Vogue Patterns 7301: bootlegs from the year 2000

Don’t mess with these girls. They will go all Charlie’s Angels Reboot on you.

This is Vogue Patterns 7301, printed in 2000

I bought this one, new, on purpose, at a fabric store not in someone’s front yard, in the year 2000. I liked Version B (but without those silly ankle-slits) and hated Version C. So of course here I am sixteen years later in Version C. 

The fabric was a big square of upholstery stuff. My husband bought it, cut it, frayed the edges into a fringe, and we had it as a tablecloth or wall hanging or something for a long long time, and until eventually it was absorbed into the fabric stock. 

It’s orange and textured and definitely 100% polyester. I know because I had a sudden worry that this mystery fabric might burst into flame on my body, so I did a burn test, and happily it did not explode, but melted away into little black beads. So, polyester. 

The circles-and-squares pattern is woven in, and remind me of being in an airplane and looking down at those giant circular fields, you know the ones. They always seemed to me to be an inefficient use of space, until I realized that they are irrigated by a long sprinkler arm anchored to a central pivot point. So they naturally form a circular field. So it actually is pretty efficient. I felt pretty clever when I figured that out.

The pants are meant to have a back zip, but I always move back zippers to the side on pants to avoid the early morning ragefest that would be mistaking these for front zip, putting them on backwards, (hopefully) noticing something was wrong, taking them off, and putting them on again with the zip in back. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Speaking of zippers, here above is the envelope from the (possibly 70’s vintage) invisible zipper I used. I’m pretty delighted with it, notice how it says “Unique Invisible Zippers come in these 28 out of sight colors.” 

I’m totally amused by the use of the phrase “out of sight”, especially when paired with the word “invisible”. Like, is there a zipper in there at all? ‘Cause sounds like I won’t be able to see it. Some kind of Emperor’s New Clothes type situation going on in there. 

Fun pallet of colors. But avocado is missing. Maybe I’m wrong about the vintage of this zipper. 

*edit* Looked closer at the zipper envelope just now before throwing it away, it is from 1971 according to its copyright date. Welcome to the 21rst century, zipper, pleased to have you here. 

Ok, so, bootcut though, let’s talk about it. To my mind, bootcut (or bootlegged as the pattern calls these) are fitted through the thigh and then cut straight from the knee to ankle. Neither tapered nor flared. 

This pattern definitely flares out from knee to ankle, however I didn’t have quite enough fabric so I cheated by cutting straight from knee to ankle (a la bootcut) to allow the pattern pieces to nest, but then once the pants were together decided they looked weird and went back in and nipped out the knee, basically recreating a flared leg. 

Is this a bootcut? Seems like flare would best accommodate boots, but then why the name bootcut when flares already existed. Also funny to me: the girls on the envelope are definitely not wearing boots with their bootlegs. 

These pants flew together. I think of pants as being a time consuming project, but not this pair. 

They took 4.25 hours, and that’s including the hook and loop, and going back in and taking in the knee, and my fit alterations which were pretty minimal. They are super basic:  no back pockets, no slash pockets, no topstitching, no belt loops, no buttons, appropriate amount of wearing ease, good length, good depth. Would make a good starting place for creating other styles. 

Sew It.  

McCall’s 6493: Goldendirndl. 

the pattern: This is McCall’s 6493, published in 1979. It calls itself a flared skirt, but what it really is, is a circle skirt with the option of gathered or smooth waist. 

the fabric: Gold satin spandex. Gold! Goooooooold!

This skirt pattern was not my first choice for this hilarious shiny loud aggressive possibly tacky gold fabric. What I wanted to make was this Halston cape and skirt, as a sort of an armor, but the cape pattern was missing so I just labeled the Halston as CAPE MISSING, threw it (into the thrift donation bag) and moved on. 

To the Goldendirndl. 

Does this fulfill my armor-like intention? No. But it was very satisfying to make. Probably took three hours total, including cutting. It was going so quickly I didn’t bother keeping track of the time. I eliminated the zipper, gave it a pull on waist, and included the optional waist ties. 

It’s not even hemmed. I let the circle hang out, trimmed it, and reinforced the seam ends so they can’t open. 

I didn’t press the fabric either. The wrinkles will wash out. Or they won’t. Either way. This was post-election horror-sewing, it needed to be uncomplicated. I don’t feel any less horrified now. More actually. But it feels good to make something. 

This skirt is good and twirly. Borderline too twirly to be twirled, really. It’s a full circle, it will go completely horizontal if given enough spin. I learned this in my yard, not out in the world, thank goodness. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. It’s not really necessary to have a pattern for a circle skirt, since, duh, it’s a circle, but this pattern also has pockets (which I skipped) and a waist band, and the gathered versus flat waist, all that stuff, plus now that I have it I don’t even have to go to the minimal effort of marking out a circle on fabric, so I’ll keep it. And I like the amount of gathering in the gathered version. It’s a Sew. 

McCall’s 4387: a Halston and a stowaway 

Here we have McCall’s 4387, published in 1975. It’s a Halston.

Halston was, as you know, an American fashion designer highly associated with disco, Studio 54, and ultrasuede. Also pants, caftans, working in bias, and designing for the relaxed urban lifestyle of the American woman. Here’s a neat post on Pattern Vault, titled  Yves Saint Laurent + Halston; Fashioning The 70s. Lots of patterns to daydream about over there. 

With all that info in mind, I was pretty pumped when I saw this pattern as part of a miscellaneous lot for sale on eBay. Even more pumped when I won the lot. 

These are the pieces that are supposed to be in this envelope:

A skirt, pockets, waistband, a belt, a cape. You can see where this is going, right?

These are the pieces that are actually in the envelope:

Belt, Cape, as expected
What?! You are not a skirt?! What are you?!!!!

As you can see, that’s the cape and belt. But instead of the skirt, waistband, and pocket pieces that are supposed to be there, there is a pair of pants, waistband, and tunic belt belonging to a whole other pattern.

This pattern below. Which I don’t own. This is a photo I found online when I looked up the pattern number. 

Which is just what happens sometimes. The seller clearly stated that the patterns were used and there may be pieces missing. The risk is part of the treasure-hunting element of inexpensive miscellaneous eBay lots. I’m fine with that. 

And, to be honest, I’d already been planning to change the skirt. Glancing at the cover art, I had thought it was a wrap skirt with a D-ring closure. But on closer inspection it’s just a regular old A-line type deal with a center back zipper and a completely separate belt. 

Here is the quick post-it doodle I made for myself for how to improve upon Halston:

Obviously I’m joking about improving upon Halston. Let’s say personalize, instead. 

My plan was to cut the back and front on the fold, then cut an extra half CF piece (actually 3/4 would be better), seam it into one side seam, leave an opening under that seam at the top for getting in and out, no zipper, the whole thing cinches closed with an attached belt and D-ring. A semi-faked wrap. Halston would not approve. He liked things that really work. Wraps that really wrap, etc. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Throw It all. 

The stowaway pants because I don’t have the envelope, and they are a size 8 which is very very tiny in pattern sizing, and they’re not exciting enough to size up. 

The rest of it (cape pattern, belt pattern, instruction sheet) I’m putting back in the envelope, writing Skirt Pattern Missing across the front, and throwing into the thrift shop donation bag. 

I was excited about the idea of a Halston outfit, but to be honest I figured I’d wear the cape and skirt to a few parties and then reuse the cape as fabric for something else after the holiday season. Big drapey things with no closures, requiring my awareness to keep them on my body, aren’t a good fit for my non-party-time lifestyle.

So hopefully someone else will find it, and now they’ll be forewarned about the skirt. 

If anyone wants to approximate this cape at home: it’s a half circle, about three feet radius, with one rounded corner and a neck area scooped out. Lot of drama to wear, nice and simple in shape. 

Simplicity 5549: goodnight, bra

The pattern:

This is Simplicity 5549, published in 1982

I know, girls. I’m sad too.

Version 3 Girl is my favorite. I like how her hair is looped up in a realistically low/no-effort bun, it’s a nice contrast to the other girls who look so styled. 

I also like her crazy outfit the best. The pattern calls this pants-type item a “culottes slip”. I’ve seen it more often referred to as “pettipants,” as in the pants version of a petticoat. It also looks like a longer, loonier version of tap pants. Other than as sleepwear I can’t think of much of a purpose for a culottes slip? Too short to be worn as a wool pants lining. Best guesss is they’re meant to be worn under a skirt, to counteract inner thigh rub. 

I didn’t make the culottes slip version though, so whooooo knoooooows. 

A while back I used the bias slip pattern, this time around I made two versions of the bra. 

The pattern provides separate pieces for cup sizes A through C. 

I cut both bras in a B and did most of the construction factory style until all the parts were assembled and ready to go together. Then I finished the bra in the first photo, with the pink at the center front, first. And it was so pointy. What a surprising and weird shape you have, 1982! I ended up taking it apart, taking out a lot of the shaping, and putting it back together. 

With the second bra I re-shaped the cups for less pointiness, and rotated them so the non-stretch pink runs along the sides. This puts better tension on the seam: there’s some buckling in that seam in the first bra that isn’t there in the rotated second bra. 

These are just for sleeping, so all they need to do is look nice and be comfortable, they’re not like providing shape or all day support or anything. 

The pattern calls for lace and satin, non stretch, with a simple uncovered lingerie elastic band and elastic shoulder straps. I used satin (two very similar but not identical pinks) and a heavy grey cotton 2-way stretch knit with a nice white flecked texture throughout. Instead of the elastic band, I made a knit band with lingerie elastic along the edges. 

I used these guys for the elastic straps: 

I bought these at a yard sale, run by a friend who was leaving LA to go to grad school for costume design at Yale. I bought a bunch of her random sewing stuff: bags of zippers, this crazy pile of cut-off bra elastic, a dress form, and a costume rendering of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Fun when yard sales include costume renderings by future Yalies. 

Hey. Hey yourself.

There’s a front closure. I had two front closures in my closures drawer, and that’s the entire reason why I made two bras. 

All together these took nine hours, the first one took a little longer than the second as usual. I’m going to divide the time factory style and call it 4 1/2 hours per bra. 

Nice straps. Back atcha.

If you’re wondering what all that stuff is on my dress form, it’s padding. I keep a front closure, racer back, molded-cup bra on my dress form, this is the kind of bra I wear, so this is the shape I fit to. Plus, keeping a bra on the dress form allows me to set the bust point in exactly the right place as per my centerback-neck-to-bust-point measurement. 

The other stuff is men’s tailoring shoulder pads, to fill in the tiny mannequin waist and create a butt. 

Below you can see some crazy elastic piecing and satin strap usage, in my efforts to use up scraps.

Sew It or Throw It:

The cup shape of this bra, as patternened, is so far off from any shape I want to wear that this would be a Throw, if it weren’t for the perfectly good bias slip pattern and the interesting culottes slip and tap pants. 

So, it’s a sew. I like these sleep bras, they were fun to make, they wear nicely, next time I would use basically Any Other Pattern In The World. 

What’s next. 

Despite the fact that this photo is blurry —and that it includes both a water stained ceiling and the photographer’s own thumb— it’s one of my favorite pictures of me. I was nineteen in this photo and had just voted Bill Clinton in for his second term. My first time voting. That’s a super blurry I Voted sticker there on my sweater. 

The only reason I have this photo is because I came back to my dorm right after voting, beaming like this, and one of the dudes on my hall was like, “Dude, you are like beaming. I’m going to take your picture.” 

Last Tuesday I was in line to vote, behind some college age kids. I had brought along a book (Inherent Vice), mostly to hold in front of my face while I eavesdropped. At one point I overheard the kids in front of me making fun of some friend of theirs who posted a video where she was crying real tears at having just voted for a female presidential candidate. Kids were like, “ugh, drama,” and I mostly agreed. I mean, we were all there to vote for Hillary, but none of us were crying at the historic momentousness of it. We were just voting for the person best qualified for the job, for so very many reasons, her being a woman was pretty low on my list of important reasons to vote for Hillary. 

It wasn’t until the next day when it all went to hell that I realized how truly excited I had been to vote-in the first female president. It’s like I had deferred my joy, to be felt on Wednesday when everything was settled, not Tuesday with the actual act of voting. 

And then on Wednesday, the day I had reserved for Joy Unbounded, I kept having these split-seconds where I would forget who won the election, and in the moment of forgetting I would feel this overwhelming joy well up in my body, like my body had been storing it and was ready to live it now,  but then I’d remember she didn’t win and I’d be emptied out and sick feeling. This happened almost hourly. The rest of the time was spent with waves of realizations of the coming consequences, and revulsion. Like dirty, like I’d been coated in something that won’t wash off for years. 

At the same time I was finishing up a project. Secretly, without telling me, my mind had already started in the days before the election to riffle through my fabrics and patterns, planning ahead for glitter-bombs of ruffles and flowers and bows and joy and pride. And then it happened and I thought, “this country does not love you, girl” and that next-project-planning part of my mind turned to a harder, colder, less exuberant version of feminity. Metal, not roses. 

Now what’s lined up is this, a Halston from 1975, in gold satin spandex:

And this, a jumpsuit from 1977, in washed gold lamé:

I don’t want to get too intense in this post. After all, like: Don’t Sew, Vote. My sewing projects don’t mean anything in the big scheme, they don’t even make a statement that anyone would be able to read except me, but I find it interesting that there was this visceral disconnect between what I’d been expecting to happen and what did happen and that it’s manifesting in clothing, and I wonder if anyone else felt that too. 
I would’ve made these patterns anyway, but differently. I had a floral lined up for the jumpsuit. Maybe I’ll come back around to that. I hope so. For now I’m feeling these cold, loud, defiant metallics. 

I sure would’ve loved it if someone could be taking another photo of me four years from now, at age 43, voting in President Clinton for her second term, to put beside that first photo. Oh well.

And for a ray of sunshine: as of now in California, plastic shopping bags are illegal but recreational pot is a-ok. And we just elected the second ever African American female senator. And Big Hill won the popular vote nation wide. This country does love you, girl. 

A pattern I made: the backwards dress

the pattern: 

I made this pattern, here’s the story: 

One time I went to New York City and had drinks with a friend who was wearing this great dress. It was kind of vintage looking, in black. Very plain, sheath-type dress from the front, until she turned around, and then the back had this dramatic, generously open, collar surprise. 

Almost like she had her dress on backwards. I really liked it. So I went home and draped it up from memory and made this pattern, and then a dress. 

I don’t remember what year that was, and I didn’t put a date on my pattern. Let’s say 2006? Ten years ago? Maybe? 

Anyway, the dress is now too small. 

Hey, your dress is too small! Hey, yours too!

I mean, if I stand like this it’s fine:

But I can’t stand like that all day. 

Here’s the back.

I can’t remember if my friend’s dress had buttons, but mine sure does. I should have made them silver, then I could’ve called this my Miss Mary Mack dress. 

The dress has lots of seam allowance, so I could let it out, but I’m over it. Partly because of this: 

If you zoom in to the bust area in the photo above (wheeee!), you can see how I kept messing with this dress, practically like it was a muslin, way after it was done and I should’ve left it alone. It started out with french darts to shape the bust, then I added a sort of a princess dart, which I transferred to my pattern in green, then I added a curved under-bust seam that took up some excess at the midriff and then disappeared to nothing at the side seam where it met up with the French darts. 

Too much business. It’s so overworked that it bothers me. I don’t want to wear it now, let alone alter it and then wear it. Although I did like it and wear it back in 2006 or whenever it was that I made it. And I still think it’s cute.

So I offered it to my sister. She gets First Refusal when I get rid things I’ve made.

That’s our real text exchange. 

So, yay, happy ending, now it belongs to her! 

She’s cute, huh! The dress is cute with the belt too. Maybe I should’ve thought of that. Oh well, TOO LATE NOW! 

Sew It or Throw It:

Throw It. I’m over it. Pattern has got too many issues. Not least of which is the collar, which, while fun, should be more subtle and elegant. Maybe the collar could roll out more gradually from some kind of interesting center front detail. Or roll into the center back in a more voluptuous way. Less flat. Something.

Could be fun to keep the pattern, just in case I ever come across the original pattern that inspired my friends dress which inspired this dress. But then again, if that ever happened, and what would be the chances, I would most likely just compare photos rather than unfolding and comparing patterns. 

I made it once, I could make it again. So, Throw. 

Vogue 7054: pajamas for tea

See if you can guess what year this pattern is from. Guess! Guess! 

This is Vogue 7054 from 1987

1987! Did you guess it? I can see it in the shoulders now that I know, but the illustrator has done a great job of keeping the hair under control. Gives a nice, vague, Veronica Lake-ish, 1940’s Hollywood-ish, fancy-lady-pajama vibe rather than nailing down any specific decade. 

The pattern includes iron-on transfers of the alphabet, so you can embroider your initials on the pocket.

The illustration’s monogram reads FMW which I’ve been trying to figure out. Seems like it should stand for something. I mean, if you’re going to put a monogram on an illustration, it should be a funny secret code for me to figure out. At very least VPC for Vogue Pattern Co. I personally would go for HEY or GRL. 

The recommended fabrics list includes lots of glamorous options like charmeuse, jacquard, crepe de chine, etc. What the list does not say is, “Hey girl, just use an old table cloth,” but that’s cool, I can read between the lines. 

This old thing. Before you become sad about how I’ve destroyed this beautiful vintage hand-embroidered tablecloth, take comfort: it is badly stained. The only reason I have this old thing in the first place is because it was too stained for a friend’s resale, and it was specifically given to me with the instruction, “cut this up and make something.” 


Isn’t this quilt gorgeous? My modern-quilting-friend Alison made it, she is @msalleycat on the instagrams if you wanna go see her stuff. 

The pattern calls for 3/4 inch elastic, but I did 1/2 inch instead, with the channel sitting a half inch down from the top to make a ruffle. I also shortened the crotch length by 2 inches total, so the waist could sit a little below the natural waist and not strangle me in my sleep. 

In the photo above you can see there’s a little bit of awkward embroidery placement in the inseam. I’m ok with it. 

And there below you can see where the border ended up. I added some washed muslin at the center back, the tablecloth wasn’t quite wide enough to fit the whole pattern. 

I used the border for the hem, since it’s already a hem. And above you can see the teapot, which is my favorite of the five embroidery motifs. I made sure the teapot would be featured on the leg. 

Sew It or Throw It:

This is a sew. The pants pattern couldn’t be simpler. One piece, no outseam, the waist folds down to make an elastic casing, no drawstring which means no eyelet or buttonhole opening for the nonexistent drawstring. Super easy and fast. This tablecloth version is cozy, doesn’t get tangled up while I’m sleeping, and is surprisingly warm. Bonus: the pantalettes vibe. 

Probably won’t ever make the robe, but neither did the original owner. This was an uncut pattern, which is fun to put to use. Makes me feel like I’m fulfilling the pattern’s destiny.