Vintage Sewing

My Sailor Dress (McCall’s 8007)

October 1, 2008

I finished this dress at the end of August. I’ve always loved sailor dresses and wanted to make one for myself, but could never find a good pattern. Then finally I found one on Ebay for $3! I’ve had it a while but just got around to making the dress this summer. It’s the one on the left, McCall’s 8007, dated 1982. Once I got the hang of what I was doing it was a very easy pattern to use. I think I could make it again without looking at the pattern instructions. There’s quite a difference from today’s sizing – most of this is size 12, and in ‘store-bought’ clothes I wear a 4 or even a 2. But I’ve had similar differences with non-vintage patterns too.

I want to make it in the traditional white with blue and red trim someday, but for the first time out I tried something a little different. The light yellow gingham fabric is from a queen-size bedsheet that has done duty on several beds, served as a tablecloth, and now makes a very comfortable and easy-to-iron dress fabric! I spent a day picking the elastic out of the hem. I got the whole dress and some fabric to spare out of just the one sheet! The waist of the dress is elastic in a casing made from the waist seam allowances, which is hidden with a belt. I managed to get all of my seams enclosed (I hate raw fabric edges), using French wherever possible (I left out the skirt pockets for that reason). Around the armholes and neck there’s a facing and topstitching, which took care of the raw edges itself.

I was lucky enough to find rickrack trim and fabric for the tie in just the right shades. I really like working with rickrack – it looks so good with so little effort! The white collar was from another bedsheet, one ripped past use but with plenty left to cut out what I needed. I left out the collar interfacing, since I was dissatisfied with how it had turned out in other projects. For the tie I didn’t even use the pattern piece, the shape of which I didn’t care for, but cut out my own using one of my dad’s ties as a guide.

The collar must have been a bit rumpled from getting the tie under it when this was taken. Attaching the collar was the trickiest part, but I only had to redo it once. I only had a chance to wear the dress a few times, since it was the end of the summer, but I love the way it fits and looks. Since there’s no zipper or buttons and the arm and neck openings are a perfect fit without any room to spare, it took me a little while to figure out the best way to get it over my head without ripping something, but now it goes very smoothly, especially with the elastic in the waist to help out. I’m thrilled with the way this came out, and I’ll definitely be using the pattern again!


  1. Holy cool dress!! The best of the best is that you used recycled sheets, so I bet this dress cost you next to nothing. You rule.

  2. That is a great dress. You know, people bash the eighties fashions, but there were some great things about the decade, too. Sailor dresses, capris, feminine peplum dresses…

  3. Cute and a half! I had a sailor dress (white with navy accents) in 8th grade and loved it. Nice job with the rickrack too!

  4. Thanks so much, everybody! I actually had the 1930s sailor dress style in mind, rather than the ’80s, but this pattern was so close to what I was going for. I had no idea this type of dress was popular then! I’d like to try adding sleeves next time, maybe.

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