Once more, from the top

by Erin on May 27, 2008

One of the side effects of learning Summerset's invisible-zipper-and-side-seam-pocket trick is that it's making me re-evaluate a lot of my all-time favorite patterns for pocketosity. Like this one, for instance:


McCalls 8858

Before I knew the trick, this poor dress was limited to just ONE side-seam pocket — obviously an injustice. But now that I can have bilateral pocket symmetry, it was obviously time to make it again:

green windowpane dress

Oops, looks like I got it a little twisted on the dress form, there. I swear it actually hangs straight. Here's the new, improved, invisible side zip, with pocket:

green windowpane dress

Notice that I didn't match up the waist seam exactly on either side of the zipper. I must also disclose that, while I was wearing the dress, nobody mentioned this. (Very kind of them.)

Here's the OTHER pocket, the "normal" one:

green windowpane dress

I didn't have QUITE enough fabric to cut this dress out according to the layout — in fact, I had to piece the back bodice, which is supposed to be cut on the fold:

green windowpane dress

I also cut the skirt sections on the fold, instead of giving them a center seam. This adds 1.25" to each skirt piece, which, miraculously, is just the amount I need to enlarge the waist by so that it fits comfortably. (Don't forget to add 5/8" to the bodice sides, too, if you want this to work!)

This is almost certainly going to be made again, and soon. I'm happy with how it turned out, but next time I'm going to make one change — I'm going to make the neckline facing in a lighter fabric — the facing in the fashion fabric, especially here (this is a fairly heavy cotton sateen) is just too bulky, see the little lumpiness on the left shoulder back:

green windowpane dress

Even with all the fussing about, cutting some things on the fold and not others, adding pockets (the pattern doesn't include pocket pieces), putting in an invisible zip, etc. etc., this is a remarkably fast pattern to make — even with hemming it by hand (and that's a LOT of skirt), it was still under four hours, total.

(And possibly I'll even iron the next version before I take the pictures.)

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

tea May 27, 2008 at 9:19 am

Ooh! I love that fabric and color. And you, of course, did a marvelous job.

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Myra May 27, 2008 at 9:35 am

Like that pattern, but how can you get a dress done so fast?

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velvet plaza May 27, 2008 at 9:37 am

I’m with Myra – even patterns I have already made take me 8 hours. And I don’t even hem by hand1 (Carpal Tunnel.) I think it’s just lovely and like the skirt doesn’t have the center seam. Very pretty color of green too.

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Teresa May 27, 2008 at 9:46 am

Love the color and that neckline is great. My sewing skill aren’t at the four hour timeframe for construction but I hope to get there one day. Beautiful dress Erin!

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Teresa May 27, 2008 at 9:48 am

Should have asked this question in my first comment but then I’m still working on that first cup of tea so am not fully awake. You used cotton sateen. First where did you find such a beautiful color and how easy was it to sew with?Regards,Teresa

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Lydia May 27, 2008 at 9:49 am

I *love* being able to make a dress in an evening that I can wear the next day. And that fabric is glorious!–Lydia

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paisleyapron May 27, 2008 at 9:58 am

Bravo Erin! I think the color is amazing!I am about to try the pocketed invisible zipper seam, too. A bit intimidating, but there is no option for those of us with stuff to stuff into pockets and a deep, hidden dislike of purses. How on earth do you finish a dress in less than 4 hours (does this include cutting it out)? Is there a learning curve with these patterns? I made one shirtwaist off a vintage Advance and it took me a full week of evenings. You mentioned that you have a closet full of these pretty frocks, does it get easier and faster the more you make? Or do you just have a super fast machine?Happily part of the conspiracy,Saraha.k.a. Bootsie Arete (I was going to be Pokey Whitehouse, but I thought that was too politically charged)

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enc May 27, 2008 at 10:08 am

This is a great-looking dress. I love the print.

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Erin May 27, 2008 at 10:12 am

I bought this fabric ages ago on a trip to LA … I can’t remember where, but it was a BIG place. I remember the fabric was $3.99/yard, and I was originally going to only make a skirt, so I just bought 3 yards.For this dress, the time broke down to cutting out, about 45 min; skirt, half an hour; bodice, half an hour; zipper, half an hour … and then hemming took the rest of the time. Although I was half-watching “Blade Runner” while hemming, so that didn’t really feel like sewing work.

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Cookie May 27, 2008 at 10:21 am

Fresh as spring grass! Fab!

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cheekie May 27, 2008 at 10:30 am

very VERY cute, and darnit you are fast! I have always had that prob with invisible zips, which I use almost exclusively cause I like the look (the uneven matching).I have tried many different ways of putting them in, not sewing the seam first, sewing the seam first etc etc and still…hmmm.anyone have any tips? it drives me nutty!

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The J May 27, 2008 at 10:40 am

What a timely post! Thank you so much for the invisible zip link! My latest blog post is about my tentative first steps into vintage dress land, and I was worried about the technicalities of putting an invisible zip in the side of a dress, with both the top and bottom closed. Good to know it can be done! The pattern I have already has a method of putting in the second pocket with the side zip – so I’ll have to compare techniques with Summerset.Cheekie – what I do is mark the zip while it’s closed, all the way across, where the seams are supposed to hit. Then when I’m sewing each side, I watch to make sure that bit lines up!

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Rachel May 27, 2008 at 10:47 am

Just wanted to say: that dress is absolutely gorgeous! I love the pattern and the fabric (everything about the fabric is gorgeous: the pattern, the color, and so on). Thanks so much for posting!

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Kristen May 27, 2008 at 11:16 am

fantastic fabric! who could be anything but glowingly happy when wearing this dress?!

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Eirlys May 27, 2008 at 11:54 am

Loving it! This would be the perfect dress to wear to Wimbledon next month – can’t you see lawn tennis courts through mesh? And smell the new-mown grass? That shade of green, if my eyes don’t deceive me, is Sylko’s “Erin Green”! I’m not making it up. In fact, if you don’t have a spool, Erin, drop me an email and I’ll send you one (in my vast collection of vintage cotton reels I have two – I tell myself it’s an acceptable way to express obsessive compulsive disorder).What shoes would you pair this with? I’m getting a nostalgic whiff of Dunlop’s Green Flash pumps… we used to wear those to play tennis at my school (allegedly for “young ladies”) in the late 1970s. That was back in the wooden racket days when you had to keep the head in a big clamp to stop it warping. And the Green Flash canvas tops had to be meticulously whitened with some kind of very runny paint-on stuff to keep them presentable. Our shoes were lace-ups but this is all I can find – they’ve gone Velco. Ah, happy memories!http://www.rubbersole.co.uk/products.aspx?categoryid=1413

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Little Hunting Creek May 27, 2008 at 11:58 am

Love the dress, don’t you need the adorable little jacket to match? In white?

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Eirlys May 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm
Anonymous May 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm

thin black patent belt (small patent buckle, of course), and black patent pumps…

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Velvet Plaza May 27, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I was thinking yellow patent leather shoes woudl look devine.

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Chantelle May 27, 2008 at 3:19 pm

The dress is gorgeous and I also love the fabric! I love that green and I also love that the print isn’t a bunch of perfect squares.I think I’d wear yellow, light green, beige lace, or hot pink shoes with this dress.

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Shannon May 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Apropos of nothing, I thought you might be interested in this post on kid’s sewing machines: http://www.parenthacks.com/2008/05/kids-sewing-mac.html

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Heidi May 27, 2008 at 4:52 pm

To Cheekie:I’ve found that putting an inch-wide strip of interfacing along the seam where the invisible zipper will be helps alleviate the unevenness. Cut the interfacing a big longer than the zipper and interface along the cut edge of both dress pieces involved in the seam (I hope that makes sense…). When you’ve sewn one side of your zipper, zip it closed and mark the waist seam on the unsewn side of fabric and the zipper so you can pin it in the right place. With the interfacing in place, the fabric won’t pull and distort along the seam and you should have a nearly perfect invisible zipper.

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Summerset May 27, 2008 at 5:28 pm

I love the green! Thanks for linking to me (again)!

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Lavon May 27, 2008 at 5:40 pm

i like the way you completed the dress with the pocket.never did understand why they put the pocket only on one side. I love that you finished it in 4 hours. I will have to take note of time on my next dress that I make. beautiful job

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susan May 27, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I haven’t made any clothing for years, but this blog is giving me the fever. I love this dress!

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Jean C. May 27, 2008 at 7:57 pm

You know, if you also do a blind hem, it makes the hem go even faster! Cute, I’m with someone above who said now you need the jacket… if you can find a cute white textured piece that would be great. Next time too… in order to keep the pieces at the neck line (the corners- use it on the facing part) from eventually flopping over… you may want to try some sort of iron on inter facing that is a bit heavier to be of more support to you.

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laurakitty May 27, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Ooooo! What a great dress! I love your blog- I’ve learned a lot from it and you’ve definitely helped me out with some of my vintage patterns.I’m selling some of mine on Ebay right now (I just have too too many): My Ebay Page

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Kate May 27, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Soooooo pretty!

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lorrwill May 27, 2008 at 10:48 pm

We are going to start calling you Speedy, Erin. You can put together a really nice looking dress hecka fast!(I still want the jacket, by the way):-)

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flanthrower May 28, 2008 at 12:39 am

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that fabric! What a great looking dress. It could’ve taken you twice as long to make and I’d still be in awe!

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Anonymous May 28, 2008 at 7:17 am

What if you bound the neckline in a solid bias and also added a band to the sleeve and hem? Too matchie? I think a solid obi waist tie might be cute, too. Or, if you make the dress solid, choose a great print to bind and belt the solid (a print, of course, that you don’t have enough of to make a dress or skirt and are dying to use up, of course.) janie

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ash May 28, 2008 at 9:05 am

Looks gorgeous!

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raq May 28, 2008 at 10:50 am

the colour is darling, the neckline is just gorgeous! lovely, lovely dress!

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engineer beth May 28, 2008 at 11:07 am

I have a tip for making the waist seam match up when inserting an invisible zipper. Before putting in the zipper, lay it over the pieces where it’s going to be inserted. Mark the waist seam location on zipper tape. I use chalk, but you could use a pin or even pencil. When you are sewing in the zipper, make sure that mark matches up with the waist seam. Voila. It’s easy, but perfect.

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wundermary May 28, 2008 at 1:46 pm

I love the idea of adding pockets to this dress, but why hide them on the seam? You could cut and face the same notch as appears in the neckline, it wouldn’t even look like a mod.

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Anonymous May 29, 2008 at 1:44 am

I love your blog, love seeing your fun dresses and just like your taste in fabrics and your sense of humour. I guess you can tell I’m leading up to saying something negative…. :)Is there a reason you refuse to match prints? I really do like all your dresses and admire how fast you make them, but I have serious issues when I try making stuff myself, as far as matching patterns go. So perhaps it’s my problem — Perhaps I’m too AR :) (Obsessive compulsive perhaps? :) Anyway, when I saw that back, I felt like going back in time and nudging your pattern down a bit. (Ok, I understand… you didn’t have enough fabric). GAH! Sorry about the negativity. I really hate it when I get it when I’ve put a lot of effort into something. (But seriously… do you do it on purpose because that’s your style? You enjoy having things unmatched? I mean, is it just your thing? :)CD (Hmm… just realized my initials are perfect… perhaps I should be OCD :)

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Anonymous May 29, 2008 at 1:45 am

Btw, sorry about that comment again. OCDPlease delete it?

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sarah June 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm

looooove this!

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Eirlys June 3, 2008 at 6:13 pm

(O)CD, you’re fine! Don’t worry. On behalf of all the OCDs out there, fair comment. I love the dress too, but part of me is saying “nudge that fabric, please!”

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