So a few nights ago I was on Instagram scrolling through Me-Made-May pix and I saw that really awesome feather-print 70s vintage dress by Cation Designs and then she was saying that Tanit-Isis got her hooked on 1970s dresses and then I was thinking "hey, I have a kinda similar 1970s vintage dress pattern in my stash" and so then I found it and I grabbed some stash fabric and I cut it and I made it and... here it is.
AND it fits! So score. VINTAGE IMPULSE SEWING WIN.
Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 7575, from 1976, a topstitched raglan-sleeved V-neck knit dress with slightly gathered skirt and attached belt to create underbust shaping. I got my copy from We Sew Retro, but looks like you can still find it on eBay or Etsy pretty easily.
Fabric: Two yards of a wonderful soft medium-weight purple rayon or cotton spandex blend knit with amazing stretch, drape and recovery (and maybe a BIT too much cling). It's been in my stash since before 2010 and my notes say I bought it at "NY Fabrics" but I can't remember where or what that store is in the Garment District.
Notions: Just thread and some fusible webbing tape for taming the belt and facings.
Size: 12 (it's a one-size pattern). The body measurements for this size were about 3-4 inches smaller than mine, but I trusted the power of spandex and negative ease, and made no adjustments except a 1" FBA. The dress actually has quite a bit of ease, as it's the belt that gives it a fitted look.
Inspiration: This dress totally makes me think of my amazing mom Beryl, who was a total 70s girl and loves to sew knit dresses. Here she is with my dad and her parents (both in ensembles sewn by my grandmother) at her wedding in 1973:
It also reminded me of the last vintage 1970s pattern I sewed back when I was super pregnant, which also had a similar attached belt thing going on:
Here's the full envelope art—there are also a tunic and pants pattern included:
Instructions: The instructions were easy to follow, but I have mixed feelings about some of the techniques and construction. I'm not sure a neckline facing is really the best thing for this V-neck—a binding might give a softer effect. And the belt is a SINGLE layer of jersey—which makes it easy to tie, but it's rather flimsy and floppy and there are raw edges visible:
Alterations: Just a 1" FBA, as I thought 5" of negative ease across the bust might be a bit much. Because I hadn't done any raglan FBAs before, I pulled out my copy of Fit For Real People for a little refresher (what would I do without that book?!):
I decided to gather the excess fabric into the side seam instead of creating a dart, and it's a bit bunchy but I'm cool with it:
Construction notes: When my mom was sewing in the 1970s, she didn't have a serger or use a twin needle—it was zig-zag all the way. And in that spirit, I used a narrow zig-zag for all the seams with no seam finishing:
I did most of the top-stitching on the more stable areas with a long straight stitch, but I used a zig-zag again in the stretchier places to prevent seam popping:
And I haven't hemmed it yet. I'm going to let her hang out for a while before I decide if I want to bother.
Yes, I know that's not very modern or ready-to-wear looking... but honestly, I hardly aspire for my garments to have any resemblance to mass-produced fast fashion, and if the zigzag or raw hem is a giveaway that I made it myself—that's just fine with me.
I'm also trying to remove all the barriers—big and little, mental and physical—that have held back my sewing mojo... and proper seam finishes and having to dig out the serger and set it up and thread it are more trouble than they are worth to me at this moment.
Successes: The entire project took just three nights, including the cutting and tracing and altering. And I got lots of compliments at work (especially from sewing and knitting friends). I just LOVE this color and this fabric and the dress is comfy as a nightgown.
Will I make it again? Oh goodness yes, though next time I think I'll make it in a print, like a 70s-style ITY jersey. I love this bright solid but I already have a greasy eczema lotion handprint on the dress bodice from my little girl that I am trying to remove before it sets in. SIGH.
Here's a shot showing how unfitted/bunchy the back is, but that's what makes it comfy:
Wear to: Work or a date with the husband. This fabric is just a little too nice to risk further damage at the playground.
Oh, and the slingback pumps are the Miz Mooz Avery—they were the most 70s-looking closed-toed shoes I could find in my closet (no longer available, but these slingbacks have a similar vibe).
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