Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Sewing the 70s Today


Thank you very very much for all the lovely comments on my Sewing the 70s dress. It was wonderful to hear that so many of you had made this dress first time around and even more wonderful that you are still sewing 40 years later. I hope that seeing the pattern brought back happy memories for you and isn’t it surprising that we can remember each and every pattern we ever sewed? I think this shows the level of emotional involvement we put put into our makes.

Welcome to all new readers and followers too. Lovely to have you join us and thank you.


Today is the showcase of the third and final dress made from my Craftsy rayon haul. I dscn6881loved the Simplicity 5728 so much that I made another, this time in a rust coloured rayon with stylised cream sprigs and twigs. Instead of just showing a few photos of me in a dress, I’ve detailed the method I used to create the single welt pockets in the skirt. NB: this is what I do and is not necessarily the right or best method available.

I’ll intersperse the instructions with a few pics of the dress too.

This version of the dress has a decorative button at the neck, a fitted belt with a heart-shaped fastener and I moved the centre back zip to the side so that I can get dressed all by myself.

I read and noted every comment made on version No 1. Wendy gave a little tip on adding height to those gathered sleeves – thank you, I got the height I wanted.

Mrs Mole mentioned platform shoes, so here’s me in my new Trippens – a modern nod to platform shoes. Thanks, I’d forgotten about that particular style of footwear.

The pattern has instructions for adding lace around the collar and some of you mentioned contrast collars and trims to showcase the Italian collar. I didn’t add trim in this version but I wish I had – maybe next time??

dscn6870A few asked about the stays in version 1.  These are strips of fabric stitched between pockets at centre and from pockets into side seams. Just keeps everything smooth and flat. The top of the pockets are stitched into the waistband.

Thanks again for each and every comment. I truly appreciate your time and effort and only sorry that I didn’t reply to each one but life’s been a bit hectic recently and meant that I had a lot of time spent away from keyboard……..and sewing machine.


These pockets can be inserted into any skirt or trousers.

You will need:

Fusible interfacing – 2″ strips at least 6″ long, 4 in total

Ruler, pencil, pins

Fabric for pockets or 3-4″ wide strips of self fabric if you don’t have enough left for pockets or your fabric is bulky.

  1. Decide on the location of the pockets – close to the centre seam will produce small, shallow pockets or closer to the side seams for a ‘whole-hand’ pocket.
  2. Pocket opening will always be 51/2″ . This is a golden rule.
  3. Pockets can be vertical or horizontal, or as in this case, slanted. Slanted is an old couture trick to visually create a narrow waist and flattering the figure. They are also easier to actually use. Generally, with a slanted pocket there is a 2″ offset from top to bottom but this is personal choice.

Side zip that doesn’t require endless turning and twisting to get it up or down

  1. If there are two front pieces in a skirt then sew the centre seam. If not, mark the centre line and use this as a guide. For trousers, keep both fronts separate but constantly check that the pockets, left and right, are at the same height and width from the seams.
  2. Drape the skirt front upon your body or mannequin and mark your chosen pocket placement with some chalk or pins. Practice pretending to use the pockets to confirm the location. When happy,  tidy up with a ruler for precision on a table top.
  3. On two of the fusible interfacing strips, draw out the pocket opening: the centre and 1/4″ either side of this. Remember, always 5 1/2″ long. Iron to the inside.dscn6871

5. On the inside of the skirt, machine stitch along the outside pencil lines (not the centre). Start in the middle of a long edge with 1mm stitch length, change to normal stitch length and at corners and ends revert back to 1mm: go all the way around and finish off with more 1mm stitches. This does 4 things; holds the interfacing in place, prevents fraying, strengthens the pocket opening and clearly marks the pocket on the right side.



6. Prepare the welts. Take some leftover fabric, about 4″  x 6″. Fold on the long edge and use some more fusible interfacing for extra strength. Press well. Mark 1/2″ from the fold and you can even stitch this in place. The pocket opening is 1/2″, 2 x 1/4″ = 1/2″. See I can do maths!


7. Pin the 1/2″ line marked welt to the lower stitching line on the outside, making sure they line up. Have the folded edge away from the pocket opening, so raw edge is towards the side seams.


8. Stitch the welt in place from the wrong side over the same row of stitching.  Stitching should start at the top of the rectangle and finish at the end.


I now have to move to another project to show you the final stages as I forgot to take photos on the dress. Same process though.


9. Time to cut!!!. Slit through the skirt only along the pocket centre line. Stop a good 1″ or so from each end and clip to the corners, creating triangles. Push the welt and raw edges through to the inside. Manhandle this and don’t let the fabric take charge of you. Press very well.


10. On the inside, flatten out the little triangle tabs at each end and stitch them to the ends of the welt. Go over this line two or three times, just to make sure.


11. Nearly there. Now just to add the actual pockets to the inside using the raw edges. Bottom pocket piece should be the shell fabric. I didn’t have enough left, so I patched some remaining scraps to lining. It just means that if your pockets gape a little bit then they match the outside.



12. Stitch remaining pocket to the other side and join the two pockets together.


Press well again. Job done. If you like you can always add a few hand stitches at the corners to doubly make sure that nothing will unravel.


You should end up with a couple of pockets that are practically weightless and invisible but so useful, even if it’s just for posing! This method has worked well in this flimsy rayon and is just as effective in the heavier wool tweed shown above. Change the weight of your interfacing to suit your fabric though.


You know, I love dresses and it’s obvious, from the number of comments posted on my dresses rather than separates, that you do too but I actually rarely wear them. It’s a shocking admission, considering I make so many and fantasise about making many more. Must try harder – must wear more dresses.

I’ve kinda/sorta been a wee bit promoted at work. It’s a posting that takes me away from my students for one whole day a week –  a desk job!  I’ve decided that henceforth and until this contract finishes, Wednesdays shall be Dress Day. Now there’s a weekly blog post idea – want to join in? Even if you don’t work outside the home, you can still wear a dress for one day of the week, or maybe you already do and it’s just me who doesn’t.


I liked the photos of my reflection in the wardrobe doors – that’s why there’s two of me. There isn’t really, thank goodness.


36 thoughts on “Sewing the 70s Today

  1. Love your dress!!! I think I like it more now than when the pattern was first issued.
    Congratulations on your promotion. I’m a dress wearing kind of a girl. Most people comment on the fact that I’m, dressed up. That always makes me laugh as I find it easier to throw on a dress than pull on a pair of pants.

    • I think that’s how I feel when wearing a dress – dressed up! But I do agree with you Rhonda, they are so much easier to wear – no need to match top and bottom. Thank you.

  2. Love the dress. It really looks good on you.

  3. Love this dress, and thanks for the tutorial. I mostly wear dresses for work but like the idea of identifying one day of the working week to wear a dress and blog about it. ” Wear a dress Wednesday ” has a good ring to it!

  4. Awesome dress! Really shows off your cute figure. Thanks so much for explaining welt pockets. They always frighten me, but you’ve convinced me to give them another go!

  5. Lovely dress, and thank you for explaining & showing the concept of stays for pockets. Must remember to give that a try in the next dress I make. Congratulations on your promotion, and thoughts on wear-a-dress day. It’s time wearing one is normal again!

  6. I love the fabric. You have a beautiful dress there. I love that pocket technique too. I always wonder what the heck I am doing when I do those and then POOF it’s all done!

  7. Thank you so much for your pocket details. Really well explained and very helpful. I like wearing dresses too, but more for summer weekends. And very well done on your event promotion Ruth.

    • Thanks Kate but I’m actually not too keen on the ‘new job’, even if it’s only for one day a week. I’m a mover and doer, not a sit-at-a-desk type of person – that’s why I thought wearing dresses would suit the environment. There you go, I never thought of wearing a dress at weekends – usually only for formal or professional events – nice idea.

  8. Another winner! Thank you for the tutorial. And congrats on the promotion.

  9. Congratulations on your promotion. Great dress! Your excellent tutorial has made attempting a welt pocket slightly less daunting, so thanks for explaining in such detail.

  10. Beautiful dress! I love 70s style. Thanks for the tutorial although I confess I’m very slightly confused by one of the pictures: the one where you show cutting the pocket opening. There is a second line of stitching below the pocket opening box which I presume is the stitching attaching the welt. I normally sew mine on over the pocket box stitching and I don’t see how it turns through when sewn on lower if you haven’t finished the short edges of the welt to the exact width of the pocket. I bet that was as clear as mud 🙂 I’ll have to make a sample and try it because your method sounds less fiddly than mine and I’d like to make it work!

  11. Love this dress, the fit is fantastic’ you should definitely wear it a lot. A touch of the Laura Ashley’s perhaps? Congrats on the promotion, curious to know more! X

    • Thanks Mags – new job is nothing to get too excited about – I much prefer the classroom to the office!
      I was that Laura Ashley girl BTW back in the day. Bet you were too

  12. Really, really lovely. It reminds me of how much I adored wearing that style when I was a teenager [and slim. Slim. I remember slim.]

  13. Very nice Ruth both this version and the earlier one. I do love a dress and the length is just right for you. Thanks for the heads up on the pocket stays, very helpful

  14. Congrats to your promotion. And the dress suits you very well. No class for me on Wednesdays so no cycling and I might try the dress idea. Recently I cam e round to the idea of dresses as a no-brainer, put it on and done. So I will expand from pencil skirts to dresses, wish me luck. And must try the pockets.

  15. Now this is a really lovely one! And thanks very much for the pocket photo’s…it makes the process clearer than on many pattern instruction sheets I followed to get similar pockets.

  16. This is brilliant!! What’s not to love about 70s goodness?!

  17. Pingback: Before it’s Too Late | corecouture

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