OO7 Halston-Style Maxi Dress

Allie J's Social Sew badgeWhen I saw Allie J.’s monthly “Social Sew” theme of August being “Hot, Hot Heat”, I picked up a project waiting in the works to sew up and finish.  I think my garment perfectly fulfills each word of her challenge theme – what else could be doubly ‘hot’ more than a 1970’s, Halston-style, “James Bond girl” movie dress, with the ‘heat’ being the weather outside that necessitates a maxi sundress.

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I have sewn plenty of garments from year 1971 patterns, but here’s another for this post that rather looks like a 1930’s does 1970’s.  My dress is directly inspired from a dress worn by the “Bond girl” Barbara Bach in the 1977 movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”.  Now that I’ve got this dress, all I need is some secret gadgets, a little intrigue, the classic theme music playing in the background, and a handsome chap in a suit.

Barbara Bach - close-up“Just call me Agent.”  Barbara Bach (“Agent Anya”) marked the beginning of a new type of “Bond girl”.  Post Barbara Bach, I love how Bond girls seem to share the same similarities of lovely garments, kick-butt moves, assertiveness, and thrilling action as my other favorite screen girl, Agent Peggy Carter.  Elegance doesn’t have to be prissy…it can be strong and self-empowering, especially when you have made your own outfit for the part!

Butterick 6671, August 1971, junior's-compTHE FACTS:

FABRIC:  Lightweight, 100% polyester interlock knit

PATTERN:  Butterick #6671, from August of 1971

NOTIONS:  Navy thread (which I had already) and 3 packs, same as 3 yards, of silver sparkle decorative elastic, bought from JoAnn’s Fabric store.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My dress was finished on August 15, 2016, after a total time spent of maybe 10 hours (I’ll break down this time amount in an explanation down below).

TOTAL COST:  This interlock knit is cheap and cost even less with a coupon, but I did need a couple yards.  The three packs of elastic were a few dollars each – so I suppose my total is about $10.  Not bad at all!!!

I find it so curious how my dress is from a ’71 pattern and the only thing was the neckline which needed to be changed to make it up like a ’77 Bond movie gown.  Vogue even cameVogue 8449, early 70's dress out with similar jeweled neckline maxi sundress in 1972, too (#8449), more alike than my own pattern to the Bond movie costume.  I usually think of vintage movies as keeping pace with fashion or at least starting a trend, but here is a certain design out there offered 5 years before being made up for a noticeably major movie series.  Halston’s style of minimalist, elegant, body complimentary garments for women was already popular and available to the public by the date of this pattern, and well established by the release of the Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”.  So, while I think the outfits of the movie are just awesome, I do not see them as cutting edge (what I would expect from a Bond movie) as much as my pattern is.  I also find it interesting that this pattern is in juniors’ sizing, appealing to teenagers.

The juniors’ sizing is something I had to adjust at the cutting/layout stage, but as many of my 70’s patterns seem to be in these shorter teen proportions, I knew what to do.  I add in 2 inches across at a line drawn horizontally across the chest somewhere between the end point of the bust line (or slightly above) and the bottom third of the armhole.  The chosen line to add in the two inches is then added in around the back to completely bring the bust, and all the subsequent proportions of the waist and hips, too, back down to normal misses’ adult size.  (See my first junior’s dress.) As this is a sleeveless dress, my add-in line was at the bust line point over to the point of the side seam.  Sure this makes the hem a bit longer, but a wide and thick hem helps to slightly weigh this dress down.

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As my dress is a knit, I eliminated the back center zipper.  However, I had problems fitting the back dipping arch of the dress and I can’t say if it’s because of the pattern, or the way I sized up, or from eliminating the zipper.  It was really baggy!  I added in three darts on each side of the back, which sort of mars the smooth simplicity I was hoping from this dress, but I would rather have a good fitting garment.  The high halter neckline of the original pattern was also cut down to just above the bust line and out over to the edge.

Movie still - back viewMy chosen fabric of the lightweight interlock was a great choice, if I must say so myself, but a surprising one.  Until now, I’ve only used this kind of interlock as a lining to back other fabrics as I am making a garment, so this is a first time for the interlock to be worn on its own.  I am quite pleased with it.  Polyester is my least favorite fiber material, but it is most tolerable to me in this light interlock form.  It creates hardly any static, has a nice flowing ‘hand’, is breathable with its tiny waffle weave yet silky in finish, super sheer by itself but opaque once worn, and with a stable stretch.  I’m supposing the original movie dress is either a rayon or a silk jersey knit.  However, this interlock was on hand in the house in a perfect matching color (a very dark blueish navy) and has similar but slightly less body-clingy properties…so it was used, and I’m glad I did!  Yay for stash busting!DSC_0215a-compfull dress shot -

The thigh-high slit helps amp up the hottie factor.  It also makes the skirt portion of the dress just beautifully move and flow around me as I walk as if it has its own independent mind and its own places to go.  I see in the Bond movie that Barbara Bach’s dress is the same way.  Her dress however has two off-center front slits up to the thigh whereas mine only has one on the left side seam.  At first I had it as a knee-high slit, but that just seemed to reserved compared to the rest of the dress, so I made it higher (but still not as high as the pattern called for)!  I can’t help but think of the ZZ Top song, “She’s got legs…”

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The neckline is pretty much the highlight of the dress, so I took extra pains to get it right. Now, of course the movie dress has diamanté straps and neckline decorations of real crystals, probably.  Mine is more of an everyday girl’s version.  The metallic elastic would not be sewn on by my machine, and neither would my machine tolerate metallic thread no matter what I tried.  (It was getting stuck in the tension feed.)  Thus, although the dress itself only took me just a few hours to make, hand sewing on the metallic elastic took me many more hours than that.  Argh!  Hand sewing is something my hand, shoulders, and neck cannot take without making my body miserable, so I did the sewing in stages.  As I’ve said before, the promise of the end look always gets me through the hard parts of finishing a garment.

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So does anybody know of a metallic thread that is decently sturdy?  I used a Coats and Clark brand and even hand sewing was hell with it.  I had to sew with little short lengths because after a dozen stitches the thread would fray and separate.  Is Gutermann better?  Or is there some brand better yet?  Or do the modern offerings of metallic thread just…well…stink, and should I try vintage metallic thread?

Making this OO7 dress makes me ponder a few things.  Again, this dress is one of the many I’ve sewn which amazes me at how easy and inexpensive fancy gowns are when self-made.  In the stores, I’ll bet buying a gown remotely like this, which probably would not fit half as well, would cost a fistful of dough to buy.  Again, another vintage pattern shows me how patterns, designers, and movies all have been so interrelated.  Again, I see film fashion and iconic designs transmuted to the public is generally so lacking nowadays (with a few occasional exceptions).  Glamour is easier to wear and more available in the hands of those who create with fabric than the greater populace reliant on ready-to-wear realizes.

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For more movie images, see Barbara Bach’s fan website here or ‘Classiq.me’ for a review of the movie fashions

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A Christmas Cotton Set for the Mr. and Mrs.

No – I’m not talking about the Mr. and Mrs. Claus of Christmas, but making something for me and my hubby! It feels so good to finally see (and get to wear) something from my stash that was silently begging to be re-fashioned! It is nice, too, among the business of making (and finding) gifts for everyone else to make holiday gifts for a little “selfish” sewing for ourselves…

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I’m wearing my Burda “Wrap, Drape, and Tie” set from the previous post.

This story starts with a downer but ends well. One attempt at creating an elegant, ankle length, full circle cotton skirt for a Christmas about 12 years ago turned out to be a disappointing fail that I couldn’t wear. The skirt only looked tacky, overwhelming, and literally homemade. It was just one those bad ‘fabric-print-pattern’ combinations. However, I loved the print of mistletoe and holly, and the cotton was very soft, thick, and high quality so I always wanted to make something better of a ‘failure’ to redeem myself. Here is that re-fashion combo on Christmas day at family’s house – not-so-good picture and all! It is a man’s neck tie, 3 ½ inches wide from a 1971 pattern, for my hubby and a vintage inspired bias-skirted apron for myself.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  100% cotton is the “Holly and Mistletoe” print, but the lining for the back of my apron (in a deep bright green) is a broadcloth which I suppose is mostly cotton, too, with some polyester perhaps.100_6606a-comp

NOTIONS:  I used whatever I had on hand for both the apron and the tie, which included thread (of course), interfacing, bias tape, and a blank clothing label.

PATTERNS:  The Tie: McCall’s #2971, year 1971; The Apron: the “Mango Tango” pattern from the book “A is for Apron” by Nathalie Mornu; The original skirt: Simplicity 4883, “Design by Karen Z”, year 2004, made in a size larger than what I needed so as to have an elastic waist.

Simplicity 4883, full & half circle skirts, yr 2004, with A is for Apron bookTHE INSIDES:  Both items could not be made any better even for being rather fast in completion. The apron has bias bound edges, both inside and on the edges, while the tie’s edges are not seen, 100% covered, tucked away inside itself. There is a “custom label” underneath just like store bought ties, too (picture below).100_6827a-comp

TIME TO COMPLETE:  I have a beef about the tie which I’ll address later, but it took me a total of 2 ½ hours to make. The apron took me maybe 4 or 5 hours, which is twice as long as my ‘normal’ time for aprons, a fact due in part to adding lining, doing some fitting, and much ironing.

TOTAL COST:  As this was a re-fashion of something bought and made from such a while back, made with what was on hand, I’m counting it as free. However, the tie only calls for 5/8 yard, and the apron pieces are rather small, so both could be made from scraps or at least very little fabric to make them low-cost creations.

100_6603a-compFor this duo of re-fashions, the absolute hardest part was at the pattern layout and cutting stage. It was hard to re-establish the grain line and selvedge direction on a garment that had already been made. My first step in the re-fashion was to cut off the waist panel which extended several inches down below the waist so that I could deal with just the bias circle skirt part – the only part I really wanted to use this time. I’ll save the skirt lining and the waistband for some other time. Now the only thing I knew was that the center front of both the front and the back skirt were on the straight grain, so I the rest I figured from there. Then finding the right grain for each of the pattern pieces for both patterns was the next challenge. It was kind of like a puzzle to fit the patterns in on the right grain and I can tell the bias might be just very slightly off in the tie and the apron skirt, but so close to right on that I shouldn’t be fretting. A successful re-fashion is always something great, especially when you can end up with two wearable projects out of one unwanted one!

100_6822a-compNotions and supplies given to me by my Grandmother came in handy for these two projects. Pre-Christmas time can be crazy enough the way it is, and the last thing I needed was an extra errand to the fabric store. Besides, I love to make my projects work as far as I can with what is on hand, although I do try to keep up a good supply so as to make this practice work more often than not. Anyway, I used two slightly different colored bright red single fold bias tapes (1/2 inch) for the apron, as well as a random cut of happy Christmas green. Going with a slightly shortened apron skirt, this green cotton lined the back of my apron and also a man’s utility apron I made as a gift for my sister-in-law’s husband, so it was enough for two actually. Hooray for stash busting with a good cause.

Oh goodness, the cover of the tie is so happily deceptive, for as nice as the tie turned out it 100_6655-compcertainly did not take me 45 minutes. In reality, it took me half of an hour to do both the cutting out and sewing out the pointed ends and two hours of hand sewing to finish the long inner center seam edges. (The two hours of hand sewing were actually quite productive, as I was multi-tasking listening to Ken Burns’ program on the history of “Prohibition”.) However, surely there must be a faster and easier pattern to use to make a tie so I probably will not be using this pattern again. Beyond some not-as-clear-as-they-could-be instructions, the pattern wasn’t really all that bad. After all, the tie did turn out quite nice, with clean finishes, and creative construction methods…it just didn’t live up to its façade of being ‘quick and easy’ as it makes you think. I do appreciate the fact that the tie pattern gave two size options: a 3 ½ inch wide or 4 ½ inch wide front bottom. Both of us decided unanimously for the 3 ½ inch option. He didn’t want to look too vintage, although he does look totally like a swing era gent in his picture.

100_6604a-compHow and who came up with the method of transforming a ‘T’ shaped end into a self-faced triangle? So smart, I wish I’d done it, but whatever, it tickles my mind. Seriously, look at that pattern! There is definitely some backwards thinking ‘engineering-style’ needed in sewing, especially when it comes to designing patterns, in order to deconstruct how to manipulate fabric and get it to turn out a certain way. I think this tie pattern is a good example of what I love about sewing…it’s better than magic how something in paper that’s flat, odd-shaped, with no dimension can become a wearable work of art. Amazing!100_6654-comp

My hubby’s father has done all this before me – he makes ties out of worn out denim blue jeans, and he has made his own pattern for his projects. Not to give away any secrets but it has a simpler design of construction which fits appropriately with the heavy weight of the denim. My father-in-law’s ties and my own are both products of re-using and re-fashioning, a trait I am proud to share. I am the happy owner of a copy of his personal, special pattern and maybe I’ll have to try it in my quest for the perfect design.

My biggest fear was that the two ends would turn out looking wonky. What if one side of the point has a different angle? As it turned out, following the markings of the pattern and such did produce perfect angles for even looking tie ends. Yay! I’m proud at being able to successfully make a not-so-traditional item and try something new.

100_6738a-compA cotton tie might sound odd just because you don’t see them sold but ties haven’t always been what they are today. In the 1910’s and 1920’s men’s ties were more like scarves or square bottomed. In the 1930’s, 1940’s, and the 1970’s tie were often a little wider than what we’re used to, and throughout the last 70 or so years ties were made from different materials such as sweater knits or made with odd monograms, painted designs, and appliques. On the pattern I used, the envelope back lists every material under the sun (almost) as recommended fabrics.

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Love the quote on this page!

Interfacing was added down the inside center of hubby’s tie. I didn’t really know what to use as interfacing. Muslin cotton? Canvas? Regular modern interfacing? I went with the modern lightweight interfacing and merely ironed it down in very small patches at the two pointed ends (to create a sharp triangle), at the center seam for joining the two pieces, and once in between. I made sure to tack the interfacing down with the tie anyway when I hand-stitched the first center inside seam down through all the layers. It should stay in place if it needs a washing, which I can do ‘cause it’s only cotton, he he.

I have so many patterns and choices when it comes to apron making but for some reason this particular design from a book of mine “spoke” to me, just seeming to be the right fit for the Christmas cotton. I’ve already made my mistake when I made the skirt, and it a pattern naturally pairs up with a fabric I’m not resisting. I kind of wanted something classier for my apron, like ivory or soft green color highlights by using different bias tape than the bright red I did use, but Hubby was right when he said those colors would have been too muted. I do love the slightly vintage flair to it, the very fun and feminine bias flaring skirt, the unusual pocket (too small to be too useful, but still cute), and the neckline features. In other words, everything! Maybe I should re-name this apron into a twist on the pattern title – “Christmas Tango”?

Patterns from this book are in the back, needing enlargement of 400% to be true to size. I took the “easy” route for the patterns and used a photocopier service to do all the printing and figuring for me. Otherwise one could draft the patterns up to full size themselves.

100_6813a-compThe pattern was made “as-is” except for a slight fitting I made to the ties. The ties are an extension of the bodice and slanted at such a sharp angle down that on my smaller frame I would have ended up with a bow over my behind…not the best spot. So I added a pair of 100_6825-comp1/4 inch darts into the inner (upper) curve where the bodice section runs into the ties to make a sharper turn, keeping the ties around my waist where they should be. Keep in mind that this was done before I sewed on the bias trim. Notice, too, how I took the extra time to line the extension of the ties with the printed fabric so that there wouldn’t be a “wrong side” of green lining cotton showing behind me. I love to make such little touches that none but an expensive apron would have. It doesn’t take much extra effort on my part and gives the pleasure of having a de-luxe apron.

Perhaps the mistletoe on the print will prompt holiday smooches both ways – from him for the cook (me), and from me to the dapper man with the cotton tie (me). Being a coordinated twosome has never been so fun and tolerable as this. It’s not like making matching clothes. An apron and a tie are just something to add onto our clothes, that we can take off when we feel “too cute” together. What a better time to be together than the Christmas holiday, anyway!

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My special “Merry Christmas” pin is decorating the apron top!

Multi-Purpose 1971 Jiffy Garment

All I know is that it fits, looks great, and it is in a peacock print (my favorite – see this post) lined in fabric of the color turquoise (another favorite). Can’t go wrong there! Whether it is a dress, or a tunic, or a jumper depends on the weather and how I feel like wearing the garment. That is the versatility of my newest 1970s sewing creation.

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The printed fashion fabric is a 100% cotton from the quilting department, and the lining inside is a cotton blend, twill-looking gabardine solid.Simplicity 9461, year 1971, Jiffy dress or tunic or jumper & pants-comp

NOTIONS:  None were needed to buy ‘cause all I needed was thread…pretty simple, right? It was my decision later to use some bias tape on hand to finish off the armhole edges.

PATTERN:  Simplicity #9461, year 1971, a “Super Jiffy” pattern.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Only about 4 hours were put into making this dress/jumper/tunic thing. It was done in one afternoon and evening on December 3, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  What insides? Everything is tucked inside itself.

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TOTAL COST:  Maybe $8.00 for the gabardine and a few more dollars for the printed cotton.

This little number is kind of a mystery fashion item – one of the reasons why I wanted to try it especially since it’s a one piece “Super Jiffy” pattern. In other words, I’m not committing much time and not cutting into my fabric much since this line of patterns seems to frequently be a large portion manipulated into fitting with clever darts and shaping (see this other 70’s “Super Jiffy” dress). Anyway, what is the real point to this? It does make for a really cute dress, and is decent as a jumper, but the wrap doesn’t close as much as I had thought it would. The 70’s did have some trends of slightly nonsensical layers, such as short cropped sweater vests over blouses or skirts over pants. I will need to wear tights, pants, shorts, or a mini skirt under this for decency’s sake. Maybe I’ll even have to whip up the pants provided in the pattern for full retro effect.

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My pattern is in junior’s proportions, so I had to do some interesting and successful grading up. As this pattern is one big tissue piece, at first I thought I couldn’t just add the amount needed like regular patterns…but then I thought back, “Why not?!” Time for some unwilling slashing to the pattern! So I cut the vertical center front line apart (where the two front cross over) and added in ¼ of my total amount added in, and another ¼ of the total amount was added to the vertical back seam, turning it into something I cut on the fold (rather than having a center back seam like the pattern directs). Then just like the other 60’s and 70’s junior patterns I’ve done (see here or here), I added in 2 inches horizontally across the chest between the shoulder and the bust to lower all the bust, waist, hip, and hem lines in one simple step.

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If you have a strong aversion to doing darts, then this pattern is not for you because they are quite plentiful. However, the darts are practically the only work this garment involves. My consolation to sewing all the darts (and I had to do double because the lining is a second mirror of the dress/jumper) was the final way the garment fits so well. This is seriously the best fitting Jiffy pattern I’ve made yet. Some of those darts are in slightly unusual directions, but they do their job very well – the designers were smart here.

As I mentioned already, the lining is like sewing a second dress/jumper, so as to face the two right sides together, sew along the entire outer edge, leaving a small opening to turn inside out and top-stitch things in place. This dress/jumper could easily been made reversible doing it this way (already did that here), but I have plenty of garments in solid turquoise so I didn’t do this because I really wouldn’t wear it that way. Take note that making an entire second mirror garment for a whole body lining was entirely my idea. The pattern only provides for facing to the neckline/front closure edge and the armholes. Many times I opt out of facings, feeling like they are too fiddly sometimes, but as I didn’t use facings to this pattern I’m not including this in the same pool. The peacock cotton was very this and like Velcro to whatever else it touched except for the gabardine (or polyesters) so it needed to be lined. As my last step, I used simple single fold bias tape to turn under the edges of the armholes in lieu of the facings, too.

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The button at the tab is completely for show and the real closure system is really hidden underneath. When wearing this as a jumper, I seem to need slightly more room than when just wearing as a summer dress. Thus I made to closure system adjustable by having the inner side have lovely aqua ribbons and under the outer tab there is more than one position of hooking for the waistband-style eye. By the way, the unworkable front button is the same as the decorative one used on another turquoise jumper garment – my ’67 jumper. This is the end of these same buttons, don’t worry…it was a two pack with no more to come.

I’m still unsure if this project is done until I can completely make up my mind as to whether or not to add on the hand level side pocket. I don’t know how much wear this dress/jacket will get (the gauge for whether or not to put more work in). Goodness knows, I’ve got the extra fabric for a pocket and can pull out the pattern whenever I feel like I need its utility, but until then it’s going to be basic I guess.

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Yikes! Check out those “headlight” eyes on my doggie!

It’s funny how I find myself gravitating towards 1971 again and again now that I’m sewing more from the decade. Perhaps it’s because of my love for the decade of the 1960’s, so please don’t tire of this trend on my blog. I see most of what our culture thinks of as the “60’s” as noticeably happening between 1967 and 1971, before this the earlier 60’s had more of a 50’s influence in my mind with random trends emerging from the popular music bands. The hippie looks and bell bottoms of the 70’s were obvious in style, fashion, and patterns after 1972.

Multi-use wear garments are my favorite pattern finds to make and therefore wear. They are something generally unavailable to buy “ready-to-wear”, and fun to make no matter how much wearing they get.  I’ve found that trying different styles, fashions, and garments has a higher success rate, lower monetary risk, and higher chance for personal partiality when you make it yourself, besides being so much easier, cheaper, and enjoyable.  It’s a win-win…teaching yourself something while ending up with something uniquely yours to wear!

Tropical Wrap – a 1971 Summer Maxi Dress

Do you have one hour to spare? Do you have two yards of beautifully draping, summer-worthy fabric? Most sewers will answer yes. Well, here’s a year 1971 Super Jiffy maxi dress pattern that I found will fulfill a sewing ‘need’ for an uncomplicated project and look effortlessly amazing in – yes – one hour with two yards of fabric.

100_5935a-compTHE FACTS:

FABRIC: a 100% rayon challis

NOTIONS: I always have black thread on hand, and the inner closure ties were from my scrap bag of ribbons, so no notions were bought. The ribbons are so pretty and such a perfect match color-wise, it’s a shame they don’ get seen.

Simplicity 9415 combo back and front-compSimplicity 1100 reprint coverPATTERN: My pattern is an original, Simplicity #9415, year 1971, but this has also been reprinted this year (2015) as Simplicity #1100

TIME TO COMPLETE: One hour on the afternoon of July 21, 2015

THE INSIDES: The center back seam is covered in bias tape, but all the other seams are the hemmed edges all the way around, which are turned up in tiny ¼ allowances.100_5974-comp

TOTAL COST: Two yards of this tropical print challis was bought on clearance at Hancock Fabrics store for about $5 or $6 in total.

My hubby actually seems to find it hard to believe that front start to finish, as in “laying out the fabric and placing the pattern on it” to “ironed and wearing it on myself”, took me only one hour…but it’s true! After all I’m not nicknamed “Seam Racer” for nothing! Now I know every seamstress may not have the ability to be as speedy with her skills and that’s perfectly fine. However, even if this dress doesn’t exactly take you one hour, it will not take you much longer than that, I would imagine. It is a “Super Jiffy” pattern, and it really is incredibly simple, fast to assemble, nicely fitting, comfortable to wear, and (most importantly) flattering. This is the first Jiffy pattern out of the many I have met from either the 60’s or 70’s with which I am completely happy with and can file no complaints. That’s saying something!

100_5946-compThe best part about making this 1971 wrap dress is that in the time it could take you to go to the store, try on and find that perfect dress, then fork out the dough for it, you can decide to sew your own for less money and in less time. The motivation for making my wrap dress was a night out with my hubby – my little guy was babysat, and I had a new dress for that night by the time the dress was done. I do love challenging and complicated sewing projects, but an instant satisfaction project is always nice too, and I think everyone will agree.Butterick 4526 yr 1995 swimsuits and sarong wrap&1971 halter wrap sundress ad in directional fabric

I’ll bet the short version is really cute and fun, but I wanted something elegant and –hey- since I had the fabric for it…might as well. Maxi dresses cost more at the stores, and a little extra fabric on discount is no big deal generally. I would like to try a short dress from this pattern out of a wild, possibly border print fabric (like in the old 1971 magazine print at far right) or even a terry cloth for a swimsuit cover-up (like the 1995 pattern at left which looks very similar in design). Next year perhaps…

As you can see on the pattern cover, there is only one large piece needed to make to maxi wrap dress. The straight edge on the side that dips down is put along the fold, making the U-back. Despite being put on the fold, the instructions said to cut this back center, and it really is necessary since it does have some curvy shaping. However, I did make a very slight modification to the pattern. I merely put the bottom half of the center back seam on the fold, and cut the top half out as a regular seam. Thus I only had to sew halfway down, kind of like a dart, before finishing the edges. This center back seam is the only real seam to the dress, beside the duo of darts which are sewn into the front/side at the waistline. One of these front/side darts has the inner waist tie attached to it so that your wrap stays decently closed. I find the inner waist ties help me find and define where the waist is exactly as I am putting my dress on myself.

100_5951a-compWhat is the most time-consuming part to the dress is definitely hemming the long edges not just on the bottom, but all the way around everywhere else, too. I can do good straight stitching rather quickly so this part was a breeze for me, but a word of warning…the back U curve was rather tricky and took some snipping or stretching to hem it without warping the bias.

Looking at the sizing chart on the back, I should have technically made a small, but the pattern I had was a medium and I figured correctly that perfect fitting is not that important with a wrap dress like this one. I am glad I actually went a size up because it gives me slightly more coverage around the body. The wrap portion from the waist down is not as fully generous with the overlap of the two layers as most wrap dresses I have made before. If you have not made a wrap garment, let me briefly explain – the further the right edge of the wrap overlaps from the edge of the inner left wrap, the less “flashing” open you will have. The skinnier the skirt portion of a wrap dress or skirt, the more opening up you will have, also. This wrap dress has both – a smaller overlap of the wrap and a very slim skirt portion, but together they are the sexy design feature to this 1971 maxi dress. I really don’t mind the way the dress opens up. I feel it keeps it from being too overwhelmingly long, as well as making for a very elegant appearance when you walk the way it flows open and swirls around the body at each forward step. The way the skirt opens up highlights one’s legs and also shoes, which makes me happy because I’m proud of the comfy, vintage, ‘Hush Puppy’ brand heeled sandals I like to pair with my dress.

100_5939a-compThe wrap neckline actually does not have to be tied as the pattern shows, in other words laid oppositely on each side of the neck and tied behind the neck. I experimented and found that the neck straps can be tied into a knot before going around the neck (as I did for this 1930’s style dress), twisted and tied around under the arms for a strapless look, or even twisted together to go over only one shoulder and (with assistance) pinned down to the lower back. Even though these other neck-tying methods are totally possible, it does make the bottom skirt portion of the dress open up even more than normally. I solved this flashing problem with the skirt (when the neckties are wrapped differently) can be solved by closing the wrap with a pin or brooch to the side, just a waist tie/belt, or both together, as I wore on my own dress.

100_5959a-comp-comboMy being cold-sensitive necessitates a sweater for most indoor places when the weather is toasty outside. Air-conditioners normally make a room seem like an ice-box to me in most restaurants. In my opinion, this ’71 wrap dress doesn’t work well with many sweaters and jackets because of the neckline bulk…one sole drawback.100_5947-comp

For a basic but elegant warm weather garment – quick to make as it is to wear – give Simplicity’s 1971 Super Jiffy wrap dress a try if you have a chance to nab an original or a multi-sized re-print. Then break it out and be prepared to have a new dress almost before you know it. Instant and low-cost garments can be made by you much better than anything a store has to offer – vintage patterns have some killer styles that need to be worn and deserve to be seen more often! Do you have a favorite “super-quick” and low-fabric needy pattern which amazed you recently?

I recognize that it is now officially the season of fall where I live, and so I will be doing more postings for the chilly weather. However, I know that other parts of the world are just gearing up for their warm season, and so I plan on mixing a little of summer here and there in between the coming several months to brighten up my winter and give other readers ideas for their season.

Men’s 1971 Skinny Stretch Jean Pants

Some decades of the 20th century have been more accommodating than others when it comes to skinny or not-so-skinny guys who want their clothes to fit closely. The decade of the 1970’s was one of those eras where clothes fitted more like a second skin, or at least showed off the shape of the body, for both men and women alike. Think of some of the stereotypical popular fads of the times – super short “short shorts” and “hot pants”, knitwear, and chest baring tunics. What I will feature here, is also popular in the 70’s but unfortunately not as well-known as bell bottoms – men’s skinny pants in the straight “broomstick” style.

100_5874-compMy hubby was in need of new jeans, and, being a seamstress, I understood this as an opportunity to take on a challenging project. Using an old Kwik-Sew pattern and some stretch denim, here is the happy success of my effort to fit my “thin man” with some pants that fit him better than anything a store can offer. These pants are full of “first times” for my sewing experience, but hubby is very happy with them and I do not feel like I could have done better.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  A brown stretch denim, with a nice medium weight, smooth feel, and slight white “pebble” appearance from the weave underneath when you look at it closely. The fiber content is 60% cotton, 36% polyester, and 4% stretch. The inside bottom half of the pockets is made from a cotton/polyester broadcloth, in a dark brown color, which came from my stash on hand.

NOTIONS:  I used white thread to make a fashionable contrast, and I always make sure to have plenty of white thread on hand. I also used interfacing and a sliding “waistband style” hook-and-eye from on hand, too. The only notion I did buy was the metal “jean zipper” for the front fly.100_5726-comp

PATTERN:  Kwik-Sew #322, year 1971

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The jeans didn’t take me as long as I expected – a total of about 18 t0 20 hours. They were completed on July 16, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  Left raw but evened up and stitched together cleanly. I didn’t want to overwhelm my machine with thick seams or my skills with too many new skills by doing lapped seams, like I would have liked. Each seam is double stitched, with the crouch seams triple stitched next to one another for stability.

TOTAL COST:  The fabric was bought from Hancock fabrics, and cost (on clearance) about $7 in total for the 2 yards needed. The zipper cost an added $2.

From looking at 1970’s catalog advertisements and patterns, I see that the “broomstick” skinny straight leg style seems to keep to earlier in the decade (the ads I see are primarily from 1971). According to the blog “DressThatMan” they were a product of the Glen Oaks Company from New York City and ran quite expensive figuring prices with inflation calculator – about $140 in today’s money. The pattern used for hubby’s pants is not truly a “broomstick pants”, but they keep with the style. Broomsticks, like the Kwik-Sew pants, had a slightly higher waist than most pants from the 1970’s, and this is what my hubby is looking for in fit…no droopy drawer’s teen fashion here please! Broomstick pants were advertisement from 1971 for Broomsticks Men's Slacks. Broomsticks Slacks were a product of Glen Oaks in New York Citystretchy, again like hubby’s new pants, except for the fact that his are from a stretch denim, and the Broomsticks were almost always a polyester thick ponte-style knit. Bell bottom trousers usually swept the floor as they were meant to be worn with platform shoes, but the broomstick pants were higher hemmed, meant to be worn with flat dress or casual shoes for “the cool stud who wants to look experienced”…as I sum it up looking at the attitude of the old Broomstick ad models. I’m assuming my hubby doesn’t necessarily want to fill in “the cool stud” summary, but he does want some pants with a normal hem.

So many of the ads for Broomsticks terribly (and awkwardly) portray their product in a very obvious “girl magnet” or “sex appeal” direction (see this page for more 70’s bad adverts). I suppose direction of selling line is on account of the close-fitting knit, but I really wonder, as these pants aren’t heard of much, if their method of advertising failed the Glen Oaks Company before it started (like I could have told them). It’s a shame. The 1970’s could have actually had a fairly normal trend with the Broomstick pants, because after all, did bell bottoms actually look good on anyone?!

1971 Men's Fashion Ad, Montgomery Ward, Knit Slacks&Hubby's pictureI love how hubby’s Kwik-Sew jean pants have subtle retro features that speak of attention to detail while remaining utilitarian. There is a long 9 inch front fly in the front for the closure, angular slant front pockets, a wide waistband, a duo of back welt pockets with darts above them under the waist. Vintage enough to be different, straightforward enough to still be in fashion, and stylish enough to make a great pair of pants on trend. As I see it, clothes that are personally sewn necessarily have to look good – when the person wearing it feels good in what they are wearing, confidence is like icing to a cake!

My correct surmise was that starting with a pattern from a decade and a style that caters to a close fit for skinny guys would give him the custom fit he and I like to see. Thus, I really did not make any tailoring changes to the pattern before cutting. Fitting the pattern around him beforehand seemed to indicate they would be his size exactly as they were with no adaptation…and that turned out completely correct! I did measure the pattern waistband piece to figure out what would be the finished size so that the correct size could be chosen for my man. I really didn’t want my efforts to end in a fail or require too much adjusting. My measuring revealed that the finished waistband ended up about 1 inch below the size chosen. For example, the size 32 (which I made for him) finished up as a measurement of 31 ¼ inches. This size verses finished measurement difference is probably because the pattern is designed for stretch fabrics but also achieves that ‘snug and skinny’ 1970’s look.

100_5871a-compI really could not be happier with the pattern. This is the first Kwik-Sew pattern I’ve used, so I have no idea if the modern ones are different or the same, but this one was wonderful. The construction methods were ingenious and great, working out very well for a nice final product. There wasn’t a fabric layout on the instruction sheet, which was mystifying, but not exactly needed, but I did have to think clearly as to what grain and quantity were directed on the pattern pieces. I also felt like they did not make things any harder than they had to be when doing things as tricky as the zipper fly and welt pockets. But they were very clear and thorough nonetheless. Using the pattern was different, but that’s not a bad thing. 100_5733a-comp

A whole page of the instruction leaflet was dedicated to how to sew with knits, as in “what presser feet to use” and “what seams to use”. I never seen a “roller presser foot” like to one recommended and shown, nor have I seen one such thing shown in a pattern’s instructions before now. Do any of you my readers know about such a thing or happen to have and use one, so that you can tell me how well it works and if it would be worth my investment to buy such a sewing aid? I’d like to know if it is good for gripping fabric or is it good for going over thick seams…maybe both.

Sewing the front zipper fly and the welt pockets was an interesting experience. The way of constructing both amazes me. In my head, I can’t help but think, “Who came up with this intelligent design?!” I can say now that I definitely want to do a zipper fly again, and can also feel confident, too, as to how it will turn out after having the good luck to get it right the first time. As for the welt pockets, I have no inclination to do these again as I found them tiring, but I will sew them in a jacket or bottoms if called for because they did turn out in the end. Fold in, sew down, fold up, pull down is a short incomplete summary of the silliness to welt pockets. There was a lot of self-induced pressure on myself to get everything right on this project, which I didn’t need, but it gave me the drive to sit down and to both the zipper fly and the welt pocket duo each in their own solid cut of solid, focused time of clear-headed thinking. I spent a two hour slot of just working on the zipper fly, and on the next day, another two hours solid were spent on the welt pockets.

100_5883c-compOne of my friends at the local Hancock Fabric store once encouraged me to try a zipper fly, telling me it’s really not as hard as it seems. She was definitely right. It might seem convoluted and non-sensical the way the zipper goes in, but if I thought long and hard enough it kind of did make some sense enough to follow instructions according to the letter…and you know, it did work out! I had read through other directions for zipper fly insertion, but for some reason, even though Kwik-Sew’s flyer wasn’t picture heavy, I understood it this time. I will refer back to this pants pattern’s instruction sheet for the next zipper fly I sew.

100_5729a-comp-comboCrouch inseam construction for hubby’s pants was different, as well. Each of the four sections was sewn separately. I can see that this would make it easy to adjust the fit, however adjusting was not needed for my guy fit in them as they were.
These pants were made really long – and I mean that in the extreme! Hubby is on the taller side of the norm, and, as it was I folded out 3 inches from the height at the pattern stage, with another 3 inches hemmed up after the pants were done. Anyone with a height that tall and a waist as skinny as the pattern’s proportion is not the norm, I believe. The un-altered pants leg length is the one curious part of the pattern.

100_5872a-compJust like for the perfect knit wrap dress, keeping certain parts stable and preventing them from stretching was necessary for these 1971 pants. Firstly, I added stay tape netting strips into the seams around all the pockets. These spots are the primary place for the chance of being pulled out of shape from much use, but the last place you want that to happen. The stay tape didn’t add any bulk either.

The pattern called for interfacing the waistband, which leads me to talk about how these pants were made to accommodate his personal taste. I let hubby pick which weight he wanted, and he chose the lightweight over the medium. These pants needed a stable waist for them to stay up in place. Men don’t have hips like women, remember. Belts or braces (that is suspenders) seem to help them keep their pants from drooping. I might be the one doing the sewing, but I realize how things are different when sewing for someone else – my taste might not make someone else happy to wear as much as catering to the preferences of the wearer. Everyone has their own personal style that needs to be respected – what the ready-to-wear stores have to offer you doesn’t honor individuality.

100_5876-compThus, as much as I loved the clean and bold plain waistband on him, he really wanted to wear a belt on the trousers. Even an interfaced waistband wasn’t enough to keep them up…the bane of skinny men is droopy drawers, I suppose. To start, I made small ½ inch piping tubes, and stitching them flat (this was hard working with the denim, actually). Belt loops were sewn down in four places, at the two spots in the back where the darts (above the welt pockets) join into the waistband and at the two spots in the front where the pocket joins up to the waistband. So that the loops wouldn’t jar with the appearance of the waistband they were sewn down with the stitching flush horizontally with the stitching on the waistband. If he has to have belt loops, these aren’t too bad in my opinion – but he’s quite happy with them. That’s good.

Now that I’ve mastered pants for myself (see here and here), and now for my man, you might think I might rest with that…but no…I thrive on a challenge. I have a vintage corduroy and an old 1940’s pattern for some overall pants to make for our 3 year old son. Growing boys are their own sort of challenge! Look for his bottoms coming this winter. Pants sewn by me for the whole family!