Why not plaid?

by Erin on September 19, 2007

Remember this pattern?

McCalls 9215

Well, I really wanted to try it out, AND I really wanted to make a new dress to wander around the Renegade Craft Fair in, AND I had a bunch (as in, more than six yards) of this weird yellow-and-gray plaid fabric I wanted to use, and … well, I did this:

yellow plaid dress

Here's a bigger view:

yellow plaid dress

And here you can see the almost-matched plaid at the center front:

yellow plaid dress

I want to make this again as it was fast (I cut it out in about an hour, and it took about three hours to sew; if I weren't doing plaid it would probably take less time) and fairly easy, and fun to wear. I cut the front bodice on the bias, so that the plaid would purposefully not match at the waist seam. I think it would look better with a belt (I'm planning to try to find the gray patent belt Summerset bought at Target for her shirtdress).

Other than cutting the bodice on the bias, the only other change I made was substituting a center back invisible zipper (running from about the bra-strap line to 6" below the waist) instead of the side snap placket the pattern calls for. It wasn't fun to set in, but by moving the zipper to the center back, I could put in pockets on both sides of the skirt, instead of the one-sided pocket the pattern allowed.

Next time I make this I'm going to lengthen the bodice by about an inch, and widen the sleeve a bit to accommodate my, um, muscular upper arms. I'm also going to try to figure out why the shoulder seam was a bit forward of the top of the shoulder when I was wearing it. Something was pulling, but I can't figure out what!

My camera ran out of juice before I could shoot the buttons in the back, but they were just plain plastic yellow buttons, anyway. I could have sworn I had some lovely gray buttons in my stash, but they managed to disappear.

The best part of this dress was the fun of applying the bias edging to the neck and sleeves. I love doing that. And although the neck is pretty high, I found it quite comfortable.

(If you saw the BurdaNews post yesterday, I'm wearing this dress in that picture, with a gray cardigan.)

All in all, it was probably not the Best Idea Ever to make a brand-new pattern (and one where I made so many little changes right off the bat) in PLAID, but, hey, why not? If something's too easy there's no fun in it, right?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

TransplantedOkie September 19, 2007 at 10:27 am

Ir you ever get tired of this dress, I will wear it for you because that is what kind of friend I am.Love it, MEAN it. Especially the bodice on the bias. Brilliant!


MadeByAmanda September 19, 2007 at 10:41 am

Well, I didn’t think I was fond of the yellow, but in the BurdaStyle pic, it looks really nice.”If something’s too easy there’s no fun in it, right?”My sentiments exactly. I do so much better (as far as maintaining interest in a garment-in-progress) when I’m not sure what’s coming next. I must secretly (and entirely subconsciously, believe me) like frustration.


damngoodvintage.com September 19, 2007 at 10:49 am

Thanks for posting this Erin. I LOVE seeing pictures of finished dresses that were made from patterns someone bought from me. It looks great and I liked the Burda pic with the gray sweater.


Anonymous September 19, 2007 at 11:28 am

I love the plaid! Anything in plaid is fun. I made a dress for my granddaughter last year which was a sparkly red plaid with blue and green and white in it and the skirt has little blue bows along the bottom, with a blue sash. She loved it and it was just difficult enough to make me feel like I had accomplished something. It had a black, velveteen bodice with piping in the red plaid on the neck edge and the sleeve edges.Thank you for the link to Pins and Needles. I have added that to my favorites list to check on it every day as well. I am itching to start a dress for myself. I have a couple of vintage shirtwaist dress patterns with interesting front placket details I am going to make. I am working on a christening outfit for my new granddaughter, which needs to be done first.Linda


Kate September 19, 2007 at 12:05 pm

A thin black leather belt would also look nice with this. You could go all trendy and wear it over your cardigan. I know, I know–trendy. But I’m behind this trendy because it makes use of the only thing I got–a waist.I got a neat light gray herringbone and leather belt from old navy: http://www.oldnavy.com/browse/product.do?cid=37598&pid=522216&scid=522216012$10! It’s a bit wide, though.


Mimi September 19, 2007 at 12:16 pm

I love plaid, always have, always will.Great dress!


tea September 19, 2007 at 12:30 pm

That’s fantastical! I love the bias trim. I also love that you have readers who have grandchildren.By the way, how many pairs of glasses do you have? In this picture they look green (turquoise?) and in the TED talk, they were red. I’d love to know your theory on accessorizing outfits with eyewear. (I’m about to get my very first pair of bifocals at the age of 32ah! what the editorial life does to the eyes!and am considering purchasing a second pair of just plain reading glasses because I fell desperately in love with some frames that were too small to put in the progressive lenses. Sorry for the tangent.)


Summerset September 19, 2007 at 1:36 pm

I love it! Of course, I do, it’s plaid! Thanks for the shout-out and I do hope you find the belt at the big T.


xstpenguin September 19, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Oh, how cool if we could get you some real tartan to play with! It’s quite easy to find tartan in cotton or silk, but unfortunately they are not entirely square so true bias isn’t an option – very frustrating.But then maybe a wool dress would be just the thing for the colder season!?Remote shopping always an option, Erin! Just ask!Cheers,AJ


Adrienne September 19, 2007 at 2:20 pm

FITTING: Do you have a masking tape or postal tape body double as a dress form? Then it is much easier to see and adjust any phantom pulls or problems. Better than expense adustable or standard dress forms; it only take a couple of rolls of tape, scissors, a t shirt and an intimate friend who can tape you up and cut you out. See: http://www.sewnews.com/resources/library/0806form/and my personal favorite: http://vintagesewing.info/1920s/26-fcm/fcm-24.htmlKeep up the fun site! – ADRIENNE


ellenbrenna September 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm

OT but vogue is having a sale (new patterns for 6.99) and it ends todayhttp://www.voguepatterns.com/list/whats_new/page-1


enc September 19, 2007 at 10:38 pm



patsijean September 19, 2007 at 11:49 pm

The dress looks great on you. The yellow and grey plaid is quite flattering on you. You should wear more plaid.Love my tape measure, by the way. It has a permanent place in my purse.


betty blackbent September 20, 2007 at 12:44 am

The shoulder seams are probably too far forward because the area from the shoulder to the bust point is a bit too short. The tight arms also contribute to this problem, since the sleeves are sitting a wee bit lower than they would pull if the arms were looser.


Heather September 20, 2007 at 6:20 am

You are everything I aspire to be in a seamstress: creative, stylish, a wee bit kitschy, and very talented. I really, really like the plaid. It suits the patterns very much. One day I will get over my fear of plaid and totally rock it the way you did here.


Anonymous September 20, 2007 at 8:49 am

I love love love the bias trim on the neckline and sleeves. D’you mind if I snag that? Looks like such a nice alternative to facings.–Lydia


Erin September 20, 2007 at 8:57 am

Lydia, it was part of the pattern, I take no credit. Snag away! (And it is SO MUCH BETTER than facings, I swear.)


T-Rex September 20, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Two of my bestest friends ever were wandering around that craft fair. I’m so jealous! It sounds like a perfectly lovely way to spend the day.


Anonymous September 20, 2007 at 6:14 pm

I love the checked material. I have some similar in fine wool bought in China. Yellow is one of my favourites and it looked great with the grey cardie. The reason the plaid is “almost matched” is because the material you have chosen has a nap. In other words it is a “one way” material and has to be cut following the “with nap” instructions. Many seamstresses I find on blogs don’t seem to realise this when cutting out fabric.


Diana @ So Fash'on September 21, 2007 at 1:59 am

such a classic! love it!


john September 21, 2007 at 8:49 pm

changing the direction of the grain could also change the fit and that might have contributed to the pull you were feeling.this fabric doesn’t have a nap but it is an uneven plaid so that is why the lines won’t line up.This can sometimes be dealt with by using the wrong side of the fabric for half the skirt IF the fabric is a woven plaid. This would not work if it was a printed plaid.


Erin September 21, 2007 at 8:55 pm

John — that’s what I tried (using the wrong side of the plaid for one half of the skirt) because it was woven, not printed, and I couldn’t see a right side to the fabric. Of course, I was cutting it out late at night and it’s entirely possible that after cutting the fabric so that I could put it right side to wrong side to lay out the pattern on that I put them right side to right side …


john September 22, 2007 at 10:34 am

hhmmm,maybe with that plaid it needs to be wrong side up and upside down , too-


Anonymous October 2, 2007 at 7:27 am

Perhaps I used the wrong term when I said the material has a nap. I should have said it is a “one way pattern” in other words you can’t reverse pattern pieces on it and get the patterns to match up. ALL pieces need to be cut with the tops of the patterns in the same direction, in other words it should be cut exactly the same as if you were using velvet with a nap or a mohair material where the material has to be cut in the same direction for it to match up the colour or the “nap”!!!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: