Hello friends! I am so excited about this month’s blog post as it signals a change in the way that I am approaching sewing and sharing my makes on Ye Olde Internete. I recently made the decision to move to a monthly posting format on both Instagram and my blog, as I realised that this would suit me so much better and give me more space to thoroughly test each pattern. So each month I will be focusing on one particular pattern and testing a few different variations of it, depending on what I’m inspired to make with the fabric I have in my stash. However, this change was largely inspired by the fitting adventures I embarked on with the bodice of Simplicity 6926 – a vintage dress pattern circa 1975, which I picked up second-hand. It was a thoroughly enjoyable challenge and I learned so much from the process that it inspired this series, as well as my first ever video tutorial which you will find below!
As I am not a fan of A-line skirts, I decided to do away with that portion of the dress pattern and focus on the bodice by itself. I had the notion that I could combine it with some culottes to make myself a Jumpsuit, and wanted to revisit some older Indie patterns I had bought but never been able to fit correctly. Originally I was going to make the Tania Culottes my pattern of the month, before realising I simply didn’t have enough large pieces of fabric to support that. So instead I combined this with the bodice of Simplicity 6926, and this was my first step in addressing the fit issues.
I found that the finished pattern measurements for the Tania Culottes weren’t quite accurate. After a few muslins, I sized down significantly to a size 8 in the waist and a size 10 in the hips. Although a straight size 8 might also have fit, I suspect it wouldn’t have been as comfortable across the broadest part of my hips. I also lowered the rise and borrowed the crotch curve from Simplicity 8447 to stop the crotch curve being too short. This is a bit of a cheat I do quite often to avoid too much fuss with trying to amend the crotch curve, and has not let me down thus far. However, I am still attempting to work out the sweet spot for the crotch rise and will need to do a few more tests to perfect it.
Likewise, there were several fit issues with the bodice. I had already altered the back piece to have an opening on the left side for a zipper rather than buttons in the centre back, which I thought worked well. But the bodice was a smidge too long and gaped dramatically in the high bust area. I made quite a few muslins, trialling different methods of removing the excess. However, there didn’t seem to be a set adjustment method I could rely on. Then it hit me, if I could add width to a pattern via the slash and spread method without altering the fit of the waist, then I could do the opposite to remove excess in the high bust area without altering the rest of the pattern pieces.
By pinching out the excess at the side seams I was able to work out I needed to remove a solid 5”, and I could see that there was no issue with the front bodice piece – only the side front bodice and back bodice pieces needed amending. So taking into account I’d be removing this amount four times across the seams (back bodice is cut on fold so the adjustment is reflected on either side of the centre back, and there are two side front bodice pieces), I slashed and removed 1 ¼” from the pieces. I then traced out a new curve for the tops of both pieces, and amended the facings to match.
Once I could fit the bodice, the world was my oyster. I moved on from the Jumpsuit after making my final version out of a vintage sheet, and onto some vintage fabric another person had given me from their mother’s stash. I combined the bodice this time with the skirt from Vogue 7583, a vintage pattern from circa 1951. I had picked this pattern up second-hand after seeing someone had penned the measurements on (a crime, I know) and that they claimed to matched mine. This pattern called for an optional tulle layer to be fixed to the underside of the skirt for body and that piqued my interest as well, as a new technique to try.
Coincidentally someone online was selling their own stash of tulle and I was able to secure some for this make. It was a new process for me, never having really done much with flatlining or tulle in general, and if I were to make this skirt again I’d likely do away with it. Although it does provide a lot of body when combined with a petticoat, it does mean on hotter occasions I’m not able to remove under layers like petticoats to get that little bit more airflow. Still, I am very eager to try this dress out for dancing now that is it complete and the weather here is convinced it is already summer.
Sadly the measurements that had been written onto the pattern proved to be inaccurate. But it didn’t hold up construction too much. All I did to fix it being far too large was to remove an entire side panel from the skirt in order to make it fit. But once that had been removed I was able to match it very well to the bodice’s waist and – of course, made sure to add a pocket to the side seam without the zipper as well! One pocket is always better than no pockets!
Overall, I am so very happy with this experiment. It was a great challenge for getting me to do some new kinds of problem solving, and has inspired me for how to fix some issues I’d had with the Simplicity 8447 bodice gaping a bit. It’s also given me renewed enthusiasm for the process, as it allows me to thoroughly explore every idea I have for a particular piece!
Pattern(s) Made: Simplicity 6926, the Tania Culottes by Megan Nielson and Vogue 7583
Materials Used: One Vintage cotton sheet, vintage cotton gifted to me out of another’s stash, second-hand tulle, vintage buttons and second-hand invisible zippers.
Views Made: Simplicity 6926 – Bodice for Views 1 and 2, Tania Culottes – View C, Vogue 7583 – Only View
Sizes Made: Simplicity 6926 – size 14, bust 36; the Tania Culottes – size 8 in the waist to 10 in the hips, Vogue 7583– Suspect it’s the 32” waist, which I sized down to a 30″
Alterations Made: Simplicity 6926– Removed 5” from the upper bust by removing 1 ¼” from the side seams (removes it 4 times, hence goes up to 5”), changed the opening from a button back to a side zipper and cut the back piece on the fold, removed 2 ¼” from the straps so that they only had to be inserted into the 5/8” seam allowance and not overlapped further as in the pattern, took the waist up by ¼”; the Tania Culottes – Graded from an 8 in the waist to a 10 in the hips and legs; Vogue 7583 – Removed an entire skirt panel, to reduce the size to a 30″ waist.
Ease of Construction: Simplicity 6926 – Overall this pattern is fairly easy to construct, with the only real difficulties being achieving the best fit. If you were keeping the original features of the button back, etc, that would simplify things greatly. The Tania Culottes – These were also fairly straightforward to construct, although I didn’t necessarily follow the instructions in order as doing certain seams first made the pleat easier to sew. Vogue 7583– Of the three this was the easiest pattern to construct, requiring only a bit of basting to attach the tulle and then simply sewing a whole lot of seams together – leaving one open for the zipper, and space for a pocket. I wouldn’t say that any of these patterns are particularly complicated to construct.
Recommended Level: As with most garments, I’m going to say that the Simplicity 6926 and Tania Culottes patterns are better suited for someone with some prior experience in the areas of fit and alteration. However, in the case of the Vogue 7583 skirt I think it would make for a decent entry level project as it’s fairly straightforward to make, and gives lots of practice at straight seams and hemming a circular hem.