“Azure Tropics” Mid-1960s Bathing Suit

It is now September and I’m sad that it’s time the public pools are closed, the summer heat is waning, and the official start of our fall season is not far away.  I love the summer season, and hate to see it go, but September is happily National Sewing Month, at least.  Thus, I’ll see off the summer of ‘22 here on my blog by sharing one last swimwear set.  I squeezed this project in before the end of August for our last visit to the public pool. 

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a modern, very dense, stretch poly print for the fashion exterior and the inside lining material was a 92% poly & 8% spandex content

PATTERN:  Vogue #6175, featured in the pattern book for April/May of 1964 as well as the pattern book for December 1964/January 1965

NOTIONS NEEDED:  lots of thread, a waistline’s length of elastic, and a handful of buttons

TIME TO COMPLETE:  about 12 hours in total time – this was finished in the end of July 2022

THE INSIDES:  all raw edges are cleanly hidden inside the lining, so it looks so perfect inside

TOTAL COST:  The printed swim material was something I have had on hand in my stash for far too long to remember its cost anymore, but at half a yard I probably bought it at a very good deal!  All the other notions I used were from the stash I inherited from my Grandmother.  The two tank tops for the lining as well as the foam bra cups were my only true cost and came to a total of $8.00…how amazing is that!

I know I had said in a previous post I hoped to go all out and make a golden 1950s style Butterick #6067 by Gertie this year.  I ended up not having the time or energy for something so involved…and just succumbed to sewing a relatively easy two-piece set even bolder – but from the same era – as my last bathing suit (posted here).  With each swimwear piece I make, I am experimenting with techniques to improve the quality of something as inherently tricky as swimwear is to make.  Now I can proudly say this set is the best I have done with swimwear yet.  This doesn’t feel handmade – it feels deluxe.  It is so comfortable and easy to wear.  The print is so fun, too (though sadly our pictures aren’t showing how blue the colors are in real life)!  It is has such complimentary design lines that are interesting yet subtle and so tasteful – something which melds well into feeling like a very modern interpretation of a vintage style.

I love how the design is just slightly more risqué than my last two piece of 1960.  The skimpier top is just enough to ease me into a proper bikini, yet there is still a high waistline and full coverage fit to the bottom half that I am comfortable wearing.  My husband actually surprised me with this swimsuit pattern one day about 5 years ago – it was something he picked up when stopping at a local antique store – so I suppose this was obviously a vintage sewing project that equally appeals to both of us!  True love is when your better half encourages your passions, in this case my sewing.  He knows how ridiculously happy I get over sewing supplies.  He was hoping it was from a year that I needed at pattern from, and was so close to being spot-on – this pattern is from 1964 and I was needing something from 1965.  I have since found an appealing 1965 pattern to use in the future to fill that blank spot in my decade page, but can we all give my hubby a hand for having a good trained eye?  I must be wearing off on him, he he.

You can tell I am getting more at ease with sewing swimwear because I had to re-work some ready-to-wear items just to finish sewing this set.  Once something becomes a refashion project, you know there is a good story behind that project.  Nothing will stop me when I have a mission on my mind and a project idea I desire to see fulfilled sooner than later!  You see, I have specific blocks of free time for sewing, so that free time of mine often happens to be in evenings when the local fabric stores are closed.  That often does not stop me because I have a good stash that almost always has what I need in an emergency sewing situation. 

This time, I realized halfway through that I did not have plain white lining material for the inside of my swim set pieces.  I only had one more free evening to complete my swimsuit before we would have another open evening to go visit the pool.  I am getting good at estimating how much time my sewing projects will take and realized I could only finish the suit if I had found what fabric I needed that night.  I had this new suit in my craw and needed to see it done!  The knowledge that I had everything else on hand ready to be assembled was reason enough to go out of my way to sew what I did not technically need.  Why do I sometimes decide what I want to wear from out of my fabric stash instead of my actual wardrobe?!?

We stopped by our local 24-hour Wal-Mart store – I dislike setting foot in this store otherwise, so it proves how crazy and determined I was.  Where there is a will, there is a way, as the saying goes.  My husband (again) aided my project by finding some athletic wear tank tops which were perfectly suited to be swimsuit lining.  Clothes can be regarded as supplies just the same as raw cut material!  They were soft brushed in finish, with the right fiber content, and there were only two side seams to the tank tops – simple enough to fit more than one pattern piece.  Two tops were enough to do the job.

Then, I found a discounted sports bra that I could cannibalize the removable foam liner cups from to use for my swimsuit project as well.  This swim top was going to have soft, minimal structure and the little foam cups – stitched directly onto the lining during construction – were there just to keep a level of decency.  My swim set ended up better for cobbling my supplies from ready-to-wear than if I would have shopped at the fabric store. 

I love how challenging circumstances can squeeze out a whole new level of creativity that creates a pride in my sewing more than if I had gone about things in a conventional way.  Once I begin to see swimwear as not all that alien to garment sewing after all, and only that it merely needs certain materials that are not my everyday supplies, I was able to turn my bikini into a refashion project.  Seeing it this way not only saved the project but also saved lots of money (at $3 per tank top) and I was able to enjoy my new suit for our last pool visit after all.  Sewing saves my sanity and this newest suit gave me my necessary creative passion for that week, but getting to a good final place was really challenging.  Hubby was a very helpful project assistant this time, without which I would have had a different week! 

I didn’t use the old instructions and instead did some modifications to level up many aspects to this old pattern using what I have learned from the last two swim suits I have made.  Firstly, this bathing set is my first to have no visible stitching showing.  Leaving off the top stitching is contrary to what I feel like doing (I still want to think I need to stabilize every seam to the max for swimwear) but is one small step which really creates a smooth fitting suit with a professional finish.  This is something not just to be appreciated at a close distance (thank goodness)! 

Then, I adapted the bodice to the bathing suit to be a true front wrap closure for ease of dressing.  The pattern calls for a mock wrap front with a button closing back, but I did that closure for my last suit and was not completely thrilled with the results.  Doing the suit my way makes it truly unique, too.  I tried to do an internet search for a wrap-on swimsuit and couldn’t find anything.  Now, that idea may sound like an invitation to a wardrobe malfunction in the water, but I made sure the closures would be secure yet also versatile in fit.  There is a line of buttons along each wrap end so I can vary the sizing depending on how I feel like wearing the top, and I made a sturdy chain loop.  Flat buttons, sewn down very tightly, also make the loop closure more secure as well.  There is enough stretched tension in the wrapped swim top that I am confident when I wear it.  The success with which it stays in place on me in the water was really tested out when I went for a trip down the big water slide!

Before any cutting out or sewing could happen, though, I had to dramatically resize the original 1964 pattern, figuring how to make it work for a stretchy modern swim material.  First, I traced out all the pattern pieces I needed onto sheer medical paper.  Next, I added in 4 inches to grade the size up for a proper fit.  Then, I subtracted the “wearing ease” so my pattern would be compatible to working with a stretch rather than a woven.  I kind of knew how to figure this out after doing my 1960 two-piece set (posted here).  It’s a good thing the pieces were so small to work with because otherwise this step would have been a pain.  Even with grading up, I was surprised that everything fit onto my small ½ yard cut of swimwear material…just like all the rest of the swimwear I have made!

I portioned out the making of my suit in easy increments.  First, the pattern tracing, re-sizing, and cutting out took two hours altogether.  The assembly of the top and bottom in the printed swimwear took 2 hours, then doing the same thing to the white lining was another two hours.  Tweaking the final fit of the pieces took an hour, while bagging the lining and the printed swimwear together took 3 hours to stitch, clip, and turn inside out and adjust.  Finally, another two hours went into all the finishing touches. 

My husband took a good amount of time to avoid me having a meltdown when my water soluble ink pens were not washing out of my finished suit.  I recently tried out some LEONIS brand marking pens and it seems that between the fact they were new and I was working with polyester, the blue ink is mostly gone but still a bit of a permanent shadow.  The time I spent in the pool was the only way that most of the markings came out.  I do not recommend the pens at all.  Nevertheless, I do highly recommend sewing your own swimwear – I have only had good experiences doing so, and what I make always turns out fantastic and wonderful to wear.  Sewing in small increments – yet getting something significant done at each step – makes creating swimwear capable for anyone, even the most time crunched person! 

Swimwear is something so particularly suited to the personal tastes of each individual, yet buying just what you may want to wear for some fun in the sun may be non-existent or just something that could easily burn through a budget.  I hate to be repetitive, but seriously – creating swimwear is everything that sewing is all about, and definitely not as hard as it looks once you know what materials to use for success.  I know summer may be past for where I live but it is yet to come for the hemisphere opposite of me, so hopefully this post will inspire someone to find their own dream swim suit to sew.  What (if any) are your plans for the rest of National Sewing Month?  

A Smock-Frock from 1938

Today, a smock is understood as a variant of an apron – it is a loose over-garment worn to protect one’s clothing.  A frock is a now outdated term for a dress of any length or style.  Both terms may sound like something quite frumpy to wear.  Yet, I have the contrary to show as proof that a smock-frock can be fashionable.  Our modern understanding of many items we take for granted in common living are often sorely lacking in a realization of full historical context.  “Dig a little deeper” is my intuitive response after being an academic researcher for many years! 

In sewing, using vintage patterns is a good practice for opening one’s eyes to facets of fashion history previously either unknown or forgotten, as they leave enticing trails of interest in bygone definitions.  Recently, an old original 1938 Marian Martin pattern design I acquired and used for my early spring sewing has made me realize a new term – the smock-frock.  For as simple and unassuming as this newest dress project is (daily wear vintage clothes in comfy cotton are so handy to have in my wardrobe), it has certainly led me to discover yet another aspect from the annals of fashion.  Nevertheless, whether or not this dress taught me something along the way to completion, any dress that ends up being as easy to wear as a nightgown yet looks street worthy chic – with pockets as big as a small purse – is a winner in my estimation!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a printed cotton

PATTERN:  Marian Martin #9602, year 1938

NOTIONS NEEDED:  all I needed was thread and some bias tape for some simple neckline finishing

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was a quick project, made in about 7 hours and finished in February 2022

THE INSIDES:  I merely stitched over the edges a few times to prevent any fraying, and trimmed any fly-away threads from the fabric for clean but semi-raw edges

TOTAL COST:  On sale at my local JoAnn Fabrics store, buying 3 yards of this fabric cost me about $27

Happily, the seller that I purchased from studied up for the listing and included information from an old newspaper ad which was selling my same pattern.  Thus, that person’s amazing preliminary research is the only reason I know why Marian Martin no.9602 is called “a smock-frock” design to begin with.  Now, to appropriately continue my terminology tirade from above, a smock-frock is basically a centuries old garment primarily worn by British laborers and working class people.  Only in the last 150 years did it turn into a comparatively decorative garment to wear on its own for children’s play and ladies’ housework.  Smock-frock garments often had extensive embroiderd hand stitched work (for an alliteration of the word) to control the overall generous fit in precise places  on the garment.  This type of embellishment became highly decorative between the Victorian times and the 1930s, being more ornamental than a pure design element, and its popularity muddied the understanding of the term smock-frock.  

To make things more confusing, in the history of the clerical world, a frock is an outer garment…but so is an apron.  The Wikipedia page says, “It is uncertain whether smock-frocks are ‘frocks made like smocks or ‘smocks made like frocks’ – that is, whether the garment evolved from the smock, the shirt (or underdress) of the medieval period, or from the frock, an over garment of equally ancient origin.”  All this boils down to the fact that this late 1930s smock frock was a meld of the words, besides being a relatively modern take on two very ancient type of garments.  I am surprised this garment-related form of the term was even still in use enough for 1938 to add it onto the pattern description.  It is so close to what I would term a plain housedress, or even a hostess dress (which I explain in this post here) if sewn up of a decently nice material.  Smocking – as a style of stitch – has continued to be popular beyond the 1930s primarily on cultural inspired clothing or novelty designs as well as children’s clothes.

I am wondering if the use of this term here is because Marian Martin designs were something catered to smaller, rural town residents even though the parent company to the pattern line was based in New York City.  Living away from a big town can be someplace where old terms are still commonplace, so a smock-frock would have been well known amongst agricultural worker’s families of the 1930s. I do take note that the cover illustration portrays a young woman modeling.  I wonder if the design of this pattern would have been something that the older generations would have gravitated to before the youth of 1938 would have.  You can clearly see the Depression Era thrifty sensibilities in the fact that this pattern could be used to make several different designs – dresses with two differing necklines and closures, or an apron.  There are many possibilities here!  Marian Martin is a distant cousin to the lines of Anne Adams, Alice Brooks, American Weekly, and Laura Wheeler (needlework) – all patterns were owned by the same parent company at one point or another (see more info on that here). 

Having sewn a handful of patterns from this group of mail order patterns (my previous Marian Martin posted here, an American Weekly dress posted here, and an Anne Adams pinafore posted here), I have found them to generally run on the larger fitting size.  This one did not disappoint.  It was marked as a bust 32”, hips 35” and so I graded in 4 inches to bring it up to my size according to the instruction’s chart.  As it turned out, I had to pinch out a total of 4 inches overall as I was fitting this dress to myself during construction.  The realization of that blows my mind at just how large this pattern’s size was…lucky thing I was able to save this project from drowning me in fabric!  The hemline even came down to the ground on me according to the “dress length” as given by the pattern.  Refitting all the princess and side seams, as well as re-cutting the neckline and armscye made this easy-to-make design a bit more time-consuming.  It was still pretty simple to sew these adjustments because there was no pattern matching to worry about and I was fitting it along the way to completion. 

I knew ahead of time that the busy print would conceal the smock-frocks details, but they are simple and few so I was okay with that happening.  There are princess seams which divide the back and the front into a six panel dress.  There are big, generous pockets tucked in between seams to the front side panels just at hip length.  Then, the sleeves have puffed caps and a box pleat at the outer centered hem.  Finally, two ties come out from above the front princess seam just above the pockets so as to bring in the waist and shape the dress by tying in the back.  The attached ties make this dress reminiscent of a hostess dress, as I mentioned above (and posted about here).  It is the fact I have the ties – and the way I gave up fitting the dress to me any further after bringing it in by 4 inches – which lets me get away with no zipper or buttons or closure.  Contrary to the pattern, I cut the center back on the fold and lowered the V neckline so that this was an easy-peasy slip-on garment. 

A word or two needs to be said about my ascot neck scarf.  I made that, too!  It was cobbled together into being a long, tapered rectangle of two scraps leftover from making this sheer chiffon 1950s redingote.  A small French seam goes down the center to connect the two scraps, then went to my local sewing room and used their serger (overlocker) to stitch a tiny rolled hem edge finish.  I love making my own scarf!  It is yet another little but very useful outlet I recently discovered to use up scraps of lightweight material.  My neck is often chilly in both air conditioning and cool spring or fall days.  Also, my hair styles need protection from wind and rain, so I use sheer scarves a lot in all seasons.  This handmade version was just the thing I needed in lieu of a necklace or contrast belt to give my dress a splash of something extra.  It kept my neck cozy for these pictures, too, as the sunshine was warm that day but spring is still slow in coming here.  The neckline is pretty basic otherwise.  A vintage stick pin keeps my scarf in place on my dress, here tied in the manner of an ascot.

My fabulous shoes bring my dress way above its original humble smock-frock designation, but they are such a fun pairing here I couldn’t resist!  They are part of my latest and greatest shoe splurge purchase.  Miss L Fire Company was going out of business a few months ago so I *had* to snatch up several styles I have longed under deep clearance prices.  These are the popular Miss L Fire “Clarice” heels, made of color blocked leather suede panels with tie ankle straps.  These color blocked beauties make me forget I have heels on, but really elevate my outfit, as well as anything else I pair with them.  Just as I did with my scarf, I wanted to channel everything I love about the panache that 1930s street wear displays with killer accessories.  Even if this is just a homely cotton dress, I can show how versatile it is my making it fancier than it really is!  A great pair of shoes always helps in such a situation.  Believe me, there is no better company for statement footwear with high quality and superior comfort. Miss L Fire’s offerings are so well made and so comfortable but so standout chic, it is a true loss that they are relegated to the second hand market now. 

There is so much more I could have written in regards to smock-frocks, but I didn’t want to end up boring anyone and end up with too long of a post.  I have just found so much depth of interest in the history behind this basic little dress I whipped together!  What I didn’t mention above, is the irony of how it combines the masculine (through the working man’s shirt smock) with the feminine (a frock dress) in such a unique way.  Even still, the supreme mockery to my 1938 incarnation of a house-frock is the fact that it turned out so appealingly cute.  It is meant to be so utilitarian as to not give a darn about keeping it pristine yet I will be sad the first time it gets marred.  I don’t want to destroy it too quickly, but I also don’t want to let that hold me back from enjoying this dress whenever I want.  This is why I made it – to be worn, appreciated, and practical.  The print is so busy it shouldn’t be too noticeable when I do eventually end up staining, tearing, or otherwise using my dress as the pattern intended.  If this was going to be a true smock-frock, it was going to have to live up to its name and be a practical, work-horse kind of piece for me.  I always need these kind of clothes.  They truly do take a beating, though, but I think appear none the worse for their wear.  This mid-1940s dress is my go-to well-worn housedress, next to this cranberry cotton shirtdress, and my “Dust Bowl” Burda dress.  I am happy to have a real-deal 1930s house dress now, as I have only had ones from the 40’s until now!

I really hope to sew with this pattern again in the future using yet another charming cotton print, so this is not a one-hit-wonder here.  Perhaps next time I will choose the short, hip-length smock version that buttons down the back and has the Peter Pan collar.  Maybe I will just sew another dress version because it so handy and darn comfortable.  I also want to try out the “Edith Smock” from “Pattern Union”.  It is a zero-waste design with amazing details and a style strongly reminiscent of working smocks of old, only with large roomy pockets and billowy sleeves for the modern romantic in you.

I hope you enjoyed this little post on my smock-frock, and learned about a new facet of fashion history.  Please, give this post proper credit if you share elsewhere what you learned about here.  Also, remember to stay inquisitive and keep finding answers to the interesting questions of your own making.  Perhaps you will uncover something that will fascinate, teach, and entertain you just as much as I have found in the process of creating and wearing my smock-frock!

My Husband’s 1950s Raglan Sleeved Cabana Shirt

I secretly suspect my husband likes sporting the vintage shirts I make for him more than I like sewing them (which is saying a lot).  Either way, the mid-century has some fantastic offerings for menswear and with Father’s day just this past Sunday, it’s time to show you what he received as a present for the holiday a few years back.  So here’s yet another 50’s shirt I crafted for my man, sewn in a cool-toned Madras cotton plaid.  

If I’m going to sew him something, I am determined that it not only will be vintage but also something different (and better) than what can be found RTW in the stores.  Luckily, my man happily obliges me in this.  How often will you see raglan sleeves on a man’s button front shirt?  Honestly, very rarely, if at all nowadays.  This is sad because they are comfy to move in, easy to sew in, and so fun to match when using a plaid fabric.  You see, just because a style feature isn’t done any more doesn’t equate to it being a bad idea. 

Take the fact that the pattern I used is for a “cabana set”, to present yet another example of a clothing feature that should have never disappeared (in my opinion).  However, as is the norm for hubby’s projects, there was barely over a yard left of the material he chose…only enough for one piece and not two as a “cabana set” implies…so this might not be the best example in actuality.  Let’s just stick to the origin pattern labeling for his shirt, though!  The FIDM defines cabana sets (see post here) as “a marketing ploy begun in the early 1950s with multi-purpose sportswear, suitable both on the beach and off, which had a matching or coordinating set of man’s swim trunks and sport shirt or light jacket.”  It was “an outfit suitable (for the) relaxed, yet sophisticated, indoor/outdoor lifestyle closely associated with Southern California.”  In the post-war period, as men found themselves with the time and means to sit by the pool or on the beach with their families, there was a booming business in leisurewear (info from here).

Cabana clothing was often in bright, fun colors which were the opposite of the bleaker toned, more formal men’s work wear of the era.  This pastel plaid is not as crazy as many true vintage cabana sets for men, which got into almost neon colors and very novelty prints as they continued to be promoted into the 1960s.  Some cabana shirts were lined in terry cloth to be a pool-side cover-up, as the pattern cover shows.  Even still, my husband prefers the breathable, lightweight, sweat-wicking Madras cotton for his summertime shirts that do not get worn at the office, so this is his perfect warm-weather, vintage sportswear for today. 

Some manufacturers even took the guys’ cabana sets a step above by offering children’s and women’s sportswear that would match his own as well, although I think this is a bit too over the top.  I will admit I have matched him before to take advantage of scraps (see this post for his, and this post for mine) although we do not wear our shirts together but only on separate occasions.  Either way, his new cabana shirt was first worn to enjoy some weekend afternoon miniature golfing as a family, thus fulfilling a 1954 advertisement for Arrow brand cabana sets, which declared them suitable for “dad’s loafing, puttering or beaching.”  The mini golf place had a Southwestern flair with lots of waterfalls and water traps, so this is sort-of close to a California resort for us land locked Mid-Westerners!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  1 ½ yards of 100% cotton Madras woven plaid

PATTERN:  Simplicity #8659, a reprint of a year 1957 pattern, originally Simplicity #2080

NOTIONS:  The buttons were vintage from his Grandmother’s old stash, and I had all the thread and interfacing scraps I needed already on hand.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The shirt was finished on June 14, 2019.  It took me only 6 hours to make!

THE INSIDES:  all French seamed, except for the back portion of the collar facing for which I used wide bias tape

TOTAL COST:  As this was bought as a discounted remnant length of material, and everything else was from on hand and therefore ‘free’, his shirt was about $10

It was easy and quick to sew together, and relatively the ‘normal’ amount of time to complete (for short sleeved shirts).  It would have actually been faster to make, compared to the other summer shirts I have made for him, but then it took longer because of the French seaming.  I’m not complaining!  As I mentioned above, I like to do better and different than RTW, which hardly ever has anything other than overlocked (serged) edges.  Fine finishing techniques when sewing for others really enhances the fact it is a treat and a gift, after all!

The shirt was simpler to sew, especially with the French seams, when you change the construction steps so you save the side seams for second to the last step (final step being the hem).  Raglan sleeves have softer shoulder shaping which is less defined when compared to set-in sleeves with a semi-circular armscye.  Thus, be prepared for some slight adjustments needed to the dart which runs down the center.  I don’t know who fits into raglan sleeves as-is, without needing some small tweaking to the fit of their unusual seams, but it not either me or my husband. 

Nevertheless, the greater issue I had with the raglan sleeves was attempting to match the one-direction plaid on so short of a cut of fabric.  I only exactly matched the front (across the button placket) and the collar.  The horizontal of the plaid match all the way around, even for the sleeves.  However, where the sleeves meet in the main body up to the collar was the most challenging.  I truly enjoy sewing a challenge…bring it on!  Yet I hate having to realize my “matching game” was going to have to be slightly off – so I focused on the predominant stripe color in the plaid.  It’s rather a busy plaid, and the many intersecting colors happily hide any little ‘mistakes’ I was forced to make. 

The sizing seemed to run roomy, but from what I see of vintage 1950s advertisements, old family photos, and other men’s patterns that are in my stash, it seems that is the intended fit.  He was okay with the comfy fit version, as I forewarned him before I cut the pieces out.  If you would like to aim for a snug fit, or if you’ve chosen a knit for this pattern (which I think would work out very well), I would suggest sizing down. 

Otherwise, do try this pattern for the man in your life.  It is a loose, forgiving enough fit that you might not have to tip him off ahead of time as to what present you are making by asking for his measurements!  It is still classic enough that with a great knit or modern print I think this vintage shirt would look very up-to-date.  I personally could see that this pattern would be a statement piece if it was colorblocked (sleeves, chest pocket, and collar in a contrast from the main body).  I always have more ideas than there is time.

I do have more shirts from other eras to make in the future for my man.  I have a 1930s blue striped shirt with a detachable collar to put together for him, a 1970s tunic, as well as a quirky 1980s pullover to mention just a few of my favorite “yet-to-make” projects for him in my sewing queue.  It just seems as if the 1950s are his fallback decade, for both his wearing preferences and for my sewing for him.  I just hope to eventually – one of these projects for him – have enough fabric to appease my inherent perfectionism.  I feel like I have said this before, but every very freaking time his preferred material is always too short of a cut to work with, being all that is left of a bolt, but somehow I still make the garment happen.  We will see…maybe by next Father’s day, or Christmas, or birthday I will sew him something from a different new-to-him era with a cut that is at least over two yards.  For now, this shirt is another happy success!

Gift Sewing: A Reversible 1940s Apron

My most common item I create as a gift for someone is a really cute, finely detailed apron…and if not self-drafted, there is one pattern that I use for all of them.  It’s a vintage re-issue, Simplicity #1221, originally Simplicity #4939 from 1944.  This is a true winner of a pattern, with one cut piece needed to make it and a good design that has a complimentary fit.  Not every apron is so good at being fashionably waist slimming yet with full coverage for food stain protection, too.  Neither are all aprons so good at being a one yard, two hour project!  One of these days, I need to get around to making a version for myself, especially after making so many for others.  Here’s the post on my first gift version of this same apron pattern.  This particular one was going off to my hubby’s godchild as a present.   

This is the first time I had made a reversible apron, and I love how it turned out.  I wanted her (the recipient) to have something she would not find otherwise, something fun, and ultimately useful!  Just one layer of material (printed cotton) alone was too thin to be a useful against food splatters anyways.  As the apron design is so simple, it was easy to merely have the backing fabric become an optional, yet wearable, second side.  The entire raw edges are encased in ¼ inch bias tape so they look the same on either side, too, besides being an easy and colorful finish. 

The sizing is good for gifting, as well.  It is in loose, general blocks of measurements as small, medium, and large gradients rather than precise numbered sizing.  As long as I can estimate the recipient’s body as compared to my own, I can find the right size.  The waist of the apron should just about cover the front 2/3 of the wearer’s waist, so that always gives me a good way to choose what size to make after measuring the pattern in comparison.  The godchild is actually a 20-something who is my size body (or slightly smaller) so I made the apron to fit me.  However, it is always harder to let something go to someone else once you try it on for yourself, you know what I mean?

I made the ties as long as the pattern calls for, which is short enough for only a knot and not a full bow.  The neckline has no closures and flips over the head to lay on the neck and shoulders like a collar, so I feel the shorter ties complement the overall simplicity of the design.  At the base of the ties, I added a small name tag to credit me, the maker, so the recipient can remember who gifted it to her!

What is your go-to for handmade gifts?