A symphony of seventies swans

(Not that origami swans can really make much noise, but it’s getting to be past my bedtime and I like the alliteration. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So…..

You may recall (if you read it) that I mentioned one of my plans for this year is to use some of my vintage machines to make garments using patterns from the same era as the machine. This is a plan that’s been sifting around in my mind for a good couple of years now. And every so often, someone suggests it to me as well – which has pretty much solidified it in my mind as something that I really should do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And now, here it is – the very first garment in that series!

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

To start of with, I made a 1970’s pattern, using a 1970’s machine. An Elna Lotus ZZ, in fact. This machine used to be (still is?) my mothers – I believe it was her first machine, given as a 21st birthday present. (Mum – feel free to correct me if I have the facts wrong, please?!)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This is also the machine that I learnt to sew on, and spent many happy hours when I was a child, making dolls clothes and scrunchie hair ties. (Remember those? Tubes of fabric with elastic threaded through so when you sewed the ends together the fabric all ‘scrunched’ up. I had a lot of them – there was a definite scrunchie-making phase when I was in primary school.)

So with all that history, it seemed only fitting that this was the machine that started off the Vintage Patterns With Vintage Machines series, don’t you think? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to break this into two posts – one on the pattern and garment, and the other on the machine. Today, we’re having a look at the pattern and garment.

The pattern I choose for this was Butterick 6617 – a princess-seamed dress with collar and zippered front from the 1970’s (year unknown). It’s a pretty classic 1970’s pattern – huge collar, optional massive patch pockets, no waist seam, and a zip down the front. It was also pretty perfect for my lifestyle a year ago, which is when I cut it out (whoops!). (And here’s where I give a big shout-out to The Monthly Stitch, and the UFO challenge for February, without which this project may still be languishing, not a stitch yet sewn, waiting for me to finally get around to making the bias binding for the trim. Thanks, Monthly Stitch challenge, for making me get my act together!)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I decided to make the sleeveless variation, without patch pockets or belt. In large part because I didn’t have enough fabric for pockets, belt or sleeves. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Like all 1970’s patterns that I’ve worked with before, this one was a breeze. Clear pattern markings, the instructions were fine, and the sizing was pretty accurate. Not a lot to say about it, really!

I used an invisible zip for the centre front (the instructions have you choose between either a dress zip or an invisible zip). Which, due to the fabric qualities, didn’t end up quite as invisible as it should have, sadly….

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Actually, let’s speak about the fabric for a moment. (And yes, I’m jumping all over the place with this one. It’s late, I’m typing stream-of-consciousness, too bad.) Firstly – isn’t this a great print?!? Origami swans! With orange outlines!! On a bright blue background!!! It caught my eye and came home with me one day when I ducked into Spotlight for something innocent (probably some interfacing or the like). Those of you in Australasia will be familiar with the Spotlight Phenomenon – the customer service and queues in those stores are always so bad that you often end up queuing for half an hour just to buy half a metre of interfacing. And that’s once you’ve found the dratted stuff, since the stores are a mess and everything seems to get reorganised all the time (I use the word ‘organised’ in there very loosely) and the staff don’t often know where anything is. If you can even find a staff member to ask. Anyway, with all that frustration and annoyance and waiting, it ends up feeling that you have to make the most of the time you’ve wasted there. Which means – Buy More Fabric!!! After all, can’t spend an hour looking for then purchasing interfacing and not get something fun out of it too, right? (Are you familiar with this phenomenem, or is it just me and my poor impulse control around fabric fabric fabric?)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So yes, this fabric was one of those purchases. Spotted in the pile next to the counter, waiting to be put back on the shelf. It had origami swans on it. I was annoyed. So I bought it.

Which I really shouldn’t have done, as it’s a terrible poor quality polyester that only cost $4/m (which in NZ is Very Cheap Fabric when full price) and there are already fade lines from creases on it even though it’s only been worn once. But – origami swans! It’ll be a short-lived dress (environmental guilt) but it’ll be a fun one while it lasts.

The orange on the other hand is just a nice, lightweight cotton poplin. Bought to contrast with the swans once I had paired fabric with pattern.

I decided to highlight the front princess seams with flat piping – partially to bring out the orange a bit more, and partially because to get this dress out of the fabric I had, I had to cut the side front pieces with the swans swimming in the other direction, so the flat piping is a break for swimming as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

You may notice one key difference between my dress and the pattern. The collar. My one is about 1/3rd the size of the one on the pattern. I did start off with the one on the pattern – that didn’t really go so well…..

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

See? Yeah. Just a bit too much orange going on there! And I had no more of the swans fabric. So, turning to some sewing buddies for help, I went with their idea of cutting it down to about 1/3rd of the original width. Which I reckon works a lot better.

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Not a lot to say about this pattern really – the neckline and armholes are finished with facings. Everything went together smoothly. The armholes are a bit too constricting on me so I’m going to go and make them a little bit deeper at some point.

With the exception of the overlocking, the blind machine hem, and the invisible zip, this was all constructed using the Elna Lotus ZZ. (It didn’t have the feet for the invisible zip, nor the stitch for the blind hemming, so I jumpted back onto my trusty Elna 2004-SP for those parts.)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Wore this to work on Monday and got quite a few comments. I am rather fond of it, cheap fabric and all that it may be. And it was really nice to be stitching it up on the lovely Lotus machine! ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay tuned for more about that Lotus. It’s a beauty, and deserves a post all to itself.

And one other thing – although I enjoyed making this pattern, and love the final garment, it’s not one I see myself making again. (Too many patterns, not enough time!). So, here’s a little giveaway to find it a new and loving home!

If you’d like to go into the draw to win my copy of Butterick 6617, let me know in the comments (please make sure I have an easy way to contact you if you win!) and I’ll draw a winner on Friday 18 March. The pattern is a size 14 – bust size 36″, waist 27″, hip 38″.

Yay! Swans!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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14 responses to “A symphony of seventies swans

  1. This is gorgeous fabric and I love 70s style. I have dozens of 70s patterns. Great Elna sewing machine! I also have my mum’s sewing machine from the 70s but it is a Kenmore from Sears. Oh, Sears catalogue delivery day was a good day! That colour combination is inspired, love the orange piping and (reduced) collar. If you don’t like that the invisible zip shows, you can always swap it out for an exposed zip in the orange colour.
    Scrunchies:
    https://www.getyarn.io/yarn-clip/917b8b53-1544-4f2e-8fe2-3beb004da6bf#.VuG6s-uJ1nU

  2. I love the reduced collar, it works so perfectly. I’m always impressed when people come up with such well suited pattern modifications! Speaking of which I’m totally stealing your idea of piping to break up the swans-swimming-the-other-way distraction, brilliant. And I had never thought of having the zip down the front… I was scheming about which of my patterns I could hack that in to as I was reading then you offer to give yours away! I would love it!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    P.S. Still sewing on an 80s Janome I bought from my mum’s friend when she moved OS. Love it.

  3. Super cute. I think Miriam at Create Hope Inspire may have also made something out of this fabric. Have to confess, don’t mind the BIG collar at all, but can see the ease of the smaller.

  4. Like those swans and the added piping. (Was just doing piping at Mad Skills and thinking I wasn’t sure what I’d use it on, and there’s a nice example on the princess seams. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. hahahahah, i did have a good giggle at the 70s collar! Now looking great though, small changes means those patterns can be still of use.

  6. This is really cute! I love it! The smaller collar makes it look so much more modern- good idea!

  7. I seem to think that I would keep the giant collar just make it with an orange fabric that has something in it, you know? the ones that quilters use for backing? orange with various tones of orange, I love those for complimentary fabrics. It does look lovely with the smaller collar too : )
    The 70’s patterns seem to be drafter for women with smaller busts, so they are great for people like me! would love to five it a go!
    good job!

  8. Beautiful dress, great marriage of pattern and print!! Love the collar!

  9. I think you may have just outed Spotlights clever marketing ploy to get us to spend more…

  10. Love the swans and a great pattern! I’m starting to love 70’s patterns, so would love to give this one a go!

  11. They sure did like their collars big in the 70s ;o) I like the print, sewing is such a tactile hobby, I really want to be able to feel the fabric!

  12. They sure did like their collars big in the 70s ;o) I like the print, sewing is such a tactile hobby, I really want to be able to feel the fabric! scrunchie memories…..on the side down low or up high….

  13. Pingback: Seventies swans swimming towards completion | The Monthly Stitch

  14. Pingback: And here’s why I haven’t been around much lately…. | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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