The pattern: Simplicity 1783, GIRLS’ SET OF SKIRTS, copyright 1956 Simplicity Pattern. Co.
I think this pattern art is really interesting, in that it’s expressing two powerful messages.
Message One: being a girl is a fun and super active time full of fresh air and outdoor play. The littlest girl, View 2, is putting on roller skates. Slightly older View 4 is playing with a spool on a string. View 1, oldest of the younger girls, has got her bike.
I think these are really interesting choices, because all that’s being advertised here is a skirt, right? The artist could’ve gone for still, solitary playtimes, like book reading, bird watching, painting. Hell, just standing still doing nothing. Being seen but not heard. But instead the artist chose activities for these girls that imply a shouty time running around, with friends. Way to empower girlhood, 1956.
But then Message Two: The oldest girl, View 3, does not have a toy and is not playing. She’s standing, elegantly, in white gloves. Her posture is closed. Her skirt is slim. She’s wearing stockings, not socks. She looks poised and happy, but she’s definitely crossed over into another realm. A less shouty running-around realm.
I also think it’s interesting that her face is the only one we see. The little girls are kind of nebulous but the oldest girl is coming more fully into view.
Just for fun, I looked up what $0.35, the original price of this pattern in 1956, would be now, and the online inflation calculator says it would be $3.09. That’s totally reasonable. I’d just about pay that.
I made View 1, for those excellent big pockets. Think of all the frogs and leaves and pieces of string a girl could keep in those pockets!
They’re less gigantic and bucket-like in real life, I think because the tiny waist on the illustration is throwing off the visual proportions a little.
The fabric: The fabric was the entire reason for this project. It was a table runner, which was one of a dozen or so that I made for friends’ wedding. The bride encouraged me to take one home at the end of the night, so I did, probably wrapped around me scarf-like for warmth. Recently I cut up the table runner to make this quilt, and then decided there would pretty much be nothing awesomer in the world than making something for my friends’ kids out of the table runner from their wedding.
It even has red wine stains. From their wedding! Which I mostly cut around, but there’s one faint one in there still. Which I think is great. Kids get to wear a skirt made from fabric that partied with their parents the day they were married.
My pattern is a size 8, which I think corresponds to age, but I’m guessing age eight in 1956 was different than age eight, now, so I made it as is and sent it off with hopes that it’ll fit one or the other daughter now, or maybe both later, who knows.
But here’s the Crazy On The Inside part:
Because it was a narrow runner to begin with, and then most of it was used up for a quilt, and then there were the wine stains to cut around, this thing is totally pieced.
Above is the inside of the front, below is the inside of the back. I love using every little bit like this.
Sew It or Throw It:
Sew It. Think of all the frogs and leaves and pieces of string!
Thick, heavy, soft, oversized. Wore it all the time. Loved it. The neck was always a little too tight. I ignored that. Until I broke the seam at the too-tight-neck, from forcing it over my head.
I patched the holes, two of them by the time I got around to it, with leather stars.
Patching fixed the holes, but made the neckline even tighter. I kept on ignoring that, until getting into and out of the sweater became something I dreaded, plus I ripped a hole in the body.
I abandoned the sweater into my bag of sweater scraps. A bag of sweater scraps is nice to have around for when you need ribbing. Or for nothing. So far most of my sweater scraps just sit there doing nothing.
This sweater stayed in there for a few years. I got it out a couple times with ideas for fixes, like, “oh I know, a zipper up the front!” And then, “nope, chenille totally threadbare across the front, won’t support a zipper without some kinda engineering, forget that.”
But this winter it has been cold so I fixed it for real:
For the too-tight-neck: I stitched a twill tape along a new neckline, removed the old turtleneck, overlocked the twill and sweater together for stability, then made a binding using the top 1 1/2 inches of the turtleneck.
For the rip: patched it from the inside with fusible interfacing, made a heart from a scrap of suede with stitch-witchery fused on the back, pressed it on the face, zig-zagged around the edge, securing both the heart and the interfacing.
For the threadbare spots: made more hearts, applied them as needed.
So it wouldn’t look too weird: added a couple more hearts.
It’s not actually role reversal. My grandma was never the quilting type. She was more of the take you to the mall and buy you a sexy bathing suit type.
She did knit though, when I was a kid. Sounds like she’s picked it up again recently. Most recent project: pussy hat. She’s pretty fantastic.
So what’s the deal with this quilt, right? What’s with those weird black ties?
Well, I was thinking about this post on Refashionista about fidget blankets, and thinking about this post over here on Kestrel Makes about quiet books, and this other post over here on ThriftMakeSew about quiet books,
(All of these are activity toys, to keep hands busy and develop/retain fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. Fidget blankets are for the elderly, quiet books are for little kids, although really they could play side by side, there’s a lot of overlap.)
And I was thinking about how my grandma is getting right up there in age and might actually benefit from something to fidget with, much as it kills me to think of her sassy ways being diminished,
But also thinking how she is super opinionated —I’m pretty sure her (loud) opinion will be the last thing to go—
And I started thinking that if I make it too obvious that this is a fidget blanket she might totally reject it and be insulted. Or, more sadly, she might not be insulted because of Diminishing Sass Levels. This was kind of a hard, sad-making project, before I really got into the construction.
But anyway, I thought about zippers to zip open and shut, and maybe having each zipper as a pocket, revealing a different fabric with a new texture inside, and then began to worry, in that way that parents can predict what bizarre (horrifying) new use a kid will come up with for a toy, that if given pockets she might squirrel things away in them. Like, candy, and other contraband. So I abandoned zippers and buttons and snaps and everything else and went with super simple black cotton Lycra strips, tacked on and then tied, that she can knot or stretch or just completely ignore.
Above, the backside and tack, below, the front and tie. Black Lycra for high contrast and visibility. It’s basically a tacked quilt with a decorative tie, rather than a quilted quilt. It’s like throw blanket size, the batting is unbleached cotton in crib quilt size.
I’m happy with this. Reminds me of this chenille blanket we used to have on the couch, with a fringed edge, and how I used to loooooooove untangling the fringe. Like just sitting there, mindlessly untangling the fringe. I don’t mean as a kid, either, this was within the last ten years. Maybe we could all benefit from a fidget blanket, no matter the age.
The fabric in this is super charged with love, I like to think. The green gingham was an old baby blanket of my son’s, that funny lichen print of the backing was a gift from a friend, and the green fleur de lis print is a table runner from a friend’s wedding.
Last thing I did before washing, was to chain stitch her full name in the corner. So all those other grandmas better keep their biscuit hooks off it! I posted a picture on instagram with the HEL and asked what word I should spell out, my favorite of the answers was HELLION.
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.
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.
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.
This is not Eighties Does Twenties (although that does sound terribly entertaining), nor is a copy of an actual twenties dress. This is an original design, made in the 1980’s, but thoroughly researched to be evocative of the tango era.
That’s pretty much what Folkwear is about. Evoking a time period. They’re worth checking out if you wanna get not just vintage, but historical.
For example, above, research. Stuff about the tango! Wear it and know it!
I am the original owner of this pattern. It was pristine when I got it. I was pretty horrified when I opened it recently, to see the state I had left it in however many years ago. I had cut the paper at a size six. That is a couple sizes below my size. I’d also folded and taped out a bunch of the length through the bodice and had redrawn some lines. Like a maniac. I had used a stretch fabric (it was sheer black, with black polka dots), which I guess explains the sizing down, although not fully. I also remember that I looked awful in the dress, which confused me at the time, but now looking at the line-art I can see that this is not a style that would ever really work for me.
One of the benefits of being older than you once were: the ability to look at line art and say “nope”.
This dress would look great on a lady with broad shoulders and narrow hips, which, not coincidentally, was the fashionable body type of the time.
Anyway, this time around I wasn’t sewing for me, I was sewing for a friend. Just for a nice surprise. After I finished this I stuffed it into a box and mailed it off to her.
The pattern provides two back options, one with a deep V and a pair of streamers, the other plain.
I thought the streamers were kind of dumb so I skipped those.
And by dumb I mean unmotivated: they are sewn into the seam at the back neck. Just stuck right in there. They don’t appear to be the natural extension of anything, in the way that the bow in front is a natural extension of the collar. They look added on. I prefer my odd design elements to have a reason. I understand that the streamers are for dancing, and maybe in that contex they look organic, but I’m still not into them.
I also made the back V much narrower and shallower than patterned. I wanted it to be a fun detail, not a struggle that involves bra decisions.
The fabric is a bright lime colored silk for the tie, and a polka dot rayon for the body. Both the tie and the dress itself are patterned to be straight grain, so as a top this takes almost no yardage and is a great use of scraps like these.
I really like these fabrics together. They are really bright and joyous, I’ve been pairing them up with potential projects for a while now and I’m glad they’ve landed together in this top, for my friend who is really bright and joyous.
The ties are really long!
For the size I guessed, while erring on the side of too big, while also making it very easy to take in. The armsceyes are finished with bias to the inside, with the side seams overlocked separately and sewn last of all. This way if she needs it taken in, it’s just a seam, no re-doing the bias.
The shirt tail hem I drew. It’s not too far from the original lines of the bodice to skirt seam, just less angular.
Sew It or Throw It:
Throw It! I made such a mess of this pattern, I never want to see it again.
Good news though: making this top showed me how easy it is to make a tie-front on, like, anything. The last tie-front top I made was pretty involved, with a button front and facings and stuff. This one was simple. So simple I feel empowered to tie-front everything. Tie-fronts for all!!!!
And as far as throwing, there’s a perfectly good, untampered with knitting pattern in there, for the cardigan. So hopefully whoever picks this copy up next, knits.
The pattern is Vogue 8009, an “Easy-To-Make” overblouse, from 1954.
This actually was easy to make, despite….
See what’s going on there? The pattern is unprinted.
Each pattern piece is precut, but the only information on any given piece is one word of perforated text announcing its name, some notches, and round or square holes marking areas of interest, like oh say bust darts I didn’t even know about.
Why didn’t I know about the darts? Why didn’t I just check the instruction page? Because the instruction sheet is missing from my copy. Hahahahhahaha. So it was a double whammy of using an unprinted pattern for the first time ever, and having no instructions. But this overblouse thing is a simple shape, and it’s not like there are multiple sizes or style options to confuse things, so it was all fine.
This annoyed me though:
The front neckline, clearly marked FRONT, has double notches. A double notch is how we show the back of something. Don’t do that to me, Vogue.
Those holes at the bottom left of the photo are representing the bust dart, and the square hole is the sleeve attachment. What, how did I miss that dart, that’s not confusing at all.
I used this great but weird felt stuff to make the overblouse.
I’ve had this stuff since 2002 or so, original plan was to make a corset/bodice type thing, because the stitching for the bone channels would sink into the felt and look all structural and interesting, plus it would be fuzzy and soft, but still be a corset, and that would be neat, but after having no interest in actually wearing such a thing anytime in the past fifteen years, I’m fine with this ridiculous sweater thing instead.
That’s how it’s referred to around the house. “Your ridiculous sweater thing.”
It’s super warm, fuzzy, cozy, and it really is ridiculous. It sticks out like a bell. It’s too bulky to fit under any of my coats. I’m interested to see if it’ll survive the washing machine.
I knew this pattern was old, but wasn’t sure how old. Couldn’t find a date on the envelope. The hair looks fifties, the narrow hips and illustration style look forties.
What was throwing me most though, from guessing on a publishing date, was that plunging-to-the-waist neckline and the sort of sizing-up expression being delivered by the illustrated model. Part of me wants to laugh nervously, like “oh, haha, I’m being ridiculous, that’s not bare skin. Can’t be. Obviously she’s wearing, like, uh, like, a blouse with a jewel neckline that matches up with her necklace and happens to be the exact same shade as her skin, because, I mean, a woman in the 1940’s/1950’s would never…” Meanwhile she’s staring me straight in the eye, thinking, “Oh, wouldn’t I. You so sure about that? Youngun?”
I’ve never opened this pattern before, because it is so fragile, but once I decided to make it I carefully pulled out all the pieces and found the copyright date inside, on the instructions sheet. 1949, making this the oldest pattern I’ve ever used.
A size 12 in 1949 was drafted for 30/24/33. Not me, but lucky for me, I know someone who is that size. So I get the fun of making this without the less-fun of resizing, and she gets a surprise in the mail. Everyone’s a winner.
The fabric is a green cotton with a printed moiré. It’s lightweight like shirt fabric, but has a little bit of a waxy finish, like chintz. Too thin to be furniture upholstery, but I associate cotton moiré with home textiles more than anything else, so maybe this cotton moiré was meant to be curtains? Satin moiré, on the other hand, is exclusively for 80’s prom dresses. As everyone knows.
This fabric was a thrift shop find, and I washed it as soon as I got it home, which softened up the waxy finish, so now it just feels like a nice crisp cotton shirt.
Pretty color, huh?
Above, inside out, flung onto the dress form. The pattern calls this a jacket, and it recommends wool, so for seam finishes it recommends stitching the seams and clipping them and leaving it like that. In my fabric it’s more like a shirt, so I did french seams instead, so my friend can wash this thing and not be scared of it falling apart. I also cut the facing along the selvedge, so it didn’t need a rolled hem. I knooooooow.
Elbow darts. Double ones, even. Yay 1949.
The collar is really something. It stands at the back, and then swoops out of nowhere into a curvaceous lapel which disappears back to nothing before knoting at the waist. Drama!
The notions list on the envelope includes a pair of tiny rounded shoulder pads. They would help to support this crazy exaggerated batwing shape, they really would, but, just, no. For costumes, sure, but not for real clothes I hope my friend will actually wear in real life. It might look nice but she would question my taste.
Here above you can really see that moiré.
The idea with moiré is that it is a watermark on silk, and the legend I’ve always heard is that it’s discovery was a mistake, involving a trunk full of folded yardage of silk, in olden times, which received water damage during shipping via actual ship, (And possibly pirates! Although maybe I added that to the legend), but to me it always looks like wood grain. Which is also neat.
I like to look for other examples when I use an old pattern, and this time I found one, here, on ByGumByGolly, in a plaid flannel. Yay! So check that out too, if you like seeing how a different fabric will change the vibe of a garment. I like seeing that.
Sew It or Throw It:
Well I’m definitely keeping it. I don’t know if I’ll sew it again? Possibly? I definitely like having it though. So pretty and so mine.
If you’ve been wondering what ever happened to this or that thing I made this past year, like did I really wear it or did I come to my senses, well, here are all the answers. In the form of photo collages, arranged by month, with a brief discussion of where each garment is now. Thrift shop? Thrown out the window? Currently on my body? Read on.
No links included, but each of these garments has a post of its own. If you like, you can search them out by month by going to the end of any post and clicking on the month listed there in the archive.
Shirt: I love it, I wear it a lot, I’ve noticed, though, after wearing it many times, it is a little narrow in the shoulders.
Hat: lost it
Kid’s Coat: I love it, he wears it all the time. The sleeves looked a little long in January, but I figured I’ve never had a kid before, what do I know, maybe he will grow into them. This November when he started wearing it again I could see that the sleeves are just plain too long and it’s not a matter of growing in, so I removed the cuffs.
The 70’s Carefree Swirler Skirt: made that for a friend, she has it now, I try not to be a Needy Seamstress so I haven’t bothered her about it since.
(It’s totally cool with me if things I make turn out to be not quite a person’s style, or fun but too crazy for real life, and I try to make receiving a garment from me a low pressure, no strings attached experience, and make it clear that the receiver can thrift or give away anything I make and I won’t be upset. I even feel bad writing this here, like it’s too much pressure.)
Pants: kid wears them all the time, they are beautifully faded now, and he doesn’t need to roll the cuffs anymore.
Dog costume: It was too big! Maybe the dog wears it anyway, but again, I aim to not be That Needy Seamstress so I don’t know.
Striped skirt: not my favorite. The stiff fabric and large shape makes me feel a little like a sailboat when I wear this thing. I’m kind of keeping it around to see if I will like it more later.
Three shirts: the one I’m wearing in the picture is in constant rotation, to my surprise. I wasn’t that crazy about it when I made it. The brown cashmere one in the center got washed on hot and shrank. That made it an ok fit for my kid, until I shrank it again, and then I sent it to a friend with a younger kid, but I think it was too small even for her. The long sleeve striped one went to the thrift after a couple wears.
Yellow slip: wore this a lot in the summer and fall, with a T shirt over top.
Giraffe shirt: this one is slowly edging its way toward the give-away pile. The color does something to my face. I can’t tell if it’s good or bad, so I assume it’s bad.
Knit hat: a friend made this for me. I haven’t worn it much because I need my hats to have a brim to keep the sun out of my eyes. I should have realized that before I had her make this, but I was just so curious about how the pattern would turn out. *edit* lately I’ve been going out in the cold, after dark, much more often than usual, and therefore have been wearing this hat a ton.
Tie front blouse: that’s my sister wearing that, I made it for her and she says she sometimes wakes up and calculates how recently she wore it and whether she can wear it again yet. Probably the biggest success of the year.
I heart NYC shirt: I wore this thing so much it fell apart and I cut it into cleaning rags.
Green top with birds: this one I also made for my sister, it gets less wear than the tie front, but it’s cool, it’s kind of a weird one.
KISS shirt: the boy wears it, it gets compliments. This is one of seven T-shirts made from larger adult size T-shirts. One of them got stained with ice cream and one of them got accidentally cut during a craft project, but I patched it so it’s still in rotation.
Green and white shift dress: a big fave.
Blue double layer gauze halter: I wear this as a layering thing over T-shirts, it’s pretty good but I have to remind myself to wear it.
Blue gauze shirt: I wear this constantly and love it. I had been worried that it would fall apart since it’s a single layer of cotton gauze, but it is hanging right in there without any of the special laundering treatment I thought it would need.
Green hat: straight to the thrift shop donation bag
Black hat: same as above.
Blue gingham dress: made that for my sister, I bet it’s one of those things that makes her happy to see hanging in the closet, but is a little to crazy looking for constant use.
Black short pants: I thought I was going to hate these, but actually wear them a lot. The canvas has softened up so that it is now downright comfortable. I’ve been wearing these with tall socks this winter.
Shorts: the boy wears these shorts all the time. I actually have to tell him not to sometimes.
Pink dress: mailed that off to a friend.
Red and purple dress: this is one of those dresses that makes me happy to see hanging in my closet, but that I never wear. I’ve worn it once since July.
Bathing suit: the halter hurts the back of my neck! I may need to make a new suit in 2017 to replace this one.
Green skirt: good, fine, not terribly exciting. I wear it, I’m still not sure if I look good in it, but it is cool in hot weather.
Pants: love these.
White undies: love these.
Other undies: officially the worst thing I made this year. Straight to the donations bag.
Blue dot pants: love these, but definitely can’t wear them when I want to be invisible.
Pink dress: so comfy and great. Too bad I didn’t have just a tiny bit more yardage to make this though, it is borderline too short.
Sushi costume: the kid wears these pants regularly now, and he had a pretty major time on Halloween. The sushi pillow is on the couch now.
Sleep bras: are super.
Pajama pants: also super.
Gold skirt: love this, but haven’t worn it yet. We all got sick and missed a big chunk of the holiday parties. Which is fine, there are eleven other months just crying out for gold circle skirts.
Orange pants: best pants of the year. These required the least fitting from the pattern (a Vogue pattern from 2000), and are really comfortable. I wear them constantly. I’ve even napped in them. Somehow the blog post about them got scrambled around and now appears in December, but they are really from November.
Brown shirt: love it, wear it all the time. And not just because I don’t seem to have any other long sleeve knit tops right now. It washes up really well, I’m pleased about that. You never know with these mystery knits.
Plaid skirt: this is fun, and warm. I had to add extra swing tacks at the side fronts to keep the lining from riding up. That’s a real problem when you’ve got a lace window.
Wrap around top: this looks like lazy time wear, and it is. And as such, I’ve been wearing it a bunch.
Tent dress: haven’t worn this yet, probably going to remain unworn until warmer days.
Pink bias skirt: made that for my sister and just gave it to her the other day.
That’s 2016. I might make a few more things this year? Or might not. I’ve reached that point in the holiday season where I’m totally over myself though, so maybe some things for other people!
Off to go check out other people’s year round up posts now, really enjoying those.
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.
I bought this one, new, on purpose, at a fabric store not in someone’s front yard, in the year 2000. I liked Version B (but without those silly ankle-slits) and hated Version C. So of course here I am sixteen years later in Version C.
The fabric was a big square of upholstery stuff. My husband bought it, cut it, frayed the edges into a fringe, and we had it as a tablecloth or wall hanging or something for a long long time, and until eventually it was absorbed into the fabric stock.
It’s orange and textured and definitely 100% polyester. I know because I had a sudden worry that this mystery fabric might burst into flame on my body, so I did a burn test, and happily it did not explode, but melted away into little black beads. So, polyester.
The circles-and-squares pattern is woven in, and remind me of being in an airplane and looking down at those giant circular fields, you know the ones. They always seemed to me to be an inefficient use of space, until I realized that they are irrigated by a long sprinkler arm anchored to a central pivot point. So they naturally form a circular field. So it actually is pretty efficient. I felt pretty clever when I figured that out.
The pants are meant to have a back zip, but I always move back zippers to the side on pants to avoid the early morning ragefest that would be mistaking these for front zip, putting them on backwards, (hopefully) noticing something was wrong, taking them off, and putting them on again with the zip in back. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Speaking of zippers, here above is the envelope from the (possibly 70’s vintage) invisible zipper I used. I’m pretty delighted with it, notice how it says “Unique Invisible Zippers come in these 28 out of sight colors.”
I’m totally amused by the use of the phrase “out of sight”, especially when paired with the word “invisible”. Like, is there a zipper in there at all? ‘Cause sounds like I won’t be able to see it. Some kind of Emperor’s New Clothes type situation going on in there.
Fun pallet of colors. But avocado is missing. Maybe I’m wrong about the vintage of this zipper.
*edit* Looked closer at the zipper envelope just now before throwing it away, it is from 1971 according to its copyright date. Welcome to the 21rst century, zipper, pleased to have you here.
Ok, so, bootcut though, let’s talk about it. To my mind, bootcut (or bootlegged as the pattern calls these) are fitted through the thigh and then cut straight from the knee to ankle. Neither tapered nor flared.
This pattern definitely flares out from knee to ankle, however I didn’t have quite enough fabric so I cheated by cutting straight from knee to ankle (a la bootcut) to allow the pattern pieces to nest, but then once the pants were together decided they looked weird and went back in and nipped out the knee, basically recreating a flared leg.
Is this a bootcut? Seems like flare would best accommodate boots, but then why the name bootcut when flares already existed. Also funny to me: the girls on the envelope are definitely not wearing boots with their bootlegs.
These pants flew together. I think of pants as being a time consuming project, but not this pair.
They took 4.25 hours, and that’s including the hook and loop, and going back in and taking in the knee, and my fit alterations which were pretty minimal. They are super basic: no back pockets, no slash pockets, no topstitching, no belt loops, no buttons, appropriate amount of wearing ease, good length, good depth. Would make a good starting place for creating other styles.