There is one pattern in my collection to which I always return, whose versatility and design make it perfect for a variety of projects. This pattern is simplicity 8447: a pattern from Simplicity’s vintage line. The showcased design is for a collared shirt and dungarees but it can also be used to make trousers and a hooded shirt. It also has great scope for custom features like statement facings and buttons. It holds a special place in my heart and I would like to share the journey we have been on together.
The ‘Rosie the Riveter’ dungarees
My first go with this pattern was to make the striking dark denim dungarees advertised on the front of the pattern pack. These styling of the model invokes ‘Rosie the Riveter’, whose determined look and strong stance inspired women during World War Two. The dungarees have a unmistakable 1940s silhouette and I NEEDED them.
I found my denim whilst shopping in Harrogate on holiday and I discovered the statement green coconut buttons on Etsy – I couldn’t resist adding a pop of colour.
The construction of these dungarees was very straightforward and I love the result. The only alteration I made was to make the back pocket a little larger to accommodate my 21st century mobile phone. If I made these again I would also add some kind of front pocket, the back pocket works but I would like to have both. Although the bust was a little big, and the crotch a little low, these were fitting issues I could live with and I have worn these dungarees countless times since I made them last year.
The pink summer shorts – a lesson in pattern alteration.
Another purchase from my shopping trip to Harrogate was a pink fabric of undetermined fibre content. It was on sale and the last of its roll so I couldn’t leave it there. I had just enough to make a pair of vintage style shorts. I knew I could use simplicity 8447 again but I ran into a little difficulty shortening the legs.
Everything was going fine until I went to hem the bottom of the shorts. I’d even raised the crotch by about an inch for a better fit which worked out perfectly! My usual approx 4cm hem didn’t work, there wasn’t enough width? I realised that – in shortening the legs – I hadn’t accommodated the curve of the inner leg seam. However, all was not lost! Instead, I did a simple rolled hem and my vintage shorts were done.
Perhaps this mishap was something to remember next time?
The ‘Atlas’ shirt
I returned to simplicity 8447 for my first foray into shirt-making. I love the vintage details, like the gathering on the shoulder seam and tucks along the waistline. This shirt gets its name from the fabric I chose: my Dad was delighted when I showed him the dark navy fabric covered with Beagles as it reminded him of one of his childhood pets – Atlas the Beagle.
The construction of this shirt was a little complex – I had particular difficulty with the collar facing but I got there in the end. I also added pleats instead of gathers to the cuff. Overall, I am so happy with how it turned out. Unfortunately I made this in the Spring when it was too hot to wear it but as Autumn approaches I’m getting more excited to wear it. I’ve already got plans to make a summery short-sleeved version for next year.
The green and white hearts dungarees
When I picked up a hand made dress from a vintage weigh-and-pay, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with it – I just knew that I loved the fabric. The deep green background with tiny white hearts isn’t something I would normally go for but I was drawn to it. When I got it home and looked at it on my mannequin I decided it would be perfect for some short dungarees for summer so I turned back to the faithful simplicity pattern.
As I had now made the dungarees and a shorts version before, I was able to apply the things I had learnt to this project. I took in the bust by a couple of cm and straightened up the inner leg seam. I also added pockets to the front which I frankensteined from Simplicity K8610. I added some contrast dark wooden buttons from my stash to complete the look.
The denim shorts
When I got down my summer clothes at the start of the season I realised to my dismay that my shorts no longer fit. I found a few vintage style shorts online but they were a bit expensive. When I showed them to my Mum she asked me the question that I normally ask myself when I look at new clothes – why don’t you just make your own?
So I did. I bought some slightly stretchy denim and jeans buttons and went right ahead. By this point, I had figured out how to make the perfect shorts using my 8447 pattern – I added the front pockets, raised the crotch and straightened the inner leg seam. I also used fabric patterned with vintage sewing supplies and knick knacks as my facing. In a puzzling turn of events, the shorts did end up a little big on the waist (perhaps the stretch denim was the culprit?) but I just increased the darts on the back and the problem was solved.
I am not finished with Simplicity 8447 just yet. I have plans to make the full length trousers – perhaps in burgundy for the Autumn – and a short sleeved version of the shirt. I may also make more full length dungarees. There’s also the hooded shirt, could I pull it off?? We’ll just have to wait and see.
It’s fascinating to draw all the projects I’ve done using this pattern into one place to really see the scope one pattern can have. Perhaps if you didn’t know I had used to same pattern for all of these then you wouldn’t be able to guess? By making small alterations, like the use of pockets, different weights and designs of material, and different buttons, you can made a collection of really unique garments!
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