Thursday, 25 March 2010

VTT 10 - Very old pattern sheets and ivory rose

Just this week I was digging in my basement sewing room for some perlé thread for tying the string quilt I'm working on, and at the bottom of that box I found a treasure. Many many years ago my mother gave me a bunch of old pattern sheets and folders from 1895 to 1921. They are not all in very good condition:

The sewing instructions are very short compared to modern day sewing magazines. I noticed this, when I actually used one of these patterns. Why on earth? The schools have a big ball for the "new oldest class" when the graduating class leaves school to make their final exams. The students learn old ballroom dances and dress accordingly. My daughter Kaija was invited to this ball one year early as a dancing partner because the older yearclass had exeptionally a minority of girls. Kaija naturally asked me if I could make her that dress in only six weeks - usually the girls start planning what to wear months if not years before, rent the finest dresses or spend hundreds of euros to have a dress tailor made. Some girls make their own dresses, and some mothers sew dresses too. This is a picture of their dance. It is more like a performance for the other students, for the parents in the evening and for smaller pupils in other schools the next day.


 Sorry about to poor quality of the picture. I don't have a scanner so I had to take a picture of the picture.

I believe this was the pattern we mainly used, but ended up making many alterations.

Aren't these "the puffiest sleeves ever" in the picture below? (I'm watching Anne of Green Gables when I'm ironing.)

Here are some of our patterns, the sleeve in two parts:

We had to leave out the puffy part because the fabric was so heavy and this was difficult enough!

The skirts were usually very very wide, but I think our (we really did it together) pattern was in eight segments.

Do you want to see the result? Here she is, with a crocheted vintage evening pouch in her hand and wearing my ivory rose necklace. The skirt has a little tail and it looked great when she was spinning round dancing.


 I just happen to have a picture of the rose here:


The original ivory chain has broken so I have a golden chain instead. It belnged to Great Auntie Saima, like the lace handkerchiefs under it.

This was all for Vintage Thingies Thursday. Coloradolady Suzanne is hosting a long list of links to other vintage thingies. Thank you for coming!



  1. What a wonderful tradition. I remember my mom making my sister a dress with fitted, narrow sleeves with the big puff at the top for a dance. I love Anne of Green Gables.

  2. What an amazing wealth of information your basement holds. Those patterns must be unique in their survival! Wonderful! Oh my the leg of lamb sleeves! Kaiji looks so beautiful in that colour.

    The rose is exquisite.

  3. You have quite amny treasures in your basement!

    My mom made my dress too for my prom. :)

  4. What a fabulous job. Your daughter looks amazing. Did she have fun? What a wonderful find in your basement!!! Happy VTT

  5. I still love those huge puffy sleeves of years gone by.

    That ivory rose necklace is simply lovely!!!

  6. Both a beautiful dress and daughter!

  7. Beautiful dress that you made for your lovely daughter. Your old pattern sheets are fantastic!

  8. I enjoyed my trip with you down memory lane. Great VTT treasures.

  9. You did a wonderful job! Not many people still sew their own clothes, I made my wedding gown when I got married back in 1978.

  10. Beautiful daughter, dress and rose necklace. Old patterns are so interesting, no iron in interfacing, fabric stabilizer or sergers then. What fun!

  11. Your daughter looks beautiful! What a nice pattern.

  12. I enjoyed your story so much. The dress and your daughter are beautiful.
    I love hearing about customs and traditions of other people.

  13. Thank you for a lovely ride , I loved it! What a dress ;-)) Your daughter looks so sweet and I hope she had a great evening with her dress.
    Take care Ulla...

  14. How fun!!! First, the great patterns, and pictures and then we get to see the lovely dress and by the way, what a great job, it looks amazing. Have a great VTT!

  15. You did a great job on the dress- It looks wonderful on your daughter. And the necklace is a true treasure:)

  16. You always make such amazing posts Ulla! What a fabulous treasure to have those patterns. I like the super puffy sleeves! But the dress came out great. This is totally off-topic, but I love your daughter's name! It is one of my favorites, but I've only seen it spelled "Kaya." I like "Kaija" too!

  17. fantastic post ulla and I love those pattern books, they're a real treasure.

  18. You two make a great team, the dress is beautiful (and so is your daughter).


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