Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ahhh...For the love of peter pan collars -- Simplicity 7852 (1968)

I picked View 2

I look happy, but I really just want to get
the pattern marking done so I can move on to actual sewing


TIRED, so tired...

Before sleeves, before hemming

Whew...It's been a busy busy last couple weeks. I've been sewing, but I'm behind in my posting (mostly because my husband and I have been too lazy to take the photos).

Time to crack that whip Devo-style.

Simplicity 7852 (1968) was a joy to construct. So few problems. So little bitching. I hardly recognize myself.

Making this dress, I decided to go with a white and navy blue color palette. I LOVE =peter pan collars (yep, I'm using caps locks to shout out how much I love them) and thought the dress would look adorable with the color scheme of a different view shown on the pattern (i.e. the view in the middle of the navy dress with the pointed collar).

After sleeves, before hemming

The tailoring went a lot better with this dress. I like the drape, but it skims the body too. I think I found a good balance there.
I also got a new toy this time around. I hated using a ruler to hand-draw my cut line for my hems, so I got this nifty tool. It's this weird do-hicky from Dritz that spurts chalk in a straight line where I set it to mark. It looks like a Victorian medical instrument but somehow it manages to work. Although, I did have some problems with the chalk clogging up and coming out messy. Not sure what the deal is there. That was annoying.
I got another product from Dritz that I hated and will never use again. I normally mark my patterns with chalk but decided to try a disappearing pen (i.e. blue for light colors, white for dark colors). The white hardly worked. The blue was so very annoying to remove. I had to wash the dress to get rid of the blue. This annoyed me, because the directions said a wet rag would work. I'm back to chalk marking...
So, there is one issue I'd like to discuss. I'm having this issue with long sleeve dresses. I'm not 100% pleased with the way my sleeves are sewn on. I follow all directions, but I feel like the shoulder seam should be more towards the middle of my shoulder. For some reason, the seam always lands at the far end, almost onto my arm itself (and this causes an uncomfortable fit in the armpit area). I'm not 100% fond of the look, because my shoulders are pretty broad, and I don't want them broader yet. The way the shoulder seams are landing, they tend to widen my shoulders. Not sure why this is happening? Could it have something to do with my adjustments at the side seams? Hmmm.....

You can sort of see the broad shoulder issue in this picture

Also, what's the deal with pattern sizing? I need some input on this. I had read that you should use your bust measurement to pick your size. I have a 36 bust, so I bought vintage patterns in that size. From the get-go, I've felt that the 36 bust size has produced results that are significantly too big. Not just a little too big, quite a bit too big. That's why I went a little "tailor-happy", I think. My results were so baggy; I tended to overcompensate. But I didn't really question my choice of a 36 bust, because I was terrified of making something that was too small. You can't make something too small bigger, although some men would beg to differ.

But, I have finally decided to try a 34 bust pattern, so I'm going to hope that it's perfect since the 36 is so big on me. I read something about "ease" in the pattern sizing. Does that mean that a 36 bust is closer to fitting a woman with a 38 bust? And that if the waist is listed at 28, it's more like a 30? My measurements are 36-26-36-- would a 34 bust accommodate me better? I'll know soon enough... I've got some 34 patterns in hand. It won't be the next dress and probably not the one after that, but it will be soon. Sorry to leave you with a cliffhanger (ha).

Happy sewing adventures,


  1. Lovely dress and I love the peter pan collar, what kind of fabric is it?

  2. Cute dress!

    Re sizing: yes, most people who use commercial patterns do end up sizing down because major pattern makers put much more ease in patterns than anyone wants. Finished sizes are usually printed on the pieces; that can give you a good idea of what pattern size to start with. If you're a b-cup bust you can typically size down and have it fit without alteration, but the further you are (either bigger or smaller in the chet), the more you will need to alter to fit, even sizing down. For example, I have a 37/38" bust (34DD), which would put me in a 16, but a 16 is huge, especially through the back and shoulders because it is drafted for a larger frame with smaller breasts. I typically use a 12 or 14 with the front altered to accommodate my bust. With your measurements, a 10 or 12 with a full bust adjustment might fit best.

  3. according to a little book i bought of etsy published in 1961 by some sewing wizz, patterns have a 4inch ease built in.

    He states that whilst SOME ease is needed 4" is a lot. He says that you should buy for your bust measurement and resize from there, however your bust measurement is the measurement minus 2" in order to have only a 2" ease.

    I have a 38" bust, I make 36" patterns and they fit perfectly. I can also squeeze into a 34" but it isn't a great fit.

    I would suggest that give the extra ease you have from your slightly springy material choices you could try a 34 and it would still be usable - you could then decide which you prefer. It may also fix your shoulder problem.

    In relation to this dress I have to say I think it is your best tailoring yet - you got the skim but still have that mod shaping - well done.

  4. The dress turned out fab. I've been checking out your blog for sometime now and just now got over my extreme jealousy to comment on how amazing all your work is.

    Pattern sizing is so frustrating. I've found that at times I can go two sizes down, then the next time the one that is "my size" is too small. I always blamed it on my sewing until recently.

  5. I don't think that the patterns you are making are too big. Judging by the drag lines on the side of this dress, which point from your bust to your hip, they are actually too small for you somewhere - perhaps in the hip circumference itself.

    I think you look beautiful but also you are trying to wear 1960s clothes with a 2010 sensibility! That is, these days people wear their clothes much tighter than they used to because they are used to stretch fabrics with a lot more "give" in them and the body-con look since the 1990s. We didn't really have much in the way of stretch fabrics in the 60s so those dresses were made in wovens and would 'swing" quite loosely around the body. The reason they were shocking at the time was that they finished above the knee and did NOT restrict women's bodies with tight waistbands and tailoring, etc. In this era, on the other hand, people are getting/going for a relatively tight fit around both the bust and the hips. That's OK but not so "authentic" and may explain your feelings about the patterns. That 2" difference that you don't like is "ease". It doesn't mean the pattern is too big for you. Just that you find that styling outdated.

    You look fine in your dresses by 2010 standards but because of the way you wear them, they rarely look "retro" to me (I am, fortunately or unfortunately, old enough to remember the sixties!). But that's OK because really "retro" can look "costumey".

    I think you might need to think about how you are changing the way the styles are worn and which fabrics will serve that change best. So, for example, you may need to sew with wovens with a bit of stretch instead of plain wovens if you want to go down a size, but those drag lines may still need adjustment by expanding the side seams at the hip (if you mind about them at all. You could just choose not to mind about them because most of us get those in RTW and only sewists will notice them).

  6. I agree with Erin. I'd take your upper bust measurement (go around your torso right under your armpits and above your bust) and go by that. From pictures, it looks like the rest of your frame could easily fit into a pattern a size or two smaller than the 36" bust. From the smaller patter, you then do a full bust adjustment. There are plenty of great tutorials online to walk you through it, or you could go to your library and check out a tailoring book (like Fit for Real People or Pattern Fitting with Confidence).

  7. To chime in: go with your upper bust measurement and then do a FBA adjustment. It took me a while to figure out to do this as well and had all sorts of patterning problems. Bodices do fit so much better now that I do a FBA.

    The downside is the added time until you get to the fun part - sewing!

  8. Sweet frock!
    Yes,indeed,patterns have way too much ease.But for me it isn't so bad,as I have a big(BIG)bust,so have to buy for that-but the rest of my body is a size or 2 I'm short waisted!But,I think you get used to your needs pattern wise after a while,and it becomes automatic to adjust.
    You are doing so many fun things with these 60's patterns,and I like the modern sensibilty you give them

  9. @sulovessew: It's 100% ponte roma polyester. Thanks for the compliment!

    @Erin: I think you're right about the sizing. I will def. be trying the smaller size soon. I have a small frame too (I did the fingers around the wrist test), so I suspect that makes a difference.

    @Heather: Wow, that is A LOT of ease. Thanks for that stat. Based on what you wrote about yourself, I'm excited to try the 34 bust, because I think it will work well. I bought fabric in advance for some of the 36 patterns I have. I need to make a few more dresses before I have to return to the fabric store. At that time, I'm def. going to buy fabric for a 34 bust pattern. Thank you for the compliment regarding the tailoring too.

  10. @stella: Thank you for the compliments. I'm trying hard to learn on my own, so I really appreciate it. I am frustrated with pattern sizing too, but I'm going try sizing down and hope for the best. Fingers crossed.

    @Misafir (Ruth) Geldi: I appreciate the opinion. I am trying really hard to strike a balance between the original shape and a more fitted, modern shape. I am realizing that I don't necessarily want to erase the a-line shape-- I'd just like it to skim closer to my body. I have some dresses with that shape and they look really nice. It's just hard, since I'm learning, to find that shape and to strike that balance. I don't know what drag lines are but I will look into that. I really think my 36 pattern size is too big for me, though. The difference is actually significantly greater than 2 inches and another poster, Heather, commented that 4 inch eases were common (she cited a book she had read from the era). I'll consider your comments about fabric choice as well. I do like the body-con look that you mentioned. In fact, I have seen some mod-inspired 80's and 90's dresses that accomplish something similar to what I'm trying to achieve. They don't necessarily have to be skin-tight-- just more skimming of the body.

    @SemiCharmedWife: Yeah, that's an issue for sure-- my bust is 36 which is fairly big, but my waist is pretty small. It's strange, though, because the 36 patterns are even a little too big in the bust. Could it be that the ease is just way too much like Heather mentioned above? That's what I'm thinking. I'll have to look into the tutorials if the 34 bust doesn't work for me, as is.

    @Rita: I'll have to try that if I can't get the 34 bust to work as it is. It might work, though, because it's weird how even the bust is a lot too big on the 36 patterns.

    @Helga: Thank you for the compliment! I have the same thing with the bigger bust and then my waist is a lot smaller. However, my hips are still wide so who knows what to do with them! ; - ) ha ha...

  11. I will get round to scanning hte pages for you on bust alteration from that book sometime soon. :)

  12. Ok so I have had a look at my little bookie. It is by someone named Alfred Bach copywrite is 1961. He was a fashion designer, author, columnist his advice is to always choose a pattern by bust measurement. That waist, wide or narrow shoulders are easily fixed. He states that you should buy by your bust minus 2 inches. It does also state though that if you have an unusually small waist and an unusually large bust in which case the bust is enlarged.

    I would suggest trialing a 34 in cheap fabric and see how it feels as it would be easier than a FBA. Good luck and let me know when you get to it.

  13. Have you ever thought about making a sloper to figure out how your body shape works in relation to the commercial patterns? I also like to sew retro (however, as a stay-at-home-mom of 2 little ladies, ages 2 & 4, plus trying to move to a new house-long story, it's all but impossible) I had read in my vintage Better Homes and Gardens "Sewing book" about making one of these and then found another great tutorial on the website about how to use it once it's made. This is what I'm working on now since I'm a plus size with apparently extra big boobs especially for vintage patterns. With the amount of time you have for sewing (just guessing by the # of things you've made recently) it would take you no more than a day or 2 to whip one up and it would help you with some of the issues that you are having. And I highly recommend that vintage book BH&G... buy it if you can, it's become my sewing bible although I own several other vintage 60s &70s sewing books, too. It has an interesting piece of information about buying patterns which best fit around your arm (armhole size) and resizing the pattern for the rest of your body. I'm sorry I can't quote to you from it because it's at my other house right now. But it's way worth looking into.

  14. That's a very beautiful dress, it suits you perfectly! This discussion about fit is very interesting, I've been sewing mainly with knits or self-drafted patterns, so I can't say much about it, I'm afraid...

  15. You would look great hogtied and being suffocated.