Despite the monumental fitting headache that was Simplicity 4727 (1943), I decided to suck it up and take on its close numerical predecessor, Simplicity 4718.
I’m going to hazard a guess that they were not drafted by the same person. This pattern took me less than a decade to complete.
To begin with, I know we’ve all seen this pattern. It’s, like, everywhere. I don’t think anyone ever actually sews it because it’s so ubiquitous it’s not even interesting. It’s like the Hanes T-shirt of vintage patterns:
Well, sometimes you need a Hanes T-shirt. Even if you don’t literally need a Hanes T-shirt. I needed a straightforward everyday dress pattern that didn’t have a lot of detail, because the fabric I mean to use was kind of loud:
That is an amazing light-blue and white chambray stripe from Moda. Yes, it really is that color, and that’s my hand for scale. I don’t have small hands. This fabric is fantastic: Yarn-dyed woven stripes in wonderful, sturdy, cotton fabric. That’s a pattern that stands on its own, though; I didn’t want to cut it all up for shoulder yokes and darts and stuff. 4718 has a classic 1940’s gored skirt but very little else going on.
I also found the perfect buttons:
The chevron buttons were in my stash. I used them for the sleeve keepers. I know sleeve keepers are more 1970’s than 1940’s, but I like them, and they seem like an idea that would have caught on like wildfire in the 1940’s had anyone thought to promote them.
Since the fabric is a bit heavy I decided to go with long sleeves. I made the housecoat pattern but fudged bishop sleeves by grafting the pattern I’d fudged recently for McCall’s M4548 (2004) onto 4718’s original sleeve caps. When I got to the cuffs, I debated staying in my comfort zone and doing the usual continuous-lap placket. However, I’ve never really liked continuous-lap plackets because I hate the idea of so little fabric being caught in a seam. It seams like disintegration waiting to happen. Besides, the chambray was slightly coarse and given to raveling (not badly; just a bit), which made me doubly paranoid about seams pulling out.. After waffling for a totally unreasonable amount of time, I dove in and learned to do a proper sleeve placket. The method can be seen here, although I used the instructions and template from David Page Coffin’s Shirtmaking, a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a reference for finishing details on shirts (blouses, dress collars, etc.).
Proper shirt-style plackets are not actually difficult but involve lots of folding and ironing, and seem to be exactly the kind of thing of which I could make a complete and total hash. It appears that the shirtmaking gremlins were on vacation, though, because everything went off without a hitch. Ladies, I owned those sleeve plackets!
I also added a small breast pocket. Other than that, my only alterations were the usual long-torso and big-hip ones.
Next time, I need to rotate the bust darts downward and I think I’ll shave a half inch or so back off of the bodice length, and maybe hem it a bit shorter since it’s 1943 (it doesn’t look bad as it is, it just looks more like 1946). I would definitely recommend this pattern, though. It required much less help than 4727, it’s not difficult–the bodice and skirt have gathered sections so you don’t even have to worry about making your darts even), and it’s comfortable. I’m already planning to make the sundress out of a blue chambray bedsheet I got at Goodwill and some old flat lace trim a friend sent me.
I’m squinting here. It was sunnier than it looks, and windy. The seawall is always windy.