Pattern Spotlight: Stretch and Sew 350, The Ladies’ Sleeveless Shell

by Lara Neel

The sleeveless shell is one of my favorite patterns because it is so versatile! The packaging on the 1967 version has a lovely, languid illustration.

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I think Ann designed pattern packaging as a visual showcase to project a certain lifestyle, but sometimes artistry got in the way of telling the sewist everything he or she could want to know about the pattern. Can you tell, from this image, that the pattern includes four different collar variations? There’s a little text on the back about them, but I suspect Ann thought you would be shown her pattern by a sales clerk or teacher, so why muck things up with a bunch of illustrations?

The Ladies’ Sleeveless Shell is a versatile top and a favorite to wear with skirts, slacks or shorts. Designed especially for knits, it has bustline darts in front and optional fitting darts in back. With a variety of collars, the wearer may choose between a mandarin, a feminine peter pan, a floppy dog ear, or a pointed collar.

Add to this pattern the many variations of neck and armscye finishes described in Ann Person’s books and the number of combination is unlimited. Because of its basic fit the shell is an excellent choice for the ambitious sewist who designs for themselves.

The 1973 version of this pattern has a little hint about those four collars on the back of the envelope, at least! But…no illustration that shows the optional back fitting darts. Drat.

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The front is still pretty cute, too. Points for branding Stretch & Sew, at least, from a marketing perspective!

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