Saturday, October 2, 2010

Simplicity 8381- 1969- Long Sleeve Colorblock Dress

Simplicity 8381 from 1969

Pinning those tricky, curved front seams

Can you tell that my husband loves these "action" shots?

Notice the shift from "day" to "night"?

It's Fall here in Atlanta and while the temperatures are still pretty toasty, they will *eventually* cool off. So, I decided to make a long sleeve colorblock dress (Simplicity 8381 from 1969). I have a low tolerance for temperatures under 70 degrees, so it won't be long before I'll be ready to wear long sleeves. I get a lot of stares when I'm wearing knee high boots over pants in the middle of summer. But, I'm cold-blooded, what can I say?

My husband (Truman) always helps me pick out fabrics and colors. He doesn't necessarily know what looks good. He does, however, know when things look bad. This time around I had a pretty big snafu, though, due to his advice regarding colors for this dress. His color snafu was irrelevant. I had picked the fabric from hell. With that, let's begin the rundown:

1.) FABRIC: The fabric from hell? 100% polyester "Jet Set" jersey. The fabric felt soft and flouncy in the store. It was kind of light-weight, but it seemed like it could work. The reality? The fabric was cheaper than the fabric of the "sexy nun" Halloween costume I just bought. And that's pretty mother-loving cheap! And not to mention so thin that I'll be cold! What was I thinking? Apparently, not much.

What attracted me to this textile terror? The 100% polyester ponte roma I've been using isn't my choicest fabric either. I like it okay, but it tends to pull a lot, which makes the dress look like it's wrinkling in weird spots, even when the fit is good. Also, the feeling against the skin isn't the greatest. It doesn't breathe much. I really NEED to find a good cotton/poly blend. I would have went with the ribbed cotton/poly knit again, but I didn't think a rib would work with the design of the dress.

What else didn't I like about the fabric? If I thought the ponte pulled, this one REALLY pulled. At the center of the dress (see picture), there is pulling galore. It looks awful. It makes the dress look very tight in the middle, when in reality it is quite loose. What can I say? The middle looks more like a Shar Pei than a finely tailored garment.

This garment needs some Botox--where's Joan Rivers when you need her?

2.) THE SHITTY JUST GET SHITTIER: So, you've started the project. You've just realized that you HATE the fabric that you picked. It's flimsy. It looks cheap. You feel like you're making a Halloween costume for your dog (or in my case, pet rats). What do you then realize? The shitty just gets shittier. Your attitude is already bad. You feel like you won't like the final result. From then on out, the project is littered with stupid snafus that you don't usually make. You sew the sleeve on inside out. Your top stitching is slightly crooked. On the plus side, Mr. Seam Ripper is no longer lonely.

The sleeve was sewn inside out-- much cussing ensued

Me & Mr. Seam Ripper: a match made in hell

So, you ask, why should you even continue?

I didn't stop, though, because I was anxious to see how a 34 bust pattern would fit (this was one of the 34 bust patterns I was so excited to try after feeling the 36 busts were too big). Which leads me to the next point...

The garment before sleeves and hemming

3.) SIZING: Good news! The 34 bust worked SO MUCH better. I pretty much followed the side seam lines, and it wasn't too small, even in the bust. So, I guess the comments about vintage patterns having a ton of ease were correct. My shoulder seams no longer look macho, because the size is so much better.

Before hemming the garment

Nowhere was the 34 too small. I made hardly any adjustments. After completing the dress, I remeasured my bust. I had remembered it being a 36. Apparently it's 35. So, that's probably one of the reasons the 34 fit so much better. But, I had to ask myself, did my boobs shrink? Which leads me to my next point...

4.) COLORS: I had mentioned that my husband made a snafu regarding color choice. We debated how the colors should be after deciding on black and white. I had thought you were supposed to put the lighter color on the main bodice of the dress and the darker color at the sides and sleeves. I asked: Don't you put the darker color at the waist to make your waist recede and create a more hourglass shape? He was convinced it was the other way around. you notice that the colors seem to have an effect on the bust line do you say...makes it look a lot bigger? I'm not going to say that he purposely made the snafu, but you do have to wonder...

Is it just me or are some of my body parts a lot bigger than others?

5.) THE WORKHORSE: My time for completion of a garment is improving. I'm becoming like the horse in "Animal Farm." Let's just hope I don't get sent to the glue factory. Notice in the pictures, that the early ones are daytime pics and the later ones are at night. I went from 12 noon to 10 pm. My dinner consisted of coffee and Cocoa Pebbles. That's dedication, right? Although, I still do everything I can to finish things faster, even if it means sneaky little shortcuts. I am a lazy sewer.

Necklace is a Sarah Coventry pin that I used a converter to make into a pendant

6.) HEM: This time I turned the hem up and sewed the bias tape onto the inside to finish it off, instead of letting it show on the outside (this one didn't need a contrasting bias tape hem). Thanks to Heather for the suggestion on the hem. The technique worked well, although the fabric was so flimsy, it ended up having a "hoop skirt" look at the bottom. Ultimately, I thought it look better with the "hoop skirt" style so that was a plus! It gave a little more body to such a flimsy fabric.

So, that's about it! This is the type of dress that only the creator could love (okay, maybe not "love"). Oh well, I will definitely have to remake this one in the future using a good fabric, because I really love the design.

Happy Sewing Adventures!


  1. You are so FUNNY! Love your chit chat, and even though I wouldn't really chose that fabric, I do admit you make the outfit work because you've got cool attitude!

  2. Hehe, cute dress and I love your necklace!

    You've been nominated for a beautiful blogger award:
    The rules are to share 10 things about yourself and nominate 5 more bloggers...

  3. I'm so sorry you had such a tough time with the fabric...this is the reason I HATE Jetset and will never use it again. I think the only reason JoAnn sells it, is because it's CHEAP! I think your dress is very cute and would have felt awesome to you made from Rayon Lycra (no polyester) in a 6-8 oz weight. This is a beautiful knit fabric and sews extremely well, very soft touch too! JoAnn sells it, but it's $12.00 a yard. You can find it every where online, but you have to make sure it's a 6-8 oz weight, because some places sell it cheap because it's thin. (still works, just kind of see-thru).

  4. I totally admire your dedication! I think I would have ended up in a small ball of tears in the corner... and the dress looks really good for all that! Every time I read your blog, I think - get on with it. You give me a pep talk!

  5. @Veronica Darling: Thanks! I try to "make it work" as Tim Gunn would say ; - )
    @Alessa: Thanks so much! I did a post about the Beautiful Blogger Award ; - )
    @Myra: I wanted to try that Rayon/Lycra blend (the one that's $12.00 a yard), but I thought it might be too much like the jet set. Thanks for the info on that-- now I know it works well. The Jet Set, though, ugh. I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking its crappy.
    @Georgina Ragazza: I hear you re: the small ball of tears. It's hard not to break down when you spend so much time on something and it ends up bad. Glad that I can be inspirational. I do try to stay positive, but it's hard sometimes.

  6. I don't think the distortion is too bad, the fabric pull is likely causeing part of the enhancement.

    COngrats on the 34 :)

  7. Hi there Astrid. I just sort of stumbled over your blog and wow....fantastic to 'meet' a girl with the same taste in clothing as myself :-) In fact I've used this very pattern - If you want, you can take a look here:

    Peace and love,

    Trine from Denmark