Simplicity 9053: shoot for the moon, and vice versa


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


So, the skirt! I made the short version. 

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

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

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


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

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

Sew It or Throw It: 

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


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Butterick 4064: my new favorite skirt, and it’s not even for me. 

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. 

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 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! 

McCall’s M5430: a 1 Hour Skirt*

 
the pattern:
McCall’s M5430 MISSES’ WRAP SKIRTS, copyright 2007 The McCall Pattern Co. 
The pattern envelope artwork features (in addition to a four-pack of sour-pussed femme-bots) a big red circle with the number 1 inside, proclaiming this to be a 1 Hour Skirt*
Asterisk included.
I looked all over for the footnote that would follow that asterisk, figuring it would read, “lols fooled you Sucker, this will take many more hours than one hahahaha,” or similar, but even worse: there is no corresponding footnote. Not anywhere on the pattern envelope or the instructions inside. 
Here, here’s the back, you look. No asterisk. 
Maybe it’s supposed to be an emoticon? Like, maybe they meant to make the smiley face with tongue sticking out, or the wink face, but had a typo and this mysterious unanswered asterisk is the result? 
Anyway, moving on,

no footnote here
 
the fabric:
The striped part is cut from a skirt that I made in maybe 2003, wore a lot, and then suddenly hadn’t worn in years. So, time for a re-cut. It was a circle skirt, so it provided a pretty good amount of material. 
It’s a cotton canvas, fairly stiff, kinda stands out like a bell, which will be great for hot summer days when I want my clothes to not touch me. 

The waistband is denim from an old pair of jeans. I really like how the denim works here, it’s nice and soft, and shows so much variety in color from the worn spots and folded areas from the original pants. 

 

tiny rainbow in my camera lense lalalallaaa
  
center back uses the side seam from the original skirt, nicely matched, thanks Past Self
  
Speaking of matching, I really enjoy how the side seams do not match. Or actually the stripes do line up in one spot at the hip, but the angle of the side seams is different, so they can’t match all the way down. Which I like, the chopped-up stripes look all kind of agitated and exciting. 
If I’d been working from yardage instead of cutting this thing from a large circle, I could’ve eliminated the side seams all together and had the stripes go from horizontal in the front to meet in chevron at the back. 
That would’ve been cool too. Oh well. 

  

not a real safety pin
  
this mess is definitely staying closed
  
this is pretty much what I look like all the time
 
time:
Ok back to that 1 Hour Skirt thing:
I don’t know what part of this project was supposed to take one hour.
Seriously. 
It took me 6.5 hours. I was sending my husband texts saying I was on hour forty-seven of my one-hour skirt. He was sending me texts saying he’d be out for an hour and a half and expected to see one and a half finished skirts when he returned. 
To be fair, part of my 6.5 hours was a bunch of stuff the pattern didn’t call for. 
Such as:
The pattern didn’t ask me to cut from an existing skirt, necessitating a lot of turning pattern pieces this way and that way to get the best lay-out. 
The pattern didn’t ask me to make fake-French seams. 
The pattern didn’t ask me to use hooks and snaps. (It calls for buttons on the underlap and a very nice functional tie on the overlap, which I eliminated due to my fabric being both bulky and in limited supply). 
The pattern didn’t ask me to face the hem (with blue taffeta bias fold).
The pattern didn’t ask me to zig zag on an appliqué in the shape of a safety pin. 

But!

The pattern does include, depending on which version you choose, top stitching, applied pockets, a lace hem, a real hem, making two buttonholes, sewing two buttons, and hemming waist ties. 
What part of any/all of that is supposed to take only an hour?! It takes me almost an hour to get my buttonhole attachment set up! 
Ok joking about the buttonhole attachment, but seriously, let’s look at the snaps and hooks as an example: 
If it takes me five minutes to sew each pair (which it does more or less, 2 minutes thirty seconds per side is not a bad estimate) and I’m sewing six total, that’s thirty minutes right there. So, the whole rest of the cutting, sewing, and everything else is supposed to take just thirty more minutes? I mean yes, they never told me to do four hooks &bars and two snaps, that was my own crazy, but whatever, it’s a good example of the reality of the time it takes to make things. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Sew it. It’s a good skirt! Just nevermind that 1 hour business!
The overlap gives good coverage, I tested it by running around, sitting cross-legged, running around some more. 
The yoke is nice, sits well on the waist. 
I think, actually, this skirt —as I made it— is very me. Like, if there was a game show where there was a rack of miscellaneous clothing and friends had to pick out which garment belongs to me, they would all totally win the grand prize. 
It’s got stripes doing something funny, it’s a slightly odd shape with that stiff fabric I chose, it’s got a yoke, it’s got a funny appliqué…yep. 
Which is a little bit of a hard truth to accept! I mean, I’d love to think I’m a bias dress in some kind of liquid satin or a sculptural wool coat or, you know, something even a little bit sophisticated, but no, I’m this skirt. 
Fine, whatever, I accept.