mccalls 5808

Grapesicle Dress

by Joni on May 12, 2013 · 9 comments

in 1960s,Dresses

So there I was minding my own business when I thought, “Hey! That bright purple stretch cotton shirting in my stash would make a GREAT wiggle dress!”

Of course I had to do it. The Sewing Gods must be obeyed.

I combined two patterns in my stash – I put the bodice from 5808 (dated 1960) on top of the skirt from 5507 (dated 1961). This was a great instant gratification project – about $15 in supplies and a day and a half of labor. Even better, it allowed me to check off one of my resolutions as I’ve been meaning to make a wiggle dress for ages! Of course, what happens when don’t make a muslin is that you discover that the bateau neckline is about an inch too wide on either side… after it’s been faced and understitched. (This is at least the third bateau neckline I’ve had problems with, maybe someday I’ll learn!) Rather than undo all that hard work, I took a couple of pleats on either side of the neckline to rein in the extra material. They coordinate with the double pleats in the skirt so I’m calling it a design element.

The purple color is really hard to photograph – it’s a bit grape-ier in real life. And I am hard to photograph too!

All in all, I’m really glad I made this dress for myself. For one, it was really nice to have a new dress for Mother’s Day! For another, I’m gradually getting over my fear of my giant hips. I was really surprised to learn that I don’t look like Barney the Purple Dinosaur in such a form-fitting dress. Actually, while I used a material with a wee bit of stretch, I didn’t really need to – there is plenty of ease in the hips. Once I get the neckline issues worked out, I actually have some vintage brocade that would make a SMASHING wiggle dress!

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Peonies!

by Joni on July 21, 2012 · 15 comments

in 1960s,Dresses,Vintage Sewing

As promised, here is my second new dress in as many weeks! I started with McCalls 5808, dated 1961, and a gloriously retro-looking Amy Butler print. I love peonies – and they are the state flower here in Indiana!

The construction of the dress, while simple, was pretty interesting – the bodice is faced, the yoke is constructed separately then topstitched in, and finally the raw edges of yoke & facing are finished together. I used a serger instead of overcasting as they would have done in 1961 but otherwise it was the same. I did make a few changes: mainly, I moved the zipper from the back to the side, because I knew the yoke seams would never match up at the back if I didn’t! I added a hidden pocket in the non-zipper side of the skirt. And I chopped FOUR INCHES off the bottom of the skirt before hemming, because for a knee-length skirt, it almost came down to my ankles and I am not short! Have I mentioned that these patterns were drafted for giants?!

I really wanted to make a belt to wear with this dress, but ran into a snag… All the vintage belt kits I have been carefully hoarding are unusable. The belt backing is permanently creased from being folded into a package for 50+ years and resists any and all attempts to flatten. :( JoAnn’s has ONE width of belt backing and a few ‘fashion’ buckles… ugh… I’m going to have to find a way to make matching belts for future dresses. But I was wearing this one on a hot date with DH last night, so I went ahead and whipped up a sash with the same Kona I used for the yoke. Mine came out shorter than the one on the envelope, but I like how it makes a little bow at the front of the dress.

I can’t believe how well the bodice fits – although the fact that I am finally wearing the right size bras probably helps with that. I know I say this every time, but I think this is my new favorite! When we went out last night, a gaggle of teenage girls stopped me and asked if they could take a picture with me! “Do you dress like this all the time?” one of them asked. If only I could!

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