Simplicity 2683 is a pattern of my mum’s, and it's a survivor. It survived Mum having a clearout of her patterns (sob) in the 1970s, and I acquired it about a decade later. It then survived me having a clearout (sigh) in the 1990s.
The pattern dates from 1948, and is for a housecoat, which was an informal garment intended for wear at home. Mum tells me that she made a summer and winter version, and wore them a lot.
I made the short-sleeved version in a flowered cotton in 1985 or ‘86 (I can remember wearing it to a specific event, but not the exact year) with a shorter skirt and a broderie anglais trim around the collar and sleeves. No photographs exist which is just as well, because while I’d be happy to share images of the dress, the likely accompanying hairstyle is another matter!
This time I planned to use a viscose with a vaguely 1950s pattern of leaves printed on it, and what was described as a ‘subtle silver overlay’. However when I looked at it, it wasn’t my idea of subtle at all. I got round it by using the wrong side of the fabric. As well as having no silver the background was lighter, and the design was slightly fuzzier, both of which I preferred.
|Wrong side (left) and right side of the fabric|
The fabric also went perfectly with some vintage buttons which I’d bought from The Old Curiosity Shop in Hay on Wye last year.
|Fabric, pattern and buttons|
Initially I wondered how I’d got my previous version to fit, as the pattern sizing is three sizes smaller than the one I currently use, and while I was definitely thinner 30 years ago I wasn’t that much thinner. However when I opened the envelope I discovered that I’d drafted new pattern pieces. I blithely assumed that I’d made all the necessary bodice length alterations at the time. (You can see where this one is going, can’t you . . . ?)
I made up a toile of the bodice, which needed widening but otherwise seemed to fit, so drafted new pattern pieces and made up the bodice. The instructions say to make the upper two buttonholes before attaching the facing. I decided to leave them until later, which turned out to be one of my better ideas.
One thing which I really like about the pattern is that the collar is cut with a curved shoulder seam rather than a flat one, so that it lies properly.
|Back collar piece|
As ever, I improved the skirt with the addition of in-seam pockets, and attached the skirt to the bodice. It’s a full skirt, so quite heavy, and once that weight was attached it became obvious that the bodice was much too long. Either I have partially shrunk in 30 years while miraculously remaining the same overall height, or I was a lot less fussy about fit when I made this previously. Cue much sighing, cursing, unpicking, getting Mum to help, fitting properly on Nancy, and being very grateful that I hadn’t made and cut those upper buttonholes.
The lower buttonholes are created by leaving gaps in the waist seam. Initially I was going to reinforce them with buttonhole stitch (hence last week’s post), but I decided that I didn’t like the effect. Instead I machined round the gaps, and made bound buttonholes for the two above.
|The four buttonholes completed|
I kept the dress quite long for the fifties look. I’m not sure if it would have been worn with a petticoat if it was intended for wearing at home, although the pattern illustration seems to suggest that it was. I took some photos with just a slip underneath, and then wearing my net petticoat. Unfortunately my camera decided to vote with its focus mechanism, so only the straight skirt images were usable. Gah! Hopefully I'll get some better images later in the week.
|Finished, but petticoat-less|
Not sure whether the camera is still playing up, or the extreme breeziness was making the tripod wobble. Either way, taking this still slightly fuzzy photo reminded me that when I made this dress previously, I added a couple of press studs (snaps) to the skirt wrapover. Guess what tonight's little job is!
|With petticoat, and wind!|