DIY, fashion, process, sewing, styleMartha PorterComment

When I need to be inspired for what to sew next, there is nothing that gets my imagination going like my vintage pattern collection. I mostly collect 1970s Buttericks, but there’s a little of all the “Big 4” brands sprinkled in the mix. This is vintage Simplicity 8383 (not to be confused with the more recent #S8383 which is a knit pattern). I LOVE this pattern - simple and beautiful, perfect for a wide variety of fabrics and occasions.


I bought this pattern while trawling eBay late at night. One look at that cover illustration and I was swept away. I needed both versions of this dress, immediately. It’s so gauzy and soft and feminine; 70s but so current looking. And as always with vintage patterns, the tissue paper is printed with many lovely lines and markings, and the written instructions include a few useful tips. I have found that vintage Big 4 patterns fit me the same as current ones. Size 12 is for a 34” bust. I recommend measuring the pattern pieces and making adjustments for your body as needed, but no surprises here. I did my usual fitting adjustments of lengthening the bodice 1” for my 5’8” height, and a 1” narrow shoulder adjustment, that’s it!


My favorite details from this pattern are: an exxxxxtra wide and exxxtremely puffy short sleeve (the pattern piece is huge); a faced front slit with the option of no visible stitching (I edgestitched this version); and a bias cut neckline tie that features no visible stitching - none around the collar and no visible stitching on the ties. Additionally, there are 6 darts in the bodice: 2 at front waist, 2 at back waist, and my fave vintage detail, 2 at back shoulder for the perfect fit. Because I was short on fabric, I skipped the tiered skirt, and used a simple self drafted, lightly gathered skirt instead. I also used an invisible zipper, because that’s what I had on hand, and they go in so easily now that I have the right foot.


The fabric I chose for this version is truly bonkers. I bought it at Tomato Select in Tokyo (see my previous post for full info about fabric shopping in Tokyo). It was an impulse purchase that I grabbed in a panic before we left Nippori Textile Town. I am so glad I I got it! I purchased 3 meters, which comes out to about 3.5 yards. I didn’t have enough fabric to make the tiered ruffles in the skirt - which ended up being fine because this fabric was difficult to work with and did not want to ruffle! It is a polyester crinkle chiffon base, with a dense and fluffy, cottony (I suspect rayon after burn testing) dobby weave. The dobby has been clipped, so the diamond shapes have a little fringe on the face of the fabric. To top it off, the whole thing has been digitally printed to look like gingham. My sewing machine hated it; I needed a fresh microtex needle to stitch. Luckily, this pattern sews up very quickly.


It’s still too cold for this dress to make a proper debut, but I’ve been wearing it around the house with my Loeffler Randall Starla sandals. This will definitely be on heavy rotation this summer.

ditsy floral dress closer.jpg

I should mention, the blue version is my second time making vintage Simplicity 8383. I made it last fall in the most floaty, feather weight silk from Mood. The fabric is an Anna Sui print, and I bought it because it reminded me of the envelope! Tbh, I have only worn this a couple times - I love it, but I prefer solid colors or a more bold, less ditsy print. For the first version, I did not make a narrow shoulder adjustment, and that factors in too, I prefer my dresses to fit me correctly in the shoulders. Regardless, I love this pattern and both dresses, so I already have plans to make a third version, probably in a gauzy cotton for summer.

If you see this pattern, snatch it up! XO