Unnamed and undated: a raglan long sleeve T

It’s from the 1960’s, that much you can tell from the hair. 

This was a mail order pattern, meaning the design would be advertised in newspapers, and one could order it and it would come to the house in a mailing envelope with the pattern company name printed on the outside, but no separate pattern envelope inside the mailing envelope, with artwork specific to the pattern the way a store bought pattern has. The specifics are all printed on the instructions page, and that’s all you get. 

Whoever ordered this one back in the 60’s threw away the mailing envelope, so I have no idea what company this thing originally came from, but I assumed it was an Anne Adams based on the artwork (which I love, that black/white with color background is super appealing), but then I found this interesting post on witness2fashion about how all these mail order companies are the same anyway, and if you read down through the comments on that post there’s a link to a KestrelMakes interview with a lady who worked at the parent company that housed Anne Adams and Marian Martin and basically all these mail order pattern companies. 


I made the top, but made it have long sleeves and did it in a knit. 

More specifically, a french terry. This is one of the fabrics I chose with my prize certificate from the 2016 Vintage Pledge. 

For the competition, I entered basically everything I made in 2016, because I mostly sew from vintage patterns anyway, and was very pleased to win in the category of bottoms with the simplest thing I made all year, that gold spandex skirt from a 1979 pattern. 

Here is the winners announcement post over on AStitchingOdyssey, for more information on the vintage pledge and the categories, and fun pictures of the competition. 

My prize was fifty dollars to Girl Charlee fabrics, which was really fun to spend, because I hate spending real money on fabric (almost all the fabric I use is thrift shop, aka super cheap and I like to think planet-saving), so spending not-money was perfect. I went to the Girl Charlee site and realized I could either be smart and buy useful things, stuff like solid heavyweight stretch fabrics in useable yardage amounts plus rib knitting for jackets, or I could have fun and get as many one yard pieces as possible for my fifty dollars. So of course I did that. 

The print on this fabric is great, but I was disappointed by the weight of the fabric when it first arrived, because in my head I had decided that all french terry is heavyweight, almost not even stretchy, cotton knit with a loopy back, when in reality, and very clearly stated on the website, some french terry is lightweight, soft, stretchy stuff with loopy back, that is totally appropriate for T shirts. So, disappointed, and then delighted. 

The instructions page for this shirt doesn’t include a recommended fabrics list, but it wants nonstretch. It’s supposed to have a zipper at the center back neck, and bust darts which I got rid of by easing into the side seam, and then took in enough through the side seams (the soft stretchy fabric grew a little) that I think the easing is mostly gone too. 

There are shoulder darts, which I like and kept but totally managed to not photograph. 

The black contrast fabric is some cotton Lycra I had in house. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. I would really like to make the whole outfit, top and skirt, in a nonstretch fabric sometime, with the zipper and darts and everything as patterned. The design has a great athletic look that is surprising in a vintage top and dress combo. 

Simplicity 9053: shoot for the moon, and vice versa

Here we have Simplicity 9053, MISSES’ SHIRT, PANTS, SKIRT, AND KNIT TOP, copyright 1999 Simplicity Pattern Co. Inc. 

Usually my projects start with the pattern, but this one started with the fabric, because it is this INCREDIBLE fabric:

I only captured this one photo, with the partial title stamped on the selvage, before cutting into it, but the full name of this print is “SHOOT FOR THE MOON & VICE VERSA” which wins for most baffling textile print title of all time. 

I mean, first off, what’s the vice versa refering to? Which part is meant to be reversed? Am I supposed to read this in my head as, “Shoot for the Moon, and Moon for the Shoot?” Or is it, “(You) shoot for the moon, and the moon will shoot for you?” Neither??? Makes any sense? 

Second, why moon? This print has no moons or celestial anything, while also having no arrows, rockets, or anything moon-shootable. Am I gonna throw fish at the moon?

And thirdly, what even is this print?! It’s like…dragon scales and toast with a layer of pineapple skin, placed on a lattice.

When I found it at the thrift shop I thought it looked in the style of an African wax print, but the longer it sat on my shelf the more it started looking sort of Bayeux Tapestry related, like chain mail and sugar loafs and half-timber buildings. And now I have no idea. But it’s not moons. 

Nice that the selvedge has a date though. 1969. Nice to know it’s old crazy, not new crazy. 

So, the skirt! I made the short version. 

I have a couple rules for my projects, one of which is that after a complex project I must always sew something quick and easy (another is must always make something for myself after making something for someone else, so as to keep it from feeling like work). This skirt was supposed to be the thought-free project following the 70’s jeans and the backpack (already breaking the rule of alternating simple with complex there) but I complexed it up for myself by making the inner waist facing be an outer, featured, contrast waist, which totally scrambled up my order of construction and made it so that I had to actually think about my order of construction, which I did not want to do, but I had to do. For the fabric. Couldn’t let this fabric down. 

This was one of those projects that I grew to hate while making, and had to let it cool before I liked it again. Mainly because it was supposed to be my easy project, but maybe also because it’s a familiar shape. I had at least three short and low waisted skirts like this in the early 2000’s, and I have actually used this pattern once, in fact those diagonal lines on the cover are mine, I drew those in testing out the stripe direction to make a long, pocketless skirt, which was the original use of this fabric. 

So between having been here and done this, and having to actually think about this one with my brain, and having to do an invisible zipper in fishscale, I was super over it before I was actually done with it and wasn’t super Quality Control by the end of it. 

See? Invisible zip doesn’t totally match, and the yoke is shy of the zipper. I know, it’s pretty ok as is, but the movie version of my life will be better. 

Another thing I changed: that self belt is meant to be real, as in really go around the waist and really be tied and untied every time I got dressed. I made it seam into the yoke so I never have to untie it. Now what to do with all that rage I’ve saved. 

Sew It or Throw It: 

I want to throw it, but I bet that if I just let it cool even longer, and promise to my future self to leave the facing alone and sew it to the inside like it’s supposed to do, I bet I would want to sew this again. Maybe even the long pants in View C. Except that they have the zipper in the back, which seems extremely wrong for casual pants, and I would have to put it in the front, and add a fly under lap, and extend the waist facing, and the idea of all that makes me feel over it all over again before I’ve even started, so, ugh, it’s a Sew but on probabtion. So there! 

Butterick 3487: 70’s jeans. Is it her, or is it the pattern?

The pattern: Butterick 3487, MISSES’ JACKET, SKIRT, PANTS & SHORTS, no copyright date but it’s from sometime in the 1970’s. 

I love this cover art because it is such an excellent example of how body shape itself, not just clothing, is subject to trend. 

Look at that butt. Imagine if this pattern was re-released today. A round butt is what would happen now.

On a side note, it’s so weird to me that the physical body is subject to trend. How is that even possible? How can something we can’t change, trend? 

I mean, if the aspirational fashion body had always been the same throughout history, it would seem like there was some truth to it, something evolutionary, but to see the Butt Of Fashion change within such a brief time from the 70’s pancake to the rounded now, both of which exclude tons of people who just plain have to wait out the trend or dress carefully or find some other way to be fashionably correct for their time, it just seems like madness. And yet participating in this mass crazy is kind of unavoidable, for example, if this were a modern pattern I never would have bought it. I would’ve been afraid it would give me a flat butt. 

In fact, I made the jeans, (out of some brown cotton twill from a thrift shop) because I had to know: Did the illustrator draw that flat butt because that was what women wanted in the 70’s, or is that the actual shape created by the pants?  

Well here’s the answer:

It’s not the pattern! It’s just the drawing! Phew! 

I am rethinking those clogs with these pants. I wore them to reference the pattern, but they are looking a little cowgirl to me now. 

Ok, so all that stuff aside, these turned out pretty ok. 

I changed a couple of little things: 

-Made the pockets bigger and set them a little lower than as patterned. They seemed really high and tiny and I was afraid. The pocket top-stitching isn’t part of the pattern, I just decided to do something and that’s what happened. 

-Cut the waistband as two pieces, with a seam at the top edge, because I like that better. Most home sewing patterns have you cut the waistband on the fold, which means at the top you have two layers, while at the bottom of the waistband you have five layers, which is an inequity that encourages the waistband to roll and buckle and, just, I don’t like it. So this one has a seam along the top of the waistband, making it four layers thick to better match the five at the bottom. 

I also topstitched pretty much everything that could be, including the side seams through the front pocket area, to keep the seam allowance going toward the back. The front pockets kind of work their way upward, I wish they the kind that anchor into the front zip instead of the free ended kind. Something to remember for next time. 

I added a coin pocket, you can see it in the photo below. It seemed like a fun thing to do, although I think it’s adding to the pocket-riding-up thing. Might actually come in handy though for parking meters, I just have to remember it’s there. 

One really interesting patterning thing that got me thinking: the instructions for these jeans have you close the inseam as one long seam. I’m used to the crotch seam being closed last of all, as one continuous seam, and the inseam-as-one method only happening for leggings and stretch things. 

I patched my sister’s jeans recently, and they noticed they were inseam-as-one, but figured that was a skinny jeans thing, like maybe it’s because they have a Lycra content and are maybe cut more similar to leggings. But this pattern is made for sturdy non-stretch stuff, so why would it want me to treat it like leggings? 

So then I went and checked my own pair of jeans, which are old boring bootcut things with no Lycra, definitely not skinny jeans, I mostly keep them around for yard work, and they too had the inseam as one long continuous seam. 

So then I thought why? Is this inseam-as-one a throwback to when jeans were work clothes? Are they assuming I’ll be riding a horse? That I’ll need more, like, straddle mobility rather than stride mobility? 

And then I figured it out: it’s easier for the factory. If the factory closes the center back and center front, but keeps the fronts and back separate from each other until the very end, that means they can do all the front stuff (zipper, pockets, etc) and all the back stuff (yoke, pockets), separately, maybe even on separate floors or separate buildings, and then close it along the inseam and topstitch that seam since it gets the most wear, then close the outseams last. 

So, it’s not about riding a horse or panning for gold after all. I’m disappointed. 

Anyway, Sew It or Throw It?

Sew! These are good!

Ms. Moneybags

I found a USMint bag at a yard sale about ten years ago. It was small, and not as sturdy as I would expect a bag full of cold hard cash to be. 
My plan from the start was to cut it up and back it with more canvas to make some kind of larger, more sturdy backpack, but I never got around to the harder work of figuring out what this backpack should actually look like, or all the engineering, hardware, interfacing, closures, straps, internal pockets, and all that bag stuff that is not a part of my usual dressmaking type sewing projects. 

What finally got the bag going was this post, from Charity Shop Chic, which inspired me in several ways, including 1) forcing me to think through the finish on the shoulder strap padding before getting there, and 2) being generally low stress about the bag making process in general. 

Thank you to Charity Shop Chic for being inspirational and low stress.  

This is how I ended up finishing the straps. The padding is quilt batting inside black canvas, folded to look nice and finished with the strap webbing. 

Below is a progress shot, the snaps are magnetic purse closures which I had for no good reason, glad to put those to use. The webbing, also, had it in house for no good reason, glad to be putting to use. The extra canvas is from old laundry bags, and the black canvas at the bottom and back is left over from a bunch of other stuff, used most recently for those cute overalls


This is the pattern, below, which I built out of heavy paper and tape, and then pinned ribbons onto for the straps, and then stuffed with more paper and walked around backwards looking into mirrors to get the shape and size right. On the left is a cutting list and at the lower right is a drawing I did to help map out the order of construction. I wouldn’t usually do either, but this was so far outside my usual sewing that I felt like it was too much to keep in my head. It helped too, I only sewed the straps in the wrong way once. 

I consulted with my husband on this bag, since he is the maker of my favorite bag ever, my leather messenger-style bag, which I wear every single day. 

His advice was that I make the back section as flat as possible, plus interface the back and give it seams to the side pieces instead of having the body cut in one continuous piece, so that when the bag is full it will sit flat on my back instead of rounding away, which will be more comfortable when carrying anything heavy, and will look nicer, less sack-like, more backpack-ish. 

Zipper inside the fold top so my stuff can’t fall out even if the bag goes upside down, and a zippered interior pocket. 

The words across the top are, “please do not cut bag when opening, return to” (US Mint). Please, friends, do not cut this bag when opening and never return it to the US Mint from here on out, thanks. 

The original bag had QUARTERS printed twice, so, small pocket on the side. I would not put quarters in there though. Too shallow, they’d fall out. 

The nice thing about a fold top bag, is, when you return from your trip with more stuff than when you left, the bag still works. Just stuff upward and don’t roll. It’ll still fit under the airplane seat in front of you, too. 

Here is the bag, with humans for scale. 

The most difficult part of this project was attaching the base to the body. The base is two layers of black canvas with heavy purse/craft interfacing fused inside, the body is reinforced with black canvas along the bottom, so it’s two layers as well. It actually hurt, holding and moving this through the sewing machine and then turning it right side out. There’s probably a better order to construct a bag, so one isn’t left with this last awful seam and hand pain. 

The other difficult part was that I had to undo the bottom half of the magnetic snaps and reset them higher up, so they would align, after I had the bag finished. It wasn’t exactly hard to do, but it was super annoying. If there is a next time I’ll wait and set the closures last. 

Sew It or Throw It: 

Well, I’d intended for this to be a no-pattern one-off, but now I have a pattern, so, guess I’ll keep it. But I’ll probably never make another. But the pattern takes up like no space and I’ve done all the figuring out work. So yeah, Sew It. 

Ha, I just noticed the bag kind of looks like a badger when it’s not folded. Hahaha. 

Simplicity 6568: overall cute

The pattern: Simplicity 6568, YOUNG JUNIOR/TEENS’ SHORT JUMPER AND OVERALLS, copyright 1974 Simplicity Pattern Co. 

Can you even believe the cuteness. 

I found this pattern about a month ago at a thrift shop. Usually I’ll pass on anything marked junior/teen, because who’s got the time to re-proportion that mess to an adult shape, but this overalls pattern had to be bought. Those pockets, and the way the bib swoops into a waistband around back, so seventies and good.

Once I got my treasure home, I remembered that there is a young junior/teen I’ve been wanting to make something for. And I had a set of overall buckles ready and waiting. I checked with her dad to make sure she likes to wear black, he said duh, so Bam!

Pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever made. 

The fabric: is black cotton canvas. Washed, so it’s more charcoal than black anymore. It’s awful stiff fabric. Terrible. Like cardboard. But I figure a cardboard-like quality is appropriate for overalls, especially in dress format. Makes the skirt stick out like a little bell, so cute. Anyway, I know it’ll soften up, this canvas is the same fabric I used for these stupid pants which I wear all the stupid time and have become stupid soft from wear. 

I used purple single-fold bias-tape to finish the curves along the sides of the bib and the hand-edges of the pockets. Also used it to finish the edges of the straps, you can see a little purple peeking out above the buckle.  

The hearts are ultrasuede with stitch witchery fused on the back, free cut, pressed on and zigzagged, same like this sweater. 

I completely guessed on size and style, so I included a note to her parents that if she hates it they can throw it in the fire. 

I made it about three inches shorter than patterned, for cuteness, but with a big hem turned up inside incase I was totally wrong on that. Other than that, this is as per patterned. 

I was surprised that the apple appliqué on the envelope art is not included. And surprised that the pattern has no pocket on the bib. I guess it’s aiming for more of a dressy look than a utilitarian look. Wait— a hammer loop! That’s what this little dress needs. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It for ever and ever. This was so much fun to make. I hope she doesn’t throw it in the fire. 

Meanwhile if I ever do need one for myself, if everyone’s cute Cleo dungaree dresses on instagram put the whammy on me, this pattern has no bust darts or shoulders so re-proportioning it would be easy. 

Overall love! 

Simplicity 1783: crazy on the inside

The pattern: Simplicity 1783, GIRLS’ SET OF SKIRTS, copyright 1956 Simplicity Pattern. Co. 

I think this pattern art is really interesting, in that it’s expressing two powerful messages. 

Message One: being a girl is a fun and super active time full of fresh air and outdoor play. The littlest girl, View 2, is putting on roller skates. Slightly older View 4 is playing with a spool on a string. View 1, oldest of the younger girls, has got her bike. 

I think these are really interesting choices, because all that’s being advertised here is a skirt, right? The artist could’ve gone for still, solitary  playtimes, like book reading, bird watching, painting. Hell, just standing still doing nothing. Being seen but not heard. But instead the artist chose activities for these girls that imply a shouty time running around, with friends. Way to empower girlhood, 1956.

But then Message Two: The oldest girl, View 3, does not have a toy and is not playing. She’s standing, elegantly, in white gloves. Her posture is closed. Her skirt is slim. She’s wearing stockings, not socks. She looks poised and happy, but she’s definitely crossed over into another realm. A less shouty running-around realm. 

I also think it’s interesting that her face is the only one we see. The little girls are kind of nebulous but the oldest girl is coming more fully into view. 

Just for fun, I looked up what $0.35, the original price of this pattern in 1956, would be now, and the online inflation calculator says it would be $3.09. That’s totally reasonable. I’d just about pay that. 

I made View 1, for those excellent big pockets. Think of all the frogs and leaves and pieces of string a girl could keep in those pockets! 

They’re less gigantic and bucket-like in real life, I think because the tiny waist on the illustration is throwing off the visual proportions a little. 

The fabric: The fabric was the entire reason for this project. It was a table runner, which was one of a dozen or so that I made for friends’ wedding. The bride encouraged me to take one home at the end of the night, so I did, probably wrapped around me scarf-like for warmth. Recently I cut up the table runner to make this quilt, and then decided there would pretty much be nothing awesomer in the world than making something for my friends’ kids out of the table runner from their wedding. 

It even has red wine stains. From their wedding! Which I mostly cut around, but there’s one faint one in there still. Which I think is great. Kids get to wear a skirt made from fabric that partied with their parents the day they were married. 

My pattern is a size 8, which I think corresponds to age, but I’m guessing age eight in 1956 was different than age eight, now, so I made it as is and sent it off with hopes that it’ll fit one or the other daughter now, or maybe both later, who knows. 

But here’s the Crazy On The Inside part: 

Because it was a narrow runner to begin with, and then most of it was used up for a quilt, and then there were the wine stains to cut around, this thing is totally pieced. 

Above is the inside of the front, below is the inside of the back. I love using every little bit like this. 

Sew It or Throw It: 

Sew It. Think of all the frogs and leaves and pieces of string! 

My Blackhearted Repair. 

Had this chenille sweater:

Thick, heavy, soft, oversized. Wore it all the time. Loved it. The neck was always a little too tight. I ignored that. Until I broke the seam at the too-tight-neck, from forcing it over my head. 

I patched the holes, two of them by the time I got around to it, with leather stars. 

Patching fixed the holes, but made the neckline even tighter. I kept on ignoring that, until getting into and out of the sweater became something I dreaded, plus I ripped a hole in the body. 

I abandoned the sweater into my bag of sweater scraps. A bag of sweater scraps is nice to have around for when you need ribbing. Or for nothing. So far most of my sweater scraps just sit there doing nothing. 

This sweater stayed in there for a few years. I got it out a couple times with ideas for fixes, like, “oh I know, a zipper up the front!” And then, “nope, chenille totally threadbare across the front, won’t support a zipper without some kinda engineering, forget that.” 

But this winter it has been cold so I fixed it for real:

For the too-tight-neck: I stitched a twill tape along a new neckline, removed the old turtleneck, overlocked the twill and sweater together for stability, then made a binding using the top 1 1/2 inches of the turtleneck. 

For the rip: patched it from the inside with fusible interfacing, made a heart from a scrap of suede with stitch-witchery fused on the back, pressed it on the face, zig-zagged around the edge, securing both the heart and the interfacing. 

For the threadbare spots: made more hearts, applied them as needed. 

So it wouldn’t look too weird: added a couple more hearts.  

Welcome back, sweater. 

Role reversal: quilting for Grandma

This is a quilt for my grandma. 

It’s not actually role reversal. My grandma was never the quilting type. She was more of the take you to the mall and buy you a sexy bathing suit type. 

She did knit though, when I was a kid. Sounds like she’s picked it up again recently. Most recent project: pussy hat. She’s pretty fantastic. 

So what’s the deal with this quilt, right? What’s with those weird black ties? 

Well, I was thinking about this post on Refashionista about fidget blankets, and thinking about this post over here on Kestrel Makes about quiet books, and this other post over here on ThriftMakeSew about quiet books, 

(All of these are activity toys, to keep hands busy and develop/retain fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. Fidget blankets are for the elderly, quiet books are for little kids, although really they could play side by side, there’s a lot of overlap.)

And I was thinking about how my grandma is getting right up there in age and might actually benefit from something to fidget with, much as it kills me to think of her sassy ways being diminished, 

But also thinking how she is super opinionated —I’m pretty sure her (loud) opinion will be the last thing to go— 

And I started thinking that if I make it too obvious that this is a fidget blanket she might totally reject it and be insulted. Or, more sadly, she might not be insulted because of Diminishing Sass Levels. This was kind of a hard, sad-making project, before I really got into the construction. 

But anyway, I thought about zippers to zip open and shut, and maybe having each zipper as a pocket, revealing a different fabric with a new texture inside, and then began to worry, in that way that parents can predict what bizarre (horrifying) new use a kid will come up with for a toy, that if given pockets she might squirrel things away in them. Like, candy, and other contraband. So I abandoned zippers and buttons and snaps and everything else and went with super simple black cotton Lycra strips, tacked on and then tied, that she can knot or stretch or just completely ignore. 

Above, the backside and tack, below, the front and tie. Black Lycra for high contrast and visibility. It’s basically a tacked quilt with a decorative tie, rather than a quilted quilt. It’s like throw blanket size, the batting is unbleached cotton in crib quilt size. 

I’m happy with this. Reminds me of this chenille blanket we used to have on the couch, with a fringed edge, and how I used to loooooooove untangling the fringe. Like just sitting there, mindlessly untangling the fringe. I don’t mean as a kid, either, this was within the last ten years. Maybe we could all benefit from a fidget blanket, no matter the age. 

The fabric in this is super charged with love, I like to think. The green gingham was an old baby blanket of my son’s, that funny lichen print of the backing was a gift from a friend, and the green fleur de lis print is a table runner from a friend’s wedding. 

Last thing I did before washing, was to chain stitch her full name in the corner. So all those other grandmas better keep their biscuit hooks off it! I posted a picture on instagram with the HEL and asked what word I should spell out, my favorite of the answers was HELLION. 

So that’s it, a little blanket for my Hellion. 

Simplicity 7393: bells with a yoke

The pattern: Simplicity 7393, MISSES UNLINED JACKET, VEST, PANTS AND SKIRT, copyright 1976 Simplicity Pattern Co. 

This cover art is such a delight. Look, look, the girls are fashion designers!!!! Behind Pink Girl is a bulletin board with sketches and fabric swatches! Green Girl has paper and a paint brush!

Anyway, I made the pants. 

The fabric:

Navy blue wool crepe. Nice. Neutral. Classic. Understated. Not bought by me. My husband bought this a while back for a project and then got distracted by something shiny and never got back to it and when I asked him if I could have it he was like, “Of course. Was that mine?” 

I’ve come to notice that all the fabric in the house that is nice, new, and in any sort of useful amount (for example, 3 yards) is stuff that he bought, with a purpose in mind. Such as this wool crepe. Everything else is the stuff I find and bring home for no reason: tiny crazy second hand scraps. It all becomes mine eventually though muhahhahaha…

Speaking of him getting distracted by other projects, this is the sort of thing that distracts him. (That link goes to an imgur gallery of an old black&white tv he rebuilt, and the channel he programmed for it, to play old cartoons and stuff for our little boy. It’s pretty sweet.) 

I machine washed and dried the fabric before cutting, so the fabric would go ahead and shrink, so the pants can be machine washed and dried later. The shrinking also makes the crepe gather in on itself and gives it a lofty, spongey, stretchy quality which is really nice to wear. These are the most comfortable pants, pretty much ever. 

I’m on the search for that One True Pants Pattern, you know, the one that fits perfectly with no fixes, straight out of the envelope. This one is close, but is not quite it. I had to reshape the center back crotch curve in the butt department, which I tell ya, is hard to do in a dark color on ones own body in reverse in the mirror. 

That was it with this pattern though, no fixes through the leg or waist. Oh, I lengthened the back darts too. But that’s it. Usually there’s all kinds of adding crotch depth and taking in the inseam and reshaping everything. Comparatively, this pattern comes pretty close to right. 


This pattern has one major weirdness! 

The instructions have you sew the front yokes onto the front pieces, press, topstitch, and then make a lapped zipper all the way up through the yoke seam, to the waist. The problem is that the yoke seam (two layers plus interfacing with topstitching already in place) is very thick, and there is only 5/8″ allowed for the lap, and this thick seam allowance takes up room and crowds the zipper, and it’s a total mess. 

I found this really frustrating and impossible. I think my fluffed up fabric was a problem, but even with chino, poplin, or denim (the top three suggested fabrics), zipping past the yoke would be a problem. I mean, if you only have 5/8ths inch, you’re barely left with 1/8ths inch, maybe 1/4 to stitch to the zipper tape. This doesn’t seem like enough to hide a zipper as is, without even adding the problem of the bulky yoke seam being folded into the zipper lap. 

Additional weirdness: as patterned there is no closure at the top of the zipper. I read the instructions like four times (which I never used to do, I used to think I knew better but now I’m like Why Reinvent The Wheel, if they wanna tell me how to do it I’ll listen) and never found any mention of a hook or button or anything At All to secure the waist. 

I thought about just closing the front altogether and doing an invisible side zip, but there would be the same problem with the thick yoke seam. So, I made a fly underlap (which there wasn’t one of in the original pattern, of course) and had the zipper stop at the yoke with two buttons through the yoke. It’s not an elegant solution, but it does keep the pants on. 

So yeah, other than having to totally solve the zipper, this is a great pattern! I love the wide leg shape. 

My little boy took the picture below, I especially like how it captures the pants flaring out from the knee with movement. So seventies. 

That’s him in the foreground, his shoulder, wearing the rice print shirt from his Halloween costume. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. But differently. It would be neat to convert these to a fall front, like have the yoke come around to the side fronts and then have the front be flat, no yoke, closed with buttons with an underlap. Maybe have the side front seam angle off into some pockets. Or get rid of the yoke in the front, have it just be in the back. Something, definitely, to avoid the yoke/zipper conflict. 

Post Script: My T-shirt is from the Theodore Payne Foundation, one of my favorite places. It’s a nursery in Sun Valley that specializes in California native plants, grasses, flowers, and trees. I think this place is great and want everyone to know about it. 

Folkwear 237: tango tango tango top

The pattern is Folkwear 237, published in 1986. 

This is not Eighties Does Twenties (although that does sound terribly entertaining), nor is a copy of an actual twenties dress. This is an original design, made in the 1980’s, but thoroughly researched to be evocative of the tango era. 

That’s pretty much what Folkwear is about. Evoking a time period. They’re worth checking out if you wanna get not just vintage, but historical. 

For example, above, research. Stuff about the tango! Wear it and know it!

I am the original owner of this pattern. It was pristine when I got it. I was pretty horrified when I opened it recently, to see the state I had left it in however many years ago. I had cut the paper at a size six. That is a couple sizes below my size. I’d also folded and taped out a bunch of the length through the bodice and had redrawn some lines. Like a maniac. I had used a stretch fabric (it was sheer black, with black polka dots), which I guess explains the sizing down, although not fully. I also remember that I looked awful in the dress, which confused me at the time, but now looking at the line-art I can see that this is not a style that would ever really work for me. 

One of the benefits of being older than you once were: the ability to look at line art and say “nope”. 

This dress would look great on a lady with broad shoulders and narrow hips, which, not coincidentally, was the fashionable body type of the time. 

Anyway, this time around I wasn’t sewing for me, I was sewing for a friend. Just for a nice surprise. After I finished this I stuffed it into a box and mailed it off to her. 

The pattern provides two back options, one with a deep V and a pair of streamers, the other plain. 

I thought the streamers were kind of dumb so I skipped those. 

And by dumb I mean unmotivated: they are sewn into the seam at the back neck. Just stuck right in there. They don’t appear to be the natural extension of anything, in the way that the bow in front is a natural extension of the collar. They look added on. I prefer my odd design elements to have a reason. I understand that the streamers are for dancing, and maybe in that contex they look organic, but I’m still not into them. 

I also made the back V much narrower and shallower than patterned. I wanted it to be a fun detail, not a struggle that involves bra decisions. 

The fabric is a bright lime colored silk for the tie, and a polka dot rayon for the body. Both the tie and the dress itself are patterned to be straight grain, so as a top this takes almost no yardage and is a great use of scraps like these. 

I really like these fabrics together. They are really bright and joyous, I’ve been pairing them up with potential projects for a while now and I’m glad they’ve landed together in this top, for my friend who is really bright and joyous. 

The ties are really long! 

For the size I guessed, while erring on the side of too big, while also making it very easy to take in. The armsceyes are finished with bias to the inside, with the side seams overlocked separately and sewn last of all. This way if she needs it taken in, it’s just a seam, no re-doing the bias. 

The shirt tail hem I drew. It’s not too far from the original lines of the bodice to skirt seam, just less angular. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Throw It! I made such a mess of this pattern, I never want to see it again. 

Good news though: making this top showed me how easy it is to make a tie-front on, like, anything. The last tie-front top I made was pretty involved, with a button front and facings and stuff. This one was simple. So simple I feel empowered to tie-front everything. Tie-fronts for all!!!!

And as far as throwing, there’s a perfectly good, untampered with knitting pattern in there, for the cardigan. So hopefully whoever picks this copy up next, knits.