A Where Are They Now for the year 2016

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. 

January 2016
January:

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. 

February 2016

February: 

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. 

March 2016

March: 

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. 

April 2016

April:

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. 

May 2016

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. 

June 2016

June: 

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. 

July 2016

July:

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. 

August 2016

August:

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. 

September 2016

September:

Pants: love these.

White undies: love these. 

Other undies: officially the worst thing I made this year. Straight to the donations bag. 

October 2016

October:

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. 

November 2016

November:

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. 

December 2016

December:

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. 

Later, friends!

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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. 

Simplicity 5247: pants, dot dot dot


The pattern is Simplicity 5247 from 1972. Unlined “shirt-jacket” and pants. 

Please zoom in on the photo and observe the finest example of pattern-art humor I have ever seen in my entire life: 

The girl all in white? Who looks like she’s going on safari? Check out her belt buckle. SP. Simplicity Patterns! Hahhahahaha! Isn’t that amazing?! 

I made the pants, which are double darted at both front and back, a natural-height waist and a straight waistband, with a shaped bell-bottom leg, out of this fabric:


Really big dots, really uneven. 

I couldn’t find a repeat in the dot pattern. Usually I squint at the fabric and the repeat will jump out, but this one, just, not jumping out. Each dot is irregular in shape, and irregularly spaced. I tried folding, flipping, all kinds of realignments, no repeat. 

This fabric is actually a set of curtains, and it finally occurred to me that they must’ve been printed from one big screen-print. Like, there is no repeat, the pattern of dots was created, in a large format, and that’s the entire print. Each dot its own, no yardage, no repeat. I guess the fabric was printed with a break between each curtain-sized dot-array, where the factory would cut and hem? More convenient for a large order this way? Kind of funny to think about. I’m so used to endless, continuously printed yardage, designed in scale for a human, not a window. 

So, I knew I wanted this big dot stuff to be pants, and that the center front seam had to match. Or else. No mirroring or butterfly or open-book effect at the center front. That would be embarrassing. Other than that, I had to give up on any of the other seams pattern-matching. And they sure don’t. I considered running a solid stripe down the side seam to make the chopped up dots less crashing-into-each other, but decided not to: that would only make a crazy pair of pants look crazier. 


I was able to get the front to match by using the second curtain, which is identical, and having the pattern continue across the front. Which is a little weird in that the pattern appears to continue across my legs too, but hey, at least no butterflies.

These pants took 9 hours to make, three or four of that was messing around with pattern placement and then flatlining the pieces for better weight and opacity. 

I really like this picture above, with my boy at edge of frame. I like how both of us are completely into our own projects. Also, I made everything he’s wearing. 

Part of the reason I made these pants is beacause I actually need pants. I got through the winter last year with three pairs of pants. Which got me thinking about how many is enough, what’s the optimal number. 

I recognize that I am fortunate, in that I could theoretically have as many pairs of pants as I want. But how many is that?

Three is not enough, because they end up being worn on such a constant rotation that they wear out at the same rate and suddenly I go from having three pants to zero. So what is ideal. Seven? Is one pair of pants for every day of the week excessive? In addition to skirts and dresses and gym leggings etc etc? 

Maybe five is more reasonable? But if one of them is a little crazy looking, like with giant dots, does that pair become more of a second-tier pant? Less of a basic? 

I think this is why people live in jeans: they’re such a neutral, they blend from one day to the next, no one’s ever going to notice if you wear one pair several days in a row, you’re free to not think or to enjoy the comfort of a broken-in pair. 

After thinking over this for a while I remembered how I have a friend who owns seven tuxedos —like not just suits, tuxedos— and how in light of that, seven pairs of pants seems totally reasonable.


This fabric, by the way, is from the most annoying yard sale I have ever been to. Nothing had a price tag, which is the worst, so I had to ask the lady of the house how much everything cost, and each time I asked she would launch into the entire story of the thing in question, including how much she paid for it when it was brand new and how rare it was and all other details she could recall. Then she would name the price, which was high. For this set of two curtain, from IKEA, “These are designer! They don’t make them anymore! We barely even used them!”, she wanted ten dollars, which is completely against my belief that nothing at a yardsale should be more than a dollar, since I consider yardsales to be the last stop before donating to the thrift shop. 

Later my husband and I came up with the perfect yard sale pricing scheme: X is twenty dollars, but if you listen to my entire story, it’s free. 

But I totally bought the curtains. They provide a lot of yardage. And I felt a little sorry for her and maybe recognized myself in her, her belief in the worth of her possessions was a little heartbreaking, and apparently no one’s ever told her about eBay or Craigslist. Which is where you sell old things when you want real money for them. 

Anyway. 

This pattern is a Sew It

Fourteen patterns I haven’t got time for: Simplicity {4534, 7231, 8410, 8710, 8778} Butterick {4933, B5688, 6650, 6729} McCall’s {3432, M5856, M6480, 7287} and Style 1723

Sometimes a pattern is beautiful, in design and in presentation, and I buy it because I like beautiful things and I want to make something beautiful. 

Sometimes a pattern is hideous, in design and in styling/artwork, but I still buy it because I want to see what I can do with it. 

Sometimes I go through my pattern box and pull out a bunch of stuff that just isn’t hideous enough to be interesting. Stuff I collect in a box until the box is full and then either eBay or thrift shop the whole mess.

In the spirit of Fall Cleaning and planning, here is such a box.  

Consider this a Planning To Not Do post. 

McCall’s 7287 from 1980. I like how sad the kids look. Seriously, sometimes kids look like that. This is good illustration. 

However, the clothes are BORING. 

I have a boy, and this pattern is for girls, which means if I used it I would be sewing for a friend, which means I’d be showing off at least a little bit, but this pattern is too basic to really satisfy my showing-off needs. 

So this girls’ pattern is useless to me. 

Which is actually not true, the vest doesn’t close at the front, which avoids the issue of closing right-over-left for girls, left-over-right for boys. So really, this pattern could be for boys, it just appears to be for girls only. Which is an unfortunate choice in cover art. Maybe there’s a reason? Maybe they ran the same pattern for boys that year, but with a different embroidery transfer included? Who knows. 

Easy McCall’s M5856 from 2009. At first I was into this, but then noticed how it’s strangely unflattering on both the model and the illustration. How did it even do that? 

Simplicity 7231 Blah. Better shirts, pants, and bikinis exist in the world, and in my pattern box. Strange styling too, it’s got such a cold look for a beach vacation type pattern group. 

Also, button-up shirt with sarong. For me that would only happen if I’d forgotten to re-pack my beach bag and had no choice but to wear whatever mixed-up stuff was in there. Not a look I’d build on purpose. 

McCall’s M6468 from 2011. I am tempted to actually throw this one, like into the recycling, because: 

If you ask pattern makers and designers and seamstresses and people interested in fashion and people who sew for themselves, “what got you into sewing,” a huge percentile will say, “When I was little I started making clothes for my dolls and it was fun,” and I hate to think of some kid being overwhelmed by the complexity of these doll patterns and being turned off, or worse, taking it to their mom to sew and never having the experience of playing around with making stuff themselves. 

Ok I’m being dramatic. I won’t really put it in the recycling. But I do consider playing around with doll clothes as a real, legitimate gateway into sewing. Halloween costumes, same thing. Don’t make them for your kids, help your kids make their own.

Style 1723 from 1990, I made it, I did a blog post, it’s a Throw. 

Butterick 6650 from 2000, I made this too, must’ve been in 2000, as a surprise for a friend. Did it up in a galloping horses print in brown and white, with a contrasting pink handkerchief-print yoke, collar, and cuffs, and pearl buttons. It was meant to be kind of terrible and kind of great. Nailed it! 

Not keeping it because I now have better (more fun, vintage) patterns for men’s and for women’s western shirts. 

Simplicity 8710 is so sweet. And so costume-y looking. Maybe would look ok with just the under-dress but without the collar? Meh, pass. Love the hair on the girl in the middle though. 

Simplicity 4534 from 2005 is kind of a weird one. Lingerie inspired outerwear, but with a high, modest, closed-in sweetheart neckline. It’s like it wants to be sexy but is afraid. I thought about how this would look as sleepwear, or extended into a dress, and decided: not awesome. Some of the style lines are cute? Someone else can love this. 

Butterick 6729 from 1988, I love the illustrations here. I really really love how View B at the top right is obviously talking into her super spy-tech earring-phone to her spy handler back at some covert agency. And all the other ladies are looking around suspiciously. 

This one would fall into the category of So Ugly I Want To Fix It, except that there’s a handwritten note on the envelope that says “no back yoke pieces,” and I don’t want to work that hard on my ugliness challenges. 

Also interesting to me that this one cost $2 at the Goodwill. That seems like a lot for an old ugly pattern, especially one that clearly says it’s incomplete. I got this as part of an eBay lot, which included many patterns with thrift store stickers. I wonder if that’s something that people do, buy up crummy patterns at the thrift, resell them for an extremely slim profit as part of a miscellaneous pattern lot. 

Simplicity 8410 from 1987. I love this pattern art. Look at the guy in red. With those reflective sunglasses. Both these 80’s patterns are so smoldering! 

I would keep this and make it for me if it was a men’s XS, but it is a men’s XL, with who knows how much ease. I fear it would take over the entire house. 


McCalls’s 3432 from 2001. I bought this on sale thinking pjs are a fun gift for a teenager, but with no particular teenager in mind. Didn’t notice at the time that this junior sized pattern envelope is sized for the larger range, which is basically the same as regular women’s sizes, which I have some cute vintage pj patterns of, so this one is redundant. Throw!

Butterick B5688 from 2011 is not my size or my style. Also it smells like floral scented laundry detergent. Outta here! 


Simplicity 8778 from 1970. Love the artwork. I get a medical vibe from View 1, like if her white necklace was actually a stethoscope I’d totally believe it. Maybe she’s a  veterinarian! Maybe she keeps doggie biscuits in those pockets! 

I think it’s the raglan sleeves and the V neck. Pretty common combo for scrubs. Maybe that’s why I’m not into it. It’s also large, resizing would be more trouble than I’m interested in.

Butterick 4933 is, like, so close! So close to being a great pattern! If that bizarre yoke were set like three inches lower! Like the yoke on harem pants! As is, it’s just weird! Plus the pattern is very small! 

Also, the zip is in the back, and the front looks like the back yoke on jeans. I would put these on backwards every single time. And be enraged. 

There. Done. All throws. Feels good. 

McCall’s 4501: Caution, Hazard, Bathing Suit. 


The pattern:
McCall’s 4501, copyright 1975 by The McCall Pattern Company. 
This pattern includes a one piece halter suit, a halter bikini, a halter top (which could recombine nicely as the top half of a tankini), and some elastic waist bell-bottoms which I guess would be great for…the roller rink immediately post beach? I mean, I’d rather go home and change first, but these ladies look pretty secure with their outfit decisions. 

The Fabric:
I used a two-way stretch satin Lycra, in yellow and black hazard stripe. The pattern calls for knit, which would’ve also been a two-way stretch, (as in stretches side to side) but most knits have at least a tiny bit of give in the up/down direction, where as this satin Lycra has none-zo, so I made a center front seam and put it on the bias and added one inch seam allowance wherever possible and did A Lot of fitting to make sure the length was ok before trimming away the seam allowance and finishing it off. 
The pattern is made to be reversible, which I find kind of bizarre, because 1) that means you have to insert all the elastic into casings instead of turning to the inside and 2) why would I reverse my suit. I would immediately choose a favorite side and never reverse it, forever, the end. 
So instead of making it reversible, it’s flat-lined with a white four-way-stretch Lycra, all seams visible on the inside, all elastics stay-stitched, overlocked, turned to the inside, and coverstitched. 
One big surprise and challenge with this pattern: the bust piece is Gone. Lost. Not Here.
Nooooooooo.
But fine whatever, I borrowed from McCall’s M5400, published in 2007. 


Top C is very similar to the shape I needed, just the center front point changed a little. 
I like the cover art on M5400 a lot. I think of this as The McCall’s Face: the jawline, eyes,  and mouth are always the same, despite a really great variety in skin tone and facial expression and attitude. 
Baby Bohemian in the orange bikini is my favorite of this crew. 
And here’s my suit:


Note on crazy color scheme: when I found this bathing suit pattern (in a box of rando I bought off eBay) I immediately pictured it in this exact yellow and black fabric with a chevron. But then I started reading yet another book of the French Women Are Better At Everything variety, and looked at my obnoxious fabric, and thought, “Oh no, a French woman would never,” and abandoned the project. 
I love reading this type of book, in a perverse way. I fall under a sad sort of spell each time I finish one, and spend at least a week thinking, “It’s time to teach my child to make pastry. Do I even *own* a white shirt? Am I having enough arguments? Never eat again! Except beautiful homemade dinners. That are also educational moments for my child. And involve passionate arguments with friends about politics. Oh god, what is my signature perfume???” 
And then the week passes and the spell is lifted and I go back to loud bathing suits. 

Time and Construction: 
This suit took 12 hours, which is fun to think about because if I paid myself $30 an hour this would be a $360 bathing suit. Without including the fabric (which was a remnant so actually free). That is the price of custom. Even at minimum wage, it would be like $120. I think the most expensive store-bought suit I’ve ever owned was $90, from JCrew. It was a black maillot. I loved that thing. I lost it. I miss it.  
I changed a couple little construction things from the original 1975 pattern: a swimsuit hook instead of ties at the back neck, flatlined instead of clean-finish lining. The biggest change was stitching elastic along the underbust seam to keep it snug against the body. I was surprised that the instructions didn’t call for it in the first place. Even the modern, 2007 bikini top didn’t call for that, although come to think of it the modern one had a strap across the back to create the tension to hold that seam in place. So, ok. 
I’m sad that the gathers under the bust don’t read as well as they do in the illustration. Those gathers are fun, I would add more next time so they are more glamorous and vavoom. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. I love the low leg line. So retro-silly. I’m not sure if halter is my best look, so the fact that that piece is missing is fine, makes me make more likely to do something different next time. The high back creates some fun oportunities: could make it scoop but add a cross strap as per the bikini back with a closure, might look neat and provide a more secure fit.  

Next up I’m going to try the bikini bottoms on both these patterns as underwear, so I can official Sew or Throw M5400 too. Things getting sewn and thrown! Progress! 

Simplicity 7216: a nice normal skirt, white fishnets not included. 

The Pattern:
Simplicity 7216, JUNIOR PETITES’ AND MISSES’ SKIRTS IN TWO LENGTHS, copyright 1967 Simplicity Pattern Co. Inc. 
This is a good old basic skirt pattern with three possible looks: Views 1 and 2 are pleated, View 3 is plain, and View 4 uses exactly the same pattern pieces as View 3 but with a different grain line to follow for the bias. 
Here below is my favorite detail of the cover art:


White fishnets! Git it, Girl!
What an outfit this is. Let’s admire it. Blue shirt, bias plaid mini in red and green, white fishnet tights, and blue shoes with big ol’ buckles. Such a contrast from View 1’s white and grey uniform.
I like to imagine that both girls are dressed for school. Just, not the same school. I’m guessing View 4 is skirting the edge of her public school’s dress code with those tights.  
Thing I find culturally interesting: in the US, for the most part, private school students wear uniforms, but public school students do not, whereas in other places (I’ve been told/seen on tv/seen IRL in Melbourne and London but am not an expert on please correct me if I’m wrong) public school students wear uniforms while private school students are the ones that don’t.
Target stores here in Los Angeles sell school uniforms, in tan or navy polyester. I was surprised the first time I saw them, like, “Oh! So you don’t have to go to, like, Diagon Alley to get these, huh.”
I made the most technically boring skirt option —View 3 in the mini length— so as to feature my fabric. 


The Fabric:
I found this green and cream floral printed poly/cotton canvas at a thrift shop a couple months ago, for two dollars. 
My guess is that this is not actually vintage but more of a vintage-inspired fabric, and that somebody bought this yard-and-a-half and spread it over their couch thinking, “Should I re-upholster? Does this look good?” And then they decided no. 
But I decided yes!
I really like this stuff. It reminds me of those solar photos we made as kids, with that special paper you would put leaves and flowers onto and then set out in the sunshine and come back later and sweep the flowers off and you’ve got a blue-on-blue floral silhouette image that looks a lot like this fabric. Anybody remember those?




This is a directional fabric, meaning the flowers and leaves don’t interchange, but have a definite up and down. I chose to cut the wrong direction on purpose, going downward, like they are falling from a garland. Or like I have an entourage who throw flowers along my path. Ya know. I think it’s prettier that way and shows off the sinuous lines better than growing upward would. 

Construction and Time:
This took four hours, from ironing the fabric to hand stitching the hem. 
One thing that kept this project fast and straightforward is that I didn’t have to change the size. Didn’t have to make the waist and hips bigger. This one fits as is, straight out of the package. That, like, never happens. This is possibly the only 30″ waist vintage pattern I’ve ever seen, let alone owned. 
I didn’t even change the length, I figured the rest of it was going so well I would just trust in their version of mini. 
The only change I made was to lift the back of the skirt into the waistband 5/8″ at the center back to 0″ at the side seams, to get the side seams (which were tilting forward) to hang straight. 
I’d go shorter for a winter version to be worn with tights, but for summer and no tights, this works. It looks like a whole lot of skirt to me, proportionally. But that may be because I grew up in the 90’s when mini meant practically rectangular, between the low waist and high hem. 
Oh, and this is fun: this is a “How-To-Sew” Pattern, right? 
I investigated. 
What this means is that the instructions carefully describe how to apply the waistband (in a way I disagreed with: sew to inside, turn to outside, fold and topstitch. I do the opposite, I think it’s easier to achieve a clean line if you sew right sides together first and turn in, and you can always add topstitching later if you want) but then for the zipper they give no instruction other than “see instructions with zipper.” Hahahaha! Love. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. I mean, it’s vintage that fits without my help, how rare. 
And it’s a nice blank slate, for giant bucket pockets maybe. 
Also, I’m excited that the pleated versions have a separate pattern piece for the inner face of the pleats, which means the inner pleats could be a different color. Fun! 

Style 1723: a sundress for a windy day

{I don’t believe in fabric regrets. I think it’s always better —when I’m sewing at home for my own entertainment— to use a fabric rather than hold it for some unknown future perfect use. But with this project, as soon as I’d finished and was editing photos I realized what the perfect use would’ve been. Now I have fabric regrets. 
So let’s play a fun game: as you read, think about what you would’ve made instead of what I made, and then let’s get together at the end of the post and see if our ideas match up.}


The Pattern:
Style 1723, Misses’ Dress and Jacket (or, Robes et Veste Jeune Femme) copyright 1990 Style Patterns. Ltd. 
I found this one at a thrift. What sold me was the View 1 illustration, the one where she’s facing front and the skirt is billowing billowing billowing. 
Also the photo reminds me of Daryl Hannah in Splash!, although when I went and did a search to confirm that Daryl Hannah was actually in Splash!, I saw that she didn’t look like this at all, instead of long soft hair, she had bangs and that amazing white-blonde crimped mermaid hair that inspired a world of unfortunate crimped copy-cattery.
Also, Splash! came out in 1984. What?! That is much much earlier than I would’ve guessed, and six years earlier than this pattern. 
Also let’s take a moment to laugh at that jacket. Hahahhahahahaha.Ok done. 


The Fabric:
It’s taffeta, in pink and tan plaid on a white background. It was an end-of-bolt sale remnant, and there was just enough (about 5 yards) of it to cut out this dress while avoiding the big fade stripes along the fold lines, which totally happened on my watch during the dozen or so years I’ve had this stuff. 
I washed it before cutting, to get that crinkly texture, and so that I could wash the eventual dress. 
Here below is the best part of the dress: the skirt is so full and the washed taffeta is so light, that it catches every breeze.


Here below is the worst bummer of the dress: it does not look good on me. 
It’s the waistline. I think if the waistline hit about three inches lower, and had a more dramatic curve up at the sides and down at the front and back, it would look about a million times better. As is, it’s chopping me at a bad place and makes everything look broad and childish yet frumpy. And the girly plaid isn’t helping. 


I tell ya what though: if you want to learn what lines look good on your figure, just take pictures. I’ve been wearing clothes most of my life, but have learned more in the past couple weeks about what I look good in, just from looking at the difference between how that red and purple Donna Karan looks and how this pink thing looks, than, like, ever. I mean, it’s the difference between hot damn and regular damn. 
So that’s good. 
Here’s the back. 

Ok no really, here’s the back. 

Hard to get a good photo of this dress, because of how fun the skirt is.  


Time and Changes:
6 hours. I skipped the center back zipper, and I cut the bodice on bias instead of straight, in (unfulfilled) hopes of a more slinky bias fit. 
Speaking of photos being helpful, I’m realizing that I should be giving myself more length in the upper bodice, front and back, like on all patterns across the board from now on. Like draw a horizontal line at mid-armsceye level and make a note to cut out the garment above the line, then drop the pattern piece maybe an inch, then cut from the line down. This would lower bust darts and give me more room in the armsceye, which are two things it seems like I’m always doing, especially the older the pattern. 
This is the kind of thing I can see on another person in a fitting room, but it’s taken over a year of blog photos to see it on myself. If only I’d heeded the advice of Cher Horowitz all those years ago: dress yourself with photos, not the mirror. 

The Regrets:
My fabric regret is this: I was looking at these photos and thinking how this is the weirdest fabric. It’s taffeta, so it’s all shiny rustle-y party-time, it’s pink, and pink and shiny equal princess overload, but it’s a small scale plaid, like you’d see in a hardworking daytime cotton, like…shirting. 
This fabric would’ve made a great shirtdress. Polished, lightweight, unassuming. Understated but fancy. Aaaaaaaaaaargh. After having this stupid fabric for years, the perfect idea came like two weeks too late. 
What would you have made out of this stuff? Shirtdress? It’s shirtdress right? Everyone saw it but me? 

Sew It or Throw it: 
Throw it. The pattern, because it’s not right for me, and the dress because it can’t be saved. Even the easy save of put-a-T-shirt-on-overtop isn’t working. It’s ok though, I am pretty happy at having finally made something with this fabric, it feels good to have produced something, even if I’m just producing it right outta my life. 

Simplicity 4760: summer shorts times five


The Pattern: 
Simplicity 4760 BOYS’ AND MEN’S PANTS AND SHIRT, copyright 2004 by Simplicity Pattern Co. Inc
This is my most used pattern: first the shirt, then shorts, then as pants with crocodile patches. 
This time I didn’t mess around though. Five pairs of shorts, made factory style, simple, fast, bam. 


The Fabric:
I pulled out all the random 1-yard-ish pieces of printed cotton from my shelf and used them up. I found five pieces, so he got five shorts. I am very satisfied with this. 
Starting with the top left we’ve got chickens, stars, Australian Aboriginal art, bottom left we have harvest vegetables (that one was bought to make a hilarious tablecloth, obviously, but never happened, because the reality of a loud tablecloth is not as fun as the idea) and fried eggs, which are from the same collection as the chickens: Ellen Krans for Robert Kaufman. 
I stack-cut them with no attempt at matching, here below is my favorite accidental match up: 

See it? That one two-toned chicken? Totally just happened that way Hahhahahahaa. 

The kid was really into the big spool of string I used to hang up all the shorts, that’s what he’s holding in the photo above. Really really wanted that big spool of string. Such a good helper. 

The blue star shorts, though, I am annoyed with. I’ve had this fabric on the shelf for years, why did I never make myself a pair of star shorts! Now that I see how they look, I am jealous! They should’ve been mine! Arg!!!!


He’s also wearing his State of California shirt. My husband made the graphic and printed it out on iron-on paper.


The harvest shorts crack me up the most. Although it’s a close race.  

Time and Construction: 
I made these factory style, which means I separated the work by process not by garment. So I cut them all, then made all the pockets, then set all the pockets on all the fronts, then closed all the inseams, then closed all the outseams, etc etc. All together this took 8 hours, divided by five pairs equals 1.6 hours per, so let’s call that just over an hour and a half per shorts. 
Good and fast. 
If I’d made a single pair, it probably would’ve taken like three hours, just because stuff always does. 
My dad happened to be napping on the couch the day I cut out all these shorts, and was woken up by what he thought was me chopping an insane amount of vegetables. Oh Scissor Noise, you give us the lols. 

Sew It or Throw It: 
Sew it. 

Vogue Patterns 1331: that’s a wrap, Donna 


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

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

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

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


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

Time: 12 hours

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


Sew It or Throw It:

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

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.