Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Knock, Knock, it's Knickers: Revisiting 1980s Equestrian Chic

These co-eds are so fresh-faced, it’s as though not only their bodies but their actual souls have been washed clean with Ivory soap.

McCall’s 7670 contains knickers, jodhpurs and long pants patterns.  

pattern copyright 1981

Knickers had a major moment back in the 1980s.  My friend Jean owed a pair in green wide wale corduroy which I can still conjure in my mind to this day.   She wore them with argyle socks. We didn’t know it at the time, but Jean was channelling some 1920s golfer fashion:

Of all the trends in the 80s, knickers was kind of a weird one.  Knickers came fast on the heels of gauchos, which seemed to be more of a 70s thing:

Similar to culottes, gauchos are a lot like skirts but with the convenience and coverage of pants.  Knickers are a lot like pants, but end at your knees with buttoned cuffs. They remind me of Jean circa 1984 or cast members from the Broadway musical, “Newsies”

original photo taken by George Lucozzi

Perfect for hawking papers on street corners or a jaunty pony-ride, knickers seem best suited to younger folk.   Yet, knickers DID take off and there WERE brave souls over the age of consent who sported knickers in the 80s:

(both images from May/June 1982 Vogue Patterns magazine)

Yes, tight-fitting or blousey, knickers had their day.  But could a new day dawn for these spry little trousers?  Could I--SHOULD I--sew and wear knickers? Would I WANT to wear knickers?  Am I ready for the (real and/or imagined) pitying glances? Or would I set the fashion world on fire by creatively reviving a long, twice (or more) dead trend?  After all, 3 people follow my blog, plus my mom.  

How about going way out on a limb and making the jodphurs?  What forty-something woman DOESN’T want her pants to billow out at the hips and then come in real tight at the knees?   Hey, I wasn’t a “horsey” kind of girl (never once crossed my mind to ask my parents for a pony) but it’s never too late to dabble in equestrian chic.  Is it?

more from 1982 vogue patterns mag

Jodhpurs and knickers were originally functional garments meant for sports and horseback riding.  And stirrup pants! Like their name implies, stirrup pants were originally designed so that your pants wouldn’t bunch up when slipping into your riding boots.  The zeitgeist of the 80s quickly absorbed and appropriated all of this horsey apparell and soon horses had nothing to do with them:

So I decided:  I was going to make SOMETHING out of McCall’s 7670.  But first, I wanted to make sure they fit comfortably.  

I have noticed that these 1980s patterns in size 12 seem to fit me quite well.  However, I did notice that my last pair of 80s pants JUST fit. They are comfortable but I wanted a bit more ease in my next pair.

Ease, or pattern ease, is a BIG topic of discussion (and frustration) in the online sewing world.  Of course, if your waist is 27 inches you don’t want the waist of your pants to be EXACTLY 27 inches around.  You need a bit more fabric there so you can move about comfortably.

Currently the “Big 4” pattern companies (Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s and Simplicity) generally add a huge amount of “ease” in their patterns. (As is the way of most things these days, these companies have merged and are now all owned by the same parent company.)  You may innocently purchase a pattern, cut out your size according to your measurements and then be swimming in your new clothes.  

This "Open Letter to Vogue" from the blog Communing with Fabric expounds on this frustration, plus laments for the days when Vogue released many more interesting patterns for the home sewist.  Like many, this blogger has a long history with Vogue and she has seen some unwelcome changes in their patterns. It’s a very good read!

It seems to me that my vintage 80s patterns are just better drafted than many patterns made today.  And the ease included is NOT ridiculous. This has made sewing from these patterns even more enjoyable.  My measurements are basically a size 12 (give or take) and the 1980s size 12 FITS. Wow, what a concept!

Still, I wanted just a little more room at the waist than my last pair of 80s pants had. So I watched this video to learn how to enlarge the waist on a commercial pattern.  It was pretty easy.  

I added a 1 ½ to this waist of this pattern and sewed up a pair of shorts out of a small piece of corduroy I knew I wouldn’t use (it’s a lint magnet).  Turns out that they were too 1 ½ inches.  

So what I learned is that 1980s Vogue pants patterns fit OK and could use a little more ease, and 1980s McCalls patterns fit me great.  I should have intuited this from my prior makes with 1980s McCall’s patterns.  The pants on my white strapless jumpsuit fit like a dream.   

So what will it be?  Knickers? Jodhpurs? Pants with strange puffy bottoms?

What will become of me and McCall’s 7670?

Well, I actually have finished this project and all that remains is for me to corrall (ha) my husband and make him take pictures.

Tune in later this week to see!

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