On this page you will find useful information and help on using vintage French sewing patterns-in pre-cut form ie. cut out ready to use patterns on dress making tissue paper. Please go to the using pattern sheets page for help with sewing vintage french sheet patterns. I will be putting in photos and guides-but please get in touch if you are stuck!
I am assuming you have a basic knowledge of using patterns ie. cutting out, pining, cutting double, transferring tailors marks and seams. If not I suggest you refer to one of the many guides online-HIGHLY RECOMENDED is the fantastic guide from Angela Kane -click on the following link http://www.youtube.com/user/angelakanetv/featured?ad=11844089252&kw=sewing&feature=pyv&v=qZzCsI_zRnof
The brands include Patrons de Marie Claire, Patrons favoris et Parisiennes, Patron Elegance, Patron Modele, patron parisien, Patron universel, patron echo de la mode, Patron nouveaute. Not pictured are Patron Chiffon and Patron Minerve.
There are rarely instruction leaflets in the pattern envelopes. Instead the instructions and pattern layouts are to be found on the back of the envelope, with often brief instructions as to enlarging or decreasing the pattern for different sizes.
Most Vintage French sewing patterns for women are designed for Taille 44-approx UK 12/14 although other sizes were also published
Here you can see the backs of the envelopes with the simple instructions. Use the translation guide on this site http://fabulousfrenchvintagepattern.com/?page_id=24 to help you work out which pieces you will need. Very often though, the envelope only contains the pieces for the one garment illustrated on the front. The instructions will tell you how many “morceaux” (pieces) are included-its a good idea to check the correct number are there as well as visually match them up to the layout diagram in case some are missing.
Here is a typical pattern piece together with its instructions.
Laying out the pattern. “Milieu Dos/Devant couture” means middle back/front seam…..”Milieu Dos/Devant droit fil sans couture” means place on the fold of the fabric without making a seam.. Sometimes pattern layouts can be complex as they were designed to make maximum use of the fabric…in other words, instead of simply folding all your fabric and cutting out double as is usual these days, these patterns could be cut out as single pieces(ensuring the fabric is reversed for the 2nd piece), and the fabric folded only for specific pieces.
Droit fil means place on frain of fabric.
You will see that there are no sewing lines or guides. However there are notches to aid matching, and usually darts are given in the form of holes. Transfer these marks to your fabric using tailors tacks, including the notches -don’t cut the notch into the main piece otherwise you will end up with a hole!
Note that NO SEAMS OR HEM ALLOWANCES are given! So, when you have pinned the piece to your fabric, use tailors tacks or chalk to mark around the pattern and then cut out 2cm extra all round for seams and 5 cm at the hemline. Use the tailors tacks/chalk as the guide for your seams.
Follow the instructions in order of the numbers on the instructions, which usually refer to the numbers on the pieces. So for instance fig. 1 “Devant Jupe”.”front skirt”…refers to the first pattern piece which is sometimes numbered(and sometimes not)-and usually states “Faire les pinces” …”Make the darts”…….then onto Fig 2 which may say “Dos Jupe” Back skirt” and so on. If you are a novice “couturier” then you will need to translate the rest of the instructions-Google translate is useful, as well as my translation guide. Experienced dressmakers will probably not need the instructions if they have made up similar garments before,
Openings/zips-these often appear to be missing in the instructions so don’t forget to add a zip or buttoning so that you can get into your piece!
Good luck with your project-and be sure to ask if you need help!