Monday 3 February 2014


That's the sound my 1950 Singer Featherweight 221K AKA Miss Kitty, made as she sewed up these delicious 1950's shorts. So of course, they had to be named the "Miss Kitty" shorts.

This project has been a long time in the procrastinating planning. I purchased this lovely medium to heavy weight cotton sateen at The Fabric Store in Sydney last February at a Sydney Sewists Social. I then proceeded to prep the fabric and bury it place it safely in my very modest stash. I just wasn't feeling it...

But after my recent trip to The Fabric Store my interested was re-ignited, and the Miss Kitty shorts were born!

This is a 1950's (I think) Fashion Cut Pattern No. 9720, that I scored some time ago quite cheaply (on eBay I suspect - my memory is notoriously like a goldfish).

I'm not even sure why it appealed to me as I am more likely to prefer a dress or skirt. But appeal it did.

This is my second time working with an unprinted pattern (pre-blogging days) and I find them completely user-friendly. For those not in-the-know, an unprinted pattern is one where the pattern tissue is not printed with markings and seam lines and the like. There is nothing on each pattern piece except for perforations. The instruction sheet tells you what each pattern of perforations means. For example, three in a row means cut the piece on the fold, four indicates the straight of grain, dart placement is also represented clearly by a series of perforations. Unprinted patterns were common up until the 1950's, which helped me roughly date the pattern.

And based on the pristine condition of the pattern, this one appeared to be completely unused, in factory folds and with the original advertising insert.

In honour of its condition I decided to be good and use pattern weights (*cough* tuna cans *cough*, I'm nothing if not low tech) to hold my pattern pieces in place for rotary cutting instead of pins. My goodwill did not extend to tracing the pattern, but I did take care not to nick the edges with the cutter.

More importantly guys, this is my first time EVER making pants/shorts (do those plaid elastic-waisted monstrosities I made in my teen years count?). I am soooooo very proud. I am aware of some fitting issues going on there, but still! First shorts!

I, of course, did not look into pants fitting or muslining these prior to cutting into my fashion fabric. I don't have time for that stuff and the size measurements matched me exactly. I just went right ahead and got stuck into it. It was all going swimmingly until I sewed up the inseam. Dudes, the crotch of these shorts was hanging out somewhere down by my knees. I'd have had to pull them up near my boobs to get a crotch sitting anywhere near where it should be. Eek!

Off to good old Google I went. The following is a quick and dirty way to deal with a low hanging crotch in an already made pair of pants/shorts. The following is a fusion of a few tailoring methods I found.
1. Try on your pants. Have someone help by pinching up a fold of fabric in the centre back seam that corrects the low hanging crutch to a degree you can live with. Let's be clear here, if it's inches and inches this is not gonna help, but for less extreme alterations this seems to work just fine.

2. Pin that fold in place.

3. Measure the depth of the fold - in my case, around 1/2 inch.

4. Unpin that fold as you are not going to be altering that seam at all. Go to your inseam - that's the one that runs up the inside of one leg across the crotch and down the inside of the other leg (you may need to unpick the crotch seam a bit depending upon your construction method). Sew a new inseam the same depth as your fold (again, 1/2 inch in my case). You can continue to sew the entire inseam if needed at that depth (you've got too much bagginess in the leg, for example) or gradually ease the stitch line back into the original inseam where desired. I altered the entire inseam.

5. Stand back and check that shit out. It might be poor planning and pre-adjustment, but dang, it does work!

I'm super happy with the finishing, but if I'm totally honest I wasn't completely true to the vintage process. I could not do without my overlocker for seam finishing, but I did complete a part of one of my Spring/Summer Sewing Promises. I used Miss Kitty's adjustable zipper foot to insert my invisible zip. Tres happy!

I was defeated by the buttonholer attachment, however, and had to remorsefully head to the Janome for my one buttonhole. I will have to reach out to some Featherweight fanatic or other and work out how to remove Miss Kitty's damn thread cutter (it stops you being able to attach the buttonholer).

I still think there is a bit too much depth and length in the crotch and a pattern tissue adjustment would deal with that better next time. I think those horizontal crease things on the rear view near the waist mean I need a sway back adjustment to account for my badonkadonk. Small waist, bubble butt, that's me! Ah, it's all a learning process. Weigh in here guys if you have further advice!

Sorry about the photo bombing, I swear this is not a narcissistic love fest, I'm just so dang proud of these! I'm not even sure I'll wear them in real life, but I'm still proud.

And now I'm off to massage my feet. Three words: Torturous high heels.


  1. Love your shorts - They look amazing!! Shorts look very hard to get a good fit!!!

  2. Those shorts are fantastic! I really like that length and the cute little pockets. They look really good on you! Thanks for the tips on the adjustments you made. Also for the translation. NOW I know what my five year old has been dum dum da dum

  3. Gabrielle Corbett3 February 2014 at 16:41

    Yay, I'm so glad you had enough fabric to make your shorts - they are gorgeous and you look amazing in them :) I love your little button tabs on the pockets too - so cute!

  4. Jillian these look bloody awesome and I'm not just saying that! I really hope you do wear them - they're really flattering. I've been thinking about trying a back zip - is it comfy? Love em!

  5. Your adjustments worked a treat because this is one pair of really great looking shorts. You look just so stylish!!

  6. You just have to get wear out of these shorts - they are quite fabulous and you should most certainly be proud - I would be if I had made these!

  7. Wow, Jillian! These shorts are amazing! I love, love, love the little tab at the pockets - so cool! Your whole outfit is just adorable!

  8. The shorts are great. They are incredibly flattering on you! Absolutely lovely. I haven't seen your machine, but I am guessing that you are just putting the buttonhole attachment on incorrectly in just one small way. It has one part that seems counterintuitive to attach correctly ( and can feel like you might break it off.) you will be in love with a 221 buttonhole.

  9. Kirsty, a pair of towering heels always helps the look of a pair of shorts and an outfit in general. But let me tell you those heels have been languishing in my wardrobe unworn for about 8 years and now I know why... youch.

  10. Lexi, it's so weird to be so proud of something like an item of clothing, but I am! I think I am actually going to get some good wear out of them :)

  11. Thank you Gail! The tabs are cute aren't they? I think I want to add tabs to everything!

  12. Thank you Sissy Lou! I couldn't actually get the attachment on as with the 221K you have to remove the thread cutter and I could not work out how to do that come hell or high water. If you have any advice, I'd love you to get in touch!

  13. These shorts are beautiful!! I tend to never wear shorts, but I want to make a pair exactly like these as I think they're perfect and look great on you!! Thanks for sharing the tips that you thought were helpful while you were making them, as I'm sure I'll have a million problems...

  14. Thanks Kristin! If you do find a shorts pattern I highly recommend measuring the crotch depth and length and comparing them to yours BEFORE cutting :) it's pretty simple to make adjustments at that stage (I think) and a better fit.

  15. You look AMAZING! Loved peeking at your Singer too. I have a treadle 201K that I need to get into using much more. You've inspired me :)

  16. Awwww thank you! Get onto that treadle! I went back to my Janome for my next project and let me tell you, that straight stitch looked as crooked as a winding road compared to the beauty of a vintage machine stitch. They just don't make them like they used to.


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