Simplicity 5554, The Newport Dress

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My first attempt at a 1970s pattern, big collar and all! I was a little hesitant about that feature at first (and even traced a more standard-size collar), but I was swayed in the end. If I can be true to the original details of a vintage pattern, I will.

In all honesty though, the view I picked (view 3) is not over the top at all. I’m pretty sure I found this pattern – Simplicity 5554 from 1973 – at a thrift store in Virginia, a magical place full of patterns that only cost 25 cents a piece. The thrift store that is, but Virginia is pretty magical too.

There doesn’t seem to be a review of this pattern on the internet, so I’ll provide some more details. I’m also happy to be contributing my first project to the Vintage Pledge challenge run by Marie of A Stitching Odyssey!

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I picked up this cute nautical cotton at a vintage store called Carmen and Ginger in Providence, RI. I just happened to spot it as I was walking through the historic Providence Arcade with some friends (the study program I mentioned in my wrap dress post). The colors are perfect for celebrating the upcoming July 4th holiday!

The fabric has the words “Nantucket Sound,” “Vineyard Sound,” and “Block Island Sound” throughout, as well as outlines of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Block Island. I’m calling this creation the Newport Dress since that’s where most of the study program took place (fabric souvenir!). Plus, Newport is closer to those three islands AND every store display there had dresses with anchors, stripes, boats, you name it. What can I say? The sea was calling me home.

I had only bought two yards of this 45″ wide fabric, thinking I was going to make a skirt, so I’m glad I was able to squeeze a dress out of it. The only piece I couldn’t fit was the undercollar (which the pattern says to cut on the fold), so I cut two pieces and stitched them together.

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The pattern came in one size only – size 10 – so I tried it even though I figured the waist would be a bit too small (but not small enough that I couldn’t fidget with the seam allowances). And soooo….after trying on the dress I ended up taking out the side seams at the waist by 3/8″.

In a future version (because there will be future versions!), I will likely also let out the side seams at the rib cage or do a small FBA. When I take a deep breath it feels a little tight in that area, but it’s not uncomfortable so I won’t bother adjusting this particular dress.

I thought I was going to need to lengthen the skirt pieces since they are described as “mini,” but it hits just above the knee.

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The pattern doesn’t call for interfacing the button bands, but I did. It also instructs you to top-stitch 3/8″ from the edge of the bodice bottom and collar, which I did for the bodice. I didn’t really like that look so I used my preferred 1/8″ distance for the collar. In future versions, I think I’ll just use 1/8″ throughout.

I used 1/2″ self bias tape instead of the facing pieces for the armholes. I’m wondering if I can get away with 1/4″ bias tape in the future because I like the top-stitching to land a little closer to the edge than it currently does.

The collar and collar band are actually one piece. It’s magic! I loved not having to attach a band to a collar. I’m sure it looks more crisp when you have two separate pieces sewn together, but I’m not complaining here. One piece. Magic.

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The eleven white buttons are from Gizmo Sewing Supply on First Avenue and 10th Street in the East Village. The stripes on them have a nautical feel.

I used red thread for the buttonholes and button thread to mimic the sailboats on the dress. I was worried this color combo would be competing with the rest of the fabric, but since I unintentionally cut the button band on mostly blue and white parts of the dress I think it benefits from pops of red here and there!

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I truly love this dress and this silhouette. It’s the kind of dress I’d pick up at a store if I saw it. Now I just need a yacht and the America’s Cup trophy to go with it (I had no idea what that was before I went to Newport).

Happy upcoming July 4th, and a happy week to everyone else!

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22 thoughts on “Simplicity 5554, The Newport Dress

  1. This dress is adorable! I love that you kept the collar! I think it was a good call to interface the button band. There are some techniques that have improved over time. 😀 HOORAY for vintage pledge!

    • So excited to be contributing to vintage pledge – woohoo! Seems like a laid back challenge I can manage. 🙂 I have a couple others I hope to tackle this year…

  2. Hope you’re still reading comments…because I contacted the shop (Carmen and Ginger) and received yardage to make my husband a surprise shirt. He spent a lot of time on Block Island as a kid, and we vacationed there for the first time this year. I am so glad to see your terrific dress and discover this (completely random) fabric find. Thank you!

    • That’s wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing. So thrilled that my blog post led to you find the perfect fabric for your husband. Sounds like he will cherish it! I’d like to get to Block Island one of these days.

Hey, thanks for commenting! I truly appreciate it and always try to respond back. :)

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