Hello (Kitty) Summertime Nostalgia
The days have been short and cold and rainy lately. Even more than the cold, which I dread, I hate how dark everything seems in the midst of winter. I think I could more cheerfully put up with daily rain if it could somehow be both rainy and bright outside, or at least be light until after dinner. Instead of focusing on a wintry wardrobe, I’ll pretend I’m in Australia and post these pictures of a couple of outfits I made over the summer.
These outfits are so much fun to wear.I’m not sure what it is about Hello Kitty that makes her so appealing, but when I found this fabric, I couldn’t resist making Guinevere something. At some point someone asked me about the floating head aspect of the fabric, as in “is there another fabric with just bodies?” I refuse to dignify that question with a response. My original plan was matching dresses, but rompers were so very “in” over the summer, and Guinevere thought it would be easier to play in a romper than a dress.
The romper pattern I used was Butterick 7371 a vintage pattern from the 1950’s. I went with the simplest view, view B, but added ruffles to the bottom of the shorts instead of the band included in the pattern. Drafting the ruffle involved a very technical process of measuring the bottom edge of the shorts, doubling it, and cutting out a rectangle twice as wide as I wanted the finished ruffle, plus seam allowance. I also made the bias tape for the edges of the neckline and underarms and for the decorative ties. I don’t usually mix prints, but in this case the polka-dots were the perfect combination to set off the novelty-print main fabric. I stitched the bias tape on by machine, so construction of this romper was super-quick, barely taking an evening as I recall.
I love this romper pattern so very much. I did raise the neckline about an inch, but with all the edges being bound off with bias tape, it was so easy to just cut the neckline higher. The closure on the romper is a front zipper which I left exposed, rather like footie jammies. This makes it really easy for her to get in and out of the romper on her own without having to wiggle out of elastic straps or get anything tied and re-tied like she did with the halter romper I made her a few years ago. The back is fitted in with elastic in a casing formed at the waistline seam. This allows for comfortable movement, but gives the romper some shaping, which she prefers. (a retro-girl after my own heart). I really hope this still fits her next summer, though I do have a little fabric left and could make her something new, I guess. I made this one in a size 6, and since I really like this pattern, I should probably be on the lookout for a copy in a size 8.
Moving on to my dress. Obviously I succumbed to my usual summer craving for novelty-print cotton dresses. Weirdly, I rarely wear these in the winter, even with tights/leggings and a sweater to make them warmer. Something about the frivolity of these prints offends my sensibilities when it is cold and dark. I didn’t really need another novelty-print dress this summer, but I stumbled upon the perfect pattern so I could also have polka-dots on my dress; I couldn’t resist. This may be the only dress in my closet that compels elementary-school age girls to come up and talk to me; usually I frighten small children (not my own so much, but they share my brand of weirdness)
The pattern is a vintage mail-order one, Patt-O-Rama 1468. It’s in my favorite half-size, bust 41. I personally love these old mail-order patterns. The seam-lines and details on them are every bit as fun as some of the more lushly illustrated versions. Of course, I say that having nearly 100 years of patterns to look back on. At the time they were issued, I can see why they could have been considered inferior. This pattern was from sometime in the 1950’s, but was unprinted. The instructions are sparse. There were no facings included in the dress pattern; the instructions directed to make a bunch of fairly wide bias tape to finish off the neckline and armscyes. I used pre-packaged bias tape to do this, but it was vintage, so it was 100% cotton. I’m not sure if I will do the bias tape finish next time. It’s nice not having facings flapping about, but there was a lot of hand-stitching involved in tacking down the bias tape, and I’m not sure it was worth it. All that complaining aside, I will probably try to make this again. I love the neckline and the shape of the skirt for summer.
I expected this dress to need some support in the skirt, especially with being made from quilting cotton, but it actually looks better without a crinoline. I’m wondering if the expectation of the original pattern creator was that someone ordering a mail-order pattern might be making up their dress with utilitarian fabrics without lot of drape, or if its just a coincidence that it worked out this way. Regardless, it makes for a very comfortable summer dress that just needs a light slip underneath to prevent show-through.
I finished off my dress with a vintage button inherited from my grandma. We finished off the photo session with some grapes from my parents’ garden.
Thanks to my sister, Auntie Laura, for taking these pictures on a sultry day this summer. The lighting was extra weird since there was a thick layer of smoke settled in the valley area where we live while multiple wildfires raged in the mountains. I think she did a great job photographing us in white dresses, especially considering the atmospheric conditions.
Thanks also to my parents for letting us borrow their orchard for these pictures.