Currently, more than ever, now that I am staying at home all too much as well as taking care of the tough stuff in life, I need clothes that are either supremely useful or a frothy delight. My next post will be the latter, but this post is about a garment which is the former – so convenient and multi-purpose, I really can’t distinguish what term to use for identifying the creation I just recently made.
It can be a sundress, a jumper, or a full body apron. It wraps on for ultimate ease. It was made out a soft yet stable cotton with a print which so perfectly alludes to what I love to do in life…because I know better than to leave out the element of fun! It was made on under 2 yards of material, paired with a few scraps. Of course, it is vintage, as well, from 1976, to be exact. Yup, it has it all! Now, what can I call it?! A sun-apron-jumper? A jumpron? A sunper? I might just need to make up a new word here.
FABRIC: Simplicity brand sewing themed 100% cotton prints (found here at JoAnn Fabrics)
PATTERN: Simplicity 7561, year 1976, from my pattern stash
NOTIONS: Thread was all I really needed!
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was a rather quick 6 to 8 hour project from start to finish, and it was ready to wear as of June 2, 2020.
THE INSIDES: All the raw edges are cleanly covered in my homemade bias tape.
TOTAL COST: under $20
First off, I am rarely into branded prints but a sewing themed one was too much for me to resist. It is understated enough to not be tacky, and a casual glance can miss the details of it completely. I like subtlety. This is why I used my black fabric marker to darken the “Simplicity” logo all over the print I used on the main body. The logo was originally much too shiny and bright so my slight coloring lends a tarnished appearance so the text blends in with the rest of the pattern pieces printed all over!
This was just what I needed for the moment. It was an uncertain combo at first, only an experimental venture born of a cooped up spirit. I ended up being cheered and entertained by this fun and unusual project. Secondly, I wear my self-made wardrobe on a daily basis and have literally been unintentionally been beating up my favorite pieces lately. Just the week before, for example, I was devastated to have somehow punched a hole into my Agent Carter skirt as well as dripped superglue onto my chambray maxi skirt. (Don’t worry, I successfully made some repairs that are near unnoticeable.) Ugh, I realize I probably need to wear grubby ‘work’ clothes for some of the things done around here to take care of the house. Then again, I’m normally not as casualty-prone as I am lately and the amount of clothing in my wardrobe that I don’t care about destroying is quite small. I picked up this sewing project because I was hoping to have a full coverage apron which would fill in that gap.
There are still more reasons why this was a perfect project for the moment. It needed no interfacing! There is a significant amount of bias give to certain parts of the straps, yet the fact that they are double layers of fabric helps keep everything in place, along with some tight top-stitching. You kind of need just a bit of give to move around in, anyway. I am wondering if the lack of interfacing, stripped-down-to-the-bare-bones kind of construction to this has anything to do with the fact the pattern is labeled as a “How to Sew” design. It has a separate page insert, printed on the tissue paper, all about top-stitching and very basic construction details. The pattern had no facings and, besides a lot of top-stitching and some tricky curved seams around the arms, it was super easy. I was tempted to go ahead and interface the straps and the waist ties anyway, and I don’t think it would have ruined it, but this garment turned out just fine without it. I wanted to save what I have for when I do really need it. With all the facial mask making of today, acquiring interfacing is like finding gold, just like bias tape.
This leads to talk about the life saving tool for the seamstress of today that could use bias tape. It is only to be found at a premium price in bulk or through vintage suppliers – it seems also due to the worldwide mask making. Thus, I am so very glad I already had bought my own set of Clover brand bias tape makers so I can cut and iron out my own supply in case of emergency shortage! Now, I personally do not sew my face masks with bias tape, and only reserve it for some of my garment sewing. As this is a wrap-on garment which makes the inside finishing easily seen, and the cotton was too thick for French or lapped seams, I reached for the easy solution of bias tape bound edges.
I’ll admit to having a decent sized stash of notions to work off of in the first place at the start of quarantine, but even still – that does dwindle with use over the past 3 months and my basic black was the first to go. I reached for a black lightweight cotton on hand leftover from a past project (thank goodness for saving my scraps) and cut it into the appropriate strips 2 inches wide to end up with ½ inch double fold bias tape. I also have the tools to enable me to make 1 inch and ¼ inch double fold bias tape. These are little, simple, hand-held tools that are really very reasonably priced for as handy as they are and the unlimited options they give a seamstress. I highly recommend them with the warning to watch your fingers. Using a hot iron with copious amounts of steam make for a well pressed bias tape but – if you’re not careful – also can mean burnt, sore fingers!
The size on my pattern was technically too large for me according to the size chart, but I rightly figured it would be okay as I was planning on wearing this over my existing clothes as an apron/jumper and not just a sundress. It is a bit roomy when I do wear it by itself as a sundress, but loose clothing is comfortable in the hot weather. As this was a wrap-on garment there was no real fitting needed, but I did find the bodice to run quite long and the waistline sits a bit lower than it should. You can’t tell with the busy print and it doesn’t bother me, so I don’t really care about being a perfectionist here. It was completely sewn together as it was straight out of the envelope.
The pattern called for the crossover back straps to be buttoned down along the back bodice edge. The idea of that struck me as too fussy and possibly uncomfortable to sit up against. I just stitched the straps down at a length that worked for me and it’s just fine. It might be slightly confusing to put on and take off, but I like the security of knowing it won’t come undone on me and the comfort of not having a bulky button under my back shoulder blade. I realize that so many of my sundresses have the same crossover back (my 1940 blue plaid one, my Halston-inspired 70’s one, and this 1949 brown striped one) but hey – it’s comfy and the positioning keeps the straps on the shoulders. Maybe I can count this as one last, very tardy installment my late 2018 to mid-2019 series “Indian Summer of the Sundress” (even though this is only one of the wearing options to this garment)? I was missing the decade of the 70’s out of covering the 1920s to the 60’s in that series.
To match with the 70’s date of this jumper-sundress thing, I layered a dated RTW tunic shirt underneath together with my 1974 stretch jeans (posted here) and some platform studded suede sandals when I was wearing it like an apron. I do not personally see it as obviously vintage though, besides the fact it might look a bit different when worn over my existing clothes. I have yet to try it as a jumper over a body-clinging knit top. I can’t wait to see if this garment also works for the fall season with a turtleneck, leggings and tall boots! There are so many possibilities!
I just love it when I can make something that will work for so many occasions in my life, for all the seasons, add value to my current closet offerings, and look different each time. All this only means that it will happily find its maximum life in my wardrobe! This turned out so cute, I might just have to make another out of some ugly patched-up scraps to really have something to wear for really messy household occasions. Yet, I normally don’t ‘save’ my makes, but always like to integrate them into my everyday life, no matter the risk for mishap. If a me-made item (or even my few RTW clothes, for that matter) does find a bit of wear and tear from enjoying what I had made, I’ll just figure out a way to fix any such boo-boos, and be happy my time spent making it has proved its worth. I sewed it – I can fix it, and “giving a darn to mend” is always important!
If this sewing project is as versatile as it seems, I will be spreading the silent word as to my love of sewing for every wearing – and that might be frequent, after all! I do think having images of pattern pieces, and the notions we need to accomplish our tasks, be more visible is an important testimony to the wonders that sewing works through paper and fabric. We seamstresses have worked wonders for centuries, but nowadays it has become an important lifeline brought into the limelight! It’s about time.