I made this dress using Simplicity 6672 from 1974. There are two versions: knee-length and maxi with options for sleeveless or long sleeves. You can also pick between ties or a button tab at the waist gathers.
I came across this pattern last summer at Peter's annual Male Pattern Boldness Day here in NYC (part of the day includes a pattern swap at lunch). Instantly taken with the elegant maxi dress version on the cover, I wasn't actually sure how practical it would be and if it was worth making. I've never worn a maxi dress, as it seems like too much fabric for a humid summer! At the cost of a free pattern, however, I decided to scoop it up. Then when I was asked to contribute to Vintage Pledge month (completely flattered, by the way; thanks so much, Kerry and Marie!) I knew I had my reason to get going on this pattern.
From pretty early on I envisioned a coral-colored dress. I looked in a few places over the past several months, and then managed to find this beautiful cotton jersey at Chic Fabrics on 39th Street in the NYC Garment District. This pattern calls for nearly 4 yards of 60" wide fabric (wow!), so you can imagine my happiness when I discovered Chic was selling this jersey for $4.99/yard. I never imagined I'd be able to make this dress for just $20. It's wonderfully soft fabric and gathers nicely at the waist.
As far as notions, I stabilized the shoulders with fusible stay tape and used two buttons for the waist detail. The pattern calls for a zipper, which I omitted since I used a knit.
The pattern was really easy to make and the instructions were clear. A quick and simple project for summer! Since I used a knit, I decided against using the armhole facings in favor of turning the fabric under and top-stitching.
I didn't make a muslin, but if I had I would've noticed that I should have probably made a sway back adjustment. When I tried on the finished dress I looked very straight up and down when viewed from the side. In a "make it work" moment, I ended up adding elastic to the back, which helps give the dress (and me!) some shape.
I ended up removing about 4" from the hem. I'm average height and the fabric was definitely dragging when I tried it on. Maybe it was supposed to be worn with 4" stilettos for some disco groovin’ at Studio 54? Oh wait, 1974 was too early for that!
When I read reviews of this pattern before sewing it, I noticed that people had trouble with attaching the neckline facing to the dress. I ended up referencing this tutorial for sewing a shawl collar, and it helped a lot. As she says, don’t be afraid to clip to the reinforcement stitch so you can lay the seams flat for sewing. Pinning the fabric is super helpful too.
I love how this dress turned out and I would definitely recommend it! When I first saw the pattern cover, I assumed the v-neck would be too low cut for me, but it's actually fine. FYI, adjusting the v-neck for modesty is pretty easy since there's a center seam.
While I'm happy with how this turned out, I'm not sure if I'll make it again since I prefer shorts or knee-length skirts and dresses during our hot and humid summers (though I could always make the shorter version). There is A LOT of fabric here and the skirt portion feels a bit heavy, but it blows beautifully in the wind as it did here at Coney Island in Brooklyn. A little more dressed up than I'd usually be for a day at Coney, but, hey, I do it in the name of vintage pledgers everywhere!