It’s been a few years since I made my first jumper – a vintage, warm and cozy fashionable (yet unusual) piece of clothing. As I don’t want my single jumper to get lonely in my closet, I made a second unusual and very fun vintage jumper to kick start my sewing for this year of 2015.
Does it look like I love it? I do! It’s a little bit of mod and bold and uniquely complimentary all at the same time. Ah… most importantly it is warm and versatile winter wardrobe piece. Also, it was a stash busting project! I have to laugh, though, at the fact that my jumper is turquoise in color. Looking at the amount of projects that I make in this color, I guess some things don’t change in my sewing habits.
FABRIC: I don’t really know, but at the same time, I do know. I’ll explain. This jumper’s fabric totally seems like a felt by its thickness and composition, but it also feels like a flannel by its softness and brushed pile. So, to explain, I’m rather confused, but I’ll call it a felted flannel (if there is such a thing). The content is probably cotton, but there might be some polyester or even acrylic in this fabric. This felted flannel is backed in a 100% polyester, cling-free, matching colored lining for a smooth feel and fine finish.
NOTIONS: Everything but the zipper down the back and front button came from on hand. The zipper and button were bought from Hancock Fabrics, with the button being “fiber-optic” from their own “Lauren Hancock” brand.
PATTERN: a year 1967 junior’s pattern, Simplicity #7255 (I love the studded gloves drawn on the center model!)
TIME TO COMPLETE: My jumper was made in no time – maybe 5 hours or less. It was finished on January 10, 2015.
THE INSIDES: So professional and perfect, because of the very nice construction methods directed in the instructions.
TOTAL COST: The felted flannel has been in my stash for as long as I remember, and the lining was bought a few years back, so I’m counting both as being free. All the expenses are from buying the zipper and the button, which is a total of $3.00 or less…cheap, huh?!
Notice that this pattern is a “junior’s” sizing. So I went back to the same method of adjusting the bust/waist/hip lines as for my last late 60’s junior’s pattern, which you can see by clicking here. For that first junior-sized dress, I added in 2 inches horizontally at the high chest (above the bust) to lower all the bust/waist/hips at the same time. After all, I measured and found out that the distance between the main sizing points is correct, just where those spots hit needed to be brought lower. That same adjustment was done to this jumper pattern and, again, the fit turned out perfectly. The dip of the side opening falls at my high hip, the bottom point of the front piece ends below my hip, and the decorative button becomes my “fake” belly button – all as the pattern shows. I know all this sounds strange, and maybe a bit weird, but, hey…the jumper is from the “Space Age” and I do say I like to try new and different things.
Speaking of “new and different”, this 60’s jumper pattern introduced me to a completely odd and never-heard-of-before sewing term for a specific part of clothing – “plastron”. The back of the pattern envelope States that “the lined jumper with button trimmed plastron has slightly lowered round neckline, very low armholes, back zipper, and top-stitching.” Apparently the plastron is the downward arching piece which ends around my hip into a tri-pointed keyhole on the front of my jumper. Now, what exactly is the plastron? It does indeed sound like some sort of super cool science fiction space story word…sort of like the word “dalek” from the British television series Doctor Who.
From the research I have made, a basic definition for a plastron is more or less and interfaced chest piece that fills the hollow between the shoulders and bust (based on “The A to Z of Sewing” by Janome/uk.com). However, “Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing” quotes a 1947 book- here –where a plastron is listed as a type of a yoke. A basic dictionary definition of plastron has several general terms showing how this article of clothing has been around since the middle ages when it was a front piece for armor, and later a defensive protection for the sport of fencing. The basic idea of a plastron, a separate piece of garment meant for covering the chest/shoulders, was incredibly popular in the 1830’s into 1860’s as well (see this wikipedia page). During those eras, it was popular for women to appear to have wide shoulders, and also use pieces which covered, protected, or fancied up their bodices with such plastron style pieces as a fichu, or a tippet , or a pelerine (see this Pinterest page for a picture of a pelerine). A pelerine appears to be the closest and oldest thing to what we know as a plastron, being that they both are made from the same fabric as the rest the garment, are trimmed and decorated, and have a high neck. Now, both you and I can properly recognize a style that has been used for many centuries. I have a 1940’s plastron dress to post about soon and a few 50’s plastron dress patterns I would like to find (such as the 1959 dress at right), so keep watching for this neat style across the decades!
After my failure at attempting to make a funnel neck (back when I made this 1968 corduroy dress), I had little interest in making the pattern’s version with the high collared turtle neck. Although it does look neat on the cover drawing, in all reality I don’t think I could pull off the collared funnel neck view, styling wise. A turtleneck if definitely a necessary item of clothing to wear with this jumper, anyway, big funnel neck or not. I have searched high and low with no luck at finding a wild colored paisley turtleneck like the one shown on the cover model at far left – but I do have another late 60’s pattern in my stash to make my own copy at some point.
Anyway, let’s talk about being economical! Making this jumper using 60 inch width material took even less fabric than the amount listed on the back graph of the pattern envelope. That is always a nice surprise to be able to make something great on so little fabric. In total, I believe the jumper only used 1 1/3 yards. The suggested fabric types also leave this jumper to be made out of practically anything a seamstress might possibly have on hand: cottons, synthetic blends, denims, fleece, linen, double knits, woolens, gabardine, and corduroy. This is one sensible but strange pattern.
The jumper itself went together in a flash, even with completely lining the insides and covering every seam. I found the pattern construction methods to be amazingly smart, and for once I followed the instructions almost 100% (only once in a blue moon do I do this). You sew up the back, connect it to the plastron at the shoulders, and also do the same for the lining. Then, you sew the lining (wrong sides out) to the jumper fabric all along the back half of the armhole and all the way down and around the plastron. Turn right sides out, top stitching completely around the edges except for a few inches away for the side seam edge. Now the zipper had to be installed so the neckline facing could be sewn on. Next, the bottom front of the jumper had the armhole edges finished off in the same way as the back/plastron piece, lining to fabric, wrong sides out, with right sides turned out and edges top stitched. I covered the inner raw edge of the bottom front with bias tape before lapping the plastron over the lower front to make one whole piece. To my happy surprise, the marks to match up the plastron on the lower front matched up so very perfectly, making things incredibly easy. Last but not least, the side seams were sewn up in one continuous line of fabric and lining so that the top stitching around the armhole bottom could be finished.
A 1967 poster for this jumper pattern was found on the internet, with the singer Beverly Ann as the “popular face” to promote sewing this project. I find it interesting how just top stitching on the plastron in different lengths from the edge changes the jumper’s front. In the old poster, Miss Ann‘s jumper has the plastron’s edges sticking out dramatically because I suppose it was sewn down about 2 inches in from the edge, looking like a real breastplate. My own jumper was sewn about 5/8 inch from the edge, making seem to be more a part of the overall jumper. I like both ways, and can’t decide which I like better, but as my jumper is made how it is, I’m suppose I’ve decided already 🙂
The last decision on the hem finishing was difficult for me because I wasn’t quite sure what length to choose. On account of adding in the two inches to adapt in from a junior’s measurements to normal proportions, the bottom length came to fall a few inches below my knee. The jumper, from the hips down, fitted like a very nice, straight pencil skirt, and I felt the hem would look best quite short. Adding a little “hottie” factor would not be a bad thing, anyway. However, most people I know who lived the prime of their lives in the 60’s and 70’s seem to look back and cringe at the mini-mini lengths they wore for those decades…and I did not want to completely revisit those days. Thus, my jumper is shorter than what I am used to, but still long enough to be conservative. The lining is just an inch shorter than the jumper itself, and free hanging separately, attached at the side seams by thread chains.
It is funny how just a little bit of different styling changes the theme of the jumper between blatantly junior’s into modern flashback retro. Knowing about the styles of the era and observing the pattern envelope, I enjoy pairing matching/contrasting colors of my turtleneck and the tights worn with my jumper. The different toned yellow colors as seen in these second pictures, together with my hair pulled straight back into a low messy bun and basic flat shoes, seems like the junior’s theme for the jumper. I don’t need any help looking younger than I am.
So, to make an adult theme, I paired it with my knitted beret hat, a basic white mock-neck top, cranberry tights, chunky socks, and suede boots. This second modern adult theme is my favorite and warmest way to wear my jumper. The boots you see are Italian leather and were my mom’s boots, bought for some ski trips she took with my dad in 1979, so they are about a decade off in years from the era of my jumper, but they add a special fun and warm touch to my outfit.
Even with being bundled up, I was quite cold in the picture at right and used my jumper as a sort of muff to warm up my hands. Look for more pictures of the different ways I use and wear my jumper loaded soon to my Flickr page.
Creating a garment like my ’67 jumper highlights one of the best benefits to making one’s own clothes – you can try new and unusual styles, something you can’t find or get to wear otherwise. To me, making one’s own wardrobe is all about exploring one’s own tastes in style, attaining a fit uniquely one’s own, and finding enjoyment from being open to endless possibilities which come from fashion being in the hands of the individual. Being an individual keeps you from turning into a boring, uniformed robot, like so many who wear exactly what the advertising industry tells you is “the thing”. Sure, I keep up with trends, but just enough to know what’s going on and recognize quality or a vintage style feature when I see it. This 1967 jumper might be different…and I like it that way. Will you help me end the fast-fashion, advertising-brainwashing of our modern culture and make your own wardrobe, too?