Simplicity 8647: Fragments, the top with sleeves


The pattern is Simplicity 8647, from 1978. It’s a Harriet Selwyn designer pattern, which features a trapeze style dress, a wrap top with or without sleeves, and Christie Brinkley! I’m pretty sure. That is Christie Brinkley, right? 

I found this pattern on one of those magical days that makes me worry I’ve been sucked into someone else’s highly staged and filtered instagram feed. It went like this: I was going to the fancy cheese store, but they weren’t open yet, so I figured ok, I’ll walk over to the overly hip marketplace with it’s brass and it’s white subway tile and it’s pink neon that spells out YOU BELONG HERE!  in loopy cursive —which I always view as a vague insult— to get a mocha, but on the way I saw that the antiquey vintagey home goods place was open, so I went there instead and wandered around touching textiles until I saw a box of patterns. And sat right down on the floor and went through the whole box and then bought four, including a Pierre Cardin I hope to get to soon.

Right? Weird day! Whose life was that?

I had never heard of Harriet Selwyn, so I looked her up and learned that she was a designer based in Los Angeles in the 70’s. Fragments was the name of her fashion line. She was into casual luxury, and into silk jersey, which I’m pretty sure is what she would’ve chosen for these garments, although the envelope suggests cotton or synthetic knits. 

Her focus (from what I can tell from my brief research, I’m no expert) seems to have been providing the LA woman with a wardrobe that mixes and matches and packs well. Now known as your capsule wardrobe. These pieces in this pattern group can be worn layered or alone, and frontwards or backwards, including the dress. Which is pretty neat. I find that whole wear-it-twenty-million-different-ways things super attractive, even though I always end up picking one way and sticking with it. 

I made the top with sleeves. This way is not my favorite:

Neither is this:

This is the winner. Technically backwards, and totally just thrown on. My fave. 


So, yeah. This pattern is pretty basic, and I mean that in the pejorative, Urban Dictionary sense of the word. I’m sure this was a revelation in its day, but now —especially the open front look with the ties hanging down— looks like that one slouchy top for couch time that everyone has. 

And, check out this bummer:

Overcast day equals strange light.

I wore this, washed it once, and it already has a hole. I have made Fast Fashion. I just spent two hours making Forever 21. Dang it. 

But! The real treasure of this pattern is here:


These were folded up inside the envelope. The page is from Family Circle Magazine, from June of 1978, and the small piece was torn from a 1978 edition of the LA Times. Isn’t that neat?! Treasures! I especially enjoy the cost to buy versus cost to make, and the alarmingly physical description of Harriet Selwyn’s designs. When I read that description I feel like I need to take shelter from the oncoming Clothes Tornado. 


Above is a close-up of the end of one of the ties, to show the heathered knit, and to show that I left the edges raw. I finished off all the seams, put elastic in the shoulders, finished the back of the neck, but I like a raw edge so I left it. This is after washing. I figure it won’t unravel much more than this. But hey, it’s already got a hole in it, so who even cares! 

Sew It or Throw It: 

On the basis of this top, I’d say Throw just out of lack of excitement for the final product. But I also made the dress! So I’m saving the decision for a future post! Hahhahahaha! 

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12 thoughts on “Simplicity 8647: Fragments, the top with sleeves

  1. love your description of that neon sign (I tend to feel overwhelmed by hipster-y places). the wrap to the back works so well – looking forward to seeing the dress and the pierre cardin……………..)

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    1. That sign, man. I know it’s meant as nothing more than an inclusive bit of whimsy, but it riles me up. That place is calculated to within the eighth of an inch to appeal to me, and it Does appeal to me! I feel irritated with myself for responding so readily to their machinations.
      And then having that sign is like rubbing salt in the wound. “You think you’re your own person, but no, you belong here with the rest of the sheep!”
      Ha, I’m over thinking this obviously. And reading too much into it. I still like that place, despite myself. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just advertising, trends, cool factor, and interior decoration. Lols.
      I’m looking forward to the Pierre Cardin too, it’s one of those large format Vogue Designer Patterns, which always look so important. Ha, speaking of advertising and cool factor! I’m so susceptible to marketing design!

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  2. I love the image of sheltering from a clothes tornado!
    I’m curious how well the silk narrow hem instructions would work – I wonder if it would fray at all. Plus I’m also very clumsy at trimming seams. I should probably get some actual applique scissors.

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    1. Appliqué scissors are great! I use mine often, mostly for hems, almost never for actual appliqué.
      The method the article describes is not the one I’m most comfortable with, but I think it is the preferred method. Most of the professional seamstresses I’ve worked with use that method for silks and chiffons and love it for its lightness.
      The method I use is the one where you fold at half inch, stitch at 1/16 from the fold, trim right down to that stitch line, then fold it over and stitch it down so the raw edge is enclosed, which makes me feel like it’s tidier, even though it makes a thicker hem and will ripple more.
      When I hemmed the dress from this pattern (the next post after this one) I tried out the article’s method first, but didn’t like how it looked, the difference in thickness between the sheer areas and the knit areas looked weird with that method, so I went back to my usual way.
      Keeping the article in mind though, to try out in the future.

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  3. I love this whole style and can imagine making all the pieces in my favorite colors year after year. It’s like high class work-appropriate pajamas with the bonus of getting to design my outfit differently (and with different pieces) every day.

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  4. I couldn’t stop thinking about this, so today I found a complete pattern on a vintage site and bought it. I’ll have to size up a lot, but I look forward to the challenge.

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