1960s · Dresses · Sewing With A Plan

A Slow Sewing Project

Much to my chagrin, I did not complete my thesis on time to graduate this spring semester. I am now aiming for a mid-July defense. One problem that has popped up though, is the issue of what to do in that hour or so between dinnertime and bedtime (we eat late) when my brain is too zonked from reading and writing on a computer screen all day to do any more work.

I’d fallen into the trap of watching a classic TV episode on Pluto TV. Pluto TV is a free streaming service that runs like TVs used to: you can change the channel, but everything runs on a schedule and you can’t skip ahead and it even has terrible commercials. Unfortunately this would often turn into multiple episodes and before you could say “Oh, Rob!” it was midnight and I felt even more drained than before.

Sewing pattern Simplicity 7031 in size 14 1/2. View 1 is a knee-length shift dress with princess seams and bell sleeves. View 2 has short sleeves. There is an optional tie belt. It is described as a "Jiffy dress 3 main pattern pieces; easy-cut easy-sew." View 1 is shown in a green floral print and view 2 is shown in pink or blue. The background is a painterly blue floral fabric.
Photo by author.

I decided I needed a simple sewing project instead. Something that would maybe take two weeks to complete if I did a little bit each night. A low-budget project (i.e. no full-skirts or shirt dresses with fiddly buttonholes to make) which also didn’t require a mock-up so I could dive right in (i.e. nothing with a fitted waist). Usually I am all about the mock-up, but mock-ups mean you’re spending a lot of time thinking about fit and I wanted this to be more of a “mindless” sewing project.

I only have a few patterns with me at school, and based on my criteria I really had only one option! Simplicity 7031 from 1967 was a pattern I bought to replace the pattern I used to make my whale dress, which was a juniors size pattern (Simplicity 6912 from 1966). The style is almost identical except for the princess seaming instead of a center front seam. Even at my slimmest in the photo below, you can tell the sizing/shaping is off.

Alyssa, a slim white girl with shoulder-length light brown hair is wearing a knee-length blue shift dress with light blue whales printed on it. It has elbow length bell sleeves with yellow, green, and aqua ball fringe. She is standing on the porch of a green house with brown wicker porch furniture behind her.
The whale dress. Photo by author.

Once I decided on a pattern, I trucked myself over to JoAnn’s and lucked out with this floral quilter’s cotton, which looks very late 1950s/early 1960s to me. I skipped the interfacing and bias tape, so I only needed a zipper, bringing my materials cost to $28.86. The dress takes 2 5/8 yards, so I rounded up to 3 yards to account for any crooked cutting and shrinkage. I was tempted to get more ball fringe but decided my print was more sophisticated than funky.

So far I’ve pre-washed and dried it, and traced off my pattern pieces. I rarely sew from fabric that I’ve just bought, so I’m excited for that. I’m a terrible stasher of fabric and I’d like to be better about sewing up fabric pretty soon after I’ve bought it. Otherwise I end up holding on to it because it is *too special* for any old project and I might mess it up.

3 thoughts on “A Slow Sewing Project

    1. Oh you could totally sew sleeves like that! They might be the easiest kind of sleeve to sew because you’re just continuing the side seam into them. No easing or anything!


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