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.
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.
PATTERN: 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
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!
The 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.
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.
What 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.
The 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.
My 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.
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.