Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Mod Double Knit Ponte Dress - Simplicity 5289

Pattern: Simplicity 5289 (1972)

Pattern Description: A-line dress with back zipper closing has French darts, high round neck, and short raglan sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: Pattern is size 14, though my waist and hip measurements corresponded with their size 16.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, pretty much, except the neckline is a bit lower on my version.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, extremely easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It's easy, perfect for a quick, cute make. It has a very forgiving shape. However, I had to make adjustments in order for it to fit the way I desired.

Fabric Used: 1-3/4 yards green double knit from VA/DC/MD swap (where I also got the pattern!). This is a medium-weight fabric with minimum stretch. Gutermann polyester thread in Spruce #784 and a 3/8" button from my stash.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:  I knew that the round necklines of the 60-70s were worn high and I might have to lower the neckline so I created a quick muslin of the dress (waist-up only) to check that, the fit of the shoulders, and the armscye. The neckline was extremely high to the point of near choking. Note that my muslin was made from a former twill duvet cover while the final dress would be in a double knit so the actual result would still be a mystery.

Otherwise, I was extremely surprised by the good fit of the muslin. The armholes for the raglan sleeve hung a bit too low for full mobility but otherwise, the darts were in the correct place and the shoulder shape was near perfect.

The bodice fit perfectly but the size 14 was meant for a waist and hip 2 inches smaller than mm actual measurements so I thought I needed to add some width to the pattern at the side seam. In the end, I ended up removing the additional width and in fact, increased all of the darts considerably to bring the fit in closer.

Despite the pattern illustration, according to the pattern envelope, the finished dress length was meant be 42", most definitely a 1970s "midi" to "maxi" length. I ended up removing 6 inches (!) and then doing a 2-1/4" hem. 

One thing I really enjoyed while making this dress was all the hand basting that I did, it was very relaxing, and didn't take that much time. If you desire stitching accuracy, basting by hand is a necessity. I even basted in all of the darts, dart legs and all, so I could machine stitch exactly on the lines.

Here is the dress during my first fitting:

Shoulder shape is looking good!

Unfortunately, the perfect shoulder shape was the only good thing about the fit of the dress. I had a lot more work to do to achieve the look of my inspiration dresses (see other construction links at bottom of this post).

I ended up cutting the neckline lower, more at the sides than at the front to correct the patterns vintage look and stifling feel. At first I had planned to bind the neckline but scared of bulk and any possible stretching I chose to just turn the seam allowance under and topstitch. I'm very happy with how that turned out.

Even though this is a stable knit, I still finished all raw edges with a zigzag for neatness and hemmed it by machine, doing two rows of stitching (faux twin needle) at the skirt hem.

Still some swayback issues but I'm fine with it.

I love these French darts.

I chose not to install a zipper, scared that it would stretch out the fabric or not lay flat. Instead I did a simple button closure following an awesome thread button loop tutorial from the Tessuti blog. It turned out so simple and elegant looking.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Even though I AM in love with the final dress, probably not. I'm not sure I would be able to forget the frustration and time spent trying to finally get the dress I originally imagined. I'm also not sure I transferred all the changes to the paper pattern during the process. F.Y.I. I suggest that anyone attempting a vintage pattern like this one definitely make a muslin, or two.

Mad Men season 7, episode 3
Stella McCartney "Ridley" dress

See? I swear I didn't pose like the pictures on purpose. Also ignore my food baby.

Conclusion: I knew this was a perfect marriage of pattern and fabric to attempt a version of my inspiration dresses; a dress worn by Elizabeth Moss as "Peggy Olson" on Mad Men's final season and a similarly shaped dress, the "Ridley" dress by Stella McCartney as worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. I wanted a simple dress design that would result in pure comfort, fully taking advantage of this cozy fabric and this design succeeded. In the end, I chose not to do the contrast topstitching, but it's something I can always do later if I change my mind.

More Of My Mad Mod Ponte Dress
My Mad Mod Ponte Knit Dress In Progress

Images: My own photos, AMC,,