02 September 2013

Pattern Puzzle - RETRO SHRUG

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to our #PatternPuzzle conversation on Saturday.
Here is the anonymous shape that was posted on our Facebook Page.  A self-drafted rectangle with three notches - that's all they got!  And they were very creative with the information.  Have a look at the comments!

And this is the Vintage Pattern (Simplicity 8452) that started me off on a quest to make and understand how a simple, self-drafted rectangle shape becomes this elegant top?!?  I found the pic in Vintage Inspirations , a RedPointTailor Pinterest Album but no image of the back of the envelope!

I began by using my original ideas from the RETRO WRAP as both styles feature the same back detail (the yoke seam that becomes a sleeve seam).   I knew that I was heading for a rectangle pattern so I folded the sleeve away, filled in the waist curve and cut 1 on the fold.  As mentioned in the Retro Wrap, this top will only be successful with a two-way stretch jersey.  By that I mean there must be Lycra/Spandex/Elastane in the fibre content.

Making the top up is simple - sew the CB seam, roll top over and sew the back yoke.  Then finish the edges and hems for the armhole, waist and neckline.

At first I had trouble making sense of a top that barely meets at the CF and had no ties or fastening of any kind!  At best it would make an interesting shrug.  Then a trawl through Pinterest and I found a flickr image of the back of the envelope (Simplicity 8452) - happy days!  All becomes clear.

You wrap the fronts over and secure it by tucking it into your waistband!  Unbelievable!  Probably worked well in the days when high tight waistbands were acceptable.  I had to tighten up the skirt below so it would hold the top in place.  At the very least it will make a great shrug in the summer months.

So enough of the guessing, I have made a pattern.  So here is the geography of the pattern with dimensions for a Aus Size 10.

Construction goes like this:
Sew the CB seam (4 thread mock safety stitch).  Roll the piece over (right sides together) so the CB seam meets the CB fold notch.  Sew the 40cm that is the back yoke seam.  Finish the sleeve opening and hem edges with the twin needle collarette on your overlocker.    Press and Wear.  This is so going to be a worksheet for the website!  

These puzzle tops have been so much fun and #RedPointTailor has pinned the following on Pinterest:
Looks like the Elegant Musings blog has been on the case and posted results here.  
Looks fab with the high waisted skirt!
Enjoy :)


  1. Nicely done. I have a feeling Knipmode covered something similar a while back (i.e. using a square) but using jersey for this is definitely the enlightened approach XD

  2. Hi theperfectnose. Thanks for dropping by and for the info. I will look up Knipmode and follow.
    Single jersey without some kind of elastane will not be successful in this style or for the Retro Wrap. Really has to be two-way stretch because you are working across the grains. Are you going to made one?

  3. I have seen pictures of this but could never figure out how it worked. I'm certainly going to try it!
    The style is kind of similar (but completely different) to a shrug-from-rectangles I designed myself a few years ago ( http://petitmainsauvage.blogspot.nl/2011/11/as-promised-cardigan-how-to.html )

    1. Had a look at your blog… Love the cardigan pattern directions. These strange shapes all seem to come our of the earlier part of the last century. absolutely fascination to me. Have you seen the Retro Wrap post and The Patent Blouse post? I am now working on some samples for the Patent Blouse for a new post. :)

  4. Thank you for the link to my retro wrap post!
    I've also made this top and blogged about it here: http://petitmainsauvage.blogspot.nl/2014/08/freeform-retro-top.html
    I made an alteration to the pattern: By the shortening the center back seam to 19 cm, it becomes much easier to wrap the front and to wear it as a top rather than a shrug without tucking it into a high waistband.

    And I also find these strange shapes fascinating. I think they came into fashion with early 20th century orientalism because I've seen similar shapes in fashion drawings from the 1910's. Of course, those designs don't place a focus on the waist.

    1. Hey, great post and thx for the links. Also great idea to give yourself more waistline by reducing CB seam. On me the 24cm is only just long enough to reach my back waist. So much depends on the individual back length measurement I think. And finally a huge thank you for testing so many of our ideas and spreading the word. Much appreciated. :)