The Simplicity Summer Sewing Challenge

Hello and thank you for stopping by.


Today’s blog post is all about the Simplicity Summer Sewing Challenge, which I’m entering for the second time. Last year, my entry was highly commended and I really enjoyed seeing how other sewists tackled the pattern. You can read more about last year’s entry here.

When I saw the competition was running again this summer, I knew I had to take part. I love mid-century style, especially the fashions of the 1950s and 1960s, so once again I entered the vintage category. I often sew vintage and reproduction patterns, and I’m a big fan of Simplicity and Newlook in general, but I must admit I was initially a little disappointed with this year’s choice – the 8342.


Please don’t get me wrong, the girls modelling the garments on the pattern envelope look amazing, and I admire the rockabilly style on others. I just don’t think I have the curves or the sexy/sassy attitude to pull it off. I’m more of a circle skirt and cardigan kind of girl.

However, I decided to give it a go and set about finding the perfect materials. I knew from the outset I wanted to veer away from the nautical look and go for something smarter that I could perhaps wear for work. I liked the idea of using just one fabric for the skirt and ruffle, and then covering the buttons in the same fabric too. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long. Jean from Goldstitch Sew Cafe in Durham had bought a job lot of vintage fabric and was selling off large bits for between £1 and £2.50. Needless to say I went mad and bought all sorts of things, including the perfect fabric for the skirt.


I’m not really sure what it is but it has a good weight and a bit of stretch to it. My best attempt would be to describe it as a vintage knit fabric. Anyway, whatever it is, I love it, especially the forest green chevron design, which is ideal for workwear and reminds me of the 1940s.

For the cap sleeve top I wanted something plain in a delicate feminine colour. I found the perfect fabric at Fab Works – a super soft shell pink jersey that was just £5 per metre. I easily cut out the top from this amount, which added to the £2.50 I paid for the skirt fabric and let’s say £6 for the buttons, thread and other notions, meant my full outfit cost less than £15. I love a bargain! Here I am smiling about said bargain 🙂


Now that I have made the garments, my opinion of Simplicity 8342 could not be further from what it was at the outset. The skirt was a joy to make, super easy but with a few  challenging steps to keep it interesting. I usually use concealed zips when sewing but I really liked the finished look of the lapped zip and extended waistband. And then there is the ruffle, which quite frankly is fabulous.


When it came to fit, I was very lucky. Last year, I went on a pattern cutting course and created a skirt block based on my measurements. I lay this on top of the 8342 skirt pieces and it was almost an exact match. However, I did lengthen the skirt by four inches as I am 5ft11 and didn’t want the ruffle to finish above the knee. The skirt is a snug fit but I think that suits the pinup style and it doesn’t feel tight.


I was a little more daunted when it came to sewing the top. I have only made a few knit garments and feared I may struggle with the cap sleeves. Luckily, Simplicity’s Vintage Ambassador, The Crafty Pinup, has filmed a stitch-by-stitch video of her making the top on her YouTube channel. I watched this several times beforehand and also referred to it during the sewing process. I actually found the instructions with the pattern extremely clear but it’s always nice to see something being done.


Despite my nerves, I found the top fairly straight forward and veryenjoyable to make. In fact, the only thing I struggled with was a simple side seam. Perhaps I was just tired but the first time I didn’t line it up properly and then, after slowly and carefully unpicking all of my little zigzag stitches, I sewed it up again with the seam allowance on the outside of the garment. Oops! Thankfully, I got it right in the end.

I’m not sure if other sewists find this but I was actually really pleased with the fit of the top until I saw pictures of me in it. I’m my own harshest critic but I took quite a lot off the strap length and worry I maybe took off a little bit too much. That said, the top feels very comfortable so perhaps I’m just being picky. Also, I think the cap sleeves cover my shoulders more fully in real life than they do in the pictures. I was waving my arms around pulling some silly poses during the photo shoot in my mum’s garden and the sleeves appear to have ridden up a bit.


I am pleased with my completed makes and although I don’t have a pinup figure I think the garments accentuate the limited curves I do have. I have included a few more pictures below – sorry about the sock marks! I also mixed and matched the top and skirt with jeans and the Clara Bow Blouse by Til the Sun Goes Down to show how versatile they are.

As a finishing touch, I made myself a little fascinator to match, which I am so excited about! I hope you like it too.



Thank you so much for reading my blog.

Happy sewing!



5 thoughts on “The Simplicity Summer Sewing Challenge

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