McCall’s 4387: a Halston and a stowaway 

Here we have McCall’s 4387, published in 1975. It’s a Halston.

Halston was, as you know, an American fashion designer highly associated with disco, Studio 54, and ultrasuede. Also pants, caftans, working in bias, and designing for the relaxed urban lifestyle of the American woman. Here’s a neat post on Pattern Vault, titled  Yves Saint Laurent + Halston; Fashioning The 70s. Lots of patterns to daydream about over there. 

With all that info in mind, I was pretty pumped when I saw this pattern as part of a miscellaneous lot for sale on eBay. Even more pumped when I won the lot. 

These are the pieces that are supposed to be in this envelope:


A skirt, pockets, waistband, a belt, a cape. You can see where this is going, right?

These are the pieces that are actually in the envelope:

Belt, Cape, as expected
What?! You are not a skirt?! What are you?!!!!
 

As you can see, that’s the cape and belt. But instead of the skirt, waistband, and pocket pieces that are supposed to be there, there is a pair of pants, waistband, and tunic belt belonging to a whole other pattern.

Which is just what happens sometimes. The seller clearly stated that the patterns were used and there may be pieces missing. The risk is part of the treasure-hunting element of inexpensive miscellaneous eBay lots. I’m fine with that. 

And, to be honest, I’d already been planning to change the skirt. Glancing at the cover art, I had thought it was a wrap skirt with a D-ring closure. But on closer inspection it’s just a regular old A-line type deal with a center back zipper and a completely separate belt. 

Here is the quick post-it doodle I made for myself for how to improve upon Halston:


Obviously I’m joking about improving upon Halston. Let’s say personalize, instead. 

My plan was to cut the back and front on the fold, then cut an extra half CF piece (actually 3/4 would be better), seam it into one side seam, leave an opening under that seam at the top for getting in and out, no zipper, the whole thing cinches closed with an attached belt and D-ring. A semi-faked wrap. Halston would not approve. He liked things that really work. Wraps that really wrap, etc. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Throw It all. 

The stowaway pants because I don’t have the envelope, and they are a size 8 which is very very tiny in pattern sizing, and they’re not exciting enough to size up. 

The rest of it (cape pattern, belt pattern, instruction sheet) I’m putting back in the envelope, writing Skirt Pattern Missing across the front, and throwing into the thrift shop donation bag. 

I was excited about the idea of a Halston outfit, but to be honest I figured I’d wear the cape and skirt to a few parties and then reuse the cape as fabric for something else after the holiday season. Big drapey things with no closures, requiring my awareness to keep them on my body, aren’t a good fit for my non-party-time lifestyle.

So hopefully someone else will find it, and now they’ll be forewarned about the skirt. 

If anyone wants to approximate this cape at home: it’s a half circle, about three feet radius, with one rounded corner and a neck area scooped out. Lot of drama to wear, nice and simple in shape. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the shirt. 


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

Good sleeves on this one. 

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

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

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


And here’s the skirt:

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

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

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

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


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


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


Sew It or Throw It:

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

Simplicity 8647: Fragments, the dress

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

This is why I made this dress:


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


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

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

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


Ok, so, problems I see with this: 

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

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

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

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

I could just stand like this all the time:


Or like this: 


Or like this.


Sew It or Throw It

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

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

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

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



Simplicity 8647: Fragments, the top with sleeves


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

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

Right? Weird day! Whose life was that?

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

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

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

Neither is this:

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


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

And, check out this bummer:

Overcast day equals strange light.

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

But! The real treasure of this pattern is here:


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


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

Sew It or Throw It: 

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

McCall’s 6493: Goldendirndl. 


the pattern: This is McCall’s 6493, published in 1979. It calls itself a flared skirt, but what it really is, is a circle skirt with the option of gathered or smooth waist. 

the fabric: Gold satin spandex. Gold! Goooooooold!


This skirt pattern was not my first choice for this hilarious shiny loud aggressive possibly tacky gold fabric. What I wanted to make was this Halston skirt and cape as a sort of an armor, but the cape pattern was missing so I just labeled the Halston as CAPE MISSING, threw it (into the thrift donation bag) and moved on. 

To the Goldendirndl. 


Does this fulfill my armor-like intention? No. But it was very satisfying to make. Probably took three hours total, including cutting. It was going so quickly I didn’t bother keeping track of the time. I eliminated the zipper, gave it a pull on waist, and included the optional waist ties. 


It’s not even hemmed. I let the circle hang out, trimmed it, and reinforced the seam ends so they can’t open. 

I didn’t press the fabric either. The wrinkles will wash out. Or they won’t. Either way. This was post-election horror-sewing, it needed to be uncomplicated. I don’t feel any less horrified now. More actually. But it feels good to make something. 


This skirt is good and twirly. Borderline too twirly to be twirled, really. It’s a full circle, it will go completely horizontal if given enough spin. I learned this in my yard, not out in the world, thank goodness. 


Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. It’s not really necessary to have a pattern for a circle skirt, since, duh, it’s a circle, but this pattern also has pockets (which I skipped) and a waist band, and the gathered versus flat waist, all that stuff, plus now that I have it I don’t even have to go to the minimal effort of marking out a circle on fabric, so I’ll keep it. And I like the amount of gathering in the gathered version. It’s a Sew. 

Simplicity 5549: goodnight, bra

The pattern:

This is Simplicity 5549, published in 1982

I know, girls. I’m sad too.

Version 3 Girl is my favorite. I like how her hair is looped up in a realistically low/no-effort bun, it’s a nice contrast to the other girls who look so styled. 

I also like her crazy outfit the best. The pattern calls this pants-type item a “culottes slip”. I’ve seen it more often referred to as “pettipants,” as in the pants version of a petticoat. It also looks like a longer, loonier version of tap pants. Other than as sleepwear I can’t think of much of a purpose for a culottes slip? Too short to be worn as a wool pants lining. Best guesss is they’re meant to be worn under a skirt, to counteract inner thigh rub. 

I didn’t make the culottes slip version though, so whooooo knoooooows. 

A while back I used the bias slip pattern, this time around I made two versions of the bra. 



The pattern provides separate pieces for cup sizes A through C. 

I cut both bras in a B and did most of the construction factory style until all the parts were assembled and ready to go together. Then I finished the bra in the first photo, with the pink at the center front, first. And it was so pointy. What a surprising and weird shape you have, 1982! I ended up taking it apart, taking out a lot of the shaping, and putting it back together. 

With the second bra I re-shaped the cups for less pointiness, and rotated them so the non-stretch pink runs along the sides. This puts better tension on the seam: there’s some buckling in that seam in the first bra that isn’t there in the rotated second bra. 

These are just for sleeping, so all they need to do is look nice and be comfortable, they’re not like providing shape or all day support or anything. 

The pattern calls for lace and satin, non stretch, with a simple uncovered lingerie elastic band and elastic shoulder straps. I used satin (two very similar but not identical pinks) and a heavy grey cotton 2-way stretch knit with a nice white flecked texture throughout. Instead of the elastic band, I made a knit band with lingerie elastic along the edges. 

I used these guys for the elastic straps: 


I bought these at a yard sale, run by a friend who was leaving LA to go to grad school for costume design at Yale. I bought a bunch of her random sewing stuff: bags of zippers, this crazy pile of cut-off bra elastic, a dress form, and a costume rendering of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Fun when yard sales include costume renderings by future Yalies. 

Hey. Hey yourself.

There’s a front closure. I had two front closures in my closures drawer, and that’s the entire reason why I made two bras. 


All together these took nine hours, the first one took a little longer than the second as usual. I’m going to divide the time factory style and call it 4 1/2 hours per bra. 

Nice straps. Back atcha.

If you’re wondering what all that stuff is on my dress form, it’s padding. I keep a front closure, racer back, molded-cup bra on my dress form, this is the kind of bra I wear, so this is the shape I fit to. Plus, keeping a bra on the dress form allows me to set the bust point in exactly the right place as per my centerback-neck-to-bust-point measurement. 

The other stuff is men’s tailoring shoulder pads, to fill in the tiny mannequin waist and create a butt. 

Below you can see some crazy elastic piecing and satin strap usage, in my efforts to use up scraps.


Sew It or Throw It:

The cup shape of this bra, as patternened, is so far off from any shape I want to wear that this would be a Throw, if it weren’t for the perfectly good bias slip pattern and the interesting culottes slip and tap pants. 

So, it’s a sew. I like these sleep bras, they were fun to make, they wear nicely, next time I would use basically Any Other Pattern In The World. 

What’s next. 

Despite the fact that this photo is blurry —and that it includes both a water stained ceiling and the photographer’s own thumb— it’s one of my favorite pictures of me. I was nineteen in this photo and had just voted Bill Clinton in for his second term. My first time voting. That’s a super blurry I Voted sticker there on my sweater. 

The only reason I have this photo is because I came back to my dorm right after voting, beaming like this, and one of the dudes on my hall was like, “Dude, you are like beaming. I’m going to take your picture.” 

Last Tuesday I was in line to vote, behind some college age kids. I had brought along a book (Inherent Vice), mostly to hold in front of my face while I eavesdropped. At one point I overheard the kids in front of me making fun of some friend of theirs who posted a video where she was crying real tears at having just voted for a female presidential candidate. Kids were like, “ugh, drama,” and I mostly agreed. I mean, we were all there to vote for Hillary, but none of us were crying at the historic momentousness of it. We were just voting for the person best qualified for the job, for so very many reasons, her being a woman was pretty low on my list of important reasons to vote for Hillary. 

It wasn’t until the next day when it all went to hell that I realized how truly excited I had been to vote-in the first female president. It’s like I had deferred my joy, to be felt on Wednesday when everything was settled, not Tuesday with the actual act of voting. 

And then on Wednesday, the day I had reserved for Joy Unbounded, I kept having these split-seconds where I would forget who won the election, and in the moment of forgetting I would feel this overwhelming joy well up in my body, like my body had been storing it and was ready to live it now,  but then I’d remember she didn’t win and I’d be emptied out and sick feeling. This happened almost hourly. The rest of the time was spent with waves of realizations of the coming consequences, and revulsion. Like dirty, like I’d been coated in something that won’t wash off for years. 

At the same time I was finishing up a project. Secretly, without telling me, my mind had already started in the days before the election to riffle through my fabrics and patterns, planning ahead for glitter-bombs of ruffles and flowers and bows and joy and pride. And then it happened and I thought, “this country does not love you, girl” and that next-project-planning part of my mind turned to a harder, colder, less exuberant version of feminity. Metal, not roses. 

Now what’s lined up is this, a Halston from 1975, in gold satin spandex:


And this, a jumpsuit from 1977, in washed gold lamé:

I don’t want to get too intense in this post. After all, like: Don’t Sew, Vote. My sewing projects don’t mean anything in the big scheme, they don’t even make a statement that anyone would be able to read except me, but I find it interesting that there was this visceral disconnect between what I’d been expecting to happen and what did happen and that it’s manifesting in clothing, and I wonder if anyone else felt that too. 
I would’ve made these patterns anyway, but differently. I had a floral lined up for the jumpsuit. Maybe I’ll come back around to that. I hope so. For now I’m feeling these cold, loud, defiant metallics. 

I sure would’ve loved it if someone could be taking another photo of me four years from now, at age 43, voting in President Clinton for her second term, to put beside that first photo. Oh well.

And for a ray of sunshine: as of now in California, plastic shopping bags are illegal but recreational pot is a-ok. And we just elected the second ever African American female senator. And Big Hill won the popular vote nation wide. This country does love you girl. (Edited. 12/14/16 Just can’t leave this on a hopeful note after all.)

A pattern I made: the backwards dress


the pattern: 

I made this pattern, here’s the story: 

One time I went to New York City and had drinks with a friend who was wearing this great dress. It was kind of vintage looking, in black. Very plain, sheath-type dress from the front, until she turned around, and then the back had this dramatic, generously open, collar surprise. 

Almost like she had her dress on backwards. I really liked it. So I went home and draped it up from memory and made this pattern, and then a dress. 

I don’t remember what year that was, and I didn’t put a date on my pattern. Let’s say 2006? Ten years ago? Maybe? 

Anyway, the dress is now too small. 

Hey, your dress is too small! Hey, yours too!

I mean, if I stand like this it’s fine:


But I can’t stand like that all day. 

Here’s the back.


I can’t remember if my friend’s dress had buttons, but mine sure does. I should have made them silver, then I could’ve called this my Miss Mary Mack dress. 

The dress has lots of seam allowance, so I could let it out, but I’m over it. Partly because of this: 


If you zoom in to the bust area in the photo above (wheeee!), you can see how I kept messing with this dress, practically like it was a muslin, way after it was done and I should’ve left it alone. It started out with french darts to shape the bust, then I added a sort of a princess dart, which I transferred to my pattern in green, then I added a curved under-bust seam that took up some excess at the midriff and then disappeared to nothing at the side seam where it met up with the French darts. 

Too much business. It’s so overworked that it bothers me. I don’t want to wear it now, let alone alter it and then wear it. Although I did like it and wear it back in 2006 or whenever it was that I made it. And I still think it’s cute.

So I offered it to my sister. She gets First Refusal when I get rid things I’ve made.


That’s our real text exchange. 

So, yay, happy ending, now it belongs to her! 

She’s cute, huh! The dress is cute with the belt too. Maybe I should’ve thought of that. Oh well, TOO LATE NOW! 

Sew It or Throw It:

Throw It. I’m over it. Pattern has got too many issues. Not least of which is the collar, which, while fun, should be more subtle and elegant. Maybe the collar could roll out more gradually from some kind of interesting center front detail. Or roll into the center back in a more voluptuous way. Less flat. Something.

Could be fun to keep the pattern, just in case I ever come across the original pattern that inspired my friends dress which inspired this dress. But then again, if that ever happened, and what would be the chances, I would most likely just compare photos rather than unfolding and comparing patterns. 

I made it once, I could make it again. So, Throw. 

Vogue 7054: pajamas for tea

See if you can guess what year this pattern is from. Guess! Guess! 

This is Vogue 7054 from 1987

1987! Did you guess it? I can see it in the shoulders now that I know, but the illustrator has done a great job of keeping the hair under control. Gives a nice, vague, Veronica Lake-ish, 1940’s Hollywood-ish, fancy-lady-pajama vibe rather than nailing down any specific decade. 

The pattern includes iron-on transfers of the alphabet, so you can embroider your initials on the pocket.


The illustration’s monogram reads FMW which I’ve been trying to figure out. Seems like it should stand for something. I mean, if you’re going to put a monogram on an illustration, it should be a funny secret code for me to figure out. At very least VPC for Vogue Pattern Co. I personally would go for HEY or GRL. 

The recommended fabrics list includes lots of glamorous options like charmeuse, jacquard, crepe de chine, etc. What the list does not say is, “Hey girl, just use an old table cloth,” but that’s cool, I can read between the lines. 


This old thing. Before you become sad about how I’ve destroyed this beautiful vintage hand-embroidered tablecloth, take comfort: it is badly stained. The only reason I have this old thing in the first place is because it was too stained for a friend’s resale, and it was specifically given to me with the instruction, “cut this up and make something.” 

Done! 


Isn’t this quilt gorgeous? My modern-quilting-friend Alison made it, she is @msalleycat on the instagrams if you wanna go see her stuff. 

The pattern calls for 3/4 inch elastic, but I did 1/2 inch instead, with the channel sitting a half inch down from the top to make a ruffle. I also shortened the crotch length by 2 inches total, so the waist could sit a little below the natural waist and not strangle me in my sleep. 


In the photo above you can see there’s a little bit of awkward embroidery placement in the inseam. I’m ok with it. 

And there below you can see where the border ended up. I added some washed muslin at the center back, the tablecloth wasn’t quite wide enough to fit the whole pattern. 


I used the border for the hem, since it’s already a hem. And above you can see the teapot, which is my favorite of the five embroidery motifs. I made sure the teapot would be featured on the leg. 

Sew It or Throw It:

This is a sew. The pants pattern couldn’t be simpler. One piece, no outseam, the waist folds down to make an elastic casing, no drawstring which means no eyelet or buttonhole opening for the nonexistent drawstring. Super easy and fast. This tablecloth version is cozy, doesn’t get tangled up while I’m sleeping, and is surprisingly warm. Bonus: the pantalettes vibe. 

Probably won’t ever make the robe, but neither did the original owner. This was an uncut pattern, which is fun to put to use. Makes me feel like I’m fulfilling the pattern’s destiny. 

McCall’s 5965 and Simplicity 4760: dressed like food


These are Simplicity 4760 (from 2004) and McCall’s M5965 (from 2009). 

I don’t even remember why I have these, they way way predate my son. 

Oh wait, I do remember: I didn’t buy these patterns in the year they were published. I bought each one new, but well after their publish dates. They were just still in print is all. Phew. Ok thanks for working through that mystery with me. 

Anyway, I’ve made both of these before. Couple times. The Simplicity as an Australian pantry-print shirt, as stripey shorts, as corduroy pants with crocodiles, and as a bunch of crazy print shorts; the McCall’s as grinch pants and as a whole mess of raglan T’s

Why do I keep making these, considering the wide world of patterns out there? Because all vintage children’s patterns are for girls. Ok that’s not true. But it’s almost true. If you’re going to sew for boys, gotta buy new. 

Plus these are nice and basic and adaptable and are multi sized unlike vintage patterns.

So there. 


So, back to the title. My husband decided on salmon nigiri, since our little boy loves the stuff and is since he’s still young enough that we can choose a Halloween costume for him. 

Which, just, sometimes California Babies are such a joke. Sushi, papadums, fish tacos, coconut water… figs that aren’t dried, same with apricots… I remember the first time I had all of these things, because I was a fully grown adult person when it happened. This kid knows how to order at restaurants, and can eat fresh figs off the tree in his yard. Lord. 

Anyway, my husband had all this fabric printed: rice for the base garment, soy sauce packet for the trick-or-treat bag, and salmon to be made into a pillow and held on with a black fabric belt. Or green. For nori. That part hasn’t been fully worked out yet. We’ve still got a week before Halloween, it’s ok. 

I can see how this might look like an insane amount of effort for a Halloween costume. But no, it is both awesome and practical: the kid gets a costume, plus a shirt, some regular pants, some pajama pants, a pillow, and a pillowcase that can provide year-round entertainment. 

Plus, I know I said that thing in a previous post about how parents shouldn’t make costumes for kids, that it’s good for kids to do it themselves; but it’s probably good to have a couple years of the parents setting a good example. Right? Totally. 


The shirt is the long sleeved version of Simplicity 4760, with brown suede covered buttons. 

The printing was done by Zazzle, on cotton, and I flatlined the printed cotton with muslin to make it heavier, warmer, and softer inside. It’s a little more jackety than shirt-like at this point. 

The button holes were done free hand. I’ve come to realize that for less than five buttons, I am not willing to set up the vintage Singer buttonhole attachment. It makes excellent buttonholes. Beautiful buttonholes. But it takes more than two steps to set up. I’m just too lazy. So instead I stitch a rectangle to mark the hole, then use the zigzag to do the long sides and bar tack the top and bottom. 

I know. 


The pants are also from Simplicity 4760, and are also flatlined with muslin. 

I added a loop so my boy can wear his keys. He will be pleased with that. The pattern is meant to be a fully functional zip-front pant, with a faced waist, but so far whenever I use this pattern I close the front and add an elastic waist, so they can be pull-on. 

The green is for nori. What you can see above is a stay-stitch in black that separates the two channels of elastic, and then a coverstitch overtop. 


The pajama pants are from McCall’s M5965, and are the single layer printed cotton from Zazzle with no flatlining. This pattern wants you to fold down the top of the pants for an elastic channel, but I cut the top down and added a white Lycra waistband to match the cuffs, and then inserted a wasabi green satin ribbon drawstring. 

You know those tiny pieces of elastic that you end up with sometimes after a project, and you tell yourself you have to throw them away because you’ll never find a use for such a small piece, but then you keep it anyway just in case? I used one of those here! The center back of the drawstring isabout six inches of elastic. This way the drawstring can remain tied all the time, and the waistband still stretches. 

The drawstring is anchored at the center back so it can’t be pulled out. That bow won’t last beyond the first wearing. Bows demand to be untied, when you are a kid, apparently. It’s ok though, there’s a square knot behind the bow. I also melted the ends of the ribbon so that nice angled cut won’t fray. MAMA THINKS OF EVERYTHINGGGGGG. 


There’s a shot of the bellows pocket on the Simplicity pants. This is the first time I’ve used that detail, of all the times I’ve used this pattern. They were fun. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. Keep on sewing it, in this case. 

The shirt took 5 hours, the pants took 4 hours, and the pj pants took 1 1/2hours. All together that’s ten and a half hours, which is a pretty big chunk of my free time, but no time at all when I consider that even Amazon Prime would take like overnight. I mean after I dithered over every single costume option before placing my order. 

It’s kind of nuts when making it is actually faster than Amazon Prime. 

*exciting update!* Photos! 

My husband had the rice fabric for the shirt and pants printed by Zazzle, which you know already. He had the (amazing, hilarious) soy sauce and the salmon printed by a vendor he works with here in town, Trio, same guy who printed my Sew It or Throw It backdrop while at another shop, Dangling Carrot

My husband sewed the salmon into a pillow and the soysauce into a bag for candy. Really he deserves major credit for this costume: the idea and motivation, all the fabric, part of the construction, and trouble-shooting on the whole thing. 

The nori obi I made from black Mylar backed with black canvas, with a Velcro closure.