A long time coming.

Simplicity XXXX

Simplicity 5691

It’s been a while since I made a 70s pattern, and this one was a LONG time coming—but I’m so happy it’s finally done. I can’t even remember when I picked up this pattern, though I think I could probably find it in the blog archives since it dates back to the days when I would proudly show off all my new purchases here (as opposed to shamefacedly stuffing them out of sight before my husband finds them, like I tend to these days. The pattern collection is, um, excessive.)

Worst Women’s Pattern Ever?

70s Simplicity patterns are hard to beat for their cuteness, and in my opinion this is one of the cutest. Although, here it is on in Peter’s “Worst Women’s Patterns Ever” Pinterest board. 😉 possibly the tunic version with the wide-legged bell bottoms hasn’t aged as well as the dress version? 😉 I confess this is not the only pattern on that board that I own, and paid real actual money for, too.

I found the perfect fabric amidst a mess of different things at Fabricland labeled “European Fashion Designer Prints”… It’s what I would call a lawn, lovely, close woven cotton, crisp but not at all hard, and surprisingly wrinkle-resistant. The mock-patchwork print is just about my favourite thing ever. And ever so 70s, too. It has all the intricate, geometric/paisley details that make me go all squee over a print, plus that mock-patchwork look. Serious love.

Back View

Back View

Unfortunately, I started this project a little too late last summer—I got the dress nearly complete just in time for the weather to go cold, and then  when I got it to the try on stage, the square shoulder adjustment I didn’t do bit me in the butt and I needed to unpick around some of the unusual sleeve-to-bodice structure. I stalled, and the dress got wadded up and stuffed in a ziplock UFO baggie for the winter.

Buttons closeup!

Buttons closeup!

Finally, a few weeks ago, my craving for a new spring dress with minimal effort finally outweighed my distaste for unpicking and on the fly fit-fudging. I unpicked and cut down the inside-shoulder piece. The visible, fluttery sleeve is no problem, of course, but there was this full-shoulder-covering lining that just wasn’t working. I cut it down to about an inch wide (along the neckline side) and it works much better now. Then I procrastinated for a couple more weeks until I finally put on my big girl panties and did the buttonholes.


Slant-Shank Buttonholer

Slant-Shank Buttonholer

I dug up the Rocketeer to try out my new slant-shank Singer buttonholer, which my crafty sister-in-law found at a big neighbourhood garage-sale this spring. It worked beautifully.  Though that might’ve been the glorious fabric.


Wash-away stabilizer behind buttoholes

Wash-away stabilizer behind buttoholes

Or the wash-away stabilizer I added, because that stuff is my new fave notion. It’s much sturdier than the thin film stuff I’ve used before. Anyway, flawless, even the one over the “waist” seam which was a bit touch and go. My button-attachment is less flawless, and horizontal buttonholes are not very forgiving, so there is a little bit of bunching here and there where my button placement ended up a trifle off. It’s not bothering me enough to actually fix. Oh, and the hems on the sleeves and the bottom are rolled with my serger. Which, while not really a period finish, works really well for this look, I think.

So glad I didn't skip the giant patch pockets!

So glad I didn’t skip the giant patch pockets!

Confession: I still need to hand-stitch down the bottom of the bodice lining, which is a soft, lighter purple voile. And I’ve already worn this more times than I want to admit. It’s great, easy to throw on for work or at home, and perfect since the weather seems to think its July already.

One down from the Dresses list.

Back at the beginning of last summer, I had pulled a trio of summery dress patterns from stash that I wanted to make up—this was going to be the only one in the group that I actually accomplished last summer. Yikes. I wonder what the odds of me getting to another one are? I’m leaning towards the one on the right for summer, and then the middle as we creep up on fall.

I’ll doubtless be distracted by something else along the way, mind you.



Filed under Sewing

30 responses to “A long time coming.

  1. This fabric is perfect for this dress. I was a child in the 70s and it reminds me of a dress I had! Very cute

  2. That is just the best fabric for that dress, it’s lovely. I like the next one in line too. Maybe because I lived in the ’70’s (and actually wore this stuff) I am quite fond and attracted to (too many) patterns from that era. Is it wrong to have so many? 🙂

    • Yeah, when I got the middle pattern I seriously thought I would make it up within days, it hits all my buttons so perfectly. And I came really, really close last spring, but I couldn’t find the pattern itself at the right moment so I made this dress: https://tanitisis.com/2014/03/24/that-70s-dress-cream-red-edition/

      I think hoarding 70s patterns (even the many I will probably never make) is less wrong than for all those lovely patterns to end up in the landfill… 😉

      • LinB

        Plus, those 70s styles are coming back “in.” Plus plus, they were drafted for the sort of bodies women actually have, rather than being designed to look good on a hanger and make women feel deficient for not having a body that fits the garment. I had that pattern for years and never made it up (though I certainly wore something similar in the 1970s). It now rests in the collection of Lladybird or one of her friends, as I am no longer ingenue enough to get away with wearing this style. Although those flutter sleeves would certainly accommodate the bag of white mice that now swings below my upper arm, I choose not to subject the world to that sight.

  3. While I don’t own any from Peter’s board, I’ll admit to thinking that I’d like some of them myself. This dress is uber-cute on you.

  4. The fabric and the pattern were meant for each other! Very nice!

  5. That is pretty damn cute. I would love to know where people find all their retro patterns!

    • Mine have mostly come from thrift stores locally, although I’ve been given some very respectable presents both by blog readers and real-life friends & acquaintances. I did order one or two online back in the day, but I shall probably resist that now as I’ve got more than enough! 😉

  6. ellegeemakes

    Really, really cute! So worth the extra effort. The pockets work so well with your fabric choice too. I’ll have to try the wash away stabilizer…

  7. Heather M

    Well I was a child of the 70s and in the UK we had to wear school uniform right up until leaving school, in my case at 18. But in the 6th form our summer uniform was any summer dress that was predominantly blue and one of the dresses I made was the one in the middle of your pictures. Happy Days, next week I am meeting up with 7 people I was at school with to celrbrate 40 years since we left. It’s true you feel no differeent the grey hair and wrinkles continue to be a shock!

    • I’m not a fan of the idea of school uniforms, but at least “any blue dress” is fairly open to interpretation… My grandma said something similar about aging on her 80th birthday—she said “You still FEEL twenty, it’s just your body doesn’t move as fast as it used to…”

  8. I frickin’ love this. Perfect fabric, and I loves me a 70’s pattern.

    • Hehehe! It was so hard not to buy like five more metres of this fabric when it went in the Bargain Bin… but I probably only need one dress like this, right? 😉

  9. Mem

    I made this up in 1975 in a combination of Liberty voiles . The pattern were the same but the backgrounds were egg yoke hello and an orangey red. I had bright green buttons . I loved that dress and wore it in my first years at university. It is a lovely pattern and you have made a great version.

  10. Miss Manitas

    Supercute dress!!

  11. that is super cute! (and does not deserve to be on any worst pattern list 🙂 I agree the drawings on the early 70’s patterns are great.

  12. Oh I love this! So very groovy! The fabric is just perfect for the pattern.

  13. This is so cute and summery. It’s really flattering on you.

  14. This dress is so cute!! I love the sleeves so much and I agree the perfect print for this style, nicely constructed 🙂

  15. Heather (Thing I Make, Plus Rocks)

    Oh it’s cute! I adore those sleeves and the ginormous patch pockets. And what a perfect fabric find! Now you have me itching to sew a dress (although probably not a 70s dress – I’ll leave those cuties to you. :D)

  16. Beautiful dress, patterns and style. Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  17. P.

    Your dress looks fabulous on you! I made this pattern back in the early 1970s as part of my back-to-school wardrobe one year. I made the center outfit with the wide-legged pants. I remember hemming…and hemming…and hemming. Seems like all I did on my summer vacation — those hems seemed to go on forever with all that fabric!

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