Sunday, 5 July 2020

Simplicity 2683 again

Before lockdown, I tended to do my shopping on a pretty much daily basis. The walk into town gave me exercise, fresh air, and a break from whatever I was working on. Then this changed to a single big weekly shop for both myself and my parents, done by car. I'm in the privileged position that I could spend the rest of the time indoors at home.

One result of this change was that I found I was wearing my 1948 housecoat a lot. It's comfortable, easy to put on, and smart enough that I could answer the door in it looking as though I wasn't wearing a dressing gown! I decided that I needed to make a second version, and this was my June dress for the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month challenge.

Even though I don't make it full length, the long, full skirt still takes quite a lot of fabric. Fortunately I had a suitable printed cotton remnant in my stash, and it was one of my #UseNine2020 fabrics as well. And at 132cm/52", it was wide enough for me to cut out the skirt back without piecing it. I also had some large vintage buttons which were the perfect colour. This time I decided to make the long-sleeved version, but omitting the large cuffs.

The raw materials

I remembered that there had been all sorts of problems with the bodice length the last time I made this, and clearly I hadn't altered the pattern to reflect the shortening alterations that Mum and I made to fit it properly. Thanks to my recent changes in shape, the bodice of the 2015 version is now the perfect length at the back but slightly too short at the front. I cut the bodice pieces out to the original length, and marked where I thought that the waist seam should go.

The skirt was easy to make, and the bodice was fairly straightforward: I just had to taper the sleeves slightly from the elbow to the cuff. Then I basted on the skirt following the line I had marked - and to my amazement, it fitted! (And yes, I have marked the relevant lines on the pattern pieces this time, in case I want to make a fourth version at some point.)

Once the bodice and skirt were joined, except for the right front, it was time for the buttonholes. Oh, the buttonholes! The pattern instructions state that the bottonholes should be positioned so that the buttons are at the outer edges on both sides.

Illustration in the pattern instructions

Unfortunately this doesn't work: the buttons on the left of the diagram just slide to the other end of the buttonhole. The last time I made this, I had to add a row of press studs along the dart line to keep the under layer of the crossover front in place. The buttonholes all need to be positioned the same, relative to the buttons.

How the buttonholes should be placed

The lower buttonholes are made by leaving gaps in the waist seam, and the upper buttonholes are bound. Bound buttonholes should normally be done early in the construction, before the facing is added, but I had to leave them until I had got the fit of the bodice right. This made constucting them without accidentally catching part of the facing quite tricky.

Ensuring that the buttons, rather than the buttonholes, would look symmetrical when the dress is done up was also awkward. I had to check, double-check, and check again, because the buttonhole positions relative to the darts just looked so wrong.

Hard to believe that this will work

I used the organza patch method, to add some stability to the fabric.

Even completed, they still don't look right

It was all worth it, though, as I love the end result - in fact I'm wearing it as I type. Although the pattern was designed to be an informal garment, nowadays it looks like quite a formal 1950s dress.

1950s - with a net petticoat

I first made this pattern up in 1984, and clearly I was being unusually fashion-forward at the time, as it shares certain characteristics with these 1987 Vogue patterns.

l-r, Vogue 9874, 9875, 1855

1980s - flat shoes, big hair, and a miles-o'-ironing skirt!

The vital statistics:

The Stashometer - over 20 metres in credit

A completed column in my #UseNine2020 challenge

Finally (and well done for making it this far!) here's a slightly shaky picture of me with the original owner of the pattern, and the person who taught me to sew. Mum and Dad clocked up 65 years of marriage on 2 July, and happily lockdown in the UK is now sufficiently relaxed that I could spend the day with them.

With Mum


  1. Nicely done! And congrats to your mum and dad! I'm glad you got to spend the day with them. :)