Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A 1986 Remake: Star Terrell's Two Minute Dress, resurrected

PatternReview ran a "Retro" contest for the month of May -- the challenge was to take inspiration from any style pre-2000 and recreate it for today. Not as costume, but as wearable modern outfit. **Update: voting is now open at Patternreview if you're a member & want to vote for me 😁

Well, I immediately thought of a project I've been considering for quite some time. My first pattern I ever bought was this McCalls 9309 (©1984) for my home ec. project in Grade 9. I still own it, and have been thinking about remaking it to current sizing standards ;) I finally got around to it. 

The lady on the right has my Grade 9 haircut ;) 
The one on the left has my current haircut! 

I had made it in the 80s in a soft t-shirt jersey in a mint & white tie dye. To modernize it, I chose a heavier blue and yellow print in my stash, which has a slightly sturdier hand than the original and a more current appearance; I'd pulled it out as part of my blue and yellow Spring sewing plans. I had just enough to cut out the dress and sash - I decided to cut two sash pieces and sew them together so that the unprinted back of my fabric isn't showing when I tie it. Fortunately I could squeeze that all on with a centre seam in the sash rather than cutting on a fold. 

The other major change I made to this dress was the sizing. I did make this originally when I was thirteen, after all! The pattern piece for the body is just one full piece, the same for front and back. It made it easier to pin the whole thing to my shoulder seams to see if the neckline and sleeve would still work in the size 10/12 pattern. Because this is so very 80s oversize, it did; but the waist/hipline was a different story. 80s fashion also liked to have loose tops and fitted bottoms, but I am the opposite shape to this trend. So I traced the main pattern piece as a half pattern to cut on the fold, and added 1.5" to the hip, then smoothed out a curved line to just above the waist marking. Yes, I had to add nearly 6" to the diameter of the hips! 

One neat element of this pattern is that you sew a hook to the inner sleeve along the upper seam, just about at the bicep level. Then you make a thread loop at the inner sleeve hem, so that if you want to change the look to have short sleeves you can just hook them up on the inside and voila. A different look!

Since I'd already made some biggish changes I also decided to pop in some pockets. I stole both the pocket and neckline finish from my Marcy Tilton 9329 -- the pockets are just one piece and stitched to the front of the dress, while the neckline facing is topstitched down 1" from the neckline. Both of these additions were really useful ones.

I think that the rejigging of this pattern worked well! And the trip down memory lane was a treat. I was sure I still had a photo of myself in the original, but all I could find was a group photo from my Grade 9 Grad. You can see most of the dress ;)

This was an enjoyable project that the PatternReview contest gave me the push to actually get done. You can probably pop on over to PR and vote for me in the next few days ;) In any case, I love the dress and feel that it modernized effectively.

Channelling the 80s inspiration with two of my fave albums from the mid-80s:
Jane Siberry & Howard Jones


  1. This looks great, I think your newer fabric has some 80's graphic vibe to it and so compliments the pattern style well. I am envious of your pattern to fabric matching, you always do it so well.

    1. Thanks! You're right, the graphic print is a bit 80s feeling, I didn't think of it until you said so :)

  2. Looks very nice, I especially like the sleeves. Your hair is pretty as well.

    1. Thanks very much! These convertible sleeves are cool :)

  3. This dress is very cute. I love everything from the 80s, including Howard Jones! Happy sewing!

  4. Hi Melanie, Love the dress. I have poor memory of 80's dress style, apart from maternity dresses! But of course the style on the pattern envelope brings back memories. What I noticed first off was the size of the sleeves - I had forgotten about the big sleeves. I like that they can be made shorter, and how you have described it is a technique I could use right now. I looked back at your Marcy Tilton pockets post and remembered that dress, which was also lovely.
    Your choice of fabric is just beautiful. Such a bold pattern. Another great sew!

    .... Sara

    1. Yes, large and drapy sleeves ;) Glad they can be made shorter visually, although this fabric is so soft they feel great full length too. I was happy to remember that pocket technique, it was the perfect one for this lightweight knit!


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