Here it is, my favourite dress ever (so far). I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get around to making this. I’ve had a bookmark in the page below of the Simplicity Pattern Book, Spring 1969 for years now (see this blog post). Anyway, it is here now.
So this design is from 1969 but it doesn’t really look very late 60s to me. Perhaps it is more what was popular in the early 60s? Looking through my old pattern books makes me think that they are a bit similar to the ones we have now – not always very up with the times. Does anyone else know about this?
I had to make the pattern myself as I only had the picture. It turned out to be pretty easy as I already had proven patterns for each part. I adjusted a self-made sheath dress pattern I’ve made heaps of times before for the basic bodice. Then copied and adjusted the collar from a Burda pattern. The skirt pattern is another self-made (blogged here) which has modified pockets from my husband’s shorts pattern. Phew! I still made a toile which turned out to be a good idea.
The sewing up was super straight forward (ie. not much unpicking or cursing) after all the work I put into pattern making and testing. And no fitting adjustments needed once I started sewing!!! This is a real achievement for me. Maybe it’s a sign I’m getting the hang of this fitting and pattern making business. Let’s hope so.
The fabric is a cotton and linen blend from Spotlight. It has a lovely drape for dresses but has that slightly scratchy thing that linen can get. I hope it goes away with some washing.
I’ve lined just the skirt so that I can wear it with tights in winter.
I’ll tell you about the hem. Have you ever noticed that when you want to do a wide hem on a flared skirt you end up with excess fabric? So annoying when so close to finishing to have to stuff around with. Anyways… I finally dealt with it properly. I used two techniques. I made the pattern so that when stitching the side seam when reaching the hem line I stitch more inwards. Errr…. that is hard to explain. Perhaps this picture helps? So immediately that takes out some of the excess fabric.
Then when it came time for turning up the hem I used a technique I think I saw in Threads magazine ages ago but haven’t used until now. I’m a convert. I did a double fold hem so I just sewed the first fold (1.5cm) as normal, no trouble there. Then for the second fold I put a row of large running stitch close to the edge and then used that to make a gather. Then pinned it up and steamed it like crazy to shrink it a bit. That meant I was able to stitch the hem without any little puckers in the seam. As you can see in this picture there is still some of the wrinkling from gathering but no puckers or mini pleats in the seam line (the stitching closest to the edge). On the outside you can’t see the wrinkling at all. Yes in the picture it looks creased but that was after a day of wearing it – linen remember!
The pleat at the front deserves a mention too. I’ve made it so the pleat at the centre front opens into the bodice so I can actually get into this dress. That is how it looks in the picture but without the pattern I just had to guess. When wearing it just folds and is held by the belt – or I could just hide a couple of little snaps in there.
Why have I called it the Avignon dress? Well I like it so much it deserves a name and I have fond memories of wandering around Avignon one day years ago. I would love to go back there and wander around again wearing this dress 🙂