Vogue 8769: So that’s how it goes together!

I love reading pattern instructions. Especially complex or vintage patterns. (Or complex vintage patterns.) How did they do that? How do all of those flat pieces of fabric combine to form a finished garment? I’m always curious to read how they come together!

Like this dress: Vogue 8769. This is the one I traced off to save the original pattern pieces, and I’m glad I did. (Thanks for all the awesome comments and tips on how you trace and store your vintage patterns, too!)

Here’s the front cover illustration again:

Now, I thought the tab closure was obvious. The dress zips up the front, and the two tabs cross in front. One tab has a button, the other tab has a buttonhole, and that’s how it stays closed. Isn’t that what you would imagine, too?

Well, that’s not how it works!

See what’s happening in the diagram above? There are two bound buttonholes, one on each tab. And the button is sewn down to the front of the dress, secured on one side of the zipper. So the button goes through both tabs!

Why do you think they did it this way? Do you think it has something to do with the weight of the button, and wanting to keep both tabs even? So both tabs have buttonholes on them, and they look the same? Or perhaps so the tabs stay close to the chest and don’t sag downwards with the weight of the button?

I’m always fascinated with the construction methods in vintage patterns. I feel like they play by different rules. Somehow I think if this were a modern pattern, the construction methods would be more predictable. It would be a buttonhole on one tab, a button on the other, just like you assume. Just another reason why I love vintage patterns! It’s not just the styles and designs, it’s also how they’re made.

Seen any cool construction details in vintage patterns recently? Do you have an explanation for why they decided two buttonholes were better than one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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14 Responses to Vogue 8769: So that’s how it goes together!

  1. monkeysocks March 9, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    It might be a reflection on how the style would work on someone with a larger bust? If I made that in my size the straps would end up hanging away from the body as they connect to a fairly full part of the bust, whereas if they are attached all the way through they will be pulled back underneath as they are meant to be.

    I do love vintage instructions, the combination of bizarrely complicated details and instructions like “sew up skirt and attach to bodice” always keeps you on your toes!

  2. G March 9, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    I think with two buttonholes the tabs will not tend to stay away from the chest, creating an unflattering possibly pregnant-y side view. The dress will be more figure-flattering. It’s clever.

  3. Lindsay March 9, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I was thinking the same thing! With the double button holes, the tabs are being pulled closer to the body creating a more defined bodice. I’ve never seen anything like that before though, what a great idea!

  4. Thea March 9, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    I think they did it because otherwise the tab would have had the possibility to be “wobbly”. And it wouldn’t have layed flat against the bodice.

    I love to “read” pattern instructions, too!! When I get a new vintage pattern, I carry it around with me for several days or weeks, study it till I understand the construction and sometimes it inspires me to combine another pattern with it!!

    Greetings from Germany

  5. Caroline March 9, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    All I’m sayin’ is… when you sew on THAT button, you better find a toothpick this time! ;)

  6. christine March 9, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    Yes, like the other comments, I think it must be to keep the tabs close to the chest. Actually, the first time I saw this pattern, I was intrigued, but not in love because I assumed what you assumed- that the tabs had a button and button hole. But that made it unappealing to me, as I knew there was no way it’d stay flat and would probably gap away from the body. So this is a nice surprise! And a clever fix. Nice trick to note for our own pattern making in the future! Can’t wait to see the final results!

  7. Corinne March 9, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Vintage patterns reflected style for the home sewer. They did indeed mimic ready to wear. Our current patterns are mostly much easier to sew and the fitting issues are handled differently. Vintage patterns were sold by size. Current patterns offer size ranges. (much easier fitting) I learned to sew with what your darling ladies are calling “vintage!” Being a pear-like person I usually bought two patterns, one in an 8 or 10 for the top and another in a 10 or 12 for the bottom if it was a fitted item. Now I can purchase a pattern with 3 sizes in one envelope, wonderful! The adornment on this pattern is so nice, the method so typical of the time. One would not want the tabs sticking out or dangling about. Please also remember the undergarments of the time molded the bust to a perky-pointed profile. Those tabs would have not worked without being secured as directed. Hope I don’t bore with my perspective. I have been sewing for a very long time and absolutely appreciate all the new sewers of any age and their opinions.

  8. Virginia March 9, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    I imagining this dress without the zipper and the tabs, add pearl buttons and button loops ( sorry english is my second language) I can’t think of a proper name for that.

  9. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) March 9, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I think a noteworthy thing about this pattern is that the tabs look to be contiguous from the bodice side pieces, as opposed to tabs sewn into the princess seams. uses more fabric but gives a more luxe look. very interesting, I have been eyeing this vintage pattern or other similar ones and look forward to seeing it sewn up.

  10. Scooter March 9, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    I’m with Thea–I think the tabby thing was done to support the weight of both tabs equally, ensuring that they would lay flat and symmetrical.

    Or maybe they just like bound buttonholes that much!

  11. Rhia March 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I think there are several reasons why button is on the bodice instead of on the other tab. First, like most have already noted, it keeps the tabs close to the body instead of hanging loosely. Second, it also keeps tabs in right angle. I can imagine that when person wearing that dress moves, also the tabs move, if not attached to the bodice. And third, because of the possible movement of the tabs, button sewn on the bodice prevents too much pulling on the other ends of the tabs also preventing the fabric deteriation. Fabric might got too much strain if they were hanging loose and now when button is keeping them in place, the very base of the tabs don’t get pulled too much.

  12. Amelia March 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    For some reason I’m not surprised by this construction. Maybe it’s because I’m relatively new to sewing-from-a-pattern. I think you (and everyone else who’s said the same) are spot on with the idea that it’s to keep the tabs in place.

    However, I’m more curious about how the button stays centered if it’s only sewed down to one side of the zipper opening.

  13. Nadia Lewis March 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    This is why I love vintage sewing: they really take the time to make everything special, down to the tiniest details — even the ones no one but the sewist knows about.

  14. Tasia March 11, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Hi everyone! I also love vintage sewing for the same reason, the designs are well thought out not just through the sewing stage, but also the wearing stage. They’re so clever!

    @Amelia: I’m curious too, and if you think about it, the closer you ‘centre’ your button, the more flimsy it might be as it’s sewn to the very edge of the zipper opening. Let’s see what happens when it’s all made up, perhaps it might not be so noticeable if it’s off-centre!

    @Rhia: Ahhh.. good point about protecting the fabric tab! One tab would get all stretched out and end up longer than the other. Especially if the button was at all heavy.

    @Scooter: Ha! Yes, it’s to test the home-sewer. Can you make TWO perfect bound buttonholes? The joke’s on you if you thought you only had to make one! :)

    @Beth (SunnyGal Studio): Yes! The tabs come from the side bodice piece. Instead of being separate tabs, sewn into the seamline. Way cooler. In fact, the tabs create a little pleat at the top of the bodice, where it would be hard to get a perfect corner, they’ve covered it over with a pleat. So very clever!

    @Corinne: No, you don’t bore with your perspective at all! It’s better than me speculating why things are done. I love hearing your comments, especially to see how sewing has changed over time! I have mixed feelings about multi-size versus single size patterns. I love how there are more lines and markings on the single-size patterns, which are hard to do on multi-size patterns. But being a multi-size girl, I love that you can follow different cutting lines on the multi-size patterns for a larger bottom half. I hope you keep commenting and offering your feedback, I really enjoy it! :)

    @Caroline: Ha! Good point though, there are two thick tabs that have to sit under the button. It would look squished if you sewed the button flat to the garment! Thanks for the reminder :)

    Thanks for all the comments!