1980's Inspired Vintage Tea Dress
Posted on Saturday the 20th February 2016 by Thread Bunny
I love this dress, and I love the Retro Fabric. It's a super swishy microfibre - you'll usually find this fabric on sportswear as it's lightweight, breathable and so comfortable. Plus, it doesn't really need ironing, which is always good in my book. I found sewing with it just a joy, it holds its shape, and though it's a little hard to press, it's such a lovely fabric for a blouse or dress. Check out that awesome retro design too!
I started with a child's pattern from Butterick Sewing Patterns. You can see from the cover that there's a few variations you can make, including sleeveless option or making it sleeveless. I was getting a few 80's vibes from the cover pictures, and I was not disappointed by the end result!
It's a pretty simple pull-over dress with a few buttons and cute elasticated cuffs. It'd also really suit a havy fabric, a needlecord or even fleece for chillier days.
I've gone for option D with the long sleeves, and you can see from the illustration that the way the cuffs are elasticated creates a cute little frill at the wrist.
The pattern on this microfibre fabric is great, with a large repeat and pretty mint green squares, and plenty of lines to help you keep things straight!
Most of the pattern pieces are cut straight, with only the skirt and back bodice being cut on the fold, and the lines are so helpful with making sure it's straight - although I did struggle a little with which way up it was as the pattern is very similar in places! I flipped my pattern piece for the bodice and cut everything at a size 4, just to make sure it lasts through the summer!
I really wanted the front button closure to match on both sides - something I've attempted before with limited success. But, this pattern has a really helpful centre line marked on it, which I matched up with the longest line on the fabric, and cut one piece. Then, I matched up the second piece, this time placing the centre line slightly to the right of the white line in the design, so hopefully, when the two are placed together they should match up perfectly! This dress isn't lined, instead the button closure is self-faced with extra fabric, which you fold over to reinforce the buttonholes. You can add some facing inside to strengthen it further if you're using a heavier fabric, and you can also use facing in the collar to strengthen it. I chose not to because the fabric is so floppy, I thought it would make it stick out too much.
There's also a surprise back tie on this dress, which is attached at the side seams from the front and back bodice. You can't see this on the illustrations, but it's really useful for cinching in the waist slightly, and is a really nice feature.
Here's a close-up of the self-faced front bodice. It's a great short-cut to strengthening the front without having to line it fully, especially as I think you'd lose a little of the fluidity of the fabric if you had to line it.
You flip the facing over when attaching the collar, and then turn it back over to enclose the seam. The raw edge on the top of the dress where the collar is attached is then enclosed with a little bit of bias tape, and secured to the bodice.
It also has some lovely side-seam pockets. To do this, sew the pocket pieces to each piece of the skirt, with the flat edges together and the curve of the pattern facing inward. Then, press the pockets back outwards and sandwich both skirt pieces together.
Sew all the way around the pockets and down the side seams (leaving a gap to let the pockets open)... it's all marked on the pattern and is very easy to complete, and who doesn't love a dress with pockets?!
The cuffs are finished with a little bit of elastic, which is placed slightly above the edge of the fabric, which creates that cute little frill. To help with fitting the elastic through the casing, I've used a bodkin - a special blunt needle that grips on to the elastic and makes sure it doesn't budge when you are sewing, so much easier than fiddling with a safety pin! I've also sewn the seams down at the end of the sleeve, as you can see in the picture, which makes sure that you don't get stuck when threading the elastic through!
The hem is finished with a simple double-fold, and the front needs only three buttons, which are again marked on the pattern, to make it extra-easy to attach them. I've chosen some plain black buttons so as not to distract from the design.
Here's the finished dress, and my application for mum-of-the-year award.
It was 7am, and -2 degrees outside. She was shivering, and I made her take some photos! I felt so bad, what a trooper!
Here's some nicer, warmer pictures:
As you can see, our hallway's still in a bit of a mess from when the flood hit. The front matches up really well, so I was super pleased with it!
The freezing cold expedition outside made me feel a little bit bad, so a My Little Pony mystery bag made me feel a little better... and she loves those, so all was forgiven.
But which chair to sit in? The little one...
...or the big one?
What do you think? I'm really tempted to try another version in a Chambray Fabric for the summer.