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!

Operation Sharon Tate part 2/Style 3837

Today I wanted to share the third dress I’ve made as part of Operation Sharon Tate, the ongoing project I’ve been collaborating on with my sister, where I’ve been making her late 1960’s and 1970’s clothing.

This dress is yet another muslin/toile, since my sister lives out of town and needs to try these dresses on and have them properly fitted before I can really dive into the projects for real, but I really like it so far.

I used Style 3837 for this dress, and made view 3:

This pattern is from 1972 and is STUNNING. You can find some truly gorgeous Style patterns from the 1970’s and they’re quickly becoming one of my favourite pattern companies for 1970’s patterns. I only wish they were easier to come by!

Since this dress was being made for my sister, once again I took some progress pictures to send her that I’ll include in this post. Including this one of a very real problem I was dealing with while making this dress:

My cat fell in love with this pattern and dress and I kept finding her snuggling up with the dress and pattern pieces or instructions while I was in the process of making the dress. At every single stage of making it, Cali found a way to rub up against, cuddle, paw and sleep on this dress and otherwise infuse it with her love – and fur. Pins be damned, the wanted this dress!

The first progress photos I sent my sister! You can see from the second photo that the front panels were just ever so slightly off, which drove me a little nuts. I almost took the dress apart to try and align them properly, but decided to wait since I might have to alter the dress anyway. I did better on the back of the dress at least! And in the last picture, I had to show off my very nearly invisible hem to my sister (and now the internet), because it’s one of my favourite sewing techniques and it always makes my day when I can come as close to nailing it as possible.

I used elasticated thread for the sleeves, which took a little trial and error to figure out since it was my first time, but my trusty 1960’s Singer 403A got the job done! It certainly isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty pleased with it. I took some close up photos of the inside and outside of the sleeves, complete with the remnants of Cali’s nightly snugglefest with the dress:

Somehow I didn’t photograph the dress once it was finished, probably because we kept having a lot of gloomy, rainy, flood warning filled days where I couldn’t take pictures, but I did take two photos once the sleeves were on, so close enough!

As you can tell, I still haven’t figured out a good set up for taking photos, but I’m hoping to get to it soon, I’ve just been incredibly busy and haven’t had a chance to think about it properly or set anything up. Sorry about that!

I really love this pattern and I hope I’ll be up to the task of making view 1 soon, which involves a lot of yummy shirring and embroidery! I can’t wait to even make this view again! If you come across this pattern and love 1970’s fashion, snap it up! It is SUCH a fabulous pattern!

My sister can’t come down for a visit soon enough! I’m so excited about her trying these dresses on and then re-making them even better for her – on top of just being excited about seeing her and my niece in general! On pins and needles until the summer…

I know what I like (in your wardrobe)

I can’t believe January is almost over! I spent the last month doing a fair bit of sewing, and finished up a jacket that I had temporarily abandoned due to buttonhole related anxiety, so I thought I would share the clothes I’ve been making (and finishing) this month and do a bit of a catch up.

While not the most perfect jacket by any stretch of the imagination, this is the first one I’ve ever made and I’m pretty proud of it. I forgot to take a photo of the back, but there is a self fabric tie that you do up in the back and I really like that feature, which makes it doubly silly that I forgot to photograph it!

I made this using McCall’s 4215:

The fabric is a mustard corduroy and I used brown vintage buttons. I started this jacket back in November, I think, but was so intimidated by the permanence of buttonholes even though I’ve sewn them a number of times before, that I put this project on the back burner until a week or so ago when I decided to bite the bullet and finally finish it! I’m really glad I did, because I think this jacket will be fun to wear once the weather finally starts warming up.

I actually used McCall’s 6904 to make two dresses this month because I loved this pattern so much!

Both times I made view B but omitted the faux pockets. I messed up a bit on the sleeves of the first version because I accidentally cut out the pieces for the long sleeved version and had to try and fix it because I didn’t have enough fabric left to re-cut the sleeves, but I still absolutely love this dress and wear it all the time.

I used the same brown vintage buttons that I used for the jacket and this wonderful 100% cotton fabric that I love. I found this in the quilting section, but it’s much softer and more lightweight than typical quilting cotton and works really well for the dress. I love this fabric!

The second version was made using this adorable fabric that I also found in the quilting section, though this one is definitely a heavier weight, but I couldn’t resist those raccoons with their disgruntled little faces!

Close up of the disgruntled raccoon faces!


Unfortunately, the fabric is a little too pale for my skin tone and I think it washes me out a bit, which is really too bad, because it’s a really fun dress and those raccoons never fail to put me in a good mood. I’ve been trying to think of ways that I could still wear it, but don’t know if something like dyeing it a darker colour would completely mess it up and obliterate those adorable raccoons. What do you think? I’d appreciate any advice any of you might have!

And the last big project of the month was made using yet another vintage McCall’s sewing pattern! Wow, I didn’t realize that I’d been on such a McCall’s kick! I really wanted to make a dress inspired by the style of 1960’s and 70’s clothes sold by one of my favourite Etsy shops, ScarlettWillowShop, so for this dress I used McCall’s 4762:

I love Marlo Thomas and That Girl is such a fun show, so I couldn’t resist making this dress! It had been waiting in my pattern stash for the right fabric and as soon as I saw this vintage fabric in the thrift store I knew it would be perfect! I made view B of this pattern, because I knew it was already going to be pretty long on me, since I’m only 5’3″.

I completely lined the dress using a vintage bed sheet, because the main cotton fabric I used for the dress turned out to be kind of rough and scratchy against the skin and I knew it would bother me too much to wear it unlined. Luckily I realized that before I started sewing! This is the first fully lined garment I’ve made and I love that almost every single seam is hidden inside of the lining. I still need to pink the sleeve seams, but I finished the dress yesterday morning and then things got really busy so I didn’t have the time to do it.

I’m posting this last three pictures of me actually wearing the dress mostly in memory of the last truly 60’s/70’s feature left in my 1960’s apartment building – the tiles on my bathroom wall! The cool vintage vibes this place had were what made me sign the lease, but sadly they stripped away all of the old features that made this place so cool years ago when they renovated the common areas of the building.

Speaking of apartments and moving, I looked at an apartment today. I wish I could say that I loved it and will be moving in right away, but it was definitely not for me. The apartment itself was very tiny and very dark, and the small size and darkness made me feel claustrophobic and awful, like being in a small, dark cave. There were other issues with the place too, and I just knew that I wouldn’t be happy there. It’s really too bad because everything outside of the apartment would have been great, but I just couldn’t say yes to a place that made me feel so unhappy. Years ago, I probably would have taken the apartment due to some silly feeling of obligation or low self esteem or a bunch of other nonsense factors, so I’m proud that I was able to realize that it wasn’t right for me and I wouldn’t be happy there, and actually call back and turn it down,. And I’m almost even more proud of the fact that I was able to stand my ground when the manager of the building tried to make me feel bad and like I was making some huge mistake that I was going to regret over the phone.

I know I won’t regret it, I made the right decision for me and I’m really proud that I was able to assert myself and make a choice that was in my own best interest instead of trying to appease someone else out of misplaced guilt. And I know that turning this place down isn’t the end of the world, there will be other (hopefully better!) apartments.

What about you? What have you been sewing lately? Do you having any apartment/house hunting nightmares you’d like to share? Do you know what I could do to make the disgruntled raccoon dress work? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!