Having learned to sew as a young child means that once in a while I come across a pattern now listed as vintage that I recall making when it was new. I am sure half of those reading know what I mean and the other half will just have to wait a few years to see their current cute styles listed as "vintage" on Etsy (which has a very loose description of vintage).
I am feeling nostalgic this week for all kinds of reasons. Back in Hawaii on vacation and thinking about travel, family and sewing across the years. Nostalgic because I am here with my family and some very good friends, recalling previous trips, and remembering those who aren't with us anymore. A little sad, a little sweet but good memories. I have mentioned before that my parents were not ones for camping or car trips, but a beach house, some palm trees and spending the day swimming in the ocean was their idea of a vacation idyll. I love being a native Californian but Hawaii is my second home, over the years some family members have lived here for extended periods and I have lost count of the number of trips taken over here but it must be around 100. Family vacations, romantic trips, girlfriend getaways, there were times that it took less time to fly to Hawaii and be on the beach than it took to get up to Tahoe for a ski weekend (if you have driven to Tahoe on a Friday night in snowstorm you know what I mean).
So all those vacations photos tucked away somewhere, the funny thing is if I look at them I can recall most every item I sewed, particularly the fabric if not the pattern. One night I was browsing on Etsy and came across a pattern that I knew I had sewn, and even that I had made it twice! So I ordered it and then promptly set it aside for a "sometime sew". A few weeks ago I came across it in my vintage pattern box and figured why not now?
I bought this batik fabric last year over here, and while it is a tiny bit too stiff for a dress that is supposed to be a bit drapey but it works and I love the color. Other than shortening I cut it out as is.
Now is my moment to repeat that there are no new patterns - sewn for a long time and seen it all. Recently I saw a few versions of the True Bias Southport dress and noticed it was quite similar to this pattern. What I like about this McCalls pattern (and a lot of older patterns in general) is that they include the pattern pieces to make the armhole and neckline bindings. Another detail I like is the waistline casing is on the inside and the ties are threaded to the outside via buttonholes at the center front.
It doesn't have bust darts, what would be bust darts are rotated into gathers at the neckline which is very pretty. And probably would lay better in a softer fabric. I remember the two versions I made were both rayon challis, one royal blue with black flowers and the other was emerald green (love those jewel tones:)
To fit this I added some length in the front bodice and created horizontal bust darts. If I had not done this then the waist casing would have been pulling upwards. So in this instance the neckline gathers become more for style and less for fit. Other fit changes, pinched out 1.5 inches of length in the middle back tapering to zero at the size seams, as I do with almost all McVoguerick patterns.
The back has a pretty neckline and the same gathers there.
Close up of the front neckline. The pattern has a bias binding that is in the same fabric, that is sewn on and then folded. The pattern says to fold, press under and hand stitch inside - which I like to do but I bet on a current pattern this would not go over very well! Hand sewing seems to be minimized which is understandable, but there are times when it gives a nice result. I suppose it could have been finished with topstitching but for a change I like to see a binding without stitching. In a silk it is especially pretty and I think you have more control with hand sewing tiny bindings.
However the best part of this pattern is that there are pattern pieces included for placing the gathers.
Here are the neckline binding pieces, they give the complete pieces, with that nice diagonal seam in the center back. That is one benefit of the single size older patterns, they could and did include all the pieces for bindings, facings etc and didn't have to create one pattern piece that included all the sizes. It certainly makes working with the pattern a lot easier - not having to hunt for your size among all the pieces. Also the printing was bolder - just a tiny thing but it really makes them clearer. This bias neckline has 3/8" seam allowance, which is clearly marked, plus all the notches, front and back, shoulder seams, etc.
This is the clever bit, the guide for placement of the gathers. Shown here the piece for the back neckline. You cut it out of paper and then can use it as a guide to place the gathers, then stitch them into place before you apply the neckline binding.
Here is the paper guide sewn onto the dress back neckline. And the stitching perforations make it easy to pull it away. Now the neckline is gathered nicely and you don't have to fiddle with any gathering stitches, trying to make them fit while applying the bias neckline binding. It is especially nice for the bodice front, as the placement of those gathers is more crucial to the fit over the bust.
Back view on me
Here is the waist tie, made by sewing a casing on the inside, and making a buttonhole on either side of the center front. The fabric tie is sewn to elastic which makes it very comfortable. And of course pockets in the side seams - as any good pattern should have! Late night sewing means I scrounged around in my button box and came up with a few cards of these plain blue buttons. Matching well enough and just the right size. It pays to accumulate a lot of button cards when they go on sale.
Last fit note, once the neckline was finished I basted up the side seams and decided that 80's shaping (in a word - voluminous!) was not right for me now. I lopped off a lot of circumference by taking it in about 2 inches at each side seam at the upper bodice and a good 5 inches by the time I got to the hem. It would have been a very full skirt otherwise. I think the finished bust was intended to be about 40 inches - way too much fabric for my 2015 eyes but otherwise a timeless pattern with a lot of good details.
Ok that's all for this one - time to hit the beach. By the way I am participating in the #sewphotohop on Instagram which has been a lot of fun. A great way to find new-to-me sewing fanatics all over the globe. True confession - I am extra happy when I find some new-to-me blogs this way - I really like reading all the extra details that a blog post can provide.
Up next a few more new items that made it into my suitcase, including a lot of Girl Charlee fabrics. I told you I could not resist a tropical novelty print....
Happy Sewing, Beth