Tag Archives: vintage

crazy paisley dress

Well folks, it’s my first(ish) post on the new blog AND my first post from Dublin, where I’ll be living until mid-April! How thrilling! I promise there will eventually be photos of my handsewn items in Dublin, but first I have a couple of garments that I photographed before I left Portland.

The first of these, I actually began working on close to a year ago, and finished last summer. The pattern is McCall’s 3246 from the early 70s.

photo credit: vintage pattern wiki

I have made this dress before, back in the days when I thought you just cut a pattern out and it fit perfectly without modification. That was the dress that taught me that’s not true (also, that quilting cotton is not always a good choice of fabric). It looked okay in pictures, but I felt restricted and uncomfortable wearing it, and the crossover bodice gaped like mad, so I gave it to my mother to use in quilting. I really liked the idea of the dress, however, and when I was given this crazy poly/wool paisley border print, I knew it was meant to be.

mccall's 3246 (70s)

The fabric is very loosely woven and pretty sheer, so I underlined it with a poly cotton bedsheet. Given that I had actual 100% organic cotton bedsheets lying around, this was a dumb choice. The underlining was stiff and hated to take a press, while the fashion fabric was floppy and unstable, and also hated to take a press. Consequently, my darts are a bit, well, lumpy. Luckily, this fabric hides all the flaws in its mad pattern.

mccall's 3246 (70s)

I did make a muslin for this dress, but be warned, dear readers: if you don’t do a muslin right, it is a waste of time. I didn’t put sleeves on my muslin, which would have alerted me to all manner of problems. I also didn’t put a waistband on my muslin. Lastly, I made too large of an FBA, but rather than addressing this directly, I just sort of pinned the bodice front pieces together where it looked least bad. It was all very foolish, as I realized when I stood in front of the mirror a couple of months later with a half-made bodice in my fashion fabric. I lengthened darts, I shortened darts, I lengthened them again… in the end I did an SBA to my altered pattern piece and carefully cut the new bodice piece out of the old bodice piece. It was a mess!

mccall's 3246 (70s)
(I don’t know why there are so many pictures of me looking down my nose at the camera. It’s a major trend and I don’t know how it happens.)

Other changes I made, besides the FBA:
• I took a total of two inches (I think!) out of the bodice width, and altered the waistband accordingly. The bodice is fine but the waistband is a bit snug so I must have done something wrong.
• I made the shoulders narrower by 1/2″ each
• I added darts from the waistband up, as part of the FBA
• I made the skirt a lot shorter, thinking I would be wearing it with rubber boots (I prefer to wear rubber boots with miniskirts). I have yet to wear it with rubber boots but I do like the length!

mccall's 3246 (70s)

I will admit I don’t love this dress. I feel super cute in it and I do wear it sometimes, but the fit is still weird, especially with the sleeves and the slightly-too-tight waistband. The polyester also gets pretty gross to wear in humidity, but I live in a humid climate… all this combined means I don’t reach for it too often, unfortunately.

mccall's 3246 (70s)

Here is a detail of the crossover bodice and one cuff. The sleeves and cuffs of this dress are probably my favorite thing about the pattern.

mccall's 3246 (70s)

mccall's 3246 (70s)

I tried to have a bit of fun with this photoshoot (if it can be called that…) since photos are fun and I hate looking awkward in front of a camera. If you don’t feel awkward, you don’t look awkward! Still, I’m always a little worried that one of my roommates is going to look out the window and see me posing by myself in the backyard.

mccall's 3246 (70s)

mccall's 3246 (70s)

Oh, and since I am in Dublin, here’s a picture of me in a pub:

in a pub

a sunny day and a colorful dress

Although I was initially overjoyed to be reunited with my extensive wardrobe after winter break, I have quickly fallen back into the habit of wearing a few key items over and over again, and letting the others stagnate. This is partly due to laziness, partly due to weather, partly due to “saving” dresses for the right occasion (which is completely imaginary and does not exist in my life). In short, there are many reasons, and none of them are very good. But Saturday dawned sunny and warm and positively springy, and I had no obligations more taxing than a stroll around campus and some physics homework, the perfect opportunity for a new dress.

floral dress

It’s not actually new, but it has languished in my closet for what–six months? a year? and this is the first time I have worn it. It was given to me by my friend Jessica, the source of most of my vintage clothes. I think it’s from the 70s, but what do I know? It’s polyester, simultaneously both slightly fuzzy and slightly shiny, and quite warm, which is a plus since it’s not really spring yet however balmy it feels.

My roommate Sierra (who took these pictures) lent me a big pale-green flower pendant. It’s mother-of-pearl-y and amazing and goes very well with the dress’s crazy oversized pattern.

I wore it with white tights and my poor beat-up black mary-janes. I love these shoes to death but I’ve had them for nearly three years and they have been sorely abused in that time. The Lewis & Clark cobblestones do no favors for shoes, and nor does the rain…

floral dress

These photos are taken partly just to capture the beautiful Imbolc light quality before it completely disappears behind three more months of rain. Also, I live on the loveliest campus I ever have seen, which is the closest I come to having school pride or whatever.