Simplicity 8920: A Marcia Brady Nightmare Fuel Fail of a Dress

Awhile back I finished this absolute costume of a 1970’s dress, using Simplicity 8920:

I had such high hopes! This was going to be so much fun! I was going to look just like Marcia Brady! If only I knew…

I made view 1 over the course of a few weeks, because I kept putting it on the back burner to work on other projects. I’m not sure what I think of the finished dress. I love the pattern and the fabric I chose, it was fun to make something so in your face! But wearing it on the other hand…let’s just say I’ve tried it on a few times, but haven’t been able to bring myself to wear it in earnest just yet. I think what’s killing it for me is unfortunately the massive collar, which kind of overwhelms my petite frame and features. I think I might try this pattern again but make the collar smaller.

The fabric I used for the collar and the band were also a huge problem – the satin did not want to behave. It wouldn’t iron properly no matter what I did or how much time I took working at it and it ended up causing major frustration. Next time I’ll definitely use another fabric. I ended up being so frustrated with how this project was going that it lead to me taking even more breaks from this dress, and then finally rushing to get it finished because by that point, I knew it was a bit of a mess and I probably wasn’t going to wear it. So I didn’t finish it as neatly as I could have or normally would have.

I hemmed the dress before getting mad at it, so the hem is pretty darned good at least! I think I used the wrong kind of elastic for the sleeve, so it ended up being kind of a mess. I had to insert the zipper two or three times, because I kept doing it wrong, and by the time I finally got it in, I had already given up.

Then, joy of joys, when I was about to give it a final press, I dropped my iron, making part of it come loose. I thought I had fixed it, but oh boy, did it ever get messed up on that fall! It pretty much burns and/or melts fabric now no matter what setting I put it on. Time to start looking for a new iron!

This project was a bit of a fail all around, but luckily I had enough projects that were actually going well that it didn’t really get me down or lead to a string of failed projects, as has happened in the past when I’ve lost confidence after a project went wrong. I don’t know what to do with this dress now though. Keep it as a reminder of the project? Hold onto it in case my niece wants to use it for a Halloween costume one day in the far off future? Save it in case I’m ever magically invited to/decide to have a 1970’s costume party? Donate it? I’d appreciate any ideas, because I’m kind of at a loss.

If I’m going to do anything other than keep it in my closet, I definitely need to re-do the buttons, they aren’t evenly spaced out and I should have put the first one up higher on the band. There is a lot of this dress that I would fix and finish better, if I could bring myself to pick it up again, but the more I look at it, the more I dislike it because of that awful satin. I definitely don’t think I’ll be messing with Fabricland’s cheap satin for awhile after this, it ended up letting the entire project down, just as it did with the dress I originally made using it. Polyester satin just might be my new sworn sewing enemy.

On the plus side, I love the main fabric of the dress, which I found at a thrift store, and I love the vintage buttons and zipper I used. Maybe I could fix this wreck by replacing the awful satin with another purple fabric, if I can find something nice that would work. That could at least ease the utter loathing I feel when I look at that damned satin…

I’m so sorry I failed you, my queen!

5 thoughts on “Simplicity 8920: A Marcia Brady Nightmare Fuel Fail of a Dress

  1. It looks great to me and more than I could ever do! But I understand your frustration with fabrics, I have some dresses that just won’t lay right no matter what. It’s still super MARCIA and I think you did a good job! 🙂


  2. I think there is nothing really wrong with this dress, and you certainly did a good job on it after all! Yet it doesn’t quite come off as intended, as you point out. I think the problem is with the choice of materials. Not that your fabrics are “bad” somehow – I think they are lovely, but they are not the types of fabrics that were worn in early 1970s. This dress was meant for crimplene. It would have had shape and body, and the sleeves would have come out exactly like in the picture.

    While I am not suggesting you actually use crimplene, you need to find a modern cloth with a similar rigidity and body. Something a bit softer would work too, like for example cloqué jersey or Ponte Roma. Just make sure it’s not too thin – not the T-shirt weight interlock, that would hang and not work at all as it is too floppy. Perhaps if you could find a piece of real crimplene, or some old garment made of it, you would have a better idea of the type of fabric to look for (and you would also know exactly why I’m not suggesting you use it). 😉

    Good luck! 🙂


  3. The fabric is really striking. I would lop that unfortunate collar off for starters and see how it looks collarless. Then if the band is still bothering you in all it’s polyestery satin glory hack that off too! Have some fun with it before you decide it’s irredeemable. The silhouette and the fabric do look lovely together.


  4. Your print and complimentary color for the collar and button band are fantastic, and perfect for the style, imo. I think you did fine on the construction. Every once in awhile a zipper installation kicks my butt, for no apparent reason whatsoever. it just happens, ugh. I think you did great with the evil satin fabric. It is truly evil to work with, imo.

    Re the collar, I say try trimming down the front extensions of the collar, to reshape it and make it less of a focal point. You might have to remove it, reshape it and then re-sew it on. (I’m getting ready to do that to a collar on a dress I’m making. Not looking forward to the process, but I want it done.) Your dress is very retro cool, but you must want to wear it and feel right about wearing it. That takes priority over retro authenticity, which, does total authenticity really matter anyway? No. It’s your dress; to wear now. Hope you’ll share pics of the finished dress, and wear it with confidence.

    Sorry about the iron. 😦


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