So, finally, the Simplicity 4934 is finished! The idea for this project first germinated in March when Kestrel Finds and Makes blogged about vintage patterns for sale at Miss Betty’s Attic. I bought one and in April began work on a toile.
Then in May I went to study with Beth of Sunny Gal Studio in San Francisco! I dragged wool fabric, two sets of linings, three spools of thread, my toiles, the pattern, buttons and my sewing kit across the Atlantic! That was some suitcase packing, I can tell you. I studied with Sunny Gal for 3.5 days, and met some wonderful women at the Sensational Sewing Shin Dig. Then I packed off on a holiday and heaved all of this stuff around America for two weeks, before returning home at the start of June.
Since then, I’ve been slowly, slowly inching my way towards completion. It hasn’t always been easy, sewing a wool suit in summer – even a British summer. But I was determined to do Beth proud. There was absolutely no way this would ever become an Unfinished Object. I kept plugging away, and swore that I wasn’t allowed to make the dress I dreamed of until this was finished. And now, it is!
I love my early 1960s suit. The big surprise is the jacket. I thought it would err on the side of costume, when in fact it’s highly wearable. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw this jacket on with a pair of jeans and it’s perfect for British summers, when we need something to drape over our shoulders as the chill breeze sets in. It’s lined in a lovely paisley lining, bought from Goldhawk Road.
The above photo gives you a good picture of the deep, severe dart of the front bodice. This needs very careful fitting – Beth and I know that, for sure. It’s such a big dart, taking out a whole chunk of fabric. It’s something to look out for if you’re buying vintage patterns – you’ll almost certainly need to toile first.
We adjusted the neckline of the original pattern to give me more room to breath. I know that those jewel necklines really don’t suit me. There was quite a lot of other fitting to accommodate my, ahem, flesh! Nothing too traumatic, though, in Beth’s capable hands. She whizzed around my body – zoom! zoom! zoom! – and before I could blink, we had a working toile of the dress.
The more we worked, the more we both fell in love with some of the details. The front seam pockets, for example. They’re utterly useless as pockets, by the way!
Other than the pockets and some slight gathering at the front waist, this is a fairly simple sheath dress – which means there’s nowhere to hide on the fitting. You’d better hope your bodice fits well…
The dress is completely underlined with silk organza. The jacket has fusible interfacing along the front panels and along the bottom hem, but other than that, it is surprisingly easy and a real joy to construct. Just look at that beautiful, curved hem line! Kimono sleeves, three bound button holes, a collar – but no pad stitching or shoulder pads or sleeves to insert – in fact, this would be a perfect first jacket project for someone who wants to dip their toe into tailoring.
I don’t think there’s loads more to say. I learnt so much studying with Beth of Sunny Gal Studios, and I can’t thank her enough. I found a new friend and an awesome teacher. This blog post is most utterly devoted to her. Plus, every time I wear this suit I will remember the ladies who shared a drink with Beth and I, one May evening in San Francisco. If that’s not a good reason to sew, I don’t know what is.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing parts of the journey. This project beats the Vogue coat as my biggest to date, for sure! Now, I’m off to make that dress I’ve been dreaming of. Thanks for staying with me on this one. Would you tackle a suit or a vintage pattern? Go on, you know you want to. To spur you on, a giveaway!
The three buttons on the jacket? I bought far too many from Liberty of London, so I’m offering four of them on to anyone who leaves a comment. This is open world wide. I’ll use the Random Number Generator on Friday 10 August at midnight GMT. (I won’t, of course. I’ll be asleep then. But I’ll choose a winner the following morning, I promise!)
With thanks to my sister, Mandy, who helped me take some of these photos and discovered the full horror of a sewing blogger photo shoot. Below, I think my expression is, ‘You’d better get this right, or you’re dead to me.’