January 5, 2016

Finished Project: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2215, aka "Hayley Mills High On Creamsicles"

Confession: I've always had a thing for a look I'm calling Mid-Century Gamine Picnic-Wear.

Casual and comfortable, but also polished, these outfits usually involve some kind of rolled-up jeans, ballet flats or saddle shoes, and a crisp gingham slightly-cowboy-influenced "camp shirt."

Love the gingham. So wholesome. So not in sync with my dark, ironic soul.

This style fixation originated in the summer camp outfits worn by Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap.
Photo Source: Childstarlets - Hayley Mills, "The Parent Trap," 1961
When I was growing up in the '80s, The Disney Channel showed live-action movies: simple, mindless, child-friendly narratives that filled lazy summer afternoons. The Shaggy Dog, That Darn CatThe Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap -- these are the media that informed my notions about how wholesome middle-class families dressed and behaved in the golden era of Disney pablum.

Despite the stereotypes, there were no poodle skirts. Instead, these fictitious movie kids wore jeans, pressed cotton shirts, and tennis shoes. Gingham was non-ironic. Casual wear, the kind you put on after school, was actually casual.

The Inspirado

With that in mind, my version of Simplicity 2215 represents a modern (and orange!) embodiment of this Hayley Mills camp dealio.

Photo Source: Wearing The Pants - Women In Menswear

Photo Source: Rollel via Flickr

Photo Source: Shorpy Historic Pictures

The Pattern

Simplicity 2215 includes three garments: a basic sleeveless and collar-less dress with bust and waistline darts, a sleeveless collared button-down shirt, and a gathered skirt.

Simplicity 2215, by Cynthia Rowley.

I made the sleeveless shirt (View D) in size 12, with a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) of about 3/4 inch. So much for the gamine thing, eh? Boobs gonna boob, no matter how waif-like one wishes to imagine oneself in one's mind. Lucky for me, the adjustment only took one muslin. I have been known to make multiple, MULTIPLE muslins for deceptively simple garments, the most recent being a particularly evil raglan sleeve jacket I might be able to bring myself to tell you about ... some day.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Front.
The fabric is an orange 1-inch gingham from Fashion Fabrics Club. Unfortunately, it has a very low threadcount, making it a little translucent. Further complaint: it's a 65% poly / 35% cotton blend. I would have preferred 100% cotton, but they didn't have any at the moment. I will say, however, this sucker is gonna be permanently wrinkle-free.

I did not set out to match the plaids. This was a grievous oversight on my part. I mean, how can you not? I blame the weather. Regardless, because I had been fastidious about grainlines, the plaids miraculously matched up in the end.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Back.

There are six darts on this shirt: two at the bust, two at the front waist, and two at the back waist. This is a good thing: lots of flexibility for molding the garment to your body, no matter what your shape.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Side and armhole facing. Pardon the bra peeking out; it tends to do that on the dress form but, fortunately, not in real life.
The pattern instructs you to bind the armholes with bias tape. I never particularly liked that look, so I drafted facings instead. Facings come with their own problems -- those floppy bastards, always poking out if you don't slavishly squish them down every time you put on the shirt -- but I was in a forgiving mood that day, so: facings, yes.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Inside front.

Simplicity 2215 is a very simple pattern with clean lines: no placket for the buttons, no yoke in the back, no collar stand. On the inside, the center front is finished with facings.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Inside front facing detail.

See? Facings. Yup.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Interior back.

From the back view, you can see the collar is cut on the bias. Why? Because, when you have a strong plaid like this one, a collar cut on the grain looks dumb. Science fact! I prefer diagonal checks on my collars. Please don't ask me to change.

Rayon seam binding throughout. You know I can't resist.

How will I wear this?

Styling-wise, I plan to wear this with dark pants and flats. It could also be tucked into a skirt, of course, but for this layout I was going for a realistic '50s summer camp vibe.

Here, I've paired the outfit with emerald green jazz shoes from American Apparel. Last year they had a humongous Black Friday sale, and I think I scored them for under 20 bucks. Yom yom, more money for to buy fabrics with yom yom.

Simplicity 2215 (View D): Orange gingham + emerald shoes = a garbled misinterpretation of The Wizard Of Oz?

This was one of the easiest patterns I've sewn in a long time -- even after needlessly complicating it with facings and indulging my rayon seam binding fetish. Based on the simplicity (see what I did there) and the easy fit of this thing, I could see the shirt becoming a TNT (Tried & True) pattern in my arsenal, especially now that its FBA has been perfected.

Also, I am eyeing that collarless shirtdress in some kind of roughspun textile, like a cotton shantung or a hopsack linen; one could easily wear a different version of this shirt under it. That won't be happening any time soon, though. My sewing dance card is filled with stash backlog for the foreseeable future.

Have you made a version of Simplicity 2215? How'd it go? Let's talk about it, in the comments!


  1. I love this top. So sweet. I have this pattern in my stash but its yet to make it to my cutting table. I'm really inspired to try binding seams because your finishing are great.

  2. Thank you! Yeah, I'd say Simplicity 2215 would be a quick & easy make for a sewist at your level (I follow your awesome blog).

    Seam binding, annoyingly, adds extra time to the project (but I love it). One thing I've found helpful: after sewing the first edge of the seam binding to the raw edge, run an iron across the seam to flatten it. Then fold over the seam binding as you normally would, and iron that crease as well. It really helps "set" the crease for quicker & easier sewing, rather than having to moosh the seam binding into place as you sew. Good luck!