Have you ever felt quite confident about your abilities to only find yourself with a sewing fail? That’s exactly what happened to me recently. I was gung-ho to work on a post for Lingerie Month and signed up to make a vintage slip pattern. I’ve sewn several slip patterns from the 1920’s to contemporary and it’s usually a quick sew that goes from cutting to wearing before the day is out. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with this particular pattern. Enter Advance 4134.
Advance 4134 is a slip pattern from 1946. It’s a fairly straightforward pattern with princess seams, a sweetheart neckline, low back, varying lengths, and an option to add lace. It’s rather easy to find vintage slip patterns in larger sizes. I’ve seen them up to a 50″ bust (I think I might have seen 52″, 54″ and 56″ as well) in patterns going back to the 1910’s. Apparently, if there’s one thing that pattern companies of the past would provide to fuller figured women, it was slips.
This particular pattern has a bust size of 42″, which meant that I had to size it up 6″ to a size 48″. I started out by tracing the pattern out on Swedish tracing paper and then adjusted the size using the slash and spread grading method. I am pretty adept at re-sizing patterns to fit me as I do it with nearly every pattern I sew with. This probably added to my arrogance as I generally breeze through this process.
Yep. I’m still kicking myself for not making a muslin of this pattern, or at least basting the Swedish tracing paper (which is sew-able) pieces together to test the fit. Unfortunately, Ms. Cocky here, just pinned the pattern out on her silk charmeuse and cut and sewed away. Dumb move.
I took the time to sew French seams in this slip and everything was going together smoothly. That was until I saw how terrible the side seam dart on the bodice front looked. At first, I assumed that it was my error when I enlarged the pattern. So I took that dart out and moved it. And then I moved it again. Remember, this is silk charmeuse I’m sewing on, so every needle mark remained present. I used the drawing on the envelope for reference — both the illustration on the front and the line drawing on the pattern. I messed around with this for two days and finally just had to step away. I couldn’t understand how something could go from great to a fail because of one stinking dart.
I took some time away the slip as it frankly was pissing me off. I revisited it a few days later and fixed the dart up to where it seemed to work better and then adjusted the princess seams on the bust. It became workable without any extra fabric hanging under the armpit, but I am still not 100% satisfied with the result. It didn’t become the 1940’s slip of my dreams that glides swiftly over my undergarments and gives me a smooth shape under a 1940’s dress, but it became wearable, at least as a nightgown. It does look somewhat better on me than on my dress form.
I made the shoulder straps slightly larger than the pattern for two reasons. One that I really abhor turning skinny spaghetti straps and two that I like them a little thicker. The neckline is finished with self-made seam binding and hand-sewn into place, which is a finish that I like. I’m really happy with the back view as well. There is still a little bit of fabric under the arms. It’s not quite as prevalent on me with my lumps and bumps than on my dress form.
I’m still not certain if it was my pattern grading, the pattern or some other type of slip-up (pardon my pun). Looking back on the slip patterns that I’ve made, none of them have princess seams. They all have dart shaping or a type of bra top. I have made a sheath dress with similar princess seam shaping which didn’t have any “offending” darts. As I like the look of this pattern, I’m going to work on my pattern pieces and get the fit right. That’s something I should have done prior to cutting out silk charmeuse. I still feel confident that this slip will work out in the end. Having a well-fitting 1940’s slip under a 1940’s dress is my goal and if I can get this pattern to work for me, it would have all been worth it in the end.