Finished: Bargain 1960s/70s Dress

It feels like absolutely ages since I've posted a finished garment and a proper pattern review. I was inspired to make this dress after finding a great bit of charity shop fabric and matching it with a pattern in my stash. I was hoping for a pretty and smart dress that wasn't too formal and decided to aim to get it finished for my meet up with Debi and Kristen at the weekend. I had in mind those simply-shaped dresses you often see on the High Street that you can throw on with leggings or tights to look a bit smarter for going out.

There was *just about* enough fabric but I was able to squeeze the pieces on, despite breaking a few rules about having the grain line exactly straight on a couple of bits - shush! 

Pattern Used
Simplicity 8638 from 1970. I made View 1. It's quite a 60s-looking dress, which makes sense considering 1970 is only just in the 70s.

Does it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope? 
Yes, except without the centre front seam.

Were the instructions easy to follow? 
Yep, this was a really straightforward pattern to follow. No surprises! 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 
I liked the simple shape, and that the simplicity of pattern allows changes like buttons on the yoke and in inset in different colours (View 2). There wasn't much to dislike, though I did take the time to carefully number all the notches, as on the pattern pieces, which really wasn't necessary as the instructions did not refer to the notches by number, and putting it together was pretty obvious.

Fabric & Notions 
Fabric is some kind of man-made, slightly shiny printed floral. It cost a whole 95 pence for just over a metre and a half. The wooden cut-out buttons were from my stash - a Christmas present from last year. I think they could have been made for this fabric as they match perfectly in colour and style.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made
I didn't want a centre seam on the front as it would have disrupted the fabric pattern, so I cut the front piece on the fold. I didn't make any fit adjustments - I usually cut a 36 inch bust and have to make it smaller but as this pattern was a 34 inch I just cut it as it was. It does fit well but is a little tight on the shoulders and upper chest, which is always where I need adjustments.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? 

I would definitely sew it again, probably in a plain fabric for work. It would be nice in a light wool or a plaid suiting. Next time I would add a little more room at the shoulders.


Fabric    0.95
Zip         1.50
Pattern   0.50   (Approx - part of a job lot from eBay)
Thread   0.00    Already had the right colour
Buttons  0.00    Gift

Total   £2.95 - Yes, that's right!

I'm really happy with the result and would like to make it again. It fitted the bill perfectly for a simple and satisfying (and cheap!) make. I also made a decent job of the invisible zip - my best yet. I'm also super-proud of my top stitching on the front yoke. I had to re-do it after it looked dreadful the first time. My easing at the shoulders is a bit dodgy, but there wasn't much give in the fabric as it's man-made. As I was putting it together I had a slight panic that the fabric was a little curtain-y. I think I got away with it though. Overall I can see this dress being a really useful wardrobe staple.

K x


  1. Just love the dress! I'm glad I am not the only one who doesn't always keep perfectly on grain...

  2. Those buttons are so cute. And the fabric is lovely too, not too"curtainy" as you think. lol.

  3. I LOVE this dress!! And I break grainline rules, too. ;)

  4. I love this dress! And I LOVE the price.. Great work!

  5. I absolutely love this dress and it was so great to see it in person! Love the photo of your 'sewing assistant' :)

  6. Truly scrumptious! Beautiful fabric that you've really done justice to with choice of pattern. Ooo you're so lucky to have such a frock in your wardrobe now!!

  7. That is absolutely gorgeous! I love the print and the buttons top it all off nicely.

    On a non sewing related note, I have that same Tintin poster in my bathroom... In French and everything! (great minds etc!)

  8. Thanks everyone! I don't feel so naughty going against the grain now either :)

    Caroline, nice to see a fellow Tintin fan.

    Debi, I think 'sewing sabateur' might be more accurate than assistant :)

  9. That is one gorgeous dress, Kestrel. I love that fabric and it so suits that pattern. Top notch!


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