Saturday, August 14, 2010

My 4th Mod Dress- Simplicity 8878 from 1970

I made the dress in this post using the above pattern.


My fourth dress. My salvation! Yes, I finally complete a dress that I feel really comfortable [GASP] wearing!

In fact, since I made it less than a week ago, I've worn it twice. It didn't turn out perfect (I know, I know, always the critic), but by God, it's perfect to me.

I used 100% polyester knit from Joann's, and I'm very happy with the fit and colors. I even figured out a trick to do the armhole and collar facings using bias tape. No more bulky vintage facings for me! Take that curved seams!

The biggest struggle was the zipper. I bought an invisible zipper again and still couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. Everyone online kept saying how "easy" it was. I felt pretty dumb.

After struggling over it, I finally installed it like a regular zipper. I had to go over it a few times with my machine so the stitching looks a little funny, but you don't really see it. I'm not sure why the zipper wouldn't stay. The seams kept coming a bit loose in certain areas.

Later, I figured out what went wrong with installing it as an invisible zipper. I had sewed part of the seam (like the pattern instructed), but with invisible zippers, you need a totally unstitched seam. So, I will try that again next time and hopefully the zipper will behave.

The best trick I learned this time around involved narrow zig-zag stitching. With my previous knit dress (#2), I used a straight stitch. It seemed like the dress wasn't holding well. This one holds a lot better with the zig-zag.
I'm still very unsure of myself when it comes to tension. Anyone have any good tension rules I can follow? I'm all about having some rules to follow. I don't like uncertainty, which is why I've been frustrated at times with sewing.


  1. You're doing great! I subscribe to a lot of sewing blogs (I think I read more about sewing than I actually sew) and yours is so refreshing because you don't try to hide your mistakes or your frustration with the process from the world. Keep making vintage, it looks awesome on you!

    Did you say you live in Atlanta? You should definitely check out Whipstitch. I went up there for the Arcade Fire show a few days ago and stopped by this place, really makes we wish I lived up there. They have tons of sewing classes, mostly focused on garments. The fabrics are super cute too, a lot of retro and vintage looking stuff. Good luck!

  2. Wow, that looks great! I'm feeling quite inspired to try something like this myself now.

    I'm learning from books too. What I do with tension is try sewing seams on scrap fabric using a range of settings and pick the one where there is the least show through of the needle thread to the underside and the bobbin thread to the top. You need to sew a seam not a single layer as you get different results.

    Can't wait to see what you do next.

  3. Here from Sew Retro and just wanted to say that I love your blog for the same reasons as Shona! Not to mention that you seem to process your sewing frustrations in much the same way as I do! Had I been writing a sewing blog when I first started, it would have sounded much like this! All I can say is, I've been sewing for a year now and I still get major sewing disasters that throw me into a massive funk, but I'm much better than when I started this hobby last year!

    I'm trial and error when it comes to tension because I don't have a clue! I think the dress looks great anyhow :)

    Also : I don't know if you know already, but you should check out - I've learnt a great deal from other members' projects and tutorials on there and also give Gertie's a look for great vintage sewing inspiration and articles :)

  4. Very cute dress. I can remember wearing dresses like that before they were retro, and yours looks authentic to me.

    Cyberdaze has the right advice regarding tension, but be sure to sew through the same number of layers as you will be sewing on your garment. You should not be able to see little loops of thread on either side of the seam... they should be hooking together out of sight between the layers. If you're seeing loops on top either tighten your bobbin (using the little screw on the bobbin casing... righty tighty) or loosen your upper thread tension using the dial on the machine. If you see loops on the bottom, do the reverse. Little adjustments!

  5. It is so refreshing to read a blog from someone that is also learning more about sewing (hi!), someone who makes mistakes and talks about it (I'm still not brave enough to try the invisible zipper!), makes beautiful things and doesn't live so far away (I'm from upstate S.Carolina!). I love this dress and I love riding along with you on your sewing adventures!!!! :D I love this pattern. It fits you well!

  6. @Shona: Thanks for the compliment! It's all perseverance at this point ; - ) Anyway, I enjoy sharing my mistakes and frustrations, because I know all you sewers out there will understand it. We can share in both the joy and misery that sewing can bring. My husband kind of gets what I'm saying, but he doesn't know the terminology nor the techniques. Being new, I feel it's especially helpful to vent. Regarding Whipstitch, I went one time, but it was when I first started sewing, and I hadn't a clue what I was looking for. All I remember is a bunch of beautiful colors and patterns, so I'll have to go back once I'm ready for some prints. I really have no reason to delay, since I live just a few blocks from there.

    @cyberdaze: Thanks for the compliment and the advice regarding tension. I'll have to try that.

    @lenarrd: Thank you for the compliment. I tried to dramatize my frustrations in a colorful manner. Although, I'll admit more cussing should have been included! It's weird about tension. It seems to be one of those things that all of us deal with but no one is quite sure about. I'll have to keep on trying and hope for the best. Thanks for the links too. I'll have to check them out ; - )

    @Fairevergreen: Thanks for the compliment and advice. I do occasionally see loops, so I'll try what you wrote. I've got to learn not to be lazy about these things. I'll admit that sometimes I try to take shortcuts that lead me into disaster. If I'd just take the time to do it right the first time, I'd be better off.

    @ice pink stars: Hey regional neighbor! ; - ) It's good to meet you and thanks for checking out my blog. I just started this last night at 10:00 PM, and I'm really happy to see all the advice and feedback. As a newbie, I feel like each project has at least 1 major disaster and at least two major crises. I can usually resolve the crises by bonding with my seam ripper, but what I'm trying to avoid is the major disasters. I guess all us newbies have to go through these lumps to get better. Thanks again for commenting ; - )

  7. Brave lady, but a clear natural.
    points to ponder,
    household pins and dressmakers pins are different, 'bridal' pins may be slimmer and sharper, and not leave the same marks.
    Some machines have an 'invisible zipper foot' which may be different from your regular zipper foot.
    Zips are contrary anyway.
    You are brilliant

  8. @mammafairy: Thanks for the compliment. I need the encouragement in these early stages ; - )

    I've been using dressmaker pins but not bridal pins so I'll track some of those done for sensitive fabrics. Also will look into the invisible zipper foot. Thanks for your help!

  9. I'm the sewing editor over at Craft Gossip. ( I got a reader tip about your blog, so of course I had to run over immediately and check out what you've been doing. I love the idea of a blog dedicated to sewing up the mod patterns from the 60s!! (I've got quite a few of them in my pattern stash that I intend to sew up one day...) Anyway, I wrote up a little feature about your blog. Here's the link in case you want to check it out:

    Warm regards,

  10. I love your mod dresses--they're so great! I have a question--did you make any alterations for fit? I've got a few vintage patterns in my stash, but I'm totally intimidated by the alterations I'd need to make in order to make the patterns work for my figure.

  11. @casserole: That's awesome that you got a tip about my blog. Very cool-- thanks to the tipper and thanks to you for promoting my blog too. I really appreciate that. I'm mad for mod, so I hope my blog continues to be enjoyable ; - )

    @SemiCharmedWife: Thanks for the compliment! I did make alterations for fit. What helps me is the use of a dress form that's adjustable. I'm able to input my bust, waist, and hip onto the form and it physically adjusts so as to emulate my body. I was reluctant to invest in it at first, but it's made alterations so much easier. I can pin a dress to the form and get the fit just right. Anyway, best of luck to you with your sewing!

  12. You are really rockin' that mod style. It suits you to a tee. Love the boots too. I congratulate you on being so dedicated to learning the art of clothing sewing. I learned as a small child so it's ingrained in me. I give you lots of credit. Plus it's fun to see your work.

  13. @Maggie: Thanks so much for the compliment and encouragement! I am a total boot freak, especially anything with a platform.

  14. It looks like your feet spend alot of time in hosiery.