1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

My first dress!

September 13, 2012

Hi everyone! This is my very first dress sewn from scratch (well, technically from a 1970s thrift store tablecloth) and the first thing I’ve made from a real pattern without help. It’s also my first post here, so I hope I’m doing it right!

The pattern is McCall’s 5587. I added a pocket, lowered the back of the neckline slightly, and shortened it, since I didn’t have enough fabric to do the regular length.

I do have a few questions for the community. First, my side zipper tends to bubble outward, and the other side of the bodice wrinkles a bit (see below). Taking in the darts on the bodice seems like it might help, but it’s already fairly snug. Does anyone know what causes this, or how to fix it? While fitting the dress, there seemed to be a lot of extra fabric in the mid to upper back, so I took in the back darts and extended them higher. That solved the problem, but maybe caused some of my other issues?

I’d also like to figure out how to make the sleeves fit a little more closely to my arm, rather than having them stick up so. Is there a way to do that without taking in the sleeve so much it restricts movement (which it does a little already)?

Thanks for looking, and happy sewing!

  1. This is a lovely, lovely first dress! You did an excellent job! I really like your fabric.
    For the waist wrinkle and zipper issue, I think those are both happening due to the fact that the bodice needs to be a bit shorter (probably in the back). It is wrinkling on the one side and puffing out on the other because your zipper is holding it straighter. This is really not that bad, though. The dress still looks really pretty. Measure your nape/neck to waist front and back, and you will be able to shorten accordingly next time. My waist is short too.
    The sleeves are kimono, and fit loosely unless they are fitted with an underarm gusset. You could also just look for a set in sleeve on your next dress.
    I really wouldn’t worry too much about these issues on this particular dress, as your dress is really lovely, first try or not. You will have the chance to fix those on the next dress. And most people will never, ever notice these things you are noticing! They will just see how great it looks on you.

    1. Thanks A.J.A! I wondered if the bodice length might be an issue. It’s surprising, since I’m quite tall and usually too long-waisted for vintage clothes! Maybe this pattern was just made for the lanky.

  2. As far as the extra fabric in the back area and sides I recently had this problem with the Colette Macaron. I pinched out the extra fullness then measured how much I pinched out. I then altered my pieces by that much. That may be the reason your zipper is bubbling out too because of the extra fabric. If it were me I would pinch out the extra front and back, measure that, then cut that much off the bodice. Of course you will have to remove your zipper. I know what a pain! But it looks great anyway! I love the fabric you used! Awesome for your first dress!!

  3. That’s an amazing first dress; you should be very proud!

    Dresses of that particular period tend to be drafted with a fairly long waist (especially at the back), and don’t forget that they were designed to be worn over a girdle and a lift-and-separate bra as well as a slip, all of which changed the way the dress sat on the body.

    Also, you have chosen quite a soft fabric, but these very structured late ’50s/early ’60s styles were usually made in thicker or stiffer fabrics that conformed less to the shape of the body (and thus made you look more like you had the then-fashionable shape).

    Your fabric choice is gorgeous, but it is something to be aware of that when you change the type of fabric from the recommendations on the packet, you may need to make extra drafting changes, too.

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