It was the summer of 1969. Young and old came together and watched in awe as American astronauts succeeded in landing on the moon. It was also the summer of the Woodstock music festival in New York and of two nights of shocking murders in California which were later found out to be committed by the Manson Family.
In my world, I was in elementary school with the summer off. I was listening to “In the Year 2525″ by Zager and Evans, ” Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies and Donovan’s “Atlantis” on my transistor radio. My library’s reading program for kids was titled “books are out of this world” and my reading consisted of books like “The Happy Hollisters” and the Beany Malone series.
The jiffy pattern, Simplicity 8183, of a darted dress with a low cut H-shaped back was released in 1969 for summer sewing.
I have a bunch of vintage patterns from thrift store shopping, but I actually set out to buy this one after seeing it on the “We Sew Retro” website. I bare arms and legs but don’t have any clothes with an open back.
This will be my blue summer – I’m not talking about moods but fabric. I picked up yardage of two different shades of chambray at an estate sale.
I decided to start on my chambray summer sewing with a top made from this pattern. It’s sized for a 36 inch bust, and I’m bigger than that. I started by doing a full bust adjustment to the pattern after I traced it off on medical pattern paper. I made a mock-up using a sheet – too tight! I added 1/2 inch to the seams. I kept the front and back waist darts, but I made them shallow as I wasn’t going to use a zipper and didn’t want the top to be too fitted.
The fabric frays easily so I sewed french seams to enclose the raw edges. I planned on swapping bias binding for the facing pieces. After I started working on the top I had the idea to substitute red piping as an accent around the very long neckline. For the armholes I made bias binding from the chambray fabric.
I had scraps around from the denim skirt refashion so I made the strap from denim.
A big goal with this top was to keep my bra from showing. Initially, I tried to get the strap on the top to cover my bra, but it wasn’t quite working so I raised the back 3 inches.
I tried machine stitching a little section of the piping to the inside of the shirt, but didn’t like the way it looked. I wanted a clean look to the front of the top as if I were using facing. Instead I invisibly hand stitched the neckline, armholes, and hem.
The finished top:
It has a front too.
I had a devil of a time getting the strap straight, and unpicked it a few times. The thread is a great match, so both my fabric and nerves were fraying. I think I was trying to attach it too close to the curve.
In the photos of me wearing the top, I noticed some strain lines across the back and I was thinking of removing the strap. It was a cute part of the design that attracted me to the pattern, yet I raised the back and don’t really need it. I also belatedly thought of making a strap with buttonholes on both sides that can be buttoned on or left off.
What do you think?
I wish you a happy summer of ’17. I doubt it will be as historically memorable as the summer of ’69 but I hope it will bring you memorable days of enjoyment with family and friends to look back on.