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!
FABRIC: 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
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.
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?