Out of the Eighties Top

by lsaspacey on March 20, 2012 · 6 comments

in 1980s

Pattern: McCall’s 4632 (1989)

I created this top using McCall’s 4632 from 1989. Originally the pattern was to be sold in my Etsy shop but that view F in the bottom left hand corner looked attractive. I was thinking of making it in a fabric with more drape but I’m trying to sew out of my stash. Therefore, I located just enough of this cream/oyster twill to try it out. The fabric (which must be old, I can’t remember what I made with the rest) is pretty luxurious with a smooth hand and a slight sheen.

The style is loose, basically a square but the gathered shoulders add interest. It reminds me of a lot of the simple shells I’ve been seeing around from independant designers. It was extremely easy to make and I especially liked the fact that the yoked area on the front is actually overhang from the back pattern piece. I was thinking I could use that detail on many more projects so why not work off of this pattern piece than make my own from scratch.

Since the pattern was created in the late eighties it was designed for 1/2″ shoulder pads for that big shoulder look; therefore, I had to remove some length from the armholes and quite a bit of width at the sides. I ended up taking two inches off the length and two inches from EACH side, so four inches off of the width. I will be using this pattern again with a more suitable fabric, like crepe de chine or voile. It could also make a really cute dress.


I saw this pattern in the Stitches & Loops store and just had to have it. I imagined owning the entire suit and being just as chic and professional as the model. Well, I now have one of the three items concluded. This little top is what was described back then as an overblouse. It could also be worn over a sleeveless dress to expand wearing options. More elegant versions in satin or crepe would be worn over evening gowns.

What I loved about this design and that of the jacket is that the darts mimic each other on the pieces. I also found in construction of this top that the shoulder darts and french dart on the side add flattering shaping to the top.

For the top, I used a lovely drapey red cotton twill that I’m also using for the Colette PatternsOolong dress. I then added four white 1-inch pearlized buttons from my late mother’s button stash.

For the jacket and skirt, my dream would be to find a salt and pepper boucle with maybe a hint of another color running through it. But for boucle, that means I have a bit of a weight until they are in season again. Never mind, I have plenty to wear this red shirt with right now.

For a complete pattern review, click here.


After writing about the Orry-Kelly designed fashions in the 1333 movie Baby Face with my gal Barbara Stanwyck, I decided to search the Internet for home sewing patterns that may have been cribbed from character Lily Power’s fabulous movie costumes. These are just some of the pretties that I found.

Check my blog for screen shots of the costumes that may have inspired these patterns.

{ 1 comment }

A while ago, I wrote about the green silk dress from the movie Atonement and how it was created. Well, Gemma commented here and on my personal blog that her wedding dress was inspired by that movie costume and that she had pictures. So, of course I emailed her to send those pictures to me. After I saw them I knew I wanted to ask her some questions on why that dress and how. Here are some gorgeous pictures of her completed dress and please enjoy the rest of her answers on my blog.

I’m Gemma McCrory from Belfast, Northern Ireland but now living in London, England. Any spare time that I have I love to shop! Depending on my mood I either like trawling through vintage shops and warehouses or searching on the high street for vintage styled pieces. I am not very good with my hands so am a bit hopeless at actually making my own, but what I am good at is finding vintage patterns and emailing them to my sister-in-law in Belfast to make for me. It was Marie, my sister-in-law and 1940s fanatic, who actually alerted me to Lsaspacey’s post about my wedding dress.

Were you influenced by the movie Atonement in choosing your dress or was it a coincidence?
I watched Atonement and hated the movie but instantly fell in love with the dress, when my husband proposed I knew that I had to get that dress made. Being 6 feet tall I knew that any ‘off-the-peg’ dresses just would not do. Also being a lover of 1920s/30s clothing, the dress ticked all the boxes!

How did you find your dressmaker or did a family member/friend make it for you?
My dress maker was the wonderful Lucia Silver based in London. Believe it or not I just googled “1920 wedding dress maker” and up she popped! She has an amazing studio in Notting Hill which is dripping with vintage gowns, clothing and jewellery, as soon as I walked in I knew that she was the one for me. There was a hand made flapper dress hanging in every panel in the bay windows- stunning! When I arrived Lucia was just as excited as me when she saw the pictures I had brought with me as she was just about to start designing a dress similar- so I guess I was the guinea pig. She now uses the dress (a.k.a the goddess dress) on the main page of her web site, The State of Grace.

Did they use that same Vogue pattern to make it or did they copy the dress from pictures? How many tries (muslins) were made before the final dress?
No, they made the dress from a block which they drew my measurements on. From this they were able to make one toile then finito! Experts!

What fabric is your dress made out of? It moved so beautifully in the wind.
It is made from pearl crepe-back silk satin bought from Morocco.

Did you buy or make the fascinator/headdress?
The hatlette was also made by the same team it is made from the same fabric as the dress with hand stitched silver seams. The feathers and veil were also hand attached. Lucia also made some vintage single drop rhinestone and pearl earrings which she gave me as a gift.

The happy couple!

Join me in wishing the McCrorys the best in their life together and thank you, Gemma for sharing your story!

Images: property of Gemma McCrory, Focus Features Films, State of Grace