Before I begin talking about my sewing project can I just tell you all to LOOK AT MY SHOES! For those of you who share my love for vintage and for beautifully made things you must be sure to check out the new shoe brand Agnes and Norman. They make the most beautiful vintage inspired 100% leather shoes- I literally want every last pair. And look at the pretty box they come in…! Eeeek! I am sure a few additional pairs will be appearing in future posts as I have not stopped wearing these since I bought them- and no I am not being paid to say any of this! Hehe.
I found this vintage playsuit pattern from the 1940s (Advance Patterns 3940 for those who are interested) on Etsy a little while ago but ended up working on it during the major heat-wave we had recently. I don’t function very well in really hot weather and this heat- wave was exceptionally hot- I think it went up to 32 degrees here one day! So this sewing project ended up being a bit of a trial (and that’s me completely understating it!) Due to the fact that the bodice opens at the centre front and the shorts open at the side seam and the two are connected with a waistband that has to be open in both these locations this is not the most straightforward of things to sew up. One relies on paying good attention to the markings and instructions. Add heat, typically minimal vintage pattern instructions and (as it transpires) a completely inaccurately marked waistband panel oh and only JUST enough fabric and you have a 50/50 chance of a nervous breakdown.
I had already made a toile BUT I thought I had made a construction error as the waistband notches didn’t seem to bear any relation to any of the notches on the bodice or the shorts. I just kind of ignored this fact and, choosing to focus on the fact that the bodice and shorts fit fine I decided just to pay more attention to the waistband markings on the real one and went ahead and cut out my fashion fabric. Then life happened and the cut out panels sat in a basket for a couple of weeks and got re-visited once we were experiencing life conducted in a greenhouse.
As it turned out I hadn’t made an error on the toile at all and there was no way of getting any of the waistband markings to line up with any of the other markings without having a great big long strip of surplus waistband dangling between ones legs and side- seams that didn’t line up. At this point I discovered that I luckily had just enough fabric scraps left to cut out a completely new waistband and managed to keep my cool long enough to calculate its size.
Having re- assembled the playsuit I tried it on before doing the hem or the buttons and hated it! The waist was far too big and the pleats on the shorts were stitched down so far that the entire garment appeared horribly shapeless and boxy. I was the closest I have been to abandoning a project in years. Luckily an icy cold elderflower cordial, a good session sat in-front of our fan and my love of the fabric and pattern picture gave me the impetus to continue. I set about releasing the pleats higher up so the shorts flicked out more and decided on the speedy option of machine buttonholes (almost unheard of these days with me) and left positioning and sewing on the numerous snaps to the following and fifth(!!) day of working on this project.
The next day I was still unconvinced but stitched on my snaps anyhow- hemmed it and tried it on. Bleugh. It was still too boxy and it turned out the extra length I had added to the shorts was unnecessary so once I again I nearly gave up. But I couldn’t bear to waste the fabric and decided it would at least be okay for gardening and walking the dog in once the weather had cooled down a bit so I re-hemmed it to the pattern’s original length and tried it on again. Bleugh. Then in a final attempt to redeem it I decided to sew a few rows of shirring elastic onto the back waistband and TA- DAH!
Since then I have worn this four times already! It’s one of the comfiest things I own and despite being a little annoying having to basically completely de- robe when you need to visit the powder room the practicality of shorts instead of a skirt and the jumpable- aroundableness of it completely makes up for this fact. I still LOVE the fabric and I am so so pleased I didn’t give up on it. In fact I am also pretty glad about having to add the shirring elastic as it means the waist is really fitted but completely unrestrictive- plus I have discovered a super handy trick for nipping in the waist of poorly fitting dresses!
As for 30 degree weather and me- we still can’t see eye to eye but you can’t have it all 😉
Have you had a near- miss sewing project recently?
Thanks for reading!