For a while now I’ve been buying a vintage sewing pattern each month, with a view to expanding my wardrobe into the realms of Things I Actually Want To Wear, rather than Things I Wanted To Sew. Apparently those two things are not the same, and it’s resulted in a very full wardrobe, and Nothing To Wear.
I made one of these to wear to the Vintage Night at work, and I’ve actually worn it rather a lot over the summer. Lightweight, cool, smart for work or all the parties that I never go to – I love this one, and have fabric set aside for another. It simply screams NOVELTY PRINT at me, and I have a huge list of fabrics that I want to buy from eQuilter, once I’ve saved up enough to pay the customs fees. (Bonus: their Lorax prints are all on organic cotton!)
During my adventures in Me-Made May, I discovered that the key to making these dresses look properly smart is having the appropriate underwear to go with them. As the fibromyalgia simply won’t allow me to wear 1950s-style girdles on a daily basis (nor will my budget, sadly!), I thought this bra slip would be a good alternative. Fitted at the top, but not too constricting around the waist. Making it myself also means that I can choose fabrics such as cotton or silk, which will be much kinder to my skin than the expected nylon and polyester knits. This one will require a shopping spree to acquire the right fabrics before I can start, although I probably have enough powernet left over from my Structured Lingerie course to make a prototype first.
This lovely pattern, very sadly, didn’t work out. I used the blouse pattern with the last of the My Little Pony fabric, and it just didn’t fit me right, so it’s now sitting in the Etsy shop waiting to find a good home. I did make the dress, in a nice grey suiting, but when I tried it on to check the fit… it was awful. A perfectly nice outfit (I made the gored skirt version), just really not for me. It looked very uniform-ish… which it’s supposed to, I guess. It’s a smart working-woman’s outfit. It’s just that apparently I am not a smart working woman! Thankfully, at the Museum, I don’t have to be. The dress code is “smart-casual”, so there is absolutely no requirement for me to turn up in a blouse and a pinafore dress if I don’t want to. Phew.
A few months ago I did decide that I should probably head slightly towards the smarter end of the smart-casual spectrum, especially as I’m the first person that most visitors to the Museum see when they come in. To that end, it was time for my too-small and rather frayed old jeans to be retired – which meant new jeans. I could have sewn them myself, but I don’t much like sewing trousers or heavy fabrics, so I decided to go shopping. I’m very determined that everything I buy should (as far as possible) be handmade, organic, or at the very least ethically produced, and with jeans this is easier said than done. Eventually I’d saved up £130 to treat myself to two pairs of Monkee Genes. However, they’re described as “slim fit”, which I’m most definitely not, so I wanted to try them on before I spent my money. I discovered that my local branch of Sports Direct (a shop I’d never normally venture into!) was a stockist, so I wandered in and discovered two things. One: Monkee Genes Slim Fit Chinos were my perfect trousers, and Two: they were in the sale. For £8-£10 per pair. Not £65 each. (In fact, the last few pairs of these chinos are currently on the Sports Direct website for SIX POUNDS A PAIR!!)
So, I did what any sensible person would do – I bought every pair in the shop in my size, then came home and bought every pair on the Sports Direct website, until I found myself with NINE PAIRS of ridiculously-coloured organic cotton chinos, for less than the price of the two pairs of jeans I’d originally intended to buy. I’d say “oops”, but do you know what? I’d budgeted the money for this purpose, I spent less than I’d planned, and given that my last two pairs of jeans saw me through five years of wear, I can’t imagine myself needing to buy trousers again for a very long time! These chinos fit well, they’re very comfortable, they’re organic cotton, and they’re ethically produced. Perfect!
Of course, what I need now, is shirts to go with them. I’d thought that Simplicity 5890 would be the solution, but for work the neckline was too low, and I just didn’t like the fit of the resulting blouse. So, I decided to use the top half of this pattern to make a smart short-sleeved shirt. Unfortunately I had a bit of a maths error, resulting in a blouse that was a bit too tight across the shoulders, and a lot too tight around the hips. Back to the drawing board. (I’ve since added the skirt from Advance 8065, to turn it into a dress. That’s now sitting on my pile of Things Awaiting Buttons.)
I’ve spent a LOT of time on Etsy and Ebay, searching for the perfect 1950s or 1960s raglan-sleeved shirt pattern. The raglan sleeve thing is important, as it not only suits my very rounded shoulders, but also allows a much greater range of movement than a normal set-in sleeve. (This is one reason why I don’t wear my beautiful T.M. Lewin shirts as much as I’d expected – I always feel as though I can’t lift my arms.) I did find some lovely patterns, but never in my size, and after one failed shirt incident I lost my nerve at the thought of trying to draft one from scratch. So, I broadened my search to include 1970s patterns, which is when I spotted this.
Granted, it’s not a button-through shirt, which is what I was originally looking for. But, it has raglan sleeves, it’s styled with layers, which I like, as a dress it has the all-important pockets, and I can just imagine it as either a tunic length worn over the top of all of my ridiculous trousers, or as a blouse length that I can wear tucked in. I have to admit that I was also sucked in by the promise of “Fast and Easy”, but on reading the instructions it turns out that the way to keep this a fast make is by simply not bothering to finish the inside! So perhaps I won’t go for that approach after all. Slow and Easy’s far more my style.