Simplicity 7807, it’s good because it’s so simple

The pattern is Simplicity 7807. It was printed in 1976 and describes itself as a dress with “skirt attached to bodice above normal waistline”, which seems like an awfully convoluted way of saying empire or raised waist or midriff, but whatever.

There’s also a little jacket. Wouldn’t View 2, the one with the fur, make a great wedding dress? I love her with her single rose. No bouquet for this girl.

My copy of this pattern is missing it’s instruction page, but it’s a super simple pattern so no big deal. The bodice has two pairs of bust darts that point upward from the raised waistline, the back has a zipper, there are some straps, that’s it.

This is where I started:

Pattern, sari fabric left over from a theater project, long black pleated skirt.

I picked up the skirt like a dozen years ago at a vintage place in Silver Lake. It’s polyester, it’s got an International Ladies Garment Workers Union label, the metal zipper had missing teeth but somehow magically it still zipped up. I really like these old 70’s permanently pleated polyester skirts, they are so sculptural. And they wash well. Kinda indestructible.

Until someone goes at ’em with scissors:

Next step attach to bodice, new plastic zipper, done. No hemming because the skirt was already hemmed. Hooray for reuse.

The back isn’t pieced, that vertical area is part of the border that was woven into the fabric. I thought it would be cool to place it along the zipper.

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It forever. The really great thing about this pattern, other than it being easy and flattering, is that the top edge of the bodice is on the straight grain in front and back, which makes it perfect for showing off stripes, plaids, border prints, anything arranged horizontally.

Oh snap, speaking of horizontal, I just noticed the horizontal gold line is uneven from side to side at the back. Wow. That’s embarrassing. Nobody look ok?

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Best Knit T and the Ship Of Theseus skirt

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Here we have Simplicity 5185 MISSES SET OF TOPS (DESIGNED FOR KNIT FABRICS ONLY) from 1972, and Vogue 2476 MISSES JACKET AND SKIRT from 1949, reprinted in 2000.

And here’s what I did with them:

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A little bit different maybe.

So the shirt pattern: great. Best knit shirt pattern I’ve ever used, mainly in that the shoulders are just plain right. The seam is in the right spot, there’s no ease from the cap to the armseye, it’s just great.

The sleeve stripes are added in because I wanted long sleeves but didn’t have the yardage. I feel like they add a sport vibe to this otherwise Power Puff get up and I love them for that.

The collar is a contrast V, because I first made the View 2 Henley placket and it was suuuuuuper bad. Really really looked like pajamas, like no way to dress them like day clothes, just really looked like I rolled out of bed. I like a Henley placket in general and would try again, but this fabric, being thermal knit and in this particular stars and rainbows print has too many pajama strikes against it already.

So I cut away the placket and just made up the V.

 

The skirt is further away from its original.

I’m calling it Ship Of Theseus because I eliminated the waistband and the skirt length, dropped the waistline, lost the darts, and then later went back in and changed the angle of side seams and the back seam, and went with an exposed back zip instead of the original lapped side seam. And lined it. So all of its original parts have been replaced. Is it still Vogue 2476? Well, there’s the thought experiment for ya.

Side note: according to Wikipedia, the Ship Of Theseus is both a fun philosophical question and an actual problem with real ships that the navy occasionally has to deal with.

Sew them or throw them?

Definitely sew the Simplicity shirts forever. I recently saw a photo of someone wearing a turtle neck with a back neck zipper, like View 1, and instead of looking insane like usual, this time it looked like a cute retro detail. So I might go for that at some point.

And the Vogue reprint, I mean, I haven’t even really given it a chance yet, so it’s a sew too for now. Or at least not a throw. Hard to imagine ever making the jacket, which is the entire reason for the patterns existence, but it sure is cool looking, with those magical front pockets appearing from the bodice seams.

Parting shot: here’s a close up of the border on the skirt. It’s made from a wool remnant, this crazy herringbone was the selvedge and I had basically enough to make exactly this size and shape of skirt, no more length or height even if I’d wanted it. And the selvedge is not an even width, which is why the border doesn’t match up at the back seam. Whatever! Hooray for supply limitations!

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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!

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 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. 

But!

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. 

Butterick 4064: my new favorite skirt, and it’s not even for me. 

The pattern: is Butterick 4064, top, skirt, and pants, from sometime in the 1970’s. No date on the envelope, which is normal for vintage Butterick, and always a disappointment for me.

I love the artwork on this pattern. I think the girls’ faces are especially beautiful, the pointed chin on the girl in green and the calm smile on the girl in the apricot. I hadn’t really noticed the clothes before: the faces were so distracting and the envelope says moderate stretch only, which is not my favorite sewing thing. 

But, after making this plaid skirt for myself, I decided that it was such a nice quick project that I should make one for my sister too. But then I looked over at my boxes of untried patterns and thought, no way, I need to make her something from a new pattern, keep moving forward with the sewing/throwing. 

And I’m so glad I did because this is my new favorite skirt pattern. It’s better than the plaid. 

Here’s how it turned out:


Hahahaha just kidding. My son was home sick from school that day and kept bringing me scraps and saying Mama, sew this part right here, so I did. And that’s what he made. 

Here’s the real skirt:


It’s super simple. It’s meant to be straight grain with a center front and center back seam in addition to the side seams, but I cut it on the bias and got rid of the seams at front and back.

The fabric was a mystery. It had been discarded from the costume shop where I was working in 2003 or so, during a scrap-bin clean-out. I made a long narrow bias skirt for myself out of this, way back then, with a chevrons at the front back and sides, and a back slit. That skirt is long gone but I still had scraps enough to make this little skirt, with just a little piecing in the back. Can you see it? The back is in three Top Secret pieces. 

The fabric looks like wool or raw silk, or something big and slubby, and I remember back in 2003 being pretty sure I would pull a big ball of felt out of the dryer when I washed and dried the fabric the first time, but no, it was completely unaffected. I did a burn test while making this skirt for my sister, because after all this time I Had To Know, and after burning a bunch of scraps, I think it’s acrylic. Good old, totally durable, totally washable acrylic. 


It’s got a nice deep hem, finished off with two different colors of seam binding, because I like using up odd lengths of seam binding. 

The waistband (pieced in one spot), invisible zipper, and button here:


I assume my sister will wear a shirt with this, but that’s totally up to her. 

Here’s a view of the inside of the waistband, which I cut along the funny fuzzy selvedge, so the fuzzy part could make a fun inner finish. 

So that’s it! Simple little skirt pattern, took about four hours from cutting to putting on the button, nice stripey outcome. Also fun to confirm that this is yet another 70’s pattern that says it requires stretch fabric but doesn’t actually require stretch fabric.

I considered wrapping it up and making my sister wait until Christmas, just to torture her, but it turns out I’m not that mean. Who knew? She came over the other day (photo ready as always, but I was too lazy to set up the backdrop again) and tried it on and said it’s exactly what she had hoped for when I showed her the fabric in a “do you like this fabric” type text a couple days ago.

Sew It or Throw It: 

Sew It. Good lines, versatile, and I like seeing that pretty envelope on my shelf. 

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.

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. 

Butterick 3794: two great things that aren’t great together

The pattern is Butterick 3794, top, skirt, and pants, from sometime in the 1970’s. No date on this pattern, but obviously 70’s. I mean, those shoes. 

I like the artwork on this pattern a lot. The model had a sweet face, her hair is simple, she looks more or less like a real, normal, not overly glamorous person. Maybe this is why she looks so sweet: her little neck scarf looks like an attempt at glamour, like a normal kid aspiring toward glamour, which is super endearing. 

I like how that giant black and white plaid shows us that the skirt is cut on the bias, rather than the envelope telling us with words. 

I like how the artwork shows that with just three fabrics, a turtleneck sweater, two pairs of shoes, one pair of socks, a scarf, and the patterns in this envelope, you can have this whole wardrobe of looks. It’s stylish yet efficient and kinda bare-bones in an appealing way. This artwork is tapping into why people like the idea of capsule wardrobes: it really seems like it’s gonna work, like that’s it, your clothing situation is all settled, the end, welcome to a whole new world of everything going with everything. 

I buy fabric without a use in mind. I just like it. It’s mostly second hand, I’m not being extravagant, so if I like it I buy it. Which means I end up with a collection of fabric that is mostly prints or interesting weaves or patterns. Solids don’t usually jump out as interesting, unless it’s a really special solid. Which means nothing really goes together, except in the sense that I like all of it, so it must be related in some way. I’m pretty sure that if I just keep making stuff, eventually everything will go with everything. As a factor of me liking all of it. 

Anyway, from this pattern I made the shirt in a brindled knit from deep in the bins at Michael Levine Loft, and the skirt from a pair of woolen-blend table-runners, some lace, and a peppermint delirium of a lining fabric. 

Here’s the shirt. 


Brindled is defined as brownish or tawny with stripes of other color, especially in reference to domestic animals, as in a brindled bulldog puppy, which is exactly why I bought this fabric. 

Good sleeves on this one. 

I made only one change from the original: I finished the neck, sleeves, and hem with this decorative elastic. Originally the sleeves were elastic in a casing, the hem was a drawstring, and the neckline was that weird 70’s obsession of finishing a knit garment with an interfaced (aka no longer stretchy) facing. I assume they did that because knits weren’t as stretchy back then (lower Lycra content), so stretching on a T-shirt style neckband would’ve been impossible. 

I did put a little interfaceing in front though, for that triangle shape at the center front neck that sweatshirts always have. 

Why do sweatshirts have that triangle? Reinforcement? Why would the front need more reinforcement than the back or sides? 


And here’s the skirt:

So, yeah, the plaid was two long skinny table runners, woven in the Carnegie tartan, from some alumni event of my husband’s. I put in a window of black lace with one scalloped edge, and behind that some crazy swirling lining fabric. I know this looks nuts, but there wasn’t enough of the wool. I had no choice in it, there was nothing else I could do. 

This is the first time I’ve used my appliqué scissors for actual appliqué. Usually I use them for hems. Trimming away around these scallops was very satisfying. 

Instead of matching the plaid when I was putting together the sections of table runner, I offset it for maximum crazy. You can see most clearly at the back, here:

This skirt is longer than the original: the pattern included a 2 1/2 inch hem, but I faced it instead. The only other change I made from the original was sidestepping the waistband. I stitched in a twill tape and the understitched it with the lining.


Lapped zipper though, just like the pattern told me to. Always happy to use up these old coil zippers. 


And here it is on a warmer day with different styling.


Sew It or Throw It:

Sew definitely. The shirt is great and the skirt is super simple. Same pattern piece for the front and back. Could probably be finished in one sitting. Except not this version, my skirt took eight and a half interesting and fun hours. The shirt took only four hours though, that’s practically instant fashion. 

Simplicity 8647: Fragments, the dress

This is Simplicity 8647, a Harriet Selwyn designer pattern, from 1978. I’ve included the back view this time because the cover art is so drapey and wrapped and layered it’s hard to see what is even there, but the back gives a nice clear view of the pieces (dress, vest, shirt) and of how the dress can work frontwards with the scoop neckline in front, or backwards with the square neckline in front. 

This is why I made this dress:


Because I thought it would be the perfect vehicle for this weird fabric.


It’s like a burnout velvet, but the area that would be velvet is knit instead. The sheer base is not knit though, it’s a net, more in the style of the background found in lace, so it’s not quite like those burnout knit T-shirts I’ve seen here and there either.  It has a giant geometric design, slightly Deco, slightly Aztec. Makes me think of the Oviatt Building and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock house. The design is symmetrical side-to-side but didn’t have a lengthwise repeat in my piece, which was a three yard precut piece that I dug out of the bins at the Michael Levine Loft. I’ve never seen anything like this stuff. I wonder if it was manufactured for curtains. If so they would be pretty amazing. 

I wanted to use as much of this weirdo fabric as possible, so I cut a lining exactly as the pattern, and then swung the pattern out for max fullness when I cut the burnout knit. Seemed like a good idea at the time. 

Above is what we are calling backwards, with the square neck in front, and below is frontwards, with the scoop neck in front. 


Ok, so, problems I see with this: 

First, I should’ve worn tights in a light color, to blend in with the light colored lining and make the whole thing look more sheer and magical. No hard line where the lining ends and the tights start. 

Second, it’s too dang long. This is the length it’s patterned to be. Usually with a tent dress I’d go short, so as to retain the sense of there being a person somewhere inside all that dress, but this time I wanted to use as much of the fabric as possible so I trusted the pattern. 

Might be ok at this length as a summer dress, with no tights. I’m realizing that black tights really need a mini skirt, or else they veer into matron territory. I think it looks approximately one million times better with the belt, which brings back the idea that there is a person somewhere in there. 

Thirdly, sadly, the extra fullness in the sheer layer reduces the impact of the giant geometric design. The fullness folds in on itself and chops itself up visually. 

I could just stand like this all the time:


Or like this: 


Or like this.


Sew It or Throw It

I’m calling this pattern a Sew It, but On Probation. My version is woven and lined, whereas this pattern is supposed to be made in a single layer of stretch. My plan is to hold onto this pattern until I can give it a real chance to prove itself. 

Oh, and it took six and a quarter hours to make. I expect if I make it the right way someday it’ll take like two hours. 

Speaking of more appropriate fabrics, I think this pattern could be a prime candidate for something hideous like double knit polyester. Think about it. Tiny bit of stretch, but heavy enough to prevent clinging, which is all I can think of when I see tricot on the recommended fabrics list. Cling! 

As for my burnout knit, I probably should have saved it for something flat, like a long columnar tank dress or something, that would show the design more dramatically. But whatever, no fabric regrets. 



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!