Tag Archives: 70s

A Me-Made Week in Review

Ok, so last time I included my Me-Made June outfit in a post was on the 6th (aside from some of the sewing-room pics on the last post). Yikes! I have been getting them up over on Flickr, though.

Anyway, before I dig into that, a cute and teensy bit of mending I did over the weekend.

70s Peasant crop-top (Pre-re-elasticizing)

This is a “vintage” (my guess is 70s, it was kicking around in my dress-up clothes from the early 80s and I presume it wasn’t new then. Also it kinda screams 70s.) peasant-top that somehow I’ve never been able to pass on, although I doubt I’ve really worn it since I was fourteen or so. Maybe sixteen. Anyway, at some point in the last fifteen years the elastic has gone to that great sewing studio in the sky, or at least its springiness had, so the shirt has been kicking around in the mending for quite a while.

Me being about as good at mending as at cleaning. I’d say I was turning over a new leaf this week, but really, I can tell the energy won’t last. 😉

Anyway, it was a matter of moments to open up the elastic casings and pull out the old elastics, and only a few more minutes to thread in new elastics, hunt down Tyo to snug them to the right size (Syo’s expression when I asked if she wanted to try it on was, shall we say, unimpressed?), and sew them closed. Then I soaked in a bowl with some Oxy-Clean for a couple of hours in the hopes of brightening up the colour a bit, which I think was successful although it’s hard to tell in the photos.

Some drying later and, voila:

Tyo in the mending

I noticed a couple of interesting things about the construction of this RTW piece. First, observe, regular RTW tag, Made in Canada, even.


Next, observe side seam. Completely unfinished. And remarkably unfrayed after more than 30 years of wear, too. Anyway, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen unfinished seams in old RTW garments, but I feel like it’s an interesting thing to point out…

Unfinished side-seam

Me-Made June Review:

I’m thinking I’ll do these three at at time until I’ve caught up. I’ve really enjoyed some of the longer reviews other people do (like with a whole week of outfits) but I don’t think I can stand hunting down that many links, sorry.


June 7. I’m a ninja!

… or that’s how I felt in this outfit. Probably less stealthy, though.

Kimono Lady Grey
skinny cargoes again.


June 8. Also the day this photo was taken. A comfy, practical, and thoroughly unremarkable outfit, although I do love getting to wear this coat.

Springy Coat
Raglan knit top
Skinny jeans



June 9. The kids and I played hookie to take my brother and his girlfriend to the Tyrrell Museum of Natural History. Not the best picture ever, but somehow the only one of the hundred-some taken that day of me. 😛 Poopily, the “button cufflinks” I made for this jacket have popped off and/or broken. In any case, disappeared. Poopy.

Cropped Jean Jacket
Cowl top
Well-loved jeansWhew

Whew! Ok, that MMJ’s me out. Will catch up one of these days…



Filed under Sewing

The Bell-bottoms

Vintage wranglers (with accessories)

In about 1997, I stumbled upon two pairs of bell-bottom Wranglers, presumably vintage but more or less pristine, at a garage sale. They were a little big, but at least that meant they sat a bit low on my hips. In those days, stretch denim and low-rise pants had not yet penetrated to my little backwater… I was still wearing my Levi 501s and trying to figure out why anything that fit at the waist had huge flaps at the hips.  At seventeen you don’t really have a clear sense of your body… all I knew was that the look I was seeing wasn’t quite right. I was also still wrestling with my 80s-bred distaste for any pants that flared at all. The wranglers hung off my hips at the perfect level, though, and if they didn’t hug or skim anything, well, as long as I could show off my tummy, at that point I didn’t much care. I wore them with boho shirts and a metal-link belt that had belonged to my mother in the 70s, if not the 60s. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would be wearing bell-bottoms more-or-less exclusively for the next decade.

Ellen Bellbottom Jeans

Although I was never a serious devotee of the flare (I don’t have the hips for wide ones), I was a late adopter of the skinny jean, as well—I got my first only a little over a year ago.  But I haven’t had non-stretch, old-school flares since I ousted those Wranglers, round about the birth of my first child.

Then, Joy’s Bellbottom Challenge cropped up and, coincidentally, I wound up with two metres of absolutely gorgeous dark-indigo non-stretch denim. Obviously the two would have to combine into some seriously retro bellbottoms.

Not, however, as huge and sloppy as my old wranglers, however. So, I went to my handy-dandy Ellen pants pattern, which is my only non-stretch pants pattern (that I know fits, anyway…), traced it off, made the adaptations for jeans (back yoke, front pockets), brainstormed a couple of different ideas for the closure and the pockets, and got to work. Ellen is a great pattern for mods like this because it’s completely free of style details if you leave off the pockets.

I opted to have the legs flare from about mid-thigh. I probably could’ve gone a bit lower, but I wanted, for whatever reason, more of a wide-legged look than a hip-hugger look. I added what seemed like it would be a modest, but definite, flare.

Front lace-up fly

I decided, for no particular reason, to make a corset-closing front rather than a traditional fly… I had a pair like this shortly after Tyo was born, and I always loved the feature (I have a bit of a weakness for things that lace up.). I haven’t decided whether to add grommets to the waistband itself, or buttons with a tab stretching between them. We’ll see. Although inserting grommets is always a little nerve-wracking, this was still simpler than a fly, for those of you who are chicken of flies and not afraid to look a little out there ;).

Bound waistband interior and flat-felled seams

Bound waistband interior and flat-felled seams

I did my new favourite waistband-finishing technique, binding the inside with bias tape (this time the blue satin left over from my springy coat facing), and, since the Ellen has 1.5 cm seam allowances rather than the 1cm of the Jalie pattern, I decided to try my hand at (ulp) felled seams.

They were… ok. Definitely not perfect. In particular, although my yoke seams lined up at the seam-line, the way the seam-allowances interact in a flat-felled seam means that after they were folded over, the yokes look offset. Boo. On the up-side each seam is only stitched twice, instead of three times, and there’s less swapping back and forth of threads. The trimming and pressing takes a lot longer, though, and I think I get more even topstitching with the “cheater” method. Hmm. We’ll see. A big part of me is still convinced I’m not making proper jeans if they don’t have felled seams. Hmm.


Bell-bottoms: back

I hemmed them LONG. If they don’t shrink up in length, I may have to shorten them. That’s ok. I’ve been traumatized by too many too-short pants over the years to mind a bit of extra length. And it’s fun to put on heels and still have only my toes peek out.

So... much... leg...

Click through to the full-size rear photo to get a better view of my back pockets… I made them shield-shaped to echo the corset-fly.
My hubby, a diehard child of the 80s, has already expressed his dislike of them. I explained that I think I’m allowed to own one pair of jeans that he doesn’t like. He countered that he doesn’t own any jeans that I don’t like. I pointed out that’s only because he won’t go shopping without me. I think this means I win, don’t you?

It really doesn’t show in the pictures, but I also did one vintage thing that I’ve never before attempted on jeans.

I pressed creases front and back in them. I think they look very smart.

Now all I need is a 70s blouse to go with them… 😀

(I think I’ll have to do a 70s week in Me-Made June, what do you think?)


Filed under Sewing

More 70s love

Simplicity 5803

I got another package in the mail the other day from my 70s pattern crack dealer, Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch(the seamstress formerly known as the Cupcake Goddess).

Simplicity 5803 is another 1973 pattern (a banner year for Simplicity, I have to agree with Carlotta). Let’s see, cute puffed and fluttery sleeves, fitted and empire waist options, sweetheart neckline… yes, please! The only downsides are the lack of a back seam (helpful for swayback fitting) and my intense fear of double-ended darts.

I will probably pass on the heart-shaped pockets. I know, you’re crushed.

McCall's 3838

McCall’s  3838 is a superficially similar pattern, but it had enough different details that I went for it: a full sleeve option; a collar option, and a couple of different takes on the empire-waist detail. This pattern does have a back seam—actually with a zipper in the button-front views. Apparently the button-front is supposed to be just decorative. I would probably skip the zipper and make functional buttons, thanks. I think my favourite view is the black one on the left, which happens to be the only cut view. Interestingly, it was cut with pinking shears, which I gather saves time (no seam finishing required) at the expense of precision.

Also, how can you beat “extra carefree”?

Simplicity 7836

And, finally, one last maxi-dress. This is perhaps my least favourite of the three, but it’s still cute, and sized for stretch knits! (Complete with stretch gauge on the back on the envelope). There’s an interesting front yoke detail, and more cute fluttery sleeves. Though there’s also the distinct possibility I will look like a linebacker. We shall just have to wait and see…


Filed under Sewing

All I need now are the bellbottoms

Simplicity 6602

Thank you everyone who reassured me about my jacket’s cuteness in the comments to the last post—I know I’ve written before about that horrible sinking feeling mid-project, and I know I’m not alone :).  This time around was a little different because I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t going to fit—I just wasn’t sure it would be flattering on me. I still don’t know that it’ll replace the Springy Little Coat in my heart, but I think it’s a decently cute little jacket anyway. And I do love the finishing.

So hmm, what to cover? The pattern, again, is Simplicity 6602, from 1974.

I decided against the topstitching. It worked well in samples in the middle of the cloth, but as soon as I tried edgestitching it went wonky. I had an insane moment where I considered ripping the cuffs and collar and adding piping, but I resisted (mostly because self-fabric piping would’ve been too bulky and I didn’t think I would be able to match the colour perfectly otherwise. And for whatever reason, I’m picturing tone-on-tone piping for this, not contrast).

Cuffs of Doooooom

The collar went on fine. The cuffs drove me absolutely bonkers. Seriously, I had them on, off, on, off, on a different way… and they’re still not perfect. I’m not sure if they were drafted too narrow or if it’s just my sleeve stretching out with handling, or an artefact of the flared shape of the cuffs, but they were too short for the wrist-diametre of the sleeves. So I narrowed the sleeves rather than re-make the cuffs. In the end they’re all right, although at least one of them has the side that I meant to be inside on the outside. Having ripped it three times at that point, I left it. I didn’t do any turn-of-cloth alterations this time around and I really should have. Mea culpa. I have such a hard time visualizing which side’s going to end up facing out when doing this kind of fold-back cuff. Maybe when I’ve done eight or ten more…

Back view. I think I would probably like a bit more flare in the peplum.

On the up side, I got the tight curves of the cuffs sewn much more smoothly than I usually manage, so I’m kinda stoked about that. I shortened my stitch length and sewed slowly but continuously. At times like this I really wish my machine had a slow setting, but anyway. I also used the trick where you press the seam of the cuff open before turning it, and it really does help the curve turn more smoothly. Who knew? (Yes, I’m bone-headed that way… it seems like there’s a lot of good sewing advice I hear, but then don’t absorb until I’ve learnt it the hard way.)

Hmm, what else? This is officially the best facing/hem finish I’ve ever done, facilitated by the lack of lining and the bound edges of both pieces. The pattern would have you finish the bottom of the facing

Front facing and hem

by tacking by hand, but I did it by machine and turned it up and it worked peachy. I even managed a nearly-invisible hem, again facilitated by the binding. I may just bind all my hems in the future. I did tack the facing in place at the waistband and the shoulder seams. The facing/collar/neck combination is super bulky and doesn’t lay very smoothly despite my best efforts. Possibly using Sherry’s collar technique would’ve helped, but silly me, I followed the pattern instructions. I know, it’s so unlike me. I also think I might’ve benefited from a square-shoulder adjustment this time around—it’s something I’ve often suspected I should need but it hasn’t seemed like a big problem in the past so I haven’t attempted it. It’s not a huge problem here, if only because the collar covers that area, but I think at least some of the wrinkling is probably from that.

Button and snap

There is a single button closure in the front (perfect for using up one of those striking, solitary vintage buttons). I was a little concerned that the top would gape—the pattern illustration shows a nice, close finish right at the bottom of the collar, but there’s no obvious way to achieve this. Well, on arriving at that point in the instructions, all is revealed: or rather, a single large, heavy-duty snap is called for. Fortunately I had picked up a couple thinking I might use one on the Springy Coat (I haven’t yet, the slight gaping doesn’t really bother me while I’m wearing it). I was hoping for clear plastic, but all they had was metal… ah well. It’s more “vintage”, right?

I was SO excited to try out my new buttonholer. One big keyhole button should do the trick perfectly, right?


Psst, kid, wanna buy a seam binding?

The buttonholer did NOT like this stretch corduroy stuff. All my samples bunched and bagged like crazy, with big loops of thread tangling underneath. WTF? Worked fine on other fabrics. Even interfaced, it still had issues. I went ahead with it, only because I know how much I suck at doing manual buttonholes, and the buttonhole on the finished jacket (where it’s going through two layers of corduroy, one of them interfaced, and the lining layer) actually turned out better than any of my samples. Which isn’t saying much, but it will hold, anyway, and is still probably better than I would’ve managed otherwise.

Also works open

The only other thing I’ll say about this pattern is it had notches out the wazoo. I think every single piece, every single seam had a notch, if not two. Some were helpful, but a lot just seem extraneous.

Gratuitous shot

On the subject of a frock-coat for my hubby, I’m happy to say I think this pattern will do the trick nicely. Just omit the patch pockets, add a welt pocket or two, change the side back vents to centre back, and lengthen to about knee length. The rest of the seaming is identical to his jacket. Although I’m not planning this for an immediate project, he may get excited about it and become a pestering pain, in which case it will probably get done sooner than otherwise. I hope not. I have lots of other stuff I should be doing.


Filed under Sewing

70s Jackets

Simplicity 6602

… are possibly not as cute as 70s dresses.

Rather than getting to any of my non-selfish sewing, I started work on Simplicity 6602, out of a narrow-wale stretch corduroy.

This is a fitted, un-lined jacket. I decided to throw caution to the wind and use the same basic alterations as my last 70s Simplicity pattern, shortening the bodice through the armscye and doing a swayback adjustment (oh, and plenty of extra length in the sleeve…)

Simplicity 6602 pattern envelope

This definitely gets the waistband to where it needs to be, although it’s still possible that I would be better served shortening a little less at the armscye and a little more from the lower bodice. I have such a horror of low armscyes, though…

Anyway. At this stage I have to admit it’s feeling a bit more like the somewhat dumpy model photo and less like the fun, svelte illustration on the envelope, but hopefully that will pass.

At least the inside is looking fun. I made bias tape for Hong Kong binding the majority of the seams. I am finally getting better at making my bias-tape (as in, having it come out at least relatively even) and sewing it on a heavy cotton like this was dreamy. This is the first time I’ve bound both sides of the seam allowance separately, and it’s a bit time-consuming, but definitely attractive.

Seam binding and waist-band lining

Stitching porn

The only lining piece is an inside piece for the waistband. The instructions would have you slip-stitch the entire thing down by hand. I couldn’t see a reason not to attach at least one side by machine, so I did, but I dutifully slip-stitched the other. It looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Cotton is so lovely to stitch. (Except that this stretch corduroy loves to pucker when you’re trying to sew an uninterfaced section to an interfaced one. Argh. Anyway.)


I used fusetape around the neckline and shoulders rather than stay-stitching. We’ll see how that holds up. I hope it does—I love it like crazy.

Jacket Collar. I don't know why the closeups all turned out beautifully crisp but this one had to go blurry.

And, just in case I run out of excuses to make jackets for myself, my hubby has decided I should make him a replacement for his rather battered mandarin-collared frock coat, a much-loved garment that is sadly showing its shoddy construction by self-destructing after less than a decade of intermittent wear. Well, and the cigarette burn in the back doesn’t help. Anyway, I may be trying to figure out how to clone that pattern. Or how to draft a man’s jacket. I’m not sure which would be easier (or, more importantly, more fun) at this point. And my fave drafting resource, Modern Pattern Design (by Harriet Pepin, published 1942) at vintagesewing.info, seems to have evaporated (the entire site, actually), which is a tragedy of immense proportions. I may have to actually hunt it down and buy it. I’ve looked at a few other drafting books (albeit not nearly all that are out there) and none of the others seem to combine precision with clarity and lots of nifty details quite as well as Pepin’s. Sniffle.

Now… I need to decide whether or not to topstitch my jacket. The pattern recommends it and the corduroy is a narrow enough wale that it doesn’t seem to distort the stitches particularly in my experiments. But… hmm. I can’t decide.

Also, you have no idea how hard it was not to pipe the collar and cuffs. I may be a piping addict.


Filed under Sewing

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


Why yes, that is eight yards of jumbo piping...

My sewing machine is pretty basic, a three-and-a-half-year-old bottom end Janome; she’s mostly pretty reliable, if not terribly fancy, and at this point we pretty much understand each other.

But every once in a while, she really annoys me.

Today, it was the needle positioning. Now, I can adjust needle position to the left, but not to the right of centre. (It goes further right during a zig-zag, but there’s no option for me to set a straight stitch to the right).

This isn’t a problem in normal sewing, but every once in a while, just once in a while, it drives me batty.

Today was one of those days. I was making jumbo piping. Eight yards of jumbo piping.

Yes, my friends. I am undertaking … shudder… home-dec sewing.

And not even for my home. I’m making a custom cushion and cover for a friend’s window-seat. Technically this is an exchange of labour since she did a wonderful photo shoot for my kids before Christmas with her fantabulous DSLR (she’s one of those hobby photographers) that also gave my a chance to play with RAW images… soooooo fun…. ahem. Anyway, so I’m making her this cushion. Which I’ve been dawdling over for most of the month because, well, it’s home-dec sewing, and why would I do that when I could make whimsical costume jackets? But she came over for tea on the weekend and I wanted to have something to show her, so I spent some time Sunday morning cutting out rectangles… endless rectangles… and then I figured I should at least sew up the piping before I lose those long, skinny strips.

At this point I’ve made lots of little, garment-sized piping on my machine with nary a problem. But this jumbo, mega-sized piping is, well, a wee bit trickier. You see, it doesn’t slide under the “high” side of the zipper foot at all. It has to pass to the right of the whole zipper foot apparatus. And because I can’t adjust my needle position to the right, I could not run my stitching nearly as close to the cord as I would’ve liked. People, I have saggy piping.

Man, I love these dresses...


Even more annoying, I know I’m going to have the exact same issue sewing it to the pillow cover itself. Grrr-grr.

Can’t I make something nice and easy, like a jacket?

Or how about another 70s maxi dress? This one arrived today, courtesy of the Cupcake Goddess’s pattern sale the other week. Num, num. It’s a misses’ size 10, which will be interesting—in the past I’ve usually used 12s and had to take them in a bit, but theoretically the 10 will be perfect in the bust. I’m particularly in love with the blue version, although the rational part of my mind is telling me that collar is a bad idea…

Today’s MMM picture


is a particularly blah combination of repeat outfit (see day 6) with no hair/makeup.  I had hoped to make it through the month without a precise repeat, but I was too lazy to check this morning to see if I’d worn this exact shirt with these exact pants before, and now that I realize I have, I’m too lazy to change. Meh. I think I’ll be back to regular life tomorrow, though, so I’ll try and make more of an effort then…


Filed under Sewing

That 70s Dress

Simplicity 5728

A(nother) 70s dress

Now there’s a way to begin a post, by referencing a TV show I never even watched…

Anyway, despite my complete disinclination to do anything yesterday other than read through one of the novels I picked up at VV a couple of days ago, I did manage to get the sleeves on and hem the Simplicity dress. Raising the armscye worked like a charm—it’s lovely, high, and mobile.

As you can see, I opted (after the debate between long and short) for 3/4 length sleeves. This was initially inspired by the fact that as I was cutting there was a perfect spot to cut the sleeve out—but one side was a couple of inches too short due to the uneven cut end of the fabric.  But I’m really glad I went for it—warmer than a short sleeve*, but (I think) dodging the school-marmish/little-house-on-the-prairie potential of a full length sleeve with a full-length skirt.

Simplicity 5728

Curse that indoor light...

Since this blog is the closest I get to taking notes on my pattern alterations, I’m going to point out a few things about the sleeve again. I lengthened the full-length sleeve 2″ total, one inch above the elbow, one inch below. After doing this, I’d like to add, the elbow dart is in exactly the right position. Hooray! When I converted it to the 3/4 length, I cut off at the upper edge of the forearm “add length here” section. I felt like the sleeve was quite roomy in the muslin, even for a non-stretch sleeve (which obviously can’t be as snug as the knits I’m used to wearing), and when I decided on my stretch fabric I decided to narrow it: 5mm off each side, mirroring the 1/4″** I took off the sides of the bodice, and then I took a tuck of about 1/2″ out of the middle of the sleeve, all the way down. I figured there was more than enough ease in the sleeve cap to do this without messing with the length of the sleeve-cap, and there certainly still seemed to be plenty of gathers to go around. So in total the finished sleeves are about 1″ narrower than the muslined ones. This is perfect for my fabric, but might be a little too narrow for a non-stretch sleeve.

Simplicity 5728

Lots of sleeve mobility!

I do feel like the sleeves sit a little far out on my shoulders (possibly exacerbated by my alteration to the back neckline), although if I tug them up higher on my shoulder it seems to push out the sleeve oddly, so I’m not sure which is preferable.

I made the front midriff piece double-layered, to give it a bit more stability and make for a nicer finish inside. It is a nice finish, but it makes for a lot of layers of this fairly thick fabric, especially right under the bust where it encases the gathers. Possibly I should’ve graded the seams in this area. I’m also debating the merits of a waist-stay.

I decided to try a machine blind-hem on the grounds that a) this fabric is quite thick, and b) it hides the thread so well that it would be unlikely to show even if I did a whack job, which I basically did, and c) it just seems odd to hand-hem a stretchy. And it worked out pretty well, so long as you don’t look too close. The nice thing about such a long skirt is that the hem is a long way from anyone’s eyes, too ;). Well, except for the under-2-years age set, but presumably they won’t tell on me. The hem is the 2 1/4″ specified in the pattern, which brings it up to a length which is just shy of floor-skimming when I’m in bare-feet, which seems about right looking at the pattern illustration. Again, this is after I lengthened the entire skirt 5″. Which tells you everything you need to know about how my height is distributed (I know, cry me a river, right?)

Simplicity 5728

Finally, a smile!

I feel like it may be important to highlight a few lessons learnt from this pattern:

1) I really am short in the body. It’s not just in my head. Junior Petite, people, and the only bit of lengthening I did in the bodice I kinda wish I’d skipped out on.

2) especially in the armscye.

3) apparently I like 70s fashion, or at least the dresses. The only vintage patterns I’ve sewn for me this past year have been 70s dresses, and I have another one in stash, too. This is a little hard to wrap my mind around given that I grew up in the 80s and couldn’t even stomach the sight of bell-bottoms until well after their return to popularity in the late 90s.

4) I have neither the right hair nor the right shoes to go with this dress. Well, technically I have the right hair, but not the right hair-cut (nor am I likely to have it again. I love long, straight hair. Just not my long straight hair.). The shoes thing is unforgivable. How can I have no cute, delicate platform shoes? All I have for thick soles is my kick-ass boots, which would be fun but are not exactly period.

Simplicity 5728

Nice dress!

All in all? pretty happy camper! Though I’m still not convinced the dress will become part of my everyday wardrobe.

… now to fight down the urge to start working on a fluffy petticoat…

Oh, yes and a few more photos in the Flickr Gallery

*yay! The weather, which has been relatively clement since before Christmas, is reminding us that this is still Canada and winter still has a good two months to mess with us before spring will even begin to get a finger in the door. Today was  a virtual blizzard.

** very glad to hear that I’m not the only sewist who flits randomly between measuring systems. Canada officially went metric in the 70s, but somehow it’s never completely taken hold. For the longest time I did outdoor temperatures in Celsius, but indoor temperatures in Fahrenheit, for example.


Filed under Sewing


70s sundress

Finally, something for me! And it may even be warm enough this weekend that I’l actually want to wear it!

This is the fabulously long version of my new 70s sundress pattern,

Sundress Start

seen on the right. It’s not a brand I am familiar with.

I added the patterned overskirt because I thought it would be pretty; the gauzy patterned cloth, as I mentioned before, was a broomstick skirt I’ve had forever. I like how it looks although it was a pain to cut out (especially since I wasn’t using pins).

The pattern calls for the elastic to run all the way around the ribcage; I preferred to keep it to the back and sides (less tummy pouff) but this had the side-effect of flattening the bust (since it’s designed to be partly pulled in by the elastic). I’m always amazed when I manage to make a pattern too small for my bust (ok, not exactly too small… they fit in fine. The shape is just flatter than would be ideal. The girls are really doing well for having nursed two babies, but they are still a little squishy these days). Other than that I really like the shape of the top—those kind of triangle tops can be really fiddly things, especially for gaping along the bias, and they both cover well and don’t gape, which impresses me. There is supposed to be an elastic inside the back of the neck, as well, which would probably make it more comfy, but I like the look of having it

70s sundress---back

sewn and flat. We’ll see for next time, perhaps. The waist elastic casing is only 1/2″, which looks very nice and delicate

70s sundress

but doesn’t feel terribly secure; I think next time I might try widening it to hold a 1″ elastic.

The instructions (which I read!) were simple but seemed fine. It’s a pretty simple dress.

Also, this amazing length is the pattern’s full length BUT it allowed for a 2″ hem, and I only did a 3/8″ one, as I didn’t think the wide hem would work with the crinkly fabric. So really it should be about two inches shorter. The extra length is fine for me, although we’ll see how impractical it ends up being.

(I’m not sure if you know me, but I tend to be drawn to the extremes. This means I like my skirts either really short, or really long. This has the net effect of making sure I don’t wear skirts very often, since the long ones tend to be too formal and restrictive, and the short ones I spend too much time making sure I’m not flashing people. Anyway, obviously this time I’m indulging in the long)

The gathered back does indeed look rather sack-like; hopefully my luscious and toned upper back will distract people from this.

The only other concern I have about this dress is that the voile is still quite sheer, and it does show all the way up in the front. Probably I would be wise to wear a slip or add an under-layer, but I don’t have much voile left, or anything else that would be suitable.

All in all, though, I am totally stoked to have a sundress again!

Closer view


Filed under Sewing