Refashioning this Middle East novelty print skirt (the pattern is called "Casbah"), was actually a really fun endeavor. After getting your input on it and doing some pre-planning to make sure I didn't kill a lovely vintage piece, I decided to create these lovelies!
The outfit is actually a blouse and skirt set. I love this combo because it is versatile for my wardrobe. Now I have a shirt, skirt, or dress to work with!
I only used one pattern for the blouse, and the skirt is just a simple 40s style dirndl skirt. (Stephanie has a great sew-along on how to make one, although mine is sewn up the side, not so easy to de-skirt with!)
On deciding which pattern I wanted to use for the shirt, I needed one with these elements:
- extremely fabric efficient
- displays the novelty print well
- will pair nicely with both a fuller skirt and other kinds of separates
Taking these into consideration, I decided on Simplicity 1093 from the year 1944, a pattern I have used a couple times before (here and here). (This has been reprinted as Simplicity 1692, but I use the original.) It has two main pattern pieces and the rest are facings, so it's incredible fabric efficient. It also has a very simple front and back, perfect for displaying the fabric's amazing print.
I chose the higher neckline option to show as much of the print as possible, and was even able to line it up nicely with the alley between buildings in the center front (putting the wider gray part of the background at my shoulders and helping create the broad-shouldered look of the 40s) and the buildings in the center of the back.
I chose some white buttons I have in my stash to go at the top because they really pop and accent the white in the print. At first, I attempted the thread loop option shown in the pattern, but I decided it was ridiculous and look funny, so I went back to the tried and true fabric loop choice instead. I think it looks much better.
The skirt was easy. I reused the zipper and buttons and made the waistband a bit smaller to fit me and avoid the part under the buttons where it had begun to tear. After that it worked out to the perfect length for me, luckily! I also hemmed the skirt to make it shorter, but the fabric had a large gray expanse with no print at the bottom anyway, so I simply removed this and hand stitched a blind hem.
I also went with the dirndl style instead of pleats because the fabric had faded unevenly due to its original pleating:
The dirndl style disguises this really well. Now I can't even tell where the fading is!
hat: flea market
blouse and skirt: me-made
shoes: Payless kids
bakelite and gloves: gifted
necklace: gifted, from Afghanistan
bag I carried my lunch in: from Sudan (it's cool looking, but it's really just a rice bag!)
Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Fabric: 100% vintage cotton
Pattern: Simplicity 1093
Notions: 6 buttons, 6 snaps
How historically accurate is it? Very accurate! I think only the plastic buttons may be a bit off, but even plastic buttons were used in the 40s, so it could be just fine!
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Not really. It's all pretty straight forward. I would recommend sizing down on this pattern, however. I've had to adjust it for my 32" bust.
Did you change anything? I switched the buttons to the front piece rather than the back so they can be seen more easily.
Time to complete: 2 days. It could be done faster though!
First worn: August 14, 2014
Total cost: Everything was from my stash, so..... we'll just say about $15 with half the cost of the skirt thrown in.
Notes: This is a simple pattern, but I would recommend sizing down. I've had to adjust it for my 32" bust even though it's for that measurement. Also, really, don't do thread loops.