Retro Check Top – Simplicity 1364

I have been a sucker for vintage patterns since I first discovered my grandmother's stash. I was mesmerized by the illustrations on these old, weathered patterns and I sifted through them on a regular basis. I studied the designs, in the process learning how fashions changed over the years. (She had a massive collection dating back to the 1920s!)

In my teen years, I attempted to convert a 1920's top pattern into my size. The pattern was for someone about 6 sizes smaller and suffice it to say, my attempt fell short of something wearable. I've never attempted to grade a pattern up that much again. Lesson learned! I find it much easier to alter the design of something that's similar and already in my size. I love that the big pattern companies have started re-releasing the old designs. You can learn more about that in this interview with McCall Pattern Company on the We Sew Retro blog. It's a great read and explains the differences in how the patterns are created (or re-created) for Butterick, McCall's and Vogue.

These days I mostly sew contemporary designs but my heart still gives a flutter when I see these vintage beauties. I have a few of them in my stash and stitched up this dress last year from Simplicity 3833. But let's start talking about this top! 

This is Simplicity 1364, a vintage "Jiffy" design, meaning it only uses 3 main pattern pieces and is easy to make. This view used front, back and facing pieces for each. The armholes are bound with bias tape. I picked up this pattern in one of the ubiquitous Jo-Ann's sales and knew it would be a great option for summer. The fabric is leftover from this skirt and gives a great vintage feel to the design. 

I made a size 16 for about 3 inches of ease at the bust. The fit is a little bit looser than I would like and the boat neck a little bit too wide for me. I know that's part of the style of the era but I hate when the boat neck opening exposes my bra straps and almost extends past my shoulders. If I make this again, I will adjust that. I also found it a little hard to stitch around the angles at the shoulders. It was just a bit awkward. In retrospect, I really wish I had made a cropped fitted top like this one. Sigh. Of course, I still can make a top like that. It's just one more to add to my never ending to-do list!

Overall, the pattern was really easy to use except for a couple of parts. First the neckline, mentioned above and the zipper method. I started out trying to use the pattern instructions for a lapped zipper but it wasn't going well. So, I pulled out my trusty copy of Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing and followed those instructions instead. It worked like a dream. If you're looking for a great sewing reference book, I recommend checking this one out. I've used it more times than I can count over the years. It shows you how to do pretty much everything and has easy to understand, detailed illustrations.

I don't know if I'll make this pattern again given the sizing. I think I need to actually wear the top one day and decide if I really like it or not. Maybe just taking in the side seams a little bit will help. Overall, I love the style and fabric, I'm just not in love with fit. And so it goes. Not every project is an absolute winner.