The illusion of having "plenty of time" is a sure fire way to get me to leave something to the last minute: I'm not quite sure whether I should be proud or ashamed to admit that I made this dress last night (probably the latter)...!
When I was invited (at the beginning of February - I've had almost three months for chrissakes!) to take part in McCall's Big Vintage Sewalong, raising money and awareness for The Eve Appeal, it struck me how long it's been since I actually sewed from a vintage pattern. It was thanks to vintage sewing patterns - with their delectable illustrations - that I got sucked into sewing in the first place.
For this challenge - and it certainly ended up being exactly that - I wanted to choose something out of my comfort zone. I think I could probably sew a 50s sundress with both eyes shut and one hand tied behind my back by now, so I opted for a ladylike 1930s panelled coat dress with some interesting curved seams and embroidery details - V9127.
In the spirit of leaving things to the last minute, I'm sure you will have already guessed that I forwent a toile! Instead, I used a pretty medium weight viscose crepe with a little stretch - figuring that the drape and give of the fabric would act in my favour regardless of whether the dress should end up a little too big or too small. Based on my measurements (34"-26"-36"), I cut a straight 12 - remembering that vintage sizing is different to contemporary sizing! In the end, I definitely could have done with going down a size, but I do quite like the extra ease... Makes for a very comfortable chic weekend dress, I think.
In terms of construction, I certainly wasn't prepared for the amount of manual curve manipulation and topstitching involved! Every one of those curved swan-neck panels (and back yoke and entire waistline) had to be folded and pressed, then hand basted to secure the fold, then topstitched to its neighbouring panel. Phew! Fiddly and time consuming, yes indeed, but also very satisfying. I wish I had (spent less time cutting and painstakingly marking my pattern pieces with tailors tacks the day before, and) allowed myself more time for the construction. Annoyingly, I haven't yet had a moment to embroider on those lovely arrowheads that initially drew me to this pattern. I will though, in cornflower blue to match the contrast topstitching.
The sleeves were an absolute joy to sew and set in, and I also really enjoyed sewing the Western yoke at the back - I might actually pinch that idea for a future Sarah Shirt hack!
Corners I cut - I left out the shoulder pads, I sewed the buttons all the way through so no buttonholes (yay!), I inserted an invisible zipper at the side seam as opposed to the given side snap extension, and I sewed the curved bodice panels down instead of leaving them open in a sort of hanky pocket as shown.
I'm filing this dress under wearable toiles, and lessons learned in patience...! Next time around - and there will definitely be a next time! - I'll be going down a size, and allowing myself more time to really get the curved panels perfect. Looking at them with fresh eyes, I didn't actually do a bad job, but I think that my having felt a bit rushed prevented me from fully enjoying the process.
The Big Vintage Sewalong blog tour will be continuing all the way until the end of September, but you can get involved too! Click here to check out the event calendar, see who's blogging when and find out more about the Eve Appeal, an amazingly worthwhile charity which is helping to fight gynaecological cancers. A percentage of profits from the twelve official Big Vintage Sewalong patterns will go to the Eve Appeal, and you can share your makes with the hashtag #bvsewalong and by following @mccallpatternuk on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Plus, you could win a copy of the pattern I used, simply by leaving us your name and email address in the comments below! You have until midnight on Wednesday 4th May GMT+1...!