Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Making a Shift: Vintage Simplicity 7477

Ragtime Vintage Clothing in Asheville is a favorite shop of mine. When I'm lucky enough to have a chance to pop in, I usually find at least one thing that I didn't know I was looking for until just then when I found it. Last week I found a narrow black leather vintage Coach belt (for $10) and a wonderful basic Levi's denim jacket from the eighties ($24). No dresses that fit me, but I was a bit fascinated by the sixties shifts, which is not a style I've much favored up to now.

Another influence must surely have been Gertie's versions of reissued vintage Simplicity 1609, especially the cute green gingham:

Sheeplike, I actually bought this pattern but then decided that it was too...several things for me. Too sleeveless. Too collarless or Peter Pan collared, which is too sweet. Too high at the neck. Too unadorned generally. For me.

So out came a vintage shift pattern bought from Goodwill a few years ago, Simplicity 7477. Here is a photo from the vintage pattern wiki (my copy is B34):

I always liked this collar, which the pattern describes as an "Italian" collar. Ironically I didn't do the best job of sewing it (must mark those dots at the end of the collar better next time and also understitch), but I do like the shape.

Refreshingly, this dress was quite easy to fit. The previous owner of the pattern had cut it out very neatly indeed, and she had added about an inch of length to the bodice. I removed her extra inch plus another 1 1/4" of length. Then there was a swayback adjustment (5/8") and a fair bit added to the side seams for extra width through the waist and hip. I shortened again at the hem, two inches more. All together, I shortened the dress 3 1/4". That still left a generous two inches to turn up for the finished hem that hits right at the middle of my knee. The front darts were shortened by 3/4", and the shoulders were narrowed 5/8".

Nearly impossible to see, but the back has neckline and waist darts in addition to the center back seam for shaping.

This fabric. I love it so. I bought a bolt of it from the late, great vintage fabric store Make Me in Asheville when it went out of business. It must be an upholstery fabric from the sixties: fairly heavy and looks like a sofa! I've made and sold a slew of pillows and bags from this fabric. I always wanted a dress version, and in fact I had in mind something like retro reissue Butterick 5748:

Two problems with that plan: first, the fabric is really too heavy for a full skirt. Second, I am all of a sudden feeling less like a sixties debutante and more like a sixties matron. 'Bout time, too!

The side view is the most matronly of all, but I wanted you to see how nicely it fits, especially the sleeve. I have a great range of motion without any excess sleeve flopping around. Very happy about that.

I didn't have to buy a thing to make this one: fabric, interfacing, buttons, thread, pattern--all from what I had on hand.

There is not a lot that is current, sexy or especially flattering about this dress, but I like it a lot in spite of, or perhaps because of, all that. I have lots of ideas for different versions--we'll see if they come to pass, or if I shift again to something else.


  1. This looks fabulous! I love the pattern and the fabric and it looks great on you!

  2. Your dress is charming:) Those colors look good on you.

  3. I think I have that pattern. Great look for you!

  4. This really does suit you. I do like that collar!

  5. What a lovely dress and so well fitted, love it !

  6. It is a nice look on you! I really like that pattern, especially the white version with the welt pockets in the pattern illustration. I had no idea that type of collar was called an Italian collar, so thanks for sharing. I love learning new things. :)

  7. I totally love the fabric. The fit is also really excellent. I am big fan of that type of collar; I wonder how common it is to call it Italian?

  8. What great work, dear! Indeed the dress fits perfectly and I really like its print, so lovely. The collar design is nice, too.