Belated Easter Sewing – Part Two of a 50’s Suit

This year’s Easter outfit from earlier this year’s spring left me with a lovely year 1954 reversible jacket and an exact one yard of lovely boucle suiting leftover.  Another dress I made this spring (yet to be posted) also left me with another one yard that seemed like it would match well with the suiting.  Humm…seemed like potential just waiting for the making.  I just couldn’t help myself but to continue the mix-and-match properties of the jacket and make a different look composed of separates from ’56 and ’58.  I’m so pleased to get further use out of my fabric leftovers on hand and give my jacket something else to match with.  The 50’s really can provide some effortlessly lovely pieces when you don’t have generous cuts of material!  I feel so put together in this!


My jacket is was made earlier for my Easter suit (as I mentioned already) from a year 1954 Simplicity #4793.  Thus, if you think about it, my outfit in this post skips every other year through the middle of the 50’s.  I suppose this would be plausible for a lady of the 50’s to do something like this outfit, perhaps she might add to her wardrobe as the years went by with one more simple-to-make piece so as to keep up with the styles of the times.  I think it works well together – especially when I add a vintage headband-like netted hat, elbow length gloves, cat-eyed sunglasses, and my wonderful “Hunter” turquoise B.A.I.T. brand heels!


simplicity-1732-year-1956-teen-slim-skirts-front-coverFABRIC:  The boucle for the skirt (and jacket) is a rayon/acrylic blend; inside the skirt is a polyester cling-free lining leftover from on hand in my stash; the blouse is a cotton gabardine (leftover from another project yet to be posted).

NOTIONS:  I had all the bias tape, zippers, interfacing, and thread that was needed

dsc_0172a-comp-wPATTERNS:  McCall’s 4605, year 1958, view B, for the top; and Simplicity 1732, year 1956, view #3, for the skirt

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was a fast outfit to make – the skirt took me 6 hours and was completed on March 22, 2016 while the top took me maybe 4 hours and was finished sometime in April 2016.

THE INSIDES:  So nice!  The skirt is fully lined and hemmed with bias tape while the top is French seams with bias hems and edges.


A classic pencil skirt is more or less about one yard of fabric very simply wrapped around and darted to make an awesome basic wardrobe staple every bit as suitable today.  With such a basic design, it’s all the little details that make pencils skirts stand out to me in the 50’s.  This skirt is no different even for being a “teenager” pattern.  Look at all the cute options on my Simplicity 1732 – you can bet you bottom penny that I intend to try that suspendered jumper option, as well as the asymmetric front pleated style.  My skirt version definitely has subtleties – two cute little pointed tabs out of the front waist darts and a triangular closure tab at the center back waist.  Aren’t they cute?!  At least I think so.  Sure they might emphasize the hips but this is the 50’s after all and the top I chose is meant to balance things out.


My skirt’s tabs co-ordinate perfectly with the tabs on the top.  The tabs are small enough not to make my set too matchy-matchy.  The pattern originally called for one tab at the neckline and one above the hemline.  Since I planned on generally wearing the top tucked into bottoms, I switched things up and had the two tabs together at the neckline going opposite ways.  There’s more interest this way.  However, I suppose I sort of ruined what this pattern really is designated to be – a “Misses Overblouse” as the envelope back says.  The definition of an “overblouse” is “a blouse usually fitted or belted and worn untucked at the waist.”  Oh well, so much for that…the irony of the situation makes me shake my head at myself.  I suppose view C in blue on the far right of the pattern cover is fully an overblouse with its belted-look bottom, all buttoned down.  This just goes to show your sewing is whatever you choose to do with it.  Learn from it, be proud of it, and (most importantly) rock what you’ve made when you wear it!


The large square neckline is of course the other main feature to this design.  It’s sort of hard for me to wear something this wide and it doesn’t always stay straight or necessarily lay flat on my smaller shoulders.  Nevertheless, it is flattering (so I feel), different, and classic of the 50’s to widen the shoulders and neckline… it also helps create a visual trick which slims down on the waist (always good).  This combo of my skinny skirt and square neck top looks similar some dress designs already out there – Butterick 5032, a reprint of a 1952 pattern, as well as Simplicity 2233, a pattern from 1957 or 1958.  Yet, there is something that still seems slightly 60’s about this to me, too, maybe it’s the cover hairstyles…oh yeah, well it is from ’58.

I must say the top, for being such a simple pattern, was really somewhat of a problem.  Getting the top fitting right was difficult. I kept taking the darts and the side seams in a little at a time again and again in between trying it on until I got tired of this.  The pattern was supposed to be my size and an overblouse is supposed to be fitted but I just couldn’t get this top to really contour to me as well as I would have liked.  Next time I make this (and I do want to try some of the other views soon) I will take out maybe and inch from the center front and back to bring to neckline and darts in more.dsc_0171a-comp

Complicating the simplicity of the making of this top was the pattern itself.  I’ve seen McCall’s patterns between late/mid-50’s until the mid-60’s have this “Easy Rule” feature on them and I do not like it.  There is so, so much type and explanations covering the entire pattern pieces making it hard to see what is going on.  If it is too hard to see the basic stuff like darts that are needed on a pattern what is the use?

There are just a few special touches and tweaks to the skirt I would like to mention.  I did change up the pattern just a bit when it came to the back slit.  Originally the back slit was supposed to be more like a box pleat opening, but I’ve done these before and besides the boucle seemed too thick for something like this to turn out successfully so I merely made a basic, fully opening slit.  I don’t mind showing a bit ‘o leg!  Extra pains were taken to hand sew a blind hem to the skirt…and this from one who cannot do hand stitching.  Luckily pencil skirts have short hem circumferences.  I needed to make a really wide hem – it turned out ankle length before finishing…way too long!  Finally, I enjoy the bright, rich green lining inside the skirt.  The pop of color makes me smile every time I put my skirt on.


It never ceases to amaze me at what can be made from fabric cuts leftover.  At the same time one can only keep so much stuff on hand.  It’s hard to find the balance of time, ideas, storage space, and places to wear one’s projects.  I don’t really see any one yard patterns offered anymore…unless they’re vintage, especially between the 1930’s and 1970’s.  I think one yard cuts need to be advertised and better known to help us who hold onto our leftovers (and those who have a great fabric stash) go through our store without too much effort!  Even without extras on hand, buying one yard is generally a practical purchase whether the fabric is on the expensive or cheap side of the wallet.  Style doesn’t have to be short because of the amount of the fabric, especially with mix and match pieces.  Do you use one yard patterns, or not?  Do you also sew sets that match?


Little Pieces of Tropical Paradise

Vintage multi-piece play suits have always intrigued me with their lovely mix-and-match factor and smart wear-ability.  Thus I had to make my own rather than just keeping up the looking and admiring!


When I say ‘play suit’, I am not talking about the modern interpretation of the term as a sort of jumpsuit.  I mean the 1930’s to pre-1960’s outfits geared for play, sport, leisure, and/or swim time which are often comprised of several pieces layered for practicality – a more skin revealing under set complete with add-on pieces for more decency when going out, as well.  (See this blog post on the “Vintage Dancer” for more info and pictures on 1940’s play suits.)  Here, my play suit is a four piece set of a self-drafted sarong skirt, a tie-front crop top, and a pair of skirt-like shorts (skort), all true to the 1940’s, while part four is a knit ¾ sleeve shirt for a modern touch.          100_3646a-comp

These pieces were made a while back as my submission for the “Vintage Play suit Sew Along” in May 2014 sponsored by “Girl with the Star Spangled Heart”.  The skirt is what sees the most wearing, with the sports skirt/shorts and the knit shirt both coming in second.  As our land-locked mid-west of America is woefully lacking in bodies of water, the crop tie top is the least worn (not what I would wish).  Pool side lounging here I come!

The location for our photo shoot is again our town’s lovely 1930’s wonder in architecture, the Chase Park Plaza.  Our last photos taken at this location, albeit inside, were for the blog post about my emerald green 1930’s Vionnet evening gown.  This time we took advantage of their lovely pool courtyard and a slow, unpopulated lounge area to have a period background…complete with palm trees to match my fabric!



FABRIC:  All of the 1940’s pieces (the skirt, the tied crop top, and the skirt-like shorts) are all in 100% rayon challis.  The ¾ sleeve modern top is made of 100% cotton interlock knit.  All fabrics were bought at the now defunct Hancock Fabrics.

hollywood-1479-combo-wPATTERNS:  A vintage Simplicity 3356, from the year 1940, was used for the skirted shorts; a vintage Hollywood 1479, from the year 1944, was used for the crop tie top; a year 2006 Simplicity 4076 was used for the knit shirt; and the long sarong skirt was self-drafted by me…so no pattern here!  By the way I definitely have plans to make the jumper ad blouse from Simplicity 3356, as well as the nightgown from Hollywood 1479!

simplicity-4076-knit-tops-year-2006NOTIONS:  Just the normal notions were needed and were on hand – thread, interfacing, bias tape, and buttons (which were from hubby’s Grandmother’s stash). The only thing I had to buy was a duo of zippers.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Making a play suit is a bit of a time investment, but the two tops and the skirt were easy and quick, taking only about 3 or 4 hours each.  The skirted shorts took longer, at about 20 hours.  The tie-front crop top was done on May 23 while the sarong skirt was finished on June 2, and the skort on June 12, all in the year 2014.  The ¾ sleeve knit top was made in 2006 or 2007.100_3192-comp

THE INSIDES:  Well, the older knit top was made at my parents’ house so I took advantage of their serger (overlocker) for the seams.  Otherwise the rest of the seams on the rest of the garments for the play suit set are in mostly French seams with some bias bound seams, too.

I know, I know – my tie-front crop top actually comes from a pattern for nightwear – how risqué!  It is pretty much similar to other play suit and bra top patterns from the 1940’s.  I love how it shows just enough skin while still keeping me covered (it still has puff topped sleeves, after all).  I can wear normal underwear or a swimsuit top under this easily, which is nice that it does not require anything different.  Actually, I anchor the tie front of the top to the center front of my bra…oops, too much info.  Best of all, it was super easy to whip up.  This is the main reason I took the extra time to do the tiny hem and the French seams.


The sarong style wrap-skirt was very fun to make and I am happy that I was able to re-create what I envisioned, something not always achieved.  Sorry if I get a bit technical here but simple complexity is hard.  You see, when I think of sarong, I picture a skirt that is in 3D, meaning I see it as supposed to have flowing movement yet clinging drape.  All the reprints and reissues I see available did not fit the bill – they are all either merely side tie skirts with some sort of gathers or tucks to create drape and a simple back view but basically just plain skirts, still not the ultimate hottie level.  At first planning, I will confess, I was going to use something simple from on hand such as McCall’s 6519, from 2012, or a McCall’s 5430, from 2007, but after making the crop top I was left with only 1 ½ yards making all my chosen patterns no longer feasible, so I went for the self-draping route.  Since I do not have a mannequin I had to stand in front of our full length mirror with my pin box nearby and experiment with different tuck and dart placement and direction.  I did not cut into the fabric at all, merely stitched and manipulated one yard and a half cut (60 inches wide) into what you see.

100_3200a-compI will lay out my method of drafting the skirt as best I can so hopefully you can do the same if you’d like too!  First I chose which length would be the circumference of my waist and hemmed that edge.  Next, I found the center of that waist edge and figured that would be the back, then measured several inches out from that point to make some small (maybe ½ inch) darts for about 8 or less inches down.  Now the back of the skirt is done.  Next, I put the back up against myself and marked with pins what would be the side seam points on each side.  Then I started the experimental parts where adding a few small angled tucks to each side seam was successfully tested.  My tucks are angled opening up towards the back of the skirt – this brings in the skirt to gently shape under the booty and around and over the hips for an hourglass outline.  This step was hard to do.  I actually had to pin the waist100_3201-comp back to the top I was wearing that day so I could experiment with the darts.  After the waist sides were o.k. and top-stitched down, I worked on adding deeper tucks to the ends of the wrap.  These tucks are also sloping, between horizontal and vertical, and there are more on the end that is seen from the outside than on the end inside.  The front corners were softened to a rounded drape by merely turning in the bottom hem front points at an angle and simply taking them down.  To close the wrap inside is an elastic strap with a waistband hook (to make things semi forgiving), and on the outside a lovely olive green shell button with another loop of elastic.  Totally ready to be whipped on…or off if I need to just wear the skirted shorts underneath.


I’ve worn my skirted shorts with my vintage blouses, and this gives me a very 30’s looking sports outfit.  I can wear them with modern tops and it looks fun and flirty, especially with some flat sandals.  Tops from other decades, with some large victory rolls or a ponytail, give a vintage-does-modern appeal.  The way I can change up the aura of the date of these skirt-like shorts is the best perk.  These shorts do have such a wide hem they are not the best for some exercising (too revealing) but are awesome for playing tennis in, I tried that out!


As great as these vintage skorts are, I do need to try again in the future to make a better version.  The main problem with this pair is I believe the rayon challis fabric I chose.  It’s so wrinkly for something with details that you only sit on to mess up any ironing work, it doesn’t hold up well the minute I start to sweat – the fabric not tight enough.  With the rayon, I end up with darker colored spots where it’s wet from sweat (…embarrassing) and I’m beginning to get obvious holes from tension at the spots where the pleat top-stitching ends.  Rayon on top of rayon is also rather too stifling to wear for the summer.  Perhaps next try, I’ll sew these up in a cotton blend gabardine.  Reconstructing History has some 1944 play shorts  that are very similar to the one’s I made and they recommend rayon, linen, cotton (all too light and wrinkly) as well as denim.  Any other suggestions for another fabric thick enough, low on the wrinkle factor, and good for summer comfort all combined for my next play suit shorts?


I kind of fudged my way through these vintage shorts as best I could but it was a real struggle.  What took the most time to make the skorts was due to the fact that the pattern was unprinted.  I’ve worked with unprinted patterns many times before, but with all the pleats, together with the grain line markings and such, my limits of comprehension of connecting the right dots was put to the ultimate test.  To top it off, in order to support the skorts’ pleats across the belly and cut down on any see-through issues, I had to draft my own one piece liner to go inside.  The liner was a great idea and really needed, but a second layer of rayon, on top of rayon, was not the best idea…should have used something else 100_3194-compwhich was lighter like batiste perhaps.  The instructions gave no clear designation of what to do with the space under the side button closures – I had ideas of adding in pockets, or full button closure (sailor-style), but finally settled on the easy-but-not-so-authentic option of zippers.  Looking back, I really don’t need double closures (there are buttons and zippers on each side seam), and next time I will eliminate one side to sew it closed and add in a button or hook-and-eye method like I’d thought.  Darts were even added to the inside of the waistband to give it more curve and bring it in – I believe it was drafted too straight.  I’m tired just going through its problems.  Oh well, I like what I have and now I know what to do and what to change for the next attempt at this lovely, complex design.

100_3643a-compLast but not least is my modern ¾ sleeve knit top, which was picked out of my closet during the planning stage of my playsuit as something which was finally going to have a specific outfit to match with.  I had made it such a while back and it never has seen that much wearing previously because it’s gentle dusty green never match with much but a solid skirt or denim.  Not that this is the only modern top I wear with the play suit, but it gives me a reason to highlight what I remember as my first totally successful me-made top.  It really has some body hugging shaping if you make your “correct-according-to-the-chart” size.  If you don’t want it to fit you as snugly, go up a size.  Also, I found the length to be a bad spot – too short to tuck in and not long enough for it not to ride up untucked – so making the hem longer might be a good idea.  Otherwise, this is a great top and easy to make and wear.  I’ll have to go back to the pattern and make some of the other views offered!

Gertie’s summer 2016 release of Butterick 6354 Gertie's B6354 combo picgave me quite a surprise at how similar it is to my own play suit – especially in the choice of fabric pattern and colors – as I mentioned before in this post.  These colors and this “palm leaf with flowers” seems to be rather prevalent when I was looking at play suit inspiration – see this color picture of actress Peggy Moran at “Glamourdaze”, or visit my Pinterest board for more.  I do find Gertie’s play suit as sort of a hybrid blend of pieces that make it more of something from the 50’s era, though it does seem awkwardly like it sort of should be from the 40’s.  Besides, one could make this set from patterns already released (such as Simplicity 8130 for the tops, Vintage Vogue 9189 for the shorts, out-of-print Vintage Vogue 8812, year 1940, for the bolero, and any adapted pencil skirt or real wrap skirt pattern for the mock-wrap skirt).  Sorry…I’m not meaning to criticize, I just would rather see variety than redundancy in the patterns that are released.


As I mentioned above, play sets are a bit labor intensive, after all you have to make three or four separate garments just for a finished set!  However, it’s well worth it, especially when done with a vintage perspective for those of us who love the styles from the past.  Now I have some easy vintage garments that set my wardrobe up for some playtime, or easy dressing in style!  Plus, it doesn’t hurt to feel a little of the past’s relaxed associated with holiday or hot-weather wear, does it?!  This is much more fun than for me to wear than whatever most people wear for modern leisure/exercise time.  Yet I’ll bet it’s more comfy…and less confining! I actually just finished sewing a year 1959 play set, so get ready for an upcoming post on my interpretation of vintage sporty wear courtesy of the next decade!  Now if only summer would last a bit longer…


“Orange Flower” Sheer Cotton Dress

I’ve seen sheer dresses for 2016’s Summer trends, but I’m not one for following new fads.  However, it is a good excuse to make a new dress for myself!  Thus, using a modern pattern I’ve put my own spin on the trend to harken back to a past time when feather-weight sheer dresses were the most beautiful way to be covered up in the heat.



FABRIC:  a sheer handkerchief weight cotton/poly blend print

butterick-5951-pattern-compNOTIONS:  I used all notions from on hand: thread, a zipper, and vintage cotton bias tape given to me by my Grandma.

PATTERN:  Butterick #5951, year 2013

TIME TO COMPLETE:  It took me 5 or 6 hours to make the dress but then a few more added hours to fit and adjust the sleeves.  My dress was finished on April 22, 2016.

THE INSIDES:  A combo of French seams and bias bound seams make for a super clean finished and nice looking inside for my dress.dsc_0342-comp

TOTAL COST:  This fabric was bought when our local Hancock Fabrics store was closing so it was dirt cheap.

This pattern is a really interesting one that seems to have escaped the official labeling as “retro”.  It is pretty much as good as a vintage reprint, though.  I love the options and the details – no sleeves, quarter sleeves, or long sleeves, different necklines, skirt options, smart gathering, and streamlined seam lines.  To entice me even more, all the other versions of this pattern I saw on everyone’s blogs look so ‘to-drool-over’!

The design features to this pattern’s styles are akin to dresses from the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, depending on which options you choose an how you tweak the design.  Go see my brand spanking new Pinterest page where I have a board dedicated to designs from and similar to Butterick 5951.  The way I made my dress is more like something from the late 1930’s, especially since I made mine from a sheer fabric.  The blog “Just skirts and dresses” makes this same point on this page, where she pairs the modern Butterick with a 1938 dress drawing.  “Witness 2 Fashion” also has a post on sheer dresses of August 1939 (link to the post here), where you can a DuBarry pattern (#2319B) with very similar design lines to it modern counterpart.


I must say right off – the fit on this dress pattern is awful, whether it’s really modern, or vintage or hybrid.  To me, the fit seems to run quite small all over, but especially in the waist and hips.  The sleeves are designed very badly, providing zero, zip, zilch in reach room.  The high arched neckline, for me, needed some adjustments to become what the cover drawing portrays.  Beyond these frustrating quirks, my finished dress is something I’m decently happy with, but I feel vintage original patterns have offered me better results.  If you can find a similar old original pattern, go try it first.  However, don’t shy away from this modern pattern, though, if you can tolerate extra time fitting or perhaps altering the dress.  I know I will use this pattern again, at least in parts, as the base for creating some other 30’s and early 40’s dresses I want to make, but cannot afford the pattern price to actually buy.  Has anyone else had problems with this modern-does-vintage Butterick pattern?


On the envelope cover, one would be led to think that the skirt options offered have lovely shaping, but I just don’t see it in the pattern as it is made up.  I made the paneled skirt version, and it does not have a bias flare to bottom hem that the envelope made me believe.  It is quite straight-line!  Other versions which I see made up look the same, and I’m supposing the only way to achieve the drawn version of the skirt is to go against the layout instructions and actually cut the skirt panels on the bias (across the grain).  Having a bias skirt would actually be more comfortable for this dress, anyway…live and learn, so I say to myself.  The four piece flared skirt option looks like a cross between a 50’s and a 40’s thing to me in the drawing, looking at the actual pattern pieces and other version sewn up out on the internet.  This is very confusing and disappointing to see such a promising pattern that is seemingly deceptive by not living up to its cover.


There are a handful of both changes and adjustments I had done to make the dress more vintage and accommodate my limited fabric amount of only 1 ¾ yard (50 inch width)!  Firstly, I eliminated the center back zipper.  Instead, my dress has a short back neckline placket that ties closed together (via self-fabric ties) paired with a ‘traditional’ vintage method of side zip closing.  As my fabric is sheer, I did not use the given facings and merely used bias tape to turn under at the raw edges.  As the sleeves were tight and restricting, I ended up adding in a rhombus shaped gusset for more room.  Without any substantial fabric scrap sizes, I had to make the sleeves work as they were.  I just wish I didn’t take it for granted that they would fit.  Adding the gusset gave me just a bit too much room so I added lightweight shoulder pads to fill in for and pick up the extra fabric in the chest

dsc_0699a-compTo complete my dress, I made a skinny tie-on belt out of a remnant of basic black chiffon, and decorate it with a fabric flower.  Many 1930’s fashions seem to always have a flower as part of the outfit, whether it’s on the belt, the shoulder, the neckline, wrist, or even the hair.  I also adapted my modern sheer mesh sunhat to become more vintage-ish by pinning the brim back, just like what I see in many movies, fashion pages, and pattern covers from the late 30’s to early 40’s.  Ribbon laced Chelsea Crew brand sling-back heels, orange mid-length gloves, and a handmade-by-me polished rock necklace finish my ensemble.  I’m really quite comfy and cool in this while feeling so nicely put together.  The whisper-thin cotton blend material feels so delicate, like nothing’s on…oh my!

When wearing a vintage-style sheer garment, something nice and not your regular run-of-the-mill slip will do under these fashions.  For my year 1935 sheer silk chiffon dress, I made my own detailed matching slip to be worn as the foundation.  For this dress,dsc_0341a-comp I wore my prized vintage 1940’s bias black rayon slip underneath because it is about the nicest I own, first of all (besides my 1942 rayon princess seamed slip), and also because the dark color provides opacity.  Plus, the black slip gives a nice contrast, I feel, and makes it just a bit more obvious that the dress is sheer.  (Colored, opaque slips were popular as a visible part of a multi-use ensemble in the mid-1930’s to early 40’s – see more about this here – look for Butterick 7405.)  My last sheer dress had its slip or under dress in a floral and it was attached, but not only was it from the 60’s era, but it was also was poufy, made in man-made fabrics, and not as casual and comfy as this post’s late 30’s style dress.

A see-through garment of course shows off the intimate apparel worn underneath, and although we are overly used to this fact in modern times, this is sort of weird when you think about modes of dressing in the past 20th century.  Strong corsetry and many layers were being worn by women for several decades since sheer fashions had begun to be worn around the 1900’s with the introduction of lace bodices and dresses. “Intimate apparel” ceases to become “private and personal” with transparent, gauzy, or lace fabric.  (More can be read about this here at this “Witness 2 Fashion” post.)  Perhaps the reason why this subject is interesting to me is the way I see vintage fashion knowing how to ride the fine line between classy and trashy when it comes to wearing see-through fabric.  Vintage transparent fashion sure knows how to make showing off your underwear look feminine, tasteful, and understatedly lovely.


“The Collection” Amazon drama series

This past weekend, September 2, was the premier of a new historical drama series from Amazon, shown every next 8 Fridays. The Collection is new from Amazon Prime and set in a Parisian fashion house after the Second World War (1947). It is also touted as the first U.K. original drama.  Is anyone else interested in this seemingly sewing-themed drama that seems to be an absolute feast for the eyes?!  Or have you not heard of this before?


From what I have read of the creative process and inspiration behind dressing the actresses (and actors) of the series, I am quite impressed so far.  I also like the fact they want to tell the deeper story of the times and the reactions the new mode of dressing created.  The Collection also gives a good contrast to realize the difference between French post-WWII fashion versus American and elsewhere post war styles (get an overview of this at “Glamourdaze” page here).  I mean, just think…Agent Carter Season Two and The Collection are supposed to be taking place in the same year, 1947, and they look completely different!  However, it is yet to be seen if this will be another Mad Men type of show set in a different decade.


Yes, I’ll fess up and say I am one who cannot stand watching something just for the eye candy – I need to enjoy the whole show…which is why I’ve only tolerated the first season of both Mad Men and Downton Abbey, watching the rest in clips, with the TV on mute, or merely scanning over pictures.  Besides, I do want to see a sewing based story.  I’ll definitely check this out somehow!  I wonder…could this help bring sewing to a new forefront or at least give people a different outlook on how beautiful garments, or any garments, are made?

Watch the trailer here at this link from the Telegraph or at “Blogarama”, and see and read more about making the series come to life see this link or this one.


“Retro Forward” Burda Style: Honeycomb Duck Odeeh Pants

“Oh Honeybee, honeybee, you’re so sweet, always making something good to eat.”  As a little girl with a quick mind, I grew up memorizing classic rhymes and diddles…and this one is still stuck in my head.  The honey bee nursery rhyme couldn’t be more appropriate than now with these Burda Style flashback styled pants made from cotton ducking fabric, printed in a geometrically boxed design reminding me of a honey comb.


This is my first foray into the Burda Style “Designer patterns”, found as a special bonus in their monthly magazine issues.  As far as I know these patterns (including the one for these pants) are only in the magazines – I have not yet found them on the online Burda Style store.  If you’d like to see and read a bit more about the designers behind the Odeeh line visit their page here.

THE FACTS: Paris Fashion Week - Präsentation von Odeeh SS 2013       

FABRIC:  100% cotton duck for the pants with a remnant from my stash of 100% cotton knit for the waistband

NOTIONS:  I only used the thread and bias tapes from on hand.

PATTERN:  Burda Style pattern #127, from the 05/2015 magazine

THE INSIDES:  All raw edges are individually encased in thin bias bindings.

100_5488-compTIME TO COMPLETE:  One day’s worth of only 5 hours on June 25, 2015. 

TOTAL COST:  The fabric was bought on deep discount at Hancock Fabrics for only $3.00 a yard and knit was on hand (free), so my total was only $7.50 (with ½ yard still left over).

As much as I love vintage and my 1940’s pants, I had a hankering for more pants but one’s that were modern, yet fun, and comfy.  These pants aren’t probably the most complimentary being more like modern harem or parachute pants, I’ll admit, but they do fit the trio of ‘needs’ mentioned in the previous sentence.  Hey, I figure there’s a certain “self-assurance” that can fill in and make any outfit look like a million on oneself…that’s what I was feelin’ here.


I noticed on the model that the fit of the Odeeh pants looked generous, but I got out the pattern pieces I used for my 1940’s jeans to refer to and check against to estimate the fit.  Yes – the Odeeh pants do have a generous behind and overly large hips with wide legs.  I made the pants as-is with no “big-bootie-adjustment” or such, and only graded in between sizes.  After they were finished, I ended up taking in an extra 5/8 inch (or slightly more) on each side from the hips down so I really could have made all one size.

Oh how I do love some nice roomy pockets!  The pocket placement and the front pleats near them remind me very much of both menswear as well as another pattern, Simplicity 1887, year 2012, no offense meant to the designer.


After the fact of being done and worn several times, I happened to notice a small ‘mistake’ I’d made to the pants.  One of the front pleats is directed the wrong way.  Not that this is any big deal in the least, it’s actually rather funny and makes me shake my head at myself.  No one will notice, but I know.  It helps me realize I should let go of my self-imposed aim for ‘perfection’ in my sewing and just enjoy a garment done to the best of my ability.

The easy-on waistband makes these pants so nice!  It’s is nice to forgo a zipper every so often, even though inserting them is one of my favorite things to do (figure that out).  The wide elastic is great and doesn’t roll like smaller widths of elastic.  Plus, it stretches on but doesn’t get bulky and gathered when worn like regular casing waists.  The white cotton knit is part of the seeming never ending leftovers from my 1947 Doris Day blouse.  Some fabrics keep going and going like a handy “Ever Ready Energizer Bunny”.  Leftovers of the honeycomb ducking fabric from my pants are going to be for another project, an English late 60’s summer play set.

I do not think a longer top works well on me with the pants’ style anyway, so I feel a short crop top, tie top, or a tucked in top are my best pairing options.  My favorite modern yet throwback way to style it is wear a cropped tank, wedge sandals and a ponytail – easy!  However, as you see in this post, I wore my pants with a favorite RTW (not ‘me-made’) blouse which was tied off in front.

parachute pants adMy pants and the way I styled them makes me think of the styles from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Think of Keds –an all-American classic shoe – and “Hammer” pants and crazy hair and dressing with a bold flair that may or may not include neon.  Though not as extreme and classy as a pair of Jim Cavaricci bottoms, these pants do have a certain emphasis on flaring at the hips with a higher waist, a pleated front, gentle taper down from the knee, and bootie exaggeration.  My turned up pants hems not only show off my seams but also how I left the zippers open on my sneakers with the tongue out just like the trend pioneered by Run DMC, Adidas Superstars.  I was trying to channel the styles from one of my favorite shows, “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” but I feel like this outfit might fit in on “A Different World” as well.  Gosh, it’s weird to have the ‘80s technically be ‘vintage’ now that it’s over 25 years ago.100_5462-comp

Besides trying a new style, anything that remotely has to do with bees and honey are of interest to me and my hubby, who grew up with his parents raising the little flower pollinators.  It’s funny how our minds connect certain things together in unique ways…such as me associating a childhood nursery rhyme, an certain shape, a sewing project, a city mural, and a the 1980’s all with the same one item…a handmade pair of pants!  All I can say is that it’s awesome to be able to make one’s own clothes.