Friday, April 13, 2012

A new Vintage Treasure

Last year I made a dress which I found at a yard sale, completely cut-out but never sewn up. I wrote a series of popular posts starting with Vintage Treasure where you least expect it. If you like vintage and yard sales, click the link to read the story and maybe you will get the same bug I have.  Which is that I now expect to find something magical at every yard sale and thrift store.  I do try to limit my excursions, as most yard sales are on Sat. morning which is prime time for a zillion other projects.  But a while ago I did find another gem.  Not quite in the treasure category, but a gem nonetheless.  

Blue Vintage fabric sampleWhat I found was a 3.5 yard piece of fabric that I can't identify, but is completely block-fused with color-coordinating tricot interfacing.  Where did it come from and how did it land at the thrift store?           The price was $ 4.00 so it was sold and out the door with me in a flash. I have no idea what the fabric is, but it is a loosely woven, slightly nubby fabric that says 50's style sheath dress to me.  Plus the color is fantastic - vivid enough for my liking.

Due to a phase of late night impulse shopping on Etsy, I have plenty of vintage patterns but this is the one I have been really wanting to make. I have a feeling the with a few tweaks I could re-make this and look totally modern. But for the unidentified fabric of questionable provenance, it is just right. No, before you ask, I am not making the cape.
Really?  The dress I can wear, the cape, I don't think so.  Although it would be great for the final photo.

McCall 6314 sheath dress


So I am jumping into the Vintage contest on Pattern Review. But as of this moment, I am still sewing - so we will see if I can finish by this weekend.

I made a muslin, something I don't do all that often, but I thought all those seams down the bodice may need some alteration, and that the neckline might just be a bit too high.
As it happens, with a few adjustments for size as my normal human waist does not fit into the vintage 26" waist (was Scarlett O'Hara and her corset the target customer for McCalls in 1962? date of this pattern)  Or maybe the control undergarments of the era - or as my grandmother would say, her girdle, had magic powers of compression.  Anyway - sizing on patterns is a discussion for another day :)

What I discovered by making this muslin is that the waist is too low, mostly in the back. Here is a very goofy shot taken via timer, so you can see that the skirt is attaching to the bodice way too low. The belt is at my waist, where I would want the skirt to attach.  So I used my hi-tech, all by myself in the sewing room and ran a pencil around at the bottom edge of the belt, marking where I wanted the skirt to attach.  Also visible is my method of zipping a potentially too tight muslin when along in the sewing room, a ribbon attached to the zipper pull as in a scuba wetsuit. Much better to pull on the ribbon and unzip than having to rip the basting out like the hulk to get the thing back over one's head after a less than successful size experiment.

BLue vintage muslin waist adjustment
Here is the muslin, back on the dress form so you can see the pencil line and now I know where to attach the skirt.

blue vintage muslin waist adjustment2

When I was trying on the muslin it felt a bit roomy across the back, so I did some adjustments on the center back seam to take it in, only across the center back, not across the shoulders. The zipper is just basted on for a fit test.  I think I will do a hand picked zipper so I can wait for that to be one of the last steps. You can see that block fusing in this photo.  I can't believe how fast this is to sew up with no interfacings to do, plus the lining is a mirror image of the dress pieces so that is quick as well.

Blue vintage inside back bodice
That's all for tonight - tomorrow I hope to finish this up and then take some photos - I do have a few vintage handbags so perhaps some actual modelling from me will be seen.

Here is today's SunnyGal garden photo, I bought a bag of tulips last fall at Home Depot, they languished on the workbench in the garage until they were all sending off shoots, I finally put them in the ground in early January and forgot all about them.  But what a show they are putting on with lots of these multi-colored ones.

Happy Weekend sewing, Beth



  1. I love the look of this dress Beth! Lovely style lines. Go on, make the cape!

  2. Beth this project is going to be gorgeous. The colour of that fabric is to die for - what a find.

  3. What a pretty colour! The block-fusing is intriguing. I didn't know you could even get blue interfacing. I wonder if the fabric was sold like that originally or if someone fused it themselves.

  4. What a beautiful colour; this is going to look stunning on you with your lovely dark hair. What a terrific find!

  5. That is a beautiful color -- the dress will be fantastic! I do like the cape too -- maybe it will be a future project?

  6. Beth, that electric blue is going to look fabulous on you! Wasn't that fabulous coat you wore when we went to the museum a similar color?

  7. I like this dress a lot! Can't wait to see your final result.