Finished Vintage Dress UFO #1 – Simplicity 8248

Simplicity 8248 1930s day dress with alterations.

Reader, I must admit I am *terrible* at finishing UFOs – “unfinished objects.” I have two sewing mindsets: I want something quick, easy, and satisfying -or- I want to nestle in to a long-term, complicated, hand-sewn project.

Unfortunately for the former, almost no make is as quick and easy as I want it to be when I start it, and they often end up in the UFO pile…a collection of bags full of pattern pieces, scraps, sometimes notions, shoved into every crevice of my sewing room.

And they almost never see the light of day again……….almost.

Since we’re all tucked away at home these days, I wanted to do something along the “make do and mend” line, which translated nicely into stashbusting and UFO-finishing. I had two guilt-inducing 1930s dresses that immediately came to mind, which I’ll share here and in the next post.

I quite like this pattern with the changed made. The fabric is plain weave rayon, which is very drapey and light. The patterning in the fabric hides the details in the dress pattern, though, like the gathered high bust and the pockets.

UFO #1 – Simplicity 8248 Modern Repro Vintage Pattern

I made this repro Simplicity pattern three years ago and actually finished it, but I never felt like it fit me well. True to all modern Simplicity patterns, a stupid amount of ease was added to this vintage repro and I made the wrong size (the size it said to on the envelope rather than on the tissue…as usual), so it was quite a bit too big. I also have very narrow shoulders, so the puff sleeves were falling off the shoulder and looked sloppy, and I felt a bit too 1990s-grandma in this frock.

I took it apart three years ago to shorten the shoulder seams and re-set the sleeve, shorten the waist, do something about the unflattering collar, and shorten the hem. Then, of course, it sat around in pieces for the remainder of the 20-teens.

he sleeves of this dress are very gathered, with sewn-in puff supports, very essential to the look. To be honest, the sleeves could come even further in on the shoulders.

I picked it up again a few weeks ago and made all the changes. The dress had to come almost completely apart, too, because I made it before I had a serger and the seam allowances were so frayed the thing was barely staying together.

After stabilizing all of the seam allowances, I removed the collar and replaced it with a V neck with a facing. I brought the sleeves in much higher onto the shoulders and shortened the hem. The re-finished dress is still a bit granny, but I feel much better wearing it now.

I’m very happy with how the dress came out the second time. I might add a line of white trim around the neckline, but otherwise it’s done and wearable once more.

All-in-all, the remake took one weekend. Three years on the hanger, two days to finish! Isn’t that always the way?

Dress – Simplicity 8248 with alterations, made by me
Shoes – “Maria” in Red from
Gloves, Purse, Hat – original vintage 


  • Kim

    April 17, 2020 at 8:06 PM

    Hurrah for finishing! I think I have one of these in my UFO pile, too. I even Etsy'd a matching fabric covered belt buckle for it. Your make may inspire me to finally finish mine. I wonder if Tahoe Gatsby will be postponed.

  • Amanda

    April 17, 2020 at 9:54 PM

    Love the print on that dress! And oh gawd, I also am just like that with UFOs…especially with vintage style dresses. Which I love to wear but apparently hate to finish. My M.O. is to sew the main seams and then decide things like zippers, facings, and fit tweaking is something to do Later. Which is why I have things like a Christmas plaid dress intended for the holidays of 2017 hanging around, LOL.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 18, 2020 at 1:00 AM

      Hahaha, the "decide things like zippers, facing, and fit tweaking is something to do later" is exactly how my thought process goes too! I start things without having any notions and figure I'll just get what I need later on…fast forward to Spring 2020 and I have a bright red zipper in a green dress, LOL

  • Vincent Briggs

    April 17, 2020 at 10:53 PM

    Hooray for finishing old UFO's!

    I… also have a pile like that. Some from 5 or 6 years ago. I do finish the odd thing from it occasionally but it't especially difficult to find motivation for them when they don't fit/don't reflect your sewing skills anymore.

    I think your dress looks lovely!

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 18, 2020 at 1:01 AM

      I totally get that – they get too old and then they're not worth picking up anymore or, the more common for me, they have mysteriously shrunk while in that UFO pile….

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    April 17, 2020 at 11:34 PM

    It's lovely and not grannyish at all! I love how you've styled it. Isn't it nice to have some time to tackle those half done things. One of the few silver linings!

  • Jo Ann B. Pennock

    April 29, 2020 at 4:14 AM

    I hesitate to suggest to a Master, but if you had a white Peter Pan collar on that, it would look as though it were straight out of the Katharine Hepburn film, Alice Adams.

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