Simplicity 5914 Dress (1970s): Plans

Kestrel Makes is co-hosting the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge this year. I decided that I’d like to join in, saying that I would sew one vintage pattern this year. (I don’t want to overextend myself!)

I settled on the 1970s as the decade whose style I wanted to explore. I wanted to find something relatively easy, but with a couple of added details that would allow me to try a new technique. I found Simplicity 5914, a shift-like dress with a collar and cuffs, along with a waist seam (unlike a true shift), which fit the bill.

Simplcitiy 2914, a 1970s dress pattern
Image is from Etsy @AuntHoneysEstate/Google Image Search.

I ordered the pattern in size 18.5 from eBay; I couldn’t find one in 18 or 16.5. My plan is to try to tissue fit the pattern, as it’s already cut in that size, or to trace the pieces slightly smaller. What should I do? I’m excited about learning how to do a collar and cuffs. I plan on starting a practice run of this dress this weekend.

I wonder why Simplicity doesn’t print patterns in half-sizes anymore?

Simplicity 1609, a Jiffy Pattern: A Shifty Shift Dress

I read about Simplicity 1609 on Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing and on the We Sew Retro website. I really liked the versions that I saw there; I had visions of myself looking sleek and mod in my own version. I believe I started this series in December 2013 and finished it in January 2014.

I made a muslin out of a polka-dotted sheet (no photo), using size 16 at the bust and 18 at the waist and hip. I didn’t put a zipper in it. It seemed fine, though loose.

I made a second version, complete with zipper, out of green paisley broadcloth. It had some fitting issues in the back, but the front looked good. (This was my first centered zipper! I hand-basted it in before sewing it in by machine.)

Simplicity 1609, shift dressI looked up “puffiness in upper back” on Google. I was surprised to have this, since my lower back dips in sharply…normally, I have pooling of fabric in the lower back. I believe I found that the back bodice was too long, so I shortened the back bodice above where the waistline was (approximately, since the back bodice and skirt are not separate). The fit in the upper back improved on the third version, made of linen from JoAnn’s, but the fit in front declined, becoming loose and giving the impression of a big belly.

Simplicity 1609 Front Modeled

Sorry about all of the background stuff–this was my one opportunity to get a photo, and it was dark and cold outside. Even though the fit isn’t perfect, I have worn it to work a lot…with a belt to control the puffiness in front. I like how breezy it is.

A sewing teacher suggested that I actually go down a size to 14, so I may try that on the next version of this. I find Simplicity 1609 easy to sew, and I like the silhouette in all the versions I’ve seen. I want to make it work for my figure.

 

Learning New Sewing Skills: Simplicity 2444 Draft

When I started sewing, learning new skills was my main goal–it still is. Here’s one of my early hits/misses, a first draft of Simplicity 2444, sewn in February 2014:

Simplicity 2444

Skills learned:

  • Inserting an invisible zipper using an invisible zipper foot
  • Underlining the bodice with muslin, following Reader’s Digest instructions
  • Using muslin as a sew-in interfacing
  • Gathering (the skirt)
  • Using rectangles to create a gathered skirt (learned from Dolly Clackett)

Simplicity 2444 Back View

Things I did not do well here:

  • Paying closer attention to the instructions (and misunderstanding the instructions because I was looking at the Reader’s Digest sewing book and the instructions, which were different), rather than my common sense, which resulted in the zipper not ending at the top
  • Sewing the skirt in such a way that some gathering threads are visible
  • Hemming (I did a quick hem because this serves as a draft/a costume, since the fabric is crappy thin poly $1 Wal-Mart fabric–in this photo, the dress is unhemmed)

I made this (16 bust, 18 waist, rectangles for skirt) during February 2014, less than a year after I started learning how to sew. It has gaping in the back due to the zipper issue and possibly a “crone neck” issue, and gaping around the neckline, which others have noted.

Simplicity 2444

In my second version of S2444, I did 18 all over (due to weight gain) and added little darts on the back shoulder area to help fit over the curve of my upper back–thanks, Pattern Review commenters! I did the zipper properly, after lots of practice. For my second version, I used the included skirt, which has a lot of volume. I’ll edit this post later to feature it.

Sew Fresh!

One of my objectives with this blog is to promote diversity by representing a body type and look that is under-represented in the Sewing Blog Community.

Hundreds of sewing blogs exist already. There’s a pattern, though; the blogs that appear first in search results belong to young, thin white women. There is a lack of diversity among the top results. Sewing blog community members in places such as GOMI Craft and personal blogs have noted this. These blogs get the most traffic, and blogs by outliers tend to not get much attention, so they are overlooked and fall to the back of search results, if they register at all on the search engines.

That means that people like me–a woman of color with a little extra weight who is making her way toward middle age–don’t see their figures reflected as much in the endless photos of finished products. It’s frustrating because I do blog searches of particular sewing patterns to see what the finished item looked like, and what kinds of adjustments the sewist had to make to the pattern to make it fit. If almost all of the bodies modeling the garments are near the “standard” size and proportions, that is not helpful to me.

Pattern Review seems to present a more balanced representation of sewists, but the interface on that website is clunky and unappealing, and it doesn’t allow sewists’ voices to shine the way that personal blogs do.

Some blogs that I like include Sew Crafty Chemist, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Miss Crayola Creepy, Idle Fancy, Clothing Engineer (whose body type is a lot like mine), and Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing. They present a variety of body types and fitting challenges; they also write very thoughtfully and methodically about sewing. I would like to do the same! I want to keep it fresh.

A sewing blog