That 70s Dress (The Next Generation)

Simplicity 6023

I hate to admit it, but I sorta love the Saturdays my hubby works (don’t tell him!). There’s nothing to do but a bit of house-cleaning, some light yelling at the children (usually over their bedrooms, but this week, for variety, it was the back yard, which somehow became encrusted in stray bits of wood and empty pop bottles over the winter*), and, of course, sewing.

This weekend’s project was, natch, Simplicity 6023, that same pattern I won in Peter’s giveaway a few weeks back. Much easier to focus now that I have the Springy Coat out of the way. Which is good, because this was definitely one of those two steps forward, one step back projects. Not because the pattern was tricky, or the instructions were bad, or the fabric was ill-behaved. No, this was all about the stripes.

You may have noticed how little print and pattern matching I do? How I will move mountains (ok, cut bits on the bias) to avoid having to line things up? Precision sewing has never been my strong suit. I’ve improved, mind you, but I still regularly fall short of my heroes. Or just plain adequacy.

Stripe matching? At least the hem's nice.

I did not rip out every single seam in this thing but… well, there were a lot. A lot of perfectly good seams, too, except that the stripes were off. Well, more off than all the rest. Probably if I’d gone all couture and hand-basted everything, I could’ve gotten them mostly even. None of them are even remotely like perfect, but at least they generally line up (except across the bodice side-seams, there was no way to make that work with the amount of fabric I had.


On the up side, I conquered my first invisible zipper! And, I hate to say it, but I might actually be a convert. I used Sherry’s tutorial (though I read through Sunni’s, which is similar, and used some elements from it as well), and a regular zipper foot, and it went in like a dream. Aside from the fact that my impecise waistline stitching meant that, although I matched up the waist seam perfectly using Sherry’s tips, the stripes above the waist didn’t match up at all. So I had to rip half of it, fudge the waist a tiny bit (since it’s less visible than the stripes) and go with that. Pooh.

The slight irregularity at the top is due to my not reading Sherry’s other tute, on facing an invisible zipper, until after I’d half attached one of the facings. Silly me, thinking I’d just follow the pattern instructions… The side on the left in the photo, which I did following Sherry’s method, turned out much better. I should probably have stayed the back of neck before all the messing around, though—it’s a bit stretched out and threatens to gape.

My new best friend

Speaking of zippers, let me introduce you to my new best friend! A few weeks back I had lamented the inadequacy of my zipper foot, and some of you wise people had told me that there were much better fish in the sea. So last week I finally made it to the sewing-machine store, discovered that my machine is an “oscillating hook” Janome, and came home with this little gem on the right.

Isn’t that the cutest little foot ever?

By twiddling the green knob at the back, you can adjust the foot’s position to the left or right of the needle, or right in the middle for straight stitching. Perfect for edge-stitching! And, because it’s so finely adjustable, perfect for pushing up the edge of the invisible-zip coils to stitch right alongside them. Yay! I interfaced the entire zipper length plus a bit with knit fusible and had no problem with the zipper bubbling, buckling, or anything.

The back---wrinkled from being tied 😛

FIT: Despite the photo (wrinkled from being tied), the back fits really well with my little swayback adjustment (though it wreaks havoc with the stripes). Although the tie pretty much disguises most issues in this area, anyway. I made my ties extra-long, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, which turned out fun—I like pulling them around to tie in the front. A nice option to have, since often back ties drive me nuts.

With my bodice-shortening, the waist-seam falls about a thumb’s width above my natural waist, which is roughly where it’s supposed to according to the pattern, so yay! That being said, my bodice-shortening alteration raised the neckline, and I would probably have been just as happy with the lower neckline. This is a bid demure.

I did take each side-seam in about 1cm (so a total of 4cm reduction all around). This is similar to what I did on the first 70s dress; I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more of a 10 (bust measurement would suggest this but everything else says 12 or larger), ease in the dress, or, most likely, the fact that I keep using stretch wovens.

I took the same 1 1/4″ hem the pattern allowed for, but because of my fiddling pieces up and down to get the stripes to match (yes, my cutting was even less precise than my sewing!) I probably lost about an inch in length there. It’s fine, though, falling at a good spot above my knees.

Buttons---Yoke (left) and Cuff (right)

I did the cuffs with the wrong side lapped out. D’oh. Figuring out which way they should lap, BEFORE the sleeve is set, was a head trip in itself—I’m actually impressed that I got them both the same way, so I’m not going to sweat it.

I had three of these vintage plastic flower buttons in one of the random button baggies I’ve picked up over the last six months. I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing over buttons (and Syo spent a lot of time making art with them while I did it, and then being irate when I broke up her faces to lay different combinations on the dress).  I covered a key-chain ring with fabric to put behind the one on the yoke, which hopefully looks more centred in real-life than it

Simplicity 6023

does in this photo. The third button I sewed on turned out to have a broken shank (I’m not sure how this worked since all three were held together at the shanks by thread in the button jar…); fortunately, none of the buttons are functional, so I just stitched through the holes in the flower. You can see it if you click on the photo to get the full-size.

As you can see from the outdoor photos, we are finally not only snow-free, but practically warm here today! (Temperatures were in the low teens C!!!1! That’s like, gosh, almost 60F.) And tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer… maybe I can actually wear a skirt. Or a dress…

So, another contribution to my 70s wardrobe. Although it’s not getting me any closer to fulfilling Joy’s  Bellbottom Challenge. Maybe I’ll move on to the Simplicity 6602 suit next… though I think I would probably try to merge the pants legs with my Ellen pattern. I have no particular desire to mess around with high-waisted pants.


*I feel it necessary to explain that I DON’T randomly chuck my recycling around the yard… but the kids apparently think that empty bottles are the cat’s meow in playthings, especially when you can fill them with water and leave it outside to freeze and then it snows and they get buried and you have to get more and… well, it was a mess.



Filed under Sewing

43 responses to “That 70s Dress (The Next Generation)

  1. How cool! You did a great job with pattern matching and it looks just maaaarvelous on you!!!

    Have you heard of steam a seam strips? It’s a sticky, repositionable and fusible tape which makes lining up and sewing plaids and stripes really easy.

  2. You did such a good job. It came out really cute. I don’t much like pattern matching either.

  3. I really really like the bodice. I think it’d be almost too sweet on you, if you hadn’t picked the fabric you did. Counters it a bit. Great job on it, despite the problems matching the plaid! I haven’t dared touch something that matchy yet! You are braver than I.

  4. Love the dress. I have a BIG crush on plaids these days (this year), but I am equally frustrated by matching plaid. Sometimes it comes out right, sometimes it don´t. That´s life.

    I really love the contrasting bands on the belt, sleeve and the neck – it gives the dress a really nice character. Good job!

  5. Love, love, love this dress! The trim is awesome! Love the yoke as well!! Fabulous job with the zipper too!

  6. Wow, you look fantastic in that dress, great job!

    p.s., Looks like you finally got some well deserved sunshine!

  7. Lucy

    To use an American (/Canadian?) word – cute!

    I know exactly what you mean about guiltily enjoying the time that one’s partner is out at work…

  8. Wow, you are such a good blogger to give us readers the instant gratification of sewing up that pattern so soon after winning it.

    You did a beautiful job and it looks amazing on you. (I LOVE 70’s style).

  9. Very cute dress, especially with the bow in front!
    Stripe/plaid matching is one of the reasons why I haven’t yet sewn anything from one of my beautiful plaid fabrics…

  10. Love it!! The black bands and yoke are adorable. I love the long ties that wrap around. Sweet, but not too sweet. I think your matching looks good, particularly across the bodice. Directional, uneven plaids are insane to match. This looks great.

  11. Tee – hee – I have a not-blogged skirt that involves pattern matching-gone-so-wrong the skirt got a ‘decorative trim’ on the center front seam to lessen the vertigo one experiences from gazing upon the horror! yours looks awesome! i rely entirely too much on ‘fabric manipulation’ to match patterns. Also, I tend to match on the edge, not the seamline, which makes it close enough to just look like a mistake!

    LOVE THE BUTTONS! Yay for covering the keychain! When I was making my buttons ANYTHING circular was considered and tested! I love finding ways to include all those cute buttons from the variety bags!

    The fit is adorable (and where did you learn to tie bows so perfectly?) I have to admit to feeling somewhat left adrift by your defection to the invisible zip dark side. I’ve put them in, but (1) I usually manage to put them in twisted first – matching the zipper tape to the wrong piece and (2) I always feel like invisible zips don’t work well – they don’t like to slide past seams and such.

    Yay dress! yay 60 degree weather! Boo winter detritus in the back yard. Our yard is clean, but a winter’s worth of Lucy’s grass killing is in evidence. Luckily I like polka dots, because our lawn is green with a lot of yellow spots!

    • Now I want to see your skirt! Most of the pattern matching here was post hoc (after the pieces were cut out) so I’m actually pleasantly surprised it went as well as it did. And yes, plenty of ripping from matching at the edge rather than the seam line. 😉

      I was really glad I got to use these buttons. I figured there were three, the colour was right (and I don’t sew that much in dark bluish tones), I just needed a way to make at least the front one big enough for the design.

      As to the bows, I will credit years if tying sashes on little girl dresses. Although my husband is the true master… His OCD comes to the fore and his bows are paragons of smooth symmetry.

      We’ll see how the zipper holds up. It does stutter a wee bit crossing the waist seam, although it doesn’t seem problematic at this point. As to the rest, all I can say is I managed not to sew it in twisted, and I like having the pull well out of the way while sewing it. The only other invisible zip I’ve put in was a total disaster, but that was years and years ago, long before I had any idea of what I was doing. 😉

      Good luck with your lawn’s recovery…. 🙂

  12. Great dress! (I don’t think I have ever sewn anything in plaid. I am so impressed!) I am also impressed with the way you add contrasting fabric details to a pattern; this not something I even think of.

    So you didn’t get the spring blizzard, like other parts of the prairies. And now, you can wear your springy coat, which is also wonderful, and which I did not have time to comment on ’til now. Great Job!

  13. What a pretty dress! I love plaids, but would be way too intimidated to use them in a dress. Skirts are about my limit and even then, sometimes I lay out a pattern and just think, “No….”

    I totally relate to liking it when your husband is out at work (my hubs has his office at home, sigh). I try not to make my delight at his leaving too obvious, since he gets all offended. Also, the light yelling — is there anything better than older children who can clean up their own messes, stay out of your hair and entertain themselves? I think not!

    • LOL! House husbands do have their advantages (mine cooks a lot more when he’s home all day, for one thing) but it sure is nice to have the place to yourself sometimes, isn’t it? 🙂

      Totally agree about the older children! Although the pre-teen attitude can be a little wearing…

  14. So cute: the 70’s are looking better and better. I adore the color-blocked bodice yoke.

  15. Marie-Christine

    It looks really cute!
    About matching stripes: no stretch fabric, and a walking foot. Technology will beat skills most days. Although thanks a lot for the zipper foot review, I have a Janome too and I’ll be sure to get my paws on one of those, before the next zipper :-).
    About cuffs: once wonky could be wonky, but twice wonky is a design feature. When something goes astray, do it at least once more.
    About the neckline: don’t understand at all how bodice-shortening could lead to neckline raising. Unless you mean ‘petiting’, where you also take a fold around armhole notch level? Yes, you might have to get used to correcting the neckline level afterwards, because that’d happen over and over. Unless you grew, but that won’t be necessary :-).

    • Yes, I shortened the bodice through the armscye (so petited). This killed two birds with one stone (raised the bottom of the armscye and shortened the bodice, both things I wanted, but the side effect was the raised neckline.

      I was eyeing the walking foot when I bought the zipper foot… I will probably be back for it soon. 🙂

  16. your kids and my kids would get along swimmingly.

    Oh, and fab dress.

  17. Totally darling! I love the fabric! And really for how many intersecting lines there are on the plaid, you’ve done a spectacular job of matching them up. You go girl! It’s such a great look for you too! So glad you like 70s patterns, because I do too – and I think they are a bit of the most unloved vintage patterns there are (besides 80s, which I love too). Really fabulous job! Love, love love it!


    • Hehe. You keep carrying them… it appears I’ll keep buying them! 😉 (I am sadly lacking on the 80s love, though… my hubby exceeds me in this department.)

  18. So cute! I like the contrast trim with the plaid.
    It’s OK to admit loving the alone-time for sewing. I loved it when Mr Sewaholic would go out in the evenings too..even better when he’d go on a business trip – DAYS of uninterrupted sewing!

  19. Ali

    Hot damn! Another fine number. And I love love the spring coat. 🙂 You’re giving me a yen for 70s patterns.

  20. Lovely job! So glad you made the dress!

  21. I just recently tried my first invisible zipper and it was, er, very visible. I’ll have to check out those tutorials.

    Love your dress! The flower buttons are great. It’s very cute without being super cutesy. Hooray for spring!

  22. Oooh, a very cute dress! I’m with you on stripes n’ plaids, uses up sooooo much more extra fabric, simply because of the pattern matching thing. Pesky. But you did a great job. And your buttons are perfect!
    And yes, once you’ve mastered the invisible zip you never ever look back. Nowadays I can’t bear a dress zip in a dress or skirt, not unless it has a proper fly flap rather than that messy looking centralised abutting edges, which always pop open, and even then if I am making it myself I try to adjust the pattern so I can have my invisible zip instead… sorry, I’m ranting. I’ll stop now. 😉

  23. Really cute, I love plaids, but the seamstress in me will be happy when they are out of style because they are a pain in the butt to sew.

  24. Sewista Fashionista

    The fabric is plaid, aargh! So hard to match. I think your stripe match is very close and won’t be noticeable as you will be moving while wearing the dress. Great job!

  25. another score, that dress is adorable!! i love the color blocked yolk and cuffs (oooh and long ties, i love long ties!). don’t you love it when plaids matching mostly happens without trying? i know i do!

  26. As much as I treasure time with My Honey, I also enjoy a little time home alone! I think we all do, and it should be okay to say so. 🙂

    Super-cute dress! Nice work!!!

  27. I’m seeing lots of ’70s dress patterns being made lately, might have to find one myself! Very cute dress, I can imagine lining up the plaids on this dress would be mighty tough. It’s great that you made the pattern so quickly after winning it! Just shows it went to the right person 🙂

  28. Joy

    Yay, more 70’s! Plaid matching and invisible zippers – nice work! Those buttons are great.

    My kids do that to the yard, too. It helps if I think of them as budding scientists and they’re exercising those brain muscles with whatever it is they’re doing. The other day they carried up from the creek to the front yard two entire deer skeletons, making use of their sweatshirt pockets, and laid the bones out on our front walk. Good way to scare off salespeople!

    • Oh, I cam see mine doing that… Fortunately the nearest creek is a bit further away than that. We do keep a small nature collection of rocks and bones and fossils and things…

      Definitely budding scientists… I won’t even mention what they do to the bathroom making potions. 😉

  29. Thats such a great look on you. Very sweet dress.

  30. Your saturdays sound like lots of fun. Can I join you some day? 😉

    The dress looks darling on you. I didn’t expect a dress like this one on you, somehow. But it’s very cute!

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