1970s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Prairie-palooza: Simplicity 9778 (1971), Butterick 4888 (1977 or 1978), and McCall’s 4872 (1975)

By on January 27, 2017

Three-fer!

This project started out as Simplicity 9778, a Mother Hubbard-type dress from 1971.  It’s cute, but you sort of suspect it will work out less well in reality than in theory:

I have a weakness for these prairie dresses with yokes.  #dontjudge

But I found some hideous-slash-amazing Concord print in dull green with brown/purple flowers on eBay, and some awesome deadstock buttons in a weird raisin color, and got to work.

I knew when I got to the collar that I was making a mistake.  The band collar is drafted–well, “drafted”–as a straight strip of cloth.  It’s not contoured toward the front of the neck the way a band collar should be.  Seamsters, take note: If you make this pattern, IGNORE THE COLLAR.  Draft your own or borrow from another pattern whose designer wasn’t so lazy.

Predictably, it sat around my neck like a section of pipe.  This looks a lot better and far less amateurish in the picture than it did in real life.  Plus, it was uncomfortable.

It looked cute with a belt, though:

But that didn’t help the collar.  It also turns out that this pattern, obviously, is basically a nightgown:

Even with the belt, it tends to shift forward as you walk so all that fabric ends up bunched around your stomach.  I sewed six tucks into the back waist, which helped a lot, but . . . eh, I still wasn’t wearing it that much, which made me sad because I loved, loved, loved the fabric.

Patiences pays off: Surfing eBay netted me another yard, so I decided that I would try to salvage the skirt (well, lower half) and sleeves from the baggy dress and attach them to a new bodice.

Butterick 4888 is from 1977 or 1978 and I want us all to take a moment to contemplate the phenomenon of the wedding gown or bridesmaid dress that comes with an apron.

With an apron, people.

That woman is wearing an apron to her wedding.

However, it’s still a cute pattern and, since I wasn’t planning to make the sash, I was pretty sure that 1 yard + scavenged pieces from the old bodice = just about enough to scrape together a new bodice.

I hate long back zippers so I altered it to button up the front (I had to put a placket in the skirt) and made the facings out of scrap from another dress to save on the “good” fabric (this is the waist seam, finished in bias, with the front facing tacked over it):

I cheated on the sizing.  I’m usually a 12/bust 34 + slight FBA + added width across the upper back + added bodice length + lowered bust.  My 4888 was already a 14/bust 36 so I experimented with just taking in the shoulders and leaving the back width and bust measurement alone (although I still lowered the bust point and lengthened the bodice a little).  This time, at least, it worked.  I might still do a very, very, tiny FBA the next time because I added more of a front facing than was intended so it takes a little more room.

I actually got some brown/purple solid to make an apron to wear with this.  I have no idea where I will wear it with an apron, but whatever (this is the old bodice with the yoke).

As a side note: If anyone is into loose prairied dresses with yokes, try McCall’s 4872 (1975)–it’s similar to 9772 but the bodice is trimmer and the skirt/lower half is more flared, and it’s more flattering and less bunchy around the waist.

Sorry, you can’t really see it in a black dress, but it worked a lot better than 9778:

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1950s | Dresses

Capper’s Weekly (1950’s) 2875 Western dress

By on September 14, 2015

Capper’s Weekly (an agricultural magazine) 2875, 1950’s. I was outbid on this ages ago but then stumbled across another copy relatively recently. The copy I have is a vintage 10 (bust 28) and I’m . . . not. I know that two sizes is considered to be the maximum safe grade, but when you can’t just pop out and get another copy in your size, what do you do? You suck it up, grade three sizes, and make a lot of test muslins.

Cappers 00 dress

(Actually, I think there is a bust 34 for sale on Amazon, but I have enough duplicates, and I was going to have to personalize the fit, anyway.)

I really, really, wanted to wear this to a concert on Friday night so I graded and sewed like crazy all Labor Day weekend, most of the evenings last week, and all day Friday (which I had off from work). I didn’t quite make it and ended up pinning myself into it, but it was dark and nobody was going to notice that I didn’t have buttons.

The fabric is green plaid homespun with, yes, gold lamé running through it.  It had to be a cowgirl dress.  I got 1 yard + 3 yards, which was all my Joann’s had, and never did find any more. That’s a lot of fabric but not for a 1950’s dress so I had to make it count.  I didn’t trust snaps to hold a whole dress closed so I went with white pearl buttons instead:

cappers 2875 02 fabric

I cut the yoke on the bias and made self piping to play up the Western-shirt look. The lamé only runs in one direction so I had to piece it.

cappers 05 bodice back

Since homespun is comfortable but kind of flabby, I went overkill and lined the whole thing (this meant I had to alter the pattern pieces into a lining that was in single pieces, front and back, to avoid the bulk of the yoke seams and gathering). The bodice is lined in green sheeting scrap and the skirt in muslin. It’s heavy but I sort of like the feel and body of it.

Cappers 2875 lining

I finished the armscyes using the 19th-century neckline method of whipstitching the piping seam allowance to the lining. Worked great.

cappers 06 armscye

I chickened out on grading the skirt and used a “pattern” I’ve been messing with in small scale, for a gathered quarter-circle skirt. Basically between a circle skirt and a dirndl–lots of sweep but more forgiving to fit around the waist than a circle, but less bulk than a dirndl. It worked beautifully, although it took every inch of three yards, and I wish I had had enough to make it an inch or so longer.

I LOVE this dress. The only issue is that it still has a bit of “side boob” going on–it’s poochy around the front dart. Not along the dart, though; it’s not a dart issue. I made a copy of the bodice front last night, slashed it diagonally from center-front-waist to side-armscye, then perpendicularly from that slash to side-waist, and rotated the quadrants inward a bit.

Cappers 01 comparison edit 650

That left the waist, side, and front measurements the same but took up some slack in the side front (around my ribs, basically) and made the dart shorter and shallower.

Cappers 02 comparison edit

I made a really ratty test of it last night and I think it’s what I want. It’s not meant to be tightly fitted but it’s less baggy without spoiling the softness of the gathers into the yoke.

Cappers 03 bodice refit

(Link in comments to the Flickr set, which has pictures of what I did to fix the bodice piece.)

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