That 70s Dress: Cream & Red edition

Because I am creative with titles.

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This isn’t the dress I wanted to make. That is, I figured I would make this other dress: (yes, just exactly like the envelope) but I couldn’t find the pattern. It’s around somewhere. >_<

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So, fall back. Simplicity 7806 from 1976. Equally cute, and almost as high on the (admittedly rather dusty) “must make” list. The fabric is deep stash, an ivory-coloured stretch suiting bought from a thrift store in my first year of blogging. (I just totally missed my fourth blogiversary last week, by the way.)

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I think it looks kinda Regency. Which is pretty fun, actually. The pattern is a size 10, a size smaller than I usually make. Since my fabric has a fair bit of stretch (although I didn’t notice until after I had cut it out that there was a lot more stretch lengthwise than widthwise… headdesk), I figured it would be workable. I made my usual bodice-petiting and swayback alterations, and added some extra width on the side-seams of the skirt. I love these 70s A-line skirts, but they need to skim, not cling, and last time I made a size 10 there was, ah, clinging.

Anyway, I got the waist in the right place, but arguably it might’ve been better had I taken less height out of the yoke (which is a single piece that wraps from front to back—now that I’ve made it it’s pretty simple but I was having a hard time visualizing how to alter it beforehand) and more height between bust and waist. Although I think I like where the underbust seam sits, even if it technically is a bit high. It’s hard to say with that curved seam, though—it feels perfect in the middle, high at the sides. But if it were perfect at the sides, it would probably seem too low in the middle? It’s a funny shape, anyway.

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I paid a bit more attention to fitting the back than I sometimes do; I wound up taking in the back waist by over an inch on each side of the zipper. It clings fairly well, now, and then skims, although the bottoms of those darts could probably use a bit of fussing over. Hard to say—this fabric is heavy on the polyester, and while it presses fairly well, it does love to pucker.

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I got lazy gave the blind hem stitch on the Rocketeer a try. As with everything on this damn machine, you have to look up the settings—intuitive it is not—but once I figured out the recommended setup it was pretty easy. Although not particularly invisible in this fabric. Except in the places I completely missed the hem. /sigh Wel, it was fast. I love how the manual assures us that the blind stitch is “comparable to hand-finishing.” The hand hem is the gold standard. As it should be. ;)

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In this photo you can see (maybe) the main fit issue with this dress—pulling across the shoulder. When I saw this my first thought was “I overdid the petiting,” which is certainly possible, but I think actually this is a problem of either a) my size 12 shoulders in a size 10 shoulder-piece, or b) that I didn’t bother with a square shoulder adjustment. I generally try to avoid them in these sort of cap-sleeve styles, especially since I couldn’t really visualize how to do one, but now that I have it finished I think cutting a slash along the shoulder line of the yoke (once I determined where the shoulder line should be) and then adding in a wedge at the outer edge, narrowing to nothing at the neck, would’ve been just what the doctor ordered.

Overall, I’d say this was the perfect fabric for this dress—drapey, with lots of polyester ;). The spandex may not be period, but the pattern does suggest lightweight knits as an option. I used the piping to finish the upper central neckline and back; below you can see my overlocked edges, and the hand-finished interior of the yoke. Overlocking anywhere near the red piping may turn out to have been a really bad idea, as that stuff frays like (words I won’t say on blog). Fray Check was my friend. I didn’t notice the problem so much on the Butterflied dress, where I used the same piping, but then that was more short, straight seams and it all ended up lined anyway. I don’t think I did much grading of seams, which I had to do lots of here.

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The biggest problem I have is that, being white (ok, ivory), my fabric isn’t, um, quite as opaque as another colour in the same weight would be. I think a white or nude slip is going to be in order before this one leaves the house. Which is too bad, because it really deserves better than headless bathroom selfies. And I will be really pissed with myself if I’ve made another dress I can’t wear, just for lack of proper undergarments.

Of course, now I need more cream stretch suiting, for when that original pattern turns up…

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “That 70s Dress: Cream & Red edition

  1. I really like the back of this dress. Shortened, it would make a lovely sundress as well.

  2. I really love this dress. I sure hope that you do get to wear it out because it needs to be seen.

  3. Oh, yay! I love this dress on you but your mention of taking bad width out on either side of the zipper helped click a mod in my head for my bridesmaid dress. Thanks1

  4. I love the back of the dress, and I think the red piping looks fabulous with the cream fabric!

  5. I am old enough to have made the original Gunne Sax dress for a prom dress for myself, and I gotta tell you, the pattern you made is better. It’s a nice twist on a classic style. The fit is pretty close, the stretch and the length of the fabric will resolve shortness in bust area. The red piping really makes the cream sing. And if you put the camera down, I bet it looks amazing on you. It’s surprising how some designs do not age.

  6. I think this is a more than adequate sub for the original dress! Like I said on IG, I love the shape of the skirt. I also love cream-colored dresses, but I never made them because of the same undergarment issue. Hope you get around to making appropriate things so that you can actually wear this gorgeous thing out!

  7. Great job. Get the underclothing needed and wear that thing outside of the house.

  8. LinB

    Spandex is not out-of-period for this lovely dress. It first became commercially available in the 1970s, so you’re okay on that count (in case the Historically Accurate Police are reading your blog). I like the silhouette on you, it’s feminine without being too twee. Too many ruffles make my skin itch. Say what you will about the 70s — and plenty of people like to get all smug and snarky about them — the silhouettes were flattering to lots of body types, and proper fit was still attainable in most rtw.

  9. Cute dress! You might be able to get away with just making a second skirt out of lining fabric and attaching it to the underbust seam to solve the slip issue. Now you can see why wedding dresses are always at least 3 layers – white and ivory can be so frustratingly sheer!

  10. Helena A.

    You are right: it looks like a Regency dress very much!
    But maybe that’s why I like it!
    kisses from Portugal

  11. The back is really lovely. And sew yourself a nude slip! Than you’ll have no excuse not to wear it :)

  12. So pretty! Happy blogversary!!!

  13. Pingback: Gertie Slip | Tanit-Isis Sews

  14. That is a lovely dress! I just found your original pattern in a charity shop in Ireland! And no, you can’t have it back.

  15. Wow, this is beautiful! It’s really striking yet very elegant.

    I do love the original intention too, hope we get to see that pattern sometime soon!

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