Alcatraz Dress

by Erin on June 13, 2012

So this pattern:
McCalls 3528


Turned into this:
Alcatraz Dress

(For this picture I dragooned my husband into taking it. He’s easier to persuade to take pictures, but the pictures aren’t as good because — insert “awwww” here — he thinks I look good in every picture, and so is not motivated to take a lot of them. Thus the weird expression and weirder hair in this one.)

I made the sleeveless version, which right now in the office is showing off what, in my childhood in the south, we called a “farmer’s tan.” The Keds are gray, the belt is a super-cheap one from Amazon, I’m wearing my default Swatch, and the sweater is a J.Crew “Jackie” cardigan. The cardigan is my favorite part, since the gray of the sweater and the gray of the dress stripe are EXACTLY the same — that’s so hard with grays!

The fabric is (I’m pretty sure) from last year sometime … I thought I had a picture of it, but perhaps at the time I didn’t think it would need one. It’s a charcoal gray and just-barely-off-white stripe. It’s shirting, and heavy for shirting but light for cotton, which is why I decided to attempt this dress in it. As you may have seen in the pattern illo, the skirt is BOTH pleated and gathered. Crazy! (It’s like that moment of revelation I had — I must have been about seven — when I realized that you could totally put BOTH caramel and hot fudge on a sundae.) It was a little more difficult to gather than I thought; the bulk of the pleats (you have to pleat first, then gather) plus the resistance from the tightly-woven cotton conspired a bit. I ended up having to run separate gathering threads for each of the four skirt panels (there’s a center front and a center back seam, lost in all those stripes).

The stripes on the bodice match exactly, or close enough. (I ripped it out twice before I got to “close enough.”) The pattern calls for something like five yards of 45″; I think I got away with 4 of 54″, helped by making the sleeveless version, shortening the bodice by about an inch, and cutting five inches off the bottom of the skirt (it was super, super long). I also discarded the armhole facings in favor of bias tape; the neck is self-faced. I added pockets. (Do I even have to add “I added pockets” anymore, or is that a given?)

Oddly enough, this is actually a little big on me. (I made the 36 bust.) I love it, though, so I’m going to look for a similar dress (maybe with a leeeeetle less skirt?) in a B34, to make in a stripey seersucker. Links appreciated. :-)

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Cal June 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I do love the stripes on the bodice! I cannot even imagine how to gather after pleating, wow.


Joni June 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

The Google informs me that what you have is the Mother half of a Mother/Daughter set of patterns. Which is my new obsession now. I think it’s even cuter in girls’ size than it is in women’s! And frankly, as a vintage-obsessed sewist with two daughters, I did NOT need to know that these things existed…


Anne July 10, 2012 at 4:44 am

Joni, I was just wondering how you can tell which is the mother and which is the daughter half? I fell in love with this pattern but would need to find the younger cut one… thanks if you can help!


Ann V. June 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Whenever I have to gather really bulky stuff, I zig over buttonhole thread. You can pull as hard as you like without breaking it.


Kathleen June 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Cute dress! I have a weekness for stripes. Now that I know that they are visually slimming I will mak emore stripey things.
Pleats and gathers are the kind of old-time deign feature you never see in patterns any more, now that everything has to be Quick & Easy.


The Accidental Housewife June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm

That’s a very cute photo! If that’s a “bad” then I’m jealous of your photogenity (is so a word).

I like the stripes on the bodice, that’s some serious matching you’ve done there.

From the pattern cover, I reckon this would look stunning in a heavier, shiny fabric. I’d love one to wear to formal teas! You know if I ever WENT to formal teas…


Jamie June 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Awwwwwww. What a sweet man!
The pattern is lovely and so is the dress you made from it.
You look mah-velous!


Regina June 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Great work with the stripes on this dress. Seriously, you should have been featured in Threads July 2012 article on “Sewing With Stripes!”


Connie June 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

LOVE! This is a wonderful dress – and picture!


Connie Turner June 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

So that’s why you did the post about stripes not being “fattening”. The dress is great I love the bodice with the stripes going crossways.


Ari June 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm

The dress looks fantastic, and so do you! You have a very nice smile.


Claire June 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Ok THAT’S IT!! I need to learn to sew!!!( more than just buttons)


Cel June 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I adore the gathered pleats or pleated gathers–great looking on you, too!


thatdamngreendress July 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Whoa! My blogger reader just suddenly gifted me with what must be over a month of posts that I missed out on! I cannot resist a striped dress, and this is a doozy. I love the grey on grey (gray? I can never decide which one I should be using as a Canadian, but this looks like a grey grey to me- I feel like gray with an a is more of a blue tone…) and the diagonal bodice stripes are divine!!


edgertor July 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm

what, no matching umbrella???? : )

or, rather, parasol.

my Reader just gifted me the same as the thatdamngreendress described…i’m sad not to be getting your posts in real-time! I wonder what your feed is doing with all that downtime. Your RSS must be a procrastinatrix.


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