There’s a lesson to be learned here and I’m just going to call it out now; perseverance (paired with Google) makes you a winner. If this dress looks familiar to you it’s because I started cutting the fabric two years ago and have only recently completed it with a cry of exaltation! This vintage McCalls dress was one of the first in my now growing collection of decade sewing patterns and the chic illustration along with sophisticated silhouette caught my eye right away but I was in for a wild ride.
Pattern: McCalls 3461
My Measurements: 34 – 27 – 37
Pattern Size: 12 (B32-W25-H35)
Edits: Narrowed the seam allowances to accommodate for fit, regular back zip instead of lapped zip
Finishes: Seams zig-zagged, kick pleat at back, sleeves and neckline faced
What I love: The fit on this dress makes me so happy! I really wonder why modern commercial patterns (and indie ones at that), no longer give fit options for different height variations right in one envelope. It’s a common misconception that petite adjustments simply mean taking a few extra inches at the hem but a proportioned fit means everything from sleeves to torso and even how high the back slit ends. This feels so much better on than 90% of what I try on in a shop at the mall and I’m smitten.
Details: One thing I quickly learned about vintage style is that darts are a big deal. Closer fitting silhouettes mean the need for more shaping details so there’s plenty of front and back darts on the bodice as well as the skirt itself. It helps to create a more hourglass figure even if you may not be blessed with one. On me, this dress actually has a looser fit in the hips but its well disguised as the skirt puffs out a little on its own. It has a back kick pleat which looked intimidating to sew but actually turned out just fine. And pockets? Yes please!
Challenges: One word. Zippers. Having only successfully installed a dress zipper once in all my years of sewing; I was over confident that putting in a 22″ lapped zipper as the last step on a full constructed dress was going to be easy. Oh so wrong! First I couldn’t even get the entire piece to fit under the sewing machine without wrinkling into a big bundle and then I came the problem of not getting close enough to the zipper teeth. One year, 3 books plus a few Youtube tutorials later and I finally put the entire zipper in albeit not a lapped version. Hey, exposed zips are trendy now right?
All challenges and frustrations aside, this single dress taught me so much about fine sewing and I’m excited to delve deeper into techniques and more dresses! I’ve also become more selective about choosing proportioned vintage patterns which means I can focus more on the sewing and less on the fitting. Would I make this dress again? Not until the memories of the dreadful zipper fades but I probably will give it another go at some point. Now if only the westcost rains will clear up so I can wear this out!