McCalls 5229

by craftylittlebugger on September 1, 2013 · 19 comments

in 1940s,Dresses,Vintage Sewing

My first daliance into 1940s wartime patterns.


This pattern has a reminder of the Civilian Clothing restrictions on the front, but also has a reminder inside of the present conditions as a reason for an unprinted pattern. I don’t mind unprinted patterns, but I understand why they might be a little daunting for a beginner seamstress. When you’ve got diagrams and clear instructions it’s reasonably easy to figure out, but I guess a little time consuming.


Anyway, the dress. (The photos aren’t great as my camera seemed to struggle with all the red.) It’s made from a cotton/linen blend with a nice texture to it. There was a lot more ease than I was expecting.  With hindsight, I should have taken in the seams at the front and back skirt gores. The sleeves are shortened by around two inches.

I also interfaced the collar, which the pattern didn’t mention or call for. I’m happy that I didn’t interface the bodice edge as it allows the bodice to be a little blousey. Otherwise it may have been a little too stiff.


The dress has lapped seams, which were quite nice to do. I topstitched them using regular thread, and a stitch on my machine that does three straight stitches side by side. Not sure if this has an official name or not. It makes for a more prominent stitch line. The buttons are also vintage from my collection, I’ve been waiting to use them for a long time.


Also, bound buttonholes, and thread belt loops using this tutorial from Oliver + S. This is so easy to do, and so much more delicate than big fabric belt loops. The dress fastens with snaps down the side too.


The insides are all overlocked. The fabric frayed quite easily, so this seemed like the safest and quickest measure. It’s not period-specific but I may as well take advantage of what sort of seam finishes can be done now. There was something nice about mixing an old pattern with new techniques. Does anyone else use modern techniques to finish vintage dresses, or is it better to stick with tradition?


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

adelaide blair September 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

This is a really lovely dress and the color is amazing!


craftylittlebugger September 2, 2013 at 5:17 am

Thanks! It’s so hard to photograph red.


Amy Mayen September 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I’d love to read the clothing restrictions you mentioned! How fascinating, and what a beautiful dress !


craftylittlebugger September 2, 2013 at 5:26 am

Take a look at the Cargo Cult Craft blog – she posted them up there, and they are indeed fascinating.


Starspangledheart September 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Your bound button holes look so pretty!


Lucy September 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

“It’s not period-specific but I may as well take advantage of what sort of seam finishes can be done now”

I always figure that, if things like invisible zips and overlockers had been around then, they’d have used them too. They just didn’t exist yet. So I have no qualms about mixing vintage patterns with modern techniques and notions!


Veronica Lewis September 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I think there is nothing wrong with mixing, but I like to keep mine true to the period and I pink all my seams if I did not french seam them. I saw a great tip someone posted somewhere, they cut their patterns out with Pinking sheers so they don’t have to do after it is sewn. I started doing that.


craftylittlebugger September 2, 2013 at 5:27 am

Funnily enough, that pinking tip is mentioned in this pattern! I like pinking seams and topstitching them, but I’m not sure what era that’s from.


ksgentry September 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm

While finishing your vintage dress with pinking shears, which would probably be the way they did them all back then I don’t think it hurts to use a modern finish. Either way it is a wonderful dress and I love that color, it suits you!


Nathalie September 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Very cute dress!


mariebayarea September 1, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Perfect day dress! Love the color


Sophie September 2, 2013 at 3:47 am

I really love this dress!! Very good work! The thread belt loops are also a great idea and it looks cute!


craftylittlebugger September 2, 2013 at 7:20 am

Thanks! I’m already planning another version.
And as for those belt loops – I’ve been adding them onto everything, they are so easy, useful and inconspicuous.


Rohan September 2, 2013 at 5:02 am

What an amazing dress! I love it! Well done.


waterbear September 2, 2013 at 11:49 am

The “three straight stitches side by side” is called a Triple stitch, Triple Stretch stitch, or just Stretch stitch. I love it and it was a great choice here. Wonderful color and dress!


craftylittlebugger September 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Thanks and thanks!
It’s a nice little stitch to have on my machine, I find it gives a nice bit of ‘oomph’ to an otherwise meagre looking topstitch.


Carolyn September 3, 2013 at 6:50 am

Lovely dress and very nice workmanship! The red is a great colour choice (I need a red dress!).

In addition to what waterbear mentioned about that triple stitch on your machine, it’s not just a decorative/topstitch feature, but an actual functional stretch stitch. If you sew any knits, or want to, this is the stitch to use.


craftylittlebugger September 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Oh really?! I had no idea.
My machine tells me that a lightning bolt shaped stitch is my stretch stitch, but I also use a zig-zag from time to time (if I’m not using my overlocker). I will definitely give this one a test run next time I sew something with a knit fabric. Thanks!


daisygrubber September 10, 2013 at 3:45 am

I love this – such great clean lines!


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