I would like to post a cozy winter vintage dress that I made for myself this past cold weather season. What was originally a 1968 funnel neck sheath dress turned into a week and a half's worth of frustration. I'm glad this dress finally ended up as a great fitting, good looking success. Its profile has a classic A-line shape with a...well, "not-sure-what-to call-it-neckline" that is rather complimentary. Persistence definitely paid off with this project! I still can't believe something so awful has turned out so well - another reason why I love to wear this retro dress.
FABRIC: a tan tapestry print of 100% cotton, small wale corduroy; brown poly cling free lining for the inside; both fabrics I've had in my stash so long I don't remember where they were bought or for how much, so they're being counted as free.
NOTIONS: I already had the thread and bias tape; just needed to buy a long 22 in zip for the back.
PATTERN: Simplicity 'Jiffy' pattern 7673, year 1968
TIME TO COMPLETE: finished on February 9, 2013; I spent at least 22 hours on this darn dress, stretched out over a week and a half's worth of night work every day. Those hours doesn't count the NON-SEWING frustrated times ( many times my dress got thrown into a corner, rolled in a ball, when I didn't know what more do to it ), but I knew I would pick it up again and do some more adjustments:)
THE INSIDES: They are very nice and smooth with not a seam to be found exposed! This dress is fully lined...meaning I more or less sewed two separate and identical dresses then connected them at the neck, sleeves, and bottom hem. I was very careful not to twist up the sleeve linings, match all darts and seams so the lining is aligned, and the inside bottom hem is covered with hem tape (see picture at far right). Beat that, you RTW clothes!
Jiffy patterns now make me a bit suspicious after using this one. Granted I knew the bust was too big for me, but the finished size still would have made the correct sized woman (this was a 34 bust pattern) swim in the excess fabric. My surmise is that this '68 Simplicity pattern basically did not have good shaping or correct proportions. The waist and below was the only part which fit me. The shoulders and bust were humongous, and even the funnel neck look was impossible to achieve without interfacing the way it was designed. Not calling for the use of interfacing was part of the 'Jiffy' idea, I guess. It was a bad idea because you couldn't get the envelope drawing appearance, but it was good for me since I did so much altering to help this dress fit and look good.
Sewing my corduroy '68 dress was so hard mainly on account of the fact I was fully lining this dress. Every alteration I did to the corduroy dress had to be precisely measured, lengthwise and widthwise, and sewn in exactly the same way, in the same place, into my separate lining dress. This is part of the reason all my fitting adjustments were so slow and done in agonizing increments - because I didn't want to make an alteration which I would have to spend extra time to rip out because it was too much. The routine went like this: I would sew and inch or two here and here, try the corduroy dress on myself, see how it fit, then do the exact same fitting to the lining, and repeat all over again.
I ended up taking in a whopping 5 or more inches around the bust. The shoulders of my dress hung too low (affecting the bust darts) and were raised up several inches to make it properly proportioned. An invisible dart was even sewn in vertically down the front center, from the neckline to just below my waist, and this took out the last of the extra bust room I didn't need. You would never guess that front dart is there...I made extra sure to match up the center front print! The back zipper is even "professional-style" covered up by the lining inside (see picture below left).
My biggest hack on this winter dress was to the funnel neck. After the whole dress FINALLY fit me, I just could not like the way this funnel neck looked on me with the dress' design. Knowing I still wanted it to cover my neck (because a warm winter dress is hard to find), I played around with different shapes while the dress was on me. I ended up with this finished neckline by merely pulling down the front panel of the funnel neck down to my collarbone. The ends of the neckline self-facing is covered in bias tape, and folded over inside (see pictures above), so if I do decide to change the neckline again at some point, I can do so easily.
I did an internet search for my pattern to find if anyone else has tried it. I found only one woman who made this same pattern and her dress turned out so badly she hacked it into becoming a darling jacket. Both she and I made the best of a bad pattern.
Here's a close-up of the vintage pin I added to the front of my dress in some of my pictures. I think it compliments my dress well, and makes it look like the blond wearing the purple mini dress on my pattern envelope's drawing cover.
I did some research on the history of the funnel neck fashion -it proves to be quite interesting (all history is interesting to me). It seems that funnel necks made a comeback with coat fashion in 2007, but they were at a height of popularity in the 60's. Futurism was big during the 60's, due in large part to the new Space-Age spawned from going to the Moon. Crazy patterns and large brooches often went with such basic A-line dresses, such as my own corduroy '68 dress. For some more very interesting fashion history please visit this link and you might learn something fun to add to your retro sewing. Fashion-era.com also is another great website where I got some of my info about for my '68 corduroy dress, as well as info for other projects.
The snow pictures included in this post are from a surprising Easter week snow we had earlier this year. It was warm enough outside that the snow was incredibly wet and heavy, but it did not last even 24 hours because, as you can see, I didn't need a coat. It was cool to catch the falling snow in our pictures! Beware...I'm forming a snowball to throw at my hubby/photographer in the picture at left.
Whether there's snow or no snow, I am prepared and ready for the cold with this cozy retro winter dress. I hate to part with it long enough to go in the wash machine. The more I wear this corduroy dress, the more I love it, but at the same time it makes me laugh at the amount of frustration and disappointment that went into getting such a wonderful finished project. I am glad I can laugh now and be thankful.
I will post more pictures at my Flickr "Seam Racer" page, so please visit me. (click here for link)