The weather is really starting to heat up here in mercurial Melbourne, and even though today is the last day of spring, we’ve already had some pretty scorching days. So although I’ve really been meaning to start work on planning some more separates and outfits for placement next year, the temptation to sew fun summer clothes has just been too strong. Exhibit A, my new 50s-style playsuit, with matching headband!
The pattern and inspiration for this make came from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, which I received for my birthday back in May. I haven’t really made anything from it yet, excepting the quilted circle skirt – but that was more “inspired by”, as I didn’t actually use a pattern from the book – so I count this as my first proper make from it! It’s a combination of the shorts variation of the cigarette pants and the halter top pattern…with a few off-the-cuff variations thrown in 😉 the head band is the same tutorial I used for my floral co-ord set earlier this year.
The bodice came up a treat! The feature which really sold me on giving it a go was the shirred panels at the side back. I own several RTW dresses with shirring at the back and the fit is always fantastic; the stretch built in into the fabric accommodates the difference between my bust and waist sizes almost magically. It really isn’t a difficult technique to get the hang of, either; the instructions in Gertie’s book are more than sufficient, but this Craftsy page offers a few further helpful tips. I still graded between sizes for the bodice, however, from an eight at the bust to a four at the waist. I also made a few changes: I omitted the batting in the cups, and the boning at the side seams. Both of these features are intended to add structure to the top, I imagine so that it can be worn without a bra. Seeing as I don’t plan on doing that, I skipped them. I also left the original halter straps, instead of lengthening them and sewing them down to the back as Gertie suggests; I prefer the cute retro look of the halter 🙂
Instructions are given in the book on how to turn the pants pattern into shorts, but to be honest – they’re not great. They’re brief and vague, so it was a toss up whether or not to use the shorts pattern I’d drafted for myself for my co-ord, or attempt the ones from the book. I ended up going with the ones from the book, and gamely tried to make the alterations described. They came out a bit…interestingly. Most annoyingly, they were about a good 10 cm too small at the waist. I suspect, if I went back and compared, I might find that I accidentally traced it two sizes too small (and I’m not going back and checking because frankly I’d be too annoyed at myself), but I managed to salvage them by adding two five centimetre panels down each side. It wasn’t just the sizing, though – the shape was very odd too. Might have just been my alteration skills, but looking at the line changes suggested, I think you’d still come up with something a bit odd no matter how well you did it. So in future, I think I’ll be sticking to my own shorts patterns.
As well as requiring the extra panels in the sides of the shorts, I realised as I was sewing it up that it would probably be too short for me, lengthwise. I have a long torso, with my natural waist sitting right in the middle, and it was clear that the bodice didn’t quite extend quite far down enough and the shorts didn’t come up quite high enough. This was a super easy fix though, using an idea I’d already been toying around with: a waistband! I just cut a strip of fabric 8cm wide (five centimetres plus seam allowances), by my waist measurement plus 3cm. The romper came out exactly the right length, and I really like the look of it 🙂
Despite the trials and tribulations of actually getting this romper made and wearable, I love how it turned out, and I’m already planning another one! I made this one out of a polkadot cotton from my stash, left over from an apron I made my sister years ago, and now that I know the pattern (well, most of it) is good, I’m keen to make another. I think my next will be out of the leftover fabric from my Anna dress, and I’ll be changing up the shorts section – I’m going to cut them as circle shorts, for extra fun 😉 I’m also considering adding pockets – I’ve never sewn them into a garment before, and I think it’s high time I added them to my sewing repetoire! So expect to hear (and see!) more about that soon. And to anyone else who wants to have a go at a playsuit like this, it could definitely easily be achieved by combining a cute shorts or pants pattern with a favourite top or bodice.
Finally the Bimble and Pimble Sewvember on Instagram has finally come to an end! I had a lot of fun doing it, and I loved seeing my fellow sewists and crafter’s makes, tips, triumphs and failures. The month might be over, but you can still check out my pictures here, or see everyone’s using the hashtag #bpsewvember.
Until next time,
Miss Maddy xx