While at the fabric store we saw it and were drawn to it, like moth to flame. No, not a super nice wool, not a basic cotton, not a linen or similar… it was one of those fabrics that nearly always spells sewing failure for me- an oversize novelty cotton print.
“But,” thought I, “it has everything I love. Trees, leaves, autumn colors. Thanksgiving will be here in a few weeks, but surely I can whip together in that time. I even have the perfect buttons to match.” And my husband, who was with me, encouraged the fabric purchase by saying it looked “So 1950′s.”
I get the fabric home and search to the stash. I wanted a dress more “vintage inspired” than dead spot on authentic 1950s that I could wear often with a retro vibe but a shorter hemline (just at the knee). Thinking of a basic shirtwaist along the lines of the ones Debi has been making up, with classic and timeless lines, I was shocked to find that I had not-a-one basic shirtwaist late 50′s/early 60′s pattern in the stash. Not one! I suppose when I culled the herd I thought they were basic and “there will always be more…” but I’m experienced a near drought when looking for pre mid 1960′s vintage patterns locally within the past year!
So… obnoxious fabric. Check. Obnoxious button. Check. Basic pattern to attempt to tone down the obnobious effect… I pulled out a few options and thought on it for a week before I selected this pattern, McCall 3316 (my copy of which just so happens to be on sale now in my Etsy store).
First thought was that it’s cute and looks like a nice fit. It’s got a shirtwaist, it’s got waist definition. Only qualm was the way the big pattern would line up with the cummerbund waist. Oh, and look! The one in the center is shown in a wild fabric!
I don’t generally sew much from the 1950s and most projects I have made without making a muslin have come out unsuccessfully, to say the least. I knew that I would need to make up a muslin, not only because the pattern was a size smaller than those I normally wear, but also because I wanted to counteract any foul play on 1950s shape + my figure. It’s a darn good thing I did! I didn’t think to take any photos, but when I tried on the muslin it was NOT going to fit my figure. The shoulders were too wide, the empire seam hit higher on my bust (and I generally make things with a bit higher bust point), and the fit was just not right for me. Just goes to show ya… gotta make a muslin up.
I decided the changes I wanted to make and the muslins required to make said changes would far outweigh the time span I had given myself to sew, so I raided the stash again and came up with McCall 3229. This was one of the few vintage patterns I had found locally within the last year, and I just happened to pick it up a few days before the pattern switch-a-roo was needed.
Another image with a large print, and I could just picture this one made up with a bit of a shorter hemline to carry me into more retro wear. Thinking of what happened last time, I made up a muslin of this one. This one was one size larger than I usually wear, so I knew it also would need some fiddling. I made it up and it was very big on me, more than a size larger. I don’t nearly have the idea 1950′s figure, so large tucks were needed here and there, and I made all of my changes on my pattern tracing so I could reference them later. It looked ok.. and with a few days left before Thanksgiving I just decided to was “good enough”, and set out to cut out my fabric.
It was a good thing I bought extra! This pattern took a lot of fabric, even after I shortened the skirt a good three inches. It was pretty quick to sew, except where crazy me decided to do piping and bound buttonholes from piping (which are not quite as good as they could be). There’s a few other things I don’t like about my sewing or quick construction on this dress, but I won’t bore you with details ;)
Sewing finished, I tried it on, and… ICK! It looked HORRIBLE on me! The cut was not at all flattering to my figure! I took in the waist a bit more, even tried it on with an *ahem* better bra… it just didn’t look good! WOE! So my sewing rush was for nothing, and I didn’t wear it on Thanksgiving after all. It looks so much better on my dress form (which has a larger bust to waist ratio than I do) so I’ll show pictures. Shame it doesn’t look the same on me!
So… it’s shelved for now, and my backup plan, since I still think the buttons and fabric are fun and I REALLY like the way it buttons up on the side like that, is to make this a sleeveless dress. I think the fit on me will look a lot better, and I can just pair it with a pumpkin colored cardigan I have in my closet.
So, my moral of my story is (as I tell this to myself)… don’t sew things in a rush. Even if you are determined to get it done in time, chances are you’ll get it done but you might not like it. And just because that cute crazy print cotton is calling your name doesn’t always mean you need to wear it on your body because no matter how much you love it, it might overpower you. Cause no matter how cute it looks on my dress form, if I don’t wear it chances are it was a waste of time and money. And don’t forget to make your mock ups, kiddies, especially when dealing with a different era than you normally sew.