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A Few Really Good Dresses

GailAnn | Posted in Patterns on

Just got back from looking through the big name pattern books at Hancocks.  So happy to see the Retro 60’s looks from Simplicity.  I remember how nice it was to put on a dress in the morning and just BE dressed for the day!

With Summer comming on, I’ll be making 2 or 3 cotton dresses, just for the ease and comfort of it all.  Gail


  1. Ocrafty1 | | #1

    You can have the dresses! Yuck! LOL   I have lots of vintage '60's patterns. My mom wore lots of dresses, even to work in a Delco factory. I was very young then and have no desire to wear a dress unless its for work or something really special!  I've looked at the pattern books, too...and online. Many of the Bridal houses are going back to that look, with a few differences. At least I'll already have the patterns for making wedding gowns and formals for the next couple of yrs.

    I really dislike the vintage '50's and '60's stuff. My downstairs was redecorated in 1960, and we haven't had the $$ to remodel since we moved in 20 yrs ago...Hopefully, this yr. :^)    I have the old 'gold, shag carpet; the 'harvest gold' built in range and oven in my kitchen, as well as the 'fake' paneling on the walls in there. I didn't like it when I was growing up and I still don't. I know that 'vintage' has really been coming back for the last couple of yrs., but give me the Victorian stuff....except for clothes....jeans, sneakers, and tops suit me just fine!  (I sew for everybody else)

    You can have my share (giggles!)


    1. Josefly | | #4

      I got a grin out of your message. I well remember the gold appliances and carpeting, as well as the avocado ones, and I didn't like them then, either. Maybe you should hang on to yours - they might be next year's have-to-haves. I went shopping the other day thinking I would get a dress to give my daughter for her birthday. I liked the cut of the dresses - soft and feminine - but the fabric, with screaming loud colors and large prints was just too early 70's for me - ugh! I ended up buying her a black knit blouse and black linen pants! Not exactly spring-like, or what I was hoping to find. But I had to retreat from those prints! She looks great in black, anyway.

  2. denise | | #2

    i agree   but do like dresses that come to my shin bone, straight through.

    We are coming in to winter now in Australia but loved being able to jump in to a dress after a morning shower and the great summer feeling of not having to layer and layer as in winter.

    Then out to the garden with sunhat and flat modern shoes that suit gardening.

    In the 70's are just loved the hippie type clothes.

  3. scrubble4 | | #3

    GailAnn "So happy to see the Retro 60's looks from Simplicity."

    Are these the granny dresses from our hippy days?  I also like to dress but tend more towards long gored skirts and turtleneck tops.  With summer long gored light weight skirts and t-shirts are my absolute favorite.  I think my long waist never quite worked with a lot of dresses, but the skirt and top do.

    Tell me about the style of the dresses you want to make. 


    1. GailAnn | | #5

      The artical on the front page of the FYI section in today's Kansas City Star is all about the $59.00 cotten dress.  A-line to the knee (or above for the younger crowd) in bright colors and bold prints.  Seems several store sell them, all about the same price.

      For $59.00 I could make at least 2 maybe 3!


      1. scrubble4 | | #6

        GailAnn:  "For $59.00 I could make at least 2 maybe 3!"

        Go for it.  Promise bright colours or prints and post the pics.  They should be fairly quick and easy to make.  Do you need to shop for fabrics or do you have some in your stash? Have fun.  Scrubble4

        1. GailAnn | | #7

          Have one piece of the original "Barkcloth", fabulous jungle!  In my stash from PRIOR, to 1965.  It's been quietly aging, toward it's moment of perfection.  Gail

          1. scrubble4 | | #8

            GailAnn:  Yes!  Scrubble4

          2. dollmarm | | #9

            I so enjoy all your notes and laughed out loud too ! As a girl, we  had a kitchen like that and the same carpet in southern Georgia and we thought it was just a south thang ! But we see not.  I am with you on the dresses - it is so so crazy how much they are going for only 4seams in them.   If I need one quickly I go to this really neat Consignment shop and a 2nd's shop where I know of several who wear maybe twice and give them to this place that takes all the monies and gives to families in need.   At the most I have ever paid for an almost brand new dress has been $15.00 and would have cost me close to a hundred.  Everytime the women in my family come to visit we go there and last yr. my mother was going on a Cruise and asked me to find her some outfits there and send them to her.  Great, great deal.  The cost of clothes is too much - but when we sew for others we really want our time paid for.  Yet when you look at some of the construction of the garments U know U can do so much better.  I am a dress person and love the ones that touch at the shoulders button down the middle and flare out, or even those that U just pull over your head and U put on your sandles or flip-flops and on you go.I  love the summer and not all that extra clothing we have to wear when it is so so cold.  Now what is funny I do love my boots and those neat winter skirts and the leather, oh well it's all fun !  Take care and so enjoyed all the conversation I  have read, I hope all Yall don't mind me chiming in.  :~)  tera

            Edited 3/22/2008 12:19 pm ET by dollmarm

          3. 2tallct | | #10

            I think I will try and make a few for this spring/summer as well.  I am a very tall woman (6 feet), and I have to wear a special knee high stocking on one of my legs due to circulation problems.  It is not very attractive and although they try and make it "flesh" colored, there are many degrees of that color!  So it does show.  I have been enjoying the crop pants resurgence as I cannot wear shorts, but again, it still shows.    I have always wanted to wear dresses and long skirts but could not find any long enough.  So I think this is the year to get back to the sewing machine.  If I can't show off my legs, then I guess I should focus on my upper body and show off my arms and wear things slightly fitted in the bodice.  I just wonder though, on a really hot , humid New England summer day, how comfortable will a long dress be?  I guess it depends on the fabric.  Any suggestions?

            Also, anyone found a good source of organic cotton fabric that has pretty colors?

          4. MaryinColorado | | #11

            I'm making several dresses out of Kwik Sew 2787, it is more close fitting from the waist up than it looks.  It will be breezy and cool for summer.  I like the wider straps so my bra straps won't show.  The double spaghetti strap one is okay too.  I love Bali Batik Rayons.  http://www.equilter.com has many natual fabrics, as well as organic cottons, enter your request into thier "search" bar on the left as thier main focus is quiting fabrics if you just browse or go by thier headings.  Mary

          5. 2tallct | | #12

            Thanks Mary.  I will check that out.  I agree with you on the bra straps.  I don't want to go braless unless the pattern has something built in (which I am unlikely to do!), and letting the straps show like alot of the young girls do now just looks tacky to me.  I did pick up a couple of long dress patterns yesterday at JoAnns during the 99 cent Simplicity sale.  A few of them were Threads patterns.  I just don't want huge volume on the bottom as that will be too much to carry around when it is 95 degrees out and 100% humidity!  I guess you don't get that out in Colorado do you? 

            I actually have a couple of old muu-muu of my Grammie's who is gone now.  My aunt recently sent me some of my Grammie's old clothing thinking I might want to just have them because they were hers.  We had a very close relationship.  They are big, bold colors (she loved to wear bright colors right up into her 80's) and I just may try to re-make them into something that I could wear.  She would get a kick out of that!

            I could probably even get a summer purse out of some of the material.

          6. MaryinColorado | | #13

            You're so right, it's very dry here so 90 degrees usually is quite comfy.  We actually have a "swamp cooler" (evaporative cooler) that adds humidity to the house as it blows cool air over the recirculating water.  (Some people don't realize that you have to clean the filters/buy new ones and we have allergies so they aren't always nice experience in other people's homes).

            I have an idea for your Grammies' clothes.  Make yourself a little quilted throw out of them.  Each person in my family has one, we love them.  I started making them when the kids were too old for "blankies", the grandkids love them for watching tv on the leather couch that gets cold.   I keep one one the foot of my bed all the time.  You would remember having her with you each time you see it. 

            You could also make cheerful tablecloths from them, use them for embellishment, pockets, buttoncovers, collars.  I think a summer purse, as you mentioned would be really cute!  Or how about just the straps on one of your summer dresses?  Or maybe you'll get really brave and make yourself a blouse or dress out of the large print for summer!  Ok, maybe a hat?  (Vogue 7600 would be wild!)

            I am going to make some "bra strap covers" and "extra bra straps" for those bras with removable straps and see how that goes.  It's just an experiment, but sometimes I might like to wear those tops with the skinny straps.  I never consider it because of the brastrap issue.  Strapless bras are so uncomfortable, though I did find some at a Bali outlet store that have rubberlike strips inside that help keep them in place better.  Ugh!  I do prefer natural fibers against my skin though so don't wear them often. 

            I made a cotton knit top out of Kwik Sew 3063 swimsuit pattern, had to adjust for the non lycra fabric but it worked.  I'm going to look for swimsuit fabric next, but will make the top longer.  Mary



          7. 2tallct | | #14

            WOW, great ideas!!  I do have to admit that the colors in her dresses are not my favorites on me, navy being the predominant background.  I am an autumn in the color scheme, and so warm colors look best on me.  But if I took only parts of the fabric like you suggested, then it could work.  I especially like the idea of making something that I will see all the time and will remind me of her. 

            She also left me, upon her death, a fox fur stole (with the heads on...ugghh!) which I have never had the heart to part with.  Not being a fur wearer, I figured someday I would just have to get rid of it.  Then someone told me about a woman who makes old furs into teddy bears!!  I have to find that number, I think it is somewhere out here in the northeast.  I plan to keep it for myself, and maybe when grandkids come along in a few more years (I hope!) they can look forward to playing with the "special" bear at my house.  And of course it can get passed down.  I hope to soon get some stories written down about her along with pictures (love to scrapbook too, but YIKES, who has time for all of this????) before my Dad passes on (his mother).  That will make the bear seem more meaningful.

            Thanks for all your suggestions.  Colorado sounds heavenly.  Would like to go there someday.  Went down the Colorado River on a raft trip when I was a teenager.  Boy was that an experience!  I used to live in Southern California before I moved out here to CT.

          8. Ralphetta | | #15

            Would the bright colors make a fun lining for a light weight coat or a jacket?

          9. 2tallct | | #16

            If I made a red summer lightweight jacket, it would look cute with this navy, red and yellow on the inside for a lining. Another great idea!

          10. MaryinColorado | | #18

            Love the lining idea!  And you could make a sleeveless top to match the lining!  When I wore suits to work, I used to make a "hankie" to peek out of the top of the front brest pocket to coordinate with my outfits or to add a touch of "zing". 

            I don't dress up much anymore, but have a new black pantsuit.  I bought it on sale last fall but haven't needed it yet so it was "forgotten"  This thread reminded me of it.  Now I think I'll pull it out, hem those pants, and make a top or two to wear with it.  Maybe a tank top and scarf out of something "jazzy" like your wild prints from your Grammie.  Maybe a white with black embroidery for "dressier" occasions.  I still can't find that "little black dress" that "everywoman" is supposed to have in her wardrobe.  lol  Mary

          11. MaryinColorado | | #17

            I think I'm one of the few people who've never gone white river rafting....yet.  Even my grandkids went!  I might go kayaking this year if I get up the nerve.  I'm the only person in my family that isn't a good swimmer, so I really respect the water and my lack of skill in it.  I can float on my back and that's fine with me. 

            I also wear Autumn colors mostly but have been trying to branch out these past few years.  I even tried carmel and blonde in my hair last year along with a short haircut.  Now I'm back to auburn, and trying to cover the gray.  It seems that it is more burgundy than auburn this time, which I don't like.  Mary

          12. dollmarm | | #19

            HI, Mary I am with you on the swimming and not river rafting.   We have a pool but it is an above ground pool and it is comes up to my chest and that's great for me. It's long so you can swim some strokes.  My son and I like to play with the rings and toss games.  I have a family that loves the water - I just respect it too! I enjoy the water much better when I can atleast touch bottom.   Even our son loves the water.  He likes the scare my sisters and jump in the deep in and he comes up laughing at them.   My daughter learned when she was a baby.  SO glad both know how. Hey a tips on the hair (lady in sally's told me) when your hair is turning gray and you have any gray - when coloring add this product called: 'RED GOLD CORRECTOR PLUS' by Ardell You add 15 drops for every once of color.  I was having a problem with the burgundy too.  TOO she recommended picking colors that stated cooler on the box or atleast not warmer !  I love my black and  love the browns - I think no matter what colors we like - we all seem to gradually go toward the dark colors at one time or 'nuther.  I have this really bold red corduroy fitted dress that buttons down the front - I found in an Consignment Shop that I love wearing in the winter.    I guess it just depend what suits your fancy at the time !  :~) 

          13. sewelegant | | #21

            When it is 95 degrees out and 100% humidity I don't think anything works except, hopefully, the air conditioner!  What makes me jump into this discussion is your comment on not wanting to wear so much fabric, like in a long dress... have you observed what the men wear in the Middle East?  I won't go to how the women dress!  I suspect they go out very little during the heat of the day if they have to wear that black garment.  But the men!  They can wear anything they want and they choose long billowy white caftans that blow in the breeze... what does that tell you?  In Hawaii (I have lived almost 5 years of my life there) the long muu muu is very popular even in the hot summer, but they always have the trade winds blowing so maybe that's not a fair comparison.  I like to wear dresses because then I feel cooler without the pants waistband.  I cannot wear shorts (or prefer not to), but the dress fabric, in summer,  has to be very light weight and preferably cotton or rayon.  I have had t-shirt dresses that I especially liked, preferably just above ankle length or mid-calf.

          14. GailAnn | | #23

            I actually lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 3 years in the mid 1970's.  Long skirts and covered arms were mandatory when out in public.  But very soon I realized that they were oh, so, much more comfortable than the shorts and mini skirts I'd worn in the U.S., expecially in cotton or linen with cotton underneath.  Gail 


          15. sewelegant | | #24

            There you go!  My suspicions have been verified.  Thanks.

          16. 2tallct | | #25

            Does anyone have a good pattern to make a cotton 1/2 slip?  Or is it so simple that you don't need a pattern?  I have to wear cotton or rayon in the summer.  Is anything else "breathable" that I am not aware of?

          17. Josefly | | #26

            I used Kwik Sew pattern #2199 for a half-slip, cut from cotton batiste on the bias. It is very simple, and you could probably do it without a pattern. This pattern says it should be cut on the bias if wovens are used, so it can also be used for knits like tricot. But, because it's on the bias, it narrows when worn, and so the next one I make will be cut even wider than the pattern says to. This pattern also includes 2 styles of camisole and some "tap-dance" panties, none of which I've used.The cotton batiste is wonderfully cool and comfortable, but it isn't slippery at all, if that's important. However, I haven't noticed that my skirts catch on the slip. I've also made a camisole from bemberg rayon, or Ambiance, and it is much more slippery than the cotton, but not as hot as some other slippery alternatives.Edited 4/14/2008 11:13 am ET by Josefly

            Edited 4/14/2008 11:14 am ET by Josefly

          18. 2tallct | | #27

            Thanks.  I will try that pattern.  The only place that I ever saw a RTW cotton slip was in the Vermont Country Store catalog, but it was not very attractive.  And because I am tall I have to lengthen everything anyway.  It would be nice to have a comfortable, cool to the skin long slip for when I want to wear a sheerer long skirt.  I don't like that look of a knee length slip showing through an ankle length skirt!  It looks kind of funky.

            Where is the best place to get Kwik Sew patterns?  Does JoAnn's have them or do you have to purchase on-line?

            It's funny, because I made a half slip and camisole when I first got married (28 years ago!) from a Kwik Sew pattern.  I still have that slip!  It is just a little tight now :)  Who knows what happened to the pattern.  Any tips on putting the waist elastic in?  I assume I need to use lingerie elastic?  DO they make that in cotton?

          19. Josefly | | #28

            I've forgotten what kind of elastic I used, probably lingerie elastic. I noticed at Hancock fabrics a nice cotton elastic recommended for use in swimsuits. This was an ecru color though, but I think it would be great in a slip if you didn't mind the color. It was available in two widths, by the yard, not packaged.I've made two slips by this pattern, one just above the knee, one below the knee. On both of them, I cut the elastic to fit my waist as tightly as felt okay, plus an inch to overlap and stitch. On one, I folded the raw edge to the inside and pressed, then folded the finished edge down over the elastic, pinned the elastic at side seams, and zig-zagged, stretching the elastic to the length of the waistline as I stitched. On the other, I pinned the elastic to the raw edge, soft side of the elastic up, harder side to the right side of the fabric, overlapping the edges by 3/8". I zigzagged along the bottom edge of the elastic, stretching as I stitched, then turned the elastic down to the inside of the slip and zig-zagged again on the other edge of the elastic, again stretching the elastic as I stitched. (When the elastic is turned down, the first edge stitched becomes the top edge.)If you want a longer slip, you may want to leave a slit in either side-seam. The pattern I used doesn't include a slit, or have a back seam where a slit could be. The bottom edge of the slip is simply zig-zagged to a wide cotton lace trim.I don't know about Joann Fabrics carrying Kwik Sew, though I imagine they do - I have to drive too far to Joann's and go only rarely. I buy all my patterns from Hancock, because they regularly have the big 4 companies' patterns on sale. Kwik Sew is never on sale as far as I know, but they're cheaper anyway.

            Edited 4/14/2008 1:03 pm ET by Josefly

          20. GailAnn | | #29

            Silk breaths, but some weaves can still be hot.

            I'd use any skirt pattern that I liked for a slip.  Perhaps cut it on the bias.  Then cut straight up from the hips, forgetting about any darts or shaping, eliminate the waistband and just add a drawsting or elastic.  Gail

          21. sewfar | | #30

            Nancy Zieman has instructions for a patternless wrap slip in her book "Best of Sewing with Nancy". I have made it several times in knit but she says it can made with wovens as well. The small overlap gives great walking freedom.

          22. stitchagain | | #36

            I purchased yards of a thin silk knit that I have made into a camisole, panties and even a sleep hat!  Maybe I have enough to make a small slip as well.  You might try to look for thinner silk knits.

            Linen is also intriguing!

          23. thehat | | #31


          24. dollmarm | | #32

            Hey I was browsing and reading - don't know if this is helpful but I just got in the MAY 2008 of SEWING SAVVY Magazine.  There is an article - "Design a Slip to fit' by  Janis Bullis (pages36-40)It is a 4 page description w/ pictures.  I have only glanced at the article.  There is pattern preparation, materials needed,drawing instructions, cutting, assembly, trims, Cutting and sewing tips and how to fit the waist line, plus the finish hem.  (this is my first of this magazine so not sure- it was a complimentary one) I love cotton and you can't seem to find a good one in the store.  Good luck :~)

            P.S. have any of you reading this posting know of Sewing Savvy?

          25. 2tallct | | #33

            Thanks!  I will go online and see if I can get a "complimentary copy" too!  I have never heard of it but then I am just getting back into the fashion sewing world.

          26. dollmarm | | #34

            Great!!  When you see it let me know whatcha' think.  I would sew and do crafts all day if I could but then no one would eat and they be naked from no clean clothes.  Oh well !  Our many vast of jobs are never done.  But when I can I cross stitch every day.  I am a mess in a fabric, craft shop and or a bookstore I love to look at all that comes out and see what's new.  I do not get there that often we live out in the country and our son takes a lot of care.  We are somewhat new to this area and are still adjusting to all.  We have checked out a few churches but size and noise can be a good fit or now with out son.  I was surprised to see that article on the slip and hope to make it soon.  I have several projects I have to complete before I start another one. I come from a long line of sewers and my hubby's family are quilters.  I went through a time of not sewing much with travel and moving with hubbys' job and etc..  But even I buy from the store I still have to hem and or take something in.  I love fashion and the feel of good material.  Take care and look forward to hearing how you do,  :~)  

          27. fiberfan | | #35

            I have several ambiance lining (rayon) half slips.  They can be a bit slippery but are very comfortable year round.

            Linen is one of the best fibers for summer.  I have read comments online from women who love linen slips.  I haven't made a slip from linen yet but I may when I need more half slips.  For a slip I would pick a light weght fabric.  Linen fibers have no stretch - I would make the slip loose or cut it on the bias.


          28. Teaf5 | | #20

            I'm not sure whether they're organic, but I have found that quality quilting cottons, when prewashed & tumble dried several times, have a wonderfully soft and light hand for making summer tops and skirts. Even at Joanns', there are a lot of subtle patterns and shades in the calicos that work well for classic pieces.You might also want to try rayons, especially the machine washable ones. They don't need to be ironed, are cool in hot weather, and are surprisingly durable; the drape of rayon is lovely in a long skirt or dress or a loosely fitted blouse.

  4. WandaJ | | #22

    I've been pattern-looking too as I would like to have some nice summer dresses to wear, especially to church. My favorite type dress is a shirtwaist with a circular (like) skirt that has pockets. Any good pattern suggestions anyone?

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