Cabriolet Climate

Where we live, the temperature outside is now set to bake, the spring flowers are a seemingly distant memory, and the kids have been out of school for far too long.  It’s definitely time to cool off by some water, grab the bug spray, and sport those fun summer fashions, in colorful floral prints.  Finally, I can look forward to dressing for those opportunities to take our newest car acquisition, a fold-top convertible, out for a spin!  Drive-in movies and drive-up dining is a par above now.

I do believe this post’s Burda Style make – fresh off the sewing machine – is the perfect thing I recently chose to put on for one of those occasions.  In these times of social distancing and limited availabilities of the traditional summer entertainments, our new convertible is our current favorite Covid-precautionary way to get out, mingle, and enjoy the weather…as well as a very good reason for me to use fashion to slay for the day!

This is another one of those wonderfully easy-to-sew, wrap on, no closures needed, minimal fabric usage projects which I have been sewing lately.  Happily, I made this work using a one yard remnant, yay!  It has colors that pop like fireworks on the 4th of July.  What more could I ask for?!

I only made the top you see here, and the vintage-inspired, high-waisted skinny jeans are RTW reproductions from Hell Bunny brand (‘Charlie’ capris that are full length on my petite frame).  I can’t recommend this brand enough for quality denim bottoms which are the best of both modern materials and vintage fit with great details (not sponsored, just an ecstatic customer, by the way).  My shoes are from yet another one of my favorite ‘modern with a vintage influence’ brands – Charlie Stone.  My bright red lips are not going to get smeared around anytime soon, even with wearing a mask or a breezy car ride, as I used Maybelline’s SuperStay 24 hour color (in Optic Ruby).  See?  I am so totally equipped for convertible riding!

THE FACTS:                                                                                                                     

FABRIC:  a cotton-polyester blend print remnant, semi-lined in a plain white poly remnant

PATTERN:  Burda Style #132 pattern, “Waistcoat” when released in 2012, “Wrap Tank” in 2014

NOTIONS:  lots of thread and several yards of (true vintage cotton) bias tape

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Even with all the fitting fuss I had to do, still from start to finish this was a 7 hour project, and finished on June 9, 2020.

THE INSIDES:  Part of the inside edges are covered because of the partial lining, the side seams are bias bound, and the complex front seams are raw as there is enough polyester in the fabric to keep it from unravelling.

TOTAL COST:  The tropical fabric was bought at a rummage sale, where everything I bought was $1 a pound.  As this fabric was a super lightweight poly blend, it cost nearly nothing on its own.  The little bit of lining I used was from my scrap stash…so this is in total as good as free.

This is an old pattern by Burda Style’s standards on their website now.  It is originally back from 2012, and this wrap top pattern was one of the very first that I bought from Burda (along with this dress pattern) when I first started up my blog.  Yes, it has taken 8 long years on my sewing queue’s backburner before I got around to actually finding the right fabric for it, and then finally making it!  I am getting around to completing so very many of these long planned projects ever since quarantine hit.  At least my sewing mojo has not taken a hit through all of this mess!  As I say every time I finish one of these projects, it feels so satisfying to finish such long planned ideas, also making them incredibly fun to wear!

Truth be told, this was a bit of a frustration to make, as I had difficulties getting it to fit me right.  I chose my normal size with Burda patterns, and sewing it together with no changes gave me a garment which was quite loose above the waist and perfect below that.  I had to sew slightly wider seam allowances in all the seams around my upper torso to evenly spread out to amount needed to take in.  This process involved lots of try-ons and a little stitch here, a little unpicking there.  All in all, I realized there isn’t a truly ‘perfect’ fit here since the fit of this top is fluid being a wrap-on.  The way it hangs changes with how I move.  Thus, the general fit I was aiming for was to eliminate any slop room for the wrap to have an opportunity to fall off my shoulders and gape.  This was supposed to have been a simple project, but hey – it was worth it.  I want every project I make to look its best…so I can look my best!

I stripped down the construction and instructions so make this as effortless and summer-appropriate as it looks.  The design calls for full body lining and material such as twill or suiting.  These would make it more like a menswear inspired structured vest – not the perfect material in my mind for something relaxed and casual, much less for something for hot temperatures.  I only lined the center back panel to help the top lay flat against my back, use up a lining scrap, and cut down on the amount of visible raw edges.  The dual back slit vents were ditched in lieu of basic straight seaming.  Nothing was interfaced except for the faux pocket flap.  I eliminated all facings along the edges and opted for a tiny ¼ inch bias tape hem which was then turned under.  The amount of extra time I spent to adjust the fit was balanced out by the easy finishing techniques. Otherwise, everything else to the design lines and length proportions was kept as-is.

The pattern called for just over two yards of material originally, but if anyone knows me, you now I like to have my piece layouts be as efficient as is humanly possible.  I also love to use up smaller scraps of material in the most inventive ways!  So – yes – I somehow made this top work out of one yard.  I slightly slanted the grainline of the front panels, but as the fabric weave was so tight I figured (correctly) that it would not make that big of a difference.  I completely ignored the grainline to the pockets as well, since they are interfaced anyway.  This is something I rarely do but hey, I was determined.  I really felt this was the right fabric to pattern pairing and was going to make this work out in some form or fashion.

I must say I am so much more impressed with my new wrap top than I ever expected!  I am sure the convertible drive while wearing it added to my preliminary love for my new project.  Yet, the more I wear it, I still fall head over heels for it and want to say it’s my favorite.  (All my projects are really my ‘favorite’, I never can decide when it comes down to it!)  The interesting engineering, simple individuality of it is fantastic.  It is a remote relative to these previous wrap projects (the 3 armhole 60’s dress and this halter 70’s dress) but only tweaked and worn backwards to great effect – a smarter blouse version, in other words.  The front faux pockets and tricky seaming there added a touch of tailoring that confuses me but seems to balance out the longer length.  It all works out so well together.

Oh, how I do love to go all out and wear my vintage hats and vintage scarves to keep my hairstyles in place when convertible driving for a practicality and to make a chic presentation!  Ultimately, however, I do love the irony of this outfit – it is a German pattern design worn in a car from a German car company.  For modern patterns, Burda Style is my preferred choice for reasons such as this top.  German engineering always has been quite commendable.  For being a modern car (I like 90’s and earlier sleek and fast sports cars normally), this convertible VW EOS is pretty darn cool, besides being a bargain of a deal, as well.  The electrics of the fold-away hard top – hence why it is technically a cabriolet – are amazing (watch someone else’s video of the process here, if you’re interested, jump to time 2:25).  It’s too bad summer weather here is such a short time out of the year!

Tropical Wrap – a 1971 Summer Maxi Dress

Do you have one hour to spare? Do you have two yards of beautifully draping, summer-worthy fabric? Most sewers will answer yes. Well, here’s a year 1971 Super Jiffy maxi dress pattern that I found will fulfill a sewing ‘need’ for an uncomplicated project and look effortlessly amazing in – yes – one hour with two yards of fabric.

100_5935a-compTHE FACTS:

FABRIC: a 100% rayon challis

NOTIONS: I always have black thread on hand, and the inner closure ties were from my scrap bag of ribbons, so no notions were bought. The ribbons are so pretty and such a perfect match color-wise, it’s a shame they don’ get seen.

Simplicity 9415 combo back and front-compSimplicity 1100 reprint coverPATTERN: My pattern is an original, Simplicity #9415, year 1971, but this has also been reprinted this year (2015) as Simplicity #1100

TIME TO COMPLETE: One hour on the afternoon of July 21, 2015

THE INSIDES: The center back seam is covered in bias tape, but all the other seams are the hemmed edges all the way around, which are turned up in tiny ¼ allowances.100_5974-comp

TOTAL COST: Two yards of this tropical print challis was bought on clearance at Hancock Fabrics store for about $5 or $6 in total.

My hubby actually seems to find it hard to believe that front start to finish, as in “laying out the fabric and placing the pattern on it” to “ironed and wearing it on myself”, took me only one hour…but it’s true! After all I’m not nicknamed “Seam Racer” for nothing! Now I know every seamstress may not have the ability to be as speedy with her skills and that’s perfectly fine. However, even if this dress doesn’t exactly take you one hour, it will not take you much longer than that, I would imagine. It is a “Super Jiffy” pattern, and it really is incredibly simple, fast to assemble, nicely fitting, comfortable to wear, and (most importantly) flattering. This is the first Jiffy pattern out of the many I have met from either the 60’s or 70’s with which I am completely happy with and can file no complaints. That’s saying something!

100_5946-compThe best part about making this 1971 wrap dress is that in the time it could take you to go to the store, try on and find that perfect dress, then fork out the dough for it, you can decide to sew your own for less money and in less time. The motivation for making my wrap dress was a night out with my hubby – my little guy was babysat, and I had a new dress for that night by the time the dress was done. I do love challenging and complicated sewing projects, but an instant satisfaction project is always nice too, and I think everyone will agree.Butterick 4526 yr 1995 swimsuits and sarong wrap&1971 halter wrap sundress ad in directional fabric

I’ll bet the short version is really cute and fun, but I wanted something elegant and –hey- since I had the fabric for it…might as well. Maxi dresses cost more at the stores, and a little extra fabric on discount is no big deal generally. I would like to try a short dress from this pattern out of a wild, possibly border print fabric (like in the old 1971 magazine print at far right) or even a terry cloth for a swimsuit cover-up (like the 1995 pattern at left which looks very similar in design). Next year perhaps…

As you can see on the pattern cover, there is only one large piece needed to make to maxi wrap dress. The straight edge on the side that dips down is put along the fold, making the U-back. Despite being put on the fold, the instructions said to cut this back center, and it really is necessary since it does have some curvy shaping. However, I did make a very slight modification to the pattern. I merely put the bottom half of the center back seam on the fold, and cut the top half out as a regular seam. Thus I only had to sew halfway down, kind of like a dart, before finishing the edges. This center back seam is the only real seam to the dress, beside the duo of darts which are sewn into the front/side at the waistline. One of these front/side darts has the inner waist tie attached to it so that your wrap stays decently closed. I find the inner waist ties help me find and define where the waist is exactly as I am putting my dress on myself.

100_5951a-compWhat is the most time-consuming part to the dress is definitely hemming the long edges not just on the bottom, but all the way around everywhere else, too. I can do good straight stitching rather quickly so this part was a breeze for me, but a word of warning…the back U curve was rather tricky and took some snipping or stretching to hem it without warping the bias.

Looking at the sizing chart on the back, I should have technically made a small, but the pattern I had was a medium and I figured correctly that perfect fitting is not that important with a wrap dress like this one. I am glad I actually went a size up because it gives me slightly more coverage around the body. The wrap portion from the waist down is not as fully generous with the overlap of the two layers as most wrap dresses I have made before. If you have not made a wrap garment, let me briefly explain – the further the right edge of the wrap overlaps from the edge of the inner left wrap, the less “flashing” open you will have. The skinnier the skirt portion of a wrap dress or skirt, the more opening up you will have, also. This wrap dress has both – a smaller overlap of the wrap and a very slim skirt portion, but together they are the sexy design feature to this 1971 maxi dress. I really don’t mind the way the dress opens up. I feel it keeps it from being too overwhelmingly long, as well as making for a very elegant appearance when you walk the way it flows open and swirls around the body at each forward step. The way the skirt opens up highlights one’s legs and also shoes, which makes me happy because I’m proud of the comfy, vintage, ‘Hush Puppy’ brand heeled sandals I like to pair with my dress.

100_5939a-compThe wrap neckline actually does not have to be tied as the pattern shows, in other words laid oppositely on each side of the neck and tied behind the neck. I experimented and found that the neck straps can be tied into a knot before going around the neck (as I did for this 1930’s style dress), twisted and tied around under the arms for a strapless look, or even twisted together to go over only one shoulder and (with assistance) pinned down to the lower back. Even though these other neck-tying methods are totally possible, it does make the bottom skirt portion of the dress open up even more than normally. I solved this flashing problem with the skirt (when the neckties are wrapped differently) can be solved by closing the wrap with a pin or brooch to the side, just a waist tie/belt, or both together, as I wore on my own dress.

100_5959a-comp-comboMy being cold-sensitive necessitates a sweater for most indoor places when the weather is toasty outside. Air-conditioners normally make a room seem like an ice-box to me in most restaurants. In my opinion, this ’71 wrap dress doesn’t work well with many sweaters and jackets because of the neckline bulk…one sole drawback.100_5947-comp

For a basic but elegant warm weather garment – quick to make as it is to wear – give Simplicity’s 1971 Super Jiffy wrap dress a try if you have a chance to nab an original or a multi-sized re-print. Then break it out and be prepared to have a new dress almost before you know it. Instant and low-cost garments can be made by you much better than anything a store has to offer – vintage patterns have some killer styles that need to be worn and deserve to be seen more often! Do you have a favorite “super-quick” and low-fabric needy pattern which amazed you recently?

I recognize that it is now officially the season of fall where I live, and so I will be doing more postings for the chilly weather. However, I know that other parts of the world are just gearing up for their warm season, and so I plan on mixing a little of summer here and there in between the coming several months to brighten up my winter and give other readers ideas for their season.