FO: 1980s Dress for Sundress Sew-a-long

As with my recent shirtdresses, I am firmly championing the awesomeness of 1980s dress patterns with this make. I made it for Heather B's Sundress Sewalong plus it also meets my Vintage Pledge too, which is a pleasing double whammy. I've been really enjoying wearing dresses recently and my pre-baby dresses don't all fit (or flatter) so well anymore. Not to worry, making more dresses is no hardship.

Pattern Used
1980s See & Sew 5019 - a sleeveless dress with scoop neck, pockets and elasticated waist. 
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's an easy to make, fit and wear sundress. With pockets
Fabric & Notions
I used a great geometric printed viscose from The Gold Thimble, bought last year. It was predictably a bit shifty to cut and handle, but spray starch helped a bit. The belt fabric is a leftover piece from a quilt and the turquoise doesn't go with any colours in the dress but does match the sandals I might wear with it, so that's the logic behind that choice!
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made
I added neckline darts to make a hollow chest adjustment. This was an after-thought, as I had already sewn on the facings when I tried it on and it was obvious this adjustment was needed as the front was really gape-y. I unpicked the facing at the two spots I wanted the darts to go, and the pattern is forgiving so it doesn't look glaringly obvious. I then cut the facing and overlapped it. It's best to adjust the pattern piece beforehand rather than dart later on, but this fix worked ok.

I also added 2 cm length to the bodice but I'm not sure if I shouldn't have bothered, so that it would be a touch less blousy. Even with this length added, the bodice seemed short before I sewed it to the skirt, but the weight of the skirt pulled it down a lot.
Terrible photo, but you can see the shape of the back at least

Would you sew it again and do anything different next time?

I would sew it again, if I needed more sundresses, and probably add less length to the bodice. Next time I would make the belt longer, I can only just get it knotted to tie it like it's supposed to be worn, obi belt style.

The facings are a bit odd and narrow and as you topstitch them anyway, you'd be as well to just use bias instead, so next time I will.
Did you use any new techniques?
I hadn't made a dress of exactly this style before, where you put elastic in the waist seam. That was super fiddly and took ages as the channel was pretty narrow.

A new thing I did was to use steam a seam for the hem. I have to confess that I am ROTTEN at hemming viscose skirts as they always seem to get all uneven. I had no idea how to sew a neat hem so I cheated with steam a seam instead thought I could have just used Bondaweb or similar hem-cheat stuff. I'm not sorry I did it either, my hem is a total state. I always spray viscose with spray starch which help a bit when cutting, but not quite enough.
The sorry state of the hem!

Would you recommend it to others?

Yeah, it was pretty straightforward to sew. There are no shaping darts so be sure to choose fabric carefully as you'll need drape


Pattern - I think I got it in an eBay pattern bundle ages ago. Probably £1.50 for this pattern
Fabric - Less than £10, can't remember exactly
Elastic - Already had it
This is my 7th item for Vintage Pledge so I'm strongly flying the flag for vintage patterns this year - only right as I'm co-hosting, after all.

I pretty much like it, although I find the loose bodice shape weird on me and have spent ages in front of the mirror scrutinising it, which suggests that I'm not completely happy with it. It's not the most flattering dress ever but I don't really care as it's nice to wear in warm weather as it feels cool and breezy.

If you like this kind of 80s dress, it's totally the type of pattern you find languishing on eBay - I've taken to doing searches of 'sewing pattern', ending soon and priced under £2.00. You'd be amazed at what you can find although it can add up to an expensive habit, so beware...

K x


  1. I really like this. With the fabric you've chosen, it steers clear of looking too "period" and dated. I sometimes do think bloused bodices can sit weirdly. I think it's all down to proportions. Maybe if you shorten the bodice a tad, it might feel more comfortable. It looks fine, but I know what you mean about scrutinising it in the mirror.

  2. great dress - i like the way you have taken a slightly dated looking pattern and made it really current! i don't mind the blousing - it's not too much (as i seem to remember from the 80s!)

  3. I like it- especially the fabric- nice choice for the shape!

  4. Looks lovely on you! Love the fabric choice, really brings it up to date. Love the neckline too.

  5. A solution to the problem with tying the belt might be to make a separate knot, stitch it to one end and then fasten the actual belt with an hook and eye - if you see what I mean. I tend to do that with tie belts as it gives a perfect knot every time (not having to undo and redo) and is also quicker having to only hook it up.

    Love the dress, fabric, style and the contrasting belt all work well on you.

  6. This is such a lovely garment on you - it looks great. :-)

  7. I think it's a perfect sun dress. When it's hot you need loose and with lots of drape. The elastic gives it a God shape.

  8. I love this dress! Seems like a pretty classic style, although great to hear the patterns are easy to find on ebay - it seems impossible to get a bargain on there any more! :)

  9. It looks great, love the fabric!

  10. I agree with all of the above. You have taken an 80's pattern and made it really current. I love your fabric choice, it looks beautifully drapey, and it doesn't look too blousy. The fullness suits this style. It is a lovely dress. I too look every Saturday morning on eBay and treat myself to a few patterns. I always look for bigger- sized ones but have noticed that they are getting more expensive and harder to come by. Good luck in finding some gems! Xx

  11. A bit late to the party but cannot "not" comment. LOVE the dress: the drape, the fabric, the neckline, the elasticized waistline... what'd I miss ?~!

    You did a super job; wonky hem--not noticeable in the slightest. If you don't point it out no one will take account of it.


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