Apparel · Sewing

Blast From the Past: 70’s Kimono Dress (Vogue #9253)

If I could go back in time to any era for fashion, it would definitely be the 70s. Gosh, I love a good bell sleeve. (or a good bell bottom!) There’s a whole spectrum of fashion in the seventies to love. On one end you get all the floaty, airy, drape-y, dreamy flutter sleeves, balloon sleeves, peasant tops, maxi dresses, kimonos, palazzo pants…and on the other end there’s sleek button down shirts, structured pantsuits, bellbottoms in corduroy, denim, leather…And then there are the little things like big floppy hats, oversized sunglasses, platform shoes, high boots, fringe, fur, Sherpa, lace, patchwork, suede, sequins…The list goes on and on. So FABULOUS, the 70s!!

Some legendary 70s Style Icon Greats: Diane von Furstenberg, Diana Ross, Cher, Ali MacGraw, Farrah Fawcett, & Stevie Nicks

I’m so glad to have a chance to get my sewing machine out and sew again. It’s been a while! Plus, I’ve had this gorgeous piece of rayon challis fabric I’ve purchased from Etsy that has been sitting in my closet for months and finally needs be made into something pretty. And that something pretty is the Vogue 9253 (Now Reissued as Vogue 1735).

Notoriously known as the “That One With the Really Deep V“, this dress is very reminiscent of the 70s with its long, fluid drape, floaty kimono sleeves, and of course, that deep v-neck. This pattern was (and still is) quite popular among the sewing world, and if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend this pattern for it’s beauty, vintage charm, and versatility to work with many body types. Another plus is that it is marked “Very Easy”, so beginner sewers should have no problem making this. Which is quite humorous (for me) because I actually stumbled upon some issues when making this dress the second time around.

So, rewind. The first time I actually made this dress was in June last year, but I never got around to blogging about it.

My first dress was made in black linen, and I opted for the midi version. As you can see, I took the neckline up just a smidge (a LOT!) haha! If you look at the picture on the cover of the pattern, the models wearing the dress look as if they aren’t as busty, and since I am not the same body type, I felt it wise not to take the risk. I mean, that slit is down to their navels! I am definitely not that bold! But I have seen this dress as is on other girls with way more than what I have and they look great, so whatever floats your boat!

When I made this the first time, I followed all the directions completely, with regards to the sash (I opted for a free sash, as opposed to a connected one) and the v-neck naturally, but it was indeed very easy to follow and construct. This dress has a lot of ease, which is always nice. I’m usually in the Medium size range, but my measurements for this dress in particular put me in the Small range. Now I’m not sure if it’s just because my mindset is stubborn, or because I’d rather know that sizewise, it’s easier to take it in than out, but I went ahead and made a Medium. It ended up being just a tiny bit big in the chest area and under the arms, but I was still satisfied with the result.

So fast forward to now. I made this dress again, this time in a rayon challis, and as a maxi dress.

This beautiful Boho print challis from Etsy. It’s so soft and has such a great drape and feel to it!

It’s amazing how one dress can be transformed with different fabrics. My linen version was a little more structured and streamlined. The rayon challis version is much more drape-y and flowy!

I did end up having to modify some parts of construction, which was why I made the comment earlier about it being humorous that this dress is marked Very Easy. In truth, this version of the dress was kind of a headache to make. I’m not blaming it on the pattern, but rather on myself and my continuous learning of new things when it comes to sewing.

Anywhoo, my headache making this dress was contributed by several factors and modifications:

  1. Rayon challis, as marvelous and lovely as it is, is quite simply a pain in the neck to cut out. Despite educating myself on tips and tricks on how to sew with rayon, I had a hard time cutting out my patterns neatly. Rayon, in case you don’t know, is an incredibly shifty fabric. Because it’s so lightweight and fluid, it does not like to lay still. It’s recommended to use a rotary cutter for rayon, but I don’t trust myself too much with one, especially when cutting around curves, so I used my regular cutting shears. Well, my cuts were not nice. In fact, they were downright wonky! Not a proud moment considering how meticulous I usually like to be.
  2. Another issue I ran into was that, although I had ample fabric to work with, I realized my pattern was directional. Not a huge deal, but it created somewhat of a conundrum when trying to place my pattern pieces and ensure I could fit them all because the Vogue 9253 uses up a lot of fabric. I ended up having to cut the patterns out on a single panel without folding, and I barely made it. EEP!
  3. Since the Medium on my first dress ended up being slightly larger than normal, I thought I would size down this time and make a Small. In hindsight, I realize I maybe shouldn’t have done since it was my first time sewing with an unfamiliar fabric. Well, obviously because I sized down, but also, I think because both fabrics have different feels and weights to them, the rayon challis for this dress ended up being more clingy and fitted in the upper waist/chest area for me. (or maybe it was because of my disastrous pattern cutting??) Nonetheless, because of this, when I went to try on the dress, the bodice area and upper waist seemed a bit too snug for my liking. I had considered letting out the side seams (which would probably have been the easiest fix), but because I’m stubborn and complicated, I experimented with omitting the back darts on the bodice and also on the back of the skirt pieces instead. I also lessened the pleats in the front skirt pieces. This gave some ease to the bottom of the bodice area and the waist. When I sewed the bodice to the skirt and attached the zipper and tried it on again, it fit much nicer around my ribcage and waist. Doing these alterations did shorten the waistline slightly, giving it more of an empire waist look, but the skirt still flows out nicely. I also had to get a little creative with the extra fabric on the back where the zipper needed to be sewn, and honestly, I don’t know how I even managed it, but I did, and that’s all I can say about that.
  4. Putting in an invisible zipper for the first time was a challenge. The original pattern calls for a regular zipper, but I only had one navy blue zipper left and it was an invisible zipper. I think it was okay for this dress though because the challis is lightweight, and my sash is separate instead of being sewn onto the dress, so I had no problems zipping it up and down. The problems I ran into was lining the waist seams straight. It just wouldn’t line up correctly no matter how much I tried to make them do so. In the end, I just said “screw it” and they are slightly off, but thankfully the sash hides this, so all is good. Can’t win ’em all, I guess.
  5. Finishing all raw seams is not only smart, but absolutely essential for preserving your handmade goods. Is it fun to do? NO! Finishing all the seams for this dress was slow and tedious, and it was soo tempting to skip this part. Word to the wise: DO NOT SKIP THIS PART.
Contemplating whether or not to finish my seams, even though I know it’s a MUST. Also wondering when the heck I’m going to finish this dress….

*Other Modifications

  • Neckline: I modified the neckline again on this dress, just like the first. I achieved this by slightly overlapping the two bodice pieces while pinning them to the waist of the skirt. For the linen dress, I raised the neckline with a ladder stitch. Both methods work out well.
  • Sash: I reinforced the sash with a top stitch around the whole thing. You don’t have to do this, but I hate when my dress sash gets all twisted out of shape and I have to iron it into place again. Top stitching it really helps keep the shape of the sash, so I would recommend this step.

Despite all the changes I had to make to this dress, do I still love it and would I make it again?

HECK YES!

This dress was truly a labor of love. The amount of times I had to readjust and rip out seams and start over with this dress was maddening! But again, I really shouldn’t complain about all the things I had to do to make it fit because every first experience and every mistake made just means I’m gaining more wisdom and skills when it comes to my sewing. Plus, that feeling of accomplishment at having made something with your own hands never gets old.

As always, what truly helps me get through the perils of sewing and also sets the mood for fashion time traveling is music! Along with fashion, the music of the 70s was just great all around. There were many good songs from this Era, it’s hard to narrow it down, but I’m just gonna leave you with my 70s playlist of all the songs that were in rotation while I was sewing the iconic Vogue 9253.

Sew on and So long,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s