1940s | Pattern Sizing | Vintage Sewing

Plea for help: Simplicity 4727 (1943) and pattern drafting references

July 9, 2012

I am such a doofus: I just realized that the illustration at the top of the We Sew Retro page represents the decades 1910’s through 1970’s. Doh!

That said, has anyone else here attempted the sundress version of Simplicity 4727 (1943)? What were your results?

Simplicity 4727 (1943)

I spent my evenings last week altering it down to a size 16 (bust 34, waist 28; I measured myself at a bust 35, waist 27 1/2) and got most of it sewn this weekend. Okay, I know this is my fault for not measuring them, too, and I promise you I’ve learned my lesson on this, but I swear the pattern pieces didn’t look that big when I cut them out.  I’ve resized patterns before with completely fine results, so I don’t think that was the problem, either.  Besides, even if I hadn’t resized it, it should not have been as much too big for me as it is.

The skirt fits like a glove. The bodice fits like a garbage bag. I’m not kidding: I’ve never before seen a pattern that was six inches too big in the armpits.  What the heck?  I’m already bigger than most 1940’s women, and I’m pear-shaped but I’m not that pear-shaped.  I think this pattern was designed by a muskrat with a drinking problem.

It’s so bad I’m not even sure it’s worth the time to do all the altering it would take to get it to fit, and it’s a pretty basic bodice, so . . . what are y’all’s favorite pattern-drafting references? I know about Leena’s online tutorial and OpenSourceStitches, but I’m at the point where I’m willing to buy books, too, if I can afford them.

  1. I’m so sorry that I have nothing helpful to contribute but I had to tell you thanks for the laugh I had when I read the “muskrat with a drinking problem” line. The lady in the next office is wondering what that odd snorting sound was! :0)

  2. I’m not sure exactly what decades are represented in the blog header, but I’m certain that one of them is meant to be present-day. It’s done by the lady that does the blog “polkadot overload”

    1. Starting off on the left hand side, we have teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and finally Mr 1970s on the right because I didn’t want to leave the menfolk out.

      I asked Mikhaela to come up with something that captured the diversity of our little community – different favorite decades, different sexes, sizes, colors etc. I think she did a fantastic job 😀

  3. Left to right: Teens/Titanic (sorry), Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties-ish/Rockabilly, Sixties, Seventies. I can’t imagine why I didn’t see that months ago. Oh, well.

    I’ve got some excellent leads courtesy of a friend who sews a lot. The bodice is so simple, I think it would be a good starter drafting project. Although, it does occur to me that if I think I could get it right, Simplicity could have gotten it right in the first place. Whatever.

  4. have you tried measuring the bust and waist on the bodice (subtracting darts, and seam allowance etc) to get the pattern measurement which will show how much ease there is in the pattern to begin with.
    you might not need to grade the bodice after all (my bust measurement is 34 but 32 bust patterns usually have 2 inches ish of ease so I use 32 patterns instead) 🙂 hope this helps!

  5. if Anything, I’ll have to grade it in; I went from a bust 36 to a bust 34. I’m going to at least attempt altering, but, wow. It’s a mess. And I haven’t done a fitted bodice like this before (my previous projects, oddly, were all princess seams or blousier fits or whatever) so I’m still kind of flying blind. BUt I’ve found some stuff on pattern ease, etc., that should help. What’s weirding me out hte most is, though, that the wrong-ness is so uneven: THe shoulder-strap width is fine; the neck is a little wide but not bad, but the underarms are enormous.

  6. I too have experienced the Giant Bust of Doom! Some later 1940s and ’50s styling includes a TON of ease at the bust, almost a dolman sleeve built into the body, if that makes any sense. The idea is that the volume at the top makes the waist look smaller, so you often can’t just size down because the waist becomes microscopic. When this sort of thing is done well it is very flattering (jackets of the period usually have this upside-down-triangle shape, and because of the weight of the fabric and the construction techniques, tend to make those of us less endowed look hourglassy) but when it’s not drafted right it’s just weird. If you pay attention, even on movie stars of the period you can often see weird bunches of fabric between the armpit and the bust that just don’t have anywhere to go unless you’re standing that one perfect way that makes the dress look right.

  7. With modern patterns, I have to buy a smaller bodice size to match my chest measurement (under arms, above the bust) and do a full bust adjustment on it later. You get a perfect fit with shoulders/armholes and enough room for the bust.

    There’s a book called ‘The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns’ at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfect-Fit-Altering-Patterns/dp/1589232275/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pdT1_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1JTAHY15RBH7O&coliid=I3RBATW4Q3V3YR.

    Full bust adjustment tutorial from Sew L.A. blog: http://sew-la-fabric.blogspot.com/2010/04/full-bust-adjustment-aka-fba.html

    Armhole tutorial from Threads Magazine online: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4483/to-get-the-right-armhole-fit-the-bodice/page/all

  8. I have had this happen too! Twice! I was absolutely dumbfounded! I think it was a late 40s or rally 50s mail order pattern. It was a 32 bust and it so big I took off 8 inches and it still didn’t fit right. I have no idea what happened. The other time it was an early 60s dress with an empire waist. The thing was gigantic, and that a a 32 bust as well. I think sometimes either the pattern piece was just somehow wrong or the ease was oddly gigantic. It’s always a mess to get a bodice back to a workable size. Sometimes It’s easier to just start over than redraft when you don’t even know where the flaws came from.

  9. My Green Elephants top was drafted according to my own measurements using 1950s instructions, and it came out absolutely huge at armhole-level. I calculated afterwards that there were twelve inches(!) of ease allowed at this point.

    I tried narrowing the bodice at armhole level but it didn’t look good; it’s simply a dolman sleeve. In the end I left the width at the top and it draped nicely: http://wesewretro.com/2012/05/green-elephants-on-parade/

    It’s a pity the pattern picture for the sundress is so small… it does look pretty baggy. (On the other hand, it also looks to be vertically straight down from the shoulder straps to the sides of the bodice: is yours?)

    Can you show us a picture of how it looks now?

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