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Simplicity Turns 90 Challenge

This particular pattern stood out to me and I just knew it’d look ace with the Oxfam Fabric that I was so in love with.

I’m new to Twitter and was just getting myself into the groove of the Complete Awesomeness of it when I came across the hashtag #SimplicityTurns90.  What’s this you may ask?  Well!  This year Simplicity turns 90.  They have been around for 90 years helping people to craft and create their own fashion that actually FITS.  With patterns that are easy to follow and understand, whilst delivering some en vogue styles.

The wonderful thing about making your own clothes is that you don’t have to be hampered by annoying things like:

  • My boobs are bigger than my bottom
  • My bottom is bigger than my waist
  • My shoulders are narrow and straps fall off
  • My legs aren’t sixteen feet long
  • But my body is too long to wear ‘petite’
My perfect vintage shoes and bag. The bag was bought from St. Peter’s Hospice in Portishead and the shoes I have had for donkey’s years – although they did originally come from a charity shop – but can’t remember which one.

Quite clearly I was driven to dress making out of desperation.  Actually that’s not true.  I started dress making because I had such clear visualisations in my head of the sort of things I wanted to wear but quite honestly I could never find them.  At least not at a price that I was either capable or willing to pay.  And then if I did find clothes then they would be seriously lacking on the fitting front.

There is nothing worse than badly fitting clothes.  It’s the fastest way to make you look and feel uncomfortable.  Fabric stretching and taught under the arms, the bottom, the boobs.  Or baggy round the waist.  Or rising up when you walk because it’s just a fraction too tight.  We all know these pains!

I always iron the paper pattern pieces before I pin them. Very often they are super crinkly and deformed from being folded in the envelope. Giving them a quick (cool) iron makes all the difference.
Plus I feel like I’m in Downton and can imagine that I’m having the newspaper ironed for me. Although as it’s me ironing it, presumably I’m the servant, which isn’t part of the fantasy.

My sister and I will ask each other, ‘Do you feel like a Goddess or a Gloddess?’ As far as I’m concerned there’s no point in getting dressed if you feel like a Gloddess.  Let me be clear here – this isn’t about how you look to other people.  This is how you FEEL.  We all have those items that make us feel powerful, tremendous and utterly out of this world.  I aim to harness that feeling in everything I wear.  That might be my dog walking jeans with a woolly jumper or a tiny red dress on a night out.  It’s about how you feel when you wear something, not how you look.

If you feel like a Goddess everything else will fall into place.

The pattern pieces after cutting. Again make sure the fabric is ironed for a smooth and accurate cut. I alway take the pins out after cutting so that they don’t leave little holes in the fabric but be careful not to get the pieces mixed up and make sure you’ve transferred all the marks and guides before unpinning. You don’t want to sew the bodice from to the centre back by accident.

Making your own clothes is the fastest way to make sure that you never, ever have to feel like a Gloddess ever again.

I HATE shopping.  Like, really really hate it.  It’s depressing, expensive and for me a total waste of time.  That said I’m not beyond wondering around the shops and gleaning ideas for things I want to make, whilst I secretly snap pictures.

The only sort of shopping I don’t hate is pattern and fabric shopping.  These are the sorts of shopping trips I never, ever get bored of .  This sort of shopping is a world of creativity and mind expansion.  I can see a pattern and visualise the wonderful ways this pattern can be made into something I want to wear or own.  Or I can come across a piece of fabric that sings me a little song and makes me do a Happy Dance.  And this is exactly what happened when I came across the fabric that I decided to use for this project.

I’m super pleased with the way my dress turned out. A wonderful 50s feel combined with the modern panel at the front.

Actually, I told a little white lie earlier.  There is one place I love shopping – and that is in a charity shop.  I have my favourites for different items depending on what I’m hoping to purchase.  PSDA for household things – sofas, chairs and wonderful vases.  St Peter’s Hospice for all things vintage.  Oxfam for clothes and, apparently now, fabric!

I was incredibly lucky to find 4 metres of fabric strait from the bolt in Oxfam in Bath.  I loved the african feel and texture of the fabric.  A heavy cotton with a striking pattern.  I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with it.  Not one single notion of why I needed it but sheesh I knew I needed it.  And at £1.50 per metre you can’t go wrong!

My sister-in-law is getting married in the middle of September and there’s literally no way I can pass up the opportunity to make a dress to wear to a wedding.  It goes against my nature in about a gazillion ways.  Originally my sister gave me 4 metres of utterly divine green and gold silk dupion to make said dress from.  And I’d floated around thinking of this pattern and that pattern – looking at ideas but nothing had struck gold with me.  Nothing seemed quite right somehow.  I so wanted to use it but I just couldn’t get my head around how it was going to work out.

And then came the Oxfam Fabric.

I was getting ready to PARTY! Look at Baggy Pants with her wonderful Vogue dress and capelet!

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the fabric that I was going to use.  I just didn’t know how.

Bring in the #SimplicityTurns90 challenge and BINGO!

I looked at the patterns that were included in the challenge and I looked at my fabric and suddenly (and this really is like magic) it all came together.

New Look 6390 sung out to me and once again I did a little Happy Dance.  This time with Jazz Hands.

The dress was a joy to wear from start to finish. The petticoat added a lovely ‘whoosh’ to the pattern.


I decided to switch out the front and back panels with a navy blue as I felt that all over print was going to be too much and too busy.  Plus it gave an interesting and modern look to the pattern.  Dungarees are very ‘in’ at the moment (I am even thinking about making a pair but I fear I will look completely and utterly ridiculous – watch this space) and this was a way to get that ‘in’ feeling without having to actually wear a pair of dungarees.  And of course one can’t wear dungarees to a wedding.

Actually that reminds me of a wedding I went to when I was about 11.  For some inexplicable reason I was forced to wear white dungaree shorts with yellow Doc Marten boots.  I remember telling my mum that if I had to wear the dungarees that I wouldn’t smile once for the entire day.  And sure enough I didn’t.  There are comical pictures of me with a turned down, grimacing mouth.  And I wonder where my daughter gets her contrary spirit from.

As usual I digress.

The pattern was easy to follow and all went pretty smoothly.  I cut for a 16 to accommodate my boobs but then brought in the waist by several sizes.  I don’t honestly know what size the waist would be as I didn’t cut it from the pattern.  When it comes to fitting a garment Himself is a pro.  I stand in the bathroom and give out instructions as he wields the pins.  He’s got truly splendid over the years at pinning, sizing and altering clothes for me, without (barely ever) stabbing me with said pins.

Everyone needs a Live-In Garment Alteration Service.

Playing about in the garden before the wedding starts.

If you don’t have one – then train one up.  Partner, housemate, child.  But not Dog.  Dog is no good at fitting.  He doesn’t have the necessary opposable thumbs.  Plus he drools and sheds hair on everything.  He can’t be trusted in a dress fitting situation.

I recon we took off about 8cm in total to get the dress to fit my waist.  Usually we would have to go out again to accommodate my rump but as this dress has a wonderfully full skirt then it wasn’t necessary this time.  I just carried the lines of the waist strait down the skirt section of the pattern.  Really one should have a toile first so you get the perfect fit but I didn’t have time and actually it wasn’t necessary. The fit is great, thanks to Himself.

The pattern gave several choices in neckline and straps.  I toyed with the idea of putting some organza on the top of the dress but I couldn’t see how it would work with the already fairly busy pattern.  Plus the neckline was a little high for me.  I’m not good with necks that are too high – I feel like I am going to be strangled – even if the neck line is miles away from my actual neck.

Oh that’s pattern! Baggy Pants and I had wonderful fun turning circles in the garden before the wedding. The petticoat underneath really helped to give added Happiness!

My biggest problem with dresses and straps is always getting the straps to fit in the right way.  I have weird shoulders that are allergic to straps.  They fall off constantly.  If they’re tight enough to not fall down then I can’t lift my arms up but if they are loose enough to move then they fall down.  I have high hopes for these straps as they are wonderfully thick and not those annoying spaghetti straps which do nothing to hold a dress up, usually stretch or cut into your shoulders until you have Serious Circulation Problems.  I will apply a little bit of body tape to the inside of the straps and glue the buggers onto my shoulders to make sure that I don’t spend all day fiddling with them.  Let me just clarify this isn’t anything to do with the pattern – this is entirely to do with my weird shoulders.

Once I had the dress on and I was swishing about the landing in it I realised that it would become Tremendously Awesome if I wore a petticoat.  I am a petticoat lover and wear one whenever I can wrangle the situation to do so.  I have yet managed to wear one walking Dog but there is always a chance that the Universe will make it happen.

So on went a navy blue petticoat.  Just a small petticoat as I didn’t want a massive skirt but just enough to give it a bit of Rar Rar Romp.

Twisting and swishing around the house, I was definitely in Goddess territory.

A family photo!

All in all it was a highly successful sew.  The pattern was a joy to make with very few construction issues.  I only had to get my unpicked out once, which is a win as far as I’m concerned.  If I get through a project without unpicking there is a Happy Dance with Jazz Hands and Trans-Dimensional Legs.  I guess it took me 10 hours approximately from start to finish – which isn’t at all bad.  It’s a lot longer than my Self Inflicted Capelet Challenge but it’s a totally different beast.

So thank you Simplicity for bringing yet another excellent pattern to the table!

Let me know if you have made this pattern and please do go ahead and share pictures with me in my Memory Zoo Sewing Community.  I absolutely adore seeing everyone’s creations and sharing ideas.

Happy sewing!

This Post Has 5 Comments
    1. Thank you! You can definitely make your own clothes! There’s no mystery to it – you just need to draw the curtains aside. 😀 I know you’re a member of my FB group so that’s a good start! Watch this space for soon-to-be-coming FB lives and Periscope tutorials.

  1. As soon as I looked at your dress I recognised the style of print! I love African prints and when I am in The Gambia I have to be dragged past the fabric shops. I now specialise in dashiki fabric and sew them to raise funds for my charity. I live the variety of dresses and jackets being produced by this pattern. Mine took VERY much longer than yours to produce but I am promising myself a garment made with material which does not have to be matched to the mm and all sorts of complications. Good luck. I love your blog.

    1. Hi Jane! Thanks for your comments. I’m very sorry it’s taken me so long to see it! I’m not sure where it disappeared to…. I would love to go to The Gambia. I know I would have serious fabric stash problems if I went there! Such beautiful cloth. I’d love to see some of your creations. Xx

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