1970s Nautical Print Two Ways

This 1970s (or maybe late 1960s) dress and vest are a recent acquisition. I don’t buy a lot of stuff from this era, mainly because my holdings are already pretty robust in that era. I do have a few items on my 1970s wishlist, but that’s another story.

I bought this set purely because of the fabric. In spite of the fact that the USA was involved in a very unpopular war, people were looking forward to the 1976 bicentennial of our country. Those of us who lived through this period were aware of the strange mix of loathing what our government was doing in Vietnam, contrasted with the pride that America had actually made it 200 years.

So red, white, and blue, along with somewhat patriotic themes emerged in our clothing. Red, white, and blue had long been popular for summer attire, but the impending celebration made the color combo really trendy.

But historical analysis aside, that’s not why I bought this set. This is:

I already had this skort and halter top in my collection, and I just could not resist adding the matching pieces. Not that they were made in the same factory, as I am fairly certain they were not.

The skort set has a Montgomery Ward label. Montgomery Ward at this time was a lot like Sears or JCPenney, but the quality was not quite as high.

This size label is the only label in the dress set. Already you might have noticed that is might be an indication of quality. Cheaper manufacturers often used this type size label. And look at the huge size of the stitches. The longer the stitch, the less thread is used. It’s a typical cost-saving measure.

While the skort set has overlocked seams throughout, the dress seams are left unfinished. In a fabric this loosely woven, this can be a huge problem.

And, as you can see, it really is a problem. Even though this vest has never been washed, the seams are unraveling badly.

We tend to associate poorly made clothing as a modern problem, but not all clothing from the past was made to last either. Several washings and this vest would have been literally coming apart at the seams.

The use of the same fabric by two different manufacturers is interesting, but not uncommon. My guess is that this fabric was also available to home dressmakers. I can remember making clothes from a very similar fabric. My grandmother insisted that I pink the seams, and she was right. Otherwise I’d have had a stringy mess on my hands.


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5 responses to “1970s Nautical Print Two Ways

  1. Laura Mary Lake

    I remember my Aunt, the one who was a skilled tailor as well as a policewoman, looking at something or the other I had bought at KMart and telling me I had better “go over” , that is, sew over, the seams or it would fall apart in the wash. I didn’t, and it did!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Claritza

    You are so right about the large stitches! I worked a Summer accounting office job at Montgomery Ward in the early 70s. The shorts I bought with my discount had such large stitches that I had to reinforce the seams.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kathleenc12

    When I was age 10, I longed for a Montgomery Ward sailor dress, a blue shirtwaist trimmed with white stripes, with a sailor collar with star appliqués. My mother told me it “looked cheap”. I begged until she bought it, and she was right, it fell apart. Soon, I was earning babysitting money and never bought another thing at “Monkey Ward’s.”


  4. In high school I had astore-bought dress that had ravelly unfinished seams. I was pleased that I could rescue it by zigzagging all the seams…..But what I noticed in this post is the strategic placement of the motifs on that halter top!


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