Monday, November 5, 2012

Just in time for the first bitterly cold weather of the year!

I actually made this dress about 8 months ago. Does that count?

Of course it does.

This was something of a labor of love. Of most importance was the fact that this was the first thing I made after the Jehossee project wrapped up in the early Spring. I was sort of afraid to sew after all the 1840s-50's madness over the Winter.  So this project needed to be quick, modern AND special in order to satisfy my joint needs of catharsis and something "different."

Charlie's Angels!

Enter McCall's 3634. This is one of the few patterns that I have inherited from my Mother's youth. The date on it is 1973 according to the Pattern Wiki, but my mother could have acquired it at any time during the decade. It was well-used long before she passed it to me, and I delighted in the small notes she'd made to herself on the original pages.

The periwinkle plaid is a purchase from sometime last year. It's a fairly sturdy cotton voile, with a lot of ease. I don't remember why I bought it, but I only went for two yards. That turned out to be just enough for this project. (If I hadn't insisted on doing something fruity with the plaid pattern, I could have easily made it out of half of what I used. Lest you erroneously think I am a petite and lithe creature, the selvedge was close to 60" on this mess.)

My intention was to entirely machine-sew the thing, mainly as a way to put the epic bouts of hand-sewing behind me for a while. (Plus, I suck at sewing on the machine. I need practice.) But, like all good intentions, bad habits won out in the end.

That's how I ended up hand-finishing all of the seams. Plus, the elusive periwinkle invisible zipper that I purchased at the exorbitant price of full retail from Hanc*ck's proved to be unnecessary. My lack of... frontal endowments, plus the open-back halter style of the dress means that I can pull it off and on like a tee shirt. The top ties at the back of the neck... no frills, no problem.

And thus, it was done! I think I spent about 5 hours total working on this dress and it was an even split between the sewing and the cutting. Matching up the plaid on all the seams was challenging for me since it was new territory, but it somehow worked out. (The end product would look much better if I bothered to iron it, but this is me we're talking about. Just be grateful that I took the bloody pictures in daylight.)

I made a few modifications to the pattern, including one that my mother suggested from the not-so distant past. She wanted a length between the mini and the maxi, so she trimmed the pattern for the longer gown to the length you see at the back of my dress. The best part? I had already decided that I would like to go for an "in-between" length before I ever pulled the pieces out of the envelope. It made me laugh to see that she'd beaten me to the punch. As I was finishing the hem, I decided to make the front about 3" shorter than the back. It was a quick decision, and subtle, but I do like the look. (I have since learned that this is called a "mullet skirt" and is the social equivalent of having no front teeth. That's okay. Suits my winning personality.)

The finished dress is comfortable and easy to wear and got a lot of mileage over the hot summer this year. So if anybody out there is feelin' groovy and succumbs to the siren call of McCall's 3634, I highly recommend it. This falls squarely into the category of "If I can do this, dead circus monkeys can do it even better."

Except that the monkeys wouldn't have tarted up the hem. Monkeys have standards.


  1. oh god so funny! Dead circus monkeys...
    Can't believe you hand finished the edges??? Ain't you never heard of pinkin' shears, Miz R-H-S??
    Miz Nancy N

  2. Good god! Matching all that plaid...with a hi-lo hem...
    You are a brave, brave woman.

  3. That's me... queen of the plaid mullet frock. Wow. I think I just created my own epitaph.