A Proto-Duro, An Evil Queen, and Two Sales

by Erin on July 17, 2009


McCalls 8446

Doesn't this look like another proto-Duro? I think the only reason I didn't make this back in 1980-whatever is that I probably didn't think that I had the chops. But the gray version, with the pink waist bow? Probably would have been MINE all MINE with a few extra hundred hours of practice. Of course, since I was fourteen, I had pretty much zero patience for practice, so thankfully or regretfully this means there are no pictures of me in anything like this.

But if you have a class reunion coming up and need this pattern, Wendy at PatternStash is running a sale today, tomorrow, and Sunday (July 17-18-19). For a 15% discount, put "Hot Summer Nights" in the note to seller, and your discount will be refunded through PayPal.

Do you know who else is having a sale now through Sunday? Sheila at Out of the Ashes! Just use the discount code DRESSY at checkout for 15% off. You might use your discount on this pattern:


Anne Adams 4585

This is TOTALLY the evil stepmother-queen from Snow White getting ready to go to bridge club, am I right? The black gloves are a dead giveaway — red ones are too obvious, but the white ones show the blood of your enemies (or the small animals you sacrifice for haruspexy) something terrible. So black gloves it has to be.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Latter-Day Flapper July 17, 2009 at 7:50 am

(Sorry–I messed up that last comment.)The problem with the proto-duro is that everything was bigger in the Eighties and you know that dress is going to be sliding off your shoulders, even if you cut it in your allegedly-correct size.And yes–that is definitely the Evil Stepmother. Wow. Makes me want to go home a Photoshop that into black and purple.

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Dee Dee Warren July 17, 2009 at 9:41 am

I bought the evil stepmother dress!!Bwahahaha

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Packrat July 17, 2009 at 9:47 am

I had a commercially made dress similar to view B only made in floaty dark teal muted floral. Wore to my brothers wedding. I loved it. I felt good in it and also received compliments every time I wore it.The second one – well, it looks like something my mother and her friends wore. None of them evil. LOL

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patches July 17, 2009 at 10:25 am

Its nice to see the below the knee dresses making a comeback. Girls these days have no idea what a classy dress looks like as theirs seems to get shorter, and shorter and shorter…………

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Dee Dee Warren July 17, 2009 at 11:18 am

My knees are fat, so I like to cover them.

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Latter-Day Flapper July 17, 2009 at 11:29 am

Ditto–I have (if I do say so myself) lovely muscular 1940s pin-up girl calves, but knees and thighs like a bulldog Quarter Horse. I am all about the knee-covering skirts.That, and slightly-longer skirts let you move more because you dont trip on them, but youre less likely to flash something by accident.

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neighbourhood.gal July 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Love the evil stepmother queen dress. Particularly the collar and pointed bottom of the bodice.If I only had a recognizable waistline I would make something like that.

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Cookie July 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

The first dress I ever fell in love with was just like that Anne Adams pattern, but it had an off the shoulder neckline that was hard to keep up when you were 6 years old, playing dress up. It was bright red velvet and there was definitly a Disney factor to it! Especially since it became floor-length on children. That dress is probably still in my friend Katie Zabos attic.

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the reluctant sewist July 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm

The only problem with the proto-Duros is that they all have puffed sleeves. But I guess you could fix that pretty easily.

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Lisa Simeone July 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Oh, that Anne Adams is so beautiful! (even if it does depict an impossible waist)I second the comments about longer skirts. They swish and swirl and sway so beautifully, so elegantly. My legs can still take mini-skirts, but mini-skirts just scream child! Longer skirts are so much more grown-up.

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Theresa July 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Just right below the knew — barely covering it is the PERFECT lenght for me. Any longer and my leg looks chopped off. I can do right to the knee to, but avoid above the knee.

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Latter-Day Flapper July 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Those impossible waists were achieved with serious undergarments, so dont feel intimidated. You, too, could look like that with enough boning and heavy-duty elastic.

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Anne July 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I made this dress, and I still have the pattern! View D, teal with white, without the contrasting white on the bottom. It was a great dress!

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Lisa Simeone July 17, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Latter-Day Flapper,No, I actually have serious undergarments — I love them! Not only waist-cinchers and body-briefers, but an honest-to-god authentic steel-boned girdle. Its gorgeous and it really cinches you in if you want to lace it that tight. But as Ive commented before (and been chastised for), these illustrations on patterns are exactly that — illustrations. Theyre way exaggerated, above and beyond what even girdles and corsets can achieve. Theyre utterly stylized (and beautiful), but nowhere near realisticStill, lovely dress. Id wear it with my normal waist any day!

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Lisa Simeone July 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Oops! Sorry, I meant honest-to-god authentic steel-boned corset.

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~Bon Vintage~ July 17, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I think this might be Endoras dress, you remember Samanthas mother on Bewitched!

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Anonymous July 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm

OMG I made that proto-Duro, it was one of my favorite dresses of all time! Navy blue rayon w/6-inch scalloped lace trim. I was sure I was hot stuff. Oh to have that pre-motherhood figure back….

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Solo July 20, 2009 at 3:12 am

I like the style of the dresses here. =D Awesome! ;D

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Latter-Day Flapper July 20, 2009 at 9:10 am

Well, yeah–obviously were never going to look EXACTLY like that, but if its physically impossible, Im sure not going to worry about it.

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La BellaDonna July 20, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Gosh DARNit phooey!I mean … I mean, Im very happy for you, Dee Dee.Would you like to make the cost of the dress back? I will gladly pay for a copy of the dress. Goshdarnit, anyway.Being late is worse than not knowing it was ever there at all. :(

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La BellaDonna July 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm

And now, for an Entertaining Suggestion! (Its directed to Dee Dee, but really, anyone who wants to use it, feel free!)I had a very similar pattern to the one you bought, and I took a skirt and blouse that someone had given me … it was a dull skirt-and-blouse, but I used the lovely new pattern to alter the shape of the top. I left the collar, sleeves, and front buttons so I could get into the dress, and had a DANDY new one-piece dress instead of a ho-hum two-piece dress. Whats more, I had it with minimal sewing, too.

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Dee Dee Warren July 21, 2009 at 5:10 am

@LaBellaDonnaI have no idea how to make a copy–you mean a photocopy? If it is something I can do, I would be glad to do it. I just received it today, it is quite beautiful.

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La BellaDonna July 21, 2009 at 7:59 am

Photocopy, brown paper … you have never copied a pattern? I dont think its difficult, but Ive been doing it for years; if youve never done it before, it would probably seem a bit daunting. I think perhaps I should withdraw my request, if youve never copied a pattern; this pattern is apparently one of those things that I was not meant to have (at least, not yet), and YOU obviously were. Let us know how it turns out!

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Dee Dee Warren July 21, 2009 at 8:03 am

I never have copied a pattern before. I dont mind trying though if you want to let me know how to photocopy it… meaning, do I like photocopy quadrants and label them so you know how to reassemble them? I would be willing to try.

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La BellaDonna July 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Dee Dee, thank you, thats very kind of you to offer. Goodness, I started back before access to photocopiers was very common (nowhere to plug them in except the tar pits); I would just trace around the outside edges of the pattern onto brown paper placed underneath. I know theres lovely transparent pattern copying paper these days, which one places OVER the original pattern pieces, then copies the lines. However, if you have access to a photocopier, it would probably be easiest to just photocopy each pattern piece. In fact, the only pieces that would be truly necessary to copy would be the bodice, collar/facings, and sleeves – not the skirt. This pattern is old enough probably that seam allowances, etc. are not marked on the pieces themselves, correct? So perhaps the best way to photocopy the pieces would be to lay them one at a time on a copier, with something darker ON TOP of them, so that the shape of the piece would show up in contrast? I would happily pay for copying, posting, etc. If you would rather make a paper copy, its as if you were making the dress itself, only in paper – drawing around the outside edges, transferring markings, etc. I would even suggest that you might want to copy the pattern for yourself, so that the original can be preserved; its been my experience that some of the old pattern paper is on the fragile side. Sometimes I will fuse nonwoven iron-on interfacing to the wrong side of the pattern pieces, in order to keep them from disintegrating. That way you would make your alterations, etc., on the copy of the pattern you make for yourself, rather than altering your original. If it seems like more challenge than you want to deal with, I also understand if its not something you want to do. A (free!) reference on the internet that you might find useful is: http://www.freesewingpattern.net – it has good, basic, well-illustrated instructions.

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La BellaDonna July 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Oh. Ugh. I just read something that indicates its NOT a good idea to suggest that someone copy a part of a pattern for me. Im concerned that I might have inadvertently asked you to do something wrong, Dee Dee, and I dont want to do that. So use my suggestions, if you like, to copy the pattern for yourself in order to preserve the original as you work, and if you ever decide to sell the original, Ill be happy to buy it.*sigh*

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Dee Dee Warren July 22, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Hi LaBellaDonna, the pattern is way out of copyright, so it is my understanding that there is no problem in copying it. Shoot me an email at idrankthekoolaid@mac.com and we can discuss. I will be not online much for the next week give or take, but I will get back with you. I have easy access to a copy machine at my work and dont have to pay for copies so that is no worry.

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Pencils July 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Can I ask an odd question? I think I saw it in a pattern on this blog, and many of you are dress experts, so maybe youll know. Im trying to remember a term for a long hemline that starts, I think, with an m, that was last in use in the 50s or so. And its not maxi, its a longer word. Its driving me up the wall! Thanks for any help. :)

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Pencils July 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

OK, Ive since found what I meant: matinee length. Which mostly seems to refer to wedding dresses, which makes sense, as I looked at a LOT of wedding dresses before I got married two years ago. Thanks anyway, all!

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Anonymous September 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Hi out there, does any of you ladies out there no where to find this Anne Adams pattern or the McCalls 4152 thats quit simular? thanks if any of you can help would be appreciated…as I just think these are a great style in dress, thanks trying to find

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