Simplicity Hackalong Challenge 2020

I stumbled across this challenge on my Facebook feed. The premise of the challenge is that you take one of the Simplicity Hacking Patterns (these are patterns that show you how to create different looks from one basic pattern) and come up with your own twist on one. As part of this competition Simplicity are donating towards the Eve Appeal for every Hack-along pattern bought in the UK during the event.

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There were three categories to choose from; Day, Party and Vintage. It goes without saying that I was drawn to the vintage category.

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As I am a great lover of 70s fashion (you can read about my take on that in this post) I decided to create a garment reflecting that era. I decided to use Simplicity dress pattern S8888  as I felt this style with its slightly high waist lent itself to a lot of the styles that were around back then as can be seen on my Pinterest board of original 70s patterns.

To create my dress I did away with the front opening and created a square neckline. I attached the pattern to my mannequin in order to determine where to put the neckline. Originally I was going to ‘hack’ into the pattern but decided instead to fold the pieces back to preserve the pattern.

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I also made some ties about 3 feet long and 1 and 3/4″ inch wide which I sewed into the front bodice seams just above where the gathered skirt pieces are attached. This added a nice feature as the ties can be seen at the front of the dress too.

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I drafted a long puffed sleeve gathered at the sleeve head and gathered into a deep cuff.

I did wonder whether to go full on Laura Ashley by keeping the dress long and adding a wide frill to the hem. However it wasn’t the look I was really after but obviously this is another hacking option. I decided to cut the dress to just around knee level and is in keeping with those on the original 70s dress patterns.

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Talking of Laura Ashley I knew I was keen to create the dress in some type of small floral cotton print similar to those produced by Laura Ashley and Liberty during the 70s . I found some 100% cotton fabric with a small sprig pattern on a slate blue background which fitted the brief. I don’t often work with cotton but when I do I really enjoy it as it always sews beautifully and is a pleasure to press.  Plus it is easy to tell the right side from the wrong side which always helps when you are sewing!

The construction process was fairly straightforward and I followed the pattern instructions for attaching the side gathered pieces to the back and front bodice sides but then branched out on my own.  I didn’t use facing pieces at the square neck line but interfaced and turned back the seam allowances as hems before adding an ecru lace trim which picked up the colour of the sprigs in the fabric.

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The pattern suggests using an invisible zip and also gives instructions for an exposed zip but I decided to use an ordinary closed zip to reflect the era.

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The deep cuff is fastened with three buttons and I choose ecru coloured ones to match the springs and lace trim at the neckline.

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To complete the 70s look I style the dress with a wide brimmed floppy hat,  a black ribbon choker and a pair of genuine 70s Dolcis platform shoes.  There really were some great shoes around in the 70s.

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Overall Simplicity S8888 is a great little pattern that can serve as the basis for so many styles.  By taking one basic pattern and adding small details which reflect a particular time period plus the correct choice of fabric it is very easy to create a garment with a vintage vibe.  Finally it is always nice to have a little helper when working on a project.

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