Sunday 14 May 2017

#VintagePledge - Butterick 6620, and a(nother) skirt

I seem to have been doing all the stupid things this week - mostly involving zips - but happily it turned out alright in the end.

It all started with me failing to resist yet another craft cotton remnant; in this case a length of Northcott's Artisan Spirit 'Shimmer' fabric by Deborah Edwards.

Image taken from the Northcott website

The selvedges run along the top and bottom, so the fabric is dark at the sides and lighter in the middle. After the disappointment of the skirt of 'meh', I wanted to have a go at making a full skirt next, and thought that this would be perfect for the job.

The remnant was big enough to cut out a front and a back and leave enough for pockets. So I sewed the pocket pieces onto the sides, sewed round the pockets and down the side seams, pleated the fabric into eight big box pleats, and sewed the pleats down, ready to add the waistband. Only then did I remember that my hips and waist are not the same width, and that if I was going to get this skirt on, it needed a side opening! (There are times when it's really hard to believe that I've been dressmaking for over 40 years - sigh.)

I didn't want to lose a pocket, but thought that I could unpick the seam where the pocket back joined the skirt back, and put a zip in there. And it worked! The pocket was concealed by a box pleat anyway, so the zip is also hidden. In the picture below I've put a white slip into the pocket, so that you can see where it is.
Zip, pocket and box pleat

Having made the skirt, I decided that I wanted a top to go with it. I wanted something quite plain, and ideally 1950s to go with the skirt. This fitted the bill perfectly.

Butterick 6620, 1953

I decided to make view B, with the three-quarter sleeves.

It needed to be in a colour to tone down the red a bit, but white or cream seemed too much of a contrast. Then I remembered that I'd got a length of pale green cotton in my stash, left over from lining my sewing bag.

The pattern is labelled "quick and easy", and it certainly is. There are just two main pattern pieces, the front and the back. The centre front and back seams give it extra shaping, along with the darts. For views B and C there is a narrow neckline facing. I chose to understitch all around the neckline, even though it is not included in the instructions.

I also overlocked the facing edge
The sleeves have the small darts at the elbow which are a typical period detail, and are finished with bias binding. Most modern binding seems horribly stiff, even after washing, but I'd got some vintage binding of a reasonable colour in my stash. Unfortunately there wasn't enough to do the hem as well, so I just overlocked the raw edge and machine sewed it.

Sleeve details

The darts, especially at the front, are very deep. The instructions just say to press them to the centre, but they wouldn't lie flat and pulled the top out of shape. In the end I reinforced the middle of each dart with a second line of stitching, then snipped them open and oversewed the raw edges of the cut.

The front darts before snipping them open

I had given no thought to how such a fitted top might be got on and off, but just happened to notice a reference to a 10" zip in the 'notions' section on the pattern envelope. Duh! There is a zip or a placket opening in one of the side seams. Usually I put side openings on the right, because I'm left-handed, but because the skirt has a side zip as well I decided to stick with a left opening on the top. It felt really strange, putting in a zip which opens upwards! Both this and the skirt zips were hand-picked.

Now with added zip
The description of the top says that it can be worn out or in, but I prefer it tucked in. I think that the skirt will be better once it's been washed a few times; it's currently a bit stiff. I'm wearing it with a net petticoat in the photographs, but wore it today with just a normal slip. I absolutely love the top, and can see a more of these being made.

Top worn loose

Top worn tucked in

Even though the green fabric was not part of the 2017 Stash Collage, it has been in my stash for ages, so I'm going to claim this as a #vintagepledge make. My first of the year!

One final thing. The pattern, like the Bestway one I featured last week, has got "Grey's, not exchangeable" stamped on the side. And inside the envelope I found this.

Grey's receipt

The date is November 1957, and one of the items on the receipt appears to be 5⅝ yards of fabric at 5 shillings and 11d per yard. The total on the receipt comes to £39.92 in today's money. None of the tops in the pattern need anything like that much fabric, so unless the owner was making a matching skirt as well, I can't imagine how the receipt ended up in that pattern envelope.But it was a lovely thing to find.

Grey's, Birmingham, c1945 - found on Flickr


  1. Hehe, I love that after 40 years of sewing you forgot about the openings not once but twice! Don't worry, we all do silly things like that from time to time. They both turned out really lovely though and I definitely prefer the blouse tucked in. It would possibly work untucked with a pencil skirt.
    I love the receipt, it's always a treat to find things tucked inside a pattern. Perhaps she was planning to use the blouse as the top half of a dress which she already had the skirt pattern for. I guess we'll never know. xx

    1. Thank you Cate, this outfit was definitely a body-here-but-brain-on-holiday experience! xx

  2. I love your top and skirt! What lovely colours! Sorry about the forgetting about the openings!! Isn't it great when you find something like a receipt in the pattern envelope.

    1. Thank you Linda! Even though it doesn't seem to be anything to do with the pattern, I was thrilled when I found the receipt.