Best Knit T and the Ship Of Theseus skirt


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:


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!



Simplicity 9053: shoot for the moon, and vice versa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, the skirt! I made the short version. 

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

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

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

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

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

Sew It or Throw It: 

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

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. 

Vogue Patterns 1331: that’s a wrap, Donna 

The Pattern: 
Vogue 1331, MISSES’ DRESS, TUNIC, TOP, SHORTS & PANTS, copyright 1994 Butterick Company Inc. 
This is a Vogue American Designer pattern, by Donna Karan New York. 
There’ a fun post over here on Pattern Vault, exploring goth and its influences on fashion and commercial patterns. This pattern here is not specifically cited in the Pattern Vault post, but there’s another Donna Karan for Vogue from 1993, with similar dark colors, long necklaces, and witchy vibe. Looks like the same collection and influences. Anyway, it’s a neat read. 

Interesting to me that this is a Vogue Pattern, published by Butterick. Both Vogue and Butterick are now owned by McCall’s, so I wonder if Vogue was first bought by Butterick, and then both were bought by McCall’s? Like a fish being swallowed by a bigger fish being swallowed by a bigger fish? 

How I got it:
My husband picked this one up when he worked at a fabric store in the 90’s. 
It’s been in my pattern box now for sixteen years, and it’s been interesting to see how time has made kinder my view toward all of the early 90’s patterns of his. What was Hideous to my circa 2000 eyes has become ok to my 2016 eyes. The patterns haven’t changed at all, only thing that’s changed has been my urge to shout AS IF at them. 

The Fabric: 
This pattern calls for Moderate Stretch Knits Only. I didn’t do that. I used some stretch silk charmeuse in red, and some non-stretch silk charmeuse in purple. Not so 90’s goth anymore, sorry Donna. 

I made View B, the wrap dress, but short and with short sleeves. 
This is a great wrap dress. It’s pretty simple really, unlike the delightfully bizarre split-front riding-costume weirdness of the View C top. 
However, the pattern is listed as Easy/Facile, despite being both 1)cut on bias and 2)requiring stretch knit. In my opinion you can pick one or the other and be easy. Just bias? Fine. Just knit? Fine. Bias plus stretch? No. 
Which makes me wonder what the actual criteria for Easy/Facile is. This dress has no zipper or button holes, so by that rubric sure, easy. But knit on bias, come on guys, that’s not easy. 
One thing that is I love about this pattern is that the grain follows the neckline. This is my favorite method for wrap dresses, because it makes it look like I just picked up a piece of fabric and wrapped it around my body. Maybe immediately after sailing ashore on a half shell, or in some sort of wood-nymph situation. When wrap dresses are done the other way, where the grain runs perpendicular to the floor, the dress looks clunky to me and looses that magically wrapped feeling, and if there’s a print involved it fights the neckline. 
So I like this pattern. 
Although it really does not need to be moderate stretch knit . The bias does the stretching for us here. 

Time: 12 hours

I used a folded strip of the purple to finish the inside neck edge, instead of top stitch over Stay Tape ™ the pattern recommended. 
You can see in this view above, not a lot of underlap on the skirt there. Something for me to change next time. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Totally a Sew It. 
While I was working on this dress, Vogue Patterns announced that it will no longer be producing Donna Karan patterns, so this turned out to be kind of a timely project. 
Maybe someday I’ll try out the other patterns in this envelope, those high waisted shorts are looking particularly hilarious to me. They need a little more time still, before they look ok to my eyes. 

McCall’s 8781: blue bias

The Pattern:
McCall’s 8781, MISSES’ UNLINED JACKET, BIAS TOP, PANTS AND BIAS SKIRT, copyright 1997 The McCall Pattern Co. 
Oof, this outfit. Those pants. That awkward length on the jacket. The helmet that model is wearing. Oh, I mean that hair, yeah sorry. 
Just for fun, here’s how I would restyle this cover art:
Feature the little bias top in the largest photo. Lengthen the jacket by at least six inches. Throw out the pants and NEVER SPEAK OF THEM AGAIN. 
The skirt is fine. Whatever. It’s nothing. It can stay. 

I made the little top. It’s super cute. It’s super 90’s. It has one major problem:

You can see it, right? You see the problem? You see it right away, right?
Total. Bra strap. Visibility. 
The 2016 solution to this problem would be a halter style bra —which would still show, but not as strapnormously— or a strapless bra. 
I am not interested in either of those. I want to live in a world where none of my shirts have Special Bra Requirements. A world where everything works with everything else. A world where I can just get dressed, dammit. 
I tried a racer back bra, but the racer back itself was visible through the shirt’s center back keyhole opening, and looked even worst than the Festival Of Straps you can see in the photo above. 
Actually, maybe a festival of straps is what this shirt needs. I could just wear all the bras, at the same time, like its a thing. 
The 1997 solution to this problem, by the way, would’ve been to go no-bra. This is not guessing, or memory, this is a matter of movie fact: watch ANY 90’s movie if you don’t believe me. Even the polo scene in Pretty Woman. Which is technically from the very end of the 80’s but still. No bra under that iconic brown and white dotted silk dress. 

The Fabric:
Dark blue cotton gauze. Very thin, very see-through, I used two layers to make it opaque. This fabric was a sheer, light, unhemmed, super bohemian bedspread for about a dozen years, then I cut it up to make a swaddling blanket (big square, two layers, machine-quilt in a two inch grid, hem, done) which was pretty great because it’s such a strong dark color and all the other baby stuff I had for my son was serene and pale. 
And now this top, plus a shirt that I haven’t sewn yet, will finish off the gauze scraps. 

Just under three hours! Let’s hear it for immediate gratification!

Here, check it out, I came up with a solution for the strap visibility problem:

Layering! It looks like a raglan now! But more girly and delicate and bias! It’s so tomboy! I love it! 

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. 
I mentioned one time in this other post that I’d like to make this top as a sweater vest, and I am still into that idea. Like, a lightweight cashmere with satin binding at the armsceyes and the neckline. To be worn over crew neck long sleeved shirts, in winter when you want another layer on your body but no extra bulk on your arms. That’ll be awesome. Now I just need to keep an eye out for the fabric. I bet I can thrift-shop source this one. 
The only change I made from the original was to cut two layers so I could clean finish the armsceyes and the keyhole back with the lining layer, instead of using the facings provided. No size changes or fit changes. Good pattern. 

And I’m counting this as my 90’s entrant for the #vintagepledge. Please visit this post for more info on what the vintage pledge is, and the ladies who started it. 

McCall’s 8781, Simplicity 8780, Simplicity 7216, and Simplicity 8397: So nice I own them twice. Or thrice. 

These two above are McCall’s 8781, MISSES’ UNLINED JACKET, BIAS TOP, PANTS, AND BIAS SKIRT, copyright 1997 The McCall Pattern Company. 
My husband bought these in the late 90’s. I don’t know why he bought two, but they are a 12 and a 16, so he was probably just hoping to cover a range of sizes. For his girl army. Or something. 
The only garment I’m interested in here is the little top, and according to the garment measurements on the back, it is typically bust-ease-errific, so I will keep the 12, throw the 16. 
It’s a cute top. I made it once a long time ago for a wedding.  I’ll make it up again someday as a sweater vest. 

  And here above is Simplicity 8780, JUNIOR AND MISSES’ TWO-PIECE DRESS IN TWO LENGTHS, copyright 1970 Simplicity Pattern Co, Inc.  
Simplicity, who you trying to fool with that “two piece dress” nonsense. Round these parts we call that a Skirt and Top. 
Love the little star barrette on Center Blonde though.
I have two of this one because the first was a pass-along from a friend and the second came as part of an eBay lot. 
This one, I’m most interested in the skirt, therefor I’ll probably keep the 16, Throw the 12.

Above is Simplicity 7216, JUNIOR PETITES’ AND MISSES’ SKIRTS IN TWO LENGTHS, copyright 1967 Simplicity Pattern Co, Inc. 
I have two of this one because, same like before, a friend gave me one copy, and then the second copy came with an eBay lot. Same friend, different eBay lot. 
I’ll measure the patterns and make sure they didn’t get too crazy with the ease, and then probably keep the 30 waist, Throw the 26. 

Here below is the most awesome of all: 

This is Simplicity 8397, MISSES’ SET OF SKIRTS IN TWO LENGTHS & SCOOTER SKIRT, copyright 1969 Simplicity Pattern Co, Inc. 
When this one showed up in my most recent eBay box, I thought, “Oh, haha, I already have this one, and it’s really tiny, so I’ll just check and keep the biggest one, perfect, done.” 
But look! There are three, and THEY ARE IDENTICAL IN SIZE! All three are a size 24 inch waist! How does that happen! It’s not like I’m constantly buying up eBay, either. I have bought exactly two boxes of patterns, ever, and this pattern was in both boxes, in the same size, and I already owned it. 
This is crazy! 
Maybe this is my Soul Pattern.
Ok that’s not a thing.
But I will keep one, Throw the other two. I wonder if more are coming? Freaky!!!!
Look at how cute those knee socks are too. 

Sew It or Throw It:  that’s four Stows-for-now, and five Throws. 

“…the unbeatable Chanel look.”

the patterns:
Starting from top left and reading across, we have:

  • Advance 9480, MISSES’ ONE YARD SEPARATES, no copyright date, Advance Pattern Co. Let’s say it was published mid-1960’s.
  • Simplicity 6313, MISSES’ SUIT WITH AND WITHOUT SLEEVES, OVERBLOUSE AND SCARF…DESIGNER FASHION, copyright 1965 Simplicity Pattern Co. Inc.
  • McCall’s 5585, MISSES’ UNLINED JACKET IN TWO LENGTHS, copyright 1991 The McCall Pattern Company 
  • Simplicity 8836, MISSES’/MISS PETITE JACKET, PANTS AND SKIRT, copyright 1999 Simplicity Pattern Co. Inc

Ok, so, these patterns. I pulled them all out the other day when I was thinking about jackets, and thought they’d be fun to share and discuss. All have elements of the Chanel jacket, the two on the left definitely, the two on the right, maybe. Let’s admire some of their Special Qualities.

In terms of Nods To Chanel, the winners are Advance 9480 and McCall’s 5585.
Chanelisms: wool, no collar, applied trim, chain as trim, metal buttons, pockets, pocket-flaps, pocket-flaps with metal buttons and applied trim, hip length, boxy shape, soft yet slightly military look. 
Simplicity 6313 has the collarlessness and the pocket flaps, plus the boxy shape and length, but is not overtly Chanel, while Simplicity 8836 has the collarlessness and a sort of luxuriously spartan feeling that seems pretty Chanel-like to me. Plus, Simplicity 8836 has hooks as the center front closure, which is an observable phenomenon in the Chanel world.

In terms of cover appeal, Advance 9480 is the clear winner of my affections, as Advance patterns always are.
This is a beautiful image, this is the one I immediately want to make and wear and be.
That heavy vs. thin line-weight, I mean, it’s so beautiful it almost blinds me to the fact that the garment is not exciting. The jacket has the applied trim and the boxy shape that we think of when we think Chanel Jacket, but no pockets, no buttons, no secret chain-weights sewn into the hem to give the jacket the right hang…kinda no nothing.

It is, however, the only one of these four patterns that is unafraid to speak the name Chanel. The back cover reads,

Blouse, skirt, jacket, of smartly coordinated fabrics plus some gay trimming, together have the unbeatable Chanel look. BUT the really big news here is that each can be made from only one yard of 54″ fabric!

Which I kind of love, that the pattern is like, ‘yeah, fine, Chanel, whatever, But Guys! Check Out How Much Yardage You’ll Save!!!!!!’
Simplicity 6313 calls itself Designer Fashion but stops short of naming any names, and by 1991 when McCall’s 5585 comes along, this look is referred to as a Fashion Basic, with no mention of designers, nameless or otherwise.
So in terms of name-dropping, Advance 9480 wins.

Interesting side-note: I read somewhere that Chanel herself was amused by and tolerant of this sort of style-biting. Modern day Chanel-The-Establishment, not so tolerant. There has sprung up a whole vocabulary of oblique ways to refer to this style, without raising the lawsuit-y ire of Chanel Inc. Vocabulary such as “the french jacket”, “the classic couture Parisian jacket made of bouclé…” and so on, you get the idea. 

Another side-note: Despite being published within Karl “King of the Bustier” Lagerfeld’s era at Chanel, neither McCall’s 5585 nor Simplicity 8836 includes a matching bra top with self-fringed trim. So sad about that. 

The winner of Least Attractive Cover Art goes to McCall’s 5585, but that’s not really fair of me as I’m generationally predisposed to be grossed out by 1991.

In terms of What Might Look Nice On A Real Person, I think Simplicity 8836 might be the winner. Minus the shoulder pads.
The shaping through the waist is forgiving, unlike the square silhouette of Advance 9480, which kind of demands slim waist and narrow hips.
The bummer is that Simplicity 8836 is the least Chanel-like of my little collection, so making it would lack some of the retro-homage excitment that these other jackets bring.

So that’s it.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite? Or a least favorite? Do tell. 

Style 2982: Just a good old totally boring t-shirt

the pattern:
STYLE 2982 copyright 1998 Style Patterns Ltd.
I saw this at a yardsale about ten years ago and bought it because I liked the model. She’s so late 90’s. Girl, go on with your no-makeup-makeup-with-a-dark-lipstick self. And your hesitant, hand-clutching, face turned away from camera self. You just go right on, Girl.
Also, I like that wide neckline.
Also I might’ve been hynotized by that bizarre drawstring dangling from the center front hem. Is that supposed to be nautical?

the fabric:
A sheer white cotton knit. Sheer cotton knits might be The Actual Height of beautiful. The way the seams ghost through? So pretty!
I might’ve bought this  fabric from the scholarship store at FIDM? There was a minute there when I was going to make myself a uniform of sheer knit dresses with solid slips, and bought fabric at the FIDM scholarship store, but then never got around to making anything. This is probably from that.


So, yep, looks like a t-shirt.
Long sleeves, bateau neck, loose fit.
That last picture best shows the sheerness of the fabric and the lowness of the armscye, which I though was a fit issue at first, but looking at our cover-girl there, the low armscye is an intentional style choice.
Style Patterns includes finished garment measurements, printed on the envelope!
I love them for that, as it saves me from having to lay out and measure the pattern pieces to see how much stupid ease was thrown in.
Attention All Commercial Pattern Companies: it would be awesome if you would do like Style and include finished measurements. Those who already do, thanks, you’re great.
Also, Pattern Companies, just plain Quit adding so much ease at the bust. Thanks.
(Hilarious vision in my head right now of a workroom full of commercial patternmakers waving rulers and shouting “Lets add FIVE INCHES at the bust! MuHahahhahahhaaaahhahahhahaaaaa!!!!!”)

changes to the original pattern:
This pattern wants you to face the neckline, but I did a regular old coverstitched t-shirt neck band instead. It’s wavy and gets too narrow in some spots, it’s not technically well done, but aesthetically it pleases me.
In a heavier knit the faced neckline might be interesting, but in this stuff it would be difficult and visible.
The pattern doesn’t call for clear elastic at the shoulders (maybe that was beyond the level of 90’s home-sewing folk?) but I had a factory made t-shirt nearby that I was using for finishing reference, and it had the clear elastic, so I followed it’s example.
Ok, and that drawstring in the hem: I didn’t do that, because I think it looks majorly weird, but if I did I would have it be drawstring in the front only, elastic around the back. Like you do with pajamas. Because how annoying to have to untie your shirt to get dressed.

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. Despite being a totally boring t-shirt, this is the kind of thing I’ll end up layering all winter without even meaning to.

update 5/January/2015: I am reversing my ruling on this pattern! It’s now a Throw It! I wear the shirt all the time, but only because I don’t have any other long sleeved t-shirts. If I did, this shirt would be outta here, because it is too short to layer properly. It doesn’t line up with my sweaters and stuff. Drives me nuts. This pattern doesn’t have enough good features to outweigh the boring, so it’s getting thrown. To the thrift shop.

Style 2978: just a little slip of a thing

the pattern:
Style 2978 copyright 1998 Style Patterns Ltd.
Style Patterns is a really difficult name to search-engine, you guys. Which might explain why Style Patterns went out of business. Or were purchased (exciting edit: yes, Style was purchased, by Simplicity. I tweeted and asked). Or…????
Name Too Vague For The Internet Age.
I would love to get all sassy and say that Style Co. should’ve thought of that in 19-whenever-they-started, but I can’t even find, like, a wikipedia stating the date of their founding.
I mean, I didn’t try that hard? Maybe like two seconds of googling? But two seconds is all it takes, come on! Internet Age!
All I know for sure is that Style existed as recently as 1998, and that I bought this pattern at a yardsale in probably 2002.

the fabric:
This embroidered primitive-pleated stuff came into my posession also somewhere around 2002, through a friend who was working as a personal assistant to fashion designer, who had a studio clearance sale and clearanced a bunch of stuff.
Stuff like a huge bag of muslin skirt samples that I bought, thinking they would definitely be awesome for something someday, and have finally just this summer admitted that what they are awesome for is: breaking down into useable muslin and zippers.
Oh well.
But the sale had a bunch of other neat stuff like machine embroidered scraps that would start off embroidered in blue and switch to orange, because they were just trying out the color. I made shorts out of some of that.
The best part of the sale was getting to check out the workroom and think about all the ways that industry patternmaking is different from theater patterning is different from fashion patterning is different from commercial patterning. The more I work through my collection of commercial patterns, the more I accept that each method is suited to it’s particular situation, and no one way is universally better than another, and I need to just relax and be flexible and Vive the Differences.
So, the fabric. Here’s a picture. It’s double layered, the top layer sort of a blue grey cotton, embroidered through to the gauzy underlayer with green thread. The embroidery has a great sheen, reflects lots of light but is not metallic. And it’s pleated pleated pleated.

the dress
This dress was SUPER DIFFICULT AND ANNOYING. And it wasn’t the pattern, it was my own stupid fault for being stupid stubborn.
What happened was I refused to look up any of the million online tutorials that show how to do a continuous facing on a neckline and armscye and have it all turn rightside out.
I figured it would all work out fine. I mean, I’ve done it before, recently even, and it all worked out. I don’t remember how exactly, but whatever, I’d just figure it out, right?
No!!!!!! I didn’t!
After opening some seams, closing some other seams, tearing my finger with a pin (which, if you sew you know it’s possible to not just poke your finger, but actually rip it, gross) I made a move of desperation: I checked the pattern instructions. And guess what? There aren’t any shoulder seams. The shoulders have some kind of ridiculous button and loop detail, which I had previously vetoed because a button would be painful under the shoulder strap of my messenger bag, plus no one would ever see that detail!
I mean look! Look at the pattern! I challenge you to see that button and loop detail! On the photo or the illustration!
So then after breaking down and checking the instructions, and finding them no help, I was considering just doing the stupid buttons after all, when I suddenly figured out how to stitch the facing so it would turn rightside out. Which is good because it’s good to figure stuff out, but bad because it reinforces my belief that everything will work out if I just stubbornly power through it.
But wait, there’s more awesome. By this time, I’d handled the dress so much that the pleats had released a little and it was too big.
So I took out the facing and took in the back and sides and made piping out of some green dupioni to finish the neck and armsceyes and added a fake keyhole and a button and was OVER IT.

While I was handstitching the hem I started wondering if I will even wear this dress, and then wondered if I would’ve worn it in 1998, and then got to thinking how my dress-needs in 1998 were pretty simple:
A dress needed to be serious enough for portfolio reviews and job interviews, stylish enough for opening nights and art galleries, and boring enough that no one would notice it was the same dress being worn to all these different events.
And the funny thing is, I had that dress, it was basically this dress, but in a fly-under-the-radar black jersey.

The thing about wearing this dress now though, is that it is very much like a night gown. In terms of comfort, but also in terms of I feel weird leaving the house in it.
In a more stable fabric, like, oh I don’t know, one of the fabrics the pattern told me to use, it would be better. What this pleated fabric really wants is to be sewn in a tube and used in, like, Aïda or something similarly Ancient Egyptian.

Sew It or Throw It:
Yeah, I’d sew it again. I mean why not, I’ve figured out the facing, the hard part’s over.

update 5/January/2016: I wore this dress once and then it went to the thrift shop. Could never get over the nightgown factor. The pattern is still a Sew It, although if it weren’t for the included cardigan pattern I would revoke Sew status altogether.

Vogue 1501: the dream of the 90’s is alive in Bellville Sassoon

the pattern: 

Vogue 1501, a Vogue Designer Original from Bellville Sassoon, copyright 1994 Butterick Company Inc. 


A long long time ago, before I met my husband, I had a job in a bookstore. The bookstore stocked a bunch of foreign-language fashion magazines, which no one ever bought, so at the end of every month the bookstore’s magazine order-er would rip the covers off L’Officiale and French Marie Claire and whatever else, and send the front cover back to the publisher. I think there was a refund involved, but whatevs, the important part is that the rest of the magazine would go into the recycling basket, aka, directly into my bookbag and from there onto the walls of my dorm room. 

Similarly, a long time before my husband met me, he had a job in a small town fabric store, where no one ever bought the Vogue Designer Original Patterns, so they would go on deep discount (looks like this one cost him $2.50) and he would buy them. 

Those pages torn out of my Italian Vogues are long gone, but he held onto his patterns, and now they are aaaaaaaall miiiiiiiine. 

I asked him if he had a project in mind when he bought Vogue 1501, or a girl in mind? He said no. 

the fabric:

Same fabric as this dress, which I made from a pattern published in 1995. Guess I’m really feeling the 90’s with this little brown floral. 


it’s not ombréd, it’s just a sunflare
ain’t no strap like a twisted strap
ok Big Helper, you can be in the picture. Especially since you’re wearing pants that I made.

the dress and construction and stuff:

This shape looks so 90’s to me —neckline, strappy shoulder straps, gored construction that flares into a full but short skirt— that I felt a little costumey the first few times I wore it. But then on like Wear #3 I walked past some girl wearing a crop-top with high-waisted baggy jeans gathered into a paper-bag-waist effect, and I didn’t feel so out-there 90’s anymore. 

The pattern wants you to add lace, which I didn’t, and line the dress, which I didn’t, and put a zipper in the back, which I didn’t. 

Interestingly, the pattern also wants you to French seam all the seams, which I think is odd for a lined garment. I mean, if it’s lined, it’s clean finished already. French seams plus a lining with French seams seems like overkill. Bulky bulky overkill. Right? I mean, I’m no Bellville Sassoon, but…

For some reason I had it in my head that you can’t do a French seam on a curve. Just plain can’t. I had some idea that French seams on a curve are like against-the-laws-of-physics impossible. 

So I went into that process with a “let’s just see about this,” attitude, and it totally worked out fine and gave me the sassy sassafras to French seam the armsceyes on this shirt, and makes me feel like I might come out of this whole Sew It Or Throw It experience as a better stitcher and therefor a more well-informed pattern-maker. 

So that’s pretty good.

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew it. 

Maybe in a knit. 

Or maybe line it next time, which would make a crisper neckline than this version has, and give the whole thing more weight. Keep that short skirt a little more grounded and less flying around in the breeze. 

Probably never going to go for the jacket though. As of this moment, that jacket is too unforgivably 90’s. Just 90’s in the worst way. Who knows what kind of crazy get-up I might see some girl wearing tomorrow though. Fashions change, minds change.