More from my closet

by Erin on January 29, 2007


from erin's closet

Okay, here's another one. This is my version of the Claire McCardell (McCalls 4292) that a couple of you had asked about. It's in silk charmeuse that I bought at Vogue Fabrics, and I guess it is also blue and brown, although the brown is really a lovely old-gold color.

Here's a closeup of the bodice:


from erin's closet

The dark lines you see in the bodice are the gaps in my adjustable dress form, underneath the fabric. I forgot to dress her in her white undershirt today!

I thought this pattern went together very easily; it even has two side pockets, although I ended up just doing one because the instructions for putting together the pocket on the zipper side confounded me completely (and I was in a rush to get it finished to wear to my friend A's lovely wedding). I think I've worn it once or twice since then; I have a cardigan that matches it, which dresses it down a bit.

If I made it again I would take in the upper back center seam about 1/2 inch; for some reason I have the opposite of a dowager's hump (dowager's sinkhole?) and dresses seem to gape on me there. Or maybe it's narrow-shoulderedness? I don't really know. Speculation welcome.

I almost forgot — here's the bow in the back (sorry for the fuzzy picture):


from erin's closet

The charmeuse is very soft, so it doesn't have the loft of the bow in the original pattern.

It's a very comfortable dress — easy to wear, and the wrapped sash is very forgiving. I think next time I might make it in black, even though I have a couple LBDs already that I don't wear …

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Moonwishes January 29, 2007 at 7:43 am

Erin, I’m not seeing a bow. Very nice to compare a current dress with the vintage pattern. Those vintage ladies all had suck skinny waists it’s hard for me to imagine myself in one the vintage patterns.Was the Charmeuse hard to work with? any tips. I have to chunks that I’m nervous about making up.

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Moonwishes January 29, 2007 at 7:44 am

Pardon, that should be ‘such’ skinny waists.

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Erin January 29, 2007 at 7:55 am

Oh, I forgot to mention — I used Sullivan’s Stabilizing Spray on the silk — makes it nice and stiff and easy to sew with; almost like paper …You can usually find it at Hancock’s.And I fixed the bow picture!

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Anonymous January 29, 2007 at 8:14 am

Ah, the dowager’s sinkhole. I have the same problem with all dress patterns, and I finally hunted down the reason. It’s not narrow shoulders, it’s SQUARE shoulders. I generally cut a square section of the pattern around the arm hole, rotate the piece to bring the underarm higher and the shoulder slope more horizontal, then redraw the lines.

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Erin January 29, 2007 at 8:15 am

Ooh, thank you! I’ll have to try that.(I blame my “military bearing”.)

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nora January 29, 2007 at 8:24 am

so pretty! and it looks like it would feel delicious to wear.

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Anonymous January 29, 2007 at 8:40 am

WOW! Beautiful print!

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Anonymous January 29, 2007 at 9:01 am

Gorgeous! Did you alter the neckline? Or is it really not as deep as the envelope picture suggests?–Lydia

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Frowner January 29, 2007 at 9:03 am

Wasn’t it that the vintage ladies were all so aggresively girdled? A chronic problem for me, back when I wore a lot of vintage dresses, was that the larger dresses would be way too big around the chest and arms and too tight in the waist, which I took to mean that they were dresses for plump ladies who were artificially pulled in.

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Erin January 29, 2007 at 9:07 am

Oh, I did end up taking up the shoulder seams about an inch, maybe an inch and a half, since I’m so short-waisted. I forgot about that … I really need to do that thing where you make a project ticket for each dress and write down everything you did. If not for subsequent iterations, at least for blogging!

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Another Joan January 29, 2007 at 9:09 am

The dress is lovely and (mixing my metaphors here) looks delicious to wear. If you make the “loops” of the bow smaller and the “tails” longer (and more floaty?), it will be perkier.

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KS January 29, 2007 at 9:32 am

Square shoulders? That would explain it. I haven’t sewn in years, but taking fabric out of the center back at the top was one of my standard alteration moves (along with subtracting bodice length and adding it back in the skirt-short body/long legs :) ). Works fine with solids, but could be tricky to do with patterns. I’ll have to try to figure out your armhole trick anon.

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blueprairie@yahoo.com January 29, 2007 at 10:33 am

One wonders why, since pattern companies are re-releasing a limited # of vintage patterns, they aren’t using designer patterns? Jaques Fath designed for Vogue, I believe Vera designed for Simplicity, and if McCall’s re-issued their McCardell’s I personally would devote what limited disposable income I have to buying up every single one.

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Summerset January 29, 2007 at 10:59 am

Erin, it’s gorgeous! I’m not much of a prints and flowers person, but I’d certainly wear that!

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S. January 29, 2007 at 11:32 am

gorgeous

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Anonymous January 29, 2007 at 11:58 am

YEAH! I have that pattern in my stash, and wondered what it would look like done up. Here’s hoping I am not violating your copyright if I print these photos for future reference. Amy

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Anonymous January 29, 2007 at 12:31 pm

That is Bee-Yoo-Tee-Ful. I bet it looks amazing on you, very flowy and pretty. Nice work!

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Hilatron January 29, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Stunning!

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Anonymous January 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Wondering about that neckline here, too. I have to say I prefer the deeper V pictured on the envelope. Also prefer the waist ties placed higher as illustrated. But I love the color scheme of the fabric, and it looks very wearable! Nice job!

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standgale January 29, 2007 at 4:01 pm

interesting about the rotate the armhole suggestion and all that, because I usually reduce the slant of the shoulders and remove any curves at the top of the back, so maybe this step would do both them at the same time. Of course, I haven’t ever really got the lower back of anything to curve properly either, but maybe that is a different problem.(I tried posting before but I don’t think it worked, and I can’t be bothered writing it all again, you know)

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sheri January 29, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Sullivan’s Stabilizing Spray?!I’m about to sew some charmeuse, and I’ve never heard of this. How do you get it out? Do you just spray it on the seams, or on the fabric while cutting it out???Do tell!Sheri

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Isabelle January 30, 2007 at 4:00 am

That’s a gorgeous dress, and it looks like it’s blissful to wear!

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Henriette January 30, 2007 at 7:49 am

Very nice, I can defintely picture you (or myself for that matter) in it…

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La BellaDonna January 30, 2007 at 8:02 am

Erin, think about the “military bearing.” It has nothing, in and of itself, to do with square shoulders. “Military bearing” in terms of posture usually translates as “Stand up Straight! Shoulders Back!” and, usually in addition to Shoulders Back, it also means “Shoulders Down (as in: Shoulders Back and Down!).” Now picture this to yourself, with your eyes shut: Woman with ordinary posture, dress flat against spine. Same woman, pushing her shoulders back and down. What does that create? Why, a great big gap between the blades, where the fabric hangs away from the body. I would also expect that, ordinarily, if you wear something with a jewel neckline, you have to cut it down at least 1/2″ in the front, because otherwise it tends to throttle you (since pulling your shoulders back pulls the fabric tight against your throat in the front, as well as making a nice big gap in the back). If you need to cut it down a little further, it wouldn’t surprise me, because the body’s tendency to balance that kind of military posture is to compensate by carrying the head and neck in a forward position. If you exaggerate the Military Posture (I know I do – thanks, Mom!), it will cause even more odd fitting problems – it will create a very narrow back (I’m 5’6″, and Not a Small Person, and my back width from scye to scye is between 12 1/2″ and 13″) AND a correspondingly wide front – I measure 17 1/2″ from scye to scye in the front. That’s across the chest, not across the bust. What this means in terms of ready-made clothes is that, in a sleeveless dress, the front portion of my bra is always visible. It also means that there’s almost invariably a weird little flap of fabric at the armhole that wants to be a dart. In a dress with sleeves, it means that the buttons pull across the front at the bust (even if you’re not terribly busty; heaven help you if you are), but you could pack a joey in the excess fabric at the back, above the waist and between the shoulders.This doesn’t mean you don’t have square shoulders – you certainly could, no reason why you couldn’t. But “square shoulders” is a different fitting problem from “military posture,” and correcting for “square shoulders” may not give the results you want. Of course, if you HAVE square shoulders, it may help some, anyway. But if you have “military posture,” you need to correct for “military posture.”

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Erin January 30, 2007 at 8:15 am

Bella, I think you’re right, as always! I’ll have to check and see …Sheri, Sullivan’s is easy to use. You spray the fabric with it and let it dry (I do mine on a clothesline; it’s better to do it outside if you can b/c it’s fairly stinky and probably toxic, now that I think about it). Then you press and cut as usual. When the garment is finished you wash it in hot water and the stuff melts away! (This, of course, means that you have to prewash your fabric in hot water first, so it can stand the subsequent hot-water dunking …). Easy-peasy!

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Anonymous January 30, 2007 at 8:52 am

But Erin, (whining-like) what about the NECKLINE?!

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Erin January 30, 2007 at 9:15 am

Whoops, sorry! Yes, it’s not as deep on the dress as it is on the pattern envelope, because I had to take up the shoulder seams. So it’s probably one to two inches “shallower” than the pattern.

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La BellaDonna January 30, 2007 at 11:12 am

Oh, and for the folks who are going to wash/prewash their fabrics:”Spray Starch” will make your fabric stiff as a board (don’t starch and iron your velvets!), if you can’t find Sullivan’s conveniently. I’ve starched the dickens out of many a slithery piece of silk before beating it into shape. Preshrink the fabric, and starch it into obedience; then wash the starch out.For the sake of convenience, I usually crisp up the entire fabric; YMMV.

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sheri January 30, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Thanks so much for the stabilizing instructions Erin & la belladonna!It’s really inspiring to see such a beautiful silk charmeuse dress – and hear how I can master that slippery fabric too!Sheri

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