Tag Archives: Simplicity 5728

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.



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SFOs (Semi-Finished Objects)

Zena of Blood, Sweatshop, & Tears once commented that “wearable is climax. Done is denouement.”

She is so right.

Lekala twist-top, v. 2

In that spirit, I give you my second take on the Lekala 5675, a.k.a. the twist top. The hems are serged but not completely finished, and it’s been like this most of the week. I am disinclined to fuss with trying to stabilize them for topstitching. Bleh. This red knit is wiggly, super-stretchy, and much more like the kind of fabric I imagine the shirt was designed for than my last attempt. It’s also an amazing example of the difference fabric choice can make for the exact same pattern (only difference is I added perhaps an inch more extra length to the red version, just in case, bringing the total increase to about 3-4″ in the sleeves and 4-5″ at the hem. The first version was roomy and sweater-like, with a surprisingly perfect fit in the shoulders. This version is second-skin tight and the shoulders look really narrow. Although about the same as they look in the pattern illustration, actually.. The twist still doesn’t pull naturally into the kind of tight twist the illustration suggested. This might be a drafting problem (maybe they should just have widened the upper front piece a bit so that a full twist was required), or it might just be that my doubling of the front (makes the finishing easier and never a bad idea in a thin knit) gives it a bit too much body. I think in my head the slit below the twist should be wider, but again it’s actually quite comparable to the illustration. Some day I shall use Sherry’s post to attempt to reduce a swayback in a knit. Someday.

Simplicity 5728

Simplicity 5728

In a similar vein, my (wearable muslin?) version of Simplicity 5728 is at a try-on-able phase in construction. Yay!

This is such a peculiar fabric. I would’ve sworn it

Simplicity 5728, side view

was a diagonally-ribbed knit, but it frays like a woven. It’s stretchy, very slightly in length, significantly in cross-grain, but fairly stable. It does have that cling-to-every-lump-and-bump quality of a knit.

In the stretchy (whatever the heck it is), I should probably have used the original bust-length, as the extra length doesn’t seem to be necessary. I had narrowed the bodice sides 1/4″ on the pattern, since it seemed a bit roomy under the arm,

Back (lightened to show lack of swayback wrinkles!)

tapering to nothing at the waist, and I took it in another 1/4″ here after trying it on (adding up to a substantial 2″ reduction in the total bodice width). I did a swayback alteration as per Sherry’s instructions (sooo easy when you have both waist and CB seams), taking off about 1/2″ (12mm) both above and below the waist seam. I gave the CB seam of the skirt a bit of an S-curve to it as my swayback seems to be rather below my waist in this area. And then I cut, inserted zipper, and hoped. And—well, look!

Can we say, happy customer?

Also, like what I did with the back neck? I did a brutal job of finishing the top of

Simplicity 5728, full back

the zipper, but otherwise it’s snazzy! Er, and yeah, the zipper’s pink. I thought it coordinated/contrasted nicely with the muted purple of the fabric, but probably it’s just too light. But the only other zipper I had of suitable length was white, and an invisible one, which I don’t actually know how to install. It’s vintage and metal, though, so it’s cute enough to deserve to be looked at.

Simplicity 5728, front closeup

You will recall that I received excellent advice from Kay and others on my sleeved muslin to raise the bottom of the armscye to improve my sleeve mobility. So I raised it a full 2cm, on the principle that it’s easy enough to lower it after the fact if I need to.

(It occurs to me that I probably annoy nearly everyone with my flitting back and forth between metric and imperial measurements. Can I call it a Canadian thing? I prefer to do my seam-allowances in metric because the metric markings are at the front of my sewing-machine face-place, making them easier to see than the imperial markings, which are at the back. On the other hand the width of the regular foot is definitely 1/4″, so I tend to do things like small alterations in this increment. It also depends on which ruler or measuring tape comes to hand first…)

I should also mention that I added 5″ (and we’re back to the imperial) to the hem of the skirt to get it to this luxuriously long length. That’s supposed to include 2 1/4″ of hem, which would bring it to a perfectly respectable heel-length, I think, although I’m not convinced a 2″ hem will be desirable in this fabric. I’m wearing a 3″ heel in the photos. I love these crazy-long 70s skirts.

Coming soon: the great sleeve adventure!


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A little goes a long way…

A small lengthening adjustment

I took Steph (and several other peoples’) advice and lengthened the CF by rotating the bottom of the bust piece down 1/2″. (thanks for your thoughts, everyone!)

This seemingly-insignificant alteration had some major consequences. On the up-side, it achieved its intended goal of allowing the midriff piece to sit a little lower, bringing the seam-line down to the vicinity of my waist. On the downside, now the bust feels a little too full and wide (odd since if anything the piece is narrower than before). I assume this is because it’s under less vertical tension or something. Also the neck feels a bit gapy—always a risk in a V-neck like this, the correction for which is the exact opposite of the alteration I just made :P. I’m hoping that the weight of the skirt

Simplicity 5728, v. 2, with sleeves!

keeping the bodice in place will keep this from being a problem. In today’s photos I’m wearing the Bullet Proof Bra, which brings my bust measurement up in line with the pattern’s intended 34″; it succeeds in filling in most of the extra fullness, but it still feels a little bulky/loose under the arm.

(To bra or not to bra… that is the question. On a daily basis I tend to go without—a knit top offers enough support to get me through my daily routines, and indeed most exercise except for jogging. On the other hand, a bit of support is nice for when I’m wearing wovens, and if I must wear an annoying band around my ribs, I might as well get some, ah, enhancement, from it, which is where the Bullet Proof Bra comes in. Which will I be more likely to wear with this dress? Well, whichever ends up fitting under it better, I guess…)

Arm-lift---uh oh

Then, of course, I added the sleeves.

Can I just say that woven sleeves are a pain in the arse? These particular ones have a little pouf at the top, which is achieved by lengthening, rather than widening, the sleeve cap. So they look gorgeous with my arms down, but ride up mightily the moment I lift my arms. Now, I’m not expecting to be able to do jumping jacks, but it would be nice to able to put my hands on my hips without the entire bodice pulling up around my ears. And then the neckline goes totally wonky, too. Grr.

Side view, arm raised.

On the up side, I’m no longer wondering if the armscye is too high. With the sleeve on, it feels not nearly high enough.

Incidentally, I lengthened the sleeve pattern by a full two inches to bring it to this point, which is about where I’d like a finished sleeve to end. I’m not totally sure if I want the fold-back cuffs that came with the pattern or not (do they make sense without the collar?) so I’ll have to think on that. Maybe I don’t want long sleeves at all (but I’m having a hard time thinking about anything short sleeved right now, as I’ve said).

Back, with sleeves

But, the back looks pretty good with the sleeves—I wouldn’t want to take any ease out of it, I think.

Back with arms raised

It handles the arm-raising much better than the front.

I think I’m satisfied with the bodice for now—side seam ease is something I can

Side view, with sleeves

always tweak in my final fabric (whatever that may be), so the issue that remains is the sleeve. What do you think? Keep with restrictions? Attempt to alter the cap (I seem to recall the Sewista Fashionista taking a stab at something similar not that long ago…)? Swap in a different sleeve I like better? (I haven’t done a long-sleeve in a woven for me yet, so I don’t really have any candidates. I could do a short sleeve—I’d probably like a short cap sleeve better than a puff anyway, or there’s always the lure of a pleated sleeve cap. Again, though, I don’t have a preferred pattern for any of these.

This is my first elbow dart, by the way. it does make for a nice fit.

So what do you think? Short sleeve or long? This sleeve or other? I have a feeling I’m going to go with the long skirt option. Cuz, well, I love me a long skirt.

The pattern girls, to remind you


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It’s Steph’s fault.

I should be making up another long-sleeve knit top, or at most cutting out another pair of jeans. But she left the sweetest little invitation to join in the Vintage Sewalong 2011 in her comment on my last post. So of course I had to go check it out.

Simplicity 5728, on the right

And the next thing I know, it’s 10:00 pm (we’re staying up late these days with the kids out of school and my hubby not starting work until 9:30 in the morning) and I’m pulling out the pieces of Simplicity 5728, doing a bit of tissue fitting on my duct-tape me (I suppose I should dignify her with a name…), and finally decided to make my first muslin as-is. I did trace out the bodice pieces first, however, since I was anticipating fairly extensive lengthening alterations. This is, after all, a pattern drafted for someone a good half a foot shorter than me. (I have, however mentioned that most of my height is in my legs. The pattern’s back neck-to-waist measure is 15″, which is the same as mine.) So I pulled out my trusty blue flannel ex-duvet (what will I do when it runs out?) and cut out the pieces. Then, bright ‘n early (okay, not early—you saw the bit about tracing this out at 10pm last night—and not bright as it’s snowing once again) this morning I popped out of bed and threw the thing together.

Oh, god. This means I need to show you…

fitting pictures.


Simplicity 5728, Muslin 1: front

Well, it is a little bit short, at least in the front. The empire seam in the front could come down about 1/2″. The bottom of the front is almost exactly at my waist (and of course it needs to be about 5/8″ lower).

Simplicity 5728, back

The back is… well, practically perfect, length-wise. There are a couple of drag lines under the arms (if someone can enlighten me as to what they mean I’d be super-delighted… is is that the armscye is too high? it is high, although not uncomfortably so…), but they pretty much disappear if I cross my arms so I suspect I should just leave them (?).

Simplicity 5728, back, with arms crossed

The back hem could probably come up at bit at the CB, which I guess would be a swayback alteration? I’ve never done a swayback alteration where I had a waist seam to play with, so I’m not quite sure what the procedure is—I’ve heard some people rail that the hem must be kept on grain, and others say that you can just take a bit off it. I will have to do some research 🙂

Simplicity 5728, side view

There’s some tweaking to be done around the shoulders/back neck where I removed the collar—it won’t be a problem. The armscye is high but I think will be comfortable—I have pretty scrawny arms. The side-seams seem to be in the right place.

So… any suggestions on lengthening the front but not the back? Maybe I could just increase the curve at the gathered part to build that extra length in there, without having to mess with any of the other seams at all? Or add the 1/2″ to the CF neckline and curve that out. On the other hand I don’t really have the bust to fill in too much more gathering in that area, though I can always wear the bullet-proof bra, I suppose.

I eagerly await your thoughts and suggestions!


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Oh Frabjous day!

… to keep up the literary theme, although it’s been a while since I read the Jaberwocky, so I don’t think I’ll go any further with it today. My mother preferred reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter” for some reason. Which always made me sad when they eat the oysters. That might be why I don’t much care for Lewis Carroll (shocking, I know).



My patterns arrived! Happy dance! I made my firstest-ever Etsy purchase a month or more ago, two vintage patterns from the Cupcake Goddess’s Etsy Store. I excercised great, great restraint and did *not* order one of her darling tailor’s ham and sleeve roll sets, although if she ever does some in spiderwebs or skulls (preferably black and pink) I might not be able to resist.

Why so long? Well, aside from the fact that I payed by echeque, which takes some time to clear, the package arrived in a plastic sleeve from Canada Post apologizing for the damaged condition “it was received in”—edges chewed up and water-damaged; it apparently spent some time lost in transit. My heart pit-a-patted.

Fortunately, Her Divine Cupcakeness had packaged the envelopes in a sealed plastic sleeve (complete with well wishes) within the cardboard shipping envelope, so all was well. I am now the proud owner of Butterick 3364, a fitted men’s shirt pattern, and Simplicity 5728, an adorable little dress. Both date from the 70s, the dress earlier, the shirt, I think, later.

Butterick 3364 and Simplicity 5728

Let’s start with the dress.

I bought this pattern for one reason and one reason only. At my grandmother’s house on the family farm, in the closet of my mother’s old bedroom, hangs a dress of almost exactly this same pattern. Even the colour and print are very similar to the long version. The only glaring difference is the fold-over collar. And I always have liked that dress—which fits me divinely, or at least did last time I tried it on, probably when Syo was a baby—except for the fabric, which is a godawful, polyester-knit-flannel-scratchy stuff that could only have been spawned of the 1960s-70s. The little floral print is a bit twee, as well—I don’t really do prints, as you may have noticed. But the bones of the dress, the lines—killer.

So when I saw this pattern, in a 34 bust, I almost bought it straight away. I forced myself to wait on it, but a month later it was still there, and I still wanted it. So I jumped.

The only downside is while it’s a 34 bust, which is only one inch over mine, it’s also a junior petite. The junior part is good—I am not exactly full figured—but, er, it’s drafted for someone five foot nothing. That’s 1.5m for the metric folks who aren’t clinging illogically to an arbitrary and outdated measuring system. That’s a more than half a foot shorter than me.

Still, adding length can’t be that tricky, right?

So, stand by for Adventures in Grading… although given how prolific I am when it comes to sewing dresses… well, it may be a while. Ceylon has been marinating for several months now, after all.

Butterick 3364 Views

The shirt, obviously, is for my hubby. I’ve been wanting a princess-seamed shirt pattern for him for a while, ever since I saw Peter’s version. You see, y’know how you look at the measurement charts, and very often ones’ bust measurement, say, is several sizes smaller than one’s waist measurement?

Well, my husband has the opposite problem. In fact, the man has a 40″ chest and a 32″ waist, which would make him spot on for his size… if he were female. This is when he’s “fat”(he also has Body Issues to do an anorexic proud)… any number of times during our marriage he’s had a 28″ waist, which is the same as mine on a good day. That’s an 8 to 12″ drop from chest to waist. Mine is about 5”. On a good day. The bastard.

McCall's 7123 front view

Anyway, all bitterness aside, this means that most dress shirts fit him like the boxes they are. Which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, like the shirt I made him last summer… but I can’t help but fantasize about something different. Something a little more fitted, that actually flatters the body he’s got. Especially nice, this pattern has options for with and without princess seams, including back darts like the tailored men’s shirt draft Laurianna posted on.

And I love the idea of making him shirts because, although he wears them frequently, he won’t wear any with breast pockets, ever, and far prefers a mandarin collar to a roll collar. Which reduces the selection in RTW by about 80% right off the bat. But for me—it just means I don’t need to fuss with de-70s-ifying the collar that comes with the pattern (although really, it’s not at all bad by 70s standards anyway).

Now the only trick will be getting him to actually wear a fitted shirt. (See above about Body Issues.)

In Lady Grey News

Padstitching in action

… a relentless weekend of hand-stitching has produced results. I have pad-stitched lapels!

I did something resembling pad-stitching on the collar of Tyo’s coat, if you recall, but only after it was constructed, relying on the thickness of the fabric to let me bury my stitches within the fabric; the actual stitch used zig-zagged back and forth, rising to the surface in a tiny bite at each corner of the zig zag. Anyway, another idiosyncratic feature of an idiosyncratic coat.

But this time, I determined that I would do my research first. Unfortunately, the

format of Gertie’s video on padstitching wouldn’t play on my ipod, the main computer was off because it’s been randomly shutting down lately, and the padstitching illustrated in the taloring book Santa’s going to put in my stocking didn’t look much like Gertie’s either (it was pretty much straight along the lines). I also checked out my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, which had padstitching more like what I thought Gertie was getting at.

Pad-stitching for zig-zags

After a certain amount of experimentation, I got it figured out (or I think I have), and if you do it right you can get the illusion of a series of zig-zags of thread across the surface… I don’t know if that’s actually important, but it looks nice. Now I just need to brace myself to finish the bound buttonholes. Inspired by Kbenco’s long version (in turn, apparently, inspired by my winter coat, yay!), I decided to go for four, functioning buttonholes, because A) I liked the higher, shorter roll of the collar, B) I think it looks better if I am not wearing a belt, and usually I don’t like things belted at my waist), and C) it’s more like Tyo’s coat this way.

This is what happens when you hold the pad-stitched lapel upside down

Hmm, maybe C) isn’t actually a good thing.

Now, the miracle of pad-stitching is not really obvious when you look at it flat on, or even when worn, so let me demonstrate (see left). Even if you hold it upside down, the curl remains, flexible but undeniable. Nifty!

Anyway, that’s already more post than I imagine any of you wanted to read, so I’ll let it go at that.

And, as the Cupcake Goddess says:

Happy Sewing Adventures!



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