After following the online sewing community for a couple of years, I’ve notice a big gap between contemporary styles and vintage sewing. I love vintage style and I want to wear it every day. What I don’t want is to do a full face of makeup everyday, let alone a beehive or a wet set. A key piece of the wardrobe I’m creating is to have vintage inspired pieces that are functional and effortless to put together. So I’ve decided that every month I’ll do a pattern review and show how it can be styled both for everyday casual or done up as a whole vintage look.
For September, I chose Simplicity 1166. It’s a 1950’s reproduction pattern that features a bra top, a batwing blouse and a button front midi skirt. I made the skirt and I love it so much. I was initially feeling sort of “meh” about it, but when I put it on, I felt like I stepped into one of my favorite plays. Anna in the Tropics is a beautiful award-winning play by Nilo Cruz (poster image from pinterest).
I haven’t thought about this play in a long time, but I put on this skirt I felt like I should be rolling cigars with Conchita while listening to Juan Julian reading Russian classics. Though the play is set in Tampa in the 1930’s, if I ever costume this show, I’ll totally use this 1950’s pattern because the shape and details pair perfectly with an earthy linen for a tropical 1930’s wardrobe.
I learned so much making this pattern! This is only my second vintage reproduction pattern and I loved getting to know some new construction concepts. The pattern features a gorgeous curved waistband, a button-down front, pleats and in-seam-concealed-into-the-pleat pockets (that’s the official term, right?) that sit inside the side-front seam which wraps around from the center back.
The pocket construction was really new to me. Instead of cutting four inseam pocket pieces, the pockets are cut twice on the fold. It effectively works the same way, but it’s a little trickier since it involves working with both large skirt pieces when stitching the pocket to the skirt piece, but ultimately it made for a cleaner finish on the inside. The pleat construction was also new to me but the instructions were very clear and I didn’t have any problems.
While the construction was pretty straightforward, I had some problems with the sizing. Based on measurements, I should have made a size 20, which didn’t seem right so I went for a size 18. Still, I ended up taking 2 inches out between the center back seam and the front facing seams. There was no way I was gonna redo those side-front seams with their crazy in-seam-concealed-into-the-pleat pockets! That was all fine until I went to add the waistband and the waistband was too small! I don’t understand how the skirt could be too big and waistband be too small. Not a little too small – 6 inches! I was really annoyed, but I had enough leftover fabric to cut a new waistband with the missing length added to the straight end of the pattern piece. All’s well that ends well I suppose.
Funny thing – I decided I didn’t want to buy special matching thread for this one project so I used a cream and right before I hemmed it, I discovered that I had a perfect match in my stash the whole time! I considered redoing all the buttonholes and unstitching my wonky ditch, but I opted to not. I like the more casual, earthy feel of the creme with the tortoise shell buttons.
The fabric is viscose linen that I bought in May from the Lapjesmarkt in Utrecht. In addition to the khaki green color way here, it came in beige, grey, black and a pale bluey-gray. I saw it at several stands earlier this summer as well as my visit there a couple weeks ago. I’m guessing it’s a milled fabric particularly for home sewists rather than an aftermarket designer or high street fabric like much of the fabrics at the market. This was my first time working with a linen and I loved it so much. The viscose gives it such a nice, swishy drape, but it was so easy to sew because of the structure and stability of the linen. I’m also so in love with this earthy, mossy, khaki green right now.
I’ve pretty much worn this skirt once a week since I finished it. Most days I wear it with a black tee and my brown leather flip flops, which the skirt ties together nicely thanks to the tortoise shell buttons. Thanks tortoise shell buttons! Most days I wear very little, if any makeup and it works for an effortless, put together look.
I also love wearing it with an ivory blouse for a more dressed up, vintage day look. I love the drop shoulder and crocheted sleeve detail on this very old RTW American Eagle top. I think these details add to that 1930’s Anna in the Tropics vibe. The look is easily elevated with a red lip and faux victory rolls.
I think this skirt would lend itself to other decades in different fabrics as the shape is so classic. A crisp cotton over a petticoat would definitely lean more into the 1950’s, whereas a chunky corduroy would carry this skirt pattern into the 1970’s which is totally on trend now.
Pattern: Simplicity 1166
Fabric & Notions: 2.25 Meters Viscose Linen & 8 buttons (pattern calls for 2.6m & 8 buttons, but I used less since I shortened the skirt.)
Design Modifications: Shortened the length about 5 inches
Fit Alterations: Took in 2 inches from the skirt, and added 6 inches to the waistband. Makes no sense to me!
Difficulty: Advanced Beginner. The instructions are solid, but the fit out of the envelope was awful.
Future Plans: Yes! I’m considering a needle cord version for these coming colder months and a chambray version for spring!
I hope you enjoyed seeing a garment styled up casually and with some vintage flair. Thanks for reading!