#SewRedOctober Dress FINISHED!!

I made it!

I am writing a post for the #sewcialist sewalong #sewredoctober and it is STILL October!!

Yay ME!!


If you have no idea what I am talking about, please click here to go to a previous post. If you are as excited as I am to see the finished dress, here she is:


I am quite please with her. :-). She turned out super swell.

The pattern is a vintage 1960s Simplicity 8381. The princess seaming and fantastic pockets made me swoon when I first saw it. Aaaaahhhh, what personality this dress seems to have.

I wanted to sew it in a brick red ponte (first for me) with lots and lots of navy topstitching and detailing.


I did a quick muslin and made a few of the usual adjustments: forward shoulder, narrow shoulder, shortened the waist, swayback, and I needed to pinch some extra fabric at the princess seams above the bust apex to the shoulder seam. I also lengthened the skirt since I like my dresses a little longer than the usual 1960s wearer, and shortened the sleeves to 3/4.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you already know that the topstitching on this dress was a nightmare. My machine does not like Gutermann stitching thread At. ALL!

This happened over and over and over.

ImageAnd in between the times that this wasn’t happening, then the topstitch thread was getting caught around the bobbin. I managed to topstitch the pockets and the front of the dress mostly OK once Lady Katza suggested I go with a larger gauge needle and increase the tension. But, by the time I got to the back of the dress my machine was just not having it.

Now, before you ask, yes I had regular thread in the bobbin, and I had the tension turned up a bit, and eventually switched to a topstitch needle. These things helped some, but not enough, so I ended up with a bunch of messy, messy topstitching.

Not the look I was going for.

I was also not ripping it all out.

I had already finished my sleeves with some navy double fold bias tape and red topstitching and it turned out super fantastic

ImageSo,  I decided to mimic this design element in the rest of the dress and covered up all that nasty horrible topstitching with beautiful bias tape. Take that yucky topstitching!!


(please forgive these photos, but my camera does not like to take up close pics of this color red for some reason, especially with navy in the frame)

The left is the yucky top stitching. See those very noticeable stops and starts when the thread broke? The middle is the bias tape stitched on top of the navy topstitching on the front. I ended up doing 3 rows of stitching on the front so it would be more noticeable, so when I added the bias tape I centered between the two outside rows and stitched it down with *regular* thread. The photo on the right is me flipping up the bias tape showing you the rows of topstitching under it on the back of the dress.

All in all, the topstitching fiasco ended up being a blessing, because the bias tape has much more *POW* as a design element than the topstitching, so I was much happier with the end result.


Nice, huh? And isn’t this pocket the cutest thing you have ever seen?? I love it so much I will either have to make this dress again or put these pockets on something else.

Here’s a few more photos of the dress:


I did make a few additional changes to the pattern. The neckline had facings, which I swapped out for a clean binding instead. Also, the pockets had facings. I opted to self line the pocket instead.

The only other thing worth mentioning is I installed a navy zipper (even though I don’t need it to get into the dress, yay knits!) as a design element in the back and I chose to keep the teeth exposed so you could see the navy. This changed the fit a bit on the back and makes the back shoulder and neckline gape a little bit, as it is now too big. OOPS! Next time I’ll try to remember to pinch out the additional fabric in the shoulder darts. In the below picture you can see the zipper and the back neckline gaping a little.

I would also like to add that none of the wrinkles I see in these pictures are there, or at least not this noticeable, in person. Another quirk of the camera? Or perhaps because I am moving in these shots? Dunno, but I promise this dress looks much better in person.

ImageHappy Sewing!

And, do please join in on the fun for #greendecember!!


18 thoughts on “#SewRedOctober Dress FINISHED!!

  1. OOH LOVE it! So fabulous with the navy bias tape! I really wanted to take part in Red October, especially since it is my favorite color, but I had too much on my plate already. Love seeing everyone’s garments though!

  2. It looks lovely, with fab details! I love the pockets too, I also would have liked to have taken part, but I’m still working on my Jackie coat, I will have to join in Green December!

      • I’ve literally just sewn on the last button! I’ll post some pictures tomorrow, I spent a lot of time jumping between your post on your Jackie coat, with all your great tips and Lena’s for the tutorials, and I’m feeling very smug that I managed to pull it off! I’d love to know what you think…I thought about a green velvet jacket for December, or a bottle green velvet dress for Christmas Day!

  3. Gosh Melanie, that is a fabulous dress, and so your colour! You look wonderful in that shade of red. Love the bias contrast and the exposed zipper.

  4. Oh wow… what a great idea adding the bias binding instead! It definitely has more “pop”… Super idea! Overall the dress looks fantastic on you. I think you did yourself proud! ~Laurie

  5. The dress looks fantastic … And the pockets are adorable … wouldn’t they look fab on a little A line skirt? Love the colour combo.

  6. I was coming back daily to see if you had finished your dress. I loved the pattern and the sneak peaks you were giving us on IG. And….I am NOT disappointed. This is stunning!!! The pattern is right up my alley and something I would wear and it looks just terrific on you. And, how strange about the top-stitching. I think a larger needle would definitely have helped. But, seriously, thank goodness that kept happening because the navy bias tape rocks! I love it! It is so 60s and kicky! Twiggy, eat your heart out. 🙂

  7. I love everything about your dress! So cute! And I love the shoes!

    My old machine H-A-T-E-D Gutermann thread. I think it was the all poly thing. As long as I used cotton or cotton-covered poly Dual Duty it was happy and stitched beautifully. (When Dual Duty changed to all poly it was the same problem.)

    Great way to save the icky stitching and make it a perfect design detail! It makes it even more retro ’60s looking. =)

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