Sewing Pattern Review: Simplicity 8654 (and Butterick 6354)

It’s the start of a new year, which means new and exciting swing projects! I always have delusions of all the sewing projects I will complete in time for a holiday and then become grossly stressed when I can’t complete them all. In early January, I was heading to Bali and before I knew it, I had 3 days to complete all my projects so I set aside 4 different projects to do, of which I only completed … just one. I figured it would be best to sew just one project and complete all the other crazy tasks I had to complete before leaving for Bali, so here we are with 2023’s first sewing project. For Bali, I wanted to sew a cute two-piece set that would be nice and cool in the humidity but also something I would feel comfortable lounging around my resort villa. I decided to sew up a tie-up top and shorts combo using Simplicity 8654 which is a vintage reproduction pattern from the 1940s.

Before we go too far with this review, I’m going to start by saying it wasn’t until I was laying out the pattern pieces that I realised that I didn’t have enough fabric for the entire pattern. I thought about changing my pattern but there was something about the tie-up top that had a hold on me so I switched out the shorts from Simplicity 8654 to the shorts from Butterick 6354 (now Simplicity 9290) by Gertie. I do plan on sewing the full set from both Simplicity 8654 and Butterick 6354 at a later date so stay tuned for that. I am sorry that this is not a full pattern review, but it’s all part of the process of learning to sew.

We all go through phases where something seems to really have a hold on us, at the moment, I’m in love with the sage green colour (and even redecorated my bedroom) so right now, anything in the sage green colour stands out to me – fabric very much included. I had to pop into Spotlight and, although I said no more fabric, I found some gorgeous sage green cotton decorated in tiny white flowers but they only had 2 meters left so that’s all I was able to purchase. Having such a small amount of fabric (and the top needing to be self-lined) is also part of the reason I ran out of fabric for the pleated shorts. But I knew this fabric and pattern combination would work, plus, I could mix and match the pieces with white clothing options.

With the fabric chosen, it’s worth having a closer look at our patterns. Simplicity 8654’s tie-up top is cropped, self-lined, collar less with short sleeves. The shorts from Butterick 6354 (now Simplicity 9290) have a fitted waistband, no pockets and are thigh-length. For both the tie-up top and shorts, I will be making no adjustments and sewing the pieces as they are intended. For both patterns, I will be sewing the size 12.

Sew, let’s get started! As mentioned above, I had to change my intended sewing plans and swap out the shorts from Simplicty 8654 with Butterick 6354. When laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric, due to the grainline, it wasn’t overly easy to fit the patterns to save fabric so there was a little bit of waste, which I tried to minimize. I plan to turn the left over fabric into a head scarf and then into quilting squares for another project I have in mind. The first piece I wanted to sew up was the tie-up top. After starting with some stabilizing stitches and adding darts, combing the front of the top with the lining was very straightforward. The fiddliest part was adding the sleeves but if sleeves are something you’ve done before, you’re fine. I love how simple and quick making this top was and I will definitely be making this top again because I love how it came together.

Moving onto the shorts, I learnt that I should not sew whilst tired and stressed because I thought I read the instructions wrong, kept making the same stupid mistakes and sewed the crotch of the shorts together more times that I care to admit (at least 4 times, I should have gone to bed after the first two fails). I basically read the instructions, thought I knew better, and then just kept confusing myself. Although the shorts turned out fine in the end, I certainly could have saved myself some time and stress if I had just gotten some rest. If you are well rested and calm, these shorts are simple to put together (I have made them before and they really are great to make). When the shorts were together, I interfaced the waistband, attached it to the shorts and then finished everything off with a zip and a button.

Fit: As cute as this outfit was, and if I can find more of this fabric I will definitely get more, I did have a few fit issues. Although both patterns said that the size 12 should fit me, both the tie-up top and the shorts were a little on the snug side. I love how the tie-up top looks but I don’t have the proper undergarments to wear with it, so you don’t see a bra under the tie up part. If you look at the pictures I took, you can definitely see my bra and I wasn’t overly comfortable walking around my villa without a bra on. I did try the top on with a bikini but the only one I could kind of wear underneath was bright orange so it was visible underneath. I will make sure to wear a sticky silicone bra next time I wear this top or just not overthink it and go braless. The other issue I had with this top is that if I raised my arms, the top rode up and my bra would pop out from underneath. This was a bit of a pain as I felt restricted in how I could pose for photos, but I wanted to be honest with how the top came out.

On my next attempt at this pattern, I want to try going up a size and possibly adding more length to the bottom of the top to give my bosoms a fighting chance of staying covered up. In saying this, I love this top and might wear it at the beach if I don’t intend on swimming. We are in for a few very warm days, so I can see this top being quite comfortable.

With the shorts, although I had made this pattern and size before, I don’t know why they were so snug. I could get them on but I certainly wasn’t comfortable in them. Originally I planned on wearing them on a day trip to Ubud but there were a bit tight so I figured I’d rather be comfortable. The waistband was fine but it was just fitting my booty into the shorts that was the issue. I also wouldn’t have minded making the length a bit longer. It’s worth mentioning that the pattern asked for a 7-inch zip and I only had a 6-inch zip which may have contributed to the awkward wiggle I had to do to get into the shorts.

I really want to make these shorts again but to go up a size when I do (and add a little length to the bottom). It would be great if this pattern had pockets but I can see with such a tight-fitting vintage style, pockets may make the shorts bulky. This outfit pushed me out of my comfort zone as I’m not used to showing quite so much skin. Having most of my torso on display was a little odd at first but all the gorgeous girls staying at the villa with me were so kind in complimenting my outfit. This outfit was a fun way of styling a two-piece summer vintage outfit. I never imagined such an outfit being from the 1940s but somehow, it’s quite modern and fun. I will definitely be revisiting this pattern as soon as I can.

One of the things I had on my 2023 sewing goals was to sew more separates so I’m glad that my first sewing project of the year already helped me reach one of my goals and I’m looking forward to sewing a few more similar outfits.


Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.


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