August 7, 2015


The year was 1966 and eh... Well, what we tend to think of as the quintessential 1960's look was definitely gaining ground. It wasn't just for the hip young things in swinging cities anymore. A middle-of-the-road Dutch sewing magazine like Marion was publishing patterns for fairly short, fairly loose-fitting dresses too. For the smaller sizes, that is. It is interesting that the designs for the larger end of the sizing chart are still more along the lines of semi-fitted sheath dresses. 

Because I wear one of Marion's smaller ladies' sizes, I could find a nice dress pattern in the December issue of that year.

I wasn't in love with this dress (the one of the left) when I first lined up the potential candidates for a Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 1960's project. However, it didn't take a lot of closer inspection to realize that the insipid styling was hiding a rather nice design. Those colour-blocked criss-cross panels!
Of course, the dress in the picture might be quite impressive in real life: For all we know it was made in clashing orange and green... It just seems to be one of the very few cases in which Marion's stylists or sample makers forgot they were preparing for a photoshoot in black-and-white.

Of course, my colour choice was going to be different. And I wanted to make a dress I could wear right now. So, cotton or linen was called for. 
Compared to the dress in the picture, I fear I may have pushed this style to the other extreme: Between the black and the black-red-yellow print, there is a whiff of the fires of Mount Doom about it ;)
Or it might just be what Twiggy would have worn if she were really into Death Metal ;)
Does that make it a terrible anachronism? Maybe, but I'm not too bothered about that. I like vintage style and vintage patterns but ultimately, I want to be able to wear the things I've made and feel comfortable in them. (oh, and I know those shoes are terribly 1970's in style) 

The fabrics I picked are the textured linen I also used for last year's jumpsuit and this great African wax print which I've only ever used for a skirt before (which must have been pre-blog because I can't find a post about it but it is still here on Burdastyle). I love it but with my complexion, it's not something I can wear all-over (which is how these wax prints are normally worn). 
In this case, I could use the print to re-inforce the effect of those diagonal panels.

I'm quite happy with how this dress turned out. I didn't even make a muslin and the fit is spot-on. The bust shaping in those panel seams is in the right place, the waist length (which I did check against my sloper) is good and it doesn't have a crazy amount of ease or a lack of it. 
I only made three changes: I made the sleeve short instead of three quarter length to make the dress more appropriate for this time of year, I hemmed it a bit shorter because I preferred the look of that and I cut the sides of the back pieces a centimeter wider at hip level. Before cutting, I measured the pattern pieces and realized there might not be much ease at the hips so I compromised in that way. Normally, you would distribute such added width across front and back but I had already cut the front contrast pieces which reach down to hip level. Interestingly, the side seams look perfectly straight now.

I tried a Marion pattern before and I had many more issues with that one. Of course, it was an earlier pattern in a very different style so its pattern makers may have had very different ideas about ease. I was also a bit smaller at the chest back then, which made me pick a smaller size. This dress is in size 38, Marion's smallest "proper" ladies' size throughout the 1950's and 60's. That first dress was a size 36 which was a kind of in-between or teenager size: Same waist measurement as 38, smaller chest and hips and, as it turned out, a shorter waist length. Clearly, my proportions and height are much better suited for the larger size. 

I may not really be a hip young thing anymore but it doesn't take much to imagine rocking out in this dress ;)   


  1. I was 15 in 1966 and I know my school friends and I would have been madly jealous if we'd seen that dress. I love it now but wouldn't be able to wear it these days.It looks great on you.

  2. I was 15 in 1966 and I know my school friends and I would have been madly jealous if we'd seen that dress. I love it now but wouldn't be able to wear it these days.It looks great on you.

  3. The print placement is so effective. What a wonderful effect!

  4. I thought the earlier styles were suited to you(and they are) but you look fabulous in this too! The wax print looks amazing!

  5. I love the way you used the wax print! I have a similar vintage pattern, simplicity 8984 from 1970, but I haven't sewn it because I haven't seen enough projects with the same silhouette. This dress is really flattering on you though, this might just be the inspiration I need to sew up my simplicity 8984!

  6. A great dress, love the print triangles.
    I have one Marion issue myself but none of the designs ever convinced me enough to try it. Maybe I should have a look at it again to see if there might be more potential than I initially saw.

  7. Fantastic! The print utilisation is great. And I like your 70s style sandals, too!