scenario. your boss (the designer) has just handed you a sketch of style #24001. To keep things as real-world (and easy) as possible, “their” design is -obviously- photocopied from a book. This is the illustration you’re given.


Now -because I like you and because I have the book- I’ll include the drafting instruction for this which comes from pg 290 of Hillhouse & Manfield’s _Dress Design_. Of course you’d start with your own block or a style close enough to one. You’d start by tracing it off and making the amendments to your duplicate as shown here:


We’ll use the same fabrics -a basic pre-washed rayon- and we’ll use the same color (white). The reason is that other than sizing, if the design has been well-rendered -according to the designer’s ‘vision’- each completed prototype should look more or less the same.

About the sleeve of the blouse, since the designer wasn’t clear about what the sleeve looks like, and nobody is around to ask -but you’re supposed to finish this thing by 5pm- you get to design your own. Similarly, you really can’t tell if this design is a dress or a blouse so rather than twiddle your thumbs, -unlike in real life- you get to do what you like there too, have fun! But other than sleeves or with or without a skirt (attached or not), all tops should look the same. If it matters to you what I would do, I’d worry about getting the blouse portion done just so and then decide by visual inspection (or online jury poll) if the thing needs a skirt. But you do as you like. I’ll be showing my sample in various stages which may be helpful because you all may not know the best way to construct it, the neckline being the biggest finishing issue, no? If not, what strikes you as most difficult to sew about this style?

If anyone should enter the vintage pattern design contest other than yours truly (doubtful), I’ll put up photos of each. Oh wait…we need some kind of a pathetic, useless, and trivial prize to award the winner (the one person who enters other than me)….any suggestions? I know, we’ll call it the Golden Nippers Prize (TM). Nippers are something no factory sewing person can do without. It’d be like going to school without pens, pencils and paper. Btw, if you need nippers or any other needle-trade tools, paper or supplies, I heartily recommend SouthStar Supply.

Regarding industrial criteria; if we took this contest to another level -you could use this as a training exercise if you really wanted to get into the business- we’d do this again but intended for silk. Obviously one would start with the rayon-based pattern and cut a silk one to see what was going on, wash it etc and check this silk sample against the original rayon one. Then, if you needed to, you’d have to make alterations to the rayon pattern which would mean keeping the rayon style intact and tracing off another and making alterations to the duplicate. Then, you’ll need to issue the silk blouse a different style number (24002) because it is it’s own pattern. It doesn’t matter if the rayon and silk blouses look the same, it needs a different style number. The folks in the back of the house are going to grab the pattern of the style number you specify so be careful. They won’t know to look for a style 24001-rayon and 24001-silk. They’ll just cut the first version of 24001 that they find, out of whatever fabric they’re supposed to be cutting (and it isn’t their fault) so prevent a nightmare in the making. And if you ignore this advice thinking I’m too picky or anal retentive -while admittedly true- get out now! Save yourself while you still can. Trust me.

Related entries:
Vintage pattern design contest
Vintage pattern design update
Re-inventing Vionnet & 24001 draft
Vintage pattern post #4
Vintage pattern post #5

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  1. kathleen says:

    This is a compilation and crude importation of all the comments posted at the original site for this document. Feel free to add your comments.

    3/22/2005 11:59:50 PM Josh said:
    I guess Jess and I are gonna have a crack at this blouse. It looks like a maze of madness tehe. I’m preparing to embarrass myself royally. What you call nippers I call snips. Is it a regional thing? 50 percent of my day is spent with snips in my hand. I have always said, I need to just have a pair transplanted into one hand so I’m never without. Edward Snipperhands.

    3/23/2005 09:35:18 AM Eric said:
    Not Leminy Snippet?

    3/23/2005 08:21:23 PM Kathleen said:
    I hang my nippers on a cord around my neck. I don’t recall hearing them called snips but it only makes sense that people could and would. Interesting, now I’ll have to check the catalog and see what they’re actually called, lol. I wonder what SouthStar calls them.

    3/24/2005 03:06:15 AM Evie said:
    I would also like to tag along in this exercise – I wouldn’t call this a competition, mostly because it would be rather hard to establish a winner. (Besides, any participants will win the experience of having done this.)

    I do have a problem, though: my resources are limited and I doubt I will be able to get my hands on some white rayon (damn those floral prints!). I would have to choose between using: 1) plain white cotton, which won’t drape well 2) some white fabric of questionable fibre content, which will appear to have the right behaviour or 3) white cotton jersey, which would work well with the design but would call for different sewing/finishing techniques and would probably be too forgiving fitting-wise. Any suggestions/guidance?

    Anyway, at least as far as paper goes I will be able to stick to the guidelines – or should I say, the rules!

  2. damn it, this advice is way too late, but:
    a good source for a variety of white fabrics (including rayon challis) is Dharma Trading ( They intend you to dye the stuff, but it works just as well white, and the prices are pretty reasonable considering there’s no minimums. They ship fast, too. Get the swatch books, they’re fun to have on hand.

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