This pattern was in my mother’s stash for as long as I can remember. Its never been used, but its time has come – I’m going to make it up for PR Vintage Pattern contest. Pattern Review contests push me into working at something and finishing it for a deadline, which is pretty close by the way, April 15th. I’m keeping this post going ’til its done.
A clue to its age could be the price 2 shillings and 9 pence, pre decimal UK coinage. There’s no date on the back. Pre decimalisation puts it well before the contest cut off for ‘vintage’ though. Here’s the back of the envelope.
See 7 inch skirt placket slide fastener? They’ve been called zips for as long as I can recall – I wonder when the change in terminology hit pattern envelopes. The instructions don’t waste words on the subject “Step 11 SLIDE FASTENER Insert, following instructions with fastener.”
In the spirit of vintage I checked one of my older sewing books “Weldons Encyclopaedia of Needlework”. They’re called slide fasteners in there too. Here’s what they have to say about insertion.
“One way of sewing on this kind of fastener is between two layers of fabric, so that only the metal is visible. Start at the top and work downwards when sewing. Another way is to fix the fastener in a slot seam, so that it is partially covered. A third way, covering the fastener entirely, is illustrated above. ” Perfectly clear?
Peering at the photo I think its a variation of the method I’ve decided to use. What had me fooled was the raw edge of fabric top left – is that meant to show the stage before the top stitching bottom left?
The pattern is still factory folded, it belongs to the era when the tissue was cut for you, and all markings punched out.
Pattern out of the envelope, the crotch depth looks huge … and it is. 35 cms. The instructions do suggest doing a trial run to test the length – “We suggest you cut the CULOTTE from muslin, or any fabric on hand.” I’ve certainly got fabric on hand, shelves and drawers of it, not to say piles on the floor where I’ve just swept them off the cutting table, but I don’t have time. I’m winging it based on the usual I’d draft for a size 12, 28cm plus 1.5 ease for culottes. The culottes are also quite long, even with this folded out, and I’m folding out a further 5 cms at the hem.
The pockets are interesting. Those 2 huge pieces in the far right section above are what you cut, and then they’re folded to become both the side section of the front and the pocket bag. I usually cut that style with 2 pieces, an underpocket cum side front and a top pocket cum facing. I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out.
I measured the waistband to see what ease was allowed ….. er, none! That clinches it then, I’ll need to add to the waist of the culottes, to both allow for my larger waist measurement, plus breathing room, and to give myself a bit of leeway on zip insertion. Here’s an interesting thing. I always wondered how the pieces were cut for you in the factory. Not necessarily accurately is the answer. The waistband is not straight, one edge is wobbly. Not a big deal, quite nice really, it adds a human touch to the pattern. I’ve cut my waistband longer, and straighter of course, and added a bit to the side section of the pockets/side skirt. You can tell which this is going to be because the side which faces back the pocket opening is notched, its very clear at Step 6 of the instructions. The line between the double small dots on the pocket is where its folded back on itself, and the two large dots show where the triangular side section of the skirt peeks out from behind the pocket.
The pockets are drafted to stand away from the front, there’s a note in Step 8 to point that out, in case you think you’ve got it wrong when they don’t lie flat. I like this feature, I think it adds to the casual look, and the pockets are generous too.
The seam finish advised is pinking or edge stitching a small turning – I’m going with pinking. If this wasn’t Vintage contest, I’d probably be whizzing it up on a four thread overlock. That’s one side’s back dart, and the pinked back seam in the picture. Here’s how the pleat folds from the inside, after you’ve stitched it part way down, from the waist to a mark about level with the bottom of the pocket on the front, and a similar length on the back. Its an inverted pleat at the front, stitched closed for the top 6 inches or so. I did a bit of fancy footwork (aka bodging) to grab some extra waist ease on the front from the pleat. The pins are where the pattern calls for it to be stitched, so I’ve opened up a dart shaped piece of fabric. I blended in to the original stitching line so as to keep the pleat depth consistent.
The zip method which I’m guessing would have been found on a slide fastener for skirt placket packet would be similar to this.
Once the left seam was stitched up as far as the point where the bottom of the zip lies, you press under the seam allowance on the back piece, taking around 1/8th of an inch less turning than allowed – so for this pattern with 5/8 turnings, half an inch is turned under.
The photo in Weldon’s doesn’t have a stitching line on that piece, so I think they used a variation, where you lay the zip face down on the back piece, stitch alongside the teeth, and turn it right side up for the next step. That way works better with thick fabrics or slippery fabrics, but in this linen, top stitching the first side down is fine.
Next step is to fold under the turnings on the front piece. Its useful to have more than 5/8 inch, that’s why I added extra into the pocket/side front piece. You fold these under right on the stitching line, and pin or tack the folded edge down to the back piece, just covering your first line of stitching.
Then you stitch the front piece through the top layer, the folded under turning and the front side of the zip tape, getting close to, but not tooooo close to the zip teeth. The stitches don’t show up well in this fabric, you might just make out that there’s a fold of fabric covering the zip, and to the left, you can just see the stitches of the back piece, where I lifted the fold a bit. I like this method for side zips in skirts, its pretty neat, and the zip teeth never show. If you want to put a zip guard in, you do it at the first stage, stitching it to the back at the same time as you stitch the zip in, or in a second pass catching the turnings underneath only. Then make sure its pinned well out of the way when you stitch the front side of the zip in.
I put the waist band on in one pass, top stitching it down, through all layers. Not the classic method, but when the fabric is a good presser it works. This is how the back looksand ta danearly forgot – tip of the day. You know how when you’ve pressed pleats into trousers, or in this case culottes, using your pattern markings, and they look great, but then you launder the garment, and get the pleat starting off just fine, but careering off towards the side lower down, instead of being guardsman straight? Well, three minutes with a needle threaded up with a nice bright embroidery yarn can save all that angst. Stitch a blob of colour into the hem on the inside, and you know exactly where to fold.