I’ve done coordinating dresses for my daughters before, but never outright matching. Browsing vintage patterns online I came across McCall’s 4346 (copyright 1957, the same year my mother was born), and knew that I had to do it for both of my girls. It took a little while to find usable copies in sizes 6 and 12 – these were supposed to be Easter dresses (don’t judge me) – but I finally pulled it off.
I was considering making both of their dresses in solid blue with a red bow just like the blondie on the pattern envelope there. But once I laid eyes on this Michael Miller print, I couldn’t stop picturing my girlies in it. I mean, come on! It’s birds hanging dishes on a clothesline!
Other than my buttonholer’s continued refusal to cooperate, these dresses came together amazingly fast. I love how the simple lines work with an obnoxious novelty print (I’m already thinking about Christmas dresses). And here are my girlies all decked out with their new crinoline petticoats and big smiles!
This was a last-minute, impulse project – that’s the only way I sew anything for myself, to be honest. The pattern is Vogue 9059 – one of my favorite Vogues of all time. It took me the better part of two years to find it in my size for a price I could afford – I ended up getting it for under $25, yay! Even better, the fabric for this dress was totally free. My sister found a bolt of this gorgeous Ralph Lauren tartan sateen home dec fabric at a thrift shop and bought the whole thing. She’s made a few projects for herself and she also cut off a generous dress-sized hunk for me. Everything else, from the velvet to the zipper to the vintage belt buckle, was scrounged from my stash. (Know what this means? It means I get to buy some more fabric.)
My first thought was that the elegant yoke bands should be a contrast fabric – maybe solid white. However, as you can see from the line drawing, the bands end at the shoulder seam; using a contrast color would have caused awkwardness there. (Design elements that end abruptly at a side seam = my absolute biggest fashion pet peeve. Remember all those awful Nineties blouses with the vest attached on the front only?)
So the yoke bands were plaid, but I eliminated the button overlap and cut them in one piece so they wouldn’t be too busy. Totally unintentionally, the plaid on the top and middle bands matched perfectly. Nice! The bottom band didn’t match and I needed something there to break up the yoke seam, so I cut the bottom band out of some black cotton velvet instead. (The bottom band doesn’t reach the shoulder seam – as you can see, it peters out around the high bust area.)
This pattern wasn’t really intended for a plaid – I don’t think it was intended for a print material at all, actually – so I knew I was going to have to fudge it on the skirt. So I decided to worry about matching the plaids on the skirt front seam only and let the others fall as they may. This was my first attempt at matching plaids, and I was clearly affected with some sort of beginners’ luck, as it came out pretty good. We just won’t even talk about the other skirt seams, particularly on the zipper side!
And here is the dress in action on Christmas morning, complete with red lipstick and pearls and my new chiffon petticoat!
I found some of the Amy Butler ‘Soul Blossoms’ challis on clearance at my local fabric shop for $5.00 a yard – it’s been on my Pinterest board for months so of course I snapped it up. We are going on vacation to the Florida Gulf Coast next week, so I thought this would make a great vacation dress.
Butterick 5773 was actually the first vintage pattern I ever made – I originally did it in a pink Kona, which was a little too stiff for the pattern. (The dress sadly got ruined a few years back due to some indelible staining.) I was hoping a challis would be more suitably drapey. What I had forgotten is that straight out of the envelope, this dress is actually really, really unflattering.
However, I liked the fabric a lot so I set about trying to salvage it. (This, by the way, is the reason for my cardinal rule: ‘Never work with fabric that you don’t love.’ If I had bought the yardage only because it was cheap, this whole thing would be in a dumpster at the moment.) I narrowed the sleeve tunnels by a few inches (I always forget that I don’t really like vast sleeve openings), put in shoulder pads as the pattern suggested, hacked SIX inches off the bottom, and put in a contrast belt instead of the self-fabric belt I had been envisioning. The belt buckle is vintage, by the way! I also found that there was enough ‘give’ that I could get the dress on and off easily without the need of a side zipper.
The finished product reads more 1940s even though the pattern is dated ’51 – but I think that works well with the fabric. The ripply front opening is the consequence of cutting slippery rayon on the bias; they didn’t say to stay-stitch, so I didn’t – I should have either stay-stitched or cut the bodice straight. Either way, it’s nothing I can’t live with.
Bonus outdoor shot (yes I do wear my dresses someplace other than my bathroom) so you can see the awesome shoes I bought just to go with this dress! (They’re Chelsea Crew ‘Carla’ sandals, in case you are wondering, and now I really kind of need a pair in black as well.)