Simplicity and me (or how I just can’t take a hint)

April 20, 2010

Simplicity patterns, as I’ve mentioned before, just don’t work for me. And yet, if you shop for vintage patterns, you cannot escape them. There are so many of them, and some are just…so…cute. I have vowed several times not to sew from a Simplicity pattern again, but I had this lovely blouse pattern staring at me…and I’ve wanted to make it for so long…and I had a truckload full of new pattern paper and muslin…etc, etc. You know how it goes.

O, Simplicity 3358, View 1, how you defied me from the very beginning! I made a real muslin that required extensive alteration. And here I was, thinking a 32″ bust would fit me nicely…silly me! I traced my patterns onto pattern paper before making the muslin (first mistake) and then basted away. I cut down the neckline, as always, changed the darts and tucks into something more friendly to my body (okay, okay, it was a small bust adjustment), and decided it needed to be a bit longer. It wasn’t a good tuck-in length, and I need to tuck things in, you know?

I had some beautiful teal silk crepe de chine, which I had bought just for this project.  I went to work cutting and made my first mistake quickly by not adding length. “No problem!” I thought, sewing away. “I’ll just wear it with a high-waisted black skirt. I’ll need to make one, but that’s okay.” Other than that mistake, all seemed to be going well from Day 1 to Day 3.

On Day 3, I became frustrated. I read Susannah’s post in which she detailed a significant number of issues with–you guessed it–a vintage Simplicity blouse. Eek. Did I take it as an omen, as I should have? No. I carried on. Day 4 was horrible, but I was determined to finish. On Day 5, things improved somewhat. And here is the final product:

I didn’t even notice that it was coming off of my shoulders until I looked back at the photos, but I was rushing to take them…it was in the 40s and raining outside! I just couldn’t bear re-shooting the photos.

I only managed to complete this blouse by trashing (by which I mean folding and nicely putting away) the instructions after the first direction, which was to sew the darts in the front and back. There was a crazy treatment for the underarms (don’t ask), and the topstitching the pattern called for around the neck and armholes looked truly awful. Because I’m a one-trick pony, as you already know, I did a catchstitch on the armholes and finished the neck with an understitched facing, which I had to draft a few times to get just right.

The bow turned out much larger than I expected, and since I don’t look right in precious details because I have a baby face, I’m not sure what is the overall effect on me.

As with everything I make, the ratio of hand- to machine- stitching was about even, which was (in my mind) necessary for a polished look. The entire front placket, bow detail, and hems are sewn by hand. I learned recently that my machine has a blind-hem function, but I’m afraid of it…have any of y’all ever used your machine’s blind-hem stitch? Hand-sewing my hems makes me happy, is consistent, and is fast, so I see no reason to change yet.

At the very least, I’m pleased that it was a technical success, even if I’m not sure how wearable it is yet…time will tell.

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5 Responses to “Simplicity and me (or how I just can’t take a hint)”

  1. Susannah Says:

    Oh, I’m so glad it’s not just me! I have a creeping suspicion about the fact that there are so many vintage Simplicity patterns still floating around on the internet. Why is it that people didn’t buy them up the first time around? Did they know something we don’t?

    Anyway, my Simplicity-free life began today — I’ll keep you posted on whether my sewing sanity improves.

    By the way, what pattern did you use for that beautiful hot pink skirt on your Flickr feed? I’ve been wondering whether a high-waisted pencil skirt would suit a slim-hipped figure like mine, and from the looks of your photos the answer is YES.

  2. Susannah Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say — the blouse looks beautifully constructed and finished, despite the pattern and instructions!

  3. Tasia Says:

    I’m with you – I really love the idea of this blouse (especially love version 3) but can see how the finished garment might not be exactly what you hoped for. The side picture looks cute though, where you’re showing the bow in 3D! I know what you mean about too-sweet details. I also can look young in cutesy styles, too, but the colour helps make it not-so-girly. If you decide it’s not going into your wardrobe, at least you learned something!

    Also – I love my machine’s blind-hem stitch, it depends on the fabric though. Test it out on scraps before actually using it, to see if you’re happy with the results. It sure does speed up the process!

  4. yahaira Says:

    this top has potential, I love the color,front buttons and bow but I’m not loving the the neckline on you. something about it is hiding your cute body. and wait, did you just whip up that skirt?!


  5. Okay, now you guys have me worried about my Simplicity top! I started it last summer and it’s in a drawer right now…I swear it fit when I tested it though! I’d better get it over with soon.

    I know they’re not all bad though, my Simplicity skirt is amazing, I’m about to make it for the 3rd time. So there’s hope….we’ll see how it goes!


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