Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Simplicity 1661

Because she stole the navy and white bird fabric from me, I think it is only fair that I should sew up my own piece first. Right?

I actually bought this floaty piece of cotton/silk voile with this pattern (Simplicity 1661) in mind.  That's unusual because I normally just collect things that I like without immediate plans.  OTOH, I usually buy my fabric for peanuts by the pound and I have to either buy it or else never see it again.

When I shop at a real fabric store and spend real $$, I try to buy with a plan. BTW, The Fabric Store is a wonderful addition to the LA retail landscape. Though the fabrics aren't cheap, they are a good value for the quality.  Mood LA has just opened up down the street from them on La Brea, making mid-town even more of a destination.

Untucked, it's a casual and airy blouse with a slightly longer hem in the back.

It looks business-like tucked in.

The back pleats are fine.  The front pleats are wonky on the right side due to operator error.
I also paired it with a navy skirt to show you that the print contains both black .and. navy (as well as light and dark taupe).
Other than the wonky front neckline pleats and the mysteriously long armhole binding, I quite liked the pattern and recommend it.  Notice that they use 3/8 inch seam allowances on the curved seams at the armhole and neckline.  This makes matching up the marks dead simple and reduces the need to clip and trim.
The pleat lines would be difficult to distinguish if all 5 sizes were nested in one.  So they broke the pleated pieces up into 2 and 3 sizes, printing every other size so that adjacent sizes don't obscure each other.  Simplicity deserves kudos for good systems thinking.

Simplicity patterns also come with an email address.  If you get stuck on a step, you can send them email with questions (identify the pattern in the subject line) and a home economist will reply.

Simplicity, Burda and Kwik Sew don't go on sale very often compared to BMV.  But, I do value good engineering and service in my patterns and am willing to pay for it.  Jalie doesn't ever go on sale and they are well worth the $.

I shortened the ties by 6" because I know that I will never tie a bow; I prefer the ties to hang loosely.

I used this clamp tool to help turn the ties.  I'm not sure what this is called, or where I purchased it. If you know where to get these, can you leave a comment?

I pulled the strap through one end, closed the clamp...

and then pulled the strap over the other arm.

This is much easier than futzing with chopsticks or tape or string. It also works for turning collar points.


View C, straight size 12.  Mine is not as loose or hi-low hem as the envelope picture.

The fabric requirements are overly generous.  The envelope recommends 1 5/8 yards of 60" wide fabric and I purchased 1 yard of 54" wide fabric.  With the generous cuts at TFS and minimal shrinkage, I had over 37" after pinking the cut edges and prewashing/drying.  I didn't have to match patterns or worry about nap so YMMV.

The bias bands for binding the armhole came out too long.  The pattern piece provided didn't take into account that bias strips will stretch.  OTOH, the amount of stretch depends on the fabric and operator (rough handling will cause more stretch).  So, maybe they are right to give the exact armhole dimension and assume that the sewist will know to trim to the appropriate length.  I used my quilting ruler to cut the bias strip and trimmed to fit.

Making the neck pleats in this slippery and floaty fabric was challenging.  I couldn't see the chalk marks and didn't dare thread baste for fear of leaving holes.  Moreover, the fabric didn't hold a press unless I used steam.

There were times I questioned if it was indeed a cotton/silk blend.  I had to do a burn test to convince myself it wasn't mis-labeled.  Like a true analytical chemist, I touched, smelled and tasted the ashes to confirm the fiber content.  I don't recommend that practice, because fabric is generally not food-safe (mostly because of the dyes and finishes).

Come to think of it, barbequed food is carcinogenic due to the burned bits and that's stuff meant to be eaten.  What can I say?  I'm an old-style chemist that uses all of my senses in the lab.  Besides, this is how we live on the edge in suburbia.


  1. So pretty! I can tell fabric by how warm/cool it feels too. Synthetic fabrics hold body heat differntly than natural ones, of course, so that's probably why. Your version of this pattern looks better than the envelope picture.

  2. You've done a great job on your lovely and versatile blouse.
    Oh my goodness. You are such a chemist:)
    I'm impressed that a real home economist answers emails for Simplicity patterns. I'll keep that in mind when I'm sewing Simplicity and New Look patterns.
    Having someone to respond to my questions when pattern testing is what I enjoy the most. And that's when I'm constantly amazed myself as to how much I don't know yet:)
    Cheers Grace.

  3. I love how the navy blue comes out when paired up. Have not seen tasting listed in the "burn tests" for fibers!

    1. Polyester ash tastes sweet. Esters in general taste sweet to me. They are found in fruit, which is why I have the association.

      We made polyester and nylon in organic chemistry lab (before fume hoods were installed) and you should have smelled the place.

  4. This is beautiful! Love the whole outfit! Thanks for bringing this pattern to my attention!


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