Yeah, I know this phrase is cliché, and I do not have anything borrowed or blue to show either. Nevertheless, this set of both tie-front crop top and shorts from the year 1959, made for Allie J’s “Tried and True” Challenge, is dually familiar and yet unexplored. The fabrics are three “old reliable” favorites that I can never get enough of – cotton gabardine, fine linen, and rayon challis. The “Tried” part is covered. With the garments themselves being so simple in design and construction, there wasn’t much to go wrong for the “True” section.
Yet, everything else – the date of the pattern, the style and type of clothing – is totally new. This was an interesting set to make despite using my well-loved fabrics. I went out on a limb to combine opposites (new and unfamiliar) for these two pieces and I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying wearing the results.
The craft of sewing never ceases to amaze and surprise me. I wanted a challenge while still staying to something “Tried and True” and sewing, together with one of those always amazing vintage patterns, gave me just that. However, more than this reason is the opportunity to like something I’ve never appreciated before. Never had I been a pants wearing person…because I’d never found any that I liked yet fit me well…until I recently made my own. Even more so, I’ve never been a shorts wearing person, but now one pair of well fitting, high-waisted, awesome vintage shorties has quickly converted me, despite my perennial dislike of my legs. Sewing is definitely one of the best things you can do for clothing yourself, in my opinion.
FABRIC: The tied crop top has a front of printed rayon challis and a back of cotton gabardine. The shorts are plain-woven 100% linen (so pardon the wrinkles), opaque and thick like a Holland linen.
PATTERN: Simplicity #2999, year 1959
NOTIONS: Only notions on hand were used here, which included a good amount of vintage.
TIME TO COMPLETE: The top took me about 7 hours to make and was finished on August 27, 2016. The shorts came next, and after only 4 hours they were done on September 10, 2016.
THE INSIDES: All bias bound
TOTAL COST: The linen for the shorts was a one yard “Red Tag” scrap piece on sale for only $4 at JoAnn’s Fabric store. Since the gabardine is leftover from this 70’s tunic, and the printed rayon was used from scraps of a 50’s shirt I made for Hubby (posted here) I’m counting both as free.
It’s kind of late in the season here to get much use from this set this year. However, in the last month since it’s been made, I have grabbed this outfit out of my closet and worn it many times in many different combos, so the future is bright next year for these pieces. Although I have the idea in the back of my head to turn this into a full playsuit by making a bra or swim top from the 60’s with a button-on skirt, what I currently have in my closet works to make a playsuit. I even have a pair of turquoise 40’s pants (to be posted soon) that fit over the shorts and make for a WWII-era kind of set. Two fabric or two color blouses are often seen in the 1940’s anyway, part of the whole “make-do-and-mend” practices. Year 1959 is a great in between date for me so I can bend the style and make it have a flair of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, or just plain modern as I choose.
For such a simple design, I had problems with making the blouse, mostly due to the silkiness of the rayon. I didn’t interface anything except the collar so finishing the facing, keeping it in place, and doing the button holes was a challenge. I didn’t want the tie to stick out like a poker, which would happen if the facing was interfaced, so I still can’t see how things could have been done differently. I might come back and blind stitch the facing down by hand next year, but for now the top is good enough. After all, I did have such small scraps to work with (leftover from hubby’s shirt) I had to cut the front with the trees going upside down, so – yes – it does have a fault (sorry I pointed it out) but is no less great to me. My handmade dual stand necklace of polished agate rock also makes my outfit even better to me.
Whoo Hoo! This top is too easy to dress into…only two measly buttons in the front and a tie front that shows off how the hem barely comes down to skim above the shorts. I wasn’t originally planning on sewing up the shorts but I soon realized that high-waisted bottoms, whether skirts or pants and the like, are a must with the top. Like I said earlier, I was up for the challenge of making and wearing something new. I was actually going to use another pattern from in my stash, McCall’s 5263 also from ’59, but the silhouettes seem quite slender compared to my shorts. I just stuck with the same pattern as was used for the top to sew a combo the way the design intended.
Straight off, I am surprised at how short these bottoms are for 1959 and mine are a whole inch longer than the pattern calls for! I didn’t know short shorts were a thing at that time. Next, I am blown away at the perfect fit that required no fitting at all. No kidding – this is like the third pattern from two decades for vintage bifurcated bottoms that fits straight off of the paper with no personal adjustments in the least. Maybe it’s just my body type but after three tests (from 1940, 1943, and now 1959) I just think past printed patterns designed their crouches to be comfy, their bottoms for someone with a real booty, side seams for real women, and a smart amount of ease.
Finally, I am so impressed at one subtle detail to these shorts which makes all the difference – the back darts which come from the waist. The waist has a double darts at each four quarter around, two at each side fronts and side backs, nothing unusual. However, the back side double darts are in two different lengths. The inner dart is longer shaping over the booty, while the outer dart is half the length of the other. I think this shorter one shapes more of the hips, side seam, and the rest of the back. I think this suits me wonderfully. A very similar pattern, Vintage Vogue #9189, a reprint from 1960, is lacking the “smart darts” (so I call them) seen on my pattern…not meaning to be smug. I’m just getting disillusioned by the modern reprints.
Ah, and not to forget I have lovely pocket room in these shorts, too. Granted, there’s only one on the right side for my dominant hand. One is so much better than none though!
In the facts, I mentioned using vintage notions, but more than that they come from my Grandmother. From the stash she has given me, there was this unusual golden yellow/orange bias tape matching the golden color in the printed rayon with just enough for the armholes. It is glorious all cotton, too! There are other colors of bias tape besides golden yellow on this set’s other seams, mainly turquoise and black…whatever worked. However, I am most proud of the zipper. Not only was the zipper a “Zephyr” dated to 1963 on the package, it is from Grandma as well as installed with a new-to-me and much improved method to stitch it into the shorts. I usually save my stash of vintage zippers and use them sparingly but as the rest of the set had Grandma’s stash of notions, and the length and color was just what I needed, why not go all out?!
My crop top and shorts epitomize to me the post war vacation wear, which for some reason this year means to me going to California. No, we haven’t had a vacation this year, but, if we did, I would choose California. That will not be this year, so instead I’ll have to settle with palm trees where I can find ‘em, with a top and some shorts that make me imagine I’m going to go somewhere other than where I am.