Dress like your Grandma is a sewing challenge run by my friend and fellow CSC editor, Tanya. The basic premise is to get a vintage picture and copy the outfit. It could be of your grandma or just a vintage photo. I also think if people wanted to dress like their Grandpa, that wouldn’t be an issue at all. This is the second year it has been running and my first time participating. I really really wanted to participate last year but couldn’t get a picture of my maternal Grandmother or my paternal Nana. This year, I managed to come across this picture of my maternal Grandmother with my Grandfather on my Dad’s facebook page and I knew I wanted to use that picture.
My Grandma is wearing a shirt waist dress with a simple A-line skirt. My grandparents appear to be going to a wedding or church or something else formal and the date on the picture is December 1958. My grandparents were farmers in rural Southern Ontario so this would have been a special occasion for them. My mom told me that my Grandma would often wear dresses like this. She sewed her own clothes. I wouldn’t be surprised if she sewed this dress.
I knew the overall style would be easy to duplicate. I wanted to modernize it a bit, though, since I don’t often make things that I will only wear once. Most of the costumes I make are also worn multiple times for cons and our shows so I try to make everything wearable.
I chose Simplicity 8084 for this dress. It has a lot of the elements of the inspiration, but a more open neckline, a banded collar, a loose fit, and a comfortable drawstring waist.
This is my first Mimi G pattern. It went together well. The fabric I used is a telio rayon voile from fabric.com. It’s very lightweight and almost see-through, but luckily not. I hate wearing slips! Actually, I’ve never made one so why start now.
The fabric does stretch a lot. Rayon is prone to this and everytime I work with it I take extra care to staystitch and sometimes use interfacing, especially for the neckline. I really regret not following that practice for this, because the neckline, in spite of staystitching, got super stretched out and I had to lengthen the neckline piece. This causes the neckline to not sit nicely at all. I’ll take extra care should I make this again in the future.
The only other error made was to sew on my sleeves and sew up the side seam and then realize I needed the sleeve tabs. D’OH! They should be up higher, but this was as high as I could manage without ripping out my side seam.
Like the other Simplicity shirtdress I made recently, this one also has extremely wide sleeves at the hem. It doesn’t get smaller closer at the hem and is as wide as the widest part of the bicep. I decided to keep them wide this time. I also widened the sleeves and made the gathered. We all know my preference for puffed sleeves.
Let’s discuss fit. Unlike other Simplicity patterns, the shoulders on this one are fairly wide. I checked the pattern piece just in case the shoulder had also stretched out, but they are wide. I usually have to make shoulders smaller in every single pattern, but that alteration is maybe 2 inches. This one would likely need 3 or maybe more.
The fit on the dress is meant to be a loose fit so I think elsewhere it fits correctly. I will add more to the back skirt, though, since when I sit down it isn’t as loose as I would like. Not tight by any means, but not as loose as I like.
I didn’t go for the curved hem on this dress as per the length. I decided to go with a straight hem to mix it up. I also didn’t go for the hidden button placket since I wanted to use pearlesque buttons like my inspiration picture. In spite of the fit issue and sewing issues, I really like this dress. I think once the fit is perfected I will probably want to make a bunch more.
My mom has told me that I am a lot like her mother both in looks and in personality. I seem to have inherited her height and her overall body structure, including the flat feet. My mom and I have speculated whether my Grandma had EDS since she had joint issues but we’ll never know for sure. Grandma died when I was a toddler. I never knew her except in pictures and stories from my mother.
I wish I had known her from the way my mom talks about her. I loved this challenge for making me feel a bit more connected to her. I really wanted to get the challenge completed for Mother’s Day for my mom, but was sewing away still on Mother’s day. Mom will have to accept the fact that her daughter is always late with gifts. 😉
I am looking forward to next year. Hopefully the challenge will continue, because I am going to my parent’s place this summer and I am going to find a bunch more pictures for inspiration!
- Pattern: Simplicity 8084
- Pros: Great size range. Easy to follow instructions. Comfortable dress to wear.
- Cons: Why does the sleeve hem need to be so wide? Shoulders are also unnecessarily wide…
- Make again?: After a few modifications and with care that the neckline doesn’t stretch out.
- Rating: 4/5 stars