Wednesday, October 7, 2009

McCall 6788, Vintage 1947 Shirtdress

In June Myra sent me a fabulous set of vintage patterns. I immediately fell in love with this shirtdress and decided to make it as soon as I found the right fabric. While I was in Hong Kong, I bought a vintage-y floral cotton print (on the far right in this photo) but then in Tokyo I fell in love with this dragon fabric and decided it was even better. I am very happy with the result!

M6788 Thumbnail

This was a fun pattern to sew. I love working with vintage things and thinking who might have made them before me (the pattern envelope says faintly in pencil "Mrs. Emie Seriash"). I loved the little pleats at the shoulder echoes in the skirt at the waist and the cape sleeve.

Pattern EnvelopeThe pattern is a size 14, which in 1947 meant Bust 32, Waist 26.5, Hip 35. 12 was the smallest size this pattern came in (and I can't imagine there were many grown women who were smaller than a 30 inch bust); I wonder where the number conventions came from?

While my bust is a 32, my waist and hips are somewhat larger, so I graded out about 3/4" at each side seam, to add a total of 1.5 inches. However, once I got it made I saw that I shouldn't have done so, and maybe even taken it in a bit at the waist. The tiny-waisted pattern illustration notwithstanding, this is very baggy at the waist and a belt is an absolute necessity. (It looks great with the ribbon belt I made in July!) It's also huge at the bust; I'm not sure if this is the style or if it is expected that a women with a 32 bust will wear a gigantor padded bra.

SideThis wasn't designed with pockets, but I feel that a shirtdress ought to have pockets so I added some below the waist seam. They feel right with the style. I used, as ever, the pocket from BWOF 07-2008-107

A while back Claudine said that she wished she wore slips so she wouldn't have to line every single thing she made. I feel the same way! And yet, I don't wear slips. So I lined this fabric with my trusty Ikea Knoppa sheets ($1.99 for a twin!).

The sleeves are not really sleeves. You finish the armscye as for sleeveless (I used the "sew shoulder seams of fashion and lining, sew fashion and lining together at neck and armscyes, pull fronts through strap tunnel to turn right side out, then sew side seam" method), and then just stitch the cape sleeves--which are just a half circle, nothing complicated there--at the shoulder and on down the bodice. This could easily be transported to a more modern garment for a fun sleeve.

Contrast facing detailThe capes are meant to be finished with a facing. At first I thought I would just turn under the edges in a hem and skip the facing. But then I remembered that one of the things the friend-of-a-friend I'd met up with in Japan told me was that traditional kimonos are rather sober on the outside, but lined in bright colors. Part of the allure in wearing a kimono is to perfect the art of flashing a teeny bit of that bright color in the sleeve lining.

When I had visited the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum I had noticed that some of the kimonos had bright linings and loved it. When contemplating this bit of information, I loved the way the main dragon fabric went so well with the wave fabric I'd also bought. I knew it would make it a little costume-y because the navy wave fabric is rather stiff and would make the cape sleeves stick out even more, but I just fell in love with the idea and had to do it. To tie it together, I did the bodice neck facing in the wave fabric as well. I turned under the raw edges and hand-stitched them to the lining.

I shortened the dress considerably--it was drafted a 45 inch length from back neck which is pretty much to the floor on me (were they taller back then?). On the pattern illustration it appears drafted to be 2-3 inches below the knee, but it might have been meant to be mid-calf. At any rate, anything more than 1 1/2 inches below the knee is just awful on me, so I went contemporary with the length and hemmed it just above the knee.

I'm glad I got the chance to sew this pattern. The fit and details are definitely vintage, and I went a little costume-y with the big red buttons and stiff contrast lining for the sleeves, but it is wearable in modern times. I love that it goes into fall with tights and clogs!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Myra said...

It came out great. I always wondered about the name, since this was bought locally in a resale shop. Good results!

Little Hunting Creek said...

Super cute - I love the sleeve lining - I want to do this too with the sleeves; I love how it looks. I had the same obervation about lengths on vintage patterns - did they wear higher heels? why is everything so long? a mystery

Claudine said...

Cute! I like the lining and don't think it looks costumy at all. The waves are thematically appropriate with the dragons.

It's strange that the sizing was so off. I always thought vintage patterns were drafted for less ease than modern one. I guess it must be variable.

HeathersSphere said...

Fun and fabulous dress, Trena! That fabric from Tokyo is deligtful. I adore your modern take on this classic!

caroline said...

Vintage patterns are drafted for less ease, but patterns from this particular time period and style do have a lot more bagginess to them then you would think. Belts are definitely necessary and often, I've found that shoulder pads are even necessary to help add shape and a bit of height.

Trudy Callan said...

Great dress. Looks comfy, too. I love the snazzy lining.

badmomgoodmom said...

I remember reading Japanese literature (Berkeley days) and the protagonists went on and on about who wore which colors of contrasting underkimonos. It was a big deal, to come up with daring and new color combos in Heian times. And men used to swoon at the ladies who came up with new color combos.

Many of the Issey Miyake patterns are also open at the underarms, like formal kimonos. It's time to flash some color!

amber said...

Really cute! I love the two fabrics paired together on the dress - so fun!

Vinnie Toscadero said...

Very cute. And speaking of tights - yours are very nice and look quite opaque. Do you happen to remember the brand?


Gail said...

I really like the lining cuff. Great look for you.

gwensews said...

Cute dress and it looks very nice on you.

Kathi said...

Very cute dress!

Isabelle said...

This is adorable!! I love the whole outfit (the tights, and the shoes!! I want shoes just like yours).
The non-sleeves are really neat.

Carol said...

I think this is a really cute outfit. I was very interested to read what goodmombadmom had to say about kimono linings. I love your choice of fabrics and the way you've styled the dress and accessories is fantastic.

Andrea said...

I love how your dress turned out. The fabric is really pretty.

Carmen said...

Muy interesante tu blog de costura y este vestido me encanta.
Saludos desde España: