In my quest to find the right Hawaiian shirt pattern I came across this pattern book by Sunday and Sons called “Shirt”. The book contains 4 basic patterns entitled “Sport”, “Dress”, “Military”, and “Work”. Each basic pattern contains 4 variations giving you 16 types of shirts to fulfill any aspect of your wardrobe. The “Sport” shirt pattern contains a variation for this Aloha shirt which I have completed here. Overall, I felt like this pattern exceeded my expectations for design, fit, and finish. To start my review I will just say that this entire book is in Japanese however, they provide enough translations (measurements, titles, and sizes) and clear diagrams to make this doable even if you don’t know Japanese. There were only a few Japanese symbols that I needed to study and match on other pages to figure out a few sizing charts. Also, the patterns run on the small size. I usually wear medium and am a 38 Regular coat size, but in this pattern I was large and the shirt is fitted. Another aspect of working with these patterns is that you have to trace them all out on tissue paper and add seam allowances as they do not include them in the pattern. The pattern recommends 0.6 cm seam allowances but next time I will probably do a standard 5/8 inch to give a little more fabric to work with for seam finishes. For this shirt I used a cotton/polyester blend fabric that I sewed together using the reverse side of the print to mute the tones as all traditional Hawaiian shirts are done. The shirt came together nicely and the diagrams were easy to follow. The fit is slim but I have full range of movement and no tight spots in the shoulders or back. The only issue I came across was some improvisations I had to make for finishing the inside of the collar but this was minor. I will definitely use this pattern for my next Aloha shirt and I am excited to begin making other shirts out of this book as well, all of which look very promising!
This is another dress from about two years ago. I made my 1970s-era McCall 3562 pattern out of a king-size cotton sheet I found at the thrift store. It has a very subtle stripe which makes a slight chevron on the full skirt of this comfortable pullover dress. The most interesting feature of this pattern is the sleeves, which are gathered at the top and have a tuck at the front, creating a puff without needing a band at the bottom. The inside of the sleeves have a facing to keep the tuck from opening while moving around. I’ve only seen this style of sleeves on 1930s and 1940s era patterns, reflecting the 1970s eclectic taste for using features of past fashions in new combinations. The v-neck has a facing all around it that is sewed onto the outside, overlaps at the front of the chest, and then wraps around to make a bow in the back. This gives the dress an empire shape without using any zippers or buttons at all. It is very inventive, I think, and one of the reasons why I like to sew 1970s-era patterns so much.
Mr Rat and Gia and I walked to a nearby park on Sunday afternoon so Gia could walk about off-leash while we took our photos. While we were there a friendly dog came running by, greeted Gia, and was off with his master on a bicycle a minute later.
I am wearing my homemade dress with a straw hat my mom bought for me in the Los Angeles fabric district last year. The jewelry is all aquamarine: the necklace was from Kohls from some years back, and the ring I inherited from my grandmother. The metals don’t match, but the stones do, so I often wear them together anyway. They both match my blue dress so well.
I spent almost a week at the end of March sick in bed with one of those violent colds that make it hard to do anything with either head or hands. When I am under the weather my favorite thing to wear is a smock dress. They are loose and easy and comfortable, and if I put on a necklace I feel a little bit put-together even if I am otherwise worn out.
I made this smock dress about two years ago using an old Simplicity project runway pattern 3529. It’s been a versatile dress: sometimes I wear it as a working smock, sometimes as a summer dress when wearing anything other than loose cotton feels unbearable, and I even occasionally use it as a nightgown when my proper one is in the wash. It is made from a large length of black cotton that I bought in the fabric district in Los Angeles. Since I had so much fabric to work with, I lengthened the pattern a great deal, and widened it, too, until it is ankle length and very loose. I made the pattern in a size 8, and although it is a little roomy in the shoulders, I don’t mind it. It’s a dress where more ease is a good thing.
I am wearing my smock dress with a homemade necklace made of adventurine beads. I was still a little sick when I took these photos, so if I look less than my best, hopefully you’ll understand why. Thank goodness for books when you are ill and cannot go out. They take us into other worlds, other lives, for a while.
When looking for inspiration for sewing projects, where do you like to turn? Pinterest, blogs, and magazines are obvious resources for collecting interesting imagery, as are fashion and art museums---but have you considered the library?
I checked this Dover book out from our local library, curious to see what ordinary American women were wearing in the early 1920s, and found that clothes of that era had a much more interesting variety of trims and embellishments---and that it was full of lots of ideas that could easily be used for sewing projects today. Since I don’t want to cause any copyright trouble, I just took a few detail photos. The book itself replicates an entire Philipsborn’s catalog, so it is quite large, with lots of ‘models’ on each page. For more books like this, try checking the Dover website. They have a large section devoted to historical fashion, and their books are always moderately priced.
Do you have any favorite books for sewing inspiration that you have found at the library?
All of these blouses use a contrasting ribbon bow at the neckline.
I like the idea of doing an oversized collar and cuffs of a blouse in eyelet and then trimming them in lace. Doing embroidery in two colors along the neckline and sleeves of a blouse is also an interesting idea.
It may be unusual to see special lace or cutwork collars added to shirts now, but they add a lot of visual interest. I noticed that many of the blouses have long sleeves with turn-back cuffs, sometimes cut in interesting shapes. This seems like a simple adjustment to draft using your favorite long sleeved, cuffed blouse pattern.
After a week of welcome warm sunny weather where I could wear a cotton summer blouse and feel comfortable, we are in fickle, surprising spring weather again: very cool cloudy mornings, sometimes sunny afternoons, and rain storms expected. I had planned to photograph some more of my homemade spring and summer clothes, but the weather made it necessary to wear more layers and so I decided to make a post about my new just-below-the-ankle length Simplicity 7880 skirt after all.
I finished my new skirt last week and have worn a few times already. It is made of dark brown poly-cotton broadcloth which I prewashed and then cut to 40 inches long and left the bottom on the selvedge so I didn’t have to hem it (which also makes it convenient to wear boots with, since there is no hem for the boot hooks to snag on). It’s a good length for me, I think, combining the grace and coverage of a long skirt with a short enough hem to make walking and climbing stairs easy. I’ve reviewed Simplicity 7880 a few times in the past (here and here and here for instance) and have worn other versions of it in a lot of other reviews, so I won’t write more about it here, but will instead post some more photos of our weekend walk to the monastery with Gia. Even though there was only the slightest bit of sunshine coming through the clouds, the flowers were spectacular: clover, cherry trees, forget-me-nots, poppies, tulips, wisteria, some lingering camellias, and so many others whose names I have not learned yet. What are your favorite spring flowers? Do you have flowers blossoming yet where you live?
I am wearing my new brown skirt with my recently finished brown cotton blouse (reviewed here), a vintage cotton velvet vest (for the details of its construction, you can look at my previous ‘in detail’ post about it), a vintage black crocheted fringed shawl I found at the thrift store last year, and a vintage Mexican silver and inlaid abalone shell butterfly brooch. Mr Rat took all these lovely photos.
I made this blouse last summer from vintage 1970s-or-80s See and Sew 6390 and it has become a favorite warm-weather blouse for its crisp yet comfortable look. The sewing was very quick and easy, since the sleeves are kimono-style and cut in one with the bodice. The instructions for the collar are clear and simple. I edge-stitched the collar and front band, machine stitched the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the shirt, and sewed the buttonholes by hand. The buttons are from an enormous bag I bought at the thrift store several years ago and have been using here and there ever since. The shirt itself is made of white cotton from an old sheet. For anyone looking for a quick, carefree summer blouse, I recommend this pattern. I’ll likely sew it again—maybe in linen next time?
I’m wearing my blouse with a new Simplicity 7880 skirt, just finished last week, made of dark brown broadcloth. I think I’ll be giving it its own post soon, since it is a good length and a versatile color for me. The malachite necklace I’m wearing in these photos (it was Saint Patrick’s day when I took them) is vintage, a gift from family, as are the earrings.
Today we’re going to look at the details of a vintage brown cotton-velvet vest from ‘The Branch – Div of Joshua Tree.’ I like the tag on this one a lot, because when I lived at home in Los Angeles my family drove through the desert quite often. Strangely enough, though, I found this vest at a Savers thrift store in San Jose, close to where we live now.
The finish on this vest is simple: the front princess seams are edge-stitched, as is the hem, neckline and arms. The inside is finished with a front facing that is interfaced and serged at the edges. The side seams and front princess seams are finished with pinking shears. The back hem, the back neckline and the arm holes are turned and sewn flat. The back has two darts, pressed towards the center.
I planned this blouse to be wearable with any of my Simplicity 7880 skirts, any of my sets of homemade jewelry, and any of my shawls that I’ve collected at thrift stores over the years. Unbleached cotton muslin is a beautiful color and so pale and neutral that it matches everything. The 1970s era Simplicity 8356 pattern that I used for my blouse is simple but interesting with its square yoked neckline and slightly puffed raglan sleeves gathered into buttoned cuffs. I used square buttons that I saved off of an old shirt to echo the square neckline. The square neckline takes some patience and precision, but otherwise the sewing is not complicated for a sewer with experience. After having made so many blouses, shirts and dresses with buttoned cuffs recently, I found it interesting that this pattern uses a facing for the sleeve slit rather than a continuous lap or fold and edge-stitch method. I tried to take a photo to show part of the facing going up into the sleeve. As far as finishing details: I did lots of edge-stitching, as usual, and finished my buttonholes by hand since my machine doesn’t like to make them.
All of the necklaces and most of the earrings I am wearing in these photos are made by me. The necklace, earrings and bracelet I am wearing in the first photo in this post are made of rose quartz and chrysoprase. It astonishes me what beautiful stone beads you can buy for so little compared to buying finished jewelry at the store or online. Jewelry making is very quick compared to sewing, and I find it restful to lay out the beads and string them. Do any of you make jewelry? Do you ever plan sewing projects around your accessories or jewelry that you want to wear more often? Or do you ever make jewelry to match your sewing projects?
This necklace is made of an alternating pattern of moonstones, rose quartz (one of my favorite stones) and a pale green bead I can’t quite remember---it might have been adventurine?
This necklace is my favorite: it is made of enormous beautiful tiger eyes. Tiger eyes are my favorite stone of all---I love the way they gleam and glow and shift.
This necklace is made of off-white agate nuggets with silver plated spacer beads.
This necklace is made of pink lepidolite. The stones have a beautiful matte surface.
This necklace is made of alternating brown jade and ocean jasper, one of my new favorite stones along with agate---jasper and agate are so wonderfully varied in color and pattern! I didn’t know until I started beading that jade also comes in so many different colors beyond green and lavender.
This necklace is made of green marble. They are the largest beads I’ve ever used, and I like the way they remind me of a child’s drawing of what a necklace should look like.
One of the blogs that I follow, Zelophehad’s Daughters, posted recently about crafting and its soul-healing and spirit-enhancing qualities. It is an interesting read. The blog author writes about her childhood aversion to crafting and femininity, having internalized masculine scorn for female activities and dress, despising them for being silly and shallow. It made me think of the same conflict in my own childhood, when I wore dresses to school only to be told by my classmates that “It’s not picture-day” and was sometimes teased by my brothers for my puff sleeves and eyelet-trimmed aprons.
Who is afraid of puff sleeves? It is ironic, is it not, that the second-wave feminists should have adopted masculine clothes like jeans, t-shirts and flannels as signs of their liberation? What is wrong with wearing feminine clothes? I think that to wear puff sleeves and ribbons and lace and full skirts (if you like them) can be a sign of respect towards the feminine identity, towards the skillful sewing and interesting designs of seamstresses past, and can also perhaps be subversive in a day and age that asserts that if you wish to appear to be an independent thinker and a serious person, you must adopt the respectable garb of men.
Well, like Frida Kahlo, Louise Nevelson, Simone de Beauvoir, Louise Bourgeois, and other unabashedly feminine women who were undoubtedly very serious people, I am not afraid of puff sleeves or feminine clothes. And here is my latest sewing project as proof: the very puff-sleeved 1980s era Butterick 4625. I made a combination of view D with the long sleeves used for views A, B and C. It surprised me how quickly I managed to finish this blouse. It took me only about 4 days total from start to finish. It was also a pleasant surprise to find out how well it fit. I made a size 8 and despite worrying at a few points that the blouse was going to be too small or the shoulders might be too wide, it ended up fitting very well. Since the sleeves had quite a bit of puff, I improvised some sleeve heads to help them keep their shape out of leftover scraps of the brown cotton I used for the blouse. I made a bow to wear at the collar out of some ribbon and a safety pin, which I can remove to wear a necklace instead, or a brooch. It was nice to make a shirt that fit so well and yet didn’t need any darts. It all cost very little, too, since the fabric was from the thrift store, and the buttons were harvested off of an old shirt of my husband’s when it was worn out and stored in my button stash until I could use them.
I am wearing my new blouse with one of my homemade Simplicity 7880 skirts, this one made of poly-cotton broadcloth.
After a big failure last year with making a pair of slacks, I decided to focus on mastering shirt making. I had a great experience with the McCall’s M6044 western shirt that I reviewed previously, so I decided to try this one as well. I have to say that I didn’t like the fit initially. This pattern is unisex and I didn’t follow the fitting process that the Palmer/Pletsch patterns recommended. It seemed like a big hassle. After putting in the side seams though, I found there was too much flare near the hips and decided to bring them in about 1 ½ inches about midway down. This straightened the sides out but then caused the shirt to wrinkle in the back. My solution was to insert 2 ½ inch side slits to allow the shirt to fall more naturally. I made the shirt from cotton broadcloth that has a visible grain. I sewed the shirt with a vertical grain but used a diagonal grain for the pockets to provide a little detail. I like the shirt overall, but next time I think I will put in a curved hem instead of the straight hem and will need to remember to bring the side seams in before I do the seam finishing. It is a good pattern and I would recommend it with some minor alterations.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew