So you’ve probably come across The Big Vintage Sew Along by now.
The lovely people at McCall Patterns have picked 20 patterns from their vintage archives, including beauties from Vogue, Butterick and McCalls, with proceeds going to the Eve Appeal cancer charity. There’s a website that gives more details and shows all the patterns so anyone can get involved.
To help spread the word they asked a few sewers to have a go and blog/vlog their makes. You can see everyone taking part here – and I’m up today.
No pressure 🙂
You know me, I do love a good vintage pattern. The quality of the details, drafting and construction back in the day was pretty amazing. And you generally get more unique designs with vintage patterns.
So obviously I had a hard time choosing 🙂
But the Vogue 9000 swung it for me in the end. I can kinda feel myself heading towards an obsession with shirt dresses this A/W so I decided to go all in and used this pin from my Pinterest board as a starting point.
V9000 has a button-up bodice with kimono sleeves and the option to add a cuff or finish the sleeves with a facing. The front and back bodice are lined and have darts. The skirt is a multi-paneled skirt that flares out to calf length. The fit is quite tight on the waist so there’s a side zipper.
There are also a few additional extras like a belt and shoulder pads that would really help you double down on the vintage look.
Originally I really wanted to copy the inspiration dress and go for a moss/olive coloured fabric. Something easy-going and drapey.
I popped into Cloth House to have a mooch around and ended up really falling in love with this blue cotton/linen. The weave is uneven giving it a great texture.
It’s not olive, but hey, I’ll take the hit.
I then spent ages looking for a good lining to go with this and ended up deciding to skip the lining altogether. To be honest, I’m not sure I totally understood the instructions for lining anyway (which seem to imply you baste the lining to the bodice and treat them as one piece, putting darts through both layers as one).
Moral of the story: it’s hard to find lining when your fabric is this amazing.
What I did
I made a muslin/toile in a size 10 first – which in itself is a small miracle (I’ve made a sum total of 2 muslins in my whole life). But I’m really glad I did as it really helped me work out a few tweeks to the pattern.
Actually, it wasn’t so much a few tweeks. There was some pretty key pattern reinventing going on to get the fit right. Though TBF it does pretty much look the same as it did before. Which I guess is the point, right?
The bodice actually got the most reworking. The size 10 muslin fit well, but didn’t quite fit well enough to button up. I also found the back darts gave a nice shape (i.e. they really cinched in the waist), but I could imagine it feeling a bit restrictive by the end of the day. Also I cannot run after the bambino in a cinched waist. In the end cinched waist = deal breaker.
OK, so the changes.
- Omitted the back darts
- Added 2 inches to the centre front bodice pieces. This allowed me more room, but also let me get a decent finish on the button plackets
- Created the button plackets by folding over 1/2″ to the wrong side and then folding over another 5/8″ to hide the raw edge and create the placket.
- Added a centre back seam to allow me some room to play with fit. I did this by not cutting the bodice on the fold. I also thought a centre back seam would be quite handy if I decided I wanted to add a zipper here for a snugger fit.
- Took in a 1″ chunk at the centre back seam to adjust for my sway back
- Shortened the bodice by 1″
- Used suite-bought navy bias binding to finish off the sleeves. The original pattern had facings, but I wanted a much more narrow finish on the sleeves.
- Topstitched the button plackets and collar.
- Omitted the shoulder pads.
Redrafting the collar
I also redrafted the collar. The piece in the pattern is quite oversized. Lovely, but I wanted something a little more understated. I followed this great tutorial by Little Tailoress to redraft my own.
And to be a bit more adventurous I opted to make the underside of the collar in this beautiful bark cloth that I’ve been hoarding forever. Overall I’m really, really happy with the result.
And, yo, I drafted a collar. Microphone down.
I opted not to use the paneled skirt that came with the pattern. It’s a perfectly decent skirt but I wanted something that spoke to the relaxed/casual feel of my inspiration dress.
Finally, I added some super sweet little bronze buttons I scored from the Sewing Weekender goody bag. I think they balance out the whole dress really nicely.
Making the skirt
To make the (super basic) gathered skirt I cut two rectangles measuring about 1.5 times my waist and ran two gathering stitches across the top of the two rectangles to gather them to the width of the bodice. I then attached the two together and sewed the skirt to the bodice. I decided to use the selvage as the hem because I liked the little swathe of colour (and less work for me!)
Ok, so, wow. That’s quite a bit of changes there. But most importantly…
What had this whole experience taught me?
Well, I’ve actually learned that it’s OK to take risks. You can, with some very basic knowledge and intense use of Google, get patterns to fit you and recreate a much loved look.
It’s not magic or voodoo. Which is nice because I kind of absurd assumed it was!
The lovely people at McCall’s are giving away a free copy of this pattern, so if you’d like to win drop a line in the comments telling me about your favourite vintage make or vintage inspiration. A winner will be chosen at random on September 23rd.