A new favorite dress, and a new favorite size.

by Erin on April 25, 2012

I have a new favorite dress pattern. Made up, it looks like this (excuse the fuzzy picture):
Simplicity 5723

Which isn’t really anything like the pattern illustration, is it?
Simplicity 5723

I did add pockets, ganking them from Simplicity 1577, which is essentially the same dress:
Simplicity 5723 pocket

I also changed the pattern to have a side (rather than a center-back) zipper, and I shortened the sleeves. But other than that (Mrs Lincoln …) it’s that pattern. (The fabric is another piece from that trip to Japan – better picture at that link.)

The more eagle-eyed among you will notice that this pattern is a half-size pattern, and so that Simplicity 1577 is, too. Half-sizes are my new favorite, favorite, favorite thing, because, wonders of wonders — I don’t have to alter these half-size patterns. Not one bit, not one jot. It turns out that (unsurprisingly, since I AM a middle-aged woman) that patterns sized for middle-aged women who themselves have a bit of a middle fit me very, very nicely. They’re a bit matronly (duh) and harder to find, but man oh man, the pleasure of just CUTTING SOMETHING OUT WITHOUT MEASURING AND REDRAWING is a truly pleasurable pleasure, indeed.

It’s almost enough to make me try to lose three inches from around my waist so as to fit in to non-half-size (saying “full size” doesn’t really work here, does it?) patterns in the same bust size. It’s that awesome.

How awesome is it? Well, I’ve made two more of these dresses *and* have another one cut out and just waiting to be finished. Another reason this dress is a new favorite:  it’s SO FAST to make! It’s also extremely comfortable and easy to wear — just throw on a cardigan and a belt and you’re done. (And it looks good with loafers.)

Pictures of the other two are forthcoming …

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela April 25, 2012 at 4:32 am

Hmmm, you shocked me. When you said this is a “half-size pattern” for the older, more matronly figure, I had to go back and look again. That dress looks just fine, like for a normal lady that isn’t anorexic. Wow… to think that is a half size… how much things have changed in sizing.

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blue roses April 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

this is such an ideal, basic but elegant dress; what luck that it is so simple to make!

from the illustrations on the pattern, it looks like there are accompanying jackets? did you make one?

http://dallianceswithsuitsandskirts.blogspot.com/

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Joni April 25, 2012 at 12:28 pm

So, I have a Bust 35 sewing pattern in my stash. It’s actually the first vintage pattern I ever bought. And I’ve NEVER sen it, because I am not sure about the sizing! I normally wear B36s… would the 35 be shorter? (I normally have to take 3″ off the hem of everything I sew, even though I am on the tall side!) What do you think? Or should I just find some cheap fabric and go for it?

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Catherine Green April 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I love the blog and am so glad you’re back. As someone new to dressmaking, I am wondering if you can give hints about cutting out accurately especially with light weight, shifty cloth. Do you like rotary cutters? Pattern weights? This is the step in the process that makes my shoulders hunch up and worry lines etch into my forehead.

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Violet April 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Hurray for half sizes! Why oh why don’t they make them anymore? I agree with you–my wonderful vintage Simplicity 4689 (a “Half-size Slenderette”) fits my every curve as if it were custom-made for me. I’m a half-size! Who knew?! Actually, I did know–I remember being in freshman home-ec a loooooooong time ago and getting measured by my teacher and told that I was a 14 1/2 pattern. That was in 1978…when did they stop making half-sizes? And more important, how can we get them to bring ‘em back?????

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sweetie April 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm

you are 40ish! that is not middle aged! you are still very young!

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Denise April 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

So, you are telling me, a half-size dress pattern was what we would call “plus size” now?

Huh? Are you kidding me?

I’m completely mystified. Women in that era did NOT exercise. There HAS to be something in our food chain that’s causing people to be much, much fatter.

Not you, Erin, you are just fine. Whatever is going on in the food chain is apparently not affecting you in the least. Good for you.

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JayBee April 28, 2012 at 3:28 am

Half size is not a plus size, but different outside dimensions on the same bone structure. A plus size seems to scale up in all dimensions, as if you automatically get taller as you get wider, so the plus size pants are always too long. A half size assumes you stay the same height.

Yup, the only exercise we got was wedging ourselves into those heavy duty girdles every morning. Which we wore every day. If you had too much to eat, you couldn’t breathe. Made it impossible to put on even half a pound without noticing.

Fight the obesity epidemic with industrial strength foundation garments!

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The Accidental Housewife April 28, 2012 at 4:54 am

Did…. Did… Did you just use the word “gank”? As in, to steal? Cause that was totally the word of the week in my loutish gang of eighteen year old lads, way back in 2000, in rural Victoria…. I thought it was doomed to obscurity. Huzzah!

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Liza May 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

LOVE the dress and the way it is now your go to favorite and makes me want to get out my favorite pattern and use my new found pattern making skills to revive it from the tired worn state. Sounds like a summer project. Regarding the half size patterns, the older patterns had different fitting aspects and I find that there are elements that I am making notes to apply to current patterns. thank you,

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Claire-Marie May 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Nancy Zieman has published books about the pivot and slide pattern alteration method: Fitting Finesse (1995) and Pattern Fitting with Confidence (2008). The 1995 book includes a reference size measurement table for half sizes, the the 2008 book does not include any info about half sizes. I assume that somewhere between 1995 and 2008 half size patterns must have bitten the dust. Half-size patterns would fit me, too, if I could find them.

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Mildred August 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm

In the sixties and early seventies (?) there was another size line called “teens”. They weren’t “little girl” looking but fit girls like me who were rather “early bloomers”. Wish they’d been available when my girls were junior high age; couldn’t find ready to wear church appropriate clothes, and no suitable patterns. Many tears and much gnashing of teeth on their part, and mine.

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