Pattern Review - Simplicity 8130

With summer well and truly begun and a pile of fabric to get through, it was high time I started on some stash-busting, warm weather outfits. The tiny halter tops and bustiers from the 1950s are perfect for getting through those one yard remnants that are too pretty to throw out.

Simplicity patterns have their own run of re-printed vintage patterns to compete with Butterick's Retro line. The one I've chosen to take a look at is Simplicity 8130, which was originally Simplicity No. 2532 (thanks to By Gum, By Golly - have a read of her thoughts on this pattern).

First I'll touch on the pattern envelope and contents. The styling of the model is rather unfortunate - placed next to the hyper fashionable illustrations the comparison is a little sad.

Flipping the envelope over, we have the standard pattern information.

It was a little strange seeing the hip measurements for a top that ends right on the natural waistline, but I guess they had to fill in the space. The important things to note here are the finished garment measurements, right at the bottom. The big pattern companies love going crazy with ease. This pattern features 1.5 inches of wearing ease, which can feel pretty loose. It's definitely not the worst I've come across but be prepared to size down.

Taking a look inside the envelope, you'll find two sheets of instructions. There is a lot of white space, and going back and forth between the lining instructions and outer shell, you'll probably find yourself flinging the paper all over the place. I guess I'm used to genuine vintage patterns which attempt to cram all of the instructions (though often they leave out the simpler tasks) onto one side of paper.

The tissue pieces themselves also contain some instruction (all of it in about four languages). It recommends cutting each of the bodice pieces out of interfacing as well as the main fabric and lining, which I immediately recoil from. I feel like interfacing an entire garment would leave it crinkly and stiff, even if you use woven or sew-in interfacing. Instead, I'm going to cut the pieces out of an underlining that works well with the fashion fabric I plan to use. Have a read of this excellent post on linings and underlinings by Jennifer Rosburgh. For my lightweight fashion fabric (almost sheer cotton) I'm going to use silk organza. The top should take its structure and stability from these layers and the boning, rather than relying on fusible interfacing.

Interestingly, the sizes for the bodice pieces are separated into two groups, with 14 and 16 separate. So if you are between sizes (like I am) you can't actually grade easily between some of the sizing. I'm not sure why they did this - it's possible they needed to fill a whole sheet of tissue and such a small piece didn't allow it.

Being only a tiny wee thing, a mockup came together very quickly. Unfortunately it required a few tucks here and there as this pattern only accounts for an imaginary cup size. If you are a bustier (or less busty) lady, you may have to end up doing some complicated adjustments on the princess seam.

Now it was time for the final product. I made up the lining first, and I really should have stabilised it with some silk organza as it was very light. I found I needed to make more adjustments in the bust area even after the mockup.

This is when the boning channels and boning is inserted, and to be honest I'm not a huge fan of how the instructions have you do it.

Here is the diagram they provided, along with instructions for length described in quite an obscure way. And just now, I think I understand why - I believe they are using pre-assembled boning, i.e; boning that is already set into channels. So they have you cut the lengths, peel back the boning channel like a banana, trim the actual boning, then sew it all up. They don't provide alternate direction for if you have separate boning and boning channels, so I had to do a little maths. I figured out that in general, the boning itself should sit 7/8" from the edges, and the boning channels should sit flush with the top. Along the princess seams there are two sets of boning, leaving the apex free.

Here is the result of that, and it seems all right on the dress form but wearing it was very disappointing. It kept trying to collapse - I think the spiral steel boning was a tiny bit overkill, especially for the boning above the bust.

On to the outer shell. The plaid is a cotton / ramie blend, and I've underlined all the pieces with silk organza. The result was exactly the stiffness I was after without adding too much to the weight.

The lining is then sewn to the outer shell, leaving the back left side completely open. Here you can see the cup I added to try and provide some support (all in vain, I'm afraid). The whole thing is turned, and the pattern instructs you to understitch all the way around. I found it impossible to wedge the thing underneath the presser foot as essentially you're trying to wrangle a stiff tube.

Since the lining would definitely try and turn outwards without it, I had to hand sew the understitching, catching all the layers apart from the outer shell. It was great backstitch practice so I'm not mad about it. I also "stitched in the ditch" down the front centre seam so affix the lining to the outer layer. This is the only seam without boning in it. After adding buttonholes and moving the buttons along half an inch, the fit was acceptable and the bustier was complete.

In terms of construction, I'm really pleased with it. The fit is not great, and I think with a little patience and a few more mockups I could get it right. However, Gertie has recently opened pre-orders for a new pattern that comes with a piece very similar to Simplicity 8130. You'll see that Gertie's pattern comes with a range of cup sizes. These cup sizes aren't based on standard bra sizing, so don't worry if your size isn't listed. I ordered my copy as soon as I finished Simplicity 8130.

In conclusion

While quick to mockup, I found the fit difficult to adjust. The pattern had no cup sizing so it's very likely you'll need to make full bust adjustments to get a nice fit. In order to save this top, I'm going to have to retroactively fit straps to it. At times the instructions were hard to follow as the diagrams were very spaced out and the actual sewing direction sparse. In saying that, if you can get the fit right I feel like this top would make a cute addition to anyone's wardrobe.

I'm tempted to say to skip this pattern entirely and go for the Charm Patterns Jane Set, but I don't even have it in my hands yet. After it arrives, I'll do a similar review post for the bustier only, and see how it compares to Simplicity 8130.