Sunday 19 July 2020


Yet again, things have not turn out as planned. After the intense stripe-matching of Vogue 7422 and the fit-and-buttonholes complexity of Simplicity 2683, I had decided to go for something simple for my July dress for the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month challenge. The intention was to make New Look 6594, a modern pattern with a distinctly vintage feel.

But then, I had a Squirrel Moment. (Thanks to Gina of The House of Whyte for introducing me to the concept of Squirrel Moments - those times when your plans are completely derailed by a new project or idea). Courtesy of lockdown, I had acquired a long, 1970s-style flicked fringe, and suddenly making a 1970s dress to go with it seemed like a good idea - this is what happens when I don't go outdoors often enough! Fortunately, thanks to my Projects Journal, I had a pattern and fabric combination already planned - in fact both the pattern and the fabric appear in pictures in the blog post where I wrote about the journal.

I've admitted before on this blog that late 1970s patterns are my guilty pleasure. However Simplicity 6563 is a bit earlier, from 1974. I bought it because I liked the gathered detail under the bust.

Simplicity 6563, 1974

The fabric was on display in my local fabric shop a couple of years ago. I fell in love with the inticate geometric design, and bought some with no idea what I would use it for. The print, and the fact that it's a very fine cotton with a lovely drape, made me think that it would be perfect for this pattern.

The fabric choice

The pattern is not labelled as 'easy', but when I came to look at it, I discovered that it only has six pieces, and much of the shaping is achieved by the front, back and side seams. The only darts are in the sleeves, and at the back neck.

From the pattern instructions

The gathered section at the front is not circular, and this also contributes to the shaping of the dress.

Dress front, showing the cut-out section

I wanted the skirt to be somewhere between the two styles shown, so lengthened it accordingly. As usual, I shortened the bodice. This time I tried tissue-fitting the bodice to work out what alterations were needed.

I only had 2.6m of fabric. It seems an odd length to buy 'on spec', so I think that either I purchased the last of the roll, or I was given a generous 2.5m. I wanted to cut the front so that the gathered section matched one of the elements of the print, and fortunately I was able to do this without any wastage. After all my plans for an 'simple' project, I ended up carefully cutting each piece from a single layer of fabric so that I could be sure that the centre front and back seams pattern matched. Even the sleeves are cut the same. Fortunately the print is non-directional, so I was able to lay the front and back pieces in opposite directions and put them side by side with minimal waste. Even so, I only had shreds left.

Pattern matching on the back seam

Although the instructions call for the circular 'trim' to be added as soon as the fronts are sewn together, I left this step almost to the end. I had a choice of motifs which I could use, and wanted to see which one worked best on the completed dress. As with many of my tricky dressmaking decisions, I roped Mum in for a second opinion!

Trim choices

We went for the light choice, which is effectively what was cut out from the fabric to make the gathered section.

If I make this pattern again, I will be a bit more careful with the gathering, so that the centre front seam lies more like an inverted pleat. But apart from that minor niggle, I'm delighted with how this turned out. As I had hoped, it proved a perfect match of pattern and fabric. Like so many 1970s patterns, it is ultra-comfortable, and the fit is perfect. Unfortunately, I don't think that the photos really do it justice - they look rather washed-out. Also, the dress took so long to make that in the meantime I had finally managed to go to the hairdresser's, so the 1970s hair which provoked the whole Squirrel Moment is no more (yay, thank you Mode)!

Front view

Side view

The Stashometer