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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Some charts and graphs and stuff

Recently, my Sew It box 
—that’s the box I keep way down under a bottom shelf, full of the patterns that I have tried, decided to keep, and have done a post about— 
got too full to close. 
So I took all the patterns out and put them on a new shelf into three new clear boxes where I can see and admire them, sorted them by brand, and was surprised by what I found so I made some charts and stuff. 
Here’s the first chart:

This mess (above) is three charts, actually. 
Top is broken up by decade, lower left by brand, lower right by Big 4 vs indie/out of business. 
I did the lower right graph because I was surprised to see Simplicity coming out as such a big winner, and I figured since McCall’s owns Butterick and Vogue that when I put those together they would win out over Simplicity (and Style which was purchased by Simplicity in the 90’s) but then they didn’t. Even after breaking down the numbers into indie versus Big 2, Simplicity won. 
Why? 
Well, I think my collection of patterns, which was gathered in a totally unintentional and haphazard way, is a pretty good microcosm of what’s out there in the world, secondhand pattern-wise.  
(The following theories are my own, not based on accredited or confirmed research)
Simplicity is simple, basic in design, inexpensive, and available in all fabric stores. I think the reason there are a ton of vintage Simplicty patterns languishing in thrift stores and eBay miscellaneous lots is because they were ubiquitous when sewing was common. They kinda flood the market of vintage patterns, so they aren’t seen as precious, so I find them easily. 
Vogue patterns, on the other hand, are seen as more valuable, so I’m a lot less likely to stumble upon them in yard sales. Are they more valuable? Yes? By some measures? Beautiful cover art? Higher level of complexity? Moar Fashun?
Or maybe it’s that current Vogue patterns are sold for a higher price than their McCall’s brethren, so I assume vintage ones were too back when they were current, and so they were less frequently purchased than their cheaper contemporaries, and therefor are now rare, especially unused copies. 
But I think the main thing with Vogue is the name. Vogue is fashion, indisputably. Even though Vogue Magazine and Vogue Pattern Company became separate companies pretty early on, there’s still the importance of the name. 
I only have one Vogue pattern in my Sew It box. I pretty much never run across vintage Vogue patterns in the wild. I don’t have a whole lot of them in my untested box. I think people see the name Vogue and think This Is Worth Something and pull those patterns aside to be sold individually to people who Collect with a capital C, as in buy their patterns with intention, which is not my pattern buying method. So there. 
I have a couple Vogue dresses lined up to sew this summer. Will report back. 
Here below is a tidier version of those other graphs. Simplicity is wining, across the decades. Because they exist more in the world?
One thing that stands out for me in the chart below is McCall’s winning the 21rst century. This is totally because of the pattern clearance sales run through Joanns. After reading Overdressed, by Elizabeth L. Cline, I feel guilty about this, that I am buying on sale things I wouldn’t buy at full price, which devalues the actual price of the pattern.

Unrelated, here below is a To Do list I made and then abandoned. 
I made one thing from the useful column, a pair of pants, and then was like screw useful. It’s summer dresses from here on out. Until fall. Then maybe Serious Fall Season will renew my interest in useful. 
Speaking of Overdressed, my take away message from the book was to buy more, not less. 
I already never shop. I mean not literally, but I am super frugal and hate stores and people and shopping. 
But after reading the book, I realized that if I’m going to vote with my wallet, a purchase is a louder statement than an abstention. 
You know, like, forever 21 is never going to even notice that I’m Totally Not Talking To Them You Guys, meanwhile if I need some t-shirts, I need to buy them, support some place that I like, and free up my sewing time for stupid stuff that pleases me, like sundresses. 

Sundresses times infinity. 

Speaking of sustainability and stuff, I put this dress (above, with apron) on the other day and it hit me that I made this dress when I was 22, which means in a few years when I hit 44 I’ll have had it half my life. Which is nuts. A dress, in my various closets, half my life. 
I remember making that dress, from a pattern I drafted on paper bag paper, on the floor of my boyfriend’s apartment. Then I married him. 
And even more nuts than owning a dress half my life is that the next year after that I’ll have had this dress for MORE than half my life. What other objects can I say that about? Photos? Letters? Serious touchstones of my personality?  I think that’s neat. 
And speaking of old things, here below is a sweater my grandma knitted for me when I was little, that I wore and loved and then outgrew and my stepmother kept it for me and brought it to me and now my son wears it. It’s some kind of wonderful synthetic yarn that is totally right for kids clothes and that I anticipate will last forever. 


Another thing speaking of Overdressed, my favorite chapter was the one that liberated me to send all textiles to the thrift shop. I used to throw clothes away, thinking “this is too messed up to resell,” but now I thrift it all, and keep a bag to donate marked Fabric Scraps For Quilting, which I know will go to a textile recycler not a quilter, but that sure beats the trash. 

Anyway. Peace out.  

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. 

Wedding Corset (you know I’m not going to throw it)

the pattern:
This is Jenny’s wedding dress! (obvs)
Ok really this is just the corset pattern (obvs) which is a visible element of the dress (will be obvs when you see the pictures.)

the fabric:
The corset is linen flatlined to cotton-back satin for stability, the underskirt is a four-ply silk crepe, and the overlay that swoops up into a beautiful jewelry piece (created for the bride by another friend), is a changeable silk chiffon. All from F&S Fabrics.

the process:
Jenny and I live on opposite coasts.
How do you custom make a gown for a bride 2000 miles away?
Here’s how we did it:

  1. Gathering of ideas. This was in Ye olden days of pre-Pinterest yore, so Jenny made collages, on actual paper, with real handwritten notes, of colors and shapes and ideas and silhouettes. Nothing specific, just establishing a direction. She mailed them to me in a big exciting envelope. I still have some of those pages, they are cool.
  2. Sketches. After lots of slow thinking and staring, I did a bunch of sketches and emailed them off. I don’t remember if she liked three in particular, or if I just decided to do three, but I ended up bringing three mock-ups along for some…
  3. Travel. Ned had work in NYC. So convenient! I went along for a weekend with three mock-ups in my suitcase. We had a fitting in a little space under a huge window, surrounded by paints and brushes and a full length mirror. I brought the safety pins, she brought the champagne.
  4. Making the dress. I sent her the occasional progress photo but mostly just went for it.
  5. Final fitting. I mailed the dress to a friend, who called Jenny, into a large white space under a tiny window surrounded by sewing machines and racks of clothing to be altered, and a large full length mirror. The wardrobe department of a TV show is what I’m talking about. She fit the dress and mailed it back to me. Also paid me a nice compliment on the chiffon hem. I love that my  friend did this fitting for me, because she is awesome, and because it felt very full-circle for that one time when I did a fitting for a bride in LA who was having her dress made by another friend in NYC. We help each other. Like sister-code, for custom made. Yeah.
  6. Alterations. Back at home.
  7. Travel. To the wedding! I brought the finished dress, we had a final-final fitting, all of us jammed together in a tiny tiny bedroom, with the maid-of-honor making mental note of the closures in order to correctly dress the bride on the day of. I did some extremely minimal alterations right then and there, using a tiny travel sewing kit and the bed as a table. And then we all went out for iced coffee and manicures.

Then, this!

  

Yay! Just look at those guys. Yay.
You can just barely see in that last photo, the shoulder straps were actually double, one structural set going from center front to side back seam, the second set laid on top, extending into two long, free floating ribbons, each ending in a silk tassel with a few long, light, airy feathers.

Oh and this happened too:
Open your eyes, Liza Mae! You’re in a wedding album! Dang!

Sew it or Throw it:
Stow it. It’s a wedding dress pattern! I keep those!

What to do with that wedding dress pattern once the wedding is over…

Make a sundress!  

 

Dressmaking. It’s nothing to smile about.
 

the pattern:

It’s the same pattern as the wedding dress, but shorter and minus the over bodice and over skirt. I was cleaning up, putting away fabrics, trying to figure out what to do with the pattern, since the bride doesn’t want it and it’s not like I’m ever going to make that exact dress again for her or anyone else, and then I figured hey, it’s summer, I’ll just make her a quick sundress.

Note: I think it’s funny that if anyone ever asked me to make them a sundress immediately after making them a wedding dress, I’d be like Get Up Outta My Face With Your Face, but since it was my idea, I was totally excited about it. Ned was like, “she’s going to cry when you give that to her,” and I was like, “I know!!!!! I can’t wait!!!!”

the fabric:

  

I got this fabric at an estate sale. Seemed like the previous owner was quite a world traveler, lots of maps, books, and exotic things. This fabric was folded lengthwise and rolled onto a short tube that was housed in a little paper box with a clear window to show the design and printed all around with Japanese characters.
It’s yukata fabric, which is the traditional lightweight cotton kimono, and in many ways it seems like the real deal: the repeating geometric design in blue and white is in keeping with yukata fabric I’ve seen online, it’s a little narrower than standard commercial woven fabrics, and the dye ran like crazy the first time I washed it, dyed all my dishtowels indigo.
But in the other hand, the selvage is printed with a copyright in English, which makes me think it may have been created for tourists. But who cares, it’s awesome. 

  
the dress:

The bodice is flatlined to washed muslin, and then lined with this blue-grey cotton you can see in the photo above, which I was especially pleased to use because it too has a story:

Story 1. A friend went to India and brought me back a sari, a matching petticoat, and this blue-grey fabric, which is about a yard of matching cotton to make a choli, or blouse. (Note: those things are not blousey). She said after you buy a sari in India, you just, like, walk down to the bodice maker, get measured, choose a style, walk down to the bangle store, get your matching bangles, walk back, pick up your new top. We don’t have that situation around these parts. I never used the fabric. 

Story 2. I once had a heated but friendly argument with the groom of this bride about which is hotter: the kimono or the sari. For the record, he was Team Kimono. For the record, I am super pleased with myself to be using fabric from both in the same dress, for his wife. 

   
  

   

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew it. I like having a way to justify keeping the wedding dress pattern. Who knows, maybe I’ll do up another sundress before the summer is over. 

Wedding dress project: completed. 

For the backstory, please jump back here. To feast your eyes, please read on.

 

This pattern has come a long long way, and many pencil lines and pieces of tape, from it’s early beginnings as McCall’s M6893

  

Above: the under bodice is silk dupioni, flatlined with linen. I finished the seam allowance by pinking it, and then (lost my mind?) hand-stitched each zig of the zig zag to the flatline instead of dropping in a lining. This way it is cooler —temperature wise— for the bride, plus cooler for me in that I like seeing all that interior structure, keeps the whole thing mechanically honest IMO. 

Below: you can see the removable ribbon hanger-loops safety-pinned in (to be removed before wearing), the facing, a bone, the poly-grosgrain interior waist-tape, the exterior milliner’s grosgrain waistband, and the big clear plastic trash bag I kept the dress in whenever I worked on any small part. Clean Zone!

  

Below: neckline and center back of the lace over-bodice are finished with a folded bias strip of the over-skirt’s silk chiffon, machine sewn along the face and hand sewn along the inside. 

  

  

Raglan sleeves. Dupioni shoulder straps with 1/4″ elastic inserted into the back 1 1/2″ for ease of wear during hugs and dancing. 

  

Above: Bodice back view. The lace has a great scalloped edge that worked out just right for the sleeve hem. There’s a dance-gusset in the lace where all the underarm seams meet, again for the hugging and dancing. 

Below: setting the waistband. The bride ended up covering the grosgrain shown here with a strip of lace from her mother’s wedding dress, which I think made a really lovely touch. 

  

  

Above: Antique pearl drop in place of boring old zipper pull.

Below: Bodice, front view. 

  

Below: trimming the chiffon hem with my totally hot appliqué scissors. This chiffon is a super sheer and almost irredescent weave that I usually hear referred to as onion-skin chiffon. I was afraid it would be hard to work with because it is so light and sheer, but it was actually really nice. Don’t fear the onion skin, you guys. 

  

Below: the beauty shot. 

Deets are: boned under-bodice in eight pieces, made of silk dupioni flatlined to linen, with shoulder straps; a lace overbodice with raglan sleeves. Skirt is a somewhat reserved A-line in floor length with gored French-seamed over skirt in onion-skin chiffon, underskirt in silk dupioni, lined in anti-static lining as I was a little worried about the chiffon and dupioni waging war against each other. Which they didn’t. Thanks, fabrics. 

The only photos I got of me and the bride together are a couple of exceptionally dorky selfies, so instead of all that just imagine a beautiful redhead here. Looks like I forgot to take a full length shot of the back view whoops. 
    

Below: If you like To-Do lists, check out these puppies. Oh hey, do you like my stationary? I worked on that movie. #awyeah 

For serious though, I like a To-Do list. A lot of the things on this list are obvious steps, but writing them down means I don’t have to keep them in my head, plus there’s the Huge Satisfaction of crossing things off. 

  

Below: the final To-Do list, after the final fitting. This list was made when I was at that point in the project where it begins to stretch into infinity, like you look into the horizon and all you see is dress dress dress forever. So I wrote down every single last thing, including ridiculously obvious things like sewing the hooks back on that I had just taken off, so that I could look at the list and know, for sure, that that was really it and when I had it all crossed off it was really really finished. 

  

So that’s it!

Anyone out there ever been a guest at a wedding for which you made the dress? Did you secretly bring a sewing kit to the wedding in your tiny wedding purse? I meant to secretly bring one and then forgot, and then felt silly for meaning to and for forgetting and for feeling superstitious about the whole thing, like if I had brought one I definitely wouldn’t need it, but because I hadn’t, you know, what if. 

But then I had some champagne and got into the spirit of things. 

Yay weddings. 

PS, if you are on the instagrams and you like seeing progress shots of sewing projects, I’m SewItOrThrowIt. 

Butterick 4887, what’s your motivation?

Whenever I work on a wedding dress for a friend, I ask the bride what her mom wore and if her mom has been saving the dress and if there’s any element of the mom’s dress we should work in to the new dress, and lately the answer I’ve been getting is “God No! I mean yes, she’s been saving it but it’s this awful 70’s polyester, like, Little House On The Prairie thing with a neck ruffle and these long puffy sleeves and a long skirt, like there’s just fabric everywhere, and what’s that thing where the waist is all weird and up high, plus the dress is like this big.” (bride holds up pinkie finger to demonstrate lack of bigness)
Basically they are describing this:    
the pattern
Butterick 4887 Misses’ Bridal and Bridesmaid Gowns
No copyright date. I’m saying late 1960’s early 1970’s.
I think this style of dress is super interesting, because to my modern eyes it is straight-up ugly. I wore nightgowns very similar to this when I was a kid, and they were ugly too, in plaid flannel.
But the bride who bought this pattern (and made it, the instruction page is missing and the pieces are cut) wasn’t trying to look ugly. She wasn’t thinking, “My bridal theme is wearing the world’s least comfortable nightgown while homesteading. Oh, and let’s Not show off my sweet 26 1/2″ waist, how about something in a nice empire.”
So what was she thinking?
Anybody?
I’ve got three ideas:
1. Rebellion—
against the tight-waisted full-skirted undergarment-requiring dresses of the generation before.
2. Romeo and Juliet—
Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet came out in 1968, the bodice of this dress is actually pretty similar in line to the one Juliet is busting out of on that movie poster. Speaking of bodices and Zeffirelli, a non-costume friend of mine once confessed that the only reason he knows the definition of the word bodice is because of that movie, because daaaaaaaamn, that there’s a bodice.
Also in support of this theory: View C is wearing a Juliet Cap.
3. That Pioneer Spirit—
The tv show of Little House On The Prairie came out in 1974. So maybe. But more likely that pioneer spirit as in let’s go live on a commune and build our own Little Cabin In The Big Woods and raise goats and babies.
Sort of a hippy home-made homage-to-simpler-times vibe, that, as it trickled down from edgy to mainstream fashion and then into affordable ready-to-wear, turned into my friends’ mothers’ polyester organza fantasy gowns.
When you look at it that way, it’s kind of a sweet and wonderful style.
Another thing: it’s easy to for us Modern Girls to forget that sexy wasn’t an adjective women of previous generations wished to evoke in their bridal gowns. Sounds like it was wildly popular back then to get married in an actual church (what??), where they have their own rules, such Cover Your Shoulders and Thou Shalt Not Flash Thy Cleavage About.
Sew It or Throw It?
I’m introducing a secret Third Category. Stow It. I’ll never make this (probably never) (I mean, can you imagine?), but wedding dresses are so interesting, culturally, they sum up so much about a particular moment in time, that I can’t get rid of them.