Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mini Dress Made of Vintage Fabric (Simplicity 6783 from 1966)

Okay, a quick break from the skirt projects to present a mini dress I made using vintage fabric. I used Simplicity 6783 from 1966, which I've used before. I made view 3, but I made it into a mini-length instead of the regular length shown on the pattern envelope.

This fabric was listed on Etsy as a vintage polyester blend. I was expecting it to be similar to a polyester double-knit, but it was more like a sweater material once I got it in person. I didn't know that polyester could feel like sweater material, so I wasn't sure what to make of it.

I proceeded anyway with sewing it into the mini dress. I'd used that pattern before on a pink houndstooth fabric with good results. It couldn't be that hard...could it?

Before hemming

Yep, it could. I must say that this was the most frustrating sewing project I've had in a while. The sweater polyester wasn't that well suited to a dress. It seemed to stretch in ways I didn't want it to stretch, which was frustrating.

Now here's the rundown of the rest of my problems:

1.) MR. SEAM RIPPER: I think the fabric stretched so weird, because the sweater material was a loose weave. I had similar fears with the acrylic fabric on the last skirt I made, but luckily that didn't result in any real problems. So, when I had the problems with weird stretching, I needed to resew some of the seams.

So what's the problem? Mr. Seam Ripper to save the day? Uh, no.
Because this was such a loosely weaved sweater material, when I tried to seam rip, I had a terrible time not pulling up the threads of the fabric with whatever seam thread I was trying to pull out.

So then I tried basting, so I'd have longer stitches. So, things would be better, right? Wrong.

2.) SIDE SEAMS: Side seams are so important to the final fit of the dress. I like to have the freedom to be able to baste and then remove the basting if the fit is wrong. With the Mr. Seam Ripper debacle, I was prevented from doing this. So, I tried to get my basting as perfect as possible, but I still ended up having to keep ripping it out. And all the time I'm ripping it out, I'm terrified that I'm going to rip out the threads of the fabric. I was becoming certain this dress would fall apart, much like Charlie Sheen's life when the media tires of his tiger blood and *god forbid* his Adonis DNA.

So, with all these terrible side seam issues, somewhere along the line, my side seams ended up fitting. But, here in lies the rub.... they look kinda weird. I'm not sure if it's the loose weave of the fabric, but they don't lay quite right at the bottom of the dress. I gave up trying to fix them after my billionth attempt. Okay, maybe not billionth, but I tried so many times...so many times... (quietly cries).

My husband tried to get a good picture of the side seam problem, but you know how that goes. Whenever you try to show someone something, you can't quite capture it-- like if you're trying to show your cranky neighbor lady that cool trick that your dog always does without fail. When you try to show her, of course, the dog fails. When we gave up trying to photograph the side seam problem *of course* that's when the problem emerged from its dank, little problem-cave, laughing at my pain and suffering.

So, the side seams look a little weird at the bottom of the dress. I'm not sure if he's just trying to humor me, but my husband says it's not that noticeable.

Luckily, the rest of the seams didn't make steam come out of my ears.

3.) STYLE: When I'd finally given up on perfecting the side seam problem, the dress still didn't look right. It was missing something. That's when my husband had the idea of adding a drop- waisted belt. That really helped, because the dress does have a really bold pattern and breaking up the monotony of the pattern gave me more shape and dimension.

Well, that's about it. I hate these tricky sewing projects, but at least this dress looks pretty cool. It's definitely my style, so I didn't make that mistake of picking a style that wasn't me. I guess I'll be more wary about what fabrics I pick for dresses. It seems with skirts, it's a lot harder to go wrong.

Happy sewing!


  1. oh, very cute! this one has a lot of character!

  2. I was born in 1960 and I wore dresses like those to school (wasn't allowed to wear pants in those days)...my mother, however rocked the adult version. I really like your sense of style, cute!

  3. Cute dress and cute fabric! I love that you always look like something right out of the Brady Bunch, your styling is great.

  4. That's cool, Laury. I wish I could have seen the fashions in person. I never get sick of looking at pictures from the era.

    Thanks, Lisette. I wish the Brady Bunch was still in syndication. Plenty of fashion inspiration would be had!

  5. Well i think it turned out ok despite all that, looks really good. I know the fabric type and yes I imagine it's really weird to sew, what were they thinking? Is there anyway to test first so you can work around the problems? or be prepared for them? I wonder. cheers e

  6. Looks great despite all the frustration! And I bet you'll stop noticing the seams in a week or two.

  7. @Vintage Fabric Addict: I think if I just stick with something more standard (like a double knit) that I'll be fine. I'm glad you know the type of fabric and that you can see why it would be weird. It's good to know I'm not alone in that thought!

    @cyberdaze: You're very much right. I tend to pick apart the flaws more right after a project is completed. After a while, I stop noticing so much.

  8. Wow, I'm just in awe of how great your clothes are and how many garments you make in such a short time! Your wardrobe must be huge!

  9. Thanks, fredrica! It's funny you should say that about my wardrobe...I recently had to do a total closet revamp, because my closet was treacherous to even walk in. Sewing combined with my love of thrift stores=big mess.