Bust Darts in Vintage-60s Shifts

Right around the time of the Laurel pattern’s release, I started spending some time exploring Vintage Patterns Wiki. I love to explore the patterns year by year. It’s remarkable to really see what was trendy – and when.

I couldn’t help but look at the shift dress patterns. In the years I’ve browsed through, 1965 through 1967, there are plenty of shifts. In general, I’m really surprised by how much repetition there was in pattern offerings (my vintage pattern pinterest board has a wealth of jacket w/dress patterns).  New Look’s current wealth of shift dress patterns pales in comparison.

I was also really struck by the dart placement. While the bust darts on contemporary patterns often come in horizontally from the side seam, in the examples below, you’ll see that the bust darts are French darts, coming up diagonally from nearer the waist. According to Gertie, French darts are a little trickier to sew. I wonder if they are more flattering, as they would seem to take volume out from the waist.

What I really wonder is why and when we see this change from French to horizontal bust dart.

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McCall 8193 from 1965
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McCall 8204 from 1966. I adore the contrast bands and pockets on the blue view.
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Simplicity 6437 – notice the two sets of French darts
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Simplicity 6372 from 1965. Does the pink dress qualify as a shift – or as a two piece dress? Not sure, but it definitely has french darts.
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Simplicity 6438 from 1966; I’m guessing this and 6437 were from the same pattern release.
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Simplicity 6509 from 1966 – though this one has long double ended darts, coupled with a short horizontal bust dart

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3 thoughts on “Bust Darts in Vintage-60s Shifts

  1. That’s a good question! I’m working on a version of the newly re-released SImplicity Jiffy dress, which has horizontal bust darts and a long curving french dart. I’m curious to see how it ends up!

    1. Nice! I’m curious too! I’m thinking of picking up the pattern and giving it a go (Jiffy after all…) to see how it turns out. I have so many other patterns though, and i sew very slowly…

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