Youth (and this pattern) is wasted on the young

by Erin on January 11, 2010


McCalls 4530

I really love the waist treatment on this pattern (from Tina at What-I-Found Vintage Patterns) but it is a size 11. That's right, e-lev-en. Bust 31 1/2, which I might be able to fit into immediately AFTER I track down Ray Palmer and his shrinking lens. Possibly. I might also have to track down some superhero who has a "remove-a-rib" lens. (I'm sure there was one in 1970s Marvel comics.)

I do understand that people come in all shapes and sizes blah blah blah but it's so sad when something like this doesn't. I know I could always scale it up but pattern grading falls right after "regrout tile in public bathrooms" on my list of fun things to do.

The saddest thing about these adorable patterns is that they're often uncut … because adolescent girls either want to draw as little attention to themselves as possible, or they want to dress like raddled divorceés who drink in the afternoon. (Or, judging from what I see in the windows of Forever21 as I walk past, extras in a Pat Benetar video. Aren't we tired of asymmetrical jersey ruffles with unfinished edges yet? I know I am.)

I suppose there are so many truly awful things about adolescence—systemic "unfairness," skin problems, parents—that I shouldn't begrudge the odd pattern that only comes in sub-deb sizes. (To be clear: there's nothing wrong with having a 31.5 inch bust, even only considering how many awesome things you can wear if you don't have to take into account chestular scaffolding and trussing.) And it's not like I don't have roughly two patterns to sew for every day that I can expect to live, most just as cute as this one, if not cuter. So you should put this whole post down to the cranky ramblings of the aged. If I had a lawn, I could now shout for those darn kids to get off it. (And you'll have to excuse me now, my stories are on.)

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

sara jane January 11, 2010 at 8:47 am

LOL.. you are quite humorous for an aged person.. this in particular made me nearly spit coffee on my monitor this morning:they want to dress like raddled divorces who drink in the afternoon. Thank you for the Monday morning cheer where it is a balmy 14 in Chicago.

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Anonymous January 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

OK, it was your last line that made me snerk.Thanks for channeling grandma this morning!

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Ann V. January 11, 2010 at 9:05 am

I cut out a vintage junior pattern, having convinced myself that it would fit, and now Im afraid to sew it together and discover that I was wrong. Plus, its from the 70s and a little on the mini side (a woman was selling two giant bins of patterns for a dollar each at the flea market – I think I was remarkably restrained in only buying 6).

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kelly January 11, 2010 at 9:06 am

The funniest to me was the roughly 2 patterns to sew for every day I can expect to live!!..and the Pat Benetar…and the ruffles with unfinished edges!!…and the regrout tile in public bathrooms!Yep, today was hilarious! I needed that–thank you!

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Toby Wollin January 11, 2010 at 9:14 am

Very odd envelop art because you have the obvious deb (with the barrette in her hair and the full skirt looking coyly down at the floor) and then you have the obviously NOT deb on the left hand side with the slim skirt, the come hither hair. And then we get the view of the back of the dress with the very clever (and grown up and sophisticated) back belt treatment that no one under the age of 25 could carry off. And it only came in junior miss sizes? I guess they thought juniors carried through to after college or something. And perhaps it did in that period.

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jadestar003 January 11, 2010 at 9:18 am

Thanks for the most amusing blog entry. Ive been reading it for a whle now. I love seeing all the dresses, its like youre doing my reearch for me lol. On todays dress front though, there are many sheath dress patterns available in a similar one to this, minus the waist treatment. Couldnt you just draft the treatment? It doesnt look to hard from the cover shot. Just a thought from someone else who has a few more patterns in her stash than she has ever made. :)

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Wearing History January 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

Haha!! I love this post! Youve started my morning fantastically :)I love the bit about the 70s Marvel comics. Absurd proportions!Thanks for the lovely post :)

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Packrat January 11, 2010 at 9:47 am

LOL funny! (Actually, my mother could have worn this size, but she was too short to be able to carry off that waist style. Her tiny genes didnt carry on to me.) Gorgeous pattern.

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Sheila / Out of the Ashes Collectibles January 11, 2010 at 9:50 am

Okay but we can still think young even if when we look in the mirror we shriek!

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Anonymous January 11, 2010 at 10:01 am

Wouldnt the full-skirt version make a great wedding dress?

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Theresa January 11, 2010 at 10:25 am

I saw a grown up version of this somewhere…

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Renee January 11, 2010 at 10:52 am

So that makes twice in two days that there was mention of my stories being on (the other being Regretsy ). Good for a giggle, for sure. Count me as one who Would re-grade a pattern before re-grouting the tile in a public bathroom (ewww).

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Arion January 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

Speaking as a teenager (well, 19) whos been reading your blog for years, I love this dress. (Sadly, my bust is rather smaller than 31.5in and so it wont fit me either.) I have to say I agree with you about fashion for young women- I am also sick of the extra in a Pat Benetar video look, and find myself making clothes or shopping at thrift stores in order to find something a little classier. In our defense, however, all my generation wants to do is be individual and edgy, whatever that may mean, and I guess every generation of teenagers deals with that differently. For us its the aforementioned look, for my parents generation it was love beads and paisley, and for my kids it will probably be something even weirder. I guess the only thing to do is sing along with Mr MacAfee from Bye Bye Birdie: Kids, I dunno whats wrong with these kids today!

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Lisa Simeone January 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

As so often with vintage, the backs of the dresses are just as glamorous and sophisticated as the fronts. Oh, for that era again . . . !

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schuman ohne eigenschaften January 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

Sometimes I feel like you live inside my brain, Erin! I just wish I could go visit teenaged me as now-me to let then-me know that everything I liked and did was ridiculous!

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Cel Petro January 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Last line made me laugh so hard–its why we read you!!!

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Becky O. January 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Check out Christine Haynes book Chic and Simple Sewing Page 104 Opera Dress. It has a similar waist. You could combine it with your skirt favorite bottom…http://christinehaynes.com/content.php?content_id=1012

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Rachel January 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Haha! I laughed through this whole post! Im only 17, and while I wear a size 13 or so, my sister (15) could definitely fit into that pattern! It is so adorable! Now if she only wore dresses wed be all set! And yes, there are SOOO many advantages to be young, but there are quite a few disadavantages as well. Parents, school (ICK!), figuring out what you want to do in life, parents, finals in school, parents. You get the drift. ;) Love your blog! I enjoy reading everything you post!

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Rachel January 11, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Oh, I meant to mention that the retro reprint Butterick 4919 dress has a similar waist treatment.

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What-I-Found January 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Well that pattern just left for England, so some young thing will be looking fabulous in London Town. I do hope to see a photo, its a lovely dress.

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lucitebox January 11, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Mercy! Lookit the back of that thang! I never get to things like this on the youth of today. Are any of them wearing things like this? Surely there must be a few. I LIKE this blog post! As a vintage clothing dealer, I am sometimes bothered when people complain that vintage only comes in small sizes. (And I do certainly see plenty of tiny garments.) It just feels reassuring to know that the pattern world has its share of meetings with the itty bitty titty committee, too. You know, one blog featured my site awhile ago with a link like Nice dress if you wear a 26 waist (link to nice XS dress.) I was, like, Wait a minute! I sell a lot of things in a pretty good range of sizes!

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Anan January 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Ive loved this dress for ages… but Im not 15 anymore! 18 is such a dumb age… :-P

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Anonymous January 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Hmmm Ive got the bust but i dont think Ive had the waist or hips since 6th grade….maybe 5th ha haJenL

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sewducky January 12, 2010 at 1:20 am

Well pfft. They do have it on CoPA so I can drool there.

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Joni January 12, 2010 at 7:29 am

Ive known a few 18 year olds that could pull this off… very few. Its certainly lovely. But I agree that the waist treatment shouldnt be too hard to duplicate…

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pinsandthimbles January 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I just wanted to drop back in today and say Thank you, Erin! I have been looking and looking for a pattern that I could LOVE for my going-away dress. My wedding is in a months time and I havent been able to find anything (I am 6ft tall, by the way, so off the rack is not an option).Sneaky me, I found it in a 14 on Etsy. Ill have to grade it up a little but the it shall be made: the circle skirt version in a pink linen with a contrasting sakura-pattern waist treatment. Thank you thank you! Ill lend it to you later if you want :D

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Anonymous January 13, 2010 at 8:08 am

I know pattern grading isnt fun, but for a short fix, what I do is grade up only the bodice, and make the drindl skirt from my own pattern. (Is grading up a rectangle even necessary anyway?)For the wiggle skirt, I often do the same. Just make sure that whichever pieces you choose match up at the waistline!Hope this helps!

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Angela January 13, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Hey! I think I HAVE this dress in my fix it bin. Made back in the day in a pale pink brocade with pink satin sash. Im almost positive, but I could be wrong. I know it has all of the same details and was home-made. When I find it I will email you so we can see it put together! I think mine around a modern size 6 though! Im pretty sure this is it. Wild!

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Always A Lady January 14, 2010 at 11:49 am

I love this post and I know exactly how you feel. Oh to be able to wear that dress. Id want to wear it everyday!

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Vegan January 14, 2010 at 9:17 pm

That waist treatment is just extra pieces of fabric that attach at the side seams. You could totally reverse-engineer that!

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Anonymous January 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Erin, you had a dress with a similar sash about a year and a half ago. I think it was by a famous designer. I remember it because I made it! I drafted my own pattern, but you could modify any dress pattern. The waist treatment is simple. Just make a sash that is very wide and very long. I made mine from about an inch above the bra band down to the waistline. Make the sash 1.5 times as wide and then gather it into that space. Make it long enough to wrap around the front and then the back. I made mine from taffeta and it worked perfectly. Give it a try. Beth

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Anonymous January 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Ah, heres the similar dress that was on your blog…http://www.dressaday.com/2005/05/claire-mccardell.htmlBeth

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Hana January 16, 2010 at 3:41 am

Awww. I love the waist. And the whole dress.My sister does, too.

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moll January 17, 2010 at 7:27 am

I WANT it! However, I must be some kind of size anomaly… the bust is right, the waist is a few inches too big, but my hips havent been 33.5in since I was in diapers. I am buying this as soon as they come out with the machine that will take 3 inches off of my hips, and add it to my waist. Too much to ask?

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Diana January 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I love the girl in the middle – Im almost 27 and I still fix my hair like that on occasion :)

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Anonymous January 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Er, it is just as irritating to find a pattern/vintage dress that is impossible to make smaller due to patter, detailing etc. And grading down is no more fun than grading up.Also not so great when the smallest your dressform can go is still a bit roomy even post-christmas weightgain. There are both upsides and downsides to being smaller than the average cub.

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uglybeat January 18, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Teehee. Ive got the 31.5–yet Im 38 years old. Im still waiting to fill out and get that 36inch bust. Heck, sometimes its nice to have the ribcage of a 5-year old so I can find patterns easier, but I dunno!

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jen January 19, 2010 at 11:24 am

i was just looking at pictures of christina hendricks from the golden globes – wouldnt i like to look like her sometimes! that pattern you post would probably fit me. ;)i love grading patterns just about as much as you do it seems. i pass up many beautiful patterns b/c they are too big. oh well, at least that means i hoard a lot less. maybe.

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Ruth January 21, 2010 at 6:47 am

Ooh, Anonymous, I have that problem with my dressform (it stops at 34 I believe), but I also have a problem with that out-of-space bust shape. Who has those weird pointy coconuts for boobs in real life?I am starting to hunt out vintage patterns myself for the simple reason that it is easier to find petite sizing – oh and because people were making some fantastic stuff in their homes in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I just cant try them out on my dummy!!

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Kathryn Z January 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I actually have this pattern in size 13 and made the sloshed divorcee version to wear in my best friends wedding a couple of years ago. In my late 20s. The bride, her maid of honor and I all made our dresses – Ill see if I cant find a decent photo for those who want to see the dress made up.Remarkably, this pattern is not cut for juniors, but a clearly hourglass figure. It was lovely to finally make a dress not cut for a rectangular figure!

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Aaryn January 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

Being in my last teen year I have to agree with Arion and yourself. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this pattern and would think the world a better place if more young women dressed like this and trashed the short shorts and tattered tops. I wear dresses on a daily basis, even during East Coast winters, and tend to believe a classic Audrey Hepburn look beats all other styles. I could spend my whole life in clean lines, florals and bows. I just stumbleuponed your blog and am sure I will now be visiting it often.

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Katie January 29, 2010 at 1:30 am

If you want to pass this pattern along to a small but old-enough person… let me know!

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