I am feeling summery-dressy. What better way to move on to my next sundress triumph than to finally get around to the lovely McCall’s 3415? I love this pattern so much—the sleek line, empire waist, CF seam. The high, round-neck version is my favourite. And I just happened to have this fabric perfectly matching view C on the pattern envelope. I pulled out the pieces, did some quick tracing, pin-fitting, and even made up the bodice-lining as a kind of muslin to check the fit. Everything looked good.
What could go wrong?
Those of you with keen eyes may have noticed that this pattern is Misses’ size 10. Most of the 70s patterns I’ve made up to now have been a size 12.
Now technically both my bust and hip measurements are in between these two sizes, and I’ve read advice that when choosing a size from the big 4, if you’re between sizes, go with the smaller one. And with the few modern Big 4 patterns I’ve made for myself (hmm, that might actually only be one) I’ve ended up with the 10. But 12 seems to be a more common size in the single-size vintage patterns that have thrown themselves in my way, so I’ve often gone with that, and, at least for Simplicity, have my alterations pretty much worked out. The addition of a padded bra to bring my bust up to the official size-12 range, and I’m good to go.
I’m not nearly so clear for McCall’s patterns, having only made up one for myself, and that one being basically unfitted. And a size 12.
Still, when you’re using $2/metre thrift store fabric, you can’t really justify much in the way of muslining. So off I went. I liked where the under-bust seam was falling, so I didn’t petite the bodice. I did do a small swayback alteration in the back, but that was all. I blithely added side-seam pockets, even remembering to interface the front side seam allowance (a tip from the Marcy Tilton book) so they don’t bag out. The bodice is intended to lined, with lining and shell cut from the same pattern piece. This is of course just asking for the lining edges to roll out, especially as it would be pretty near impossible to understitch those narrow parts around the neck, and I wasn’t feeling up to painstakingly making a lining piece taking into account turn of cloth, so I went with my old standby: piping. Yay! Is it possible for a wardrobe to have too much piping? We shall see…
The pattern instructs you to use hooks and eyes for the non-overlapping closure at the back of the neck. I’m not a fan of hooks and eyes generally, and this definitely seemed a little flimsy (not to mention Becky Home-Ecky), so I made little tiny spaghettie strap button loops. I cut them on the bias, used the bobby-pin method to turn them, steamed and stretched and ironed the crap out of them until they were as skinny as I could get them, and I think I’m in love. I’m also a little astonished I was able to find a bobby-pin in my house, but anyway. The cute little buttons are from the stash, and probably are of a similar vintage to the pattern, if not older.
And then I got it all stitched up, minorly flubbing the invisible zip because I was too
lazy in the zone to re-read Sherry’s tutorial. It’s okay, not great, and I did have to rip to re-position the waist seams so they matched.
And then I made my worst mistake yet. I tried it on.
Oops. Ok, so it’s not totally, totally awful. The bodice is pretty much perfect, barring a small amount of gaping at the sides that probably has more to do with my poor fabric-handling technique than anything else. But that is, ah, a wee bit MAJORLY tight through the hips. And there’s the wrinkling in the back. And a bit of gaping over the pockets, probably to do with the tightness in the hips (the Marcy Tilton book also discusses the amount of ease you need to have side-seam pockets in a skirt, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have it here. Also the side-seam swings back, suggesting I need a bit more booty room. This is, shall we say, a bit unusual for me.Hmm.So, depending on how you squint your eyes, I did one of two (possibly three things wrong. Arguably I should have shortened the upper part of the skirt to accommodate my short waist, which would basically bring up the wider part lower down to where the width is needed. Alternatively, slashing and spreading to widen the skirt from waist down would’ve done much the same thing. For fun, I took a tuck with a bunch of pins.
I didn’t do as good a job pinning up the back (it’s tricky with the zipper) but I think that’s a definitely improvement in the front. The side-seams are still pulling back a bit, though, which I think means that more booty-ease is still needed in the back.
All of which is fascinating, but doesn’t help me save the dress’s current incarnation. At this point I’m considering removing the pockets and just making the side-seam as small as I can, but since I already serged the seam this won’t increase it by much. Maybe enough to at least lose the worst of that stuffed-sausage look, though… Alternatively I could try an add a godet at each side-seam, but that seems risky, too…