Two blog posts in one week, wow, I’m on fire!
Today I would like to tell you all about my most recent vintage make, a 1960s Simplicity shirt waist dress. I spotted this pattern on eBay earlier this year but only got around to making it last month. I was attracted to the fitted bodice, full skirt and various sleeve options and I was full of ideas of for fabrics and prints.
I’ve just had a quick look on eBay and there doesn’t seem to be any more of these patterns on sale at the moment. However, I’ve included some examples of modern patterns in a similar style at the bottom of this post for anyone interested in making a dress like mine.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I bought this pattern in the spring and purchased my fabric shortly afterwards, with the intention of making myself a nice summer dress. As usual I got distracted with other projects but luckily the cotton I chose has a black background so I can get away with wearing it now with tights. It’s a pretty 100% cotton from the Little Fabric Shop, priced at £5 per metre (I used 3 metres).
I must say this pattern was a joy to work with. As it was a single size pattern I decided to cut it out rather than trace it like I often do. It’s described as being a size 14 with a 36” bust, which usually fits me quite well. However, the waist was listed as being 27”, some 2” smaller than mine, sadly. That said, I often find patterns make up on the big side so I made a bodice toile without altering it. But on this occasion the measurements were accurate and I ended up adding 1.5cm to each side seams. A little depressing but never mind!
As you can see, on the bodice I started at the notch and graduated out towards the waist. Also, checkout the detail and markings on the pattern- beautiful! Each piece was printed on a separate piece of paper making cutting out much easier.
I made version three, which features a softly pleated skirt rather than a gathered skirt. I haven’t made many pleated skirts yet and thought it would make a nice change. I found the instructions easy to follow and the markings on the pattern were so useful. I like to use tailor tacks rather than invisible pens as I never quite trust that the marks will disappear. I also use different colour threads for different sized dots to avoid confusion.
The only part of the pattern I found slightly tricky was the collar, front facings and button bands but I think this was because I’d never made a shirt dress before. I imagine those who have would not have had any problems. One thing I would reccommend doing is marking the ‘fold line’ on the front bodice to ensure you fold the facing at the right point. I got this wrong on my toile.
I took these pictures after I completed the collar as I was so chuffed with the finished result. This was achieved purely by following the instructions without really understanding how it would turn out. There is no greater feeling than when something you have never done before works. It’s one of my favourite things about sewing and I am full of admiration for the talented pattern drafters who design these things.
Ideally, I would have like to have used plastic mustard/apricot coloured buttons to match the small flowers in the print. Unfortunately, I could not find any last week and I desperately wanted to finish the dress in time for my trip to Edinburgh. I settled on covered buttons but they are kind of lost in the print so I will probably change them at a later date. I also added some poppers at the skirt front opening for a bit of added security.
Normally when I make dresses or skirts I have to add at least three inches to the length. I’m 5’11” with long legs and an average body length. This means I usually only have to alter the skirt pieces and not the bodice. But on this occasion I didn’t bother as the pattern provides a generous 6cm hem allowance. I used the full allowance on my skirt and my dress is still longer than the pattern illustration. Less lanky girls might like to bear this in mind.
I absolutely love my finished dress and I really enjoyed wearing it in Edinburgh. My friend Vanessa took a few pictures of me near the castle but it was a little bright and very cold so I took some more photos at home. Notice how I am posing in front of my Paris picture – I thought this complemented my beret!
Take your time and mark on all of the dots, notches and markings. For the pleats I did a tiny snip at the fold line and then a tiny stitch within the seam allowance at the point you bring the fold to.
I used three metres of cotton fabric but you will need more for the long sleeve version. I also used lightweight interfacing, thread, three cover buttons and two poppers.
I added 1.5cm to each front and back side seam, which provided an extra 6cm of ease.
I used a vintage pattern from 1968 but these modern patterns are similar.
Thank you so much for reading my blog.
Happy sewing 🙂