Simplicity 5247: pants, dot dot dot

The pattern is Simplicity 5247 from 1972. Unlined “shirt-jacket” and pants. 

Please zoom in on the photo and observe the finest example of pattern-art humor I have ever seen in my entire life: 

The girl all in white? Who looks like she’s going on safari? Check out her belt buckle. SP. Simplicity Patterns! Hahhahahaha! Isn’t that amazing?! 

I made the pants, which are double darted at both front and back, a natural-height waist and a straight waistband, with a shaped bell-bottom leg, out of this fabric:

Really big dots, really uneven. 

I couldn’t find a repeat in the dot pattern. Usually I squint at the fabric and the repeat will jump out, but this one, just, not jumping out. Each dot is irregular in shape, and irregularly spaced. I tried folding, flipping, all kinds of realignments, no repeat. 

This fabric is actually a set of curtains, and it finally occurred to me that they must’ve been printed from one big screen-print. Like, there is no repeat, the pattern of dots was created, in a large format, and that’s the entire print. Each dot its own, no yardage, no repeat. I guess the fabric was printed with a break between each curtain-sized dot-array, where the factory would cut and hem? More convenient for a large order this way? Kind of funny to think about. I’m so used to endless, continuously printed yardage, designed in scale for a human, not a window. 

So, I knew I wanted this big dot stuff to be pants, and that the center front seam had to match. Or else. No mirroring or butterfly or open-book effect at the center front. That would be embarrassing. Other than that, I had to give up on any of the other seams pattern-matching. And they sure don’t. I considered running a solid stripe down the side seam to make the chopped up dots less crashing-into-each other, but decided not to: that would only make a crazy pair of pants look crazier. 

I was able to get the front to match by using the second curtain, which is identical, and having the pattern continue across the front. Which is a little weird in that the pattern appears to continue across my legs too, but hey, at least no butterflies.

These pants took 9 hours to make, three or four of that was messing around with pattern placement and then flatlining the pieces for better weight and opacity. 

I really like this picture above, with my boy at edge of frame. I like how both of us are completely into our own projects. Also, I made everything he’s wearing. 

Part of the reason I made these pants is beacause I actually need pants. I got through the winter last year with three pairs of pants. Which got me thinking about how many is enough, what’s the optimal number. 

I recognize that I am fortunate, in that I could theoretically have as many pairs of pants as I want. But how many is that?

Three is not enough, because they end up being worn on such a constant rotation that they wear out at the same rate and suddenly I go from having three pants to zero. So what is ideal. Seven? Is one pair of pants for every day of the week excessive? In addition to skirts and dresses and gym leggings etc etc? 

Maybe five is more reasonable? But if one of them is a little crazy looking, like with giant dots, does that pair become more of a second-tier pant? Less of a basic? 

I think this is why people live in jeans: they’re such a neutral, they blend from one day to the next, no one’s ever going to notice if you wear one pair several days in a row, you’re free to not think or to enjoy the comfort of a broken-in pair. 

After thinking over this for a while I remembered how I have a friend who owns seven tuxedos —like not just suits, tuxedos— and how in light of that, seven pairs of pants seems totally reasonable.

This fabric, by the way, is from the most annoying yard sale I have ever been to. Nothing had a price tag, which is the worst, so I had to ask the lady of the house how much everything cost, and each time I asked she would launch into the entire story of the thing in question, including how much she paid for it when it was brand new and how rare it was and all other details she could recall. Then she would name the price, which was high. For this set of two curtain, from IKEA, “These are designer! They don’t make them anymore! We barely even used them!”, she wanted ten dollars, which is completely against my belief that nothing at a yardsale should be more than a dollar, since I consider yardsales to be the last stop before donating to the thrift shop. 

Later my husband and I came up with the perfect yard sale pricing scheme: X is twenty dollars, but if you listen to my entire story, it’s free. 

But I totally bought the curtains. They provide a lot of yardage. And I felt a little sorry for her and maybe recognized myself in her, her belief in the worth of her possessions was a little heartbreaking, and apparently no one’s ever told her about eBay or Craigslist. Which is where you sell old things when you want real money for them. 


This pattern is a Sew It

Fourteen patterns I haven’t got time for: Simplicity {4534, 7231, 8410, 8710, 8778} Butterick {4933, B5688, 6650, 6729} McCall’s {3432, M5856, M6480, 7287} and Style 1723

Sometimes a pattern is beautiful, in design and in presentation, and I buy it because I like beautiful things and I want to make something beautiful. 

Sometimes a pattern is hideous, in design and in styling/artwork, but I still buy it because I want to see what I can do with it. 

Sometimes I go through my pattern box and pull out a bunch of stuff that just isn’t hideous enough to be interesting. Stuff I collect in a box until the box is full and then either eBay or thrift shop the whole mess.

In the spirit of Fall Cleaning and planning, here is such a box.  

Consider this a Planning To Not Do post. 

McCall’s 7287 from 1980. I like how sad the kids look. Seriously, sometimes kids look like that. This is good illustration. 

However, the clothes are BORING. 

I have a boy, and this pattern is for girls, which means if I used it I would be sewing for a friend, which means I’d be showing off at least a little bit, but this pattern is too basic to really satisfy my showing-off needs. 

So this girls’ pattern is useless to me. 

Which is actually not true, the vest doesn’t close at the front, which avoids the issue of closing right-over-left for girls, left-over-right for boys. So really, this pattern could be for boys, it just appears to be for girls only. Which is an unfortunate choice in cover art. Maybe there’s a reason? Maybe they ran the same pattern for boys that year, but with a different embroidery transfer included? Who knows. 

Easy McCall’s M5856 from 2009. At first I was into this, but then noticed how it’s strangely unflattering on both the model and the illustration. How did it even do that? 

Simplicity 7231 Blah. Better shirts, pants, and bikinis exist in the world, and in my pattern box. Strange styling too, it’s got such a cold look for a beach vacation type pattern group. 

Also, button-up shirt with sarong. For me that would only happen if I’d forgotten to re-pack my beach bag and had no choice but to wear whatever mixed-up stuff was in there. Not a look I’d build on purpose. 

McCall’s M6468 from 2011. I am tempted to actually throw this one, like into the recycling, because: 

If you ask pattern makers and designers and seamstresses and people interested in fashion and people who sew for themselves, “what got you into sewing,” a huge percentile will say, “When I was little I started making clothes for my dolls and it was fun,” and I hate to think of some kid being overwhelmed by the complexity of these doll patterns and being turned off, or worse, taking it to their mom to sew and never having the experience of playing around with making stuff themselves. 

Ok I’m being dramatic. I won’t really put it in the recycling. But I do consider playing around with doll clothes as a real, legitimate gateway into sewing. Halloween costumes, same thing. Don’t make them for your kids, help your kids make their own.

Style 1723 from 1990, I made it, I did a blog post, it’s a Throw. 

Butterick 6650 from 2000, I made this too, must’ve been in 2000, as a surprise for a friend. Did it up in a galloping horses print in brown and white, with a contrasting pink handkerchief-print yoke, collar, and cuffs, and pearl buttons. It was meant to be kind of terrible and kind of great. Nailed it! 

Not keeping it because I now have better (more fun, vintage) patterns for men’s and for women’s western shirts. 

Simplicity 8710 is so sweet. And so costume-y looking. Maybe would look ok with just the under-dress but without the collar? Meh, pass. Love the hair on the girl in the middle though. 

Simplicity 4534 from 2005 is kind of a weird one. Lingerie inspired outerwear, but with a high, modest, closed-in sweetheart neckline. It’s like it wants to be sexy but is afraid. I thought about how this would look as sleepwear, or extended into a dress, and decided: not awesome. Some of the style lines are cute? Someone else can love this. 

Butterick 6729 from 1988, I love the illustrations here. I really really love how View B at the top right is obviously talking into her super spy-tech earring-phone to her spy handler back at some covert agency. And all the other ladies are looking around suspiciously. 

This one would fall into the category of So Ugly I Want To Fix It, except that there’s a handwritten note on the envelope that says “no back yoke pieces,” and I don’t want to work that hard on my ugliness challenges. 

Also interesting to me that this one cost $2 at the Goodwill. That seems like a lot for an old ugly pattern, especially one that clearly says it’s incomplete. I got this as part of an eBay lot, which included many patterns with thrift store stickers. I wonder if that’s something that people do, buy up crummy patterns at the thrift, resell them for an extremely slim profit as part of a miscellaneous pattern lot. 

Simplicity 8410 from 1987. I love this pattern art. Look at the guy in red. With those reflective sunglasses. Both these 80’s patterns are so smoldering! 

I would keep this and make it for me if it was a men’s XS, but it is a men’s XL, with who knows how much ease. I fear it would take over the entire house. 

McCalls’s 3432 from 2001. I bought this on sale thinking pjs are a fun gift for a teenager, but with no particular teenager in mind. Didn’t notice at the time that this junior sized pattern envelope is sized for the larger range, which is basically the same as regular women’s sizes, which I have some cute vintage pj patterns of, so this one is redundant. Throw!

Butterick B5688 from 2011 is not my size or my style. Also it smells like floral scented laundry detergent. Outta here! 

Simplicity 8778 from 1970. Love the artwork. I get a medical vibe from View 1, like if her white necklace was actually a stethoscope I’d totally believe it. Maybe she’s a  veterinarian! Maybe she keeps doggie biscuits in those pockets! 

I think it’s the raglan sleeves and the V neck. Pretty common combo for scrubs. Maybe that’s why I’m not into it. It’s also large, resizing would be more trouble than I’m interested in.

Butterick 4933 is, like, so close! So close to being a great pattern! If that bizarre yoke were set like three inches lower! Like the yoke on harem pants! As is, it’s just weird! Plus the pattern is very small! 

Also, the zip is in the back, and the front looks like the back yoke on jeans. I would put these on backwards every single time. And be enraged. 

There. Done. All throws. Feels good. 

Vogue Patterns 9690: trousers wowsers

The pattern is Vogue 9690, MISSES PANTS, undated but clearly 1970’s, described as straight-legged with some pocket and pleat options. 

I would usually stay far, far away from both pleated and high-waisted (technically these are not high-waisted though, they sit at the natural waist, but appear high to my I-was-a-teenager-in-the-90’s sensibilities), but I recently saw Annie Hall for the first time (as part of my Continued Pop-Cultural Education. I turned to my husband and said, “I see style references to Annie Hall all the time. I should probably understand them.”) and so we watched it and I loved it and was struck by one clothing moment where we see Annie singing in a club and I really couldn’t tell at first if she was wearing very full-legged pants, or a long skirt with a belted waist, and I was like Ohhhhhhhh, THAT is what pleated high-waisted pants are supposed to do! 

So then I busted out Vogue 9690. 

I love this pattern art. The women look not just stylish —a quality surprising often absent from pattern art— they look sexy. Which, like, is a vibe I pretty much never get from pattern art. And I like it. More sexy pattern art, please. 

I particularly like View A lady, with her open buttons. Reminds me of a line I can’t remember from All The King’s Men, (the book [Robert Penn Warren, 1946] not the movie, although I should probably put that movie on my Continued Education list too) that went something like, “She walked in, wearing a very mannish suit with some very un-mannish business going on underneath.” 

Which, there: that’s probably the most superficial thing anyone’s ever paraphrased from All The King’s Men. But it’s a neat reminder, that using menswear styling to highlight ones female attributes is a trick that’s been around for a long time. 

I made View C, the pompadour lady in the middle there, which is the only version with pockets. 

The tiny flap pocket in View A is fake! It’s just a flap! There’s no pocket under there! It’s a lie!

So drapey. Ooh lala. 

This copy of the pattern is a size smaller than I needed, the picture below shows how I graded up. Which was super easy. I drew a line on the pattern and wrote right on there how much to slide the pattern over or down, and the result was an added two inches total at the waist and two inches total in the crotch length. 

The pattern turned out to have about an inch of ease from the tops of the pants into the waistband in addition to the shaping provided by the pleats and the back darts. This is too much for me: makes the waist nip in uncomfortably tight. I think Vogue patterns might be proportioned (no matter what the size) for a small bust, even smaller waist, and medium hip. But not exactly a pear shape, more of a fashion body. 

I had these pants completely done before I figured this out though, and didn’t feel like recutting the waistband. So, if you care to notice, you can see that the belt loops are not symmetrical: I took the waistband off and used the front tab overlap to let out the waist another inch. 

Why does it have both an underlap tab and an overlap tab anyway? That’s just silly. So now mine only has the underlap. 

I used some grey silk for the pocket. It rolls out a little, but it feels so nice. 

I’ve never really understood the purpose of back welt pockets on trousers —I mean, I’m not going to put my keys back there, that would be all lumpy and terrible looking— but here below I can see it! Welt pockets are there to explain the horizontal pull that naturally happens! Aha! 

See? Those aren’t welts, but it would look a whole lot cooler if they were.

These pants took about 12 hours to complete including taking the waistband off and letting out the ease and putting it back on, but they felt like they took foreverrrrrrr. Like at least twice that. I looked back at my notes and saw that I’d broken this project up into 11 different sewing sessions. So, no wonder it felt like forever: I kept putting it down and picking it up again. Tedious! 

The fabric is from a yard sale, I think the lady selling had a home business. Lots of terrible 80’s men’s vest patterns! 

My only complaint with Vogue 9690 is the pockets. They are shallow. All I’m ever going to put in my pants pockets is my hands, and they don’t fit. Boooooo to that. 

Otherwise it’s a Sew It. These pants are great. Who knew pleated and belted was a thing I could be into. Not me for sure. 

McCall’s 4501 and M5400, under-riffic

The Backstory:
Right, so I made a bathing suit, here, using a pattern from 1975. One fairly important pattern piece was missing, so I borrowed from a bathing suit pattern published in 2007. Right? Right. 
The ’75 pattern was granted Sew It status, while the ’07 pattern was hanging out in a weird limbo of having been sort of but not exactly tried out. 
So, in an effort to properly assign status to the ’07, and to have fun while making undies, I made four pairs of underwear, two using the bikini bottom pattern from McCall’s 4501 published in 1975, and two using the bikini bottom pattern from McCall’s M5400 published in 2007. 
Two pairs each because, you know, one each is hardly enough to really get into the project. 

First up was this:

This is the one from 1975, obvs. 
P.S., what is going on with the glasses of the girl in the yellow bikini? They’re like pale blue? As if they are that kind of indoor glasses that turn dark when you go outside, caught in a moment of transition between clear and opaque? Why didn’t the artist just make them be actual dark sunglasses and give poor Yellow half a chance at looking cool? Anyway…
This is the pattern I was most excited about. I thought the low waist and low legline would be super cute and fun and seventies, and instead they are the worst looking underwear of all time. 


Ok I know it’s hard to truly understand the badness in a photo where the clothing isn’t on a person, but believe me, they are bad. After trying them on I understood why the illustrator didn’t include a rear view on the pattern envelope. 
More about why and what is bad in a minute, but for now I’ll say that I almost gave up completely and didn’t even try McCall’s M5400, which was the whole point of the exercise, so dispirited was I by these underpants. 

So here’s McCall’s 5400, published in 2007. I did bikini bottom View F.

So much better! Like real underwear! 
What is responsible for this miraculous difference? The pattern right? No, not exactly! 
I have some theories on why the second two are better than the first two.

Theory 1: Fabric. 
With the first couple pairs I used satin for the back pieces and a medium weight four-way cotton Lycra for the fronts. I figured, based on some of the other seventies patterns I’ve done up, that the fabric probably doesn’t really even need to be stretch. But just in case, I cut the satin on the bias and used stretch for the front. Turns out the cotton Lycra is too thick and bulky, and the satin just look bizarre, feel strange, and puts a literal highlight on all wrong places. 
With the thickness and bizarreness in mind, I decided to stop being all crazy and just do it the right way and use an appropriate (thinner, softer, cotton) knit for the second two pairs.

Theory 2: Troubleshooting. 
The first pair I made, with the blue, looked gigantic before I even tried them on. And looks weren’t deceiving. Second pair (the pink) are cut the same size as the blue but I used a stronger elastic at the waist, plus pulled the elastic tighter, plus used a zigzag instead of the coverstitch. By the time I got to the second pattern and the two bird-print pairs, I’d abandoned the overlock and the coverstitch altogether and had brought out a pair of real, commercially made underwear as a reference for the construction. 
The result being, not only do the bird pairs look better, they also went together much faster: blue and pink took three and a half hours combined, while bird print took two hours combined, from cutting to finishing, for a total of one hour per garment. 

Theory 3: Maybe the pattern. The bikini bottoms for M5400, the 2007 one, which I did in the bird print, are described as having a high-cut leg, which is probably just plain better looking. I liked the low legline as part of a one piece bathing suit, but apparently it doesn’t work for me in a bikini. 

Theory 4: Practice. I am a professional patternmaker, but not a professional stitcher. The costume shop is a highly specialized world in which I’m expected to stay away from the sewing machine and let the stitchers, who are better at stitching than I am, do their thing. I hope that by doing these Sew It Or Throw It projects now, while I’m out being a mom, I’ll return to work a better patternmaker with a deeper grasp of construction. I think the improvement between underwear 1 and underwear 4 is at least a little bit due to practice. 

Other Things:
Here below is the difference in size between the blue and the pink. The other sides are matched, the pieces are cut the same, it’s all a matter of the elastic type and the zigzag versus coverstitch. 

Here below is a detail of both of the elastics, which I bought downtown at some kind of a studio closing sale. I think they’re pretty 

And this photo above showing how much the coverstitch flattens out the elastic. The elastic is just not strong enough to “return” against the pressure of all that stitching. 
Which brings me to a thought and a question:

While reading sewing blogs I’ve been impressed with the consistency of terminology. Here’s this international community, whose members posses every possible level of training in sewing, from various sources, and yet everyone has these terms for fitting. And these terms are universally understood. 
Contrast that to my life in costume shops, where we don’t have terminology for fitting adjustments. If the shop manager needed me to do a Full Bust Adjustment, she wouldn’t say FBA, because I wouldn’t know what she was talking about. She would describe it. Something like, “lower and deepen the dart and swing the side seam out a little.” Or more likely no one would use any words at all, I would just mark the dart lower, pin it deeper, and rip open the side seams in the fitting and then transfer the marks to the pattern later without even knowing I was doing A Thing. 
I was talking about this difference with my husband, and he was like, “where does the terminology come from, if it’s not coming from, like, theater training or fashion?” And I was like, “Sewing books??? YouTube???? The patterns themselves???? I don’t know!”
So anyway, I respect the international consistency of terminology. 
And I’m wondering if anyone can help me with this terminology:
Is there a word or phrase for what is happening in that last photo, where the overlock and the coverstitch are defeating the weak elastic and leaving it all flattened out? Anybody know? Otherwise I’ll just keep describing it. In long sentences. Maybe rhyming. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Oh right, there’s a pattern to be judged! McCall’s M5400 from 2007 is a sew. I’d like to make an actual bathing suit not underwear version of View E and H, the one illustrated in white with the tie-front. 

As for the underwear, I’m sending the blue pair directly to the thrift, maybe to be followed by the pink pair. I might make a dozen more of the bird version, if they wear well, with the goal of using a high order (to the factory of me) to cut construction time in half. Next time I might even cut them so the birds go the right direction on the front. 

McCall’s 4501: Caution, Hazard, Bathing Suit. 

The pattern:
McCall’s 4501, copyright 1975 by The McCall Pattern Company. 
This pattern includes a one piece halter suit, a halter bikini, a halter top (which could recombine nicely as the top half of a tankini), and some elastic waist bell-bottoms which I guess would be great for…the roller rink immediately post beach? I mean, I’d rather go home and change first, but these ladies look pretty secure with their outfit decisions. 

The Fabric:
I used a two-way stretch satin Lycra, in yellow and black hazard stripe. The pattern calls for knit, which would’ve also been a two-way stretch, (as in stretches side to side) but most knits have at least a tiny bit of give in the up/down direction, where as this satin Lycra has none-zo, so I made a center front seam and put it on the bias and added one inch seam allowance wherever possible and did A Lot of fitting to make sure the length was ok before trimming away the seam allowance and finishing it off. 
The pattern is made to be reversible, which I find kind of bizarre, because 1) that means you have to insert all the elastic into casings instead of turning to the inside and 2) why would I reverse my suit. I would immediately choose a favorite side and never reverse it, forever, the end. 
So instead of making it reversible, it’s flat-lined with a white four-way-stretch Lycra, all seams visible on the inside, all elastics stay-stitched, overlocked, turned to the inside, and coverstitched. 
One big surprise and challenge with this pattern: the bust piece is Gone. Lost. Not Here.
But fine whatever, I borrowed from McCall’s M5400, published in 2007. 

Top C is very similar to the shape I needed, just the center front point changed a little. 
I like the cover art on M5400 a lot. I think of this as The McCall’s Face: the jawline, eyes,  and mouth are always the same, despite a really great variety in skin tone and facial expression and attitude. 
Baby Bohemian in the orange bikini is my favorite of this crew. 
And here’s my suit:

Note on crazy color scheme: when I found this bathing suit pattern (in a box of rando I bought off eBay) I immediately pictured it in this exact yellow and black fabric with a chevron. But then I started reading yet another book of the French Women Are Better At Everything variety, and looked at my obnoxious fabric, and thought, “Oh no, a French woman would never,” and abandoned the project. 
I love reading this type of book, in a perverse way. I fall under a sad sort of spell each time I finish one, and spend at least a week thinking, “It’s time to teach my child to make pastry. Do I even *own* a white shirt? Am I having enough arguments? Never eat again! Except beautiful homemade dinners. That are also educational moments for my child. And involve passionate arguments with friends about politics. Oh god, what is my signature perfume???” 
And then the week passes and the spell is lifted and I go back to loud bathing suits. 

Time and Construction: 
This suit took 12 hours, which is fun to think about because if I paid myself $30 an hour this would be a $360 bathing suit. Without including the fabric (which was a remnant so actually free). That is the price of custom. Even at minimum wage, it would be like $120. I think the most expensive store-bought suit I’ve ever owned was $90, from JCrew. It was a black maillot. I loved that thing. I lost it. I miss it.  
I changed a couple little construction things from the original 1975 pattern: a swimsuit hook instead of ties at the back neck, flatlined instead of clean-finish lining. The biggest change was stitching elastic along the underbust seam to keep it snug against the body. I was surprised that the instructions didn’t call for it in the first place. Even the modern, 2007 bikini top didn’t call for that, although come to think of it the modern one had a strap across the back to create the tension to hold that seam in place. So, ok. 
I’m sad that the gathers under the bust don’t read as well as they do in the illustration. Those gathers are fun, I would add more next time so they are more glamorous and vavoom. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. I love the low leg line. So retro-silly. I’m not sure if halter is my best look, so the fact that that piece is missing is fine, makes me make more likely to do something different next time. The high back creates some fun oportunities: could make it scoop but add a cross strap as per the bikini back with a closure, might look neat and provide a more secure fit.  

Next up I’m going to try the bikini bottoms on both these patterns as underwear, so I can official Sew or Throw M5400 too. Things getting sewn and thrown! Progress! 

Simplicity 7216: a nice normal skirt, white fishnets not included. 

The Pattern:
Simplicity 7216, JUNIOR PETITES’ AND MISSES’ SKIRTS IN TWO LENGTHS, copyright 1967 Simplicity Pattern Co. Inc. 
This is a good old basic skirt pattern with three possible looks: Views 1 and 2 are pleated, View 3 is plain, and View 4 uses exactly the same pattern pieces as View 3 but with a different grain line to follow for the bias. 
Here below is my favorite detail of the cover art:

White fishnets! Git it, Girl!
What an outfit this is. Let’s admire it. Blue shirt, bias plaid mini in red and green, white fishnet tights, and blue shoes with big ol’ buckles. Such a contrast from View 1’s white and grey uniform.
I like to imagine that both girls are dressed for school. Just, not the same school. I’m guessing View 4 is skirting the edge of her public school’s dress code with those tights.  
Thing I find culturally interesting: in the US, for the most part, private school students wear uniforms, but public school students do not, whereas in other places (I’ve been told/seen on tv/seen IRL in Melbourne and London but am not an expert on please correct me if I’m wrong) public school students wear uniforms while private school students are the ones that don’t.
Target stores here in Los Angeles sell school uniforms, in tan or navy polyester. I was surprised the first time I saw them, like, “Oh! So you don’t have to go to, like, Diagon Alley to get these, huh.”
I made the most technically boring skirt option —View 3 in the mini length— so as to feature my fabric. 

The Fabric:
I found this green and cream floral printed poly/cotton canvas at a thrift shop a couple months ago, for two dollars. 
My guess is that this is not actually vintage but more of a vintage-inspired fabric, and that somebody bought this yard-and-a-half and spread it over their couch thinking, “Should I re-upholster? Does this look good?” And then they decided no. 
But I decided yes!
I really like this stuff. It reminds me of those solar photos we made as kids, with that special paper you would put leaves and flowers onto and then set out in the sunshine and come back later and sweep the flowers off and you’ve got a blue-on-blue floral silhouette image that looks a lot like this fabric. Anybody remember those?

This is a directional fabric, meaning the flowers and leaves don’t interchange, but have a definite up and down. I chose to cut the wrong direction on purpose, going downward, like they are falling from a garland. Or like I have an entourage who throw flowers along my path. Ya know. I think it’s prettier that way and shows off the sinuous lines better than growing upward would. 

Construction and Time:
This took four hours, from ironing the fabric to hand stitching the hem. 
One thing that kept this project fast and straightforward is that I didn’t have to change the size. Didn’t have to make the waist and hips bigger. This one fits as is, straight out of the package. That, like, never happens. This is possibly the only 30″ waist vintage pattern I’ve ever seen, let alone owned. 
I didn’t even change the length, I figured the rest of it was going so well I would just trust in their version of mini. 
The only change I made was to lift the back of the skirt into the waistband 5/8″ at the center back to 0″ at the side seams, to get the side seams (which were tilting forward) to hang straight. 
I’d go shorter for a winter version to be worn with tights, but for summer and no tights, this works. It looks like a whole lot of skirt to me, proportionally. But that may be because I grew up in the 90’s when mini meant practically rectangular, between the low waist and high hem. 
Oh, and this is fun: this is a “How-To-Sew” Pattern, right? 
I investigated. 
What this means is that the instructions carefully describe how to apply the waistband (in a way I disagreed with: sew to inside, turn to outside, fold and topstitch. I do the opposite, I think it’s easier to achieve a clean line if you sew right sides together first and turn in, and you can always add topstitching later if you want) but then for the zipper they give no instruction other than “see instructions with zipper.” Hahahaha! Love. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. I mean, it’s vintage that fits without my help, how rare. 
And it’s a nice blank slate, for giant bucket pockets maybe. 
Also, I’m excited that the pleated versions have a separate pattern piece for the inner face of the pleats, which means the inner pleats could be a different color. Fun! 

Style 1723: a sundress for a windy day

{I don’t believe in fabric regrets. I think it’s always better —when I’m sewing at home for my own entertainment— to use a fabric rather than hold it for some unknown future perfect use. But with this project, as soon as I’d finished and was editing photos I realized what the perfect use would’ve been. Now I have fabric regrets. 
So let’s play a fun game: as you read, think about what you would’ve made instead of what I made, and then let’s get together at the end of the post and see if our ideas match up.}

The Pattern:
Style 1723, Misses’ Dress and Jacket (or, Robes et Veste Jeune Femme) copyright 1990 Style Patterns. Ltd. 
I found this one at a thrift. What sold me was the View 1 illustration, the one where she’s facing front and the skirt is billowing billowing billowing. 
Also the photo reminds me of Daryl Hannah in Splash!, although when I went and did a search to confirm that Daryl Hannah was actually in Splash!, I saw that she didn’t look like this at all, instead of long soft hair, she had bangs and that amazing white-blonde crimped mermaid hair that inspired a world of unfortunate crimped copy-cattery.
Also, Splash! came out in 1984. What?! That is much much earlier than I would’ve guessed, and six years earlier than this pattern. 
Also let’s take a moment to laugh at that jacket. Hahahhahahahaha.Ok done. 

The Fabric:
It’s taffeta, in pink and tan plaid on a white background. It was an end-of-bolt sale remnant, and there was just enough (about 5 yards) of it to cut out this dress while avoiding the big fade stripes along the fold lines, which totally happened on my watch during the dozen or so years I’ve had this stuff. 
I washed it before cutting, to get that crinkly texture, and so that I could wash the eventual dress. 
Here below is the best part of the dress: the skirt is so full and the washed taffeta is so light, that it catches every breeze.

Here below is the worst bummer of the dress: it does not look good on me. 
It’s the waistline. I think if the waistline hit about three inches lower, and had a more dramatic curve up at the sides and down at the front and back, it would look about a million times better. As is, it’s chopping me at a bad place and makes everything look broad and childish yet frumpy. And the girly plaid isn’t helping. 

I tell ya what though: if you want to learn what lines look good on your figure, just take pictures. I’ve been wearing clothes most of my life, but have learned more in the past couple weeks about what I look good in, just from looking at the difference between how that red and purple Donna Karan looks and how this pink thing looks, than, like, ever. I mean, it’s the difference between hot damn and regular damn. 
So that’s good. 
Here’s the back. 

Ok no really, here’s the back. 

Hard to get a good photo of this dress, because of how fun the skirt is.  

Time and Changes:
6 hours. I skipped the center back zipper, and I cut the bodice on bias instead of straight, in (unfulfilled) hopes of a more slinky bias fit. 
Speaking of photos being helpful, I’m realizing that I should be giving myself more length in the upper bodice, front and back, like on all patterns across the board from now on. Like draw a horizontal line at mid-armsceye level and make a note to cut out the garment above the line, then drop the pattern piece maybe an inch, then cut from the line down. This would lower bust darts and give me more room in the armsceye, which are two things it seems like I’m always doing, especially the older the pattern. 
This is the kind of thing I can see on another person in a fitting room, but it’s taken over a year of blog photos to see it on myself. If only I’d heeded the advice of Cher Horowitz all those years ago: dress yourself with photos, not the mirror. 

The Regrets:
My fabric regret is this: I was looking at these photos and thinking how this is the weirdest fabric. It’s taffeta, so it’s all shiny rustle-y party-time, it’s pink, and pink and shiny equal princess overload, but it’s a small scale plaid, like you’d see in a hardworking daytime cotton, like…shirting. 
This fabric would’ve made a great shirtdress. Polished, lightweight, unassuming. Understated but fancy. Aaaaaaaaaaargh. After having this stupid fabric for years, the perfect idea came like two weeks too late. 
What would you have made out of this stuff? Shirtdress? It’s shirtdress right? Everyone saw it but me? 

Sew It or Throw it: 
Throw it. The pattern, because it’s not right for me, and the dress because it can’t be saved. Even the easy save of put-a-T-shirt-on-overtop isn’t working. It’s ok though, I am pretty happy at having finally made something with this fabric, it feels good to have produced something, even if I’m just producing it right outta my life.