Summer Madmen-ness

Simplicity 1364

So here it is; my final #MeMadeMay2015 flourish; two items sewn this month, as promised.

And not two any items, either; Simplicity Pattern’s 1364 repro 1960’s vintage blouse AND a self-drafted, sexy-as-all-heck matching pencil skirt, too!

I’m one of the lucky bloggers who responded to Simplicity’s call for star sewists, and received the following pattern free of charge;

Simplicity Pattern 1364


(I NEARLY bought it during their sale earlier this year but a lack of sufficient pennies prevented me, yet here it was, for free, for gratis. Doesn’t The Universe move in wonderful and mysterious ways??)

My chosen fabric was drawn from my extensive stash; purchased years ago from a woman selling donated fabric for charity, I’d kinda ignored it since acquiring it. While I’m a big fan of navy, the floral pattern felt too overwhelming at the time. However, at a mere 33 inches in width, I was aware that it was genuine vintage cotton. And so it lay there, biding its time, waiting for me to become confident enough to wear it.

And that time, ladies and gentlepeople, is now.

As soon as I received the pattern I knew the fabric had finally found its match. I also knew that I wanted to make a matching skirt. Hey, I measured the yardage and discovered I had 3, count them, 3 metres. But the fact it was only 33″ wide threw up a challenge, How in the giddy heck was I going to do any pattern-matching and produce a three-quarter-sleeved boxy top AND a skirt, with such little to play with? AND I wanted to draft a buttoned-back instead of the instructed centre-back zip. T’was a foolish endeavour to consider, surely…

But the answer is .. with guile, cunning, and an acceptance of which battles to pick, my friend.

Navy Floral 4 Simplicity 1364

Left hand column, top to bottom;

  • Yup, 33 inches. I no lie.
  • Tested the pattern against my own self-drafted sloper to check general fit.
  • Layout of front and back pieces.
  • Straightening the centre back cut line (and checking my old copy of Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for tips to…

Right hand column, top to bottom;

  • .. work out the extra I needed to add, and the fold lines, for a buttoned CB (stealing the measurements and how-to from my out-of-print Simplicity 4179).
  • Working out the skirt layout – front on the fold, and one half of the back cut next to it.
  • Laying out 1364’s neck facings, and toying with facing the upper edge of the skirt.
  • Using New Look 6144 as a template for the pencil skirt’s back vent.

When it came to which battles to pick during cutting, I decided that finding harmony with the big floral pattern was more important for the blouse’s back than it was for the skirt. Yep, I’d have liked it to be a swathe of effortless co-ordination, but the yardage, was the yardage, was the yardage. Sometimes you gotta go with the cloth you’re cut *philosophical moment klaxon*.

The top itself was easy to construct, fathoming out how to add a button back notwithstanding (nope, I’ve never sewn a button facing before, let alone added it to a pattern). I followed all the instructions to the letter (essential for obtaining a good finish at the inner corners of the boat neck), and am adopting the sleeve hem instruction (stitch 6mm, turn and press) for all my hems from now on!

Navy Floral 5 Simplicity 1364

Left hand column, top to bottom;

  • Nifty way to ensure neat facing edges; sew narrow edge with fashion fabric right side up and interfacing ‘sticky’ side up. Trim, turn inside out, and press the ‘sticky’ side of the interfacing against the reverse of the fashion fabric, enclosing the seam. I used Vilene Super Soft; a bit lightweight, I know, but I didn’t want to feel choked!
  • Tucking in the corners of the joined facing pieces with some hand stitches.

Right hand column, top to bottom;

  • Perfectly finished neck facing.
  • Pinking the arm hole/sleeve seam (as an experiment) as hate having unfinished seams!
  • Neatly turned and stitched hem.
  • Using the button guide from Simplicity 4179, and chalking the button holes in place.

The final internal finishes of the blouse;

Navy Floral 2 Simplicity 1364

And the details of the skirt (I even mitred the vent’s upper flap! #newskill);

Navy Floral 3

As you can see, the pattern matching on the skirt isn’t perfect, but it’s not TOO intrusive (I hope?). I decided the blouse was more important (complete with super-subtle button choice);

Simplicity 1364 blouse buttoned back


The waistband of the skirt was salvaged from the scant amount of fabric I had left, and is actually made of three separate pieces (a front and two backs). And, while I couldn’t fit the blouse’s tie belt piece on the fabric, I again joined three pieces together to make a matching belt;

1364 simplicity blouse retro

Am I happy with the end result? I’m DELIGHTED.

I love boat-neck tops, and this is wide enough to look chic without revealing my bra straps #classy. I made the size 10 and I could have gone down a size – although, it does mean I can slip it on and off without undoing any of those buttons!

I’ve slimmed the sleeve cuffs slightly by turning the hem back as I have very slender forearms, so may make that tiny adjustment to the next one (yep, I want to make another one, high praise indeed!).

But mostly, the reason I’m so delighted is because I’m proud of myself.

It’s been a struggle with my health issues but I’ve achieved so many firsts with this project. It’s the first time I’ve ever worked with such a bold print and tried to make it work across centre back seams, or replaced a zip with a button facing. It’s the first time I’ve made a fitted and pegged pencil skirt complete with a waistband, especially from scratch with my sloper (I’ve always wanted one, but for years I’ve felt too pot-bellied to wear one). And, finally, it’s the first time I’ve ever entered a sewing competition.

Whatever happens, because I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I feel like a winner.

Plus, you know, I get to wear THESE;

100_4717 vs2 simplicity 1364

Right. Let me put my hair up, slip on my kitten heels, and I’ll be right with you for that gin and tonic, Mr Draper…



4 thoughts on “Summer Madmen-ness

  1. I love the fabric! The top and skirt look great together and now you’ve got two great pieces to wear with other things as well!

    I made a bright orange top for my entry, I think a matching skirt would’ve been a bit much!

    • Thank you! Yep, I’ve already tried the top with jeans, and the skirt with a black T-shirt, and they’re going to be fun wardrobe additions 😀 Ooh, an orange top sounds great, do you have a link? 🙂

  2. Pingback: Fittingly Fifties | Everything Just Sew

  3. Pingback: Check mate | Everything Just Sew

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