Vintage Sewing

Simplicity 8085 – Help!

April 25, 2016

The Dress

It is not complete. I stopped once I realized the flapping disaster as detailed below. It is missing a hem (I plan to carry the bias tape down), the belt (not sure if I am going to make one), and the cute little bows. But I needed advice on this flap-taster!



The Facts
Fabric: Thrifted fabric $6 for about 6 yrds.
Lining– None. I did have on a purchased full petticoat.
Pattern: Simplicity 8085 for dress and Simplicity 4116 for the sleeves.
Year: reprint of 1950s pattern
Notions: bias tape – 2 packages, will be 3 when complete, 2 large/strong hook-and-eyes, 3 snaps (maybe 4 when I am done).
Changes: Added sleeves and length to the shoulder seams.

The construction detail of this dress is detailed here.

But more importantly,  I need your help!  I added about 2″ to the shoulder seam  because there were no other places I could lengthen the bodice. I wanted to make sure there was enough wiggle room in the arm hole to get my sleeve on comfortably. And being so tall I usually always add 1-1.5″ to the bodice. So I tried it on and moved about and it looked like my dress grew wings. It was flapping away! My husband and mom think that this dress may cause a “flap” no matter if I even resize the shoulder seams because the dress has no real closures. Here is the picture of the flap I am talking about:

DSC_0148 DSC_0149


What do you guys think? Do I need to unpick it, or would the results still leave me flapping in the wind (heh heh)?


  1. Unfortunately, our husband and mom are on to something…
    One of the issues here is that the dress is fitted at the waist, so it will stay in place there. The bodice is fairly fitted but needs to allow you enough ease for things like moving your arms. And then, they design has that deep cross-over back…. Which is kind of a problem waiting to happen. Depending on how you stand at any given moment, it will always look flappy in some positions (mostly when you stand which your shoulders pushed back).
    It should, however, be possible to improve on the fit it has now. From your pictures, it looks like the back waist length is a bit too much (at the front it looks spot on. I guess you have more than a C cup which means part of the extra length at the front should come from an FBA instead of just from lengthening the bodice). As a result, the waistline sits at your waist and the extra material is pushed up. I think you should try pinning down some of that excess length. It could also help to add a fastener (a hidden button or a hook and eye) to the point where the back panels should cross, so they won’t be pulled apart and create flaps the moment you move.

    And one other thing: Based on your text, I expected the flap issue to be a lot worse. This is really just a little bit which should be OK after a bit of tweaking (maybe just the fastener would be enough…). I really hope you will fix it because the rest of the dress looks amazing.

    Oh, and are you a member of the We Sew Retro Sew & Tell Facebook group? I would recommend posting your question there too because you’ll get a lot more comments and advice there.

    1. Such helpful advise! The flap only happens when my arms are pushed back, but I am totally a perfectionist and it bugs me. I like you idea about shortening the back. Thank you so much!

  2. I’m not sure I can help with the finished dress, but if you ever make it again:
    1) This pattern can be lengthened below the bust just line a normal dress, you’ll just have to clean up the edge of the center back a little bit.
    2) If the back opening gaps, you may need to take a narrow wedge out of the back piece, starting at the center edge and tapering to the corner at the side seam/waist. Like this. Then redraw the edge to smooth it out. This won’t affect the side-seam or waist measurements but it will shorten the center edge a little and take up some slack in the middle back.

    2440 isn’t the same pattern, obviously, but it’s also a back-wrap and probably has some of the same fitting issues. Flickr set with some notes on alteration here.

  3. These are all great suggestions. I like Litte Black Car’s about taking a wedge out of the side that flaps and redrafting the pattern. However, since you’re almost done, can you take the amount of gaping out (shorten) the right side, internally where it connects at the left side? I’ve done this with a top that wrapped in the that gaped, and it worked. I realize it’s a bit of a “cheat,” but since you’re almost finished, I think this may be a quick fix. Looking good!

    1. I was honestly looking for a “cheat” way to finish this dress. The flap picture is the extreme, but it still bugs me. What is the point of sewing a garment if you can’t get it perfect?

      1. Because it works as a wearable muslin for the NEXT version. 😛 Don’t aim for perfection: aim for happiness. Sewing is one of those skills that requires hours upon hours of screwing up in order to learn. No matter how naturally talented or how great your instruction is, your sewing journey will still involve many hours of screwing up.

        Does that info help when its 1:30am and you just want the godsdamned zipper to go in? No. But I find that part of learning to sew is learning to manage expectations and frustration.

        Think of it as a dress-studded journey, instead of multiple dress destinations.

        1. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement! I have definitely had moments of “I quit” along my sewing journey. Seeing that I pretty much taught myself using YouTube and sewing handbooks picked up from the thrift store, I can say I have come a long, long, long way from where I began. Here’s to many more miles on this sewing road trip!

  4. I had exactly the same problem with a back wrap dress I made a couple of years ago! I spent ages trying to fix it (so I understand your frustration!) I found that shortening the back length (as Lauriana has suggested) improved the fit, but it was pretty much impossible to get it to stay smooth against my body while I was wearing it. In the end I decided to salvage the dress by turning it into a faux wrap dress – stitching down the wrap closure at the waist seam and back edges and adding an invisible side zip instead. Obviously not an ideal solution but that way I could at least have the look of a back wrap dress without all the fitting problems. Best of luck with your project!

    1. Yea, I think it is just the dreaded wrap dress curse! Or the “this dress is too easy to construct to be true!” I may just keep it as it is because I am worried if I take too much off the back it will lay flat, but then pull when I am dancing. I do not want a sleeve ripping bc the back is too dang tight. (the struggle is real). The flap is not too bad unless I push my elbows back. I just may avoid doing a chicken dance when wearing it (haha). I am glad to see others also have issues with wrap dresses! Thank you for your input!

    2. As someone returning to. Sewing after decades and as a new knitter, yes, thank you for reminding me part of the fun is the journey and no one but I will see the multitude of oops.

  5. Just a thought, could you maybe take a inch or so of the back of the bodice and add a small snap or cute button to hold it together. maybe the weight of the skirt combined with the button/snap will close up the flap?

    1. (^ that’s me too) sorry I thought of something else. I pulled out my copy of this pattern because it’s in my pile…. I was thinking adding 3 cute buttons on the angle on the back would be a nice detail and add a detail I’m so glad I stumbles into this blog I’m very long in the upper body so now I know that I need to add a bit of length.

    2. I was thinking about playing around with the idea of a snap closure at the back. I may have to test that out!

      I am glad some good came from my flappy dress 🙂 I always like to read reviews of patterns before I start on one. This pattern being so new didn’t have any reviews.

  6. Hi! It looks to me like you may need to do a sway back adjustment at the back. I agree with other people that you could lengthen the bodice below the bustline. Thanks it looks like a beautiful dress!

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